Swim Suit Season

Tis the season for sunshine and swimming. But before I get to enjoy summer, I need a new bathing suit. It’s been years since I purchased a new one and figured this season’s bright colors would be a nice refresher to my wardrobe as I enjoy splash-splashing.

That’s all? You don’t want to try on more, Jared asked on a recent afternoon as we took turns holding Baby Girl and trying on suits.

No. I remember why I hate bathing suit shopping. It always make me feel fat and now my boobs are down to my knees, I told him.

Last summer, of course, I was pregnant and was so happy to be cooled down that I didn’t care what I looked like as I luxuriated in the river or soaked my feet in the kiddie pool.

Since having Baby Girl, I thought I was making headway on maintaining a positive body image and found myself cheering on women posting scathing comments about the new “dad bod” and women who share images of their stretch-marked selves.

When shopping, though, I realized I’m not as comfortable in my own skin as I thought I had become.

Do you want to go anywhere else, Jared asked.

No. I just want to go home. I’m exhausted and now I feel fat, I said.

You’re not, he said. Remember, you’re still breastfeeding Baby Girl. You make milk. That’s your super power.

Stop it. You’re going to make me cry.

Are you laughing?

No. I’m totally crying, I said, wiping tears off my face.

But I didn’t feel fat anymore.

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New arrival!

It was a dark and stormy night …

No really, it was dark and stormy in the wee hours of the morning when Baby Girl arrived three days late.

I would have told you about her sooner, but I’ve been too engrossed in staring adoringly at her to do much of anything else.

Despite not being sure about her for pretty much my entire pregnancy, I’ve discovered she’s brilliant and beautiful and perfect and all the things I didn’t expect her to be, like a sound sleeper.

I’m so relieved, Jared told me.

He made the comment as we were lying in bed one night talking about postpartum depression and how to recognize it. Considering that I had been slow to come around to pregnancy, let alone actually having a baby, he’s worried those less-than-enthusiastic sentiments will carry over now that Baby Girl’s here.

But it’s like a switch flipped, he said.

Tell you the truth, I’m relieved too. It took a false labor call after a fall for me to realize that I loved Baby Girl and even after that I wasn’t a fan of pregnancy.

However, I am a fan of motherhood.

That’s not to say I’ve been all smiles. I’ve cried and given myself hugs and pep talks a few times. Per our discussion about postpartum depression, I tell Jared about the bad along with the good instead of plastering a false smile on my face, and to his credit he listens.

It’s overwhelming, suddenly having a little human to care for, especially one who can’t tell you what she needs. It’s particularly overwhelming when she won’t stop crying no matter what you try.

The doctors say all we have to do is feed her and change her diaper, but those basics don’t always cover it.

There are all the little things, like what bath water temperature she likes best and how long she’ll stand being in the swing before she wants to be held again. And what song will lull her back to sleep after she wakes in a fury at 3 a.m. (I’m pretty sure Jared sang her every song he knows, with the Griz fight song thrown in several times for good measure. The next morning Jared’s footprints were still visible in the carpet where he had stood.)

The most difficult thing for me, though, has been learning to be less controlling.

I am not super human. If I want to have energy to be kind to Jared when he gets home from work or the patience to withstand Baby Girl’s crying spells and to enjoy the moments when she’s adorable, other things must be ignored.

There is no schedule anymore. If Baby Girl sleeps, I sleep. Forget those chocolate chip cookies I was going to make or my plan to mop the floor.

Even with all the adjustments, conquering the learning curve is worth it to have Baby Girl. Like I said, she’s brilliant and beautiful and perfect.

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More “storks”

The stork’s not the only game in town for delivering babies anymore.

Options for where moms can give birth in Missoula are varied between Community Medical Center, complete with the highest level of neonatal intensive care unit available; The Birth Center, with its relaxed, homelike atmosphere (and no epidurals); and having a midwife attend to your bedside (really with no epidurals).

This combination has worked to handle a steady number of  births for several years.

But health care in Missoula promises growth in the coming years.

Health care as an industry is Missoula’s No. 1 labor earnings generator (no pun intended, swear), and as soon as June 2015, Providence St. Patrick Hospital says they will join in OB, newborn and pediatric services.

Although they’ve been mum on details so far, they did say they’ll offer a Level II NICU, a level below Community’s.

Whether there are enough births to go around, without services and outcomes for moms and babies suffering, remains the question.

Babies will always be part of health care and while Missoula’s population isn’t growing quickly, it’s not declining either, said Bryce Ward, who heads up health care research at UM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

“It will work itself out, particularly as long as Missoula continues to grow,” Ward said of the expanded services. “More babies will be delivered here and whatever capacity St. Pat’s ultimately creates will probably end up getting utilized over the long term.”

In the meantime, Missoula women still have a wide array of options for how to bring their babies into the world.

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The waiting game

Waiting has never been my strong suit. Perhaps that’s why being a reporter and pushing to get information first and fast suits me so well.

I don’t relish anticipation. Take for example the lead up to Christmas morning. I know there will be gifts, but I don’t know anything past that and mulling the options in my mind while I wait to open the shiny packages is torture.

Waiting for Bob’s arrival is like that. I have so many unanswered questions. What color will Bob’s eyes be? How much will Bob weigh? Will Bob be healthy? Will Bob be a boy? A girl? A hearty eater? A sound sleeper (please, pretty please)?

All the tidying, washing and organizing is finished. The rocking chair and crib are in place. The extra cell phone charger and clothes are in a bag to take to the hospital.

There are no last-minute to-dos to distract me from wondering when contractions will begin. Every time Bob punches, kicks or stretches I hold my breath … waiting … for something more to come.

Granted, I have a week between me and Bob’s official due date. My doctor keeps reminding me that’s just a guess.

Bob could come any moment. Or not.

So far it’s been not … and I’m still waiting …

I’ve done everything I can think of to speed up the process.

I floated the river, twice. I’ve walked and jumped vigorously in water aerobics. I even tried the fail-proof house-cleaning rampage.

Tuesday Jared had a 48 hour reprieve from the harvest field. I told Bob to hurry up and come while Jared was home to save him from having to drive back to Gildford and then home again. Bob didn’t listen.

On the bright side, all this waiting has answered the question of whether Bob will be stubborn or not. Definitely stubborn.

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Preparations for the unknown

Packing for trips usually consists of whittling down enough clothes for a month (and the pile of shoes) until there are enough for just double the amount of time I’ll be gone.

(Stereotypical, I know, but I’m sure some of you ladies can relate.)

So imagine my consternation when trying to pack for a trip with an unknown departure day and time and for an undetermined length of stay that could happen anytime between now and six weeks from now.

At least I know what the weather will be like – a climate-controlled hospital room.

Ironically, I packed this weekend as a measure of sanity for Jared, who leaves this week for the harvest field on the Hi-Line and likely won’t be home before my due date.

I’ll feel better if you have a bag packed and in the car, he told me, knowing I would probably wait until my first pangs of labor before putting anything in a bag if left to my own devices.

He was so well-meaning that I couldn’t dig in my heels and delay. Besides, he set up the crib, helped wash and fold onesies, and assembled all things baby for the nursery so I won’t worry about a half-checked to-do list after he leaves. The car seat is installed and diapers purchased and I have to admit I do feel less-anxious about our impending life change knowing that the pieces are in place for a semi-smooth transition.

So into the bag went yoga pants and tank tops and slipper socks – just in case climate-control isn’t just right.

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Interested in sharing your birth story?

Today I heard from an English professor in Massachusetts who is working with a portrait photographer on a project they’re calling “American Birth Stories.” It’s an oral history of birth stories, and they’ve already traveled much of the United States collecting photos and interviews from mothers willing to share a birth story.

The reason for the call is their impending visit to Missoula July 29 through August 31. They already have some interviews lined up but are hoping to speak with more women.

From Kristen Getchell’s email:

we would need about 30-60 minutes of time and would do a portrait of mother and child.  Each participant will receive a link to a gallery of outtakes (many of our mothers love this).  We’re looking for mothers of all ages with a variety of experiences.  We have no agenda about the “right way” to give birth in this book; instead, it is a representation of the range of birth experiences told by the mothers themselves.

Also: “we are pretty flexible and willing to drive to meet people.”

Sound like something you want to do? Want to learn more and see some of their work? Go to www.americanbirthstories.com for more, including a link to contact info. Or, use my Missoula mom contact info to reach me, and I’ll get you in touch.

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Just crack it open

In case you were wondering, the stork isn’t an adequate explanation to 4-year-olds about where babies come from.

I learned this myself in water aerobics class this week.

I tried telling my daughter that, but she knows her sister is going to come out of me somehow, one of my fellow momercisers said.

A first-time expectant mom said her niece didn’t buy the stork tale either and so she turned the question around on the kid.

Apparently stomachs crack open, like eggs do when chicks are born. Surprisingly accurate if you have a C-Section, I suppose.

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First comes love …

… then comes marriage,

then comes the incredibly rare monoamniotic twin babies born Monday morning at Community Medical Center.

Welcome to the world, little ones. And congratulations, Castillo family!

Baby

 

Photo by Tom Bauer of the Missoulian

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Climb out of the Darkness to raise awareness about postpartum mood disorders

Last week I got a note from Samantha Hines about an event called Climb out of the Darkness Missoula. It’s aimed at raising awareness of postpartum depression and other mood disorders, and Samantha very kindly pointed out that it’s coming up on June 21.

That’s a Saturday – and the official start of summer. In short, a wonderful day to show up at the Mt. Sentinel M trail at 11 a.m. Bring a picnic lunch afterward, at noon, to the Oval.

And register – it’s free but required – here: http://www.crowdrise.com/samanthahines-COTD2014

Here’s the description provided on Crowdrise:

Climb Out of the Darkness is the annual awareness raising and fundraising event for Postpartum Progress, a nonprofit focused on supporting pregnant and new moms with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders like postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, postpartum psychosis and pregnancy depression. Also, Climb Out of the Darkness kicks ass. Just so you know.

For more information, send Samantha an email at samhines@gmail.com.

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Support healthy pregnancies and March for Babies

Chances are you’ve heard of the March of Dimes. Have you heard of the March for Babies?

It’s coming up on May 31, as this guest column in yesterday’s Missoulian explains. The piece also has a list of ways to reduce the risk of preterm birth. And here it is!

  • Quit smoking before or early in pregnancy.

  • Eliminate elective deliveries before 39 weeks gestation; in other words, those that are not medically necessary.

  • Exercise regularly, take prenatal vitamins and eat a variety of healthy foods – particularly fruits and vegetables – before and during pregnancy.

  • Promote early access to prenatal care; it serves as a critical tool to educate women on how to take good care of themselves throughout their pregnancy.

  • Early prenatal care, in the first 8-10 weeks, also identifies and manages women’s risk factors and health conditions.

  • Screen for anxiety and depression in early and mid-pregnancy.

  • Support women with substance abuse problems in getting the help they need to stop abusing drugs and alcohol.

  • Educate women on the early warning signs and symptoms of preterm labor so that they seek medical attention early.

  • Encourage the use of stress management and relaxation techniques (stress hormones can increase risk of preterm birth).

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