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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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 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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St. Pat’s back in the baby business

Women will have another choice about where to give birth as soon as next year.

Providence St. Patrick Hospital announced Monday that they will begin offering comprehensive women’s and children’s services, including inpatient obstetrical and newborn care, with a Level II neonatal intensive care unit; an expanded inpatient and outpatient pediatric program; and outpatient obstetrical/gynecological and perinatology care.

Comments are already flying about motivations for the new services.

Supposedly, St. Pat’s was on a short list of contenders to partner with CommunityMedicalCenter, which recently announced a merger with Billings Clinic and RegionalCare Hospital Partners. Community’s announcement was a disapointment to St. Pat’s, but the hospital released a statement that they are as committed as ever to providing quality care to western Montana residents.

According to CommunityMedicalCenter leadership, Missoulians said they wanted to maintain choice for health care services when the hospital was mulling the best partnership option.

Providence Western Montana’s chief executive Jeff Fee said in a written statement that the move to offer more women’s and children’s services positions St. Pat’s to provide patients with a broad range of services from one, coordinated health care system.

Welp, I’d say we got choice — and heightened competition. Here’s hoping it leads to innovative, affordable care.


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Today’s must-read: postpartum depression

It takes a lot of courage to share a story like this. Melissa Bangs deserves applause and encouragement for letting the Missoulian bring her personal story of postpartum depression to readers. Same goes for her husband, Eric Ellingson.

Read the story, and check out the related video and links.

Michael Gallacher/Missoulian

Michael Gallacher/Missoulian

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Missoula welcomes new baby born on 11/12/13 at 14:15

This baby girl is going to have a fun birthday: 11/12/13. Add to that: she was born at 14:15 military time.



Congratulations are in order for parents Amanda and Mark Anders, and their new daughter Nicollette Brynn Anders. Nicollette is part of a small group of folks with sequential birth dates.

As the Missoulian story notes, “We’ve spent the past 10-plus years, since 01-02-03, with these sequential date events. But they’re about to run out for the century. Next year, there’ll be a 12-13-14, then no such phenomenon occurs again until Jan. 2, 2103.”

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Missoula family welcomes new addition a few months early

Did you ever have one of those days when it seemed like everywhere you looked, there was a baby?

My little neighborhood is celebrating not just one but two recent new arrivals. They are greeted like celebrities around here – squeals and big smiles and people whipping out cameras.

Each sighting fills me with pangs and memories. And the other day, Landon asked me how a baby gets out of its mother when it’s born. My answer: She pushes him out. His reaction: Oh.

We may be picking up some books from the library in the near future.

And speaking of babies everywhere you look, today’s Missoulian has this incredible story of a baby who was born three months early.

Now, at five months old, she weighs one ounce less than my daughter did when she was born.

Courtesy of Ashley Miller

Courtesy of Ashley Miller

Her name is Zeyda. Welcome to the world, little fighter!

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How to help Jake Massman and his baby boy

Jake and LucasOn Sunday, the Missoulian brought readers the story of Jake Massman, whose wife Teresa Veltkamp died shortly after giving birth to their son, Lucas.

Most striking, to me, is how Massman’s positive attitude shines throughout this tragic story. For instance, consider these words from Massman, talking about spending time with his newborn son:

I’ve cried myself to sleep a number of times; but during the day, when I’m here with him, it’s amazing how that’s not overwhelming. He doesn’t need me feeding him sadness and anger and resentment. It’s really easy for me to be who I need to be with him. In the end, I feel like I’m getting more from him than he’s getting from me.

Anyone who feels moved to help this new father and his baby – or to do something in Teresa Veltkamp’s memory – should consider making a donation to the Teresa Veltkamp Memorial Fund at the Missoula Federal Credit Union, or check out

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