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Archive for the ‘baby’ Category

Since my last post about the loss of our baby I have received some news. After the lab work, my doctor informed me that I have the MTHFR gene mutation (and no, that does not stand for motherf****er…it actually stands for Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase if you really wanted to know). My mutation is compound heterozygous (C677T and A1298C mutations are both present), the second most serious type. That basically means I inherited one mutated gene from my mother and a different mutated gene from my father.

What does this mean? Well, I’m definitely no expert, but basically this genetic mutation may inhibit my body from absorbing folate (folic acid, B9, B6, B12 vitamins, which are, of course, essential to a growing fetus). This site has a quick description of MTHFR related to pregnancy, if you’d like more information: http://www.pregnancy-info.net/mthfr.html

How did I have a perfectly healthy pregnancy and baby with Henry? That’s the main unanswered question now. No one can seem to explain to me why some pregnancies are just fine and why others cannot progress. It’s all very new science and I still have my doubts as to whether this definitely is the cause of my miscarriage, but the gene mutation is definitely there, so that’s all I have to go on now.

My ob/gyn told me to immediately begin taking 4 milligrams of folic acid per day (5 times what’s in the usual prenatal vitamin) and I’ve also added B vitamins to my daily vitamin regime.

What does this mean for us? Not much has changed. It was nice to possibly have some kind of answer and to have some way to take action to prevent future pregnancy loss. Other women with MTHFR I’ve talked with on forums have mixed results after taking the loads of folic acid and getting pregnant again. It just seems very uncertain and I guess that worries me. If I get pregnant again I know I will be on edge until the baby is born.

We’ve looked into adoption quite a bit. It’s discouraging. It’s so expensive and the wait is so long. We’re not sure if that’s the direction we should be going right now or not. All I know is Henry needs a sibling! And quick! 😉 And Leo needs more babies. He deserves more babies. Perhaps that’s not meant to be. Our life is a happy one and we try to focus on that and thank God for that.

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Baby June

It has now been nearly two months since we lost our baby. Although the tears still come at times, the grieving has subsided and I am able to talk about our loss a bit more. The basic story is this: I was 18 weeks pregnant when we were visiting family in Washington, Missouri. I had some light spotting on Monday night, and woke up on Tuesday with some mild cramping and backache. We went to the emergency room where we discovered that our baby had no heartbeat. I was induced and gave birth to our daughter, June, at 1:15AM on Wednesday, August 24th.

That is a stiff, non-emotional rendition of the most difficult and exhausting event of my life. I can’t explain in words the heartbreak Leo and I felt when we were first given the news. Or the rage and sadness I felt when I walked into the labor and delivery room and was faced with the reality that we were never going to bring our baby home. The empty space on the whiteboard next to the “baby’s doctor” bubble letters sent me over the edge. I couldn’t even look at the side of the room with the rocking chair and baby bed. On that bed in a few hours, our nurse would carefully wrap our baby girl before handing her to us to hold for the first and last time.

I was surprised at the intensity of labor. Up until the point of pushing, it was very similar with Henry’s labor. I know I could have taken drugs, but I also knew that I could handle the pain and that I didn’t want to be at all foggy when our baby arrived. I wanted to remember clearly the short moments we had with our child.

We had an amazing nurse named Beth who helped us through every aspect of our situation – from bringing me ice chips and hot pads to grief counseling. She sent us home with a memory box containing June’s receiving blankets and a copy of her tiny footprints. We brought June’s ashes home to Arkansas with us. We placed them under a cherry tree we planted in our garden. I plan on making a sign that reads “For June – our little bird who flew away.”

A few days after the ordeal, Leo wrote this beautiful note. It captures the emotion of the situation so perfectly for me. He designed an image with a dandelion and the words artistically place on the page. It was such a perfect way for Leo to deal with his grief and I appreciated it more than anything. I am glad I have it because as time goes by, the memory of what I was feeling at the time tends to go as well. This note reminds me of what we felt during that time and I never want to forget that feeling because I never want to forget June. So here it is:

8/26/11 – Your little heart began to beat and brought your mama and me unspeakable joy. We were so excited to announce your presence to your family. Your brother Henry would point to you and say “baby!” as you grew inside of his favorite person. Much of your bouncing around inside was due to his antics. Your Babo says your brother is the smartest boy – we knew you’d be very special too. We were excited to learn if you were a girl or boy in a week. You were growing and we were preparing for your birth in January. We had discussed the who, what, and where of your birth and would never have dreamt we had the “when” wrong. Your mama didn’t feel well so we went to the doctor. After the first ultrasound was inconclusive, we prayed to God for a miracle. We weren’t ready to say goodbye – we hadn’t even said hello. After more tests, everyone kept saying they were sorry. I hugged your mama and we cried. We were forced to think about things that hurt our hearts in a way we’d never known. I wished I could take your place. Early the next morning your mama, hungry and tired, labored for a few hours. When it was time for her to push, she hesitated because she didn’t want to let you go. They wrapped your tiny body in a blanket and brought you to us. I held your mama, and your mama held you. We saw your little outstretched arm, five fingers, eyes. I was hesitant at first, but I wouldn’t trade that moment for anything. It was a helpless moment. Nothing could be done, but grieve the loss of our baby girl.  Our future had been abruptly altered. I envisioned holding you and hearing your first cry, your mama dressing you up, your brother teaching you how to play…. you would have loved Nana’s toy pile. We have to believe you’re in God’s hands and hope to see you again someday. We’re taking you back home with us – in our hearts and in a tiny box. We’ll plant a tree with your ashes and always remember our little baby June.

Leo

Now, two months later, I feel like we are healing and moving ahead with our lives. We still envision a large family and we are open to how that will happen. I am working with my OB/GYN and trying to find some possible reason why we might have lost our baby this late in the pregnancy. I am tired of hearing “these things just happen”. At first I WANTED to believe that it was just a random thing. It gave me comfort to think that I can get pregnant again and have a healthy baby no problem. But after researching, I’ve discovered that the possibility of it being a “simply” explained chromosomal abnormality is less than 5% (because of my age -under 30- and the late stage of the pregnancy). They are testing my blood right now and looking for the possibility of a blood clotting disorder (which seems like one of the more likely culprits). So we shall see. Leo and I are also exploring the idea of adoption. We’ve considered it for a couple years now and we are finally seriously looking into it. If anyone has any insight, feel free to share! If it comes down to spending thousands of dollars on tests or fertility treatments, we will definitely put that money toward adoption instead.

So, that’s where we are right now. That’s our story, our situation. Leo has been quite busy with work and I have been quite busy with our two-year-old fiddler, so we are thankful for distractions and for the other blessings in our life. Henry is amazing and this has made me appreciate him more than ever.

Thank you to everyone who prayed for us and supported us during this experience.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Well, I’ve done this whole pregnancy thing before, but second time around it is completely different! I reacted differently when I learned about my pregnancy this time. The first time I was literally shaking with excitement and fear! This time, I’m happy, but calm. I was never sick when I was pregnant with Henry (aside from car sickness and not having room for food toward the end). Lesson learned this morning: Don’t drink orange juice and take vitamins on an empty stomach. I realized this as I was hunched over the commode while Henry was in his highchair demanding his malt-o-meal (one of his few words that is quite discernible). I also remember not being able to think about anything else but the fact that I was pregnant for at least the first several weeks. This time, I go days in a row completely forgetting I’m pregnant. I suppose having Henry to “entertain” me is probably the reason. Not to mention, we are packing up all our belongings because we’re moving into our own house in a week or two!

So, here it goes! A new adventure for the Kempf family.

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Just came across this paragraph in Ina May’s new book. This is a nice summary of why I choose natural birth. Basically one medical intervention often leads to another which leads to another, etc.

“…so the epidural began to be used routinely in most hospitals. The epidural, especially when given early in labor, tends to increase the length of labor. For this reason, it became common to augment the strength and pace of contractions with intravenous synthetic oxytocin (such as Pitocin). The synthetic oxytocin causes severe contractions that can sometimes reduce blood flow to the baby for longer than natural contractions would. The problem introduced by this practice produced, once again, an increase in the number of cases of fetal distress leading to a C-section.”

-From “Birth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta” By Ina May Gaskin

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Am I a mommy-zombie?

Just read this on a blog: “I know far too many formerly smart, funny, interesting women who are now incapable of talking about anything other than breastfeeding and diapering and cosleeping and babywearing and that cute thing their kid just did. I also know women who somehow manage to maintain interests outside of their children, so it must be possible, but sometimes the difference between the ones who became mommy-zombies and those who still seem like themselves seems so arbitrary as to be scary.”

This got me thinking and now has me really worried. Am I a mommy-zombie!? When I first read it, I just skimmed it and thought to myself, “Well, of course, I’m one of those cool, interesting, thoughtful mothers who still has a life outside of mothering”. But then I started to reflect a bit more – reviewing what I’ve been thinking about lately, what I’ve been reading, what I do with any time to myself – and I have to say, I was a bit disappointed with the outcome. Don’t get me wrong – I love being a mother to Henry. I love spending my days with him, but I still have all these hopes and dreams that I THINK about constantly, but don’t do a lot of acting upon. Motherhood has this crazy tendency to take over your entire life – your mind, your body, your everything – is devoted to the existence of this new little person. I really feel that it has only been over the past couple of months that I’ve been able to see past the mother goggles again. I see bits of my old life sticking out here and there – parts of the pre-baby me. And it’s refreshing. Henry is older now and I am able to separate myself from him a tiny bit more. I’ve started adding books to my collection alongside “The Vaccine Book” and “The No-Cry Sleep Solution”. I’ve started sneaking in small art projects during the day. Nothing extravagant or time-consuming. Small projects I can conquer during nap time. It’s a start.

I think what’s also fascinating about the Ominous Motherhood is it’s ability to transform a mellow, laid-back woman into this passionate, argumentative lecturer. Something about being responsible for this new person suddenly arouses your interest in all these issues you’d never given much thought to before. *Ok, as I’m typing this I’m realizing maybe mommy goggles aren’t all that bad – I mean, the changes I’ve made in my life since becoming a mother probably have allowed me to have more of a global impact than I had before. Because I’m responsible for this baby and his future, I also feel responsible for my future and the world’s future. I think more about what we eat – partially for our own health, but partially for the health of the land on which our food grows. I’ve become an avid recycler – not just to save money at the dump, but to lessen our contribution to landfills and to preserve the use of natural resources like water and oil in the creation of new products.*

So, although my everyday conversation and life may revolve around diapers and breastfeeding, by writing this blog I realize that the overall focus of my life has improved since becoming a mother. I began writing this post as a confession and apology for my own regression as a person since the onset of motherhood, but reflecting has helped me see that although some of the things I passionately focus on aren’t all that important, some of the things are. Being a mother hasn’t blinded me from the world around me, but has made that world and the future of that world more important to me than it ever was before.

 

This is the blog from which the original quote came – it was a response to the actual article.  http://rachelheldevans.com/moms-scare-me

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My last blog was in MAY!!! I knew I was officially a blog slacker when the url didn’t magically appear when I started typing “ruby” and, once I found my blog, I couldn’t remember my username. But, hey, I’m a mom. Isn’t that supposed to be my excuse? Besides that we haven’t been home much this summer. I lost a large part of my garden during a two-week trip which happened to fall during a drought here in ol’ Mountain View. But I’ve been working on salvaging what’s left. My yellow pear tomatoes are ripening and it looks as though I’ll have some Heirloom Ozark Pink tomatoes this month as long as I chase off those nasty tobacco hornworms. I am also desperately watering my forty-some sweet potato plants and I’m hoping they will do as well as they did in years past.

Henry is growing just like the weeds in aforementioned garden! He will be a year old one month from tomorrow. It’s funny how everyone says “they grow so fast” and “I bet it seems like just yesterday when he was born”. When I really think about it, it definitely feels like a year ago that he was born, if not longer! I just feel like he’s been around for a really long time and I have a hard time remembering my life without him in it. It’s been a wonderful year unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. I don’t have much to show for myself except for this little growing person. I’m starting to get antsy about getting back on a productive, creative route again.

I’ve had this vague vision for a long time. It’s changed a lot and is still changing, but it’s starting to get closer to being a reality instead of just a vision in my head. I want to sew and to sell what I sew. Maybe online, maybe in a shop. I want to focus on “upcycled” clothes and, because of what my life has been about lately, most of what I plan to make is baby-related. I’ve been gathering vintage tablecloths, curtains, pillowcases, and scrap materials for a while now in hopes that I will gain the motivation and time to get creative with them.

Recently I considered submitting some photos of my creations to an artisans market, thinking I would sell my things in a booth here in Mountain View. Since then I’ve learned about a shop in town that is wanting to carry local handmade merchandise and it sounds like my things might fit in just perfectly, so I think I’ll go that route instead. Anyway, I threw some photos together for the entry and so I thought I’d post a few of them here. I made six little collages. I’ll just put up one per post. That will give me something to update the ol’ blog with.

A baby hat sewn from an old t-shirt. Hand stitched design on front. I was inspired by a hat given to Henry by our midwife's apprentice.

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I always knew I would breastfeed. I simply couldn’t imagine why anyone would choose not to. Why would you choose to spend time and money dealing with man-made formulas and bottles when you’ve got free milk that’s better for your baby in your own body? Plus, it helps you as the mom lose some of your baby weight faster. People were always shocked when they found out my almost-six-month-old had never had a bottle (he actually had his first bottle yesterday while I was in town for a couple of hours!). To me it was just easier to lift my shirt up and feed him then to deal with pumping and carrying around bottles and extra milk. Not to mention a can of formula and finding water and a microwave (or whatever you need for formula preparation).

So, I just don’t get the whole “choosing not to breastfeed” thing. If anyone can shine some light on that decision, please share. I know there must be some reason because our nation seems to lack breastfed infants.

I just found the following statistics on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/faq/index.htm):

How many infants born in the United States are breastfed?

The CDC National Immunization Survey is a nationally representative sample of the U.S. population, among infants born in 2005:

  • 73.9% were ever breastfed
  • 43.4% were still breastfeeding at 6 months of age
  • 22.7% were breastfeeding at 1 year of age
  • 13.6% were exclusively breastfed through 6 months of age
  • 33.1% were exclusively breastfed through 3 months of age

The results seem so strange to me, especially since the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire. And the World Health Organization recommends continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond. So, this isn’t some crazy hippie way of living, the AAP tells mothers to breastfeed up to one year! And exclusively for six months. Our society is not embracing breastfeeding and does not support and encourage young mothers with their efforts. My own brother freaked out when I breastfed my son in my own house! Why are we so scared of the idea and so prudish? I’m sure you can turn your TV on and see a boob and you wouldn’t react at all, but heaven forbid a mother feeds her baby in public.

Ok, stepping off my soapbox and providing you with someone else’s! Below I have two links. The first is a mother of four’s blog on her experience with the babywise scheduling system and her experience with breastfeeding and basic child rearing. At one point in the post, she discusses how she discovers she was starving her baby by forcing him to be on a schedule! I found it incredibly fascinating. I had heard of babywise and knew friends that followed it, but never knew much of what the system taught (I think the schedule probably works for some babies, but not all…you can see that when you read the post). I’ve never been a schedule sort of person in any part of my life, so I couldn’t imagine becoming that way with a baby. I’ve always felt that when the baby needs something, I will give it to him. I’ve never questioned my “feeding on cue” system (at Henry’s check-up’s, he’s been in the 95th and 98th percentile in height and weight), but if I had, this article would shake me back in place: http://www.drmomma.org/2010/01/confessions-of-failed-babywiser.html

Below is an excerpt from an article on Cue Feeding and the importance of Breast milk. I have included the link if you’d like to read more, but I’ve pasted below the sections that stood out to me. http://www.storknet.com/cubbies/breast/cuefeeding.htm

Feeding cues and delayed feeds.

A baby readying to feed displays cues even before he may awaken (Anderson, GC). At first, baby may wiggle, toss and turn, or be restless in his sleep. If his hand is near his face, he may begin to root towards it, and even attempt to suckle it or anything else near his mouth. If these early cues are ignored, the baby may begin to “squeak” and fuss lightly; and if this is also ignored, he will eventually work up to a full cry to express that he is now overdue for his needed nourishment. An experienced breastfeeding mother with baby nearby usually quickly discerns baby’s needs and puts him to breast early in this sequence of cues, avoiding the fretting and crying entirely. For the mother who is scheduling her baby and/or sleeping apart from him, however, it is much different.

A newborn who is left to cry for even a few minutes can become very disorganized and have a more difficult time latching on and suckling correctly (Anderson, GC). This has often been observed by mothers in the hospital; the nurse will rush the baby in, saying “He’s really ready to eat, he’s been crying for the last 10 minutes!,” but then as soon as mom attempts to put him to breast, he falls asleep and does not breastfeed well. As a result, he often does not take as much as he needs, and if this scenario is repeated, mother’s milk production will decrease over time. This stands in opposition to the belief that a baby who is made to wait for his feeding based on a clock is going to ‘signal the breast to produce more milk” by sucking more strongly out of his hunger. Rather, the opposite quite often occurs. Circumventing the natural cues of a baby by attempting to breastfeed earlier or by waiting past those “golden moments” simply doesn’t work well. While a good nursery nurse can “make” a baby take a bottle on a schedule by forcing the rigid nipple into his mouth to elicit a sucking reflex, it is virtually impossible for even the best lactation consultant to “make” a baby breastfeed.

Furthermore, crying has been found to be physiologically detrimental to the new infant. Large fluctuations in blood flow occur during extended crying periods, decreasing cerebral oxygenation and causing an increase in cerebral blood volume. As a result, rising blood pressure increases intracranial pressure, putting baby at risk for an intracranial hemorrhage. Meanwhile, oxygen-depleted blood flows back into the systemic circulation rather than into the lungs (Anderson, GC). Overall, crying in the newborn resembles the adult valsalva maneuver (straining with stooling) by obstructing venous return in the inferior vena cava, which temporarily reestablishes fetal circulation within the heart of the newborn.

In an attempt to prevent excessive crying and also keep baby on track, some proponents of infant schedules promote the use of pacifiers to delay feedings and/or eliminate non-nutritive sucking at breast. Such interventions are not without risk, however. Barros and Victora, et al, have documented that pacifier use is associated with a shorter duration of breastfeeding, while Victora et al note that mothers who utilize pacifiers for their infants frequently exercise a higher degree of behavioral control while breastfeeding, often leading again to shorter duration of breastfeeding overall. This should be of concern to both parents and health professionals as the duration of breastfeeding in the United States currently falls well below the recommendations of the World Health Organization (Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative) and the Surgeon General.

The Immune Factor

A normal baby is born with an underdeveloped immune system that takes from two to six years to completely mature (Goldman, AS). One of the lesser-understood roles of human milk is to supplement the young child’s immune system until he fully matures. For the newborn, colostrum is densely packed with antibodies and immunoglobulins to give baby a “booster shot’ right after birth. As baby grows older, human milk continues to pass on antibodies for all those organisms to which the mother has developed her own immunity. Even more amazing, if a baby contracts an illness that mom has not been exposed to previously, he will transfer this organism through his saliva to the breast, where antibodies are manufactured on site and then sent back to baby via the milk to help him cope. Science does not come even close to duplicating this feat! Babies who are sick will often increase their nursing frequency, and researchers now believe that they do so not only for the comfort that it brings to a miserable little being, but also to increase the baby’s intake of antibodies and immune factors available through mother’s breast (Dettwyler, website). Babies seem to “know” when they have been exposed to a virus or bacteria, and know when they need to breastfeed more frequently to help them fight it off; most importantly, they sense it before parents realize that an illness is developing. There is no system in existence that is as sensitive and accurate as this one, and it is not under parental control. Mothers who wean their babies from the breast during the first and even second and third years of life often notice that their child becomes sick more than before, or for the first time; the immunological advantage of human milk does not disappear after a set period of time and also cannot be scheduled.

There you have it. Take it or leave it…but at least research it! (and don’t get all weird when a mother feeds her child around you)

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