Dublin Days

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

It's like a...

I can't say enough how happy I am with the way Siofra mastered toilet training back in December. It wasn't any great feat on my part; as usual, she did it on her own terms. She had gotten the hang of using the potty while we were at home, but the few times she'd gone to playschool in underpants she had accidents there and ended up coming home wearing someone else's sweatpants...and that ain't her style. And then, one day we ran out of nappies, and she went into school in her underpants and has never looked back since. She has had the odd accident, but very infrequently, and not in the past 2 months. I have to say that I felt daunted by the idea of toilet training, but thankfully she took care of it herself.

Now she takes great pride in being a "big girl," as well as taking a great interest in her waste products. Her latest hobby is to take a look at the poo and comment on it. In the same way that some folks look at the clouds and see images, Siofra sees things in her poo. Here's a list of some of her visions:

1. "It's like a horse!"
2. "It's like a chair!"
3. "It's like a bagel!"
4. "It's like a rainbow!" (this one was yesterday and, wow, it really did look like a rainbow, not in color but in shape.)

I'm sure this is a sign of great intelligence.

Paddy's new accomplishment is being able to do a full performance of Patty Cake, including the Roll It move, which, let's face it, is pretty darn tricky.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Dee is for Doula

Paddy turning 1 year old this week has made me reflect (ok, obsess) again on how he came into the world, and on all things to do with birth. It really is my favorite subject these days, probably because it had a profound effect on how I view myself. I had never been an athletic person; in fact, I was probably pretty alienated from sports as a young woman. I never pursued any sport at all, preferring musical, political and academic pursuits to that of the body. However, after I gave birth to Siofra I realized I'd found something I was good at...and it was my body that was doing the work this time! The renown birth educator Sheila Kitzinger wrote in her book The New Experience of Childbirth that after the birth of her first child she realized that she found a sport she could do. I felt exactly the same way and this realization made me feel much more complete in myself.
My own belief is that what women need most to have a positive experience of childbirth is to feel supported and safe throughout the labor and birth. This is why we chose a homebirth with Padraic and it's also why we had a doula. A doula is a woman who is a birth companion, providing emotional support for a woman giving birth. Most doulas have experienced childbirth themselves, and therefore have the advantage of understanding more clearly what the birthing woman is going though. A doula doesn't impose on the role of the midwife or doctor, as she's not there in a medical capacity, but just to support and encourage the woman. She also doesn't interfere with the woman's partner's role at the birth, either, and can actually be helpful to men who may find the birth process unfamiliar and even frightening. I've often heard of men who are frightened at seeing the woman they love coping with the intensity of labor and birth, but with an experienced doula there to calm and comfort, he can let go of that fear, understand that his partner's reaction to the intensity of labor is normal and then really devote his energy to supporting her.
My good friend Dee happened to be at Siofra's birth (actually, although she drove us the hospital, once there she jumped out of the car with us and made her husband Richie do the parking so she wouldn't miss anything). I am so thankful that she was there. It was a crazy 15 minutes between my water breaking and Siofra being born in the hospital elevator, but having her there made me feel safer. So I knew I wanted her there for Padraic's birth, and she was able to do doula training with Michel Odent, another big name in the birth world. She was invaluable to me during the birth. She didn't do anything strange or unfamiliar, just held my hand and told me I was doing great. I also felt that she was really in the moment with me, that she understood exactly what was happening. Even when I couldn't talk, I knew that she knew exactly what was going on, and that the baby would be here soon. I guess maybe this is what my favorite hippie Ina May is on about when she talks about things getting "telepathic." At any rate, she's a great doula and a great friend, and I'm so thankful we've made our journeys into motherhood together.
I'm very excited about the doula training that I'm going to do in June with Penny Simkin. I'm not sure what I'll do with the training afterwards--it may just be a part of my own personal development, or maybe I'll pursue work as a doula. The idea of working to better the birth experience really appeals to me, and who knows what possibilities are out there. What I am sure of is that there's a whole world of information, experience and understanding out there, and I'm eager to learn more! Because what could be more important than making a person's entrance into the the world the best it can be?

Padraic and the doula extraordinaire, Dee

Monday, February 19, 2007

Happy Birthday, Padraic Sean!

Today Paddy is one year old! We had his birthday party yesterday and it was a great success. Tony came from England for the weekend and Ann and Muriel came from Cork. Paddy enjoyed the party, but he particularly enjoyed his cake. Unfortunately he reached out and smudged the frosting on the turtle's face before I got a good picture of it. It was quite a creative undertaking for me, and I take great pride in it, despite most of the party guests not being able to tell what it was. You can check out the turtle cake and other photos from the party here.

It's hard to believe my little guy is one. It seems like yesterday that he was born...

Here we are, reliving his joyous, peaceful and beautifully natural birth.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Because I'm so generous...

...I'll give you a laugh at my expense.

Firstly, 1st Happy Anniversary to our friends Eric and Kusi. These lucky bastards spent 4 nights in Paris to celebrate. Anyhoo, this special occasion brings me back to one year ago: heartburn, water retention, weird numb/tingly thigh (that is still not completely right), feet so swollen my shoes were like vices, and a maternity dress that got worn once (but I did manage to give it to a pregnant friend of mine here, so hopefully it got worn again).

And to think that everyone was telling me how "neat" my bump was...how I was so much smaller than with Siofra. Uh, what?!?!

Thumbs up!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Breaking News!

17 days to his 1st birthday and...

...Paddy's walking! He got the hang of standing this afternoon, and took proper steps tonight! He spent the whole evening practicing. We are all very exciting for him, and he was thrilled with himself. All the excitement/attention also prompted Siofra to re-enact her first steps, falling dramatically into my arms. This was followed by her request that I, too, relive my "first steps," and land in her outstretched arms.

Hurray! Now maybe I can cook dinner without a child hanging off my pantleg! Life is so exciting.

Our little guy is not a baby anymore...so is it time for another one? ONLY JOKING!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

La Feile Bhride

Today is St. Bridget's Day here in Ireland, but to be more accurate it marks the pagan festival Imbolc (you know how those Christians love to swipe all the good holidays and rename them).

In other words...Spring is here!!

So Siofra was right to wear those sunglasses to bed last night...