Happy Birthday!

I’m 29 again today! This is how my morning started….I hear the dog’s tags clattering and then a large man with a camera jumps on the bed and says “Happy Birthday” and takes this photo. Thankfully it is Adam, a photography maniac. I’m very proud to have a new Birthday buddy today, too. His name isZiah!!!

Thanks, Adam for the lovely photo shoot to commemorate this day!

Instinct is so awesome

Some of you may be totally grossed out by this video but I absolutely LOVE it. Uber awesome birth guru Ina May Gaskin loves this video and talks about it and this is how I came to know about it. Excuse the fact that Mrs. Elephant’s hoo-haw is very large (she is having a baby elephant after all!) and excuse the fact that there is a lot of fluid. Although I do wish they maybe didn’t replay that “splashing” part over and over again quite so many times.

But. What is so very cool is when Mama elephant’s instincts kick in for baby. No pun intended. That is all she has, anyways….hooves. So what else can we expect for Mama to do to stimulate her little babe? I just love love love how she works at getting the lil’ one to take its first breath, though. Just watch….

Teen pregnancy: Close in our hearts

This post has been in my mind/heart for days, weeks and months. Typing it and putting it into words is a different thing. A difficult thing. Where to start-you see? Difficult already!!!

First let me say that we love all of our nieces and nephews as if they were our own children. While there are many, many other reasons we do not have a child of ours yet there IS one thing for sure and it is that we have always had these wonderful children around us that we love so very much and therefore have very rarely felt like we were lacking our own. Bad choices are made, yes. By all of us, including me. Including Adam. Including these children that we love. We and these children all learn by these choices and will hopefully be stronger, more productive because of them.

Now, our story.

MISSISSIPPI is ranked 3rd in the United States for teen pregnancy. In general the states that have the highest teen pregnancy rates are in the southern part of the US. One high school a mere 45 minute drive from where our family in Mississippi lives has a 26% teen pregnancy rate. This school has hired an additional 5 social workers to assist in “identifying pregnant teens and showing them resources”. Seems backwards to me. I am glad that they are going to try to identify these girls as early on as possible but shouldn’t they be focusing on preventing pregnancy instead?

What about Teen Mom on MTV? Just last week they announced that  the current teen mom on the show has three friends (all of whom who are teens) are pregnant, too.

Is it an epidemic? Is there more teen pregnancies in certain areas in the south because the education levels are lower? There is less for teens to do, activity-wise? Religion, perhaps? In general, do they think a pregnancy bump is “cute”? Do they want a little baby to dress up and don’t think about the actual hard-core care part of being a teen-parent (or any aged parent for that case!)? Lack of education of contraception use? Poor parenting? OR. Are teens just going to do what they are going to do? I have some of my own thoughts.

In Mississippi where our family is there are very few safe activities available for adolescents to do. There are very few sports. There is not a YMCA. You can play softball but that is pretty much it. There is a movie theater that is a 45 minute drive. That is if you have the money to go. I imagine teens must get bored.  Mississippi is a very poor state. The public schools are not safe. The private schools are very, very expensive. Religion is huge in Mississippi. My own Father-in-law is a preacher, in fact having two churches. Abstinence of course is preached. I imagine contraception is often not discussed between parents and children. As there are not as many sports I imagine there are not sports physicals required each summer like there are where I have always lived. When I do sports physicals on adolescents I take advantage of those few precious moments with that teen and zone in on sex, protection, pregnancy prevention, std’s, etc. In fact, now that I think about it…..I remember them doing that in Whitefish, Montana when I had to have my yearly sports physical in high school.

This is Heather. I remember the day Heather was born, I was outside the hospital room. Adam and I were dating and had just become engaged in fact. She and her little sister spent last July with Adam and I and we spoiled them rotten like you would not believe. We all had a wonderful time. We knew she wanted to be a veterinarian so we had arranged for her to spend a day with our vet in Lincoln before she came to stay with us. I took her shopping for scrubs and here she is before we went to Lincoln. She was so, so excited. This is one of a TON of shots as she twirled around on the deck! When I picked her up later that day she had somehow decided she wanted to be a large animal vet-hmmm….go figure. Before she came to visit with us she didn’t know she could do it but after we talked about how scholarships work and the schools that had vet programs, etc..she was very excited.

We now know that while with us in July she was already far enough along that she was having some morning sickness. In hindsight, Uncle Adam and I recall one specific morning at Worlds of Fun!!! And, it was always soooooo hard to get her to wake up. She was very, very tired....

Because of the cost of private school, Heather home schools.

Meet Alexia Hope. Alexia is Heather’s daughter. 16 days old now, born 5 weeks early. A very high-risk complicated pregnancy. Born via csection due to risk of stroke to Heather. Alexia came home when she was 10 days old and weighed 4lbs 6oz when she came home. We praise God that she is healthy and that Heather is now all better because she wasn’t. She was very sick for the last several months. Children are not meant to have children. Their underdeveloped bodies are simply not ready. Heather had pre-eclampsia, she had supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), intrauterine growth retardation-she was on catergory c cardiac medications just to get far enough in the pregnancy until it was safe enough to deliver Alexia. Heather landed in the ICU after delivery but has done remarkable since. Once again we are blessed.

But. Heather turned 16 a month ago and has a high-risk newborn daughter now. She has completed 9th grade. Adam’s sister and his Mom are helping. This IS how it will work (it takes a village after all). There will be no other way. She is now trying to figure out how to get her GED someday and is thinking about maybe going to a local community college to be an LPN to be able to buy things her baby needs. She already likes to take her baby to her friend’s house so they can see her but Heather doesn’t have a driver’s license so she has to rely on Adam’s sister. Again, a reminder that she is still a child.

Although a child, she is still a mama that is definitely in love with the baby that was in her for all of those months. She puts pictures on her facebook and says I am in love with her. I can tell it is legitimate and she has bonded very well. She did not handle leaving the hospital before Alexia well AT ALL. She only got to go back twice per day to feed her and she was tormented with missing her.

I am saddened in just a quick view of some of her facebook friends when I see a couple of other teens either pregnant or that already have a baby talking to one another about how they can’t wait to see each other’s pregnant tummy, etc.  I think that teen pregnancy is a multi-factorial issue. It starts at home most definitely but social exposure also plays a role. Adolescents need entertainment. We are happy to say that Heather’s little sister will be attending private school next year, thank you Nana and Pawpaw.

We are happy our Heather and Alexia is healthy. A bumpy road may be ahead, yes but ultimately though a beautiful child is here now and in our lives and we have our first great niece….Alexia Hope.

**Everybody loves BABIES!!!!**

Yay!! We finally got our chance to watch it. It was only in the theater briefly here so we had to wait until it came out on dvd and I purchased it this week so Adam and I could watch it while in the hotel and it was everything I had hoped it would be!!!

Here is the trailer to just fill you in if you haven’t heard of it (it is only 2 minutes long)…It is a movie but has no narration.

There are a few things that we found so interesting but not at all surprising.

  • The births: the baby from San Francisco must have had something wrong (they didn’t show anything of that) but they showed all sorts of monitors hooked to her and IVs plus we noticed little bruises, etc. Were they pointing our technology in the US? We also noticed the birth from Mongolia to be a very detached birth. In that I mean the mother didn’t even hold the baby after birth. The most “skin-to-skin” type of birth (which research all over the world has shown is the best) was the one in Namibia, Africa.
  • Bonding with babe: Everyone seemed to bond with their baby pretty well except once again in Mongolia. That isn’t to say they didn’t it just wasn’t as frequent. In fact, that infant stayed on its back the majority of its infancy…on the same bed, literally.
  • Bathing: Mongolia was in a bucket. San Francisco in a shower, even a Hot Tub at one point! Namibia has pretty much no water so as gross as this seems the mother was literally spit cleaning the infant.
  • Toys: The infant from Namibia played with rocks, bones, sticks~even was teething on these. The one in Mongolia didn’t really play with anything as he was always bundled up tight on his back until he was almost a year old. The infants from Tokyo and San Fran had you name it at their disposal for toys. And, they went to all sorts of organized play groups as infants…and in each of these groups they seemed overwhelmed. In our favorite scene (close to the infants birthdays) it shows the infant from Tokyo sitting in her room surrounded by all of these wonderful toys and she is picking up one and can’t get it to do quite what she wants it to and gets frustrated and throws herself on the floor and crys, then grabs another and this continues on….and the movie flashes over to the infant in Mongolia who *SURPRISE* is no longer on his back but is now sitting up on the floor but tied to the bed so as not to get into danger I assume but he was able to reach a roll of TP and man oh man was he having a ball! He was giggling and smiling….all with a roll of TP. And they kept going back and forth between this little guy having fun with TP to the little frustrated girl in her toy-store like bedroom throwing herself on her floor over and over again.
  • Medical care: everyone had it except for Namibia. Even in Mongolia there was a nurse/doctor home visit that weighed the infant, etc.
  • Development: The producer did a good job at spanning across all four infants and comparing that they all do the same things at the same time pretty much no matter where they are EXCEPT for the infant from Mongolia. Poor guy….he was late to walk. And, I really really wonder if this isn’t because he spent probably the first nine months of his life bundled up tight on his back (in fact I am sure this is why). And is this how they raise their infants (as in a belief) or is it because his mama was so busy working outside~she was seen milking cows at one time??? The movie actually ended with the lil’ guy finally standing and gaining his balance….it was great!
  • Odds & Ends: Clothing is so over-rated. 🙂 These Namibians and Mongolians have this figured out….The mother of the infant in Namibia wouldn’t let his hair grow out. In fact she kept it short with a knife. I especially found the pacifier that they gave the Mongolian baby fascinating: it appeared to be a piece of intestine with a match stick to prevent him from sucking it to deep (ingenious!)-hee hee.

These are just a few of my observations that I can remember right off hand…a great movie that everyone should see. I have a friend that uses some of the Montessori principles for play with her little one. I like the one where you do not have gazillions of toys/books out for the child at any given time. They can get so over-stimulated. Adam and I talked a little bit about this actually last night after watching the movie and he was all about it….especially after the hilarious TP scene…

Overall I think in the US we are overstimulated and therefore it is hard for us in general to “slow down” for an extended period of time without getting antsy~and I am saying this as an adult so imagine this for our children. Are we providing so many organized events/activities for our children that we are stunting their imagination/creativity? From a medical standpoint this is something I have long-wondered and have wondered if this contributes to obesity in kids and maybe even some of the behavioral problems that parents come to me with all of the time?