Motherhood

Sarah’s birth story

Reading birth stories was a big part of preparing myself for the birth of my son.  The openness and honesty in each one helped me understand the process, let go of expectations, and boost my confidence.  I hope sharing my own experience will help others in the same way.

My son was due on November 21st, but I was convinced throughout the pregnancy that he would arrive early.  I believed this because I had originally been given a due date of two weeks earlier, so I figured he’d be born somewhere between the original due date and the “new” due date.  On November 20th I found myself at a doctor’s appointment, still pregnant.  At this 40 week appointment, the OBGYN started discussing plans for the following week which would involve an ultrasound and a potential induction.  I let her know that I wanted to wait as long as possible before inducing, because I was set on having the most natural labor possible, and she said we could discuss further next week.  My due date came and went.

I went to bed around 10pm on the 22nd, and a little after midnight I woke for one of my many nightly potty breaks and noticed I had lost my mucus plug in the toilet.  I insisted my husband look at it to confirm it was a mucus plug and he suggested I call my doula.  She told me on the phone, “losing a mucus plug means the baby is coming soon!  It could be hours or it could be days.  Just rest up and be patient!”  I went back to bed, with my husband, and we began talking about how exciting it was that we were that much closer to meeting our baby.  About 15 minutes after losing my mucus plug, and while lying in bed with my husband, I sneezed the biggest sneeze and felt a rush of fluid shoot out of me!  I yelled in surprise that my water broke and ran to the bathroom to clean up as my husband cleaned the bed.  We were both laughing hysterically at the fact that a sneeze broke my water (and drenched the bed)!  I immediately started getting contractions that were about 5-6 minutes apart so I called my doula back to let her know.  She suggested I rest and follow up with her when the contractions got closer and harder.  My husband and I decided to sleep downstairs on the (dry!) couches and he held my hand through each contraction that night.  Our doula came over in the morning and assisted with labor with the help of a birthing ball and warm baths.  It was 1pm on the 23rd when we decided it was time to go to the hospital.

The nurse pushing me from the emergency room entrance to the maternity ward likely set a record for speed; my hair was blowing in the wind and my husband and our doula were barely keeping up.  The hospital staff was not happy that I waited so long to come in – they had wanted me in immediately after my water broke.  I was 6cm dilated, so after being monitored I labored in the tub, shower (my favorite!), standing up, sitting on a birthing ball, lying on my side with a peanut, etc.  I eventually had to labor hooked up to the monitor because my son was having an irregular heartbeat.  When I hit around 30 hours of laboring the midwife on duty began asking me if I had the urge to push, which I kept replying, “no, but I feel a lot of pressure.”  After the same question a few more times, they decided to have me start pushing anyway since I was 10cm dilated.  I pushed for two hours and NOTHING happened.  I also suffered from horrible indigestion.  My husband ate Chipotle and one of the nurses told him he should brush his teeth because the smell of a burrito may make me sick, but the first moment I caught a whiff of his hot, minty toothpaste breath, I got sick and everyone scrambled to get me one of those blue hospital puke bags!  After that, most pushes were followed up with me losing more of the honey sticks, crackers, apple juice, and peanut butter that I had in my stomach from all of my snacking during labor.  They gave me oral medicine to help with it, but it didn’t work.  My doula and midwife would later tell me they never saw anything like it!  The midwife, who seemed very impatient, told me that the baby was stuck in my pelvic bone and that I would need a C-section, so she called in the on-call doctor.

The doctor came in and checked me and told me she was going to prep me for the C-section for a multiple reasons: 1) because the baby was stuck due to my body being so tense from a long labor, 2) because the baby’s heartbeat was irregular, 3) because my water had been broken for over 24 hours and the baby was at risk for infection, and 4) because my contractions were slowing down.  I was exhausted at this point and honestly, while a C-section was not what I wanted or planned for, having an end in sight sounded marvelous; I was ready to meet my boy!  Since I had not had any pain medication up until this point, my doula had an idea.  She spoke up and asked the doctor if I could get an epidural, take a nap, and try pushing again rather than jump right in to a C-section.  If our doula hadn’t of been there, my husband and I would have never known to to propose this idea!  The doctor agreed that we could try, so I dropped my plans of going all natural and got an epidural, pitocin, and an intravenous heartburn medication, and took the best two hour nap that I had ever had.  While I was waiting for my epidural, I finally understood what the midwife meant by “pushing contractions,” however, at this point my energy was zapped and I felt so defeated.

During my best nap ever, there was a shift change and the midwife I absolutely loved and wanted for my son’s birth came in with a doctor I hadn’t met before.  When I woke up the doctor checked me and said I could try pushing again, but if there wasn’t progress he wouldn’t be able to use the vacuum on me and would need to do a C-section.  I could tell by his tone he was doubtful I would be successful with a vaginal birth.  Once he left the room, the midwife said “psssh…you got this!” and I was eager to start trying again!  I pushed for the next two hours and watched with a mirror and saw that I was finally progressing!  Using a mirror was SO helpful for me because it allowed me to see what I was actually doing with each push.  Seeing the top of my son’s head was the best encouragement and motivation!  In between pushing, the hospital staff and I discussed the best pizza in the area and it was shocking to me how much more comfortable I was pushing this time around – was it the staff change or the epidural?!  My midwife was also very engaged in delivering this baby – in addition to pulling on the bar while I pushed, I also spent many contractions doing “tug-o-war” with my midwife and a bedsheet.  My doula was great support though all of the pushing and helped remind me which areas I should focus on pushing from, and she would squeeze pressure points in my hands to (I assume) help alleviate pain.  My husband was steady with the ice chips and a cold rag on my head.  While I finally saw my baby’s entire head in the mirror, I was ecstatic, and one push later I delivered his whole body and he was immediately placed on my chest.  He nursed right away and we waited until his cord stopped pulsing and before it was cut by my husband, who was told by the nurse it was “like cutting a piece of chicken.”  We cried together while we looked our screaming boy over and fell in love with him as he held our fingers with his little hands!  After the initial inspection of the “damage” down there, I was told I had a 3rd degree tear and received extensive stitching; however, the doctor later let me know it was actually a 2nd degree tear that was on the cusp of being 3rd degree.  I was also told I had “very bad bruising” since my baby was stuck for such a long time.

Atticus was exactly 8 pounds and 20 inches at birth, and labor lasted a total of 36 hours of labor.  His irregular heartbeat cleared up within two days and we were able to take him home on Thanksgiving day!  My recovery took a little longer, but that is a whole other story!

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Andrea’s maternity shoots

Punk Mama Andrea M. is expecting her first baby in April and was kind enough to share her story surrounding her beautiful and powerful maternity shoots on the blog.  As this blog was created to be a collaborative space, we look forward to hearing from other Punk Mamas in the future!

 
My very first thought after having a positive pregnancy test was, “Oh man, I cannot wait to get maternity photos done!”  My secret baby Pinterest board was jam-packed full of reference maternity photos long before we ever even announced.  So, once we received the good news, I immediately asked two photographers that I used for previous photo shoots – one of them even took our announcement photos. The process of having maternity photos done has been one of the highlights of my pregnancy, and I’m excited to share it with you today!

maternity announcement with paper scrolls in eggs

Photo Credit: Charles Martin

I am no stranger to the camera; I have modeled on and off for most of my life; paid, trade, and for fun.  Needless to say, maternity photos were a personal and exciting way for me to celebrate my pregnancy.  I chose to do two separate maternity shoots: an outdoor-woodsy type shoot, and a natural, more intimate studio shoot.  I had so many ideas and styles of maternity photos that I loved that provided great reference material.  I knew I needed Valerie Leatherman of Bunker Hill, WV to take my outdoor photos, and Charles (Chuck) Martin of Glen Burnie, MD to do my studio set.

While I had done dozens upon dozens of photo shoots before these, I don’t think anything could have prepared me for this experience.  Pre-pregnancy, I would pride myself on being able to naturally transition from pose to pose.  But while being pregnant, a giant, growing, and moving belly can get in the way and change things a bit!  I found that I couldn’t quite move or position my body in the ways that I wanted to and was used to.  Even when I thought I was posing exactly how I wanted, I would see the photos and notice a very natural but completely unflattering fold of skin, and have to completely reevaluate my posing game plan – not that a natural look is a bad thing, I was just going for something more polished.  Surprisingly, the day before my first shoot (the outdoor set) I had a lot of anxiety because I had never done anything like this before.  I reached out to some fellow Punk Mamas for advice, and Amber kindly shared with me a couple of infographics with flattering posing suggestions. Candyfield’s Photography’s Pregnancy and Maternity Photography Guide was an invaluable resource when learning which poses would best show off my baby bump while still looking flattering.

Surprisingly, my wardrobe selection may have been one of the most taxing parts of the process.  I worried so much about picking the “perfect” dresses, getting it in the right size (which is nearly impossible to do when pregnant and ordering online!), and then learning to pose my body in each outfit.  For my outdoor shoot, I looked for dresses that portrayed an aura of nature, elegance, purity, and power – like a goddess.  I wanted to make sure that I looked and felt beautiful in it, and if I could wear it again, than that would be a bonus!  I shopped online for a couple of options, which was a real hit or miss experience for me.  I ordered one gown that I absolutely loved, but it ended up being way too small aka I couldn’t fit my arms and my boobs in at the same time.  My last minute option was to head to the mall, and I surprisingly found a few options there.  Selecting items to wear for my studio shoot was much easier.  Since the studio shoot was going to be more simple and intimate, I was able to wear lingerie, delivery robes, and comfortable sweaters.

I had decided to do my maternity photo shoots around 28-30 weeks pregnant, that way I would be visibly pregnant but not physically miserable or uncomfortably large.  I am due in late April, so this meant that my photo shoots would need to be scheduled for February.  And yes, my outdoor shoot was before Maryland’s rare and unusual February heatwave!  The day of my outdoor shoot ended up being around 40 degrees, but with the wind chill it felt well under 30 degrees!  I was freezing and I think it shows on my face.  But I also think I look fierce and powerful, so I love how they turned out.

My studio shoot was amazing and I was able to work with a talented group of people.  Chuck has done tons of studio shoots for me as well as head shots for my makeup clients (Beauts by Dre).  His lovely girlfriend Beth always tags along to help with posing and essentially is an extra set of eyes – she was my saving grace in this shoot as I was much more exposed and intimately posed.  One thing I experienced as a result of these photos was the strong reactions they elicited.  I received incredible responses from all – strangers, friends, and family.  But I also received some very negative responses from some family about my studio shoot for it being “too revealing.”  This was certainly not the first time I’ve gotten comments on how revealing or risqué a shoot I’ve done was, but it was definitely disappointing because I put a ton of work into making sure it was very tasteful, natural, elegant, and celebratory of the life I am nurturing.  To be honest, disappointing is an understatement, I was very upset and hurt by it and had waves of strong emotions that ranged between wanting to cancel my baby shower to vowing to never leave my house again.  Hormones had nothing to do with this…HA!  I did end up removing the studio photos that I shared on Facebook to avoid any further negative comments on them, but I still post them on Instagram and in “safe spaces.”  While these maternity photos were not everyone’s cup-o-tea, I am so pleased with how they turned out as well and I so happy that there are people out there that love these images as much as I do.  In fact, my boyfriend’s reaction to my maternity photos may have been one of my favorite parts of this experience – his support and positive reactions made this experience that much more incredible.

When looking back on these images, I will remember what an intense and emotional process it was – a perfect reflection of pregnancy.  There were moments that were difficult and taxing for me physically (the wind chill), and it was also draining on me mentally (dealing with unnecessary criticism from family members).  Not to mention, the pressure I put on myself to have the perfect maternity photos to remember this beautiful period in my life.  When I look back at these photos, I will remember the roller coaster ride they took me on, just as my pregnancy has.  Every bump in the road, and every hiccup, means I am that much closer to the beauty that waits at the end.

If there is a “moral of the story” in this ridiculously long blog post, it is that maternity photos are personal, beautiful, and raw, and something every expecting mama should do if the opportunity arises.  If I had the chance again, I would do it exactly the same and wouldn’t change a single thing.  Do it for you and do it in a way that reflects this passing moment in your life.  I love every single image that was taken, even the more unflattering ones that emanate honesty and sacrifice and love.  Doing a maternity shoot, let alone two, was such an amazing and empowering experience for me and I’ve never felt more beautiful or strong as a woman.

 

 

Books we love

We have put together a list of a few books regarding pregnancy and parenting that we love and recommend to all you mothers or soon-to-be mothers.  We hope they are as helpful to you as they were to us!

Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting

51yzwwbhthl-_sx324_bo1204203200_Reading this was like talking to a friend who calmly just shugs and explains things how they are – so simple, so matter-of-fact.  The biggest thing that I got out of this book was that there are two mindsets for raising a baby – your baby can adapt to your lifestyle (French) or you can adapt to baby’s lifestyle (American).  Raising children is TOUGH, and there is no perfect way to raise ALL babies, but some of the ideas in this book worked well for my family, so I recommend it to others, as it may spark some inspiration! – Sarah C.

Cherish the First Six Weeks: A Plan that Creates Calm, Confident Parents and a Happy, Secure Baby

51mxnlqpyyl-_sx325_bo1204203200_I have recommended this book to all my friends who have had babies since me as I credit this book to my son being great with a schedule and being a great sleeper during night hours!  However, few friends have had the same success, so it is important to remember that a baby’s sleep schedule is part nature and part nurture.  After I had my son, I would read one chapter a week, corresponding with my son’s age.  It helped me understand where he was developmentally, how his needs may change from week to week, and also what a “normal” schedule could look like.  If you are driven by schedules and are having a baby soon, check this book out! – Sarah C.

The Continuum Concept: In Search of Happiness Lost

51uww7o098l-_sx318_bo1204203200_[This book] completely changed the way I treated my second baby.  It’s written by an American lady who in the 70s lived with an Indian tribe in South America where babies never cried, toddlers never tantrumed.  My baby never cried, but he has had one or two tantrums as a toddler.  The key is 24/7 contact with another human for the first 6 to 9 months of life.  It’s pretty amazing. – Brooke A.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

unknownLove the positive birth stories mixed with straightforward medical and physiological information.  This book really helped me get into a good mindset for a natural birth.– Leah J.

This book was just what I needed in the months leading up to the birth of my first son as I was very nervous about labor.  Reading this book gave me the BIGGEST boost of confidence.  The first half is solely dedicated to sharing women’s childbirth stories and focuses on all the positive and empowering aspects of childbirth.  I’ll admit, I rolled my eyes at some of the stories because the births were just SO pleasurable, but it was nice to take in birth stores that weren’t just focused on the worst pain of your life (as often seen in movies). – Sarah C.

My Mother Wears Combat Boots

61-nepeynrl-_sx329_bo1204203200_I tried looking to traditional traditional sources for what to expect as I progress but they were all falling flat and just making more more anxious. This book, the authors voice is exactly what I needed.  She’s relatable – she speaks about things almost candidly, and she’s knowledgeable.  I’m not quite finished yet but I already can’t wait to re-read it.  This book also made me feel a lot more comfortable about the life that I live and how I’m expecting to raise my children.  It’s really great to have someone to look up to that I can relate to. – Ashley M.

Sippy Cups are Not for Chardonnay: And Other Things I had to Learn as a New Mom

41wim1bl5gl-_sx313_bo1204203200_This book (written by a comedian) was hilarious, and really helped alleviate some of the anxiety I was experiencing leading up to my due date.  It’s a healthy dose of real-talk and sarcasm, which I thoroughly appreciated, especially when I was eyeballs deep in all the other “what to expect” type books! – Jenn P.

The Year After Childbirth: Surviving and Enjoying the First Year of Motherhood

41wivylcf-l-_sx326_bo1204203200_She’s one of my favorites in the birth world and while the book starts off a little bit early Ina-esque, it becomes more informational.  Overall, I would say it addresses the emotional aspects of the transition to motherhood. – Jennifer D.

 

Mommy MOOCs

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are free online courses that are available to anyone, and are taught by top professors at leading universities all over the world.  MOOCs are ideal for anyone who needs to learn on their own schedule; whether one wants to dip your toes into a field of interest, or just wants to learn new things.  The classes often consist of weekly lectures, readings, discussions, and quizzes, but you can complete them as you see fit based on your schedule.  Most MOOCs also offer the opportunity to earn a certificate – but this option usually runs around $50 and means that you MUST keep up with the weekly schedule and submit all assignments and pass all quizzes (again, the certificate cost is optional).  There are a lot of great MOOCs pertaining to pregnancy, childbirth, parenting, child growth and development, etc., and we imagine these MOOCs will be especially useful to anyone who is or is interested in becoming a midwife assistant, doula, lactation consultant, mother, childcare provider, etc.  If anyone takes a course from the list below and would like to share your experience, please leave us a comment below – we would love to hear from you!

MOOCs:

Babies in Mind: Why the Parent’s Mind Matters

Caring for Vulnerable Children

Child Nutrition and Cooking

Childbirth: A Global Perspective 

Childhood in the Digital Age

Children’s Human Rights: An Interdisciplinary Introduction

Education for All: Disability, Diversity, and Inclusion

Exploring Play: The Importance of Play in Everyday Life

First Aid for Babies and Children

Getting Care Right for All Children: Implementing the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children

Improving the Health of Women, Children and Adolescents: From Evidence to Action

Infant Nutrition: From Breastfeeding to Baby’s First Solids

The Lottery of Birth

Making Babies in the 21st Century

Midwifery

Positive Behavior Support for Young Children

Preventing Childhood Obesity: An Early Start to Healthy Living

MOOC Websites:

Coursera 

edX

FutureLearn

Open 2 Study

If you know of any others that should be included in this list, please leave your suggestion below in a comment!

Hello and welcome


Hello and welcome to Punk Mamas!

Punk Mamas started in early 2016 as “a private Facebook group where punk mamas can openly discuss pregnancy, childbirth, raising children, and motherhood!”  Started as a small group of mothers within the hardcore scene, it has now become a group of 500 punk women in all stages of motherhood sharing encouraging stories and supporting one another.  There are mothers on the west coast, east coast, overseas and everywhere in between; women trying to conceive, pregnant, first-time mothers, step-mothers, adoptive mothers – ALL mothers; those who stay home, those who are lawyers, teachers, librarians, tattoo artists, doulas, and everything in between.  This diverse group has been a blessing for many who needed someone to turn with their pregnancy, parenting, and motherhood questions, a place to share those small parenting victories, or a place to let off a little steam in this crazy world.

With hopes of reaching and helping a larger audience, Punk Mamas will now expand as a collaborative blog.  We are not sure how this will play out yet, but are hopeful Punk Mamas will come forward with their specific stories and their tried-and-true advice to share.  If there is one thing that Punk Mamas have learned from the Facebook group, it is that there are a million different ways to be a good mother, and we hope this blog reflects that.  There will be plenty of conflicting stories, so please keep in mind that we are all doing the best we can with the information and resources that we have as individuals; there is more than one “right” way to raise happy and healthy children!  We hope others can find our stories inspiring, humorous, educational, and thought-provoking, but more than anything, we want you mamas out there to know that you are NOT alone in your journey!

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