My obstetrician's office for pregnancy number one was located on an upper floor of a swanky downtown Chicago high rise -- the Playboy Building, no less (I always thought there was something kind of comical about this given the amount of times I disrobed there). The practice though was geared less towards Bunnies and more towards no-nonsense, professional mothers-to-be. Efficiency was the name of the game. During those nine months I saw an ever-changing rotation of doctors who began discussing episiotomies, epidurals, and planned inductions before I was even showing.
My son's subsequent birth in a major teaching hospital was relatively easy, but, truth be told, felt much more like a clinical procedure than the dizzyingly beautiful "experience" my personal newsstand of pregnancy magazines had led me to believe childbirth could be.
I'm pretty sure though if I'd asked my doctors about constructing a birth plan that felt a little more "natural," they'd have recommended I lay off the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. As far as their medical practice was concerned, that kind of stuff went out with covered wagons.
Things didn't change a whole lot with the birth of my second son. We were in Madison by now, and I had become aware for the first time of things like the Bradley Method, doulas and water births. But when it came time to pick a practice and location for his delivery, I took the well-traveled road and went with the UW physicians group and hospital that were covered by my HMO.
In fairness, the Meriter birthing suite where I welcomed my son was way cooler than the separate labor, delivery and recovery rooms I'd experienced in Chicago. My room was bright and sunny and filled with all sorts of shiny, sterile medical equipment tucked away behind hidden doors. It was kind of like giving birth in the Bat Cave.
Then, a few years later, something really cool happened. My adored across-the-street neighbor gave birth, on purpose, at home. She labored and delivered in the privacy of her own bedroom attended by her midwife, husband and two older children.
When I went to visit her and her newborn baby girl the next day she seemed unusually relaxed and happy as she sat, a mere twelve hours post partum, in her own rocking chair, wearing her own clothes in her own living room. Yes, it was a little house. But it most certainly wasn't on the prairie.
So when I got pregnant with baby number three a few months later, I decided to give the UW Midwives a try. No, I wasn't looking for a home birth (which they don't offer, and besides,I was kind of concerned with who cleans up after delivery--it's a pretty messy business). But I liked the idea of a more personalized birth experience than I'd had in the past. And the practice didn't disappoint. The providers took time with me, patiently answering my questions on chromosomal testing, maternal nutrition and the possibility of a drug free birth.
My daughter's entry into the world, also in a Meriter suite, felt entirely different this time. My delivering midwife played calming music and lit a candle. She stayed with me the whole time and offered a back massage. And my daughter came more quickly and easily than my other two had, likely because I didn't have an epidural.
Now, I try not to play favorites with my kids. But there's little question that number three was my favorite pregnancy and delivery.
And who knows where a pregnancy number four (no, not happening) might have led?
So I felt nothing but sad this past week when I heard the news that the Madison Birth Center (http://www.madisonbirthcenter.com) in Middleton would be closing its doors in November. Because I fully understand, three childbirths later, that there are alternatives to a traditional hospital labor and delivery. And now, many Madison moms-to-be who would have loved to have met their baby for the first time at either the Center's state-of-the-art, yet warm and inviting, birth space or in the comfort of their own homes, will be missing out on a high quality option.
And all, it seems, due to Madison area HMOs' refusal to cover care there. No, I wouldn't have expected my doctors from the Playboy Building to understand why a healthy woman might not want to deliver her baby in hyper clinical setting.
But I guess I would have expected the health care community in progressive Madison to more readily embrace the change. Their decision to deny coverage just seems so old fashioned. Maybe we haven't come such a long way from the covered wagons, after all.comments powered by Disqus
This past week, against both my will and better judgement, I accompanied 50 or so middle school kids to the Future Problem Solvers Wisconsin State Bowl, a popular academic and skit-writing competition. It was my husband who had originally signed up to chaperone the event, thinking that spending a few days with his 11-year-old daughter and her compatriots would serve as an excellent anthropological experience. But when an unexpected work obligation made it impossible for him to attend, it was me left holding the bag
It may be a bigger waste of breath than electricity to ask my kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room. If I've nagged them once, I've nagged them a thousand times. No, I've never noticed anything amiss with their fingers. But it appears they are physically incapable of flipping a switch to the "off" position.
I want to say thank you to the Board of Education for allowing Maia to return to class, unquestionably the place she belongs, as well as to thank them for adopting the new policies. But just as importantly, I also want to thank Maia and her family for their willingness to come forward with their story.
Some clever-clogs is playing Rachmaninoff on the piano at a party, and there it is again, that oft-heard adult lament of lost opportunity from a dejected onlooker: "I wish I could play. I wish my parents hadn't let me quit music lessons. I was just a kid -- how was I to know?" It's a reasonable complaint.
If you're checking out summer camps for your child, there are many issues -- some obvious, some less so -- to keep in mind. Here's a list to keep handy when you contact camps and camp directors, looking for the perfect spot for your kids to have fun, relax, and learn this summer.
I know, in the grand scheme of things, that my kid issues, when it comes to dining out, absolutely pale in comparison to those of parents whose kids have special needs. Many kids, especially those who are on the autism spectrum, are disturbed by changes in their routine, or anxious around noisy places. They may not be able tolerate waiting for a table or standing in line. So unfortunately, many of these families just avoid eating out at restaurants altogether.
It's weird to admit this, especially in a city surrounded by as much outdoor beauty as Madison. But frankly, I'm just not that into nature. I'm more of an indoor kind of gal. Give me an afternoon at the Chazen or the Wisconsin Historical Museum over the Arboretum or Olbrich Gardens any day.
Lavish costumes, gorgeous sets, a full orchestra and a concession stand where nothing cost more than two bucks and you have a pitch perfect experience at the theater. Oh, and did I mention the ticket prices were just $10 dollars apiece? One could afford to take the whole family for a live theater experience for less than an evening at the Lego movie would cost including popcorn.
I think the first time in recent years that I've felt a real sense of shame, as both a parent and community member, was last Tuesday evening as I sat in a crowded elementary school LMC to listen to Ken Taylor, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, and his colleague, Torry Wynn, present key findings from the 2013 Race to Equity report to our PTO group.
It's Wednesday morning at Allis Elementary School on Madison's east side, and 16 third-graders -- 10 boys and six girls -- enter into an open-space classroom in typical wiggly, giggly style. Some are making goofy faces at one another, some are bouncing around hand-in-hand with friends, and others are just trying to stay out of the whirling-dervish path of activity.
Of the 789 poorly-composed, way-too-dark and out-of-focus photos currently living on my iPhone, I can count on two hands the number that show my kids and me together. And my husband is in probably no more than three or four of those.
Something kind of magical has happened these past two weeks during the Sochi Olympics. There is no question, debate or disagreement on what will be watched on television once all homework is done. Everyone in the family makes time to sit down together to watch an hour of so of the primetime televised games.
Truth be told, though, this month I'm feeling a bit cinematically fried. In some ways, I already feel like I've spent the last week or so at a film festival. A festival specializing in minute-long glimpses of ordinary lives all ending with credits that feature the ubiquitous blue thumbs-up. Yes, it's been the February of the Facebook movie.
Just last week, on precisely the same day the Momastery post was getting over a million well-deserved views, Madison mom Suzanne Buchko was telling a similar story. Not on a blog but instead in the confines of the modestly circulated Franklin-Randall Elementary School weekly newsletter.
Late last month, the Madison Metropolitan School District adopted a five-year, $27.7 million technology plan calling for all district students, including those in the primary grades, to have significantly increased access to their very own tablet or notebook computer by 2019. Some parents, as well as education professionals, questioned whether elementary-aged kids, especially kindergarteners who aren't even able to read or write yet, will gain much benefit from introducing yet another screen into their lives.
This past Monday, had winter's unrelenting weather allowed, Middleton Cross Plains School District teacher Andrew Harris would have once again been at the helm of a classroom. After nearly four years of fighting his dismissal from Glacier Creek Middle School for viewing and passing on sexually explicit material on district computers, MCPSD has been legally forced to reinstate Herris, this time as a seventh-grade science teacher at Kromrey Middle School.
In a study published last week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, academics have found that the 16 and Pregnant series may have played a significant role in the recent decrease in U.S. teen pregnancies.
In our house, sad but true, we've rarely spent the Martin Luther King holiday discussing race, social justice or the power of non-violent civil disobedience. Instead, the third Monday in January has historically been treated as just another day off school, just another long weekend. And it's been a missed opportunity.
It's not something that happens very often, but last Friday, as news of the impending arctic cold snap reached our house, my kids were rooting for Governor Scott Walker. They were rooting for him to take Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton's lead and cancel school throughout the state. They couldn't care less if he had the authority to do such a thing -- if he called off school, he'd be their hero.
Late last semester, as students were packing up their backpacks one final time before winter break, Middleton High School principal Denise Herrmann and assistant principal Lisa Jondle were co-authoring a note home to parents informing them of a widespread cheating scandal involving nearly 250 calculus students at the school.