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
Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.
This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"
Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.
This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.
"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.
"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."
"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.
Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (Near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.
All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.
Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.
The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.
Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.
As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.
For the past 17 years or so (i.e., since I've had kids), I haven't made books the priority in my life I know they should be. It's not that I don't try. Just this past weekend I had the best of intentions of picking up, and even finishing, I am Malala, this year's UW-Madison's Go Big Read pick. But the copy still sits untouched on my nightstand.
The longest day of the year is upon us. For those of you keeping track, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:41 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. All that daylight, courtesy of the annual summer solstice, will provide the perfect backdrop for Make Music Madison, a daylong event featuring hours and hours of free performances in nearly every corner of the city.
Last week, for the first time, I made my way up to one of the open gallery nights during Madison West's Fine Arts Week, the school's annual showcase for all things creative. The scope of the event is huge, with nearly 1,600 students participating, and the quality of the presented works is phenomenal. It's almost as if the school had been lifted off its perch on Regent Street and traveled back in time to Belle Époque Paris.
If you have aspiring authors in your house, this summer offers a fabulous opportunity for them refine their writing skills. For its second summer, the Greater Madison Writing Project, in partnership with Olbrich Botanical Gardens, is sponsoring two week-long camps in August for young writers entering grades 3-8.
There are lots of benefits to living in a college town. First and foremost, there is always something going on -- a lecture, a film series. Maybe even a protest, if you're lucky. And since becoming a Madisonian, I, for the first time in my life, find myself interested in college football.