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 post will not (although it could) be a treatise on the value of "alone time" for a healthy marriage. Nor will it be an ode to how nice it was for me to have a few days off from lunch-packing, carpool-driving and homework-nagging. There is no question I completely enjoyed my break from the kids. But my biggest discovery this past weekend was that it was the kids, perhaps, who needed a break even more.
For those of you who haven't yet seen it, the eight-week-long transit campaign, placed both inside and on the outside of buses, features a photo of an orange tabby with a stainless steel bar drilled into its head accompanied by the line "I am not lab equipment. End UW cat experiments!" Just as PETA hopes, the image is shocking and demands an immediate response.
If I had my druthers, I'd sit out the entire shopping week that follows Thanksgiving. Black Friday, for starters, has corrupted the fine art of bargain shopping and turned it into a gladiator sport. There is no percentage off that is worth losing sleep, or even worse an eye, over. Especially if you have kids in tow.
When you shop for toys, there is always the conflict between what you think is appropriate/adorable and what the child being shopped for might actually want/play with.
Many of the pop-culture seasonal touchpoints of my youth are completely lost on my kids. You see, while I may have memorized every word to both the Snow Miser and the Heat Miser's songs from The Year Without a Santa Claus, I'm pretty sure the only Rankin-Bass stop-motion Christmas special my kids have ever seen has been Rudolph.
I am so thrilled that the United Way is sponsoring a Teen Gift Drive this holiday season. Sure, teen "wants" often aren't as fun to shop for as precious baby dolls and sweet Lego sets. But middle and high school kids still "need" to feel valued and loved during this time of year. And helping a family in need to provide this for their child is a wonderful way to get in the spirit.
My 11th-grade and 8th-grade sons have heard "the chant" for years. You know which one I'm talking about -- the ESFY (U?) chant (I'm not sure what the parenting post rules are for writing two of the more forbidden four-letter words in the English language) that appears to have both Barry Alvarez and Chancellor Blank quite concerned.
There are many different criteria parents use when evaluating which pre-school programs will be right for their children. Some parents might be looking for an educational philosophy that stresses creativity and community. Others may desire an option that revolves around learning through play or is more academic in approach.
We spent hours poring over name books and checking for inappropriate initial combinations. We looked at meanings, variant spellings and popularity charts. And, as I am sure every parent does, we thought we'd hit the name jackpot with each of our kids. But there are always surprises.
A generation or two ago, the pediatrician was the guy (yes, they were mostly guys) who gave your kids shots and prescribed big bottles of antibiotics for every sniffle. Madison's Dipesh Navsaria is a different breed of pediatrician.
Gamehole Con will be the premier tabletop gaming convention in the region. And with Wisconsin being the birthplace of Dungeons and Dragons, as well as the nation's leader in gaming stores per capita, it kind of makes sense that the convention's organizers want the Dairy State to be known for more than just cheese, beer and bratwurst.
This year I will also try to ease up some of my previous costume concerns. Sure, the world is rife with inappropriate dress up choices for our kids; there is no parent out there that is keen on his or her child dressing like a pint-sized prostitute, even for one night.
This past Saturday, I took my youngest to hear Caldecott award-winning author/illustrator Kevin Henkes read from his latest work, The Year of Billy Miller, a short novel for the early elementary grades.
I was greeted at the door by Tom Moen, who has served as executive director of what he likes to call "Madison's best kept secret", for the past 39 of the center's 47 years. Located in the middle of the subsidized Truax Park apartment complex, EMCC, with its vast array of offerings for kids, seniors and everyone in between, is unquestionably the heart of the neighborhood.
Madison's Kashmira Sheth has written four award-winning novels for middle grade and teen readers, and a popular chapter book for six- to nine-year-olds, but right now her picture books are what she's excited to talk about.
A few summers back, my daughter, maybe 8 or 9 at the time, decided to take part in our swimming pool's annual water ballet show. I'm not really sure what initially piqued her interest in the somewhat under-the-radar, very much under-the-water sport of synchronized swimming.
We rarely included a stop at the Central Library as part of our regular outing. For those of you who've been in Madison for a while, I'm sure you'd agree that the old building was pretty run down. Not to mention, dark, cavernous and depressing. Libraries, at their best, should be portals to discovery, right?
My eleven-year-old daughter spent most of last weekend alone in her room, door shut. It wasn't a temper tantrum or an overwhelming need for tween privacy that led to her self-induced isolation, though. Instead, I didn't see her (except for meals) for two days because she was, in her words, "going through her closet."
Yes, the 2004 classic comedy Mean Girls is an absolutely delightful movie. But it's definitely not the smartest mother/daughter viewing as your child is about to enter her inaugural year of middle school.
Despite celebrating 30 years in business this year, Knowledge Unlimited Inc. remains relatively unknown in the community. Those concerned with closing the achievement gap in Madison's schools, however, may want to take note. This award-winning educational-materials producer, based in Middleton, is unique in emphasizing multiculturalism throughout its lines of educational posters, DVDs and children's books.