Monday, March 27, 2017

Karsten's birth story: Long start, quick finish



Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!

I've been putting off writing Karsten's birth story, or even thinking it over and retelling it to myself. I can't say why. Maybe it's that it's my third birth. Maybe it's that I've been able to keep it more special and private if it's not recited or shared. Maybe I'm just not sure what to make of it. Maybe a little of all of those.

Labor lasted a long time. What does "long" mean? Weeks, folks. It lasted freaking weeks.

All right, technically that's called "prodromal labor," or "practice labor." Or "stalled labor" or "false labor" (grr … my uterus didn't think so). At any rate, that went for a good long while. I thought Karsten was going to be born around 38 weeks, but he hung in there till nearly 41.

So, every day, I had contractions, many times at regular intervals, and lasting for several hours at a time. And then they'd peter out, and I'd scratch my head and go "huh." Karsten kept bobbing up and down in my belly, at one moment so low I could barely waddle, making me sure he'd just, plop, fall out onto the floor, and then the next bouncing back discouragingly high up. I walked miles each day. I lunged and climbed stairs like a crab and did pelvic tilts and slept in the Sims' position, all to open my pelvis and engage that stubborn baby. I drank red raspberry leaf and nettle tea to tone the uterus and ate dates to soften the cervix. I always tried to get plenty of rest in case this was "the day." I kept myself well fed in case I needed the energy for birthing. I did all the techniques I could Google about how to kickstart a labor, turn a baby into optimal position, free my mind and spirit for birth, etc., etc. I tempted fate frequently: traveling far from home, doing activities that were interrupted when previous children were born, making firm plans in expectation of having them broken.

Karsten could not be moved. He was taking his sweet, sweet time, and there was nothing I could do about it.

I'd been hoping this labor would be more like Alrik's than like Mikko's. To recap, with Mikko I had 42 intense hours of back labor, culminating in a transfer to the hospital and finally a no-meds vaginal delivery. It was empowering that he came out through my strength alone — all 11 pounds, 13 ounces of him — but after the fact, we could guess that he had been posterior, we could see that he came out with an arm wrapped around his head (aka nuchal arm leading to an asynclitic head positioning, both of which are suboptimal), and, well, he was obviously huge.

Monday, March 20, 2017

"Sing" the movie shows kids how to be body positive

Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!


My kids and I, ever so charmingly behind the times, just went to see Sing at the cheapie theater. If you are also delayed in your cultural viewing, it's an animated film about animals performing in a musical talent competition.

It's a really cute movie in general, and I love me some musicals, but one thing I was struck by was how diverse the body types were, and how no one cared.

Here are the main characters posing below. You can also see the promo clips in the video above.


Starting from the left, you've got a tiny male mouse with a big ego. The elephant is a shy girl who's trying to overcome her stage fright. The pig in capris is a stay-at-home mom to 25 piglets. (She does some amazing Rube Goldberg-esque preparations to care for her kids while she's off rehearsing, leading me to think she should really have been an engineer.) The porcupine is a teenager who's coming out from under the smothering shadow of her wannabe-rockstar boyfriend. The koala is the morally ambiguous manager. The gorilla is a boy from the wrong side of the tracks who wants to break free of his family's crime business. The sassy pig in bright red spandex is a confidently dancing phenom.

One thing in common with all of them is that never, in the course of the movie, did anyone suggest that they should make their bodies look different.

Monday, March 13, 2017

I've lived the Republicans' plan for the ACA, and I can't support it

Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!

I try not to be too political on this blog. You probably don't believe me given some of my recent posts, but it's true. If you're politicked out and want to skip this one, feel free. I just want to give some public insight into how maternal and child healthcare work — or don't — on a high deductible plan with an HSA, and since that's been my lived experience, I feel an obligation to share.

My 12-month-old son recovering
from a surgery we almost didn't have
because we couldn't afford it.
There are many Republican plans floating around right now suggesting a replacement to the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), which currently covers 20 million people in the United States. Several replacement ideas, including the latest GOP plan, have touted health savings accounts as the best option for those who need private insurance. I'm here to tell you how that works out in practice, and how it might nearly have cost me my fertility and my life and how it could have prevented my baby from having a needed operation.

Scenario 1: The five-month miscarriage


When my husband, Sam, and I were first trying to conceive, we got pregnant right away, but not all was rosy. I started spotting at 6 weeks and then full-on bleeding with cramps at 10 weeks: a miscarriage. I put off going to my gynecologist, whom I hadn't seen in a long time due to budget constraints. I figured what needed to come out had come out and that there was nothing more to be done. I had a hankering to keep this baby's "birth" natural in any case, but this was aided by the fact that if I went in to a gynecologist, it wouldn't be covered as a preventive visit. It would be an urgent-care visit, which meant I'd be on the hook for the full amount, including any tests and procedures. I'd had problems with this before, even when going in for preventive visits, which were supposed to be covered with just a copay. The doctor, without asking me, would tack on some extra lab work, and the next thing I knew, I'd be getting a lab bill I hadn't budgeted for.

So I stayed home, and I kept bleeding. And bleeding. And bleeding. For five months, I continued charting my temperatures to see when I'd ovulate, and I'd note which days I had spotting. It was nearly all the days in that five-month span, interspersed with what seemed like menstrual periods as well. I fretted. I searched message boards. Surely this was not normal? I called the midwives I'd been hoping to see for my pregnancy. They told me to call my gynecologist. I called Planned Parenthood, hoping for a cheaper option. They told me to call my gynecologist. I finally did, and my gynecologist's office scheduled me for three weeks out. I called back to see if they could see me sooner, and they scheduled an urgent-care visit for that week, but I was so wracked with anxiety about going to an appointment I couldn't afford that I ended up being too late for it, and it was canceled on me. Not too long after, I woke up tortured by the most painful cramps I'd ever experienced. I cried and labored in the shower, took some ibuprofen, then fell back asleep. When I woke up, a chestnut-size piece of tissue lay in my underpants. After passing that tissue, the bleeding stopped from that day forward.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

How an unschooling mama teaches phonics

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The dryness of boredom in school

I had a dentist appointment the other day, and they went hog wild with the sucker tool. My mouth was as dry as the Serengeti, and soon my tongue was nothing but a pendulous husk in my mouth.

I flashed back to my school days when I would deliberately leave my mouth slightly open for as long as I could stand so that my tongue would dry out. I'd try to wait until it was as dry as possible and then I'd close it and enjoy the strange sensation of cotton-ball tongue — a seemingly foreign object — then let it gradually wick up moisture again and return to its moist, plump self.

You see, I was bored. Really, really bored.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Mystery Science, fossil bonanza, & a teachable moment



Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!

Sometimes I fear I'm not schooly enough for this unschooling thing to work. This is a common worry among homeschooling types — am I doing enough? Are my kids learning the right things? Would school be doing much better for them?

I see myself as a Type B personality, so I'm naturally laissez-faire. While I think Type A unschoolers have to push themselves to relax, I feel I need occasional nudges into scheduling and activities to make sure we do something.

And so it was I finally cracked open Mystery Science.

(This post is not at all sponsored, by the way. I signed up for the free trial but then let it lapse, because I'm awesome like that. I'm just talking about the single lesson's worth of use I've gotten out of it so far, and this isn't meant as a straight-up review.)