March 2009

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Adam and I are really starting to enjoy living here in DC.  We’ve been socializing more than ever, mostly through visits from our out-of-town friends.  I think we’ve had just about one visit per month from people passing through town and the schedule is even more packed for the next couple of months. 

It’s also exciting to be living in a real city again.  Today, Adam was on the train to New York for a workshop at Columbia University and was sitting across from the former commander of the U.S.S. Cole, from the time it was attacked.  Adam admires the U.S. military very much (he even considered a career in the military at one point) so this was a huge thrill for him.  (Apparently, the gentleman is scheduled to be on Hannity and Colmes tonight, I think discussing the shut-down of Guantanamo.  I hate that show but I’ll have to watch it.)  You don’t usually get to meet such interesting people on planes and trains when you live in East Lansing or Lexington, Virginia!  Although, come to think of it, we did meet Mayor Ray Nagin on a plane when we lived in New Orleans, but that was pre-Katrina so he wasn’t quite that interesting yet. 

Adam has also made a ton of great contacts for work amongst the lobbyists and think tanks here in DC.  We’ve been able to attend every lecture of the Ayn Rand Center for the Advancement of Objectivism.  (I wonder why they changed their name.)  I’m going to a big homeschooling conference this summer, whose keynote speaker will be Susan Wise Bauer.  I’ve been meaning to read her book, The Well Trained Mind, for ages, so I’ll have to get to that soon.

There is just so much going on all the time.  I don’t need to plan anything.  In fact, I need to turn down quite a bit.  We have other friends in the outlying areas that we’ve been meaning to visit since we arrived…last May!  I think I need to put that on my to-do list or we’ll always be too busy.

But not this week.  We need to get downtown to see the cherry blossoms.  I’ve never seem them in bloom.  Spring is just beginning here and we have white and pink flowers everywhere.  It’s just beautiful.  Maybe it will be ok to live here after all.

Putting on a peanut butter mustache to match my daughter’s.

I strongly recommend Good Calories, Bad Calories, by Gary Taubes.  If you haven’t heard of it, the subtitle is, “Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease,” and that is an understatement!  This book turns everything you thought you knew about nutrition on its head, or at least attempts to. 

First, I want to thank all of you who recommended this book to me.  I have been liberated from my fear of fat!  I knew that I did better eating protein versus carbohydrates, but I still thought I should eat lean meats and low fat dairy products to minimize fat, both for weight control and to keep my cholesterol down.  Even after reading Taubes’ NYT article, What if it’s Been a Big Fat Lie, I didn’t quite get it.  Here is the inescapable truth: there is no correlation between dietary cholesterol and heart disease.  There is not even a clear correlation between the “bad” cholesterol in your blood, LDL, and heart disease.  And a correlation would only be a start anyway – as you know, correlation does not equal causation.  There is a correlation between the “good” cholesterol, HDL and heart disease: the more HDL, the less heart disease.  There are also some good theories for causation that fit with the studies that show this correlation, although they are not proven yet (in my opinion).  Still, nothing supports the conventional wisdom that suggests limiting fat in the diet–simply nothing.  The original correlations have withered away with conflicting data.  The theory has gotten consistently weaker through time.  Read the book – the evidence from the studies could not be clearer.   

Taubes has a much more ambitious purpose than just to debunk the conventional wisdom, though.  His goal is to inspire more formal study of the harmful effects of refined carbohydrates and sugars in the diet.  Overall, I agree that this absolutely needs to be done, but I think, along the way, Taubes ends up making some of the same mistakes he identifies in the low-fat advocates.  He puts too much faith in observational studies and anecdotal evidence.  I was much more convinced by his skepticism than his positive thesis.  To be more specific, I’ll use the author’s summary of his own conclusions based on the evidence he collected, and put in my two cents (in italics):

1. Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, is not a cause of obesity, heart disease, or any other chronic disease of civilization. (Emphasis added.) I’m not convinced that “disease of civilization” is a valid concept but otherwise, I agree with this statement as a general rule for obesity and heart disease. This is where I think Taubes is brilliant and revolutionary.  His meticulous collection and presentation of the relevent studies is impressive and convincing.  

2. The problem is the carbohydrates in the diet, their effect on insulin secretion, and thus the hormonal regulation of homeostasis–the entire harmonic ensemble of the human body. The more easily digestible and refined the carbohydrates, the greater the effect on our health, weight, and well-being. This is where I think he goes too far, but I fully agree that there is enough evidence to treat this as a theory to be studied further. Further, I think it is enough to justify my own effort to reduce my carbohydrate and sugar consumption, but in a much more limited way than Taubes might recommend. I might even call it “probable” that carbohydrates are a big problem in a modern diet. But to call carbohydrates “the problem” is going too far based on the evidence he has presented.

3. Sugars–sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup specifically–are particularly harmful, probably because the combination of fructose and glucose simultaneously elevates insulin levels while overloading the liver with carbohydrates. I don’t think there is all that much evidence for HFCS being even more harmful than sugar (although there is enough to warrant further study), but what impressed me in his discussion of sugar is the mammoth amount of sugar consumed per capita in our country now – I can’t find the figures but it went from approximately 10 pounds a couple hundred years ago to well over 100 pounds per year now. Otherwise, my comments on #2 apply here.

4. Through their direct effect on insulin and blood sugar, refined carbohydrates, starches, and sugars are the dietary cause of coronary heart disease and diabetes. They are the most likely dietary causes of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and the other chronic diseases of civilization. I would put the qualifier “most likely cause” on the first set of conditions and “a possible cause” on the latter. Note that Taubes says “dietary cause,” not “cause.” This means: as effected by diet. Taubes does not deny the interaction of genetic factors or other environmental factors. He is speaking strictly about effects from the diet. But, again, with the diseases of civilization! I think that would only be a valid concept if, in fact, the earlier part of this statement was proved correct. In other words, if we did prove that carbohydrates and sugars caused diseases x,y,z, and we found that those diseases cropped up with the introduction of those foods in various diets, then we would have a valid concept. Of course, we’d probably call it something different then, like, “diseases of refined carbohydrates” or something. Still, this is the first place I have ever seen (and I have looked all over the internet, including in academic articles) any evidence at all presented for the “diseases of civilization” concept. It seems to be so accepted that nobody bothers to explain or justify it. But Taubes did give a history of the idea and it was a fascinating and compelling set of anecdotal evidence, but I just don’t think it’s valid to speak of these diseases as a group (and the members in the group are not always clear either). I think that is dangerous assumption-making, and the kind of oversimplification that Taubes warns us about in the earlier parts of the book. (The term “civilization” is inflammatory, from an Objectivist’s point of view, but really it refers to agriculture, which many consider to be the necessary precondition to civilization. It really angered me, though, when Taubes quoted somebody who said that agriculture may have been the biggest disaster in the history of man, or something to that effect. Now that is the kind of anti-man statement I’ve heard when reading about the Paleo diet, at least in implication. If there are indeed “diseases of civilization,” they are still a small price to pay for our modern world! Also, as somebody pointed out in the comments here on my blog, if modern foods are causing health problems, the answer is more science, not reversion.)

5. Obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation, not overeating, and not sedentary behavior. Wow! This is another area where Taubes shook up my worldview. You just can’t understand this unless you read the book and the mountains of circumstantial evidence for this statement. I would add a qualifier to this statement that says that obesity “may sometimes be” a disorder of excess fat accumulation…or possibly, “may usually be.” I still believe some (many?) people are overweight because they eat too much, even when their internal nutritional needs are met, but Taubes presents a plausible theory (see details below), there is evidence for it, and it fits with my own experience.

6. Consuming excess calories does not cause us to grow fatter, any more than it causes a child to grow taller. Expending more energy than we consume does not lead to long-term weight loss; it leads to hunger. Again, you’ll have to read the book to understand and believe this. The key is that you can eat and the calories can get stored in your fat tissue without giving your cells the energy they need, so that being overweight is actually a manifestation of internal starvation. See #7. There is much evidence for this, but again, it really is not proven yet, in my opinion.

7. Fattening and obesity are caused by an imbalance-a disequilibrium-in the hormonal regulation of adipose tissue and fat metabolism. Fat synthesis and storage exceed the mobilization of fat from the adipose tissue and its subsequent oxidation. We become leaner when the hormonal regulation of the fat tissue reverses this balance. If you haven’t read the book this probably doesn’t make much sense to you, but it is intelligible in the context of the science presented in the book.

8. Insulin is the primary regulator of fat storage. When insulin levels are elevated-either chronically or after a meal-we accumulate fat in our fat tissue. When insulin levels fall, we release fat from our fat tissue and use it for fuel. Again, maybe. I learned a lot about the role of insulin by reading this book and it was fascinating.

9. By stimulating insulin secretion, carbohydrates make us fat and ultimately cause obesity. The fewer carbohydrates we consume, the leaner we will be. I wish, but again, I only give this a maybe.

10. By driving fat accumulation, carbohydrates also increase hunger and decrease the amount of energy we expend in metabolism and physical activity. Overall, I am pretty confident there is some truth to this theory, but I’m not convinced it is as clear-cut as Taubes suggests and I definitely do not think the evidence warrants cutting out most carbohydrates from one’s diet, regardless of the costs in enjoyment, convenience, and price.

Much of the reason I say there is not enough evidence for many of these claims is that there have never been any real studies testing the hypotheses!  Taubes claims that the fat hypothesis is so ingrained and accepted that to even undertake a test of these theories would be blasphemy, so to speak.  To Taubes’ credit, he calls the ten statements above his “own conclusions” and specifically calls for controlled studies.

I found the early part of the book the most interesting, where Taubes makes it clear that the erroneous fat hypothesis became gospel through a mixture of bad science, inertia, and government interference.  He goes as far as to say:

It’s possible to point to a single day when the controversy was shifted irrevocably in favor of [the fat] hypothesis–Friday, January 14, 1977, when Senator George McGovern announced the publication of the first Dietary Goals for the United States.  The document was “the first comprehensive statement by any branch of the Federal Government on risk factors in the American diet,” said McGovern.

This was the first time that any government institution (as opposed to private groups like the AHA) had told Americans they could improve their health by eating less fat…The document itself became gospel. It is hard to overstate its impact.

Another interesting issue is the concept of public health.  In a chapter called “The Greater Good” Taubes traces how the desire to “achieve the greatest good by treating entire populations rather than individuals” leads to patients who are not motivated to change their behaviors, which in turn leads to “experts” who exaggerate risks and try to create social pressure to change people’s behavior, whether it is good for any particular individual or not.  Recognizing that this is an instance of collectivism at work really helps to understand the succession of “public service messages” we receive about health, which invariably are later revoked.  Think about the campaign against salt, or the outrageous exaggerations of the anti-drug campaign.

I could write even more about this book but I’ll end with my own conclusions.  I do not think that carbohydrates are bad in the way that Taubes does so I suppose that I fundamentally disagree with the book.  (It is, after all, called “Good Calories, Bad Calories.”)  I think the balance is off in the standard American diet–it is slanted too much towards carbohydrate consumption, in part because of convenience (which is a value) and in part (more recently) because of the low-fat campaign.  (Taubes specifically takes issue with the idea of a “balanced diet,” claiming that the concept comes from the errors in the fat hypothesis, but I don’t agree.  Because I do not think there is enough evidence, I default to a principle which fits with all my other knowledge about health, and life in general for that matter.)  For now, I’m not so much reducing carbohydrates as adding fats back into my diet.  For me, that means that carbohydrates are falling away more naturally, since I don’t really like to eat much of them anyway.  I’m really just retraining myself to stop thinking in terms of fat being bad.  Once you see the Big Fat Lie for what it is, you will be shocked at how ingrained it is into your psyche.   I intend to trust my body’s signals more than I have in the past, and to be even more skeptical (if that is possible) about nutritional studies.

My favorite line from Curious George is:

George promised to be good. But it is easy for little monkeys to forget.

It reminds me to always assume positive intent with my own little monkey.

Edison Hour

If you are repulsed by the man-hating, primitive-worshipping, anti-progress evil which is environmentalism…

If you are inspired by inventors, creators, discoverers…

If you respect man’s mind and feel awe at all that the human race has accomplished…

Then turn on all your lights tomorrow, March 28, from 8:30-9:30pm for Edison Hour!  Environmentalists will be turning everything off for “Earth Hour,” so let’s show them that we reject the call to sacrifice, the renunciation, and just plain dreariness of their creed. 

You can see the oppposite of that creed in this now familiar, but still moving image.  I wish Thomas Edison could have seen this!


(Image courtesy NASA/GSFC)

Homemade mayonnaise.  Try it.

Samantha made her first poop on the actual toilet today!  In the past she’s only successfully used the little bucket thing.  All it took was me telling her that Cajun Lady would help her.

I must say that a tiny little child on a big toilet making little grunting noises is just unbearably cute.

The Round Up is up at another new host: Erosophia.  Don’t miss Rational Jenn’s latest post about discipline without punishment, including lots of interesting comments.  Taxes are on my mind this week, having just filed, and I see there is an analysis on the host blog about whether Objectivism necessitates a condemnation of all taxation.  I’ve never been totally convinced that it does, so I’ll check that out with interest tomorrow.

Samantha loves it when I make up stories and pretend to be made-up characters.  For stories, I use the Little Bear TV show (still love it!) as a base and make up new situations.  It’s pretty easy when you have a set of characters already made for you.  I’m surprised at how well I’m doing with the storytelling.  Adam and I thought for sure that these “imaginative” things would be more his domain than mine, so I’m pretty impressed with myself.

Then I have two main characters I play for her: Whale and Cajun Lady.  Whale talks really slow and low…well, like a whale.  She lives in the ocean and eats plankton and that’s all she does, except the funny-talking.  I can count on Sam cooperating with just about anything if I ask her as Whale.  Cajun Lady is the latest addition to my repertoire.  I just started talking in this weird Cajun accent one day and Sam fell in love with it.  That one is much more fun for me, but it’s a bit embarrassing at the supermarket.

Another fun part for me is when I’m tired of playing the funny character, I close my eyes for a moment, open them and sort of shake my head and say in my usual voice, “Did I fall asleep?”  Now I just need to teach Sam to respond, “For a little while.”

Even if you use cloth diapers, you’ve got to admit that disposable diapers were a great invention.  Well, if you use cloth diapers you probably can’t express an idea very well yet.  And of course, there are those pesky environmentalists.  OK, so you don’t have to admit it.  But I think it was a great invention, and one of my favorite blogs, Heroes of Capitalism, has the story right here.

I made up a new game for Sam the other day.  I think it’s a bit advanced for her, but it kept her occupied while I dried my hair.  I gave her 5 Q-Tips, a pair of tweezers, and the cup from my bathroom counter.  I showed her how to line up the swabs on the floor, about an inch or two apart, then how to use the tweezers to pick them up and place them in the cup.  I might try kitchen tongs and Brussels Sprouts in the kitchen next time.

This is another example of selfish parenting.  My motivation here was not to find something interesting for Sam to do, but to keep her occupied so I could get my own things done.  It worked out well for both of us.

We are into the spilling phase of childhood.  Sam spills her milk at least once a day now.  She almost never spilled like this in the past, even when she first started using a regular cup.  She loves cleaning up, so that consequence does not deter her.  Instead, I try to show that I’m frustrated with it, but that it’s not the end of the world.  In the meantime, I’m stuck with a lot of clean up, even with her help.

Yesterday she was in her booster seat at the table, drinking from a glass, and I was doing the dishes.  I started thinking, “I hope she drops that glass and it shatters.”  She’s been using glasses as well as plastic cups for a long time and I was hoping the first time she shattered one would be such a traumatic experience that it would teach her to be more careful.  Because of the spilling, I was becoming paranoid about her dropping a glass and I wanted to get it over with. 

Not a minute later, I got my wish.  The problem is, she didn’t freak out.  In fact, I think she just found it kind of interesting.  I should have known – this kid pops balloons on purpose and laughs at the explosions, and she taunts the cat to get him to swipe at her so she can try to duck away in time.  So I made her stay in her booster seat while I cleaned it up, which took at least 20 minutes.  I thought for sure she would get bored and hate having to sit still, but she just watched me.

Today, she dropped another one.  I’m going to have to get creative with some other kind of natural, or at least related, consequence.

I think Sam and I have been playing with her Han Solo toy too much.  Today I told her, “I love you,” and she told me, I KNOW.

Thanks to Jim Woods for alerting me to the fact that Carl Sagan’s Cosmos is available on Hulu.  I can’t recommend this show highly enough.  Adam and I have been looking forward to watching this with our daughter since before she was born.  In fact, Cosmos is one of those things that makes you want to have a child, just to share that value.

I chose to have a natural childbirth with Samantha.  I’m still surprised at myself for making that choice, but so glad that I did.  My memories of the pregnancy and birth are all so positive.  Sometimes I want to have another child just to go through it all again. 

While I was pregnant, I wrote a note to friends and family explaining the general reasons for my choice of natural childbirth, and just a few days after Sam arrived, I wrote up my birth story.  Here are both essays, unedited to preserve every bit of emotion and confusion of the time.


Natural Childbirth

As many of you know, I have opted to have a natural childbirth at a birth center instead of a hospital.  If you know Adam and me at all, you’re probably surprised at this, as are we! 

I am a firm believer in the value of modern, western medicine, and I certainly don’t go looking for more pain than I need to experience in life.  However, after some good advice from friends and then a lot of research, I found that having a baby in a hospital has a lot of drawbacks.  Hospitals have timeframes for labor and delivery that promote the use of interventions to speed up the process, even when there is no medical reason for it.  Just like with government controls, one intervention leads to another, often leading to the ultimate intervention – a C-section.  Many of these seem to be completely unnecessary.  I suspect that hospitals also have liability concerns that encourage, not just the reduction of risk (a good thing), but the covering of backsides.  Mothers are treated as patients, and the birth process is a medical event.  The bad part about this is that you are a passive player in the whole event.  Sure, you still have to push at the end, but you’re basically lying flat on your back (the worst possible position, by the way!) with tubes and wires all over you, catheterized, just waiting for things to happen.  With an epidural (very hard to avoid in a hospital), when the baby is born you may or may not feel the experience, and your baby will not be as alert as one born without any drugs. 

I want to have some control over my body, I want to *experience* the whole process, even if it does mean a lot of pain, and I don’t want my baby doped up when she is born.  Luckily, there is a free-standing birth center just a few miles from here which three women I know have used and loved.  My baby will be delivered by certified nurse midwives.  They have a lot of the basic emergency capabilities that a hospital does, and for anything else the hospital is just 10 minutes away (no longer than it would take to get you from a delivery room to a surgical room for an emergency C-section anyway).  There are no drugs available at all.  The atmosphere is very homelike, and they have tubs for a water birth if I want that.  They leave you alone as much as possible, and they don’t whisk your baby away from you shortly after she is born. 

The midwives are definitely a bit anti-medicine, and they offer a lot of hokey things like herbs and aromatherapy, but they don’t push those things on you.  They very explicitly work to provide you with the experience that you are looking for.  I’ve had all my prenatal care there, and I trust their medical knowledge and advice.  I am actually looking forward to labor (and I’m only a little bit nervous).  Maybe I’m naïve, but it seems like the act of giving birth has the potential to be a fulfilling experience – a challenge with a great reward at the end!  I know that a lot of things can go wrong and that I may not have the “perfect” experience, but I am totally confident that I’ve made the right choice to at least allow for the possibility of a great experience.  I’ll be sure to post my “birth story” here after our daughter is born.


My Birth Story

I woke up at 6am to find that my water had broken.  Luckily, I made it to the bathroom before any damage was done to the bed!  (Adam and I were never sure how that would work.)  It was very little fluid and I didn’t feel any contractions, so I was not totally positive about it, but I think I was in a bit of denial.  Still, I said out loud, “Oh no!”  It was 2 weeks and one day early, and I was not ready!  My parents weren’t here yet, I hadn’t frozen a bunch of easy to heat meals, I had work to do today, I hadn’t even finished packing my “hospital” bag, and darn it, I just didn’t feel emotionally prepared for the baby, although I guess you never are anyway.

I woke up Adam who was nearly catatonic (we got to sleep about 2am that night) and I told him that I thought my water had broken.  With eyes barely open he said, “On the bed???”  I said, “No, it’s ok,” and he said, “Congratulations,” and closed his eyes again.  I managed to laugh uproariously at that.  After getting Adam to truly awaken, we contacted the birth center.  Kip was on call for the Labor Day weekend and advised me to keep an eye on things and let her know if contractions started or anything else changed.  I told her I was going to try to go back to sleep.  At this point, it was still possible I was not going right into labor, but either way, I needed my rest and there was no urgency.  I even took a half a (doctor approved) Benadryl to help me relax and sleep.

The minute I got back into bed at 7am, the contractions started.  I let Adam sleep and decided to time them for a while as I lay there.  They were 6 minutes apart and about 30-40 seconds long, but I was not using a stopwatch, just my bedside clock.  Not very painful, but definitely there and fairly powerful.  At first I tensed against them, but then learned to relax through them, and I was happy to find that relaxation helped a lot.

At 8am I decided sleep was out and I took a shower.  By the time I got out, the contractions were stronger and closer together.  I still let Adam sleep, thinking he would need his energy for the marathon ahead.  I went downstairs and tried to time the contractions with a stopwatch, but I kept getting interrupted by needing to go to the bathroom, trying to eat, and being confused by when they started and ended.  It seemed like they were only 3-4 minutes apart now, but I thought that couldn’t be right.  I called Kip to let her know I was definitely in labor, so she should be ready to come in to the birth center.  She is a half hour away, and I am just 5 minutes away.  I started thinking that it would be sooner rather than later, so I woke up Adam and told him to shower and get the bag together.  I figured he could help me time contractions when he came downstairs in a half hour or so.  It was about 9am at this point.

This is when everything started happening fast.  Contractions became very strong.  I tried lying on my side on the couch and that did not work for me at all – it hurt!  I had never managed to eat but that was out of the question now.  I went into our home office to try sitting on my “birthing ball” (just one of those inflatable exercise balls).  I didn’t make it that far.  Just inside the office door, I fell to my hands and knees and started having serious contractions in rapid succession.  That position was the best, though.  I hardly left it for the next two hours.  I was able to relax and it hurt, but it was not a pain that bothered me.  It truly was like the pain of working muscles, as opposed to the pain of being injured.  But it took all of my focus and effort to get through it.  I knew I was definitely in active labor (and probably further than that, as I found out later).

When Adam came downstairs around 9:30 I told him to call Kip – we needed to go in asap.  (No, I did not say it that calmly!)  Adam says that as he came down the stairs he was thinking, “labor coach reporting for duty,” but when he found me on the floor moaning, he knew his job would simply be to get us out of the house and to the birth center.  He did his job very well!  I’m not sure how or what he did, but we managed to leave around 10:25 or so with Kip expected at 10:30.  By this time, I was feeling the need to push and I had been scared to death that the baby would be born on my office floor.

The car ride sucked big time.  Kip was there when we arrived and when she saw me crammed in the front seat of the car somehow on my hands and knees, I heard her say, “that looks real!”  Adam told her to start filling the tub and apparently she already had, but I didn’t hear that part – just that Adam knew what to do.  What a champ Adam is!  He did everything right.

I got in the birthing room and went right back on my hands and knees leaning over a birthing ball.  The other two midwives, Shelie and Sandra, arrived somewhere in there, but I missed it.  Kip started taking pictures and I’ll love her to my dying day for that.  Adam and I certainly didn’t have time to think about that! 

I had been feeling the urge to push for about at least a half hour as we were trying to get into the birth center, and I had been holding it back, which was difficult.  Now I had to change modes and allow my body to do its work and this was a challenge as well.  I told Kip (or whomever was listening) about this concern and focused on doing it.  By now the contractions really were one on top of the other.  No real breaks or rest at all.  I’m sure Kip knew we were in second stage labor (pushing time) by this point.  Someone had put towels between my sore knees and the hardwood floor and my legs were slipping apart so Adam wedged his knee next to mine to hold me in place.  He must have also been rubbing me or something, but I don’t really remember that part.  I just know he was there and that’s all that mattered to me.

When the tub was full, Kip told me if I wanted to have the baby in the water, I needed to get in now.  I did so only through sheer will power and the help of an experienced midwife who knows when to leave you alone and when to give you a push.  The tub felt great.  I highly recommend it!  I also was able to really relax and let my body push.  I don’t think I ever had to consciously push – the contractions did all the work and I just had to let it happen.  I actually held back a bit because that baby was coming fast and the stretching hurt really bad – and this is the kind of pain that feels like an injury.  I knew slower would be better for that pain.  I think I cussed a bit at that point.

But eventually, her head popped out – what a relief – the worst was over!  And my practically constant contractions stopped.  As I’m waiting for a contraction to push out her body, I hear the midwives giggling as they look at my baby’s face under the water peering up at them.  They called Adam over to look because she had her eyes open and was blowing bubbles and making faces and moving all around!  There was no rush to get her out of the water, as her oxygen was still provided by the umbilical cord, but I was ready to get her out and that contraction hadn’t come yet and I kept asking if it was okay.  She was also squirming around inside me and it felt darned strange!  I joked that she didn’t want to come out yet because she wanted to give me just a few more good kicks before she did.  I cracked myself up with that, and there is actually a picture of me laughing while my daughter is halfway in and halfway out of me.  That was probably the best moment of the whole labor process. 

A moment later, at 11:27am, I had my contraction and pushed out her body (this time I helped it along a bit).  I sat back and they put her on me and I can’t say anything more than anyone else ever does about this moment:  it was unbelievable and awesome.  I just repeated over and over, “Oh my god,” and “I can’t believe it.”  She was pink and covered in white vernix, and of course, the most beautiful baby ever born!  She cried quickly and opened her eyes.  I held her until the umbilical cord stopped pulsing and they cut it.  I continued to hold her until the placenta was born about 45 minutes later.  Then we got out of the tub and all three of us got into the bed and became a family.  We named her Samantha Miriam.  She weighed 6 pounds 4 ounces and was 18.25 inches long and was perfect and healthy.

I never had a vaginal exam.  I never knew about centimeters dilated or effacement or anything medical except that the baby’s heartbeat was indicating no problems.  My entire labor was 4 ½ hours long, including the official pushing time of 45 minutes.  At about 1 hour, I was the birth center’s fastest “door to delivery” first time mom ever.  The worst part was pushing the head out, and the next worst part was being afraid she would be born on my office floor and the hectic panic of getting to the birth center.  Everything else was, dare I say it, a great experience.  I am so proud of myself.

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