Saturday, August 30, 2014

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: The Tale of a First Haircut

Masaya, looking like Troy Polamalu before his first haircut 


Hello friends!!! We're on a roll here, trying to enjoy all that the end of summer has to offer. And with adventures in back to school, comes the very first haircut. At least that's what it meant for my son Masaya.

Let's go back a little though. Now for those of you who are not familiar with Masaya, his hair is his thing. Folks all over Buffalo know my son by his long, curly hair. And honestly, he loves the attention.
He loves getting it wet, loves the texture of it and don't get me started on him shaking it around if a song he loves comes on. His hair has always been a source of pride for him, because it has always been something he has had sole control over. That if and when he cut his hair, the decision would be his. Well, that day came a few weeks ago, when I just randomly asked him if he wanted to cut his hair. He turned to me and said so calmly "Yes mommy, I do." I was shocked frankly, since my son has NEVER cut his hair. He loves his hair, we love his hair, the world loves his hair. When I asked him why, he thought about it for a moment and said "I just want a change for a little bit." And here's the kicker. He looked at me and said "I want to help the sick girl in TV", referring to a childhood cancer commercial, "I want her to have my hair." Ladies and gentlemen can I tell you it took all my will power not to start balling in front of him. A four and a half year old making such mature choices...it was a sight to behold and I couldn't have been prouder.

I made an appointment for him at the fabulous Lexington Salon in Elmwood Village. Not only is this boutique salon stylish and urban, but it's so close in our neighborhood, that we could walk there. And any parent knows that convenience is key with kids. We popped over for our 3:30pm appointment and I just have to say how impressed I was with not only the salon, but the staff as well. The sleek salon is home to two amazing professionals. John, along with his partner Liz, have created such a warm and welcoming environment, you would never dream of going anywhere else. As soon as we stepped in, we felt confident and relaxed. John was outstanding, making Masaya feel comfortable and at ease. Not only is he a great stylist, but he was a total professional from beginning to end. Once everything was said and done John bagged the hair for me (side note: if you're interested in donating hair, Lexington Salon can take of it for you or you can send it off yourself. BONUS!) and we were on our way, with a new look and big spring in our step.

John from Lexington Salon working his magic on Masaya


 I'm glad my son kept his hair long for all these years. I always felt that in his own way he was breaking down gender stereotypes. Saying to the world, boys can have long hair too. But more importantly, I'm glad that he understands that no matter how he wears his hair he is still my strong, beautiful Masaya...through and through. 

Love Malinda xo

The final result

*For more information or to contact John or Liz for an appointment please visit http://www.lexingtonsalonbuffalo.com/default.html or find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lexington-Salon/360950830646515?ref=hl

And to donate to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, visit them at http://pantene.com/en-us/brandexperience/make-the-cut

Friday, August 29, 2014

Doula! How I Love Thee: Why Every Pregnant Mom Deserves a Doula & How to Get One

Masaya saying hello to Yui at 35 weeks in utero.
             

Hello friends and goodbye summer. Though I'm sad to see this season come to an end, I rejoice in the new season coming our way. And with every change we learn and grow. Which is why I have to dedicate a post to the wonderful women who we call doulas. What's a doula you may ask, well keep on reading and you'll find out.

Now for those of you who read my last post, you know that for my second pregnancy I aimed to have a VBAC or vaginal birth after cesarean. And with the amazing help from my doula, my ideal birth was reached. A doula, literally translated from the Ancient Greek as "a woman who serves", is a non medical professional who assists before, during and after birth to expecting parents. A lot of people confuse midwives with doulas. A doula cannot deliver your baby, although if no one was around, I'm more then confident that she could. She does not preform medical examines, etc. The doula's whole purpose is to support the pregnant woman. In my opinion, its like having my very own personal pregnancy assistant. She is not like everyone else, who focuses solely on the baby its self, but she puts total focus on the woman, who will bring the baby forth. I mean, how amazing is that. My doula, Pam Gay, was a god sent. And frankly, I do not believe I would have achieved a drug-free VBAC without her. She met with me (even at times Kenji and my mother, since they both would be present at the birth.) several times before I was due with Yui.  We worked on relaxation and focus techniques, visualization and meditation. She preformed Reiki sessions if I was feeling fatigued or overwhelmed. And sometimes we just talked. Pam was a friend, a sister and a confident to me. Hell, she supported me when I decided to leave my practice at 29 weeks because I no longer felt support and she did it with no judgment. She helped me to demolish any fear that I had, so when I did go into labor, I was confident and knew that I had the power to bring my daughter into this world. And truly, I cannot thank her enough for being with me at one of the most sacred and beautify moments in my life.

Now that I've waxed poetic about my love for Pam and all the doulas across the globe, lets talk about how you fabulous mamas to be can get one. Here we go:

1. Understand what a doula is and what they do. Now I hope I helped with this point, but if you still need help, there are links at the end to help.

2. Talk to other women and men who have had experiences with doulas. Nothing better then a parent to parent discussion.

3. Research doulas in your area. I used the DONA International website, Doula Match and other sites

4. Once you've narrowed down your choices, start setting up interviews. The DONA International site has an awesome list of questions to ask.

5. After interviews, check credentials and references. You want to make sure you're hiring the best.

6. Pick the doula that's right for you. I CANNOT stress this enough. You may meet a woman who has the best references and training for days, but if you and your partner do not feel comfortable with her, its all for nothing. You are hiring a person that you connect with. This woman will see you at your best and your worse, so don't rush into anything. Take your time and pick the right one. Also, don't let money detour you. Price ranges for doula can range from free to into the thousands. If you meet someone you absolutely love, but they are out of your price range, try to negotiate. I did this and it worked for me. Plus, if you are really strapped for cash, you can always hire a doula in training for free. She won't have the experience or references, but working with a  newbie can have lots of advantages.

Well, there you have it. My love letter to doulas everywhere. I cannot speak about this enough and if it were up to me, every pregnant woman would be allotted a doula during her pregnancy. Take care friends, enjoy the weekend and be blessed.

Love Malinda xoxox

For more information on doulas and two of my favorite ladies here are some helpful links:

http://www.lifecyclescenter.org/doulaprofiles/profile/gay.html

http://doulamatch.net

http://www.dona.org

http://www.ownbirth.com

http://birthingbydesign.webs.com

http://www.findadoula.com/index.htm



Monday, August 25, 2014

I Did it all for the VBAC: My Journey to my Ideal Birth

                         

Hello, hello, hello!!! It has been way too long my friends. I have truly missed writing and assure you that I will not be gone this long again if I can help it. As you can see, my little girl arrived into this world, healthy and safely. My life has not changed too much, but my heart has doubled in size. But this post really isn't about my sweet angel, it's about me and the journey I took to get her here. So let's go!

      Now before I get into my story, I want to make it clear that in no way am I discounting or judging any other mothers birthing options. Every birth is personal and sacred. Our children come into this world by whatever means they have to and our purpose is to get them here safe and sound. Now that I have the formalities out of the way, let's talk VBAC. Because really, throughout my pregnancy with Yui, that was the most asked question. "What's a VBAC?" folks would ask me with a confused look, trying to decipher the letters. And my reaction was the same every time. "It means vaginal birth after cesarean." I would say with a smile and a quiet sense of pride because I knew that I was amoung the few women in America that would chose this option. It was like being in a secret club or some kind of underground society. Why the VBAC rate in America is so low, I honestly cannot tell you, but I knew that it was the only way for me. And the reaction I got when I said I was doing it drug-free was priceless.  You see, with my son, I had an unplanned c-section. And although my Masaya's birth was one of the most magical events in my life, the experience left me feeling...well...robbed in a way. The power of his birth, the decision making was no longer mine, but someone else had taken it. Someone else had taken my power and I had given it up without a fight because I was afraid and honestly didn't know any better. I didn't know that there was another way, another option.  And in retrospect, I know now, that it had more to do with being on a clock then any true emergency with my son. But I'm not going to down that road right now.  I knew that this time around, I did not want the same experience.

 Because really, I prepared for my baby, but I had not prepared for labor and birth and all it entailed. I read all the baby books and style guides on pregnancy. I listened to podcasts giving me weekly guides to all things maternity, but I did not educate myself about what birth was. And I don't mean taking those one day birthing classes that the hospital offers. I mean really researching through all kinds of media, books and people. I know some will say "You can't prepare for labor. It is what it is." But I have to disagree. You cannot anticipate what will happen exactly, but you can understand the process of birth. You can know how your medical teams' procedures run, whether you decide to give birth in a hospital, birthing center or at home. And prepare with your own personal support team, be it your partner, parent, sibling, friend, doula (Oh, my doula blog post is next) or whoever you feel comfortable with. You can prepare mentally, physically and emotionally. This time around, I had done all of these things and if something was amiss, I quickly made changes so that my goal could be achieved. I actually changed doctors early in my last trimester because I no longer felt supported in my choices. 29 weeks pregnant and I switched practices without a second thought because I had educated myself to know that no matter what, I was in charge of my baby's birth and my body, not the doctor. That move turned out to be one of the best decisions I made during my pregnancy.  
                 
                    A worn out me and a brand new Yui just moments after her being born

I went into labor with Yui exactly two weeks before my due date. Now that was something I had not planned on and was a bit upset about it. I remember crying in the hospital triage when the doctor who examined me told me I had to stay. Mainly because I felt I still had two more weeks and a whole lot of stuff to do. In that moment, I was not ready. But it was game time and there was no going back. My daughter was ready to be born and all my preparations needed to be put to the test. Everyone says that once  a woman has a child, she forgets the pain of labor in order to have more children. In some ways I agree, but I can remember moments. I remember not so much pain, but waves of intensity. I remember my mother, Kenji and my doula Pam, working together to keep me focused and relaxed. I remember going out of my body and pulling energy from my ancestors. I know that sounds so hippie to a lot of you, but I thought of the women in my family who had transitioned past this earthly realm and I truly pulled energy from them, knowing that they had gone through this exact same experience and many times with less luxury then I was receiving. I could do this. I remember wanting to push and how good it felt to bear down. I remember the "ring of fire", the burning pain of my daughter's head crowning and I embraced it know that she would be here and the pain would be over soon. And I remember the feeling of my daughter emerging from my body and being placed in my arms. I had done it. I had my daughter vaginally, drug-free and I was in awe of what I had just done.

Yui Lena Caudle-Saito born at 6:24am on June 30th, 2014
Many say that vaginal deliveries are better for babies and mothers. That the risks are so low compared to the many complications that could take place during a cesarean. But you know what, I didn't do it for those reasons. I didn't even really do it for my Yui, I did it for me. As selfish as it sounds, I wanted to have as much control over the uncontrollable as I could. I wanted to prove those wrong who said that this vaginal birth could not be done. I also understood that even though I planned to have a VBAC, I was open to any changes that could of happened, even if it meant that I would have a c-section again. But I was blessed in so many ways. I saw the outcome of my child's birth, prayed for it, visualized it everyday and spoke it into existence. All the mediation and relaxation techniques, the monthly meeting at my VBAC support group, talks with Pam, talks with my girlfriend Becca, it all led up to that moment. There was no fear, no sense of the unknown. I can say, I have never felt so empowered. I remember saying loudly in the delivery room after Yui was born "I just had a baby!". I wanted to proclaim to the wold what I had done. And in a way I believe I do every time I take my daughter out.  So I leave you with this my friends, you always have options. You always have choices, be they few or many. And you have the power to make your dreams come true. Wishing you all nothing but love and that it surrounds you everyday.

Love Malinda xoxox

Masaya and Yui…the loves of my life.
For more information on VBAC and VBAC groups, please visit the following links:

http://birthingcenterofbuffalo.com/bcb/education/vbac-support-group/

http://www.vbac.com

http://vbacfacts.com/13-myths-about-vbac/

http://www.ican-online.org/product/homebirth-in-the-hospital/