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Kelli Stapleton

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MamaBlogger365 – Little Things in Little Ways by Kelli Stapleton

My youngest daughter is 10 and I have yet to complete a scrapbook. I don’t blog so I have no record of accomplishments from any of my kids. I could go on and on about how busy I am. The truth is however, I have the same 24 hours everyone else has. But honestly, I feel like life is passing by far too quickly. So for the last few years I’ve been working on documenting some little things, in little ways.

I started writing in books. The books I read to the kids and the books they read to themselves. I make comments on the inside covers and in the margins. When the kids outgrow a book, I add it to a shelf of books I intend to keep forever and ever. I picture their kids reading these books some day. Won’t that be fun for them to read the books and all of the little messages inside?

I write in cookbooks. I tweak recipes in them. But better than that, I write about how my family members feel about the dishes I make. I write a few sentences and sometimes add drawings. It doesn’t take any time. I enjoy it. And in the decades to come, I will have a great record of how horribly I cook and how ungrateful my kids are.

I write on artwork, sort of. I have original art, prints, and crap posters adorning the walls of my house. I don’t have art just for aesthetics. I have it because it means something to me. So I write why I own it on the back of the frame. I add the facts about the acquisition (gallery, gift or garage sale), why I like it, and anything else relevant.

Recently, I started writing on appliances. I know, I’m getting out of control, but this is quickly becoming my favorite thing. I have a sharpie on my dryer and write the items I find. Here is a partial list: coins, safety pin, guitar pick, barrette, ChapStick, money, poop, sunglasses, teeth (after a trip to the dentist), rocks, keys, and string cheese.

I have a journal book that floats around the kitchen and dining room. My husband and I leave notes to each other in it. The notes are sweet, angsty, amorous, antagonistic. You name it. But it’s a great record of little moments.

And finally, I keep a calendar like everyone does. I started adding a little more to it. It’s not much really. Not like a diary filled with reflections. But it’s about the best I can do for now.

Bio: Kelli Stapleton graduated from Kalamazoo College in 1995, and went on to work as a scientist/molecular biologist in both academia and industry. She gave up her short term genetics projects to work exclusively on three long term projects. They are her children McEwen, Isabelle, and Ainsley.

In her free time, Kelli is the producer and host of the wildly popular Birth Stories on Demand internet radio show. She is also the author of the Birth Stories on Demand Presents series of books written to entertain and inform women about childbirth. She manages the BSOD website and spends far too much time on social media.

Kelli is also aspiring to take over the planet!

MamaBlogger365 needs you! Tell us how you’re re-framing motherhood and help the Museum of Motherhood secure a permanent home in 2011!

Photo courtesy: sideshowmom|MorgueFile

MamaBlogger365 – Domestic Abuse and Why I Chose to Live with My Abuser… by Kelli Stapleton

I’m smart enough to know that I’m a victim of domestic abuse. I’m also smart enough to know that I can leave at any moment. So why do I stay?

Love.

Isn’t that always the answer?

I’ve been bruised from head to toe, knocked unconscious, suffered injuries that were visible and others that weren’t. I’ve had to make decisions about going out in public because of how my face looked, and what to wear to best cover my bruises and contusions. I’ve had a bank close my account because my signature never matched my signature card… but it doesn’t if your fingers are broken, strained, and sprained.

I don’t like to be hit. It hurts me physically, and it hurts my feelings. I know my abuser loves me. I also know my abuser will kill me. But I still can’t leave. So now what?

I live.

I always wanted to write a book, so I did. I’m learning to play the guitar. I would like to write songs too, so I will. There isn’t any reason to put it off, is there?

I hope the hitting will stop. I hope I don’t get killed in front of my children Q and Ainsley.

And if I am killed, I hope I don’t get revived by some well-meaning EMT or ER doctor. I would hate to have to die like that TWICE! I wear a DNR (do not resuscitate) bracelet, and have paperwork filed at the hospital. But this remains a huge concern of mine.

There was a day recently when my abuser was really out of control. The blows were coming, and coming, and coming. I was seeing stars and unfortunately lost my footing. Now I was on the floor, prone and in real trouble. I reached in my pocket for my phone and was able to dial 911 before the phone was thrown out of my hands. When the officer arrived, I was so relieved! I had survived it!! It was (thankgodinheaven) over. Just like that, calm replaced the savage beast. The police officer looked around the room and became hostile to me, “Why did you call the police?!”

I looked at her with my eye, the one that wasn’t swollen shut, and apologized for calling her. My mistake. Clearly.

So why do I stay?

Because my abuser is my autistic daughter. She is now much larger than me and has no
understanding of the damage she does. There doesn’t seem to be a way to stop her. Nor is there anyone who can help us. We’ve tried.

She has autism and I’m in stage 4 autism.

Written for April 2011. April is Autism Awareness Month.

Bio: In her free time, Kelli Stapleton is the producer and host of the wildly popular !Birth Stories on Demand internet radio show. She is also the author of the Birth Stories on Demand Presents series of books written to entertain and inform women about childbirth.

MamaBlogger365 needs you! Tell us how you’re re-framing motherhood and help the Museum of Motherhood secure a permanent home in 2011!

Photo credit fieryn/MorgueFile

MamaBlogger365 – Anne’s Birth of Elsa Joy by Kelli Stapleton, Birth Stories on Demand

Many people ask me why I went the natural route with birthing my two babies: why a birth center with midwives and not at a hospital?

My personality is such that I never want to miss a trick even, as it turns out, when it comes to childbirth. I wanted the full experience — for better and for worse.

I figured I’d only be doing this twice in my life and if all those women before me could do it drug-free, why not me? When I’m an old lady some day, I want to look back and say, “Yeah, I did that.” I don’t want to have felt that I missed a life experience.

Of course, I could have chosen a hospital birth and then simply not taken painkillers. But, I knew that giving birth would be hard work, and I was concerned about being offered pain medication when I was most vulnerable. So that got me thinking about an out-of-hospital birth.

I did a Google search for midwives in the Denver area and discovered the Mountain Midwifery Center. It’s a stand-alone birth center with midwives, located across the street from a hospital in case there was an emergency. I thought, this is just the ticket! I wanted to surround myself with experts on natural birth so that I could accomplish this great goal, but also have back up in case things didn’t go as planned.

Both our son’s and daughter’s births went very smoothly and were both so different! Here is the story of our daughter Elsa’s birth — she, by the way, is the first girl on my husband’s side of the family in 150 years!

Elsa Joy — a bit of a piece of work from the start! She couldn’t quite make up her mind and was not interested in being rushed. On a Friday about a week before her birth, Elsa began to stir. I woke up at 1:30 a.m. with contractions that lasted throughout the day and then settled down at sunset. Grandma (Don’s mom) was not to arrive until Tuesday, so we were all a bit frantic when these stirrings began three days before our extra pair of hands was due to arrive! To make matters worse, both our back-up people who were going to watch Aidric weren’t available that weekend. Being the sweet Grandma she is, she changed her flight and arrived the very next day with plans to stay for 2 weeks. Phew.

And what happened next? Absolutely nothing for the whole week! Grandma’s reassuring presence ensured that this girl would come when she was good and ready! With our time with Grandma ticking by, we began Operation Encourage Birth.

Sunday my girlfriends planned a trip to a salon for mani/pedis to celebrate the coming of Miss Dew. I brought Grandma along too. People had mentioned that reflexology during a pedicure is a good way to get labor going. I told the gal to go for it — hit those pressure points! Didn’t do a thing to start labor, but I loved having time with friends and picking out fun nail polish so that I had pretty toes to look at during labor.

Tuesday I went in for my 38-week appointment and they did a cervical swipe, which sometimes helps things along. Fingers-crossed! Alas, nothing happened.

The next day, Don and I went out for spicy food at our favorite Mexican restaurant. I even ate a whole roasted jalapeno! All the spice didn’t do a darn thing though.

Then I went swimming at the Rec center. Twice. Friday evening, after the second swimming outing, I lost the mucus plug. Hurray! But then I read that that didn’t actually mean that labor would start anytime soon. Oh well.

Then Friday night came and the full moon appeared, so we were curious if that would help get labor started. No such luck.

I was tired of speculating when the baby might come. And even though everyone was really sweet and encouraging, I still felt like they were all waiting for something to happen with my body.

Feeling under pressure, I decided to get some alone time. Grandma had taken Aidric up to their second home in Winter Park on Thursday for the weekend, so it was just Don and I sitting around and waiting.

Saturday morning came and it was sunny and warm. After working from home the whole week, Don was itching to go for a mountain bike ride but nervous about leaving me alone. I told him to go anyway, and he was out the door.

Wouldn’t you know, while he was gone, I stood up to use the computer at 11:50 a.m. and my water broke! My first thoughts were, yippee, this baby will probably be here within the next 24 hours, I’ll finally get to meet my daughter and I’ll no longer be pregnant! I was absolutely giddy!

I rang Don on his cell phone, but he must have been in a poor reception area because it took three calls to reach him. Once I got the message through, he zipped home and even caught a ride from a guy in a pickup truck for part of the ride home. He got home at 12:30 pm and jumped into the shower and we scurried about the house making sure everything was in order.

What happened next? Absolutely nothing! Hours later, still not a single contraction. We were getting very good at sitting around and looking at each other. Uhhhg!

The birth center wanted to see me in active labor by the 12 hour mark (midnight) otherwise we’d be pushing our luck with having our baby at the birth center. The rule is that you need to be in active labor within 24 hours of the water breaking otherwise a trip to the hospital for medical intervention is needed. At 6 p.m., Sarah, the midwife on call, suggested I take a dose of castor oil to get things moving. It is a stimulant laxative that helps induce contractions. Two hours ticked by, and still nothing happened. Sarah explained that sometimes it takes two doses, so I took the second shot at 8 pm and lay down to try and get some sleep.

I was disappointed. The whole day I had been so excited thinking that I’d get to have a daytime labor/delivery and how wonderful it would be to not have to pull an all-nighter like we did with our son. But it was not to be.

Sleeping didn’t happen and at 9:30 I became violently ill from the castor oil. I threw up several times and was on all fours in our bedroom unable to move. The castor oil gave me severe abdominal cramps and then I was getting starter contractions at the same time, so it was all one big cramp with NO break in between. Panic, fear, pain… at this point all I wanted was an ambulance ride to the ER!

After 30 minutes of this, Sarah said to go ahead and come down to the birth center. You didn’t have to tell ME twice! Meanwhile, Mother Nature decided that since it hadn’t rained in Evergreen since October, that this would be a good night to shower the road with some nice freezing rain. So with rain coming down and temperatures falling below freezing, Don nervously drove us the 26 miles to the birth center, which took about 45 minutes that night. We tried not to notice the pile of cars and emergency vehicles as we pulled onto the interstate.

We arrived at the birth center about 11:30 p.m. and I made a beeline for the bathroom. I spent a good hour getting sick and then lay down to rest on the birth center’s big log bed with Don. Sarah explained that after the castor oil effects had worn off, my contractions would regulate and active labor would be underway.

Sure enough, about 12:30 a.m. I started breathing through contractions and Don was there to time them. About 1:30 am, I was too uncomfortable to lay in the bed anymore so I stood up and used the hammock sling thingie suspended from the ceiling. It took a lot of the weight off and I was able to sway and breathe in rhythm during the contractions. Sweat poured out and began to roll off my face like nothing I had ever experienced before.

Things were getting intense, so Sarah checked me. I was only 6 cm dilated. I was so disappointed! I thought for sure we were farther along than that. She suggested I get into the birth pool at that point.

The warm water felt good and I tried my hardest to relax during contractions. I wondered if I would be in for another marathon 18 hour birth that I had had with our son. But much to my surprise, I watched as Sarah started laying out chux pads (absorbant sheets) on the bed and a towel on the floor. “This is for when baby is here, which will be very soon”, she exclaimed. I was in disbelief!

I then felt some pressure below, as if baby was at the gate. Was it time to push? Sarah checked with her flashlight underwater and said, “go ahead and push, you are fully dilated at 10 cm and I can see her head!”

This was all happening so fast, how could it be? The huge holy-hell–why-am-I-doing-this contractions had arrived. I pushed a couple times and Sarah excitedly announced that her head was out. Again I was in disbelief! Sarah explained that once baby was out, she would pass her through my legs and I could pick her up out of the water.

With that I got a nice burst of motivation — I was almost to the finish line, I could DO this! A couple more ‘rrrrahhhhrrrrr pushes/contractions’ and Elsa came out. Sarah passed her through my legs like a little football, and into my arms she landed. Pure joy, relief, happiness, disbelief, amazement and love! Don bowed his head, completely overwhelmed with emotion. We did it.

Kate, our nurse, wrapped Elsa in a blanket and hat while we were still in the pool.

Then we stood up and shuffled our way over to the bed with umbilical cord still attached. Don was at my side on the bed and held Elsa in his arms as I delivered the placenta and dealt with after-birth pains (just like contractions) and uncontrollable body shakes. That was a bit of a raw deal — to have contractions even after delivery.

It was wonderful for the three of us to lay in bed and snuggle. Don and I marveled at how tiny her hands and feet were, how beautiful her little face was and how long her fingernails were. Our precious daughter was finally here, wow! Elsa latched on without a problem, that was nice. Don ceremoniously cut the umbilical cord and also went with Elsa to see her get weighed: a healthy 7 pounds, 5 ounces. I took an herbal concoction to help with the pains and later took an herbal bath that also helps with that. Afterward, I changed into a nightgown and got to cuddle with Elsa and Don and EAT!

Sarah said that I had only pushed for 10 minutes. The labor was 5 1/2 hours if you count from the time the castor oil kicked in, or 2 1/2 hours if you count from when the castor oil effects subsided and real contractions began. The only people that were there for the birth were myself, Don, Sarah, and Amy, the photographer. Kate, the nurse, arrived moments after birth. I felt completely safe and supported the whole time.

Looking into my husband’s eyes and hearing his comforting and encouraging words really helped get me through. Sarah was awesome. She chose her words well, always kept me informed as to what was happening, and was just an excellent coach. It was a small group, but it was all I needed. Even Amy helped out and held my hand while the placenta came out and offered reassurance when I got Elsa latched on for the first time.

I feel so fortunate, blessed and proud to have had a beautiful, natural birth. It is truly a miraculous event that I will remember always.

Bio: Kelli Stapleton graduated from Kalamazoo College in 1995, where she then worked as a scientist/molecular biologist in both academia and industry. She gave up her short term genetics projects to work exclusively on three long term projects. They are her children McEwen, Isabelle, and Ainsley.

In her free time, Kelli is the producer and host of the wildly popular !Birth Stories on Demand internet radio show. She is also the author of the Birth Stories on Demand Presents series of books written to entertain and inform women about childbirth.

Kelli is also aspiring to take over the planet!

MamaBlogger365 needs you! Tell us how you’re re-framing motherhood and help the Museum of Motherhood secure a permanent home in 2011!

MamaBlogger365 – Birthing A Baby In 1938, From Birth Stories On Demand

At 10:00 a.m. the morning of Easter Sunday, I began to have pains. Around 7:00 p.m. my mother and I went to the hospital. In those days the fathers weren’t allowed at the hospital. I was settled into my room to wait for my baby to be born.

At about 11:00 p.m. my contractions were severe and coming regularly. My mother went down to the nurses’ station to tell them that the baby was ready to come. They said no, the doctor said that I wouldn’t be delivering until the next morning. So then at 12:30 a.m., my mother went down and said, “I’m giving you warning, I’m delivering the baby.” Well, that got the nurses moving; they rushed around and called the doctor (who showed up in his pajamas.) The baby’s head was almost out by the time the doctor got there. With the next contraction, the doctor said to give me gas. I didn’t like it and pushed it away. He said if I didn’t want it, I didn’t have to have it.

My daughter was born at 1:02 a.m. and weighed 7lbs, 12oz. I had gas when they put in the stitches, but otherwise it was an un-medicated birth. I got a little loopy with the gas and started to tell the hospital staff dirty stories. They got a kick out of that! At that time they also had me fill out her birth certificate. I misspelled her middle name. It was supposed to have been “Bea” but I wrote down “Bee”. After three days, I was sent home. It was 1938 when my daughter was born and I was told to spend the next ten days in bed. My mother took care of the baby while I recuperated.

Please take a minute and re-read that last paragraph. After three days I was sent home. Can you imagine being able to stay in the hospital three days?! I know that most of us would consider that perhaps too much time in the hospital, with their regime of regular vitals, interruptions, etc. But, just having the option would be nice. Then, the next sentence, I was told to spend the next ten days in bed. This is where I almost weep with jealousy. I can picture the new mama all tucked up in bed with the new grandmother bringing the baby for nursing then taking the baby to walk the halls if s/he gets fussy; while new mama gets the good healing rest she needs. 

That is a much better picture than the reality that was mine.

I was completely alone, not knowing a damn thing about what to do with myself. or a new baby. I had NEVER even been around a newborn. I didn’t sleep, I wasn’t sure I was doing anything right. I felt frightened, isolated, fat, and soggy. I was miserable. What I needed was historical wisdom provided by the previous generations of women in my family. I needed my mom and my sisters to come and show me what to do. I needed my friends to celebrate the new birth and NOT ALLOW me to be frightened or isolated. Not much they could do about my feeling fat or soggy but they may have been able to come up with some lies about my figure and recommendations for good breast and post-baby maxi pads (no mesh please -stitches).

What this story reminds me of, is being surrounded by loving women. Something we don’t have today- new baby or not. It challenges me to try to figure out how to make that better. I’m not sure exactly what that will look like. It is after all, reinventing the wheel. But at the very least I think I can bring over a meal for a friend who has just had a baby. I certainly can take her other kids on an outting. I definitely can try to work in a visit or two; and with that really attend to her (leave my smart phone in the car). These things at least, I can do. 

So with that, I challenge myself to be a better supporter of my friends that are new mothers. And perhaps start, or restart, the tradition of surrounding new mothers with wisdom, help, love, and support.

BIO: Kelli Stapleton sends us ‘Theta’s Birth Of Joanne’ from Birth Stories On Demand, an active resource and archive for women’s shared stories of birth and more. Kelli is the founder of BSOD and podcast host each week. She’s also an author and public speaker. M.O.M. is proud to partner with Kelli to bring you some of these birth perspectives bi-monthly and also to feature Kelli as a special guest on MingleMediaTV‘s Mamapalooza show, with Joy Rose, Media Mom™. Watch her tonight at 7PM along with Jodi Nelson – 21st Century Feminist and Aqua Cherry playing LIVE in the studio.

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