Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Please stay

I've never seen you.
I haven't even felt you.
But I'm so afraid of loosing you.

I'm praying with every breath that this Judas of a body doesn't betray me,
and I get to hold you and tell you how very much I love you.

All of this pain has stripped my joy 
and replaced it with fear.
As long as you stay strong
I promise to try do the same, little darling.

I haven't had
A chance to sleep
And when I wake
I wake with your dreams
I guess my pillow
Holds some kind of key
To your peace
Your peace

I wouldn't trade your love for all the candy
In this great big world
I feel so crazy blessed and oh so lucky
To be the place you go
When you need to feel safe
When you need a kiss
It's me

I haven't showered
And I tried to eat
But all your tears
Oh they needed me
I need some time, some time to think
But when I hear you
And what you need is...

I wouldn't trade your love for all the candy
In this great big world
I feel so crazy blessed and oh so lucky
To be the place you go
When you need to feel safe
When you need a kiss
It's me

I wash your face
To make room for
All the kisses
Of tomorrow
And every day
That I get to
Be here with you
Is sweet

I wouldn't trade your love for all the candy
In this great big world
I feel so crazy blessed and oh so lucky
To be the place you go
When you need to feel safe
When you need a kiss
It's me

Oh don't be afraid
Cause you'll have is....

Friday, January 13, 2012

One Good Choice Deserves Another

    Sometimes, something happens in your life that forces you to refocus.  For me, that event was actually just a few sentences from my grandmother this past fall.  Once or twice she mentioned how much she would love for us to live closer to her, and it started really bothering me that she was alone so often.  The thought got under my skin and caused me to convince my husband that we should move closer.  That one decision made to help someone else has caused a cascade of other decision and changes in our lives that are positive all around.
     My grandmother found out a few months ago that she had mylodisplastic syndrome.  She described it to me as having low iron, so at the time I didn't worry too much.  Then she began loosing teeth, and I began paying more attention.  I researched her syndrome and found out it is much more complex, and scary, than that.  Her stem cells, you know those magic cells that are in the news all the time? are not doing their job correctly and turning into red or white blood cells, and it is also affecting her bone marrow.  In some cases, this disruption in the production of blood cells can lead to leukemia.  The disease is identified by an abnormality in the mitochondrial DNA.  That is a strand of DNA that is only passed down through the mother.  Which means my grandmother, both of her children, myself, and all of my children will also carry this strand of DNA.

     Of course this does not mean that any of us will ever develop mylodisplastic syndrome.  But it does mean we all carry the possibility.  My first concern was my grandmother, who is already sick.  The first thing I did was offer for my husband, daughter, and I to move in with her.  She lives in a really nice big house, with four bedrooms and has been alone there for a few years now.  Because the syndrome lowers her energy level she has not been eating as well, and didn't seem very motivated to do much else.  But when my daughter and I would visit a few times a week, she was a different person entirely.  Full of energy and smiling.  I think having the little one around will do a lot to lift her spirits, and any good hippy knows the key to healing your body is a healthy mental state.  I'm also excited to start cooking for her and making sure she eats well.  While we get the house ready, which has proven to be a lot of work, I have been bringing her home cooked dinners and smoothies to start getting some proper nutrition into her. 

     When I decided I was going to try to help my grandmother as much as possible, the first person who came to mind was Kris Carr.  For anyone who hasn't heard of her, she is a rockin' wellness worrier who made some major life and diet changes after being told she had stage 4 of a very rare and untreatable cancer, nearly a decade ago.  She is still kickin' and in fact THRIVING.  Her journey can be viewed in her documentary Crazy Sexy Cancer.  A link to the trailer will be at the end of this post.  Even if you stop reading now scroll down and watch it!  So, I bought her book and went to work.  We are now eating very little animal products, I am a smoothie junkie and eagerly awaiting the funds for a juicer, and I work out and dance with my daughter every single day.  When we move in with my grandmother, I will do my best to immerse her in as much of this happy craziness as I can.  She may not dance with us, but Beanie baby will do more than enough dancing for all of us, and laughter does a body good!  And extra bonus points for this new location, there will be a Trader Joe's right up the street.  Our new pharmacy!  I've started bringing home new fruits and vegetables every week and learning to cook with them, and I am so excited for all of the options our new town will offer. 

     My grandmother has been great so far and proudly tells me every time she makes a new healthy choice in her life, finishes a smoothie, or eats every heap of veggies I give her. When I went to visit her two days ago, she took out some Christmas decorations she had found on extreme clearance and was really excited to show them too me.  I haven't seen her decorate, or do anything at her house for Christmas in years.  When I said "Wow, you're excited for next Christmas already!"  She responded "Well, you guys will be here."  It brought tears to my eyes and reaffirmed that we were doing the right thing. 
     After making the decision to move, we quickly realized there were even more reasons for us to be excited that we hadn't considered at first.  SPACE is a huge one.  Beanie baby can have a play room now, and we have more than just a 3 x 5 chunk of pavement to call our own outside.  I can begin growing my own vegetables now, and canning them for the winter.  What could be better for my grandmother than home-grown veggies?!  We will finally have room for a compost bin, so I can stop feeling guilty every time I throw certain things away.  With two porches and a patio, I can finally dry my cloth diapers in peace!  (No more angry neighbor getting her granny panties in bunch)  And best of all, I can begin learning some of my grandmother's recipes!  She has always been one of the top two cooks I've ever known, and I cannot wait to learn from her.  

Watch This!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Letter to a mother regarding Christianity and Circumcision

I recently had a potential client contact me via email.  In her message she concluded by asking if I had any strong opinions on birth.  I was torn for a moment on whether or not now was the appropriate time to bring up circumcision. I felt it would be deceitful to act as though there were absolutely no hot button issues for me when clearly there are.  I asked my husband for advice and he also agreed that I should be forthright.  In her reply message she mentioned that they would be circumcising, and that it would be for mostly religious (Christian) reasons.  This is on the same level of unacceptable to me as saying the only reason you are doing it is so he can "look like daddy."  This is not because I believe doing this for religious reasons is bad (Which I do) but because Christians are not supposed to circumcise.  You're not.  I've spent hours researching this, and I had an amazing list compiled of passages from the Bible that make it clear. But, of course, those have been lost.  *head-desk*

Below is a copy of the reply message I sent to the mother.  I know you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar, and that once someone gets defensive you can forget having them listen to you.  So, I honestly tried to be as polite and non-judgmental as possible. I guess I'll find out from your responses how I did.  Needless to say, I never heard back from this woman.    But, when faced with the choice of saving a baby, or gaining a client I will choose the baby every time.  For the sake of privacy I am going to call this mother Jane.  This is not her real name.
Hi Jane,
    My view on circumcision is based on extensive research, as well as my religious beliefs.  At the beginning of my pregnancy with my daughter, when we did not know yet that we were having a girl, I began researching circumcision.  At that point, because my husband was circumcised, we expected that this was something we were going to do.  I knew there were a few different types of circumcision and wanted to choose the best option for my baby.  The more I read and the more videos I watch, the less comfortable  I became with the idea until I could no longer justify doing this to any child.  It really is true that the more you know, the more horrible it becomes.  Through hours of research I learned that there is no medical organization in the world that endorses routine infant circumcision.  I learned that the reasons many people use to justify circumcision are complete fallacies.  Other facts, while holding small bits of truth, are severely distorted by the people presenting the research because, unfortunately, there is a lot of money to be made in circumcision.  Doctors and hospitals that perform circumcisions make phenomenally huge profits on the procedure and I do not believe this is a good motivation for them to tell their patients the whole truth.  One example that people like to quote is that 'uncircumcised males are ten times more likely to develop a certain form of penile cancer.'  When you look further into this however you will find that A) the cancer is incredibly rare, B) it does not usually develop until very late in life (eighty years or older) and C) That ten percent that sounds so huge is the difference of a tenth of a percent.  .008 to .0008.  That does not seem like such good justification for surgery any more.   I had, however, heard horror stories about someones "best friends-cousins-son" whose foreskin had never retracted and he needed surgery later in life.  This is also VERY rare, and often misdiagnosed.  Often it is the result of a parent or guardian not knowing how to care for an intact penis.  Luckily, the rules for care are simple: you clean an intact penis like you would clean your pinky. Do not retract, EVER.  Only clean what is seen.  :)  The foreskin remains intact in young boys to protect them from infection.  It is not uncommon for them to remain somewhat intact until as old as 8 or even 10, which carries no risk to the child.  If the foreskin does become 'too tight' they have now developed a simple steroidal cream that usually fixes everything in a few applications.  No need for surgery.

    Based on the Bible, I do not believe that Christians are meant to be circumcised.  It is often referenced as a Jewish tradition (Jewish circumcisions are a ritual nick, not removal of the entire gland.)  There are many clear objections to circumcision in the Bible as well.  There are verses that describe circumcision, or any promise made through the flesh, as a shallow promise to God.  And I truly believe, as the Bible says, that any promise to God must be made with your soul, not your body.  The Bible also says that God created man in his image, and that he was created whole, and pronounced "Good" by God.  I do not see how God would create us perfectly, then ask us to cut off a functioning and useful part of our body.  I reeeally wish I could find my original list I had compiled, but unfortunately I lost it when my daughter decided to bathe our last computer.  However I can provide you with a few links to get you started.  Less than half of the baby boys now born in the United States are circumcised, and yet circumcision kills more babies in the country each year than SIDS or car accidents.  These were my two biggest fears with bringing a newborn home, and I couldn't imagine God wanting me to do something even more dangerous to my child, when it didn't benefit him in any way.

  I have many, many reasons why I believe it is an unnecessary risk to children.  But I feel I have already said quite a bit and I didn't want to overwhelm you, or make you feel attacked in any way.  If there is any issue at all that you have a question about, or anything that you think still justifies the procedure, please feel free to write or call and ask.  I do not judge parents for the choices they make, because I know they are making these choices with their child's best interests at heart.  The reason I am so passionate about this subject is because once I started posting links to the information I was finding I had quite a few mothers come to me and say that they now regretted circumcising their sons, and that it was the worst experience of their life.  I have also had several male friends privately speak to me, or message me, and tell me that now that they understand what was done to them, and how it now affects them (loss of sensation, scarring, botched procedures, need for male enhancements, etc) they are angry that it was done to them and that their rights were taken away from them.  I am passionate because I want to protect as many babies and their families from these feelings of regret and pain as possible.  Even if you do not feel comfortable having me attend your birth, I hope this information has been helpful to you and I hope the rest of your pregnancy and your delivery go beautifully. 

This is the best I was able to find

This site has a huge list of resources on the sidebar.

This site is loaded with information.

Again, I wish you and your family the best of luck.  If you wish to discuss anything, or would still be interested in meeting I would love to hear from you.

Best wishes!

 This little one is not screaming, he is not sleeping, but he has gone into shock - a semi-comatose state that the human body slips into in order to physically survive extreme pain and trauma.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

mmmm...Humble Pie can be delicious.

     I decided to look at the info section on my facebook account this morning and ended up having a decent little laugh at myself.  There were two paragraphs that I wrote when my daughter was about seven months old or so that just aren't *as* true fourteen months later.  My ideals and beliefs haven't changed much, if at all, in that time.  I have, however, gained some experience in the ways reality, and my daughters idea of how things should be, do not always go along with my ideals. 

     When I say my ideals have not changed, I mean that I still believe in most of the things I wrote here.  I believe these are excellent points for parents to strive towards and I can say I pursued most of them to the best of my ability at the time.  But with Bean being light enough for me to cart around town in a sling for hours, and not yet running through the house like a tornado, fourteen month younger me did not realize that I may have been biting off more than I could chew.  Without further ado, here are the two paragraphs in question:

"I believe strongly in women and children's rights. I am an intactivist, lactivist, and home birth advocate. It is also my opinion that Cry it out, sleep training, forced feeding schedules, and spanking are ALL child abuse. Circumcision IS mutilation. If you add me please understand that these topics will be discussed on my page.

When it comes to my daughter I believe in breast feeding on HER schedule, baby wearing, cloth diapers, attachment parenting, organic foods, co-sleeping (when she feels like it,) delayed vaccines, signing, nighttime parenting, peaceful parenting, and gentle mothering. I also acknowledge that these choices are not a good fit for all mothers, or all babies and what works for us may not work for someone else. So long as your choices are made with your child's best interests at heart, they are the right ones for you both."

So,  here is my revision with just over a year of extra experience as my editor.

I believe strongly in women and children's rights. I am an intactivist, lactivist, and home birth advocate. It is also my opinion that Cry it out, sleep training, forced feeding schedules, and spanking are ALL child abuse. Circumcision IS mutilation. I If you add me please understand that these topics will be discussed on my page.  First paragraph: check.  These things are all still true.  Now, onto the tricky one.

When it comes to my daughter I believe in breast feeding on HER schedule. I believe in it. That does not mean I always liked it.  For instance, her being hungry as soon as my food was ready was not my favorite thing in the world.  I was also not a fan of her being hungry six times in the same night.  I did it, don't get me wrong.  I didn't always love it.  Now though, if I could go back I would.

baby wearing, Another wonderful idea that I still fully support.  I also think that without my stroller certain outings would not have happened, or would not have lasted long.  I have a shoulder that now pops from holding my little daring so much, and bad knees and a bad back from 10 years of gymnastics.  Supporting an extra twenty-seven or more pounds (Beans weight from about 12 months on) all of the time is not ideal.  And sometimes,  I just don't want to have another human being attached to me.

cloth diapers,  I LOVE them.  I have an addiction to cute prints and trying different types.  I even like trying new ways of washing them.  You know what else I have?  A stash of sposies for days when I just can't do it, or forgot to turn the washer on. Sometimes, those days can feel luxurious.

attachment parenting, I wasn't fully aware at the time I wrote this that saying you believe in attachment parenting puts you into a bubble of sometimes overly detailed rules.  I like the idea, I like most of the ideas, and I would never call myself an attachment parent.  I prefer the term 'instinctual parent,' it better describes our way of parenting.  We do what feels right for us and for Bean, not what a website or book tells us.

organic foods, DUH! way to state the obvious probably-overtired-me.  I'll let you in on a secret though.  Last week, after a play-date gone wrong, two freak outs in the car, and an emergency trip to the grandparents house where all Bean ate was some watermelon and some crackers (that mostly ended up in the pool) I realized she was about to fall asleep on the ride home with almost nothing in her belly and quickly grabbed some McNuggets before loosing her to the sandman.  Much to my surprise she didn't vomit or poo her brains out and her skin has yet to fall off.  This will not become a habit by any means, but the last thing I want to do is give off a holy-than-thou vibe either.  In the cabinet, next to the slew of Anne's organic products and above the fruit bowl, there are fruit snacks and an Ettenmen's cake too.

co-sleeping (when she feels like it,)   My daughter does not like co-sleeping unless we are somewhere new.  I fought against this for months, and still try to sneak her next to me for a nap on occasion, but she absolutely loves her crib.  It's a loosing battle.

delayed vaccines, I was planning the Dr. Sears delayed schedule and unfortunately she got her first few rounds.  Now, we're not so sure what, if any, we are going to give her.  I believe there may be a time and place for certain vaccines, but I don't believe that is right now and in my daughter.  We still say delayed because I have not fully formed my opinion or gathered enough information, but we are definitely pointed towards a 'No Thank You.'

signing, It was a life saver.  I highly recommend teaching at least 'milk, food, more, and diaper.'  Learning signs also prompted her to make up some of her own, which was adorable.  My favorite was the way she would wiggle her fingers together, trying to mimic my motions during the itsy-bitsy spider, when she wanted someone to sing to her.  <3

nighttime parenting, This, I don't feel is an option. 

peaceful parenting, Like attachment parenting, I liked this term more before I realized it put you into a bubble and I still believe in most of it's ideas, but I don't like that people attack each other for not fitting perfectly into the same mold all the time. 

and gentle mothering.  Again, DUH!  But if she is about to pull a vase onto her head or stick a penny into the light socket I am not capable of gently saying "No, no Bean" as I softly pull her hand away.  I am going to scream like my head is on fire and run over to swoop her up and stop her.  It's not a gentle approach, but she doesn't go near the stove anymore because mommy freaks.

I also acknowledge that these choices are not a good fit for all mothers, or all babies and what works for us may not work for someone else. So long as your choices are made with your child's best interests at heart, they are the right ones for you both.  This paragraph, I believe, I wrote as a forward to my future self.  If you want to do the best for your child, and you're genuinely trying and they are genuinely happy and well loved, you're doing a good job.  It's okay that you're not perfect and they're not reading by two, hang in there and keep trying.  They most likely won't end up a serial killer because they stole a sip of grandma's Coca-cola that one time while someone was watching Family Guy.  It'll all be okay.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

I'm terrified of my wedding day

     I went to a wedding yesterday, and on multiple occasions I had to fight back tears.  One, I don't wear make up enough to know if mine runs when I cry.  Two, we're not close enough for me to be crying at their wedding without looking like a nut-job. 

     Our friend was resplendent coming down the aisle, but my eyes were glued to the man at her side.  I tried to pick out every emotion; the pride, the joy, the love, and even the nervousness at being watched by so many people and imagine what those emotions would look like on my fathers face.  When they reached the end of their walk and she kissed his cheek I had to hold my breath to stop the sound in my throat.  When he gave his speech at the reception I couldn't help but think how different I'm sure my fathers would be, and how I would probably be a bit of a nervous wreck while he gave it wondering if at any moment he may swear, threaten my husband, or tell an embarrassing story.  No matter how nervous I may have been, I would give anything to hear that speech.

      I thought when we began planning that a year would be enough time for me to grow stronger.  I thought that if I poured myself into something happy and joyous it would help, and that maybe it would distract my family and help them too.  But mostly I thought that I had already waited too long.  The one thing that I had planned for my wedding day was the song I would dance to with my father.  I had known it for years, it was the one thing I could always picture clearly; it is the one thing that day I cannot make happen no matter how badly I wish for it.  I didn't think I could bare to have anyone else missing that day, and so I began to plan.  Even now my reason for sticking to our date when I'm struggling to plan is that I feel like somehow, if I push it back at all, I will jinx myself and lose someone else.

      I'm worried, now that those holes in my day may be more than I can handle.  I know I will be happy, thrilled, and in love.  I will have everyone who matters to me in one place as I celebrate spending the rest of my life with the most amazing man I have ever known.  And I'm so afraid I will ruin it.  I haven't been able to pick a song to walk down the aisle to because it hurts to imagine.  Even now, the thought of taking those steps without him by my side makes me crumble.  My biggest fear is that in the moment when I am supposed to be my happiest, I won't be able to focus.  I don't know if a year is enough time.  I don't know if enough time exists.  I feel like yelling at myself for being a spoiled brat.  I was lucky to have a father I loved so much.  I'm lucky to have found a wonderful man to marry, and to be able to have a wedding.  I'm lucky to still have so much of my family here at my age.  I know all of this and I want to tell myself all of the senseless things people tell someone at times like this "You can't focus on that" and "Just remember the good time" or "Don't LET it ruin your day," but I know all of those things are just what you say when you can't relate, or don't know what to say.  If doing any of them was possible, I wouldn't be writing this. 

     I want to hear him swear when his eyes well up, and get annoyed with him for ruffling my hair.  I would give anything for the things I know he would do, and the surprises he always managed.

     He should have been there.  He deserved to get to walk the child he raised down the aisle.  He deserved to celebrate with his family.  He deserved a dance with his granddaughter.  He deserved being more than a locket tied to a bouquet, and the reason for his daughters tears.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Birth of Selene (Birth Story Part 3)

     Despite being exhausted in every sense of the word, I pushed with all I had. I have no idea what order they went in, but positions ranged from laying down, squatting, standing, kneeling, and being on a birthing stool.  John was my constant support, often literally and Cari was always within reach and giving me water.  Thirst was a constant.  At some point while I sort of hung off the end of the bed between Johns legs my midwife began giving me little cliff bar energy packets that tasted awful but I forced them down.  I kept thinking that this was the home stretch and I wanted to be alert when my baby came. 

     We were back in the bedroom when she did yet another check and told me that the anterior lip (part of my cervix that wasn’t fully open) had swollen and was blocking my daughter from descending.  I didn’t have energy to get upset, I just asked what to do.  Her solution was for me to continue pushing while she attempted to move the lip back and around the babies head.  I thought I knew pain before this, and I was wrong.  I screamed now.  There was no attempting to maintain dignity.  There was no desire to impress her, or anyone else.  I screamed and I begged her to stop, I tried to wiggle away and may have even tried to kick her.  It was torture.  I have no other word.  I begged her to stop, to get out of my body, and she refused saying it was for my own good. I couldn’t see how this was good.  Even in the now dense fog of pain relievers my body was attempting to give me I knew something wasn’t right and felt there had to be a better way.  John, who had been awake with me for most of the past 30 hours or so without food said he wasn’t feeling well.  I didn’t think of it until later, but I imagine seeing his wife in that state may have led to his stomach upset.  When he asked me if he looked pale the midwife snapped “It’s not about you right now!”  Cari spoke up that he didn’t look well, and hadn’t eaten and convinced him to go get something to eat.  I was too tired to speak or argue and thankful that someone was looking out for him as well.  It may have been me birthing, but it was his child as well and I wanted him ready to receive her happy and healthy.

     After her trying to move the lip back by force some more, and getting very annoyed with me screaming and pleading with her to stop, I was allowed to return to the tub to try to stop my pushing.  I had moved the baby down just enough that now every contraction forced me to push.  The only way to describe it would be vomiting in reverse.  I had no more control over my body trying to push the baby out than you do over not blinking if someone claps in your face.  My doula had hung a quote up for me that said ‘the power and intensity of your contractions cannot be stronger than you, because it is you.‘  It had helped in the middle of my labor, but now I felt like the power might tear me to shreds.  I refused  to take Unisom so we opened a bottle of mead I had been saving for after the baby was born and I drank a glass.  It was delicious but I had to choke it back and I can’t say it did anything to calm me.  I figured everyone else in the house was most likely frayed at this point and offered for them to each have a glass as well. I may not have been very coherent, but I still had some manners left.

     When it was clear nothing was going to stop my body from trying to move the baby down we went back to trying every position we could think of to wiggle her around the edge of my cervix.  I could hear my voice, far-far away, roaring.  For a moment I was proud of myself for being able to make such a noise.  While I was pushing on the bed the midwife announced she could finally see my daughters head and had Cari take a look.  Her beaming smile gave me hope and a small measure of strength to keep pushing.  I would find out later that the amount of head she could see was the size of a dime and largely obscured by my cervix, which resembled a blood sausage. The midwifes assistant suggested we try stairs and lunges to open me and move my hips around.  Few things are as annoying as trying to remember how the hell to do a lunge after thirty something hours of labor.  We decided I should put some pants on and try walking up and down the stairs outside my apartment.  When she tried to convince me to put a depends on for any bleeding I flat out refused.  I had to hold on to some part of my dignity and that would be it. We went out to the stairs and a small part of me hoped someone would come out of their apartment.  I was beginning to wonder if the outside world still existed at all.  I lunged up and down the stairs with John by my side.  When a contraction would come, forcing me to push, I would practically climb up him trying to escape the pain.  There were scratches and bruises to attest to the strength with which I tried to escape for days afterward. 

     When my legs felt like they could not carry me any further we went back inside.  I was on the birthing stool again, and still roaring.  I had been pleading for hours now for someone to let me go.  Something didn’t feel right, but I couldn’t seem to get anyone to hear me and help me leave.  I knew Cari couldn’t, it is outside of what we’re allowed to do.  And I don’t think John had realized I was serious. Finally my midwife looked at me and said “I can’t watch you do this anymore.”  It was what I needed.  I had wanted a homebirth more than anything, and I believed in natural birth and my ability to birth, but something had gone wrong and I did not believe it was going to happen with this child.  Someone saying it, and finally saying it was okay for me not to do this, was a relief.  The feeling of failure set in immediately and I just wanted this all to be over.  While everyone scurried to get things together, find a hospital, and alert the hospital that we were coming I was lost in my failure. The ride to the hospital was the worst of my life, but I think I was able to get a bit of rest.

     When we got to the hospital everything went into fast forward.  I was put into a wheel chair, which I was too tired to refuse, and rushed up to somewhere.  I was told I could only have two people in the room with me and momentarily became frantic.  I wanted Cari, but I knew the laws and knew she couldn’t speak for me the way a midwife could, so I chose John and my midwife.  I instantly regretted my decision but didn’t know what else to do.  John and midwife stayed out to talk to the doctor while I was taken into the room.  I went into the bathroom even though I knew I didn’t have to go and when I came out a nurse was there.  I asked her what we could do to stop me pushing and she held up a hospital gown and told me “we can’t do anything until you’re wearing this.” I knew she was full of shit, and I knew my rights, but I could feel a contraction coming on so I quickly pulled my shirt over my head and my pants and shoes off just in time to fall to my knees and yell “There! Now DO something!” as another contraction took hold.  She was shocked for just a moment before handing over the gown.  She said there was paper work, and fluids, and blah blah blah before anything could be done.  I forced myself to pay attention and only signed papers I was 100% sure on.  I asked for my water and she told me I wasn’t allowed to have it, my fluids bag would give me all I needed.  I told her if I was going to aspirate something I would rather water than bile and ordered John to give me my water bottle, daring her to take it from me.  She left the room in a hissy fit and never came back.  The doctor came in and checked me and said she couldn’t see how the baby would get past the lip.  She asked a lot of questions about how long I had been pushing, how long my water had been broken, and about my midwife.  Eventually I was told I was becoming exhausted and would need a c-section. My midwife briefly came in to see what the doctor said, and that was the last I saw of her.  She had given up on me and again I regretting not choosing Cari.

     My next nurse was lovely.  I told her right away that I wanted to go to the bathroom, and even though she knew I didn’t really have to go she said that whatever made me comfortable was just fine with her.  She told me that the woman in the room next to me needed an emergency c-section so I was going to have to wait for the anesthesiologist to come give me an epidural. Before helping me walk my I.V pole over she told me she wished she could give me something to help me stop pushing, but she knew I wanted a natural labor.  I didn’t remember saying this until John told me the next day, but I replied “that’s pretty much out the fucking window now isn’t it!  Please…just make it stop.”  She helped me to the bathroom and left to get me drugs.  It was at this point I told John I wanted to die.  He laughed it off a bit saying “of course you don’t honey.” but at the time the pain coupled with failure was more than I thought I could bare, and I meant it.  We were in a hospital, and the baby would survive, but I didn’t know how much more I had in me; and at that point the baby seemed like an impossible dream.

     The nurse gave me a shot of Stadol and the pushing stopped. I was asleep nearly instantly.  I woke up once and saw my mother standing over me.  I asked how she had gotten there and if she was okay, then apologized for not being able to keep my eyes open.  She brushed my hair back from my face while staring at me with a look I didn’t recognize and told me it was okay and I should get some rest.  I said I was sorry one more time and slipped back into sleep.  I woke up about half an hour later dully aware of my body beginning to push again and became very alert.  I saw John sleeping on the desk in the corner and called out to him.  A minute later I was back to full on pushing, writhing in my bed without the blessed oxytocin to help me.

     John must have done something because people were quickly back in the room.  My nurse was checking my machines to see how I was doing, John was putting on his scrubs, and the doctor was explaining what would happen next.  She told me she wanted to check me one more time before letting me get an epidural.  I told her I appreciated it, but I did not want another check.  I was amazed when she told me that it was important to her that I had wanted a natural birth and she wasn’t comfortable giving me an epidural until she knew I couldn’t have one.  I trusted her because of this and allowed her to check me.  A huge smile crossed her face and she told me “I can see the head!”  John and I simultaneously responded that we’ve been able to see the head for hours and it didn’t matter.  She made John turn and look and I’ve never seen such happiness on his face as I did then. 

     The little bit of rest from the Stadol had allowed me to relax my muscles and stop forcing the babies head the wrong way, she had shifted while I slept and was now much further down the birth canal.  That was all I needed to start really enjoying my pushing.  I could feeling her making slow and steady progress now and it was exhilarating!  I could feel her head about to come out, but something was stopping her.  I heard the doctor say to a nurse that she hates episiotomies (a cut to widen the opening for the baby), but thought she would have to do one on me.  I told her I didn’t want one and she was okay with this.  But a few minutes later I could feel that I wasn’t making progress.  Something wasn’t moving correctly and I told her it was okay.  I was trusting my instincts this time.  I felt the ‘ring of fire’ when her head began to crown and heard the lovely nurse telling me to ‘push through the pain honey’ but I smiled and told her it didn’t hurt.  I could feel it yes, but I was too happy to care.  My daughter was coming and I would see her soon and nothing else mattered.  I remember the feeling of her head coming out being intense, but I wouldn’t call it bad.   After her body came out I heard the doctor ask for something to clamp the cord and yelled “No don’t!“  I told her I wanted them to wait until it stopped pulsing and she looked bemused, but not annoyed.  The man waiting to weigh and score my baby was clearly impatient and told her he had to go.  She told him I had been through enough and deserved this, he could wait.  The placenta came quickly and I was handed my beautiful and bruised baby girl.  The video of her birth shows me asking “did anyone even check to make sure she’s a girl?“ and then lifting her leg to be sure.  Very soon after I began holding her I could hear frantic noises next to me.  I listened and heard someone ask where all the blood was coming from.  The doctor ordered pitocin and a nervous voice said that they had already given me some.  Two women began frantically pressing on my belly.  I knew they were trying to get my uterus to contract, and I knew I was hemorrhaging.  There were snippets “I don’t know where it’s coming from,“ “there’s so much,“ “can we give her more,“ all I could think was there was no way I was leaving this beautiful girl now that I finally had her and then I heard “okay…she’s okay.“ The cord eventually stopped pulsing and my husband cut it, then my not wrapped or cleaned baby was allowed to lay on my chest with clear eyes. We were still in triage. I quickly went into the bathroom to shower and rinse off and came out to a dimly lit room full of my family and loved ones, and saw my father holding my sweet girl with tears in his eyes.  I laid down with her and luxuriated in her scent and feel, and felt deeply connected to everyone in the room.  I birthed my daughter at 6:05 pm, after 37 hours of labor, 23 hours of active labor, and 12 hours of pushing, to the cheers and smiles of a hospital room full of strangers who believed in me, with my husband still in surgical scrubs and an IV in my arm, and it was perfect.

     I would later learn that my midwife had lied to the doctors and that is why there were so many questions when I arrived.  I had also become big news in the hospital and everyone seemed to want to meet us and talk to the woman who transferred from home. I am still struggling with what happened and with my feelings of inadequacy, but I realize how much worse things could have been, and I know we were saved in the end and amazingly lucky. 

I think Mama Birth said it perfectly when she said   “No, I don't need to see the world to know that I am both strong and weak, powerful and frail; labor has taught me that already.”

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Opening (Birth Story Part 2)

     I went into the shower to try find relief and my wonderful doula got soaked while putting pressure on my lower back.  I remember staring at the horrible pink tiles and thinking the lines in them looked like elephants, I may have shared this observation with Cari, I can’t recall.  I moaned through some, hit the wall through some, and wiggled, stood, or laid down through others.  I remember thinking before I went into labor that if I got into water I would try to keep my hair dry so I wouldn’t look awful in any pictures, but as I watched the drops run down my bangs I honestly could not have cared less.   

     When the midwife arrived 4 or 5 hours later I was still in the shower with poor sopping Cari by my side.  Cari told her I was active and vocalizing well, so she asked me to get out so she could check me.  Part of me thrilled at the idea and part of me cowered, but I went.  It was painful, and I remember moaning loudly, staring into my husbands face.  The pain was quickly replaced by the Earth shattering news that I was only two to three centimeters dilated.  It hit me like a blow to the gut.  My doula had to tell me later that what she said was two to three centimeters, because my memory was only that she had said two.  That was the number I was clinging to. She did this Clingon-like motion with her fingers to show me how big that was and my stomach nearly turned over at the sight.  I was crushed and her seeming annoyance at being right did nothing to make me feel better.  I couldn’t understand how I could have been in so much pain for so long, with contractions so close together and only have reached 2 cm’s.  I had been sure I would be at least at a 5 and the news knocked the wind out of me.  At this point, I cried.  I wasn’t balling, but I felt a few tears stream down my face as I tried to focus on the midwifes assistants face.  All I could think was that it had taken me at hours of intense pain to get those 2 centimeters and I still had 8 more to go.  I couldn’t fathom how I would go on for that long.  All of my knowledge about how the first 4 cm’s are the hardest and longest was gone from me.  To me each centimeter was going to take just as long, and be just as awful as the 2 I already had, or worse.   I heard my voice repeating “I don’t know if I can do this.  I don’t know if I can do this.“   I searched the faces in the room for understanding, but I saw only annoyance in my midwife and her assistant. I was told once again I needed to rest and was left alone in the bedroom with my husband.  I shut up, feeling now like a weakling and a failure.  How could all of these other women do this and describe it so beautifully and never loose hope?  What was wrong with me?  I tried to rest, I even succeeded a few times, glimpsing sleep for a minute or two before waking up at the peak of a rush with no way out.  I tried to remain calm and listen to my body.  I focused on each limb and asked it how it wanted to be moved, not daring to take on my whole body at once.  I made the in and out movement of my breath my whole world, each rush a wave to be ridden, and I still felt everything.

      I heard voices from the other room and began straining to hear.  Even in labor, I was being nosey.  I believe I heard Cari ask if she should (or could) come in to see me, but it’s what I heard next that shattered any confidence I may have been clinging to.  My midwife who had only been with me through a handful of contractions, most of which with her hand inside me cause me more extreme pain, angrily retaliated “This is just ridiculous, I’m not going to coddle her through every contraction!”  John started talking to me, pulling me back to lay down and I wanted to hit him.  I wanted to hear what else was being said, but he had heard it too and was trying to distract me.  I angrily pulled away, but by the time I got him to shut up they were quiet.  So that was it, I was failing.  I was weak and I was a bad birther.  I was suddenly flooded with memories of my midwife and her assistant telling me about other women whose births they had just attended.  Some they would describe as beautiful, but others they would roll their eyes at and even laugh while telling me about the noises they made, or the way they acted.  I hadn’t liked it at the time, but it was near the end of my pregnancy and I still really liked my midwife, and I had always assumed she was telling me these stories as a peer, being a doula.  Now I wondered what mean things they would say about me and what a bad birther I was.  Cry baby?  Complainer? Drama queen?  And of course the two words that would now haunt the rest of my labor: Weak and Failure.
     I was mad now, but not at the right people.  I was mad at myself.   I had tried so, so hard not to be a complainer.  I didn’t want to speak negatively about my birth because I wanted to remember it in a positive way.   I had thought I had been controlling myself well, I had thought I was coping the way I had seen other women cope, but now I felt less-than, and I was mad at myself for it.  I got back into the shower, not knowing what else I could possibly do.  I decided to try a visualization we were taught in Hypnobabies to help us work with the pain to open for the baby, but when I tried to focus on my uterus or where the pain was coming from during a contraction I would get lost.  The pain didn’t seem to be coming from anywhere near my belly, it was everywhere.  The only way I can describe it is like trying to focus on the part of your body that has water on it while getting thrown around under a wave searching for the surface; it was everywhere and it was all encompassing.  Pain became the force singing through every cell of my body.  The pinnacle, if anywhere, was not my uterus it was radiating from my back.

     The midwife said she was going to set the tub up in my living room, so I had to get out of the shower.  At this point modesty was not a concern of mine, so I stood leaning my head against the towel rod while Cari sat on the toilet and put pressure on my lower back.  Something about the angle was pure perfection.  I could still feel the rushes, and they were still intense, but they were manageable.  This I could do.  When I told Cari how much better things were this way she told me she thought I was having back labor.  My thinking brain turned on again momentarily and everything made sense.  I wasn’t as weak as I thought, I was having back labor!  These contractions, these manageable, no-so-bad ones were what most women felt and what I was feeling before was what women described as hell.  This made me feel strong again, and it restored some of my faith in my body.  I was even able to joke with Cari and promised not to leak anything on her while she rubbed by back.  I continued vocalizing on a lower scale until the midwife came in to say the tub was done.  I mustered a smile and told her I would go in the tub when  I needed it, but I was very happy leaning against the wall.  She looked irritated again and my smile faltered.  “What do you mean they feel better?”  I told her it was back labor and Cari was making it bearable for me.  Something in her face made me think this was the wrong answer.  “If you were really in that much pain in the first place then nothing would be helping you.”  I spent my next contraction visualizing bouncing her face off the door jam and momentarily wondered if labor counted for a temporary insanity plea.  I then relinquished myself to try out the living room. 

     The birth ball helped for a few contractions, but there were knives in my back and my nerves were pulled taunt so it wasn’t enough.  At some point I was checked again and found to be at 4 or 5 cm’s.  I have no memory of this check, but it convinced her I was really in labor so I was allowed to go into the tub.  John, my husband, came in and sat behind me.  He rubbed my back for a while and the water helped. It wasn’t the ‘natural epidural’ so many women had praised it as being, but it was help.  I tried to get up to go to the bathroom and was told I didn’t really have to go, it was just the babies head.  I remember saying “I don’t care, I don’t want to poop in my tub.”  I remember being in the bathroom briefly but am told I was actually in there for a very long time.  Every few minutes I would come to the door, open it, shut it, and disappear again.  I remember doing this twice because I would think I was ready to go back to the tub, but as soon as a new rush would come I would sit back down.  Eventually I called out that I felt sick and someone brought bag to puke it.  I didn‘t need it right away, but took it with me back to the living room.  I tried leaning on hands and knees over the birth ball again.  The rushes seemed to be coming so quickly they were colliding into each other.  Cari had been rubbing my shoulders and encouraging me when I looked up at her with tears in my eyes and said “I don’t know if I can do this.  This is so awful I don’t know if I can take transition.”  There was a faint smile when she told me “I think you are.”  The thought was amazing to me.  I got back into the tub and was finally able to rest between rushes while leaning against John.  Every once in a while a rush would be so intense it would make me call out for my puke bag and every time the midwife would ask me if I had ever been abused.  All my knowledge of birth was gone at this point, so I couldn’t understand why she was asking and I was annoyed at her for it.  She also kept asking if I was sure my water had broke earlier, even though I had told her what color the strip had been.

     There was a blessed relief as things began to slow down slightly and my contractions spaced out a bit.  This seemed to just annoy my midwife further and she began making me panic that I was somehow failing again. I was again asked to leave my comfort zone and go get checked again.  This check brought the very unexpected and welcome news that I was dilated fully to 10 centimeters.  I found a sudden rush of energy with this news and dared to smile again.  I was told there was a slight cervical lip, but it was okay to push.  I didn’t have the urge at the time, and not pushing before my body told me to had been something we discussed at my prenatal appointments, but I had been awake for 24 hours now, my thinking brain was MIA, and I wanted this to be over, so I began to push.  This is when things began to go wrong.