Archive for the 'pregnancy' Category

The United States disappoints, yet again

This is pretty much disgusting.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16907584/

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Pigpen & PPD

Last month, my birth story won Thordora’s Pulsate Olympics.

This month, the topic pertains to the Postpartum Crazy Race. I wasn’t planning on participating. Mainly because I never was treated for postpartum depression, which seems to be the main purpose of Thordora’s topic choice. However, she has recently posted that the entries for this month are few and far between, so I’m going to say something.

I’m going to tell you about my pregnancy and postpartum period with Pigpen. And I’m not going to put it into nicely flowing paragraphs. I just don’t have time for that, but I will ALWAYS have time to openly and honestly share my experience with others. You all should know that virtually everything during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum is a variation of normal.

Ahem.

I became pregnant with Pigpen only a few months after my first abortion. Einstein was only 10 months old. I didn’t want another baby. B didn’t want a baby. I was still living with my parents. Neither of us were working. We weren’t in a position to be having another child. I wasn’t in a position to be caring for the one I had. And yet, my previous abortion loomed over our heads. I knew that someday I would want another child. I was afraid of ruining my chances of a healthy pregnancy with another abortion. I thought about the doctor who had shook his head at the patient before me who had been in for numerous procedures. I didn’t want to be that girl. I buckled down. I would marry B. We would figure it out. I would deal with the pregnancy like a punishment. And I did. For 5 months I hid my pregnancy. I was embarassed. Unmarried and with a small toddler. I couldn’t believe I had fucked up again. It was humiliating. I wasn’t excited for another baby. I already had a baby. What the hell was I going to do with another one? I kept telling myself I would quit smoking. I never did. Every evening I would come home from work and finally have a long awaited cigarette, away from the gawking stares of the public. And then I’d smoke pot. Every night. Every single night I’d smoke, and I’d convince myself and B that it was okay. In the womb, Pigpen was quiet. There were days that he wouldn’t move for 12 hours at a time. B and I moved into our own apartment and we struggled. We fought like crazy. He cheated on me. I sobbed and I hated life, and I found myself looking at adoption ads in the classifieds. In my third trimester, I looked for clinics that would perform late abortions.

Pigpen was born six days after the new millenium. A “Y2K baby.” His birth was easy, medicated, unfeeling. I was wheeled out into the courtyard shortly after for a cigarette. I had no desire to breastfeed him. Less than a week after trying to nurse, I gave in to the bottle. Besides, I couldn’t quit smoking and somehow the thought of breastfeeding and nicotine was even more despicable than smoking through a pregnancy. I had gained an enormous amount of weight, never having lost some of the baby weight from the first pregnancy. I was huge. I felt disgusting. I sat at home with a newborn and a high needs 18 month old. I couldn’t even go to the grocery store. My toddler wouldn’t walk on his own and so I would balance him on my hip and carry the infant seat in my other arm, sweating and cursing all the way to the doctor appointments. Our baby was born with RSV. He made several trips to the ER in his first month of life for breathing difficulties, no doubt tied to my prenatal smoking habits. When I think back on it all, it seems like a flatline. Total apathy. Ambivalence. I just felt…nothing. Pigpen was amazingly calm. He slept through the night from Day 1 onwards. He rarely cried. His cry was so unfamiliar that it would cause us to stare in shock. He slept 18-20 hours per day. We started propping his bottle. He became a fixture, sitting in the bouncy seat or the swing, a bottle propped with a rolled up receiving blanket. Sometimes I would forget that he was even there. B would come home from work and go hours without even glancing at the baby. He didn’t know how to treat an infant. He was only following my lead.

It only took a few months before I started to describe the feeling of “the walls closing in around me.” The apartment literally kept growing smaller and smaller until I felt suffocated. We packed it all up and moved. Little by little, I began to feel better. The space began to open up and everything inside didn’t feel so tight anymore.

It wasn’t until Pigpen was about 18 months old that I spent time with him. Just me and him. I clearly remember pushing him along in a shopping cart, and looking at his smiling face and thinking “Oh my God, I love him. I fucking LOVE him!” The bonding process began. A year and a half late, but fierce. Partly because of the guilt, I spent a great deal of time babying abd favoring him. But also because of his sweet and happy personality. Yesterday he turned seven years old, and his smiling face, quirky demeanor and loving spirit has been a constant source of sunshine in my life.

There will always be regrets about the way I treated my pregnancy and Pigpen’s babyhood. Just like any other bad decision I’ve made, I’ll always wish that I had done things differently. It’s never fun to have regrets about things you have done or said to your children. But just like every other regret in my life, it served its purpose. It taught me, changed me, and molded me into a woman who can empathize and relate to others in a non-threatening manner.

It wasn’t until many years later that I began to suspect that some of the issues I had after Pigpen was born could have been more than just situational depression. I wish that someone else could have had the same suspicions and come to my aid before things had spun out of control. I can only hope that my experience will make it possible for me to notice any red flags in other mamas.

Becoming Auntie

One of my greatest desires in life is to become an aunt. Both B and I have been waiting and waiting for someone to give us a little niece or nephew. I guess there’s just something so exciting and wonderful about being the “hero” to a little kid that you adore and never having to be “the bad guy” because they’re your own offspring.

It seems like it would totally be possible for me to become an aunt. I have 4 siblings and 2 sister-in-laws. Being fair, a few of them are too young to be thinking about babies. (Go to school, Caitlin!) My brother will also never have children. And then there leaves the last two couples. One is incapable of having children, now into their 40’s without ever having any success at pregnancy. The other couple has been our last shred of hope for Aunt and Unclehood anytime soon. They’ve been trying for years. One miscarriage, and then nothing but years of failure. This woman is amazing. She’s incredibly successful, has a fabulous career, and now two (TWO!) waterfront homes. She throws fabulous parties and is wonderful to my children and is so much fun to be around. And still, you can tell that there is something missing. It just breaks my heart to bits. I invited her to be at Rylan’s birth, and I was so happy to share it with her. She seemed so grateful to be there, but now I wonder if I had been insensitive and did more damage than good.

Last night B came home to tell me that she had miscarried again at 11 weeks. 11 weeks! One more week and they would have hit that “magical safe point” and they would have happily announced the pregnancy to the family. She was so close to the 2nd trimester…so close to having the morning sickness fading away. She went through 11 weeks planning, planning, planning. I can’t even imagine the pain. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to have all of the material posessions you want, to have the life you’ve always dreamed of, but to be missing the children. To be just watching the years rolls past and knowing that you’re only getting older–that soon it will be too late.

I know that this is her story, her tragedy, her pain. I know that it is my job to feel empathy, to give my condolences. And yet I feel myself grieving as well. I was so close. So close to becoming an aunt. Is that selfish of me?

There’s another thing as well. The past few years I have toyed with the idea of surrogacy. I can’t think of anything greater that I could do with my fertility, my healthy pregnancies, and my uncomplicated labors than to put my body on loan for 10+ months. And better yet, how amazing it would be to give that gift to a family member. Technically speaking, I only have a few years left to be considered for surrogacy. It makes me wonder if I should send this option out to my family member. And if so–how? Would she be offended? Would the timing be bad? When would the timing be right? Should I wait another year, wait for another miscarriage? I’m at a loss. Anyone’s thoughts on this would be appreciated. I’d especially like to hear from anyone who has experienced loss and how an offer of surrogacy would come across, emotionally. Thanks, everyone.

Estella

Punishment

This month marks the 9 year anniversary of my first abortion.

I hear that this is something that a woman keeps a secret, a private issue.

For me, it’s always been something that I’ve wanted to be open and honest about. It’s not that I don’t feel shame. I do. Of course I do. I’m human, I’m female, I’m a mother.

I found myself pregnant when my firstborn was four months old. My boyfriend was a wreck, completely unstable. Our relationship was wild, crazed, psychotic. I was madly in love with him, but I knew that there was no way that I could keep a clear conscience and bring his child into the world. He was in no way suitable for fatherhood. And then there was the simple fact that I already had one infant that I couldn’t support, and his father was just as bad.

We made the mistake of telling our parents. They were crushed. They begged me to change my mind. His mother told me she’d take custody. Mine wrote me a heartwrenching letter and pleaded for the life of their second grandchild. Adoption was the answer, they said. It was unthinkable. Keep the first baby but abandon the other? My own adoption issues kept me from considering the option. I wouldn’t send my child into the arms of strangers, have her raised with identity and trust issues, feeling rejected and alone. I know what you’re thinking–better to kill her, right? I focused on the fact that I was barely pregnant at the time of my appointment. 6 weeks they estimated, the earliest an abortion can be performed.

Someone tentatively gave me the money to cover the procedure. She was afraid that I would grow to regret it and I would resent her for making it possible. I never did. Not once. And not to say it wasn’t a traumatic experience. There isn’t any easy way to go about playing God.

In the clinic, a nurse met with me beforehand. She wanted to know if I was sure. She asked me why. I told her about my son. She asked me if I was a natural redhead. I wasn’t, and I asked why. She said that in her experience, redheads were emotional. They had a hard time with the procedure, but I would be okay.

On the exam table, legs spread and placed in the stirrups, I was shaking. My teeth were chattering. I had asked for a sedative by IV. It was slowly making it’s way into my veins, but not nearly strong enough. I doubt that anything could have calmed my nerves. The doctor was old, short, bald and round. He had an accent. Russian maybe. I had heard that the sucking noises would be the worst. I stared at the poster on the ceiling and tried to drown them out. The nurse and doctor talked during the procedure. They gossiped about the girl in the next room who was on her fourth abortion. I couldn’t believe how unprofessional they were. But what did they care? What was I going to do? At 19 years old, was I going to make a complaint about the rude conversation that ocurred during the procedure that sucked my baby out of my womb? Of course not. I was going to go quietly and hope to God I’d never have to come back. Afterwards, the doctor told me not to have sex for 6 weeks. I could “suck dick but no sex” he said. I was shocked, taken aback. And yet I just nodded, numb. I walked out, into the waiting room where my boyfriend was waiting. His head was down. He was crying. It was the hardest moment of the entire experience. He drove me home and put me to bed, and in my dreams I named my child. China. Doll-like. She would have had fair hair and porcelain skin, bright blue eyes and dark lashes. I knew I had conceived a daughter. I felt sure of it, and knew that if there was a God, he would never allow me to birth another daughter. I had thrown away the greatest gift he could give. Nine years later and here I am with two more children. Sons. And I cannot shake the intense desire to keep trying for a girl. I guess I have to believe that God will forgive me, or that better yet, I will forgive myself.

Being cheated

Last night I attended a Childbirth Ed class taught by the wonderful Hannah. She’s a fantastic educator, very entertaining and informative. We took a tour of the hospital where she took the bed apart, hoisted her little frame up into that bed and showed several different positioning examples, including all-fours and legs spread with feet up on the squatting bar. What a dynamic lady she is. I’m just not sure I could get in front of an entire roomfull of people and spread eagle. Lol. Very cool of her.

The whole experience was really neat, watching everything from an observation standpoint instead of being an expectant parent. I got warm fuzzies just seeing all of the couples, so excited and full of hope. The Daddy next to me was rubbing Mama’s belly and the one in front of me kept looking at his wife and smiling lovingly. It made me want another baby so bad I could taste it.

But when I got home and sat down to unwind, I was overcome with so many feelings that needed to be sorted out. Mostly, anger.

I’m angry that at 18 years old, I trusted my doctor when she told me at a prenatal appointment that “an epidural would be best for me.” I’m angry that I was always stuck in the waiting room for my appointments, that I could never get through on the phone, that everyone was too busy to answer my questions, and that she would fly in and out of the examining room before I had a chance to process the information she had given me. I’m angry that I was treated like cattle, along with the rest of her patients. In and out. Push them through. I’m angry that she sent me to Childbirth Ed classes, where I was taught how to be “a good patient”, to do exactly what they wanted me to do instead of giving me options. I’m angry that although my labor was only 6 hours long, she augmented with Pitocin. I’m angry that I was gripping the bed rails, curling up into a tiny ball and screaming from the pain. I’m angry that there were decels in my son’s heartrate, that there was distress and meconium that probably could have been avoided if my doctor would have been patient enough to keep the Pitocin out of my veins for a few hours longer. I’m angry that I never moved from the bed, strapped to monitors and an IV pole. I’m angry that I was numb from my breast bone to my toes, that I could feel nothing, that nurses were yelling, that I pushed so hard I bruised the sockets of my teeth and popped blood vessels in my eyes. I’m angry that my son was pushed too hard and too fast into the world and countless stitches were needed to repair the damage. I’m angry that my doctor tugged away at my placenta and that there was so much blood that she mentioned a transfusion, that I was anemic afterwards and had to keep my catheter in for the entire next day because I could not even stand. I’m angry that when breastfeeding went terribly wrong, the nurses, the lactation consultants, everyone gave up on me. And I’m angry that 18 months later, when my second child was born, everything happened all over again.

I almost feel like I need to grieve my first two births. Sure I had no major complications and my babies were healthy. But there was so much I missed, so much my boys missed. I feel so lucky to have had my last child be born at home. It was definitely a real healing experience for me. But in a way, it made things worse. I feel cheated. Even though I was reading everything I could get my hands on about pregnancy and birth and breastfeeding, the information that was presented to me was one sided. I was molded into my doctor’s perfect patient. She got paid for doing so very little, and now I forever pay the price for her lack of concern.

I guess it’s important for me to keep focusing on the fact that I was able to reclaim my motherhood, my instincts, myself. I have to remember that a year ago, I was in my own bed, watching my baby be born. I was letting him come, allowing my body to do the work as his head crowned so slowly and gently. I have to remember the waves of contractions that washed over me, the absence of fear and pain. I have to remember lifting his body to my chest, no one cheering or yelling, no bulb syringe, no gleam of the scissors to immediately sever him from me, no towels to scrub away his vernix. I have to remember that a year later, he still finds nourishment at my breast, that my child is still nursing when I was told again and again that I would never breastfeed. I have to remember it all, and be gracious for it, for the way I was given that one last opportunity to discover empowerment.

Animal’s birth story (Uncensored)

Today is Animal’s birthday. I think a birth story is appropriate. Here is what I was doing one year ago today.

October 30, 2005

It was one week until my due date. I was fucking miserable. I was 60 pounds heavier and I looked like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Seriously, I just looked at that link from Wikipedia and started laughing my ass off because that IS EXACTLY HOW I LOOKED.

Anyway, I had been having “false labor” for 2 weeks. I begged my midwife to strip my membranes, and then to do “cervix stretching”, which let me assure you, is not a pleasant procedure. I never thought I would have demanded this sort of intervention, but by 39 weeks I was experiencing excruciating pain from a condition known as Symphisis Pubis Dysfunction. Now, I’m one tough broad, but the separation of your pubic bone during pregnancy is nothing to fuck around with. I couldn’t roll over in bed, get out of bed, or walk up the stairs without experiencing severe pain. Needless to say, I wanted the baby OUT. My midwife relented and started me on homeopathic versions of black and blue cohosh. I alternated between the two for 24 hours. Nothing happened. I was feeling restless and anxious and pissed off. I called my mom and told her that if I didn’t get out of the house PRONTO, I was going to have a panic attack.

6:15PM
I blame (thank) my Mother for the true reason my labor started. She was driving me home from our quick shopping excursion, in her usual manner, which includes running red lights and veering off of the road. While I was gripping the door handle and trying to remind myself that she hadn’t killed herself yet, in 40+ years of driving experience, I felt a little *trickle*. I figured that it was just spotting, due to the aforementioned CERVICAL STRETCHING, but I joked to my mom that “I either just peed my pants or my water broke!” We got to the house and when I got out of the car, it just kept on trickling. I went to the bathroom and checked things out. No blood. Aha! Maybe this was it. I decided to call my midwife and see if she thought I was leaking amniotic fluid. She said “Usually when your water breaks, there is no doubt about it. Your socks will be soaked. Call me back in an hour.” I ate dinner and fiddled around on the computer for a bit. When I stood up again to call the midwife, a huge gush came spilling out of me like a goddamn waterfall. It was all the way down my pant leg—no mistaking what had happened! My midwife, Ann, said that she would be right over to administer my first round of antibiotics, since I had tested Group B Strep positive. By 9:30PM I had received the antibiotics, and was still not experiencing contractions. My midwife decided to go out to grab something to eat (which I later found out was just an excuse to leave me alone to relax). I was watching a rerun of Desperate Housewives. No sooner had her car backed out of the driveway and I felt a strange “pop” and a sharp pain in my crotch. Immediately, the first contraction began. Two minutes later, another contraction. They continued on every two minutes. They were uncomfortable, but not yet painful. I tucked my boys in for the night and cleaned up around the house. My husband called the midwife and she returned to start filling the birthing pool. During this time I sat on the birthing ball and leaned on my bed listening to Norah Jones while B rubbed my lower back. I also sat on the toilet for quite awhile-it felt so much better! The worst part about the whole thing (and one which I reiterate again and again in the birth video) is the fact that I had to wear Depends undergarments. . The amniotic fluid just kept coming and coming! At one point, I actually had to send someone to the store for a SECOND pack of those damn things! I had not prepared myself for the fact that during my entire labor, I would be feeling that I was continually pissing myself. And so, for awhile, I stationed myself on the john.

I noticed that standing during contractions intensified the pain, but my midwife told me that my labor would go quicker if I remained upright, despite the additional pain, so I walked and stopped and leaned on door frames, walls, and furniture during contractions. I didn’t want to get in the pool until my contractions were unbearable, for fear of slowing my progress, and so far they were completely manageable. Around this time, we realized that the pool (perfectly heated to 100 degrees) was leaking! It was spilling water onto the carpet and had to be drained, patched up, and refilled. Ann contemplated running home to get a new pool. She checked my cervix to see if she might have time, and I was 5cm, 100% effaced and baby was in 0 station. It was now midnight. She decided she’d better just stick around. She worked with B, patching and refilling the pool (and trying to get it back to a good temperature, since most of the hot water had now run out). I was in my room alone, and the contractions were beginning to intensify a bit. I was back on the birthing ball, but now making low moaning noises, which really helped. I decided to try lying on my left side, since I was getting a bit tired. The contraction that hit while I was lying on my side didn’t feel right at all. It felt very wrong to be lying down, and I couldn’t believe that I had labored with my last two children strapped into a hospital bed. I began to feel nauseous and as is usual for me during labor, the pukes started. My midwife came in the room and excitedly explained to me that “throwing up equals ten good contractions!” I had never seen anyone so excited about vomit. She sprinkled peppermint oil in the “puke bowl” and it made my nausea really fade. I was starting to think that I may want to get in the pool, so Ann decided to give me my last round of antibiotics. I was leaning on my bed, waiting for the antibiotics to end, and my next contraction came in a fierce wave of pain. It took me by surprise, and I started yelling. I remember Ann telling me to blow out the word SHUSH as loud and as hard as I could. I could hardly do anything but collapse on the bed. My legs completely gave out on me. I felt a pain in my crotch and the next contraction came right on top of the last. It was just as painful, except this time I could feel pressure in my ASSHOLE. I started screaming to Ann that “he is IN MY ASS!!” Seriously. I’m not kidding. I really told my midwife that I thought my baby was coming out of my ass. She asked me if I wanted to get in the tub, but I couldn’t move an inch. She pushed me up onto the bed. I was sideways and barely on the bed when she checked me and said “Oh yeah, we’ve got a head knuckle deep!” She rushed around, grabbing her materials and asking me to blow through the next contraction. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. The urge to push was so unbearably strong! The contractions didn’t even hurt anymore, I just wanted the baby out! I didn’t have to push at all. I grunted a bit and blew out some air and my uterus did the work for me. His head began crowning. This didn’t really hurt either, and I was surprised to not be feeling “the ring of fire” as Ann continued to rub KY jelly around and helped me stretch around the baby’s head. I grunted a little more and his head was out. Then I felt an overwhelming need to push and I felt his shoulders break through. This part really DID hurt, and I found out later that his hand had been up and his fist breaking through with his shoulders was the reason behind the super crazy pain. I screamed like a animal! Whenever we watch the birth video, B laughs like a hyena at that part. Like it’s really funny that I’m screaming like a banshee because A 9 POUND BABY WITH BIGASS SHOULDERS AND A FIST IS COMING THROUGH MY VAGINA. But it was quick, and as soon as his body slipped out, there was no more pain. The baby was immediately placed on my chest and began breathing. It was fifteen minutes after midnight on Halloween morning. He didn’t need to be suctioned. The cord was cut when it stopped pulsating and 10 minutes after the baby, the placenta was birthed. Animal scored a 10/10 on his Apgars. I was able to walk around immediately after his birth and he was alert and active enough that I was able to get him to successfully latch on to breastfeed within the first hour. Birthing my baby at home was an amazing, life changing event in my life. It empowered me beyond words and gave me the experience I had missed in my previous births. (Even if I did have to wear Depends, piss my pants for 4 hours, and have the terrifying thought that I was going to deliver my child rectally.)