Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Psychology Goals

I went into therapy with the mind to change myself. My thought was to find out what's wrong with me and fix it. But what if that isn't the best path?

My psychology professor knows what her issues are. She says, “I'm highly neurotic. I'm an introvert and teaching wears me out. I have a lot of cognitive dissonance.” She laughs. She's not making a joke, she's serious, but it doesn't stop her from doing what she wants to do – teach. She has a masters in psychology. She's the department head. She's a very good teacher.
What is neurosis? According to Wikipedia, "Neurosis is a class of functional mental disorders involving distress but neither delusions nor hallucinations, whereby behavior is not outside socially acceptable norms.[1] It is also known as psychoneurosis or neurotic disorder, and thus those suffering from it are said to be neurotic. The term essentially describes an "invisible injury" and the resulting condition."
Neurotic individuals may be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, OCD, hysteria, and/or endless amounts of phobias.

While I sit at home, berating myself for being so neurotic, so introverted, she goes out and does what she wants to do anyways. She knows where her issues are, and just the knowing seems to help. She can compensate for them. Her office is quiet. She spends time there to recharge after teaching. She knows that she requires time alone after teaching a class so she makes sure she gets what she needs.

Perhaps this is a higher goal. Not to find problems and fix them. Not to make me less introverted, less neurotic (though perhaps merely accepting that I am neurotic would decrease my neuroticism), but just to discover who I am, give me permission to be me. To be able to say, “Yes, I am neurotic” and then laugh. Not because it doesn't matter. But because it is OKAY.

I did the personality profile. I disagreed with several aspects of it. I argued why I was not this or that. Indeed, I answered some of the questions based on what I am trying to change into. Perhaps I will go back and redo it. However, a lot of it was spot on.

Prof. Smith said that it individuals' results do not change much over their lifetime. You could take it again in 10 years and it would still be basically the same. I was very disheartened when she said this. I thought, “Do you mean to say that there is no hope? What, then, is the point of therapy? Is all counseling pointless? It can't be. I can't keep living like this.”

Perhaps the goal of counseling ought not to be to change the individual. Perhaps the goal ought to be to teach the individual how to compensate for, or even embrace, their uniqueness, their differences. To be able to say, “I'm neurotic” with a smile on one's face rather than embarrassment.

My middle son. The most neurotic of the bunch (and the most like me). :)

Thursday, February 7, 2013


I'm testing a new app on my phone so hopefully this will work right.
I had court on Monday. I was very nervous. I pictured in my mind scenes from Judge Judy. He and I standing in front of the judge with our lawyers, hin flinging accusations at me and me trying to defend myself but choking up. I did not want to see him. One of the hardest things to do is to see him. He looks just like the sweet man I married, with a few more pounds and wrinkles. (No offense meant. I also have mor pounds, wrinkles, and gray hair too.)
But he's not that man. At least, he's not the man i thought he was. (He never was that man. But that's a level of phsychology I'm not going into here.)
We had good times. He taught me to lighten up. That I don't have to be such a stick in the mud all the time. He taught me how to not be so naive. We had 3 babies together. There was a time when i wanted nothing more than to just be held in his arms. Not held down by them, but held IN them.
I'm not quite as afraid of him as i once was. I don't keep my mouth shut out of fear of offending him. I stand up for myself, even if that means hiring a lawyer to stand by my side.
He told me i couldn't do anything important or difficult. That there was nothing wrong with that, that some women just aren't built to do anything greater than be a homemaker. (To which i think, "what IS greater than being a homemaker? To me, nothing. It's the future of the world. It's taking care of God's most precious creations. I digress.)
He said i couldn't get a real job. I didn't have the work history, the experience, the fortitude. To which i think, i had the strenth to put up with you for 10.5 years (8.5 married), I can do anything!"
I used to pray he'd leave because i wasnt brave enough to take a stand. I read in a book by a lawyer that he's never seen a case where two people mutually agreed to get a divorce. One wants it and the other usually thinks things are going along just fine and is shocked when served with papers. I realized that he wasn't going to leave. I belonged to him in his mind. I had to mind him and do whatever he wanted. And i did try. But noone can bear the burden of trying to make another person happy.
I made up my mind to leave. This was fall 2010. I decided id leave after xmas.  Nov 14, 2010, i had to call the police. Some of you remember this. I dont want to go into that right now.
He made a bunch of promises. I wanted to believe him. I went back after 2 weeks. I warned him that i don't give 3rd chances. If i had to leave again, i wouldn't be coming back. On average a woman will leave an abusive relationship 7 times before leaving for good. I pictured myself and my kids packing up and leaving 7 times. I pictured more babies. Id already had 7 pregnancies and 2 live births. I realized i couldn't do that. It's not fair to the kids to constantly uproot them. I vowed that if there was a next time, it would be the last. If he wanted to reconcile, he'd have to do A LOT of work over a long period of time to prove himself trustworthy and I'd only go back after i became self-sufficient.
So anyways i went back. I knew after 3 days id made the wrong decision. It was not better at all. In fact, it quickly became worse than before i left! He seemed determined to make me pay for having left and to make sure i was so dependent i could never leave again. 2 Weeks after i went back, i was pregnant.
A month later his job ended. He went to school to retrain and then quit one job and turned down every other opportunity that came up. We were out of time and out of money and a baby on the way! He was talking about going to Colorado. His dad offered that we could stay with him until we got on our feet.
So now I'm 30 weeks pregnant, in the middle of nowhere, no transportation, no regular internet access, no space of our own, none of my family or friends nearby, nothing. He had complete control over everything and he LIKED it that way.
Well, I'm almost at my bus stop so i'll write more later.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Smoking, and Love

Yesterday, I learned that a resident had passed away. She was a smoker who had lost her battle with lung cancer. She leaves behind a precious 7 year old daughter.

Yesterday, I was reminded of my Aunt Maggie. She passed away when I was 9. She was a smoker because it was her life and she’d do what she wanted with it. She was a nurse. She touched countless lives. One day she got what she thought was a cold. 2 weeks later, she was dead. She had what they call “old-fashioned pneumonia” because it kills so fast. Imagine how many more lives she could have touched had she not died. Imagine her 8 year old daughter, my cousin, growing up without her mom. All because it was her life and she’d do with it as she pleased. *sigh*

I was a smoker. I smoked my first cigarette when I was 10. I started smoking regularly when I was 13 and quit when I was 18. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done was to quit smoking. I did it for my kids. These three precious children who I didn’t even know at the time. I knew that someday though, I wanted to know them. I didn’t want to poison them during my pregnancy and breastfeeding. I wanted to be around to see them grow up, get married, have their own kids. Please people, your life is not about you. You think you’re cool, a rebel, stickin’ it to the man. You’re not. You’re being taken advantage of by tobacco companies. You might as well roll up a dollar bill and smoke it. Or you could take that dollar bill and save it for your children’s education fund. You’ll drastically increase your chances of actually being around to see them use the education fund. You’re not cool. You stink. Your teeth are yellow. Your fingers are yellow. If you get cancer and go through chemo, you lose your hair. Not all at once, just in patches. You get open sores all over your body. You are in constant pain. Nothing tastes good. You don’t have the energy to even get up to use the bathroom. Someone has to come and help you onto a bedpan, or change your brief if they can’t get to you in time to put you on a bedpan. If you’re smoking to fit in with your friends, imagine your friends in a nursing home, in the condition I just described. Do you really want to fit in with them? Do you want your children to fit in with their children? Motherless or fatherless? 7 or 8 years old and dressed in black at your funeral? Yes, a lot of smokers don’t die that young. But a lot do. You don’t know until it happens if it will be you or not.

On a brighter note,

Today, I worked with a woman, let’s call her Pam. (NOT her real name.) I was encouraging her to eat her snack, so she could put some weight on. Alzheimer’s patients often have difficulty getting enough nutrients. She was doing well. Then she saw her husband through the window, walking towards us. She thrust the snack into my hands, called out excitedly, “My husband!” and ran to meet him. She wrapped her arms around his chest, he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and kissed the top of her head. She said again, “My husband!” then brought him back to me and said to him, “Introduce yourself!” I’d met him before a couple of times, but that’s okay. She doesn’t remember. My point is how sweet this scene was. She was walking around on his arm for awhile, just beaming. I hope someday to have someone so special in my life that I beam like that. I hope that I have someone that cares about me enough to come visit me even if I forget who they are, as she eventually will.

I’m so honored and blessed to be able to care for people like these.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

New Year 2013

I’m taking my blog on a bit of a turn in direction. I’m not totally moving out of the birthy stuff, it’s just on the backburner for now. The last time I posted was over a year ago. Here is what has happened in my life since then.

On September 18, 2012, I packed up my kids and we went to a domestic violence shelter. I’m going to try not to go into too much detail as it’s not my goal to shame him. I might share some detail at a later date, in the hopes of helping other women.

We’ve been here for four months and one day. A couple of days after I arrived, I was offered the opportunity to attend a CNA class for free (scrubs, babysitting, and transportation also provided). I couldn’t pass that up! I went, and tied with three other students for the top score in the class (98 something).

It took a month to get my license and another couple of weeks to get a job. I’ve now been there for nearly 2 months. I work at a facility that provides assisted living, Alzheimer’s living, long-term care, and short term (hospital to our facility to home) care. The Alzheimer’s patients are my favorites. I’m not putting them down when I say this: they are simple. They are not complex. I mean, their issues can be complex, and some require a lot of care, but they just are what they are. The further the disease progresses, the more they let go of what doesn’t serve them. It’s sad to see them forget their loved ones and so on, but I also get to see them for who they really are, and not the act that most have probably put on their whole life. They become like little children again. They feel what they feel, what they express is just the honest truth. It’s a refreshing break from the constant game that people in the “outside world” play of keeping up appearances and trying to impress everyone. Experts say that after they forget who they are, who you are, who their loved ones are, they recognize people by how they make them feel. If I make them feel good, safe, important, they’ll remember me, not as just my name or my job description, but as that person who makes them feel good, safe, and important. If I’m short-tempered with them, they’ll remember me as that. It’s awesome and scary. What a responsibility.

I wish we could all let go of “keeping up appearances”, “putting on airs”, trying to impress, trying to look like we’ve got it all together. I’ve been trying to do this. I’ve gotten some flack for it. Sometimes I think I’ve shared too much and gotten hurt for it. The more you open yourself up, the more you give opportunity for others to hurt you. But you’re gonna get hurt either way. By opening myself up, I’ve also received so much encouragement and support that I never would have gotten had I not expressed that I needed it.

Single motherhood is no picnic. It is not for the faint of heart. It is crushingly lonely. When my kids do something cute, I turn to say, “Look what he did!” and there’s no one there to appreciate it. When I’m sick, there’s no one to take the kids for an hour or two so I can rest. When the kids are sick, there’s no one to stay with the others while I take one to the ER. It requires A LOT of creativity, something I don’t excel at. I like to find ONE solution, one process, one way of doing things that works and KEEP DOING THE SAME THING! It’s emotionally and physically exhausting to constantly reevaluate the situation and come up with new solutions.

When my 3yo is sick and saying, “I want Daddy,” it crushes me. When my 1 year old says, “Dada” and it has no meaning for him, it tears me up. When my 7 year old sobs because he wants to go back to his old school, it makes me want to throw in the towel and do whatever I can to make him happy. But I don’t. Not because I’m stubborn or heartless, but because I believe this is the best thing for all of us. Someone had to break the cycle of violence. It’s been passed down from father to son for generations. It HAS TO STOP. I could not bear the thought of my daughter-in-laws going through what I went through. I couldn’t bear the thought of my three sons growing up and abusing me like they saw their father do (they were already starting to imitate him.) I couldn’t bear the thought of continually bearing children for a man who wanted little to nothing to do with them and saw them as an unwanted burden (but was unwilling to do anything to prevent having more).

It’s been very hard to go from being a stay-at-home mom to working full time. There is never enough time. For cleaning, for time with my kids, for doing things that maintain my own sanity. I’ve decided to drop down to part-time and go to nursing school. It’ll be busy for a while but I’ll end up with better wages, a little less physically demanding job, the opportunity to work in L&D (I hope), more job satisfaction, and a better life for me and my kids. (Any grants or scholarships you know of for nursing students, please pass them on to me! I’d much appreciate it as I’m attempting to get through school debt-free.)

As I told my therapist last week, it’s not fair. I shouldn’t have to be so stressed out, so worried, spend very little time with my kids, just so that I can be safe. If I work full time, I lose all my benefits (food stamps, housing, childcare…). Then I can’t afford to stay on my own and will have to quit my job and go back to him. Nice, right? So I’ve decided to go to school while I have the chance. I wanted to do it in the first place, but chose to work full time to save up money first. Until I learned I wouldn’t be saving money. FRUSTRATING!

Had I known how hard it would be, I would not have left. Had I known I CAN DO THIS, I would have left years ago. Doesn’t seem to make sense, but it does.
My goal for this next year is to get my driver's license and pay cash for a minivan. My goal for the next two years is to graduate with my LPN license. I'm putting this in writing so that I can look back on it and stay motivated.
Will I ever consider going back to him? I'll put it this way. The rate of recovery for abusers is less than 1%. So there's a more than 99% likelyhood that I will never go back. I'm not ruling it out. I do believe that everyone has in them the capacity for change, but it all comes down to motivation and I don't think the motivation is there at this time. That might change in the future, God only knows.

Well, I’d better go. A million things to do and never enough time to do it all. Please keep my kids and I in your thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

In honour of Thanksgiving, here is a post of some of the things that I am most grateful for.

In no particular order:

I am grateful for my mother. She made a lot of unpopular choices for her time, for the betterment of her children. She was a homebirthing, breastfeeding, babywearing, no-vaxing, homeschooling mom 27 years ago when it was not so well known as it is today. She faced stiff opposition, some of it from dearly loved family, and still did what she knew to be best for us. I realized the other day that, had we been raising our children at the same time, we probably would have been good friends. That’s awesome. I’m proud to say that we now ARE good friends. I love you, Mom.

I am grateful for my dad. He, along with my mom, has stood by me even as I made some terrible decisions with my life. They have never said, “I told you so,” even though they have had plenty of occasions to do so. I’ve inherited many of my traits from him. My strong desire to always be on time (yes, I’m late a lot. I HATE being late and will do everything in my power to not be. Some things are beyond my control though, mostly my husband and kids J ). My attention to detail (a more positive way of saying that I’m obsessive. Thanks for that term, Dad!) My desire to get to know God better every day. I love you, Dad.

My oldest son. He has taught me more about myself than anyone else in my life. He’s taught me about anger and forgiveness, determination and perseverance, what really is important and how to let go of what isn’t. After I had my first miscarriage, he taught me that life goes on. As much as I wanted to lie in bed for weeks, or forever, I HAD to get up to care for him. I love him so much and he is especially dear to my heart.

My middle son. I have a special place in my heart for him as I am also the middle child. He also has taught me a lot, mostly how to multi-task, creative ways of being fair to each child (as much as possible), and just how different one child can be from the next. He taught me that I really could bond with him, even through the hell of colic and ppd. He is such a ham, and has us alternating constantly between pulling out our hair and splitting a gut laughing at his antics.

My third-born. He’s not showing us a whole lot of his personality yet, but I love him so. He is sweet and gentle and just perfect. He has REALLY stretched my parenting skills as I learned how to wrap my brain around caring for three children. He’s made it far easier than it might have been though. Had he been colicky like his next older brother, I don’t know how we would have survived. Once we figured out the reflux, he’s been a dream. He smiles and coos and his face lights up when he wakes up next to me in the morning and sees my smiling face next to his. He likes to jump up and down on our laps and will hold himself upright if someone balances for him. He babbles and laughs. He has the cutest little pouty face.

My father-in-law and stepmom-in-law. They have graciously opened their home to us these past 5 months. Even though we thought we’d be here a couple weeks at the most, they have never made us feel unwelcome. They have been tremendously helpful to me with the kids and I don’t know how I could have done it without them. It takes a special kind of person to invite FIVE extra people into their home and rarely ever complain about the many inconveniences. I will forever be indebted to them and am eternally grateful to them for helping us.

My midwife. As I have said, I had to move away from home 30 weeks into my pregnancy. I had to give up everything, including my midwives. This was devastating. I am SO grateful that I at least did not have to give up my homebirth. I am not comfortable with birthing unassisted, and no other midwives responded to me, so a hospital birth would have been the only other option. If you’ve read #3’s birth story, then you know what I would have missed out on. She took me on, despite already having twice as many clients as she usually takes on for the month, despite me being 30 weeks along already, and despite my inability to pay in a timely manner. She has repeatedly gone above and beyond for me. I could never repay her (although I WILL pay the rest of the fee, I promise!) Thank you so, so much.

The wee monkey is calling for me so I must stop here. Thank you to all my friends and family for standing by me, for sending gifts to the baby and I as we are without so much with all of our stuff in storage, for sending me messages on Facebook, for letting me vent to you, for praying for me. I love you all.

It wouldn't be a post without a picture, so here's the little one right after a bath. I LOVE that smile!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Baby #3's birth story - more thoughts

After thinking about my blog for awhile, I realized that I left out some important details. I don’t want to forget these things so here they are.

Almost as soon as I learned that I was pregnant, I called my midwifery group that I'd used with #2. I requested the midwives that had been at his birth. I wasn’t thrilled with everything that had happened, but figured we could work it out. I couldn't get them, they were on vacation when I was due, but I was assigned two of the most experienced midwives in the group. As soon as I met them, I loved them. I had a great first visit with my primary midwife. We chatted and laughed and had a long visit. She was finishing my sentences. We were on the exact same page on everything important to me. I so looked forward to our visits. I could talk about pregnancy and birth and babies all day, every day (just ask my husband!) and finally had some people who were as excited about it as I was.

Fast forward several months. We had to move from Canada to the States. I was 30 weeks pregnant and devastated to lose my midwives that I’d bonded with so well. I told my husband that I HAD to find a new midwife ASAP and I would not give up on my plan to birth at home (unless there was medical indication to do so). That would just be too much. Before leaving Canada, I posted on a board on Facebook asking for recommendations for a midwife in the area that we would be living. I got only one response, but she recommended a few different midwives. I emailed all of them and got only one reply.

We met with her a few days after arriving here. I had anticipated a 45-60 minute meeting, as my appointments in Canada had been (and I was thrilled with that, compared to the 5-10 minutes that I saw my doctor for my first pregnancy!) She spent about 3 hours with us I think, just with us getting to know each other. I really appreciated her taking the time with us so that we could get to know each other, especially with so little time remaining in my pregnancy.

I liked her as soon as I saw her. The more we talked, the more we liked her. Then she mentioned church and we learned that we shared the same faith. I was thrilled. I’d left my home, my friends, my family, my church, my midwives, my country… I’d been pushed entirely out of my comfort zone, and here I was, sitting on a futon in this midwife’s office and feeling totally at home. God had definitely set up our meeting!

I had already basically written my birth plan. I found it funny and wonderful that the opening paragraph of my birth plan was said to me almost word for word by my midwife during our first meeting and she’d never read it. It talked about how I view the role of my midwife as similar to that of a lifeguard: to stand by the side and make sure everything is going okay, and jump in if there is a problem. Almost every point on my birth plan was standard care for her. I was thrilled to hear this.

So this is why I was so happy to see her when I was in labour :) I know that God had everyone there that was supposed to be there.

The second thing I wanted to record is this.

I struggled during the birth, as many birthing women do. As I birthed his head and shoulders, it felt like I was dying. My doula-mind was saying to me, “You feel like you’re dying. This is great! That means that the baby is almost here!” Meanwhile, my body was saying to me, “This is too much, I can’t do this!”

I was meditating on this. Why must we go through this process of feeling so close to death in order to bring forth life? Perhaps it was the memory of being in the water that spurred my epiphany. It was like a baptism for me. I went in a mother of two and emerged a mother of three. I went in broken, with memories of an intense birth, difficult delivery, and traumatic postpartum. I came out healed, with memories of another intense yet good birth, with no complications, surrounded by people I loved and who loved me. I can still remember what happened with my previous births, but the pain isn’t there when I think about it.

There is no less selfless act than to give up your life for another. In giving birth, I thought I was dying. At some point though, I stopped caring about that. I just wanted to make sure that he got out and was okay.

I had really worked during this pregnancy to practice self-hypnosis. I wanted to be able to get out of my own way. As Ina May puts it, to let my inner monkey do it. To stop analyzing every little thing and trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing and instead, just do whatever my body told me to do. I didn’t totally stop analyzing. I heard the midwife mention a purple line and knew what that meant. (I even wanted to ask for a picture so I could see but then another contraction hit and I forgot about it.) I felt sick and knew transition was coming. I knew exactly how the double hip press worked to open up my pelvis and take the pressure off my back. Yet this time, I was able to analyze all that and more and it didn’t bog me down. I still let my monkey do what it needed to do. I didn’t get in my body’s way. To put it another way, I died to myself (my thoughts, will, emotions) and just let God and my baby and my body work together to give birth. (Not that I didn’t still need reminders at times ;) )

You can laugh at me; maybe I’m making a big deal out of something that isn’t. However, there’s no denying that I feel different now. I felt totally different literally the instant that he was born. I now have a beautiful birth memory to cherish. I honestly can’t think of a single major thing that I would change if I could have a do-over. I know it doesn’t mean as much to everyone (at least they say it doesn’t) but it means a lot to me. You ask a 90-something year old woman what her births were like and she’ll tell you, in detail! Birth matters :)

Now the real work begins. Now I will die to my wants and needs every day for this wee one, at least for awhile. At least, I’ll do my best to do so :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

He's here!!! Baby #3's Birth Story!

This was my 3rd baby, 2nd homebirth, and 1st waterbirth (I’m into numbers LOL).

We are staying with my husband’s father and step-mom for awhile so the plan was to birth in their sunroom. The house is over 100 years old with old floors, except for the sunroom which has concrete under it so that’s where the birth pool was set up. (Someone commented at one point that considering the age of the house, it's quite possible that mine wasn't the first baby born in it! That was a neat thought.) In attendance were my midwife, her mom (an l&d nurse), her assistant, my husband, my mom, and my doula. My father-in-law and stepmom-in-law were in the kitchen adjacent to the sunroom. Our older two boys were in bed and slept through the whole thing.

I was at 39 weeks and 3 days when he was born. I had prodomal labour a week before he was born for 2 days so my mom decided to come (she lives 10 hours away). I started getting pressure in my back while on my way from one store to the next and started getting contractions in the 2nd store. My mom and I finished our shopping and went home. I was in a hurry to go. I kept hearing that with prodromal labour, and a 3rd baby, once it got going for "real", it'd probably go quick. I didn't want to be one of those women who birth in a department store bathroom. I wanted to be at home, in my warm tub of water, with my midwife.

My mom walked into the house and told Hubby that I was in labour. He came out and asked me what the contractions felt like. I answered, “different”. As in, different from the prodromal labour – that had been intense, but this was intense – strong contractions – but also a lot of pressure in my back and uterus which I recognized immediately from my first two labours.

I’m funny – I don’t get early labour! Even with my first, I woke up at 28 weeks in active labour. Contractions were 1.5-2 minutes long and 30-60 seconds between them. The L&D nurse said that was impossible... until she saw it on the chart. I was dilated to 3 by the time I got to the hospital about an hour later. Then I was induced at 9 days past my EDD and 3 cm and labour came on full force right away. With my second, I woke up at 4 am in active labour. Anyways, as soon as I said different, he knew what that meant.

He called the midwife and doula and started setting up the pool. I think the midwife arrived about an hour after I got home so 2 hours into labour. I had no awareness of the passage of time though, so I could be way off on that. (This was on purpose. I didn’t want to get hung up on “oh no, it took 3 hours to dilate 1 cm” or anything like that so I told everyone not to tell me what time it was and just didn’t pay attention to time.) I was SO happy to see her. It was like, "Okay, I can relax and have this baby now that she's here."

Midwife checking baby's hearttones. I'm contracting and working hard.
I hadn’t wanted any internal exams, but she needed to know whether to call her assistant to come, and as soon as she suggested it, I wanted to know where I was at so I agreed. I was 6-7 cm between contractions and 8 cm during contractions. Head well applied, bag of water bulging. I was so excited to hear this as I’d stalled at 7 cm both previous times, but as soon as I got past 7 cm, I went FAST (from 7-10 in 15 minutes with #1 and 7-10 in about 1/2 hour I think with #2).

Smiling between contractions - my last belly picture
I got right in the water as soon as it was ready. It was a very intense labour. Being in the water didn't help much during the contractions but did feel good in between. My mom had a hot water bottle on my back and she and various people (hubby, midwife, her assistant, and my doula all took turns) were doing the double hip press which felt amazing, almost totally relieved the pressure in my back.

I had practiced hypnobirthing during this pregnancy. It helped immensely during the braxton hicks and prodromal labour - I had NO pain at all during these when I did the self-hypnosis techniques. I did have pain when I didn't do the relaxation. It helped (to a lesser extent) during the actual labour contractions too. Last time around I was panicking and tensing up. This time, despite the intense pressure, I was much calmer. I definitely felt pain, but it didn't overwhelm me as much. The relaxation techniques worked very well between contractions too. Instead of spending the time between them in fear of the next contraction, I just relaxed and enjoyed the respite.
I started having an urge to push. My midwife asked if I had a sharp pain by my pubic bone and I did. She said not to push because I wasn't fully dilated yet so I just relaxed and waited. After awhile, my body was pushing on its own. It was neat to feel that as I’d never really had an urge to push with my first two – I was just told that I was fully dilated with a lip and I could push now so I did. This time, I couldn’t keep from pushing.

After pushing for a bit, my legs kept cramping. I fought it for awhile, not wanting to give up on my desire to birth on hands and knees (I birthed my first two on my back), but finally had to give up and flip over. At least in the water, gravity didn’t have the negative effect it would have had on land.

I pushed for awhile but didn’t seem to make much progress. My midwife checked me and I had a cervical lip (same as both my other births) so she moved it out of the way (according to Hubby - I remember her checking me but I don’t remember the lip) and then I could feel him moving. I thought I was dying and then thought well if I’m dying anyways, I might as well push him out first.

I kept saying owwwww and my wonderful midwife told me to say “out” instead. That helped a lot. She also said something like “You can keep yelling but you’ll just end up with a sore throat tomorrow. It’s better if you can channel that energy down and use it to push.” So I did what she suggested (I still had a sore throat the next day though).

When his head crowned, she reminded me to reach down and feel my baby. It was unreal. She reminded me again after his head was born to touch him. Then I pushed the rest of him out (thinking for sure this would kill me!) and she told me he’s here, bring him up to you. I was so out of it and grateful that she reminded me that I wanted to catch him myself and bring him up to my chest if my positioning allowed me to do so. If I was on hands and knees then she would have had to catch him and hand him to me. Because I was sitting in the pool, I could catch him myself :D

My doula from my 2nd's birth (who was unable to attend this one because I moved 10 hours away) asked me what it felt like to catch him myself, compared to having someone else catch him. I told her that with the first two, it was like I'd waited 9 months for Christmas only to have someone else unwrap my present for me. This time, I got to unwrap my own present. I loved it.

[Photo removed to protect the identity of my midwife]

He was born after just 5 hours of labour. I have no clue how long I pushed for.

He was COVERED in vernex! That is a creamy substance that protects their skin in the womb. It's more common to see lots of it on preterm babies. It doesn't need to be washed off, I just rubbed it into his skin and it helps protect his skin after he's born too. My first, I think, had very little at 10 days past EDD. My 2nd had none that I can recall at 39 weeks. This one was covered head to toe with vernex at 39 weeks and 3 days. That sure surprised me, I wasn't expecting to see that.

Immediately after he was born, I felt amazing. I’d done it! The water surrounding me kept me warm (I get so cold after birthing!) and I think it lessened some of the painful sensations that come after birthing.

His cord was kind of short so I had a hard time balancing him with his head above the water as the cord kept pulling. After a little bit, I birthed the placenta. They put it in a plastic bucket and floated it beside us until it was time to cut the cord. Hubby cut the cord and marveled again at how thick and hard to cut it is. His placenta was so little! I'd guess it was maybe 1/2 to 3/4 the size of my 2nd's (I never saw my 1st's placenta). My doula encapsulated his placenta for me - I haven't taken any yet though.

He nursed for a short while and then we got out of the pool. I sat beside it on a chair and put my feet up on the edge of the pool. They piled me up with a hot water bottle and blankets as I was shivering hard. My doula hand-fed me eggs and toast and my mom brought me some Evergreen Wheatgrass Juice.

Best wheatgrass in the world! Well, at least North America where it's distributed :D

After a bit, my father-in-law took the baby so I could move to the bathroom and into my postpartum herbal bath. Then the baby joined me. He wasn’t happy in the bath after a bit and kept rooting so I nursed him again. Everybody left hubby, baby and I alone for a bit and that was a special time.

Postpartum Herbal Bath
Then we moved to my bed where my midwife checked me for tears (none!) and did the newborn exam. He was 8 lbs even, 21 1/4” long, and had a 14 cm head. I was tucked into bed (it was about 6 am by this point, 3 hours after he was born) and had a good sleep, cuddling with my new baby.

After my first birth, it took me about 2 weeks to get over the initial “I’m never doing this again!” feeling. It took 3 months to get to that point after #2 (in fact, I cried when I learned I was pregnant because I didn’t want to go through that again yet) and about 2 seconds after #3.  It was so wonderful and peaceful (despite my yelling – sorry ;) ). It was the first birth that I felt totally safe and was not upset with anything that happened. Nothing was done to me without my consent, I was fully supported, and my baby wasn’t taken away after. It was very healing and empowering.

Every time I walk into the sunroom, I think about it and remember how loved I felt during his birth and I feel it all over again. It’s a wonderful feeling :) Just looking at these photos, I want to drive over to my midwife's house and hug her and thank her for supporting me in a way that made it so special.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

In My Own Defense

I have spent over a week writing this blog. Most of my blogs take about 30-60 minutes (possibly spread over several days – 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there – I AM a mom lol) so that tells you how much time I spent, comparatively, on this. I wrote it, rewrote it, and rewrote it again. I added, deleted, saved it and came back later only to chop it up again. I say this just so you know, I put A LOT of thought into this and how to properly address the issue that I want to address.

It has come to my attention that some of those who call themselves my friends think that I am opinionated and put down anyone who does not think exactly the same as I do, or who has interventions during childbirth – even if it was a situation beyond their control. I will not mention names as I do not wish to ridicule anyone or draw negative attention to them. (I have not mentioned this situation, with names, to anyone except for my husband to ask for his advice on what I should do about it.) However, since I do not know the names of all involved in order to resolve this privately, I have chosen to make a blog post open to anyone to read in the hopes that it reaches these people. I don’t think I need to know or even want to know who all is involved in this; I just want to get this out there.

I have so many issues with this accusation that I hardly know where to start.

Speak for yourself. If others have issues with it also, let them speak up too. Saying, “This is what I think and everyone else agrees with me” implies that either 1. You’re exaggerating or 2. You’re gossiping (or both.) Neither is very flattering and definitely will not add credibility to your argument. YOU are important and your opinion is perfectly valid on its own - so own it and express it and let others express theirs (or not, their choice). (That doesn’t mean I’m obligated to agree with you, I’m entitled to my own opinion as well.)

Speak to me, not others, if you have a problem with me. Noone likes a gossip (unless they themselves are a gossip and are hoping to hear a juicy tidbit…) If you follow the Christian faith, consider what the Bible says:

Romans 1:29–32 “They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” Wow! Evil? Deserve to die? Sounds pretty serious! Remember, these are not my words, nor am *I* judging you. These are God’s words.

Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother." I see nowhere in there where God allows you to first go to others and justify to them your position of being offended at me. Only if we are unable to resolve things privately does it then allow you to take one or two people with you to confront the person (Matthew 18:16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’). Never does it permit for you to say nothing to the person that you are offended at and spread your negative opinion of them to others. I like this article about gossip and try to ask myself the questions suggested before discussing things with others.

If you’re going to make a judgment about a blog or article, at least read the whole thing before doing so. The very thing that you’re so angry at them for having “left out” may be mentioned towards the end.

I was accused of never showing the other side of things. This is completely untrue (as you would know if you read my blog on a regular basis), however, it is redundant to mention the same thing every single time. I do try to mention, however briefly, other circumstances that may exist, but there’s a point when it’s just ridiculous to keep saying the same thing over and over again. And, being that extraordinary circumstances should be the exception rather than the rule, I try to focus on more positive things and how birth really can be. I don’t want to spend so much time on everything that could go wrong that I miss the whole point of my blog. (There’s already a book out there about all the negative things that you can expect to experience if you’re looking for them to happen. If you want to sit and dwell on what can go wrong and work yourself into a tizzy about it, go for it. I won’t even mention the title as I think it is terrible and if you receive it as a baby shower gift, you should immediately return it or throw it away).

If you don’t like it, DON’T READ IT! I am not holding a gun to your head and forcing you to read it. If you know that the topic will trigger negative feelings or emotions in you, maybe you shouldn’t read it. There was a time after I birthed my second child that I could not read any birth stories. I had to come to terms with his birth and the things that happened that I did not like. I didn’t go out and seek positive birth stories/articles and blast the author for their supposed ignorance of the variances of birth just because in that one blog or article they did not mention your specific circumstances. It was only when I could look back at it and, rather than be just angry at what happened, look at it and ask, “What can I take away from this? What can I do differently next time?” that I was able to read birth stories, blogs, and articles again.

Don’t assume that just because I do something differently from you that I am judging you for it. Yes, if you are getting drunk while caring for your kids, or beating them to a pulp, or withholding the necessities of life, then I do think I am a better parent than you. However, just because you had pitocin or an epidural or a cesarean, does not mean anything in that regard. EVEN IF IT WAS PREVENTABLE, you are not a worse parent for having had it. Chances are, there are areas where I do things that you would not even think of doing (such as going to bed with dishes in the sink – sorry Mom, it’s a blue moon that I have an empty sink at the end of the day). I’m going to ignore the discussion that interventions are sometimes necessary, duh. I think we all know that. I’m talking about when you have a choice and you choose to have the interventions anyways. So what if natural childbirth is not your strength or something that is very important to you to achieve? We all have different strengths, weaknesses, and interests. I do not go to someone who is a fitness guru and runs 5 miles a day and say, “STOP THAT! You’re making me look bad when I put a movie on for the kids and veg on the couch all morning.” To each her own. It’s not MY interest, but I don’t seek out fitness blogs and ridicule them for their interests just because they are not mine. And for the record, I have yet to have a totally natural, non-interfered with birth!!!!! So saying that I think I’m better than you because I’ve had a natural childbirth and you haven’t is a totally baseless accusation.

Yes, I do think that what I do is the best thing, for me and my kids. Why on earth would I do something that I did NOT believe wholeheartedly was the best thing? This is not a judgment on you for doing what YOU believe is the best thing for you and your kids. I see it this way: it is like me wearing a red shirt and you wearing a blue shirt. My choice to wear a red shirt in no way judges you for your choice to wear a blue shirt. It would take a very insecure person to take offense at that and say, “You didn’t wear a blue shirt, you must be saying that I have an inferior fashion sense because you did not choose the same colour as I did.” Just because I birth at home, breastfeed, extended rear-face, extended-harness, don’t vaccinate, circ or don’t circ, DOES NOT MEAN that I cannot respect your decision to do the opposite.

Yes, I will put the information out there and yes, it feels nice when someone says, “Thanks, that was really helpful! I never thought of it that way before.” Or “Why didn’t someone tell me this before?” I’ve heard these and similar responses countless times from women. BUT, if you say, “That’s just not for me.” FINE! I am still friends with many people who do not do the exact same thing as me! We still get along just fine as long as we respect each other's decisions. What I never want to hear from a friend is, “Why didn’t you tell me?” Information is power. The truth will set you free. I refuse to withhold the truth just because it might offend someone. I did not see ONCE when my Lord did this so why should I?

I’m not saying I’m perfect in this area. I still deal with fear and intimidation and sometimes do not share information because I am afraid of how people will respond. I’m just saying that this is what I aspire to, to always speak the truth. I never once see recorded where Jesus said, “I wanted to correct this person, but was afraid that it might offend them so I said nothing.” He offended people frequently, yet, knew who He was and knew what the truth was, and knew that their offense was THEIR problem, and not His. Not that He didn’t try to address their concerns when they came to Him with them (as I have done here), but He did not allow that to keep Him from speaking up. As far as I know, most religions have a person that they are founded on that is similar in boldness and desire to spread the truth. No one who spends their life living under a rock and never speaking up for truth will ever make a difference in the world (except, perhaps, for being an example of what not to do to people who know them!)

I write all of this not to humiliate or chastize anybody, but because I love you, my friends, and do not want these offenses and misunderstandings to continue. I hope that this blog brings some peace to you.

I saw this blog today that is very timely and expresses very similar thoughts to mine. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My own birth

I started out writing why I chose homebirth, but decided instead to write about my own birth first since it is important.

Why does my own birth story matter? Well, the first conscious memory that I have of birth was probably of my mom coming home from a birth as she used to go and help women in the church who would call her during labour. Sometimes they’d been stalled for several hours and the doctor was threatening cesarean. She’d go in, introduce herself as the mom’s pastor, and ask everyone to clear the room so they could pray. Then they’d pray or get out of bed and get upright or sip red raspberry leaf tea or Evergreen WheatGrass Juice. I remember one who was so tired after a long labour and was ready to have the cesarean. My mom (who has had 2 vaginal births and a cesarean) said, “You’re going to hate me for the next couple of hours, but you’ll thank me after. Now get out of bed.” She got her up and walking and that baby was born in less than an hour. Other times their own moms lived far away or were estranged so they’d call her to be there for them. I LOVED hearing these stories and seeing pictures of the new babies and families. I loved going with when she visited with them prenatally and postpartum.

But before all of that, was my own birth. I was there, I was present, and I’ve heard the story over and over, even if I don’t consciously have a memory of it. I DO believe that how a person is born matters and can affect their life (beyond just the immediate health issues that I talk about a lot on this blog.) How a mother tells her child’s birth story to them also matters. This is not to say that a difficult birth will inevitably scar them for the rest of their life, but I’ve heard mothers say – in front of that child – “It’s the most pain I’ve ever felt in my life.” “I thought I was going to die” or “I wanted to die.” “I never want to go through that again.” All of these are perfectly valid and it is good to process the birth, but please do it away from that child’s earshot. They don’t need to hear things that they won’t understand and may take responsibility for. Ie. “Wow. *I* caused my mother the most pain she’s ever experienced. *I* made my mom wish she were dead.” I digress…

My mother’s first birth was in the hospital. My older brother was born 2 weeks past his guess date. She arrived at the hospital with my father and my Aunt Karen, who is a registered nurse. My mom’s doctor had said she would be allowed in but the hospital said one support person only and no switching. So my mom refused to go in and sat in the family waiting room where my aunt helped her until she had to leave for work. She had an epidural after 24 hours of labour. The nurses changed shift and before going off shift, her first nurse gave her a dose of epidural but did not write it down. The next nurse came in and proceeded to get ready to give her another dose. She told her, “Um, excuse me, the last nurse just did that.” The nurse replied, “Well, it’s not written down,” and gave her another dose. Not surprisingly, my mother could not feel at all to push. So she got a terrible episiotomy (which later got infected).

Then she had to fight just to get her baby. This was 1983 and they used to stay in the hospital a lot longer than they do now so she was still there when her milk came in. It came in so she went down to the nursery. She pointed out her baby (who was hungry and crying – a nurse was holding him with her finger in his mouth, trying to calm him) and asked for him. She was told it was visiting hours and she could have him in 4 hours as no babies were allowed on the floor during visiting hours. Understandably, she freaked. “That’s MY baby and he’s HUNGRY and my BOOBS ARE FULL!!! GIVE ME MY BABY!!!” The nurse refused but the head nurse heard her all the way down the hall and around the corner and came to see what was wrong. She said “Give her her baby”. She called my dad, sobbing and unable to speak. He thought something had happened to the baby so he came rushing to the hospital. When he heard what had happened, he said, “That’s it?” I can totally relate to her. I may have tried to break down the nursery door if someone had tried that on me.

She was also roomed with another woman who had a very numerous and very loud family. At one point, they lost count how many people were in the room and were having to shout in order to hear each other. My dad went out and got the nurse and she asked everyone to leave.

Despite my brother being exclusively breastfed, my mom became pregnant with me when he was 6 months old. She did not want a repeat of what she had gone through before. She called up the hospital and asked, “Do you still have the policy of only one support person and no switching?” They answered yes so she sought out a doctor that would do a homebirth. He was from Holland, where most babies are born at home. He was very laid back.

The house I was born in.

I was born 3 weeks past my guess date. My grandma’s birthday was the day before and my mom had spent the day doing gardening and going for long walks, trying to get labour to start. It worked, but I wasn’t born until 3:12 am the next day.

My mom, 41.5 weeks pregnant with me (1.5 weeks to go!)

My mom called her parents to come over and they brought my Aunt Sarah (around 14 years old) with them. My grandma T was dressed up in her Sunday best and my grandpa T, who is colour blind and normally has his clothes picked out by my grandma, was wearing 3 different colours of shirt, pants, and tie. As my mom puts it, Sarah was the only one dressed how she should be for a birth – jeans and a t-shirt.

My dad’s dear parents (Gma and Gpa M) are/were very medically minded and were terrified at the thought of me being born at home. They were out of the country when I arrived.

My grandma started boiling water. She didn’t know what it was for, that’s just what you do at births! The doctor explained that it’s for hot compresses to help the perineum stretch and prevent tearing.

I was born right on my parents’ bed. The doctor handed me right into my grandmother’s church shirt covered arms.

My mom's parents and I

My mom was shocked when he announced that it was a girl. She’d SO wanted a girl that time but convinced herself she was having another boy so that she wouldn’t be disappointed. Not that my brothers were a disappointment! She was thrilled to have them and thrilled to have a daughter too J

Dr. Barel, me, my dad and mom.
I was 9 lbs, 4 oz and my mom had barely a tear that required no stitches.

My dad, big brother, myself, and my mom.
My mom writes:
“Right after you were born we woke Josh up to meet you and he said " whaz zat " pointing at you meaning if course what's that.  He was pretty fascinated by you. A real living doll.”

My big brother and I
My other grandparents called when their plane landed a few hours later. My grandpa T answered the phone. They asked if the baby had arrived yet and he said, “Yes! Right here at home!” Grandma M said “WHAT!?!?!? We’ll be right over.”

My dad's parents and I
She came over and got to give me my first bath. She asked the doctor how she’d know if it was too hot or cold. He said, “Well, if she turns red, it’s too hot. If she turns blue, it’s too cold.”

Grandma M and I
I spent the first night in my parents’ bed while they discussed my name. My mom’s grandmother’s name was Anna, as was my dad’s aunt. My dad’s mom’s name was Grace. They both liked the name Christine. They couldn’t figure out which names to use and then decided I could handle all three so they named me Anna Grace Christine. Anna means “full of grace.” They said I would need a double dose of grace in my life (and boy, were they right).

My mom and I (1 day old)
My Grandma T brought over chicken the next night for dinner. My mom also brought chicken for us in the evening after I had my secondborn at home :)

I love to hear my birth story told, especially when she says, “It was the most wonderful birth, just perfect.”

My mom writes,

“What a wonderful story!  You were a dream birth.  If everyone’s births were like that, people would have more babies.

You were such a beautiful plump baby.  Those eyes and cheeks...

The sight of you made people want to have babies.”

It's a...