a new year already...? Well I guess this calls for a change.

   A new year has come up on me like a wave. I knew it was coming but I still turned my back to it and was knocked over. I have come to terms with just how amazingly awful 2012 was and know 2013 will be a better year full of open communication, better feelings, kinder words, and gentler souls. I have had a harsh tongue as of late and it stops now. Even though the things I have said have been true to how I feel they have still cause pain in others lives and this is not acceptable. I have been WAY too blessed to pass on negative feelings. I feel things to my core and I was raised to talk...a great deal. These things both have their silver lining but combined they can be volatile and sometimes even hurtful. I am exercising my power of restraint and editing my words to communicate what NEEDS to be said and not whatever the hell I feel like blurting out. In other words I will still let you know how I feel but only after I have taken out the "you don't know what you're talking about"or (my favorite driving phrase) "shut the fuck up"  (I usually just whisper this one to the car in question) tone. You know like your mom and dad taught you to do but you never listened! Well after 4 kids and 3 decades of learning later, I think I'll give it a try!
   I don't typically make New Years resolutions worth their weight in salt but this one will be worth every bit tongue and clenched and unclenched fist. My children, husband, parents, and sisters will be the benefactors of this and I hope it is well received. I'll even try to stop rolling my eyes. Don't get too carried away or hold your breath on that one... baby steps people!
  So there it is in black in white I am a careless speaker and chronic eye roller. This all looks very ugly, so I'll change it. Let me know how you will change or stay the same, inspire me. We all need inspiration every now and again to change ourselves and the world!

Cause I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it people like me

I am unable to sleep due to a poor little man with crazy reflux and a cough that would put your pack-a-day grandpa to shame. So I came to check and see if the woman in charge of reviewing my training work had gotten back to me. I had submitted my first essay for review on Wednesday. Let me first say that I was waiting to send any other essays in for review until I heard back from her as I wanted to get a feel for what style and type of information she was looking for. I was chewing my nails down to stumps waiting. The feedback I received made me cry, in the best way possible!

She was affirming in her reaction to the writing and supported my philosophy on birth all together! This is such a wonderful feeling. With so much going on in (everyones) my life right now, it's so nice to have someone, a complete stranger no less, say "attaboy"! I could almost feel the pat on my ass!

 I'm going to keep this short and try to get some sleep. I just have an early Christmas wish for everyone out there. Going forward give an attaboy to a stranger (less the ass pat) and see how wonderful it makes them, and you, feel. I look forward to hearing from you all!

The perfect trifecta of feelings

I'm not someone that can compartmentalize all, most, or even a little of what life hands me. I am and have always been a very emotional person, irrationally so. At three my father remembers hearing me cry from behind my locked bedroom door. Concerned, he knocked and asked to come in. I went to the door, still crying, unlocked the door, still crying, went back to sitting on my bed and cried. He asked me what was wrong and through the tears and sobs I cried that I was afraid I would not be able to think when I grew up.  As a child I had grown up fears about life.  I still have irrational fears and can see that they are irrational but that doesn’t always stop me from overreacting, or thinking the situation through.

My most recent endeavor of becoming a childbirth educator is something that happened more organically than not. That is to say I didn’t think about it in the traditional sense--I just did it. I’ve said before that I always wanted to be an art teacher. This came from not only loving art and creation but my high school art teacher Mrs. Lantz. She was a kooky woman and your typical art teacher, a little disorganized, perpetually 3 minutes late and sweet as all get out. I had her for 3 of my 4 years in high school, and as a senior she was my first bell teacher and we would more often than not both get there just a little late. Her ability to make people feel empowered, comfortable and creative was and still is truly inspiring.  That’s a combination of emotions that are not too often found in one place.

  My first birth was not one of those places. After having my first baby I talked a little about my birth experience but was not completely happy with it and didn’t quite know why; after my second, I knew why. My first pregnancy was overseen by a midwife that worked through an OB office. I took comfort in knowing a doctor was there if needed but happy that I was seeing a midwife. The problem is, I had NO IDEA who was going to deliver this baby! Any doctor or midwife from this or two other practices, a total of twelve people, could be on call the day I went into labor. Oh boy! The not knowing frightened me. On the day I did go into labor, it was a doctor that I knew by face from walking through the hals at the OB office. I later learned she was also my Mother in Laws GYN. I think that woman knows was too much now about the F family vagina. I’m just saying...

When I went into the hospital I was barely having contractions, I only know this now after having other birth experiences to compare it to. The triage nurse hooked me up and monitored the baby and my contractions for about an hour; she asked me to tell her when I thought I was having a contraction. Apparently the baby was not responding enough, and thats because they were not strong enough due to being only very early labor. I was IMMEDIATELY put on pitocin. She told, not asked, told me the anesthesiologist would be up soon. I looked at her and told her I was doing this without pain meds and I did not want to hear anything about it again. She smirked a “sure you stupid girl” smile and led me to the delivery room. My nurse for the duration of my stay Sarah came in shortly and talked to me about pain relief. Were they not listening? I told her the same thing I told the other nurse. I was left in the room with my husband with constant unrelenting contractions for the next 10 hours. I was able to sit on the ball and such for a few hours but around hour 6 I was on my back and SOOOO uncomfortable. Fast forward. I felt the need to push, and I mean NEED TO PUSH. I told Sarah and she told the doc who examined me and said I still had time and that she was going to check on the delivery in progress in room #8. She walked out and I started pushing, there was no holding back. The doctor was called back and after 20 or so minutes of me pushing my baby girl made her way into the world.  I was asked what classes I took to accomplish an unmedicated birth, I responded with the only thing I knew, “None, I took the advice of the mothers that have gone before me.” And then I was told to write a book...Um no. 

The midwife I saw through that pregnancy went to a (military) hospital I was not able to deliver at for my next pregnancy and that is when I went to the midwifery center at DePaul. There I was given the comfort and respect to trust my body because it knew what it was doing. The trifecta of feeling empowered, comfortable and creative were once again in place.  To say the process and labor for my other children was  amazingly and unquantifiably better is an understatement.  But more on that later!

After these experiences I could not stop talking about the differences in a medical birth and a comfortable birth. For the record these things are not mutually exclusive. Some women have amazing hospital births and I could not be more happy for them. I just know that information based on evidence going into childbirth is key. So I decided to change that aspect of the world, in a small way I am still an art teacher. Women are after all at the height of their creative abilities while pregnant and labor is the culmination of that.

My experiences have formed me and given me insight to make the decisions that will affect my life for years to come.

I have come to terms with my ability or lack of ability to think. It gets me in trouble sometimes but more often than not it puts me into situations that I never knew I wanted or would probably never get into otherwise, you know if I thought things through.  I do think, and think things through, just not all the time. I often act first and decide what to do later. If I try to do things the conventional way I either go into analysis paralysis or feel confined and locked into a decision, whereas if I didn’t “make a decision” then I cant be tied to it. Kind of like not making plans for Saturday night and finding the best party ever or making plans to go to said party but feeling like you might want to be home doing nothing. Does this even make sense? Either way I am excited for the path I am on now to show women that being empowered, comfortable and creative is all about having the right head space to trust in their own bodies.

So why not be a midwife?

I talked briefly in my last post about the women that saw me through all of my pregnancies and at one point I truly considered joining the ranks of these amazing women. Sure I would need to go back to school because I would want to be a CNM and that would have been all fine and good, but through my experiences I realized no matter how much respect I have for these women their job was just too tough and in the end just not for me. Let me tell you why.

The easy answer is poop. Poop happens during labor and I'm sure I could learn to deal with it like a professional. Man I do love a good poop joke.

The real problem is much more emotional. When I got pregnant for the third time I had been seeing my midwives regularly, at around 13 weeks I had a routine ultrasound and nothing out of the ordinary was observed. The next day I noticed some spotting and went into the office. I was given another ultrasound and we saw the heart beat so we knew all was well.  I was told this was probably due to having an trans vaginal ultrasound and there was probably nothing to worry about. It was recorded in my chart and I went home. That night the contractions started and didn't stop. I called the midwife on call and she told me, in a way that made me hate her, that I was probably having a miscarriage. She could have said it any one of a million ways and I would have felt the same way. In reality she was full of empathy and compassion but I was deaf to all that. I asked if I needed to come in and she said the doctors would not be able to stop it if that is what was happening so I decided to have my baby at home. It was a long night.

I went back into the office the following morning and had another ultrasound to verify that the P.C. or product of conception, who we call Tiny, was in fact no longer there. After reviewing a video of the prior days ultrasound they saw a small tear in the placenta, that was so small it was overlooked. Nothing could have been done. I had a procedure done to remove extra tissue to avoid infection. This is still a hard thing to remember.

Having gone through all of that I was still contemplating becoming a midwife!

It wasn't until I had my son in the fall of 2010 that my mind was changed forever.

Just moments after seeing Lil mans face and checking out his balls (I couldn't wait to see em) he was put to the breast to feed and started choking and turning blue, not a color I was expecting.  He was suctioned and I was told he would be fine but he was just "squishy" and clogged with amniotic fluid. I tried to feed him again and again he started doing his impression of the horse in the Wizard of OZ. When the respiratory tech came in to suction him again, this time with a tube to his stomach she realized his esophagus was not fully formed. At only 1 hour of life he was taken away and into the nursery for the pediatric doctor on that night to run some tests and take some x-rays. It was discovered he had a congenital birth defect called T.E. Fistula. This happens early in development when the trachea and esophagus do not split properly.  His condition was confirmed and he was taken to the NICU at CHKD only 5 hours after being born. More on that another time.

It was a doctor my husband and I spoke with about Lil Mans condition but the nurses and midwife have to then take care of a new mama with no baby. The emotional strain that these women endure with such aplomb is unbelievable. That was my turning point. I could never look a woman in the eye and tell her something is wrong wither baby and then proceed to keep my composure. I want the job behind the green curtain. I don't want to be the great and powerful OZ.

So teaching women how to trust their bodies is what I can do. I know this too holds its own set of challenges. Dealing with loss is unfortunately a real part of motherhood. All I can do is my best.