Friday, July 12, 2013

Moms, Moms-to-be, Babies and Bodies

Is it just me, or are we in a season of pregnancy? It seems I can't sign into a social media site with out a pregnancy announcement. One day about 3 weeks ago, there were 3 in the same day. Both near and far it seems like fertility is in the air and pregnant bellies are popping up all over the place. Perhaps part of it is that I am noticing it more because Paul and I have reached a point where we would both like a second child. Paul was ready for another shortly after L was born, I wasn't so convinced that I wanted to go through delivery again, her birth was, lets just say traumatic. It took me a long time to become OK with having another biological child, I swore for years that any more would be adopted.

If you have been following along here for awhile you know that it isn't easy for me to conceive a child and if I do conceive, my risk of miscarriage is high well into the second trimester. When L was conceived we were a combination of excited and scared, I had conceived with no intervention which was to be celebrated, the risks were still high. I had an amazing OB who assured me that getting pregnant was the hard part and I would be fine. This relaxed me a lot and we had a very uneventful pregnancy, other than a chicken pox scare and a heart monitor issue around week 35. I was a little down at the beginning but once I felt like the baby was here to stay I felt better.  We waited a long time to tell more than very close friends and family because we were nervous. I personally don't often talk about the struggle to get pregnant in a deep way, I just say it's hard for us and leave it there. It feels personal and I don't want to tell you all about my ovaries unless, A. You ask and B. We are fairly close.

L's birth was traumatic for me to say the least even if routine for the hospital staff. I didn't get to hold her until she was a few hours old because I was shaking so badly I had to stay in c-section recovery for much longer than normal. I had labored for 24 hours with out progressing, opted for the c-section because I was bone tired. I was terrified of the c-section to begin with and then they missed the right spot in my spine several times for my spinal block which set the nerves in my left leg on fire, I could still probably trace their tree like structure on my thigh. I was hysterical crying, my husband just outside the door was freaking out because I don't cry often. It was disappointing, a little traumatic and it turns out L was stuck in my oddly turned pelvis. I had nightmares for almost a year where I would wake up drenched in sweat. A side effect of my spinal block was that from time to time my spine would get all tingly.

Breastfeeding, didn't go much better. Try as I might L only latched once in 6 months of breast feeding, I never produced enough milk so I had to constantly formula supplement. I spent six months with my little hand pump "milking" myself as my very comical younger brother put it. It didn't amount to much but I felt that I was trying and that was what mattered. That's when unhelpful comments started, you need to just stick with it, try harder or just give up my  kids had formula and they are ok. Then when I finally got up the nerve to talk about my nightmares the response was at least you have a healthy baby or my personal favorite it's a good thing you didn't try home birth like you wanted to you would have been a statistic. Then one day desperate and in tears I googled away at my keyboard during nap time. I learned a few things, first of all it's normal to have some signs of trauma even after the "best"of births. Second, that c-section moms sometimes have a harder time getting their milk in and on top of that women with my hormone condition often have a very difficult time with breastfeeding. After 8 months feeling like a failure at motherhood from the start and a wimp because I was so upset about my birth process, blaming my body and essentially myself, I learned that I was in fact... normal.

So now maybe you can see why I have been a little hesitant about the second. Paul and I haven't been preventing pregnancy for a long time, we aren't exactly trying but we aren't exactly stopping it either. We just recently talked about actually trying. You know what happened, all those feelings of betrayal about my body came back. Now back to all that fertility that is surrounding me in both the virtual world and in the "real" world.

First let me say, whether it is your first or tenth pregnancy I am happy for you. I just want to take a moment to talk about this. Today I was researching VBAC births, vaginal birth after cesarean. I read that most unhelpful comment, just have a c-section a healthy baby is all that matters. It mad me mad, it made me want to scream. All this birth, breastfeeding, parenting stuff, is so personal and as women we should be supporting each other even when we make different decisions.

Someone said to me recently well you know when you are "that" pregnant everything bothers you, remember? I just shook my head, I don't remember because after my initial worry, I was mostly just grateful. I didn't find pregnancy to burdensome at any point. So let's not assume we all have the same experience and I will continue to be gracious when you tell how miserable you are.

Next, I think it's fantastic that you are still breast feeding your four year old, I don't know that I would have done that until four, but if it works for you great! Just remember when you are standing with your megaphone on the corner yelling (maybe that is a slight exaggeration) about how wonderful breastfeeding is, some of us have boobies that don't make enough milk. Those boobies are attached to full human beings with feelings and even though you don't mean it sometimes it feels like you are rubbing your engorged, milk filled boobies in our faces.

Your giving birth in a pool in your living room? Awesome! It's a birth center for you? Fantastic! You are going with a scheduled c-section? Good for You!. Natural birth in the hospital with hypnosis, Bradley method etc etc? Great! Hospital birth with as many drugs as they can give you as soon as they can give them to you? Wonderful! If you are about to have a baby, you go girl! I will support you in any decision you make (even when I disagree). I promise I won't belittle you, make you feel like less because your birth process is different than mine was (or will be). Now can you promise me to start considering that a pool on the living room floor isn't safe for some of us? That some of us can't afford birthing centers? Or that perhaps our partners get a little sick at the site of blood so they need to be in a place where they can keep their eyes focused on ours?

You are shocked at a pregnancy you weren't planning? I get that. Perhaps you should think twice before complaining because someone might be silently wishing they could be pregnant and would give their right leg to have peed on a stick and gotten a positive. Same goes when you are walking through a store with your kids and loosing patience, there is a woman a few aisles over that has been praying for a baby for months or years and wishes you could see how blessed you are. Motherhood is stressful, we all loose patience but try to be grateful even in those chaotic and mortifying moments.

We need to stick together, lift each other up. Raising our kids isn't about out doing the lady next door. It isn't about touting about how you are making only best decisions, do any of us make a decision we don't feel is best? Your kid goes to daycare, cool. Mine doesn't, also cool. Public School, Private School, Home School? Great you know what works for your family! Guess what, we have chosen not to use spanking in our family, if you do or did it's your decision, don't ever tell me I should hit my kid. You share a bed with all 3 of your kids? Wow, I am impressed! Your kids sleep through the night in their own beds? Also impressed! I made my own baby food, you didn't? It's fine with me!

A last thought on fertility, when we do open up about it there are some unhelpful things to say, for me personally, well you need to loose weight, not helpful, I know I am a big girl, its part of my disorder and my constant battle with my body. You can find lists of other things that aren't helpful to say, just google. When Paul and I talk about adoption, saying things like "You might get a crazy one, like that lady on that show..." NOT HELPFUL. Well at least you got to have one, also not helpful. Don't even get me started on the way some moms talk to women who don't have children by choice or circumstance.

Here is what I think we can do... let's encourage each other, pray for one another, set our differences aside and walk this road together, motherhood/parenthood is hard and we need each other. Let's remember when we make our big announcements that we aren't all in the same place. If and when we conceive our second baby and we make the big announcement, I will be mindful that not everyone celebrates a pregnancy like I do, that someone may have lost a baby recently, that someone might be desperate to have a baby, that someone might not be able to afford some of the things I can. Most of all I will try to support you in your journey as a parent or a hopeful parent.

Today I am grateful for my child and those amazing people who support the choices we have made in raising her! The ones who say you are doing a good job when she throws a fit, the ones that say I am proud of you, the ones who give you a knowing smile.

May you be blessed with wonderful support systems, by the journey of watching children grow and allowing yourself to grow into the form of parenting that works for you.

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