Archive for the ‘Pregnancy and Birth’ Category

My Thoughts on Co-Sleeping

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

I’m probably gonna open a can of worms with this one, so let them slither out freely.

I don’t care what other parents choose to do, but I personally would never sleep with my kids, and I have very solid reasons for my choice to not do so.

I used to be part of this mom/baby group after Julie was born- a whole group of women who were on the more “natural” side of things. Drug-free birthing, breastfeeding, baby wearing, co-sleeping, attachment parenting, infant potty-training, cloth diapering, baby-food making… you get the picture. Despite the fact that I would certainly be classified as more of a “natural mommy” with my homebirth, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, and so forth, I got a lot of weird looks from the other moms.

When they were all whining about how their babies had never slept through the night, I was baffled. Julie slept through the night starting at four weeks old. She put herself back to sleep when she woke up. It wasn’t a big deal. That’s when one other mom and I both opened our mouths and said our babies slept through the night no problem. Guess what? We were the only moms in the room full of probably 20 other women whose babies slept in their own room.

Well, we really received a lot of scrutiny about our choice to NOT sleep with our babies. Enough that I felt bad, like maybe a “good” parent would indeed co-sleep. So I tried sleeping with Julie in the early mornings. Nope, that didn’t work. I tried napping with her… again, that certainly didn’t work. I simply couldn’t sleep with a squirmy newborn in the bed with me.

Fuck the argument that it’s unsafe and the horror stories about infants dying in their parents’ bed, or the fear that it causes ultra-dependent patterns in children. There is plenty of supporting evidence on both sides of the fight, and that’s not what my decision was about in the least.

I’m an extremely light sleeper, and I struggled with mania in the post-partum months so badly that being anywhere near my kid while I was supposed to be sleeping caused extreme anxiety. Could I hear her breathing? Did that grunt mean she was hungry again? My boobs constantly filled up and tried to explode every time I even thought of breastfeeding, so having my baby near me did nothing positive at night.

I didn’t sleep with April, either. Again, another through-the-night sleeper.

Was it my choice to not co-sleep that made my kids good sleepers? Possibly not, but from what I’ve seen… it seemed to play a role. The times I slept in the same room with them due to hotel situations, etc… they didn’t sleep as soundly, woke up frequently, and I found myself responding to them rather than allowing them to put themselves back to sleep. It seemed to take away a bit of independence that I personally felt was healthy for them- the self-soothing seemed to be an important lesson, and they seemed perfectly comfortable doing it.

In addition to my shitty sleeping patterns, I also chose not to co-sleep for other reasons. My marital bed is a place for James and I to be intimate, to spend alone-time with each other, and to escape from the daily grind. Introducing a baby to the mix gives it an entirely different feel. Perhaps we’re extremely selfish, but we weren’t willing to change EVERYTHING in our lives to accommodate our growing family- our bed being one of those things. Dance being another. It seemed like a disservice for us to include our babies into absolutely every aspect of our lives and have our focus be 100% on them. After all, even with kids we are still our own unique people with our own needs. Our relationship doesn’t revolve around our kids- it’s a separate entity that affects our kids depending on the state in which it’s in.

Recently, my girls’ babysitter was telling me about how she babysat for a couple a few weeks ago that were so dependent on attachment parenting that they hadn’t been apart once from their baby in the several month that’d been on this earth. Before leaving for their date, the mom insisted on laying with her son until he was fast asleep, and they finally left for their evening out 1.5 hours after the babysitter arrived. They gave her strict orders to call them at once if the baby awoke. Naturally, half an hour after they left, the baby woke up. The babysitter picked up the baby, soothed him for a minute, sang him a song, laid him back down, and he fell fast asleep. The whole ordeal was over in just a few minutes. When the parents came back hours later and found out that he’d woken up, they were a bit irritated with the babysitter and said, “We told you to call us if he woke up!”. Seriously? For real? I’m gonna be a judgmental asshole for a second and say I think that’s going a bit overboard. Sure, each to their own, but there are a few cases where the choices people make just seem downright strange. There’s a point where one’s head is stuck so far up their kid’s ass that they need to remember that they are a separate person.

Was my choice perfect for all parents? Absolutely not. I’m not a fan of the philosophy that “one size fits all” in any situation, especially when it comes down to parenting choices. It pisses me off when other parents try to argue my choice to not co-sleep, or look down on me because I only breastfed for *gasp* one year per kid. Quite frankly, it’s a damn shallow way of looking at the world.

Current Mood:Cool emoticon Cool

Four Years Ago Today

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Exactly four years ago, I was in the midst of a 26-hour labor, after which the child known as “Julie” emerged from my screaming, torn vagina.

It all started with my water breaking three weeks early the night before she was born.

Ack! My water broke!

Then there was the back labor. The fabulous, extraordinarily fun several hours of back labor that had me on all fours, hollering like a banshee, to the point where I’m surprised my neighbors didn’t call the cops.

Finally, when the sun went down exactly four years ago today, my labor REALLY picked up, and I swore Julie was going to burst into this world before I had the chance to actually get to the birthing center.

I made it to the birthing center and discovered that I was only 5cm along. I thought I was going to die, but there was no screaming for an epidural allowed… they weren’t available where I was giving birth, and I was bound and determined to do it natural.

Contrary to what I believed, I survived the next couple hours and gave birth to a fat, pink baby girl at 10:41 p.m. in a tub full of warm water.

First Kiss

Never been through the natural labor and birth of your first child? It feels something kind of like this:

Imagine diarrhea cramps plus food poisoning from bad mayo. Multiply by 13. Now, add the Karate Kid kicking you in the back then using your belly as a punching bag for nearly two minutes straight with only a minute to recover in between each beating. Stick steel-toed boots on the Karate Kid. Do that for a few hours. Next, imagine that the diarrhea turd making its way out of your lower extremities is the size of a melon. Set your vagina and asshole on fire and add habanero pepper salsa to double the burn. Finally, add a scream or twenty from a horror flick before a bloody mass of body parts actually SHOOTS OUT FROM THAT TINY HOLE, which is now completely unrecognizable and will be from this moment forward.

Congratulations, it’s a girl.

Checking Vitals

And she was worth every second of physical agony, mental trauma, postpartum depression, sore nipples and moments where I’ve wanted to rip my hair out.

My gorgeous little Julie Bug is officially four years old today, and I couldn’t be more proud of the incredible, smart-as-a-whip little stinker I’m raising.

Silly Girl

If this girl’s attitude and spunk are any indication, her period will probably be starting next week.

I’m in for it, and James is investing in a shotgun.

Current Mood:Esctatic emoticon Esctatic

A Bitch About Postpartum Articles

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Yesterday I got a email from one of those annoying websites that send you an update EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, and I almost threw something at it until I remembered not to punish Ralph, my loving messenger.

I haven’t unsubscribed from those emails because every so often, it pops up some very valuable information.

Yesterday, though, I curiously clicked on an article regarding “everything you need to know about post-baby body”, and I felt severely pissed off when I read it.

It was all just the same crap that EVERY article brushes over.

You’re going to be an exhausted, emotional mess. Your vagina is going to hurt while you heal. Losing the baby weight. Taking sex slow and using lots of lube after your doc gives you the go-ahead. Breastfeeding.

Every single one of these articles talks about the same exact things, but none of them address what really happens. They all act like healing from childbirth is like healing from a sprained ankle. Get some rest, ice it, eventually you’ll recover. Your ankle may be permanently weakened, but it’ll be pretty much the same.

To which I have to bitterly laugh and say, “Are you fucking KIDDING ME?”.

Are they written by men underneath a female name or something?

You know what REALLY HAPPENS when you give birth? You are NEVER the same. Ever. Normalcy- your body, mind, spirit, everything- is changed FOREVER. For some, this is an amazing, wonderful change. For others, it’s a horrible roller coaster ride through hell and back. I had the second experience, and I can only hope that it wasn’t because I managed to piss God off at some point. I mean, God’s a pretty patient, forgiving being from what I understand. I’d hate to think I managed to get on His/Her bad side somehow.

If I were to write one of those articles, it’d probably be too brutally honest for publication.

I would imagine it’d go something like this:

The Postpartum Nightmare

By, Tamra The Truthful

Congratulations! Holding that crying, screaming bundle of joy is just around the corner for you!

Like all new moms-to-be, you’re probably a hormonal mess of emotions, fears, and wonders. Many new moms want to know what they can expect following the birth of a baby, how their body will change, and how having a child will affect their relationship with their partner.

Never fear, here are some candid answers to your most burning questions.

1. How will a vaginal birth affect my body?

Honey, once a several-pound human being forces its way into the world through your vagina, there is no way it can EVER go back to being “normal” as you know it. Get it out of your mind that it’ll ever be the “same”. It’s anatomically impossible, unless your hoo-haw stretches that wide BEFORE giving birth. If you tear or have an episiotomy, the stitches will probably hurt like hell and very possibly cause all kinds of lovely problems for you. You may develop scar tissue, and your stitch site could be poorly sewn up. This makes sex PAINFUL, and lube is only going to help so much.

2. How long will it take for my vagina to heal after birth?

All the books and articles say it takes about 6 weeks. They are all lying. While your uterus will probably shrink down to it’s new “normal” size in that amount of time, your vagina will NOT be “back to normal” by then. Why? because it’ll never be BACK TO NORMAL. Furthermore, it can take much, much longer before all the swelled tissue and bruising up in your va-jay-jay is gone. For me, it took a whopping 9 months after first birth. Yes, you saw that right. NINE FUCKING MONTHS.

3. I’ve been doing lots of Kegels, and I heard that’ll help my vaginal return to normal after the birth.

Keep up with the Kegels. It makes you feel like you’re doing something. In fact, you are. They do help regain the vaginal tone lost during childbirth. However, repeat after me: NOTHING I DO WILL EVER MAKE MY VAGINA GO BACK TO NORMAL. If you’re lucky, you will not experience prolapse or a yucky, loose, sloppy-feeling vagina. But you know what? It’s entirely possible you will. Short of surgery, there’s nothing you can do to permanently fix it.

4. Will my partner be bothered by how my vagina feels after birth?

He’ll probably say no, but you’ll probably never really know for sure. Most guys are too loving to admit the truth if it’s not a nice one. My guess is yes, it’s not as good physically, since some religions preach going to heaven includes bangin’ the bejezus out of a ton of virgins, which is supposed to be a “good” thing. And for some reason, that tight virgin feeling seems so sought after. Of course, then again, maybe a looser V actually makes for better sex, but since I don’t have a dick or a second vagina to compare mine to, I really have no clue.

5. How will sex be for me after giving birth?

If your partner is well-endowed, the looser vag will probably be a good thing for you. The extra stretch makes a big dick less painful, and the increased blood flow to the area following birth can make for much stronger orgasms. However, there’s the flip side as well. Some women are so uncomfortable with their postpartum body that they can no longer enjoy sex. Stitches and scar tissue and prolapse may make sex painful and embarrassing. And your baby-daddy just may be a big enough shithead to make it clear that he doesn’t find you nearly as attractive, which can just be a huge turn-off to you altogether.

6. I have stretchmarks. How can I make them disappear?

You can’t. They’ll fade, but they will never go away. What’s even worse, though, is the loose skin that the stretchmarks can create. A lot of women end up with a stretched-out belly button and skin that never lays tight against their belly or butt or any part of their body EVER AGAIN. Say goodbye to your bikini unless you don’t mind ending up the butt of the cruel entertainment media’s jokes.

7. I’m worried about breastfeeding. All my friends say it was really difficult.

It can be really difficult. And that let-down you read about? That warm, tingly sensation? Um, that may be accurate for some, but for others it’s more like a stabbing blade that starts from your armpits and eventually explodes out your nipple. It was a shock that it was milk and not actual blood that came out for me.

8. Will I ever get back to my pre-pregnancy size?

Oh yeah, it’s entirely possible. Easy for some, hard for others. However, your body will NEVER be the same after pregnancy. You might fit in your old pair of jeans, but you’ll never look exactly like you did before giving birth underneath those clothes.

……….

Any other questions you want answered?

I rest my case.

Current Mood:Alarmed emoticon Alarmed

Another Vaginalogue

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

While I was in Tucson last week, I had a bit of an epiphany.

I am done having kids.

As in, this baby factory is CLOSED. Forever and ever. Amen.

You see, despite everything I have been through mentally and physically as a result of pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood, I have been struggling to emotionally accept a fact that I know logically: I cannot handle bearing any more babies.

I’ve said time and time again that I have no desire to have another one. I mean, shit, for awhile I was pretty set on having no children whatsoever, but then life happened. However, in the back of my twisted mind, I have always felt some sort of obligation to have more than just two children. An obligation to whom, you ask? To God, my family, my husband, and even to myself.

As part of my Catholic wedding vows, I promised before my parish priest, family, friends, and James that I would willingly and lovingly accept as many children as God asks of me. I took that vow to heart, and as a couple, James and I agreed to to follow the Catholic beliefs and practices of natural family planning. I truly believed that with enough Faith, I would have a wonderful life raising three or four (or maybe even five) little humans while selflessly practicing abstinence during fertile times if a pregnancy was not desirable in our immediate future.

Well, um, that lifestyle and practice was a huge freaking joke for us. Maybe we just don’t have enough Faith, or perhaps the Catholic beliefs regarding family planning are just a bunch of controlling bullshit (*cough*), but for whatever the reason, we failed miserably at fulfilling those vows the way they were intentionally meant in just about every way possible.

And when I say failed, I kind of mean we ate, threw up, shot the remains, hosted a wild sex party on top of, and threw birth control at all while laughing at the Catholic beliefs on making babies.

Sadly, it wasn’t for a lack of trying. I prayed like crazy, went to church every week, and devoutly volunteered my time in teaching and practicing the Catechism. I mean, not only did I attend Catholic school for eight years, but I was one of my parish’s first female alter servers, the youngest person to be elected onto the Parish Council, served seven years on said council- the last one as vice-president, taught Vacation Bible School and Sunday School for years, served on a couple other ministries, took part in a young adult faith-sharing group, and loved every moment I spent as a Eucharistic Minister.

But you know what? My religion didn’t take into consideration things like severe mental illness when interpreting the Word of God’s thoughts on birth control. Or the physical trauma I experienced when I ripped in half while birthing my first and all the prolapse I suffered after birthing my second behemoth-sized munchkin. Sure, I am as disgustingly fertile as women appear to possibly come, but the truth is, my body would probably only sustain extreme damage with birthing another one of my husband’s huge babies, and I honestly don’t think I would survive another bout of postpartum depression. I am terrified that it would be full-blown psychosis and I’d drive my car off a bridge without ever knowing I hit the ice-cold water, or that I’d be so far over the edge that I’d be nearly comatose while trying to raise three kids.

It’s just not worth the risk. For me, but even more so for my husband and kids.

Well, up until this last week, I still had this idea in my head that maybe, just maybe, I might someday be able to fulfill my wedding vows and pop out thirty-six kids like that special family you see on TV. I’m not knocking them. Each to their own. But seriously? There’s a point when you just gotta ask yourself… does God REALLY want me to just keep pooping babies out of my hoo-haw, or did He give me a brain that can handle reasoning, common sense, and logical thinking FOR A REASON?

And that’s when it dawned on me: maybe God really wouldn’t be angry with me for only having as many as I can handle. Sure, for that one family, one-hundred-thirteen kids is something they can handle just fine. For me, um, well, smart people made Prozac for a reason.

I was unable to accept that idea for a long time. The family and religious values run deep in my veins, despite what a heathen I’ve become in the past year.

But something happened this week while I was away.

I realized that I really am done having kids, and I am perfectly happy with just my two beautiful, incredible girls. I am best off not putting my body through anymore pregnancies or postpartum roller coasters both physically and mentally, and it’s healthiest for my husband and children for me to be on this earth, mentally well, and able to function. Chancing ruining their lives just so I can fulfill some unspoken and possibly unsaid obligation to God and everyone around me just doesn’t sound like something that a loving, kind God would ask of me. If some religion says otherwise, then it can just suck my prolapsed pussy.

When I realized that I felt released of this “obligation” and I felt happy about my choice to stick with just my two cutie-pies, I was ready to do the thing that my sister and I did last week: get a tattoo on my hip/abdomen.

Getting that piece of ink was liberating. A promise to myself and my body: I am done having babies, and I’m not going to worry about birth control anymore because my husband has agreed that is is time to get a vasectomy. Woo hoo! Thank you, James!

Furthermore, I owe my vagina a bit of love, so I have decided that I’m going to get it fixed.

In a perfect world, I could just accept what has happened to the damn thing and move forward. But, the world most certainly is far from perfect, and I’m in even worse shape. And my va-jay-jay… um… well, it’s a scarred, prolapsed battle zone that I know I’ll never be able to accept. Even with all the physical therapy, I will forever have problems and issues related to the prolapse. A feeling of heaviness in my lower abdomen sometimes, and this sensation that my organs are going to fall out of my body if I cough too hard. The cramps during my period are worse than they where pre-babies, and something as simple as using the bathroom is frequently interrupted by the fact that my bladder and rectal prolapse is squeezing off the flow of elimination. As I age, my pelvic floor muscles will only become weaker. Even with the lifestyle changes I’ve made to accommodate the prolapse and the daily exercises I do to keep my pelvic floor muscles in the best shape possible, the prolapse will never be cured and will only get worse with time. While there are risks involved with getting my vagina fixed, there’s a good chance that the outcome would be much, much better than what I have to deal with now.

Are you feeling a bit traumatized yet? Because if not, I AM ABOUT TO GO THERE.

So, in addition to my complaints above, there are the sexual side effects to prolapse. Sex just doesn’t feel right, and I am embarrassed by how it looks down there.  I mean, I suppose it doesn’t look all that bad, but there’s a spot near my perineum where I wasn’t sewn up correctly after my first vaginal birth. The fact that it wasn’t put back together right is something that only a blind person couldn’t see… and some of that tissue has prolapsed beyond the opening. It’s always bothered me because it’s a bit uncomfortable during sex and when I’m, um, wiping down there. Additionally, the sensation of my hoo-haw just kind of sucks now. Organs protruding from where they’re supposed to be are kind of soft and gushy, and even though it’s a nice, snug fit for my husband’s penis… it feels kind of sloppy to me. Like, not loose, just sloppy. Like things aren’t in the right place… because they’re NOT in the right place. My cervix sits low in the canal, my uterus is dropped, and my rectum and bladder are falling inward and down in my hoo-haw. While sex still feels pleasurable and I can orgasm from it, it just doesn’t feel as comfortable or as good as it did before my second vaginal birth. Even with the pelvic floor rehabilitation I went through, there’s still a noticeable difference that I just hate so much. I frequently find sex to be emotionally damaging because I feel so humiliated by what a mess I believe my vagina really is.

Perhaps a lot of other women are in the same shoes I’m in, but I have yet to hear anyone else talk about it, and not a single health professional has told me that what I’ve experienced is all that typical for someone young and healthy like myself. Or maybe everyone DOES feel loose and sloppy after having babies, but somehow they can just accept it and it doesn’t bother them. Yeah, I wish, but that’s just not my experience.

James swears that it feels good in there, but said that instead of feeling like the more rigid canal that it used to be, it feels soft and there’s a lot less friction, even when I’m contracting my PC muscles as hard as I can. That’s probably a gentleman’s way of nicely saying I feel loose and yucky down there, but I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and try to believe him. Every time I have sex, I realize that while it doesn’t feel like there’s a lot of room diameter-wise in there, it does feels soft like he said. Too much lube equals almost zero sensation, even though I still fit nicely around him. It’s a sucky problem to have, and its humiliating to live with. No amount of reassurance has helped me feel otherwise.

Last night I discussed my desire to get my hoo-haw fixed with James. This is not a new topic coming from me, but it’s the first time I’ve been able to talk about it with a very clear head and with my mind made up that I am done having kids. He agreed that it would be worth getting evaluated to see if I would be a good candidate for a successful surgery, and this morning my therapist gave me a recommendation for a gynecologist that has good results with this sort of thing.

So world, not only do I have a new tattoo, but my husband is going to get his baby batter tubes snipped, AND I’m going to start making appointments to find a doctor I trust to fix the prolapse and broken vagina I’ve been burdened with.

Never in my life have I thought that I would actually consider surgery for something like this, but then again, I never thought I was going to end up on Prozac, either. Funny how that sort of thing works out, eh?

And just to give you fair warning: prepare yourselves for all kinds of TMI moments coming up on my blog in the near future. If you think I’ve been bad before, I can only imagine what kind of shit’s going to hit the computer screen next.

Current Mood:Cool emoticon Cool

Wondering

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Where the FUCK is my period?

Day three of the little green pills, and no sign of Aunt Flow. I followed the directions perfectly.

If I’m pregnant, I’m running my car into Lake Washington at full speed.

Current Mood:Alarmed emoticon Alarmed