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Monday, February 6th, 2012
Leaving the hospital with Baby Brother
I hate the sentence I’m about to write. But I’m going to do it anyway.
My two-year old is “mad” at me.
It sounds so lame. I promised myself I wouldn’t be one of those parents who project adult emotions on a toddler. But here I am.
It began the day I came home from the hospital with Emmett. Even though we had prepped Fia all about a baby brother coming into her world, she clearly hadn’t grasped it. How could she? I can barely grasp the magnitude of how one’s body “makes life,” so I surely can’t expect a 2-year old to fully comprehend.
But from the moment I stepped in the door something had changed. While excited about Emmett, she was aloof with me. She didn’t want me to hold her. She did, however, want to hold Emmett. She was clingy with Phil and her grandparents. With me, she ignored.
I thought, What have I done? I have destroyed the relationship that matters most to me in this world. (Another sentence I cringe at while writing. Seriously. But remember there are some raging hormones here too.)
I panicked that things would never be the same. That a “new normal” had set in. One I didn’t like. My mother-in-law, my best friend and my aunt all assured me Fia’s behavior was normal. They cited examples from their own childrearing experiences.
But they must not have had the connection with their kids I have with Fia, I thought hopelessly.We are symbiotically entwined.
Phil took Fia on a walk and asked her, “Are you mad at mama?” In her little voice, she squeaked, “Yes.” Then he asked if she was mad at baby brother. “No” she said.
Upon hearing this, my heart broke a little more. Yes, I’m putting a lot of stock in those two words, “yes/no” but having a new baby is a seismic shift in all our lives–and I do believe she feels a bit jolted and unable to express herself. Again, she’s 2.
Time, is what my mom friends told me. Give her time.
So I have. And it’s getting better. I’m getting my Fi back a little more each day. And my heart too.
I still can’t hold her, which is tough. “Mama hold you,” she pleads. I tell her to come sit on my lap.
I took a bubble bath with her the other night. I washed her hair and she dumped water on me. A welcome sign that normal was coming back.
What does seems to be her new MO of “not-so-fun-normal” is to go from 0-10 in a matter of seconds. She will throw herself on the floor, screaming, crying–real tears and all–because I brought her an apple-banana squeezie and not a yogurt. Such tragedy. Again, since I can’t physically pick her up, I have to wait patiently for her to stop wailing, then explain, distract or relent–depending on the enormity of the issue at hand.
I know this is typical 2-3 year old behavior. Hers just happened to coincide–or was instigated–by Emmett’s arrival.
She has also just spent the last 2 weeks being showered with attention from Phil’s parents. She and his mom were inseparable (his mom is like the grandmother everyone wants to have). So when they left yesterday, she experienced another jolt in her little life.
Again, all normal stuff I’m told. And I have no choice but to go with it. Kids are far more resilient than we are. I have to remember that. And to continue to tell Fia that I have her heart. And I’ll never let go.
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behavior, big sister, birth, Emmett, hospital, labor, milestone monday, new sibling, newborn, sibling, toddler tantrum | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Must Read, Newborn Care
Tuesday, December 20th, 2011
Hi ladies. I have so many comments from you all regarding my homebirth post, that I wasn’t sure where to begin. I am trying to address many of the same general comments, while highlighting a few. So bear with me.
I want to start out by saying I am all about a woman’s choice. So while I may not agree with a homebirth or the thinking behind it, if you want to take the risk, go for it. But my joke about the BYOB-IH (Birth Your Own Baby–In Hospital) wasn’t a true call for a new movement. I’m about to have a baby, after all. I’ll be up to my eyeballs in burp clothes and diapers. Not petitions.
Also–and I believe more importantly–I’m all about women’s empowerment. I know as women we all get our strength from something. The lyrics, “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar” come to mind. Amen sisters. Some of you said that you felt like you could do anything once you gave birth naturally. I did not intend to take away that feeling of accomplishment and empowerment from any of your experiences. It’s amazing no matter what, IF you end up with a healthy baby, right?
@Kris said, (in reference to my bio), “Just as many people cannot say that they’ve visited Casablanca or climbed Mt Kilimanjaro, many more cannot say they’ve braved the experience of child birth at home. “
Where I disagree with this comment is the part about being brave enough to homebirth. So you’re saying it really is risky and something that requires “bravery” to have a homebirth, right? I think what many women take from natural childbirth is their ability to tap into their woman-power. And yes, more power to them if that’s where they find it. But I don’t think you can call yourself “brave” because you chose to have a homebirth. Are we going for a medal or a healthy baby? I happen to believe the medical statistics, flawed and all. It’s what we’ve got to work with (as pointed out below) and I feel, at least for me, a homebirth would have been a highly irresponsible choice.
I was glad to hear from those of you who had good experiences in the hospital.
@Ashley G, “I lost a lot of blood and if it wasn’t for the team of doctors and nurses I could not say that we would both be here today. Why have a baby at home? Why risk the life of your child and your own? NOT WORTH IT!!!!!!!”
@Grace S, “While, I do not like hospitals (who does really?) and it was the last place I wanted to be bringing my child in to this world, it was the right place to be.”
Sadly, many people have had bad hospital experiences or they have misconceptions about hospitals and I think they view homebirth as an alternative to giving birth in a hospital. I get wanting a different option. But I just don’t believe homebirth is the safest solution. What is clear is that we need improvements in healthcare. I don’t think anyone would dispute that. But even with my rough labor story, I wouldn’t have done it differently. Because in the end I got the most amazing baby girl–healthy and happy. If I had had a homebirth, I probably would have had a dead baby or if I was lucky, been rushed to the hospital before tragedy struck. The stakes for me are simply too high.
To @Dr Nancy: Here is a really great article that breaks down the Wax study. The Wax Study is arguably the most comprehensive study done to date that compares and analyzes homebirths and hospital births. In the article mentioned above, the author states, “Midwives’ groups are already attacking this new study as flawed and politically motivated, but of course they themselves are politically motivated to show the safety of home birth, and their own studies are flawed. Passions run high on both sides of the debate. This study is far from perfect, and it’s certainly not the final answer, but it’s the best we’ve got to go on at the moment.”
I happen to agree. But you can choose to disagree. Remember, I’m pro-choice.
To @serenyd: You commented that you “…don’t think home-birthing is selfish – I felt I protected my baby from unnecessary interventions, uncomfortable standard hospital protocol and nasty germs in the hospital environment and gave them a gentle entrance into the world and wonderful bonding experience in the safety and comfort of home.”
The Wax Study does in fact speak to that and other frightening issues that many of you brought up. And you’re right on track with some of your concerns. I.e.: “Planned home births were associated with fewer maternal interventions including epidural analgesia, electronic fetal heart rate monitoring, episiotomy, and operative delivery. These women were less likely to experience lacerations, hemorrhage, and infections.”
However, even with all that factored in, the bottom line is statistics show that, “Less medical intervention during planned home birth is associated with a tripling of the neonatal mortality rate.”
I think everyone on both sides of the debate can agree though with the author’s statement:
“We need to develop a better understanding of which interventions are really necessary to save babies’ lives and how to improve the outcome of all deliveries, whether at home or in a hospital.”
I think @Cassandra also said it well. “…80% of the people I know who wanted a home birth ended up going to the hospital at the last minute because of some complication or another. Like you said: go for a natural birth, if you want… BUT DO IT IN A HOSPITAL! That way, if there’s a problem, someone can help you or your baby!”
I guess I wonder what this argument is really about. Is it about your birth experience or the ultimate outcome? Studies prove (whether you want to dispute it or not) that overall, a hospital birth—or a birthing center where hospital intervention is right there—is the safest way to go.
Which is more important to you? For me, it’s a no-brainer. Great if you get both a certain “birth experience” and perfect outcome. But I’m not willing to gamble.
Picture of Pregnant Woman via Shutterstock
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birthing centers, Business of Being Born, c-section, childbirth, doctors, homebirth, hospital, labor, midwives, natural childbirth, pregnancy, pregnant, Ricki Lake, ultrasound | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Must Read
Tuesday, December 13th, 2011
Enlighten me: what is with the home birth movement? I don’t get it.
With my own baby coming out in about 6 weeks, I started to think about the whole birthing thing again. Then a friend sent me this article and I just kind of started to get annoyed with the homebirth thing, and got on a roll…err, maybe I should say rant. I’m sure many people will be offended by my thoughts. But again, I’m just trying to understand: why would anyone want to do this?
I mean, home birth seems incredibly risky to do and even selfish on part of the mom. Why would you put your baby (and yourself) in harm’s way all so that you can have this “experience”? And what is this “experience?” The ambiance of giving birth in a four-poster bed? In your home? Your bed is for sleeping, sex, and relaxation. Not birth. Ambiance is reserved for romantic restaurants, rustic cabins with fireplaces, a bottle of wine, and intimate conversation. But creating an “ambiance” for birthing a baby out of your vag? Complete with poop, goo, screaming, and unheard of pain? Not to mention the mess that looks like a murder scene in your house? Seriously, explain to me: what is the point?
If you want to do it natural, meaning no drugs, (which I can understand a little more) we have beautiful birthing centers throughout this country along with some of the best medical care there is. Why would you NOT want that? Birth is 24-48 hours of your life…and can be life-threatening. Even the best-equipped midwives can’t possibly bring all of the sophisticated monitoring equipment to your home that doctors have at their disposal in the hospital. And what’s so bad about a hospital bed and doctors and nurses at your beck and call anyway? For the next 18 years you are going to be at your child’s beck and call. Take the 2-3 days and enjoy it.
When I was pregnant with Fia, I went to yoga classes constantly. For 9 months I heard the women, the doulas, you name it, talk about how all the drugs you take during labor get into the babies system (even though there is no medical proof—and it has been studied), makes them groggy, and often makes unable to latch on. And that having a C-section can prevent mother-baby bonding.
My birth story started with the idea of trying to hack it natural…then it all went to hell. Not only did I have an epidural, but I also had barbiturates for my C-section, Percocet for my pain, and an incredibly trying emotional and physical toll felt in every bone of my body. Fia came out alert and latched on instantly. And from the moment I saw her, we were deeply and indescribably connected. As relieved as I was, I felt a little “had” by the natural birth community. Nothing they said would happen did. But what did happen is I had a healthy, happy baby. If it weren’t for the excellent doctors (who did all they could to try and give me a vaginal birth) I could have ended up with a dead baby.
I also want to point out that if I hadn’t had the epidural and been able to sleep/relax, I wouldn’t have had the strength to push for those 2 hours. Even though Fia never dropped or rotated, at least I had it in me to give it my best shot.
But let’s step away from those facts and look at the facts of third world births. According to Unicef, a woman in sub-Saharan Africa has a 1 in 16 chance of dying in pregnancy or childbirth, compared to a 1 in 4,000 risk in a developed country. The site goes on to explain that most of these deaths and disabilities are preventable, being mainly due to “insufficient care during pregnancy and delivery.”
Okay, so if you take care of yourself and are low-risk, then maybe home birth isn’t as dangerous. However, they state “…About 15 percent of pregnancies and childbirths need emergency obstetric care because of complications that are difficult to predict.” This is the part that scares me most. Like I said in my birth story, no one predicted Fia wouldn’t rotate into the birth canal. She simply didn’t and got stuck above my pelvic bone. If you’re with a doctor, nurse, or midwife at a birthing center, you at least have supervision and immediate access to proper equipment and supplies. That includes lifesaving drugs, antibiotics and transfusions–and the ability to perform C-sections and other surgical interventions.
This site has stats from the CDC, which state: “Homebirth increases the risk of neonatal death to double or triple the neonatal death rate at hospital birth.”
Like many of you, I watched the Ricki Lake movie, The Business of Being Born. I’ll admit, I thought the birthing methods of earlier generations, where mothers were drugged out, seemed barbaric. I would never think that way would be beneficial to anyone. How do you push when you’re unconscious? Other than that though, the movie really irked me. Even her producer ended up in the hospital—and thank god—or she could have had a tragic outcome.
I know doctors make mistakes. I know neonatal care can be improved. Hospitals are petri dishes. And far from perfect. But none of that outweighs the risks of a homebirth. In my, ahem, humble opinion.
If you must experience natural childbirth, for god’s sakes…and your baby’s…do it in a hospital—or a birthing center connected to one. I’d like to start the anti-home birth movement today. Call it BYOB IH– Birth Your Own Baby In Hospital!
Moms, Dads, Doula’s, Midwives, Doctors: What do you think?
Sketch of Mom and Baby via Shutterstock.com
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birthing centers, Business of Being Born, c-section, childbirth, doctor, epidural, home birth, home birth movement, homebirth, homebirth movement, hospital, hospitals, labor, medicine, midwife, midwives, natural, natural childbirth, pregnancy, pregnant, Ricki Lake, ultrasound, ultrasounds | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Must Read
Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
Author’s Note: I wrote this post a couple months before my mom died. I wanted to share it now.
I called my mom to check in. She was out of breath. Told me she had been lying on the deck enjoying the sun. I can picture her– relaxed, closed lips, slightly smiling as the sun beats down on her weathered face and medically worn body. I think about how I’ll miss her. It’s much easier to hate an addict. It’s a lot harder to love one. Especially because these last 9 months have been a gift.
When she first went septic, I thought, “F–k me. So typical of her.”
If only she had gone to the ER when her doctor told her, she wouldn’t have had her entire colon removed.
This led to every complication imaginable.
But my mother has never really done things right. Except maybe this time she has.
If she had gone in right away they would have fixed the problem before it became a disaster. She probably would have gone home a few weeks later. Which means by now, she would have gone through at least another 12K of her dwindling life savings to buy crack (a habit I just recently found out about, and one she decided to pick up at 62 years old). She could very well be in the gutter, dead. I’d dismiss her death as a relief. And think about what a waste it all was. Now I’ve had her back —at least in some capacity—as the mom I knew and loved once long ago. And it’s much harder.
I know the end is coming. They found out they simply can’t do anything more for her. They don’t have enough length in her small intestine to operate; to fix the damn fistula. And with it spewing out bile like Old Faithful, it’s impossible for her body to absorb any nutrients.
The PA told me on the phone that she and two highly skilled doctors stood around staring at it, feeling so helpless. They equated it to the Gulf Oil spill, when brilliant minds around the world simply couldn’t come up with a way to cap it.
When my mom heard the bad news, she said, “I’m so sad I won’t see Fi grow up.” Maybe as a mom myself, that is the hardest thing to grasp. Death is final. And my own mortality seems so tenuous at times. It gives me perspective: life is a privilege. A gift. Not a given.
During these past months with her in the hospital, I have often thought about all that could have been, but also the small window that was. When she’s gone, I’ll remember that in the beginning she was as good a mom as they came. The best. Unconditionally loving, full of personality, adventurous, independent. All things she instilled deeply in me.
I’ll try and skip over the middle years. The nearly 3 decades of a life sadly lived.
And then I’ll focus on the recent–the times that she cared about Fi and me. No matter how much pain she was in, every phone call her first question was, “What’s Fia doing right now?” I’d have to yell over Fi’s verbosity and paint the picture for her. Tell her the new tricks she learned. My mom would laugh deep and strong.
When I came down with the flu this winter, she worried. In every phone call she’d ask how I was feeling. She said she’d always worried about me. Perhaps she didn’t worry in the middle of a drunken stupor, but somewhere deep down, I know she always had me close by. A mom always holds her daughter close to her heart. And I guess that’s what I have to take with me.
I am glad she has her sun. She always loved it. And I hope she basks in it as long as she can….
She passed away June 7, 2011. Fly away Mom. You are free.
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Monday, July 11th, 2011
As she lay dying, I spoke to her on the phone. I told her that it was okay to go. That she would live on through me and Fi.
I told my mom’s sister how much Fia loves sautéed spinach.“Your mom loved that growing up. We’d call her Popeye,” she said. I cringed. Dear lord, please give Fia the good genes from her. Like love of spinach and not crack.
It’s not that my mom didn’t have some amazing traits. In her early years she was smart and beautiful. Kind and colorful. But that was then. In her darkest days her childhood friends would shake their heads and tell me, “Everyone in high school wanted to be Suzy Newlon. Such a shame.” We’d all look down and mumble awkwardly in agreement.
Five decades of alcohol and drug abuse—including picking up a crack habit when she was 62-years-old—a few suicide attempts and a clear-cut diagnosis of bipolar—didn’t really give her a fighting chance.
One recent Christmas she went around her Florida condo complex with a 20-foot ladder. She climbed up the trees and spray-painted the coconuts red. It was an instant hit. On another Christmas she tried to kill herself by jumping off a parking garage.
I truly believe some people are born to conquer addiction while others are just born to stay addicts.
Last year at 64, her life had become desperately depressing and tragic. I rarely spoke to her. Neither did my siblings. But then a miracle occurred.
She had an intestinal rupture and went septic. Almost died. Ended up on life support. And while her health slowly deteriorated, her life got surprisingly better.
For the next 11 months she was mostly confined to a hospital bed. She had psychiatrists who tweaked and tweaked her mental meds. She had hot meals and an entire staff at her beck and call. She was the queen bee and basked in her royal treatment.
“I love it here. I can order a milkshake at 3 in the afternoon,” she’d tell me in her southern drawl.
The next day she would complain that the chicken was dry.
“Mom, this is a hospital, not the Four Seasons,” I’d remind her on the phone.
“I know that, but how hard is it to cook chicken right?”
I’d roll my eyes; secretly glad she was even complaining. In the past, depressive days meant curling up “in the ball” on her couch and refusing to speak to anyone.
At least now we knew where she was and that she was safe. It was also finally safe to bring Fi down to meet her. A hospital—germs and all– is far more sterile than her living conditions had become over the years. And I knew what I was getting: glimpses of the mom I had in childhood; when she was a superstar. Cool, fun, unconditionally loving.
Over this past year almost every trip down she was alert and attentive. She couldn’t get enough of Fi. This is a woman who had missed so much of my life. My wedding, my pregnancy, the birth of my daughter. We were both getting a second chance.
She would tell me how much Fia reminded her of me when I was little. I’d relish the stories. And feel relief that (so far) it seems Fia has much more of me in her genes than her grandmother. I can only pray the ones she does have from either of us are the good ones.
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addiction, bipolar, death, death of a parent, depression, drugs, flowers, genes, hospital, life support, lilac, lilacs, Losing a Parent, losing mom, mom, mom dying, traits | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Losing a Parent, Must Read