Birthing Decisions and Political Correctness: What Can We Say?

I was involved in a Facebook exchange recently that left me wondering when is it okay to spread the word about a woman’s rights during pregnancy and labor, and when is it best to keep your mouth shut?

First, I will tell you how this exchange went. An acquaintance of mine has been having a difficult pregnancy. She has been filling her Facebook status updates with news about anemia and the transfusions she received for that. I offered advice about supplements and diet changes that brought me back from severe anemia in time to birth safety at home. However, this advice was not well received. I was told, basically, that her doctor knows best and that’s that. So, I left it alone.

More recently, the same woman posted that her baby is “at risk” because of too much amniotic fluid and fluid on the brain. Okay, now that sounds scary! Her update on this had to do with a possible cesarean as a result of the baby’s at risk status. I was delighted when she said later that day that she would not need a cesarean, but biweekly non-stress tests would be required. My exact statement was, “yay, no csection!”

The replies I received to that statement were shocking to me. Some woman I don’t know said, “csections aren’t bad!”

Next, she going to say formula is just as good as breastmilk right?

The other comment I got was from the pregnant woman, and she said, “I was hoping.for a csection.”. To which I replied, “a cesarean should only be performed if the mommy or baby would be endangered should the pregnancy continue, or through a vaginal birth.”. She then replied, “well, my baby is at risk.”

I wanted to say so many things, but the biggest thing that came to mind was that the U.S. does not have such a high cesarean rate because doctors hesitate to cut women open, so if the baby is such a high risk wouldn’t they have gotten him out immediately?

I said nothing. She did not seem to want my advice. She wasn’t asking me what she should do, so I let it be. She has had 36 weeks to educate herself on birth choices, and the risks of unnecessary interventions and she hasn’t so its not my job right? If that’s the case, then why do I feel like I have failed her in some way?

At 38 weeks they decided to induce her labor. She believes it is because her baby is at risk, but I can’t help but wonder if an induction on a woman right before hurricane Irene hit our area is a matter of convenience for the doctor.  They did not schedule a cesarean, so I guess a vaginal birth wasn’t considered dangerous. 

I don’t know how to balance educating a pregnant woman and the risk of scaring her or worse making her mad.   I am not an activist. I am a mess during confrontation. Seriously, I want nothing more than a peaceful existence, but the education I received while under the care of a midwife during my fifth pregnancy was a powerful tool that has helped me to evolve as a mother and a person. I feel like the wool was pulled away from my eyes and finally I can see, with clarity, what is being done to all women not just pregnant women. I want to help educate and strengthen women.

I have not yet seen an update about how the induction went for that woman. I wonder if it ended up in a cesarean. I truly hope all went well for her and her baby.  I wish I had not chickened out of saying more to her.  Where is the line? Maybe someone out there can give me ideas for the next time I end up in a situation with a seriously under educated pregnant woman.

As a Mother of Five You Must Know Everything By Now!

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When people see me walking with all five of my children I get a lot of looks, comments, and questions.  One of the most frequently asked questions is, “how do you do it?” This question is almost always followed by a statement about how he or she can barely handle his or her one, two, or three children. So, I am writing this to tell the world, or more accurately the one person that follows my blog, that  I don’t know everything about parenting.  But, I would love to share the few things that I have learned as a mother.

First, being a mom is messy! Be it pudding on the wall. Oh please let that be pudding!  Or crayons on the floor there are always messes. A clean house, in my opinion, is one that if you were to pick up all of the toys that cover the floor then it would look reasonably presentable. But, never, and I mean never open a closet door when company is over.

Second, kids always say exactly what you don’t want them to say in front of people. So, if you don’t want your children to comment on Aunt Either’s hairy mole, do NOT say in the car on the way to her house not to mention it! Seriously, chances are good that if you say nothing the kids will get so caught up in their new surroundings that they won’t even notice, but if you talk about it in advance you are guaranteed to have your kids staring directly at that hairy mole snickering and whispering until one of them bursts!

Third, newborn boys always pee when you open their diaper. I mean always. Urine streams are more powerful than you think, too. They can hit the ceiling, but are more likely to get themselves in the eye! Keep a rag handy to throw over his weenis ( yup, that’s what we call the wee penis) in those early weeks!

Fourth, poop stinks but it also shoots. Poop comes out fast and shoots straight. With spot on accuracy, poop will hit you! So stand to the left or right of that baby bum, because you never know when the poop will fly!

Fifth, formula stinks! Yes, formula stinks going in and even worse coming out! Also, formula stains everything it touches, so if you plan to formula feed (I hope you don’t) have stain remover, and be prepared for a lot of stink!

Sixth, kids will spend ten minutes in the bathroom wetting their toothbrush and making a mess, and come out with stinking morning breath swearing they brushed their teeth! If you don’t see them brush assume they didn’t!

Seventh, stress levels, while shopping with kids, rise in direct relation to the number of children present. If you take five kids to the store expect meltdowns. It happens. And the only people judging you are those with out children, so don’t worry because the rest of us are looking at you and empathizing!

Eighth, there is always going to be someone offering you advice whether you want it or not.  It sucks, but yes everyone thinks his or her way of parenting is best! It doesn’t matter if you spank or don’t, formula feed or breast feed, CIO or cosleep there are people that don’t agree with you. Stick to your guns and follow your instincts only you know what is right for you, but make sure you know what you are talking about before you go spouting off at the mouth. Nay sayers love to make you look or sound like an idiot, so don’t give them ammo.

Ninth, kids are always hungry when they are bored, always bored immediately after an activity, and never want to do any of your ideas. To battle this I start the day with a list if chores my kids can do if they get bored. I post the list, and I draw attention to it first thing in the morning. No one complains they are bored when chores are involved!

Tenth, and this is the most important. I have learned so much about parenting over the years, yet I know nothing. Each of my children has the ability to do something that will send me back to the first day I brought my first child home. I stand bewildered wondering how they could send me home with something but not tell me how to raise it! I know that I am learning something everyday, and look at each day with out a trip to the emergency room as a success. I look at the days with a trip to the e.r. as a lesson in love, patience, and wound repair and maybe a different kind of success.

Sleep Little Baby….Oh Wait You Are Three!

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I adore my Wee Man! He has the biggest personality I have ever witnessed in some one so young. His imagination knows no limits, and his vocabulary is unmatched by most of his peers. I am not bragging about my boy, okay maybe I am a little, but I am stating facts about my fourth child’s amazing abilities.

However, there is a dark side to my sweet boy. When the lights go out at night he is suddenly a ball of energy! We are not talking about a second wind here. No, we are talking full blown hurricane! This boy does not sleep!
Let me give you an example of a typical week in our house. I am giving you a whole weeks because the pattern takes about seven days with him. I am starting with Sunday, but only for convenience the days may not be accurate just the pattern.

Sunday
Wee Man is up when I get up. big Daddy says he was up all night. wee Man is impossible all morning. He is moving at jet pace. Running around the house like a wild man until he sits still.  Usually around nine or ten in the morning he passes out. Wee Man is out until around three in the afternoon.

Monday
Wee Man went to bed around Midnight Sunday night. He got up at some point and came to bed with Big Daddy, Lady Bug, and Me at some point. Thankfully we have a king-sized bed and a side-carred crib!  He wakes up between six or seven in the morning with me.  There is no nap for Wee Man until he crashes right before dinner! Now, he wakes up around eight and is up until 3AM! Big Daddy rests in between starting new movie for Wee Man, and getting him juice.  I sleep with Lady Bug who nurses all night so I am little help.

Tuesday
Wee Man sleeps till 11 AM. He wakes up refreshed and plays happily for most of the day. Bedtime comes around 8PM.  Wee Man is not tired. he comes out every few minutes to play until around midnight. He passes out, but ends up in our bed at some point.

Wednesday
Wee Man is up early again! This time he passes out around 1PM, which seems like.a.decent time, and I plan to wake him up no later than three. Ha ha ha the joke is on me because Wee Man is not easily awakened. If I do manage to get him up he is miserable. I decide to let him sleep.  Wee Man is up until 3 AM!

Thursday
Up at dawn, Wee Man is noticeably tired. The week is catching up with him. He is throwing toys, hitting people, and acting out of character. I wonder how on earth I will make it with this child. I vow to get him to bed on time, but I know even an hour of sleep will keep him up most, if not all, of the night.  I keep him up the whole miserable day, and he goes to sleep at bedtime. Unfortunately, he was so exhausted that he is up two hours later screaming. He wakes up throughout the night.

Friday
Wee Man wakes late. Around 10 Am he wanders out looking tired. Poor thing got a lot of sleep, but it was not quality sleep.  He spends the day tired and once again crashes early. He spends Friday night awake. Wee Man missed dinner, which he does a lot, and only has a grumpy, tired Big Daddy with whom to socialize. 

Saturday
Wee Man is cranky, tired, and stressed.  I know this life is hard on him. I hate what the sleep schedule, or lack thereof, is doing to him. His bubbly personality is able to shine through the.turkey haze of exhaustion. Every one is suffering. Big Daddy is sleep.deprived and cranky, so we are having a cold war. We don’t want to fight in front of the kids so we just don’t speak unless we have to.  Nothing seems good any more.  My mommy guilt is screaming in my war telling me that I am failing terribly. I turn around and great Wee Man passed out! Here we go again!

There you have it. Our typical week. Now, we do a bedtime ritual, when Wee Man is not sleeping before bedtime. We read books, take a bath, and calm down before lying in bed, but there is not a lot of calming my rambunctious three year old.  I honestly believe that many of his behaviour issues would be solved by a predictable sleep schedule.  However, many other like to give us their not so professional advice, which always includes initials like A.D.D. or A.D.H.D. he is three people! He sits still when needed, and I will not label him before he has had a chances to do anything in life. To call him hyper now will only make him thinks he is hyper forever.

I have been looking around on the internet and nearly every site offers the Ferber method as my best bet at training him to sleep. First, who is coming over to hold him down in his bed to let him cry. There is no way my child will just air there and cry. We would have to threaten bodily harm, and even then he probably wouldn’t believe us and stay in bed.  I don’t let him cry.and I don’t hit him. If those are my only options, well then I guess he is not sleeping!

So, any ideas?  Any one out there with a “good sleeper” that can help a momma out?

Getting to Know My Teen One Status Update at a Time.

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As my daughter approached her thirteenth birthday, I was horrified to learn that I didn’t know her at all. I looked at her and saw the little girl I gave birth to. I think I was lost in the memories of her youth.  My heart broken when she called her friend to share the latest gossip rather than sitting down with me to discuss the day’s events.  I found it increasingly difficult to be a part of her world.

I was spending a lot of time trying to get close to her, and the result was the exact opposite.  I was pushing her away.  The more I asked her about her friends the more she yelled at me.  When I commented on her status updates she called me a stalker. She was resenting me for intruding on her life.

My daughter and I were becoming enemies.  The tighter I held her the harder she struggled. Finally, I gave in and stopped prying.  With out my constant questioning I was getting no information so now she wasn’t mad, but I was completely in the dark about everything. There had to be a middle ground here.

Or maybe not….

I did make a lot of mistakes with this, my first child.
For instance, I bottle fed her. Maybe the lack of antibodies, skin to skin contact, and bonding messed up her delicate brain chemistry.  Or maybe the fact that I tried CIO with her ruined all trust between us, and this monster that stands before me in the shell of my sweet daughter is the end result. Maybe still it was the pesticides in her food. After all, I didn’t know about organic or msg when I first had her. Perhaps, I have failed her and should simply accept the fact that she hates me and I deserve it because I went terribly wrong during her formative years.

No. I refuse to accept that! Sure I made mistakes, but isn’t parenting an evolutionary process? Don’t I get to make a few mistakes and get to learn from them and be an active part in my child’s life? Yes. I think I do.

But how?

Here is what I have come up with. First, approaching her with questions make her feel attacked. Then, like an angry, scared animal in a corner she lashes out with a venomous tongue that stings. Instead, I read her status updates on the internet. But, I don’t reply to them. Nothing is more embarrassing to a teen than his or her mom shooting a “lol” on a status update. So, how do I use the updates to my advantage? Like a stealth ninja, I watch and wait for a time to bring up the info. My daughter has a horse at her dads house. So if I see an update referring to her horse I can ask if she has been riding lately. This is like a golden ticket to a conversation with her.  Almost any information can be turned in to a question that I can use to fish information out of her. 

Also, I let her come to me.  This works very well because she has learned that when she needs me I am there, but other than that I let her be.

Obviously, this only applies to those things that are not important. Things like sex and drugs must be talked about, but she doesn’t look at that as invasive to her personal life so she tends to be fine during those talks.

I hate that I have to have her status updates texted to my phone so that I feel like I know her, but I do feel like I am approaching our delicate communication situation in the best way that I know how.  Anyway, it seems to be working so far. 

Get Off the Phone and Do Your Job!

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I had a disturbing wake up call the other day when I kept telling my 3 tear old, Wee Man, to
“Hold on one minute,” while I was trying to find a word on an app I like playing.  Finally, after more than a few “one minutes” he grabbed my hand and started pulling me to come with him then he shouted, “do your job!”

It is scary how those words sound coming from someone so small.  I realized, when I was finished being paralyzed by his words, that my job is being with my children.  Being the Robin in my son’s game of Batman or the victim of a paralyzing web in a game of Spider-man is certainly more important than finding out that fugly is not a real word.  But, the most shocking thing that I learned in this exchange was that my time doing other things is being noticed by my children.  I started wondering how many moments I have missed with out realizing it but my children remember.

I decided to ask my kids what they think about the use of distractions around our home.  The results were pretty unanimous.  All of the older kids agree that since mommy got her new phone she is on it more than she used to be, but its not too much.  They also think I should let them play with it more, because it is really cool. 

So, maybe I don’t use my phone too much.  But, let’s face it people have more access to technology than ever before.  I am surrounded by people with children, and I have noticed most of those children are being pushed in strollers while their parents have their beloved cell phones strapped to their hips.  I watch kids at the park playing carelessly as their caregivers are staring into a screen.  I have even had to alert parents that their toddlers were wandering away because the parent was so engrossed with whatever they were looking at that they didn’t notice their child was not beside them.

I know we all need time to ourselves.  We deserve it. We work hard day in and day out.  I swear sometimes if it wasn’t for the friendly faces I see smiling at me on the Twitter page I would forget what adults look like. But, as they say there is a time and place for everything, and I think the portability of our devices has caused mass amnesia on the population and we have forgotten where and when we should be using these things.

There have been numerous stories of people harmed because of someone texting while driving. People are dieing because our society is simply not paying attention to what they are doing. Multitasking has reached an all time high. But, our priorities seem out of whack. We are more interested in a message, tweet, or profile update than what is going on in our homes and cars. 

I have made pledge to my family to spend my time interacting with them. I always have nap time, and those moments where the kids are doing their own thing to get on my phone or, thanks to DVR technology, watch my favorite shows.  I don’t want to look back and wish I had been paying attention to more than my contacts when my kids were little.

Like a Car Wreck: Watching American Obstetrics in Horror

I am no stranger to the industry of American obstetrics. I have given birth to five children, after all. However, it was my latest encounter with my previous obstetritcian that prompted me to do more research than I ever thought I would need to do on the subject.  I  was told that I was a high-risk patient because I had a cesarean with my fourth child, and that surgery made it unsafe for me to attempt a vaginal birth with baby number five. When I questioned the unfair labelling of me as high risk I was met with a very hurried response, which had more to do with the doctor covering his own ass than my safety.   I am so thankful for my doctor’s fear of rising insurance premiums, and lack of bed-side manner. If he had not approached my longing for a vbac with such callous disregard I would have never learned what I know now.

With that in mind let me get to my point. This afternoon I was watching on of those horrid baby-birthing shows on cable. You know, those shows that make people with any knowledge of how beautiful birth can be cringe in disgust as they strap women down and perform countless cesareans to save the baby from problems that would have never happened had the doctors left well enough alone. Yes, my name is Kim and I am addicted to watching those shows. I am also guilty of yelling at the television, as if they can hear me, “no pitocin, please!”

Anyway, back to my point.  I watched as this woman was being induced due to pregnancy induced hypertension. She was very nervous. My heart went out to her.  I know that in some cases inductions are medically necesary, and I believe this is one of those times. However, my jaw hit the floor when they said they were starting her IV with Cytotec!  What!

While I can tell you what midwives across the nation think of this, I am going to give you an excerpt from the FDA’s website in regards to the use of Cytotec for the softening of a woman’s uterus to start labor or to halt bleeding following birth.

These uses are not approved by the FDA. No company has sent the FDA scientific proof that misoprostol is safe and effective for thwese uses. There can be serious side eeffects, including a torn uterus (womb), when misoprostol is used for labor and delivery. A torn uterus may result in severe bleeding, having the uterus removed (hysterectomy), and death of the mother or baby. These side effects are more likely in women who have had previous uterine surgery, a previous Cesarean delivery (C-section), or several previous births.”

You can check that out here  www.fda.gov/../ucm111315.htm

So here they are dosing an anxious mother-to-be with a drug that is not approved for this use.

When that didn’t work they started pumping her full of pitocin.  Well, obviously the unaturally strong contractions led to her pleading for relief, and in comes the anesthesiologist to administer an epidural. By the time it was all said and done this poor woman was sobbing and exhausted as they wheeled her to the operating room for her cesarean.

The kicker is that she thought it was her body’s fault that the medicines weren’t working. She thought she was a failure! I cried for the damage this process did to her. I wished I could tell her that she was strong, and her body fought those medicines off to protect her baby. Her body did exactly what it thought it should be doing. It held on to that baby giving the new life every minute possible in the safety of her womb.  As I watched her cry I knew she would carry the burdon of this traumatic birth with her forever. 

Thankfully, the baby was okay. Though, I don’t think we really understand the long-term results of these labor interventions that have become so common place that we barely question what is being injected in to our IV’s. 

I am filled with doubt about the medical industry. Mainly because it really does seem like an industry. Patients are rushed in and out.  People are being given medicines that have been proven unsafe so that hospitals and doctors can save money.  We are used like lab rats.  I have lost faith in the medical community.

I just wish that as patients we were given the chance to make an informed choice.   I wish doctors would say, “I would like to use a drug on you, it is not approved for use in pregnant or nursing women, nor is it even designed to start labor but it does start labor.  It is much cheaper than other induction medicines. It can kill you and your baby, or result in a ruptured uterus. Here is the info from the package, you can decide.”

When I wanted to turn my breach baby in order to avoid a cesarean my doctor convinced me that I would be taking a major risk. In fact, he said the safest thing to do was have my baby surgically removed.  Um, wrong. Furthermore, doctors will use  dangerous medicines to induce women, and let them live with the guilt of thinking their bodies didn’t work correctly, which is why they had to have an emergency cesarean.  Thus, a dangerous cycle is created where, after the woman accepts the wrongly placed blame she then credits the doctor with saving her baby and now she will face repeat cesareans because, as we all know vbacs are dangerous (insert eye rolling here). 

Anyway, I watch these shows wishing I could reach out to the women under going the inductions started with dangerous medicines and the subsequent cesareans. I want to hug them and inform them of their options.  I want to give them the truth about what is being done to them. Mostly, I want to tell them that it’s not their fault.