I’m a Member of the Club!

When I used to think about having a successful nursing relationship with my children I would get very upset. I had encountered so many problems when I tried to nurse them. I had no support, and at the time I didn’t know who to reach out to. Each time my dream of breastfeeding crumbled, and I always thought I would never get in to the club.

The club isn’t a real thing, I know. Well, maybe there are clubs, but the club for me was imaginary. However, I do think it would be great if there was a club like in my imagination. I pictured women sitting in groups talking while their babies were nursing. In my mind they laughed often and enjoyed content babies. It was something that I never thought I could be a part of.

Fast forward through all of the hardships, a tubal ligation, and an unsuspected fifth child and here I am nursing my eight month old with no problems. Not to jinx it or anything, but we have had a pretty easy time with nursing. My little Lady Bug has latched perfectly since birth. She has adjusted well to my forceful let down, and has been gaining weight like a champ since day one! We are looking forward to a long time spending cuddle nursing moments together.

The best part is I am, at long last, in the club! But, wait where is my circle of moms? Where are my laughing ladies with content babies? I don’t know anyone else breastfeeding right now! My club stinks!

I realize, now that I am successfully nursing my baby, that the exclusive club, I imagined for so long, was only a dream. Honestly, if Lady Bug had problems with her latch, weight gain, or anything else I would have been on my own.

I have researched a lot since is started nursing my baby, and even thought about becoming a breastfeeding counselor or midwife.  I have a longing to surround myself with like-minded women.  I want to share my story of  making the switch from formula to breastfeeding, and how much better the latter can be!  I have tried to surround myself with virtual friends who can be a support network for my baby and me, if needed. But, I still don’t have anyone in my club.

I decided to reach out to people through writing a blog. I thought maybe someone could learn something from my experiences with raising my children. Yet, I am still alone in my club. Formula feeders tend to look at my like I am crazy when I nurse my baby, and they almost always offer their reasons for not Breastfeeding. I promise people, I am not judging you, nor am I asking for your explanation for the way you feed your baby. I get the impression from these women that they are thinking that I think I am better than them. Even if that’s not true, no one is inviting me to playdates, or mommy dates for that matter.

Okay, so my club can’t be a mix of formula and breastfeeding women. It seems like we are on opposite ends of the mommy spectrum, and as much as I would love to invite all of the formula feeding mammas I know over for coffee I just can’t deal with it all. While I don’t think I am better than them, I know the nutrition my baby OS getting from me is better than theirs and I am not going to defend myself constantly. Wait, what I mean defend myself? All of my formula feeding “friends” seem to think that Breastfeeding is too this or that. You know the comments so I don’t need to write them all.

Alas, I am still alone in my club.  I know that there are meetings through the La Leche League, but I thought it would be more like a group of women that just naturally gravitated toward one another because of like interests not like a group that you go find.  I am thinking about going to a La Leche meeting, though.  It may be the only way I can find a local group of women to relate to. I just have to get over my fear of walking in to a room filled with people I don’t know. I feel late for the party and I don’t want everything to stop and all the people to stare at me as I walk through the door. I know they won’t its ky silly imagination making things up again.

Vaccines: Thumbs Up or Down?

image

image

I gave birth to my daughter at home.  I made an educated decision to bring her in to this world with out the interventions I would encounter at the hospital. I took the “risk” to have a vaginal birth after a cesarean because I believe that birth is natural, beautiful, and safe. I did this because I believe the benefits of birthing at home out weigh the risks in a normal, healthy pregnancy.

I did a lot of research before I came to the decision to birth at home.  I weighed the pros and cons. The pregnancy felt long, but when the day finally came to bring my baby in to the world I knew I made the right choice.

As I said, I did a lot of research during this pregnancy. I learned more about pregnancy, birth, and parenting than I learned through out my four previous pregnancies. I am amazed at how narrow my focus was before my fifth pregnancy. I never really questioned what the doctors told me. Now, with my new wider view I am seeing clearly. Unfortunately, just because you can see clearly doesn’t mean you understand everything you are looking at.

I never researched vaccines. I knew that the number of people claiming that vaccines had harmed their children was on the rise. I was aware of the vax/antivax debate. But, I was never a part of that. I knew, with out a doubt, that my child was going to receive all of her immunizations. No, I am not “that mom” I am not going to put my child’s life on the line by exposing her to the dangers of measles, mumps, whooping cough, or chicken pox. Okay, I had chicken pox and it wasn’t so bad, but they say it can be deadly. I am not going against they. From what I hear they know what they are talking about. So, off to the doctor we went to get my baby her shots.

I dutifully held my baby down and allow them to jab her with a needle and inject….inject….wait! What the hell are they injecting. My mind began racing as she screamed her little lungs out. When her face turned some alarming shade of red I stroked her hair and reassured her that I would never hurt her, and this was actually being nice to her. I doubt she believed me. However, she won’t remember it and, thanks to those quick jabs she will stay healthy.  So, we left. I still felt like crap. It was awful watching her sleep thinking that at any moment she could succumb to one of the reactions I remember hearing about.

Two months later, it is time for her four month well-baby visit. She was so cute that day. She smiled and cooed for every one in the waiting room. I think her cuteness distracted the other parents from my three year old who was taking full advantage of the fact that the floor was so easy to scoot around on while laying on his stomach.  Maybe not, but she was pretty darn cute. The wait was horribly long that day. As we sat there in the in the office I was having flash backs from the previous appointment. I wanted to run. I imagined myself grabbing my son, and, like lighting, exploding through the exit with a such a flash those other parents would be blinded and confused. More accurately though, my chronic clumsiness would have probably caused me to trip over my boy while nearly dropping my daughter and diaper bag as I tried to escape. So, with fleeing not a viable option I started thinking I would just decline the shots.

HA! That’s what I would do! Just decline. How hard can it be to say no when they put the syringes on the table.

Hard. I ended up allowing them to inject my daughter with vials of unknown ingredients yet again. All of my other children survived, and so would she. Right?

The second we got home I started researching vaccines.  It was exhausting.  I was consumed by the information available on the internet. Then came the time to schedule her six month appointment. Unfortunatly, I was really busy and couldn’t schedule it right away. That is cool though, the delay allowed me to read more about vaccines and really get a handle on my decision.

Weeks passed and I still had not found the time to take her to the doctor. Every time I thought about scheduling it I suddenly became very busy.  My understanding of the great vaccine debate was not getting any clearer. The weeks turned into months, and now my baby is approaching nine months of age, and has not seen the doctor since she was four months old.

I honestly don’t know what to do. I know that her pediatrician is mainstream, and the group does not look at vaccines as a parent’s choice.  They also do not agree with homebirth. I have contracted switching to a new pediatrician, but I don’t know of any offices where I am likely to get anything but the same treatment, so I have simply avoided the whose situation.

Thankfully, my breastfed baby has never had an illness.  I have had no real reason to seek out medical care for my baby. However, I would love to have measurements to tell my family how much she has grown.

So, here is where I am with the vaccine debate.  First, I know that many pharmaceutical companies are motivated by profit; therefore, the health and well-being of my baby does not concern them. Second, I know that many pediatrician are also motivated by profit. So, while they may have concern for my child, they certainly won’t speak out against a product that keeps the patients rolling in every other month for the first year of life.  Third, the only person my child has to protect her is me, and my decision in whether or not to vaccination could have deadly consequences.

Let’s say, for a moment, that I decide against vaccination her any further. Now let’s say an outbreak of some vaccine-preventable illness happens, and while ky fascinated children don’t catch it they bring it home from school. If she caught said disease and died I aid take full responsibility.

On the other hand, let’s say I do vaccination her, and she has some terrible reaction and ends up with seizures, permanent disabilities, or dead! Again, I will take full responsibility for not choosing the correct path.

I have no doubt that vaccines have saved lives.  I have seen pictures of children in iron lungs because of polio. I am aware that the risk of vaccine reaction is said to be low. However, no one can tell me of my child will be part of that small percentage off children that will react negatively.  I gave birth vaginal.after a cesarean based on my knowledge that the risks were small. Yes, only a small percentage of women, will have complications during a vbac. But, I also knew that avoiding the unnecessary interventions made my chances of a healthy birth great! So, why can’t I just accept that the risk is small and get her damn shots?

I was thinking, since breastmilk is designed to protect infants from illness, I would simply delay her vaccines until she weans, and then we would start slowly with single dose vaccines.  I don’t know how practical that is, but I do believe that my milk will keep her well for now, and by delaying her vaccines I can allow her immune system to mature.

I am not looking for a great debate here. I am looking for insight. Why did you choose to vaccination or not? Did you feel an altered or delayed schedule was safer? Why or why not?  Please, keep this civil. I will not allow any posts that I feel are attacking other posters for his or her beliefs on this matter. All parents should have the right to decide what is best for his or her child.

What’s a Meme to do?

I am taking a running leap here, and I hope to land on the breast cancer awareness game train. However, I will probably get kicked right back off once people read that I am not complaining about it like many people are.  No, I am trying to appreciate the thought behind the game.

The secretive invite to an all girls snicker fest where each lady posts her bra color never hit my inbox. I’ll admit it, I am usually the last picked for dodge ball too. But, all of my friends were doing it, so I looked in to what it was all about. Oh, breast cancer awareness. Hmmm. What does that really have to do with breast cancer awareness? Nothing really. But, people were talking about breast cancer more after the joke was featured on the news. Publicity for a cause is a good thing, right?

I understand that some cancer sufferers or survivors, and their families may be offended by the constant reminder of the illness that is trying to claim their lives. I understand that those people left in the wake of a tragic loss of a loved one due to breast cancer may find this and other memes in poor taste. However, there was a time when breasts were not openly discussed. Women were encouraged to keep quiet about their private areas. Self breast exams? Oh my how embarrassing must it have been to talk about touching your own breasts! So, if these games do nothing else at least they get people talking about boobs, or boob coverings, which can lead to talking about boobs.

My aunt learned that she had breast cancer two years ago. She underwent a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. She lived in fear for a long time through out this process. None of us knew if she would live or die. It was a hard time for all. After her recovery my aunt was a new woman. Rather than take offence,  she sports her pink ribbon, her “I love boobs” bracelet, and “Did you get your mammogram today?” Items with pride. Furthermore, she has participated in each meme that has crossed her page on the internet.  Her mission is to get people talking by any means necessary. Even if it doesn’t really do anything in some people’s opinions.  I don’t think everyone should react the way my aunt has. She finds comfort spreading the word about her illness, and she believes she can help in some small way. Other may want to avoid the constant reminders, which is their right.

I am also aware that many people that told their bra color had no idea why they were doing it at the time. I can only hope that some one enlightened them. 

These little games are silly and maybe do no good, but I get that people want to help and perhaps they don’t know where to start or what to say.  I doubt someone writing the color of their bra wants to cause any grief for anyone.  I myself don’t participate in any of the things. Sometimes I don’t get the invite, and other times I just don’t do it.

I guess, in short I don’t think anyone means any harm.

Okay, I am tucking my arms and legs, and bracing for the hit.

Here We Go Again!

First, is everyone in the entire world pregnant right now?  No, I know not EVERYONE is pregnant; however, it seems like many people I know are expecting a baby in the very near future.  While I wish I could be excited for them all, I am filled with worry, fear, and even guilt for all of these women.

Why do I worry for them?  I worry because in this important time of their lives I see many medical interventions being performed on them.  Many of these interventions are probably unnecessary.  I have read countless status updates, posted by my pregnant acquaintances, that tell of non-stress tests, predictions of antibiotics during birth, and inductions.  For the majority of these women they were not given any reason for many of the procedures.  My guess is because the woman’s insurance covers the procedure, the doctor will happily perform it, whether it is indicated necessary or not.

Why am I afraid for these women?  I fear that a lack the lack of knowledge about the medical community, particularly during pregnancy, makes these women very likely to simply “trust their doctor” rather than questioning the reasons for certain procedures.   Thereby, increasing the chances that these women will “need” a cesarean section.  Yes, cesareans save lives, but as we know they are routinely performed to ease busy doctor’s load, and as a result of interventions that should not have been.  Furthermore, after these women go through a cesarean the likelihood of them being allowed to vbac (vaginal birth after a cesarean) is low in the United States.

Why do I feel guilty?  I am guilty because my own fear of confrontation prevents me from saying anything that may save them from terrible birth experiences or unnecessary procedures.  Okay, maybe I am having delusions of grandeur here. I just wish I knew what to say and when to say it.  I can spout out facts like water from a fire hose, but I will likely leave a pregnant woman drenching with fear and doubt.  I don’t want to scare anyone.  I am also thinking about my own hatred of unsolicited advice.  I do not want anyone telling me how to raise my children, or how to give birth to them either. 

So here I sit with all of this information and no way of sharing it.  Another person I know has her induction scheduled.  By the way she had an induction with her first child, wich she thinks she needed because she wasn’t going in to labor on her own.  I doubt she wants to hear anything I have to say on the matter. 

I am seriously feeling like a breakfast cereal right now.  I long to be crunchy, alas I am but a soggy flake.

I Am A Mom With Psoriasis

image

I am a mom.  I also have a chronic medical condition.  I have been living with psoriasis for over ten years.  What is psoriasis?  It is thought  to be an autoimmune disorder where your immune system attacks healthy skin and in doing so the skin sheds skin cells much faster than the average person.  Where most people shed their skin every thirty days, I shed mine every three in these areas.  The constant activity does not allow the skin cells to fall off, and causes irritation so I am left with whitish scales over red inflamed skin.  There is no cure, and not all treatments work for all people.  Much about the condition is just not known. 

I remember when I noticed two scaly bumps on my right knee.  I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I was very embarrassed about the appearance of my new rough skin patches.  In those early days I was obsessed with the aesthetics of my condition.  I remember seeing the dermatologist for the first time, and hearing the news that I would probably have these lesions for the rest of my life.  I was so depressed.  The worst part was that the lesions were growing, and there was no cure.

 

Fast forward ten years and I no longer seek the help of a dermatologist.  I have given up on the creams, body washes, and diets that promise clear skin.  I have watched my lesions grow and shrink.  I have adapted to the unknown associated with my condition.  I am still embarrassed in some situations, however.  I still cover my knees when I go out.  Although, I have psoriasis on my knees, elbows, knuckles, the top of one foot, and small spots scattered throughout my body, it is still my knees that bother me the most.  I am used to the pain of bending down and having my knees crack open and start bleeding.  I have adjusted my schedule to allow for my ritualistic lotion application after my showers.  Tis what I do.

So, I itch, and I scratch.  Sometimes I wake up with bloody sheets because of scratching at my knees in my sleep.  But, over all I have adjusted to my condition. 

My children are used to my skin.  They don’t remember a time when I didn’t have psoriasis.  I do my best to explain this condition to them, and I often explain it to their friends.  I worry about whether or not any of my kids will end up with these scaly patches of skin.  After all, it is known to run in families.  But, I do not want to scare them with the fact that it may be inherited.  I would like to leave them money when I die not chronic conditions.  I do hope that they see these imperfections in their mommy and take that with them through out theirs lives.  I want this to be a lesson to them that judging a person solely on the exterior is easy, but not always the best idea.  It is wise to ask questions about a condition before judging someone.  Many people who see my knuckles assume I have been in a fist fight.  This cracks me up because I am very non-violent, and am usually walking around with my five children.  I am like “no this mommy is not a scrapper!”  We all judge, but at least we can make judgments on facts, not our own assumptions.  Or, that is what I am  teaching my kids. 

I try not to complain about my condition.  I almost feel guilty when I do complain because it could be so much worse.  I have cried for mothers suffering with much worse plights than my own.  Who am I to complain over itchy skin when there are mothers with no legs working so hard to be treated and feel “normal”.

Only now I fear it is getting worse.  While 2% of the population is afflicted with psoriasis, 10% of those people will at some point develop psoriatic arthritis.  Like rheumatoid arthritis this can be a crippling condition which knows no age barriers.  That’s right at 32 I very well may be starting down a path of a much more difficult way of being.  For months, my right foot has caused me a bit of discomfort.  I have tried new shoes, old shoes, no shoes to ease my aching foot.  I honestly did not think it was anything to worry about.  It seemed like a normal pain until I noticed that my fourth toe on that foot has started changing direction.  A funny bend in my toe now catches my eye.  Dr. Google says this could be the start of a hammer toe.  With no health insurance I am limited to the knowledge and fear inspiring diagnosis’s of the internet. 

Okay so my toe is turning it could be worse.  Great now it is getting worse.  The morning time ache in my right foot has turned in to an all day ache with swelling around the joint on my fourth toe.  Which, I was coping with until this morning when I woke up with my left foot hurting and my left pinky finger joint swollen, hot, and painful.  Oh no, is this how it starts?  Does arthritis just pop up in the middle of the night?

I have taken two extra strength ibuprofen which has afforded me slightly more range of motion in my left pinky and the ability to walk with out hobbling.  However, I am still in pain. But, as all mothers know there are no sick days for mommy so I am struggling through the pain and moving on with my day.  I don’t know what the next step is for me.  I don’t know if there are agencies that help people with no insurance receive care for chronic conditions.  I am going to consult Dr. Google on this matter to see if there is a way for me to go to the doctor.

Children’s Dentistry Over 3 Billion Served

Who wins when children’s dentistry turns in to a franchise? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know what the answer is not! The children!

My ex-husband’s company went through a take over, which resulted in him purchasing a different dental policy for our three children. I was delighted to learn that my kids would finally be able to use the dentist office I have seen so many times on television. This dental office looked awesome. The promise of fun, smiles, and quality care seemed too good to be true. Plus, they have play equipment in the waiting room. Certainly, it does not get better than this, right?

I called to schedule my children’s cleanings, and was able to have my pick of appointments. Wow, I thought, this is great! With the kid’s previous dentist it took weeks to get an appointment.  Also, the previous dentist kept telling me that none of my children had cavities, but frequent complaints of sensitivity and mysterious bubbles on their gums told me all was not as well as I was being told. So, I made the first appointment available and off we went.

The waiting room was huge! There were chairs lined up as if we were attending a conference. I have never seen so many seats in a dental office. I am a dental assistant by trade, so its not easy to shock me, but the room full of people did shock me. I couldn’t wait to get in the back to see how many dentists they had working. Little did I know that I would not get any closer to the operatories than a big window designed to met you see six dental chairs where the kids are all worked on in one shared operatory.  The wait was long, and the slides in the waiting room quickly lost their appeal as too many children were wrestling to fit down at once.  When my children were finally called back I was flustered, but I was still excited to show my three year old how fun the dentist could be. 

However, we were not being called in to the operatory, no we were now waiting in the consultation room.  It is very frustrating after a long wait to be called in to a room to wait some more.  Finally,  a dental assistant entered and gave me the run down of the planned procedures and then escorted my older children into the shared operatory and told my son and me that we could watch in the window.

I still had not met the dentist. As a rule I am bothered by not meeting the person that will be treating my child. I would never leave them with a babysitter I don’t know, so why am I expected to leave them to be cared for by a dentist I have never seen? But, leave them I did. I stood, watching through the window, until I could not hold my 7 month old and three year old at the same time any longer.  I had to put my son down and retreat to the waiting room.

After what seemed like a lifetime, the assistant came to inform me of the treatment plans for my children that were cavity free six months ago. The plan included antibiotics for both of them to treat abcesses, crowns, extraction, and fillings. I was not doubting that they needed this work, but at that time I was still in the dark about this dental organization.  Actually, the treatment plan was so rushed through I can’t even remember which child needs what done! To top it all off, my son did not get a cleaning because of his abscess, so we will have to go back. 

After the treatment plan run down we were taken out to the desk where we were supposed to schedule an appointment, but because they were so busy we were handed a card and told to call to schedule. 

The whole experience left me feeling exhausted, frustrated, and confused. I need to wait to take my children back until they complete their course of antibiotics.  I don’t want to take them back there.  I don’t believe that my children are anything more than a number in that office. Perhaps, the dentists, or whoever owns the offices, is seeing dollar signs instead of numbers. We were rushed in and hurried out with a long wait in between!

Update:

My busy schedule has made this blog post take about four days to write so far and in that time I received a disturbing email. What was so disturbing? Well, it was an email confirming my children’s appointments. The disturbing part is that I did not call to schedule appointments yet.  I haven’t even seen their treatment plans!  When I called to inquire about the appointments I was talked down to as if I should understand what is going on.  The woman on the phone has agreed to write down the cost of the many procedures they need so that I can schedule as my wallet allows, but she offered a warning that this works needs to be done quickly so that my children don’t suffer more problems. Believe me lady I don’t want them to have any more.problems than they already do, which is why I am calling a different dentist and seeking a second opinion!

Upon doing some research on the company I have learned that they have a lot of complaints against them. Allegations which include rudeness (agreed), false treatment plans aimed at increasing funds, separating parents and children, intimidating children, and unnecessary use of a papoose board! What! Why didn’t I research this place before?

I will update this post after I take my children to a new dentist for a second opinion, but as it stands I am extremely upset with the whole situation, and I sit here in utter amazement that a company that promises smiles is taking advantage of people in this manner!

I have purposely not mentioned the name of this company because with my luck someone would finally read my blog and then I would get in trouble for saying bad things about this company, but I will say, in regards to the whole ugly mess, that I am not smiling and this is not cool!