Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

NICU breastfeed

From our days in the NICU...
We missed those first snuggles at birth...and in those early says.  
We had a lot to make up for~♡

In the midst of it all...still comfy on the boob.
Even when "breastfeeding" looks like this~

Birthing external

My little one is my sixth child.  I know my birthing body very well...I am made for birth.  More than just my child baring hips and ample milk makers,  I fall into that lovely obsessive cult known lovingly as "birth junkies".

I am educated regarding birth, I am confident of this fact.

I know cesarean sections are over performed, I know interventions can lead to complications, I also know that a happy birth is a healthy above all else I respect a momma's right to birth however she chooses.  
I believe interventions can be forced on mommas, i believe that women must be informed and strongly advocate for themselves.
I know many c-sections are performed without being medically warranted,  and I suppose I believed that being educated about the true need of a section was enough to avoid one.

My choice was to homebirth, as I have before.
My cesarean section was medically necessary. 

I know we as women need to find our inner have trust in our bodies.  I know the lessons I learned when i felt life enter our world from between my legs.  I knew then that my ancestors...that all mothers- known and unknown were guiding me on a level of unseen sacred sisterhood.

I know it well.

I believe this awakened knowledge should be shared with any woman struggling to find her power on the cusp of childbirth.  It is a gift, feeling that grip of primal intensity...a gift to be shared in the hopes of dissipating fear and revealing natural, holy strength.

So here I am wondering...

What do I do now..??
What do we do when our births are terrifying?
How do mommas who have experienced traumatic deliveries process our stories?
Women have been taught that birth is scary since we were little girls.  It isn't a truth, not one that defines our experience or need influence our bodies.  This leaves me struggling.  How do we share and support each other without adding to the fear mongering?  

Stories that once brightened my day...images of wrinkled vernix covered babes, exasperated mothers, their faces showing the impossible depth of their love...truths that once made my heart sing are now painful reminders of a violent journey I am still healing from.

What we all deserve in birth, it doesn't happen for us all.  

Birth happens within a spectrum...varying choices and situations will influence our birth's.  Within that wide spectrum we know to aim for connection, informed choice, bonding between momma and her babe.  Even cesareans are increasingly factoring in the known importance of a positive birth experience. 

So what do we do when we fall short of those goals?  When life saving urgency trumps all else?

It was scary.  There was fear. 

When lotus birth was replaced with umbilical lines.  When first latch was instead an ng tube.  Organic blankets were untouched, and cooling blankets wrapped our baby...when all your plans for a beautiful birth were lost to immediate fears for your child's survival...where do you belong in the birthing community?

I would never have dreamed I would say this, but not all birth is beautiful.  
I want to find a place to own this fact without spreading fear.
Because the fear is not necessary...but it is valid. 
 It is an authentic response to suffering, mine and my son's.

Fear does not protect anyone from experiences like mine.  

Women suffering ptsd deserve support, and a venue to share our journey's...but women also deserve to approach their births present in their own reality- not weighed down by the experiences of others.  I don't know how to navigate these two facts.

Birth is not by nature a medical emergency,  it is not an illness.  Our bodies are fundamentally formed to create life and bring it safely into the world should we choose to do so.

Rarely a medical emergency will overlap into the world of the sacred.  We are blessed we have safety measures if necessary.   

The world of birth can't be defined by worst case scenarios.  
When fear bubbles up in an expectant momma I ask...what is the source?  Is it your voice?  Is it the voices of the past, of misogyny or medical pressure, unsupportive peers or the manner in which birth has been portrayed to you over the years?

Or -is it your voice?  From deep inside...because along side that Earth shaking momma power is a fierce warrior like need to protect our young.  We are momma bears.  This instinct can wear a mask that looks like fear.  We as women aren't always used to allowing our power out.  

I don't want my birth to be a confusing source of potential fear for other mommas.  My fierce need to protect my baby manifested in extreme medical intervention.  I was willing to be thrust into a terrifying and painful situation to protect the life of my son...because it was necessary.
   I didn't choose it, it isn't ideal- but it is rooted in the same primal instincts that see us planning gentle, magical is the need to protect.

It was scary.
There was fear...
It forced me to accept what needed to happen.

...I trust those feelings.  They came from me.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Non-birth birth story.

Maybe it is time.  I decided to dig this old blog out for one reason.  I want to have a venue to process the birth of my youngest.  I find now, having this venue doesn't make it any easier to put my thoughts into words.

I want to share his birth story.  Like I have with all my children.  The story just happens to differ from theirs, dramatically.

I truthfully wonder if he even has a birth story.  My version, the version his father can looks a little like this.

There are of course more details.  More than a half closed door.  I can try to put them together, and see what comes of it.

We had plans.  The birth pool waiting to be filled.  The sacred trinkets from our blessing way waiting to be displayed, offering supprt and encouragement.   We took the belly photos, read to our growing bub.  Had doubts, insecurities...but we enveloped them in anticipation. 

I thought our baby would come early, just a feeling.  Gender unknown,  the connection I made with my mystery parasite somehow communicated "early" to me.  
My sixth child...I know my birth pattern.  I trust those instincts.   Still my "due date" crept closer.  I felt fine, not very uncomfortable. ..just waiting....and not "early".

I had contractions...they never lasted long, never got stronger.  Baby also never "dropped".  So despite my belief that babe would come early, birth wasn't imminent. 

At 39 weeks we went about our day, ran some errands, had we were out and about I realized baby hadn't kicked much.  Not totally abnormal,  running out of room, baby did tend to move less.  
When we arrived home I called our midwife to mention it..and we decided I would do a fetal movement count.  You lie on your side for an hour and count baby's movement until you reach ten.  So I took some time and laid down to start counting.. 
 After about ten minutes I still hadn't felt a kick..or shift..or bump.  I spoke to my partner and shared my increasing anxiousness.   He suggested I give it the full I laid down again..within minutes something shifted.  I just felt scared.  

I decided I would rather go in to our hospital and get a heart rate check...we told our midwife our plans and headed off.  Along the way I had a feeling..I just knew we should be hurrying.

I have had non-stress tests before...they track baby's heart, movement and  my uterine activity.  I also know that more often than not the baby starts moving like crazy as soon as I get hooked up....and I feel relieved and embarrassed. 

Sure enough, strapped onto the monitor baby's heart rate was strong and solid.  So, feeling slightly foolish, I settled in for the test...about an hour on the monitor. 

My husband and I joked and waited..comforted by baby's thumping bass line.  There still wasn't much fetal movement...but the machine picked up little squirms I could not feel.  Without stronger movement the test could not really show baby's variables, so we waited for some kicks.  The monitor needed adjusting a few times, it would start picking up my heart, or get knocked out of alarm would sound, and the straps would get "fixed" into a better position.  

At some point the rate changed, it was suddenly very slow.  So, alone in the room we did what we had earlier, we adjusted the straps on the monitor.   It was clearly picking up my heart again.  My husband pushed it around, I wiggled and shifted.  The alarm sounded again, like every time the rate dropped.  Eventually a nurse pops in and tries to adjust the straps.

It only takes a second to realize we were wrong.  The strap hadn't shifted, it wasn't my heart rate.

It was hard to not be impacted by the nurses obvious panic.  She phoned the local ob/gyn, she called our midwife.  In both instances she yelled at them to "get here, NOW".  Another nurse came from nowhere, they both aggressively pushed my belly while searching for the heart tones.  

The ob/gyn arrived and looked at the test strip showing baby's heart rate.  He said he felt we should "make you a mom right now"....I knew that was coming.

Details are hazy, nurses frantically and awkwardly started pulling off my street clothes.  "The best" lab worker came to start my I.V, and failed..and failed again.  It wasn't her, this is my norm, an impossible blood draw, even worse for I.Vs.  After several attempts she moved to my ankle and succeeded.  A catheter was placed, ew.  I signed something...there was a distinct shift in behavior,  no longer time for pleasantries,  everything became abrupt and panic'd.  Perfectly our midwife arrived and offered her love and support in the midst of a whirlwind.

We moved to a surgical suite.  Several other doctors had been called in.  They had all been summoned to the hospital, it was surprising to see a ready room filled with gowned and gloved doctors knowing the small window of time that had passed.
They tried again to place a second I.V...eventually the anesthesiologist succeeded.   I was put in position for an epidural.   While bent awkwardly over a hospital tray I remember another difficult attempt to find baby's heart rate.  I heard the alarm, I heard the slow beating of a heart.  If it was mine or baby's I don't know.

  I knew my baby was alive, I knew my baby would be with me soon.

The doctor tried to place the epidural,  and couldn't...with time of the essence,  it was decided that I would require general anesthesia. 

  As we had prepared for surgery I had warned our nurses that my husband is in fact 'a fainter'.  At this point, before surgery i found my husband's face was suddenly in front of mine.  He was wearing scrubs, i had no idea where he got them or when.  He told me he loves me, gave me a kiss and was ushered out of the room, missing the birth of our babe.

It is a story.  I can sit here and recall details.  They come together to paint a picture.

As for a "birth story"?  That goes something like this....

I went to sleep, I woke up and there was a baby across the room.

My husband's story..he sat outside a sterile looking set of double doors.  He overheard someone say "he"..he knew he had a son.

There are more details.  A lot of pain for me, noticing blood on the floor for him.  Learning our son needed resuscitation for both of us.

In most birth stories there is lovely details about meeting siblings, first breastfeeding experience,  cuddles in bed.

I feel like the story up to this point was the birth.  This was our "birth story".  

As for the aftermath,  a lot of chaos followed.  Our son was promptly airlifted to another hospital, without us.  Without ever being held, or hugged...We found out via a phone call in the night that he was far sicker than we believed and was being transfered again.  All night I desperately clung to the towel he was laid on after his delivery. 
 In the morning we were taken to him, via ambulance and ferry, immediately post partum, hours after surgery.

There were weeks in a city far from our home.  NICU insanity.  Tests, pokes and prods and fear.

All of that feels seperate.  It isn't his birth story.  It is part of his life story.  A life that almost wasn't.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

My current exhibition

Starting out...again

This blog is old.  I set it up years ago when my kids were small.  My intention was to document my experiences in motherhood...keep a digital log of our family adventures.

I always envied bloggers~ the way they take something seemingly mundane and give it an aire of importance by simply sharing it.  I struggled to find the confidence to believe that my reality was significant enough...why would anyone care.
I also found that actually being a mother often interfered with my motherhood documenting time.

So this page of mine was abandoned.  

Time has rolled forward, my kids are mostly grown..I am older.  I began settling into a new dynamic.   One very different from mothering five young children.   Many struggles, lots of fear...and a new path before me.

And fate stepped in to remind me that I still have lessons to learn.

I discovered I was expecting....pregnant...again.

The past year has been wave after wave of unexpected change.
Right when I thought I was wrapping my head around my new found all pitched off the deep end.

I decided to pull out my old blog here...maybe I still lack the confidence to believe my words will hold meaning to anyone aside from myself.  I do have enough self love to know *I* need to process these experiences.   I saved my old posts and I cleared myself a little spot here to journal.

And this is it~