Thursday, April 29, 2010

C-Section: A Father's Perspective

As C-Section Awareness Month 2010 comes to a close, I thought I would offer a spin on this topic. Though the mother is the one that has the c-section, it took both parents to create the child and both parents (hopefully) are present for the birth. Both parents have emotions, rememberances and thoughts about that day. Very few people stop to ask the man how he feels about the birth of his child. I asked my husband to write up his side of our c-section birth story. In his own words:

As we started through the birth process, there were only a couple of things that I really felt strongly about. First, I did not want to know the gender of the child until delivery, and second I did not want to have a c-section. Why you ask? Not because I felt it would change the way I felt about the child or because I felt it was wrong in any way. It boiled down to a couple of things. First, I had heard from other fathers that from the dad’s perspective, there is just something that doesn’t feel natural about a c-section baby vs. a non-c-section baby. But second, and more importantly, this requires surgery and more healing time for the mom and I always try, at great length, to avoid sharp objects cutting skin.

But as the birth rolled around, and it began to linger, and nothing was really happening, it became apparent that options were running very slim. Poor Ian just was not going to come out without some type of outside help. The doctor sat down and ran through the options, and it surprised me how quickly the response “Cut me open” came out. In hind sight, this was the right decision, and the only option that would save both mother and child, but the fact that without even really getting into specifics on what could be done, it was as though there was a cheering squad for c-section.

For me, that was an upsetting decision at the time. I did not want to see a surgery when there could have been other options. But time was a critical factor and a quick decision was probably best. As we headed down to the operating room, they all went in and started prepping mom while I scrubbed up and donned the gown. I sat and peeked through the window as everything was prepared for the doctor to come in and do his thing. The time came, I walked in and found my stool to sit on, camera phone in hand.

As the surgery went on (and this one was a tough one), it quickly became apparent that this was a necessary surgery and it began to ease my tension on the decision as a whole. But then when Ian was born and I was able to see him for the first time, look face to face at the person I created, the person who would immediately be called my clone, I no longer cared how he was born. The fathers who said the moment wasn’t as magic were dead wrong!! That moment could not have been more magic!! Regardless of the original intentions of birth plans and preconceptions, the end goal was achieved in that mother and child were both healthy and on their way to recovering.

Now, there is a child and a scar that will forever commemorate that day, that decision. And at first, the scar was very nasty!! I never looked at it with disdain or contempt and I never will. I did look at it and it turned my stomach only because it was bloody and stapled and all around not pleasant to see for someone who does not do so well with medical things. But as the months go by, the scar continues to heal. My only hope is that it will one day no longer protrude from the body and will flatten out. But even if it doesn’t, who cares?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I Am A Runner

Gulp. Or at least, I hope to be. I am trying to start out with the right attitude about this.

I have a love/hate relationship with running. Unlike my husband, who really seems to enjoy it, I never seem to get a running high or even a running tingle. I do love what it does for my body and that it's good exercise and allows me to eat more desserts without gaining weight.

Here's the plan. I am going to run the Women's Half Marathon in Nashville, TN on Saturday, September 25, 2010. That means, as of today, I have 149 days or just over 21 weeks in order to prepare. All of the training schedules I have looked at are 12 weeks long. Since it's been a very long time since I did any real exercise, much less any running, I know that I will need a couple of weeks to get to the first week of training.

I'm trying to get some friends, family and colleagues to jump on this wagon with me. Stay tuned for updates on my successes, my setbacks and all the in-betweens as I embark on this running journey.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Little Woman In A Big City

Dear New York City,

I used to be very frightened of you. Too many people, too large a city, too much crime. I visited you for the third time a few days ago. This trip was by myself. The other trips before had been with at least one other person.

I spent almost two full days in your arms. I walked your streets by myself. I took notice of the older couples walking peacefully and the mothers with their children. I took the subway by myself. I saw old men reading and young boys I would not have expected to see riding comfortably by themselves. I walked the streets again, back to my hotel from Carnegie Hall at 10:30 pm. At least 12 blocks in the dark. That was more daunting than in the daylight and I was amazed at how awake the world was on your streets at that time.

I came to no harm. I feel stronger. I feel a little silly saying that but I am proud of myself for doing things that made me uncomfortable.

New York City, you still intimidate me, you always will, but now I think I will feel less trepidation if I return.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Get a Grip People!

Alright, so sex on tv is ok. The general masses swarm all over oops pictures of celebrity body parts. Mmm-hmm. Girls walks around with skirts up to their beavers and see through shirts. Not a problem.

So why does a woman breastfeeding in public make people uncomfortable? Most of the time you aren't even seeing the woman's breast. I honestly think it is much more disgusting when someone blows their nose at the table in a public restaurant. (Insert shiver with revulsion as I even type those words.)

And why would a picture of a child with breast milk on his chin gross people out? How is it different than if he had cow's milk on his face or pudding or popsicle?

Baby Drools Breast Milk Ohio Residents Freak Out

Seriously people. Let's focus on things that are important in life. I'd much rather see a baby breastfeeding in public than to see a picture of Britney Spears' girly parts. Honestly, which really is the more disgusting?

*Thanks to my friend over at Musings for using her trusty Google reader to bring this article to my attention. You may thank her or throw rotten veggies at her as is your preference. :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Today I Don't Want To Be a Mom

Today my son is trying my patience. Really he has been trying it all week long. He has been clinging to my leg for dear life in the mornings and I can barely get a shower, get dressed, get him ready for school.

Today I have 3 new books calling my name. I can feel their words, their laughter, their very real paper dimenstons beneath my fingers. I can feel the woody paper sucking the oil from my skin as I rapidly turn the pages as I devour someone else's story.

Today I want to ignore the fact there is a little person that wants me and needs me. I want to close the door, pour a glass of wine and read. I want to get lost in someone else's words. I want to lose myself in their thoughts, their whimsy and their lust.

I want to feel alive for some other reason than baby soft skin, wet kisses and raspberries. I want to be a woman this evening and read and drink wine and have raunchy thoughts.

I want to be me tonight. A complete me. Tomorrow I can be someone's mother and someone's wife. Tonight, I just want to be, for me.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Support C-Section Awareness Month

C-sections happen. Yes, too many happen but some are needed. Many women have negative stories to tell, and there are some, like me, who have good stories. C-sections don't have to be scary, or horrific or damaging. If yours was, seek help. Express those thoughts so that you can heal. Here are some places that can help.

Cesarean Scar by the NavelGazing Midwife
She is highlighting the scars and their stories. I have submitted mine.

The Shape of a Mother
Real women have real bodies. Stretch marks. C-section scars. Here you will find women of all shapes and sizes and with all sorts of stories you can relate to.

Nine Months and Beyond
If you are in the Nashville area, check these women out. They are wonderful and supportive during and after birth. They offer doulas, birthing classes, birthing tubs, lactation consultants, pump rental and more.

No matter if you had a c-section or not, you are still a mother. You are still a strong and brave woman. Why? Because you created a person, you gave birth. Don't forget that.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My C-Section Scar

My c-section scar doesn't really bother me. It's low, near my pubic bone and very few people are every likely to see it. I don't think it bothers my husband. It simply joins the three smaller appendectomy scars that I have on my abdomen as well.

Every now and again I wonder what some stranger would think of it. Would it make me less attractive in their eyes? Would they find it off putting? Does it make me less sexy?

My c-section scar is 5.5 inches long. To think, an ENTIRE human being came out of that one spot. An entire human being that weighed 7 lbs 5 oz and was 19.5 inches long. Knowing where nature intended for him to emerge, it shouldn't be that amazing to me, but it still is.

I often think of the bumper sticker I once saw: Scars are tattoos with better stories.

I don't think my scar mars me or makes me less beautiful. It reminds me that I am alive, that my son is alive. I will forever carry the mark of my love for him on my body. Different than stretch marks, this one is deliberate, is more precise than the movement of my body stretching around the existence of a human being.

Sometimes my scar catches my eye and makes me worry. I think that is the nature of a woman. I also know that years from now it will catch my eye, when my son has long moved out of my house and is living his life, and that scar will cause me to smile and trace it gently, with love in my heart and a smile on my face.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Did I Say That?

We took Ian to Mass for the first time on Saturday night. I took juice, snacks, toys, etc to try and entertain him. He has not learned inside voice yet.

We feed him these organic puffs and they have saved our sanity more than once. So it's about 10 minutes before Mass starts. He decides to reach into the container and root around with his hand in the puffs.

"Don't eat all the popcorn before the movie starts." I find coming out of my mouth.

My husband laughs and shakes his head.

I think I need a keeper.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dear Ian:

Your baby skin is so soft. Yesterday, as I was feeding you breakfast, I stroked your little cheek and was struck at how soft and smooth your skin is. You had just woken up and your cheeks were still flushed from sleep. Then I had to look at and touch your fat little wrists and your fat litte feet. Even your cute little baby butt is dimply but so soft to the touch.
As you grow, I will miss your chubby little baby parts and cuddling your soft baby skin. I wish I could capture the feeling of touch in a jar so that I can relive the softness of your baby self even when you are twenty.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Isn't He Sweet?

My husband, not known for his romantic gestures, did really well this year. We had our 6 year anniversary in March.

The present came last night. He knows I love subtlety and symbolism. The sixth year anniversary gift is iron. And the sixth year anniversary flower is the calla lily. Here's what he found:

It's a tea light candle holder made of iron and the flowers are calla lillies!! See how awesome he was with this gift?

And if you count, there are 6 large calla lily blooms!!!

Great job, baby!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Breastfeeding Rocks!

Fact based article about the cost savings and most importantly the health benefits of breastfeeding babies for longer than six months.

Friday, April 2, 2010

April is Cesaran Awareness Month

This post may be a little on the long side, for which I will apologize upfront, however this is a subject which I find myself to be very passionate about.

I had a c-section in February 2009. Traditional: I chose an OB and planned to birth in a hospital. Nontraditional: I had a doula and chose Hypnobabies as my birthing class/method. I did plan to birth at home as long as possible and only arrive at the hospital when it was time to push. I had a written birth plan with minimal intervention that had been thoroughly discussed with my doctor.

My birthing waves started in the evening on Tuesday. By Wednesday morning we called in our doula Sarah and thought we were going to have a baby. Birthing waves slowed down and stopped by 3 pm. Sarah went home and JP and I settled down to wait out the night. Thursday he went to work and I stayed at home napping and keeping hydrated.

Friday morning and I wanted to see my OB. We called his office and they told us to go straight to the hospital. By this point I had been in my birthing time off and on for 2.5 days. It was all back labor too. I was getting tired. Hypnobabies had served me well but I was worn down and decided on the epidural.

Nurses came in to ask questions and strap me to the fetal monitor. Baby is fine, I'm fine; my blood pressure is slightly elevated and up until this point my blood pressure had stayed at a cool 110/70 throughout my pregnancy.

Nurse checks me and is surprised. I am 8 cm and 100% effaced!! I was so surprised. She was even more surprised. We called Sarah to tell her this was the real thing. Nurses scrambled to get the epidural in me since I was getting to the point of no return. They gave me the initial shot but didn't hook me up to the pump. Which was fine with me. I really just needed something to take the edge off.

Doctor comes, checks me and says it's time to start pushing. With my husband, my mother and my doula at my side, I push for close to 2 hours. Doctor comes to check me. He is not a small man and he shows me how far inside my baby's head still is based on how far inside he has to reach. I had already been offered pitocin twice, which I declined and the nurses accepted without argument or pressure otherwise.

The doctor sits down and starts to discuss my options. He tells me I can continue to push. He tells me we can try the vacuum, though the baby's head is was a little farther in than he likes to use with a vacuum. He tells me I can have a c-section.

I look at my husband. I look at my doula. No judgements, simply acceptance of my choice on their faces. I knew the choice was mine and mine alone in that moment. I looked at my doctor. "Cut me open," I said.

My husband and doula came into the OR room with me. I got to listen to my Hypnobabies relaxation music as my son was brought forth from my body.

My son emerged covered in meconium and with difficulty breathing. He was exhausted from the birthing process as well. He had to be taken to the NICU and intubated. Luckily that was removed less than an hour later and he was fine.

Did I make the right choice? Yes, I did. No doubts, no questions, no regrets.

The next day my doctor told me that I had been his toughest birth in 3 weeks and he had birthed calves. (Yes,as in what cows give birth to.) My son and I both tried our damnedest to get him out vaginally. So much so that his head was wedged into my pelvic bone and the doctor (once again, who is not a small man and is built like a football linebacker) was leaning into my shoulder through the drape as he freed my son from my body.

One hundred years ago, and perhaps even as few as fifty years ago, my son and I would both likely have been dead without the intervention of a c-section.

I know that there are a lot of women who feel discouraged, depressed, disgruntled, damaged, minimalized, angry and hurt that they were not able to give birth vaginally. I do not want to demean, dismiss or diminish the feelings of those women, only tell my story from my eyes and my situation.

I DID NOT FAIL. It irritates me that women feel that to have a c-section is to fail to give birth. I did give birth to my child. I grew him, I labored with him, I brought him forth from the fruit of my womb. I did not fail.

I don't want to debate about the topic, however, honest discussion is fine. I do agree that there are too many c-sections being performed than are medically necessary. I simply do not feel that a c-section has to equal negativity, dissatisfaction with the birthing process, or a feeling of having lost something.

I did not fail. I gave birth. I had a c-section.

(more to follow on this topic during the month)