Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Last week we were talking at dinner about our last family vacation, a trip to Aruba last December. Julian was only about 18 months old at the time and I figured he wouldn't remember anything about it. Wrong. Thad asked him what his favorite part of the trip was and Julian paused, tapped his chin (just like Wallace from "Wallace and Gromit") whilst looking up, took a deep breath and said, "Playing in the pool." I was astonished. He remembered?! Really?!!! Wow. He also remembered spinning him around in the water, going to the beach and playing in the sand. I know that toddlers don't forget anything- like a few days ago when Thad told Julian that we would get him a nutcracker next time we went to Target (he's very excited about Christmas decorations) and today when we went to pick up shampoo for grandma, he reminded me of daddy's promise. (The miniature nutcracker is currently sitting on our dining table...we named it Heir Friedrich)- but I didn't think he'd remember a trip almost a year ago.

This little exchange got me thinking about my earliest memories. When Thad and I first started dating I used to tease him about how much he did not remember about his childhood. With all those regular saturday night dates I wanted lots of stories, right? Thad claims to have very, very little memory about life before age 15. I, on the other hand, have memories back to when I was about 3. My brother may claim that some of this did not happen, but memories are memories and these are some of mine.

-Age 3. Getting off a bus/tram at the wrong spot with my father. We were in Italy or France, not sure. My mom and brother were still on the bus and I was convinced we'd never, ever see them again. Obviously, we did as we walked and were reunited with them at the next stop.
-Age 5. Laying on a towel on the sidewalk in my swimsuit. We lived in Monterey, CA and I was convinced the song "California Girls" by the Beach Boys was written for me. I'd prop my little pink umbrella up next to me and pretend to be at the beach. (I was very sad to move away from CA and could no longer consider myself a 'california girl.' 'Philadelphia girl' didn't have the same ring to it).
-Age 3. Wearing my blue leotard while watching "The Wizard of Oz" for the umpteenth time while my mom is making dinner. The house smells of garlic and onion, two of my most favorite smells of all time.
-Age 3. Collecting HUGE hail during a storm in Charleston, SC and bringing it inside to keep it for my father to show him when he came home from sea duty. I cried when the hail melted and wouldn't be able to show it to him.
-Age 5. My brother brought home the class pet from La Mesa Elementary School and the rabbit pooped by the wall and my brother said it was me that pooped. He claims to this day that it was me. I protest. It was the rabbit and I stand by that. (I did, however, pee on the stairs in that house one night when I was sleep walking).
-Age 6. My dad played in his class softball team at the Naval Postgraduate School and my brother and I would go to his games. This specific day my brother was swinging one of the bats and I happened to be standing behind him and he thwacked me in the nose so hard it bled.
-Age 9. Me, my mom, my brother, my dad, my aunt, my uncle, my three cousins, my two grand-aunts, my other cousin, and I think another aunt was in there too all drove up to Niagara Falls in a Suburban, starting our journey from Norfolk, VA. We get up there and one of my cousins, a Filipino citizen, forgot his passport so we couldn't go to the Canadian side of the Falls. We drove all the way there and waved at Canada. My cousins and I made a song up about our trip to the tune of Milli Vanilli's "Blame it on the Rain" and called it "Blame it on Manny." Manny is my cousin. I still haven't been to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.

I think this blog post could go on and on now that my cerebrum and temporal lobes have been ignited. Suffice it to say that I am glad to remember all these things of my childhood, no matter how erroneous. I only hope that Julian and Dash can remember a lot, too. Or maybe I should start giving them ginko biloba.

Before I end this post, I'd like to say this: I remember when I was growing up and my mother would lay on the couch while I played and said, "I'm not napping, I just need to rest my eyes." I'd then proceed to climb on her and pester her mercilessly. Mom, if you're reading this, I am very sorry for all those times I bothered you while you "rested your eyes." I understand now why you needed those little dozers. :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Don't you judge me

I hope you read that title with a head swivel cause I certainly am saying it that way. I *so* don't need other people to validate or judge my decisions.

I never intended our home birth to be a statement. At least, that wasn't an intention when we began our home birth journey last year, but now I am a proud, flag-waving home birth mama and I hope to spread the good word of home birth and midwifery. While I am proud of our decision to take control of our care, I didn't expect to feel like a pioneer (sometimes). I certainly never expected me or my child to be treated any differently on his home birth but, alas, that is not the case. Last month I ran into my OB from Julian's birth at Wegman's. I had been with that doctor since 2003 and she was the reason I was with the practice for Julian's birth. At the time, we didn't feel comfortable with a home birth and we naively thought we could have a simple, unmedicated childbirth experience in a hospital. For multiple reasons that did not happen and when we found ourselves pregnant again, we gave the benefit of the doubt (briefly) to our doctors that they would support us in our attempt at a vaginal unmedicated birth after a cesarean. When I saw my doctor at Wegman's, while wearing a baby that she or someone in her practice obviously did not deliver, her reaction was pretty flat. I still intend to write a letter to the doctor who made me cry as she was the catalyst for us to find a new practitioner and I want her to know that, after a lot of hard work, our son was indeed born at home.

Fast forward to today's visit. I am due for my annual exam and I originally thought of just going back to my old gyno because they are easy to get to and I know them, but then we ran into my old doc at Wegman's and I didn't get all warm and fuzzy seeing her. And, as Thad put it, if I'm going to "vote with my dollars" so to speak, I shouldn't go back to them because we were so dissatisfied with my care. I thought about Birth Care but it's incredibly inconvenient for me. I want to go somewhere that my insurance covers, so while I love my midwife, I just couldn't justify the cost considering I only see these people once a year when not pregnant.

My friend just had her second with a practice at Fair Oaks Hospital that is an OB/midwife practice. They take my insurance so I made the appointment there with an OB (whoever was available, actually). When I showed up I had to fill out the typical paper work asking about children, dates of birth, how they were born, any complications, etc. I clearly stated that my second child was a home birth and figured I'd see what they said. The nurse took me back to take my vitals and she asked me where my son was born, despite the fact that she was looking directly at my records.

Nurse: Where was your son born?
Me: Home.
Nurse: Really? Wow. I'd have no idea what to do with a baby at home.
Me: That's why we hired a midwife.
Nurse: Wow. ... Wow.
**enter 3 nurses who overheard our exchange to look at the home birth baby, expecting to see a messed up baby with three heads and blue hair, but to their disappointment found that he was a normal, happy bouncing baby boy**

It was very obvious they don't encounter many home birthers as it is an OB office, but I was armed and ready.

The nurse brought me to my room and she said not to take any clothes off, just to sit as the doctor wants to get to know me better before she gives me an exam and the nurse said a few times that this doctor would be SO excited to see Dash. So we waited and enter doctor...

Doc: Hi, welcome to our office. So tell me where did you have your son? (My chart was right there)
Me: Home.
Doc: And where did you have your first child?
Me: Here, actually, at Fair Oaks with a different practice. He was a c-section and we didn't want a repeat, so we did it at home.
Doc: Really? As a VBAC? Wow. That's high risk.
Me: Actually, it wasn't. We had great support and I left the old practice because they said they'd support a VBAC but in practice, didn't. Dash was 2 pounds smaller than my first, was in a great position for birth, and my midwife helped us have a great birth. I didn't feel like I was getting supported the way I needed to be in my former practice.
Doc *body language became physically repulsed by me, she wraps her sweater around herself and backs up against the door* Well do you have any questions? Go ahead and get undressed and I'll be right back.

I mean her WHOLE demeanor changed when I explained our home birth. I'm not too surprised, I mean she IS a trained OB with a lifetime of experience pointing her biases in one direction, I don't expect her to be welcoming me with open arms, but come on lady, get with the program. There is so much information out there for women now to OWN their births, you can't get all up in arms when someone is actually informed and makes decisions for herself.

So we did the exam and by the end of the breast exam I could tell she was just trying to get the hell out of dodge. I wanted to talk with her about non-hormonal contraception but she really, really didn't want to talk with me. She was just so....disapproving. She barely smiled at Dash, let alone cooed at him. I figure if someone is going to shove metal ware at my snatch she could have a *little* bit nicer bed side manner, but what can you do. At least I don't have to see them again for another year.

If today's experience has taught me anything it's that body language says it all. I kind of expected people to ask me about my home birth but I certainly didn't expect to be treated like I smacked them. I realize that she's looking at me through HER lens but the least she could do is try to look at me through mine. Am I going to go back there? Who the hell knows. Part of me wants to as a weird experiment to slowly infiltrate the system from the inside. :)

Point of this story? Not sure if there is one other than to laugh at this doctor and hope that whoever reads this takes control of his or her care. Just because you have an M.D. by your name doesn't make you better than me, we all travel our paths different ways, folks.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Making sense of it all

If you've followed either on Facebook or by occasional emails here and there, you know it's been an interesting year for us. I know that people usually wait until the end of the calendar year to reflect but too bad....the past few days I've been unable to do anything but reflect. This probably means, though, that you won't be getting a "yearly round up" letter in a couple of months. Too bad. Gotta get it out now.

This year has certainly been a year of ... trials? In April we got our house ready very quickly in an attempt to tackle the dismal real estate market. Since then we showed it for three months, were under contract for 5 weeks of those three months, and then took it off out of sheer madness of trying to keep the house pristine with 2 kids, a dog, 2 long-haired cats, and the rest of life. Also this summer my brother's herniated disc got worse and he was waiting for surgery after a crazy car accident that left him with 4 broken ribs. My aunt was diagnosed with colon cancer. Someone dear to me suffered a miscarriage. My mother in law broke her ankle THE DAY she was to fly to New Zealand. Two weeks after taking our house off the market the roof leaked and we discovered that squirrels and mice have made a home in our attic, along with the chipmunks in our storage room. My friend told me (jokingly) that she didn't want to be around me because apparently we were bad luck.

Thad and I laughed that we burned all our karma by having a successful home vaginal birth after cesarean with our son, Daschel, in February. It's so easy to leave things up to karma, isn't it? But still, oh, shining light of 2010, the babies being born has certainly been the biggest highlight of the entire year. Babies, babies, and more babies! Babies born every month...last December I knew of 6 babies born in the same week of each other, and every month after that has been just as baby-bonanza. This October alone I've known of eight babies being born. Eight! With 2 months left in the year we have many more to go...I keep checking those Facebook postings to hear about new arrivals. :)

Sweet, smiley, cuddly babies that are changing everyone's lives as we know it. I don't know anyone whose heart isn't melted by the coos and gurgles of a bouncing happy baby. Unfortunately, though, in comes the reality when this past week we got news that a friend's infant son has a brain tumor. *blank look* Are you kidding me? A brain tumor? In someone that can't even crawl?! In someone that hasn't even figured out what kind of ice cream he likes or what is her favorite color? Please, no more. If you're reading this and wondering if it's someone you know, it is absolutely not my place to spread their business so I'm sorry, unless they've let you know, then that's all I can say.

We were speechless. Tears, of course, have been plenty. I don't even know what to say. As I sat upstairs tonight nursing Dash to sleep I thought about how I felt when he was born- that hopeful, blissful feeling of a new baby and the possibilities that lay ahead of him. He's so young, so innocent, and yet how can this happen?

This December will be the 9-year anniversary of my father's passing. When he was diagnosed at the young age of 49 which was followed by treatment, recovery, and then illness again, I did some major soul searching to try and make sense of it all. I read When Bad Things Happen to Good People and while it offered some good perspective, I didn't finish it because it started to get a little too preachy for me. I mean, he's right, just because a "good" person goes outside in sub-zero weather without a jacket on doesn't mean he will escape getting sick. I get his argument that good people are not exempt from the laws of nature. But still. That answer doesn't give me peace when bad things continue to happen to people that just don't deserve it. I read all kinds of literature on suffering and grieving, all from different religions to see if I could make sense of it and I still couldn't find answers that put my heart at ease.

It's really, really hard not to take what's happening and turn it back to us. How WE feel by this. How WE make sense of it. Unfortunately, maybe that's where I am mentally because I don't know what else to do. I mean, what can we do? I can't cure cancer. I can't make the pain go away. I think most people turn the emotion back on themselves out of feeling utterly powerless otherwise.

How is it fair? How is it fair that a parent has to decide how their child will live their final days if that's the case? Or their days in general, for that matter. Is it fair to put a baby through treatments? What about their older child? How do you explain this to them?

Thinking of all this makes me physically sick. My answer? Seems flimsy and naive, but my answer is to have faith. No, not faith. Hope. Hope that things can get better. Hope that life can BE better. And I mean it. I mean it with every fiber of my being, deep into the deepest parts of my soul, I hope. Maybe its the eternal optimist in me but if I can't hope then I might as well not get out of bed in the morning. If you take away my hope, well, I just might shrivel up and die. So let me be. Let me live in my hopeful world where my glass is half full and peace can be found. Until then, I will keep this family in my thoughts and hopes and hope that their dear little one will be okay.

Lord save us all from... a hope tree that has lost the faculty of putting out blossoms. ~Mark Twain