Monday, July 29, 2013

Uncomfortable Truths, Vol 2

One of the bloggers that I follow, Katherine of Grass Stains has this amazing series of posts on her blog that are all about her uncomfortable truths. You can click here to read them, they are seriously hilarious.

I know I have a lot of uncomfortable truths about me, but these are ones I've actually jotted down:

:: I recently (as in within the past two and a half years) learned how to properly use a toilet seat protector. For most of my life, I put the "tongue" of the protector facing the edge of the toilet. At a local pizza parlor, my Mom and I fought for the bathroom so we went in together and she went first. I saw her put the protector facing the tank of the toilet and was amazed. She didn't have to rush to get her pants down before the protector fell into the toilet. It was amazing.

:: Bryan, Shepherd and I went to a family pool party the last weekend in June. Shepherd had a blow out all over my dress, which I cleaned in the sink with Shout, let it dry and put it back on. No big deal. We went to Walmart to get a few necessities and I realized that I hadn't gotten all of the poop. The uncomfortable part was how unaffected I was about having another human beings poop on me as I shopped.

:: Our work bathroom has two doors. The first door gets you to the sink and mirror section of the bathroom. The second gets you into the toilet part of the bathroom. The second door locks while the first door stays open, so someone could be washing their hands while someone is using the loo. Every woman that has had a baby has had to deal with some post-partum bathroom issues. Like, uncomfortable bowel movements for one reason or another. While reading up on labor, I found that famous midwife Ina Mae Gaskin encourages her women to vibrate their lips together (like a horse) which helps relax the muscles so they won't tear. She also encourages this for hemorrhoids. Picture me, coming out of the restroom to wash my hands, explaining this to a coworker who had heard the loud horse like noises through the door. Horrifying.

:: I will often decline to answer my phone when it rings, but will respond to a text message sent by the caller seconds after the missed call. I have phone anxiety. I also hate voice-mail messages. I never listen to them. Ever. I wish there was a nice way of saying this in my voice-mail message. "Hi, you've reached Megan at 559-555-2424. I never listen to my voice-mails so you might just want to try calling me again later. Thanks!"

:: I love headbands. And hair pins. And hair jewelry. I do. I even look pretty good in most hats. But when I try to wear them I feel very uncomfortable. Like I'm not me. Like I look like an idiot. I will often wear them at home but never out in public because my anxiety gets so high that I act like a meth addict that hasn't had a fix for a while. Jumpy and awkward. It makes no sense.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

In the Club

You know, when I was in the married-yet-childless club, I was often told that I didn't "get" it. Having a kid changed everything. You couldn't do certain things now that you are a parent. You don't understand what it's like.

I'm on the other side now and I call bullshit. Sorry for the language, but seriously. Obviously, there are changes. Expect to be late. All the time. For a while, at least. It's hard to figure out just how much time you need to pack everything that your baby has to have. What really stinks is once you get into the groove of things, your babies stage changes and you need a whole new set of things, so you have to re-calibrate. Please don't get mad at your friend because she's late. Have grace that she is even leaving her house to meet you. Don't forget that babies need to nurse/eat every few hours. So, while you can get up an hour before you have to meet your friend, your friend got up four hours earlier. She nursed her kid, took a shower, got ready, got the kid ready, packed the stuff she needs and then nursed again so that she could meet you on time and have a nice block of time to hang out with you. It is no small feat to get out of the house. Be kind. Have patience.

Another big one - a huge one in my humble opinion - is the hormones. NO ONE CAN PREPARE YOU. I'm dead serious. You can have a friend that talks your ear off about the emotional turbulence they are experiencing but it won't matter. If you are one of the lucky ones that doesn't have symptoms, yay! Awesome for you. But you'll never understand it until you've waded in the waters.

Anyways, Bryan and I watched as many people in our lives had kids. And those people showed up less. They answered their phones less. They weren't "go to" people to help if a car gets stranded or your house gets flooded. Somehow, though, you become their people. They need help with fixing their deck? They need a babysitter for a few hours? They need anything? We were there. We answered the phone when they called. We were weirdly happy that the only time we were called was when we were needed, because at least it was something. It was whack but we said to ourselves, "They have a kid now! They don't need to help us or hang out with us."

That, my friends, is crap. This is coming from someone in the club. The only difference is that you have to be deliberate with your time. You have to choose how you spend it. And those people just didn't want to spend it on you. Period.  I'm going to give you a real life example.

As a Childless Person, I would babysit my nieces and nephews. Because duh, that's what you do. I've watched them for a multitude of reasons, emergencies, appointments, date nights, anniversary weekends. My sisters had kids, I did not, therefore I was a babysitter. Not a big deal. It's easy to give up a night when you really don't have anything to sacrifice to do it, or a night on the town is all you miss. Big deal.

Since entering the club, I have still watched my nephews. For example, my brother-in-law's sister had her baby yesterday and my sister asked if I could watch the boys so they could go meet their new niece. In my mind, I thought, crap. I'm going to work an almost nine hour day away from my kid and then I'll be away from him for another few hours. That sucked. But I said yes. Sure, I tried to get my husband to bring Shepherd over so that I could have the best of both worlds, but he was doing chores and Shep was sleeping. It wasn't going to work out.

I watched the boys for a little over 2 hours, just like I would have if I was childless. I sacrificed precious time with my own boy so that I could bless my sister and brother. That is what you do for people you love. If it is important you make the time. I ran around the house with my nephew as he pretended to be a ninja. I held my new nephew Parker, kissed his sweet face and breathed in his baby scent, just like I did with all my other nieces and nephews before I had a boy of my own.

However, there was a notable difference. When, in the past, my sister would get home and I would stay to talk about life and other things. Last night, I was out of there like my butt was on fire, yelled at a car that was going 15 in a 40mph zone and rushed into the house to hold my boy. To kiss his sweet face and remind him that the woman who had left him much earlier that day was still his Mama and she still loved him, just in case he forgot.

I don't want to miss out on those memories with any new nieces and nephews that may come my way, just because I use my kid as an excuse. Sometimes after a get together with my sister I go home and realize that I never even got to hold Parker because I was so busy with Shepherd. It makes me sad because I was there for the others. I soaked up those moments with my sisters babies. I have amazing memories of those kids, ones that are only made by the aunt that doesn't have kids yet. My sisters will never know what it feels like to watch my son and have one on one time with them because they both had kids before me. If they ever watch Shepherd it'll be while watching their own babes.

Things do change with you have a kid. But if a friend ever blamed the fact that they are being a sucky friend to you because they have a family they are really not that good of a friend at all. (Alternatively, if a childless friend ever blamed their being a sucky friend on the fact that you have a family, they are no better.)

Friends are there for you. Friends without kids bring you cookies at 9:30pm. Friends with kids make the effort to accept your invitation for dinner even though it's easier to stay home. That's how a real relationship works. Give and take. Sacrifice and support.

Having a child does not give you an excuse to be a crappy friend. Period.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Other Side of Failure

I'm back at work now. My whole life I've wanted to be a mother. Specifically, I wanted to be a stay-at-home Mom. I wanted to provide my children with the security of a mom at home to teach them, to love them, to make homemade meals, to read and play with them. I never wanted anyone else to raise my kids. I wanted trips to the park, museums and play-dates. I didn't care if that meant being 'poor'. Kids don't give a crap about money. Time means so much more to them.

Unfortunately, we need benefits. So I work. I'm lucky right now because Bryan gets to stay at home with him until school starts next month. After that, I just don't know. It's hard to face and I'm probably slacking on it more than I should because I just want to sob. Someone foreign is going to see a lot of my babies firsts. Someone foreign is going to comfort him when he cries. Someone foreign is going to nurture him. It breaks my heart.

That is probably the biggest hurdle I am facing at the moment. I am still in the throws of post-partum emotions. I still feel like I am in a thick fog but I am catching glimpses of myself now.. here and there. I will totally live up to the fact that I am not dealing with the events of my delivery and the aftermath well.

I am still so angry. There is the quiet emotion-laden rage that bubbles below the surface. You wouldn't know it. I'm sure my family might see flashes of it here and there, but for the most part I've kept it all down. I haven't even bawled my eyes out (still) because there is just no time. When there is time, I don't have the energy to just let it flow. Or maybe I just don't have a safe place to hide to make it happen. I don't know.

Where would I begin? I'm so happy with my family. I am literally blissfully happy with my husband and son. We love that boy to the ends of the universe. Watching Bryan and Shepherd makes the feels come out, ya know? They have such a connection... It's confusing to feel such intense satisfaction and happiness while feeling so miserable and disappointed at the same time.

Bryan got upset with me before we went to our Bradley reunion. I told Bryan that sometimes I don't feel connected to Shepherd. Not only did I miss out on the hormone cocktail at birth, but I haven't been able to nurse. I exclusively pump-feed. So more often that not, Bryan is feeding Shepherd while I'm pumping. I follow The Badass Breastfeeder on Facebook and Birth Without Fear; Both of whom post pictures of nursing moms regularly. Many of my friends breastfeed and post covered shots. I ache deep down in a place that I never even knew existed. I'm so happy for these women that nurse and I'm proud that they don't hide it. But it hurts. I'll be honest, I get jealous.

So the angry monster in me grows and I get mad at God because I haven't had a victory. I didn't get the birth I craved and I don't get to nurse. I've suffered and I haven't reached the other side of suffering. I suffered through my delivery,  I suffered through trying to breastfeed and suffered through low milk supply. I suffered when finally giving up and deciding to pump. I suffered through the first few weeks of pumping and watching my son have formula because I couldn't (and still can't) provide enough for him to eat. And since I'm this not-crazy granola chick who follows all these natural living women I get to see how formula is poison all day, every day and I'm like yeah I have to give my kid some of that at every feeding because its a struggle to produce more than three ounces at a sitting.

The guilt of failing at all of this is so heavy. Not being able to raise my own kid, not being able to birth my own kid, not being able to nurse my own kid, not being able to supply enough food for my own kid. There is too many 'not being able to's' there. I can't handle it! It's so dark and I'm ready for success. Right now, I am living for success. One day I'm going to look back at all of this and I'm going see that it was worth it. I am going to be in the valley staring up at the mountain I climbed and I'm going to dance a little jig that I conquered it. I'm going to lay down the guilt and shame of not being able to do what I was naturally designed to do and I'm going to know that I did my best. That I hung in there when many wouldn't. I'm living for that day.

When it comes, I'll throw a party. I'll drink a mimosa and revel in the fact that I survived one of many tests in Motherhood. And it'll give me hope that I can survive the ones to come.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Right to Know

Do you know what is fun? Having a total fail of a birth plan, having a c-section, being in a ridiculous amount of pain from being sliced open, being sore from laboring for 40 hours, trying to rush to the bathroom to pee because your body is ridding itself of all the water you've been swollen with for weeks, trying to figure out how to nurse with faulty equipment, having zero sleep, nurses that forget your pain meds which results in more pain and blood pressure so high your vision swims and trying to care for the tiniest human being that you've ever come in contact with.

Man, I can't even describe how fun it was to deal with all of that. It was awesome. And when you add to it a hospital that threatens to call CPS on you? Only makes it better.

Where is my sarcasm font?

I kid you not, internet. After all that went went through in our birth story, as we were going through the things listed above, Bryan and I were threatened by the hospital.

On Wednesday morning at the butt-crack of dawn the doctor on call came to see me, asking if I wanted to go home. Bryan and I talked with her about how concerned we were about that my blood pressure had not gone down. I was still in the high 150s and Bryan was extremely worried about it. I thought that being in the hospital, unable to take my medication on a regular schedule, not being able to sleep between the nurses coming in and trying to nurse Shepherd was what was raising it. I could tell that Bryan was shaken from the past few days so I didn't push it.

The doctor said that they'd wait 24 hours and discharge on Thursday. We agreed and prayed that my blood pressure would go down in that time. We had a great nurse on Wednesday night and she did the skin test on Shepherd for jaundice - he passed. He had no symptoms of jaundice. He was doing everything as he should and had lots of good poos. All was well. We thought we'd be discharged on Thursday. I woke up early and started to pack and clean the hospital room. I moved really slowly so I thought I'd get a head start.

The pediatrician came into the room and looked at Shepherd. He asked for the tenth time if we were breastfeeding only. I answered him for the tenth time that we were breastfeeding and supplementing with formula. (I guess he couldn't be bothered to read the chart!) He left.

Apparently, in the .5 seconds that he saw Shepherd, he felt that he needed to be tested for jaundice again. So labs were run. Shepherd's level had been at 7 and apparently they now had him at a 12. It was a high jump, for sure, especially with him showing no signs of jaundice. We were told we would not be discharged and they wanted referred Shepherd to a neonatologist.

The neonatologist came in and of course, English was her second language. Super. We could barely understand her thick accent, plus, she didn't really open her mouth with words, so it was especially muffled. She said she wanted to put Shepherd in a light box with a blanket and she'd allow them to do it in our room. She then started saying that she would probably keep us over the weekend until Sunday. Bryan and I immediately said we couldn't stay until Sunday, Bryan had to work Friday night so we had to be gone by 1:00pm the following afternoon. She said she probably wouldn't release Shepherd and that he would be transferred to a different floor and I would be permitted to stay with him, but Bryan couldn't stay with us over the weekend.

Things were starting to get a little dicey. We told her that we could not stay - we didn't have anyone in Fresno, and there was no way Bryan was leaving me alone to care for an infant all night when I just had surgery and could barely walk. The doctor pretty much said there was no way around it. She left.

We were pissed. We searched online and while level 12 was in the high mediums (getting to a 20 is very bad) Shepherd had no symptoms of jaundice and was eating and pooping. We couldn't believe what was going on.

We are sitting in our room, talking when the lab tech comes back in. She starts talking and then stops when she notices she's already been to our room. We didn't know why she was there, and she couldn't believe that they had ordered FIVE VIALS of blood to be drawn from my less-than-five-pound kid. Uhhhh, WHAT? We had no idea what labs were ordered, why they were ordered, and why SO MUCH had to be taken. Especially when he had already given two vials earlier that morning.

The lab tech said, "I've never even seen these tests being ordered on a baby before, anyways."

Oh, really? Hmm. We were not happy.

The lab tech was just as unhappy as we were, and refused to draw for the labs - which we wouldn't have let her do anyways. We call our nurse in and ask her to ask the doctor to come back to our room because we were concerned about the labs and everything that was going on.

Internet.  I kid you not. She wouldn't come back to our room. She called on the phone. Bryan talked to her because I was so emotional I probably would have been less that professional. Bryan asked her about the labs, why they were ordered, why she didn't ask us for consent, why all of this was happening, and basically told her that no matter what, we were leaving Friday and we would go straight to a Adventist Health in Hanford if necessary. We had a pediatrician appointment on Monday morning, just in case we didn't have to go to the hospital. We had all of our bases covered and we would leave Friday against medical advice if it came down to it.

The doctor told Bryan that we could not take the baby, that he and I could leave but the baby could not leave. Bryan informed her that we are not prisoners here and we could absolutely take the baby to any medical care facility we wanted too. The doctor then said that if we took the baby the hospital would call CPS on us. Mind you, I'm paraphrasing a lot because its a long story, but she STILL wouldn't come back to the room. I kept asking Bryan, where is our INFORMED CONSENT?

So, I'm shaking. Bryan is angry. I start to cry because I can't believe how all of this spun out of control so fast. Bryan hugs me and tells me its going to be okay. We start calling our prayer warriors and seek out people that can give us advice. One of my mother-in-laws best friends is a nurse and she gave us the same advice: Stay overnight, pray that we are discharged. If not, leave AMA and go straight to care in Hanford.

We braved up and stuck to our guns. We requested another doctor. If the one we had wasn't going to give us informed consent, we had the right to request someone else. We waited and he finally came. It was a young, well spoken guy who had ties to Hanford. He explained to us what was going on and we explained to him our side of it. As we were talking, a social worker from the hospital came into our room and stood by the door. We completely ignored her and continued to converse with the doctor. I shakily explained that while we weren't trying to cause trouble, we needed our right to informed consent, and since the previous doctor wouldn't explain to us in detail what is going on, we were not able to consent to any tests or staying an entire weekend.

The new doctor apologized for things getting out of control, he said to keep Shepherd under the light box and wrapped in the light blanket as much as possible, even while nursing. After asking what labs were ordered and why, we asked them if there was any way that the tests could be ran on the same blood. Five vials were ordered, but after our conversation, they only took two because turns out - they could perform all the tests on just two vials. Fancy that. He said they would test first thing in the morning, and we would go from there. He said that it was likely that Shepherd's level would go down and we would be discharged. Bryan reiterated that we had our pediatrician willing to assume care and that we had to leave tomorrow afternoon regardless of the level. He understood and he said hopefully it wouldn't come to that. The social worker left when he did without saying one word to us.

We had the same nurse on Thursday night and filled her in. She couldn't believe it. She mentioned that she wondered if they were trying to milk my insurance because my policy covered Thursday night. She said she bet that we'd be released Friday even with a slight decrease. The next morning, Bryan and I prayed for a lower level and prepared for a fight. We spoke with our pediatrician in Hanford and we were all on the same page. The level came back at a 9. They released us and we went home. We went to the pediatrician's on Monday and had new labs drawn, Shepherd was at a 5 and out of the woods.

It was a horrible ordeal. A few weeks after we were home we heard about the Sacramento family that had a situation like ours that had turned out to be much worse.

As parents, as humans, we have a right to consent to medical procedures done to us. We have a right to seek the medical care of any professional, at any time, for any ailment. Medicine is a BUSINESS. We can take our business anywhere we choose to get the very best doctors and care. We can travel the world in order to find specialists and professionals that can heal the sick. That is our right. Medical care should not be a hardship on a family. Whether you have insurance or not, we are PAYING for them to do their jobs. It is not a public service. We are the customer and we have a right to know what we are paying for and to okay it. It's no different from hiring a contractor, a landscaper or plumber. They are specially licensed to do a specific job and have to get approval by you before going and tearing up your house or yard.

In the situation of the Sacramento family, they took their child out of the hospital and went straight to another hospital to get better care. They received it and went home at the approval of their new doctor. The other hospital that lost their business called CPS on them, the police restrained the father and entered their home without a warrant (I won't even get started on that) and CPS took the child back to the original hospital which allowed them to financially gain from the situation, even when the parents did NOT want that hospital caring for their child and sought a better one. It blows my mind.

These events are happening to people, good people, that care about their children's health all over America. Our rights are being violated. Families are being torn apart. The hospitals should not be allowed to bully parents by threat of CPS. Hospitals ARE NOT prisons. If you aren't receiving the care you or your children, husband, parents, siblings, aunts and uncles deserve you should have the right to get to a different care facility.

I will never forget what happened. I will never leave it up to a doctor to dictate what is best for my child on their word alone. I will never quiet down when I feel that something isn't right. I will fight for these doctors to slow their roll and give me the information I need in order to protect and care for my child. My armor will never be down when it comes to the medical industry.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm overreacting but then I ask myself... Why would five vials of blood be initially ordered for tests when later all the tests could be performed with just two? Why would they have taken so much more than they absolutely needed to from a 4.8lb baby? If we hadn't raised our voices, our son would have lost six vials (a pediatric vial is one milliliter, so six milliliters total) of blood that day, when a 0-10 pound human has 20~ milliliters of blood volume. Blood banks consider 7-9% of blood volume can be removed if a person is healthy. I wouldn't consider a baby, born right on the line of preterm, weighing 4.8 pounds that is "jaundiced" healthy. So why they wanted to take 30% of Shepherd's blood volume in less than a 10 hour period of time, I'll never know.

Do your research. Know your rights. Fight for them.