Monday, November 14, 2011

Rump: Roasted

You may remember I mentioned cooking a pot roast in my last post. I started it this evening. It was a bit later than I would normally cook dinner, but I wanted my son in bed first. I didn't want him smelling something fabulous cooking only to have it come out tasting like crap. This was not a big roast - only 1.5 lbs - so I didn't have to worry about it taking 4 or 5 hours to cook. With this size, it took just under 2 hours to finish.

There were so many recipes and opinions out there. Some people cook it in the oven. Some use a crock pot. Other simmer it on the stove. I chose to simmer it for a few minutes first and then pop it into my dutch oven and cook it in my oven.

I browned it on all sides in the dutch oven for a few minutes, making sure not to miss a single spot. After browning it, I threw some chopped onions and garlic in with the roast. I added about 1 cup of homemade chicken broth. I brought that to a simmer on the stove and then threw the whole thing into the oven and set it at 335 degrees F.

After it had been in there for an hour, I chopped up some potatoes and carrots. I threw them into a pan with a little bit of butter (because butter is good for you) and heated them a little bit before adding them into the dutch oven. I let all of that cook for another half an hour and - BOOM! - dinner was ready.

I was afraid of failure, but it turned out really good. It was super tender. The leftover juices in the dutch oven were used for gravy. Dear Lord, it all tasted so good. I had seconds and my husband had thirds, leaving just a tiny bit leftover for the little dude to try tomorrow. All in all, not too shabby.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I have things that need to get done. I probably shouldn't be sitting at the computer, but I figured if I wrote out what needs to be done then I'll be more likely to do it. Right? My house is an utter mess. I believe the proper term might be shit storm. It all started when we moved in...three years ago. I suck at organization. Add a toddler-turned preschooler-turned kindergartener and five cats to the mix and it's just pure disaster. Ok, this isn't anything like Hoarders: Buried Alive, but I'm afraid it could go that way if I don't get things under control.

Things were okay until a little over a year ago. Granted, my house - it's actually an apartment - was never perfect - like I said, kids and cats - but, it got progressively worse last year. When I had my miscarriage all the life was sucked out of me. I fell into a nasty depression. I didn't want to get up, get myself dressed or move to a different part of the house. I didn't want to make meals for myself or my family. I turned into a horrible, horrible mother. The last thing I wanted to do was clean. My husband tried, he really did. He just doesn't have the knack for organizing things. The hubby's method usually involved putting things in bags and then throwing said bags into a closet or a corner. Even as I made my way out of my depressive fog I couldn't seem to get a firm grasp on the clutter. I'm one of those people who needs things to be perfect, but if I can't get it perfect then I give up and let chaos rule. Eventually, things became overwhelming.

I became pregnant again a year ago. I had a wonderful nesting spike in the very few weeks of my pregnancy. I was cooking. I organized and cleaned out my kitchen. I did a lot more cleaning around the house. Then the all day nausea and zombie bone-deep exhaustion set in. And things started to crumble bit by bit. When I hit my second trimester and shook off the nausea I was then hit with horrendous tailbone and pelvic pain. Turns out I had SPD - symphysis pubis dysfunction - which really took it's toll on my mobility. It was pretty severe by the time I got to my third trimester. Every step brought a sensation of a thousand knives stabbing my in the pelvic region. I would take me upwards of 15 to 20 minutes to be able to get out of bed on some days. Since that apparently wasn't enough for my body, I decided to have these freak blood pressure spikes and my midwife benched me. I wasn't put on bedrest, but I was put on "you better stay off your feet as much as possible and don't lift a damn finger" rest. Got the blood pressure under control, but then my feet swelled to about 4 or 5 times their size. No exaggeration. I have witnesses. It was scary. The bitch of it all was that the nesting urge hit so strongly in my last few weeks and I couldn't do anything about it. Everytime I tried I would get winded and then end up with more pelvic pain. Truly, it sucked.

Here I am, 3 months after the birth of my baby. I need to get things under control before TLC is knocking at my door and asking to film us. Wait...maybe I should let the mess grow so that TLC does knock at my door and I get some free housecleaning. Hmmm.

I'm setting a goal to get serious and start strong this week. We have been having Purple Heart come out to our house to pick up donations every few weeks. So far, it's been mostly small donations, but my goal is to really get a lot out of here. Stuff just grows. I swear. It breeds. It makes love sweet clutter loves and breeds new clutter. Anyway, so I have another Purple Heart pick up scheduled for this week. I'm promising myself that I'll have a lot more for them this time.

I know to start small so that it doesn't get overwhelming. It's when I tried to do a complete home overhaul in an hour that I get so frustrated and end up making a bigger mess. I'm going to devote an hour each day, if kiddies and kitties cooperate, and I'll get things looking semi-nice. I really want to have things looking better by the holidays. No one visits, but I want it nice for me. I dread the idea of putting up a tree and having Santa deposit more crap next to the crap we already have.

My other goal is to start cooking a lot more. I suck in the kitchen, but I try because I know my mediocre meals are still much more healthier than what's served in fast food digs and other restaurants. Again, this is something that fell by the wayside with my miscarriage and then with my pregnancy. Right now, I have a pot roast in my fridge. I've never cooked one before so who knows how it will turn out. They were on sale a few weeks ago so I grabbed a couple and stashed them in my freezer. I'm going to give it a try tonight. If I'm feeling especially lucky, I'll try to make dough for some dutch oven bread.

I hope by listing some of these goals that I'll feel more accountable and it'll light a fire under my butt. I don't think anyone ever reads this blog, but I'll pretend I have an audience and hopefully that will inspire me to keep going.

Fingers crossed.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cheese is Where the Heart Is

I love cheese. Life is better when smothered in cheese. I love cheesy potatoes, cheesy veggies, cheesy chicken, cheesy cheese...mmmm.

I'm in a rush today, so I don't have time for a whole blog post, so I'll leave you with my favorite Macaroni and Cheese recipe. I was looking for one without velveeta and without canned stuff. I use all organic ingredients, but you don't have to if you can't.

5 Tbsp butter
3.5 c uncooked mac
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 to 1 lb grated cheese
Dash of pepper
6 cups milk

Melt the butter in a 9x13 inch pan. Pour the uncooked macaroni into the melted butter. Stir in the salt, pepper and cheese - mix it well with the macaroni. Pour the milk over the mixture - do not stir the milk in. Bake at 375 degrees F for on hour. Don't stir while baking.

I found this recipe on the web over a year ago and can't find it again to give credit. It was the first time I found a macaroni and cheese recipe that called for so few ingredients. I sometimes put in 5 cups of milk, usually when I realize I was lower on milk than I anticipated. It works out just fine, maybe a little creamier. It makes a lot, but doesn't last very long in my house. It re-heats well. For the milk, I almost always have a bottle of non-homogenized, which means it has the cream top. I use the cream for this - YUM.

I try not to eat too much pasta stuff, so I will use this same recipe with potatoes, with half the amount of butter and milk. I do that one in a dutch oven and it comes out well.

This post is part of the Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways Blog Hop, sponsored by Frugally Sustainable. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

For the Birds

My little boy wanted to make the birds and squirrels a sandwich. He grabbed a few slices of bread, covered it in peanut butter and added pumpkin seeds (saved after carving Jack-O-Lanterns) and fresh cranberries.

A sandwich was not enough, so he decided to make a cranberry "necklace" for them, too.

He went on to make a few more sandwiches for the birds and squirrels. He was out of pumpkin seeds, so he covered the bread in peanut butter, cranberries and bird seeds. He set it outside in our special bird and squirrel feeder (squirrels get fed here, too - no fancy "squirrel-proof" feeders at our home).

We didn't get a chance to photograph the birds who came to feast on the smorgasbord of peanut butter sandwiches. I can tell you that the sandwiches were eaten rather quickly. And I have one very happy and proud little boy...who is already concocting new recipes for the birds...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I love tattoos. I only have three so far, but more will come. They are as addictive as coffee. My most recent tattoo is the one pictured here. I got it a year ago, in memory of the baby I lost.

This wasn't my first tattoo. I'd had one done in memory of my kitty, Abigael. When she died, I stamped her paws into a stamp pad and made little ink footprints and had a tattoo artist etch them into my ankle. There wasn't any question that I'd have one done after my miscarriage.

It took a while to come up with something. The more I thought about it, the harder it was to decide what I wanted. So I decided to stop thinking so hard about it. That's when the idea of using a sparrow popped into my head. Sparrows have amazing symbolism around them. All across the world they are linked with safe travel to Heaven/The Underworld. In some cultures, it is the sparrow who guides the soul to Heaven. Sparrows also represent safe travel and finding one's way home. This could also be why they are linked to helping souls navigate to Heaven - they safely guide the soul's travel to the next place in life. Wayward souls would be caught by sparrows and brought to Heaven. Sparrows also remind us to find joy, even when things seem down. They are symbols of family ,fertility and the Mama Goddess. They tell us that being small doesn't mean you can't do big things. In Christianity, the sparrow reminds us that God cares for even the least among us. In Matthew 10:29 Jesus says, "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father." A similar sentiment from Jesus is found in Luke 12:6 - "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God." We are reminded that no matter how insignificant a creature may seem, it is still important to God. Sparrows have also come to symbolize The Resurrection, both in Christian terms and in the idea of the resurrection of life that occurs each Spring.

It was a combination of all those things that made me realize the sparrow was a good choice. And it.just.felt.right. My sparrow is a symbol of River's soul taking flight and safely arriving in Heaven. My sparrow reminds me that her life, though short, was still very significant. My sparrow reminds me of my connection to the Earth, the promise of resurrection and as a reminder of my fertility. I googled some sparrow images, but didn't totally settle on one. One particular sparrow caught my eye, but I didn't take the image to my artist. I figured I would discuss it with her and decide if I wanted a "real" sparrow or a cartoon version.

At the shop, my artist, Christina, googled sparrows. The first image she clicked on was the exact one that had caught my eye previously. It was meant to be. She then suggested having my little sparrow sitting on a Cherry Blossom branch. Cherry Blossoms are symbols of Spring, new life, resurrection, joy (especially finding joy within sorrow), hope and fertility. Of course they were a perfect symbol.

This is my biggest tattoo and the only one with color. The others are quite small and black. Getting the tattoo was a great experience. It didn't hurt at all. I had a great conversation with my artist. Some tattoo artists are quiet and don't want to talk while they are working. Christina was very talkative, engaging me to talk about why I chose this particular story. She listened to the story of my miscarriage. We talked about my birth philosophy, which she seemed pretty interested in. It was a good, healing tattoo session. My little baby was etched into my memory, my heart, my soul and now into my skin.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Fossils of My Fertility

Those are my abs. Well, they used to be my abs. They're still under there, somewhere. That photo was taken over a year ago.

Do I miss them? Yeah, they were cute. I miss the strength more than the looks. My muscles just give up the moment the sperm hits the egg and I'm left with an weakening core as pregnancy progresses. My baby was born in August and I am still very weak in the core, which isn't cool because I typically do a lot of walking and I find myself having a harder time due to the muscle weakness there and the lingering effects of the SPD I had during pregnancy. I had a few issues - SPD and high blood pressure - that kept me from keeping as fit as I would have wanted during my pregnancy. I do want to re-build that strength, again. I work as a veterinary technician and you definitely need strength when it comes to restraining animals. I haven't done much in the way of actual exercise since giving birth, but that will change soon.

This isn't just about those glorious abs. It's about skin. It's about loving that integumentary glove that I'm in. There are days when I look at myself in the mirror and my heart nearly sinks. I'm still wearing maternity jeans (the Heidi Klum super skinny jeans from Motherhood - they look like "real" jeans as they don't have a panel). I have a pretty good pooch hanging over the waistband of my jeans. I still look pregnant. Sigh. It does get to me from time to time, I won't lie. The other reason it gets to me is that I want to fit into my old clothes. Not just for superficial reasons, but financial. I really don't want to have to buy new clothes to fit my body this winter. Most of my pre-preggo sweaters and winter clothes can't handle the pooch. And I only have one single pair of jeans that fit. They get washed a lot. Back to the skin. There are plenty o' stretch marks there. It's like my son took a maroon crayon and just scribbled on my belly. My belly kinda looks like my living room walls. I got them when I was pregnant with my son. I probably would have gotten them with my second pregnancy, but miscarrying at 8 weeks means I didn't have a chance. I got them with this last pregnancy. They all crept up, like little glistening worms crawling out of the ground after a rainstorm. I never did anything to "prevent" them. I'm not sure you really can prevent them. I did moisturize my belly with coconut oil (not cocoa butter) simply because it's damn good for your skin.

I remember seeing my first stretch marks when I was pregnant with my son back in 2006. They appeared in the very last weeks of my pregnancy, along with the PUPPS rash. My first thought was, "boo-hoo, I thought I could escape them." I was sad for a moment, but I quickly got over it. I couldn't understand why I had a minor mental fuss about them. Then I realized it's because everyone makes a major fuss about them. Think about it - it's seen as some sort of badge of honor not to get stretch marks. You get high fives from fellow smooth and unmarked-skinned mothers. You earn the right to expose your bump in public without fear of scaring small children with those shiny red tummy tire tracks. Heck, you could even be a bump model. See, I would have been voted off of America's Next Top Bump Model because my my stretch marks. Just like birthing quietly and without pain, you get extra cred for having your abdomen expand to extraordinary lengths without a single bit of crime scene evidence left on your skin.

I get it. They're not the most attractive things in the world. It can be a little startling to see all those red lines scribbled across your belly. I understand that most women in this world country have issues about their bodies and appearances. I get that. It's just that these little lines are reminders that we've done something awesome. Heck, these stretch marks aren't my first. I got them on my boobs and my hips after puberty - a reminder that I was growing, curving in all those Goddess places and becoming a woman. The new marks from my pregnancy remind me of the awesomeness that is a woman's body doing the most remarkable thing in the world.

There will be a day in the future where my boobs are less full and my abs are back to their usual firm state. The dark red lines will have faded to a whisper. My body will look like it did, for the most part, before I had children. I'll have my stretch marks forever, like fossils on stone, that remind me of my fertility and the fact that my body grew, carried and nourished little lives. So when I look at myself in the mirror now, I'll have to remind myself not to roll my eyes at the muffin-top under my ill-fitting sweater. I'll remember my skin and Mother Nature's tattooed reminders of the miracle of life.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Evil, Thy Name is Seamus.

The toilet paper (which I got on super sale, with a coupon, at CVS): shredded.

My curtains: poked with holes.

Litter Box: dumped onto carpet.

Delicately placed seasonal decor: knocked over.

My favorite sweater: unraveled.

The laundry basket: spilled.

Fresh flowers in a vase: chewed.

My chicken sandwich: stolen.

My peaceful slumber: disturbed by yowling, meowing and wrestling.

You must be thinking, "girl, you've got kids." Sure do. That's not my problem. I have cats. Five of them. Five fearless felines. All of them are naughty, but one takes the cake. His name is Seamus. He's orange with some white accents, freckles and stripes. He's a year old and apparently trying out for the feline Olympics.

This past Summer we had the windows open quite a bit. The neighbors outside could occasionally hear the goings on inside. Because I'm loud. They assumed, based on what they heard, that my son's name was Seamus. They would say, "Hi, Seamus." My son would give them his best WTF look and ask them why the heck they called him "Seamus." The answer? "Well, we always hear your mom yelling, "Seamus! No!" or "Seamus, knock it off!" or "Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Seamus, you'll be lucky to live another day." Yeah. Not an hour goes by without Seamus getting yelled at. Poor neighbors probably thought I was a nutcase. They probably think I'm even a bigger nutcase now that they know that was all directed at a cat.

Seamus came to me when he was a few weeks old. I had just punched out at work and walked up to the front desk to grab a piece of candy before leaving when a client brought him into the clinic after seeing him get hit by a car. He lived, she grabbed him and wrapped him in a towel. He was just a sweet little puff of orange with a bit of a road rash. We originally thought his leg was broken. We took radiographs of his whole kitten body - all 1.5 lbs of it - and found that his leg was not broken. Yay. Instead, his stomach and intestines were crammed through his diaphragm and into his chest cavity. Boo. A Diaphragmatic hernia. The lady who brought him in couldn't keep him and couldn't afford a donation to save him. The decision was made to get him a first class ticket to kitten heaven. Sigh. We know we can't save them all, no matter how heartbreaking the case. But there was something about this little bastard kitten that really got to me. It got to a co-worker, too. Before I left she was already talking about saving him. He'd need surgery to push his little intestines back where they belong and to repair his diaphragm. It can be pretty risky, especially for a tiny kitten. She talked one of the doctors into doing it. Long story (and some drama) short...we'd have the surgery done and I'd bring him home to live with us after he had recovered. His surgery was slated for the next day - all he had to do was hang on until then. His breathing got worse overnight. My friend/co-worker stayed up with him all night, keeping an eye on him and letting him sleep in her bra (it's a vet tech thing). The little bastard guy stayed strong through the night despite his difficulty breathing. The next day came and he had his surgery. I wasn't present. They called me to say he was getting started so I got ready and rushed over. By the time I got there, the surgery was done. The vet is that awesome. Seamus was recovering inside my friend's bra (seriously - it's a clinical thing - it's one of the best ways to keep the babies warm). He did well throughout the rest of the day and never looked back.

My friend kept him for a couple of weeks because I didn't want a newly sliced-open kitten in a house with a little kid and 4 other cats. I wanted him to be able to recover peacefully. The day came for him to come home and gave the pep talk that my 1st and oldest cat, Duncan, has heard many times before: "I'm bringing home a new kitten. It doesn't mean I love you any less. Mommy's heart is big and has room for all of you. I want you all to welcome him and get along." What? They're my kids, too.

That tiny, shy little kitten arrived home and took his time to bravely walk out of the carrier. He timidly checked out the room. I fed him a little and then he hid under my furniture for the rest of the day. I let him be. I've been through this many times before and I'm one of those people who will drop a new cat in the middle of the room and let them figure things out. Usually, after a day or two, everyone learns their place and there is peace in our feline kingdom. He was still hiding when I went to bed. I was so excited.

The next day, Seamus found his balls. And his personality. And his spunk. And his need to get into every little thing. He was a wild little boy, bouncing on the furniture, zig-zagging across the living room and dive-bombing any cat that crossed his path. My two girls, Amber and Amelia and one of my boys, Duncan, kept their distance. Gawain, my giant black and white boy, is just a fat lump of love who will tolerate anything, including the tiny kitten who was bouncing on his back. He'd indulge him by playing with him, letting him attack his tail or just plain snuggling him.

Seamus is Dennis the Menace in feline form. If there is trouble to be had then Seamus will have his fill. Something to get into? Seamus will be there. Humans to sabotage? Seamus is on it! Food to steal? There's Seamus. With my other cats, I never experienced walking into my bathroom to find a feline hanging upside down from the shower curtain rod. None of them would ever acknowledge human food. Seamus is like a starved dog. He begs like a dog. He steals like a raccoon. My other cats get yelled at now and then, but Seamus makes me seem like I'm auditioning for "Mommy Dearest." All of my cats know their names and will usually come when called. Seamus knows the word, "NO!" and knows it means his little butt better run. He has this attitude where he knows he survived taking on a 1 ton vehicle when he wasn't even two pounds and can, therefore, survive anything. He has swagger. Chicks dig him.

He tests my patience and my compassion for animals...And just as I'm about to lose it, he stops, looks at me with his big eyes and purrs. Heartmelt. Ever see Puss in Boots from "Shrek?" That's Seamus all the way. Just when I reach my boiling point with him, I'll look at those eyes and remember the brave little bastard kitten who had everything against him and wasn't expected to live. And I let him live another day.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Change Your Attitude With Gratitude

If you hang around on Facebook, you may have noticed that people are suddenly posting about being thankful. It started a few years ago as 30 days of Gratitude in November, or some variation of that title. Folks would post one bit of gratitude each day for the month of November. It can be something profound like saying your thankful that someone saved your life by lifting your car off a cliff. Or, it can be simple - I'm thankful that toilet paper is on sale at CVS. That's actually something I'd be thankful for, just ask my husband. He will tell you how giddy I get to find out that thr 12 pack of the CVS brand Earth Essentials toilet paper is on sale for $5 bucks. It's the little things.

The idea of naming what makes you grateful isn't knew. People have been doing it forever. Some people keep gratitude journals, an idea that gained super popularity from Oprah. Others list things on Facebook or on their blog. We're all grateful for something everyday, even if it's something as mundane as a toilet paper sale. Giving a voice to it and not holding it in your mind is very power. Many argue that sharing what you're grateful for - whether it's in a journal, on social media or being shouted across a room - brings a lot of positive energy right back to you. You give good so you get good. It's another form of Karma.

Whether you want to do it to keep positive energy or just to share the good things in your life, try to list something that you are grateful for each day. It will always add a bright spot to that moment in your day and you may find that you end up inspiring others.

Me? I'm grateful that I have at least 19 readers as I write this. It may not be much, but someone is "hearing" me and I might make some small difference somewhere.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

It Hurt. I Screamed. I'm Still Legit.

Walking while in labor. Pre-screaming.
Ok, I might piss some people off with this. There is something in the natural birth community that annoys the heck out of me sometimes. I need to vent a little.

It's pain and the attitude towards it.

You see, in the natural birth world, there are many who believe that a natural birth should not be painful. It shouldn't hurt. You should only feel an intensity that is almost a relief. Something you work with. Furthermore, everything should be gentle. You should birth your baby in near silence with a serene smile on your face. Bonus points for popping an orgasm while you're at it. Pain and/or screaming is a sign that the woman is not prepared for her birth and that she is afraid. It's a sign that she has let fear take over the labor. Screaming will make the pain worse. Screaming will scare your baby and scare that precious child for life.

I call bullshit.

Now, I am not knocking how anyone else gives birth. Please know that this is not an attack on anyone who was smiling serenely or having an orgasm. I completely support a woman's right to educate herself and empower herself to have the birth of her dreams. I'm totally behind those who want to use hypnosis, orgasmic births or other techniques to help them through the process of labor and birth. What I'm knocking is the holier-than-thou attitude that can be seen in many discussions of pain in labor and birth. This idea that if you're feeling pain then you're doing it wrong.

I'm serious - those words have been typed out by some of my fellow hippie, loving, gentle natural birth comrades. You are doing it wrong if it hurts. You are too afraid. You don't know how to give into the intense sensations of labor and let your body take over. It's only painful because you are calling it, "pain." It's only painful if you don't know how to cope and if you let it "get to you." It's painful because you are not educated enough and you don't know what to expect. If you don't imagine that your vagina is a beautiful lotus flower slowly unfolding, petal by petal, then it's going to hurt. The worst I've seen is some women telling other women that normal births are not painful.

It makes me want to bang my head on my desk when I read these things - but, that would hurt. It's true that your emotional state plays a part in your labor. It is most certainly true that fear can hinder labor. And I definitely advocate for women to be educated about the birth process, partly to eliminate that fear. But having pain and even experiencing fear do not equal failure. It's not an all or nothing scenario. Birth is not black and white.

I gave birth three times. Twice to live, full term babies and once during my miscarriage @ 12 weeks (baby died at 8 weeks and, yes, that was "real" full-blown labor). Guess what? It hurt. No, it really fucking hurt. I screamed. All three times. I screamed.

My first birth was in a hospital. It was a last minute transfer. I did not have a single medical issue that needed a hospital. I was supposed to give birth in a birth center, but the head midwife closed it down that weekend because she had a horsie show to attend and didn't want her sleep interrupted. The other midwife was not able, per birth center policy (and the law, I believe) to attend my birth at the birth center on her own. So, I had to have my birth at the hospital with her. In all, it was 27 hour labor with a posterior little boy. I spent 8 hours of that labor in the hospital. My labor was fine and manageable at home. I got to the hospital and let her check me - 4 cms. Things began picking up and my contractions became more intense. They were - gasp - painful. They remained painful for the rest of my labor, until that little guy slid out (more like rocketed out) into the world. I was able to deal with the pain through position changes, a little dip in the birth pool, walking and saying "fuck" as many times as possible. I dealt with the pain. the pain had a purpose. I don't remember the actual sensations of pain, but there was pain. Pain was part of it. I screamed while pushing. Like I was being murdered. I pushed for about 45 minutes. Looking back on it, I wondered if my pain was caused by the fact that I was in the hospital. I was upset that I wasn't having the birth center birth that I had planned for nearly half my life. That could have been part of a lot of things. That may have made the pain worse. Would I still have had pain at the birth center? Would I scream at a birth center?

My second labor was to birth my angel baby, River. River died at 8 weeks, but the physical miscarriage didn't happen until 12 weeks. I had chosen to allow it to happen naturally as opposed to getting a D and E. My midwife told me to expect "real labor." It was her experience that miscarriages after 8 weeks were more likely to feel exactly like any other labor. I was prepared for that. I tried so hard to manage that labor - all 6 hours of regular contractions and actual transition - as gently as possible. Once I knew it was really happening, I got into the tub and prayed (the "Hail Mary" is my go-to labor mantra, until transition when Mary is replaced with "fuck"). It hurt like a mother fucker. Of course, I was birthing death. In a few hours, the last of my physical connection to this little baby that I had bonded with in 8 weeks would be gone. There was emotional torment like you wouldn't believe. Of course that contributed to physical pain. I later wondered, would it have been painful if I was giving birth to a live baby at home?

My third labor was just two months ago. This time, I had a homebirth attended by two midwives, one of whom is a best friend and the midwife who delivered my son. I had been telling myself for my whole pregnancy that I was going to have a pain-free, 5 hour labor with one painless push. Positive thinking, you know? I had no fears about labor. I even studied some hypnosis techniques. My labor was about 17 hours from the time my water broke until the time my daughter was born. I slept during the early part of that labor. My midwife/friend came over late in the morning and we hung out while I contracted. My contractions were definitely manageable with movement, especially belly dance. I walked, I prayed, I cursed, I ate, I took showers, I pooped. I moaned beautifully like a humpback whale in heat. All the fun stuff. There was pain and I worked through it. Then transition hit and OMG it hurt like a mo-fo. Transition is the point where I'm almost certain I will die unless I get an epidural. So I ask for an epidural. I have done this through all three labors. It feels good to me to ask for that epidural. Before the birth of my first son, I was told that the moment where I feel like I can't do it anymore and that I need an epi is when it's almost over. So, feeling like I needed that told me that I was close to the end and I embraced it. But, it still hurt like a mother and I began my usual screaming. From transition to pushing was barely an hour. I began to whine. My other midwife arrived at that point. I whined to both midwives that I was "supposed" to be that woman you see in all the natural birth videos who just smiles through labor and doesn't feel pain. I said that over and over until both midwives said, "Jenn, that's bullshit. You're doing great and this is almost over." I pushed for about 15 minutes. And screamed. I screamed that I was going to die. That I gave up. I screamed that I just knew she was going to get stuck. I screamed because pushing that baby - all 6lbs 8 ounces of her - hurt so freakin' bad. The dialogue inside my head was slightly crazy. I'm going to die. I'm not going to die. This hurts like hell. She'll be here any minute and it'll be over and you'll forget the pain. She's stuck. Oh my God, the ambulance will have to come and take me to the hospital. They'll take me out of the house on a gurney with her head halfway out and all my neighbors will see my vagina and that I missed a spot shaving and...oh God, she's going to be stuck. I'm going to die. Oh my...and she's here. That was the actual dialogue inside my head while I was screaming. And then my daughter was here and all that pain was worth it. My placenta - the part I dreaded because I remember it hurting when I gave birth to my son - slipped out 5 minutes later without so much as a single second of discomfort. Well, there was the painless birth, I guess.

My question had been answered. I gave birth at home. No hospital. My baby was full term and alive. No sadness. I was educated and empowered. It still hurt. It may just be me. That might be what I need to get motivated to push a baby out of my vagina. It's part of my physiological make-up. I experience pain in labor. It doesn't stop me from birthing naturally. Yet, I had a little nag inside my head. One one hand, I was proud of myself for having the homebirth I had desired for so long and for rocking it. I was proud of the sweet little girl nestled up to my breast. I was an awesome birthin' mama. On the other hand, I wondered why I screamed. I went into this with the specific intention of not screaming like I did with my other labor. Why did I scream? Then I felt like I failed. I felt a sense of failure for allowing myself to feel pain, for not being able to get into some peaceful, serene or hypnotic state. I felt like I failed myself and my baby for screaming. Then I worried that I scarred her because the last things she heard while in my womb were, "fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuccccckkkkk!" and my pain-induced bellowing. Within days after her birth, I actually googled to see if other natural-birthin' mamas were screamers. I came across a blog entitled "Judging Birth." I'll let you read that, and the following comments, without expanding on it too much. In essence, she says we need to stop judging how we labor and that not all of us are quiet birthers. It made me feel better to read that blog and then the comments. And then it made me mad. Why was I seeking "acceptance" for my birth behavior? Why did I feel the need to justify why I felt pain and why I screamed? I was mad that I allowed myself to feel like some sort of failure. Yet, to read many of these blog posts, comments, discussions on facebook, you will feel like a failure if you admit to feeling pain or having the slightest fraction of fear during your birth. We need to stop this.

I find it funny that the natural birth community can actually have these discussions. Aren't we the ones telling women to empower themselves to have the birth experience that's right for them? Aren't we the ones fighting to make sure women feel supported with their births? Aren't we the ones who admonish the OB who tells a woman to "hush" if she is too loud in labor? Aren't we the ones who yammer on and on and on about how birth is a normal, biological and very primal event? So why are we judging women who are, in fact, acting very primal? Why judge someone who feels pain? It's upsetting to me. We talk all about empowerment, but then we rip each other apart if our birth wasn't the right kind of natural. It's the granola wars, man. We're not helping anyone. We have mamas who are going to have natural births and feel pain and want to scream. They'll feel good because they gave birth naturally. Then they come online and read these comments that if they felt pain then something was wrong with the way they gave birth. Or you have the mamas who are pregnant and reading all of this before labor. So they hype themselves up into thinking they must have a completely painless labor. When it doesn't go that way, they feel like they failed. Those of us who feel the pain and scream it out fail Birth 101? Bullshit. This is no different than women feeling like failures because they ended up getting induced, getting epidurals and having c-sections. Only this time, we don't have an OB or evil hospital to blame. This time it's the woman's fault for allowing her psyche to take over.

Again, I have no problem with wanting a painless birth. I don't doubt that there are women who give birth without pain. I've seen it. I've seen women birth without making a peep because it wasn't hurting them. That's awesome, but those same women should never turn around and tell another woman that she failed because she felt pain...that it wasn't normal because she felt pain...that she wasn't educated enough to be pain-free. I'm very educated when it comes to birth and have been for a very long time - way before my first child was born. I grew up with a mother who worked in maternity and told me that birth is just plain old normal and natural. I know birth isn't something to passionately fear. I know all the biological, chemical, emotional and mechanical processes that are part of birth. I know what they say about high-pitched birth noises vs. low-pitched noises and I understand why that works. But, I also know that fear is a normal response. No, you shouldn't be in absolute horrified fear, but you shouldn't feel like you're doing something wrong if a moment of anxiety happens. You can't tell me that I wasn't educated or empowered. You can't tell me that I was a fraidy-cat. It's not true. Yet.I.Still.Felt.Pain. I still had moments of fear. In fact, those moments of fear may play an important role towards the end of labor. Check out this article by Michael Odent.

"A typical fetus ejection reflex is easy to recognize. It can be preceded by a sudden and transitory fear expressed in an irrational way ( “kill me”, “let me die”, etc.). In such a situation the worst attitude would be to reassure with words(5). This short and transitory expression of fear can be interpreted as a good sign of a spectacular increase of hormonal release, including adrenaline. It should be immediately followed by a series of irresistible contractions."

If you can birth with nary a fearful thought or moment of ouch then you go girl. If you start feeling the pain and you lose your rational brain toward the end then embrace it, work with it and know that your sweet little baby is so, so close. Don't feel like a failure if you didn't hypnotize as planned. Don't put yourself down for crying and telling everyone that you can't do it because you're going to die. You didn't fail. We all experience birth and pain differently and no one is better than the other because she did or didn't feel a certain way.

On another note, there is a lot of criticism of the natural birth community. There are blogs dedicated to trashing us or trying to debunk us. There are trolls who visit our blogs and facebook pages to stir up trouble and controversy. A lot of people see us as crazed hippies. They don't see that we're striving for better outcomes for mothers, babies and families. They don't see us for the good work that we're trying to do - for wanting to change such a failed maternity system. They see us as judgmental and insane. It doesn't do us any good to judge one another on this subject. It doesn't help get our message across. It just feeds the criticism and turns people off to the message.

Judging is for crappy reality shows, not childbirth.

Peace and much love.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Suffering shouldn't be silent

This article was just shared with me:

It's all about women feeling like they have to suffer in silence after we have a miscarriage because society is too afraid of the subject. It's something we need to change. NOW.
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