Monday, November 28, 2011

Having a child changes your life.

I'd heard that before we became pregnant, but there was no way for me to truly understand until we actually experienced it. It isn't just your responsibilities and priorities that change, it is your entire perception of the world around you.

Actually, I'd heard that too. There really is no way to explain it. It is an experience.

I'd always resented women who acted like they knew better than everyone else just because they had given birth; as if getting knocked up and pushing a baby out of your vagina somehow made you an instant goddess. As if you weren't already a goddess, or just a bitch. You know the ones I mean. "Well I had a baby, so your opinion on the socioeconomic crisis of our generation is invalid. I had an intervention free home birth while eating fair trade, cruelty free, organic, hand made, vegan burgers." And so on...

And then I became pregnant.

In pregnancy and birth there are a LOT of hormonal changes in a woman's body. Sure, I get that. Pregnant women are 'crazy', right? Well, I never felt crazy. I felt many things, but never out of control. I felt a lot of fear though, and I can see how that might make someone a little batty, especially if they do not have the coping skills to deal with such a large and prolonged amount of terror. Luckily for me I have years of therapy for PTSD on my side, and so becoming pregnant, and even having my baby 5 weeks early was manageable.

This is with no thanks to the barrage of information that was hurled at me, telling me that if I ate canned beans or had a hot bath I would give my baby autism, and so on. Eventually I had to stop. Stop reading the news. Stop looking at things on the internet. Stop, take a deep breath, and enjoy my canned beans in the bathtub.

So, maybe these women weren't actually the puffed up turkeys I'd thought. Perhaps they were only overwhelmingly relieved, and just happy to share their experience. Or perhaps they were just bitches. Personally, I think you can be empowered without invalidating the experiences of those around you.

So, how does having a baby change your perceptions?

Definitely, there are physiological changes. I feel different. This, actually, was quite unexpected. I mean, obviously my body was going to change, but my mood and attitude has changed. I mean, I guess that is obvious too. Hormones change the way we feel, but somehow I just couldn't conceptualize the way those feelings would translate into my everyday life. I feel connected emotionally to everything around me.


That dinner I just made? I am excrutiatingly aware that the meat is probably from some tortured factory chicken, and the cream in the soup is from some poor dairy cow that is pumped until she is dead while her baby is slaughtered for veal. However, we just can't afford organic chicken. and I'm not about to stop eating meat. I think protein is important for my brain. I CAN make sure I am buying as locally as possible, and supplement with greens from my balcony garden.

I still can't read the news. Now, because I am seeing through a mother's eyes. Not that stories of children going missing and the like didn't make me feel sad before, but now, they break my heart, and I think about them for days. What if that was my baby?

So with this new awareness and connectedness, comes the realization of the limits of my own power. I have become well practiced with acceptance.

It has changed the way I think about my relationship with my own mother as well. When I am holding my son in my arms and feel that strong connection, that fierce love, I realize that my mother must have felt the same. Maybe she still does. Which makes me realize how terrified she must have been while I ungracefully flung myself into the deep, scary world as a young woman.

I suppose these feelings could all just be a byproduct of sleep deprivation. It's been 10 months and I still haven't gotten more than (generously) 5 hours at a time. This makes it much easier to be witty on the internet than in person. In person I am a zombie.

It could be the reality that the consequences of my actions directly affect more than just me. Not that I didn't already know that, or that it wasn't already true, but now, the reality is immediately apparent. This innocent being relies on me. I mean, a whole little person. My choices about and around this person will shape their very character and ability to achieve in adulthood. This becomes more and more apparent as he gets older and you can literally watch as the neuronal connections are made. Watching a child master cause and effect is a good example of this. It's amazing. And terrifying.

So yeah, things are different. I am different. Because I am changed, my life has changed. Or maybe it's the other way around. Or perhaps the two are mutually inclusive.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Impatience runs in the family...

So, a whole month (to the date) early, little baby bean decided it was time to come out!! My water broke in the morning around 8am on Jan 25th, and we rushed to the hospital to confirm that, indeed, it was amniotic fluid and I wasn't just pissing myself.

Now, our local hospital (besides losing their accreditation) is unable to care for babies born before 37 weeks, so I knew I would not be having baby in town, let alone in the quiet, candle lit home setting I had been planning for.

After many calls, it was discovered that no hospitals on the entire island were able to accommodate us, as apparently, everyone else was having premature babies also. So I was carted off via ambulance and ferry to Vancouver, to Lionsgate hospital.

The paramedics who were with us on the ferry were amazing people, and it must have been a fun shift for them. I wasn't allowed to walk, even though I felt perfectly fine, so I had to be wheeled around in a wheelchair while people politely tried not to stare (and failed). I felt great and had a few infrequent cramps that were akin to a normal period. By the end of the ferry trip, my contractions were about 6 -7 minutes apart.

At Lionsgate, we met up with the local midwife who promptly told me that the contractions I was having weren't 'real' because I wouldn't be able to converse with her through them if I was in 'real' labour. Happily, in all the commotion, this woman was not called upon again. So, the nurses and strangers now in charge decided that it was likely I would need an induction in the morning, and should take this opportunity through the slight, infrequent contractions to have something to eat (I had also had lunch on the ferry) and go to sleep. I have no idea what time it was, but it was after sunset at this point.

The nurses told me that they could give me something to help me sleep if I needed which I declined at first, and then after an hour and a half of trying to 'get comfortable' and at least let Terry get some rest on the fold out chair, I called a nurse to see what they had to offer. Lo and behold; ativan to the rescue. Really? Ativan? This is the medication I take for my anxiety and I didn't think it would touch these 'mild contractions', but I took their 2 mg anyway. The contractions continued, and eventually I called the nurses again, telling them that I thought that something was definitely happening. It was. I was actually in real labour having real contractions.

It wasn't so much the intensity of the contractions that was difficult, though they got rather intense, but the fact that they just kept happening and I was tired. Terry was extremely helpful and I couldn't have done it without him. Poor man tried to brace me at one point through a contraction and heard me say "Get away from me or I'm going to kick you in the sack". Actually, he was straddling my leg, and I was worried that I might flail from the pain and accidentally sack him, but it's hard to say all that mid-contraction.

They had to put an IV in me, because all that good eating was actually a bad idea and I vomited up dinner, and then lunch. I thought because of this that I could not have a bath or shower, which upset me because I at least wanted to have the familiarity of hot water. At about 7 cm dilation I reached my threshold and asked what they had available for pain coping medications. I declined the gas, as I'd heard it causes nausea and I had already been puking. I opted for 'Fentanyl'; which was another bad choice. It did not help me cope with the pain, it just made me dizzy and slightly nauseous, and feel I was about to pass out. The intensity continued and I was now so stoned I could no longer communicate in any comprehensible way.

At some point I was able to make it known that I really wanted a bath. Apparently, I could, as the IV could come out. However, the moment I hit the water my body began to push. I freaked out because, I could no more stop my body from pushing with willpower than stop a moving train, and I thought I was still only 7cm dilated. Turns out I was actually 10cm, and that feeling like I was having a giant poo was actually my baby moving down the birth canal. So the obstetrician and pediatrician were called and they put me on my back and my legs in stirrups.

So anyway, after about 5-6 hours of real, hard labour, we had a baby boy at 4:49am, 6 lbs 3 oz, 49 cm long. Terry was looking into my eyes with the last push and I swear I saw him tear up. I was unfortunately too exuasted to feel much at all, besides worry and annoyance as they whisked my child away to the corner of the room as soon as Terry cut the cord. Being a premie, they were less concerned with bonding time and more concerned with his health.

We spent a few days at Lionsgate while our son, Tavish, was in the NICU before we were airlifted back to a hospital on the island in Nanaimo (where we stayed another week before returning home).

Today, Tavish is getting fatter, and is a happy, healthy baby!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Crochet madness

So, in my nesting fury, I have become a crochet addict. It started with baby booties, blankets and cute little elf hats but quickly progressed into fingerless gloves, headbands and foot adornments. Anyway, here are some pictures: