Sunday, January 30, 2011
Look at this face. This is the face of my sweet baby who almost wasn't. I strongly feel that the only reason that he is still here with us is because my OB had placed me on bed rest starting at 13 weeks pregnant and ending at 36 weeks (when full lung development is achieved) after I hemorrhaged, had clots, blood pooling in the lining of my uterus and Placenta Previa.
I was recently interviewed for an article on bed rest that the Chicago Tribune was doing ( http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/ct-met-bed-rest-20110129,0,6131409.story). The reporter read my blog ("My Book's Cover") about the financial aftermath of bed rest and got in touch with me through a few of the amazing bed rest support sites that knew of me and my story(Keepemcookin.com & BetterBedRest.org).
I was excited because this could be my chance to help the bed rest community and spread some awareness about the trials of bed rest but also the rewards. Now, I'm not naive and I went into the interview knowing that they may just use one sentence of our interview. (Margaret says "Bed rest sucks". The end) But when I read the article I was really displeased. Despite the things we spoke about and despite the reporter interviewing the amazing people at KeepEmCookin.com & BetterBedRest.org, she chose to steer the article towards information she accumulated that stated that bed rest was an archaic practice and that it really doesn't help mothers stay pregnant.
I beg to differ. Do I believe it should be "systematically" prescribed as it alluded to in her article? No. But when needed, it is the difference between life and death for a child. In my case, several of the conditions I was dealing with could have proved fatal to my baby (and potentially me) had I not been in bed. Placenta Previa is where the placenta attaches on top of the cervix and can cause preterm delivery due to the pressure the baby puts on the placenta & cervix as it grows. The blood pooling in the lining of my uterus could have caused premature rupture of the membranes (water to break) before 24 weeks. This would have been a death sentence for my baby.
Bed rest was vital to my son's survival. Was it hard on me as a mother? Absolutely. It was, in fact, the worst time of my life. But as mothers it's the choice we make for our children and our families. I think the best thing we can do for bed rest mommies is put resources in their hands. There is support out there. My OB did an excellent job taking care of me and my baby through weekly visits and regular ultrasounds. But the one thing he could have done to make bed rest easier would have been to put resources in my hand. To tell me about support groups like KeepEmCookin.com & Sidelines. To get me in touch with BetterBedRest.org which helps women attain grants to help with bills & such while they are out of work. Having these resources right away would have saved me some tears!
Now, I understand that these articles are meant to stir up debate and reporters look for the controversy in each story. But my concern is that articles like this will discourage women from following their doctor's orders and will result in dire consequences for the pregnancy. It may also discourage moms from looking for these resources. The truth is that bed rest works. I and my son are proof as are thousands of women out there each year. And to even insinuate that bed rest is not needed is dangerous. Since prenatal medicine has evolved, and that includes the prescription of bed rest, the infant and mother mortality rates have dropped drastically. We know how to take care of expectant mothers and their children. And as a mother who had to make the choice to be on bed rest (And it is a choice. No one can force bed rest.) even though it meant that I would lose my job, not be able to care for my other children, and my overall health would be under scrutiny for the next 6-7 months- I can say that I wouldn't change it. The reporter asked me if I think that things would have turned out fine if I hadn't stayed on bed rest and I told her I don't even let my mind go there. In my time on bed rest I met many mothers who never met their babies or only got to hold them for a few hours or days. So I won't question it. Because my son is here. He is healthy and he is alive.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
I was never that little girl who dreamed of her perfect husband, her perfect kids, and her dream wedding. Yet somehow I think I got all of them. Maybe it's not always perfect but I understand that the imperfections give you the chance to appriciate the true quality of the good stuff.
I met my husband in 1998. I wasn't looking for someone (isn't that always the story!) and he just kind of fell in my lap. I know it sounds cliche but I met him at work and went home that day and told my best friend that I had met my future husband. Here we are 12 years and 3 kids later.
My husband is my bestest friend. He is my soul mate in every dreamy and mushy sense of the word. Sometimes I forget that he is a whole separate person because he fits me so well that I forget he's not an actual piece of me! But let me please be clear that we don't have some annoying Hollywood romance where he is great because he brings me flowers, buys me jewelry, and wisks me off to exoctic locations. No, our romance is found in much more mundane but altogether more realistic ways.
So men- listen up! Here are the real ingredients to be a great husband:
1) He lets me sleep in.
2) He laughs at, with, & for me.
3) He truly thinks I'm awesome.
4) He supports everything I do- even the stupid stuff!
5) He thinks I'm perfect the way (and by way I mean size) I am.
6) He says he's wrong.
7) He yin's my yang.
8) He is ah-maz-zing with our children. HOT!
9) He doesn't ever yell at he because he knows I'd go OFF!
10) He calls me beautiful.
11) He is dedicated to our family.
12) He cleans up dog puke & poop.
13) He does the dishes. Super important since I am diametrically opposed to this chore.
14) He changes diapers.
15) He makes it effortless to love him.
16) He treats me like I am the sexiest thing on his radar- even if that waitress is clearly hotter than me.
17) He listens. I mean really listens.
18) He trusts me.
19) He doesn't go to bed, leave the house, or get off the phone without saying "I love you"
20) He takes care of me first in special husbandly ways ;0)
So gentlemen, you can see that it doesn't take a big bank roll or a PHD to be a quality husband. Just be a partner and best friend. Those are the ingredients.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
January 23, 2010.
This is the day we lost my father-in-law.
When I say that I mean that in two ways. It is the day he went missing. And it is the day that he took himself from us. His body wasn't found for 3 days. 3 days of misguided hope and worry.
I was at work when I got the phone call that they had found him. I was immediately angry. I hung up the phone and the first words out of my mouth were "What the fuck was he thinking?!". I went into protective mode and was just mad. Mad for my husband. For my children. For his sons. But mostly for his wife. Who he loved dearly and she loved him. He sent her one yellow rose every Monday for as long as they've been together. How could he leave her? How could he hurt my husband and his brothers like this? How do I explain it to my children?
I. WAS. MAD.
But even so, I miss him. I miss him so much and I want him to take it back. I want him to call my husband and talk for hours like he used to. I want him to meet my baby and watch my kids grow up. I want him to be there when my brother-in-law gets married and has kids. I want him to grow old with his wife like he promised her. But something was so heavy inside him that these moments didn't stop him.
Sometimes depression is a visable beast. And sometimes it's a sneaky bastard. In this case, it was the latter. We were shocked. It was like having the wind knocked out of you and not being able to catch your breath again for a very long time. Someone said that depression is like cancer or any other disease. If it goes undiagnosed or untreated, it can be fatal. If we look at it this way, it makes it easier in some ways. But still hard.
I have a hard time with the word "suicide". I feel like it's a snapshot. Like if you say this is how your loved one died, that's who they are. Period. That's the only picture anyone has of your loved one. But my father-in-law was so much more. He was an amazing man. An amazing father, grandfather, husband, pilot, vetran, brother, friend, and so much more. I honestly don't have a single bad thing to say about him other than that I don't like the way he chose to die.
It has been a long year since he died. With my bed rest, we had so many things going on that we didn't get to process what happened until recently. Now the waves of emotion hit suddenly and without warning. We are left with questions, what if's, guilt, and incredible sadness.
In one bad moment and with one action, a wake was created. It ripples through our days and leaves us grasping for land. For any of it to make sense. Suicide is one moment. But it leaves the people you love living in its wake forever.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
I am a mommy. And this is the story of the day I became infected with cooties.
I have always been a very affectionate mommy with all my boys. We cuddle. We kiss. We say I love you everyday, several times a day, and for no reason. I have always been proud that my boys show no fear when it comes to loving on me in public or in front of their friends.
And up until the other day I was proud that even my 14 year old still submitted to our family PDA. I love that he still curls up on my lap to cuddle with me when we watch TV and that he says "I love you bye" when we get off the phone- even in front of his friends! But then it happened. I apparently, and without notice, contracted parent cooties. The part that caught me off guard was that we weren't in front of anybody. And my apparent cooties were diagnosed suddenly and in a manner in which I would have never seen coming!
I picked my 14yr old up from high school and we decided to stop and get one of those slushy drinks from a gas station to share. He ran in to the store for me so I wouldn't have to get the baby out of the car. I even admired him as he waited and held the door open for a man and his little girl. Swoon. I raised a good kid. I love him. Then he came out of the gas station store and I saw it. Two straws. Hmmmm....let's see where this goes. He took the straws out of their packaging and placed them in the drink- then pointed them in different directions and made sure "mine" was taller than his so he wouldn't catch my COOTIES!
Me "Are you kidding?!"
Me "You know what. Are you really making sure we don't drink off the same straw?"
Him "I don't want your lip gloss"
LIE! I have cooties! I just know it! My suspicions were confirmed when he accidentally lost track of whose straws were whose. You should have seen the look on his face! I thought he was gonna gag!
Me "It's fine. We've shared straws before and I give you kisses so it's the same thing"
Him "NO it's NOT!"
He then proceeded to hold the straws up to the light to see if he could determine whose was whose based on the lip gloss sparkling off the top.
There it was. The moment I had been waiting for since he was my baby. I have dreaded the moment when the kisses stop and the hugs only require a pat on the back and light chin on your shoulder. Where my "I love you"s are met with an "Uh huh" or an "Okay". I know this is how it goes and this part of my childrens' lives is inevitable. But it still sucks.
Luckily I still have 2 back up boys with another 14 or so years of love and straw sharing ahead!
Monday, January 17, 2011
I'm gonna be honest. There have been times in my life where I held some pretty heavy opinions about things. Over the years God has taught me lessons about seeing both sides before making a judgement. I wrote a blog about it last November call "Never is a Four Letter Word".
One of the lessons I have learned over the last year is not to judge a book by it's cover.
My cover says I am doing well financially, have a beautiful family, iPhone, nice house, mini-van and not a care in the world! The book says that due to 23 weeks of pregnancy bed rest I lost my well paying job as well as my family's insurance. We had to struggle just to get state help. I fought to get pre-natal care through the state and insurance for my children. We were blessed with food stamps and W.I.C. (Women Infants & Chilren is a nutrition program that supplies families in need with nutricious foods). But also humbled by weekly trips to our church's food bank. Our friends and family paid our bills and cared for our children while we struggled to keep our house. I wish I had known about BetterBedRest.org while I was on bed rest. They help families stay afloat when bed rest occurs.
What many people don't understand is that bed rest moms are in a legal grey area. We don't qualify for unemployment becasue we are not physically able to work. We also don't qualify for state disability. And in our case, we didn't qualify for state financial help because my husband made $100 too much.
So what happens when the average America loses thier job- for whatever reason- and needs help?
We have been able to keep our house and I now qualify for unemployment while I look for a new job. But in the mean time our family still relies on food stamps & W.I.C. to help our household budget since my unemployment comes in about $12/hr less than what I was making. So yes. While I use to judge people who rolled up to the welfare office in their Lexus and collected their W.I.C. while dripping in gold, I now get it. I drive a mini-van, carry a Coach diaper bag (a gift from my father in law who passed last year), and schedule my next W.I.C. appointment in my iPhone. I also pay for my groceries with food stamps and W.I.C. vouchers. I know that people may be judging my book by its cover. That they may, just as I once had, figure I'm scamming the system. There are people who scam the system and that's sad. Because in this current recession I feel that I am not the exception but rather I am the rule.
So many Americans still have the "things" they had prior to losing their jobs, they just don't have the money to buy essentials or keep a roof over their heads and therefore they need help. I've sold many of our personal items over the past year to pay bills (Thanks goodness for ebay!). But there are a few things I haven't parted with yet. The Coach diaper bag has sentimental value. The iPhone I keep because I will need it when I get a job (and I WILL get a job!), and I need the nice van to haul my 3 children around safely.
So lesson #3,239,987 in my life is not to judge a book by its cover. You life as you know it isn't garunteed. It's not a given. And the people you pass judgement on may not be in control of their situation either.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
I am a breast feeding mom. I have something to say about it. If you don't like it- suck it.
I became a mother for the first time just shy of my 20th birthday. It would be understandable if I said that I had no idea what I was doing. But I did. I was raised by a mother who fed our nurture gene and I babysat constantly starting at age 13. I was surrounded by babies and children all the time. Caring for them was second nature. So it was never a question for me as to if I was going to breast feed or not.
I have to admit that the idea of a child suckling on what I identified as a sexual body part DID seem foreign and while I was pregnant I couldn't really wrap my head around it. But it was never a question for me. I was going to breast feed. This was what my body was made for. This is how God purposed it. This is how it has been done for as long as we have existed.
My son took to breast feeding really well and I was surprised at how natural it felt. Especially since I had somewhat of an aversion to the idea while I was pregnant. Once I delivered him and he took to it, it was second nature. I loved it. It was the one thing I could do for him that no one else could. And at the age of 20 I was fearless and fed him whenever and where ever he wanted. Even at church.
I now have 3 children and all of them have breast fed. I am currently breast feeding my youngest. Now, I should mention that my breasts struggle to produce and with my first two I had to supplement with formula and my breasts stopped producing altogether by 5 & 6 months. So I appreciate formula as well. I am currently taking lactation supplements to keep my supply up for my newest baby. It's a gift to do this for my children and I am trying to make it last as long as possible.
So in all the beauty that is breast feeding, why is there so much fuss about it? I am constantly amazed at the amount of negativity associated with it. The amount of debate. The amount of strife and argument. And how difficult it has become to be a breast feeding mother in today's society.
I am on Twitter. I have a friend on Twitter (@DJJansta) who is a bit of a breast feeding advocate. She challenges people's ideas on breastfeeding and shares the conversation with her followers. It is through her Tweets that I have seen some real ignorance in regard to breast feeding. I use the word "ignorance" on purpose. Just as it was a foreign idea for me to attach a beautiful small child to my breast, which society had sexualized and I had used as a source of sexual attention for years, I understand how it is hard for people to entertain the idea as well because they aren't educated about it or they haven't done it themselves. I don't, however, condone the horrible and hateful ways that people speak about breast feeding mothers. Calling them derogatory names because they are feeding their children in public as though it is an assault to the decency of America. As if. I have never really cared if people were offended by my breast feeding because my child means more to me than they do. Plain and simple.
As I stated before, I am fearless in public breast feeding. When my child needs to eat, he eats. I have fed them in churches, cars, malls, restaurants, air planes, hair salons, etc. I choose to cover up in public. But I personally don't mind if a mother chooses to let it all hang out. When I am in my home and my child needs to eat- you're gonna see some boob! And so far I haven't had anyone say anything to me about it. I would love it if they did.
People have the idea that moms shouldn't feed in public. So where should they feed their babies? It is rare to find a public facility that has a nursing room. And NO a bathroom is not the same thing. I will not sit on a toilette with my baby in a dirty stall to make YOU more comfortable while you eat your scone. Offended by a mom feeding her baby on a plane (which was a well publicized case several years ago)? Where should she feed her baby then? Or should she allow her baby to scream the whole flight out of hunger? Does that make you more comfortable? I really don't think people even stop to think before they form their opinions sometimes.
Breast feeding is natural, comforting for baby and mother, healthier for baby, and is freeeeeee!
So if you are one of those ignorant people who is disgusted by the sight of a breast feeding mother doing something that is 100% natural I have a challenge for you. It goes a little something like this: I am personally disgusted by walking into a public bathroom and smelling the aftermath of someone defecating in the toilette. It infringes on my right to use the bathroom. Sure it's natural and when it has to be done it simply can't wait. I also understand that public bathrooms have everything you need to perform this natural function. But I challenge you to just hold it until you get home where I feel it's okay for you to partake in this natural function. This will keep me from being uncomfortable. It may be a pain for you but won't you feel better knowing that I (a complete stranger to you and your bowels) wasn't subjected to you and your natural functions?
I hope that this post changes at least one mind about breast feeding. Maybe you never saw it that way. Tell you what, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt if you do the same for me. Perhaps I know what's healthy and best for my baby. Perhaps I am doing this because it's natural and not because I want to visually assault you. Perhaps I am a person doing what people have done for millions of years. And perhaps when you finally have a child some day you will change your mind about breast feeding. This is my hope.
Monday, January 10, 2011
My baby is 4 months old. My baby is trying to roll over. My baby is eyeballing solid foods. My baby has found his toes. My baby is inching closer and closer to toddler hood, then little boyness, then teen years, then he'll be moving out!
This is my last baby. So every milestone marks the end of an era in me and my husband's life. So when my sweet little baby starts to roll over I have to seriously fight the urge to shove him back down and tell him that being a big boy is over rated! Which it totally is! I mean, come on. I think it's fair to say most men act like babies so let's just save this baby a ton of time encourage him to stay my sweet little baby forever! No? Damn.
I've never felt like this before. I have always marveled- and forced others to marvel- at how quick my boys have learned. How amazing they are to walk, talk, eat, coo, and all the other things our children do. I, like all other mothers, have been convinced that my son's ability to poop in the potty was a sign of genius. That the fact that he knows the alphabet will surely secure him his spot at Harvard.
So does it make me a bad mom that I want THIS baby to stay on the breast, never roll over, not learn to speak, FORGET growing any teeth! I just want to hold on to every baby moment. I want to snuggle him and love his little baby bum. I have 2 big boys. I can celebrate their growth and accomplishments! I can be a good mom to them!
Alas (Yes. I said Alas.) it can't be stopped. And in all reality I don't really want him to stay a baby. I just want it to go slower. The first year zips by so quickly. Then they're 5, then 15, then they are out on their own. But this is all an inevitable part of the job. I love my babies. All 3 of them. But part of me loving them is making sure they coo, roll over, poop, learn the alphabet.... and grow up. So while I can't stop it, I will cherish it. I will drink in every moment. And occasionally I may or may not push him back down when he tries to roll, crawl, or walk. But I'll be gentle.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
I was looking at family photos the other day and it occurred to me that my oldest son was black. I know it sounds like an odd thing to say. But it really just doesn't occur to me. He's just my child. My husband has been raising him since he was in diapers so I rarely even think about the fact that my husband is not his biological father. We are just a family. They are just my children.
So much so that when I delivered my second baby I was in shock when they handed him to me. Because he was blonde haired blue eyed. See, I never stop and think about the fact that my oldest son is mixed. I don't introduce him as my mixed kid. Therefore I just kind of, on a subconscious level, assumed that all my kids would look like him. Even after I married my husband and carried his baby for 9 months. I just never considered that my newest addition would look any different than the one we'd raised together for 11 years. So when they handed me this little blonde haired, blue eyed baby I was in a bit of shock.
We have never raised our children to see skin color as something that makes you any more different than the color of your hair or the color of your eyeballs. Our oldest obviously lives the reality that others may see him as different. But he understands that that is their issue and not his. Who people are consists of who they choose to be and the character they carry and deliver into this world.
It is because of this belief that I feel people see us as just a regular modern family. In all of our years as a family I have only ever had one person ask if my son was adopted. He didn't even have kids at school ask questions until his dad started volunteering in the classroom. But he is secure and happy with the family he has so it has never been a source of confusion for him.
The truth is that families come in all colors, shades, mixed religions, 1 parent, 2 parents, grandparents, adopted, straight or gay. The make up isn't as important as the quality. If children are loved and cared for by whomever is in charge of them then they will feel secure.
I was raised by my mother. My father lived several states away with his family. But I don't think I ever wanted for a daddy per se. (Let's forget the teen years where I threatened to move in with my dad!) My mother filled that "void" perfectly. We got her father's day gifts and cards and she loved us enough for 2 people. This was just our family make up. I always say that I have the 2 best parents in the world. They are perfect- just as long as they are apart. They didn't work well together but they each loved us enough for that not to matter.
I guess my kids are lucky to grow up in this new millennium where the face of the modern family doesn't have to be mom+dad+1 boy+ 1 girl+ 1 dog, blah, blah, blah. It's not perfection but it's progress. For me and my family we will continue to love each other for who we are and will be. We will see each other as people and not as colors. And we will continue to foster this in as many other people as possible.