Tuesday, April 12, 2011

the day: sickness and injury in toddlers, snow-boarders, geriatrics, dogs, and pregnant women

Some days require their own whole blog post; you've beheld enough interesting sights and heard enough news, been reminded of enough of life's themes, and wondered hard enough how an acquaintance took your conversation, that you get home and say, "You know, I just need to write this down." 

Zoralee woke up with a snot trickle. There have been some serious nasties going around, so of course I'm hoping against hers developing into any of those. That was the least interesting thing I had to say, but it is a reality that lead to an afternoon nap in which we lay skin to skin while I gave her a little breast milk medicine on tap and thought about the day so far. Sickness and injury was definitely a theme.

On the way to church, Mom read us two emails from the caregivers of some of our recovering family members - a young cousin who had knee and leg surgery following a pretty bad snowboarding accident, and an early-70's great-aunt learning to talk, walk, and write again a year beyond a steroid injection for back pain gone wrong. The striking thing about the letters was that, despite very unfortunate circumstances that have and may continue to drag on for an unknown period of time, the caregivers (a mother and a husband) were hopeful. They focused on small victories, things that wouldn't even be worthy of mention if you were dealing with healthy people. But I suppose the standard of progress can change in an instant, as can the standard of a normal day, a normal life.

We also learned that Murray, pictured below, had eaten one of those giant 7 ounce Hershey's chocolate kisses the night before, necessitating a middle-of-the-night visit to the animal hospital and some worried hours for Luke and Heather (brother and wife). Fortunately, it looks like the little guy will be okay, because his system is essentially rejecting the chocolate in every way possible, ahem, out of every orifice possible. I can only imagine his glee though when he first saw the kiss and began tearing into the foil, realizing this was a gold mine like no other.  

Murray, two days ago at the park, pre-7-oz-Hershey's-kiss
We met my grandparents at a church new to me, specifically to hear a local brass ensemble perform the "sermon," which was a walk through liturgical and religious music from about the 1500's onward. Zoralee and I hadn't attended a conventional church in awhile, so when we first got there, she stood on the pew beside me and looked around with wonder. She said, "Ohhhhhh!" like it was a Eureka moment. I said to her, "This is church." Of course, I disagree with that statement theologically - "this is church" - but it was no time for hair splitting, as the band was about to kick off. I really enjoyed the songs and explanations; Zoralee did too, though she's the type of kid to supplement her music appreciation with farm animal play and doodling on paper.   

One thing about churches around here (or grocery stores or theatres) - lots of white people. My lands, I hadn't been in a room with that many white people in, well, nine months. And one thing about this particular church - lots of older people. Permed hairdos and extreme-floral-print shirts for the ladies, suits for the gents. One couple caught my eye. They were both well kept and looked easy-going, the kind of people you'd want to talk with at length. She must have Parkinson's disease, or something like it, and was in a wheelchair. He was very handsome, bearded. After church, he was loading her up via wheelchair lift into a VW vanagon. Yes. An older, maybe mid-80's VW vanagon. Mine eyeballs were both confused and delighted. Believe me, I'm filing away that revelation: just because one of us gets a debilitating disease doesn't mean we can't have fun transportation.

At lunch, I saw an acquaintance who is the same farness along in pregnancy that I am. Normally I don't delve into pregnancy and birthing issues (that I care deeply about) with a near-stranger unless they too are really into it. I value individual choice, and I think there's a time and a place for nearly everything, so a variety of well-informed methods and perspectives doesn't bother me. But what gets me fired up is when a woman has no idea that there are ways she can increase her chances of a healthy pregnancy and normal birth. I am not angry at the woman; I am angry at her health care provider, be it doctor, midwife, or whomever isn't making known to her the range of choices and their benefits and risks. Birth can usually be such a beautiful, intense, life-enhancing, confidence-giving experience (barring serious medical conditions that threaten mama or baby), that when women are pushed through the process in ways that strip them of control, I feel nearly the same anger as I would toward a rapist.

This acquaintance gal, sweet as can be, mentioned that she may be having a C-section if the baby gets too big. I was curious! How big is her baby right now?! Turns out, my midwife (by feel) and her doctor (by ultrasound) estimated our respective babies to be within 1/2 pound of each other at 32 weeks - mine 4 pounds, hers 4.5 pounds. I was totally alarmed that her doctor would be already seriously considering (and gearing her up for) a C-section for a potentially perfect baby! I asked if the doctor was discussing diet with her. She was surprised by the question. "Nope," she said, "not at all." Aaagh! I suggested she might want to google it, and I briefly mentioned two friends who had first children by C-sections five or six years ago due to "large" babies of 10-11 pounds. By watching diet (and taking a totally different approach to birth, which I didn't mention), their recent full term babies were 8.5 pounds, both born vaginally and completely naturally. 

But here's the rub. She, having every right to be so, was uninterested. She's sure that she eats too much, but oh well. This reasoning is so different than the birthing subculture I'm most familiar with that it threw me for a loop. I moved on to general congratulations and lightness, but it really bugged me for a bit there. Debriefing with my folks afterwards, I was again reminded that sometimes people don't want the complexity of considering options, and in a free country, that's their prerogative. So then I felt weird about what I said, like maybe I'd overstepped my bounds. It was probably fine to express my honest surprise at her doctor, but I shouldn't have mentioned my friends. It's helpful to know about real life examples, if you're open, but it's not helpful to be blithely compared to others, which I may have inadvertently done. So, doggies. The last thing a pregnant woman needs is stress that she's not doing something right. But, but, but what if this information could save her a major abdominal surgery, 6 weeks of recovery, the heartache of bonding and breastfeeding problems, etc. etc. etc. etc., and instead allow her to have the most incredible experience ever? Choosing between advice-giving and advice-withholding is very difficult sometimes.

Another post I want to do soon is about the lessons I learned from my first birth, things I want to remember and apply to this upcoming birth. I hope to get some feedback from y'all too, no matter your stories! In fact, after I'd finished this post, I read a great story, and I'm gonna post a link right next.


Shana said...

It is such a struggle....changing this immediate instant gratifying societal belief now a days. All the way down to where persons want to chose their child's birth date. The most common time of day for csection births has been proven to occur between 5-7pm. Hmmm...doesn't take a genious to figure that out. And, no u/s is accurate for measurement as it, too, has been proven over and over again to be off either way by 8oz AT LEAST. I battle this every day and refuse to back down on the 42 week mark on my patients in the contemporary health field.

And as soon as we hit even close to 38 weeks, boy let me tell you I've got the evening primrose oil going, lunges, sex for the semen as the natural prostaglandin----anything to help soften the cervix to avoid induction. And, I will tell you the other thing I fight and fight and fight....the doctors. ALL of the time. They still say the baby is "big"....I don't thing she can bring it down, I don't think she is progressing, yada yada.

Would you freaking believe that just this past week I learned that this new facility I have moved to does not have a birthing ball!!!! I feel dirty even writing that. Thank goodness I have two that I use for my Births R Us class. Boy howdy, there are going to be some changes coming and when I have my baby (which it is illegal in NE to have at home and a misdemeanor for your husband to actually deliver!!!!!) the hospital is gonna freak when I come walking in with my very own birth pool!!! Can't wait!!

Christi said...

"I feel nearly the same anger as I would toward a rapist." Seriously? I don't really understand that...

Just want your blog readers out there to know that I had 3 c-sections and had no problems with bonding or breastfeeding. My recovery was about one week, not 6 weeks long...Jeff went to work the day we got back from the hospital. Now that I am in this stage with my boys I don't care at all about my birth experience. For some people, it really is not an important part of the process of getting kids out here to love and nurture.

I don't think I am weaker minded or less educated because of how I feel about this (not that you are saying that.) I LOVE reading about people's birth stories and what it meant to THEM, but my own, I don't really put that much emphasis on. I just want to play with legos and bake cookies, you know?

And...I kinda love my c-section scar.

lori said...

Shana - - I didn't realize that about home birth legality; it actually surprises me about Nebraska. I can only imagine you as a lamaze instructor and baby-deliverer. It would be so fun to have you in that role!

Also, a question for ya: have you ever heard of a woman's water breaking too early because of too much raspberry tea or other softening agents?

Christi - - ughers! Thanks so much for your comments! I am vascillating back and forth between hoping to God I didn't undermine yours or ANYone's birth experience and yet feeling a little proud that I may have just joined the ranks of controversial blogger! ha.

But I know you've had 3 C-sections, and I also know you're one of the most kick-pantsest moms EVER! If I had been writing a personal opinion piece about motherhood in general, maybe I would've had a paragraph about birth and then pages and pages about the things I have observed in other moms and hope to do/be myself.

I actually want to address some of the things you mentioned, but I don't have time at the moment. I just wanted to at least throw out that I think motherhood is way bigger than the birth experience itself. DEFINITELY. However, when I write about birth, the women close to my heart are those still in the throes of decision-making about how they want to approach birth. I want to be a voice crying in the wilderness, "If you WANT this, YOU CAN DO IT (serious threat to mama or baby not included)!" If people don't want it, or for whatever reason are/were unable to get it, that's different. But honestly, from what I've noted, women aren't hearing the things I'm saying unless they are immersed in the natural birth culture, which most people aren't.

And I guess that was the heart of my thoughts with my acquaintance friend. She hadn't even heard about diet playing a role in a healthy pregnancy (at 7 months along and having had another child a few years ago), whereas I have sometimes spent a good portion of the whole prenatal visit hour discussing diet with my midwife. It's just a really striking difference in philosophy, you know?

I can't wait to write more (like about my flippant comment about rape, which I am regretting)....

Thanks so much for chiming in, and I welcome other comments and stories!

Shana said...

Lori-I have not ever heard of or had that problem. I, too have them get the raspberry tea. I actually will have them put the eve primrose oil in vaginally not just take orally like some do. The difference, I suppose though is that I am kind of conservative as to when I have them start taking them. Like I said I don't usually before 37-38 weeks because as I practice in a smaller-scale facility if they were to deliver before then I would have to transfer out to a larger hospital.

Lots of women have a "trickle" of fluid for some time before their delivery, though. I always ask if it is enough to have to wear a pad and if it isn't I don't get too nervous but I do want to do a pH test which is super easy....