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Friday, April 27, 2012

How to Interview a Pediatrician

Look, I’m going to be honest here: I don’t take my son to the pediatrician unless there’s good reason. And by ‘good’ I mean: illness that he cannot simply ride out, broken bone, or blood spurting forth – something along those lines. I’m not the biggest fan of Western medicine in general, but I certainly have a healthy respect for it and understand its place in my life and our world. That being said, many people do see pediatricians regularly with their children and I think it is vital to find the right one for you. Below is a list of questions you may want to ask when going in for an initial consultation with a potential pediatrician. And yes, you should have a consultation appointment with them before ever going in for a regular visit. And yes, you can and should do this while you are still pregnant – you needn’t wait for your babe to arrive to get started on this process, because, unfortunately, it can sometimes be a long one.

• What is your position on vaccines?
• How do you deal with parents who don’t vaccinate, selectively vaccinate, or vaccinate on a delayed schedule?
• Do you perform circumcisions?
• How do you care for the intact penis?
• What is your view on homebirth?
• What is your view on midwives?
• What are your office hours?
• Do you have an on-call physician after hours? If so, how do I reach him or her?
• Do you have both sick and well waiting areas that are separate?
• Do you have same day appointment availability?
• In which hospitals do you have rights?
• How do you feel about cosleeping?
• How liberal or conservative are you with antibiotics?
• What are your feelings on alternative medicine?
• Is this a group practice or yours alone? If it is yours alone, who covers you while you’re away? If it is a group practice, do I get to choose which doctor we see or is it on a rotation?
• Do you see newborns at the hospital or not until the first office visit?
• Do you have a CLE or IBCLC on staff?
• In what ways do you encourage breastfeeding?
• What do you advise parents to do about rear-facing car seats?
• What are your thoughts on baby-led weaning?
• Which books and resources do you regularly recommend to new parents?
• Do you have more than one office? If so, how often are you here?
• How many minutes do you allot for each visit?
• What is the average wait time for patients to be seen?
• What are your feelings on Attachment Parenting and/or gentle parenting?

Bring this list (or a list of whatever questions are important for you) to your interview so that you make sure you don’t forget anything crucial. Strike up a conversation with the office staff, medical assistants, and nurses before heading in. Do you like them? Do they make you feel comfortable? If you already have a child, bring him or her with you to the visit and watch how the doctor and staff members treat him or her. Do you like the way they act toward your babe? Does the doctor have good bedside manner? Do you feel good about ensuring the care of your babe to this person? That’s the bottom line. Do you trust this person with your child’s health and well-being? That’s really what it all boils down to. The list above is just a tool to help you figure that out. Ultimately, listen to your gut. You know best.

What would you add to the list?

Update: After much reflection and research, we now no longer utilize the services of a pediatrician at all. If our son is in need of medical attention, he'll see a general practitioner or, obviously, urgent care or the emergency room. Pediatricians have far too great a stake in the vaccine and circumcision businesses for my liking.

The Power of “No”

“No.” There, I said it. “No.”

For some, this is a tough word to get out. Some have been taught that “no” is a negative. I disagree. It can absolutely be a positive when used properly. Never saying it is as dangerous as always saying it – perhaps more so. Being a doormat will never get you anywhere and can’t make you feel very good. It doesn’t have to be that way. All you have to do is learn one tiny, but powerful word – “No.”

No, I do not wish to hear your horrifying birth story.
No, I will not be vaccinating my child for everything under the sun.
No, you will not retract my son’s foreskin during a routine exam.
No, I do not wish to lie on my back during labor and delivery.
No, I do not want that monitor around me at all times.
No, I do not want Pitocin.
No, I will not give him formula or a pacifier.
No, I will not be mutilating my son’s perfect and healthy penis.
No, I am not scheduling a C-section.
No, I do not need an episiotomy.
No, I will not starve myself during labor.
No, I am not giving my son rice cereal.
No, I am not allowing my son to cry it out in order to get him on a sleep schedule.
No, he does not need iron supplements.
No, I do not need your free samples.
No, I am not fazed by your laughter at me because I refuse to spank or scream.
No, I am not going to wean him.
No, he does not need a bed of his own.
No, I will not cover up while breastfeeding.
No, I will not move to a “more suitable” location while breastfeeding.
No, I do not think attachment parenting will sully him for the real world.
No, I do not worry that he will not receive a full education if not in a classroom.
No, he will not be a hermit if he doesn’t go to school.
No, I will not turn his car seat around based on minimum requirements.
No, my pregnancy is not a disease.
No, I need not deliver my baby in a hospital.
No, we do not have to teach him about separation and the cold hard reality of life early on.
No, I will not feed him food from a jar.
No, I do not wish to put a chemical-filled diaper next to his most delicate skin.
No, I do not want or need your advice.

No, no, no.

I find myself saying this over and over again. And you know what? That’s OK. It’s good. It’s important. I refuse to be steamrolled by authority figures, friends, family, or strangers. I refuse to be made to feel vulnerable, powerless, and weak by someone in a lab coat and latex gloves or anyone else who is not in my position. I am not an ignoramus. I am well-informed, well-educated, well-researched and I have power over my own body and the decisions that I make for the health and well-being of my son. And no (yep, there it is again), my decisions do not often mesh with those of the mainstream population. And no (it just gets easier and easier with practice), I don’t much care.

Note that you’ll find no justifications for the statements above. That is because you needn’t make any. You don’t owe anyone an explanation as to why you’re not following their program. Of course, you’re free to offer one, but know that if you do, you open yourself up to an even longer and potentially more frustrating conversation. Is it really worth it?

And just to be clear, it is important to understand that there is a vast difference between aggressive an assertive. You can still be “zen” and assertive. You don’t have to be bitchy about your nay-saying. You don’t have to yell it, scream it, get violent about it. You just have to say it, when appropriate, and as often and firmly as needed to get it through to the intended recipient. You make and maintain eye contact, plant yourself firmly, speak in a clear voice, say “no” and mean it. Repeat as necessary.

Make no mistake, you’re going to piss people off. You’re going to ruffle feathers. You might even lose friends. So? Does any of that really matter in the big picture here? When it comes between doing those things and protecting yourself and your family, is there really any contest?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Defensiveness Disadvantage

My Facebook page has only been up since just before Christmas. I’m still new to the game. In the short time I have been there, I have learned a few things about human nature that I didn’t fully understand before. Well, actually, I still don’t understand, but I accept them as reality. First and foremost, I have learned that if I take a position on anything, those who do not share my opinion are going to take it as judgment against them as people. Secondly, they are then going to school me on why what I feel and how ‘judgmental’ I am is not very ‘zen’ of me.


I have opinions. So do you. So?

Look, I’m not a fence-sitter. I tend to research the heck out of things (products, issues, ideas…what have you), arm myself with a solid education, and then make a decision. My decision is not set in stone. If more research or education proves my decision wrong, I’ll change it. I don’t make my decisions lightly, nor do I just talk (or post) out of my hind end.

None of that really matters for this post, though. What matters is that I AM NOT JUDGING YOU. Agree with me, disagree with me…that’s all fine and well. Let us all have the strength, maturity, and wisdom to understand that a differing opinion does not equal a personal attack. And for heaven’s sake, ‘zen’ does not mean everything has to be touchy-feely and cater to everyone, never ruffling any feathers. That is not the definition. I actually am aware of the meaning – not being so would’ve been pretty lame of me considering what I named the page.

The disadvantage of everyone getting so up in arms every time I post something that doesn’t harmonize with your beliefs is that you miss out on an opportunity to learn. Who knows if you’d agree or disagree in the end, but if you’re not open, if you’re closed off due to defensiveness, you can never take in the information and grow from it in any way. Maybe you’ll still disagree with me and your reasons for doing so will be strengthened by what you’ve learned. Maybe you’ll agree with me and your life will be changed in some way. If you don’t ever take it in, though, because you’re too busy defending your position and feeling hurt by some judgment that isn’t even taking place, you’re the one who loses.

Here it is once again – I am not judging you. I can’t continue to follow after every “it’s not very ‘zen’ of you to judge me” comment and state that I’m not, in fact, judging anyone. I won’t do it anymore. Doing so ends up making me look defensive and that’s a feeling I dislike tremendously. So, please consider this my one-size fits all “I’m sorry you feel that way, but I’m not judging you for __________, I’m merely stating (circle one) facts/research/a study/thoughts/opinions/etc.” comment.

The Death Journal - My Struggle with Anxiety

When I had my C-section, it was on an emergency basis and I was given literally zero information about what was going on. Nobody even told me when our son was out. My first clue as to his arrival was his cry. They also failed to fill me in on the meds they pushed through my IV as they were finishing up the operation. This is how it all went down:

You’ve read the story of my son’s birth, so I’ll skip all that. Someone (I have no idea who, because, again, no one was communicating with me) whisked away our son and my husband went with him (as well he should have). I was on that table all alone when all of a sudden I felt myself slipping away. I believed myself to be dying. I could not speak. I felt as if I were being pulled down by some unknown force. I felt like I was being sucked into a vortex and I just knew that was the end. I felt like everything was closing in on me – I was shutting down. I just kept thinking, “I can’t leave my son. I can’t leave my husband.” I fought and fought to stay awake, to stay alive. I fought the forces that were holding me, pulling me, urging me, and after a long, hard battle, I won. I was exhausted and I had never been more terrified. I could not believe the bullet I had just dodged. I had been given a second chance at life.

Thus, my anxiety began. The first week of my son’s life was full of recovery from major surgery, infection and popped staples, two of the most helpful IBCLC visits I could’ve asked for, the most wonderful postpartum visit during which our midwife cried at the sight of our beautiful son (one of the many, many reasons I love midwives instead of OBs, but that is for another post), and all the standard adjustments, swooning, and awe. The second week is when my sister-in-law, a labor and delivery nurse and mom of three, came to visit and help. One night, I confided in her that I had almost died. She was appalled that they had pushed meds to help me sleep without telling me! I had no idea! I didn’t almost die after all. And what the heck were they doing trying to get me to sleep, when I wanted to breastfeed my son immediately? The whole thing was one colossal something-or-other-that-I-won’t-say-because-I’m-trying-to-be-Zen!

Strangely, this revelation did little to assuage my new-found anxiety. It should have, but it didn’t. I became obsessed with the fear that I could die and leave my little family without a mom and wife. It started with just frantic crying at the very thought of leaving them, escalated to drilling my husband regularly about what to do if this or that happens and what he should do in case of x, y, or z, and finally came to a head when I started writing The Death Journal.

I actually went out and bought a beautiful leather-covered journal for the sole purpose of writing down every detail my husband would need to know in order to raise my son without me. Every night I breastfed my son to sleep and then sat up to write pages and pages by nightlight all the while crying at the thought of leaving them alone. The journal contains snippets about what size clothes my son was wearing at the time, how often to change his diaper, where to get donor milk, which Facebook pages my husband should consult, how to care for and what to expect from my son’s intact penis (since my husband was cut, so has no first-hand knowledge of such things), what books I want covered in which grades during homeschooling, how to help my son through the transition should my husband decide to ever start dating and eventually marry again, and oh so very much more. I wanted to leave nothing to chance. I was consumed. I had one ‘brush with death’ and I just knew with my next I wouldn’t be so lucky.

Here is an excerpt from crazy-town:
• Please live with my parents as long as they’ll allow or until he is in 1st grade, whichever comes last…you’ll need help
• Teach him about God and heaven so he knows I’m still around and always with him, watching over him
• Never make him feel bad or uncomfortable about his body or bodily functions
• Don’t let him pull the cats’ tails
• Nails need clipping every 7-10 days
• Go to counseling right away and for as long as you need – take him, too, if you think it would help
• Have him always write ‘thank you’ cards for not only gifts, but deeds, too
• It is OK, good even, to show emotion after I am gone, but you can’t allow yourself to be mired with depression – you have to be there, really there, for your son
• He’s a red-head, so he’s less susceptible to pain meds – don’t let anyone tell you any different. Fight for him!
• You might want to keep a little journal for yourself of ways he likes you to play with him
It goes on like this for scads of pages. Not all are this crazy, but some are more so.

It didn’t stop with the journal. When I wasn’t writing, I was quizzing my husband on what was in said volume. I knew there was a chance he wouldn’t read every vital detail, so I made sure to drill it into his brain. And I did the same to my mom, who is to be my son’s guardian in case of both my husband’s and my untimely demise. There was no amount of pestering that I felt was enough, as it was all in order to ensure my son’s best interests were being met. If I had to go, and I was sure I was going to, I had to make sure I could take care of him as best as possible given that I wouldn’t actually be there to do so.

When I finally attempted to settle down for the night, I didn’t. I laid in bed going over visions of all the things that were going to happen to me to take me away from my family, leaving my son without a mother, or, worse yet, what was going to happen to my son and husband. I just knew they were going to be hit by a car when crossing the street to go to the playground and I’d be within earshot, but out of reach. I was convinced that my husband was going to trip and fall with my son in arms, dropping him on his head and rendering him in a vegetative state at the ripe age of 6 months old. It went on endlessly. I was powerless to stop the constant movie running in my brain.
My jaw was clenched at all times. My shoulders were hunched always. Every muscle in my body was tense and ready to move should the need arise. And I had no idea this was abnormal.

Thanks to therapy, I have learned to redirect my thoughts, cope with my feelings, and let go of some of that useless anxiety. The journal has been put away, neglected for months now. I’m still a work in progress, though. The anxiety still lingers, however, it lessens day by day. The journal, though stashed, has not been trashed. The fears are there, just not as pressing.

There is a significant difference between being prepared for possibilities and being terrified of those possibilities becoming immediate emergencies. Is it possible that I could die in a car accident next week? Sure. Is it probable? No. That being the case, I have done what I advise all responsible parents to do and created a living trust so that the immediate care of my son will be taken care of should that possibility arise. Guardians have been appointed, as I said, monies have been allotted, arrangements have been made and I feel better knowing that is the case, but that it will likely not be necessary.

As with everything, I continue to try my best to be my best. Everything gets better, it just takes time, effort, and thought. I think I can give those…

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ode to My Shower

Warm, wet, cleansing, cathartic
You rain your powers of relaxation down upon my head
You wash away sidewalk chalk, homemade play dough, toast crumbs somehow stuck to the underside of my breast, and what I hope is dirt under my fingernails
That leaf that I didn’t know was in my hair – down the drain without a care
You have the power to do in five minutes what my husband’s inept (sorry, honey, but it’s true…I still think you’re pretty, though!) massage hands cannot in do in thirty
You’re a safe haven in which I can wash, scrub, and, every once in a blue moon, shave
You were once underappreciated, undervalued, unworshipped…no longer
Now, I see the dim and misty light – and I bask in it!
Methinks I appreciate you most because I have found truth in the saying that ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ – you are a rarity in my life, whereas before my foray into motherhood, you were merely a meaningless task, a means to an end
Most days I gaze upon you longingly, wistfully
Perhaps tomorrow, I shall join you more intimately
Don’t count on it…

The Bathroom - My Nemesis

Guest post by my son, Jack B. (age 18 months)

B is for the big, bad potty who takes my mama away from me for what feels like forever, but I’m told is not even a full minute…pfft!
A is for the awkward gate that separates me and my mama by at least my full body length…that’s FAR!
T is for the torturous time during which I’m certain she’ll be lost in that room just outside of arms reach forever…that’s my milk maker in there!
H is for the horrifying prospect that she will be sucked into the vortex and I’ll never see her again…did I mention my need for the milk maker??!
R is for the ridiculous idea that my mama should need to go potty without me by her side…who will help her roll the toilet paper all around the floor?
O is for the ornery feeling I get when she goes from playing with me to playing with fun things like toilet paper and tampons without me…the nerve!
O is for the obvious abandonment that has been thrust upon me…um, hello, I’m just a little person…and I need MILK!
M is for the maddening moment when my mama says, “I have to go potty. I’ll be right back”…’right back’…*rolls eyes*

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

15 Well-Meaning, but Horrible Things to Say to an Infertile Couple

My husband and I struggled to conceive a baby. At first, we just went about it the all-natural way and figured nature would take its course. Didn’t happen. We got a little more creative. (More on that later – perhaps another post on all the creative ways to get oneself knocked up.) Still nothing. I researched and tried EVERYthing. Nada. After finding that I had a slew of medical issues, some of which were correctable, some of which were not, we ultimately resorted to in vitro fertilization. We were the only ones we knew who had ever gone through infertility and IVF. We were all alone, but not without loads of well-meaning, but truly horrible and often insensitive comments and advice such as this.

When are you two going to have a baby?
o Well, now, isn’t that a good question? Um, I don’t know. I must’ve misplaced my crystal ball. I’d venture to guess about 10 months after conception. Oh, you mean when is that going to happen? From where I’m sitting, probably never.
I mean, what are we supposed to say to that? It’s not that easy for us. It’s not just a decision we make and *poof* it’s done.

I know just how you feel.
o No. No, you don’t. Not a single person in our lives had ever experienced infertility or IVF, so not a single person in our lives knew how we felt. Furthermore, even if you’ve experienced something similar, you can never know how anyone else feels. You can only know how you felt.

Just stop trying and you’ll get pregnant.
o Really? Is that how it works? Immaculate Conception it is then! Sweet! The pressure is sure off now!

If it’s meant to be, it will happen.
o This is such a fatalistic attitude and I don’t buy into the idea of fate, so this is bogus to me. Would you say to someone whose child was born with only half a brain that it was ‘meant to be’ or not? Would you say to someone whose child died in a car accident that it was ‘meant to be’? No, never. Then why is me being able to have a child or not just what is ‘meant to be’?
Besides, what if me becoming a mother isn’t ‘meant to be’? What does that say about me?

Enjoy your time now, before you have kids.
o I’m not miserable sans kids, but I’m ready for them now. I enjoyed the time before trying and now I’m ready to take on the next step in this adventure. I’m ready to enjoy my time with kids. It’s not like we’ve rushed into anything here.

Just relax and it will happen.
o The number one thing people said to me and the number one thing I wanted to scream at them for saying. I relaxed for the first year when it didn’t happen. Something is wrong with my body. It cannot do what most others can. If one (or more) of your organs wasn’t functioning properly, would you be able to relax? If the possibility of you not being a parent, the only thing you’ve ever wanted in life, was slipping out of reach, would you feel calm?

Bet you’re having fun trying.
o Nope. Not anymore. After trying for so long, it’s a job, it’s a chore, it’s not fun. Sure, I get it, that’s now how it is supposed to be, but it’s the truth. You chart everything, time everything, schedule everything in your sex life and tell me how much fun you’re having with it.

It took us 9 months to get pregnant.
o Great. Thanks for sharing. It’s been a lot longer for us. The average length of time it takes to conceive the first time is one year. We’re well over that. Nine months, or however long it took you, may have seemed like forever to you, but it means little to us.

There’s always adoption.
o First of all, adoption is wonderful . I’m a huge fan, so I resent making it sound like second banana to the other way of having children. Secondly, I cannot silence the need I feel in my mind, heart, and body to grow and birth a child made up of me and my husband.

It could be a lot worse.
o This is true. What is your point? Does that mean what I’m going through isn’t hard? Does that mean that my feelings are less valid? There is always a ‘worse’ that things could be, but I’d rather take care of things before we get to that point.

Want one of my kids?
o Don’t be trite and glib. No, I want one of mine. How ridiculous. And it really irks me how many people don’t seem to see their children as amazing gifts, when all I want is an amazing gift of my own.

A friend of mine tried for 10 years before getting pregnant.
o Oh, well, now I feel better. Should I just keep trying as I keep aging, never having any guarantees that it will work, but hanging my hat on the fact that one person after ten years managed to conceive? I’m a doer. I am an impatient doer, at that. I do not have ten years to wait for that which all evidence says is not going to happen.

You should start the adoption process and you’ll get pregnant right away.
o First of all, we had started the adoption process. Surprisingly, we still didn’t get pregnant. Secondly, if I could get pregnant by the mere act of filling out paperwork, I would not be in this position. I’m no scientist, but I’m pretty sure the act of starting adoption proceedings is not what actual impregnates someone. Maybe I’ve had it wrong all these years.

You’re still young.
o I’m young in comparison to you, Grandma, but not when it comes to my fertile years. And even if I am (but I’m not), I shouldn’t be concerned and devastated that I’m unable to conceive naturally and have only a 20% chance of conceiving via in vitro fertilization because of my youth??! If I were actually still young, I’d probably be stupid enough to believe that logic.

Oh, it’ll happen for you. I can just feel it.
o This isn’t like feeling that it’s going to rain because your old football injury is acting up. This is my body – my faulty body – and unless you’ve recently gotten a job at the Psychic Friends Network, your feelings don’t really hold any weight with me.

Then, when we lost one of the two embryos that were growing inside of my body – my son’s twin:

At least you still have the one.
o My son was not a reserve fetus! Both lives inside of me were and are precious to us. I keep writing and deleting what I want to say here, because I can come up with few things not laced with swear words. You’ll have to just use your imagination and know that sentence should never be uttered…ever…to anyone…ever.

What TO say:

I’m sorry. That just sucks.

That’s it. That’s all you can and should say. Anything else comes off bad, inappropriate, hurtful, ignorant, and insensitive. Be there if someone needs to talk, be on the sidelines if they don’t. Hug if they need a hug, wait if they don’t. It’s not really about you. You don’t have to have all the answers. You’re not being judged on your stellar responses. Well, actually, you are. Offer up any of the first sixteen responses and you’ll be judged harshly and likely not invited into this couple’s confidence again. Offer up the last, and you’ll be judged as worthy to help them through their struggles.

One last note: Now that we have our most perfect son and everyone in our family and circle of friends knows about our struggles, the new thing we hear all the time and we caution you not to say:

When are you having another one?
Um, did we not just cover this? Please start over at the beginning.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

C-section Aftermath: Living with the Guilt

It’s been almost 17 months since I had my son. We conceived him via IVF after trying on our own for what felt like forever. By the end of the process, we were all doctored out. We opted for a midwife and a home water birth. I was mentally prepared, I was physically ready, I was at peace with my baby and my body – I knew this was going to be an amazing, life-affirming birth and I feared nothing.

My water broke Monday night, which was 6 days past my EDD. Significant contractions came within ½ hour. I tried to rest through it, but there would be none of that. We finally called for the tub early the next morning. Sweet, sweet bliss! Why hadn’t I done this earlier (like during my 1st trimester!)? The midwife and her student (a doula…bonus two-fer!) came later that afternoon. My contractions were coming one right on top of the other. At one point, I had what was timed as one 5-minute long contraction, which was when the midwife knew that the baby’s position was off. I asked to be checked and after 20 hours of labor, I was only 2 centimeters. The midwife and my husband decided to transfer me to the hospital. I was well beyond being able to make such a decision on my own.
Pushing began around 6 o’clock the next morning. It was Wednesday, for those counting. All of a sudden, I KNEW something was wrong. I can’t explain it, I just knew. I yelled for a C-section, something which horrified even me as it came out of my mouth. I immediately doubted myself, but I couldn’t stop that nagging voice from screaming inside my head. I just knew! The doctor (my home-birth friendly OB who was my midwife’s choice for back-up, so I trusted him) fought me on it, telling me, as is understandable, that I would regret it. He even went outside to call my midwife (who had by then gone home) to get her to convince me to not give up. I tried pushing more, but there was something wrong! I was not going to be silenced again. I put my foot down (hard to do, since they were in the air). I saw the looks of disappointment on everyone’s faces – the doctor, the nurse, even my husband. I felt like an utter failure immediately. How could I go from wanting an all-natural home birth in the water to ASKING for a C-section?? Was I just being a HUGE wimp? Clearly, I sucked at life – everyone thought so, even I thought so.
As I was being wheeled into that room, nobody spoke to me. I had done a bad thing and I was being punished, leastwise that’s how I felt. They talked and joked amongst themselves, but I was just a slab on a table. I shook violently. I could not manage to calm either my body or my mind. I had failed. I had failed my baby, my husband, the doctor, the nurse, the midwife, all my friends and family who said I couldn’t do it, and myself. I let everyone down. I couldn’t get over it. The weight of the world was on my shoulders and then, as if that pressure wasn’t enough, they started slicing, dicing, pulling, and tugging. And I wasn’t an active participant in any of it. My son was being born and I had nothing to do with it. What a loser. Way to bring your son into the world peacefully, Amy. Way to make your first act as a mom a selfish, cowardly one.

Then he was out. I didn’t get to see him first, I didn’t get to help guide him out of my body and up to my breast, my husband didn’t get to help receive him, he was just plucked out of me like something out of Alien. Our whole plan was thrown off. He was supposed to be born at home, instead he was in a cold operating room. The cord clamping was supposed to be delayed, instead his life-blood was cut off from him without regard. There were so many “supposed tos” and so many “insteads” that my head was reeling.

Then it happened. A break in the clouds. The doctor leaned over the curtain, looked at me very gravely, and said, “I am SO sorry, Amy. I am so sorry. There is a deformity in your pelvic bone. There is no way you or anyone else could’ve known. There was no way in the world for a baby to fit through. It could’ve killed the both of you. I am so sorry. Good for you for listening to your body. I should’ve listened to you, too.” Over the next two days, he came and told me this two or three more times. Wow. Maybe I wasn’t such a failure. I mean, I couldn’t help that any more than my husband could help being born with just one kidney. I was born this way.

So why did I still feel such guilt, such remorse? I was wheeled into the recovery room where my husband was waiting with our perfect newborn son who I had only met briefly and in passing and as I took him to my breast for the first time, I cried and apologized profusely. I told him over and over again how sorry I was for his harsh entry into the world. It is 16 months later and I am still apologizing, though less frequently and usually without tears. I have the most perfect son, he is securely attached, we are tightly bound, he still breastfeeds and cosleeps, I am blessed enough to be home with him – our little family of three has a perfect life together. There is just one little blemish and I’m not sure if it will ever heal…I’m not sure what I can do to make it better for us. I’ll keep trying, though. I’ll always keep trying.

Tribute to a Mama

The one absolutely unselfish friend
that babe can have in this selfish world,
the one that never deserts him,
the one that never proves cold or treacherous,
is his mama.

A babe's mama stands by him in laughter and in tears,
in health and in sickness.

She will sleep on the cold ground,
where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely,
if only she may be near her babe's side.

She will hold the arms that have no hug to offer;
she will kiss the wounds and sores
that come in encounter with the roughness of the world.

She guards the sleep of her slumbering babe
as if he were a prince.

When all other friends desert, she remains.
When milestones pass and tantrums take hold,
she is as constant in her love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.

originally published on peaceful parenting