Monday, July 29, 2013

I Don't Know How To Do This

Avery Hope, 5 days old

When I found out I was pregnant with Avery, I really fell apart, as you can imagine.  I cried with my friends in the Wegman's cafe for a while, but then I knew I had to go home.  I did NOT want to go home.  I did not want to tell Michael I was pregnant--he was scared enough already.  I did not want to go home and inflict on the love of my life the pain and fear I was going through.  I was so unglued myself I knew in that moment I couldn't go straight home.  So I went to my Mom.  I don't remember much about it except choking out the words "I'm pregnant" and collapsing into her lap, sobbing like a little girl.  I cried in her lap that night harder than I've cried basically ever.  Since I was a baby anyway.  Screaming, sobbing, choking, crying.  I just kept saying: "I don't know how to do this.  I don't know how to do this.", and I didn't.  Who would?  But I've learned that God knows how to do this and He has led me each day, sometimes each minute.  

We're in a new chapter where I just don't know how to do this, so I have to lean on Him.  I keep replaying in my mind the moment they put Avery on my chest and we saw her for the first time.  I try desperately to remember how she felt and what it was like to have my arms around her tiny body.  That is the only time I've held her in the 5 days since we met.  If I add up the amount of face to face time I've had with her since then, it is less than 24 hours.  I can't explain what it is to feel so keenly the absence of someone you don't really even know.  Even the kids, who have each seen her for a grand total of maybe 15 minutes talk constantly about how they love her, how they miss her, and how much they want to bring her home.  Even my stoic big boy Owen talks about Avery all the time and how much he wants to hold her and have her with us.  It's amazing how they all know our family isn't all together and that it's not quite right.

I've changed a grand total of two of her diapers.  2.  One wet, one poop.  I never knew I could be so elated to change a poopy diaper but I will remember that diaper change to the day I die.  When Avery was one day old I was sitting with her with my hand on her back because that's all I can do for her and I happened to see a nurse in the hall carrying a dirty diaper to the trash.  As she was wrapping it up I saw it had that blackish greenish tar like meconium poop on it and I just broke down.  I realized that I didn't change Avery's first diaper and it hurt so badly.  I've spent a lot of time as a Mom of little ones dreaming of what it will be like someday to NOT be constantly providing for someones constant basic needs.  Now, all I can think of is being the caregiver again.  I dream of the day that wiping her little bottom is routine.

I was discharged from the hospital July 26th.  I left her there.  My mind knows that this is right.  She can't breathe without the help of a ventilator.  She can't maintain her own body temperature.  She can't eat without a feeding tube.  My body and my heart scream at me all day that this is not right.  Something is missing.  Someone is missing.  All the way home I looked out the window and tried to tell myself: "Next year at this time we will be pushing Avery in the stroller like that." and "Next year at this time we will show Avery the river.".  Mostly though, I just cried and called out to God: "I don't know how to do this!".  Because I don't.

I don't know how to do this.  I don't know how to leave my baby in the care of others.  I don't know how to have someone else tell me how my child is doing.  I don't know how to not scoop her up and comfort her when she cries.  I don't know how to call and ask if it's a good time to see my child.  I don't know how to turn my back and go home when it's time to leave, and I have to leave.  I have to leave because her brothers and sisters need me too.  I have to leave because I have to recover from bringing her into this world so I can get back to my treatment so that she will have a Mama to come home to.  I have to leave her there but I don't know how.  I know how to stand up out of the chair and move my feet to get to the car, but when I try to imagine the next few weeks or even months, I don't understand how to live this life that we are living without her.  I don't know how to do this, but thankfully God has shown me in the last few months that I don't have to know.  I just have to lean on Him and he will shepherd us through this experience.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Is Your Back Sore? 'Cause You've Been Carrying Me All Week

Well.  THAT was not the plan.  You can’t believe the craziness of the last few days.  The crazy MESSY chaos and fear and love and kindness and blessings of July 22, 2013 to present.   It is only just settling in for me that our Avery Hope was born July 24th at 11:19am, at 32 weeks gestation, weighing in at 4 lbs 4oz. 

She is in the NICU and they are happy with how she’s doing so I am trusting them and being happy with how she’s doing as well.  I will write her birth story soon, but right now I am a jumble of thoughts and emotions (worse than normal).  The Cliff's Notes are pretty simple.  Remember all of that mourning and releasing I was doing?  It all seems very silly in light of the last few days.  I’d like to say that I've learned my lesson about plans and analysis and predictions but I’m beginning to see that at least at this point in my spiritual maturity, that is a promise I’m not capable of keeping.  I can promise this, I will keep trying.  

Thank you for your prayers and comments and support.  You will never know how tangibly those blessings have lifted me up this week, but I can sincerely tell you that if you offered a prayer for me this week you were carrying me through as truly as if you had stormed through the doors of the hospital and physically put your arms around me and lifted with your legs, NOT YOUR BACK!  Are you nuts?  Talk soon.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mourn and Release: Breastfeeding

This post is last in a series of posts where I'm facing things that I have to give up or change because of my cancer diagnosis.  The introduction to the series is here.  Here are the specific posts about homebirth and homeschooling.

Look at the picture above...what do you see?  If you became a mother after the year 2000 you probably see a symbol for FAILURE.  If you're really loopy you likely see evidence of NEGLECT and proof that the user of said item WILL NEVER BOND, WILL HAVE ASTHMA, WILL BE OBESE,  WILL HAVE TYPE 2 DIABETES, WILL NOT LEARN, WILL BE AN AX MURDERER!!!!!!!   Most men and older mothers (i.e. sane people) see a baby bottle.

Breastfeeding is a big deal.  Especially in the last 10-15 years.  Well, actually, it's been a big deal since the dawn of man, then it was down for the count, now it is BACK WITH A VENGEANCE BABY and we will be damned if we're gonna go back again.  And that's good, because breastfeeding is good.  But, BUT--some mothers and babies can't do it.  Legit CAN'T.  Not won't--CAN'T.  Now lest you get up in arms (I can hear it now "studies have shown", "you need to find the right consultant", BLAHH!!!), let me tell you a bit about how much I believe breastfeeding is good and how much I support it.  This is my breastfeeding history:

Owen-  Nursed 28 months including 4 months of pregnancy #2

Madeleine- Nursed 32 months including ALL of pregnancy #3  and then in tandem with Anna for 7 months of pregnancy #4

Anna- Nursed in tandem with Madeleine for 16 months until the 7th month of pregnancy #4 because 3 babies + 2 boobs is not a balanced equation.

Julia- Nursed 41 months (<---Full discolsure:  Even I think that's nuts.) through all of pregnancy #5 and in tandem with Adam until my diagnosis forced me to ween them both in March of this past year.

Adam- Nursed 18 months in tandem with Julia

Some of that math may be off by a month here or there but you get the gist.  So...if you have a question about nursing, I'm your go to gal.  Fo realz.  I think the kids call it "street cred".  Anyway, I put that out there in all it's gory detail to show you that I am a breastfeeding supporter, some might even look at my history and call me a fanatic.  Really, I'm just lazy.  Breastfeeding isn't easy, it actually kinda sucks (pun both intended and not intended) a lot of the time, but it fits my personality because you can't forget to bring something with you that's attached to your body.  It takes a lot of commitment and stamina but there's nothing to wash.  I never intended to be that girl described above.  If you had told me when I was 6 weeks into nursing Owen that 9 years down the line I'd have racked up that much nursing time I would have probably ended you.  But you get used to it, and if you're like me you don't exactly love it--some of the time you HATE it, but you're glad you're doing it and soon it's all you know.

Fast forward to present day.  I can't nurse this little girl.  I'm packing poison and so obviously this dairy is closed for business.  I can't really explain how I feel about this except sad and nervous.  Sad because she won't have the same thing her brothers and sisters had and it is the best option.  Sad because while I don't love nursing, I love loving my babies that way.  Nervous because after 5 babies I'm basically going back to newbie status.  I have NO CLUE about this formula/bottlefeeding thing.  NO CLUE.  I asked my pediatrician (who we love) about it and he was like "You the bottle...put in the formula...and feed it to them.".  I had no idea our beloved pediatrician was also a comedian.  I'd also like to to add that he is a HUGE breastfeeding supporter and has two amazing lactation consultants on staff.  This is not a man/doctor who doesn't take the benefits of breastfeeding very seriously.

Breastfeeding is pretty much: move shirt, feed baby.  Don't get me wrong there is a learning curve, but the choices are limited.  What I know nothing about is what bottle do I open and with what kind of nipple and then what formula do I put in it and then how much do I give the baby?  When you're nursing you just have to remember left or right.  Now with this bottle business I have to make sure I get the right kind of bottles and do you know there is not ONE kind of soy free baby formula available in the United States?  I can't use the water from the tap to mix it and do I need a bottle warmer?  Do I have to sterilize them every goodness gracious time I use them?  Holy moley.  That's a lot to figure out. That's A LOT of extra work.

We're blessed to have some very generous women pumping milk for our little girl so that she will still get at least some of the benefits of breast milk.  Gratitude doesn't even begin to cover how I feel for these women. Do you have any idea how tedious and time consuming and inconvenient pumping is?  It is the WORST.  I hate it.  I could barely force myself to bother with it for my own kids so we could leave them alone with a sitter every once in a while.  Which incidentally, is a big reason working Mamas are heroes.  Working Mamas who pump every goodness gracious day more than once a day are Grade A a** kickers.  So anyhoo, THESE LADIES are pumping for a baby that's not even theirs.  Do you realize that means they're already nursing their OWN baby, most of them also have other children, and they are taking on this massive inconvenience to help out someone else's baby?  Women are awesome.  Every precious ounce our little girl gets will be a gift of the highest magnitude and I am humbled by this generosity.  It eases my mind and heart a bit while I contemplate the fact that the next time someone posts a formula recall on Facebook, I'll have to worry about it.

Let's face it ladies, if you nurse, you know that's one area you get to look like a "Good Mom" without even trying.  If other Moms see you nursing it's like they check a box and you're cleared from a certain level of scrutiny.  I've never encountered someone who was openly judgmental towards a bottle feeding Mama, but I also know it is something that they often feel terribly sensitive about.  I know I will.  I used to think "Don't worry about it, you know what's best for your family!  Who cares what other Mamas think?".  You're an idiot Nella.  EVERY Mom cares about what EVERY OTHER Mom thinks about her.  The first time I have to take a bottle of formula out in front of other breastfeeding Moms that I don't know I will probably be more nervous than the first time I nursed in public.  I will probably want to explain myself.  I will have to get over that because it doesn't  matter.  Breastfeeding is the best choice for babies, but it doesn't automatically follow that formula is poison.  My breastmilk is poison.  Just because there are health benefits to breastmilk, doesn't mean my formula fed baby will be doomed to a lifetime of health problems and added bonus: she won't starve to death.

You know the number one reason I will never explain my bottle using ways to anyone?  BECAUSE NO OTHER BOTTLE FEEDING MOM SHOULD HAVE TO EITHER.  Period.  There is probably at least one breastfeeding Mom who started reading this post thinking "Well of course you have a good reason to use formula, but (fill in the blank).".  I know because a year ago there is a chance I would have read a post like this and thought a thought like that.  Ewww.  Shameful.  It's not enough for us to think things and not say them fellow Mothers.  We need to banish this kind of judgement from our hearts and give each other the benefit of the doubt (I'm looking in the mirror-ok really the reflective computer screen--with a very stern look on my face AT MYSELF while I type this.)  My reason for bottle feeding is no more valid than any other woman's.  I will not explain myself because NO WOMAN should have to explain the choices she makes for her family and NO OTHER WOMAN should purport to know what is best for every baby.

Beyond that, while breastfeeding is free, it is often possible because of privilege.  I could be the crazy breastfeeding lady because I could stay home.  Had I been working it would have been hard but I would have been in a white collar environment where pumping would not have been easy but it would have been possible.  I honestly probably would not have been tough enough to keep pumping and turned to formula anyway.  I had a supportive spouse.  I had many many advantages that made it possible for me to nurse.  All that nursing was really difficult, but it was a challenge I could accept because there were factors in place in my life to support me.  When I'm making a sacrifice, and it is a sacrifice to breastfeed your baby, I can start to see myself as some kind of hero or martyr, rather than who I really am--a woman of privilege who has the luxury of the best because of the sacrifices of others.  Say it with me:  "GET OVER YOURSELF NELLA!!!".

So.  Bottle feeding Mamas:  I need your help!  What bottles, nipples, formula, or any other gadget/paraphernalia do I need to know about?  What can I expect?  What takes out a breastfeeding nazi faster, a drop kick or a left hook?  Help a girl out!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Mourn and Release: Homeschooling

This is the 3rd post in a series of posts titled "Mourn and Release".  The first post explains the point of the series, and the second specifically addressed homebirth.  Now I'm going to whine about homeschooling.  I'd suggest a smoked gouda with this whine, but since this is about homeschooling I guess I should suggest some really serious bleu cheese because then we could map its origins and culture the strain of mold and practice some french vocabulary (How many of you had a judgey moment thinking I misspelled bleu?).  

Anyhoo, we just love to do stuff at home around here.  Just like in the homebirth post, I'm not going to get into the reasons why we chose to homeschool.  There is so much about it out there in the ether that I would be beating a very dead horse.  Gross.  Besides, while homeschooling is still not the most common educational choice, it is more and more mainstream everyday so most people know a few homeschoolers and have come across an article or two on the subject.  Homeschooling is awesome, when it fits your family's needs.

I first had an inkling that I might be a future homeschool Mom back in my pre-Motherhood days when I was in Graduate School to be a teacher.  Once I became a mother and my oldest child approached school age I started to look at it seriously.  Michael and I did a lot of reading and a lot of talking and a lot more reading and a lot more talking in the process of making the decision to forgo traditional schooling.    I did a lot of reading and researching and talking and Michael did a LOT of very patient listening and asking questions and helping me sort it all out.  In all that research of philosophies and curricula and socialization (fellow homeschoolers let's all have a snort together), there was one piece of advice that has stuck with me:

The decision to homeschool in a family should be made on a child by child, year by year basis.  

I wish I could remember where I read this precious, precious gem.  The woman that wrote that deserves a medal, and dessert, and the title: "Super Smart Super Level Headed Genius of the World".  It is the ONLY piece of advice you need.  New homeschoolers can be kind of exhausting with their constant talking about curricula and unschool or classical and blah blah blah.  I know.  I was one of them.  I still love looking at books and reading about homeschool resources and Pin All The Things that I see that I could possibly ever use in our homeschool so believe me, I'm not immune.  But the first most important decision before a single book is chosen is simply "Will this best serve the needs of this individual child this year?".

Way back in the fall, I started to consider that we might not all be homeschoolers next year.  It was just a whisper in the back of my mind but the data was beginning to pile up that the needs of each individual child measured against what I could realistically provide during this season of our life was not a balanced equation.  OUCH.  You see, about 2 years ago, it started to become clear that Owen was having difficulty learning to read and write.  Up until then he was behind his peers but well within normal limits, especially considering he was boy.  Soon though, we had to face that Owen needed more intensive intervention.  He completed Speech Therapy and Vision Therapy.  I cannot say enough about how life changing Vision Therapy was for Owen and I highly recommend that if you have a struggling reader you take them straight to a Developmental Optometrist.  Despite this therapy and continued reading instruction, he fell further and further behind.  I have done every single instructional method and remediation I know, and as someone who holds an undergraduate degree in Linguistics with a focus on Child Language Acquisition and a Master's degree in Elementary Education, I was as "well prepared" as a Mom could possibly be to teach a struggling reader .  But it didn't matter.  My 9 year old, who in a traditional school setting would be entering a 4th grade classroom in the fall, reads at a first or second grade level.  There are no words to describe how difficult that is to write.

It has been a long, hard, terrifying road.  Until my cancer diagnosis it was my all consuming project to find new curricula, new therapies, and new experts to evaluate him.  It was what kept me up at night.  It is terrifying to have a child that can't read.  In the 21st century a kid would be better off missing a limb than being illiterate.  Even more scary is the knowledge that I alone am to blame, there is no one else to share the responsibility for his illiteracy.  A parent whose child is in school can share the blame for their child's struggles with the teachers and other professionals in the school.  When you homeschool, the cheese stands alone.  Even though we have gotten him outside help, it is still on me.  The self doubt and fear you feel as a parent that you could be failing your child in such a profound way can be paralyzing, but we couldn't afford paralysis, we had to keep pushing ahead to find an answer.

After completing Vision Therapy, Owen was also evaluated for Central Auditory Processing Disorder, and went on to have a complete Neuro-psychological evaluation.  Through these hours and hours of evaluations and therapies and research we have determined that Owen is Dyslexic.  It is such a relief.  Now we know why normal remediation couldn't help him.  Now we know where to start finding resources that can actually help.  Owen needs a lot of very intensive one on one attention that cannot be provided in a traditional school environment.  It also cannot be provided with needy younger sisters running around.  Owen will work with an Orton-Gillingham specialist this year in conjunction with instruction provided at home by yours truly.  THIS we can work with!  THIS will be a lot of work for us, but it is work that will bear fruit.  Best of all, Owen's dyslexia would be a terrible impediment to him in a traditional school, but there is no reason for it to be an impediment to him in life.  Dyslexia isn't even really a disability at all.  In fact, many of the best things about Owen, his most impressive talents and skills are as much a part of his Dyslexia as the challenges it poses for his interactions with written language.  We were blessed to have him home to be able to identify it as soon as we did, and we are blessed to have him at home to provide him with the quality and method of instruction he needs.

You're probably starting to wonder...who's going to school?  The big girls (Madeleine and Anna) will go to our wonderful parish school where their very standard, very easy to meet needs will be met so that I can tend to Owen's much more pressing needs without distraction.  The girls are constantly asking me for more school work, and between the intensive attention that Owen needs and the fact that there are still 2 OTHER KIDS in the house, the attention to academics they were begging for just wasn't happening.  They are neuro-typical super enthusiastic learners who like to be around other kids.  It's a no brainer that sending them to school for a year makes sure everyone gets what they need.

So what's the big deal?  Ego alert.  Again.  I have to admit I can't be the "be all end all" for my kids.  I believe that all things being equal homeschooling is the most ideal educational choice, and even with that belief, I have to accept that it's not for all of my kids at this time.  I have to admit I'm not enough, mostly to myself.  I have to admit that I need help.  I have to not just admit it, but be grateful that I even have access to that help and to many different choices to boot.  It is a privilege to have the ability to forgo a second salary so I can be home for the kids who need me at home.  It is a privilege to have the ability to send the kids who don't need to be home to a high quality private school.  It is even a privilege to have a child with special educational needs and be able to identify it, let alone provide the services needed to help him succeed.  Yet here I am, again, feeling sorry for myself because I "have to" send 2 of my 6 children to an excellent school for one year.  Shame, shame, double shame, everybody knows your name.

Maybe after our traditional schooling adventure I'll get to bring everyone home again, maybe not.  Maybe we'll have a mix of schoolers in our house again, maybe not.  Maybe someday they'll all go somewhere else without me OMG GET ME A PAPER BAG!!!!!  Just kidding, mostly.  Maybe they will, and if they do it will be because their needs trump any educational philosophy I can espouse.  Because it's about them and recognizing that homeschooling is good, so so good, but not if it's not right for them.  So when the coo coo homeschooler voice in my head starts yelling at me "You're warehousing your kids!" or "Their teachers won't even know who Susan Wise Bauer is!", I need to tell her to zip it, because that b**** be tres cray (that's ghetto French for "that young lady is very crazy".).  Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go hide my denim jumper so the homeschool police can't confiscate it.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Mourn and Release: Homebirth

I wrote a precursor to this post here.  If you didn't read that yet all of this melodrama will not make much sense.

*I'm pretty sure my repeated use of disclaimers means I'm not communicating my thoughts clearly enough, but I never professed to be a "real" writer.  Birth is a sensitive subject for many women and I want to make it clear that while I have strong feelings about Maternity Care in America the point of this post is that I'm nuts and it doesn't matter as much as my deluded head thinks it does.  This is meant to be a judgment on MY attitudes toward birthing practices and not on anyone else's birth choices.  This is about ME BEING A SELF RIGHTEOUS NUT JOB.

True dat, Ryan.  TRUE DAT.  (HT:

We had 4 of our babies in hospitals, one with an OB, the others with Midwives.  Our last birth was a homebirth with a wonderful midwife.  You could say I'm a bit of a connoisseur of maternity care. I would give anything for this birth to be a homebirth as well.  I know, there are a BUNCH of you right now who are like: "Girrrrl! You're upset about not having a baby in your house with no drugs?!?!?!?  Bullet dodged.  Move on.".  There are others probably thinking: "Should she be allowed to have a baby if she thinks it's a good idea to have her baby anywhere but a hospital?".  I'm not going to get into the particulars of why or how home birth is a great choice.  Remember my husband the scientist?  There is no way he'd allow his wife or child to be put in danger for some crazy hippy stuff.  Home birth is a safe, ideal choice for low risk mothers.  It was an ideal choice for us.  WAS.

I'm not a low risk mother anymore.  I don't really feel comfortable with the idea that I'm a high risk mother, unless it connotes something like: "You are at high risk if you mess with that mother."--but this time around, I have to accept that title.  So far, our sweet girl is doing beautifully.  She is by far our most photographed child in utero and she is looking just gorgeous both physiologically and aesthetically if I may take some maternal license thank you very much.  Her heart and lungs and important parts are all just right, her growth is right on, and she is progressing as if nothing was going on out of the ordinary.  I'm doing great, all things considered.  My blood counts do take a hit after treatment but I'm not bottoming out by any metric so far.  My blood is one reason for my high risk status.  My germ fighters and clotters and oxygenators aren't where they should be.  I have to be in a place where there is extra blood and medicine laying around just in case.

The other complication in my situation is that I have to be induced. I have to be induced because I have to time my labor and delivery with my treatment.  I get chemo every 2 weeks and the negative impact of the chemo on my blood counts is least right at the end of the 2 weeks, just before I go back for another dose.  I need my clotters and germ fighters and oxygenators to be able to give birth, so we need to make sure I give birth 2 weeks after my chemo.  I need to give birth as soon as possible (at 36 weeks) because until I do, we can't actually know exactly how much cancer I have, but I can't give birth too early because that would be bad for the baby.  THEN, I need to recover from the birth as quickly as possible so that, God willing, I can start my treatment again 15 days after my daughter is born.  If I have to wait too long between the birth and the treatment, important progress that has been made in killing my cancer could be lost.  Whew.  So OF COURSE thank God they can induce me.  Thank God we can time things in a way that is best for me and for our daughter.

So why is this induction so hard to accept?  Because it goes against my ideals.  Can you believe I used to think I wasn't one of those militant homebirthers? EARTH TO NELLA:  Cancer is not ideal.  Chemo during pregnancy is not ideal.  But a safe, healthy, Mama and baby are the only real ideal.  That might seem like a "DUH!" thing to say, but in standard maternity care it is often used to treat mothers very poorly so it's like a trigger to me.  The idea of safety is often twisted to trump very real concerns on the part of the mother and baby and very often equate more to the convenience of the medical staff than the well being of the patients, both big and small.  Standard maternity care can be terribly dismissive of the power of a woman's body, and in many ways is systemically misogynistic and it makes me SO MAD.  But I can't focus on that now.  I can't focus on standing up to the standard of care and how it is less than ideal for low risk mothers and babies.

In the end, I have to accept that I am in a less than ideal situation, and I am blessed to have access to interventions that I will truly need.  I have spent a lot of years standing up for myself and my babies to the standard of care.  It's weird and humbling to switch gears and accept that this time standing up for us means embracing so much of what I've previously rejected.  I have to come to a place of gratitude that these technologies exist and that I have access to them.  It's hard because I feel like utilizing those resources is reinforcing and legitimizing a system I believe is deeply flawed--and it is. But so am I.  

Every time I go to an appointment at the hospital, with an OB/GYN instead of a midwife I want to tell everyone I see that I really need this this time, but many women don't even though you make them think they do, and don't think for one second I'm not on to you.  What can I say?  I'm a delight.  GET OVER YOURSELF NELLA!!!! I feel like a musician who is being led in another direction in her work and is afraid of being accused of “selling out”.  I never really understood this idea of not wanting to “sell out”.  I thought: “Hey crazy pants!  Lighten up!  Things change!  You can’t be so stuck in your habits or choices that you can’t make the choices that will move you forward!”.  Easier said than done, uppity judgey Nella.  Here I am, in a position where the right path is very clear, but my pride is telling me that I’m selling out.  I believe so strongly that low risk American mothers deserve better maternity care, but if I’m being honest, I made it into an idol and I made myself the high priestess.  Ultimately, the fate of the maternity care system in this country is a lot bigger than lil ole me.  DOUBLE DUH.  It has many problems, but we natural birth types could stand to remind ourselves that it does a whole lot right that we can forget to see when we are safely ensconced in our little low risk bubbles.  I'm ashamed that I struggle so much to put aside my activism and my pride.  I'm ashamed that I struggle so much to have some genuine gratitude for the people and technologies that will benefit my baby and I in our time of need.  I need to get over myself.

It's not just a sense of activism and "selling out to the man" that makes this so hard.  I just plain don’t want to go to the hospital because I don’t like giving birth there.   I'm just plain old sad and disappointed.  I'm sad because our homebirth was so peaceful, and respectful, and beautiful, and I can't have it like that again.  It is heartbreaking to give that up.  Being in the hospital takes away so much of the intimacy of birth.  It just does.  After having our son at home in our room, just Michael and I and a midwife who had the wisdom and humility to let nature take its course and to let Michael and I bring our child into the world--well, being in a hospital while we birth our baby will feel as profound a violation as if there was a medical team standing around while we made the baby.  I know that sounds melodramatic and weird but it's the truth.

At our homebirth nobody was bothering me or manhandling me.  It was just Michael and I.  It was quiet (until I wasn't Michael would want me to tell you lol).  It was private, which is much appreciated when you're half nudey patoots.  Nobody "checked" me (you feel me ladies?).  Not once.  Nobody was shouting counts of 10 in my face like some kind of horrible preschool boot camp.  Nobody but Michael or I said a single word until Adam was born.  It was amazing.  It was just Michael and I and the midwife WAY in the background.  Just me doing what I was designed to do, and Michael supporting me every step of the way.  It was just Michael and I working together to bring the child we helped create into this world.  It was such a blessing.

When you're in the hospital it becomes about everyone BUT you and the baby.  It just does.  They mean well, they mean for it to be about the Mama and baby, but it’s just not.  You're on everyone ELSE'S timetable.  You're inconveniencing everyone ELSE--you know, everyone who is not in the middle of what has been universally regarded through the ages as one of the single most mentally, emotionally, and physically intense human experiences?  So, yeah, I'd rather be at home.  I'd rather skip the physical comfort of the drugs to be at home.  I know that makes me seem crazy, but I've never hidden the fact that I'm nuts.  I’m sad I can’t have my baby in my home with my husband in all my crazy nuttiness.  But look at that sentence.  I, I, my, my, my, my what a lack of perspective we can cultivate when we make false idols.  Selflessness fail.

People are going to bug me and manhandle me while I'm in labor with this little girl.  People will be intruding on personal, intimate moments that I'd rather share only with my husband.  But those people will be there to protect me and our daughter from real dangers that could actually come.  I have to accept that.  I have to find a way when that moment comes to say thank you and mean it.  Not in my normal "you could poke me with something or cut me so I'll kiss your butt" kind of way that I generally thank medical professionals of a maternity care nature, but a real thank you.  Because I will mean it, and they will deserve it.  I have to let go of my pride, because in the end, they are helping me and they are helping my daughter and I am so blessed that they will be there.

That was too much and not enough all at once.  Huh.  I thought this would be the easiest one to write.  Oh well.  GET OVER YOURSELF NELLA!!!!  That's the point of this whole thing.  To lighten things up, here is a clip of one of my favorite comedians, Jim Gaffigan, about homebirth.  The home birth portion starts at 1:29 and ends around 4:11, or you could just watch the whole thing because he is really funny.

Oh, and you should know, when he says that "birth coach" is too generous a's not too generous a title for Michael.  He is the BEST doula a girl could ask for.