Why I’ve Distanced Myself from NCB’ers

NCB’ers (otherwise known as those in the natural childbirth movement) stand up for many things – none of which they are shy to share. Back when I was pregnant, I knew I didn’t really fall into a category, but if you had asked me then I was aimed for what I believed was a natural birth. I didn’t want an epidural, Pitocin, or any “drugs”. I was going to use the heck out of that jetted tub. I was seeing a midwife – but little did I know that my CNM would be seen as a “medwife” – not someone with my best interests.

I struggled in labor, and things did not go as I had planned. After hours and hours of stalling at a 9, I think everyone in the room knew that something had to be done because this was spiraling backwards – not moving forwards. An epidural and a low dose Pit drip was administered, and I spent about an hour and a half wide awake before it was time to push – finally out of misery and knowing so well that my baby was on his way. Bonding? It was excellent. I spent the whole night staring at him, studying him – the perfect little baby that was so unbelievably cute and that no one could take from me for a second – except when I wanted a shower, which took me about three minutes… a personal record. I went home with nothing but a raving review of my midwife and the immense pride I felt for the amazing birth I had – no matter how long, miserable, horrible it was – and for my perfect son.

My love for this perfect birth led to reading. I began to toy with the idea of becoming a CNM myself. I studied, I read, I researched. I accidentally stumbled onto a popular birthing facebook page one day, which then lead me to a blog about the things that health care providers say. I began reading to discover what I wouldn’t want to say to a patient someday. Soon I began to read it and believe the comments. That’s where I lost myself, I think.

I began to doubt my CNM. Was she a “medwife”? Had she not had my best interests in mind? What would have happened without the Pitocin? Sometimes I would stare at my son and feel as though I failed him. Who knows what all those “interventions” did to him?

As I became more involved, reading more blogs, following more facebook pages, I also became more involved as a nursing student. My class reports – no matter what class – centered around childbirth, pregnancy, or women’s health. In reality, I think they kept me grounded – scientific research isn’t perfect, but paired with an intelligent and skeptical mind, you can really analyze anything.

I went on to give birth to my daughter, with the same CNM in the same hospital, but no Pitocin, no epidural, and not a mere utterance of such from the nurses or CNM. In fact, the only debate I really remember is me in transition saying “I can’t do this… I’m not going to be able to” and my CNM saying “You can, you’re doing great, and that baby is coming in less than half an hour” – and she was right. I think the sheer terror of the potential of hours and hours of horrible labor were behind the words I spit out, and her confidence was all I needed. Although I’ll admit my husband replying with “You’re silly, you ARE doing it” were pretty darn nice, too – but hey, he hasn’t witnessed 1,000+ births. What does he know?

My faith was somewhat restored in my CNM. I was confident and pleased with birth #2, and I can’t say I’ve doubted it for a second. And while hours and hours of labor isn’t fun, I would never be able to say that one birth trumped the other. Both gave me beautiful children, and isn’t that the priority?

Yet I still continued to follow these pages quite regularly. One night – one particularly bad night, when my three year old was simply a terror, I finally ended up shutting myself in my room, where I sat on the floor bawling. My husband was left to diffuse the situation outside first, then cautiously enter, unsure of what was really wrong or what to do. He sat next to me and I crawled in his lap and cried “What if this is my fault? What if this is my fault for failing when I was in labor?” I sobbed for I don’t know how long. It felt like hours. Hours and hours where I sat there blaming myself for all that happened in my labor with my son, and how his spirit, his intelligence, his curiousity and his damn stubborness was surely my fault for not having the “perfect” birth that NCB’ers talk about, by themselves in a rented pool in their living room, or with a home birth midwife – a REAL midwife – not a “OB in disguise” like I had.

It took a couple of days for me to level out before I realized the error in everything. NCB’ers tell you to have an empowering birth – one that makes you feel incredible about yourself. I did – twice – and then spent some time where that was taken away from me, and I began to doubt that the incredible feeling I had for weeks after delivering both of my children was well deserved. They then mentally vaccinated me with horrific ideas of all the things that would be wrong with my son because I had “failed”, and all the things that were wrong with me because I wasn’t patient enough, didn’t wait, didn’t “know enough” to manage the pain – and I began to feel as if I wasn’t even a woman, and had no right to birth a baby. They left me bawling on the floor one night, convinced that the Pitocin used to get my labor moving again was so dangerous, so harmful, and so awful of me to do that I had destined my son to be a mess – without little regard for things in natural labor that cause issues, too, like hypoxia in labor having a very strong correlation in a lot of research to be associated with schizophrenia. Do you ever see a NCB’er mention that?

I have such a smart son, and such a clever little girl, and while neither are perfect, both are beautiful, healthy, normal kids who were born in beautiful, healthy, normal ways – and never again will I doubt what I did for them. I will not let anyone lead me to believe that anything I did in labor made me a horrible mom, or destined them for anything. And never ever EVER will I doubt my CNM’s – to this day I think I got better care than I could have imagined, and the best partners in my labor that I could have asked for. My births were perfect, even if they weren’t perfectly natural, perfectly intervention free, or perfectly at home. They were perfect for me, perfect for my husband, perfect for my babies… and no one else has any room to say otherwise.

A Bad Treat

We took Ollie trick or treating for Halloween and had a pretty good time.  There is one thing, however, that still has me mad – even days later.

We went to a house that gave Ollie a little booklet.  I wasn’t that worried about it – I figured it was probably something religious, but that’s fine with me.  I didn’t have a problem with it.

That night when we got home, I pulled out what turned out to be a little comic book.  It had a slip of paper in it telling us to vote for the Republicans, and listing each candidate out.  Okay, so that seemed kind of silly – these are kids, they can’t vote anyway, but whatever.  To each their own.

Then I started reading the comic.  It was a comic about a man who was dying and wasn’t very nice.  He is in the hospital, and his roommate tries to get the man to accept the Lord.  I wouldn’t have had a problem with this…. if that was all it was.  But throughout the comic book, to display just how “bad” the man is, he swears on nearly every single page!  Some of it was all symbols, but a few of the words were started, so you could easily figure out what words they were. 

Then I get to the page where the roommate asks the man if he “knows anything about love”.  The “evil” man responds “Sex?  Yeah, I know a lot about that.”

Wait, what?

So let me get this straight.  A bunch of conservative Christians just gave my two year old a comic book with a boatload of expletives and the mention of sex?

THAT I have a problem with.  I think it is highly inappropriate to hand such literature out to a two year old.  It’s not like I’m taking my kid freakishly young – there were lots of kids even younger than him out that night. 

I’m still mad about it.  I suppose Ollie can’t read, but I could read when I was three – do I magically think that such literature would be acceptable for Ollie in a year?  No.  Nor would it be acceptable at 4, 5, or 6.  Luckily I do know that I will be checking Ollie’s bag every year before he gets it.  Will I automatically chuck out literature?  No.  Will I throw away Christian literature?  No.  But I will certainly be reading it before I give it to my kid, because apparently just because it’s Christian doesn’t mean that it is acceptable reading for kids.

Any other moms have anything similar happen?  Any thoughts?

I’ve Gone Completely Nutters

After a day of running around, (picking up a transcript, doing a BPO, stopping by the office for listing paperwork.) I arrive home frazzled.

First things first. Ollie DEMANDS food. But the last few days are a little less than fun, because Ollie not only wants food, but he wants to feed himself.

So I cut up an apple and a banana, and throw them in the food processor. Ollie’s in his high chair, and doing his “frustrated” sound. I can’t describe it, but he only does it when he’s frustrated. Can’t reach a toy, can’t get to where he wants to go, wants to walk, is tired of being in the car, wants to go home, etc. I get everything bowled and ready to go, bib him, and offer the first spoonful. He is so predictable, it’s not even funny.

The first bite is vicious, and nearly takes the entire spoon AND my hand off. The second not quite as vicious, but obvious that he’s hungry. The third, however, changes. He holds his mouth shut tight, makes his frustrated sound, and grabs at the spoon.

He refuses to open his mouth. No matter what I do.

So, a couple days ago, frustrated, I had set the spoon in the bowl in front of him, thinking I’d wait and see if he started acting hungry again. He IMMEDIATELY grabbed the spoon and shoved it in his mouth, flinging vegetable ham dinner across the room in the process.

Yesterday it was apples and bananas, too.

Today I fought and fought and fought, alternating between letting him hold the spoon and trying to feed him myself, meanwhile FREAKING OUT because I had so much to do and not enough time to do it in.

The fight started getting to me. I set down the spoon to grab the towel to clean him up. He grabbed the spoon with one hand and the bowl with the other, tipped the bowl and shoved it in his mouth, all the apple/banana mixture sliding down his front. The spoon, which was full, gracefully plopped a heap onto my carpet.

Yes, I know. I’m a first time mom, okay? Lesson learned. High chair does NOT go on the carpet. My dining room is carpeted, though, which needs to change.

Needless to say, Ollie was in desperate need of a bath.

So I run the water. I fill it about half an inch, strip the kid, and lay him on his tummy in the tub. Before you tell me that I’m a bad mom, in all fairness, he’s too big for the tubs I have, and he’s a very strong 5 month old. It’s also the only time I’ve seen him splash and play in the tub. The rubber duckies go in, and he starts playing. I lean over the tub and play with him for a while, wash his hair, and then pull him out and dry him off. We go back to his room and do the lotion/diaper/diaper cream/powder thing, comb his hair, and get him comfy in some new pj’s.

He and I retreat to the living room, and lay in front of the fire and play. He rolls around a bunch, I get some work done, and when I turn around he’s asleep. He naps briefly, then wakes up, but is quite obviously tired. I go yank clean sheets out of the dryer, and head back to his room to make his bed.

I quickly clean up, put a couple things away, and return to the living room and sweep him up off the floor. I carry him to his bedroom with the usual “night night” chatter. I lay him on the floor and grab a Pampers (the only thing I’ve found that contains this kid’s pee for his 14 hour nights!), and began to pull off his pj’s. I just start to pull the diaper off, and all of a sudden I realize there’s poop in it.

And on my arm.

And in his pj’s.

Oh. My. God.

So I start to clean him up, and set the dirty diaper and pj’s aside. Once I’m satisfied that he’s clean, I turn around to grab the diaper cream, and fast as a flash, he’s rolled over and is banging the floor…

…. right on top of the dirty diaper and pj’s.

Now he’s COVERED in poop. I pick him up, and then I’m covered.

I quickly dash back to the bathtub.

That’s the first time he’s had two baths in one night, anyway.

After the bath he went right to sleep, though, and hasn’t made a peep since.

My life isn’t terribly interesting, but it certainly isn’t boring.

The Rights Of New Moms

Seriously, I find myself extremely frustrated sometimes. I’m sure other new moms can relate. I frequently am bombarded with questions from strangers regarding my choice of feeding method.
 
Unfortunately, what they don’t understand is that it really isn’t my choice.
 
To some extent, sure. I pumped for over two months. When I quit, it was because I was producing 1-2 oz a DAY. That’s it. At my peak, I was getting about 15 ounces a day. At most that was half of what Ollie ate in a day. (He’s a big dude, people!)
 
Some have made comments that I “must not have tried very hard” to breastfeed. OMG. There were tears, tears, and more tears. There were lactation consultants all over me all the time. We tried to deal with the inverted nipples, we tried to deal with the crappy production, we tried to deal with Ollie sucking three times and then screaming. He hated the breast from day one. We left the hospital still trying to breastfeed, and syringe feeding him what I pumped, too. (Which at that point was only about 2 ounces a day.) 36 hours after leaving, we were in the ER because he wouldn’t stop screaming, was running a fever, and hadn’t peed for most of the day. The nurses whipped out a bottle, gave him 4 ounces of formula, and his temp went down and he peed. Pretty simple – like the nurse said (the nurses were fantastic!), he just “needed some meat and potatoes”.
 
From there we kept trying. I tried to get him to latch on for the entire two and a half months that I pumped. It never worked. He screamed every time. I would cry. I would pump and cry. I would cry because I wasn’t producing. I would cry because it is SO HARD to pump and take care of a baby. Ollie is so demanding and high maintenence that he would scream the entire 15 minutes that I wasn’t paying attention to him because I was pumping. It was horrible. (Although now that I’ve dealt with it for a while, I’ve learned that sometimes Ollie just has to cry, because otherwise I would never be able to make him a bottle, eat my own food, or get dressed.)
 
So no, I don’t breastfeed. I did pump, which everyone seems to think is a cop out, but let me tell you, I’d much rather cuddle up and feed my baby at night than mix formula, hold him and a bottle, feed him, get him back to sleep, and then have to pump, too! It’s so frustrating though that perfect strangers in the store see me mixing up a bottle and feel the need to comment on my apparantly shitty parenting ability. You would think that I’m the worst mother in the world.
 
I’ve read the statistics. They say that babies that are breastfed are generally smarter. I think that has a lot to do with the moms. Why are babies not breastfed? Let’s examine.
  • Mom has to work. Some manage to pump, some can’t or don’t. Do you think that perhaps in this situation babies that are breastfed are probably smarter because they have more one on one time with their mom? I understand as well as anyone that it’s nearly impossible for one parent to work and the other to stay home full time – I work, too. I just happen to be lucky enough to be my own boss and be able to bring Ollie with me.
  • Mom simply can’t produce. In this case, I would like to see more detailed studies done. So mom can’t make breastmilk. How does she spend time with baby? Lots of learning activities? Is baby the only child in the household? You could get really specific.
  • Mom doesn’t want to breastfeed, because it seems “too hard”. Now no offense here. But if breastfeeding is too hard or time consuming, or you don’t want your baby attached to you all the time, do you really think you are going to be spending the time to teach baby and play with baby all day long?
  • Mom doesn’t want to breastfeed because she feels uncomfortable, etc. This goes back to the can’t produce. Seriously, who has any right to say that the baby is going to not be “as smart” just because mom is not comfortable?

When I went in for my six week appointment, the midwife’s nurse asked if I was breastfeeding. I felt bad – I feel bad. I feel like a failure, and every comment is like a stab in the heart. I told her I was pumping, and I must have sounded sheepish, because she turned to me and said “Joslyn, I’m not here to judge you. I’m a nurse for midwives. I’m a NURSE. And I can honestly tell you that I’m just not comfortable with the whole breastfeeding thing. I don’t plan on breastfeeding at all. I will pump, and do the best I can. But NO ONE has the right to judge your decision, or the decision any woman makes regarding how to feed their child.”

 

Now I’ve heard some people say “Women used to not have a choice. I don’t believe that you can’t produce enough milk. If you try, it will happen. Would you just have let your baby die?”

First of all, boy did I try. I took Fenugreek, I did “pumping vacations” where for 48 hours I pumped EVERY HOUR. I read and read and tried and tried. Trust me, if I could produce enough milk, it would have happened.

Secondly, have you heard of a wet nurse? Women throughout all of time have had problems breastfeeding. Wet nurses were then brought in for the job. (You can still get breastmilk from other moms, you know. It’s expensive, but it’s out there!) It’s not like this is something entirely new, or something totally unheard of.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is before you make a comment about a mom’s ability, which you have judged based on the fact that there’s a can of powder in her diaper bag, think carefully. Because that mom just might be me, and you just might end up with me bawling out in my car in the parking lot as soon as you walk away.

 

I leave you with a very important picture for me. At the height of my production, I did 5 ounces in one sitting. I was so proud, I took a picture of it. No, really.

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