28 August 2013

Gearing Up for a Bigger Fight...

Yesterday, I repeated my 3 hour glucose test after an "abnormal" result when I took it a couple months ago. Today, I got a phone call from a nurse at Kaiser...they're diagnosing me with Gestational Diabetes.

I'm not even sure I have words at this point to explain how devastated I was when I heard those words. I did, at least, have the clarity to ask for my exact numbers (which were still more "abnormal" than high). The nurse scheduled me for an appointment with the dietician on Friday, and I immediately burst into tears as soon as I hung up the phone.

It's not incredibly surprising that I ended up with GD. I meet many of the "high risk" criteria: I'm seriously overweight, nearing 30, and have a family history of both GD and Type 2 Diabetes. I just assumed that I wouldn't have it since I never had any issues during my pregnancy with BabyA.

Since my numbers weren't outrageous, there's no reason to think I can't control my sugar levels with diet and exercise. However, that requires an amazing amount of work. Work that can only be done by me. I'm already feeling stretched thin by the amount of "keeping up" I have to do around the house, as well as making sure everyone else's lives flow smoothly. Exercise is complicated by the incredibly severe pelvic pain I've been battling during this pregnancy. My OBGYN doesn't seem concerned, but the pain I experience almost every day makes even small daily tasks a real challenge...not to mention attempting to keep up with BabyA while The Husband works 60-70 hours a week and catches up on his sleep during his days off.

Adding to my stress is the fact that I am giving birth at a hospital and with a care provider (Kaiser) that is very intervention-happy. I have a great doula, and I'm confident in my ability to advocate for myself (until I go into actual labor, that is...after that, all bets are off), but I hate the stress. I hate the misinformation and scare tactics that are used to coerce expectant mothers into just doing whatever their OBGYNs suggest. I really hate having to think through every potential minute of pregnancy and birth to make sure that I can have the safest and best birth possible. I hate confrontation.

I've always been the girl who will just smile and nod if it means and end to a confrontation. I can't tell you the number of times I've told The Husband "okay, you're right" because I didn't want to argue. I don't mind educated discussion or disagreement, but these medical professionals can get very defensive if you question their methods.

I've done a lot of research. I purposely chose a doctor who'd been recommended because of his support of natural birth and VBAC (I birthed BabyA naturally, but it seems to me that VBAC-friendly OBGYNs tend to be more supportive of intervention-free birth in general). Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of options for alternative care. So I grimace internally whenever he mentions having a c-section because the baby's "too big," and try to remember that I am not going to get a midwife out of an OBGYN (especially a Kaiser OBGYN).

The GD experience with which I am most familiar is my mom's. I was almost 17 when she gave birth to my youngest sister, and she had diet-controlled GD during her 3rd trimester. She had a c-section because of other health conditions and her doctor's unwillingness to let her attempt a VBAC. My sister was a normal birth weight (7 lbs 9 oz), especially considering my mom's 4 previous pregnancies ended in 8+ lb babies. My mom was also nearing 40 during that birth (she turned 38 a week after my sister was born). I don't remember it being horrible, but I was also working and attending college full time, so I can't say I was really around to observe much.

Today, the nurse told me that she was sure I'd be fine as long as I followed the diet given to me, "unless you're already eating that way." She sounded a little less perky when I told her that I basically had been. After all, growing up in a house with a diabetic (my dad was diagnosed with type II when I was about 10 years old) has to leave a mark. I'm not going to say that I eat like a diabetic all the time. I enjoy bread and pasta more than a couple times a week (especially since pasta is an inexpensive way to feed my family in a time when I have to stretch every dollar), and I don't turn down dessert if it's particularly appealing. I also enjoy a drink at Starbucks every week or two (and I don't order it "skinny"). I do, however, try to eat a lot of protein. I enjoy vegetables, and I have really been craving salads lately. I do occasionally eat an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's, but I'm not sucking down sugar with a straw before I go to bed every night.

Could my exercise level improve? Probably. But I'd really like to see my OBGYN attempt more exercise than chasing around a 16 month old toddler while his pelvic bone feels like it's being broken in several places while someone punches him repeatedly in the vagina. That's the best description I've been able to manage, and it's fairly apt (if a little less painful than what I actually experience on an almost daily basis). I'm sure it has something to do with the amount of Relaxin that my body is producing, since I had a chiropractor make a comment to that effect. Knowing the probably cause, however, does not make me feel any better on a day-to-day basis.

So I'll continue to do my research on evidence-based care for GD, and read lots of boring studies on the potential effects of GD. I want my natural birth, and I'll be damned if I let a stupid number on a glucose meter take that from me.

21 August 2013

Woes of the Unfinished

I have been writing since I was in elementary school. I still have a file somewhere with poems and stories written in my sloppy, left-handed eight year old handwriting. Also in that file is a portion of a novel that a friend and I were co-writing when I was about 10 years old. We never did finish it, but I still think the plot is kind of brilliant and have occasional dreams of resurrecting and completing the book.

I really struggle with completing my writing projects. I started a project about a year ago that is still swirling in my head. The irony of finally having characters that speak to me on a regular basis is that I now have so little time to actually make those characters live.

Lately, I've been contemplating what I want to do. I love being a stay at home mom, and I wouldn't trade my often stressful days of trying to keep up with an ancient house that's falling apart, my kids, and my husband for even the biggest paycheck I made in my always stressful government job. On the other hand, I really hate being the mom who can't afford clothes or makeup. Recently, my flip flops broke and I've been wearing a well-loved pair of Toms that I'm praying will make it through the rest of this pregnancy (after which I will hopefully be able to fit into my other shoes). I struggle with constantly asking The Husband for money, since I spent a decade working to support myself before I quit my job to stay home.

I have a dream of someday publishing a novel. I know a few Indie authors who've had recent success in the urban/paranormal/fantasy genre (which is where my novel would fall), so I know it's entirely possible to earn at least a little money from a book...even if it's not published traditionally. Thank goodness for social media advertising!

I just need to find time to write. I feel like my house is never clean enough. That no matter what I repair or replace, there is always something waiting to fall apart (which is usually what happens when someone lives in a 90 year old house for a decade without doing any kind of upkeep). It doesn't help that I absolutely hate this house. I feel awful saying it because I know so many people are worse off than I am, but this house makes me dream of arson. When I'm pregnant, I tend to dream about things that I really want. This pregnancy, my recurring dreams have been either sexy enough to make The Husband blush like a virgin (bless his ginger heart) or of me getting a new house.

Added to my house drama is an eight year old who is not really independent. She is capable of doing things, but needs constant supervision and instruction. She often wants me to tell her how to play. I was a very self motivated, independent, and imaginative child, so I really struggle with what often feels like Princess' neediness. Speaking of neediness, I have apparently enabled The Husband into codependency. When we first began dating, he was a fairly self-sufficient single dad. He may have lacked cleaning and cooking skills, and been more inclined to buy new underwear than to wash the dirty laundry, but he and Princess obviously survived for a few years without me. Even when I was working full time (and then some), The Husband was fairly helpful with everything except cooking and doing the dishes. I haven't even mentioned my active 16 month old, energetic 6 month old Catahoula puppy, and 9 year old German Shorthair Pointer who thinks he's a puppy.

So while writing isn't an impossible task, it's certainly not an easy one. I feel like I should have been able to find a balance at this point, but it still eludes me. I daydream about being able to leave the kids with The Husband for a few hours a couple times a week so I can leave the house to write, but The Husband's schedule makes that incredibly difficult.

Right now, I'm just hopeful that these characters will continue speaking to me long enough that I can get their stories out of my head and into my computer.

15 August 2013

How Breastfeeding Changed My Life

When I found out I was pregnant with BabyA, a lot of questions started circling in my mind. Luckily for me, how I was going to feed her was not one of them.

I was raised in a family and community that breastfed. The only time I remember seeing a bottle as a child was when my parents did foster care. I distinctly remember my mom explaining to me that the foster babies needed bottles because their mommies weren't able to be there to nurse them. As the oldest of five siblings, I watched all of my younger siblings breastfeed, and I was frequently exposed to breastfeeding outside of my home because most of my friends' mothers also breastfed.

I never even considered having a conversation with the Husband about how our baby would be fed. I was going to nurse her, and that was that. I remember my sister in law (The Husband's younger sister) asking me if I was going to breastfeed and then telling me about how her mother breastfed The Husband secretly because it was the '70s and only poor people breastfed. She also told me about how, when she was struggling with embarrassment while nursing her oldest, my father in law told her that she needed to feed her baby no matter when or where. The Husband's aunt was the first relative to tell me "don't let anyone pressure you into weaning before you're ready." She told me that she had let people pressure her into weaning one of her sons earlier than she had planned, and she still regrets it (that son is now in high school).

So, you see, I had a lot of support. When I gave birth at 3:30 AM and there was not a lactation consultant in sight, my mom was on hand with her years of breastfeeding experience, helping me get BabyA latched for the first time. When my milk didn't come in until almost 6 days after BabyA was born (and I was freaking out), I had plenty of people to reassure me and tell me things like "my milk came in late with my first baby, too" and "it can take a while sometimes, but it will happen."

The Husband struggled some with my breastfeeding...something I did not expect. Since he'd bottle fed The Princess when she was a baby, it took him a while to find other ways to bond with BabyA. He also had a hard time with me nursing in public, and I had to set him straight. He has since come around, though, and he was the only person who never questioned my ability to nurse through this pregnancy and then tandem nurse BabyA and Minion. My heart did a crazy little flip when he made an offhand comment about me needing to nurse "one or the other of them" once Minion arrives. That comment came while he was pointing out a double stroller at the zoo, less than 24 hours after we'd discovered I was pregnant.

I knew I was going to breastfeed. I had no idea for how long. Even during my pregnancy, I was a little put off by the idea of nursing my child in toddlerhood. I'd only known a few people who nursed past a year, and they were the "weird ones" in our community of friends. I had never considered extended nursing until I had a conversation with a coworker who didn't seem like your typical hippie mom in which she told me she had nursed her son for several years (I want to say it was somewhere near 5, but I'm not entirely sure on the exact number). This conversation took place years before I got pregnant, but it started me to thinking.

After BabyA was born, I found myself sucked into the swirling vortex that is Attachment Parenting. As much as I hate to identify myself with a specific group/type of parenting, I have become kind of an AP proponent over the past 16 months. When BabyA was 2 weeks old, I watched Jessica The Leaky Boob give birth to Sugarbaby via live webcast. That was my first experience with TLB community, and I never looked back.

I swore I'd never cloth diaper (so gross!), and we've been strictly cloth for almost a year now. In fact, I recently bought a small package of disposables so I could use a not-safe-for-cloth cream on BabyA's horrific diaper rash, and the smell of the disposables had me almost hurling at every diaper change. I insisted that my child would never sleep in my bed. We've been partially bedsharing for all of BabyA's tiny life. In fact, she's moving into her own bed this week so that she's well adjusted before Minion makes his appearance. I was intrigued by babywearing, but I was not going to spend hundreds of dollars on a carrier (which I mostly wanted because I thought I'd be able to nurse hands-free). I now own 2 woven wraps, an Ergo, and a wrap conversion ring sling (if you don't know what any or all of those are, get thee to Paxbaby.com and do some browsing), the total cost of which you probably don't want to know.

When I started on my journey towards more instinctual parenting, my views on breastfeeding changed, too. I wanted to nurse my baby as long as I possibly could. Minimally, I wanted to continue breastfeeding for 2 years. I went to La Leche League gatherings and met like-minded and encouraging moms. I joined a local babywearing group, and I've made some wonderful friends. I've become a less judgmental person as my parenting views have grown, too.

All of the above, and BabyA still self weaned just before 15 months old. I know my pregnancy is mostly to blame. I could feel my supply slipping, and I probably should have mentally prepared myself better for the possibility that BabyA would not continue dry nursing for several months until Minion arrived and brought the milk back with him. All of the logic and reason in the world, though, does not ease the pain of having a child wean before you're ready. The Husband's aunt was right.

While I have no regrets (there wasn't much I could do, anyway), I have struggled with depression. The end of our nursing relationship has caused some drastic changes in my house, and I've had a hard time embracing all of those changes. I feel like I'm somehow lacking as a mother because I'm missing my secret weapon. I no longer have boobie snacks to entice my exhausted-but-still-fighting-sleep child to come to bed. When she falls and hits her head (like she did this morning), I can't give her nursies to make it all better. I no longer have nursing as an excuse to just sit and cuddle my baby instead of doing housework (although I do still sit and cuddle her anyway). And I am jealous. So jealous of all the moms who weren't forced into situations like mine. Of all the moms who have met their breastfeeding goals and continue to nurse their babies.

Sometimes I think I must be a horrible, selfish person to be focused on what I didn't get when I had almost 15 months of a great breastfeeding relationship. Aside from an undiagnosed lip tie, a clogged duct or two, and several instances of biting, I had a wonderful experience. What about all the moms who are unable to breastfeed? Those who lack the support to continue in the face of hardship?

And then I remember that I can't minimize my feelings. That just because my situation may not be "as bad" as some others, I still have a right to be saddened by my loss. Because that's what it is: a loss. In order for me to be the best mother and person I can be, I have to embrace my feelings instead of burying them or hiding from them.

I know that this loss will only give me more motivation to help whenever possible to provide support to other nursing mothers. I was and am incredibly blessed by all of the support I've received, and to know that there are mothers who don't have that, and who may give up on their breastfeeding goals because of a lack of support, is devastating to me.

06 August 2013

Something I Like to Remember When I'm Feeling Homicidal

Because pregnancy sometimes makes me mushy and nostalgic...

Sometimes, if I care to pay attention, I can be reminded of the things that made me believe that The Husband was the man for me. I knew when I married him (well before that, actually) that I was not making an easy choice (what marriage is, really?). We're both incredibly stubborn and independent, used to getting our own way and unwilling to compromise. We're also both very emotionally guarded. I don't share my feelings easily, and I have an incredible fear of being hurt that ties in nicely with all of my emotional scarring left over from my relationship with my father. It's not that I don't want to talk about how I feel, I've just been conditioned over the years to be the girl whose walls are impossible to scale and who's "perfect" because she doesn't have that cliche emotional side.

Anyway, back to my reminder.

When I was about 13, a friend of mine gifted me with a simple silver Claddagh ring. In order to avoid a long explanation, suffice to say that Claddagh rings (for those who don't know) have varying significance depending on how they're worn. I instantly fell in love with the classic Celtic design (not surprising considering my love of Celtic things).

With very little exception, I wore a Claddagh ring on my right hand, heart facing out (signifying that I was single/my heart was available) for the majority of my life. As a teenager, I always had a dream (I believe it began as an actual dream) that I would meet someone who would know what my ring meant and just turn it around instead of having that awkward (I don't care how old or mature you are, it's always awkward) "define the relationship" discussion. The older I got, the more I knew that dream was ridiculous. It was a teenage fantasy, though, something that I'm sure I've written into some long-forgotten short story or Pride and Prejudice fanfiction at one point or another.

When I first met The Husband, I was unimpressed. We were at a bar, I was more than slightly tipsy, and he was annoying me because he would not stop invading my personal space. I didn't even think he was all that cute. I merely put up with him because the friend with whom he was at the bar was a regular drinking buddy of mine (that drinking buddy turned out to be The Husband's best friend and is now our brother-in-law). When my friend, the bartender, told me a couple days later that The Husband wanted my number, I told her he could have it because I was bored. Seriously. I thought maybe I'd get a free meal out of him and some good times. I was certain at that point in my life that I was not going to get married, so any kind of serious relationship was completely out of the scope of my imagination.

Several nights later, he invited me at the last minute to come hang out at his best friend's house, which happened to be just around the corner from my own house at the time. I hung out around a fire pit with some friends of his, had a few drinks, and then decided to head home. The Husband walked me to my car...and he kissed me. I was not incredibly experienced in that arena, but I can say without hesitation that I never felt instant chemistry with any of the men I'd kissed before. It was a short drive home (less than 5 blocks), but I had been home for several minutes before I stopped shaking.

It was only a few nights after that when I was at The Husband's house. We were talking, and he asked about the rings I was wearing (in addition to my Claddagh ring, I was wearing a vintage opal on my left hand and one of his friends had made a comment about my left hand ring). I explained the significance of my Claddagh ring and assured him that the opal was just a pretty ring I'd found in a thrift shop. He seemed satisfied that I wasn't cheating on some hapless fiance, and the conversation progressed to other topics. After a few moments, we were sitting in comfortable silence. He reached for my hand, and I assumed he was just going to hold it. Instead, he removed my Claddagh ring, turned it around (heart facing in), and put it back on my finger.

I swear to you, I never once mentioned my ridiculous teenage fantasy while telling him the significance of the ring. I hadn't even thought of it myself in years.

That night, I knew our relationship was something bigger than my original plans.

And sometimes, when I'm ready to beat his head in with a frying pan or smother him with a pillow, I can remember times like these in our relationship and feel slightly mollified (not completely, of course, because I do enjoy paying him back for his bouts of assholeishness).

My Claddagh ring back in December 2009, the day after he turned it around