Monthly Archives: May 2011

From the mouths of men…

Uncle I just met two days ago: So, where are you guys on family planning?

Me: *chokes on food*

Uncle’s partner: What?! Why are you asking them that? You can just ignore him.

Me: (to hubby) It’s all yours. (Admittedly, not one of my more intelligent moments.)

Hubby: (to me) How comfortable are you with telling them?

Me: It’s fine, you can tell them. (Imagining something along the lines of “We hope to have our first soon,” but not wanting to say it myself)

Hubby: Well, the test came up negative this morning!

Me: *JAW. HITS. FLOOR.*

Uncle: Well….that was TMI….

I didn’t look anyone in the eye for the rest of the night.

(Also, announcing the same fact on here is totally not as bad. Because I can’t see your reactions. And you all only exist inside my computer. And…shut up.)

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Trains suck

Subtitle: And my husband is a crazy nutjob for liking them.

This weekend we flew across the country to Atlanta to work a quiz bowl tournament. Since we were then on the east coast, we decided to head up to DC and take a short vacation.

The question then became how. I hate airport security and now drive whenever I can to avoid supporting airports. Atlanta is supposed to be a pretty crappy place for security, so the hubby suggested a train. He LOVES trains. After college he took a month long trip in order to ride trains and see ball parks. Yesterday we had down time, so he spent two hours riding Atlanta’s local trains. For fun.

Anyway, he’s been trying to get me to take an overnight train trip with him for awhile, and this seemed like a good time. So I said sure and we got a sleeper car.

Worst. Fucking. Idea. Ever.

To start, getting to Atlanta we had airplane delays so we got to our hotel at about 3am. Then we had to report at ungodly hours for the tournament, so I was anyway sleepy.

We get on the train and go to our car. Which is roughly the same
size as a phone booth. Seriously, sitting up there is barely more room than you get on an airplane, but trains take longer. Woo hoo! But OK, whatever. What is that next to the hubby’s seat? Oh! It’s a toilet! I basically sit in his lap to use the restroom! But OK, no big deal, I’ll just kick him out. I was a little surprised by all this, but still doing good.

Then it came time to sleep.

Or rather, get thrown around the f***ing car while trying to brace myself and ignore the near constant screaming of the horn.

At 2am I was still wide awake.

Finally, awhile later I got so exhausted I drifted a little, but every 10 to 15 minutes I was woken by either almost being thrown out of bed, my arm falling asleep, pain in my back or neck, or a jerking stop of the train.

So yeah. No real sleep.

My husband, on the other hand, slept like a baby. He “likes movement.” I hate him a little.

And now I get to go meet my husband’s uncles, who I’ve never had any contact with before and who we’re staying with, exhausted and unable to control myself. So. Fucking. Stressed. Hello, anxiety.

Trains fucking suck.

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I do not recommend this

You know what I most definitely do NOT recommend?

Applying to graduate school….13 days before classes start.

Yeah. Good planning.

In my defense, I just learned about these programs’ existence 6 days ago.

And the schools just got back to me letting me know things were even possible and how to proceed this morning.

And I’ve already applied to one school and now just have to apply to the departments (which is really the harder part but shhhh)!

And pray to the GRE gods that the good folks at the standardized testing center work on wings of lightning to get my information out the door faster than they predict they will.

Or that the good ol’ USPS speeds the paperwork across the country and into the proper hands in fewer than the 5-7 days I was told to expect it would take.

Have I mentioned what a racket these people have going? Seriously, I have a paper with my scores, but it doesn’t say “official” so I have to pay them a chunk ‘o’ change and beg and plead for them to send the exact same paper with another stamp on it recording the results of a test I paid them a buttload of money to take in the first place. On a computer. That was mostly graded instantly by the computer. Yeah. Good times.

So anyway, if y’all could burn some incense to the gods of the GRE and the USPS. Or maybe sacrifice a young goat. You know, whatever floats your boat. I’m flexible.

And then keep me in your thoughts as I try to corral two people into writing letters of recommendation for me..you know..yesterday, fill out the multitude of forms for the department’s acceptance, write a statement of intent (complete with citations about deaf education issues!), fill out the FAFSA, apply to the other department which I also have to take classes in, and several more things I’m forgetting because my phone is dead and it has my list on it.

Oh yes. There is a list.

Thirteen items to be done in the next few days.

Because did I mention I’m leaving town in two days and will get back shortly before the summer semester begins? (Don’t even try it, I have mean, nosy neighbors, friends coming over, and even people staying in my house part of the time I’m gone. Plus nothing worth stealing.) So basically I need this all in by..tomorrow.

*deep breath*

I have been playing paperwork games all day to get this done. Along with deciding I’d go with this program instead of the other option, since this one costs less than 1/5 of what the other one would cost (seriously? $1,500 a CREDIT? Get real, people!). Along with harassing the very nice secretary at the program begging her to PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE help me make sure I get everything right.

Oh, and calling a knee specialist to set up an appointment and fielding a half-dozen calls and e-mails about Companions and tutoring for a few hours.

*pant pant pant*

Here’s to hoping I can get it all done tomorrow! You know, in the hour or two I can probably block out between volunteering and tutoring/private training/group class.

*passes out*

But hey, maybe the nervous, excited energy will keep me going! And then the classes I get to take look (mostly) really cool!

Oh, and I GET TO SEE MY BESTEST FRIEND IN 2 DAYS!

Yup, that’ll do it. Gotta make it to that.

Maybe I should stop blogging and get back to work.

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Oh, healthcare…

I have bad knees.

Seriously. I have for as long as I can remember.

If I hold them bent too long, they hurt. If I kneel in any position, they hurt. If I try to do a squat, they hurt. If I sit on my heels, they hurt. If I use an elliptical or bike for too long, they hurt. And if they don’t right away, they do later.

I never thought much of it. It’s been this way for as long as I can remember.

Then my OBGYN sent me to physical therapy for a problem she detected during my annual exam.

And in treating that problem, my physical therapist kept coming up against walls when I would inform her I couldn’t do half of the stretches she’d recommend because it hurt my knee too badly. Anything in a lunge or kneeling. Anything that involves a deep bend in the knee (quad stretch, anyone?). She finally declared that this was ridiculous, I was too young to have constant knee pain and be unable to do these basic stretches.

So she asked my OBGYN to allow her to also work on my knees.

Which my OBGYN approved, because their office is so busy they don’t even look at most of the paperwork. I picture Colonel Blake from MASH.

Time goes on and I am treated for both problems. The original problem gets better, and now I am only being seen for knees.

Three weeks ago I go in and tell my PT that my knees have been hurting bad that week. She looks surprised, and examines me. She keeps looking, but can’t find anything that could cause knee pain. Sure, my right knee is a little swollen. And sure, my left knee is a little tight. But nothing really out of the ordinary, certainly nothing I should be feeling.

So she orders x-rays.

Let me clarify. She is just a lowly PT. She can’t actually order x-rays. Even though she’s been seeing me for 6 months and is very well-respected in her field.

So she asks my referring doctor, the OBGYN to order x-rays.

The OBGYN is out of the office. And when she gets back…nothing. She doesn’t say she won’t. She just doesn’t do them.

Meanwhile, my knees still hurt. In fact, they have gotten worse. They used to be OK unless I pushed them, now they hurt pretty much all the time, and the pain intensifies when I use them. So standing up? Very painful. Sitting down? Quite painful. Crouching? Damn near impossible. Which is a problem, since my work involves either working with dogs (who you kind of have to get down and up to reach) or working with students (who are sitting, standing, moving, etc, and thus so am I).

This was my last scheduled appointment with the PT. She again looks at my knees, and says that based on what she can do in PT she sees nothing that should be causing pain. She is willing to keep working with me, maybe it has just been so long with the pain it will take longer for things to really settle in, but she wants x-rays first to make sure she’s not fighting a losing battle. And quite frankly, at this point, she’d rather I go see an orthopedist (joint specialist) first, before coming back to her, to confirm there’s nothing beyond what she can work on going on.

We decide not to ask my OBGYN again. The office ignored me last time, and was quite rude when I called to check in. And quite frankly, knees are a *wee* bit below their speciality area.

So she sends the request to my new primary care physician. A family practice doc.

Who I have seen twice.

Once to get the vaccines my OBGYN had told me I needed before getting pregnant.

Once to ask her to write a letter for life insurance saying that I didn’t need to be on the anti-depressants I had gone off of over a year ago since I was managing without them and had done other things to help (quit my job, gone to counseling, improved my diet, etc.) (Life insurance raised my rates ridiculously because I’d been on meds…not because I was diagnosed, but because I took meds. Yeah. That makes sense. But that’s another rant.) As a reminder, she had never seen me when I was on depression meds, or for anything related to my dysthymia. I had just become her patient a few weeks prior. But she came, listened to me, and did it.

And now, for the third time in the few months she has been my doctor, I am contacting her to do something that another professional had requested.

My PT sent her the request for x-rays and a referral to a joint specialist Tuesday.

I hear nothing.

Thursday I call and check in. A message is taken. That evening the assistant, who would be returning the call, calls me but I’m working, so she leaves a message telling me she’ll be gone the next day but to call in anyway. She says she has some questions.

Friday I call in, and get no one. Leave another message.

Saturday, someone (who I do not believe is the assistant of my doctor but I’m not sure because I was flustered and didn’t ask) calls me. She says they have no record of anything coming in on me and asks for the story. I give it, and she sounds doubtful. She says they’d probably need to see me if they were going to do that (understandable) so to just make an appointment. She forwards me to the scheduling desk…where no one picks up.

Frustrated, I give up. I call my PT and ask, if my insurance doesn’t require it, can I just go to a specialist that she recommends and have him order the x-rays? It seems to make more sense than scheduling a doctor’s appointment to get a referral for another appointment so I can get x-rays.

My PT has been out so I haven’t heard back. I’m hoping I do soon. She’s usually extremely good at returning calls. I’ll call again tomorrow if I haven’t heard by noon.

Oh, and have I mentioned I’m leaving town on Thursday? My husband goes and volunteers at a HS quiz tournament every year, and this year I’m accompanying him for the second time.

Last year, right before leaving I punctured my heel quite badly in my opinion (stepped on a grooming rake, three 1/16″ holes about 1/2″ deep right in the deepest part of my heel). I couldn’t put any weight on it, and this event involves a lot of walking across HUGE hotels and other buildings. That was fun. I used a cane.

This year my knees hurt so bad that, at this point, walking hurts. Things just keep deteriorating. And now, since I leave in three days, it looks like I won’t be getting in to see ANYONE until after I get back. So another year of being an invalid there. I think the event is cursed.

But regardless, this is ridiculous. It has been 3 solid weeks of me playing phone tag with doctors and professionals, and my PT doing the same, to try to get me out of being in chronic pain.

Do you really think I’m cheating the system, insurance and doctors? I mean, are there that many people out there who want x-rays for the rush of it? It’s not like I’m surfing for a prescription for vicodin (which, incidentally, I was handed without even asking for it in another situation when I didn’t want it).

*sigh*

I get why every individual person is acting the way they are. The PT can’t order them. The OBGYN is now out of her specialty. The family practice doc hasn’t seen me. The insurance wants to make sure the procedure is needed (OK, this one I get less, why the hell can’t the PT order the x-rays??). But it’s the way they all come together that is seriously screwed up.

I just want to stop living in pain. I want to be able to move through life without the burning ache.

Why is it so freaking hard to do that?

Maybe I should just go into a minor emergency clinic and say I fell down and think I broke both my knees. Then x-rays get ordered all the time…

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Words matter

I was just letting the commercials run on my TV when an ad for some kind of new miracle drug came on. In the commercial, during the “Side effects may include…” spiel, the following sentence (of course) caught my ear:

“Tell your health care provider about all medicines you take and all of your medical conditions, including if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.”

Sounds harmless enough. No big deal here.

But that one little word. “Including.” Including pregnancy as one of many possible medical conditions. It is just one more thing that adds to the deep rooted of fear of pregnancy and birth in our culture, to the attitude that pregnancy is a pathology to be managed and treated rather than a natural state of being. I’m sure it was subconscious on the part of the writer…but even that says something.

Usually such commercials will say:

“Tell your health care provider about all medicines you take and all of your medical conditions, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.”

Such a little change. Just one word.

But that one word changes pregnancy (and breastfeeding) from being part of a “medical condition” to being just another piece of information your doctor needs to know about.

I used to think such little words didn’t matter. That people were making a big deal about nothing. But as I’ve studied gender, race and those with chronic conditions that make them different, such as the Deaf, I’ve learned how much of an impact word choice can have on the subconscious, on the things we accept without even realizing we’ve accepted them.

Which is why this commercial just niggled at my brain a little.

It might also have to do with the baby crazies.

Naaaaah….

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Book Updates

Tangled Webs
The Invisible Ring
The Shadow Queen
Shalador’s Lady
Twilight’s Dawn

Anne Bishop

These five books are all follow ups to the Black Jewels trilogy. And I’ve got to say, I really enjoyed them! I’m impressed with the author’s ability to keep a character and world alive and thriving and growing through so many books. Three of these books (The Invisible Ring, The Shadow Queen, and Shalador’s Lady) only incidentally follow the main characters of the original books, but they are still involved while we focus on other, new characters. Twilight’s Dawn is another compilation of four short stories, and the rest are novels. Overall, these are great books: captivating and full of interesting characters and problems. I was pulled in for all of them. However, they are no original series or Dreams Made Flesh. Those four books are the must-reads. If you enjoy those, then you’ll enjoy these. They’re better than the vast majority of fantasy books out there, and if they weren’t connected to one of, in my opinion, the best series ever written, I’d probably have given them even higher marks. My expectations just started at the top, which made them pretty impossible to meet.

The one little annoyance I had with these books was that, to create new problems or expand on her world, Bishop would sometimes introduce totally new concepts. It is explained how these never came up in previous books a little bit, but some of these creations were so big I had a hard time believing it would never have been mentioned before. She is absolutely consistent, there aren’t contradictions in her books at all, but sometimes it felt a little like, “Wait…why haven’t I heard of this before?” That is a minor annoyance, though, I thought she did a great job for the most part, and I must admit, the new concepts were interesting!

Also, fair warning. The last short story  of the last book, Twilight’s Dawn, at the end of this massive series will completely rock your world. Especially if you like happy endings. It’s not that it’s not happy, it’s just not…right. I didn’t want to think about it! It was a tough place to be, and while everyone’s response was right on, it was almost harder because I didn’t want to think about it and she made it feel so real! Very hard to read, still leaves me with a feeling of WHAT?!?!?! all these months later.

Beyond the Hanging Wall

Sara Douglas

I thought I hadn’t read this book when I picked it up out of my home library…and I couldn’t remember that I had until tens of pages in. That says a lot.

It’s good. It pulls me in when I first start. And then progressively, it loses me. The fantasy aspect gets a little too big and weird for me, and the transition isn’t smooth enough. I just don’t quite buy it, and it leaves me staring with a brow raised going, “…really?”

It’s a light read. Not bad. But I just can’t say I recommend it.

Elantris

Brandon Sanderson

This is the first book since I read the original Black Jewels trilogy where I was sucked. in. Neglecting my family kind of sucked in. Really, really enjoyed Sanderson’s storytelling, and I now am really looking forward to reading his other books.

However. That being said, again, I found the ending somewhat disappointing. Nothing specific about it, it just seemed a little too pat.

In this book there we are taken to a country with a young bride as she crosses the sea to meet her new groom. This country includes the walled city of Elantris, formerly where godlike people lived after they went through a transformation that allowed them to wield amazing powers, now where people who have undergone the transformation are thrown in and locked. About 10 years ago, the transformation stopped turning people into powerful super-beings, and instead turned them into wrecks of their former selves. Once she arrives she finds herself surrounded by political intrigue, automatically married to a husband now considered dead, since on her trip he was taken by the change and thrown into Elantris. We follow her struggle for knowledge, power and acceptance outside of Elantris, and her husband’s struggle to find a new purpose inside Elantris. The characters are strong, and the reader tries to follow along and figure out how everything can turn out right, or in what way it will end up wrong.

Would I recommend it? Yeah, it’s a good read. Especially since most people don’t get as hung up on endings as me. It is a good, solid, enjoyable book. The ending just wasn’t exactly my cup ‘o’ tea.

Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn: A Complete Guide

Penny Simkin, April Bolding, Ann Keppler and Janelle Durham


If you are pregnant, read this book! It is fabulous. Seriously. So. Good.

A few months ago when the baby crazies got strong, I went to get a copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Luckily, I read the reviews first. The attitude in it seems very negative, very focused on all that can go wrong, very flippant about such outcomes, and very do whatever the doctor says, and very full of incorrect information. (Note, I haven’t read it, but I have heard this a LOT since by those who are into births that are more than just going in and letting the doctor run the show. Not that there’s anything wrong that that, but it is not what I want) Not what I was looking for.  Not reassuring. Feeding into our country’s culture of fear surrounding childbirth. Some of the reviewers mentioned this book as a better alternative, so I went and picked it up.

So very, very glad I did!

This book covers basically everything you’d want to know about childbirth. It includes discussions of things that can go wrong, along with pain management options, complications, and more. But it does it without trying to scare you. It treats tough topics more like it’s equipping you with information, so that you can go forward and do the best you can. And I appreciated that.

It has a lot of fabulous information. And unlike the book I’m reading now, it includes a real section on how to pick a healthcare provider that you will feel comfortable with, whatever kind of birth you want to have. I mean, heck, it opens with a short chapter on how pregnancy and birth is a momentous occasion! This book seems interested in your emotional well-being, not just your physical, which I appreciate. There are chapters on changes during pregnancy in mom and baby, exercising and eating well during pregnancy, possible complications, the stages of labor, the multitude of options during childbirth, cesarean birth, and even information on recovery after and how to care for a new baby. And while this book is clearly written by those who tend to lean towards more natural births, I really don’t feel it is demeaning or belittling of other options. The chapter on c-sections is fair and informative, there is no snarky undertone or dismissive voice.

If I could only have and read one book on pregnancy, I would choose this one. And if any of my friends get pregnant in the future, I would highly recommend this book to them, if not give it as a gift. So. Good. Highly recommended.

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Options

Today I worked as a substitute para-educator in my local deaf/hard of hearing (public school) program for the first time. While talking with the teacher (who I’ve volunteered with for a few months) I mentioned that I wanted to get my teaching certificate sometime, but probably just in secondary math since there were no teacher of the Deaf programs where we live, and I wasn’t willing to uproot my husband to go to school.

She nodded, and then pointed out to me that there are evidently several places where you can get a masters in Deaf education through an online program.

One of those places also offers a masters in regular teaching through an online program.

Yeah. Online.

I have known of local certification programs for awhile. They take a year and are INTENSIVE. You have to start right on time (I always look into it right *after* the application deadline has passed) and then go full-bore for a solid year plus. I’m just not in a place where that is worth it right now. I am so burned out on sitting in class for the sake of sitting in class. I am so burned out on driving to classes to be bored by lecture on a subject I’ve heard about (or just bored by a poor lecturer). I am just not up for going back to intensive school like that. I have always hated sitting in lecture classes. One class at a time, great, but many? Not happening.

But these classes are online. I’m a very fast reader (in lecture classes I basically learn from the book anyway). I enjoy online discussions. I could work at my own pace, which tends to be fast. How awesome!

And then I know the DHH program here would allow me to student teach with them…and I could get certified!

Granted, it’s a two year program. But each semester you’re only taking two classes (typically). And they’re online. (What a difference no lecture makes!)

And I don’t want to be out in a year, anyway. I’m hoping to have a newborn in a year. I’m not going to want to start working then. But I would totally be up for continuing with some school. Especially when that school is online and flexible.

So. I have options. And I’m not sure which one (or more?) to pursue. I’ve had in the back of my head that sometime I’ll get interpreter certified. And sometime I’ll get a teaching certificate. But it’s always been later. Now, suddenly, it could be now.

So which path to choose?

Do I want to get a masters degree in education of the deaf? I do love working with deaf kids. They are a lot of fun, and I find it very rewarding. It’s just a great atmosphere to work in. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I enjoy it. On the other hand, there are ridiculous ongoing administrative and teaching style arguments going on all across the country. Deaf students tend to be behind (not because Deafness makes you dumb, but because many kids in public school weren’t exposed to language at all (or only rudimentary language) until kindergarten, and because English is a second language to them), which means administrators tend to get on you about things that aren’t your fault. Also there is a big misunderstanding of Deaf education by those who aren’t in the know. People who don’t get that these are ELL kids are often in charge. It can be a fight to prove you’re doing a good job if you teach in the kids’ native language (ASL) which is harder for the administrators to understand. And then within the community there’s a big battle for ASL vs. SEE (signing exact english, not its own language, doesn’t make visual sense) vs. oral (no gesturing, just reading lips and using speech). It’s a big can ‘o’ worms to jump into, and if you’re not willing to move options are often limited. Near me there is one school district that has the Deaf program…so I join that one or I don’t join one.

Do I want to get a masters degree in secondary math? I do love teaching math (who are we kidding, I just love teaching). I find it very enjoyable to break down and explain concepts in ways kids get. And I love doing math! But on the downsides, teaching math tends to be much more repetitive. It’s not like English, where you can rotate out what the kids are analyzing, when you are teaching algebra you are teaching algebra. I’m not sure how I’d feel about doing it year after year. And, of course, there’s always the ridiculousness of school officials in charge and their demands. Really, the bureaucracy in schools is just crazy, no matter what you’re teaching!

Do I want to just get my interpreter certification? Not work in a school necessarily, but work as an interpreter. Get to play in languages, which I love, and have good, challenging work. I don’t think I would find it as rewarding as teaching, because I do enjoy teaching, but it would be fun, and it is very flexible hours (you take jobs when you want them). I could work in a school, but likely only translating what others say, doing very little explaining myself. However, when you are an interpreter you are just a machine. You don’t get to have say in things, you are just repeating what others say. So, as I mentioned, I’m not sure how rewarding I’d find this. Sure you do some “explaining” when crossing cultures or picking the best way to convey a message, but it’s not the same. This is the least expensive option, and theoretically, the least amount of time is required for it, too. I wouldn’t have to go to school, just study my butt off on my own. Also means it’s the least likely to get done.

What to do?

Ideally I wish I could just get certified to teach, and do a little extra work to add on both math and deaf ed. That way I’d have flexibility and options as I see what is available, since I feel like I’d be able to do both well, and enjoy doing both. But unfortunately, I’ve gotta pick.

Hmmmmm…

I’ve had similar posts before…the difference is, this time I see real options. As in, look! I could go to *this* program. It would cost this much, which we could afford, and I would do it this way. Scary and exciting all at once!

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Babyface

Yesterday I was volunteering at a local elementary school’s deaf/hard of hearing program, and went with them on a field trip to a local high school which was having an “ASL fair”. Lots of fun chasing small children around as they figured out how to “win” the carnival games (hint: when you’re five, you just keep trying til you win. Or you lose…and get a prize anyway). Seriously, good times, I love working with kids.

Then I helped them on their bus and headed to my car back through the school. Where I was stopped by an adult in a suit asking if I knew where “Mr. So-and-so” was. I just stared at him blankly, and then realized why he asked.

He thought I was a student at the high school.

I said I was sorry and that I didn’t attend the school, but I’d heard the vice principal was in the gym if that’s who he was looking for. He nodded his thanks and hurried on.

Today I was working with my 4th grade private tutoring client. I’ve worked with her for a month or so now. While we were working she decided to stall for a minute and asked if I was in school. I said no, and that I had finished school awhile ago. Then she asked if I lived alone, and I said that no, I lived with my husband.

At which point her eyes tried to pop out of her head.

“You?? Have a husband?? You’re married?!? I thought you were in school! You’re married!?”

Yup. Good times.

Seriously, it makes me giggle, and I take it as a compliment and hope I’m always mistaken for being 5-10 years younger than I am.

But sometimes I do wonder about the looks I’ll get when I’m pregnant or walking around with a baby!

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Clarifying my last post

OK, I’ve gotten several comments from people about my last post telling me to chill and not get so worked up. And I love the women who left them and love that they are coming and commenting! Just to say it again, I am in no.way.offended or hurt by anything that was said there. But the comments pointed out to me what I wrote may have come across wrong.

Let me clarify:

I am not worried that I will have a similar horrific experience in my birth.

I am not up at night obsessing about all the things that could go wrong or how unjust what happened to those women is.

I am not reading every bad story or ridiculous MOBSW quote thinking it could happen to me.

I am not stressing about how I could have an extreme experience.

Really, the stories themselves don’t upset me (except in that hearing about something horrible done to another will upset me on their behalf, but it’s not the same personal upset that people seem to be assuming).

What upsets me is the common, constant stream of messages out there in our society, many of them subliminal, that women should sit down, shut up, and trust their doctors. That going to midwives is wrong and borderline abuse of your child. That doctors never do anything wrong, but just do their job to protect you, and thus whatever they do is right.

I cannot insulate myself from that message. I have a lot of friends who are or recently have been pregnant. I hear their birth stories. And I hear their snide comments about these things, in person, on facebook, as they tell their stories, etc. It is the common view of our society, and it is so common and so basic that most people don’t even realize they hold that view.

For a long, long time I have heard the response, “All that matters is a healthy mom and healthy baby.” (To clarify quickly, I have one friend who told me that was basically her birth plan, above all else. In that situation I think it’s a totally appropriate thing to say, for yourself, if those are your feelings. When it bothers me is the following:) I have heard it constantly to negate or dismiss the negative feelings women are having or have had about something that happened during their birth. i.e. “You need a c-section, but don’t worry, all that matters is a healthy mom and healthy baby,” or “Yes I cut an unnecessary episiotomy that resulted in a third degree tear, but I can repair it and all that matters is a healthy mom and healthy baby,” or “Why are you upset they put pitocin in your IV line/swept your membranes/broke your water without telling you? It worked, and all that matters is a healthy mom and healthy baby.”

And for a long time, that felt wrong. Those words would come out of someone’s mouth, or off of someone’s fingers, and they just felt wrong.

And I couldn’t pinpoint why.

I mean, heck, how can you argue with the concept that a healthy outcome is most important?

But still, something felt wrong about it.

And there is nothing more annoying to me than feeling or knowing something without being able to articulate it.

The extreme stories I came across on MOBSW helped me to clarify for myself what felt wrong about them. It made things so extreme that it became clear to me how, in those cases, such a sentiment was wrong. And being able to see it in those extreme cases, I can now see the same thing applies to all cases. Each woman is entitled to her own sense of loss. Different women might feel loss or trauma or grief from different things and to different extents. But for whatever reason, I feel she is entitled to it. Because birth is more than an outcome.

I use similar techniques when trying to argue or explain things all the time. I’ll take it to an extreme and look at it there. If it holds up in the extreme case, it holds up in the moderate case. But often going to the extreme can make some things appear more clearly, even after you then scale back to everyday reality. It doesn’t mean you assume the extreme will happen, it is just a tool to examine a proposition. And I was aiming that piece at all the people (who don’t read my blog) who have scoffed at the idea of “birth rape,” or are sure in their view that there could never be anything violating that happens in a birth, at least that isn’t completely medically necessary.

And here’s the thing. Now that I can articulate it? That phrase doesn’t bother me as much. Because it’s not niggling at me, feeling wrong without me understanding why.

And if I were to have a traumatic birth experience? I would be able to process it better and faster now, because I would not spend a bunch of time feeling guilty for feeling bad when everyone was healthy. And then feeling angry for feeling guilty.

So that last post was not me getting upset and worrying myself into a tizzy.

It was me going AHA! I finally figured out what was eating at me! Look! I can name it! Let me take you to the extreme where it clicked for me, and see if it clicks for you there, too!

It was a giant expression of relief from something that has been niggling at me for a long time.

Because now that I understand it, I can be at peace with it.

I realize not everyone works that way. For some people, to think it out like that is to be obsessing, or worrying, or unable to let it go.

But for me it’s just processing. For me to process I have to talk and talk and talk things through, until they fall into place. And once they fall into place? I can leave them there.

So please don’t worry for me. I am not getting upset. I am not obsessing about all that could go wrong. Quite the opposite. Now that phrase is no longer rattling around in the back of my mind!

And the next time someone calls me a nutjob for wanting to go to a midwife to deliver out of hospital? I will feel that much more confident in responding to them. Because once I can name my feelings, I can own them.

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“All that matters is healthy mom and healthy baby”

I am going baby crazy here, so bear with me as I dive back into this topic.

I hear the title quote a LOT. It is constantly coming out of the mouths of those who are negating the need for birth plans, or even for mom to really do much more than check into the hospital and leave herself in the capable hands of her doctors. It also comes from those scoffing at “birth rape” or those who claim that a natural birth can be an empowering or healing experience.

But how true is it?

Obviously it is true that healthy mom and healthy baby are of utmost importance. But is that all there is to it?

I don’t think so.

This came to mind when reading on “My OB Said What?!?” A recent quote was:

Ten more seconds.

Not that shocking a quote, is it? To put in in context, this was an OB after a mother asked three times that a vaginal exam be stopped. Three times. If the patient had time to ask three times, there was time for a simple dilation check to be over. There was no crises going on. Here’s the submitter’s semi-full story:

I explained to the doctor that I wasn’t comfortable with exams due to past sexual abuse. She rolled her eyes. I felt like that stupid and difficult patient, so I consented.

Part way through I asked her to stop. She didn’t. I asked again. Nothing. I flat out told her “you need to get your hands out of me right now” and she told me “ten more seconds” and kept going. I’m pretty sure she swept my membranes even though I had already said I didn’t consent to that before the exam took place. Then she lectured me about how “a baby was going to come out of there” and I basically needed to deal.

I was too afraid to do anything and ended up crying and apologizing when it was all said and done.

That’s right. A sexual abuse victim who was having a traumatic reaction to hands inside her genitals when it was unnecessary, and a doctor refusing to respect her wishes that she stop.

Then I read another comment by another poster:

At the hospital I had my first child at if you refused an exam they would have other nurses come in the room, hold you down, pry your legs apart and do the exam anyway.

This is unbelievable to me. And it tells me that, despite the good experiences most people have, there are some truly horrible doctors, nurses, and hospitals out there, and going through birth where you are belittled, dismissed, and physically assaulted in the name of taking care of you, you may well suffer trauma from it.

And that is to be expected. There is nothing wrong with feeling traumatized when someone pries your legs open and forcibly inserts something into your vagina while you tell them to stop.

And yet, when these mothers then go on to have midwife assisted births, which studies have shown to be just as safe in outcome as hospital births, they are dismissed, laughed at, belittled. When women say they want to “take birth back” or find something more in future births, they are told that “all that matters is a healthy mom and healthy baby” and so they should be at a hospital where that is the most likely outcome (supposedly).

I’m sorry, but that is not all that matters.

If a woman is raped, and later goes on to find a loving partner who she decides to have children with, is all that matters conception? No! And in fact, she is encouraged to “take back” her sexuality, and grow confident and comfortable with herself and her body through positive acts of sex. That first act of sex after the rape is a massive deal – it can bring back the trauma, or it can help her move beyond it. It matters. And she is encouraged to make it, and all future experiences, as good as possible.

If someone goes out to drive their first time and gets t-boned and injured and sees injury to others, are they just thrown back in the same car on the same road and told that all that matters is they get to their destination? Of course not. Getting in the car might be a step. Driving again might be a hard place to get back to. But that first successful drive is incredibly empowering, and should be. Of course you want everyone to be happy and healthy at the end of it, but chances are they will be, and there is so much more to it than that.

Heck, a person’s first sex act or first time driving is a milestone, too! And there is much more to it than just the outcome. Avoiding STDs or car accidents are not the only thing that is important. The experience matters.

So why do we say it doesn’t for birth?

Why are new moms belittled for caring about how their birth goes? For doing research and having opinions? Yes, if they try to plan things to the minute that is not reasonable. Yes, if they decide they want a drug-free birth and then do nothing to prepare for it that is not reasonable. But many moms do their research and do their homework and are prepared for deviation from the “plan,” but just want respect and autonomy while they birth. Why is that a bad thing?

And even more so, why are moms who have a traumatic birth experience, like those described above, told to just get over it and move on, because they are alive and so is their baby? Why can we not respect the trauma they went through? And why, when they try to “take back” their birth the next time, is that in any way a bad thing?

It is such a double standard. And it is so hurtful. Being misunderstood, being belittled for reasonable feelings, being told to just “get over it” by those who don’t understand makes the whole experience hurt so much more.

I don’t get it.

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