Tag Archives: pregnancy

Why my birth wasn’t empowering (and that’s ok)

I have moved! I am now blogging at The Energizer Mommy. Please come join me there!

When you look into natural birth one thing you’ll hear over and over is, “It’s so empowering!” It comes in many forms, like, “It was the hardest thing I ever did, but I did it and now I know I can do anything!”, but one thing pro natural birthers seem to agree on if that the experience is ultimately positive and empowering when all is said and done.

Mine wasn’t.

And that was hard.

I never did it to be empowered. I did it because I thought it was best for me and best for baby (and because my social phobia and bad experiences with doctors made the thought of hospital experience terrifying). So I wouldn’t have thought I’d mind that the experience wasn’t positively transformative.

But I did. A lot.

Mainly because this is one thing about natural birth everyone agrees on, so if I didn’t feel it that way it must have been some failing on my part. I must have done something wrong.

Talking with my doula, I realized these kinds of feelings aren’t uncommon. Not everyone has the amazing experience advertised.

And I wish people would talk about that. Because no one should choose how they birth for the experience. That shouldn’t be a “selling point”. And no one should feel like a failure because they felt in a totally normal way.

My labor sucked. Plain and simple. I said “I can’t!” a lot. I felt out of control. Not that I think you can control labor, but you can be not out of control. It’s like being caught in a raging river. You can flail and struggle and flounder and be utterly out of control, or you can hold yourself together and ride the current. Either way you end up down river, but the two paths are not the same. I feel like I flailed. That is why, even though I “did it”, I don’t feel like I actually did anything.

My time just after birth, the supposed payoff for labor, sucked. There was no flood of endorphins. No getting lost in the wonder of my newborn. I had a lesser version of that for a few minutes, but I still felt like shit. I was having back labor to deliver my flipping placenta. I was getting dizzy from rapid loss of blood. I was exhausted on top of that. I felt guilty afterward that after a few minutes I had no interest in seeing my daughter until my placenta was out.

These experiences were not empowering.

But that’s ok.

That’s not why I did it.

I am glad my daughter got to cook until 42 weeks. She was doing great, she wanted it.

I am glad I had no interventions that made my healing harder or baby girl’s experience more dangerous.

I am glad I felt respected before, during, and after labor.

I am glad my daughter avoided formula.

I am glad there is no decision about the management of my labor that I would change. Not one. Not even minor preferences. I cannot imagine that would be the same in a hospital where my preferences are so different than their default and I had strangers attending me.

My birth was not empowering. It sucked.

But you know what? I did something hard because I thought it would be best for my daughter and myself. And isn’t that what being a mom is about?

It didn’t have to be empowering to be the right decision.

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Filed under Baby Girl, Pregnancy

Riding My Pregnancy Mood Swing

When I got pregnant I was wary of what it may do to my moods, given that I already suffer from dysthymia and anxiety disorder. I was warned repeatedly to keep an eye on my conditions and watch for them to get worse. Every midwife I talked to who found out about my history cautiously told me to be sure I had support in place. After all, post-partum depression is real, and so is ante-partum depression. The raging hormones of pregnancy can do crazy things to our minds and moods. Every pregnant person I’ve known has complained about the wild mood swings their hormones force on them. I was aware things may get worse, but I also knew they may not.

What I didn’t expect was that pregnancy would actually serve to level me out. Since getting pregnant I have had exactly one episode of depression, and it was under some pretty extreme circumstances when I was forced to be without my service dog.

I have, however, experienced the pregnancy mood swings everyone talks above. Oh my goodness, those swings have a range!

I tear up at lame TV shows. I panicked over finding the absolute best price for our stroller. Little comments can sting deep and cause hurt. Stupid things can make me sad. Crying is becoming a regular part of my day.

However, “mood swing” is the perfect name. It is as if I am on a playground swing, swinging out over ocean, secure in my seat. My moods go up and down randomly and unpredictably as I swing back and forth.

But it is nothing like depression.

Depressions is like falling out of the swing and plunging into the deep, dark ocean so low you no longer know what is up and what is down. You are lost, disoriented, confused, and hopeless as you struggle valiantly in a battle others cannot see.

The emotions of my mood swings, which my husband can tell you are pretty significant, are nothing, nothing, compared to the potency of depression. Yes I have a roller coaster of ups and downs throughout my day. Yes, I cry at the drop of a hat over things 20 minutes later I’ll realize don’t matter at all. Yes, I get genuinely unhappy more easily than before.

But these emotions are all so surface-level. They are me swinging securely well above the fathomless ocean, and in the lowest low of these hormonally induced moods my toes aren’t even touching the spray of the water below.

I almost enjoy my pregnancy lows, because they are so handle-able. They are so easy. I can deal with this surface-level unhappiness. It is nothing!

The experience of being pregnant and having these mood swings I have heard so much about has really showed me that what I suffer? Dysthymia? Is not normal. It is not a weakness that I cannot deal with depression taking over my mind in the same way other people deal with unhappiness. Now, for the first time in my adult life, I am getting the chance to deal with simple unhappiness. And I can not only do it, I can do it easily!

While I have said over and over to others that unhappiness is not the same as depression, I have always wondered. Doubted myself. Thought maybe it was just me. Maybe it was a personality flaw. Maybe if I just tried harder. Maybe I, for some reason, wanted to be unhappy and that’s why I couldn’t shake it off. Because even my unhappiness was always tinged with the threat of depression. My swing was set low enough that, at the low point of my arc, my feet were in the sucking ocean water. It was all caught up together.

Now it’s not. And I am realizing.

I am strong.

I am capable.

I can deal with regular emotion.

Depression? Is not regular emotion.

And you know what? I still deal with it.

I kick it’s ass. I did every day of my life for years before I got pregnant.

You know how you can tell?

I’m still here.

Depression didn’t win.

And I’m so glad. Because I’m getting to live the truth that it really, truly, does get better.

This may not last. I may have my baby and get hit with PPD so hard I cannot cope. I realize this.

But for now, I am enjoying this time of better.

Please realize this: Depression is not unhappiness.

If you do not suffer from depression then no matter how bad your PMS, how bad your mood swings, how often you might “get sad” sometimes, you are still swinging carefree over the ocean those with depression are drowning in. Recognize the difference. Even just that recognition can help those around you fighting the battle stay strong.

And if you are fighting that battle? You are strong. You are facing challenges most people don’t even realize exist. And you are winning. Every day you are here, you are winning. Keep fighting.

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Filed under Invisible Illnesses, Life, Pregnancy

22 weeks!

I’m feeling great, and baby girl is doing so well! She HATES dopplers, or any other such technology and will swim away from them. Which made my last midwife appointment pretty amusing, as she was sleeping when they found her heartbeat at a strong but slow rate, and then she woke up and wouldn’t stop wriggling trying to escape, making them chase her around my belly and raising her heart rate. We could also hear her kick at the probe on the doppler, and I could feel her kicking at the same time. Absolutely incredible!

My two youngest sisters in law know me and my love of snark so well. I have always loved my nerdy t-shirts, and miss wearing them now that I’m pregnant. So their Christmas gift to me?

Hehe. He.

And here’s my 22 week belly, which makes me feel ridiculously pregnant, but according to strangers still could be passed as being fat depending on what I’m wearing.

I love being pregnant! Seriously! I cannot wait to meet my baby girl…but after she comes could I just stay about 20-some weeks pregnant forever?

ETA: I should add, my sisters got the shirt from ThinkGeek, an amazing place for all things geeky! They also have some baby onesies I am dying for, but am too cheap to purchase!

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Filed under Life, Pregnancy

What baby clothes have taught me about gender

I had perused baby clothes sections before becoming pregnant and before learning my baby’s sex, mostly focusing on the boy clothes because I was looking for gender-neutral. And I saw so many cute clothes that appealed to the interests of me and my hubby! Now that I know we have a baby girl on the way, I’ve switched to looking at those clothes, thinking it would be easy to pick up a couple of cheap onesies to celebrate. My experience in baby clothes has taught me many things I did not previously know about gender:

  • Girls do not like dogs and boys do not like cats.
  • Girls are big fans of bugs of all types. (Funny, I always thought this was a boy thing…)
  • Girls do not like sports. Except maybe volleyball, if you’re lucky. Or ballet. Does ballet count as a sport?
  • Girls like pink. A lot. They refuse to wear anything that doesn’t have at least some pink on it. Exceptions may be made if purple is included. They definitely don’t like any shade of blue other than possibly teal.
  • Transportation (airplanes, trains, etc.) is completely uninteresting to girls.
  • Girls only like animals if the animals are wearing bows or mascara or shooting hearts or rainbows out of an orifice.
  • While boys are “Mommy’s little helper,” girls are “Daddy’s spoiled princess.”
  • Girls are also bratty, self-centered, and demanding, whereas boys are cute, tough and loveable.

I am scared for the message we are sending to future generations of girls from birth. When did this obnoxious trend start? I do not look forward to buying her appropriate clothes as she continues to get older.

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Filed under Life, Pregnancy