Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Traumatic birth is real

I've heard a lot of nonsense here and there about traumatic birth, about how it's a bunch of crap made up by sue-happy women who just want to find someone else to blame when their birthing experiences were not what they had originally planned for. I hear that women who claim a traumatic birth are drama queens, women who want money and nothing else, and that these women are almost single-handedly the reason that so many physicians and hospitals are so strict with their rules and regulations.

What I see from women who claim they have experienced a traumatic birth is a lot of pain, a lot of confusion, and a lot of anger that cannot be properly placed because of laws and signed papers stripping them of their rights to confront people who have knowingly and purposefully turned what should have been a positive experience into a terrifying, painful ordeal that has broken them emotionally and physically. I see parents who have been told how things would be, and who were given no warning when situations changed, who made specific but simple requests that went unhonored and ignored. I see people with PTSD related to previous experiences within hospitals or involving doctors or procedures who have requested that their caregivers do or say things a certain way so that they can continue being an easy, agreeable patient, and yet they are written off and their requests are ignored, leaving them to be labeled as "difficult". I see women who feel stripped of their dignity in a way that they should not feel, who are uncomfortable and discontent and want things to change but don't know who they should be blaming. They feel that the world blames them, that the world says their pains and emotions mean nothing and have no relevance, or aren't real in the first place, so they walk around with a fake smile proclaiming that all that matters is that they have a healthy baby, and their own feelings go unacknowledged. These are women that end up refusing to go near doctors or hospitals again, women who develop fears and phobias that shouldn't have to exist in the first place.

This isn't how life should be.

People who have never given birth, or whose expectations were met or exceeded, do not understand. I would venture to say that I certainly don't; while I've yet to experience what I believe is my optimal pregnancy and labor, I know I've not been severely traumatized by what I've experienced. But I have seen and heard the   desperate pleas from women who are not looking to sue anyone, who are not interested in financial compensation, but who want to get the attention of the health care professionals who have caused them the trauma that haunts them daily, and how better to get the attention of a doctor who is paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year but to hit them and their hospital in the wallet? Sometimes, that's what it takes. Don't like it, well, never have a traumatic birth. Never have a bad experience and make sure that nobody else ever does, either.

But don't write off traumatic birth as being some impossible entity that's made up by women who just want pity and attention. It is real, it is painful, and it needs to be addressed and treated by those who are at fault for bringing it about.

Short post today; mostly a rant, I guess. An unfinished draft I never posted anything on. Apologies for the lack of links, as it's quite late! Job interview tomorrow and Friday, and hopefully something will come of one of them; both would be awesome but I can only hope for so much, hmm?

G's party was awesome. I got to see some people I don't often get to see! Hope everybody has a great night!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Happy birthday, little man!

Today, G turns four.

It's hard to believe that all of this time has come and gone so quickly; to be honest, I don't remember much about when he was a little baby. We were going through a lot then, and we weren't in the best place emotionally or physically. 

We were in college, we were struggling to pay bills (gee, that sounds familiar), we were emotionally isolated from our friends because we had no real idea of how to cope properly.

He was always this kind of strange-looking kid, in that he had an odd sense of understanding about him. He always just sort of "got it", even when the rest of us struggled so hard to figure out where we were in life, or what we were doing. He didn't ask the same kind of questions adults did. He came into this world really unhappy about being here, after an admittedly overly long and complicated labor and delivery. But he got here, safely, even if not 24 hours after discharge we were back at the hospital for four days of phototherapy. His bili levels were WAY too high and he lost a lot of weight (just look at the two above pictures; the difference between them is all of two days). 

But it was a hiccup, we managed, and we brought him home again.

Granted, we didn't always make the best parenting choices; we know more now than we did then. But G didn't care. He really never has. All he wants is a chance to hang out, relax, be loved. It's all he has ever wanted.

He's always been the kind of kid you want to stare at, too. He was bald for the longest time, so when he finally - finally! - got some hair, it was a miracle in our books.

I think a lot of it is his eyes. 

Some of it is his personality.

Some of it is just that, well.. He's awesome.

He has taught us a lot, too - about ourselves, and about life.

We've learned to make faces when all else fails,

We've learned that it's hard to hold still sometimes because life moves much too fast...

We've learned that it's great to laugh when things are going well...

And we've learned that it's okay to cry when something has gone wrong.

We've learned that little kids are surprisingly resilient, and even after experiencing a skull fracture along the sutures of your skull after falling 7+ feet straight down to land on your back on solid concrete, then being strapped to a body board for nine hours with no food, drink, or idea of when you would be let free or what was going on.. Well.. You can survive. It won't be fun, but you can do it.

We've learned about what it means to be a good big brother,

That a first haircut can come after you turn two,

And that your little brother will always be watching so he can do what you do.

We have also learned that doing holiday pictures is absolutely no fun whatsoever.

We have learned that our little brothers will always look up to us, even if we are a little crazy.

We have learned... That life presents interesting opportunities to learn about the opposite gender.

We have learned to hunt eggs...

And to put on our game face.

Best of all, though, we've learned to not flip out... Unless appropriate. ^_~

Happy fourth birthday, my not so little man. Here's to a hundred more.

Love, Mom.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Why is it...

That when I, or anyone else, point out that an unfortunate or even disastrous situation could have possibly been prevented or avoided if a doctor had not made an error or had been better informed, I am inherently attempting to "bash" doctors in general, and am badmouthing them?

I've noticed this happening more and more often. I will not immediately and happily discredit medical professionals without good reason; I know some that are incredibly good at their jobs and deserve far more credit than they get, and I know (and have heard of) others who are completely lost on subjects or knowingly keep their patients in the dark about procedures and side effects so they can reap the short-term benefits of more pay or better reviews. I know some amazing, great doctors, ones that I love and ones that I would trust my life with (although I can't promise I'd have a choice in the matter), and I know some that I am positive should have lost their licenses and been stripped of their degrees years ago.

Mind you, I try not to generalize, and do my best to keep it specific when able (or at least leave quantifiers when it isn't possible to be specific without giving names). I will sooner use words like "some," "most," "those I know of" instead of "all" or "every". I would never argue that some doctors have invariably more experience with certain situations than others, though few have more experience than actual specialists. I will not pretend to know what certain doctors are or are not good at.

But when I see situations that are inherently, painfully incorrect, I get upset. I get angry. I get frustrated and want to pound my fist and say that I. Was. Right. Someone messed up somewhere and information was not properly spread about and because of that, an innocent person was hurt or killed and a family has lost an important and integral part of itself that can never be replaced, or said person's life has changed in ways that they can never get back.

Let me explain.

I saw today that someone whom I went to high school with, though was not particularly close to, had passed away at a VERY young age a couple of days ago. A friend posted on her Facebook page that the individual in question had a c-section several weeks ago, had experienced some excruciating back pain, and went to bed that night but never woke up. A blood clot had killed this woman, a mother and wife, someone whose presence was needed and wanted and who could never be replaced. And the first thing I thought was, I've been in that position. After A was born, I had some problems with my right leg and excruciating pain that I could not explain (I seriously believed I had torn a muscle in my leg while giving birth, it was that bad), but I was self-educated enough to bring it up with a doctor and had an ultrasound performed that day. I was lucky; there was no blood clot and I had indeed torn something, and the pain eventually went away as the injury repaired itself. However, my doctor never brought up this possibility beyond a mild and dismissive mentioning in the hospital after A was born. It was mentioned, they said it was rare, and I thought nothing more of it until the pain began. But I had looked up a lot about pregnancy, about childbirth, and I knew what to look for and what to worry about.

The thing about this woman's situation that bothered me was that by all accounts, and with all the information I had, her life could have been saved. From what I could see, she did not need to die; if her doctor had done their job, and informed her of the risks of a major surgery, and had ensured she properly understood what a blood clot could entail, perhaps she would have sought medical attention. Do I know for a fact that she DIDN'T know about blood clots? No. Perhaps she willfully ignored information given, knowing the chance was there but thinking it couldn't or wouldn't happen to her. Perhaps even if she had hurried to the ER and expressed her worries, nothing could have been done. Perhaps even if something could have been done, it would have resulted in a lot of excruciating and difficult recovery for her, and dangerous surgery to catch and stop the clot. There is every possibility that she knew exactly what to look for, ignored it, and that even if she had rushed to the hospital that they perhaps could not have saved her. But the problem is that to me, I see the other side: Maybe she would have lived. That is where my beef comes from; I don't know a single person who would know the dangers of having a blood clot and the symptoms of one and who would still willfully ignore those symptoms and accept the risk of said clot, assuming they were properly informed and educated in the first place. We put so much trust in our medical professionals, yet too often situations like this happen, and I always wonder what might have been if information had been properly disseminated to patients.

What if she had no idea what she was up against, no idea what to expect? What if her death was directly caused by the negligence of a doctor who didn't tell her about blood clots? What if she was a victim of her own ignorance?

THAT is what makes me angry. There is a very real possibility that she trusted her doctor, like so many people do, so much that she did no further research and looked no further into the side effects of c-sections and even of the signs of problems to look for after giving birth, and because she did not simply ASSUME that her doctor would neglect to give her life-saving information, she died. Her children have lost their mother, and it may very well be because her doctor did not properly provide for her as he or she should have, and because she trusted that doctor with her life.

I have no words, in all honesty, to explain how I feel about this situation. I expressed so much on the page of the individual from whom I learned all of this information, and was greeted with a response from another friend. That response, while I no longer have it word-for-word, was basically nothing more than an accusation that I was "bashing" doctors and turning the entire discussion into an opportunity to "badmouth" them.

Realize, please, that my initial response was nothing more than a disappointed mentioning that I was aware that such situations were often preventable, but ONLY if the patient was aware of possible side effects and their symptoms. Most patients are only made aware by their doctors and thus if this girl truly passed as she did, it was quite possibly because her doctor neglected to do their job and make sure she was a fully informed patient.

I could not understand, at first, for the life of me why I was accused of apparently trying to badmouth medical professionals. I had no intention of doing anything of the kind; I simply realize that there are as many good doctors out there as bad (if not fewer), and that as patients and especially as parents, we owe it to ourselves and our families to be as informed as possible - even if the information we have is not provided by our healthcare professionals directly. If I wanted to badmouth someone, be it a doctor or a random person on the street, trust me. I would do it, and it wouldn't be pretty, and I wouldn't use nice or fancy words to do so. I would put it out there exactly how I felt and why, and I'd do so without regard for the feelings of the person in question. But I had no intention of badmouthing anyone. I responded as politely as possible, but ended up simply deleting both of my posts when I realized that no matter what I did, or said, at least one person had it cemented in their head that I was openly and willingly "badmouthing" educated doctors, and that I didn't particularly care who I hurt in the process.

So I'd like to set the record straight, here if nowhere else: I do not "badmouth" doctors, nurses, midwives, doulas, or any other health professionals. I understand that they work in stressful environments and that they are, like everybody else, only human and prone to error, especially when burdened with life-changing decisions that are on the shoulders of nobody else. The problem I have, though, is that regardless of the situation, these are the same men and women on whom we rely for information we would not normally have access to or prior knowledge of, and when this information could be the difference between life and death, it is not only their job but their responsibility to protect us and provide for us by sharing this information immediately, fully, and with the ability to ensure that their patients and patients' families understand exactly what problems they may run into, their symptoms and side effects, and how to react. When a doctor gives wrong information, or neglects to share it fully in the first place, people die. And I will never, ever be able to tolerate that.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Things have been absolutely crazy over here. The last month or so has been full of things I never could have pretended to see coming. We've been taken to small claims court (not even GOING there), had a few minor changes come and go in our lives, and are still trying to make do with no income. The applications keep going out but nothing comes in with the exception of a few interviews that land us nowhere. It's the curse, I guess, of optimism - but we manage all the same, just like we always have. Life may not be completely hunky-dory, but our kids are happy and well-fed.

I'd say they're healthy, too, but right now that would be a lie! Everybody randomly developed wicked colds mid-March; it started with the kids and then spread to me, then to Hubby. The kiddos have been stuffy and drippy and coughing, and the coughing has led to sore throats, and the mucus in their tummies has led to more puking episodes than I could have ever wanted to see. A has had some trouble keeping things down, and did me the great favor of ralphing all over my lap the other night, and G has been somewhat testy. We ended up giving a Hyland's cold and cough medicine to both, and while it works wonders, it has made G into a terror with a bad attitude. It's hard to tell if he's like this because he doesn't feel well or because of the medicine, but Hubby suggested an allergy to one of the ingredients. This is possible, of course, but in all honesty I'd rather deal with him having a bad attitude and at least not throwing up everywhere because of the sinus drainage into his stomach. It's a tough call either way, but I think the illnesses are finally winding down (with the exception of Hubby, who has gotten a rather nasty ear infection out of nowhere, unlike the rest of us). Allergy season is next, and I'm not gonna lie: I HATE allergy season! Oh, well.

I managed to get some planting done at the beginning of the month. I ended up doing tomatoes (beefsteak), a red and green pepper blend, broccoli, butterleaf lettuce, parsley, green beans, and strawberries. Everything stayed inside up until a nice streak of 70 degree days we had last week, but I accidentally left almost everything outdoors one night, and of COURSE that was the night that temps dropped and it SNOWED! Gag me. It looks like almost everything survived except for one pot of parsley and the lettuce. I over-planted on purpose, and the strawberries and peppers didn't go out (peppers weren't sprouted and I'm babying the strawberries), so in a worst-case scenario I should still have everything but the parsley and lettuce. Not bad for a pretty serious mistake! Luckily, I think most everything will more or less survive, but we'll have to see. I'm keeping everything under light and watering with lukewarm tap water for now. I think my undying love and affection for my plants will hopefully keep them in better shape than the creeper in our front window and my poor, tortured African violet.

Last, but not least for today, I have to share something I found in one of our local Hy-Vee stores yesterday while out on a shopping trip: Noosa Yoghurt. This. Stuff. Is. Amazing. I've always eaten yogurt off and on, but to be honest it's usually too tart for me to really enjoy it. Greek yogurt is okay, but not what I'm looking for. Noosa, though, is freaking amazing. To me this stuff tastes almost like cream cheese, which I absolutely adore, and it has an awesomely thick texture that's a hundred times better than the "velvety" they keep advertising. It is better than velvety. I don't even have the words to properly express how great this stuff is. It tastes like heaven - maybe better - and is undoubtedly the BEST stuff I've ever tasted. And no, they aren't paying me or rewarding me for saying any of this. It is GREAT, and I figured that out all on my own. :) The kids love it, too, and it's made from all-natural ingredients, so it gets an A+ in my book! Go Noosa!