Monday, March 31, 2014

Boob Juice

Since my life revolves around my boobs these days, and the only time I have to write is while I'm pumping (yep that means I'm writing this on my phone, so please forgive any typos), I thought I'd write a post about it.

Breastfeeding has become quite the hot topic. Besides the usual points to debate, we now have celebrities posting pictures of nursing their babies and people flipping out over it. Of course like any issue, you'll find extremists on both ends. But I'd guess that a majority of moms at least give breastfeeding a shot these days. Sometimes you succeed and sometimes you don't. A lot of moms feel guilty if they're not successful. And if you are successful, you'll get guilt from the not successful moms. Either way, mom guilt all-around. Seriously ladies this mom guilt/judgement shit just needs to stop!

It's a real bummer because a lot of times success depends on things out of your control. There are many physical and emotional reasons that baby or mom are unable to breastfeed. But society pushes it as the easiest, most natural way to feed your baby. While that can be true from one perspective, "easy" and "natural" definitions are up for debate. If by easy you mean you don't have to make a bottle then sure. But if by easy you mean there's no stress or challenges then you would be incorrect. And if by natural you mean your milk is natural then sure. But if by natural you mean it will come naturally to you then no, that is not the case for many moms. And let me tell you, there is nothing natural about a breast pump! It can be a real challenge to pull off easy and natural.

I feel lucky that I was/am able to breastfeed. For any of you out there debating nursing your second one, I'll tell you that for me, it was a lot easier the second time around since I knew what to do and expect. Aside from a few cases of mastitis (which is totally miserable), I haven't had many issues. But that doesn't mean it's easy. As I write this I'm hooked up to my pump like some sort of cow. Seriously it sucks (pun totally intended). I feel bad for cows and see a dairy-free life in my near future (if cheese wasn't so damn tasty I'd already be there). I spend all my breaks at work with this pump. Some days I hate it, but others I remember why I do it. Not only because it's what's good for Oscar and me right now. But for all the moms out there that were unable to. I can't help but feel the mom guilt over that. Since it's relatively easy for me, and the only complaint I have is I don't enjoy pumping, I feel obligated to trudge on for all the women that tried so hard and couldn't.

And in the end, no matter what anyone tells you, it does not matter how you feed that baby, just that you feed them. The main goal with children is keeping them alive, so whatever option keeps you and baby happy, healthy, and sane is the right one! Don't allow anyone to make you feel bad for whatever that may be! So do what works for you and enjoy that baby while you do it.

Wishing you a wonderful day from a happy cow. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Labor of Love

Disclaimer: This post is long and detailed so I will not hold it against you if you stop reading right now. The short version is the baby came out healthy without surgery or any permanent emotional damage to me! :-)

I slept little the night before the induction. Not only was I sick with a bad cold, but I was filled with anticipation, nerves, excitement, and of course a little bit of fear. How painful would it be? Would I be able to handle it without pain killers? Would I be able to not feel like a failure if I couldn't? Would I be able to not feel like a failure if it ended in another c-section? I kept concentrating on surrendering and that feeling of calm that came with it, in hopes that it would give me strength.

The induction started at 8:30 am on December 22nd. As the contractions intensified, my strength and calm wavered. After several hours the midwife checked me and I had made absolutely no progress. My hopes that all that pain had gotten me somewhere were shattered. I tried taking a shower hoping that standing and rocking on the exercise ball would help move things along and the water would calm me. What I got was a flood of emotions I couldn't hold back. I broke down in Brian's arms telling him I couldn't do this. I knew if this was only the beginning then I wasn't strong enough. He gently reminded me that I was doing it and that my tears probably meant something was happening. Not long after I got back in bed my water broke. And the mystery of my enormous belly was solved, I had so much fluid! It was incredible.

It was also incredibly painful. What I had thought to be bad contractions before were now a happy memory. Now each contraction brought a new wave of the worst pain of my life. I couldn't make myself relax. No matter how I breathed or what I concentrated on. It was so frustrating. I quickly lost all my calm and confidence that I could survive another contraction, let alone childbirth. It wasn't long before I was crying and begging for relief.

I asked for an epidural and my request for relief was granted in record time. After they got me all settled I was left alone to rest. Brian needed food and I wanted a nap. But of course no sleep would come. Instead I cried. I cried because I did feel like a failure. It was as I'd feared, I was weak. I was not that woman I'd wanted to be that could bear a child without the assistance of modern medicine. All the things I'd read and tough women I'd spoken with were beyond me. Better than me. Separate from me. But wait. Wasn't I having these horrible contractions because of modern medicine's idea that a woman in my state (VBAC at 41 weeks with an estimated over 9 pound baby) must be induced or have a c-section? Would the contractions be this painful and intense if I'd been allowed to go into labor naturally? These are things I'll never know the answer to but they helped remind me that every woman, labor, and situation is so different that making comparisons is a waste of time.

I wasn't alone long. I became incredibly dizzy and was just wondering if I should be concerned when one of the many machines I was hooked to started beeping. In rushed my nurse and midwife. The epidural had made my blood pressure plummet. They had to give me a shot of epinephrine to bring it back up. I was now shaky and nauseous but stable. The next several hours were a game of trying to keep both halves of my body equally numb. This was a challenge since the baby's heart rate kept dropping a tiny bit if I laid on my left side, so I was stuck on my right meaning only that side of my body was numb. I dealt until it was time to push and then they had to give me an extra shot in my epidural. Now there were too many drugs in my system for my liking.

The epidural was worth it though since I was able to relax enough to be fully dilated in a few hours. At around 6pm it was time to push. It was really strange to be having a normal conversation in between contractions and pushes and basically be in no pain. There was no crying or screaming or anything you'd expect from this stage of labor. It felt like I was cheating nature for sure, but I enjoyed the experience anyways.

At 6:59pm, Oscar joined the world. The moment he came out and she handed him to me will forever be the greatest of my life. The feeling of relief when he came out, to get to hold my baby right away, see his face and hear him cry, made it all worth it. Brian and I were both filled with wonder at this experience.

Oscar was a big baby at 8 lbs 12 oz, so he tore me up inside and out. It could've been worse, but they still gave me more drugs so she could repair the damage. Too many drugs completely removes my filter so some vagina jokes slurred out of my drug haze while she was doing this. At least we were all laughing.

The next best thing was the excited look on Sebastian's face when he arrived at the hospital not long after to meet his brother. He rushed into the room with a "Where's Oscar? I want to see my brother!" (who we had not officially named yet but decided we must stick with Sebastian's choice).

It was definitely a better experience then last time. I am very grateful for my midwife without which I may not have been able to avoid another c-section. But most of all, I'm proud of myself. I stopped making comparisons, feeling guilty, and feeling failure. Instead I feel success that baby and I are happy and healthy. It was truly an experience of surrender.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Pretty much everything about having a child requires surrender. It starts with the decision. You decide you want a child and you have to surrender to the fact that you have no control over basically anything after that. You can't control if you'll even conceive. If you do conceive, you can't control how well or horrible your pregnancy will go. And then finally there's the birth.

During my first pregnancy, I anticipated the birth like any first-time mother does I imagine. I figured it would be painful but I'd get through. A c-section never really crossed my mind, especially not while under full anesthesia. But my body had other intentions when I came down with appendicitis at 37 weeks. My experience was less than enjoyable we'll say, and I've honestly had a hard time letting go of that experience. So much so I think it is hindering my ability to go into labor this time. I've been having contractions for a week and a half now, but every time they start to get regular they mysteriously just stop. I have tried all the natural induction methods I've deemed safe, and since nothing has worked, I've come to the realization that maybe it's not a physical problem.

Throughout this pregnancy I've mostly been in denial that I still had not fully recovered emotionally from my last experience. I read lots of articles and books about natural childbirth and there were always sections about letting go of bad experiences so you can enjoy this one. I spent some time working through it but every time I'd have a good cry I'd just assume I was through it and try not to think about it for awhile. But as the due date approached it began to invade my thoughts again. 

So here I sit, at almost 41 weeks pregnant, and all I can think about is waking up after surgery over 4 years ago. When you go to sleep pregnant, and wake up not pregnant, your first thought is "where's my baby?" When the baby is not within sight or hearing distance, panic immediately sets in. I also awoke to experience contractions for the first time, so my panic was increased with the pain and their only response was to dose me up with so much pain killer I was unable to move for the next several hours.

As traumatic as the experience was for me, I honestly thought I was over this years ago. But when they decided to schedule my induction for Sunday, I realized I was not. Having to start off the labor with an intervention makes me feel as if I've already lost the battle to have a natural childbirth, which only adds to my fear of another traumatic birth experience. I realize that no matter what happens this time it won't be as bad as the last. But it still disappointed me.

So now I'm back at that word, surrender. As I learned last time, you cannot plan your birth. I do not have control over everything. I can do my best with the few things I can control, and after that I have no choice but to surrender to the situation. And one of the things I can control is letting go of the past. There's no reason to hold onto it. Yes it happened, but obsessing over it will not change it. Letting go of it is the only way to heal and to help me right now.

During my acupuncture session today, I concentrated on total relaxation. It was in the midst of this meditative state that I realized it was my mind hindering me, not my body. I felt the tension of my past trauma and concentrated on letting it melt away. A strange sense of calm overtook me and has thankfully stayed with me ever since. It is the feeling of surrender. No matter what happens, the only thing on my birth plan this time is to have this baby. That's it. No details about how that's going to happen. No expectations about how I should accomplish that. There's no right or wrong here. Just the simple and absolute truth that this baby will be born. How the birth goes will not change my love for the child. I will love it unconditionally, just like I do Sebastian. I surrender to whatever experience life decides to bring me.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

It's OK to Love Your Body

My back hurts. I have a pumpkin sized belly leading me everywhere I go, pulling my back into a constant arch and throwing me off balance. But you know what? I still love my body. Most days I hear several comments about the size of my belly. Some of them are said nicely and some are flat out rude. But you know what? I think my belly is beautiful.

Having to listen to constant comments about how "big" my belly is gets old of course. Some days all the comments add up and I go home and have a good cry. Other days I feel angry and want to lash out at these people and throw an insult back at them. But then I remember that first, I'm an emotional wreck right now, and second, it's how I interpret the comments that's the problem, not the comments themselves. (Although you should keep your big, fat mouth shut about size when you're talking to a pregnant woman.) Instead of being offended, I'm trying to interpret the comments in a positive light. I keep reminding myself that my big belly is an amazing thing. It's totally incredible that my belly can stretch to this size and then go back to where it was. Even more amazing is how incredibly out of shape I can feel right now, where just climbing a few flights of stairs puts me out of breath, but 8 months ago I was able to run 7 miles. And in the next 8 months, I'll probably be running that far again.

Being pregnant makes me think about my body constantly. It's quite irritating actually, it's such a physical experience it's hard to think about much else some days. But the good thing about this is I keep thinking about how to love my body instead of hate it. Earlier this year, I finished a book called Bodylove. I actually bought the book from a nutritionist about 6 years ago but never finished it. Every so often I would pick it up and read a chapter but was unable to complete the exercises because I couldn't make myself feel ok about my body. Some of the things I'd read sat in the back of my mind for several years though and I made some incredible progress. Once I finally read the entire book, I was able to finish the journey to truly loving my body.

In the years after Sebastian was born, I lost all the baby weight plus 20 pounds. So when I read the book this year, I kept questioning if I really loved my body, or I just loved my body now. When I had those extra 20 pounds on me, I hated myself. I was unable to look in the mirror and think a positive thought. When Sebastian was about 4 months old I started exercising a lot more than I had in years. At first I only lost the last 5 pounds of baby weight. But then I started to feel good. I felt strong and healthy and I quit weighing myself. That's when I was able to mentally work on caring about my body. When the number wasn't important anymore, it was how I felt. When I remember this period of time, I realize that I truly had started to love my body for what it was. The more I was able to change my mental picture of what it meant to be healthy, the healthier I became. My diet changed drastically over the next couple of years and I continued to increase my exercise. Then it was not about how much I weighed, it was about how good I felt.

Now with 27 pounds of baby, blood, fluid, fat, boobs, etc. on my body I can honestly say that I do love my body for what it is, right now even. I dislike being pregnant, I'm totally uncomfortable and I can't wait to be running again. But I love my body for what it's able to do. And I don't care what I weigh or how I look when it's all over, I just want to feel healthy again. So remember, it doesn't matter if you're small, medium, large, or extra large, learning how to love your body is the first step to truly being healthy. If you can love your body for where it's at, right now, then you can change it into what you want it to be. All you need is love. :)

P.S. I also recommend a book called Intuitive Eating. This one also took years of simmering in my mind to completely figure out, but it really did help.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sebastian Oliver Rickmann

It's incredibly hard to believe that Sebastian is turning 4 years old tomorrow. Maybe it's because I'm pregnant right now, but it seems only yesterday that I was pregnant with him and trying to imagine what it would be like to actually be a mom. I truly couldn't picture it. But the best moment of my life was when I saw him for the first time. It was like I recognized him, like I knew all along what he would look like and that, now that he was here, I would know just what to do.

In the past 4 years I definitely haven't always known what to do. There have been ups and downs, amazing days, manageable days, and horrible days where you couldn't help but wonder, "what was I thinking?" "Why did I think I'd be a good parent?" Why indeed, we all wonder sometimes. But there are those moments, sometimes short-lived, but they're still there. Sometimes only when you're watching them sleep. But they are the moments that (hopefully) every parent knows. When you can stare at this person you created and know that you made the right decision. You know you're not a perfect parent, but you know that the world is a better place with your kid in it.

Thankfully Sebastian has given me lots of these moments. He amazes me every day with how fast he's learning everything. He baffles me constantly with how incredible his memory already is. But most importantly, he brings us complete joy when we see what a good heart he has. I would have never known you could tell this about anyone at such a young age, but when you watch Sebastian you know that he is truly a good person. He has not shown any signs of real anger or violence towards another person. He gets frustrated of course, but we never see him be purposefully mean to anyone. Most of the time he's very gentle and while he can get riled up and crazy like any little boy, he's usually nice and wants everyone around him to be just as nice as him. He has a hard time understanding why some kids are mean to him. He's always asking me "when will they be nice?" or "they'll be nice tomorrow?" It breaks my heart when I try to explain to him that some kids will grow out of it, but some never will. He's so sweet and innocent still, he just doesn't understand that.

This has started to remind me of all the other heart breaks he's going to have in his life. Things that we as parents all know are coming, but it's still hard to prepare yourself for. Watching your child get hurt, whether physically or emotionally, is by far the hardest thing to do. Especially when you have no control over it. The fact that he is such a kind soul makes me worry about all the extra heart breaks he might experience in his life. I just hope that we can continue to teach him the beauty in life so that he doesn't lose this kindness from all of life's ugliness.

So Happy Birthday my little man. You are truly a unique and beautiful person and I am so lucky to have you as a son.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

18 and Married

Friday July 12th Brian and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary, for a total of 12 years together. Some might think that would make one feel old, but in our case, that just makes us feel a little crazy. Yes we got married when I was 18 and Brian was 19.

Looking back now, we of course realize the insanity of getting married at such a young age. But at the time, honestly, we didn't even hesitate and it didn't scare us at all. We were confident teenagers who knew it all and were invincible right? It didn't matter what anyone thought, and it definitely didn't matter that statistics said there was very little chance we'd make it. All that mattered was we were young and in love.

Despite the craziness of what we did, I have absolutely no regrets. Even if it had failed miserably, I still would not regret it because I did what I wanted to do exactly when I wanted to do it. And life is about the experience, not about doing what's socially acceptable at the appropriate times. Fuck appropriate. Life is meant to be lived by your own terms, not anyone elses.

Now if an 18 year old (even my own children someday) came up to me and said they wanted to get married, I would have a few tips if they wanted to hear them. I started to write this list geared towards the younger audience when I realized, they really apply to anyone getting married at any age. So here they are, my 10 things to consider before getting married:

1) DO NOT LIE. Ever

2) Have sex. Lots of it. If you don't like having sex with the person, then you need to talk about it. Don't be embarrassed to tell the other person what you want. No one wants to spend their life without orgasms.

3) Never go to bed angry- finish your disagreement right away. Holding grudges for days and staying angry never solved anything. Once it's done, have make-up sex.

4) Be friends first. You need to be able to be friends, have conversations, have things in common, have fun together. If you can't laugh with the person, you won't last. Your spouse should be your best friend. The person you can tell anything to and always be yourself around. If you are not being yourself around them, then they do not truly know who you are.

5) Do not try to change the person. If you want them to be someone they're not, then you do not love them for who they are. If they want to change, they will do it on their own. You cannot, and should not, try to make them.

6) Make sure you are not just trying to piss off your parents.

7) Make sure you are not just trying to fill some religious obligation you were raised with. Do what you feel is right, not what your family thinks.

8) Have sex first. Sorry I know that offends some religions, but let's face it, you don't want to be married to someone you loathe having sex with. Plus there should be some chemistry between you two. But for heaven's sake, use protection people (every damn time)! It does not matter what time of the month, position, if you're a virgin, or even if your doctor claims you can't get pregnant, you can get pregnant! You might be ready to get married but you sure as hell aren't ready to have a baby.

9) Know that you and the other person will change. Be prepared for this. And for the fact that you or the other person might change so much that your relationship will not last. This isn't a bad thing, not every relationship will last your whole life, but every relationship is still important and there is still much to learn from it.

10) Get rid of your expectations. Don't expect them to live up to some perfect soul mate vision you have. And don't expect to get everything you need from this one person. There are other people in your life for a reason. Keep your friends. You will want and need them.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Past 4 Months

Well it's been a pretty intense several months! Lots of good and bad things have happened, but they've all been pretty life changing I must say. Here's a visual:

Ran a 10k
Totalled the Neon
Bought an '07 Rav4
Drank too much wine
Sebastian's Eye Exam
Got to see the gummy bear
Turned Brian into a Mermaid (oh and he chopped off his hair for the first time in 10 years)
Sebastian's eye exam went well. The doctor didn't see any problems. They want us to re-check every year but it sounded like kind of a waste of time. The doc admitted that it's hard to see an optic glioma with just an eye exam. Sounds like just checking his vision on a regular basis would show just as much. So far we're not concerned at all. This child sees everything!

It was rough to go from running 6.5 miles to being injured and not being able to exercise for over a month. Then after a few weeks of slowly starting to get back in shape, the morning sickness (all day sickness really) kicked in and I spent the next two months hanging over the toilet or sitting on the couch. I even had to cut back my hours at work to part-time for awhile. Now that the sickness is gone, I'm trying to get back into shape again, but other pregnancy side affects make it slow going. So much for "every pregnancy is different." Liars. It's worth it though, I really am very excited.

Believe it or not, there was good that came out of the accident as well. It really put things in perspective for me. Since getting Sebastian's results, I had that nagging worry I couldn't quite get rid of. But the accident managed to push that completely out of my mind. You know why? Because we could've died! That's right, one second you're just driving down the road, minding the rules of the road, and the next, some stupid dingbat has decided to just turn left across traffic even though there's cars in the freaking intersection. The whole thing happened so fast. It just made me realize how quickly our lives could've ended.

It's just not worth spending your life stressing out. Apparently the accident, and maybe the vicodin and nightly large glasses of wine, relaxed me enough that I finally got pregnant after trying for quite awhile. It still surprised me though. You'd think the stress of all that would've kept it away, but there's no beating evolution- those on drugs and alcohol always get pregnant easier. Well it's true, look around! Idiocracy baby, it's happening every day.