It Changes You

Grief can do very strange things to a person.

A few weeks ago, I hated my hair, and on a whim, I cut it myself in the bathroom the second I got out of the shower.  I went on a cleaning spree in my house, and threw tons of things away, including the positive pregnancy tests I had gotten with Tyrion, which I now regret to my core.  I wanted to throw out every baby thing in my house, but calm voices were able to talk me out of it.

I haven’t been able to pick up a book about birth in weeks.  Even looking at them makes me sick inside.  I used to enjoy, no crave, reading them every day, and now I try not to look at the shelf they are on.

I’m angry or sad all the time.  I just can’t get over it.  I have lost my patience with Glade, and I don’t know how to get it back.

I set up my doula site again with my rates.  I even had a lady contact me.  I wrote back and haven’t heard from her since.

I always wanted to do so much.  I wanted to start prenatal yoga where I live so women could have the option.  I wanted to start a support group for loss, but someone beat me to it.  I wanted to take a breastfeeding course so I could help women around here having breastfeeding issues, but I don’t have the drive.

I did a belly cast, which was amazing, and it always refreshes me to do things with pregnant women and bellies, but once I was home and away from it, the drive to put out I made them vanished.  I get to encapsulate a placenta in the next few weeks, and clean up after a birth, and I am so excited for it, but not like I used to be.

I never thought I would be so completely changed by a loss.  None of my other miscarriages hit me as hard as this last one.  Maybe it is because they were never more than clots and cramps, and this one was a baby.  Maybe it is because of my milk coming in, and pumping for two months.  Maybe it is because I got a positive pregnancy test on Wednesday, and then on my blood test, I wasn’t pregnant.

Maybe my wiring just became faulty, and I won’t ever be able to find myself again.

I used to breathe pregnancy and birth.  A day didn’t go by when I wasn’t researching something or talking to someone about it.  Now, I only think about it if someone mentions it.

My mind doesn’t automatically go to birth anymore.  And I want it back, and don’t think I can get it.

How long does grief last?  A month?  A year?  A lifetime?

I want to be myself, to be the birth geek that I am.  I don’t want to think about my lost births and experiences.  I want to be okay with our decision to not have more children.  I want to be able to throw myself back into this work with the drive I had before.

And I have no idea how to get back there.

Grief does strange things to people.  It changes you.  Forever.

Maybe eventually I will get back in the groove.  Maybe when the nightmares and the hurt stops.  Or maybe I just need to build the drive back the way I did in the beginning.  Maybe I just need to try a little harder.

But for now, I am changed.

And that terrifies me.

The Hardest Post I Have Ever Had To Write

Today, I packed up my pump.  The bottles, the bags, the tubes.  Everything.

Since I got back from my mom’s house about two and a half weeks ago, I got lazy.  I cut down from 4-5 pumping sessions a day to just one.  I was still getting 8-10 ounces in that one session, and knew that if I really wanted to, I could get my supply back.  I knew I didn’t want to stop then, that I would know the right moment.  So I kept pumping every morning.

I don’t know what happened.  Pumping wasn’t what it used to be for me.  I had already donated to two families, and knew that I would love to donate more, but I just didn’t have the drive to do it.  I didn’t have the willpower to actually build my supply back up.

I pumped in the morning, and Glade would nurse in the afternoon.

Friday was the last day that Glade nursed.

It feels so long ago.

I told myself I would let her pick when to stop.  I told myself that it would probably be soon because she is three, and that is around the time kids naturally wean themselves.

I just didn’t expect it to really happen.

We had this new bond and I loved it, and now it is gone.

Saturday I pumped for the last time.

I haven’t wanted to say anything.  I still have reviews to write on the things that were donated to me.  I wanted this post to come so much later than it is.

I didn’t want to let people down.

Everyone says I am doing this great thing, that I am amazing.  I don’t feel that way.  I feel like I am taking all of their gifts and all the support people gave me and throwing it back in their face.  I see this pump, and all the things I was given, and it makes me hurt that I couldn’t do this longer.  So many incredible people were there to help me out, and I’m quitting.

I know that I have done more than others have.  I know that I didn’t have to do this to begin with.  I know all this.  But to me, I know I should want to keep going.  I know that I should want to donate more milk.  I know of at least 6 babies right now that need milk so badly.

And I’m quitting.  I am giving up.  I am depriving these precious babies of nutrition for my own selfish reasons.

It shouldn’t be this way.  I thought that when I stopped pumping it would be because I was ready.  I thought I would be happy with the decision.  I thought it would be easy.

But this post is the hardest post I have ever had to write.  Including the post I wrote about my son or the post I wrote about my miscarriages.

I don’t want to let anyone down.

Thank you all so much for being there for me.  For helping me when I had troubles pumping.  Thank you to the one person who asked if I could pump and donate my milk instead of letting it dry up.

I wouldn’t trade the last two months of pumping for anything, but I can’t keep doing it.

Holding that little baby boy on Friday made me realize that my breasts want to feed my baby.  They ache to be nuzzled and suckled like a newborn feeds.  They (and I) don’t want the hard plastic of a pump.

I am so sorry if I let anyone down.  I am so sorry if you think I am amazing.  I’m not.  Not even a little.

Thank you for helping me.  I think I needed the last two months, the pumping most of all, to help me realize where I needed to be in my grief.  I think I needed that more than I could ever say.

And for now, the last two months have been enough.

Hi Bandwagon – It’s Me!!

**TRIGGER WARNING: If you were raped, had birth rape, had a miscarriage, had a bad birth, this post might bring up some of those memories.  Please do not read if you are not comfortable with this.**

Rape.

What does that make you think of?  It probably goes to a very ugly place, whether you have experienced it or someone you know has, or even if you just know what it is.  It does not envoke happy thoughts.  It is an ugly thing.

When a woman says she is raped, do you question?  Do you ask what happened, or wonder if she is telling the truth?  Do you ever say that what she felt wasn’t rape?  Do you even have the guts to say anything at all?

So, I ask you, how is it okay to question someone when they say they were raped during their birth?  Is it because it doesn’t stem from your tiny idea of what rape is?  Is it because it is just birth, not sex, so there is no way the two of them could be linked?

When I went into the hospital when I miscarried my son in August, the OB that came in to help me I had never met before.  I met him as I was wondering if I was losing my child.  He gave me a lot of very false information, tried to scare me into having a D&C, and then did an exam to see what we were working with at the time.

I consented to the exam.  I knew that the only way I would get answers is if he did an exam to see if I was dilating or rather, what was actually going on.

After he pulled my son out of my vaginal cavity, he pulled out my placenta.  He didn’t ask.  He just did it.

And it hurt.  Like when you peel a band-aid off your arm and it sticks to all the hair?  It sounds and feels like velcro.  I was already crying because of my son, so I doubt he even knew that it hurt me.

He then said he was going to feel if my uterus was firm.

Instead, he stuck his hand inside my uterus and explored around a little.

I did NOT say he could do that.  He didn’t even tell me he was going to do that.

I didn’t even know what he was doing until he was almost done.

If I thought that pulling the placenta out hurt, this was worse.  I can’t even describe how it felt.

My labor, which was painful, was nothing compared to his hand probing around inside my uterus.

Now, a lot of people could say that since I consented to the exam, this was also covered.  That I shouldn’t feel violated.  That he was already there, so that makes it okay.

One little thing is missing here.

MY BODY.  MY UTERUS.

I gave him consent to do an exam to see if my son was still safe inside my uterus.  I gave him consent to see if things were okay.

I DID NOT give him consent to pull my placenta out, and I DID NOT give him consent to stick his hand inside my uterus.

For me, this is birth rape.

My body was used for a purpose that I did not consent to.  My vagina, cervix, and uterus were abused.  I was so sore for a week after this that it hurt to even wipe with toilet paper.  I was 14 weeks pregnant.  Passing my child should not have hurt me.

Even after my vulva and vagina stopped hurting, my insides hurt.  It hurt to laugh, to cough, to sneeze.  It hurt to bend over or pick anything up.  Yes, I had a 12+ hour labor, but that would not have caused lingering pain.

I woke up for days with nightmares of this happening again.  I would wake up in a cold sweat crying.  I was terrified of anyone even going near my bottom half.

Eight weeks out, I still shudder and cry and wake up screaming.

Now tell me that I was not birth raped.

Please.

I dare you.

When you try to define other people’s experiences, you yourself are changing the definition of rape, in this context.  You are telling women that their experiences don’t matter.  You are telling women that how their sexual organs are used when in a birth setting is not rape.

You are telling women that what they feel, what they are, doesn’t amount to anything.

Regardless of whether or not you believe in birth rape, know this.  A woman’s experience matters.  A woman’s body is her own.  A woman has every right to say no to anything someone wants to do with her body.

A woman has every right to say no.

Please, don’t take that away from them.

Please.