A Mother’s Beauty

I often hear women talking about themselves, especially mothers, and saying the words “fat”, “gut”, “muffin top”.  It makes me so sad.

One thing that has drawn me to helping women is how beautiful they are.  Short, tall, big, small.  They are all just so gorgeous.

And the women I love more than anything are mothers.  Whether they had their baby a day ago or they are a great-grandma to 15.  Their bodies are just aged to perfection.  They have the bodies I want.  The body that grew and nurtured multiple children.  The body that when you look at it looks saggy and tired, but in truth is just simply beautiful.

As women, we always compare ourselves to others instead of thinking about how we *feel*.  We see commercials and TV shows and covers of magazines and wonder what we are doing wrong.

When the truth is, what we are doing wrong is comparing our body to what we think the perfect body looks like.

My favorite woman’s body is the one that she is comfortable in.  I can’t even begin to describe how a woman glows when she is comfortable in her own skin.  With her wrinkled, sagged breasts, and her stomach that doesn’t really bounce back like when she was a teenager.  The body that grew a living being.  The body that nourished that being and helped it grow.  The body that taught and loved and raised another person.

We, as mothers, don’t give ourselves enough credit.  We see these magazine racks and the women on there with their new babies and perfect bodies and we measure ourselves and find ourselves lacking.

When in fact, the only difference is a trainer that charges $5000 an hour, and a professional with an air brush.

I see women that have just given birth to their child, and their stomach still looks pregnant, and they are tired, but they are at their most beautiful.  Our bodies were made to stretch and grow.  They were made to grow more beautiful with use.

Some of my favorite artwork is of big breasted, full bellied women.  Just like the cavemen used to pray to.  The Mother of all the Earth.

She wasn’t a skinny supermodel.  She wasn’t slim or trim.  She was a woman that loved with everything she had.  She was a woman that bore her body with pride at what she had created and nurtured.

She is the most beautiful of all.

(courtesy of google images)

In my eyes, she is beautiful.

We shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to others.  We shouldn’t be unhappy because the number on a scale isn’t what we wished we saw.

We need to learn to be comfortable in our own skin.  We need to learn to be happy with the body we have, the body that grew and nurtured our children.  We need to learn to love ourselves.

You are beautiful.  A number on a scale or a pants size doesn’t make the mother.  What makes a mother is the love she has for her children.  The love she has for herself.

Mothers are the most beautiful to me of all.

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Drawn To Birth

I haven’t posted on here in a long time.  No posts I write feel right, so they sit in my drafts.  I just haven’t been very inspired lately.

Since August, I have wondered why I do the work I do.  I am surrounded by pregnant women, by births that seem very unlikely I will ever have.  And yet I can’t stop learning and loving and being around birth.

I always wondered what drew people to their calling and lifestyles.  And when I found mine, it all just clicked.  Since my fourth loss, I have wondered whether this is the right place for me.  If I would be able to keep going.

I have been having a hard time being happy for people I know that are pregnant, and have taken a bit of a step back from birth.  I stopped doula work, stopped blogging and learning about birth for a bit.  I wanted to get recentered and truly find out if this was for me.

I wanted to find out if I would be able be around pregnant women without hating myself.

And what I found out was eye opening.

We have five clients so far this year, with one more possibly on the way.  And I couldn’t be more excited!

I cannot wait to see their bellies, to see their labors and births.  I cannot wait to see their faces when they first hold their babies, to see their faces when they have that new baby.  I cannot wait to see their glow.

I always wondered what it took for a job to be your calling.  I think I found out what that means.

I think it means putting yourself last.  No matter your past or your future, it includes working toward what you want with a ferocity that cannot be stopped.

When I am working with pregnant women, it isn’t about me.  It’s like there is nothing in the world but them.

My losses and infertility don’t matter when I work with them.  Sometimes I don’t want to go, and want to not ache to work with pregnant women, but when I am with them, I am revitalized.  I am renewed.

For me, a calling is more than just a job.  My calling is birth, and my own past won’t change that.

Three and a Half Years Is Too Long

TRIGGER WARNING: THIS DEALS WITH THE NICU

Ever have one of those days that make you stop and wonder how you have made it through since a certain moment?  When one little thing triggers you and you end up doing nothing but reliving events that truly were your own fault that hurt someone you loved?

I rarely, if ever, think about the time Glade spent in the NICU.  I don’t like to think about her birth at all, if I can help it.  I don’t like to think about any of my births.  But, that NICU stay is always pushed to the very back of my mind, and whenever I even remotely think about it, I am up for hours crying.

When my friend had her baby, I went to visit her in the hospital that night and got off on the wrong floor.  The elevator doors opened and just as I remembered, there was the door to the NICU.  Everything was exactly the same.  The camera was pointed down, the door was closed, there are no windows inside to peek.  I didn’t see any of the equipmentor or the families or babies or nurses, and yet I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

I remember every detail.  The giant sink you had to wash and sanitize in.  Which room she was in.  How many wires, the monitors, the chair, the isolette.  The charts on the wall, the beeps of the room as they monitored her heart and lungs and temperature.  I even remember the curtains they had, and the color blankets she used.  I remember every detail of the nurses and the rooms, but I don’t remember much of how Glade looked or did or how I felt when I held her.

I am so ashamed of how I handled Glade’s NICU stay.  I was never there.  Any chance we got, we were out of that hospital.  The first week of Glade life, I barely even saw her.  I couldn’t stand watching them prick her.  I couldn’t stand to see her so lifeless because she didn’t have the oxygen to move around.  I couldn’t stand seeing the bruises on her body from the version and the cesarean.

So, I avoided it.  I was there for when I needed to pump every three hours (which was actually done in my room a floor above the NICU) and I saw her when I went and put the milk in the freezer.  I never stayed long.  I truly felt so useless.

I had never even heard of the word NICU until Glade was life-flighted.  I didn’t know they existed, and I truly didn’t know that my child would need one.

As I ran out of the building after seeing that door for the first time in over three years, I stood outside for twenty minutes because even just the smell of the hospital had me feeling dizzy.  I knew that it would affect me, but I had no idea it would be that bad.

She was in there for five days.  With how much oxygen she needed, and how her jaundice levels were, it was amazing she was able to leave that soon.  She was tiny, and she went home on oxygen, but she was able to go home for the first time at a week old.  I know so many people that spent so much longer in there.

My daughter is healthy and alive and thriving because of that NICU, so why is the memory of it so traumatic?  Why is something that should be a happy memory, something that leaves me shaking and terrified?

How do you deal with the anxiety of something that happened over three years ago, and didn’t realize that it was still this bad?  How do you deal with something that you have suppressed, but now realize that it scares you more than so many other things?

How do you stop the nightmares that will come from remembering?

I’m not ungrateful.  I truly am so glad for what they did for her.  I still am so impressed with her stay and how we were treated.  I still love her nurses and doctors.  I am so thankful that Glade is here and doesn’t have any issues.

Yet, how do I deal with the regret that my choices and my ignorance are the reason she ended up alone in a cold place being poked and prodded alone?  If I am able to get pregnant again, and if I end up delivering prematurely, how am I going to be okay if another one of my children needs to stay in the NICU?

Because of my choices and completely trusting instead of researching, my daughter took the brunt of all of it.

My daughter, so tiny and precious, was bruised for weeks, had oxygen and regular tests, and I don’t know how to be okay with it.

How do you get over a NICU stay?  Even a good one?

The Amazing Placenta!

***There are pictures of a placenta in this post, do not read if you don’t like them as much as I do ;)***

The midwife I work with and my friend had her baby this week, and I was planning on encapsulating her placenta for her :).

After a day of an amazing nurse tracking down where it was, and then having to tell the nurse I picked it up from that I wasn’t going to clone babies with it, I finally got a giant red bag (that I could have fit in) that had a container with the placenta, which was in two zip lock bags inside this container.  They weren’t taking any chances with this “biohazard”.

The placenta is by far one of my very favorite organs.  It makes hormones, keeps a baby alive, and then comes out after birth and you don’t die.  I mean, how is that *not* exciting?!  Even my three year old was fascinated and helped me with everything I did!

So, I took it home and put it in pills for her, and here is a bit of a picture blog 🙂

The Placenta before I cleaned it off (though I had cut off the amniotic sac before I took this)

Print I did with blue and green paint (not the best, but I still like it!)

Cut up and ready to bake! To me, this just looks like steak haha

Cooked!!

Grinding it into powder (yes, that is Glade’s hand, she loved helping!)

Putting it into pills (she bought me a capsulator thing, which made it so I capsuled 145 pills in about 30 minutes!)

Huzzah!

And voila! 145 pills to ingest to help with baby blues, hormones, milk production, and so much more!

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.