Saturday, 3 July 2010

Why is broken beautiful?

So in my "research" into the effects of reality TV on our society I have been watching past cycles of America's Next Top Model and I have come across a phrase that has me really worried about the future for my little girl in society.

You look fantastic, like a broken doll.

There's that amazing broken babydoll look.

You've got that fierce broken look, amazing!

Broken. Their word. The bodies twisted and contorted to appear as though they have dropped down a flight of stairs and reassembled by a blind amputee. Broken as if thrown from the roof of a building and collapsed onto the pavement below. Broken as if beaten within an inch of their lives. Broken.

Perhaps I should, in the words of one Project Runway judge "lighten up, it's just fashion!" but I find it utterly terrifying to think that this is the new trend in modeling. Because I've BEEN a fifteen year old girl, and I KNOW that even a level-headed young lady with a brain full of IQ points and two feminist maternal figures in her life looks up to the fashion magazine editors to tell them what boys want in terms of beauty "today". They rely on the expert opinions of fashion stylists to tell them what looks good. And they will do their best to replicate those ideals in their own life. So it's hardly surprising that numbers for self mutilation and eating disorders are climbing to new and terrifying heights while fashion mags continue to push emaciated and "broken" paper dolls on the pages of the teenaged girls' guides to life. When did we lose sight of the healthy, powerful image of the superwoman and revert back to the imagery of the battered, atrophied, clothes hangers? How can I protect my little girl from the passive and active violence of society that is visited upon each and every woman in some form or fashion (of form of fashion as it so happens) when this is the industry standard for beauty?

Broken, awkward, collapsed, weak, exposed = fierce and sexy?

They tell them not to have opinions, not to over think it, to not be so intellectual or controlled. They praise the girls who hang like limp marionettes, but "smile with the eyes".

Let's hope my generation of mothers can say to their daughters, you are better than this. You are beautiful in your strength. Your voice and your health and your mind are the things that make you beautiful, not your angles, or your eyes, or your nose. Not your "smize". Is it your laughter. Love. Opinions. Ideas. Innnovation. Communication. Eloquence and Passion. A healthy body fed on real foods; a healthy mind fed on curiosity and insight; and a soul that is nurtured and fed the food of intellectual thought, philosophical and spiritual intrigue and creative expression. Let mothers says to their daughters: Fashion may define beauty as broken, but don't let them have the final word. Let your beauty be one of strength and power and on your terms. And let us all pray that our voices will resonnate more loudly than theirs.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

What does reality TV have to do with reality anyway?

Okay, so I have a confession to make.

I am addicted to Reality TV. It all started off innocently enough as a research project for my Media and Culture unit for my English A2 classes. I thought I'd examine what these shows say about our society and in fact how they contribute to the degradation of our society.

Then I started looking at the media PACKAGE that goes along with these shows, the websites, the blogs the fansites, the books, there is a virtual empire of press that goes along and with the increase of interactive media being what it is today, not only can you examine the shows and the effect thay have on YOU, you actually get an insight into how it affects the auidence. You can see the anger, the vitrol of the viewers, and the undying loyalty the give, and the human connection these shows obviously provide to what one can only assume is a desperately socially deprived viewership.

Hello, Kettle? This is pot. I'm writing this note to let you know in the kindest way possible, that you are black.

Yes, I am aware of the irony of my statement as I post this on my blog.

Well here comes the worst part. I have been sucked into the vortex that is Bravo TV. I read the blogs. I post comments to them and find myslf feeling egregiously outraged that Bravo fails to post my shamefully frequent and verbose responses to the blogs time and time again. I post comments like "Bravo won't publish this anyway, so I don't even know whay I am writing this but..." I read other people's posts and I shake my head as though to say to myself, channelling my cantankerous grandfather in his battered plaid upholstered armchair, "now that right there is everything that's wrong with these kids today!"

I want to be a part of the great greek chorus, to chime in from the peanut gallery with my two cents, which I am convinced is worth much much more. I am certain that MY comment, if only Bravo would see fit post it, will break through the blogosphere and connect with the person in question and give them something to mull over at night and it will change their lives.

I have lost my bleeding mind. I do know that.

But since I've gone any of you (and by you I mostly mean my two sisters and sometimes my mom, who I am fairly certainly are my only "readership") watch The Real Housewives of New York City, and if you do, do you know what I have been trying/DYING to say to model/writer/fashionista/walking-mannequin Kelly? (Damn Andy Cohen for not choosing my questions for the reunion, BTW!)

This is what happens when people spend their formative years of ages 15-25 surrounded by people that couldn't care less about real issues and who just glaze over everything you say with "OMG you're so gorgeous. I like LOVE those shoes!" This is what happens when you are allowed to go through life never being forced to defend the crap we all spoke as teenagers.

At one point in every intelligent woman's life there comes a time when someone, a teacher, a parent, a boss, a mentor, has pulled her aside and said "You sound like an eff-ing moron. Either start listening and start making sense or marry rich and get a good pre-nup. Because no matter how pretty you are, it's not going to last long enough for you to get away with being that dumb forver." Am I right? That obviously never happened to Kelly. She still thinks she is cute enough to not need to make sense. And her skin looks like bacon. Am I the only one who sees that?!

And if she could at least LAUGH about it. If she could say "Heh, yeah I know I speak a lot of rubbish, I'm just not good at being on the spot. LOL" I could respect her. If she could say "Yeah, I am really shallow and I do not give a toss about real issues or values or all. It's who I am." At least she would be smart enough to know she's a vapid airhead, but she's so far gone she tries to DEFEND her idiocy. She tries to rationalize the irrational. And what's worse still is she thinks she does a pretty good job of making herself understood, and if she can't make you understand, she shouts "why do we have to keep rehashing this, feelings are so 1979, just celebrate who I am."

What the ever living what?!?

Sorry, but I cannot, and will not celebrate stupidity, no matter how cute it looks in satin bunny ears. It is a cancer in our society; it breeds like mould in a bread drawer slowly disintegrating perfectly healthy cells in a matter or whatever...ya know, like...totally...KWIM? OMG! RU 4 REELZ? It's like...


Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Friday, 30 April 2010

What an idiot I am

So I have recently been introduced to Regretsy and in my searches through Ms. Winchell's archives and subsequent searches through the halls of esty I have discovered an awful truth.

I have been throwing out loads of crap that people will actually pay good money for. I thought my Scotish husband with his ingrained frugality would have spotted this. What gives?

Here is a tiny sampling:

And here I was chucking left over birthday cake in the bin. This lady pops it in tubs, tops it with some candy and sells it to people as FOOD. I'm an idiot. I could have gotten five dollars, for each portion! I shudder to think of all the money I could have put into my son's college fund that I just blithely scraped into the rubbish.

Oh my god, I just threw this exact same thing out last week. three dollars?! I'm an idiot!

This shop has several listings for spare game pieces from a game that was clearly a big hit with the kids, Smath (Like adding up the points and bonus squares in scrabble wasn't hard enough math for a sunday evening? Math fun -- world's best example of an oxymoron) And now when it's clear this game is of no other use, does the owner chuck it out like stupid ol' me would? No, They sell off the pieces in number sets for $1 a bag...Collage/mixed media supplies, indeed.

This store sells boxes of junk...BOXES of it, for: FORTY NINE DOLLARS!

When I think of all times I have dumped drawers full of valuable "art supplies" in a black garbage bin bag...I get sick, actually.

FORTY NINE DOLLARS? I am a dumbass.

My hat goes off to these people. They can sell bottle caps, and stained clothes, rusty old screws and nails, and here I am the big jerk, actually working for a living. The mind reels.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

A baby's first laugh

The cutest sound in the world, hands down.

That is all.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Just when you thought PB&J couldn't get any more convenient

The original fast food for moms on the go just got easier:

Are you serious? Have we become so rushed for time that we cannot even make ourselves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? And I used to scoff at Goober. This is the epitome of lazy.

I'm all for the "future" and making lives easier, but what's next? IV bags at the grocery store that you can attach to your Bluetooth, or garment hooks in the car?

No time to chew? Too busy for the hassles of digestion? IV bags distribute the nutrition you need directly to your bloodstream. No muss, no fuss.

What ever happened to enjoying one's food?

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Five going on fifteen

Benjamin has been driving me insane as of late and driving his father to fury. It's been screaming match central and I'm telling you I was not prepared for this to come until he was fifteen at least. I have been desperate and longing to find an answer that didn't include beating my child into submission, grounding him for life, or taping his mouth shut until he was twenty.

I must say the ladies at my parenting board have really come through for me. I got some sage advice, and some really helpful TOOLS for adjusting my perspective and redirecting his frustration into positive empowerment. It's early days but so far, so good.

I have successfully managed to reign in and diffuse a total of five tantrum potential incidents in the last 48 hours, and here are a just a few of the tales:

Yesterday I picked Benjamin up from school and everything was fine, he was happy, smiley, chatty then quite suddenly he snapped "arrrrrrg Stop talking to me!" And I thought; ooooh there is that teenager 'tude the ladies were talking about! And so I thought WWAGMD (what would a good mama do)? And I said calmly "Mommy, I need a little bit of quiet time now, if that's okay." And he repeated calmly and sincerely. I nodded (inwardly shocked that tis had not resulted in much eye rolling and lip smacking). And a few steps later he growled; "I just wish I could walk to school and home by myself!"

My instinct was to guffaw at the absurdity of the request and say "no way! Not safe!" but I thought about the no...was this really a good time to use the almighty irretractable no? Maybe I was only saying no because it was inconvenient to say yes and make those accomodations, maybe I am only saying no because I am not being creative enough to say yes. So I thought of a compromise that I could live with, and I said "Can I talk?" And he laughed and said with a tsk; "Yes, mommy!" So I said, "How about tomorrow you get a head a start and I'll walk with Emily about ten steps behind you? That way you can feel alone, but if you need me, I'm not that far."

He liked it. Then he asked, quite nicely, for some more quiet time.

So today he started walking and I let him go ahead of me and we got about three blocks and he started slowing down, so I walked to him and put out my hand and he grabbed it and he said quietly "It's just, I started feeling lonely." So I gave his hand a squeeze and said "I'm glad I wasn't far away." and he leaned his cheek on my hand and said, "Me, too."

Then I said, "How about when we get to the edge of the school building you can walk to the door alone?" (it's about six meters) and he lit up "That's a great idea, Mommy!"

And he gave me a big hug and a kiss and kissed his sister, and off he went as I stood at the corner.

Tonight was another success tale. I aksed him if he wanted to learn to tie his shoes and he stomped and threw himself backwards onto the floor in a heap and began to shout "Noooo, I'll never ever know how to do that. I'm not ever going to be able to do that, stop asking me that!" At first I would have been so shocked and so angry that he was being so resistant. I would have escalated.

But instead I took a deep breath and imagined myself at the age of 15 my mom asking me questions I didn't know the answer to "Do you like this boy? Whose religion will you practice if you marry him? What do you want to study at University? What will you be when you grow up? Why do you like those people?" I remembered the frustration and angst in my heart at those times and how I wished I could crawl in a hole and die from embarassment at my lack of self-awareness and life knowledge and my total inability to control anything, even basic decisions in my life. I became filled with empathy for Benjamin and instead of jerking him up and taking him to his room, I held him and whispered close; "You didn't used to be able to draw a face and now you can, can't you?"

"yes" he answered apprehensively.

"And last year you didn't know how to write words, but now you do. And you used to color outside of the lines all the time and now you almost never do, right?"


"So don't you think you'll learn to tie your shoes some day, too?"


"well," I said, "If you don't want to today, that's okay. I'll ask again another time."


And that was it. No flailing, no yelling...NO ESCALATION!

And two night in a row he has gone to bed happy and cuddly and without tears and without gimmicks.

Jamie is cautiously optimistic, and worries he is the most patient father on the face of the earth. He is unsure, but he has to admit these are tangible results.

Benjamin is really growing up and he really is turning out to be a fantastic kid.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

why do we have to have rules?

Benjamin is facing the fastidious fives.

Isn't this when it's supposed to get easier? Aren't they supposed to be empathetic and independant, and good communicators...doesn't that happen like magic on their fifth birthday when they blow out the candles and you make a wish for a peaceful home?

Not so much.

And to make matters worse, he's up and made real friends. Many of whom are, to put it nicely, spoiled rotten. They treat their housekeepers like subservient creatures who live to meet their every whim, and they treat all grown ups like we're stupid. Isn't that supposed to be a part of adolescence?

So now we hear things like:

If you don't let me stay up all night long watching videos I will never be happy ever again!

If you don't let me have cake for dinner I will never be a part of your family again.

If you don't let me go outside and play (at 9pm) right now I will never stop screaming!

I have to fight not to laugh and diminish his anger, or debunk his ridiculous ultimatums.

Then on the otherhand, I get indignant. How dare he speak to me like that? How dare he resort BLACKMAIL!? Who does he think he is?! I start to think of what would have happened if I had ever spoken that way to my parents. A spank on the bum? Soap in the mouth? a right good shout down and to bed with no dinner? That would teach him!

Or were they more forgiving than I remember? Was it all a phase and I grew up to be a nice respectful person anyway even if I was a beastly tot? Were we really more respectful in our youth or is it all an illusional of revisionist history?

I don't know, but as he grows older and gains more vocabulary to express himself and he expands his social role he is also asking pertinent questions.

Take the other night.

It was a school night and we were into the bedtime battle again.

And after much carrying on and screaming and threatening to disown the family and what have you, on his part and much jaw grinding stonewalling on my part, he lets out a huge exasperated sigh and he says "Mommy, why do we have to have rules?"

I tried to explain: rules help protect people and to protect other people's rights when other people are acting unfairly, like the rule about being quiet after the baby goes to sleep and it is bedtime. Your need to scream and protest is not more important than Emily's right to sleep and Mommy's right to peace and quiet time. Those are our rights. Your need to scream is okay, but not when you break Emily's right to sleep. If you need to scream, you can stay in your room and scream, but if you are screaming and being out of control and saying rude hurtful things, I won't want to stay with you and do nice things like read stories or sing songs, because I have a right to not be spoken to rudely, and that is as important as your right to scream when you are feeling frustrated.

He stopped crying. He listened. He genuinely wanted to understand the rules, and you could see he wanted to understand why his dad and I got to make most of them, and the little wheels were turning. And I know it sounds crazy, but I think some of it actually sunk in.

I think it's a civics lesson that may need relearning a lot. A civics lesson that to be frank, my husband and I both could stand to restudy ourselves from time to time. Sometimes I think we as grown ups forget that he is a person with his own needs and his own rights, and our rights do not always supercede his merely because we are adults or because we are bigger and stronger and richer. Sometimes it wouldn't hurt to just stop what we are doing and try to listen a little harder.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Crying It Out logic

My cousin posts on FB that she is fighting with her 2.5 yo daughter to get her to sleep...we have all been there as parents, right? Then one friend says " have to let her cry it out or she will just know that you will always keep coming back." (like this is the worst case scenario, your kid trusting you to BE there when she cries out for you?)

I post in desperate disagreement and the friend responds, basically: Keep up the CIO, you have a smarter than the average baby!


So What's the logic there...if the child were of average intelligence she would be okay to go in and reassure her?

Smart kids must be manipulative by nature?

Only dumb kids really need their moms at night?

And if her 2 and half year old is THAT clever, if she is such a manipulative mastermind that she simply must be at it and is clearly just trying to, I don't know, take over the world one exhausted parent at a time, why not TALK to her and find out what the trouble is?

My son was pretty capable of making simple requests and needs clear at that age, and I am pretty sure he's of average intelligence.


I sent her the link for, I really hope she checks it out!

Here are some other links for reasons NOT to let your child, of ANY age just cry themselves to sleep just in case some one stumbles accross this rant:

Monday, 8 February 2010

Isn't it nice when new parents can let loose and have some fun?

My husband, a nice Scottish man, has suddenly been sucked into the vortex of American Sports...he spent the day at a SUPERBOWL party?!? WTH! If I wanted to be married to some jocked out American sports nut I wouldn't have travelled halfway across the world to meet people from OTHER COUNTRIES, would I?

And then, after spending ALL DAY at a poker and Superbowl party, he has the nerve to call me at 11pm on a Sunday, the night before our four year old starts back to school, to say he doesn't know WHEN he'll be getting home because he's "still having fun"! HA! Imagine that, having fun at an all day party! WEIRD!

Of course you're having fun, you selfish jerk, you've been having fun ALL DAY!!!! That's all you had to do today was HAVE FUN! Mission accomplished. Good for YOU!

What was I doing, you ask? I was making lunch and dinner and tomorrow's lunch for our child, orgainzing school supplies, bathing said child, all while balancing a newborn on my lap and my breast while changing a gazillion diapers and meanwhile trying to entertain a four year old and get him to bed at a decent hour for his first day of school tomorrow, something he was loathe to do because only daddy tells good stories anymore. Benjamin decided to forego any stories or songs from me until his dad came home because "I don't believe you, Mommy. Daddy said he would be home soon! I'm going to wait until Daddy comes home". And so he is STILL WAITING UP FOR HIM AT QUARTER PAST MIDNIGHT jumping at every car to pass down our street.

So selfish! What is wrong with him? Does he have no sense of common decency or shame?! Or have these drunken gringos he spends all his time with given him some inflated sense of decency so that he really can justify these actions in his head? What dellusions of grandeur could convince someone that this was an okay thing to do with a FOUR WEEK old baby at home and four year old starting school the next day?

I am so totally disappointed in him.

Oh gosh, darling, if you're having fun, you go ahead and stay at the party and leave me to sort it all out; I wouldn't want to ruin your FUN, you selfish jerk!


Saturday, 6 February 2010

My babies

Will I ever think of Benjamin as just my kid? No. He will always be my baby. How did our parents ever do it? How did they ever watch us grow up, get our heart broken by countless "friends" and then go on in our teens to have romantic relationships that broke us down to the ground and watch us willingly go out for more heartache and pain? How did they ever face the facts that life would happen and there was nothing they could do about it? How did they ever face the reality that most people are raised to life of hatred and cruelty, and they sre most likely to take that agression out on the kind and sweet souls they encounter? How did they ever face that some of that cruelty might come from their own children?


I am so torn between my baby, who calls to me with those sweet fat cheeks, and her soft coos and tiny bleets of inescapable adorableness, and my first true mother-love, Benjamin. I feel for him, I long for her. I want him to be independant and strong and yet I need him to need to me. I want him to know he has not and never will be replaced, and still, I wish he would give me the time and space to love her the way she deserves to be.

Emily is so cute.

She sleeps so soundly. She cries so sweetly. She looks so wise and pensive for a nearly but not quite four WEEK old child. I am sure she is the old soul I dreamed of the night I got pregnant. A combination of all the maternal souls that have lead up to her birth. My grandmother, my great aunts and great grandmothers, all their craziness, all their love, and all their experience seems to pour from this child. They are calling to me, have been since her conception, to watch over this girl-child. She will be amazing. She will break barriers. She will make us all reel with her spirit of ability. And I want to be there to watch.

It's not to say that Benjamin is made of lesser stuff, he will be a wonderful man, but she is my legacy to womankind.

I cannot fathom the depth to which I love these children. Is it possible to have a heart that loves so deep and so true?

Yes, it is.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

and so it goes

as the days go by and the drugs and hormones of pregnancy wear off, I grow sad.

And I know this part of the process. I know this is a wave I must dive under. I must feel the tides push over me, forcing me down and washing over me with the gravity of the world, because if I don't give over to it, I will be swept under by surprise, against my will, and taken down to drown. I know this intuitively, and from experience.

I wish everyone else would let me be sad.

I know it is hard to watch people you love feel guilty or sad or regretful, especially when they should see what you see, how much they deserve to be happy, how silly they are being, all the reasons they shouldn't be sad, but it is not fair to ask people to be happy because their sadness makes you sad. It is not right to ask people to swallow their emotions and rationalize their feelings to make you feel more comfortable.

I need to be sad.

I need to mourn the loss of my birth story as I had it planned. I need to be allowed to feel like a failure, because I did fail. I failed to do what women are built to do. I failed to let my baby out of my body, for a second time. The circumstances are different, but this time I can't blame knowledge or understanding or education. I have only my own body to blame, another item on a mile long list of things to hate about my body.

I need to be allowed to vent this sadness to get past it so that I CAN invest my energy in being a better mom. I need to say it out loud and not be afraid that I am making other uncomfortable. I need to say...I hate myself for being so weak. I hate myself for not trying something else. I hate myself for giving in when maybe I was close. I hate myself for saddling my family with excess debt we cannot afford. I hate myself for all these reasons but mostly I hate that I am not the woman I want to be and I don't know what to do to be her. I hate that this is a problem I cannot solve. I hate that I am supposed to just accept that I am not who I want to be and I have to just suck it up.

I hate it.

It's not that millions of women have been fine after giving birth by C-section or that I think I have fucked up my kids by not pushing them through my vagina. It is that *I* couldn't do what *I* set out to do. It was my goal. It was my project. It was my body. It was my choice. and I failed.

I need to be sad about that for a while. Okay? I need to be sad.

She is perfect and I do feel I can begin to forgive myself for my birth with Benjamin, but now I have a whole new fish to fry.

I am not the picture of a mother or a woman I want to be for my children. I am not the role model I want to be. I am not the figure of strength and protection I want to be. I feel ill equipped to serve them the way they deserve to be served, and I don't know how to make it up to them or if I ever will.

I need to feel this.

I need to say this.

I need you to hear this.

The birth story

At the beginning of this pregnancy I soon realized that there were some emotional issues surrounding Benjamin's birth that I had never really faced up to. They began to haunt me. Why had I let them talk me into a C-section? Why hadn't I asked more questions, explored other options? Did I really need major surgery or did the Doctors just really want to enjoy their Easter break at the beach without a call from hospital? Had I even asked for a second opinion or did I just put my life and my baby into their hands and never even question what was right? I spent a good portion of the first trimester doing some pretty deep soul searching and I decided that this time I was going to do things differently. I was going to research more, ask more questions, and refuse unnecessary interventions. I was going to decide the course of my healthcare, rather than social pressure, or medical trends. I soon realized that if I really wanted to have this baby on my terms I was going to have to stay away from the hospital system as much as possible, and as long as possible. I began researching and preparing for a homebirth with a reputable team of midwives here in Costa Rica.

I met Marie and Rebecca and I knew they were the women who would bring me to a peaceful place mentally; they made me feel safe and cared for, like all the maternal women in my life rolled into two experienced birthing experts. I also began to realize that I might let my stubborn streak for proving something to myself and the world stop me from being aware of my safety or the safety of the baby inside me. I needed a mother figure there to help call quits if things didn't go according to the books, to God's design, to my ideal plan. I needed someone who would be willing to call uncle for me, and I trusted Marie and Rebecca would only do so if they were sure it was time, and that was a level of trust I simply never had with the hospital and insurance mechanisms that we are so encouraged to put our absolute faith in. I had read time and again that the more you trust your birth team, the more likely you are to have a safe healthy natural birth. So I made all the arrangements and felt safe and ready to have this baby in my home, surrounded by people who knew I could rather than a staff of people waiting for me to fail and to pick up the pieces.

On Friday January 8th I began to feel contractions around 4:30 pm. They were pretty irregular, between 35 and 60 minutes apart, and pretty mild. Enough to keep me from sleeping soundly but not enough to call the Midwife. I was pretty sure this was that Prodromal labor everyone had been talking about but I never experienced with Benjamin. But by 10 am on the 9th I was feeling them every 20 minutes with increasing regularity. I had read that it was a good idea to just try and rest and go about your business, that I likely had at least 8 hours before they would go into active labor (5 mins apart or less) and I was still pretty convinced this was just a false alarm. I lost my mucous plug at about 1:30, but I have heard that just means you are effacing, no big deal. Nothing to panic over. I was still deeply nestled in my denial. So at 2:30 I went with Jamie and Benjamin to pick up my mom from the airport. By the time we got home at 4pm they were 15 minutes apart. I told Jamie to go ahead and go watch the semi finals for the superbowl at his friend's house. This was definitely not going to happen tonight, and if they picked up I'd call him.

By 9pm they were every 5-10 minutes and I was starting to think this might be it. So I called Jamie to tell him to come home, and we called the midwife, but her phone went to voicemail. Jamie panicked a bit and an hour later we got her on the phone. She came right over with all her equipment, poor thing had been at another birth all day and was so tired, but she came right over and checked me. My contractions were coming every 2-6 minutes then, and I thought I had felt my water break in the shower, so I was pretty sure I was getting close. Besides I hadn't slept in like 38 hours, so I was hopeful this was me getting close to the end.

Marie checked my cervix and I was a disappointing 1cm dilated. I thought, "Well no big deal, just keep going." Yes the contractions hurt. They did. But in a way that felt safe, good almost. I felt like I was pushing through something. I felt almost euphoric. But tired. A few more hours, on the ball, in the shower, on the bed, and still I was only 2 cm. I went back into the shower on the birthing ball for another 2 hours I think and they started coming fast and furious, really intense and with no break between. I thought this has to be transition. I must be opening up. I thought for sure I was close, that I could feel my cervix opening up and letting my baby through.

Two hours, of constant contractions, no break to rest, just wave after wave, and I thought I was going to collapse...I think I did collapse. I got out of the shower...I wanted her to check me, I was sure I was ready, I had to be ready.

I was only 3.5 cms. I started to cry in desperation "what is wrong with my fucking body?! Why can't I let my babies out!?" I felt so humiliated and exhausted, so so exhausted. Marie felt it was time to call the OB. I didn't want to hear it. I crawled in the tub and began to sob, half with relief that someone was going to put me out of my misery soon one way or the other and half with a deep sadness knowing that my body had failed to birth her babies on her own again. Surely there was something fundamentally wrong with me. Jamie held my hand as Marie told me the prognosis. "Dr. Paer could help, but he felt a C section was the best route." Marie stroked my hair and assured me that it really was time to give in, that I had done everything I could, and that in her 25 years of experience she had never seen anything like it...there was nothing left to do.

I gave in and climbed into the car and we went to the ER where Dr. Paer met us. They registered me, hooked me up to an IV. I remember the Nurse put this needle in my hand and I screeched in pain and she said "but it's not as bad as the contractions, is it?" And I remember looking at her thinking," You are a fucking moron. It's not the same thing. I can breathe through a contraction, and I know it will pass and I will be (or should be) one step closer to holding my tiny baby...that was a giant needle in my hand that will be a throbbing reminder of my failure and humiliation for the next 48 hours!" But all I said was "No es el mismo” It’s not the same thing.

Two contractions later (they had spaced out significantly now, and I almost thought for a minute...maybe I can still do this! but I was too tired to say a thing) they finally wheeled me into the OR. The epidural was awful. They come at you with this giant needle into your spine and say "hold still" and you know if you don't you could be paralyzed for life, but it's a GIANT NEEDLE going into your central nervous system (between contractions this time, so yeah, not fun) and my body has instincts, it flinches from pain, and things it thinks might cause I bolt up as the needle goes in and they yell at me, "Calm down, Rebekah!" The nurse is on my side, I can hear her say "go easy she's exhausted!" and I just shout "FUCK OFF I'm having a contraction and it's a giant needle in my back!" they restrain me, I look to my left and I see Jamie in scrubs with the most terrified look on his face, and I am so relieved they will let him in, they try a second time and I bite the male nurse's arm to try and stay still, but I move again...shit!...I apologized, I didn't mean to bite him...they try a third time to get it right and this time I bite my thumb instead. They lay me down, and I am soon numb, but for my shoulders which suddenly ache like I have been lifting heavy boxes all day.

The rest is sort of blurry, lots of gas and pain killers, they let Jamie tell me the sex, which was nice, they show me the placenta, and I am wheeled off to recovery. An hour later they bring me to my room and Jamie comes in with the baby, a baby girl,3.6 kilos, (about 8 pounds) and 48 cm (you do the math on that one). She is beautiful. It is almost 9am on the tenth of January. I am tired, but also sort of high and excited to hold this wee girl. She latches on perfectly and goes to town on my colostrum. Then she just passes out, satiated for the moment, and I breathe a sigh of relief and look to Jamie. He seems so happy and in love. They let him hold her the whole time I was in recovery, so at least she was not alone. I feel a great sense of relief. It is over, and we are safe, and I do not feel the humiliation I felt last night. I only feel lucky and loved and in love. I used the doctors for what they are meant to be used for. As Dr Paer told me at our first meeting "I don't know anything about natural childbirth. My job is to help when something goes wrong." and he did. He really did.

I may never know what went wrong, why my cervix doesn't work like other women's cervices do. Nevertheless, this experience was incredibly healing for me. Emily Ava Young was my chance at self forgiveness and redemption from the jury that sits in my heart and judges my mistakes. She was a sort of rainbow baby for my heart and my fears. And as such it was fitting that as we left CIMA hospital there, right in front of us as we drive out of the parking lot, just over the Fischels Pharmacy sign on the other side of the autopista, was a fat, brightly glowing rainbow and it seemed to say, "You are good, Rebekah, you ARE good." And I think I believe it.

Emily Ava is home now; currently sleeping with her dad...he has a magic way with babies I tell you! And we are resting and Benjamin is so cute, he runs into every time she cries to make sure she is okay. For now we are enjoying our little cocoon and snuggling lots and enjoying the sleepy milky smiles of our beautiful baby girl

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Pregnancy, homebirth, and fear

So, I am 38 weeks and four days pregnant with baby #2. I am riddled with fear and anxiety. I am researching every possible complication and what my choices are to be fully informed and it's like trying to fish at the bottom of an abyss with a pencil and a gob of gum.

In my research I came across this site:

And I tried the exercise and I feel compelled to publish it here.

I believe childbirth is something I never got to do, I was just handed motherhood without the right to experience the most important part, and it’s my fault for not asking more questions, for trusting untrustworthy doctors and for not educating myself.

I believe it is the measure of a woman’s worth in so many ways. Her ability to do it gracefully and without shedding tears or expressing needs or fears are held up by the men in her life as a measure of her coolness, her ability to fit in with the boys and as such her right to be loved. Her ability to just sit back and do her time as deemed by nature or god or whatever higher power determines these things with a smile on her face and no demands of her partner, or special requests from her employer, is lorded over her like a guillotine ready to dice her into pieces should she ask someone for empathy or companionship along the road.

It is a test of the greatest kind, and it seems there is no way of passing it without total selfless martyrdom, the fertile soil of resentment and emotional hermitage, where icy frigid souls grow out of the ashes of once warm and caring hearts that believed they were worth more than their ability to grow an egg into a child. And I am failing.

One of my worst fears for the labor and birth is that the baby will die and I am my ego will be the only ones to blame.

When I talk about giving birth with other people I get defensive and emotionally flustered. I try to retain my idealism and optimism, but every story I read about premature labor or sudden emergency c-sections, I think: all this work, all this research, all this time invested in making sure I don’t let myself be manipulated or terrorized into unnecessary interventions again and what if it’s all for naught, what if I do all of this and I still wind up hospitalized and treated like an empty vessel for someone else’s right to be…what about my right to be, to be the mother I want to be, the woman I want to be, the person I want to be.

And I think; “Why do I feel so alone in this fear?” Why does it seem Jamie’s and in fact anyone's only fear is if someone dies -- a healthy baby and a living mother is all he wants for. There are worse things than dying in childbirth, and there is more than one kind of death that can happen…and what if I can never resurrect the person I sold to the slaughterhouse when my son was born, the once fearless woman I sold in exchange for some cheap sense of security that I had done the most sacrificial thing to save my child. What if all the babies in the world passing through my cunt never ever takes away the mistakes I’ve made. What if I am just broken forever and then I wind up alone and saddled with two children that I can’t help but love but whom I’ll always know I’ll never be able to protect by myself.

I always feel like less of a woman compared to women who gave birth vaginally. My mother, my step-mother, my mother-in-law, my sister and sister-in-law, they all have something I don’t: the knowledge of their power, their strength and ability. I feel weak and small next to them. I want to believe having this baby at home on MY terms will change everything, and I do believe that if I can’t I will always be half the person I should be, and it strikes at the core of my confidence and I shudder to think how I will shrink further into invisibility and self-deemd irrelevance if I can’t make this happen.

I have concerns about giving birth because I might not be able to do it. And then who am I? What good am I to anyone?

What fears arise from your mother's retelling of your birth? That because I was born by C-section all my babies will be too. I took away her right to birth me naturally, and I don't deserve to have a natural birth because of it. I fear my baby girl is going to be born to a mother who has no right to be a mother.

What fears arise from previous experiences at birth? That I am not built to have babies. That my body can’t do it. That I might hate my children for proving to me what a sad pathetic excuse for a woman I really am.

What fears arise from the anticipation of being out of control? Every fear I have ever had comes out of this one thing. How can I give over to my nature and my instincts and a higher purpose if I can’t let go, but how can I trust anything I am not in control of?

What fears arise from the expectation of pain associated with labor? None. I am not afraid of the pain. I believe the pain will be the only thing that saves me.

What fears arise from the understanding you are becoming a mother (again)? That I will be doing this mentally and emotionally alone because my husband does not want to share this with me. That he sees how broken I am and he will leave me for a life of freedom and easy choices and that I am unfit to do it alone. That I will let my children down, or grow to hate myself and everyone else trying not to. That if it is a girl I will make her neurotic and crazy trying to live up to my failed expectations for myself, and that she will grow up never knowing how amazing she is just in her own precious right to BE.

What fears arise from the anticipation of the physical process of labor? Tearing scares me, and that I might never regain my prenatal shape. I also fear I won’t go into labor…that everyone will say it is time and my stupid body won’t be able to do what it needs to do and it will be my fault, for abusing and hating my body for so long throughout my life. Maybe I broke something and it can’t be fixed. Maybe I’m the only one to blame for being such a failure at the only thing I should be able to do right.

What fears arise from the anticipation of being "watched" and meeting expectations? I might let my mother or husband’s judgments stop me from doing what I need to do. That seeing me labor will make my husband feel disgusted with me forever.

What fears arise from the anticipation of breastfeeding? None. Milk, I can do.

What fears arise from comments made by family or friends? If I can’t do it at home, naturally, I will feel like a buffoon. That they are secretly rooting for me to fail, even my husband.

If I felt strong and powerful, I'd like to give birth to my baby completely alone, in my bathroom or my closet, with no one around but my heart and my baby.

There it is. Not pretty. I have so many scabs to pick at and scars to heal.