Friday, May 17, 2013

I Changed Five Years Ago. . .

I was heavily pregnant five years ago.  My son had inexplicably turned breech right at the very end of that text-book easy pregnancy.  My dream of natural, drug-free vaginal birth was in jeopardy and I was suddenly facing the possibility of a c-section.  Sure, plenty of women have had breech vaginal deliveries. . .but that wasn't what ended up happening with my delivery.

I can still remember the day that I was lying on the couch in the living room and my abdomen began to resemble that famously gross scene from the movie Alien.  I could not believe the movement that was going on inside my body.  It was creepy to watch, somewhat painful to feel, and I ended up feeling beat up on the inside.  At my next appointment, my doctor was startled to discover that my baby had found a way to turn breech.  His expression was one of pure shock and he spat out, "Is that your baby's head?!"  Why, yes, yes it was his head. . .suddenly lodged up near my breastbone.

My doctor attempted to turn the baby in his office.  I believe he truly tried to flip that baby and can say that it was very uncomfortable from a physical standpoint.  Being so very near the end of pregnancy and so full of baby in my belly. . .ugh, it really kinda sucked and I was so upset that the baby was not turning even with a grown man pushing full force on my abdomen.  I'd be 39-weeks on the weekend and he was scheduled at the hospital that Saturday so he told me to come to L & D so he could try to turn baby there.  The reasoning was that we could head directly to the OR for a c-section if anything truly distressing happened to the baby while he was attempting to flip the baby. 

On this night five years ago, I prayed fervent prayers.  I prayed for my baby to turn, for me to avoid a surgery, for all to work out according to my wishes.  Well. . .my baby did not turn, I did not avoid a surgery, but it ultimately did work out. 

My amniotic fluid was low enough at that point that attempting the version was not on the table.  My doctor said that he was there, I was there, I was at term, and the baby was breech.  He offered the c-section right then if I wanted it.  I burst out that I thought he'd flip my baby back down and I'd have a vaginal birth and that I thought my delivery would be what I wanted.  I realize now that he & my husband exchanged a look (confirmed by speaking with my husband) and I think both of them thought I knew I was walking into that hospital for a c-section that day. 

I did not know. 

I was so thrown for a loop that I actually left my shoes in that L & D room and walked off without ever finding them again.  It was many many hours before my surgery was actually performed.  Hours that I spent feeling uncomfortably hungry and thirsty.  Oh, man, I have NEVER felt so thirsty.  Starting the IV helped a little, but my mouth positively ached for liquid refreshment.

I was there for over eight hours. . .waiting for the surgery that I did not want. . .hoping that I could somehow avoid this (in my view) unnecessary surgery. . .praying that I could keep the baby in for one more week so that my mother could be near me. 

My in-laws were there nearly the entire time. . .I remember my mother-in-law sitting in that room with me, trying to keep my mind off my anxiety and fears, being a solid rock of support for me.  It's a kindness that I can never repay.

At some point I inquired if it wasn't time for my doctor to go home and if that meant I'd get to go on home too.  The L & D nurse was a treat, so very well suited to the job, and she let me know that if my doctor said he'd be there for my surgery that he absolutely would not be leaving until I was stable in recovery no matter how many more "emergency" c-sections showed up.  I still remember that nurse by name and she is one who I made sure to give a special gift to weeks later when I was up for returning to the hospital with my new babe.

I had never been admitted into a hospital prior to this birth.  I'd never had a major surgery.  I'd never delivered a baby.  To say I was anxious would be an understatement.  I was scared to death. 

It was a day of firsts.  It was a day that I held my heart - outside of my own body.  The first time that I was able to hold a child of mine.

The surgery was perfect and looking back it was as good as could be hoped for in a surgical delivery.  The recovery sucked and I didn't see my new baby for two hours as I desperately tried to move my legs enough while in recovery to be sent up to my room to be reunited with my baby.  There are only three or four post-op photos of me holding my first son while we were in the hospital.  One that painfully tugs at my heart is one where I was on the phone with my mother who was 3,000 miles away and I was crying while holding the phone and cradling my new baby for the first time.

So much has changed in these five years and I can say that it has flown by in the blink of an eye.  I can't believe that the baby who nuzzled at my awkward breast is now a five-year old who is on the cusp of Kindergarten.  I should have cherished those fleeting early baby days. . .those impossibly exhausting early baby days.  They will never return that that boy will only continue to grow and mature. 

What do I hope for my dear first son?  I hope that he keeps his kind and loving heart.  He is so sweet and empathetic.  I hope that his spirit is free when it can be, but that he learns when it's advisable to reign in his head-strong nature.  I hope that he remains a fundamentally good human being.  I hope that he finds a special someone who appreciates and admires him for who he is and that his spouse is a generously loving helper who isn't emotionally wounded.  I hope for the best for my dear boy. . .he's smart and can be so charming.  My darling son. . .I love that boy so much that words fail.

So much has changed in the last five years.  I earned a new title:  Mother.  I know there are times that I miserably fail, but I do aim to bring honor and respect to that title.  I became responsible for a human being who needs me to grow and thrive. . .who needs my guidance to learn how to thrive and succeed in society.  I really can not believe my son is now five years old.  It honestly does feel like it was only yesterday that I first held that beautiful baby with the dimpled chin.  Only yesterday that I put my nose in his hair and nearly wept over the joy of his smell.  Only yesterday that this newest chapter of my life began.  I was living before. . .but I was finally alive.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Burning Pipe and a Ring of Fire

This is one of those posts that isn't for the fairest and most delicate readers.  Oh, what's that?  I don't have any of those types in my readership?  Well, then, let's talk about my vulva and vagina!

* * *

I had a yeast infection once before and I wrote about it here.  Though I usually sport a remarkably low-maintenance vagina, guess who's doing battle with the yeasty beasties once again?  That's right. . .and, just in case you think I only write about my vagina or my boobs, I'm also going to include a warning and some advice that might be helpful if you ever have a yeast infection.

In the silent war being waged in my vagina, fungus is beating the heck of of bacteria.  Lest any of you high & mighty broads try to act like you'd never have such a horribly disgusting thing happen - think again.  Yeast is naturally present in the vagina in small amounts and that fungus is usually kept in check by the bacteria that is also naturally present.  Sounds like a real freaking picnic in your panties, right?  Apparently anything from hormone fluctuations, dietary changes, taking antibiotics, and small aircraft flying overhead could tilt the vaginal balance of power from bacteria to yeast.  When that happens, you get the joys of a yeast infection.

I woke a few mornings ago and was distressed to find that my vulva was sore.  I initially dismissed it, but it still hurt two days later and it started feeling really swollen and tender.  I asked my husband if he'd tell me how it looked.  I apologized for tasking him with something so gross and he indicated it all looked pretty normal so no apology was necessary.  The next day it started to itch and burn then it stung when I peed.  I recognized the symptoms from that one yeast infection I had a couple of years ago so decided a little OTC help would be necessary. 

Monistat 1 is what was procured to beat down the yeast.  It is a one-time treatment; a suppository.  Or, as I prefer to call it, an egg-shaped ball of pain.

For twelve-hours after inserting the Monistat 1, my vagina burned and THROBBED with pain.  I couldn't sleep.  I couldn't comfortably sit.  I was close to stuffing a bag of ice in my britches to cool down the fun zone because it felt like a fire might break out at any moment.  It's not an exaggeration to say that I briefly considered ramming a bottle brush up in my bits to scrub that miserable ball of horror right out.  My vagina felt assaulted.  It easily hurt ten times worse than the infection it was supposed to clear up!

After around twelve-hours of burning and throbbing pain, my vagina felt better.  Not totally normal, but not leaving me weeping and wishing for death.  I figured the mega-dose of anti-fungal medicine had done it's job and I was on the mend.

Until 1:30 this morning. . .

I was awakened out of a sound sleep by, you guessed it, burning and throbbing.  Only now I had the added benefit of itching.  My vulva felt like it was about to explode and my vagina was no barrel of fun either.  WTF, Monistat 1, WTF?! 

I somehow was able to doze off and dashed off a message to my doctor at a normal hour.  As a friend says, I should have included a box of cigars with my message because the man is a saint for putting up with my crazy shenanigans.  He responded promptly by indicating that he doesn't really recommend the one-day suppositories because they don't work that great and they do nothing for yeast infecting the exterior skin.  He prefers the 5- or 7-day treatments and a cream for the vulva.  Too bad I didn't contact him in the first place.

I was pondering why I suddenly had this yeast infection anyway.  Remember that hormone fluctuations can cause yeast infections.  I do have a hormone-infused IUD up in my uterus at this moment so perhaps that's the culprit.  I'm tending to say it is not the reason though as I've had it for months now and haven't had any problems like this before. 

One thing that I realized is that I've been eating a lot of starchy carbs lately and I usually do not.  Those sugary starches help feed the yeast which encourages growth.  Another thing is that I had stopped eating plain yogurt.  I ate plain yogurt nearly every single day last year because I was spending so much time in a damp bathing suit.  I got a little itchy every once in a while, but never developed a yeast overgrowth.  The live & active cultures in plain yogurt help populate the good bacteria that keep the yeast down to acceptable levels.  I also haven't been eating nearly the same amount of garlic that I normally do (I actually had a head go bad and that never happens) and garlic has anti-fungal properties so one would think it would help keep the yeast at bay too. 

In a nutshell (or would that be clamshell?!), I think my diet can be blamed for this recent yeast infection.  That's great that I might have identified why I have this going on, but I need some relief.  I'm going to take my doctor's advice because he's never steered me wrong before and see if it doesn't restore my ladyparts to their former glory.

Now, you all know I'm a bit of a hippie, but I draw the line with seeking a "natural" remedy for this stuff.  I think it's odd that I'm okay with squirting an anti-fungal up in my vagina, but I won't consider a natural remedy first.  I'll put all manner of weird or gross stuff in my mouth, but I guess I'm pretty particular about what I allow in my vadge.  For those of you who might be interested, I understand that raw peeled garlic cloves and plain yogurt douches will help restore the balance of bacteria and yeast.  Note that it is PLAIN yogurt.  You don't want to feed your yeasty beasties a sugary vanilla yogurt snack.  I also have heard that probiotics (consumed orally or inserted vaginally) can help as well.  I'm not a doctor and I'm not giving medical advice here so try it at your own risk, but do chime in if you've tried any of these remedies.

Back to the Monistat 1 for a moment. . .I wouldn't buy it for my worst enemy if she were suffering from a yeast infection.  I looked up my reaction and it's apparently not uncommon as the internet has hundreds of stories from women who had the same horrible burning and throbbing pain from using this product.  Again - WTF, Monistat?!  I can officially declare that Monistat 1 is the absolute worst thing I've ever had in my vagina.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Healthy Babies ARE NOT All That Matters!

Most people who read this blog know that I developed Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP or sometimes just called CP) near the end of my last pregnancy.  That diagnosis, along with the bleeding I experienced throughout each trimester, effectively made it my last pregnancy as my husband & I are not willing to experience another roller coaster ride of a pregnancy.  Besides, we're old and it was time to stop cheering for Team Babyworks.

I mention ICP because early delivery is the standard practice with those pregnancies.  That is, delivery no later than 38-weeks.  The reason is that fetal outcomes are not as favorable with longer gestation.  That's a very delicate way of saying the one thing that strikes fear in the heart of every single pregnant mother:  longer gestation in an ICP pregnancy is linked to increased chance of stillbirth.

There is a broad swing in what is considered a full-term pregnancy - anything between 38- and 42-weeks.  Generally speaking, baby is better off baking in your uterine oven as long as possible.  That means that delivery (via induction or, as is a fairly common outcome for induction, a c-section) that is scheduled just for the sake of not being pregnant anymore, to choose your baby's birthday, or because your OB is going on vacation near your actual estimated due date are generally agreed upon to not be good reasons to evict your fetal stowaway.

Regardless of the reasons why your baby is born early, you might second guess your decision to deliver so soon.  You may well do this if your baby is perfectly healthy and it's nearly guaranteed that you will if your baby does not fit your mental picture of healthy perfection.  Mother's Guilt is strong, whether it's warranted or not.  Frankly, it seems to me that the ones who have the least to feel guilty about are the ones who agonize the worst.

Witnessing a loved one or a fellow mother beat herself up emotionally over decisions that can't be undone is hard.  Well-meaning people may say things like, "Well, your baby is healthy and that's all that matters."  Or, "Baby was born and his here now and that's all that matters." 

These lines, and those like them, have always bothered me.  I don't think most people are trying to be hurtful when they say things like this, but it is hurtful.  These statements are dismissive and demeaning.  These statements completely invalidate the mother's feelings.  It's like saying that not only is she wrong for feeling uneasy about her decisions, but it's also saying she's wrong for having the feelings in the first place because having the baby here now is all that matters. 

I struggled with years to make peace with my first son's c-section.  My feelings of inadequacy and outright maternal fraud were surprising to me, but they were very real and very painful.  My baby was healthy and I still ached over making the wrong choice.  Was it the wrong choice?  I don't know, but it's the one I made.  I can't undo it.  It took years, but I no longer feel an intense longing when I think of his birth.  I made the best decision I could with the information I had.  Would I make the same choice today?  It doesn't matter, but I would.

Hearing nearly everyone I know and love tell me that, "You're okay and he's okay so it all worked out and that's all that matters," did not help me.  Being told that I'm just as much a mother as any other mother didn't help.  Listening to one c-section story after another didn't make mine feel any more "normal."  Time was probably the greatest source of healing.  Well, that's not entirely true.  It was time and having an experience that made my body feel even more broken.  Having my last baby (high-risk pregnancy, advanced maternal age, early delivery and all), restored me in more ways than I could have possibly imagined.

Healthy babies are the ultimate goal, but they are not all that matters.  Healthy mother matters too. . .physically, emotionally, and mentally.  If she's wounded in any of those areas, it matters - and don't try to tell her otherwise.

Have you struggled to make peace with your birthing experience?  What helped?  What didn't?  Please share in the comments if you'd like and accept a big ol' virtual hug from me.  I know it's hard and I'm sorry that you're struggling.  {{{hug}}}

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Breastfeeding is Biologically Normal So Why Do I Feel Like a Freak?

As always, I feel the need to point out that being pro-breastfeeding does not make me anti-formula.  I don't care if a woman immediately chooses to use formula with her newborn.  It's not my baby, it's not my choice.  I am pro-breastfeeding and I want every woman to be able to reach her breastfeeding goals - whatever those goals may be.

* * *

I think it's safe to say that people tend to say stupid things when they are uniformed and/or uneducated.  Few things bring out the crazy-talk quite like things that make us feel threatened, judged, or inferior.  Take breastfeeding, for example. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding continue until AT LEAST 2-years of age.  Yeah, but we're Americans so we're supposed to thumb our noses at the rest of the world and do what we want to do, right?  Not so fast there, Cowboy. . .even the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends ONLY breastmilk until the infant reaches 6-months of age and breastmilk with solids until AT LEAST one-year of age.  Oh.

Does this mean you suck (heh!) if you didn't breastfeed that long?  No.  Does this mean you are the worst mom ever if you just plain didn't want to breastfeed.  Nope.  Does this mean you should be a judgemental douche toward women who do choose to nurse their children (their walking & possibly talking children - oh noes!) according to these guidelines.  Absolutely not! 

Unfortunately, I find that this very thing happens all too often.  I don't know what it is about information that is so damn threatening, but women frequently respond as if these recommendations are a personal attack.  That's a shame because they just might be a little less judgemental toward a mother who is breastfeeding outside of their own notion of when it is "appropriate" to feed a baby - infant or toddler.

I have a 16-month old and that child still breastfeeds several times every single day.  Some days more, some days less, but an average is 6 to 8 nursing sessions each day.  My baby eats table food and drinks from a cup. . .but my baby also still nurses straight from the tap and that's perfectly normal.

My husband has always supported me breastfeeding our children and am I thankful for that because I might not have stuck with it if I had a man-child at home whining about his babies on my breasts.  I have learned a lot about human lactation over the years so I had the education to succeed and, for that, I am thankful.  I also did not have any physical obstacles that might make breastfeeding particularly difficult and that makes me very fortunate.  I had a desire to breastfeed and I know why I'm doing it.  I'm secure in my decision to breastfeed outside of infancy. 

It's not like I'm some wild & crazy lactivist.  I don't whip my tits out and make a spectacle of myself when I'm nursing my baby.  I'm just a middle-aged suburban mother of two children.  So why is it that I'm always carrying on about breastfeeding? 

It's because even people who I know and love sometimes run their mouths and say things that are hurtful.  Things that make it sound like I'm some sort of weirdo, some fanatic, for feeding my child in the way my body was designed.  Breastfeeding is biologically normal, so why do people try to make me feel like such a freak?

As I already said, I'm secure in my decision so nothing anyone says is going to sway my decision to breastfeed my toddler.  Not all women are so comfortable.  Some women are only hanging on by a thread. . .they are just one nursing session away from giving up.  One dirty look, one snotty comment, one ill-informed opinion away from replacing their nipple with one of latex or silicone, replacing their own human breastmilk for their baby in favor of giving the babe cow milk. 

The very thought that these women might be discouraged from reaching their breastfeeding goals because someone else thinks it's strange, perverted, or "icky" is infuriating to me.  I nurse my baby anytime and anywhere because I wouldn't hesitate to do the same if he were being given a bottle and this has allowed me to hear some interesting comments.  Let's look at some utterly ridiculous statements I've heard about breastfeeding, shall we?  Buckle up, Buttercup, away we go!

* * *

"Breastfeeding is a special moment between mother and child so it should be done in private."  Breastfeeding is eating.  Breast - FEEDING, get it?!  If you wouldn't eat your sandwich in private. . .no, if you wouldn't tell a bottle feeding mother to feed her baby in private, then you shouldn't say the same to a breastfeeding mother. 

"It's immodest to breastfeed in public."  Modesty is subjective and my personal comfort level may not be the same as yours.  Your sense of modesty does not trump my baby's right to eat.  Period.

"If they have teeth, they shouldn't be breastfeeding."  Breastfeeding is nurturing and nutritive so I don't understand why teeth matter in this arbitrary age cutoff.  Some babies are born with teeth. . .should they not be permitted to breastfeed?

"If they can ask for it, they're too old for it."  I find this interesting because usually we're excited that baby can finally communicate and we're eager to respond favorably so baby continues to communicate.  Why is nursing any different than baby asking for a cracker or a cup of water?  My baby has been able to open my nightgown, push aside my sleep bra, and latch on for a midnight snack since he was an infant.

"Are you going to use a cover?"  I have used a nursing cover and I find that they draw even more attention to what I'm doing.  That said, I don't prefer to make anyone around me uncomfortable so I do try to minimize any possibility of exposing my nipples. . .because that's the thing that freaks everyone out, right?  A nipple.  I can show cleavage, incredible amounts of cleavage, all day long and no one thinks anything about it.  A little nipple gets exposed and the entire world goes mad!

"I get that breastfeeding is natural.  Peeing is natural too so should we just start doing that in public too?"  Comparing breastfeeding in public to urination in public is comparing apples to oranges.  One has to do with eating/feeding/comforting a baby and the other has to do with the end result of eating/drinking.  The correct comparison would be:  if a woman can choose to publically feed her baby the way her body was designed to feed  her baby, then I should be able to eat in public.  Oh, wait. . .you can eat in public!  So can a breastfed baby.

"Adults can look away and be mature, but kids and teens might be weirded out by breastfeeding in public so you should be considerate and cover up."  I've heard and witnessed more nonsense from adults than from children when I've nursed my baby in public.  If anything, children seem curious about this way of feeding a baby.  Breastfeeding will never be considered normal (and it is biologically normal for mammals to breastfeed) if we continue to cover it up and hide it away. 

* * *

I am aware that bottle feeding mothers (whether the bottle contains breastmilk or formula) also face judgement and that sucks too.  My children accepted bottles for such a short period that I have no idea what it's like to have a baby take one and feel the weight of militant milkers all up in my baby's meal.  That said, I can't think of a single instance in which a bottlefeeder was asked to leave an establishment or a public place because they were bottlefeeding their child.  This does happen to breastfeeding mothers and it is wrong.  Wrong, wrong, wrong. 

I am thankful that society will eventually think nothing of nursing an infant or toddler in public and I hope that my children's generation is the one that decides that shaming breastfeeding mothers is as backward and wrong as racial segregation.

Friday, March 29, 2013

My Vaginal Trail of Tears

A stranger got to third base with me today. . .and I'm not talking about baseball.  That's right, I had a visit with my doctor today.  It was finally time for me to complain in person that I wish my vagina would stop weeping tears of blood.

My doctor and his nurse were shocked - SHOCKED - that I'm still - STILL - having bleeding issues.  He wanted to verify that the Mirena IUD was still in place so I slipped off my panties and hopped up on the table.  I felt super-proud that I remembered to wear panties because I still feel the sting of embarrassment from the visit where he discovered the hard way that I wasn't wearing any.  It took like two seconds to verify that all was as it should be and I responded that I was glad because I would not even consider having it reinserted if it weren't still in place. 

This prompted me to tell him that having the IUD inserted was one of the most painful things I've ever had happen.  It was less painful than my miscarriage, but significantly more painful than my c-sections. . .and my first c-section left me feeling like I was hit by a fucking bus.  He seemed surprised that I had that level of pain and that I nearly fainted from it, responding that he's never heard one of his patients report that kind of experience after one of his insertions.  Well, doc, my cervix is a steel door that will not tolerate your tenaculum-assisted shenanigans without plenty of pain and suffering on my part.

I'm not thrilled with my IUD, heck, I don't even kinda like it at this point.  However, I will be keeping it for at least a couple more months.  Why?  Well, mainly because this is still the least invasive option to manage my abnormally heavy period and I'm not inclined to seek out any surgical options unless absolutely necessary.  Burning my uterine lining, removing my uterus. . .both options sound pretty awful and I'd like to avoid both if at all possible.  As annoying as my never-ending period is, it is still easier to handle than the menstrual flooding & gushing that prompted me to seek medical help in the first place and I haven't had those issues since having the IUD inserted so I'm already doing better than I was a couple of months ago.

I know what you're thinking. . .it's not a visit to the doctor unless I do something goofy and this visit didn't disappoint.  While talking to me about the fact that I'm still experiencing vaginal bleeding, he asked how often I'm dealing with it.

"Dealing with what," I asked.

"Dealing with your protection."

I stared at him blankly and finally asked, "What protection?"

He blinked and we both stared at each other for a long moment.  I was just about to respond that I'm barebacking it these days aaaand it finally dawned on me that he wasn't asking me about rubbers.  "Oh, that!  Uh, well, it depends on my flow."

I'm pretty sure that I saw his mental eyeroll.

He asked me to let him know how things are in another month or two.  If I'm still bleeding all the time, we'll discuss surgical options.  If I'm not still bleeding all the time, well, I will have stopped bleeding!  One way or another, there is an end in sight to my vaginal trail of tears over my IUD.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bleeding, Sneezing, and Squeezing

"Please don't let my bleeding snatch scar all these children for life!"

This thought ran through my head at lightening speed this afternoon.  Let me explain. . .

I'm starting to feel like bleeding out of my vadge is the new normal for me.  Yep, I started bleeding - not merely spotting - to such an extent that I'm inclined to proclaim that my period has finally arrived.  Adding to the joyous event (that's sarcasm!) is that I haven't been at home and I've been managing the mess downstairs while staying with my in-laws and while traveling hundreds of miles by car with my two young children in tow.  Yee-haw. . .now that's a freaking party!

Can I be serious for just a moment?  I think I hate the Mirena IUD.  Not like I hate cleaning the lint trap of the dryer or like I hate having to go to the mall.  Those are more like minor annoyances.  No, I think I hate my IUD a bit more than that.  I hate it on a far deeper level.  I don't feel the same way about it as I do about Stalin, Mao, or Hitler, but it's pretty close.  I hate my IUD as much as I hate whiney douches who wear Che shirts while sipping lattes, smoking cloves, and bitching about the system.  I'm still waiting to feel the IUD love. . .and it keeps giving me the finger.  This naturally means that I'll fall in love with it because I have historically demonstrated that I am unable to fall in love with and pick winners.  Except my hubs - he's the olive in my martini. 

Part of my travel plans included a couple of days in Las Vegas.  My older son was super-excited because the pool was open.  Heck, I was excited too!  Amazingly enough, hotel pools are closed nearly every time we travel.  I know it sounds like a BS excuse that parents give their kids to not go to the pool, but it kills me that we never get to swim because I'm a great big ol' water baby myself and swim time means that bedtime comes earlier than normal.  Party, indeed!

So the boys and I were going to go for a dip in the pool and I was all thrilled until I realized that this meant that my leaking ladyparts required the use of something other than my standard go-to mama cloth so I decided to use the Instead cups.  I know that I've raved about the Diva Cup time and again on this blog, but I've not been able to comfortably remove it since the birth of my last child and it was easier to pack a few Insteads instead.  I packed them in hopes of finding an open pool and I was glad that I didn't waste 2 inches of suitcase space on something that was unnecessary.

I have probably mentioned my mishaps in using the Instead.  It looked like a crime scene in that bathroom after the slippery little sucker slipped from my grasp!  Also, it should be criminal to put champagne-colored carpet in a bathroom! 

One friend dropped her Instead in the stall while using the restroom at the movies.  She kicked it away and hustled buns out of there and I honestly can't think of a better course of action while facing such a tragedy.  I have heard from a different friend that she sneezed out an Instead.  In line at a store.  While wearing white pants!!

It's starting to sound like Insteads should come with a warning label and certain shame and mortification will result from their use.

With all this in mind, I still went ahead and chose to use an Instead because, well, WTF was I supposed to use?  I find insertion of the Instead to be significantly easier than the Diva and that was no problem.  I was fairly confident that I wouldn't have any leaking issues since my flow is significantly lighter than "normal" and I eagerly went down to the pool with my boys. 

I was holding my baby while walking toward the kiddie pool and I sneezed.  Then I sneezed again.  And again. 

Oh, crap!

My friend's bloody horror story ran through my mind in an instant and I squeezed the heck out of my bits because I didn't want to sneeze the damn thing out.  I was sure the entire pool was watching me so I kept on walking.  Just a little more gingerly than a few seconds earlier.  I mean, who wants a cup of blood to pour out on the crotch of their hilariously inappropriate white bikini? 

I slipped in the kiddie pool with the babe in arms and wondered if I could get away with discreetly fishing around up there to see if my sneezing somehow had dislodged my cup.  I decided against it because I didn't want to risk getting busted for fingering myself in front of a group of kids.  With my shit luck on stuff like this, I have no doubt it would have been the result.

I decided to sit on the side of the pool and began working my muscles.  Over and over and over again.  I rhythmically began the squeezing & releasing that I knew would help pull that bad boy back up where it needed to be in order to avoid any poolside mortification.  Eventually, I was certain that all was as it should be and I slipped back in the water with the baby (who was fussing and struggling to get away from my grasp the entire time!) and we all enjoyed several hours in the pool.

Have you ever had a hilariously embarrassing mishap?  Don't hold back. . .I keep it real and you can too!  Share in the comments so we all can revel in it!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Melancholy Musings

I am someone who loves sunny and bright days.  No, I don't just like them.  I require them.  My state of mind dictates that I need to see the sun and feel warmth for me to be my normal cheerful self.  I was severely disappointed when I noticed that it was all gloomy gray skies this morning because I know that means I'm going to struggle with my mood, with my emotions, and it means that I'm going to feel a hurt inside that I don't fully understand and that I can't stop.

I sometimes wonder if it means that I'm an emotional fraud because I don't naturally feel upbeat and happy though I'd guess that most people see me that way.  I just don't feel that way all the time and I struggle mightily with my mood.  I have to force myself to slap a smile on my face and see the half-full glass.  Sometimes I'm successful, but other times the effort is impossible and all the joy in the world still leaves me aching.

I know that my only hope was to be distracted or to get my circulation going so I tried to get out with my boys and get in some exercise.  I really did.  I pulled out walking shoes and actually was holding socks in my hand at one point.  The wind kicked up just a little and the trees moving in the breeze caught my eye.  The movement kept me looking out the window and, before long, I noted that the melancholy weather mirrored my heart.  I sighed heavily and sat down, hugging my boys to me and desperately trying to not cry in front of them.

Thankfully, we had some things going on today and it kept the sadness away for the most part.  I may feel empty inside, but I'm not going to start weeping in front of a contractor or in front of my son's teacher.  That's actually one of the ways that I know it's not depression. . .I still have a slight measure of control and I can force myself to get out of the house.

When we arrived home, my son brought me a flower that he picked from our front yard and I gave a hollow smile with a quiet murmur of thanks for the gift.  I stared at it as he scampered off, thinking that I was holding something that had been living and was now dead in my hand.  It was considered lovely, but was pulled and tugged on until it broke and it died.  He regularly picks these flowers and I know that it will begin to close and shrivel up before the afternoon is over.  Usually I put them in a shallow bowl of water, trying in vain to keep them open and looking pretty.  Today I'm just staring at it, wondering if I'll notice the minute that it begins to change. . .the very moment that it goes from looking vibrant and alive to looking withered and dead.

Trying to keep my shit together is such a delicate balance and one that is so easily disrupted.  As soon as I'm able, I want to grab my shoes and get out.  If only it were possible to outrun these feelings.  This melancholy is tiresome.

Monday, March 4, 2013

My Vagina Hates Me

Okay, that title isn't exactly true.  My vagina is freaking wonderful and I love it.  My vulva is nice so no complaints there.  I have a hate-hate relationship with my cervix, but I don't usually have to monkey around with the gatekeeper of my innermost ladyparts so we have an unspoken understanding that it won't mess with me if I don't mess with it.  But my uterus. . .oh, man, I swear that my uterus actively plots against me.

As if on cue, some wonderfully fantastic cue, I suddenly stopped bleeding four weeks after having the Mirena IUD inserted.  Four friggin' weeks of bleeding was finally over!  Yee-haw!  I was ecstatic.  Not surprisingly, I stopped feeling like I was slowly bleeding to death and felt energized.  My mood improved almost overnight and all was looking right in my world.

Then I started spotting.  Then I stopped the very next day.  Then I started again the day after that.  Oh, yes, you're reading this right.  I'm in a daily loop of on-again, off-again spotting.  Whoop-de-freaking-do!

If I weren't gripped by vomit-inducing fear at the thought of having my cervix meet with any implements or unnatural pressure any time soon, I'm pretty sure that I would demand to have this IUD removed.  I am trying to keep in mind that my doctor said it's not uncommon for irregular bleeding to potentially persist for a couple of months after having an IUD inserted, but this is really getting old.  The upside is that I would have had two periods by now and they would have no doubt included a couple of days of the ridiculous bleeding/gushing/flooding that prompted me to seek this option in the first place so it's nice that I've been spared that experience.  Of course, I'm just having "normal" bleeding and/or spotting nearly non-stop instead so I'm not sure that I'm exactly better off at this point.

Stay turned for the next installment of As the Womb Turns. . .

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Neverending Period

It has been three weeks since I had a Mirena IUD inserted to fix my heavy and frequent periods.  And it's worked. . .

if your definition of "fix" is to just bleed nonstop all the time. 

I mean, I can't complain that my period is coming too frequently when it never freaking ends!  Yeah, thus far I am significantly underwhelmed with how well the IUD has worked for fix my bleeding difficulties.  Though the flooding/gushing isn't occurring so I do have to admit that that's a plus because at least I can function and have a life.  A life filled with thinking about my bloody cooch and wondering when it will knock it off, but a life nonetheless.

I received a speedy response from my doctor after I wrote my last blog post and he indicated that "irregular bleeding" is common after an IUD is inserted.  Call me crazy, but I think mid-cycle spotting and stuff like that is what should be called irregular bleeding and I darn sure didn't expect to be experiencing the neverending period.  I suppose he is technically correct though because it's hardly regular to bleed for weeks on end. 

He also totally understood my Kobayashi Maru comment and I've been thinking he's a great big dork, but a friend pointed out that I'm the one who initially made the connection so I'm the bigger dork.  Worse is that he corrected me in my assessment that my period is like the Kobayashi Maru because that is the no-win scenario and that's not the case here because there are other options to try and, ultimately, a hysterectomy is the atomic option that will guarantee relief if nothing else works.  So it's no big deal that I'm bleeding all the time and he corrected me on my dorkdom.  Talk about adding insult to injury. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I Think My Period is the Kobayashi Maru

Does the title of this make sense to you?  Congratulations, you're a dork!  Just like me.

For those of you who spent your youth doing things like getting laid and making friends, the Kobayashi Maru is a test at Starfleet academy.  It is unbeatable unless you change the rules of the test.  That is, the only way to beat it is to cheat it.  In case you're wondering, I just felt any measure of coolness that I might have totally disappear by writing this paragraph.

Enough with the Star Trek nerdiness, on to my favorite topic!

So I had the Mirena IUD inserted two weeks ago.  I've detailed my awful experience with insertion and in the immediate aftermath.   I've also detailed some welcome side effects.  All that is very good and interesting, but at the moment I'm concerned that I have been bleeding nearly every single day for two weeks.  I had three days of sweet freedom - three glorious days!  Once I started spotting again, the bleeding resumed in short order.

At this point I'm starting to feel like my period is the Kobayashi Maru.  It can't be beat!  I have a message in with my doctor because I'm unsure if this is normal, but it's definitely not typical for me. 

IUD users - write anonymously if you'd like, but do chime in:  I know some of you have indicated a total absence of menses, but did you bleed after insertion?  If so, how long?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Motherhood. . .Sooo Gross!

My baby has been cutting the same teeth since around Thanksgiving.  He's been drooly, pukey, weepy, clingy, and screamy.  He's demanded snuggles, cuddles, nursie, and chewie toys.  One tiny tooth finally started peeking from his pink gums a couple of weeks ago.  I took a breath and enjoyed having my sweet & happy baby back again.

Then the molars started erupting.  His upper left gum gave the first indication of what was to come when I noticed one night that it was swollen and black.  My first thought was that the poor little guy had a rotten tooth before it even showed up.  No, he had an eruption hematoma.  It looked terrible, within a week, he had another one show up on his lower right gum.  I have never seen gums nearly this swollen and it was painful just to look at it so I really felt for my baby.

I've tried everything to relieve the poor child's pain and nothing really works for long.  The only thing that seems to make him happy for very long is to be cradled and nursed.  So I've done a lot of that in the last few weeks to get the kid through this tough time. 

Those molars finally started appearing and I was looking forward to getting my sweet baby back.  I probably would have, but he caught a little cold.  Or, at least, I think it's possible that he has a cold.  He tends to get a runny nose when teeth are coming, but it normally only lasts a couple of days.  He's had a runny nose now for several days and it doesn't seem to be improving. 

Teething and a cold. . .just the ticket to getting a good night of sleep!  Yeah, no, it pretty much is guaranteed that I won't sleep tonight any more than I have the last three nights.  The upside is that I can doze a little while he's tucked in bed and nursing.  The downside is that I have a bitey baby in bed with my breast in his mouth.  Babies don't use their teeth at all when actively nursing, but he tends to clamp down as he drifts off to sleep.  That's right, I've ended up with bleeding nipples a time or two this week.  Yeouch!

So bleeding nipples and two eruption hematomas are gross enough, but it's nowhere near the zenith of grossness.  You might even think that it doesn't even warrant a blog post whining about the grossness of motherhood.  Keep reading you sickos.

One of the things that is most amazing about breastfeeding is that the body will produce antibodies in response to what the mother is exposed to and this helps strengthen the immune system of the breastfed child.  It is one of the reasons that breastfed children tend to not get ill as frequently as their formula fed counterparts.  With this in mind, I frequently kiss my kids.  Well, I'd kiss them anyway, but I make sure to up the kissy-kissy stuff when anyone in the family is feeling poorly so that baby can get the maximum benefit. 

I fed my baby some chicken dinosaurs for lunch earlier this week.  Yeah, yeah, I fed my baby chicken dinosaurs - go ahead and judge.  They take less than a minute and he eagerly eats them.  Heck, even I like them and I generally hate kiddie fare.  I suspect that the secret ingredient is crack.  There is  no secret ingredient?  Well, damn, I just like crappy chicken dinosaurs!

So baby has had a runny nose and I've been all kissy monster on him lately because I want to help him fight whatever he's fighting.  Or he just has a runny nose from teething and I don't need to kiss his sticky little face.  I'll stick with kissing. . .but I'll make sure from here on out to really look where I'm planting my pucker. 

I kissed his cheek after lunch and something ended up in my mouth.  Typing that makes me realize just how gross it is, but it was not my thought process at the time.  "Hey, a little bit of chicken dinosaur.  Awesome!  Hey, this chicken dinosaur bit is kinda salty.  Why was it on his cheek?  What is this bit of whatever in my mouth and why am I thinking about eating it??"  I pulled it out and it was not a tiny bit of a chicken dinosaur.

It was a booger.


Another gross thing happened.  I know, another thing?!  Yes, another thing.  Some people ride the gravy train, but I apparently have a round trip ticket on the gross train.  All aboard!

My baby was toddling around one day and I caught a stinky whiff of something.  I figured that he had either tooted or pooped so I did the normal mom thing to check.  No, not the novice mom thing where you sweep their crack with your finger.  I just pulled the back of the diaper open and took a quick look.

A quick look - ha!  Some things can not be unseen.  Even things that were seen with a quick look!

What did I see?  What was so gross?  I saw him actually pooping in his diaper.  Remember how I mentioned that he's all drooly & stuff from the teething?  Liquid pouring out his mouth usually means liquid pouring out of his butt.  I saw soft & liquidy poo filling the diaper.

I will never eat chocolate soft serve again.  Never!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sounding the Well of Grief

I was watching my husband and our older son today and felt a pang because it made me think of my brother and his youngest son.  I thought that there were surely countless times that my brother and my nephew chatted about any number of topics.  Conversations that are forever lost because the two people who had them are gone.

I was startled to realize that it's been almost 2 1/2-years since my brother died and 1 1/2-years since my nephew followed his father in death.  Can that really be?  Was it so long ago? 

Time passes so quickly and even very loved members of your family eventually will slip through your memory.  You still love them and miss them.  Of course you do.  It's just that eventually you learn to live without them.  And, as much as I hate that I haven't constantly attended the altar of grief. . .life has gone on because that's what life does.  It goes on whether you want it to or not.

Sometimes I still feel an ache in my chest. . .a pain that I can only describe as my heart actually breaking.    That pain is rare, though blindingly painful when it happens.  At one time I felt that pain every second of every day.  Words are inadequate to describe that sad, sad time.  I never would have believed that there would come a day that I didn't feel the physical pain of grief in addition to the emotional torment it imposed.

Having the benefit of hindsight and the emotional buffer of years passing allows me to look back and realize that I was in a bad place.  I know that and I fully recognize it now, but I was unable to see it at the time.  My grief didn't just blind me.  It strangled me.  I was being smothered by it - held down, pushed further than I could have possibly imagined.

Grief is a well - and it is deep.  It can seem to go straight to the center of the Earth, it is so damn deep.  You find yourself treading water, desperately trying to keep your head up.  Trying to pretend that you aren't sinking lower by the moment.  Eventually, you stop fighting it.  You let go and give yourself to that well.  And it begins to drown you.  If you're lucky, you hit bottom fast so you can bounce back up.  If you're not as lucky, well, you feel smothered just a little longer.  Eventually you hit bottom too.  You push back up and gasp in the sweetness of life again.

I've sounded the well of grief.  I know just how deep it truly is and it's terrifying.  Yet, here I stand.  I was knocked flat and one day I was back up.  I don't know when it happened, it probably happened little by little, but it did happen. 

I am present.  I am me.  I am back.

More Interesting Side Effects

I've had my Mirena IUD for a week now so I thought that I'd give an update. 

I no longer have cramping and I'm not nearly as aware that it's up in my ladyparts.  My period stopped very quickly, but now I'm inexplicably spotting.  I woke to a spontaneous orgasm one day and I'm soooo hopeful that that will become a regular occurrence.

I also have noticed that my attitude seems somewhat improved.  I'm less likely to lose my shit and become a screechy harridan.  My husband noticed this too and I have to assume that it's because of the hormones from the Mirena.  I've read that some women experience the opposite and start flying off the handle over every little thing so I wonder if it's a situation where women without hormone problems do not benefit from the addition and women with hormone problems end up being more balanced with the addition.

I have also lost five pounds in the last week, but I did just end my period so I have to believe that water retention was a real problem for me this month.  Time will tell if the hormones will have any effect on weight loss and I do need to lose at least 25 pounds so I'm hopeful that watching what I eat and being more active will help counteract any potential for weight gain.  I've dusted off my trusty old scale so I should be able to detect any problem in short order.  In other words, not waiting until I've totally porked up again.

So far, so good with the IUD.  I'm kinda eager to see what my next period looks like because I went through this whole thing to get a little relief from my flow.  :::fingers crossed:::

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Everybody Poops. . .Sometimes

My husband and I were talking about my blog yesterday and I think that it's read by so many (even if not officially "liked" or "followed") because I don't shy away from talking about topics that people may want to know about though they are too embarrassed to ask questions about.  That said, I feel very awkward writing this blog post and that's strange since I've detailed some terrifically disgusting things in this blog.  Dearest readers. . .brace yourselves. . .I'm getting scatological tonight.

My strange confession is that I didn't poop for days on end since having the Mirena IUD inserted early this week.  Five days, to be exact.  It's not that I couldn't, but more that I wouldn't

I'm not usually a poop-machine or anything, but I can usually count on my colon to deliver the goods every other day or so.  More than four days without dropping a deuce is pretty unusual for me.  I finally realized early today that I'm going to have to poop at some point.  And that terrified me.

Why was I so spazzy about relaxing my sphincter?  Well, I guess because I was afraid that the IUD would somehow fall out and then I'd have gone through all the pain of insertion for absolutely nothing.  Worse is that I figured that I wouldn't even know that it fell out since I'm not accustomed to sifting through my crap for tiny contraceptives.

I know some of you smartasses are thinking, "Where in the world did her doctor put her IUD???"  Relax, wiseguys, it's firmly ensconced in my uterus.  But I still feel that I had valid fears that were logical so hear me out.

I was concerned because a little pushing is sometimes necessary to get the poop out.  Pushing is also required to get a baby out.  Babies are in the uterus, an IUD is in the uterus.  I gather that pushing a baby out is kinda like the similar to pushing out poop.  If a turd were like ten times bigger.  Except the whole thing about one being a human being coming out of your vagina and the other being biological waste coming out of your butthole, it made perfect sense to me that I should be concerned.

I probably wouldn't have pooped today, but my body said, "Enough of this crap!"  Have you ever pooped while kinda-sorta trying to hold it back in?  Yeah, I have now and I can assure you that it doesn't work.  There's just no stopping a freight train. . .certainly no stopping a freight train of poop!

Did I poop out my IUD?  I don't think so. . .considering the pain that I felt while inserting it (I knew I never should have done those Cervix of Steel workout videos!), I'm fairly certain that I'd have felt immediate pain if something was poking around my os.  That's a fancy name for the opening of the cervix.  And here I'll bet you thought you couldn't possibly learn anything in this post! 

Remember kids, everybody poops.  Not everybody worries needlessly about pooping out their IUD.  That's my special neurosis.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Big O

I've had the Mirena IUD since Tuesday afternoon.  It sucked epic levels of ass for the first 36-hours and then the cramping started easing up quite a bit.  Tylenol helped a lot and having help with my kids was necessary so I'm very thankful to the friends & family who stepped up to help me out while I was busy crying about my snatch.

My period abruptly ended late Friday morning.  This was entirely unexpected as I can't recall the last time I had such a short period.  I was like, "Uh-uh, I know this game," and I wore a liner all day today because I fully expected another downpour of blood because that's what my body normally deals me.  It never happened so :::thumbsup::: to a super-short period.  I'm hopeful that it's a sign of things to come. 

Speaking of coming. . .

I woke up having an orgasm today!!! 

What's that, you say?  I woke up having an orgasm today!!  I don't customarily have spontaneous Os and I've only had what can only be called wet dreams in pregnancy so I can't help but wonder if the IUD is to blame.  Or, more accurately, to thank. 

I have often suspected that the hormones of pregnancy are why my libido spikes to the stratosphere while I'm PG and this teenaged boy sex drive yields the occasional orgasmic wake up call.  Pregnancy orgasms are the best anyway - something about the uterus being so much larger, I suppose - and getting one without even trying is like a special gift.  If having the best wake up call ever is a side effect of having the IUD, I'm pretty sure that I will insist on having one in my uterus until the day I die. 

Doctor:  But, Mrs. My-Name-Here, you're 75-years old and went through menopause decades ago.  There is no reason why you need an IUD.
Me:  Oh, yes, there is!!

Friday, February 1, 2013

"Shouldn't He Be Weaned By Now?"

This is a note that I wrote on my personal Facebook page.  I thought it was important enough to publish on my blog.  Why am I so passionate about defending rights to breastfeed?  Well, that's probably another blog post but the simple answer is because it's my baby, my breasts, my choice.  Not your baby, not your breasts, not your choice.  End of story.


"Shouldn't he be weaned by now?"

Surely I'm not the only breastfeeding mother who has heard this question and here is my answer.  I will refer to this note each and every time I am asked the above question or any variation of the question that subtly implies I should not be breastfeeding my son.

The answer is the same if you're family, friend, or foe: I will do it until we're ready to quit and I have no idea when that will be so there's no sense in pressing the topic unless you're deliberately trying to antagonize me. There are zero negatives, it's so incredibly beneficial to child and mother, and he is barely even a year old so I haven't even once considered quitting yet. He won't be doing it forever and I'm so very glad that you're so concerned about my baby and me. The next time you ask, I'll be sure to gently enlighten you further that mammals are designed for this nurturing & nutritive activity and it is as normal a biological function as you eating your meal or drinking your beverage. Feel free to try to argue with me, but your problem isn't with me or my position- your problem is with science, history, and research. I know, I know, those darn pesky facts always getting in the way of an uneducated opinion!

Why is it that people feel that it is acceptable to ask such a question to a breastfeeding mother, but they wouldn't even think to ask a similar question to a bottle feeding mother?  A friend put it very well when she said:  my baby doesn't need to get off my boobs, but you need to get off my back.  Indeed!

I don't think that people are trying to be jerks (most of the time), but I do think that there is a not-so-subtle pressure to wean long before now. It is sometimes disguised as concern (you must want a break from that baby), sometimes it's justified by anecdote (I had formula and I turned out fine), sometimes it's just sheer ignorance of human biology (they don't need breastmilk if they have teeth), and sometimes it's just douchebaggery. I prefer to believe that most people aren't in the last category. It's aggravating nonetheless and, in a less determined mother, it would probably shake her resolve to continue her breastfeeding relationship with her child.  That is a shame and many women find their breastfeeding goals are subtly or overtly undermined by friends, family, and society in general.  I'm a stubborn old mule these days and I will keep on keeping on because I'm confident in my decision. :-)

I can't necessarily blame people for thinking it's weird because society thinks it's weird and most people don't care enough about human lactation to educate themselves about it. They are just uniformed. Society says breasts are A-Ok for filling out bikinis, selling beer, and generally being sexy. Baby attached to something "sexy" is skeevy because babies are not sexy so on some level I do get why people get weirded out.  However, someone with a hangup about basic biology is not my problem and it darn sure is not my child's problem.  Educate yourself about it and you'll quickly get over it.

Once upon a time I was slack-jaw shocked to happen upon my 10-month old niece breastfeeding.  To be fair, I was only 13-years old and I'd never seen such an old infant nursing.  I almost laugh that I actually thought a ten-month old was pretty old to be nursing!  I got over it. . .boy, did I!  As my husband once teasingly said, I'm like Ms. La Leche League.  Oddly enough, I've never once been to an LLL meeting.  I just have a passion for helping women achieve their breastfeeding goals because I know that there is tremendous pressure to just give in and pop a bottle of formula in your baby's mouth.  Unfortunately, it's sooo easy for that first bottle to be the beginning of the end of a breastfeeding relationship.

I have found that most people who get weirded out by seeing my son at my breast will be weirded out no matter how many facts and truths I present. Most of you guys have seen me breastfeed and I'm hardly a whip-out-the-boob type of nurser. I don't prefer to call a lot of attention to what we're doing when he's nursing. I will, however, absolutely not withhold breastfeeding from my baby if he needs/wants it no matter where we are or who is there and that is that.  His right to eat is greater than your right to not feel icky about seeing him eat.

Did you catch that last part?  His right to eat.  It's breastfeedingFeeding!  My son has a right to eat.  Just like you do.  Just like I do.  My son happens to get his milk from my breasts.  He still has the right to eat.  Period!

Part of the reason why I'm so vocal about supporting a woman's breastfeeding goals is because women who choose to breastfeed really do need a cheerleader to encourage them. It is not easy and society really does not encourage it. Things are better now in some ways (laws protecting the child's right to eat!), but worse in others because breasts are more sexualized than ever and you can hardly turn on the TV without seeing someone displaying their boobs. But a baby on the breast? Well, that's just gross & indecent! I've also heard people say they find nursing to be immodest, tacky, and classless.  I'm glad that such backward thinking will eventually die out and hopeful that upcoming generations will be less likely to keep breasts solely in the "sexy" category.  I'm definitely doing my part to normalize breastfeeding to my kids so they won't even bat an eye when they see a woman nursing her child.

You know, that's something that should outrage everyone: things are/were so messed up if you want to breastfeed your child that laws actually had to be enacted to protect your child's right to eat! It is a damn shame that laws had to be written to allow the feeding of another human being! No matter your position on breastfeeding, nursing in public, or anything else, that is an outrage!

Equally outrageous is that no one would say boo to me if I were bottle feeding my son at this age. Well, one or two might, but in general no one would have a single word to say if I were bottle feeding my one-year old. Society's bias against breastfeeding will change one day, but even my husband (hardly the most crunchy guy on the block) has noted that the pressure to remove your breast from your child is intense from the moment you leave the hospital. Frankly, I think his observation depends on the hospital as I happened to deliver our boys at a very breastfeeding friendly hospital with knowledgeable and supportive nursing staff.  Even then, it was a horribly painful struggle with my first child and there were times that I questioned why I was still moving forward and trying to make breastfeeding work.  I ended up nursing him until he was 13-months and I still regret that I weaned him at such a young age.

The easiest answer to your question is this:  I'm not sure when he'll wean, but it will eventually happen.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tenaculum - Useful Instrument or Torture Device?

It has been just shy of one year since I touched my blog.  Plenty of interesting, exciting, heartwarming, and heartbreaking things have happened in that year.  I mentally began outlining at least two dozen blog posts in this last year, but nothing could prompt me to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) until now. 

What is so important to write down for the readership - all that might be left after a one-year absence?!  Is it the Benghazi assassinations, the exploitation of Sandy Hook to push a political agenda, or the hot mess and herp-a-derp that was my Facebook feed during the entire election season?  Is it the milestones reached by my sweet baby and my preschooler?  Is it a helpful post detailing normal behavior of a breastfed newborn, infant, and toddler?  Is it a PSA about how to properly adjust side-mirrors on a vehicle?  What could possibly awake my writing spirit from such a deep slumber?  My vagina, of course!

Are you new here?  If so, consider this a fair warning:  I get very graphic and descriptive and this is a post about menstruation and female genitalia.  That sounds really nice, but it's too polite and some of you might not understand. . .I'm going to talk about how it feels to have a faucet of blood running from between your legs and what I'm trying in order to not be held hostage by my bleeding snatch for two days out of every twenty.

Anyone left?  Let's proceed!


Though I am still breastfeeding my 13-month old, my period resumed in mid-September.  I could tell it was coming because I had some weird cramping and backaches for a couple of weeks leading up to it.  It was, predictably, quite heavy and I chalked it up to my uterus making up for lost time. 

By the new year, I had experienced seven periods.  I can handle heavy and, since having 20- to 22-day cycles (or shorter!) for so long, I can also handle frequency.  It's the volume that I can't handle. 

How heavy is heavy?  So heavy that I have to use pads I'd purchased to be used immediately postpartum, but never needed since the lochia wasn't nearly that bad.  So heavy that I couldn't get my menstrual cup (it was the Diva, though I bought a Keeper to try and couldn't bring myself to deal with it) to actually form a seal.  So heavy that I would experience a laundry problem no matter what I was using to try to manage my menses.  So heavy that I was unable to leave my house and unable to do more than sit on the toilet or lie down during those days.  So heavy that I would soak a pad (couldn't use tampons) within minutes.  Blood would gush out with such force that it made me feel weak when it happened.

I finally had enough when I realized that I was planning my entire life around my period and when I figured I'd be experiencing menstrual flooding.  The OB/Gyn nurse I spoke with was alarmed and asked why I had never gone to the ER.  Call me silly, but it seems a bit ridiculous to show up to the ER and announce that you're there because you're bleeding to death. . .out of your vadge.  She disagreed and said that losing that volume of blood in such a short period (hah!) could be dangerous and that they'd want to evaluate me the next time it happened.  I agreed to go to the ER the next time, but I ended up getting my next period ten days late.  This is distressing enough, but it was even more distressing that my period started two hours before my gynecologist appointment.  Crap! 

As it turns out, that actually wasn't such a bad thing.  Yes, I know, no one wants to be in stirrups when they are bleeding.  Heck, I don't want to be in stirrups period! 

My gynecologist agreed that it was utter bullshit that I was being held hostage by my menstrual cycle.  I just love my doctor and respect that he's not an arrogant douche, but I was still expecting to have to argue my case that this period was not normal and that living like this wasn't acceptable.  I almost wanted to cry when he empathized and said that it sounds awful and that he was glad I was seeking help.

Of the options presented, inserting a hormone-infused IUD (Mirena) was the least invasive so that's what I decided to try first.  Friends and family are aware that my husband had a vasectomy less than a month ago.  And I just had an IUD inserted.  Yeah, I think my hubs is just totally thrilled with the way I chose to handle my problem.  The timing, it boggles.

I've never had an IUD before and it sounded just horrible to me.  A device that stays in your body - in your uterus! - for years at a time?!  No thanks, that sounds horrible. 

After inspecting one and having a lengthy discussion about what hormone is released by Mirena (and which are not), I agreed to go ahead and do it right then.  I know some of you are like, "WTF?  ON YOUR PERIOD??  ZOMG!!!"  Please realize that I wasn't thrilled at the prospect either.  I'm apparently not the only one who likes my doctor and his schedule is pretty full so I didn't want to wait for another cycle or two before coming back.  Also, he indicated that it was pretty well as good a time as it gets to insert an IUD based on the position of my cervix during menses.  My husband wasn't there to give his opinion (odd since he usually attends all appointments with me - I have issues with doctors), but I made a spur of the moment decision to just do it.

He talked to me through the entire procedure and always let me know what he was going to do before moving ahead.  My old friend, the plastic speculum, was surprisingly comfortable.  I'm usually squeezed up tighter than a virgin at a whore convention so that it's almost impossible to get it in and hurts like a mofo to click-click-click that bad boy open.  He said he was going to swabbed the interior of my ladyparts with iodine.  I half-way sat up, "Inside?!"  Yes, inside.  No, freezing cold iodine up your cooch doesn't feel good at all.  Not even on a hot day.

Whatever, my vagina and my cervix was swabbed with iodine.  It's not the worst thing I've had up in there.  It wasn't that bad and I figured that would probably be the worst of the whole procedure.  My naivete. . .it is so precious.

"I'm going to clip your cervix up and this will feel like a hard pinching pressure.  One, two, three. . ."



Immediate thought:  MUST.  NOT.  KILL.  HIM!!!

I couldn't breathe for a moment or two and I immediately broke out in sweat.  "Fuck, Doc, that really hurts," is all that I could push out between my clenched teeth.  Yes, I cursed in front of my doctor and his nurse.  No, I don't care and I don't think they did either.

"I know.  We're almost done.  I'm going to measure now.  This might feel uncomfortable"  Actually, I was so hyper-aware that MY CERVIX HAD A FREAKING CLAMP ON IT that I hardly noticed this measuring.  If anything, it reminded me of getting a pap smear and was the least painful part of the entire procedure.

At some point, his nurse grabbed my hand and murmured that it was almost over.  I was covered in a thin film of sweat and trying like crazy to breathe and not freak out because THERE WAS A CLAMP ON MY FREAKING CERVIX! 

The IUD was inserted.  Again, not all that painful because all I could feel or think about was my cervix.  I know it was only a few minutes at the most because there was a clock on the wall, but it felt like eternity before my cervix was released from such torment.

I was lying on the table and slowly became aware that it was over.  I propped up on my elbows, feeling like I'd just been thrown for a loop.  He helped me out of the stirrups and told me to relax for a minute before getting up.  We all discussed when to schedule my re-check and then he helped pull me up to a sitting position.  I still felt weird, but wanted to get the heck out of there at that point.

While I was getting dressed, I was very aware that I didn't feel right.  There was something inside of me and it felt wrong.  My cervix was smarting something fierce and I felt almost lightheaded from the whole experience.  My world was rocked and not in a good way.

Why did this hurt so much?  I don't know.  Perhaps my cervix is just particularly sensitive.  My cervix has never dilated by itself.  It has been manually dilated twice and I was under general anaesthesia both times.  Now I recognize the odd ache that I felt after both procedure.

I went home and was unable to walk upright within a couple of hours.  I couldn't pick up my baby.  I couldn't get in the shower.  I couldn't do much of anything except lie down and curl up in the fetal position. 

I was tempted to use the pain meds I'd been given after my last c-section, but didn't want to be out of it when baby woke for middle of the night nursing sessions.  I stopped taking prescription pain meds within two weeks of that surgery, but my cervix hurt bad enough after inserting the IUD that I wanted that level of pain relief.  I was also experiencing horrible cramping.  I ended up taking Tylenol to manage the pain.  In retrospect, I should have taken something stronger because no one gets a shiny gold star for being a pain martyr. 

The pain finally began to subside 36-hours after insertion.  I am still very aware that there is something inside of me, but I'm hopeful that this sensation will diminish over time.  I'm still getting the odd twinge of a cramp, but nowhere near as bad as it was yesterday.

I have heard from many women who have had an IUD and it's a pretty even split.  The ones who love it LOOOOOVE it and the ones who hate it HAAAAATE it.  None of them indicated that they experienced anywhere near the level of pain that I have experienced.  Only time will tell if the IUD works in the way I hope it will and I will be ecstatic if I can reclaim my life.

Have you had an IUD?  Did you have a painful insertion?  Was it horribly painful after insertion?  Did you have any positive or negative side effects?  Comment anonymously if you'd like and share your experience.


Oh, yes, the title of this post may seem odd.  The instrument that was used to hold my cervix is called a tenaculum.  While it is certainly a useful instrument, it is also most definitely a torture device.  Do a GIS and be prepared to see the stuff of my nightmares.