Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Slowing Down

I couldn't go to sleep last night. I wasn't comfortable, I couldn't get comfortable, no matter what I tried. My mind was racing with all the things I'm worrying about.

I was overthinking everything, as I'm inclined to do, not just because of the pregnancy, but because of who I am.

These past few weeks have been a test for me. I suppose that I shouldn't be upset since the reality is that this entire pregnancy has been an easy one so far. Sure, I've had to deal with the complications that always arise for me, but at this point I'm so used to them that I just deal. Being upset about anything won't do me any good when it comes to the conditions I struggle with, and if anything it will just up my stress level, which can pretty quickly spiral out of control and make everything worse. I've worked pretty hard to stay grounded and centered and focused and all that ethereal stuff.

Then it all went to hell.

I knew that the baby wasn't in the greatest position for a while now, but having it confirmed on the flickering screen in the dark a few weeks ago drove it home. For most of the past 8 months, I've just kept my head down and kept trucking along...balancing all the things I have to keep balanced to keep my body healthy. And I've done a great job of it, truth be told.

Until I saw that screen. Frank breech. And I knew that from that moment everything was going to change.

I knew that I was closer to the end of this pregnancy than I'd really come to terms with. I knew that though the calendar said that I had 7 or 8 weeks that I really only had 3 or 4 if I was lucky. I knew that. I'd just preferred to live obliviously, relishing the time that was left.

Until I couldn't because I was so wrapped up in worrying about things that are so largely out of my control.

I have done everything I could possibly do to try and get this baby to move.

It hasn't worked.

I've spent the past two weeks running myself ragged to get to appointments and making sure that I got in so many minutes of positioning at a time and so on and so on and so on. I'm sore. I'm tired. I'm stressed out.

And it isn't working.

All the while, I've had to face reality. My body seems to want to evict him sooner rather than later, regardless of whether he is in the right position for it or not. I'm quickly running out of time for him to turn, and the look on my doctor's face yesterday told me that my concerns weren't just mine but hers as well.

I don't just have a history of preterm deliveries, I have a history of precipitous (ridiculously fast) labors. I go early and I go fast...and I live about 40 minutes from the hospital, which could absolutely become a problem in a hurry. If he isn't turned and I go into labor with him breech, I'm far away. Maybe too far away. Even if he turns and I go, which it is looking more and more likely with each day, he's early. Earlier than the rest of them were. Earlier than I was hoping he'd arrive.

When you've had a baby fight to breathe in the NICU, you don't ever want to be there again.

For this little guy, I need him to turn so that in the event he starts to come early, we can at least get a few hours of labor to help his lungs have a decent shot.

In the office yesterday, the concerned look on the doctor's face led to a discussion about when we should try to turn him. She was afraid to wait until next week, even though she'd prefer to for maturity reasons. And I know she is right.

The version is scheduled for tomorrow. It could work, but it might not. I could end up in labor immediately, which wouldn't surprise me in the least considering how dilated I already am without him being in position. I could end up in the OR having an emergency section if there are problems. I could walk out afterwards and stay pregnant for another week. I could be scheduling a c section.

I don't know what will happen, and I quite literally have no control over it.

After I saw the doctor yesterday, I went for acupuncture and moxibustion again, though I'm beginning to feel a bit defeated by it all. She was kind and understanding, she knew that I was doing everything I could...and more than that, she understood why I had to try.

Not everyone does.

Having this platform, having a public place to muse about the things in my's usually a positive thing. I adore my fans for the most part, truly. It seems though that there always have to be a few people who don't get why this is important to me. Who question my efforts. Who feel compelled to tell me that I'm wrong.

Like I told the acupuncturist, this is important to me just because it is. I don't want to have a c-section on my fifth and final child if there is anything I can do to prevent it, and so I've done all that I can.

I say this as a doula.

I say this as a woman who will never be pregnant again.

I say this as a women fighting for the birth she wants.

I feel like I shouldn't have to explain myself, and yet here I am. I am a doula and an advocate for natural birth. I have helped women work through birth trauma. I have helped women cope with unexpected complications. I became a doula, in part, because of the bad experiences I had with labor in the past.

It's important to me just because it is.

I've done all I can because I felt like I had to.

What happens from here is out of my control.

And I, a woman who fights constantly for the choices of other women, have no choice but to accept that, which is a hard place for me to be.

I'm doing the best I can.

For the record, I never asked or expected anyone else to understand my journey. It is mine and mine alone. I'd prefer not to be judged or mocked for it, extended the same courtesy I give to others, though.

At some point last night when I was staring at the ceiling, it dawned on me that all this worrying these past few weeks have stolen what time I had left to enjoy this pregnancy, my last one.

I don't want my memories of these last days to be of what I tried and failed at. 

I want to remember what it feels like when he gets the hiccups for an hour straight. I want to remember how he nudges his siblings hands when they sit beside me and talk to him. I want to remember how amazing and fleeting this time is. I want to remember how fortunate I've been to do this as many times as I have.

I want it to last just a little bit longer.

I'm slowing down for however much time I have left. I'm letting go of the struggle. I'm just going to sit and be with my last baby in these last moments because I know that I'll never be here again.

The rest of it is out of my hands. However he arrives, he will be here soon.

And everything will change, for the last time.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the holy balls there is a lot to cover this week edition

I'm going to level with you. It's entirely possible that I'm just particularly sensitive this week. ENTIRELY.

I'm not going to kid myself about that for even a second. I don't think it's just me, though, in all honesty because the topics I am covering this week have seemed to piss off a ton of other people too.  I am talking about Wendy Davis and abortion over at Lefty Pop today, and you should go check that out after you are done here. 

Speaking of which, let's just get to it because there is a lot to cover.

Dress Codes
Yeah, yeah, yeah...I know I wrote about this last week, but I have a feeling that it's going to become a recurring theme around here. Mostly because I never had to give the dress code a second thought until my daughter entered middle school.

Then said daughter was forced to wear a sweatshirt all day when the outside temperature was 98 flipping degrees. The reason? She had on a tank top. One with wide straps and a high neckline that covered everything and was longer in the torso length intentionally so that everything would be covered. It was not obscene or inappropriate in the least. I routinely take clothes out of the laundry once they get too small and wouldn't send her in anything that was scandalous....but that doesn't appear to matter. Upper arms are inappropriate in the eyes of the teachers at her school.

Upper freaking arms.

I have had a few friends called to the office to bring clothing changes, only for girls.

Then there is the case of the girl forced to wear the shame suit at school for a dress code infraction. What the hell??? I just....grrrr.

The Ice Bucket that Wasn't Ice
In the category of things that make me fear for the future, a group of obnoxious shitheads tricked an autistic kid into getting a bucket full of urine, feces and spit dumped on his head by telling him it was ice for the ice bucket ALS challenge. They've finally been identified after a few celebrities came forward with reward money to whoever would reveal them.

Why anyone would do something so awful to another human being is beyond me. I sincerely hope that whatever charges exist in the world for being an asshole this way are thrown at them.

The Woman with the Mattress
Emma Sulkowicz is a student at Columbia University, and she's made news for a reason that is both inspiring and disgusting at the same time.

She was raped in her dorm room on the first day of classes last year. She says the school mishandled the entire situation, that the suspect has been accused of attacking two other women and that her case against him was wrongfully dismissed.

As an aside, for those wondering why the regular police aren't involved and why this is a school just is. Campus police tend to handle on campus incidents, particularly the ones that occur between students. It's been that way for a long time, and honestly is something that needs to change. Allegations of rape are too serious to be handled by universities who refuse to do the right thing.

Her assailant still attends school.

So, she is making a point by carrying around a mattress until they do something about it. An actual mattress, to symbolize the weight of everything she has to carry in her life now because of this rapist. 

She plans to carry it until he is expelled, and will accept help from others who offer to share her burden, but refuses to ask for help.

She's a freaking rock star, and Columbia (as well as all the other universities that fail victims) should be ashamed of itself.

GOP and OTC birth control
Four of the most conservative GOP candidates have waved some magic wand in the land of make believe, and I don't want you to get tricked by it for one second. They all, including local candidate Cory Gardner are outspoken pro-life, anti-abortion, anti-birth control, anti-ACA candidates, and nothing about that has changed at all.

What has changed is that they are all suddenly supporting over the counter access to birth control.

Seems like a step in the right direction, right? Like they have come more towards center and become more reasonable, like they've heard and been compelled by the arguments in favor of unrestricted access and all that, right???


So, so, so wrong. It's a ploy. A ploy dressed up to look like it's pandering to those in favor of birth control when the entire idea behind it is something much more underhanded. They want unrestricted over the counter access so that insurance won't have to cover it at all. They want to put the entire cost of birth control on women, refusing to allow them to utilize their coverage entirely, take it out of the discussion about insurance completely.

This would actually limit access for millions of women because of cost alone.

Don't be fooled. This isn't about them suddenly becoming more reasonable. Not at all.

The NFL and the NCAA
Yeah, sure we are going to believe that the NFL didn't know about the video of Ray Rice sucker punching his then girlfriend. And I'm a purple unicorn.

They knew. They just didn't do anything. The fact that they came along now and finally did something after the media was in an uproar, after the public went nuts, after other players were calling them out for their a nice gesture and all, but it's too little too late.

For the record, this is the same NFL who wanted to ban Broncos kicker Matt Prater from playing the entire season for having a beer on vacation (he has a prior dui, there was no involvement with law enforcement that prompted the current 4 game suspension he is under).

As for the victim blamers, get off your damn high horses right quick. You might see a woman in a press conference who is standing by her man and defending him and contributing to the violence or whatever it is that you see. I see duress and fear.  Read this. Then think about what life might actually be like for half a damned second before you blame the victim again.

As if the NFL hadn't done enough half assed disciplining to piss me off yesterday, the NCAA had to go and do it too.

I fully own the fact that part of my issues with the NCAA have to do with the unfairness with how schools that violate rules are penalized. I'm a bitter Trojan. A very bitter Trojan.

If you haven't heard, they are letting Penn State off sanctions early. USC's sanctions stemmed primarily from Reggie Bush accepting gifts from agents, though the involvement of OJ Mayo from the basketball team was included eventually. The school was stripped of titles, Bush gave back the Heisman Trophy. There were wins vacated and years of scholarship sanctions.

Penn State's sanction stem from the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal in which there was high level involvement and cover ups. The NCAA initially slapped them with heavy fines and, scholarship sanctions and a four year bowl ban...but the scholarship sanctions have been modified already and will be lifted entirely for next year. The bowl ban is no longer in effect and they will be bowl eligible this year.

So let's get all this straight, k?

Drug and alcohol offenses are way worse than beating your girlfriend and accepting gifts is way worse than an institutional coverup of sexual abuse.

Seems legit.


Monday, September 8, 2014

I'll be focused tomorrow. Maybe. But probably not.


I'm currently sitting in the only accessible chair in the house. The carpets are scheduled to be cleaned later on today, the vents all cleared out. Normally I clean the carpets myself, but that is sooooo not happening right now.

I've been doing battle with a breech baby for well over a week now. I'm 100% distracted and making my family crazy.

My husband is sure that I've lost my damn mind. The kids aren't sure what to think. Some of them are willing to humor me and will believe anything I say, the others...born skeptics.

This kid, he's earning his nickname. Little Asskicker. He is soundly kicking my ass at the moment, and it's starting to wear on me.

I've been, literally, doing everything I can think of to try and get him to turn.

I'll be 35 weeks Wednesday. I'm already dilating without any direct pressure, which isn't the greatest sign given my history. Regular contractions 24/7 strong enough to show up on monitors aren't helping. The meds to stop contractions don't work on me, so we aren't bothering. The doc won't even attempt a version until I hit 36 weeks...I'm doing everything I can until then to get him to turn.

I started the Webster technique with a friend who is a chiropractor. My ligaments are all nice and loosey goosey now, and the baby gets pretty fired up afterwards, but he'll get sideways at the most and go back.

I started acupuncture as well, concentrating on the pressure points that affect the uterus and assist with relaxation. I have to tell you that I was a little skeptical about this, even though I have referred doula clients to them for years, but it is awesome. As soon as she put the needles in, my uterus stopped contracting completely. It was probably 6 hours before I had another contraction.

In addition to the acupuncture, she started moxibustion in the office and sent me home with a moxa stick to do it at least once a day until I see her again. This is about the point where I lost my husband completely. Like he waved from the shore as I sailed off into the depths of the ocean. He generally thinks I'm nuts when it comes to the alternative medicine world, but this is a new highlight, particularly since I need his help. You should have seen the look on his face when I explained it to him. Basically, it is a rolled piece of mugwort that he has to light and hold next to a pressure point on the outside of my pinky toes. The heat is supposed to (and does) encourage the baby to become more active, getting them to move into a better position. As for the baby, he's all up in there doing high kicks and shit, but still not flipping.

On top of all this, I'm doing positioning too. Which means that at any given time, I could be hanging off the couch or the bed or laying upside down or propped against the wall or on my knees. I'm familiar with many of the positions from yoga already, but these are exaggerated ones. And apparently very entertaining to watch. My husband has taken pictures. If he ever posts them online, I'll torture him in his sleep. True story.

I'll sit with ice packs on the top of my belly to try and get him to move. The theory is a pretty simple one...that the baby won't want his head to be cold, so he'll move. Again...high kicks and stuff, wiggling away from the ice, but not a full flip. At least not yet.

Then there is the music and the talking to him and the deep concentration and all that. About the only thing I haven't tried are handstands in the pool, and that's mostly because we have public pools here and I'd look ridiculous.

Not that I don't look ridiculous hanging upside down with ice on my belly or fire near my toes or anything....

Anyway, that's where I am at. I have deadlines to meet, topics that people want me to write about. I have a book review I need to get finished. I have dishes to wash and laundry to fold (assuming my dryer decides to work's on the way out....we ordered a new one yesterday but it won't be here until next week). I have my bag almost completely packed for the hospital. Lined up the placenta encapsulation, waiting on a few more things to arrive in the mail. The nursery is ready to go, everything is washed.

Now we just need him to cooperate.

Until he does, I'll be in the world of squirrely jazz hands trying desperately to stay focused on anything but this stubborn baby.

I make no promises that it'll work and apologize in advance if I'm driving everyone else slowly insane too. That means you. My bad.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Changing How We View Mental Health and Addiction

As I was watching the Emmy's with my family this past weekend, we commented on just how many losses there were in the industry this year, of celebrities who were being remembered that evening.

One of them, perhaps one of the most talented of them all, Philip Seymour Hoffman. His death affected so many people I love deeply, and touched the hearts and minds of just about everyone who has ever struggled with mental illness, with addiction or with them both.

It was my hope back then that his death would stimulate a more open dialogue in our society about the comorbidity of mental illness and addiction, spur more people on to acknowledging and accepting the reality that these two things often come hand in hand with one another. Sometimes it is one that precipitates the other, usually the addiction coming after a struggle with mental illness.


There was, to some extent a dialogue opened in the wake of his death, but eventually it seemed that the focus on the drugs themselves drowned out the parts that mattered more. The underlying depression. The connection between depression and addiction. Those important pieces got lost in the discussions and arguments about drugs.

It is impossible, even with all the best resources in the world, to truly combat addiction without addressing the very conditions that often lead someone to substance abuse (or any other form of addition for that matter) in the first place. Those conditions, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and more, conditions that our society doesn't seem to fully understand. Conditions we don't often treat or manage adequately.

People struggling with some of these conditions are still frequently blamed in our world, held accountable for this thing that happens to them through no fault or choice of their own. We do not, on a societal level, see mental illness as a true illness in the same way we do diseases of the body. We, for some reason, prefer to labor under the delusion that mental illness is different, more conscious, more intentional, more controllable.
If we believe that about mental illness, we believe it even more about addiction.

It isn't, and we absolutely need to change the dialogue about it in this country. We need to start having the difficult conversations about mental illness and how prevalent it is. We need to talk about how woefully inadequate our system is to diagnose and treat patients. We need to make a conscious choice to elevate the treatment of mental health conditions to the same level as all the other conditions people suffer from. Ultimately, we need to begin to unravel the connections between mental illness and addiction.

We need to change the way we see and treat addiction. We need to ensure that people can receive coverage of treatment through their health insurance plans. We need to make programs accessible and affordable to all who need them. We need to understand that there are so many variations among patients and that what works for one may not work for another, so they need options. We need to admit that the way we've approached this in the past isn't good enough, and then we need to do better.

To do it, we need a revolution of sorts. We need to educate the new generation of medical professionals, of therapists, of counselors, to treat patients as a whole, not just address the specific symptoms that brought them into the office that day. We need new ways of thinking, and we need brave leadership to get there.

The Center for Health Innovation at Adelphi University is doing just that. In a poll just released, they have found that mental health professionals want to change how addiction is treated, they want more options to help patients, and they want to see more technology being used in the field.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Adelphi University. The opinions and text are all mine.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Random Rushed Thoughts About Back to School on a Thursday Morning

I don't have a ton of time to write today. This week is almost over, thank goodness. I'm clearly not back in the school year swing of things yet, have managed to schedule appointments that overlap more than once for this week and am currently debating the likelihood that my two younger children and I all survive to the bell ringing this morning.

It's been a day. Already.

I can't just scream UNCLE at 8:15 though.

I mean, I guess I could. That would be awesome. But I have too much to do because of all that poor scheduling I mentioned up there.

Anyhow, it's been a weird week.

Holiday weeks always throw me off, the beginning of the school year always throws me off. Toss in trying to adapt to a second kid in middle school who sees the world completely differently than her older sibling and pregnancy fog brain, and you have a hot damn mess.

I have one child who has been screaming like a banshee since 6:45. She yells because she doesn't want to get up early, then proceeds to spend almost the entire next two hours screwing around. She wonders why I have to get her up so early, but it's pretty obvious. It takes her that long just to function at the most basic level.

She's up, she's down, she's pissed, she's excited, she's worried, she's all of this and about 673 more emotions all at the same time and it's too damn early and I only get one cup of coffee these days and it isn't enough. Clearly.

They wonder why I make them get their lunches together at night....

The fact that I can get this one on the bus in actual clothes is a freaking miracle sometimes. Of course, that's only because she knows I'll totally send her in her pajamas.

Her little brother isn't helping. He rarely does. He can get up, eat, get dressed and be ready to go in exactly 3 minutes if he isn't distracted by her.


He's a follower. A realllllllly good follower. Life of a younger sibling, I suppose.

When he is distracted by her, which is almost always, things rapidly spiral out of control in the morning.

It's a good thing the other two have already left the house by this point, or I'd lose my damn mind.

You see, The Oldest likes to play 20 questions. Every day. First thing. It's like his brain is constantly going, constantly asking questions, and it assumes that I know all the answers to all the things.

This morning he woke up asking me about the fourth dimension.

What the hell? It's too early for this, child. For serious.

He is constantly asking me crazy questions like that, but can't seem to remember to charge his phone. Or to put on pants. Or to turn in the homework he finished.

I'm pretty sure his head would float away on the daily if it wasn't actually attached.

At the polar opposite end of the spectrum, his sister. She's been in middle school for days. Literally. And she's got her act together more than he's figured out in over two years. She's organized, almost to an obsessive level. She's constantly on top of deadlines and requirements and paperwork and assignments. She worries incessantly about every.single.thing.

.....and she totally gets it from her mother.
It is to the point that we have to still sometimes grab her face like when she was little and sit her down and remind her to breathe and tell her that the outcome of her life isn't going to hinge on whether she gets the app downloaded onto the school issued iPad tonight. Honest.

How are all of you out there in the internets adjusting to school being back in session? Please tell me that I'm not the only one losing my mind on a daily basis.

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