October 6, 2014 10:59 am

Strength

strong – strôNG (adjective)
1. having the power to move heavy weights or perform other physically demanding tasks.

I started a bodyweight challenge for the month of October in order to beef myself up a bit. I’m tired of barely being able to support my own bodyweight on the monkey bars when I play with Wesley at the playground – I miss the days when I was a competitive gymnast and was able to do a ton of pull-ups no problem.

I’m happy I’ve chosen to take on this challenge. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a while; I know the things my body used to be capable of, and it’s hard when I remember I can’t do those things anymore.

strong – strôNG (adjective)
2. able to withstand great force or pressure.

During my labor with Thora, I felt very strong. Contractions were definitely uncomfortable and painful – I don’t want to minimize the difficulty here – but I knew I could do it. One of the signs of transition (the stage just prior to pushing) is often the woman saying “I can’t do this anymore” or “Just give me the drugs!” and I made it through without saying either of these things! It was so, so hard, but I never felt like I wanted to be drugged. I was tired, and hurting, and I kept saying “I could handle these [contractions] better if I could only get a break between them!” but in hindsight, I was handling them fine.

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As a woman, we’re conditioned in many tiny ways over the course of our lifetimes to avoid feeling strong.

Weight Training class in high school was open to both genders, but girls rarely took it. You just knew it wasn’t for you.

Girls say things like “I don’t want to lift weights because I don’t want to get bulky.” They aren’t told it’s actually kind of hard to get “bulky” and it’s not going to happen on accident.

Growing up, we’re told that “boys won’t want to date you if you seem like you can beat them up.”

Girls are encouraged to keep quiet and not make a fuss.

Women are told childbirth hurts. What they aren’t often told is that during labor, if they don’t receive drugs, their bodies naturally secrete hormones and chemicals to minimize the pain of labor. Instead, it’s just expected that we won’t be able to handle it and we receive drugs as a matter of routine during childbirth. As a result, many women miss out on the endorphin high of a natural labor.

I’m tired of it.

——

I am PROUD that I was able to make it through twelve hours of labor completely unmedicated – it took a ton of mental strength and I proved to myself that I could do it. I was wired for HOURS after T’s birth because of my endorphins.

I am strong.

I want to have functional muscles, and joining this bodyweight challenge is the first step toward that goal.

And I’m getting stronger.

Forget stardust—you are iron. Your blood is nothing but ferrous liquid. When you bleed, you reek of rust. It is iron that fills your heart and sits in your veins. And what is iron, really, unless it’s forged?

You are iron.

And you are strong.

-n.t.

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October 2, 2014 5:31 pm

Struggles Update

[Note: This was written over the course of various days throughout September. Ignore the "todays" and "yesterdays" etc. as best you can because they're irrelevant but I can't be bothered to change them. Sorry, and thank you.]

——

We finally had a good day! Wesley woke up cheerful one morning and wasn’t aggressive toward Thora or rude to me, and he kept it up until bedtime. He thought about having some meltdowns at various points during the day, but he was able to talk through them instead and seemed really committed to being nice. He worked hard to do it and I was really proud of him.

I NEEDED that day, badly.

——

Then last night, Wesley got really upset because Daniel had shared some coconut water with him but there was none left to have seconds. I kept trying to talk him down, but he laid on the floor and kicked some giveaway boxes, and then pulled a huge stack of meticulously folded blankets off a chair and grabbed the corners of each one to shake and unfold them, and then he threw them all around the living room. After there were no more blankets to mess up, he moved to the coffee table and used his whole arm to sweep everything on it onto the floor. I figured he needed to get the destructiveness out of his system so I just let him go for it.

I was talking to him the entire time and he just kept saying he was mad about the coconut water. Then he said he wanted chocolate soy milk, knowing full-well that we didn’t have any in the house, so he got worked up over that too like it was some giant conspiracy against him and what he wanted to drink. Finally, I got him to admit he would like regular milk and some water.

Again, I was talking through this whole fit (“You’re really upset there’s no more coconut water! You’re so mad you’re throwing blankets!” etc.) and ended up talking a bit about problem solving. I indicated the blanket mess in the living room. He brightened up and his whole demeanor completely changed. “Mommy! I know how to help! I will fold some blankets and you can fold some and we can work together to solve the blanket problem!”

So we did.

The rest of the evening wasn’t perfect by any means, but he did fix the blanket mess he created and was happy to do so. I felt like once he understood that I sympathized with him and what he wanted, he was able to see how he could help fix the mess he created.

——

Today, he got up grouchy again. I can usually tell what kind of day it’ll be based on how he reacts to me nursing Thora in the mornings. He’s often very annoyed by it, and responds by getting in her face and making loud noises, pinching (usually ears or cheeks), bending her free arm the wrong way, or snuffling at her feet. This morning he did all those things while I tried to talk to him about what he was feeling.

The best I got out of him was that he doesn’t like it when I nurse her because he wanted to go to a park. (?)

I finally got us all ready to go and we went to the Farmer’s Market, where he had a meltdown over cheesy popcorn. Then at Daniel’s work, I had Thora in the carrier and was talking to one of Daniel’s bosses, when Wesley was apparently annoyed I wasn’t paying attention to him so he jumped up and slapped Thora upside the head/face and she started screaming.

*large sigh*

It’s difficult for me to judge whether or not this is all within the realm of normal. I’ve never heard anybody talk about their four-year-old behaving this way, but I kind of figure they’re probably too damned embarrassed to admit it. I know I’m embarrassed. Parenting is unfortunately one of those life skills that’s constantly on display and constantly under scrutiny. I mean, really, what’s the best way to respond when a kid slaps an infant in the face because his mother was having a brief conversation? It’s not like there’s one right answer, though there are many wrong ones.

——

I hate to admit it, but it’s a little gratifying when he completely loses his shit like this when Daniel’s around. Partly because I feel like it usually sounds like I’m exaggerating when I try to describe my days, and partly because I can see how quickly it tests Daniel’s patience and then I get to feel like a martyr for having to manage it EVERY DAMNED DAY by myself.

——

As I’m posting this now at the beginning of October, some things have improved and other things have gotten worse. He’s less violent, which is a huge relief. There have been several occasions where he resorts to punching or scratching as a first response, but he’s getting a bit better at just glaring horribly at us instead. I’ll take it.

He’s gotten more rude verbally though – everything is “peenie pee poop butt penis” and he says things like “excuse my FARRRRTS” when he burps which turns a perfectly polite response into something gross. He called Daniel a penis head the other day and BY SOME MIRACLE I did not laugh out loud but ugh it’s exhausting. I tried making a “bathroom words stay in the bathroom” rule, so if he wants to call someone a “peenie-weiner” he can, but he has to be in the bathroom. It sounded brilliant – I read it online somewhere, ages ago, and stored it in the recesses of my brain for exactly this moment – but it totally does not work. He just shouts “NO!” and runs away or he calls you a rude name. Or just quietly says “poop” at you to let you know he will not be controlled.

It’s the defiance and the mansplaining that really wear me down day after day. He clearly thinks I have a brain the size of a walnut and has no qualms about (incorrectly) explaining familiar concepts to me. “Mommy, Thora is crying. You have to go get her and change her diaper.” “Mommy, you are doing the laundry wrong.” “Mommy, that’s not how you make eggs. YOU’RE DOIN’ IT WRONG!” Ad infinitum.

He’s still iffy about Thora needing to nurse or take a nap. I think it’s because he knows if she’s already napping we can’t leave the house. He makes up all these plans in his head about his daily activities and then gets SUPER PISSED when I don’t do them, except A) it was something he made up, and B) sometimes he totally fails to even tell me about them. So I’ll start transferring her into her co-sleeper and he’ll start having this full-body screaming fit about going to a park, when this is the first I’ve heard of it.

Writing that out, maybe we need to actually make plans every day? Before we get up in the morning? That sounds exhausting, but maybe it’d alleviate some of the “but I wanted to do THIS today” fits.

He does go to preschool 2x/week now, which I love. Mondays he only goes for 2hrs and normally he’d do that on Wednesday too, but it only costs me $15 to leave him there for the whole day (it’s at his daycare) so I happy throw fistfuls of money at the daycare provider to have a day to myself once a week.

Anyway. Things are sort of better but “less horrible” is still sort of horrible, so there you go.

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September 24, 2014 11:16 pm

Four Months Postpartum – CBAC Feelings

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Thora’s birth, and how I feel about it now that several months have gone by.

I think the biggest thing that gets to me is feeling like a bad statistic. This is mostly in relation to the VBAC support group on Facebook that I’m still a member of. Instead of getting to be a part of the “I can do anything!” rah-rah VBAC group and feeling like I can share my experience freely, I’m inclined to not say much about my c-section in order to not provide “negativity.” I haven’t shared my birth story there yet because of this. I hate being the opposite of a success story.

And I know, “every birth is a success,” blah blah blah, but I’m still sad that I feel like I can’t participate or I’ll make people upset.

When preparing for a VBAC, everybody tells you to read all the positive stories you can and really get into the “I can do this” mindset. I hate that by posting my birth story, people will avoid reading it because it didn’t actually end in a vaginal birth and is therefore “negative.”

I’m sad that this was my only chance and it didn’t happen for me.

I’m sad that I still missed out on the first hour of my baby’s life because of some stupid hospital policy. Had I gotten my homebirth, I wouldn’t have been separated from her. To make matters worse, a few weeks ago the hospital updated its policy so babies can now stay with their moms in recovery post-surgery. I’m happy about that, but extremely disappointed they wouldn’t do it for me even though I asked.

I believe this c-section was probably necessary. I can’t really say that about my first. This makes me feel a little better because I don’t feel that I was lied to or misled, but it also angers me because I wouldn’t have been in the position of being a VBAC candidate in the first place if I wasn’t coerced into a c-section the first time.

If you labor in the hospital and end up with a c-section, nobody calls it a “failed hospital birth,” but because I labored at home, I’ve already been labeled a “failed homebirth” by a medical professional. That sucks, and it makes me feel bad.

The VBAC Facebook group terms what happened to me as a CBAC – a cesarean birth after cesarean – to indicate that the woman in question had attempted a VBAC versus going straight to a repeat c-section. I like that it acknowledges my effort, but I still hate that it ended that way.

I’m sad that my baby was weighed on a hard scale instead of inside the soft fabric baby hammock the midwives use. I’m sad that other midwifery clients get a “my midwife helped me out” onesie and I got a stupid blue and pink hat with the hospital logo – a constant reminder of what went wrong.

I’m sad nobody thought to take a photo of us as a family of four. Thora is almost five months old and I still don’t have one. Why didn’t anybody take a photo of us? (Why don’t they now?)

I still have the insomnia I came down with when I was pregnant, and these are all the things I think about at 3am when I’m not sleeping.

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