Categories for

October 8, 2016 3:02 pm

Sexism

In case you have been living under a rock, or are not in the US, one of our presidential candidates was caught on tape describing sexually assaulting women as though it were nothing out of the ordinary.

Trump said:

“I just start kissing them… Just kiss. I don’t even wait,’ Trump said. “And when you’re a star they let you do it.”

“Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

After this came out, writer Kelly Oxford shared her experiences with sexual abuse using the hashtag #NotOkay and invited other women to join in. She was receiving an average of two stories per second after her request.

Here are mine.

Age 13, at sleep-away church camp: An older boy – who I was previously on friendly terms with – somehow got one of my roommates to loan him their room key, and then used it to sneak into our room late at night. I woke up to the sound of the door opening. He crept over to my bunk and whispered to me that he needed to borrow something – a book, maybe, that we had talked about earlier – and while I opened the wardrobe to retrieve it for him, he pressed himself against me in a side-hug I couldn’t escape from. I stood there and let him hug me inappropriately in the middle of the night until he felt he had hugged me enough and then I hurriedly ushered him out of the room. My roommates slept through the whole thing.

Upon returning home, still feeling like I had been violated and taken advantage of, I confessed the situation to my boyfriend, who blamed me and then accused me of cheating on him. I cried, trying to explain that I DID NOT INVITE THAT HUG and I DID NOT WANT HIM TO BE DOING THAT and IT WAS REALLY SCARY and he was mostly upset that I didn’t let the older boy know I was taken or tell him “no.” I think some part of me had been expecting an “Oh my gosh, are you okay? That sounds really scary. Have you told anyone?” but we were thirteen and despite a rando thinking it was okay to sneak into my room at night at church camp and sexually assault me, it was “my fault” because I didn’t say “no.”

I never told anyone else. The perpetrator was clearly unpredictable (I had been SLEEPING!) so I was partly thankful that it hadn’t escalated further, we were at church camp so any boys-in-girls-rooms-at-night was strictly forbidden and I was afraid of getting in trouble because he had our room key and how was I going to explain that away, and it was “just a hug” so I didn’t think people would take me seriously.

Age 14: my then-boyfriend (different guy from above) was very jealous and possessive. He didn’t like if I talked with my guy friends in the halls between classes or gave them hugs, and asked me to stop being friends with them. He told me what he wished I wore. His favorite color was yellow; I should wear more yellow. Did I wear thongs? (No. I thought they were gross.) He thought they were sexy; I should wear them. Why wasn’t I wearing them?

We went to a movie together and at first I was excited when he put his hand on my knee affectionately. I was less excited when he kept moving his hand up my leg. I repeatedly pushed it back down to my knee and I remember writing in my diary that by the end, I practically “threw his hand” and was satisfied when he finally kept it at my knee after that.

On my 15th birthday, I was at my Driver’s Education class about to get into the car for my lesson. He arrived on his bike, handed me a gift bag with an embarrassed look on his face and told me to open it when I was by myself. I snuck a peek so I could be prepared if any of my classmates or my instructor asked questions about the gift.

He had given me a yellow thong for my birthday.

I played it off to my classmates and instructor that I was going to wait until I was home to open it, knowing there was no way I could explain it away. He knew I didn’t wear thongs. He knew I didn’t like yellow clothing. I was barely fifteen. This was not a birthday gift for me. His intent was for me to be a gift for him.

I found out later that he had the sister of one of his friends purchased the thong on his behalf because he was too embarrassed to do it himself. (Not too embarrassed to give it to me in public though!)

After we broke up, I was in Health class during a segment on abusive relationships and realized in hindsight that he ticked something like nine of the ten boxes that were presented to us.

Age 18, first day in a new city: A scraggly, possibly drunk middle-aged man stumbled toward my roommate and I hollering “HEY GIRLS! SEXY! COME GIVE ME A BLOW JOB!” We escaped by running down an unfamiliar alley. He laughed as we ran.

Age 18, coming home from a late class at school: I walked through the park blocks and saw a man inside the kids’ play area. I intially thought it was funny he was playing on the toys. I realized belatedly that he was masturbating.

Age 18, on my way to school: Walking across a bridge (so there were literally no alternate routes I could take), I saw a man facing the railing. I realized as I approached that he was actually urinating off the bridge. I was too close to do anything but keep on walking, so I kept walking.

Age 19, while manning the copy center at college: I received a MySpace message from a new (male) hire that said:

“oh my god, you will never know how eternally joyful that i am to be
able to say the following sentence:

“hello my coworker”

omg, i sense a heart attack heading my way”

I brushed it off, thinking it was funny/strange but ultimately harmless. That was until I received another message that included an image of an imaginary album cover he had made (filename: “meggancoldblood.JPG”), using a photo he had lifted from my MySpace page complete with song titles he had made up based on topics he saw on my personal website.

meggancoldblood

I was incredibly freaked out and sent an email to my manager, who, as far as I can remember, handled it admirably. He made it clear that yes, this was not okay and thanked me for bringing it to his attention. The new hire apologized to me in person.

He kept his job. I tried to avoid him at all costs, especially night shifts.

Age 20, while manning the copy center at college: an instructor was leaning over the counter to write her copy instructions on our order sheet. A male student saw her and backed up, took out his phone, and snapped a photo of her butt. He was so quick that it was too late to say anything by the time I had realized what happened – all I managed to do was make eye contact with him as he walked away, and he stared right back, as though saying, “I dare you to do anything about it.” It didn’t seem like it would have helped the situation to tell the instructor what had just happened, so I told my manager instead.

The incident got escalated appropriately and I ended up speaking with the president of the school about it. He was very concerned and made it clear that the behavior I witnessed was not acceptable. I ran into the student on a couple of different occasions after that and it gave me a panicky jolt of adrenaline every time. Unfortunately, because I didn’t know the student’s name or any other identifying information about him, he was never identified nor punished.

______________

This is not where these incidents end. I would wager that nearly every woman has similar stories she could tell.

I don’t want my daughter to grow up with these kinds of stories to tell. I don’t want my son growing up thinking it’s okay to behave like this.

imwithher

1 Comment >

August 15, 2016 12:01 pm

PTSD

The biggest thing I haven’t yet mentioned here is that I was diagnosed with PTSD stemming from events surrounding my births.

After struggling with symptoms by myself for over five years, I finally chose to seek help because I felt like I couldn’t turn my brain off. If I woke up at night, or if I was sitting quietly by myself, or trying to fall asleep, or anything that involved some downtime for my brain, I couldn’t stop replaying and obsessing over details of my births. This symptom is called intrusive thoughts (or persistent re-experiencing) and I was tired of it. I wanted my brain back.

I was treated using EMDR therapy and I found it really, really effective. We mostly did “tones” (listening to beep-boop sounds that alternate left and right) instead of the eye movements and she also tapped my knees left and right.

After working through a bunch of situations, I began to notice a pattern of behavior from my care providers that directly contributed to my issues. I wrote about several incidents here as they happened, but I minimized my feelings or explained their actions away even though some of them really hurt me. When I was gaining weight like mad and they simply told me to “lay off the fast food and soda” without even asking me what I ate in a typical day? HUGE, STARK CONTRAST to my midwife with Thora’s birth, who preemptively had me keep a food journal for a week so we could identify things to work on and we had a discussion about nutrition and based on my journal, I was advised to up my protein intake and then continue my food journal for another week to see how I felt.

Or telling me I was supposed to do the glucose test at 16 weeks (normally it’s not until 28ish weeks) without explaining why they were having me complete it twice or revealing that I had the right to refuse the extra test.

Or calling me a month before I was due to tell me I could “have a baby tonight if I wanted” and then laughing, as though they didn’t care I may have a premature baby and it was all a big joke.

Or brushing off my concerns that I had Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction and merely telling me it would only get worse. They didn’t recommend a specific support belt, or physiotherapy, or suggest chiropractic care, or exercises I could do to lessen the pain. They didn’t offer ANYTHING except to tell me that it would only get worse and made it seem like a support belt might not help.

Good care providers recognize that you are a human capable of rational thought with the capacity to consent to or deny various procedures, and they inform you of the risks and benefits of those procedures ahead of time. Bad care providers take everything as a given and don’t bother with your input – they inform you they will be performing a vaginal exam instead of asking if you would like one performed. They shove consent forms in your face while you sob and people are streaming into the room to start the procedure you are “consenting” to. You are coerced; you feel like you can’t say no. Or maybe you do say no, and they ignore it and continue anyway – like the time during my labor with Wesley when someone roughly checked my cervix during a vaginal exam while I cried and protested. They didn’t stop. Then they said my cervix was “high and difficult to find” and made it seem as though the rough exam was my fault.

It wasn’t.

It’s hard to not beat yourself up over choosing sub-par care, or not recognizing red flags for what they are, but I just have to keep reminding myself that I did the best I could with the information I had at the time. Hindsight is 20/20 and all.

After several months of treatment, those intrusive thoughts? They almost never happen anymore and I am so thankful. I can sleep! I can talk about Wesley’s birth without feeling “triggered” – I can just do my little elevator speech and not feel panicked or like I need to explain all my life choices that led to the circumstances I found myself in. I can talk about how much more empowered I felt with Thora’s birth while recognizing I was grieving the loss of my homebirth at the same time.

I still get sad about things sometimes; just today I was marveling over the fact that I am the only person I know who has attempted a VBAC but didn’t achieve one. Everyone else I know who has attempted a VBAC has been successful, which is AWESOME for them but still gives me pangs of jealousy when I think about it.

On the whole though, I am feeling so much better. I even wrote to the clinic I went to in Portland describing my care and how it resulted in a mental health diagnosis for me, and they called me to apologize and tell me that they took my story very seriously and would be referencing it in an upcoming patient care meeting to improve patient outcomes. They also assured me that they’ve put several policies in place (in the intervening six years) to prevent the sort of “care” I received. For instance, they now give moms a moment alone with their support person after handing them the cesarean consent forms. It doesn’t change anything for the hospital, but it could really influence how a mom feels about her birth ending in surgery. I know I would have felt much more involved in the decision with that process vs the surgery being treated as a fait accompli. I’m also considering posting the text of that letter here, since I felt I articulated my issues well.

Mental health is a complicated topic and I’ve told only a few people in person that I received treatment, but I am truly, deeply grateful for the lovely lady helping me work through my trauma and I wish I had done it sooner. In that vein, I’m happy to answer any questions about my treatment, as I think helping demystify the therapeutic process is important and might have encouraged me to seek help sooner.

2 Comments >

May 14, 2015 10:38 pm

StitchFix Box #2

I received my second StitchFix box today! I didn’t request the same stylist this time (though I’ve heard you can!) and for content, I basically requested “fancy t-shirts.”

Page Flutter Sleeve Blouse by Skies Are Blue

When I opened my StitchFix box, I knew this shirt wasn’t going to work for me but I gamely tried it on anyway. The front view was okay, if a little “Floridian grandma,” but the side view is where things really got bad:

That style of pleating high on the chest has never done much for me – it tends to make me look like I’m trapped in a drawstring sack – and this was no exception. Plus, it was very sheer and made from a semi-crinkly polyester-type fabric that didn’t feel very nice to the touch. I don’t know, I feel like I’ve got a ton of years at the end of my life to look like a shapeless Floridian grandma – I don’t need to start now.

Verdict: RETURN

Aiden Skinny Jean by Mavi

aiden-skinny-jean

These were a really fun reddish coral color! (The last photo in this blog post is a better representation of the color – they’re bold but they’re not THIS bold in person.) They would go great with navy shirts (of which I have several) and they were nice and soft. I tried them on with the two pairs of knee-high boots I have and I was surprised that I wasn’t in love with how they looked with either – I have black and cognac brown and they both looked weird to me. I need my skinny jeans to be able to be worn with at least one of those pairs of boots or else I won’t survive winter! I had a hard time deciding whether or not to send these back, but ultimately, I decided that I do like the color a lot and it’d go with a lot of stuff in my closet, but for the price I’d like to get something I really want, not just something I’m like “ehh, that’s nice” about.

That said… my stylist indicated that next time, she could size up and send me the Emer brand kelly green pants if I wanted? and oh my heck, YES, PLEASE DO. I am dying for kelly green pants. I liked these coral ones, but for $98 I’d rather have the green pants!

Verdict: RETURN, but I was conflicted about it

Marisol Mixed Material Knit Top by Papermoon

Curse you, boobs! This was another shirt that could have been cute, but was supremely unflattering on me in practice. If it could be nipped in at the waist in the back it might work, but as-is I wasn’t into it. The front was a very soft, stretchy denim-type fabric that reminded me of baby jeggings (in a good way) and the back was a lightweight woven fabric. The neckline was a leeeetle high for me but nothing bad, and I liked the polka dots. It was just… super unshapely and I know that I am roundish but egads. NO.

Verdict: RETURN

Ohara Faux Wrap Tie-Waist Dress

ohara-faux-wrap-tie-waist-dress

This wrap dress is a total winner! I’m always a little nervous about cross-front dresses and tops because they have a tendency to be super low-cut, but this one wasn’t. It fit over my boobs nicely and didn’t shift around. I also love that it has 3/4 sleeves! The print is fun and the color is fun and the dress was really comfortable. I’ll have to figure out what shoes to wear with it because all mine looked terrible but I am up for the challenge.

Verdict: KEEP!

Corinna Striped Dolman Top by Market & Spruce

corinna-striped-dolman-top

I knew this one was a keeper right out of the box! I have a thing for navy shirts with white stripes already, but I’ve never had a Dolman-sleeve top before. I liked the tunic length and the cuffs on the sleeves – they’re just the right length for pushing up a little bit. After having read a bunch of StitchFix reviews on other blogs, I have a feeling that I know a few people who would have sent this back because the fabric is leaning toward being sweatery and we’re right at the beginning of summer, but good grief. Who cares? Fall will be here soon enough and in the meantime I can wear it on cooler days. I love it!

Verdict: KEEP! I already wore it to work!

——

My stylist left a really nice note and thanked me for my “helpful and extensive profile notes,” haha! I am glad somebody found it useful! I just figure more information is better than less – if you don’t know that I would never spend money on a giraffe-print sweater and you send it to me and I sent it right on back, we’ve just wasted everyone’s time. Better to know ahead of time and not bother sending it.

I’ll probably wait a while before getting another Fix because we are in the middle of possibly buying a house (AAAAH!) and Fixes are a splurge for me spending-wise, but now I can’t stop thinking about getting those green pants.

If you want to try StitchFix, you can use my referral link and I’ll get $25 credit and be endlessly thankful.

4 Comments >

March 3, 2015 4:20 pm

StitchFix Box #1

My StitchFix box came today! I immediately tried everything on and took some photos, so you are in for a treat. (Ha!) As a frame of reference, I am pretty solidly a US size 14 and all of the items in my box were a size XL, save for the pants which were L Petite.

Carina Printed Dress

carina-printed-dress

This was almost a success. It was a great length on me, the ties hit right at the waist, it buttoned up the front so I could potentially nurse in it (with a lot of fiddling – those buttons are tiny!), AND it actually fit over my boobs without gaps between the buttonholes. HOWEVER. I was immediately not crazy about the print when I opened the box (I never wear red or yellow, and those boxes are actually ticked on my style profile as “please avoid”), and when I stepped into the living room my almost-five-year-old hid his eyes and said “OH CREEPY.” I said, what? and he said “That. It’s… weird.” I finally got him to specify that yes, he did indeed mean the print on my dress and then he said it looked like “eyeballs with nobody behind them.” SO.

Verdict: RETURN.

Isaac Floral Print Tab-Sleeve Blouse

isaac-floral-print-tab-sleeve-blouse-bunchy-jpg

I kind of have a thing for grandma-y florals and this would have been a nice addition to my rather floral-less closet. BUT. Anytime I moved my arms, the whole shirt bunched up above my boobs. Boo. (Better pic of the non-bunched up shirt below, with the trousers.) I liked the floral print but not enough to overlook the bunching. I actually just purchased a really similar (cut/style) blouse from Old Navy recently, and the StitchFix one was made of way higher quality fabric and felt way nicer on. However, both shirts seem to do everything they can to de-emphasize my waist, which is a shame because with boobs this big it’s nice to be able to tell I have a waistline.

Verdict: RETURN.

Montgomery Chevron Print Cross Front Knit Top

montgomery-chevronmontgomery-chevron-print-cross-front-top

I was excited about this when I opened the box, because yeah, I probably would not have ever chosen this for myself, but it was a great pick for me. It’s nice and drapey so it conceals a lot of postpartum midsection lumpiness, but it’s still fitted somehow so I don’t look super shapeless. The colors and print are fun (and a little outside of my comfort zone) and the cross-front will be SUPER EASY to nurse in. The one flaw is that the armholes are a little big on me and hang down so you can see a bit of my bra. And it’s a little hard to drape the cross front so it’s not all bunchy in one spot and flat elsewhere, but that’s a minor complaint. This was exactly the sort of pick I was hoping for – something slightly adventurous for me that’s not fussy but looks nicer than a regular tee.

Verdict: KEEP!

Emer High Waisted Cropped Trouser

emer-high-waisted-cropped-trouser

I pulled these out of the box and I was like, okay! Sure! I do have a pair of black dress pants but they’re wide-legged and really long so these seemed like a more wearable alternative. Then I almost couldn’t get them above my knees. Ack! With some shimmying, I managed to pull them up and oh my god, they were so comfortable. SO COMFORTABLE. I loved that they pulled on, they had a nice flat front which smoothed over my weird post-baby lower-tummy, the fabric was firm but stretchy and they were a nice ankle length on me. If I were a size 12 versus a 14 I would definitely have kept them even though the price tag (just shy of $100) made me wince. They were that good. If I manage to drop a pants size at any point in the future I will be requesting these back.

Verdict: RETURN. Sadly.

Andrea Airy Knit Scoop Neck Sweater

andrea-sweater

andrea-airy-knit-scoop-neck-sweater

I was initially a little skeptical of this sweater because it has a ton of little cutout dots across the top chest part and halfway down the arms. It’s not bad at all, but I probably would have glanced at it in the store and not even picked it up. Which would have been a shame! This is the softest, most comfortable sweater I have ever worn. I daresay it is flattering on me – it fits without sausaging me anywhere and the dots are actually kind of fun! It makes me feel good about myself when I put it on.

Verdict: KEEP!

——

stitchfix-keepers

I feel like my box #1 was a success! I am keeping two out of the five the pieces I was sent and I desperately wanted to keep a third, but alas.

If you’re curious about the money aspect, I did wait until I was receiving a tax return before pulling the trigger on getting my first box. The total for all items was $350, but with the “buy five get 25% off” discount and the styling fee refund it would have been $247.50. I am only keeping two items, so I’m paying the full cost for them minus the styling fee, and it came out to roughly $80.

I felt like my stylist understood what I was going for (nicer-looking basics) and I would happily get another StitchFix box!

4 Comments >

February 23, 2015 6:56 pm

StitchFix

It seems like I’ve seen StitchFix mentioned everywhere, but if you haven’t heard of it, it’s basically like having a personal shopper but you don’t have to leave your house. You pay a $20 “styling fee,” they pick out five items for you, and if you choose to keep and purchase at least one of the items, the styling fee gets applied toward the cost of the items. You can get boxes shipped automatically or only when you schedule them.

Part of the signup process involves trying to describe your style so your StitchFix stylist has a better chance of sending you stuff you’ll like. I found the “any extra info?” box a little small for my verbose self, so I’m putting all the info I couldn’t fit in that box right here on my website for my stylist. And also for you because I just KNOW you are dying to know what I dress myself in every day.

Pants

I have two pairs of jeans. They are both American Eagle jeggings, one indigo blue and one black. I wear one of these pairs of pants 99.9% of the time I leave the house. They’re comfortable for my postpartum body due to the spandex content, and they come in “short” so they’re not dragging on the ground. I also like that they fit into tall boots easily and yet they still look fine with Toms shoes and Minnetonkas and other flats. I am aware they are probably not the most flattering cut/style for my body shape but I kind of do not care at this point in my life. They’re comfortable and I like them.

ae-jeggings

I also have a pair of Express brand dress pants that read as gray but are actually a black/white tweed-like mix. The “short” option (30″ inseam) was still pretty long on me but otherwise they fit super well.

Dresses

I looooove wearing dresses, as they’re typically more flattering on my particular body shape, but nearly none of the dresses I own are breastfeeding-friendly so I cannot wear them anytime soon. I would love a nursing-friendly dress! Fit-and-flare styles look good on me. Wrap dresses do too, but they always end up SUPER cleavagey and low-cut on me, so I wear a tank underneath, but then it bunches a bit and I dunno… it’s hard to keep all the layers behaving.

Tops

My favorite shirts are basic black v-neck tees from Target that are 95% cotton and 5% spandex. The spandex is important to me because I am SO OVER 100% cotton tees getting all stretched out and flabby-looking and UGH. The spandex keeps them fitted and a little sleeker than all cotton tees, and though I do own this shirt in a few other colors (hot pink, purple, greenish-teal) I always end up choosing the black ones to wear because they don’t seem to highlight lumpy postpartum body parts as dramatically as the lighter colors do. I have these shirts in both L and XL and I haven’t noticed a huge difference in size.

My other favorite shirt is a dark gray v-neck vintage-style tee from Old Navy. It was like $6 and I love that the color is dark-ish and looks good with both blue and black jeans. I have three because I love it and I don’t mind having a bunch of the same shirt if I like it a lot and it’s not distinctive.

old-navy-v-neck-charcoal-tee

I wear a $3 basic black strappy tank from Forever21 under all my shirts and it works great for me as a nursing top. I pull my tee hem up and my tank neckline down and BAM! Minimal exposure but easy breastfeeding access.

I have three navy blue shirts with white stripes and I love them all. My favorite is from Dorothy Perkins and I like it because it’s a sturdy weight, has a simple scoop neck, and 3/4 length sleeves.

I don’t wear a lot of button-ups even though I love how they look because they are so hard to fit for me. I really like the layering potential of a gingham or chambray shirt under sweaters in cooler weather or over a tank when it’s warmer.

Preferences

I’m less into plaid than I am into gingham. Leopard print feels super “not me.” I wouldn’t be caught dead in giraffe print or other animal-y things.

I wear almost exclusively knit tops but I want to find woven tops that work for me! I prefer natural fibers (cotton!) over polyester. I need stuff that’s easy to wash – I have never dry-cleaned anything in my life and I don’t want to start.

I pretty much exclusively wear scoop neck and v-neck styles. Crew neck and boatneck tops and dresses just make my boobs look like they reach my neck. Like, they’re huge, I know, but those necklines make it look way worse.

What I’m looking for out of StitchFix

I’d love some nicer-quality, classic basics that I would feel comfortable wearing around the house and out on errands, as well as to my casual workplace. Nothing fussy or high-maintenance, but something that looks relatively “pulled together.”

Now that I’m on my way to receiving a wonderful tax return this year, I’m going to pull the trigger and order my first Fix. I get store credit if you sign up and order a Fix, so here’s my referral link and I would super duper appreciate you clicking on it if you think you’d like to try it out. I promise to report back with my thoughts on my first Fix!

Comments Off on StitchFix

December 31, 2014 3:29 pm

Looking Forward

I saw this series of statements somewhere today and thought it would make sense to write them down here.

This year, I want to learn how to needlefelt. I want to make little animals! My mother-in-law knows how and maybe if I ask reaaaaallly nicely, she might teach me.

I want to read all the books we pick out for book club. I’m already side-eyeing this month’s pick as it’s not something I would have chosen myself (On the Road by Jack Kerouac) but I will soldier through.

I want to make friends! I know I grew up here, but I honestly don’t have many in-person friends where I live. I joined a mother’s club and have been attending their monthly book club to try to make this happen. We shall see! Wish me luck. Friend-making is hard once you’re past, like, age eight.

I want to visit Portland! But I always want to visit Portland. Maybe if we win the lottery we can go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter because I neeeeed to go at some point in my life. I finally logged back into Pottermore the other day and then spent two days HOOKED to the website going through all the moments. Now I’m thinking about having another Harry Potter themed birthday because I will turn 30 in 2015 and what better way to celebrate than dressing up as a fictional wizard?

I want to change my career path. I have GOT to find something else to do. I have been out of the professional web development loop for so long that I don’t even know how to break back in anymore and frankly, the thought makes me feel exhausted instead of excited. I’m still really interested in becoming a lactation consultant, so maybe I will do some more research. Seems dumb to switch careers and possibly go back to school when I haven’t even paid off my student loans for my first degree, but doing client web work makes me feel super panicky in a way that helping people breastfeed does not and I think I should follow my instincts.

I want to be better at finding a place for everything and putting everything in its place. I want to have a living space that won’t make me cringe on a daily basis. I’ve put this book on hold at the library and I’m excited to read through it. I’m an inveterate packrat and I’m desperately trying to change that so I’m not wading through junk all the time.

Most of all I want to not worry so much this year. Things will work out.

3 Comments >

December 10, 2014 12:27 pm

December

  • Hospital Records

    Yesterday, I went and picked up my medical records from Thora’s birth. I was really nervous to read through them, but happily, there really weren’t any surprises. The official post-operative diagnosis was “fetal intolerance of labor” and “fetal malposition with asynclitic position,” and I was diagnosed with atypical HELLP syndrome. In short, I appear to grow crooked babies who panic during labor. And my placenta tries to kill me.

    I still want to go over my lab work with my mom (an L&D nurse) to better understand what all the numbers mean, but for the most part nothing stood out as being “not how I remembered it” or anything. One operative note mentioned “adhesions noted to the uterus,” which I assume is scar tissue from the first surgery? I’ll have to ask about that too I guess.

    There weren’t any tears involved in reading through the notes; I think mainly because nothing came as a surprise to me. I knew why we transferred, and even though I hated to do it, I knew that it was a legitimate reason to transfer. The midwives’ notes from my labor are all very positive and show that I was handling everything well and I feel a little more at peace with everything now that I’ve read through all the notes.

  • Thora

    Thora continues to be a delight. At seven months old, she doesn’t fall asleep by herself anymore, and wakes up at 2am to nurse (it used to be 5am) and nurses every two hours thereafter, but if those are my only complaints I HAVE IT SO GOOD. Rocking her to sleep is a small price to pay for a baby who actually sleeps long stretches at night.

    She’s got a super-quick army crawl and is already working on pulling up to stand on things like laundry baskets and the couch and our footstool. She is so much more active than Wesley was at this age. Keeps me on my toes.

    We’ve introduced solid foods, but like Wesley, she’s not super interested in actually eating anything for real yet. (Except paper she finds on the floor. She will happily eat any and all paper garbage.) I’m completely fine with her intake; it’s way easier to just nurse a baby than try to figure out what and how much solid food to feed them. She hates bottles and I had FIVE OUNCES of pumped milk go to waste recently because I couldn’t get her to drink it after it was thawed. Argh!

    I started calling her “Beebee” a while back (like “baby” but with more Es) and that devolved into calling her “Beebz” and “Beeberton.” I make no excuses. Nicknames are dumb and hilarious.

  • Wesley

    He loves preschool and asks me if he can go three days a week instead of just two. (Would if I could, but his class only meets 2x/week.) I love hearing him talk about what he learns at preschool. This past week, he made a walrus out of a paper lunchbag and it was so funny to hear him explain stuff about his “rahl-wuss” to me.

    He is finally mostly over his bad behavior phase; he doesn’t throw things at me in anger anymore and only has occasional tantrums. I knew it was just a phase, but man, that was a rough couple of months.

    He’s pretty conscientious of not leaving stuff on the floor for Thora to grab/eat/choke on, and we’re currently working on making sure that if he has something he doesn’t want wrecked (like a train track or block tower) it needs to be in his room because if it’s in the living room, she’ll Godzilla it immediately. He’s a great big brother and really likes her company.

  • Secret Quonsar!

    My third year participating in Metafilter’s annual SQ gift exchange was the best yet. My recipient gave me a lot of info to go on which was very helpful. I ended up getting her a Jane Austen-related book from her wishlist, plus a Graze box, two chocolate bars, some paper clips shaped like bunnies (she said she liked office supplies!), and a Tattly tattoo of a rainbow riding a skateboard.

    The gifts I received were amazing. Trader Joe’s chocolate caramels (two different kinds!), a little birdie letter opener, a letterpress postcard from San Diego, the gift-giver’s favorite book (The Secret History by Donna Tartt), and a cute little notebook with feathers on it that was personalized with my name. I actually didn’t even notice my name at first, and when I saw it a few days later I was like OMGGGGG because I never get to have stuff with my name on it and it made that gift so much more special. Thank you, SQ!

  • Christmas

    I’m pretty ready for Christmas, actually! I got most of my shopping done before the end of November, and I even managed to get some family photos of us so our Christmas cards are all ready to be stamped and mailed.

    Family photo:

    daniel-meggan

2 Comments >

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.

——

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.

Comments Off on Strength

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.

4 Comments >

November 23, 2013 10:07 pm

Mismatched

I’ve been wearing mismatched slippers all day because I can only find one each of two different pairs.

Also I’ve had my Harry Potter slanket on backwards for most of the day as well, like a giant Gryffindor cape.

At least I wasn’t wearing my muumuu.

Comments Off on Mismatched

November 21, 2013 10:15 pm

My face hurts.

I have reached the “my upper teeth hurt really bad OMG I must be having a dental emergency this is going to be expensive no wait that’s just my sinuses faking me out again” stage of my cold.

Whenever I get a bad cold, it settles in my sinuses and makes my teeth feel all achy and horrible, and I never remember it does this until I start panicking about dental bills. Dumb. You think I’d have learned by now!

Comments Off on My face hurts.

November 18, 2013 10:41 am

Cold. Again.

After a whole night where I dreamt of humidifiers, chapstick, and lotion (no joke), I had a hunch I was getting sick yesterday. This morning, my suspicions were confirmed when I woke up with a bad cold. This marks the second cold I’ve had since getting pregnant, and UGHHHH getting sick while pregnant should not be a thing.

I swear we wash our hands, but as someone who lives with a toddler (preschooler?) who attends daycare and a husband who works with the public and handles money all day, I’m kind of doomed.

My midwives didn’t recommended the flu shot for me this year (and sort of tried to dissuade me from getting it, actually, since they aren’t very pro-vaccine) but I’m still considering it. The last thing I need is to get the flu on top of having survived multiple colds and a stomach bug already. Good grief.

1 Comment >

November 17, 2013 10:58 am

Christmas Inspiration

I’ve been spending a few minutes here and there with my Christmas Spreadsheet over the last two weeks or so, but I’m just not feeling the inspiration yet this year. Usually I’ve got a bunch of ideas and it’s a matter of narrowing my ideas down to the right one, but my brain isn’t working quite as well right now I guess!

MetaFilter is doing their annual Quonsarmas (Secret Santa) gift exchange, so I’ve signed up for that. There’s usually a Qbee card exchange too, which is one of the things I most look forward to! It’s great getting a bunch of Christmas cards in the mail, especially from friends in far-away countries. (Other countries have the best stamps!)

We’ll probably pick a local little kid to sponsor again – last year we got a 2 year old who liked Spiderman and racecars and I found the most amazing Spiderman racecar toy ever! I hope he liked it. Wesley did a great job recognizing we were buying it for a little boy who might not get very many presents so I’m hoping he’ll do just as well with the concept this year.

1 Comment >

November 12, 2013 7:32 pm

Eleven Twelve Thirteen

Three things that made me happy today:

I got a good night’s sleep! The Unisom didn’t mess me up today. Whew.

Wesley used the word “clever” correctly in a sentence. I loved it!

I spent a few minutes looking at pregnancy apps with Wesley and he was tickled that the baby is now the size of a lemon. (This was after he kept falling on me on the couch and pressing his pointy little hands into my gut without warning, and I had to ask him to stop because it hurt. Yow! Then I felt bad because he got worried that he might hurt the baby. Oops.)

Comments Off on Eleven Twelve Thirteen

November 11, 2013 9:37 pm

Trying to Sleep

Tonight, I’m trying out half a Unisom to see if it’ll allow me to sleep through the night. Last time I tried this was several days ago, but I think I took it too late at night because I was ridiculously tired the next day. I took it about an hour earlier tonight, so we’ll see.

I did pretty well last night without it, but then Wesley got up at 4am to pee and it woke me up, and it took me over an hour and a half to fall asleep again. Blergh.

I’m also going to pick up some melatonin to see if that helps me sleep without the insane tiredness hangover the next day. I think the Unisom is okay for desperate every-now-and-then “I just need to SLEEP” nights, but I’d like something a little more natural for more frequent use. We’ll see how tonight goes, I guess!

Comments Off on Trying to Sleep