Friday, February 28, 2014

Progressing as a Mama, what I've learned this past year and Lume's stuffed french toast

Catchy title, right?

We are celebrating over here at Educational Anarchy!  Today marks that 1 year birthday of my youngest son, William (aka Wiggles).

You may be saying to yourself right now
"Well, that is all fine and good.  Congrats on that.  But, what does that have to do with homeschooling?"

Well - a whole lot actually!

When I decided to pull my oldest son, Cody, mid way through 6th grade there were two reoccurring statements that kept coming up:
1) Don't tell me what my kid can't do
2) Question authority/everything
And one reoccurring fact.  That education is power!

The Progression of a Mama

When I first became a mom over 14 years ago two things really sang to me.  I wanted to nurse my baby and I wanted to use cloth diapers.  But, reality whirled in.  I mean, it is what it is and in hindsight I can look at this, all of this, quite objectively.  My reality was that I was a single working mom who had to put her baby in day care for 12 hours a day.  My reality was that the day care would not allow cloth diapers.  My reality was that the day care would not allow pumped breast milk.  What I wanted more than those two things was to know that my baby would be safe while I was at work, and this day care offered spy cam like access to the rooms my baby would be in via the interwebs.  So, for the first 6 weeks I nursed Cody and then sent him on his way to day care.  But you see, it just didn't feel right to me, something deep within me stirred.   And I knew that it wouldn't always be this way, that I would make sure that this would not be his normal.
I want to just back up a little here and note Cody's birth.  I didn't know what in the hell I was doing.  Like NO FUCKING CLUE!  I went to the birthing class, I toured the hospital, but holy shit!  Thank god for my mom.  I went into labor at home and labored for a good chunk of the time there.  My mom kept checking in with me while she was at work (only 5 minutes away) and by the time she got home from her shift we kind of decided it was time to go to the hospital.  I was put into a laboring room where I was told that if I didn't dilate in an hour I'd be sent home.  I told the nurse I was going to dilate, and I did (don't tell me what I can't do) and was rushed into the delivery room.  The only knowledge I had about what it would be like to actually have a baby came from my aunt, who said that I'd know when the baby was coming because it would feel like I needed to poop.  Sound instruction, I tell you!  Anywho, I'm in delivery and the one OB from my group whom I did not get along with is the doctor on call for delivery.  FANTASTIC!  She yelled at me for screaming.  I was in pain.  I was given an epidural (too late, I would later find out) and kicked the doctor while laboring through a contraction, because I was told that I was too loud.  Yes, I kicked the doctor.  She left the room (question authority).  I eventually birth Cody, who is taken away from me while I am moved to a recovery room that I share with a women who has had a c-section and who is obviously in pain.  I am instructed to get out of bed and walk, some time later, and cannot.  Why?  Because the epidural they gave me too late in the delivery hasn't worn off yet.  Cody is not given back to me until I am able to successfully walk to the bathroom and back to my bed unassisted.  
I know...
and I had to stay in the hospital for 48 hours.  
I know...
the only loose logical reasoning that I have is that it was 1999.  Also, I have to own up on my part, I was not educated enough nor confident enough in my self to question child care rules, the doctor or the hospital.  No should have, could have, or would was what it was.  This, though, lends itself to my progression.
Let's fast forward 5 years, enter Christian.  At this point I had decided that I was going to try to have a natural childbirth, that I'd nurse, that he'd wear cloth diapers and we would make his baby food.  The nursing, cloth diapering and making baby food came about for two reasons, one was from the health component and the other, the one that really weighed the decision, was from a financial component.  I had changed OB's by this point and was seeing a doctor that I really liked.  Dave was home full time while I was working, so child care would not be in the cards, and hadn't been for quite some time at this point.
I went into labor with Christian while at work, went to my doctors office to get checked out and was sent to the hospital.  Dave was at class that night and I messaged him that I'd let him know how I was progressing, not to come up as nothing was happening yet.  They monitored Christian's heart rate and wouldn't you know, it would drop every time I had a contraction.  They were concerned and recommended that I'd have Pitocin to help speed up the delivery.  I agreed as long as I wouldn't HAVE TO have an epidural.  Guess what, contractions while on Pitocin HURT.  I begged for an epidural.  I messaged Dave who came up to the hospital as I was getting the epidural.  I promptly fell asleep.  They kept monitoring Christian's heart rate and it kept dropping with the contractions, even more this time.  I would later learn that this is what happens as a result of being given Pitocin (education is power). In hushed voices talk about possibly getting a c-section was going on, I had to deliver the baby now.  So, the doctor woke me up (yes, woke me up) and said that I needed to deliver the baby now.  And groggily I said Ok and three pushes later Christian was born.  

I felt nothing. 

My baby had a bruise on his head because he came down the birth canal so fast.  

I didn't feel the birth, I had no feeling towards my child.  

That's a hard one to type.  But, it's true.  I just didn't care.  And I plummeted into a postpartum depression so dark it's sad to recount to this day.  One that effected my ability to bond with my child so much, that I still have a hard time with him to this day.  It sucked.  I was prescribed medication that ended up effecting my ability to produce milk and could only nurse Christian for three weeks.  This was a huge strain on our family financially because formula needed to be purchased.  I was working full time and had so little contact with Christian that I didn't even feel like his mother.

...and so I struggled for years

I honestly believe I had postpartum depression with Cody as well, I just numbed myself with food so that I did not have to deal with reality.  
But, with Christian, it was different.  Vacant is the best way that I can describe it.  I felt every emotion and I hated it, I hated myself.  

So, with two boys I tried to grow.  I navigated what it meant to be a good mother or a bad mother and what it meant to be Stephanie.  Like, who the hell was she?  And there were lots of ups and downs and chaos and strain and change...lots of change...lots of worry.  
We progressed as a family too.  We made a choice to stop drinking cow milk.  We moved on to healthier food options as money became available and we adopted a more holistic approach to our well-being.
You see, those basics where always tumbling around in the back of my head.  

And always questioning, is there a better way?

We got to a really good place as a family, I mean, just really good all around.  We sought additional help to navigate and strengthen our marriage, to better navigate being parents, and on a personal note, how to be better okay with me.

And then...
we really wanted to have another child.  Unfortunately, I was pre-menopausal at this point and drugs would be the only option to increase my hormone levels.  This was something I struggled with, because if I was meant to have another child, shouldn't I be able to?  If intervention was necessary, maybe I wasn't meant to have another child.
We chose intervention
We chose not to tell anyone that I was pregnant until after the results of the amnio test came back, some 22 weeks later,...because, what if?  And to that end, really, what if?  I have no clue and I had no clue.
During this time of silence I dove into every book that I could find about birthing.  I watched The Business of Being Born and it's sequel, I did research on The Farm, I attended LLL meetings, I read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and Beyond the Sling (education is power).  I returned to the OB who delivered Christian.  I was marked at AMA.  I was told that I'd have to deliver in a hospital because of this, I agreed to this with the concession that I would be allowed to delivery naturally and that I was bringing a birth plan.  We agreed.  Tests were coming back great and there was no concern with me, the baby or the pregnancy.  And I went on my marry way until around 4 weeks prior to when the baby was due and suddenly there is talk about inducing because he was going on vacation...and then when he returned there was concern about other things, and I was sent for stress test monitoring...I'm healthy, everything is coming back great and then I'm feeling like I'm being strong armed because we are following baby's time not doctors time.  So, I go in with all my research and my husband, and we state that we are waiting for labor to start naturally, and here is why...(question authority).
One year ago, last night, I starting laboring at home.  I told my husband that if nothing progresses by 5am to go into work as this baby ain't coming.  I woke up at 4am with my contractions 4 minutes apart and called my OB and headed into the hospital with my husband and two older sons.  I was calm, I was sure and I knew that everything was going to be okay.  Dave set the boys up in the family waiting room.  I was set up in my room with the L&D nurse that I was meant to have.  I gave her a copy of my birth plan, she looked it over and said, "You know what you are doing, call me if you need anything.  I'll be in every so often to check on you...this is all you.  Can I get you anything right now?"
I walked down the hall, pausing when a contraction came, and checked in with Cody and Chris.  I was okay, everything was fine, this would be over shortly and we'd get to go home.  Just relax, it's all fine.
William was born after 9am on February 28, 2013.  He was not wiped off or bathed, his umbilical cord was allowed to stop pulsing before it was cut, skin to skin contact was immediate and he breast crawled to his first nursing.
The waves.  I have no other way to describe it other than the waves.  The waves of the contractions, that each phase is necessary and needed to signal hormones and natural chemical releases during the birthing process.  The waves of labor progression, from stage to stage and the mental and emotional change that occurs with it.  And, the waves - just joy.

Lume's Stuffed French Toast

So, the plan, at least in my mind, was have this baby, get discharged and I want Lume's stuffed french toast. Apparently, there is like this hospital policy crap.  So, I questioned it.  If I am healthy and the baby is healthy, why can't we leave?  I don't want to be here, I'm not sick.  They finally conceded to allow us to leave 12 hours after birth (so, 9 ish pm), but Will needed to get the Hep B shot (I said no to everything else).  Okay, whatever.  Now, looking back, had I known what I know now that wouldn't have happened.  Will did end up having a reaction to the Hep B shot which has resulted in cradle cap.  When looking back though, if that was the only concession I made, I feel pretty good about that.  
I did not get my stuffed french toast, Lume's closes at 3pm.

What I've learned this past year   

That my body was built this way for a reason and that I am capable of amazing things, if I believe that.

And I didn't really believe that until maybe two weeks prior to William being born.  I had stopped by a friends house to pick up some baby stuff that she wanted me to have.  I expressed my hesitation with actually having a baby naturally.  She looked me right in the eyes and said:

You can do this!  You are the one in change, kick the doctor again if you have to.  

And I believed her.  I needed to hear her say that to me on that day.  I was ready to hear that.  

This has been so weird.  I did not raise my other two boys.  I am raising Will.  I'm a damn good mom.  I can say that with all confidence now.  I questioned that before.  But, damn it - I got this!  It's a process and I'm not some sort of perfect cape wearing super mom, far from it actually.  But this year has been a year of growth and transformation that I am so blessed to have been able to experience, even with the sleep deprivation.  

I learned that it's not normal for a newborn to nurse for 40 minutes every hour, and through research of my own, was able to point out the tongue tie to his hospital assigned ped 12 hours after our discharge from the hospital.

I learned to do the research and find my own doctor and not go with the one assigned to us by the hospital.

I learned that co-sleeping was a decision that needed to be made by both myself and my husband.  

I learned that pure oatmeal soap works wonders on cradle cap.

I learned that coconut oil is the cure all.  

I learned that people are going to question me, and my decision, and that is okay.  I am doing what is best for my family and my children.  I'm sorry if you feel less than because of that.  

I learned that it's all temporary...all of it.  And, this too shall pass.

Today I am the mama to a one year old.  He has self weaned himself, eats homemade baby food, sleeps in his own crib through the night and is on the verge of walking.  He has to wear bottoms one size bigger than his shirt size because of the added fluff on his butt from his diapers.   

I am the mama to a toddler

I am the mama to a toddler, a soon to be tween and a teenager

I am a imperfect mama, and I question authority, do my own research and don't like being told what to do.

I am an educational anarchist who believes that knowledge is power and that I am capable of anything!

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