Saturday, August 22, 2015
• My career
• My self-worth
• My ability to follow pretty much anything through from start to finish without wandering off to investigate something shiny
• My confidence
• My place in a conversation nearly every day for the past three years
• Two years of my children’s’ lives
• Thousands of dollars
• My ability to seamlessly blend into any crowd comfortably
• Literal months worth of sleep
• Friends and relationships
• My independence
• My awesome dream repertoire where I conquered everything thrown at me, could fly and breathe underwater
• My religion
• The respect of my neighbours (Let's just say that keeping up with the Jones' didn't ever register on my to-do list. I also collected garbage for about a year.)
• My sense of security
• My dog (I couldn't offer her the love and care she needed - even though I was at home. She's now my parent's pampered pup)
• All trust in the medical profession/system
• My hair
• My confidence in driving (especially at night or on highways/ in busy cities)
• My love of travel
• My friendships in Ottawa...with the exception of two very determined women who won't give up on me
• Faith in my gut instinct
• Countless hours with people I love
• My memories
• My health
• My ability to hear, see, smell, experience anything medical without the onset of spastic anxiety
• My privacy
• My professional circle
• My flawless resume
• My ability to write and speak easily and fluidly
• My faith in right and wrong, letting karma carry the burden
• My knack of being able to talk to anyone, anywhere
• My outgoing, Pollyanna personality
• My ability to manage money
• The skill of multitasking
• My decisiveness
• Attendance at special family events (weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, etc.)
• Any ability to deal with stress or stressful situations
• My temper more times than I’d like to admit
• My thesaurus brain
• My appetite
• The weight equivalent to my three year-old because of the stress
• My way/ my destination while driving too many times to count
• The respect of my peers
• My church
• The healing birth I needed
• The ability to have more children; physically and mentally
• Trust in my body
• My mind.
That enough? Motherfuckers?!
Saturday, February 21, 2015
I'd spend so long weighing the benefits of washing dishes or clothes that an entire day would pass without me actually accomplishing anything. You can imagine the state of my house.
Through it all, my husband - my everything, patiently encouraged me. He would set small goals for me so that I could feel a sense of pride, prove to myself that I wasn't completely useless. For months, he asked me to just empty the dishwasher. That's it. How many men, with three kids, his own business, and a schedule that often had him working 6-7 days a week, would have endured/indulged their partner for so long? The thought has kept me awake many a night since my depression lifted.
I'm by no means out of the rabbit hole, but I do now have an awareness of the world around me. I'm no longer encased in a body bag as I struggle through my days. I can now make simple decisions. Should those decisions fail (cinnamon on chicken? Why not!), I am completely unable to cope with consequences. I feel quite happy and safe behind the wall of cards I've built around myself. If my fortress is blown down by the slightest breeze of discontent, my vulnerability is too obvious; Too raw. It scares me and I retreat into the black bag once more. I'm learning to cope with stress and disappointment like a toddler. Most days it ends in confusion and tears and biting.
If one amazing thing has come of my disability, it's that I know now just how cherished I am. My family, friends, neighbours, co-workers, and most of all, my husband, have shown me so much patience, understanding, love, acceptance and concern, have all made a positive impact on my little world.
Hundreds of couples speak their vows every day. Just as many sign divorce papers every day. Finding your soulmate is not easy when billions of people populate the earth. Many people find someone who loves them and this is enough. Love is a powerful thing, but it can't fix everything. For many couples, an extended hardship or the combination of many difficulties unravels the marriage ties that bind. It's a sad reality for many of my own loved ones. Many others simply leave "forever" out of their vows, knowing that such a timeframe is highly improbable.
I can now confidently say, without a shred of doubt, that Adam is my soulmate. For life. I could not have lived with myself through these past two years. I was a ghost of myself, a messy grey reproduction of the person I was. Intimacy was achieved only through duty, my heart couldn't be in it. I hid myself in my phone, shutting out everyone around me. And he patiently waited. He would be working a 13 hour day lifting hundreds of pounds of equipment when I would text him and ask him what colour socks I should buy for the kids. How he didn't go insane still baffles me. Adam held me when I cried, he soothed me when I raged, he loved me when I hated myself, he drew me from the blackness with his unwavering love and devotion. The commitment I feel for this man has never been stronger. I feel passionately about fulfilling his every desire, making him proud of me, our home and my parenting. I am utterly devoted to him and I feel humbled to know that he feels the same. I have certainty in our relationship. No power struggle. No mind games. Just unconditional love. I think it was this realization that saved me. I've always had that love from my family, but from someone who chose me seemed too good to be true. He may not share my blood, but he holds my heart. Thank you Adam. I will spend the rest of my life proving to you that I love you as much as you love me.
Sunday, February 1, 2015
My last post is all true, just glossed over. I edited out the raw truth just enough to make it a socially acceptable birth story. Here's the truth about Teagan's birth in a long, rambling, 2,000 word blog post:
My water broke and I waited a day and a half before telling anyone (it was an inconsistent trickle and I thought I may just be incontinent). The midwives chastised me and we met at Cambridge hospital. I was 35 weeks.
Once the hospital testing showed that it was indeed amniotic fluid, the midwives said that I'd waited too long and now because I was over a month early and had been leaking for 24 hours without consistent contractions, they were handing my case over the the OB. Just like that. I had no fever, the fluid was clear, baby and I were both okay.
While they babbled over signatures and forms, I started madly trying to get contractions started. I did NOT want to be another cog in the maternity wheel. I knew what I was up against for my intervention and drug-free birth desires and now my only lieutenants in the birth battle were waving their surrender flag before we even TRIED! I felt so abandoned. Like I'd been double crossed. When the midwives returned, I showed them on their stupid monitor that when I used nipple stimulation, I could indeed produce regular contractions. Could we not try for an hour or two to naturally start my labour?! They gave the strip a bored look and said yes, but what happens when you stop stimulating. I did, and those mountains soon evened into plains. "Yeah, this is going to take a while, the hospital will take good care of you."
Now, take note that this is in the middle of the afternoon. Lunch is over, supper a few hours away. It's not like I dragged them out of bed at 3am. Why wasn't I allowed to even try? How could I believe in my body if the people who told me I could do it had suddenly bailed? From this point onwards, I questioned everything I knew. When the doctor wanted to start me on Pitocin, I declined, noting that in a prior pregnancy, my body and baby had reacted badly to it, plus I had a prior c-section. "Did you have a vaginal birth?" I did. "Then what are you worried about?" With no comrades, my protests seemed petty and argumentative. As if they were patting me on the head like a child. "Be a good patient and listen to the doctor, would you? She didn't go to ten years of university to be challenged by a writer."
And so, in went the pitocin. I made it clear that I only wanted the minimum amount, just enough to start regular contractions. Every time the nurse came to check on me and the machine, she'd raise the rate of delivery a little. When I caught her doing it and asked if she was increasing it, she outright lied and told me they were just trying to adjust the dosage to align with my contractions.
I knew from that moment on that all of my protests and requests would be ignored. Not keen on pushing on my back with monitors all over me, I called defeat and asked for a c-section. The doctor came back and checked my progress. She said, "No, I think you can do this." Me, who hadn't even been out of the hospital for a week after suffering from kidney stones and pneumonia before my water broke. I was weak, still labouring to breathe without sparking a choking cough.
...Maybe I can. A ray of light shone through. Someone believed in my body. I accepted an epidural to help me rest for the pushing stage. It was late at night by now, so we dimmed the lights and my husband, mum and I drifted into fitful sleep. But that nurse wasn't napping. She was gradually increasing my Pitocin to the MAXIMUM amount allowed. This despite the fact that I had a prior c-section (Pitocin has been shown to cause uterine rupture because it over-stresses the scar tissue by making contractions abnormally long and closer together. But hey, less waiting around.) Despite my requests to only have the minimum.
I started to feel the contractions above the numbness of the epidural. Something felt wrong. My heart was beating too fast. Teagan's too slow. They tried a test to analyze her blood to indicate distress. The results were inconclusive. They couldn't keep the doppler on her heart because she still had plenty of room to swim around in there, being five weeks early. They applied a scalp probe (the same instrument that nearly blinded Felicity). Anxiety levels were rising. As soon as they heard the slow, scary thump of my baby's heart, the room exploded.
I was rolled onto my left side, given oxygen, given nitrous under my tongue. People shoved forms in my face while yelling that we were losing the baby, and generally being scary as shit. We were whisked into the OR and the tension in the room was thick enough to taste. I was having a panic attack. I told the aneasthetician that I couldn't breathe and thought I was going to be sick. Obviously what the OB was yelling was more important because he patted my head like a good dog and completely ignored me.
Adam was still waiting to be let in, people were rushing around behind the curtain of mystery. Metal instruments hitting the tray, someone asking me if I could feel this or that as they tested the numbness. Suddenly Adam was there and I clung to him like a startled chimp would her mum. He was the ONLY one I trusted in that room. He was also the only one who didn't have any authority.
I held his eyes with my own, filled with absolute terror. By the sounds of things, it wasn't going well. The baby we had tried for so long to hold, was going to leave us before she reached our arms. I was wracked with sobs and Adam's red eyes blinked silent tears into his mask. At this point, he doctor stood ON the operating table and began swearing as she pulled Teagan's tiny body so forcefully that my own body was lifted from the table. "Help me here!" she yelled at a nurse, who then, without consent (or even informing me), shoved her entire hand into my undialated vagina. No lube. No thought that perhaps this part of my body was important to me. She attempted to push Teagan's head out of my birth canal as the doctor yanked on her from above.
You see, the problem was that they'd filled me SO FULL of pitocin that they couldn't stop my uterus from contracting. They were injecting drugs right into the muscles and they continued to pulse and grip. I started to feel VERY lightheaded. The doctor was full-on swearing. "Come on! Fuck! We need to get this fucking baby out NOW!" As a nurse called the minutes passing, I knew that we were coming up on the crucial six minute mark (the length of time between the first scalpel cut and the baby exiting the womb, for acceptable maternal and infant mortality rates).
She decided that she needed to get my overworking uterus out of the way and made another cut, this time internally from my bikini line to past my belly button. Through this hole, she pulled my floppy blue baby out by her feet. They brought her straight to the warming table. A midwife appeared, dressed identical to the hospital staff, and told us they were just working on her a little, and then rambled on in reassuring tones while I listened to the nurses and pediatrician bagging my baby to get her breathing.
The seconds that ticked by without hearing her cry broke something inside of me. I knew then that I was never supposed to have a third child. This was karma/God/the universe telling me to STOP FUCKING TRYING! And then she mewled. Like a newborn kitten. A tiny noise that meant my baby was alive. Adam and I collapsed into each other in relief. Sobbing. I saw her, then everything went black.
When I woke up, I was in recovery. I asked about my baby. She was alive and in the NICU under dad and gran’s watchful eyes. I passed back out. This scene played out over and over for hours. I’d lost a lot of blood in the surgery. Finally I could stay conscious for more than a few seconds. I then discovered that I was still completely numb from the waist down. The nurse seemed very surprised by this. As I drifted in and out, adjustments were made to IV’s and the next time I awoke, two nurses were there, rubbing my legs. They asked me if I could move. I could not. Eventually, I managed to make my big toe twitch once. “That’s enough for me!” the nurse declared and called a porter to bring me to the baby that I had been obsessively asking about for hours.
When I was wheeled onto the maternity floor and saw my mum, all of the terror, the pain, the grief just came rushing back. She looked so tired. So spent. Her face told me that she hadn’t slept at all since they whisked me from the labour room. She was left after the flurry of activity in an empty room. No idea where I was, what had happened, if I was alive, if the baby was alive. I can not imagine being in her shoes. We embraced and I managed to choke out "The baby?" That fierce sleep-deprived mama bear demanded that the nurses bring me my baby NOW!! They must have noticed the pulsing vein and twitching eyelid because they changed their tune and went to retrieve Teagan immediately.
The rest of the stay was a crazy mix of jaundice, UV lights, infections, fevers, heavy drugs, intense pain. Oh, the pain. The nurses weren’t told that I was cut vertically and horizontally, so they rolled their eyes when I tried to move and cried out in pain. When my night nurse decided to palpate my uterus (medical speak for “apply intense pressure on a very tender area just after surgery”), I thought I would explode from the searing pain. She apologized offhandedly as she pushed firmly on my vertical incision. The second incision was in the records when I received them, so I’m not sure why the nurses were in the dark.
I think we left the hospital when Teagan was 10 days old. That was ten days too long. I knew something was wrong with me right after the birth. My vagina ached and stung even though I hadn’t even been close to pushing. (I’d later find out this was due to the nurse fisting me. A great discovery for someone who is an assault survivor.) I couldn’t stop crying. I cringed when any of the staff came to check on me. I was twitchy to escape. I poured my heart out to my primary midwife (who had been away on vacation the weekend that I gave birth). She noted that she thought I had Post Partum Mood Disorder. I did not let the hospital staff see this. The last thing I wanted was an extended stay for mental health reasons. As far as I was concerned, the hospital staff were the enemy and I was behind the lines.
I have spent the last two and a half years trying to recover. My official diagnosis is a long line of acronyms (PTSD, PPMD, OCD, ADD, HBI, LMNOP). I’ve run the gamut of specialists, therapies, medications, alternate medications, spiritual paths…
I’m not the completely shattered person I once was. My brain is slowly knitting together in new ways. I’m working around my disability slowly but surely. I have an amazingly supportive partner and a fantastic support network. But they deserve a post all their own.
So there it is. You have just read an important part of my therapy: The truth, from my perspective. It’s raw, unedited and exactly what I need to release the dark ball of anger that I have been holding onto from my birth.
Friday, June 22, 2012
On May 22 we welcomed our little rainbow baby to the world, Teagan Violet Marie.
Some day, I'll be able to tell a teenage Teagan that I was in labour with her for over two months. Beginning at 28 weeks, I started having contractions and was put on strict bed rest. We were in and out of hospital, sometimes staying for a week and other times released within hours. We were even transferred by ambulance with lights and sirens wailing to a larger hospital when her entrance seemed imminent around 32 weeks.
I came off of bedrest at 35 weeks. It was such a glorious feeling to be able to walk around and complete simple tasks. The contractions continued, but never progressed to full-on labour.
At 36 weeks, I was at the grocery store picking up dinner supplies when I felt a small gush that stopped me dead in my tracks. My brain rambled through the possible causes and decided it simply couldn't be my water. I took another step and was rewarded with another gush. I quickly gathered my items and checked out. When I returned home, I told Adam that I was pretty sure my water was leaking. He asked what we should do and I decided that a wait and see approach was probably best. If it was my water, my contractions should pick up shortly, right?
I slept fitfully through the night without any notable contractions. The next day the leaking continued, but my body produced no other hint that labour was imminent. I waited until my in-laws arrived around noon before calling my midwives to report my situation.
Unfortunately, my laid back approach bit me in the butt. My midwife team was all on vacation for the weekend and with 18 hours elapsing since the break and it being PROM (premature rupture of membranes), the stand-in midwives abruptly transfered my care to the OB on call at the hospital. After building a trusting relationship for my VBAC journey for seven months, my care was now in the hands of a doctor I'd never met and who had no idea about our heartbreaking journey to get to this point. They confirmed that the fluid was amniotic in nature and began preparing for an induction.
While nipple stimulation could produce some pretty strong contractions, they weren't consistent and failed to make any changes in my cervix. Instead I was hooked up to the dreaded Pitocin to kick my body into gear.
Within a few hours I was having regular, painful contractions every four minutes. Unfortunately, they still couldn't budge my cervix of steel. With me still recovering from pneumonia and kidney stones, it all felt too overwhelming and draining. I knew that I couldn't endure labour naturally if I wanted to have any energy left to push so I asked for an epidural to buy myself some sleep and conserve strength.
By about midnight, I was 5cm dilated and the pitocin was maxed out. That's where we stayed for nearly two hours. My nurse noticed some troubling patterns in baby's heart rate around this time. It was hard to keep a constant monitor on her heart as she kept shying away from the machine so the doctor performed a few tests to determine her stress level and health. They all came back within normal range, but they decided to put in a fetal scalp monitor to more closely and accurately monitor her heart rate. She wasn't hooked up for five minutes before they realized that her heart was going from the 140's down to the 70's for almost a minute.
It was at this moment that fear gripped my heart that we were going to lose her. We'd had so many scares along the way, but this seemed like the real deal. I was certain that I would deliver a stillborn baby.
The next half an hour are a blur. A c-section was announced and everyone in the room flew into action. An oxygen mask was placed on my face and I was given nitrous under my tongue to stop the contractions. They placed my on a gurney and practically jogged down the hall to the elevators. I was in the OR being prepped within minutes.
I'd had a c-section with Felicity (due to her brow presentation), so I thought I knew what to expect. I didn't. This was a true emergency section. There was no music or banter or calming words. Everyone in the room was rushing and shouting technical terms and instructions. Instruments clanked and machines beeped as I lay behind my blue curtain. After what felt like an eternity, Adam was seated next to my head. I held his hand as tightly as I could.
Though I was neatly filleted, the doctor couldn't manage to grasp Teagan's head to pull her out. The clock continued to tick and I could feel the tension in the room rising. Apparently even three doses of nitrous couldn't stop my uterus from squeezing with all it's might and Teagan's head had wedged deep in my pelvis. The Pitocin had worked a little too well. The OB then decided to slice me vertically (making a T-incision) and remove Teagan by her feet. The doctor was swearing and panting and lifting my body off the table with her efforts. I was terrified and completely panicked. Finally the doctor was able to get her body out and she flipped the baby's torso onto my belly, head still firmly wedged inside. At this point, my midwives (who were observing) thought that we may have lost the baby (though they didn't tell me this).
With some very firm pulling, they finally managed to free her from my womb - six minutes after surgery began. They rushed her to the warming table and the silence in the room was deafening. No tiny cries pierced the silence. No gurgling or coughing. I watched in horror as my baby lay on the warming table, being bagged to get oxygen into her lungs. Her limbs lay limp. After what felt like an eternity, a tiny mew escaped. Adam and I both burst into sobs. Our baby girl was alive!
They took Teagan to the NICU and Adam stayed with her. I went to the recovery room for what seemed like forever. In reality it was nearly three hours before I was released to go upstairs and meet my daughter. When we reached the labour ward, my mum was perched on the benches looking very tired and very drawn. She had been waiting for five hours to see her daughter. We only had to look at one another for the tears to burst forth again. It was now 7am.
The nurses understood my panic and fear and brought my baby girl to me to hold and love over. Adam called from home (where he was getting the children ready for school) and we decided together that her name would be Teagan Violet Marie. She was tiny, 5lbs 8ozs, and peaceful and perfect. While it was quite the journey to bring her into the world, she was well worth the trauma.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
1. I actually get a period every 30 days. I didn't realize what a blessing this was until I started talking to other women struggling with infertility.
2. Soft, squishy, pretty mama cloth. It's my lingerie of that time of the month. I actually get excited choosing out which pattern and luxurious fabric will grace my tush for the day.
3. I can end any stressful days with a glass of wine...or three without worrying if there’s a tiny fetus in there also indulging.
4. It gives Adam and I a break from our regular amorous endeavours. We cuddle more (without it having to lead anywhere) and by the time my week is over, we’re both ready to start fresh!
5. I can play scientist with my Diva cup. Gross but true. I find it all fascinating!
6. It's another three weeks before that familiar pang hits of "what if?"
7. If I'm feeling delusional, my bloat is enough that I can stick out my gut and pretend that I'm pregnant to wig out my coworkers.
8. It means I'm still young enough to not be menopausal, which means we still have a chance.
So there you are. I guess there really is a silver lining to every situation!
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
My trip to England earlier this month brought this revelation to light. I had assumed that my struggle was because I’m a mum of two young children who also has a demanding career. When I arrived in England without the weight of my mum, wife, and career-woman roles, I thought I would instantly spring to life. Instead, I felt the weight of my own body and thoughts pulling me back from the fun and interaction I wanted to have. I found myself once again observing others. I realized that perhaps this was more than just everyday stress.
I’ve since found that just recognizing and outing my personality change has been therapeutic. Weaning Fliss has helped to even out my hormones and I’ve been doing a better job of recognizing that I can’t change who people are at work, I just have to find a way to mesh our working styles. I’m starting to feel as if I’m surfacing from a long submersion. I can feel the warmth of the sun again and the world seems a little brighter.
I’m left with a lingering feeling of guilt as I recognize what impact my gloomies have had on those around me. Adam, especially, has borne the brunt of my veiled existence. He has been carefully picking up the balls I’ve been dropping. Rarely complaining. Rarely asking why. Just quietly standing beside me, ready to catch me if I fell. I wonder what my extended family thought (especially those who haven’t seen me in 13 years). I feel as if I wasted a part of my trip by not truly living it. I find myself wanting to go back to have different, more involved conversations. I want to dance on the beach. I want to be silly and cuddly with my cousin’s baby. I want to snuggle with my parents and hug my aunts and uncles more. To just be the person I am instead of this pale reproduction I’ve become.
I’m peeling off layers now; getting closer to who I was. Who I want to be again: The fun one. The social one. The supporter and listener. The one who will comfortably talk with anyone and manage to draw out intimate details of their lives through casual conversation. I feel like any day now, that last gossamer layer will fall away and instead of watching from the balcony, I’ll be a part of the action. The curtains will part and the stage that is my life will be mine again.
Bring on the diva.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
I’m sure some of this stems from the emotional trauma of trying to expand our family. With no way to change what has happened or to make a healthy baby magically appear in my womb, I grasp at ways that I can control my life. Things I can have influence over. Magic and wonder that I could embrace as my own!
I’ve started with my hair. This weekend I went from this:
I don’t know how much it’ll help. For now it seems to have taken some of the focus away from that little voice.
In the past, when this adventurous niggle raised its voice, I would either get a piercing or a tattoo. Somehow making holes and marks on my body seemed to quell the beast. I just have a feeling that it won’t be so easy this time…
See, I’m married to an eternal dreamer. Adam is always coming up with crazy ideas on how to make money. His last musing was to start a submarine tour business down in Costa Rica. (We both fell in love with the country and the people when we visited on our honeymoon.) For some reason the idea behind that dream stuck with me.
The reasonable part of my brain says that moving to another country to start all over is crazy and irresponsible. We moved from Ottawa so that our children could know their extended family, living in the southern hemisphere would hardly make that easy. I have a great job that pays well and has amazing benefits. Could I throw that away?
But this whisper speaks right to my heart. “Be free to live YOUR dream!” it taunts. “Live the life of excitement and exotic locations you always wanted!”
I mean, who hasn’t dreamt of leaving Canadian winters behind to pursue a half-baked idea somewhere warm and wonderful. My parents left England in their 20’s to set out on their own adventure across the ocean. Maybe this desire to stake out an exotic life in another country is genetic!
I fear regretting such a life-altering decision. I fear not making such a life-altering decision and regretting my inaction. I never want to lead a life of regrets. In fact, most of my days I make choices based on the fact that even utter failure is full of experience and lessons learned. Not doing anything is the worst action of all.
Ack, I’m so conflicted.
Have you ever been taunted with these crazy dream thoughts? Ever wanted to uproot your entire family to seek out the unknown? What did you do?