Posts Tagged ‘newborn’

Hitched for the Holidays

This week, I am the leading lady in a Lifetime movie plot – it would be a Hallmark Hall of Fame, but their charactersfala are a little too naive for this storyline.

Our first daughter was born just before Christmas; during those hazy midnight nursing sessions, my husband and I discovered Fa-la-la-al-Lifetime.  It beats infomercials and Public Television Membership Week hands down.  These movies play 24/7 throughout the 6 weeks before Christmas and we have seen almost every one.  There are 3 plot lines and the best ones feature actors from my teenage years (I never miss anything starring the kids from 90210).

One of my favorite story lines, and the one I am playing in this year, is the one where a beautiful single person (pretending to be undesirable) is tired of hearing their mom complain about their lack of spouse and they hire a companion for the family holiday festivities.  I don’t want to spoil the end for you, so don’t’ read on if you prefer the suspense. They fall in love with their partner-for-hire and kiss under the mistletoe.

So, as you might have guessed, my version is a little different: my blind date for the holidays is a new miracle medication meant to sooth an ailing digestive system (I already have a handsome man friend). Scorned in the past, I was not hopeful. However, the last few good days have me skipping towards the mistletoe.  On my new pancreatic enzymes, I have been eating without regret for the first time in 20 years. Cue make-over montage, I feel like dancing!

These movies (and med trials) usually have a bit of drama after that first longing-look, so I am waiting for the other Louboutin to drop. But I am hopeful, and isn’t that what this cheesy season is all about?

I hope Santa brings you and yours everything you’ve been wishing for, including a made-for-TV happily ever after.

 

My girls are magic

My girls are magic.

I have proof by way of illustration: My pain has decided to double in the last week for no apparent reason (really must figure out who has my voodoo doll).  I came home from work a grumpy mess, extremely self-loathing and unhappy that my husband had to leave for work instantaneously.

Seeing as I’d taken all of the pain pills allowed, I self-medicated with a piece of leftover pumpkin pie – which my sweetly smiling 15-month-old ate most of, who can resist those big blues? She then insisted I sit on the floor with her to play Little People, while her big sis did her practice-spelling test at the kitchen table.  I grabbed a couple of pillows and hit the carpet.  She proceeded to pull all of the plastic animals out of the toy barn and pile them on top of me, while making the appropriate animal sounds.  Then she tried to shove every one of them in my mouth or up my nose. We were both giggling and it broke into an every-girl-for-herself tickle-slash-kiss-every-part-of-her-face fight. For 15 minutes she did what my Doctors cannot, what my meds cannot, what I cannot do myself; she made my pain disappear.

Magic.

Happy Trails

My almost-one-year-old daughter is on a mission to wrap everyone around her little finger. We are twelve hours into a fourteen hour travel day and we are boarding our last flight. I know my fellow passengers are not thrilled to see a baby lining up for their evening trip. Stroller stowed, I’m lugging my daughter down the tight aisle, waiting impatiently for the crowd in front of us to shove their carry-ons overhead, bouncing to keep her content. As I grimly swap her from hip to hip, she catches the eye of a woman across the way, her eyes go wide, she holds up her little fingers and says “H-i!” as if she is greeting her best friend after a long, heartbreaking absence. The stranger melts right there in front of us. My little diplomat then repeats this greeting to everyone she can beguile. By the time we get to our seat, every passenger on the plane is our friend, fawning over her for the rest of the flight.

My online signature quotes “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” And most days I succeed at remembering to treat people as such. I know that chronic pain has given me a unique perspective on personal battles, one I should use in all of my daily interactions. However, had anyone given me a reason to, I would have turned bitchy fast on that last flight of a very long day. It was amazing to see how quickly road-tired people warmed to the genuine greeting of a baby, inspiring even. To be seen by anyone, really seen, can make every difference in the world.

In honor of my miracle girl’s first birthday this month, take a minute or two to see and sincerely greet each other. Forget your pain, recognize the struggle and strength of the people around you. I promise, it will make your trip all the sweeter.

Drug Babies

Can you watch this video without grinding your teeth? I can’t watch even 5 seconds of it, and my daughter was one bad Doctor away from being a drug baby herself. I’m not going to rehash the details here, if you are new to my blog, please check out the early story starting here. However, I never mentioned that the first Doctor I discussed my potential pregnancy with told me to go ahead, to get pregnant on my narcotics and to stay on them, because it would be too stressful to quit. This advice didn’t sit well with me so I moved on to a new pain Doctor who was willing to help me deliver a drug-free baby. I say a little prayer of gratitude every time I see one of these recent stories about the upsurge in babies born addicted to pain medications.

Having been through a pain-related pregnancy, I have an intimate understanding of the difference between someone trying to have a family while managing a chronic disease, and someone stealing Vicodin to feed their addiction during pregnancy  (I am not equipped to discuss the disease of addiction here today, but I know it is a monster) . I have had the privilege of befriending many moms who have fought tooth and nail to deliver healthy babies, pain be damned. I am deeply worried that the general public, and their trusted reporters, do not/will not understand the difference. I am torn to pieces every time I see one of the recent reports, a bit of me wishing the story would disappear from our screens as quickly as possible.

I fear this current scrutiny will not benefit moms like me. In this black and white world, our gray-area-pregnancies are hard to explain. We tend to hang-out in the shadows, in our private chat groups, or the safe harbor of our homes. Doctors aren’t sure what to do with us, there is no research, so I don’t expect the average person to understand how I managed my pregnancy. I am worried that, after seeing this damning news coverage, the average person will feel they can tell me how to manage a pregnancy.

I guess I just wish I saw myself somewhere in the reporting of this story, some information about how moms like me use their meds responsibly, fighting the lack of support around every corner. Something deeper about why some of these babies are suffering as a direct result of the inconsistencies in the world of  pain management. If this story was as black-and-white as it seems, my daughter would not have been one Doctor away from a tortured welcome into this world. So please, take a moment before condemning every mom-to-be on pain medications, there is another story, even if I am the only one telling it.

* Please feel more than free to share your story, if you are so inclined. 

Nativity

I highly recommend baby cheek therapy (followed closely by baby head rehab) for those suffering in any sort of way. Warning, there are side effects: you may become addicted to the sweet, sweet smell and if said baby smiles or giggles, you will lose all ambition to do anything but to continue kissing her warm skin. This prescription works well in tandem with one of those super soft giraffe baby blankets.

I realize that we have blown past even the Epiphany, but my tree is still up (cause it makes me happy) and my daughter is still listening to her Christmas music at bedtime (cause it makes her happy), so figure it isn’t too late to talk nativity for a moment. We went to church on Christmas Eve. My family is Unitarian Universalist, which makes this holiday a little less traditional. However, this year our minister’s sermon painted an unforgettable picture of the manger. It filled the senses with the smell of sweet hay, the breath of warm sheep, the glow of the stars and the sound of a newborn suckling, wrapped in his mother’s arms. The conclusion being that no matter how you feel about the Christmas story or Jesus himself, there is one moment of undeniable hope.  When that young mother looks down at her infant and, like all moms and dads, she sees in his face them most beautiful creature she has ever seen. Suddenly the nativity story was not about the birth of a king, it was my story.

There are many times when I would do almost anything to come home to a quiet house, to lie down on the couch and let my pain melt away. But, my girls bring the hope into my life. I feel extremely blessed to have them pulling me out of my pain and holding my hand as we venture into life. Because there just isn’t enough time to be lying around when there is play dough, dirt, swimming, dancing and dolls to be fed. Mary and I have an understanding, our babies are saviors of one kind or another and our job, as their mother, is the holiest of work.

Happy New Year everyone.

Birth Story

I am not immune to the allure the birth story. Any mom worth her salt jumps at the chance to share all of the gory details, so please forgive the length of my indulgence and here we go:

This story is quite the opposite of my first tale involving 36 hours of  labor – leading to a grand C-section finale. My Doc recommended against a V-back, guaranteeing we’d have her at the knife and allowing her to control my pain throughout the scheduled surgery.  So we packed up our eldest, took her to Grandma’s house for some insane spoiling and headed for the hospital, labor-free.

It is a bizarre feeling to know when you will give birth, the calm seems ridiculous in some way. I was far more aware of the delivery this time (and the epidural needle), it was incredible and terrifying to take in.  I will remember the very first moment I saw my little one, my Doc popping her squirming, screaming body up over the white sheet, for the rest of my life.

She was born as perfect as perfect can be. Not a single symptom of withdrawal. Not a single symptom…it still fills me with a sense of relief.

For those following along for the pain details, here’s what went down: My Doc left me on the epidural for 24 hours and it worked beautifully. It got me through the worse day of recovery without  hitch.  It was my first day free of pain in 6 years.

The hitch came the next day when they removed the epi and put me on a dose of pain killer. For some reason it was  1/4 of what I usually take and I crashed epically. Enter amazing nurse who ran interference and managed to serve up enough morphine to get me back to sanity. It took 8 hours and I had to drop breastfeeding for  two days to clear the meds from my system.

Enter also useless pain Doc. After the main surgical pain is taken care of, the treatment goes to the hospital’s specialist  – the one damn person I didn’t meet with beforehand. Although he never came to see me in my room, he threw down the red flags and spent 2 days refusing to adjust my pain prescription, calling my Pediatrician to report my drug use. The posse paid off and my Ped came to the rescue – delivering copies of our plan and research. In the end, the pain Doc did visit my room, he thanked me for teaching him something about chronic pain and childbirth. Yes, this man is the only pain consultant in the entire hospital. I take no pride in teaching him, just disappointment at the state of the institution’s pain management.

I resisted the urge to smack him in the forehead and thank him for two days of crazy-ass pain. I was just too delirious with baby joy. We tucked our little one into her car seat, next to her big sis, and headed to our little home… grinning the whole way.

Run Dry

I breastfed for the last time this morning. I am not a woman who loves to nurse, it took Herculean efforts to produce anything for both of my babies. Which is why ending so early is bitter sweet. There certainly is something to looking down onto a completely satisfied face, knowing that I’m providing everything she needs. My first weaned herself at 10 months, about 12 weeks after I received my graduate degree and headed back to work. Life cannot afford me a 7 month maternity leave this time and things have already run dry. The benefits and freedoms of moving on will hit me soon, but for now I am feeling the sting of a far too short baby leave.

I’m trying not to rant here, but this is a national issue and, if I don’t speak, it won’t be corrected. I will not have another baby, but my daughters might and I hope things are better for them. We all know that, when we compare our national maternity leave policy to other developed countries, we come out on the short end. At least 178 countries have national laws guaranteeing paid leave for new mothers. More than 50 nations, including most Western countries, also guarantee paid leave for new fathers. In the US, like most things, it has become an issue dividing the haves and the have-nots. Evidently, family values have a price.

My experience is a shining (or not so shining) example: I am the full-time working mom of a lower-middle class family. My field is small and does not provide paid leave, relying on its employees to purchase disability insurance to cover their own time off. I have the unlucky circumstance of suffering pre-existing conditions, so the Aflac duck rejected me. I had to pay for everyday of my leave out-of -pocket. I took on additional consulting work throughout my pregnancy and its going to take an act of God to keep us economically afloat through Christmas. I have used every second of sick time I have through June of next year.

I’ve returned to the office despite the fact that I am still working with my Docs to get my health back on track, my daughter is up twice a night with colic, breast pumping has failed almost immediately and, lest we forget, my husband and I are suffering the economic stress of digging out while trying to pay for childcare, more health insurance and the looming Santa season. Not shocking that 60% of women who return to work before 12 weeks suffer from diagnosed, medical depression. The cost to employers in productivity and tax payers in welfare/health coverage should be enough for us to reconsider our policies.

Going into the pregnancy we knew that this would be our burden to bare. I did not make the economic downturn, it has denied me so many things but I’ll be damned if it was going to keep me from being a mom. Maternity leave should not be the major barrier keeping otherwise stable families from having children. My baby girl has started to coo at me, so many stories she has to tell. No doubt she is worth all of this, but it is my job to always want more for her. To want more for the families in our country.

MORE information from Human Rights Watch.

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