Category Archives: breastfeeding

A Guide to Surviving Mom Groups; or Don’t Be a Jerk

When you become a new mother, especially if you are a stay at home mom (SAHM), you often find yourself in a lonely place. Whereas you may have had adult interaction at a previous job, or had the freedom to come and go from your home with ease and see other humans larger than 20 inches long, now you feel secluded. In days past, I’m not sure what moms did. I suppose they made friends with their neighbors, had cleaner houses, and drank lots of martinis. But in my generation? We’ve found solace in the internet.

I know for myself, once I became a mom, mom groups on Facebook became my village. My place to escape, and vent, and socialize, and laugh and cry. With a sleeping baby on my breast, a granola bar in my mouth, and a phone charger always close by, I could have company at the tips of my fingers, from the confines of my 4 walls, without ever putting on a stitch of makeup or shoes.

I became obsessed. The first mom group I was really active in was Captain’s birth group, “The Blue Mamas”. These women became my everything. I talked to them about anything and everything, more than I talked to my own husband. I could count on someone being online at 3am when I had milk soaked sheets and a gassy, screaming baby. From there, I was added to a breastfeeding group. And then another one… and another and another (sooooooo many breastfeeding groups!). Baby product co-op groups, cloth diaper groups, local mom groups, local-er mom groups, mom and baby product buy, sell, trade groups, babywearing groups, general parenting advice groups, natural birth groups, natural family planning groups… ALL. THE. GROUPS. In fact I just looked at how many groups I am in, and I counted 204. Most of these groups are some how connected to mothering.  

How wonderful! I would think, as I found another kindred spirit on the other side of the globe. I had friends in every corner of the planet, people I could talk to and trust with my struggles and joys. What a marvelous age to be living in! One where we can communicate and bond with people time zones away! It was marvelous and it is marvelous–but it can also be not so marvelous from time to time.

With awesome people, come jerks. People who call you names, argue and accuse, and belittle the death of your baby (yes, that happened. From a real, live mom you would love to be friends with if you met her at the park during a play date. Religious, pretty, and fit– great hair, too! Beautiful children and a happy marriage. Literally made light of my baby dying.)

Of course, jerks are everywhere. Jerks are the people who leave trash in the shopping cart at target, cut you off on the freeway, and don’t pick up their dog’s fecal matter at the park. But jerks on the internet are much more brutal than the person who leaves droplets of pee on the public restroom toilet you are next in line to use. Jerks on the internet have a screen to hide behind. They type nasty and insensitive things that they would never say in person. They cut down your character, make rude remarks and follow them up with sarcastic tag lines like “enjoy your dead baby, sweetheart” at the end of a debate on co-sleeping. They are the ones who, in person, would throw a lovely dinner party and serve you the best wine while you had some laughs, but in their mommy group they call people the R-word and make threats about stabbing their mothers in law for daring to wash their dishes. The young mom you sit next to in church tells her mom friends on the internet how badly her husband performs in bed, and your sweet neighbor with twins down the street calls anyone who doesn’t fully vaccinate their kids “murderer”, “a-hole”, and “idiots”. You guys. Women call other women the C-word, simply because those women parent differently from themselves. THE C-WORD. Conversations that would never, ever, EVER happen in real life (at least while sober) happen on the internet with such vitriol and spite that you find yourself alternately blushing and raging while scrolling through your newsfeed.


Why does this happen? Well, if I had the gumption I would google some study that talks about normal housewives who become interweb vigilantes and their need for an outlet so they don’t run off with Fabio or start having nervous breakdowns in the dairy room at Costco. But the thing is, who really cares? I don’t care why it happens, I care THAT it happens. It stinks. 
Now you may be thinking, “yeah, this is nothing new, why is this lady on the internet ranting about ranting people on the internet?” Because I have a solution to share with all of my fellow dwellers on this series of tubes we share. Are you ready?

Here it is: don’t be a jerk. Yup. That’s it! Stop being a jerk. 

Need a little more specific help? Try one of the following:

-Scroll past topics that get you heated. You just move your thumb from the bottom of your screen to the top, and it’s like it was never posted.

-Is your thumb broken, and you simply can’t scroll past? Try reading the opposing view from their standpoint. This will teach you how to practice empathy. Empathy is a word that we like to talk about in feel good memes and want our children to practice, but don’t like to practice when the going gets tough. After trying to understand the other point of view, use your other thumb to keep scrolling.

-Oh no!!! Other thumb broken? Okay, here’s an idea. Ask questions if you really, truly can’t understand. And not passive aggressive ones like “wow, I’m not sure how anyone could be such a giant moron and endanger their children like you do by offering them snacks with red dye, could you explain how you are able to sleep at night while your child’s colon is being dyed green from those Cheetos?” Ask real questions that can help you understand where the other person is coming from.

-Can’t help but interject some advice? Re-read the post. Was someone ASKING for advice? Or were they just venting? Or maybe just sharing an article or stating an opinion? Ask yourself, “do I like unsolicited advice?” If the answer is no, use your pointer finger to scroll. 

-Just really, super, can’t help but grace the interwebs with your opinion? We circle back to the first step: Don’t be a jerk. Just don’t. You can still state your opinion without being mean. I’m sure of it. Because you do it every day when you talk to your girl friend over coffee, pillow talk with your husband at night, and sit across the table from relatives at Thanksgiving. Besides, you’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar. If you really wanted to convince someone of your viewpoint, you’d do it nicely.

And you know? Being nice isn’t all that hard. Saving your sarcasm for super witty blog posts (cough, cough) or open mic night at the local stand up club is okay. Kissing emojis don’t need to be used next to peach emojis, unless you’re sending your husband a suggestive text, and threats of dismemberment, bodily injury, or death… well those are best left unsaid at all.

I’m preaching to myself here, too. We can all stand to be a little nicer. I wiped feces off a few butts today and I bet you have as well. I’ve eaten chocolate in the closet and sobbed with a glass of wine in the bathtub while my kids banged on the door, and I assume that also speaks to your experiences as a mom. I have cried staring at my sleeping babies at night, my heart exploding with love, and you do that, too.

So when next we meet on the internet and the topic of formula vs. breastmilk, MMR, organic food, circumcision, or how much screen time is okay, let’s all not be jerks. It makes the internet a nicer place to hang out while I ignore my kids’ screams for more snacks. 

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The Day Mamitas Weaned 

The first time she nursed, she had just been born. The world was a scary, cold, and bright foreign land to her. She screamed with all the gusto her 8lb. 5oz body could muster– which was quite a lot. 

She had an angry (and quite frankly and ugly) scream. The nurse had to move her over under the heat lamp for something, I don’t quite remember what, but Milkman was snapping pictures of her as I heard her scream. I kept saying “okay, just give her to me now, okay, please give me the baby, I just want to nurse her!” You see, that was the one phrase Milkman used to help me get through her 23 hour labor: “Just think about the first latch with your new baby…” So after weeks of prodromal labor, months of painful walking and moving, and a day of no sleep, all I wanted was to nurse that baby. 

Finally, the nurse handed her over to me, and her ugly little scream filled the room ’til she latched on, I sighed with contentment and then– OW! She bit me as hard as she could almost immediately! That was the beginning of our 3 year nursing journey. 

It started with clogged ducts, mastitis, 6 months of undiagnosed ductal thrush, blebs, and lazy latches. Things didn’t get easier til she was almost 9 months old. I got pregnant not much longer after then wth Ezra, and weaned Captain right before I lost Ezra. I told Milkman that she would not nurse as long as her older brother, surely she would wean at 18 months. But she didn’t. Surely at 2! She’s such an awful nurser, and my milk had dried up from Peach’s pregnancy, but she didn’t. Certainly at 2.5, that’s when Captain weaned. But she didn’t. So when she was 2.5 I asked when she would wean and she said “I will wean when I am 3.” And so every night for 6 months we continued to nurse before bed. We have counted down, and talked about it. I have looked towards her 3rd birthday with eagerness to say goodbye to tandem nursing. And as it drew closer, I started to feel a sadness. The end of an era. 

We picked Golden Slumbers by the Beatles as our weaning song. We listen to it, sing it, nurse to it, and cuddle. Every night this week I have asked her if she’s really, truly going to be done nursing and she smiles and laughs and says she will be all done at 3. Tonight, the day I have looked forward to with relief and sadness is here. Time to wean. 

The last time she nursed she wore a pink pajama shirt and pigtails. She had just finished her cake and ice cream. I asked her if she was ready to nurse for the last time and she happily said yes and giggled nervously as I began crying. She asked for our song and we sang “… Sleep pretty darling, do not cry, and I will sing a lullaby…” And she wiped my tears off my face one by one while she nursed. Her big brown eyes held much more seriousness than her 3 years of age allowed. I didn’t time her or cut her off, and she nursed longer than she has in 6 months. I kept asking if she was done and she kept shaking her head no. And then, she popped off and said “Mama! I unlatched! What’s unlatched mean? Cos I did.” And gave a cheesy grin. And with that, she was done. 

For 3 years I have hated, loved, resented, and appreciated nursing her. And in that one moment, it was over. This chapter of our lives closes, and it isn’t one that gets revisited again. I am so sad. But I know, as I learned from weaning Captain, that our relationship isn’t over. It’s just a new chapter. 

I love you, big girl. Happy 3rd Birthday. 

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Happy Birthday, Poochie!

To My First (and only!) Nephew on His First Birthday:

 

Sweet little man, with the big, brown, round eyes and little smirk, you are one today!

 

I was there when you were born!  Witnessing your birth was one of the most special things I will ever experience.  It was such a privilege to be there.

 

Your mama labored a long time, and when I got to the hospital, she was ready to push. I have often referred to your mama as my “little sister” though she is older than me.  I have always thought of her as fragile and in need of my protection. But as I cooled her head off with towels, and held her hand while she roared your little body earthside, I saw a mighty warrior.  Though I had delivered 3 babies before you were born, I was in awe of her strength to go through her labor unmedicated!

 

You were placed in your mama’s arms and you smelled like the earth.  You screamed and fussed your little head off while your mama and papa admired you, and while your little cousin in my tummy kicked away at the early hour of the morning.  You were too fussy to latch to nurse, but your mama kept you warm and safe against her skin,

 

You were so tiny.  I have never held a baby as small as you, and I remember thinking you had the cutest little rump, and you had your mama’s nose.  Your papa snapped away pictures proudly, and after a while I made my exit, and got into my car.  

 

It was very late and dark, there were few cars on the road, and I turned on Pandora to keep me awake on the drive home and blasted Kaskade with the windows down and wept.  You were so precious.  Your papa was so proud.  And your mama?  She was fierce.

 

A year later, I’m watching you grow.  Loving the rare but flirty smiles you flash my way from time to time.  Watching you and your baby cousin Peach play together.  Wearing you close to me when your mama is getting things done.  Seeing so much of my own first, sweet, shy boy in your personality.  You are such a joy to your parents and such a wonderful addition to our growing family.

 

I love you so much Poochie.  Happy birthday.

 

Love,

Taunty Paych

 

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A Peach is Born

A couple of disclaimers:

 

  1. I really recommend avoiding non-positive birth stories when you are pregnant.  I hate setting people up for fear.  If a non-positive birth story will trigger you or cause you to fear birth, please pass on this for now, and instead go pay Birth Without Fear a visit.

 

  1.  I have been avoiding writing this and posting it for several reasons.  One of those reasons has to do with my own trauma surrounding Peach’s birth, I’m actually nervous about re-living it right now to write it.  The other is because the community in which I live has a very tight knit birthing, baby wearing, and breastfeeding circle.  I am thankful for these wonderful women, but many of them have had such different experiences from my own using the same care providers, and I am anxious to post this for fear of extradition from these circles because of their loyalty to the care providers I chose.  

 

 

———-

If you know me, or have read much of my blog, you know this to be true: pregnancy is unkind to me, labor is an enemy most cruel.  In spite of this I am obsessed with babies, and just this week told Milkman how much I miss the feeling of contractions.  I have real issues.

 

 

After losing Ezra, Milkman and I were elated to be pregnant.  The anticipation of our rainbow baby kept my head above water through the insane amount of appointments I had, doctors I visited, specialists I tried out.  It kept me hoping when the pregnancy threw my body in a blender and spit me out, leaving me to hobble with a cane, til I resorted to a walker, and right up until I succumbed to a wheelchair.  Though pregnancy and its disabling effects on me were unescapable, I was determined to have a better birth experience.  I had difficult back labors with Captain and Mamitas.  Captains labor clocking in at 34 hours and Mamitas at 24. I just can’t seem to progress past 5cms and I stay there for hours and hours til my body goes into crazy person exhaustion mode.  Its at that point where I will go for an epidural– only to have them fail.  Every. Time.  This time, I had decided would be different.

 

 

We saved and planned so that I could have a birth center birth this time around, wondering if a different environment would help me to progress better.  I also had some trauma surrounding delivering at the hospital where I delivered Captain and Mamitas… Because the last baby I delivered there was dead. My sweet Ezra.

 

 

We were planning on going with who seemed to be the most respected midwife in the county.  I will refer to her as HMF for Head MidWife.  Turned out we couldn’t afford her.  She recommended a doula that worked with her.  We met with the doula and she informed us she was training to be a midwife (Lets call her DMF for Doula MidWife) and could offer us half off at the birth center as our midwife, with HMF watching over the birth as well.  The price was right.  In fact it was JUST right.  The exact monetary amount we had set aside for a birth center birth.

 

 

Pregnancy progressed, I had some moderate risks due to losing Ezra, my MTHFR, my SPD, and so I saw my medical midwife (I’m gonna give a huge shout out to Margaret “Peggy” Colby at Kaiser!!!! She is one of my favorite care providers ever), an OB, a Perinatologist, and DMW/HMW during my pregnancy. (This does not count the chiropractors, acupuncturist, physical medicine doc, and physical therapist I also saw during my pregnancy!  Can you say APPOINTMENTS??).  Milkman had finally agreed to let the baby’s sex be a surprise after refusing my request for my other kiddos.  I was elated, and this made my pregnancy and its pain seem all the more tolerable.  Everything was seeming awesome, apart from the pain til my 36 week appointment.  My perinatologist, who was very sweet by the way, knew that gender was supposed to be a surprise.  HMW and DMW told me I needed to ask the medical side of things for baby’s measurements.  As it is, I was uncomfortable with even knowing percentiles because of how off they can be.  But as they were insistent I went to the medical Midwife, Peggy, to ask to see what the perinatologist had recorded for baby’s stats. As we scrolled past her notes, she listed the baby’s gender in the chart.  I held it together in the office but when I got to my car I cried.  Hysterically.  And continued to for the remainder of the day.  I knew this didn’t change anything, I was still having a baby, I was still excited, I didn’t really care what was between my baby’s legs, but I was so disappointed for the surprise to be ruined.  We decided not to tell anyone else that we knew, but it was incredibly difficult to have gone that long without knowing only to have it ruined.  This was my first downer leading up to my birth.

 

 

Once I was full term, I was aching to get my little baby born. I am a huge believer in trusting your body to birth when it’s ready. However, when you can’t get yourself out of bed in the morning without help, and need a walker or wheelchair to get around because of the pain you are dealing with from the baby, it’s hard to wait.

 

 

The week before I was due, I checked in with DMW who informed me that she had attended many, many births in a row.  Most midwives and doulas have a cap for how many patients they care for in a period of time, but because she was working as both, she essentially had double the case load.  I told her I was having contractions and after telling me that the babies had tried to kill her (just too many births in too few days) that we should have “none of that”.  After trusting her and liking her during my prenatal care, I all of the sudden felt very nervous.  Why would she say that?  Was I an inconvenience?  Would she collapse from exhaustion at my labor?  Would she be able to hold up her end of the bargain?  I had one of my weird atypical migraines I get with pregnancy the next day.  It acts like a stroke, and I lose the ability to move and feeling in half my body, as well as my vision, hearing in one side and I cannot speak clearly.  I checked in with her and once again she seemed hesitant about my ability to birth at a birthing center, even though the OB on call at the hospital spoke with her and gave her the OK.

 

 

This should have been my sign to back out, but I felt like we had already paid too much money and I was afraid of disappointing people (my own made up fear) by not going through with it, so I shut up that voice in the back of my head and continued on.

 

 

(Here is the log of what I wrote in real time during my labor).

 

October 4th, was here.  My EDD.  Sunday morning.   I woke up to a big contraction at 8:20am. Captain and Mamitas ran into the room to tell me daddy had made apple crisp for breakfast and to get out of bed.  I sat up and felt a small gush.  I went to the bathroom and saw I had some show, and put a pad on. We went to church, and I brought a chux pad to sit on in case of membrane rupture in church.  I had a feeling this was the day I would go into labor.

 

 

I got home and had a surge of energy and stamina.  I scrubbed the bathroom. Nothing worse than laboring in a dirty bathroom.  I even took the shower drain apart and bleached it!  I wanted this labor to be perfect.

 

 

I had Milkman take a full body picture of my, thinking this would be my last day pregnant.  I sent him to the store for gatorade and ice.  I sat down on the couch to watch Call the Midwife, and and eat a snack and I felt another small gush. at 2:15, a HUGE gush.  There went my waters!  I hobbled to the bathroom to get cleaned up and texted Milkman to let him know.  I had never had my membranes rupture spontaneously and never before labor.  No contractions.  I got nervous for a little bit, but I decided to remain positive.  I got on the ball and was hula moving back and forth in hopes to make something happen.  When Mamitas woke up from her nap, I asked if she wanted to nurse, hoping that might get things moving, her response was, “I want to nurse FOREVER mama!”  And so we nursed for what seemed like forever.

 

 

I kept in touch with DMW via text and Milkman installed the carseat while the babies and I paced the backyard and then came in to make some chocolate chip cookies!  It started to rain.  Odd for October in California.

 

 

We fed the kiddos dinner and cuddled a lot.  My mom came to get the kids in case I went into labor.  (I wish I hadn’t done this.  It caused a huge upset in my mood, I missed them so badly I couldn’t keep it together emotionally).

 

 

Milkman took me out to dinner and we came home to get some sleep.  STILL no regular contractions.  DMW told me that contractions would likely pick up in the night.  But they didn’t.  They stayed erratic.

 

 

Monday morning I woke up and cried.  Where were my contractions?  Why did I let my babies go last night when I needed them close?  DMW told us to meet her and HMW at the birth center to test to make sure it was amniotic fluid I was leaking and to talk about a course of action.  The test was positive for amniotic fluid.  They sent Milkman to the store for sprite and castor oil, and set me up with an IV of antibiotics.  Unfortunately, DMW couldn’t get a good vein anywhere except antecubital, and that’s a crappy place for an IV.  The antibiotics burned, as she had the drip too high.  HMW seemed peeved with DMW and I felt even more nervous about birthing with this team, but I was determined to take it back to a positive.  The castor oil began working its effects.  I threw up most of my pregnancy and had nausea throughout.  Nothing like how awful castor oil makes you feel.  I would ask for pitocin a hundredfold over castor oil if I were to do it over.  It was awful.  HMW told us to go walk, but I was terrified to get too far from a restroom.  We attempted to walk the mall, and my memories of walking the mall are like a cloudy nightmare.  Intense nausea, intense contractions, aching back, aching and tired body.  We went back to the birth center.

 

 

Contractions stayed steady, but I wasn’t progressing.  At one point I was crying for my babies and DMW came in and said in a strangely unfamiliar tone “You need to get that out of your system, crying like this is going to stall your labor.  Stop focussing on your older two children and focus on getting this one out of you.”  At this point I was shattered.  Had I been allowed to display my emotions, I would have felt better about progressing, but because I had been shut up, my walls came up, and I felt like I had made the wrong choice to birth with this woman.  Even still, I refused to vocalize these feelings to Milkman or to myself, because I wanted to remain positive.  I dried my tears and tried to lay aside my mistrust for my care providers.  Hours passed.  Contractions became erratic.  I walked as much as my aching, hobbling body would let me, willing my body to progress.  Reciting scripture, praying, singing hymns.  

 

 

I was checked so many times.  I was under the impression that you should not be checked often with ruptured membranes for fear of introducing bacteria.  Every time I hesitated at a check I felt like I had to.

 

 

After a very long time, I asked why I wasn’t allowed to go into the birthing tub to labor since my back labor had kicked in. With hesitation I was allowed to labor in the water (this was the number one reason I picked this birth center, so I could labor in the bath).  The water was warming and comforting, but I could hear HMW and DMW talking about me in the other room in hushed tones, and I couldn’t block it out.  I felt so awful.  They were tired and not offering the support I had hoped for.  At 2am I told Milkman I was scared.  HMW came in and said very forcefully during a back contraction “If you are scared you should not birth here, you should transfer.”  I wanted to scream.  I was scared because I was scared of having to transfer and lose out on alllllll the money we paid out.  

 

 

At this point I faced the women who were supposed to be supporting and comforting me and asked for them to be realistic with me.  I had been ruptured a long time.  36 hours.  I was stuck at 5cms and had been for a very long time.  How realistic was it that I would deliver at the birth center?  HMW was honest with me at this point (for which I was very grateful).  She told me that likely I needed pitocin to progress as well as a pain reliever so I could sleep.  I had been awake too long, my body was too tired.  It was time to transfer.  They checked me for the umpteenth time.  Still a 5.

 

 

We got to the hospital just a block down the street.  DMW said she would meet us there, and though I didn’t want her to, she had agreed to taking the role of a doula in the event of a transfer and I needed someone to help Milkman help me through contractions.  She got there and her demeanor seemed one of someone who is apathetic.  The nurses insisted I have yet ANOTHER check.  I refused.  I was told I would not be given pitocin or meds until I was checked.  I looked at my DMW hoping for some support, she gave me a “Well, what are you gonna do?” look and began scrolling through her phone.  I wanted to scream “HELP ME.” but I was too busy breathing through contractions. I finally agreed to a check.  Epidural was placed.  Epidural failed. Second was placed.  Second failed.  Pitocin was kicking my uterus into high gear and there was no relief.  Though the epidural was placed, it was leaking into another part of my back, so no pain relief was brought but it was still being pumped into my body. I have very low blood pressure normally, so at one point the nurses came in and told me I needed ephedrine for low blood pressure.  Through a contraction I tried to inform them that my BP is always low.  I looked at DMW for her to speak up and let them know that my whole pregnancy she would joke with me about this very fact.  I said “No… ephedrine.  Please.  Its… normal.  Low blood pressure.  NO. NO.  NO!!!!” and it was shot into my IV.  Here I was.  I was becoming one of those stories where the interventions keep piling on top of the other.  I looked at my DMW and she gave me a look again, unsympathetic and went back to her phone.  Hot tears seared my cheeks.  I was so angry.  I told DMW she was free to leave.  She kept refusing to.  I asked her to get food or go take a break, and though she seemed like she would rather be getting a root canal than stay with me, she kept saying, “No, it’s okay, I’ll stay.”

 

 

Finally another anesthesiologist decided to give the epi a try.  He told me my scoliosis curved right where the epi was supposed to fit, so he eyeballed it to the right and got it in.  It offered temporary relief and I was able to sleep for a while.  Milkman passed out, DMW passed out at my feet.  I woke up once the epi stopped working to breathe through my contractions.  I stared at sleeping DMW with tears in my eyes.  I wanted her gone so badly, but I didn’t want to be rude.  I could slap myself now for caring about that in the moment.  

 

 

I woke her and Milkman up to help me through contractions.  Milkman went to the restroom at one point and I looked up at DMW during a very hard contraction and reached my hand out to hers for her to hold mine.  I swear to you, the look that returned to me scared me.  It was almost sinister?  She refused to hold my hand and stared at me with a grimace on her face while I went limp and breathed.  This happened several other times.  Once again I told her she could leave, once again she refused.  I still don’t know why she stayed other than maybe she wouldn’t have gotten paid if she left?

 

 

After a few rude nurses, it was time, I was a 10.  New doctor on call came in and I told her due to my SPD I could not push on my back and would need to be on my side.  The doctor said she hadn’t delivered with a mother on her side, I said that was nice, and I would be her first.  If DMW would not advocate for me, I would advocate for myself.  DMW offered to take pictures, I got in place.  3 contractions, Peach was born. Relief.  Tears.  She was here.

 

 

I looked at her warm wriggly body and I cried out “She’s alive! This one breathes.  She’s not still like Ezra was.  This is my baby and SHE IS ALIVE.  Thank you, Lord, she’s perfect!”  I cried for a long time.  It was quiet in the room, and the air felt thick and awkward, but the only thing I cared about in that moment was gratitude for this gorgeous little creature I held in my arms.

 

shes here

She’s alive!

 

 

After a while the room cleared out and DMW finally announced she would be leaving and a great wave of relief washed over me.  She assured me she would send the photos and when the door shut and it was just Milkman, Peach, and I, I breathed easy for the first time in 48 hours.  Peach latched on and looked up at me with one eye open, and I marveled at her perfect skin and face.  

 

 

 


 

Once we got into our recovery room in postpartum, my mom brought Captain and Mamitas to come meet their little sister.  It was so wonderful to have my little family all together, if only for a short period of time.  Captain was feeling homesick and it made it hard for me to say goodbye when they left.

 

 

That night, I sat in the hospital bed, nursing the baby and eating dinner and I looked over at Milkman and asked, “What did you think about DMW?” He pursed his lips and (wisely) asked me, “What did YOU think about her?  Did you find her helpful?”  I started crying.  I told him how unsupported I felt, how I felt like a burden to her.  How I didn’t want to talk with her or have anything to do with her.  How she made labor that much harder.  How when I reached out for her she ignored me.  He nodded his head as I talked and came over to hold my hand.  I asked him again and he said he felt very much the same as I did but didn’t want to bring it up in case I hadn’t caught on to it because he didn’t want to put a damper on the experience.  I wept and he held Peach and I while I shook with angry tears. He agreed that any contact with the birth center and either of its Midwives would go through him, so I wouldn’t have to deal with it.

 

 

We picked up my placenta from her a couple days after delivering, all the correspondence though Milkman still.  She never did send my birth photos.  I wept much in the weeks following my birth.  None surrounding my baby, or the usual baby blues, all in relation to my awful birth experience and the care I was promised and paid for but was not given.

 

 

6 weeks later we finally heard from HMW and she asked why she hadn’t heard from us to schedule my follow-up appointments.  We hadn’t been contacted til that point.  Milkman was a saint and explained that I was dealing with birth trauma and I couldn’t bear to go to the birth center.  Right after he sent that we heard from DMW for the first time in those 6 weeks saying she was concerned she hadn’t heard from us.  It felt awful, all over again.  Like it was my fault she hadn’t done her follow-up.  And it confirmed all the more that she didn’t care enough to contact us sooner.  Milkman went to the birth center to pick up my records and asked if someone would please send the pictures from my birth.  

 

 

A while later we received an email with the photos, all thumbnail sized and poor quality.  I asked for her to re-send them at a higher quality, as these were the only pictures I had of the birth, and were intimate and meaningful to me.  She never replied and I haven’t heard from her since.

 


 

 

 

Since all this happened, I attended a birth trauma session at MommyCon and spoke with the ladies at Integrated Birth.  At the end of the session where they offered advice for avoiding birth trauma (like hiring a doula, birthing at a birth center, using people who came highly recommended, etc). I began crying very hard (thankful my sister was there with me to hold my hand and cry with me).  There was a Q&A time so I asked “What happens if you did all those things, you did everything right, all your research, picked the best people, and it still went horribly?”  I was told that most likely DMW had taken off more than she could chew and was in birth burnout mode, and most likely shouldn’t have taken me on as a client.  I was told that I was supported and to not be afraid to write my story, whether or not I ever shared it with anyone.  The compassion I received from the fellow attendees and from the presenter and the Integrated birth team was AMAZING and empowering.  We all cried together.  At once point Laney from the Mommycon team came over to me and hugged me and she said she understood how I was feeling.  For the first time I felt like people other than my sister and my husband understood me, and actually cared.  That my concerns were valid and real.

 

 

I still occasionally break down thinking about Peach’s birth because it brings up a lot of angry and hurt feelings, but I am on the road to emotional recovery, thanks MOSTLY to Milkman and his love and patience and understanding.  He’s heard me hash it out so many times, cry over it so many times, and never once has he dismissed those feelings.  Peach is the happiest baby I have had and this has also helped tremendously.  Had she been as high needs as her big brother and sister, the physical and emotional healing would undoubtedly have taken much longer.  Every smile reminds me just how worth all the pain really was.  She is magic.

 

 

If you’ve made it thus far, you are dedicated!  Thanks for reading.  If you are dealing with birth trauma and want someone to talk to, feel free to reach out and contact me,  I’m here to support you!

 

 

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It’s Not a Season, It’s a Baby.

“It’s just not your time.”

 

“It’s only for a season.”

 

“It doesn’t last forever, this is just how it is for all of us.”

 

“You can get spiritual feeding in AFTER your kids are older.”

 

These are just some of the responses I have received many times when I have lamented that I am struggling with my place in the church since having children. But guess what? I got sick of it.  I’ve talked to my spiritual advisors, to my elders, to my husband, I’ve cried out to the Lord about it, and here’s what I came up with in response to those statements:

 

This is absolute crap.

 

Okay, okay, so maybe that’s not the nicest way to put it, but that’s what I’ve wanted to say.

 

When I had Captain in 2012, I spent an entire year worshipping apart from my husband.  I use the term “worshipping” very loosely.  I spent a year in a room either alone, or with 2 other wonderful nursing women and their babies that had a TV with the sermon being piped in, while my husband sat in the service and got to listen to the sermon like the rest of the church, because he wasn’t lactating and I was.

 

At the year mark, after countless Sundays and Thursdays being stuck in a room apart from my husband where the audio or the visual wasn’t working at times, I had had it.  I went to my wonderful husband, my sweet spiritual head and with tears pouring down my face I said, “I can’t do this anymore. I haven’t heard a whole sermon, let alone a quarter of a sermon in a year.  My daily devotional time suffers, I never get to fellowship with the body anymore, I am sick of being in a room apart from you and not hearing the word preached.  I need help because I feel like I am drowning.”

 

My husband held me while I cried and we decided it was high time I made my way back into at least the lobby, if not the sanctuary of our church.  Thankfully, the lobby of our church at the time has two large glass windows and the sermon audio piped in, so we were able to take Captain into the lobby from the sanctuary if he got too loud, without me being segregated from my husband, and without feeling shut up in a dark room by myself.

 

Once we had Mamitas, we were told by a well meaning woman that there were people uncomfortable with me nursing in the lobby– even with a cover.  Back to the nursing room I went– feeling alone, defeated, and an outcast.

 

Even for women’s functions, I was told were for adult women, and to leave my nursing child home with daddy.  Women’s teas, retreats, and social events weren’t the place for my nursing baby.

 

I began to see a common trend.  The people who were the most unsupportive of me in my young motherhood were not some chauvinistic, patriarchal men– it was women.  Every time. And not just women who didn’t have husbands or kids, no!  It was always middle-aged to older women, who had children at one point in their lives too.  These same women had probably sat in the same dark rooms, nursing under blankets in bathrooms or lobbies or hallways, not hearing the Word preached, longing to be fed, and they were probably placed there by other older women themselves.

 

I’ve talked to many young mothers about this in the church, and we all seem to be frustrated with it, but for some reason, the squeakiest wheels seem to be the older women, and so, we young moms end up in a dark back room because we have noisy babies and milk in our breasts.

 

I can’t help but think this has only become an issue in the last 100-150 years in the westernized world, due to two things:

 

  1. The change from biological feeding with breasts to bottles and thereby making breasts single (and sexually) purposed in our societies.
  2. The popularity of segregating children from adults into their very specific age groups– namely because of the public school system and the rise of Sunday School and mandatory nursery care in churches.

 

Tell me that Ma Ingalls had to nurse her baby in a cry room, or that Mary had to take Jesus to the nursery each Sabbath.  That just wasn’t a thing.  This has not been the norm for thousands of years, and because of tradition and popular culture, the church now has no place for young mothers and babies.  How is a church to grow and sustain itself without young families?  It can’t.  It will die out without children.

 

What other sector of the body of Christ do we tell, “It’s not your season to listen to the preaching of the Word of God”?  What if we told teenage boys that they were excluded for this season, or old women, or elementary aged children?  We would all be in an uproar.  The gospel message and preaching of the Bible is for ALL Christians.  Its commanded that we be in fellowship and following good, solid teaching and doctrine, and yet, I hear it constantly. “It’s just not your time– we all go through this.”

 

As for the claim that I have heard the most: “It’s just a season in your life”: I hear the “season” comment mostly from women who have chosen to have 1 or 2 babies.  Most of these women either didn’t breastfeed at all, or they did for a very short period of time. That was the perfect amount of babies for them.  That was the perfect amount of time for them to nurse.  Milkman and I desire a large family.  Thus far, I’ve been nursing 2 days short of 48 months straight.  We choose to let our kiddos wean sometime after 2.5.  What if my “season” is 10 years?  Is it okay for any Christian to miss out on preaching for 10 years?  My grandmother had 15 pregnancies, and raised 13 children over a course of 21 years.  TWENTY-ONE YEARS.  By the season argument, if my grandmother had been in a modern Evangelical church, her season would have been about 23 years.  

 

23 years of no women’s retreats.  23 years of not sitting with my grandfather in church.  23 years of audio/visual mishaps on the CCTV in the nursing room.  23 years of not getting spiritual feeding with the rest of the congregation.  Many years of also not sitting with her older children in church, leaving my grandfather with 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, kids to manage on his own. Many years of being alone and lonely and told by her older sisters, “Sorry, Panchita, it’s just not your season.”

 

Let’s be real, sitting in a sermon with young children and babies is still going to have you struggling to get the full message uninterrupted each week.  I’m not ignorant of the fact that children distract us in church and need parenting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week– meaning I’m not off duty for 2 hours each Sunday, and my kids are still going to need my attention.  But if my husband and I are tackling the parenting in church together as a team, we can support each other, be encouraged that we aren’t alone, be with the rest of the congregation on a Sunday (what a concept!), and most importantly, we can worship together, teaching our children of the importance their parents place on the preaching of God’s Word, and honoring the Lord’s day.

 

I don’t think we should do away with nursing rooms, I appreciated ours when I was in the early stages of nursing and needed 17 hands and a boppy to get a good latch.  I don’t think we should do away with nurseries.  I think they are excellent options for parents of children who are happy to go into childcare.  I don’t think we should do away with Sunday School, I loved Sunday School as a kid, and it serves a wonderful purpose for families who would like their child in a more kid-friendly environment.

 

In fact, this isn’t even so much about where to nurse as it is about women tearing down other women.  I see it constantly, not just in the church, but I see it there a lot.  I am incredibly thankful for a husband who advocates for me, for elders who have listened to me while I weep, and for the few, very special older women in my church who have been there to encourage me and help me through this sometimes lonely journey of being a nursing mother.  But the naysayers are always the ones whose comments seem to be what sticks with you.

 

To those older sisters, I just want to say, I know kids can be a distraction.  I know they can be annoying, believe me I have personal experience in dealing with their frustrating behaviors!  I know it is easy to forget that you were once in my shoes, but dear older sister, would you show me some compassion?  If not on me, then on my helpless infant. She needs love from her church, to hear as a baby what the Word says.  She needs to hear her pastor praying and she needs to see her parents lifting their hands to the Lord in worship.  She needs to hear the Psalms read, so that one day she can say, “There was never a day I could remember that I didn’t know the love of Jesus.”

 

Gather the people, Sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and nursing babes; Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, And the bride from her dressing room.

 

–Joel 2:16

 

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**as an addendum, I would like to share that after meeting with our elders and lots of prayer, we are happily worshiping with the congregation each Sunday, and it feels so good to be with my brothers and sisters while still nourishing my youngest, tending to my olders, and standing next to my husband.**

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