I have a very humble blog, which before I wrote this post had about four readers, one of which was my mother. But a few days after I wrote that post, my email inbox was flooded with notifications that people had commented on it. I was floored. I had no idea such a post would resonate with so many families. Apparently that lady in the elevator and I were very much not alone in having to bear rude and impertinent comments from (sometimes well-meaning) strangers about our very personal decisions regarding our families.
I realized the fatal flaw in the waitress’s placement of the girls’ booster chairs right next to each other when I witnessed Ruth’s hand shoot out to wave around in her sister’s face. Rose immediately emitted an ear splitting shriek that only children with older siblings know how to do. The eyes of the entire restaurant were on our table as I panicked and attempted to resolve the problem before the girls drew any more attention to us. Ruth, pleased that her hand waving had produced such a satisfactory response, waved her hand in front of Rose’s face again as I dived toward them to separate them. Too late! Rosie’s second shriek rent the air. The lady at the table next to us turned toward me and exclaimed, “God Almighty!” Tears welled up in my eyes as I picked Rosie up and took her outside to walk around. I felt as if the eyes of the entire restaurant followed me as we left the room in shame.
Mommy judgmentalism. This topic has been weighing on my mind a lot lately. I sincerely enjoy following other moms’ blogs and Instagram feeds, just to support them and commiserate, if need be. But most importantly, each mother experiences motherhood uniquely, and I find that fascinating. But when some of these mothers share their experiences, they can be inundated with a barrage of judgments and vitriolic comments from their fellow mothers! It blows my mind. Motherhood is one of the most difficult journeys we as women can undertake, as evidenced by all of the risks that come along with pregnancy and childbirth, psychological afflictions only associated with motherhood, and not to mention the enormous responsibility of this helpless human’s survival depending entirely on you. If there is ever a calling that needed endless solidarity and support, it is motherhood! And yet it is in mothers that we find the most divisive and discouraging behavior toward their fellow mothers!
Disclaimer: I have not been paid to endorse any of these companies. Because, let’s be honest, none of them has heard of this blog. I love their products to pieces, despite their oblivion to awesome blogs, though. On to my list!
1) Freshly Picked moccasins.
When I saw these puppies on Instagram, it was love at first sight. They are so perfect for baby feet because they are hardy, soft soled, and, most importantly, stay on their feet! They are a bit pricey at $60, but if you take into account the fact that your usual pair of good baby shoes is $30 and you can size up a size or two and they will fit for a long time on your baby’s feet without coming off due to the elastic around the ankle, they are a good investment. My second daughter wore one pair of moccs for six months! Also, they are such good quality, they will last through more than one baby. Mine have lasted through three!
A dear friend gave me the inspiration for this post. Many women suffer through miscarriages alone because they are afraid of what their friends and family will do or say. And for good reason! Some people said the most outrageous things to me after my miscarriages, like, “maybe you should just go ahead and get your tubes tied,” or “when are you going to just get over it?” Or the worst one: “At least you didn’t lose a real baby!”
Before I begin on how to comfort someone dealing with miscarriage, let me first describe to you how she might be feeling about the whole thing right now. As anyone who has been pregnant knows, you feel an instant connection with the little human in your womb from the instant you see that positive pregnancy test. You love him/her (them!) already. From the moment you realize you’re pregnant, it consumes 99% of your thoughts and feelings. And when you realize you are miscarrying, you feel like one of your children has died. Probably because one of your children has died. And I’m not comparing it to when someone has lost a child who had already been born because that is ludicrous. You don’t see mothers who have lost 20 year olds trying to compare their grief to mothers who have lost 5 year olds. It is incomparable other than the fact that they are all grieving. My point is that mothers who have experienced miscarriage should be allowed to grieve too. Which brings me to my first bit of advice:
I felt like someone had rudely awoken me from a nice nap and looked around, irritated. I looked at the anesthesiologist staring back at me and realized, with a jolt, where I was and what had happened. The OB cheerfully said I was all done and they wheeled me back to recovery. I was really looking forward to getting to hold my baby and nurse her for the first time.
The nurse started fussing with me when I arrived in the recovery room. And I recall feeling sleepy and annoyed. “Where is my baby?,” I asked her. She looked at me like a deer in head lights. “You’re bleeding,” she said blankly. “From my incision?” I asked her. “No,” she answered distractedly as she started bustling about. “Internally?,” I guessed. “No!,” she said emphatically, as if I was intentionally bothering her with dumb questions. She yelled for the OB. He came in and inspected me. He murmured something to the nurse about clots and put on some very long gloves. He then did something that felt like he was plunging his hand through my incision and then yanking around all my internal organs. I found myself screaming in pain again and scaring another batch of poor women being prepped for their C sections. The nurse ameliorated the situation by plunging a gigantic needle into my thigh to stop the blood bath. The OB then smiled at me, and declared that all was well. I sobbed at him and found it difficult to agree. The nurse looked uncertainly at him, and he told her to pull out all the stops on my pain medication. That, at least, gave me some relief.
I love birth stories. Because I have had all scheduled C’s, I used to scour the internet for them and eat them up! I loved reading about the shock, the excitement, the surprise, the spontaneity! Until Wren, my birth stories were painfully boring. We just made all of the arrangements, strolled into the hospital at our scheduled time, and a few minutes after being on the operating table our baby had arrived. I really felt like I had been robbed of a fascinating and memorable birth tale. Be careful what you wish for . . . .
When I got married, we were avoiding getting pregnant because we were still in law school and wanted a few years “just to enjoy each other.” Because I am Catholic, we were practicing natural family planning . Well, since the failure rate of NFP is strictly human error and we were newlyweds, I ended up getting pregnant much sooner than expected. Two months into our marriage, in fact. Due to our culture’s attitude toward pregnancy (namely, that if you aren’t a 35 year old married millionaire, your Life. Is. Over), I was duly horrified and grief stricken.
I informed my husband and our family, and was pleasantly surprised that everyone was really happy and excited about it. It is amazing how after the initial shock of discovering you are pregnant, you really start getting excited about it yourself. At about six weeks pregnant, I started bleeding. After a pretty traumatic trip to the ER, I was informed I was miscarrying. I felt like I should be relieved to hear that (I mean, I was so upset about finding out I was pregnant in the first place), but all I felt was incredibly sad. I grieved the loss of our baby.
Some friends and family members were very kind and supportive after our miscarriage. They brought us food and sent us sweet notes. Others were noticeably confused by my reaction. It made me feel confused at how sad I was, which made me feel even worse.
After about a year, I was overwhelmed by an irresistible case of baby fever. My first pregnancy had transformed me into this baby hungry woman that never in my wildest dreams I thought I would be. I was going to be a lawyer, for heaven’s sake! My husband and I got pregnant a second time, and I was ecstatic.
Eight weeks into the pregnancy, I started bleeding again. My heart sank into my feet. We went to the ER again. Tears filled my eyes in the waiting room as I asked my husband the question I was terrified to ask out loud, but it had to be said. What if I can’t have children? My husband assured me that we would deal with it together, and adopt if that is what we feel called to do. I nodded, knowing that was the perfect answer, but the tears wouldn’t stop. The ultrasound tech turned the screen away from us, and refused to answer any questions. All she said was, “are you on fertility treatments?” “No,” we answered, confused. They sent us home to make an appointment with my OB, befuddled and scared.
My OB informed me I was pregnant with eight week old twins, and there were no heartbeats. He was going to give it another day to measure my hcg levels to make sure the twins were dead, and if so, schedule a D&C. My levels dropped, and the D&C was scheduled. We went to the hospital for my surgery, and a nun walked into the room while I was being prepped for surgery. We asked her to pray for us.
Everyone was just as kind this second time. I was so grief stricken, I didn’t know what to do. I never in a million years would have guessed that we would struggle with recurrent miscarriage. I scoured the internet for answers and asked my OB what we should do. He told me I could spend lots of money frustrating myself trying to figure out our underlying issue, and quite possibly never find any answers. He told me that before I tried that, to follow his advice. I agreed and here is what he told me:
1) Gain weight. I was about 103 lbs at the time. He advised that I gain about 20 lbs. That seemed IMPOSSIBLE at the time, but I managed 10 lbs drinking 1 Boost a day.
2) Wait at least three normal menstral cycles before trying to conceive again. This also seemed impossible, but we waited.
3) When we got pregnant again, he immediately put me on progesterone supplements, just in case it was an inadequate progesterone level problem.
4) I also took low dose aspirin every day once I found out I was pregnant (internet research suggestion). My OB said that this was a total placebo, but let me do it if it made me feel like I was helping.
5) My OB was sweet enough to let me come in every other week of my first trimester just to watch my baby grow on the ultrasound.
6) I didn’t consume any caffeine the first trimester (another internet research suggestion).
C sections have gotten a real bad rap in this age of doulas and unmedicated births, but sometimes they are truly necessary. My first baby was stubbornly breach and had low amniotic fluid, so a C section it was. To me, the most important end goal is a healthy baby. For reasons that I may get into in another post, I ended up having C sections with my other two babies. Suffice it to say, after three C sections in three years, I’ve pretty much nailed down a workable routine for preparation and healing. Here are some of my tips. Should be worth a read even if you are not planning on having a C section because you never know what kind of exigencies may arise during the course of your labor. The best laid plans of mice and men . . .
I get a lot of questions from other mommies on Facebook in the form of direct messages. Although I have gleaned a substantial amount of knowledge through trial and error after having three babies in three years, I am by no means an expert. But I figured I can write down a few answers to common questions I receive. On to one of my most common: morning sickness remedies!
I was so sick with my first, I was throwing up practically every day for all nine months. By my second pregnancy, I got the vomiting reduced to half of the pregnancy. By my third. I only threw up once!