Monday, July 21, 2014

Pockets of My Boy

I mentioned the other day that I had the esteemed privilege of going on a date with Michael.  He was such a joy.  Now that we've had a little more free time since baseball is done, I've been trying sneak pockets of time in with each of them.  It means so much and the bigger they get, the more I realize how important it is.  I don't mean to be that person who has to take a photo of every single thing I'm doing (and if I were, I've been awfully bad at it this year!) but I'm grateful when I do remember to snap a few shots.  I can't see myself remembering these sweet moments as well if I didn't.  

First stop was the baseball field for ice cream (we still have so many tokens left from their season!!).  We sat and watched the older boys play for a few minutes.

We headed over to the dollar store because we are high class date people.  Michael really wanted to buy one of those long lighters for his homemade chapel (I know.  Really.) so with many warnings and rules given about it's use, that's what we did.  And then we wandered around the store where he was afforded the ultimate luxury of looking at all the things without being hurried out by whining siblings or a mom with things to do.

His next declared desire was Hobby Lobby.  We were out of red and yellow construction paper, you know, and it was of utmost importance to him to get it replaced.

His favorite aisle

Who would've thought that walking into a craft store would feel like some sort of political statement?  But with all the news, that's totally what it feels like now.

Mission accomplished.

By this time it was getting late but we decided to make a quick stop to see Jesus

and take a stroll over to check out the little shrine nearby.

(Sorry, hon.  You may not scale the grotto.)

We got back past bedtime and the other boys were already upstairs.  He chattered away while getting his pajamas on and then emptied his (apparently large) pockets on the table.  Brian and I couldn't help but smile.  

The perfect snapshot of my boy:
Pocket knife, First Communion medal, all three Roman soldier keychains he desperately searched for in Rome, a crucifix, a bullet casing saved from the Memorial Day service, a bead found in the yard, and a five cent Euro coin.  
Isn't that what you carry in your pocket?

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Breaking Up (with your OB) is Hard to Do

I've heard it countless times now.  A woman discussing her obstetrician and lamenting wistfully over the fact that she can't just leave him and find another care provider.  

"It's too late."  

"I don't know where else I'd go."  

"But I've gone to him forever!"  

"I know he does x, y, and z even when I don't want him to...but he's a good doctor."  

"I don't want to mess with my insurance."  

"I would feel so bad changing!"

and others...
It begins to sound eerily like a domestic situation.

Why is it so hard for women to change their birth and woman care provider?  

I have a theory.
(I know.  Watch out.)
Birth is one of the most intimate experiences a woman has.  Akin to sex, she is vulnerable, naked, and experiencing enormous physical and hormonal shifts.  She is investing her body, emotions, soul, her entire self into the event.  She does things that in any other setting would leave her embarrassed.  She entrusts her wellbeing and the wellbeing of her child to this other person oftentimes when she is compromised by pain or the foreignness of a hospital.  She is expected to "perform" and to do it "correctly" or risk being snuffed at and snubbed or wheeled to the operating room as a diagnosed "failure."  Even when she has never given birth and is going through a normal exam, she is opening herself up in ways previously only known to sexual partners.  

Whether we want to or not, we as incarnational Christians cannot pretend that isn't true.  We cannot pretend that this is "just business."  We aren't free to separate our bodies from our souls like the Gnostics.  And, I think, as tempting as it might be because of the vulnerability of the moment, we cannot accept a doctor or midwife who treats it as just another cervix to be checked or vagina to watch. 

Why is it that we feel we can pick a name out of the insurance provider book or take any old resident on call that we've never met and find that acceptable?  Why is it that even when things are bad, when he doesn't respect our choices or does things to us or our babies that we asked him not to or speaks condescendingly towards us....why is it that women accept that?

A huge part of that inability to break up with your OB is because we've developed an intimate relationship with them.  Whether we like it or not, the moment we get on that table for an exam or discuss our sex lives or allow them to see us naked, things change.  The doctor or midwife doesn't necessarily notice.  For them, it more than likely is just another body, another cervix, another day at the office.  (There are many providers who DO break that pattern, however, and thank God for them.)  But we now, whether we birth with them or not, feel a connection.  We've revealed more of ourselves and are more vulnerable than we were before.  For many women, it's understandably hard to just cut that tie after such vulnerability.  

And if that's not enough, then there's the actual birth.

And in flows the oxytocin.

Most of you probably know what that is but in case you don't, oxytocin is the "love hormone."  It's the hormone that helps bond you deeply to another human being.  It is released in torrential amounts in the female body during three significant moments - orgasm, natural birth, and breastfeeding.  It literally bonds you to the person you are with and thank God for it.  When used correctly, it becomes the superglue that chemically bonds two people together.  It strengthens marriages and mother/baby bonds and helps us overlook faults and stay in relationships.  It's beautiful and awesome and a gift from God.  Yay oxytocin!

When used in a disordered way, say in premarital sex, it causes heartbreak and unhealthy attachments.
See where I'm going with this?
This oxytocin flooding our body during birth bonds us to our babies and husbands, yes, but it can also give us an (admittedly much lesser) bond with the other people in the room as well.  And that, I believe, is one of the reasons women seem to feel a sort of loyalty to their provider even if the provider's treatment is less than acceptable.

  It's interesting to note here, too, that for most of history, a woman's birth was attended by other women, usually sisters, mother, aunts, and cousins.  If my little theory holds up, then birth would have strengthened the bond with those women in her life, something that to me, seems more natural and desirable.  This, the profound physical intimacy of birth as well as that oxytocin bond are just some of the factors that have made me personally more and more uncomfortable with the very modern trend of the majority of birth attendants being male.

Another aspect of that mother-provider bond, no matter HOW you give birth, is the emotional investment that it is to become a mother.  It is a hard thing to admit that maybe things could have gone better for our baby, that maybe a difficult or traumatic birth could have been prevented or that we could have made a better decision (as small as that decision may have been).  Our defenses are immediately provoked, because we love that baby so much, by the idea that maybe things could have been improved.  So we can sometimes cling to the hope that the doctor surely did all he could or that she was always working in our best interest (even if evidence points to the contrary).  That's normal and understandable.  We want so badly to know that we are doing well by our children.  I'm learning more and more as a mother that in all aspects of parenting, our need to believe this has the potential to get in the way of making an honest assessment and possibly better decision the next time.

So what is my ultimate point in sharing this?
Not that all OBs are evil (as I said above, there are some wonderful doctors and midwives doing beautiful work) or that it's necessarily bad to have some sort of loyalty to your doctor or midwife.  My point is rather that we should take all of this into account when making our decisions for a provider.  That loyalty to our doctor or midwife should never trump doing what is best for us or our babies and that if something is telling us to switch, then we need to listen to that.

::A few things to remember::

Your provider and their philosophies on birth are one of the utmost factors in how your birth goes.  Choose well.

We are choosing them.  Not the other way around.  If you aren't happy with their care and you can't discuss things openly with them, switch.  It is okay and good to "shop" for your provider.  Being "nice" is not enough to qualify them to be chosen.  You are likely not going to hurt their feelings by switching (and if you do, they'll get over it and maybe learn something from it).

It is never too late to switch.  Whether you're 39 and a half weeks or have already birthed children with that provider, you can still switch.  I just heard a story about a mother who fired her OB while in the delivery room because he was doing the well-known switcharoo with regard to her birth plan and dismissing her reasonable requests.  Good for her.

It is okay and JUST to expect that your provider treat you with respect, dignity, and listens well to your concerns.  If they dismiss you or will not work with you to have the birth that you want or if you feel rushed or like another number during appointments, then switch.  If they mock you for having too many children or for using Natural Family Planning, then switch.  The more women begin to demand better, the more we will see a safer and more dignified birth model in our country.  (And if you do switch, consider writing a letter to let them know why.)

Birth rape, trauma, and abuse are actual things.  Simply because someone has the title of doctor or midwife or because you have developed a relationship with them does NOT give them the authority to do something to you without your permission.  If you're provider tries to pressure you into procedures or violates your body without your consent, it is NOT okay.

Encourage your husband to have a role in the birth.  Hold that baby right away if possible.  Let that oxytocin work for you and your family.

I would love for you to share.

What have your experiences been with woman care and birth providers?

Feel free, too, to think I'm crazy and disagree with me and my theories...I'd love to hear what you have to say either way.

*image source*

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Daybook of Sci-Fi and Uteri

Outside my window...
A rising sun on yet another day that's supposed to be coolish for July.
This summer feels weird weather wise, right?  Or is that just me?  I feel like it's not summer and it's sort of just been slipping by.

Thankful for...
all your lovely encouragement on that post the other day.  I feel grateful that people got what I meant, that it was a source of encouragement, and that it seemed to resonate with so many people.

the gift of doulaing.  What a blessing it is.

and for health.

Thinking about...
homeschool plans and schedules.
Sarah has been such an inspiration in this area!
Hoping to share a bit of the plans for this coming year in this little space soon.  

"As John Paul makes clear, "Christ does not invite man to return to the state of original innocence, because humanity has left it irrevocably behind."  Rather, Christ calls us to find "the living forms of the 'new man.'   In this way a connection is formed, even a continuity, between the 'beginning' and the perspective of redemption.""  

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Have the same attitude toward all.  Put away ambitious thoughts and associate with those who are lowly."  
Romans 12:15-16

what makes each one of these little people tick.

how important it is to close the computer.

From the kitchen...
will be something caramelly today for the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.  I'm thinking ice cream sundaes perhaps?
If you're up to making your own caramel sauce, you must use this recipe.  It's easy and so so good.  You'll never buy again.  

a uterus.  No, really.
I'm knitting a uterus.  
Because why not, right?
I bought a model pelvis a few weeks ago to use for work with doula clients (you have no idea how weirdly exciting it was to get that box in the mail).  You can't have a pelvis without a uterus (well, unless you're a man I suppose) and I know how to knit and I found this here pattern so...

There she is.  In all her pink cotton glory.

She's almost done and I think it will actually be really helpful. 
I'm realizing more and more that the more clients know before their birth about how their body works and can visualize and work with it, the better their birth seems to go.  Just wait til I get started on the placenta :)

wait...are you ready for it?  (Probably, since you already saw it up there.)  I'm fiction.  
I know!  I, the one who eschews anything involving aliens or time travel or having the faintest hint of space, the one who turns her eyes from zombie fads and vampire fetishes, am working on C.S. Lewis' space trilogy at the prompting of a friend.  I think I like the stretch but I really don't see myself turning toward the genre any time soon ever.  There are some very profound insights and passages, though.  I just finished the first book and am heading into the second.  I'm pretty sure this one involves some time travel. *shudder*  

not many places this week!  Just a few meetings.  This week it's felt really good to organize the house a bit and settle my mind in the process.

Around the house...
we're working on painting the mudroom.  I started and Brian, because he is the awesomest and because I was being a baby and getting frustrated that it was harder than I pictured, seems to be finishing.  It's an ugly mudroom but I am always amazed at what coat of paint can do!  I'm sure I won't be able to resist showing you a picture or two when it's all done.

Have you noticed that I have done exactly zero gardening posts this year?  There's a reason.  With the trip in April and the off weather spring and so many other commitments, our garden is so so sad.  We've gotten a few lettuce leaves and hopefully we'll have a tomato harvest (I'm counting on those frozen tomatoes!) but the rest has been very disappointing.  I find it incredibly hard to go away that time of year when you need to be doing all the things outside to have a good year and when things are finally finally starting to get nice around here.  It's not all that easy to be a vegetable gardener in this climate.  I'm thinking we should permanently move Easter to May or June.  Anyone with me?  Or maybe we should just plan big trips accordingly.

for a reader who is grieving the loss of her unborn baby.  

for the unborn baby of a friend who has been diagnosed with a skeletal disorder.

for Nella.

Please pray with me?

Worth a click... 

The Bringing Felicity Home Auction is going on now!  
Come on over and help Katie and her family bring home their sweet daughter from China!

from CARM
from Leila...Yes, to all of it!
from Kendra
from Melody
from Jennifer Fitz
from CBN News...I really hope we learn more on this soon!
A picture thought to share..

You feel more empowered already, don't you?

Linking up for the first time in ages with Ginny for Yarn Along!

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

This Month in Boys - July 2014

John Paul

(you can tell he has a little cold in this pic!)

-turned TEN!
-played in the division's All-Star game.
-found four 4-leaf clovers a few days before his birthday from a patch in our yard.  I wish I had captured the excitement on his face!
-finally finished removing that concrete sidewalk and has the saved up for bee bee gun to prove it.
-mowed almost all of the lawn the other day!  (You have no idea how exciting this is!)
-is, for the first time in his life, opting to sometimes stay in his bed for a few more minutes of sleep in the morning.
-if he's staring off into space, is more than likely thinking about baseball or bee bee guns.
-currently chooses both chocolate and cookie dough as his favorite things to eat.


-Michael:  I want to move into a new house.
Me:  Why?
M:  Every time we move into a new house God gives us another baby.
So THAT'S how it works.
-decided one morning he wanted to turn their closet into a chapel.  And so he did.  They've been using it for prayer during the day and it brings me so much joy.  (He also showed it to our neighbors during their first visit to our house...)
-thinks he's big enough to ride John Paul's bike.  He's getting darn close and I think he's getting ready for yet another growth spurt soon.
-for his date with Mama chose to go to the baseball diamond for ice cream and to watch the older kids play, go to the dollar store to buy a lighter for the candles in his chapel, and go to Hobby Lobby for some red and yellow construction paper.  We made stopped and saw Jesus on the way home, too.
-still would prefer to play a game or do an art project than read.
-after exclaiming, "I don't know!  There are so many good things!" decided that cookie dough ice cream is probably, maybe his current favorite food.


-shared, "I know how growing works.  Every second another atom comes onto you.  And so you grow!"
-while bringing in the husked corn complete with all the saved corn silks:  "Mama, that part's for us.  So we can disguise ourselves as girls.  It's for our spy kits!"
-is my first to really enjoy coloring at this age and is really really good at it for a five year old!
-loves their art classes.
-when discussing my recent hair cut told me, "I don't think you should look like that anymore."
-is still our turn on the flip of a switch kid.  But he's slowly getting better.  Slowly.
-would really like to make his First Holy Communion.
-has become our hardest at bedtime.
-decided that "you're my second favorite adult."  It's sort of hard to beat Papa, I guess.
-has declared "chocolate mixed in with peanut butter and graham crackers and marshmallow and steak.  All mixed together.  I would LOVE that."


-requires that Papa sing "Happy Birthday (to Mama)" to him every night last thing before he goes to sleep.
-is still nursing.  He seems so big (but then he's the biggest for his age of our kids) but he still needs that time with me and it really gives him peace and security, I think.
-spilled a half gallon of blue paint all over himself and down the mudroom stairs.  It was epic.  But at least it forced us to start painting so there's that...
-is a big fan of fighting the "bad guys" whoever that may be.
-"Luke, what's your favorite thing to eat?"
"Five?  Your favorite thing to eat is five?"

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