Friday, July 25, 2014

Seven Quick Takes Instead of Edel

Greetings, fellow people who are not in Texas enjoying the fellowship of Catholic women bloggers with wine and shoes and delicious food!  Sure, it'd be nice to be at a fancy hotel with comfy beds and mixed drinks and so many of the people you know online all in one place chatting and laughing and drinking and eating all the delicious foods.  BUT I have much more pressing things here at home like taking care of my children while their father leads a retreat in another state.  I'm pretty sure the authorities frown on leaving a ten year old in charge of three younger children for three days, right?  Probably.  So pretty much I've got the opposite of Edel going on over here.  But that's okay because here's what else I'll be doing while you're all "mingling" and "having fun":

Watching this happen:

You guys.  He was so excited.  SO excited.  And it was kind of all placed right in our lap.  This isn't even our parish but we go to daily Mass here and one of the secretaries of the parish who sees us there all the time approached me the other day about John Paul serving daily Mass.  And the next day, it was set up and then today this happened.  He's being trained by the man who usually serves and I know it probably seems like some small blip in the whole world of Catholic parenting for some but ah, it's just so awesome to see your son up there serving at the altar.  He was walking on air afterwards.  We'll see how it works out but this could be such a huge blessing to serve this way.  So good.  So so good.

Knitting Placentas and Waiting on Babies:

My uterus is done and I'm quite happy with it and even got to demonstrate with it at a meeting!  (Ha, it's a knitted uterus, people.  I mean, it's not like I'm weird or anything.)  So now I've started the placenta.  I had three moms due in the space of a month which is another reason Edel wouldn't have worked out.  Two of the three have already had their babies, though!  Yay!  Number three likely has a few more weeks to go but still possible so I'm on call for that sweet little girl, too.  I've got to get started on a hat for that babe, too.

Watching The Way:

Brian and I started this last weekend and got half way through.  I decided that today being the feast of St. James the Greater and the movie being about El Camino Santiago de Compostela (The Way of Saint James) and all, it is the perfect day to finish it off.  The first half gets my recommendation and possibly the second but we shall see.  Half-hearted apologies to the husband for not waiting.

Fonzmobile Dance Parties:

Clearly the dance parties that will inevitably break out at Edel have nothing on these.

Not Blogging about NFP
Not that I don't want to.  NFP Awareness Week and all.  But there's just no unique take I have on it at the moment or more accurate, a take that I have the motivation to write about.  I'd much rather direct you to these wonderful posts all of which I beg you to click, read, and share:

Why I Don't Use Contraception by Rachel Lu in The Federalist
Abusing NFP by Kathleen van Schaijik A Thousand Amens, Kathleen!

Taco Parties, Pizza Parties, Moving, Lawn Fetes, and More...
I have the awesomest friends that are keeping me busy while Brian is gone, a sister and brother-in-law who are moving (the lady with the herniated disk and the four children will CLEARLY be a huge help in the process, I'm sure), our parish's annual picnic at which we will finally finally win one of those goldfish, and if we're lucky, maybe even a trip to Trader Joe's in there.  Please try to contain the jealousy.

And then, of course, there's this:

The excitement never ends, friends.  Never.  Ends.
Take that, Edel.  You ain't got nothin' on the excitement goin' on over here.

(And seriously, those of you who do have the lovely privilege of being at Edel, I hope you have a blast!  Really.  And plan another one for next year, please.  And if it could be worked around my schedule and location, that would be great, too.  Thanks ;)

Linking up with Carolyn-in-lieu-of-Jen for some Seven Quick Takes!

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

{pretty, happy, funny, real} - vol. 52

Popping in for a few to capture some snapshots of current life with the {phfr} ladies!

The gift from my friend Tim that I discovered on my counter this morning as a thank you for letting Brian go help lead a retreat this weekend.  A real honest to goodness soup tureen which is WAY better than the doughnuts I thought were in the package at first.  (Not, of course, that I would mind someone mysteriously leaving doughnuts on my counter either.  But a Polish pottery soup tureen totally beats doughnuts in my book.)  Anyway,  I love it.  I have very few fancy serving dishes (I bet you can guess what color all my dishes are ;) and this one is so pretty.  I have visions of fall soup parties already...

Our coneflower is blooming.  It doesn't last long and the plant is small but the few blooms it does give are so pretty.

Behold bird with worm.  The boys made me take a picture as it posed for us.  It made them happy, I guess...

Oh, my hydrangeas.  I love hydrangeas so much but have zero luck with them.  Granted, our shady yard is not good for hydrangeas in this climate but I tried anyway.  Out of my six plants that were planted two years ago, there is one flower that may bloom.  But that one flower is making me happy because it's the best I've ever gotten. 

Two of the bushes still look like this: 
and other than the blooms they came with the first year, have never flowered again and must be protected by chicken wire so escaped hens don't peck at them.  I pictured big bushy beautiful hydrangea bushes in front of the porch.  The plan is not working out so well.  (But at least my impatiens seem happy this year?)

And a preteen chicken.  Because that's the best I got for funny today.  

I'm daring to show you this.  I can't tell you how disappointing our garden is this year.  The plants got in late, the weather has been sucky for gardening, and our broken fence meant that deer have been snacking and destroying.  And then there's me who has done nothing (literally) to help the situation.  This is as close as I can get without getting overwhelmed to tears.  Because that's rational, right?

Linking up at Like Mother, Like Daughter for {phfr}

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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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