Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pushed: A must read

I just finished Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care, by Jennifer Block.  It is an extremely well-researched book about maternity care in the U.S. and how it came to be.  This is a must-read for anyone who is a mother, who wants to be a mother someday, who loves a mother or who is interested in how our medical system is failing childbearing women.

This is a fascinating read.  I finished it in 3 days.  I know a lot of you have already heard me harp about our country's high rate of cesarean section (over 30% this year).  This book clearly articulates how childbirth in our country is seen as a pathology, instead of the natural end to a pregnancy.  The U.S. ranks 32 out of 33 in maternal mortality among industrialized nations.  Countries with the best infant and maternal outcomes have most of their births attended by midwives and have between a 14% and 18% cesarean rate.

Pushed also takes a close look at how mothers are treated during childbirth.  Statistics are hard to come by, but anecdotally, I know of several mothers who had procedures performed on them or their babies without their consent.  Block writes about women who had court orders forcing them to have cesareans.  Other women are trying to file assault charges for procedures they  expressly denied.  

Many hospitals require women to stay in bed.  Many hospitals have an official or defacto ban on VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), caused primarily because of malpractice insurance. I certainly don't think women should be forced to have a "natural" childbirth, if it's not what they want. I do, however, don't think that interventions are adequately explained to women.  Picotcin, a drug given to women to speed their labors often leads to an epidural.  Epidurals require catheters.  Epidurals and the use of pitocin are more likely to lead to cesarean sections.  The term "casade of interventions" is apt.  It's a term I had never heard before T was born, but one I wish I had known.

I walked into the hospital, my water broken, with contractions 5 minutes apart.  I was 3 centimeters dilated, and all indications were that I would likely continue to progress.  I was given an IV, hooked up to a fetal monitor and moved into a labor room.  The doctor (the head of OB/GYN at my practice) came in, introduced himself and said "we're going to start you on some pitocin."  Why?  To make sure that I didn't labor all day, only to have to have a cesarean, because he was concerned that T was too big to birth vaginally (T was born at 5 lb, 13 oz).  Immediately after getting the pitocin, my contractions went from manageable, to hard core, 2-3 minutes long contractions with only 10-15 seconds in between.  I could barely catch my breath before another one barrelled in.  Within 2 hours, I requested an epidural.  It took another 2 for the anesthesiologist to arrive.  What is normally a short procedure took over 30 minutes because I couldn't stop contracting long enough for the doctor to place the epidural catheter.  Luckily for me, the epidural blissfully worked, and I got some much-needed relief.  The doctor came in several more time, each time indicating that if I only said the word, he'd give me a cesarean.  Each time, I said no.  The doctor and nurses told me they weren't getting good heart tones and recommended an internal monitor (it screws into the baby's head).  Initially, I told them no, but finally submitted after being talked into it.  Finally, I was 10 centimeters.  I pushed for 2 hours.  20 minutes before T was born, the doctor was still pushing a cesarean.  T was born via vacuum extraction.  I was given an episiotomy I didn't consent to.

I had a beautiful, perfect little boy.  I was happy, but numb for days after.  I don't know if things could have gone differently, but I certainly would have liked the opportunity to try and have a non-intervention birth.  I can't regret anything, but it still makes me sad and a little angry.  I felt managed, pushed, dismissed.  It is the reason I started reading.  It is the reason I'm going to become a L&D nurse, and eventually, a midwife.  It is the reason I'm having this baby with a midwife.

Read the book, get informed, make your own decisions.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Perched on the horns of a dilemma


I am currently taking prerequisites to start an RN program.  There are 3 nursing programs in my county.  One is offered through the community college, and the other two are offered via area hospitals.  After my crazy 6 week micro course, I will have finished the prereqs for the two hospital program.  The cc requires 3 additional courses.  I am registered for 2 of them during summer  session 2 and one as an evening course in the spring (baby T.2 will be 2-3 months old).

I've been chatting with folk all semester about the relative benefits/downsides of each program.  What I've learned is that people generally think the hospital programs produce a higher quality of nurse and have a more rigorous program overall.  I have also heard that the instructor for the cc program is a nightmare.  Interestingly, I am more likely to get into the hospital programs than the cc program.  The hospital programs are more interested in grades and recommendations/essays than anything.  The cc is more interested in whether you've finished all prereqs before petitioning, how long you've been enrolled (the longer the better), and then grades.  This puts me at a disadvantage because I'll be finishing my final prereq the spring after I actually petition, and I've only been enrolled at cc for a year or so.

So here's the question ... it is even worth it to take the extra courses?  Not only do I have to pay for them, I also have to pay for 2 extra months of T's preschool and then have to take an evening class with a wee infant.  Plus, the rest of my summer is shot (which is lame, but not the end of the world). I also think that if I were accepted at all three, the cc would be at the bottom of my list.  What would you do?

Life, in the way

Yes, it's been an obscenely long time since my last blog post.  I don't feel bad though. Not even a little bit.  My life has gotten a little bit in the way.  In the past two weeks:
  • I had finals for my spring semester courses.  I finished the semester strong and am very pleased with my grades.
  • I spent a week in Chicago with my dad, who had a kidney removed.  The surgery went well, and he is recovering nicely (if impatiently) at home now.
  • I got home and spent a crazy few days with Ry and T before my microbiology class started yesterday.  The upside is that I think it's going to be a really interesting and fun class.  The downside is that they've crammed a 15 week course into 6 weeks.  Each week = 3 normal weeks and I have an exam almost every week.
  • T continues to have aggressive tendencies at school.  Yesterday he headbutted some of the kids.  This behavior baffles me, because he doesn't act out at anything near this level when I or Ry am around.  I spent at hour at school today, both in his room and spying on him via video in the director's office.  He must've known I was watching, because he was a complete angel the entire time.  So, I'm trying to figure out how best to deal with the behavior and how to help his teachers deal with the behavior.  I think part of the problem is that he doesn't know how to deal with frustration.  How do you give a 2-year-old an outlet for frustration?  
  • Oh, and I'm still gestating, and still hurling in the morning.  It's definitely getting better now, but I'm ready for it to be over.  I've already extracted a promise for a big, diner breakfast on the morning I awake without the urge to puke.
So there you go, 2 weeks in a nutshell.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Boyz on the Frogz

We went to the Philly Zoo yesterday with a bunch of friends.  We had a great time, and I'm surprised by how efficiently 7 moms and toddlers can move through a crowded zoo.  I'll get more pictures up later, but this one made me laugh out loud.  It's the cover from T and BLiv's new gansta rap album, Boyz on the Frogz.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


T is going to be a 'color-inside-the-lines' kind of kid.  When he colors he mostly wants to trace things.  Here he's matching the sippy cup lids to the sippy cups ... all by himself.  I can't make this stuff up folks.
I just thought this was funny.  As many of you know, I've had a cold over the past week or so.  Since I'm pregnant I'm not supposed to take any medication.  Ry knew a trick to loosen congestion in your head.  Basically, you put a really warm towel on your face and breathe.  It's temporary, but it worked really well.  T wanted to know what all the fuss was about.  How freaking cute is he?

A lovely (Mother's) day it was

I had just about the best Mother's Day a mom could ask for.  My 2 requests for the day were to go to a local festival called the Azalea Festival and to not have to cook.  Both were fulfilled.  Here we are at the gazebo in a gorgeous local park called Sayen Gardens.  It was started in 1912 and has something like a quarter of a million flowering bulbs.  It is really beautiful.
T cooperated a little better with Ry on the group shots.  How cute are my men?
There was a moonbounce that we thought T would have a blast with.  He really wanted no part of it until I climbed in with him.  Then it was pretty cool
Really cool.
Of course we had to get the obligatory smelling flowers shot.
And here's the first belly shot of the pregnancy.  I'm starting to show much earlier in this pregnancy.  I shouldn't be surprised.  I'm 13 weeks and change.  Probably no one except me and Ry can really tell a difference.  I mostly look like I spent too long at the buffet table.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Pu ... pu ... cookie!

Since we've had three days of rain, I thought it might be fun to make chocolate chip cookies this afternoon.  I remember doing this with my Dad, and it's one of my favorite childhood memories.  T was actually quite a big help.  He poured the ingredients in the bowl, and directed my arm as I was mixing.  He also quite happily helped to lick the beaters when we were finished.  He also had 2 warm cookies and has been asking for more ever since.  We told him that he couldn't have any more cookies until after dinner.  We asked him if he wanted pizza or pasta for dinner.  His answer? "Pu ... pu ... cookie!"

Yeah, this was just too cute

This morning after breakfast, T buckled Ib the Dino into his high chair and started feeding him cheese left over from our eggs.  

TV, Sedentary?

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Silliest Movie of the Weekend

And the award goes to me, for Twilight.  Ry was a close second with The Day the Earth Stood Still (the Keanu Reeves one, not the original).  T, as it turns out, made the best choice with Tale of Despereaux.

Saturday Photo Fun

This is perhaps my favorite picture from Tantie's wedding.  It's tough to get him to smile for the camera, but I love the big toothy grin.

Friday, May 01, 2009

The most wonderful time of the year

I love finals time.  I know it seems crazy, but it's always the least stressful time of my semester.  I work my tail off all semester so that I go into finals week prepared for cumulative finals and with grades high enough that I don't have to stress about my test scores.  I have to get an 18% on my Anatomy course to keep my A.  La la, la la la la, of the year ....
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