Saturday, September 28, 2013

Asher's Birth Story

A journal entry from the morning of June 28, 2013 read- Five days after my estimated due date. I'm starting to question whether something is wrong with me. With my body. I was so sure I would deliver Asher on his due date and here it is five days past! I know it's just an estimate, but I'm going insane! He's getting big and I'm becoming more uncomfortable. I'll ask Michael for a blessing tonight, and maybe that'll get things going. 

Yeah, I guess you could say I was starting to go crazy! I had had a prenatal appointment the day before this and I was dilated to about a 3 and he was in position to go, but NOTHING was happening. Ugh. So we set an appointment for Monday July 1 and would see what the weekend would entail. I was feeling discouraged. Highly discouraged.

On Friday the 28, I did ask Michael for that blessing and we ended up talking for about two hours while Emily played in her room. We finished at around 8/8:15 pm and Emily was crying, so I went in to comfort her. I sat on the floor in her room and just held her for a minute. I had sent her to go ask Michael something and went to stand up. It took a little longer than usual to stand, and when I finally did, I felt warm liquid run down my legs. At first I thought I peed myself, it wouldn't have been the first time, but then I realized that I had never had the urge to pee. Michael came to check on me and I looked at him kind of shocked then raced into the shower. Poor Michael was a little confused at my response, until he saw my wet bottoms. "Did your water just break? Really?" No honey, I was carrying a jar of pickle juice with me and spilled it. Yes, my water broke.

I raced into the shower to rinse off and after I thought I could just put a pad on, I mean after all, there couldn't be THAT much fluid, right? Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. I tried just putting a pad on and within two-three minutes I had to change it. So, I was silly and put another pad on. Two minutes passed and I was dripping fluid down my leg, so I went to go rinse off again. Only...there was a laundry basket in the way. So I did what any women in labor would do, I tried to jump over the laundry basket into the bathtub. Yeah, it ended about as badly as it sounds. Combine that with a giggly Yannie and a kind of worried Michael- it made for a comedy skit, that's for sure. After I had showered for the second time, I gave in and just put an adult diaper on. (YUCK!) Somewhere amongst all this chaos, we managed to text Heather (my mid-wife), and Laura (Michael's cousin who was coming down from Salt Lake to help) that my water had broken. Michael even was able to call his mom and let her know, as she was going to watch Emily for us.

Great! Something is happening. Maybe? I still hadn't really had any contractions by the time Laura got here about an hour after texting her and I was antsy. And hyper. Very hyper. When Laura got here, she immediately told me she had something for me in her car which immediately piqued my interest, so she went out and got what it was. It was a blanket that Michael's grandma had made before she passed away last year. Laura's mom felt that it was for Asher. Cue the tears. We packed it in the bag to bring with us to the birth center.

After Laura was here, I tried to settle down for a bit by watching a movie with Laura and Michael. Guess what didn't work... I was way too riled and hyper and hungry. I NEEDED food. About eleven-ish Michael laid down to take a nap and told me to wake him up when I needed him. I still hadn't had any real contractions, so Laura and I hit the pavement. We walked around the block three (?) times and came back to the apartment. Laura laid down to get some sleep and I sat on the couch trying to lose myself in a book. Before too long, I too fell asleep, but it wasn't very restful. I started having contractions. YES!!!

Now it's Saturday, June 29 at 4 in the morning and the contractions are getting closer. This is good. About 5:30 I woke Michael up and told him that maybe we should head to the birth center, as the contractions were coming about every four minutes. So, we woke Laura up, put the bags in the car, called Michael's mom and had her come over and headed to the center. Laura decided to get some bagels before heading to the birth center, so Michael and I got there a few minutes before her. Contractions had stopped, so Michael and I walked the yard for a bit.

When we went back inside, Laura was there so we had bagels after Heather checked me. I was already at a five! BOO YA! Heck, that first half was easy. I was so hoping the second half would be too. Well, contractions weren't kicking back in, so I was constantly moving- on the birth ball, walking around, walking outside, sitting and playing in the birth tub, laughing at the jokes being told on my comedy station, walking some more, taking some natural supplement every 20 minutes to help labor, and you know what? STILL NOTHING!! How ridiculously frustrating.

Around noon, Heather decided to send me home and let me labor at home for a bit. She gave me some tinctures, some more natural stuff, even some caster oil. All in hopes of progressing labor. So, now we're back at my apartment and waiting. Michael and Laura convince me that I should take a nap. That felt so good to get some sleep in! Michael awoke me a couple hours later and we ate some pancakes and then it was back to moving around. (The Caster Oil didn't even give me an upset stomach!) And moving. And moving. Around 5:30 pm, Heather asked if we could be back at the birth center around six. Yup. Right before we headed back, I got a pretty serious craving for a hamburger and fries from Wendy's, so Laura went over and got me some. Wendy's had never tasted so good, in the history of ever.

The drive back to the birth center was uneventful. No contractions. Boo! As soon as we were back, we all decided to hit me with EVERYTHING! Tinctures, herbs, nipple stimulation, pressure points, moving around, everything that we could possibly try, we tried. It was kind of intense, but I started having contractions. Laura was timing them, but was not allowed to tell me the times, because it would drive me crazy. After a couple hours, I started going insane with the pump (for nipple stimulation). I felt it wasn't really helping. It was also during this time that I had Michael put a calming station on Pandora and we took the clock down, so I really had no sense of time. The clock was making me anxious.

A few hours later, I asked if I could get a little nap in, and the request was readily okayed. I got woken up from the nap with a contraction, and Michael wasn't there! After the contraction passed, I asked Laura where Michael was and she told me he was talking with Heather and her team. My heart sank. I knew they were talking about the possibility of having to transfer me to the hospital.

Michael came back in and told me my options. 1) Stay birthing at the birth center until it becomes an emergency to transfer, 2) Transfer immediately, and the third option wasn't an option for any of us. Teresa and Heather were discussing how pitocin could help, but Teresa didn't have her license yet and we didn't want to transfer me just for pitocin. So, this wasn't an option for us. Period.

After Michael kind of gave me the brief run-down, Heather came in to talk to me and explain the options in detail. I was torn. I didn't want to go to the hospital, but I could understand their concern. My water had been broken for a long time and nothing was really happening. I couldn't make a decision, so I asked if I could have a priesthood blessing before we decided, so Michael called his dad to help. He was more than happy to help. (I later found out we called him at around 2 am Sunday morning!) Right before Carl (Michael's dad) got to the center, there was a sudden freak rainstorm. My power weather! It was wonderful! It was still storming while I received the blessing. The blessing left both Michael and I confused about what we should do. There were some parts that we interpreted to mean go to the hospital, and others to mean stay at the birth center, but I received the prompting that either way would work, I just needed to have faith.

So. Where did that leave us? Well, we decided that because the hospital has a protocol that I would need two doses of antibiotics because of my water being broke for so long, that we would do the first dose and wait out the four hours at the birth center seeing if I progressed. If it turned out that I progressed enough, I would be able to stay at the birth center. I had to start having regular, hard contractions. No pressure.

Not too long after the blessing and after Carl left, contractions hit. And hit. And hit. I could take a breath here and there, and Michael was amazing and right there with me. At some point, he had taken off his shirt so we could have lots of skin-on-skin contact (I had long given up on clothes at this point. They were just a nuisance!) which helped release the needed oxytocin. Michael never gave up on me, and was a great labor coach. Finally, at one point I asked if I could have a shower. The contractions were getting more intense, and I thought I nice warm shower would help.

Karen (one of Heather's students), Michael, and Laura all helped me up the stairs (yes, the shower was UP the dang stairs!) and Michael stayed with while I was showering. The contractions were coming a lot harder, faster, and were starting to last longer. The shower did help-for a bit. Then all of a sudden, it wasn't. I got out of the shower and told Michael that I needed something, but I didn't know what. I just needed something.

Michael told me that I needed to get back downstairs. I went down one stair and that's when transition and exhaustion hit. I got the most painful contraction at the top of the stairs and I was so tired that I couldn't walk down. I had to sit and kind of scoot down. But it gets better. I couldn't hold me head up anymore, so Michael was in front of me guiding me down and Karen was behind me letting me rest my head on her and offering words of encouragement. Michael had made a rule that once I got down three stairs, I could take a thirty second break. I never made it to three stairs. This is how it went- go down one stair, have a contraction, take a ten second break, go down one stair, have a contraction, have a ten second break. At one point during this process, I told Michael to just let me die. That we could borrow his dad's shotgun and a few bullets and just be done with it. He just kind of laughed.

We were almost to the bottom of the stairs when I got a contraction so power, that I could no longer sit. I had to stand. As soon as I stood, I started pushing. I told Michael that I didn't want to push right then, I wanted to rest. I needed to rest. But the contractions were coming frequently and I couldn't fight that urge. Michael told me that we needed to get me on the bed, then I could lay down. I made it to the bed, and just kind of flopped down on my left side. Suddenly, I felt different. My head was a little clearer, and I was super focused. At one point, Michael was trying to help me staying focused by keeping time by tapping on my hip, and it seriously annoyed me. I swatted his hand away. He laughed and made the statement that I was back.

So, now I'm laying on my side pushing. Michael is behind me, Laura is at my head holding my hands, and my foot is propped up on Karen's shoulder to aid in the pushing, and Michael tells me "Okay, after this contraction I want you to go back on the birth stool." NO FREAKIN' WAY! After he made that statement, the contraction didn't stop. :) At some point, Naomi (another student) came in and replaced Karen, only to have to call everyone back in about five minutes later. Why? Because Asher was crowning. All I really knew at that point, was that the energy in the room had changed and every nerve in my body was super focused on pushing this baby out. My body was so focused that at one point I had to release the energy by proclaiming "Get him out!" It wasn't directed at anyone, just a statement that my body had to make. Then I heard Heather yelling at me to stop pushing for just a second, and my mind completely rebelled. How was I supposed to stop?

But I did manage to stop for a second, and she was able to find his heartbeat, (Asher's heartbeat stayed at a consistent 150 during the entire labor. It was like he wasn't even phased by this whole experience!) and I was given the green light to continue pushing. I did and I felt his head come out and was told to stop pushing again because the cord was wrapped around his neck. Heather just popped the cord right off, it wasn't even a big deal. I was already feeling euphoric, and Asher wasn't even properly born yet! One more push, and out came his body. Immediately he was placed on my stomach. I was beyond cloud nine. Here was my son, my handsome son, and he was just looking at me like "Hi mommy! That was quite the adventure, huh?" Not once did he cry. While I was staring and cooing at Asher, I was checked for tears-none, baby!-and pushed for the placenta to come out, but it wasn't. After a few minutes, Heather told me that she had to reach in and pull it out. I just stayed looking at my handsome son, and before I knew it the placenta was delivered and I could nurse Asher. He immediately latched and was (still is, believe me!) a fantastic nurser. After the placenta was delivered, Heather made the comment that the placenta was huge, "like I've only seen a placenta this big with twins!" Um, thank you?

After Asher was born, Michael crashed and I asked if I could get the IV out (remember the antibiotics?), but was told that Heather was concerned about me collapsing so they said that I had to walk to bathroom and actually go to bathroom, before they would take it out. Okay, that's fair. I handed Asher to Laura and Naomi walked with me to the restroom, and I was able to pee. Yay, no bruised bladder!! Then Naomi and Karen got me cleaned up, and we went back to room. Teresa took my IV out, and we all took a much needed nap!

Asher was born at 6:02 am Sunday, June 30, and it was about 7 that we all fell went to sleep. We woke up about noon, I went to the bathroom again, got some food, fed Asher, and by that point I was dying to know weight and everything. Karen and Naomi came in, clamped Asher's umbilical cord and Michael got to cut it! They weighed him-- 9 LBS 1 OZ, and measured him and during all this, he still refused to cry. He had no need to cry, and I was smitten. Positively smitten.

We went home not too long after he was weighed and measured and Michael's parents brought Emily home a short time later. She immediately wanted to hold her little brother, and I couldn't stop smiling. 34 hours of labor, but I would do it all again for Asher.

Post-partum from Asher's  birth was much easier than Emily's, and I think there were several huge contributors to that- Michael was able to help out a lot more, he was never taken from me, I was able to experience all of it- including the urge to push, I felt safe, and above all, I was able to form that bond with him. I didn't have anyone telling me I was nursing incorrectly or waking me up every two hours to feed him. I was left to parent in the way I felt best. I loved delivering naturally and I love my little boy!

Sexual Abuse and Lessons Learned

Growing up, I was no stranger to sexual abuse including rape. It seemed to come at me from everywhere I turned, and I couldn't tell anyone because I would tear the family apart and besides, I deserved it anyway. I did try telling people once. I told a teacher at my middle school and before the day was over, my mother knew. Then my whole family knew. Then I had it pounded into me that I was going to tear the family apart and I deserved it. That's where that thought came from. The one rape I did report, never went to court because I couldn't testify. I was terrified to. Can you honestly blame me when I had those ideas forced on me? All of my rapists have gotten off. 

For the longest time, I blamed myself. I believed the lies that were sent my way. That somehow, someway, it was my fault. I deserved it. I was less because of this abuse. I wasn't a worthy person. That's all I was good for. Sex trafficking. I considered prostitution. (Thankfully, I never followed through on this thought!) I was truly convinced that there was nothing that could make me a better person, and I carried these feelings around. That guilt gnawed at me, slowly tearing me down. I was nothing. I wasn't any good. 

A good portion of this abuse happened in the summer of 2004, and that might actually surprise a lot of people. But it might also answer a lot of questions. Middle school was hard for me as it was, but throw sexual abuse on top of it? Yup, I was done. Mentally, I snapped. School, which had always been a safe haven for me, no longer held the same appeal. I couldn't bring myself to do my schoolwork and my grades starting slipping, and I was even more withdrawn than usual, but I somehow managed to finish middle school. Then high school hit, with new problems and a lot of the same ones. You guessed it, the sexual abuse did not stop. Fan-freakin-tastic.

But towards the end of my freshman year, something happened. Something positive. Rocky Steele showed up at my door and invited me to attend church and offered me a ride with his family. Then he set up missionary discussions for me. During one of the lessons, I was being taught about the Law of Chastity, and started crying. I asked them what would happen to someone who did not choose to have sex, but was forced to. I was sure they would tell me that I was in trouble. That I should have stopped it, it was my fault, and that they would no longer teach me about the gospel. But that didn't happen. 

The missionaries stopped the lesson and Brother Steele explained to me that rape was different. I had not broken the law of chastity. If I remember correctly, the missionaries did not continue with the planned lesson, but rather we all prayed. I can't express to you the feeling of love and warmth that swept over me during that prayer. I knew that I what I had been told by these missionaries and Brother Steele was true- I was not at fault. 

Now, this didn't fix everything, and I'm still learning and healing from my years of sexual abuse, but I'm nowhere near where I was when I was fifteen and investigating the LDS church. I am able to trust men a little bit more, heck, I'm married and I don't have any sort of flashbacks when we are together. I found that just because all these people were telling me that I was worthless and only good for sex, doesn't mean it's true. They were, and are, wrong. This abuse does not make me less of a person, but it has made me stronger. I know how to help others better when they have been through a similar situation, and for that reason alone it was not in vain. No, I wouldn't go through it again if I had a choice, but I am grateful I did go through it. These experiences have brought me closer to Christ, as well as Michael, and have made it so I am able to help guide others through these feelings of guilt and worthlessness.

I am no longer a victim, I am a survivor, and I will continue to fight for myself and others.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Deaf Are Not Broken

I had the wonderful privilege of attending a deaf festival today and had a blast! It was good practice and a good step into the deaf culture. I was having a great time, until I went inside to look at the booths in there. That's where I became appalled. Among all the wonderful stands for art, jewelry, and other amazing things, there were several, as in not just one, cochlear implant/hearing aid booths. At a deaf festival!

Michael and I both noticed that there were no deaf people around these particular booths, which made us extremely happy, but they were giving out children's books and colouring books. Okay, fine. Whatever. Upon reading them though, we soon realized that these CHILDREN'S books were saying that the child was broken without a cochlear implant. It showed the child as being happy once they had the implant and implied that the child couldn't be happy without it. But they went a step further by showing her with a lot friends after her implant, but not before. Another point about this book that infuriated me, is the fact that the authors showed that the child was happy and was able to walk around and play the very next day. They never once talked about the fact that it is rewiring the brain, that it will ALWAYS be work to hear, and they definitely failed to discuss how painful it is. I'm a hearing person and I was appalled at this propaganda that was being pushed upon us.

Being deaf does not mean the person is broken, in fact, rather far from it. They do not need to be fixed. Cochlear implants may sound good on the surface but digging a little deeper and looking from the deaf perspective, you'll soon learn just how superfluous they truly are.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Depression is real

I decided the other day that I needed to write more about my experiences and maybe even what I've learned from them. The other day I wrote a post entitled "I Am A Cutter" and found it healthy for me to get it into writing. This might become a regular thing and it might not. We'll see. Some of these posts may not actually make it all the way to the published stage. Again, we'll see.

What is depression? Webster's dictionary defined depression as: 1) a depressing or being depressed; 2) a hollow or low place; 3) low spirits, dejection; 4) a condition marked by hopelessness, self-doubt, lethargy, etc. While these definitions are all true, they do not share the utter despair one feels when depressed. And no you cannot just "get over it." I'm here to say-depression is real and it sucks! It worms its way into your mind, usually a little a time, and convinces you of things that are untrue. Its a constant battle. There are times when the best you can do is simply to open your eyes in the morning. That's sometimes all you literally handle with depression. Everything else just doesn't matter.

Sometimes the depression will become so severe, that you can't even open your eyes in the morning. You sleep to ignore the world and you start wishing you never had to deal with living anymore. Suddenly, thoughts of suicide come into your mind and before you know it, you have attempted suicide. I have reached that point many times and each time I remember thinking that everyone would be better without me. My last attempt, coincidentally, coincides with my last self-injury. May of 2012. Surprised to find out about that? Yeah.. Most people are. I tried overdosing on some prescription pain medications, but thankfully, I have what I call a "fail-safe." There is at least a small part of me that doesn't want to give up, and I will let someone know what I've done. (Yes, I'm thankful for that now, but I can honestly tell you I wasn't at the time.)

It is likely that I will deal with this debilitating mental illness the rest of my life, but I'm getting better. The fight has not gotten easier at all, but I'm learning different coping methods. I'm learning to talk to those around me and now blogging and get it out in the open. Having depression doesn't make me less of a person, it's just like any physical illness-you just can't see it. It's always there waiting for me to think one negative thought, or to have one bad day. It's there. Waiting for me to mess up and just that quick I'm ensnared again. I do the best I can and sometimes that's not very much. Please don't judge me for having my mind attack me. Please don't tell me to just get over it, pray harder, or read my scriptures more. It's not just going to go away-no matter how much faith I have.

When I was younger, and first investigating the LDS church, I was told over and over again to simply pray for it to go away or to read my scriptures more fervently or or or. But it doesn't work that way. Sometimes, those wonderful activities don't even make it easier and that's okay. I'm still a good person. I'm still fighting, which means I haven't completely given up. When I had those misled perceptions constantly pushed at me, I felt that I wasn't doing the best I could be, that I wasn't worthy, that I have faith, and about a billion other things. This misconception needs to be changed. Depression is real-I can't stress that enough.

So, what can you do if someone you know has the struggle of depression? First, don't belittle them or tell them "to get over it," "pray harder," or "have more faith." These people already have a lot on their plates. For pete's sake, their mind is rebelling against them! It's not easy and it can't just be wished away. Second, love them. Let them know you love them. Let them know you're thinking of them. Let them talk to you; sometimes having someone they can talk to makes all the difference. Third, don't push them away because they're being difficult. These are the times they really NEED people in their lives, though usually this is the time they have less because a lot of people don't understand what is happening. If they try to push you away, gently but firmly let them know you're not going anywhere- and you don't want them to either.

Depression is dark. Very dark. Your thoughts are not your own and sometimes you don't know where to turn. If you're reading this because you too have depression, know that I understand. I understand the stigma associated with a word like depression and how hard it is to constantly have to be vigilant. I understand the darkness.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

I Am A Cutter

I am a cutter. 

That's not what most people expect to read, but unfortunately it is true. I began harming myself when I was thirteen and it quickly became a drug to me. Every day I added more cuts to my arms, legs, and stomach until have many wasn't helping me feel better, so I started cutting deeper and deeper. Eventually it led to me having to get stitches. This was a way I could feel better, simply because I was feeling. Looking back, I realized it was also a way for me to plead for help when I was too terrified to voice my feelings, but then I was scared to accept the help. It was horrible and I knew it, but I couldn't stop.

It hit me recently how many people had tried to help me, but at the time I didn't feel that anyone was there. I tried to continue on and just pretend it was fine. I tried ignoring this addiction. I always failed. It became something I had to do even when I wasn't being bothered by something at that moment. It was my comfort object. I could rely on cutting- it was always accessible. I was in control. I could feel. 

As I grew older, I started to become embarrassed by my scars, so I would swear that I would stop. But then I would have a trigger and go into autopilot mode and cut, which would then make me embarrassed and I would swear that that was the last time. But it wasn't. This cycle repeated for a few years. What made the change? Realizing that there were people in my life, who weren't leaving, loved me for me, and fought with me to stop the behavior. I learned that people really cared. 

So, why did I proclaim I am a cutter if I've stopped? Because I will always have this addiction. Much a recovering alcoholic will always be an alcoholic. I have to constantly fight. It has been roughly 14 months since I have self-harmed, and I still find myself slipping into that autopilot mode which leads to cutting, but I have tools now I didn't have when I was thirteen. I have the ability to talk to others and clue them in. I have the gift of writing on a blog about my struggles. (You wouldn't believe how much this one helps me, as I'm suddenly accountable to the entire interweb.) But that want is still there and may never go away, and that is why I am still a cutter. It will become easier I'm sure, however, it's not quite there just yet. I am not quitting this fight, and I may stumble at times, but I know I have many people who are willing to catch me and are fighting on my side. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Afternoon Smoothie

That's right, I had a second green smoothie today! I'm rockin it!

Today's Afternoon Green Smoothie
1/2 red delicious apple
2 bananas
1 cup mango nectar
1.5 cups spinach
1/2 cup ice

This smoothie made both me and Emily very happy! SO TASTY!!!

Some thoughts on BYU

Being a student in the Provo/Orem area, I'm constantly getting asked why I don't attend BYU. To this my response is- I don't really like the school. Can you guess the reaction? More shocked than anything, and this usually is the start to a weird conversation with a person trying to explain why I prefer not to go to BYU. Here are some of my reasons:

  • They are slight hypocrites. For example, the honor code clearly states not to wear skin-tight clothing and all men must be shaved unless they have a legitimate reason not to-and then they have to wear a beard tag! Now say that there is a young woman in skin-tight clothing and a young man that has not shaved that morning because he was running late. Both of them are going to the testing center to take a test. Do both get denied access to the test until they can conform to the honor code? No. Only the young man does. 
  • Also on the hypocrite edge- there are a lot of young women attending BYU, whom dress rather immodestly. You know, shirts way too low and skirts way too high. However, these girls don't get spoken to about their dress, rather they are the ones all the guys are staring after, so it's ok. 
  • The honor code expects more than a temple recommend does. 
  • When you inform the honor code office of people breaking the honor code nothing happens. (Granted this may have just been mine and my roommates experience, but it still happened.) 
  • The campus is just too big! It has it's own zip code.. 'nuf said.

I do recognize that BYU has some redeeming traits as well, such as:
  • Having educators that truly care about the success of their students.
  • Having challenging courses with a variety 
  • A lot of student activities
  • They have an amazing library collection
  • The students, typically, are nicer than most college students.
  • You won't find cigarette butts littering the campus
I understand that BYU has it's good and bad traits, like any school does, but for me it is not a good match. I feel stiff and out-of-place just walking on campus usually. I haven't been a student at BYU and that's a good thing.