Friday, September 30, 2016

Guess What? I'm Dilating!

Just kidding, I'm not.  This post was written last night when I thought I was dilating because that is what people with normal, compliant cervixes do when bullied by loads of Cytotec.  Not my cervix!  It's a fighter.  

This morning after a biopsy where the doctor had to do some extra maneuvering due to my undilated cervix (read: hurt me really bad because my cervix wants me to die), we confirmed what I suspected years ago:  my cervix does not dilate.  Like, really does not dilate.  Apparently it doesn't view that as part of its job function.  My cervix is kind of a jerk.  In all seriousness, the doctor actually thinks I may have some kind of issue that caused my cervix to stay closed through pregnancies and Cytotec.  

But, I decided to let you read the musings I had last night when I was in a lot of pain and thought my cervix was dilating.  The whole experience brought back a lot of weird feelings about my C-sections.   That's right, I had to sit through loads of emotional turmoil while in physical pain only to find out my body, once again, didn't do what it was supposed to.  Go home, cervix, nobody wants you.

Want to know what my cervix is doing in this picture?  Thinking, Man,
I'm glad they did this C-section cause I wasn't gonna budge!

From Last Night:

For real!  As I write this my cervix, the cervix that was not dilated when I was 43 WEEKS PREGNANT with Sam, the cervix that despite 10 weeks of contractions with the twins didn't budge, that cervix is dilating thanks to some Cytotec.

But I'm not pregnant.

I have an upcoming procedure where the test that needs to take place requires a dilated cervix.  When my doctor first told me this, I laughed.   "My cervix?"  I asked.  "You want it to open?"  He didn't laugh and then gave me a prescription for some drugs and told me the pain would be awful and see you later.

The pain really is pretty bad.

Here's the thing, though.  In my bed with a heating pad and some time on my hands, I've become reflective.  Having a dilating cervix AFTER I had all my kids by C-section really hurts emotionally.  It feels personal.  I didn't think anything about those surprise C-sections could still get me because I dealt with my big feelings of failure and loss after each one.  But apparently it can.  Sitting here having what feels like Braxton Hicks contractions is bringing back all of those feelings of excitement I had when I thought I'd be grunting out my little ones like planned.  Instead I got cold surgery rooms, my uterus on the outside of my body, and puking from anesthetic.

I also got some great babies, so it's good.

I'm pretty sure my decision to pick up and write an article on C-sections for BabyGaga also helped bring some of this to the surface.

Here's what I've decided:  some things we get over and never let go of all at the same time.  In the throes of homeschooling two kids while trying to keep the younger two from maiming each other or continuosly sticking their fingers in their butts (that is actually a thing around here), I don't think a lot about the C-sections anymore.  That doesn't mean I'm over them.  I'm at peace with what happened and the decisions that had to be made, but I think I'm always going to have some complicated feelings surrounding my body just straight up punking out on birthing.  I know, my body has done some other really awesome things and I love it and feed it Chipotle and Hail Mary tarts often.  But in this one area, things still feel personal.

Here's what I'm glad about:

I'm glad I was educated and fought for the births I wanted, even if it didn't turn out the way I planned.  I had more knowledge going in, and that benefitted me even though I had to have C-sections.

I'm glad I fought hard to VBAC with Sam.  I didn't get to, but despite people telling me it was impossible and I should just forget about it, I pushed through until 43 weeks because I needed to know I tried to give him a less medicinal birth.  I don't doubt that I did all I could, and that helps give me some peace.

I'm glad I have to explore these feelings anew every once in a while.  It isn't fun, but it's a good reminder of how wonderful lessons and people can come out of unplanned situations.

So, there's that.  If you haven't followed all my trying-to-evict-babies struggles, feel free to look through the blog.  There's everything from the advice I got about drinking semen for induction to standing upside down on my head in a pool the day Wren was due.

No one in the world can say I didn't try.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

September Book List

It was a very good month for fiction!  In fact, I only read one memoir, and the rest of the month I was wrapped in one invented world after another.


Russian Tattoo by Elena Gorokhova:  Gorokhova tells the story of how she moved from Russia to the U.S. in her twenties, leaving her mother and sister behind.  Her story explores the relationships between mothers and daughters and the unfamiliar sensation of being an immigrant, always living in two places at once.  She shares details about her life in Russia and tells what happened when her mother followed her to the states after her daughter was born.  It was a great read, and I may pick up what I guess would be considered the prequel (do memoirs have prequels?) A Mountain of Crumbs.


How I Became a North Korean by Krys Lee:  The author introduces us to three characters, all who have at some point lived in North Korea (one only lived there in utero, I believe).  Their lives intersect and the true nature of living in North Korea, as well as the unsure fate of those who escape the country, is revealed in words that are both hard to read and hopeful.

All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker: This was a mind trip if there ever was one.  A teenager is raped during a party, but she is given a new medication to make her forget the details of what occurred.  While she knows she was raped, not being able to connect the event with any viable memories leaves her disoriented and causes more problems than it solves.

Enter the narrator, a doctor who is trying to help her recover her memories so she can properly heal. His unveiling of the events reveals to the reader a fuller story than could have ever been imagined and will make the reader question the motives of every person they trust.  

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty:  I have loved Liane Moriarty's writing for a long time.  While What Alice Forgot will probably always be my favorite of hers, Truly Madly Guilty comes in a close second.  This story, told from many different perspectives, deals with marriage, parenting, friendship, and hoarding all at once.  Moriarty also does a beautiful job of showing us our prejudices, in this case how our expectations of mothers are so far beyond our expectations for fathers.

As usual, Moriarty has secrets up her sleeve until the final page, yet none of the storyline feels contrived.  In fact, that may be both the best and hardest part of reading her work:  it feels just like something that could happen to any of us.

The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney : I almost felt guilty for caring so deeply about the four siblings in this book.  Their upper class New York lives filled with problems of their own greedy making should repel readers from the first page.  But they don't.  Sweeney does such a good job of offering rich characters that The Nest was addictive all the way through.

When eldest brother Leo has a car accident, the money in the nest that is supposed to be split between him and his siblings is nearly drained to cover up his drug-fueled drive with a teenage girl.  Since most of the siblings have spent beyond their means waiting for the money they were sure they'd eventually have, this event affects the dynamic of the family and causes serious reevaluations to take place for most everyone involved.

The Nutshell by Ian McEwan:  McEwan introduces an unexpected narrator in his latest novel:  an unborn child.  We learn from the child that his mother is planning on killing his father after taking up with a new lover.  The child's perspective and insight is both entertaining and heartbreaking as we wait to see how he will survive with such incompetent adults at the wheel.  Will he survive?

McEwan's prose is always poetry in its own way, so prepare to be immersed in the language as well as the story.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

What I Will Tell My Kids About Rape

Brock Turner will be released tomorrow after serving only three months in prison for raping a woman while she was unconscious.  Because of this, bloggers have been encouraged to write for the "You Can Rape Me Because I'm Drunk" Challenge.  It technically takes place tomorrow, but I am posting today because I'm not sure how technologically available I'll be tomorrow since we're spending the day away as a family.

I don't know where to start because the word rape brings up way too much for most of us to deal with.  But what I think about the most is how to talk to my kids about this when they're older.  How do you explain such depravity, such hateful behavior?  And how do you explain the Brock Turners of the world somehow managing to play the victim card after violating a woman so thoroughly?  I don't know, friends.  I really don't know.

Here's what I do know:  I'm going to talk to my kids about rape, and these are the four things I know for sure I will say.

Always Look Through Helper Eyes

If you can help someone who can't help themselves, do it.  Be the young man or woman who helps a friend out of a threatening situation.  Keep your eyes open for the evil doers waiting to harm women, and try to be the person who doesn't let it happen.  Feel empowered enough to make a difference, because you can.

Know When to Have a Conversation and When Not To

There were many people who, after finding out about Brock Turner and his dad's appalling letter to the judge, wanted to focus in on drinking.  Not Brock Turner's drinking, the drinking of the woman he raped.  Before they wanted to talk about the injustice of rape, about the craziness behind that letter, about this victim's rights, they wanted to talk about her drinking.

While there is a time and a place for every conversation, this was neither.  It was especially insulting to hear Turner and his father blame drinking for Brock's irresponsible behavior, and therefore make his excessive drinking the reason why he shouldn't be punished, when the victim was told  because she drank she deserved what she got.  Apparently Turner deserved nothing for either getting drunk or raping an unconscious woman.  And basically, he got nothing for it.

Such a sexist message is not helping the conversation we need to have about rape.

Rape is Everywhere

Date rape.  Gang rape.  Women raped while they were drinking or raped while they were sober.  Women raped by strangers and raped by someone they thought they loved.  We haven't given these women a safe place to come forward.  The question "What were you wearing?" should not be one a person has to answer when reporting a rape.  Threatening college girls with penalties for their behavior when they come forward to report a rape should be outlawed.  Asking a woman if she was "violently raped" should earn the questioner a class on the definition of rape.

It's happening to your mothers and sisters and daughters and friends, and most of them have been shamed into silence knowing the Brock Turners of the world will walk away unscathed while the victims live out their nightmare over and over again.

Don't Put Up With Bad Behavior

Strip clubs and porn, sexist jokes and catcalling are all pretty standard parts of our society.  They shouldn't be.  Women in pornography are often underage and drugged, having been trafficked so they could be exploited.  Men and women who stereotype women as being only one exaggerated personality trait-nag, killjoy, bitch-pave the way for women to be looked at as less than human.

We don't have to support any of this, not with our money or time, not with our attitude.  Rape is a symptom of a bigger problem, and that problem is women being viewed as property as opposed to  God-created souls with a purpose.  Kill this disease at the root.

I remember telling my dad that I was sure if he had sons the rules in our house for curfews and dating and parties would be different.  He answered honestly by saying, "They would."  As girls, we were taught from the beginning to be aware, to be alert, to understand the threat, and I resented it and still do.  But I don't resent my dad for teaching me to do all of those things, though it doesn't always ensure safety.  I resent the society that made him feel it was necessary.

My kids are growing up in that society, three girls and one sweet, sensitive guy.  Will the rules be different for them based on gender?  Will I have to tell my girls that part of their minds will always be distracted as they navigate life under constant unknown threats?  Will they be forced to make extra perfect decisions just to avoid being blamed if anything bad happens to them?  Dear Lord, I hope not. I hope at some point we all get fed up enough and men and women unite to stand as lookouts, to offer solace, to be the voice for those who have lost their own due to brutality.  I really hope.