I went away for a loooooong while. After a certain tragedy last year, I have moved, I dropped out of nursing school, my son’s father and I separated, I met a new man and am now in the process of piecing my life back together.

Though the past year has presented the darkest thoughts in my head that I have almost ever known, I haven’t stopped loving birth. It really is the field I am meant to be in. Because of this, I haven’t given up on my dream to become a certified nurse midwife. I ran out of school money (I had no idea that pell grants ran out!), so I have been talking with a National Guard recruiter about joining! I’ll join as an officer and be able to advance my career from there. For now, I’ll just get tickled about the people in my life that I love that are growing babies.

It’s strange what a major life change can do in every aspect of life. Nothing worries me as much anymore because I know that it could all certainly be worse. I don’t leave the house much- I do a lot of cooking and cleaning. I don’t see my son as much as I used to, so that eats away at me every moment of every day he’s away. He’s away now and I don’t want to go anywhere. Gabriel went to a bonfire party- in October… My favorite kind! And I just didn’t want to go. I left the house once this week to take my son to his dad, and that’s it. I work out a lot, I drink a lot of coffee, I clean and cook and yada yada, but I moved to a rural place and I think the art of conversation is lost on me now. It’s a perishable skill, I guess.

I am trying more and more every day to come to terms with the idea that I have to leave my son. For five months. That’s for basic training and AIT. OCS will be every weekend for 18 months. I grieve not having him for 3.5 days a week- I can’t imagine being without him for so long.

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Busy Busy & Adipose Tissue

I’m taking expedited Summer courses and am taking tests back to back to back for nursing school applications as well as my own classes. I spend so much time studying that it seems like if ANYthing happens in my life, I have to study extra hard to make up for spending any precious time away from my books.

That being said, I have been having a lot of fun with my studies…..

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That is a breast. A mass of adipose tissue, glands, and milk ducts. Who called that sexy??? It’s beautiful, ingenious, and wonderful… But sexy? Hmmm!

Happy birthing!

Support

Beary good friendsI’ve learned an important lesson the past few months that I’ll carry with me into my midwifery career. That lesson is…. the value of support.

I didn’t realize that I was learning this lesson until my little family hit the peak of our broke-ness. Our gas tank was on E, I had .83 cents in my bank account, I was sending mental messages of “thanks” to the jerk that stole my phone because it would be blowing up with banks calling me to remind me that I was one week, two weeks, three weeks late…we couldn’t even buy dish soap to wash our dishes, so we were getting pretty creative.

We (almost) all know that feeling in our guts we get when we don’t know how we are going to make it until payday. Helplessness. I usually have a pretty good sense of humor about things, but my summer classes began recently and my car said that we had 10 miles to empty. My class was probably 8 miles away. So how would I make it home? I drove to class, left when it was over, and used a handful of change I had come up with to pay for gas. Standing in the line at the gas station, I was so nervous that the cashier would embarrass me. She seemed like she was in a bad mood. “I’m just getting gas” is what I told myself. “People probably pay with change every day.” When I jokingly handed her the handful of change, she huffed out a big sigh and counted it frustratedly as a line formed behind me. It really kicked me while I was low. We didn’t have money to eat a decent non-ramen meal in the land of the free, and here I’m getting hell for requiring this cashier to spend a couple seconds longer counting my money? Was she not getting paid by the hour? Is spending time at work not a good thing for her?! When I left, I was so upset that it really just toppled over all of the frustrations that had built up. I promised myself that I should always be more patient with people. Her small lack of patience in such an irrelevant-to-her situation really hurt me. How easy was that?

Now, fast forward to yesterday. I was yet again asked by a friend: “So… when are you going to stop breastfeeding?” This is an issue that’s been dragging on in my personal life for months now. Let me first say that breastfeeding past a month is a serious accomplishment: it’s selfless, exhausting, and oooooh so painful. So I got a lot of static from family and friends about continuing through my son’s awful Silent GERD. Some said I was stressing my family out to the point of unfairness. Everyonw said introducing formula was really okay. Some said my milk was bad. Those things really tore me up, too… Here I was, veiny-boobed, holding a screaming baby, trying with all of my haven’t-slept-in-weeks strength to do what I felt was extremely important for my son, and these people are not only doubting me, but they were giving me doubts about myself. I believe they meant well, but it made it that much harder to keep pushing through the scabbed nipples and 20-minute intervals of sleep. So when my son turned about 6 months of age, everyone was so proud and happy for me to have made it through the dark times and encouraged me to keep doing what was best for my son. So when I continued breastfeeding past my son’s first birthday, the encouragement faded little by little towards “well, it’s really time to stop.”

The World Health Organization recommends that a child remains breastfed until at least 2 years old. This I know, and I continue to do because I’m a student of biology and I see what difference a calf’s breastmilk has on the gut from a baby human’s breastmilk. That’s right– a calf’s breastmilk. Milk of a dairy cow’s utter is made for baby calfs, yet we remain the only species that not only consumes breastmilk after childhood, but regularly consumes the breastmilk of another species! How ironic that we get grossed out by human breastmilk but are cool with cow milk, coming from a bulging utter, that has been boiled and transferred and shaken and EXIT SOAP BOX…..

So anyways, this is what I have figured out: when faced with a feeling within myself that another parent is doing something concerning their children that I feel is questionable in its correctness, this is what I’ll ask myself:

1. Is that parent making an informed decision?

2. Is that parent acting with their child’s best interest at heart? and

3. Is that parent of sound mind?

If that parent has made a decision in which they know the pros and cons of, a decision which is best for their offspring and their family, and that parent has not gone totally off their rocker…. then I ought to respect them, support them, and limit my advice that they didn’t ask for. My one comment, my one huff-and-puff sigh as I count some broke girl’s change, could make or break her spirit that day. When I’m standing next to a mother who is telling me she would like an elected cesarean after I have told her what the (worth mentioning) risks and benefits are, then she is choosing to experience her birth in that way and I won’t traumatize or terrify her with pressure to do otherwise. If the risks of a forced traumatic and terrifying vaginal birth outweigh those of a happy, peaceful cesarean for her birth, then call the anesthesiologist and whip out the scalpel.

Ideas Under Weiner

Gotta make a confession…Well, two of them.

Confession One:

I’m mildly obsessed with Vanderbilt University. By mildly, I mean that I scour the website at least a few times a week, gave birth in the medical center, and rally for it constantly. And I may OR MAY NOT have considered putting Vanderbilt stickers on my car to marvel at its golden beauty……………….. It’s an outstanding place. If you have never heard of it, it’s definitely one of the most accredited private universities in the US, located an hour south of me in Nashville, TN.

Vanderbilt’s midwifery program is an MSN program with several options. When I was gifted with the dream of becoming a midwife, I told myself that from now on, the sky is the limit. For that reason comes

Confession Two:

I have been purposely avoiding looking at the cost of tuition at Vanderbilt. I’m enjoying my daydreams vividly… that is, until today! Here we are…

Tuition and Fees for MSN and DNP

2012-2013 Tuition and Fees

Costs for Full-Time Study for 3 Semesters

 Tuition – Per Credit Hour $1,126
 Books* 2,200
 Health Insurance** 2,382
 Activity Fee & Rec Fees*** 477
 Computer Technology Lab Fees**** 525
 Liability Insurance 99
 Clinical Placement Fee (one time) 150
 Occupational Exposure Fee (once per year) 40
 Transcript Fee (one time) 30

Part-Time Study

Tuition – Per Credit Hour $  1,126

The program is 53 credit hours… so, $59,678.00 as of today in tuition alone. Let me tell you… I’m a first generation college student, I grew up in an apartment and slept on a couch. I had one bra. I work hard and I’m determined, but an unwed mother and the only source of income in my house of tres. Those numbers almost made me ralph. The sky is the limit until you search “tuition” on Vandy’s website…… YOWZA. That’ll put a roof on your sky-dreams!.

Anyways, still not giving up. I found that Vanderbilt offers several scholarships, tuition assistance programs, etc. etc. My purpose in this weird post is that I plan on applying to Vanderbilt once I am an RN. I’ll be an RN in two years… that means that I have two years to become totally worthy of a scholarship. I need to brew ideas… I need to know what outstanding shenanigans I can get myself in to that will make enough of an impact to allow me to afford the credentials that I need to continue the same impact for the rest of my breaths. I doubt a car wash will do (even though I’m breastfeeding, my hoots are just not that great), I don’t know that I can knit enough placenta dolls to inspire anyone… but my only idea so far is to try to fit a doula certification into my nursing school and start from there.

But that’s all I’ve got so far. I just read the jaw-dropping tuition statement about an hour ago, so my brain is still foggy. Any ideas will be laid out in front of their very own welcome-mat to my door of readytohearthems. Speaking of Welcome Mats, if you have a wiener dog and don’t have this, you are doing it all wrong.

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That’s just plain ol funny! Anyways, your ideas are greener under that wiener! Please!! As always, happy birthing! ❤

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Two Too Many…

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Remember partying it up back in the day? Whenever that was? I do. Remember all you learned? I don’t, and that’s because I drank tequila. But a sobering memory at a bar is what always flashes to my mind when I hear “Fetal Alcohol Syndrome…”

I was spending one of my usual nights out with my boyfriend and friends, surrounded by lights and clouds of smoke and sticky floors and happy dancing people. A friend and I grabbed our drinks off of the bar and danced our way over to our boyfriends. As we approached them, I remember catching a glimpse of my friend’s boyfriend’s face: disapproval. Skepticism. Questions. All directed at his girlfriend, a recent finder-outer that she had a baby on the way. “It’s just wine!” She told him, “The doctor said I can have two a day!” He rolled his eyes and we went back to living it up, but I remember taking in the scene for a second… working through my thoughts… I knew nothing about gestation except what you see from the cartoon characters in text books. But I knew that something about his uncertainty sparked something in my gut, though I knew no reason why… Until the time came for me to find out that I was growing my own little human. And thus began a new discovery of my own motherly instincts.

My friend wasn’t lying. She was not making up what her doctor said to get away with what she was doing. In fact, I’ve heard so many friends say how good it is for you to drink wine during pregnancy, or how a few beers are also okay (sure, they’re galactagogues, but that’s for another day). Now I’m all for natural remedies, but this one is pretty unanswered… So who has determined which one standard amount of wine or beer is okay for all growing embryos and fetuses and the uterus that surrounds them?

An OB’s or Midwife’s or Mother-In-Law’s permission to consume 1-2 glasses of wine or beers a day, week, month, or at all during pregnancy should be translated as: “1-2 glasses of wine is not going to totally guarantee Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), but nobody knows how much it will affect your fetus before PFAS/FAS is apparent!” This is the should-be translation because nobody knows how much alcohol affects your individual fetus before FAS is in effect..

Source 1: https://muchadoaboutbirthing.wordpress.com/sources/

Our grandmothers and great grandmothers may have been known for going out for a drink to celebrate the new baby to come! But while they were toasting to the bun in the oven, they were rolling the dice on sentencing a baby to FAS. This includes a small head, small eye openings, a flat midface, a short nose, and indistinct groove between nose and mouth, epicanthal folds (or, hooded eyes), a low nasal bridge, minor ear anomalies, and a thin upper lip. The child that is handed this preventable fate is not likely to outgrow any of these features, and will spend his or her entire life with a strange face per the effects of exposure to alcohol in the womb. Additionally, a baby that suffered FAS will be smaller, have a lower birth weight, and their physical growth will lag behind children of the same age.

While surgeries might be able to fix facial abnormalities in a person, FAS has many more disturbing effects. Excessive irritability, hyperactivity, seizures, and tremors are all likely amongst newborns with FAS. There are many signs of damage to the central nervous system, resulting in low IQ scores throughout childhood and adolescence, and many are even mentally retarded. ADHD and ADD are also common amongst these babies. Longitudinal studies even show that children born with FAS are extremely likely to have mental health problems later in life, to get in trouble at school, break the law, and experience job-related problems.

Depending on the amount of alcohol the mother drinks, the pattern in which she drinks the alcohol, the stage of pregnancy, and the way the mother’s body metabolizes alcohol are all very important key factors in determining the effects of FAS or the effects on the fetus before FAS is apparent. The more the mother drinks, the more likely FAS is to be present. That’s obvious. But how much is too much? What is a safe amount? A safe amount is not a drop. No fermented beverage. No sip. That’s the only amount that studies can prove will NOT give a child FAS. In fact, less than one ounce a day puts the fetus at risk of being sluggish or placid, and even a below-average mental development. Even when the fetus is exposed to less than one drink per week, she is at risk for mental health problems during childhood. I have yet to find anything that guarantees any set amount of what causes FAS per weight/height/hydration/1000otherfactors. Since there’s no cutoff, why should pregnant women be guided by a “guess” amount?

(Source 2: https://muchadoaboutbirthing.wordpress.com/sources/)

There is NO period of “safety” for drinking during pregnancy; the entire period of gestation is risky. Bottom line, ask your OB to visit current studies- because maybe things have changed. Not to mention, if you decide to drink, know that different alcohols play different roles, and that it’s easy to let yourself get away!

Need other ways to relax? Check this out…

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/27/easing-brain-fatigue-with-a-walk-in-the-park/

Just go outside! It’s raining? Well then check this out…

http://www.tm.org/?leadsource=CRM82&gclid=CLrPhZfYoLcCFclr7Aodvk4AFQ

Still nothing? Try being calm! I was a wound up, high strung pregnant woman that worked full time past my due date, went to school full time until my due date, and now I have a wound up, high strung toddler that never stops demanding. And doesn’t sleep. And throws tantrums often. And he’s beautiful and sweet and wildly absorbent. I have absolutely no proof of a correlation between all that, but I figured this post is already LONG so I may as well ramble. Ha! Seriously, stay away from the booze until we have more concrete proof.

Love always,

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First One Bites the Dust

(from Words of Love Photography!)
I took my first Nursing Entrance exam for my 3rd-pick school yesterday… Let me relive how that went…

First, let me start with the past two weeks. The past two weeks have consisted of a very intense hunt for a person that snatched my beloved iPhone from me in a children’s consignment shop. Because it contained my son’s entire life in photos (I literally got it a week before his birth), and because my inner activist wants to slowly claw the integumentary system off of them slowly, I went through hell AND high water to get it back. I spent all day every day for a week tracking down the person that snatched it. And let me tell you, nothing compares to a woman obsessed. LONG & verrrry detailed story short, the Military Police went to the woman’s house where she quickly destroyed the phone upon their arrival, as it disappeared off the map and is no longer active at all. That happened last Monday… then I get up Tuesday morning and take an awesome cannonball-type dive down a flight of wooden stairs, bruising my butt like you wouldn’t believe. To just put sprinkles all over that cupcake-of-a-day, I threw up every hour that night and spent the next two days miserable in bed. Still have no idea what that’s about but I think I’m over it. Or I lost my mind.

ANYways, exam. I have studied for months, re-reviewing everything I have ever learned in a lifetime of science, math, and reading classes. Exam morning, a tired me gets up, showers, drives an hour, experiences something I would never dare tell in a public blog, and I end up drunkenly laughing my way into the exam room, my mind blown by the level of chaos that I had lived around this test. The science section was heavy in chemistry (a subject I have literally never taken but tried to study it anyways), and the vocabulary section was hilariously bad. I have had my nose buried in books and conversation for my entire life and have heard of almost none of those words. I couldn’t even try to use context clues. I passed it, but meh… not with flying colors. I can honestly say that, given my insane past two weeks, I did pretty well. Just know this… no matter how rough, annoying, or rude a nurse might be, know she’s a smart cookie.

All of that being said, I’d like to say that I’m LOVING all of the midwifery blogs I’m finding. To keep myself motivated, I consistently check pages like the Skeptical Mother on Facebook or local birth communities that ground me and remind me why I’m in this long-haul of a journey. I can’t wait to “meet” more people and hear more stories about the beauty of being women!

It’s time.

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It’s time to get the ball beyond rolling and kick this adventure into gear. My nursing school entrance exams start next week, and I want to remember this headache-filled and wonderful journey that I’m going to take on becoming a midwife. If anyone wants to remember it with me, that’s cool. If not, well…. I just fell down a flight of stairs in front of my toddler son, so I have nothing better to do as I lay here with a heating pad on my donk than to start documenting my completely heterosexual passion for a uterus and ovary combination!

So here I am. I am 24 years old. I have an almost-2-year-old toddler. I recently quit my job of years working about 50 hours a week at a Country Club. I’ve spent every year of my life since I graduated high school in 2007 in school at a local state university. However, it wasn’t until I gave birth to my son in August 2011 that I discovered where I need to be: at the receiving end of a laboring champion.

I discovered my passion in a similar way that one would hit a brick wall: I was working as a server at our local Country Club a few months after I gave birth with the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Nurse-Midwives. I had what was (to me) a tragic birth- though I believe there was no other way it could have gone. But that story is for another day… So I was with members Mr. & Mrs. Lomax, both colonels in the US Army, both always smiling, both wildly in love. They are walking talking inspirations to have a better day. Mrs. Lomax is a midwife and Mr. Lomax is a retired army nurse teaching at APSU while working towards his doctorate. They have four happy children with beautiful personalities. As if you haven’t figured it out, I love them. On so many different levels. As we chatted on as usual, I mentioned how angelic I believe midwives to be. The two of them, knowing I was a Nuclear Medicine student, said “Well why not be one?” I was floored. Humbled. Dawned-on. Why not? Seriously—–Why the heck not?! Since that day, I’m learning to not take “no” for an answer, to fight for a proper education, and to demand a change in the litigation-filled birthing industry of America. I’m going to do it.

I’ll complete nursing school at one of the 3 places I’m applying. From there, I’ll work as an RN while I attend midwifery school (hopefully) at Vanderbilt. I need all of the encouragement I can get. I really really hope to learn a lot from people… I have a fierce determination, two loving families, a dedicated & kind man and our beautiful toddler son. That should be enough, right?

….guess I will find out!