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.

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!