Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Small prayers... large blessings!

I had to take a few moments today to count my blessings. Before I do that, and in order to understand why, I must back up and give some background to the past week or so.

Mike is taking off today for another business trip. If I have to work while he's gone (and this time I am working two shifts), it always adds a lot of stress to me because it means making arrangements for the kids. Both nights are school nights and... well... it's NIGHT TIME. I don't like leaving my kids at night... ever... unless of course they are at home with their dad. This ALWAYS stresses me out. So this has been weighing on my mind. Thankfully, my friend Jodi has offered to take care of them for me. What a blessing!! This works well because my boys go to school with her kids so she will get them off to school for me in the morning!

I had to work this past weekend. It's been a little bit crazy at work. Our level II nursery status went live and wouldn't you know it, we've had patients! For the entire month of February, I've spent all but one shift inside that nursery. It's a smallish nursery and being in there for 12 hours makes for a long shift. When you have to do it three nights in a row, you get a little bit stir crazy. The first weekend in February I spent 36 hours in the nursery and I did it again this past weekend. By Monday morning, I was going nuts. I LOVE my babies and I just need to get used to being in there for long periods. When I worked in the nursery at my last hospital, it was MUCH bigger and I had a lot more people to talk to. In this case, we keep it dark and quiet and there are only two of us in there.

Add to this the fact that I slept VERY poorly over the weekend. By Sunday morning, I had a raging headache. And add to all of this the fact that I was stressing out about a lot of things...

I was stressed about Mike leaving. I was stressed about Evan's school work. He has a book report/diorama due this week and we haven't worked on it. I was stressed about Ethan. The cub scout Blue & Gold dinner is this Wednesday and he is supposed to decorate a cake for that event. I was also heartbroken because Mike will be gone and I'm supposed to work and this meant that Ethan would have NO parent available to be with him at his dinner. I think he will be getting his Wolf rank that night and my heart was bleeding, thinking of him being there without either of us. I knew that I would be TIRED on Monday because the kids were home for President's day and I was already exhausted from the weekend. That would leave only Tuesday night to work on the diorama and cake. Add to ALL of the above the fact that money is tight right now and I don't have loads to spend on fancy cake decorations or diorama parts. It all just added up and I felt ridiculously overwhelmed.

Through tears, I finally just uttered a prayer and asked that everything just work out. It was a small, short, but very emotionally fervent prayer. And after that, I left it in His hands. Then came the miracles...

I got home Monday and took a 3-hour nap. The boys played video games and were SO GOOD during that time... no fighting at all. I felt bad that I had to spend their holiday sleeping, but they seemed okay with it. Sadly, Mike had to work that day. I woke up feeling very well rested, which is a miracle in and of itself since I had gone days with poor sleep. I immediately got to working on the diorama and book report with Evan. I thought if we could even just get a start on it, that would be something. Miraculously, we finished the entire thing using materials we had on hand at home... and had a lot of fun in the process. It wound up being a family project... we all had a hand in it. But most importantly, Evan enjoyed the process, we all had fun, and we got it done ahead of schedule!

This morning, one of my coworkers GRACIOUSLY agreed to work the first two hours of my shift tomorrow night. She did this on a last minute basis and I almost cried when she said yes. This brings me the greatest peace of mind. It means Ethan will not be alone tomorrow night for the Blue & Gold dinner and it means that I can take video and pictures since Mike won't be able to attend either.

We got the cake idea figured out and miraculously, it is going to cost me a grand total of $4.25... that includes cake, frosting, and all necessary decorations! I had some stuff on hand and Jodi is loaning me her cake pans (I don't have the necessary size) so I don't have to buy pans.

It's all just come together and I think I can live out the rest of the week, stress-free! Even the smallest of prayers are heard. I am grateful and thankful for the blessings that come from faith and prayer. I am continually amazed at the blessings I receive and I continue to see and acknowledge the hand of God in all things!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Finding the humor in puke!

Yeah, I said it... humor in puke. Hey, if we can't find the humor, we'll just go crazy. So I'm sitting up late, having made my husband some yummy Valentine's cookies (I know, I said we don't celebrate Valentine's Day... and we really don't... but he loves these cookies and I thought I'd surprise him.) I was watching a show and knitting and thinking of going to bed when I hear the kids' bedroom door fly open and a very distraught Ethan yell, "MOM, I PUKED!" Oh boy... many thoughts ran through my head, like how this is likely just the very beginning of a long, nasty bout in our home... or how I have a VERY busy week ahead of me and this is really inconvenient... or how the kids have Valentine's parties in their classes tomorrow and they've SO been looking forward to this and how at least one kid will now miss the big event (yes, I'm a good mom and I'll still take the candy to class that he signed up to bring, along with his personally-hand-written Valentine's cards to everyone)... or how I just don't want this and I was so hoping that we'd somehow been deemed special enough to not be "blessed" with it. Yeah... all of that went through my head in a nanosecond. So I calmly put my knitting down and said, "It's okay. At least it was only on the floor and not your bed." Uh, yeah right... in your dreams, Christina. "Oh it's on my bed too mom!" Ahhhh... let the humor begin!!!

Sure enough... all over the bed, the goose-down comforter, the carpet AND the area rug. Nice! He got in the shower and brushed his teeth well in the shower and got all freshened up. I went to gather my cleaning supplies and when I got back to the bedroom, most of said vomit had somehow disappeared. There was my precious dog, looking up at me like he'd just had the best meal of his life and licking his chops. Seriously, THAT made ME want to vomit. But what the heck, he made my clean-up a whole lot easier... nothing chunky to clean now! Yay! (Please, oh PUH-LEASE don't let the dog get sick now!!!!!!)

I got the floor all cleaned up and then sprayed a vinegar solution all over the place and covered it with a ton of baking soda. ***Side note here: Nothing takes out the smell of puke like vinegar and baking soda. Trust me when I tell you that I have experience with this. Anytime they puke, I clean it up well and then wet the area (yes, even mattresses) with vinegar and water and then cover the wet areas with baking soda. Don't be stingy with it either. POUR IT ON! I buy the 12lb bags at Costco. They are dirt cheap and baking soda cleans like nobody's business. Plus, it's not a chemical, so I'm not afraid of my kids breathing in anything nasty. When it's all dry tomorrow, I'll vacuum it up and I swear to you it will not smell like puke anymore!!***

Meanwhile, while Cinderella is hard at work on the bedroom floor, Ethan is in the living room and I hear that nasty gag and yell at him to RUN!! That didn't work out the way I had envisioned, so now it's all down the hallway and the bathroom floor, bathroom cabinet, and bathroom sink. WAY TO GO ETHAN!!! When I had thrown the bed sheets and comforter in the washing machine on a sanitize cycle, I thought I had really done well keeping it to one load of laundry! That'll teach me now won't it?

So anyway... here we are... Ethan moved rooms. I had to give up my bedroom fan because my kid won't sleep without one (it's gonna be a L-O-N-G night I tell you!) and Evan was moved to the bottom bunk. I don't want anyone on the top bunk when the flu is going around. I don't even want to *THINK* about where the puke would go from THAT angle!! Everyone is clean and fresh and back to sleep and they have big bowls sitting next to their beds with strict instructions to aim into them should they feel the urge to hurl. Here I am, wired and just waiting for the next round to start.

Did I mention that my kids *always* do this the night before I'm supposed to work a 12-hour shift? Yeah. These are the joyous moments of motherhood that I'll cherish always! Stay tuned for the next installment in the Harris Puke Adventures. :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

There Are No Ordinary Moments: CESAREAN COURAGE

I ran across this blog entry this morning, courtesy of a friend of mine. It is an intensely powerful piece that moved me greatly. The trauma I have dealt with over the past 9 years because of my first very, very traumatic birth experience has been immense. People may be quick to say, "Get over it. You have a healthy child. That's all that matters." Unless you have experienced this first hand, I would respectfully say, "You don't have a clue." When it is YOUR body that is mutilated and YOUR baby that is damaged, then you get to chime in. Otherwise, you just don't know. I'm going to include the text of the post, in case it ever disappears for some reason. But I am also linking the blog entry here and I encourage you to go there and read it. Following that entry, you can read the comments that I left (I've included them at the bottom here). Writing those comments opened up the wound fresh again as I was forced to relive that moment when that doctor damaged my sweet boy.

There Are No Ordinary Moments: CESAREAN COURAGE

JANUARY 18, 2011


As a doula, I keep up with "birth stuff". I read blogs, research and discussions on birth. There is a lot of talk about the medicalization of childbirth, about VBAC and VBAC bans, and women's choices and lack of choices and OBs fear-mongering and the negative effect of interventions and early inductions. We talk about the benefits of home birth and midwifery care, doulas, Hypnobabies, water birth, unassisted birth, hands off birth, free birth, active birth, gentle birth, natural birth....but what we really talk a lot about is fear and the cesarean "epidemic".

We, in the birth community talk a lot about fear because childbirth in our culture is saturated in fear. And there is no doubt in my mind that it is because of this culture of fear that we have such a high cesarean rate. And in all our talk of unnecessary cesareans, and of fear, I don't hear a lot of talk about courage. Because no matter what the culture is, it takes courage to give birth. A lot of courage. The courage to give birth is in every woman, whether she knows it before hand or not, and even if she thinks it isn't there, she finds it inside of herself.

And all those mothers having cesareans? They have courage. Courage that needs to be recognized.

In our analysis of cesarean births and their increasing numbers, we get caught up in the focus of why the cesarean was or was not necessary, if this or that intervention caused it, if only that had been done or not done then perhaps the birth could have been vaginal. We get angry, we get sad, we work to change things. This is all good and very important, because too many women are subjected to unnecessary cesareans.

But can we please stop, for one moment and recognize, that no matter how educated or uneducated, coerced or informed the choice that woman on the operating table made or didn't make, whether that cesarean was elective or emergency, necessary or unnecessary - it takes a lot of courage to get there. Our birth culture may be saturated in fear-based decisions, but behind every cesarean and "unnecesarean" is a woman of courage. In that moment, it doesn't matter how that woman got to the operating table. It doesn't matter if the surgery is necessary or unnecessary, what matters is that it takes extraordinary courage to say:

"Cut me open.
I love my baby so much, that I will do anything to get my baby out of my body alive.
Lay me out, cut me open
because I love my baby so much."

That is courage. That is bravery and sacrifice and mothering in its purest form. That is the willingness to lay down your body and risk your life that your child might be born, that your child might live.

Cesarean mothers are BRAVE.

In the midst of our efforts as doulas and mothers and midwives and counselors and friends, in the work we do to educate and empower and change things...we need to take a moment to recognize the courage it takes to lay down and allow yourself to be cut open to have your baby.

And so, I recognize a few of the women that I know who have had the courage to give birth to their babies by cesarean:

Were you a Cesarean Brave Mama? Do you want to recognize the courage of a Cesarean Brave Mama? Leave a comment.

Here are my comments, left at the end of the blog post:
Thank you for this beautiful piece. I have spent so much of the past 9 years grieving and working through the trauma surrounding my cesarean experience in 2002. This piece actually closed part of the gap in my still, ever-gaping wound. This piece really did wonders for my healing.

Thank you for recognizing my courage. I said the words, "Cut me open". After seeing that doctor with her leg hiked up on the bed while she pulled on my sweet baby's head with forceps, I pulled myself from the very depths of hell and shouted, "STOP. JUST CUT ME OPEN. JUST CUT ME OPEN ALREADY." I would have allowed her to cut me open without anesthesia before I allowed her to yank on my baby's head like that again. Courage is putting yourself in that situation. Courage is laying there while a doctor holds up your baby over a curtain and says, "Hi mom" and then takes him away. Courage is laying there while someone else is holding your baby. Courage is wanting nothing more than to run to your baby and hold him and tell him how sorry you, while strapped to a table in a paralyzed state. Courage is looking across the room and seeing people doing things to your sweet child, knowing that it should be YOU in their place, protecting him. Courage is laying there paralyzed and looking over and seeing your baby rooting and looking for you. It has been 9 years of HELL and I am nowhere NEAR dealing with that trauma. But this piece today helped me, ever so much, to continue towards healing.

As a neonatal nurse, I treat babies so differently than mine was treated. Each time I am able to connect a cut-open mother with her baby, it helps me to heal. When I am the nurse, that baby goes directly to his mother. When I am the nurse, he is skin to skin with her, even if it is only with their faces together. When I am the nurse, the scenario is no different if a mother needs general anesthesia. I have been looked at and ridiculed by anesthesiologists for doing so, but it does not matter to me. Because I know that that baby needs his mother, even if she is asleep. And I know that deep down, that mother knows her baby is there and is well.

Yes, it takes oceans of courage to have a c-section.