Making the Switch

Making the Switch

On Friday the 6th, I had my last appointment with my OB. I went in knowing it would likely be my last appointment, and determined to keep my mouth shut and just get through it so that I could go meet with the midwife the following Wednesday and switch to them as my care providers for the remainder of the pregnancy.

I was nervous, and angry about being nervous, angry that my OB was so incredibly rude about my weight at every appointment that I had to feel NERVOUS before an appointment that should be pretty happy and relaxed. I mean, I’m having a baby, and that’s a happy thing, yes?

I had been so anxious about this appointment that for three or four days before the appointment I was barely eating and only drinking water. I wasn’t starving myself or anything (I do have a baby in there), but I wasn’t really eating enough. I went to bed hungry the three nights before my appointment, because I was so stressed about how much guff he would give me about how much I weighed. I told David “even if the midwife thing doesn’t work out, I have got to get a different OB. I can’t keep doing this before every appointment. It’s not healthy.”

At any rate, I survived the last appointment. My OB cautioned me yet again about my weight gain, while, confusingly, telling me that I was right on track with my weight gain. How can I be gaining too much but be right on track? Does this make any sense to any of you? No? Well, I’m glad I’m not the only one.

On Wednesday the 11th, I met with a midwife at a birth center just a few minutes away from the hospital I gave birth to my daughter in, where I had planned on giving birth this time before I finally decided enough was enough.

We walked in, and the women at the front desk greeted me in a very friendly way. No stuffy doctors office environment here! They waved me through to a waiting area that looked more like a living room in someone’s house (excepting the very high ceilings), and David and I sank onto a couch that was almost sinfully comfortable. (Though, I think I’ll have trouble getting out of it once my due date gets a bit closer!) There were beautiful photographs up on the walls of pregnant women and women holding babies. My OB office has some prints in their office of old-fashioned paintings, but none of them are very beautiful, and none of them catch your eye like these photos do.

We waited for a few minutes, and I found myself leaning comfortably against David with my head on his shoulder, completely relaxed and at ease, something I never feel at any doctors office normally. It was almost like we were sitting in a close friend’s living room instead of sitting in a waiting room. I quietly told David that even though we hadn’t met the midwife yet, I was almost sure this was where we were going to end up. “It’s amazing, what a different atmosphere this place has compared to where we’ve been going.” He nodded in agreement.

A friend of ours, who had actually recommended the birth center, came out of her appointment with her fiance and little tiny newborn, and we got to say hi and chat for a minute before the midwife came and got us for our consultation.

She led us to one of the birthing suites and told us to make ourselves comfortable. We sat on a couch while she pulled up a chair. About two minutes into our consult, I’d made up my mind completely, but I still asked a ton of questions and listened to her talk about how they do things at the birth center. My eyes kept getting drawn to the gigantic tub in the corner and imagining how amazing and helpful that would have been to have during my labor with Briana. (The hospital claims to allow you to labor in the tub, but the “tub” they are referring to is just the smaller-than-normal tub/shower combination in the bathroom in your hospital room. Not comfortable!)

I came with two pages of questions. By the time she had finished her spiel about the center and given out her info, there were only like three or four questions on my list she hadn’t already answered. We ended up chatting a bit about my first labor experience, and I told her what I wasn’t happy about looking back on it, and what I was hoping for this time around. I told her about my breastfeeding concerns, and about what happened with Briana having a tongue tie and undiagnosed lip tie, and how I was really nervous about trying again. When I mentioned my OB’s seeming obsession with belittling me about my weight, she was horrified, especially after I told her where I was at with my weight gain. “You’re perfect! Don’t stress about your weight, you’re completely healthy and on track.”

I walked into this place comfortable, and left completely and totally and utterly relaxed. I trusted and liked this place and these women more after a one hour conversation with them than I had trusted or liked my OB in the entire time I had known him. Making my next appointment with them, I told David it was like this huge ball of stress lifted off of my shoulders.

I’m excited. I’m REALLY excited.

This picture is the birthing suite that I have fallen in love with. The other room is beautiful too, but this room just feels like “home.” And check out that tub!

Anyway, I’m sorry for rambling on so much about it, I’m just…I’m happy. I’m relaxed. I feel like that baby and I are going to be well cared for, and all stress I was feeling about appointments has melted away.

 

I was too chicken to call my OB to “Break Up” with him, so I logged in online and canceled my appointments that way. I received a message asking if I was going elsewhere for my OB care, and I kept it simple and polite. “Yes, I am. Thank you for helping me along to this point, but we’ve found care elsewhere that fits our needs better.” It was better than “Yes and take your scale and shove it…”

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I also went to my first La Leche League meeting with my friend Victoria last night. Victoria is also the person who gave birth at the birth center and recommended I check them out. It was pretty cool! I’m excited about going. I’m definitely going to make it a monthly occurrence, or twice monthly if I can manage to make the new morning meetings they’re starting up next month. I got a lot of good info, and it was nice to just meet some new people, all moms, and just…exist. They’ll be a good support network once the baby is born and I’m trying to get into the swing of breastfeeding.

 

I’m going to try to write another blog tomorrow that will be all about Miss Briana. She’s getting more hilarious and frustrating and amazing as each day passes by. I’ve got some gems I want to share with you all!

 

As always, thanks for stopping by, and feel free to comment or share if you think it’s worth it. 🙂

I’ve Done All This Before

I’ve Done All This Before

My mother-in-law and I were talking yesterday about how different it is when you have your first baby as compared to your second baby.

Now, obviously, I haven’t actually had a second baby yet. We lost Riley early on in the pregnancy, and while Riley holds the “second baby” spot in my heart, Chelsea will be the second child I actually get to bring home.

But even not having her yet, it just feels different. I’m insanely excited to meet her, to match a face to the little ball of punches and kicks and twists and squirming that I feel on a daily basis. That’s the same. But everything else feels different.

I know what I really need and what I don’t. Diaper Genie? Nice, but not necessary. Wipe warmer? Briana lived without it. Baby powder? Nope, doctor says not to use it. Butt Paste? BUY TEN! So much if the advertising and marketing I see aimed at pregnant women makes me smile, because I remember fretting over what I actually needed and what I didn’t, and ending up registering for EVERYTHING in hopes that someone more experienced in the world of motherhood would figure it out for me.

I know what to expect during labor. I know I will survive labor. I know that I will forget the pain the moment I make eye contact and feel that little baby in my arms. I know that once I meet her, the world will fall away for an hour or more, and I will drink her in and love her and promise her the moon.

I know more than I did when I was pregnant with Briana.

I know that breastfeeding was a struggle the first time, but I also know that I have learned a lot and done a lot of research and created a breastfeeding support network for myself for this next go-round. I know that it’s what I want to do, and I am determined to make it work. I have armed myself with any and all knowledge that I can, and I am prepared in a way that I wasn’t the first time. I’m ready. I’m expecting difficulty but have a plan in place to push through it!

I know how to be a mom.

When I brought Briana home, I had never cared for a newborn, or even for a baby less than about 8 months old. I had held a newborn for maybe twenty minutes at a time, a few times in my life. I hadn’t ever changed a girls diaper. I didn’t know how to calm a fussy baby. But I learned so quickly. It just felt natural. And now, with another on the way, I am not frightened of bringing my baby home. I am confident and capable. I’m feeling very…powerful…in my role as a mother. I feel like being a mother is just what I was always meant to be.

I am a bit nervous about how Briana will receive her sibling, but I think that’s a normal worry, and I’m also confident we will handle the transition in whatever way we need to in order to make it work!

Another conversation my mother-in-law and I have had a few times is about the actual labor process. How, the first time you’re so scared, you just agree to what the doctors and nurses tell you to do without much argument, even if you don’t feel 100% confident that is the route you want to go.

I was happy with my hospital birth. I felt like I was well-taken care of. But the more I talked to other women and read birth stories and did research, the more I realized that although I had been happy with my birth experience, it wasn’t the experience I wanted for my second. I needed something different.

I have also become very disenchanted with my current OB. I don’t feel respected by him, I don’t feel listened to, and I feel very much as if I am being treated as a child. So I am switching providers, and also (pending a consultation on the 11th) going to a birth center and giving birth with a midwife instead of at the hospital with an OB.

I am very excited. It just feels right. I feel like I deserve to be listened to and treated with respect by the person I have chosen to provide care for me and my unborn child. I am not a child to be chided and shamed, I am a woman who has done all this before and is just looking to know that I and my baby are healthy.

Anyway… Rant over I suppose. I will keep you all posted about the birth center and midwife.

But in the meantime, just know, I’m feeling ready to bring the newest member of family into the world, ready to bring her home, and ready to expand my heart to make room for her.

Anger is my Demon

Anger is my Demon

For days and sometimes weeks at a time, I have it figured out. I rigidly control my temper, squash my first instinct, which is to yell and blather and lose control. And then, in an instant, it’s gone. And once it’s gone, it usually stays gone for a week or so while I pull myself together and regain that rigid control. And then the cycle starts all over again.

I so badly want to be the mother who is in control of herself. Who doesn’t yell at her child. No, it isn’t even about yelling. It’s about screaming. Every mother yells sometimes, even if only rarely. But screaming, losing your head completely, feeling like you are just going to explode like a volcano, or actually exploding like a volcano, and then seeing the confused fear on your child’s face? That’s not good parenting.

People defend me from myself a lot, telling me not to be so hard on myself, but the truth of the matter is, there are just some things that aren’t acceptable. And this is one of them. I do not want to be a parent that my children are frightened of. I do not want to be a parent who regularly loses control, then guilts herself into maintaining it until the next time, and then adds on more guilt each time she loses it.

That’s not who I want to be. But right now, it’s who I am.

Part of my having PTSD, part of the way that manifests for me, is feeling like I need to be control of everything around me at every second of every day. When I feel control slipping away from me, it makes me anxious, and when I get anxious, I either have a panic attack or get angry. And the wait time from me starting to get anxious or angry to me having a panic attack or losing my temper are both very short wait times. I’m a naturally impatient person, and when you throw in my PTSD (and right now, my hormones), you get a very volatile sort of mix.

Becoming a parent has allowed me (okay, forced me) to let go a bit, and taught me a little patience. Not having Briana dressed by ten in the morning every single day is not going to kill me. Peanut butter smears on the couch are not the end of the world, and a spilled cup of milk is just that…a spilled cup of milk. Tantrums are a fact of life, hearing “no” from my toddler twenty thousand times a day doesn’t faze me, and potty accidents happen. It’s not those things that cause me to lose control.

But if I’m trying to get Briana ready for bed, trying to change her diaper, trying to get her dressed, and she keeps twisting away from me, trying to turn it into a game, giggling…I don’t know why, but it really sets me off. I start out keeping calm, but the more she pushes, the harder it gets, and pretty soon I’m feeling my blood start to boil, and my voice is getting louder, and she’s still doing it because she sees she’s getting a rise out of me, and I know that she is going to keep it up because she sees me reacting, but I can’t stop the reaction, and the fact that it’s my fault she’s still acting up makes me feel like I’ve lost control of the situation, and then, just like that, I’m yelling or screaming at her, and she’s crying, and I feel like an idiot jerk-face for making her cry. (Run on sentence there was intentional. Read it with a frantic note in your head, voice rising every couple of words until you’re yelling at the end…there you go. That’s how it feels!)

Or when she’s having a rough night and won’t sleep. For the first couple hours I’m fine. I go in, I comfort her, I try to soothe her, I rock her if she asks. But after the millionth (denied) request for a cookie, or watching her play with her water cup for five minutes instead of drinking it, or having her scream for twenty minutes because I finally took the cup away and told her to sleep, I feel that familiar I-am-losing-control-of-myself feeling, and I start to panic because I don’t want to lose control of myself, and then, there I go, losing it again. And then we both end up crying. It’s stupid.

It’s this absolutely vicious cycle, and I’m really not sure how to break it.

But I am trying, darn it. I’m trying harder to fix this than I’ve tried for anything in my life. I don’t want to be this kind of parent.

So, for the last couple days, when Briana says “NO” when I say “let’s go change your diaper,” instead of getting all frustrated and ending up having to struggle to pick her flailing body up off the ground to go into her bedroom where the diapers and wipes are, I say “Briana, it’s time to go change your diaper. Do you want mama to carry you or do you want to hold mama’s hand and come with her?” Nine times out of ten, she wants to take my hand and lead me into the bedroom. (The tenth time I had to tuck her under my arm like a package and carry her, but that made her giggle anyway, so I’m still calling it a win.) And when she starts twisting away from me, instead of yelling, I’ve been calmly repeating “Now is not the time to play, mama needs to change your diaper” however many times it takes, in a very neutral tone. And if she’s really being stubborn about it, I tell her she can have her diaper changed or go to timeout. She hasn’t chosen the timeout option yet.

It’s weird, but now that I’m changing the way I’m making an effort to stay calm, it’s like she’s stopped trying so hard to set me off. Or maybe I’m just not getting triggered so much into losing my mind because she’s not feeling the need to act out? Maybe I’ve inadvertently made the boundaries more clear by staying calmer instead of yelling all the time. Maybe because I am staying calmer, she is able to stay calm, too. Of course, it’s only been four days…so maybe it’s just been a good couple of days. Who knows?

All I know is, I’m not going to be a parent that my daughter has to be afraid of anymore. I won’t promise I won’t yell anymore, because I don’t want to break promises to my children. But I promise I won’t scream like a raving lunatic, wild-eyed and frightening. I don’t want my daughter to have fear in her face because of me, ever. It breaks my heart.

So, since it’s after midnight, this is Day 5 of the new No Screaming Mama. And I’ve not yelled either. Be proud of me. Every day I don’t scream at my kid isn’t just a victory for her, and it’s not even just a victory for me as a mom. It’ s me taking back a little more of the sanity I lost, taking back just a bit of power that the PTSD has over my life. It’s a victory for me as a woman, as a person, as a human being. I do not have to be in control every second of everything going on, and when I don’t have control, I don’t have to be afraid or angry. It’s the little things that feel really big sometimes.

Wish me luck.