Birth story, Part I

I'm compelled to write my son's birth story for two reasons. One, I've never documented it, and since he just turned 2 last week I know the detailed memories will fade soon. Secondly, I have high hopes that my next child's birth in a few weeks will be different and I would like to look back on both years and years later.

I remember during one of the birthing classes Jason and I sat through the childbirth educator said that statistically 3 of us in the class would end up having a c-section (there were 9 other couples). I looked around the room and thought, "Ugh, not me!" The teacher herself had 2 c-sections and even my sister had 2 herself because of a heart condition she has. But I knew there was NO WAY I was going to be one of them. This baby was coming out the way nature intended as far as I was concerned.

Fast forward to week 32. My blood pressure was continuing to slowly rise with each visit to my OB/GYN. I was put on a pregnancy safe medication early on for high blood pressure because I have chronic hypertension even when I'm not pregnant. Because of this the doctors also like to check fluid levels in the womb and that turned out fine, but he saw that my son was in the breech position (which is butt first instead of head first). He said ever-so-casually, "Well, if he doesn't flip within the next few weeks, we'll just schedule a cesarean section."

Um, excuse me? I don't think so.

Never having even THOUGHT about this, I asked him if I could birth my son in this position. My doctor explained the risks, the only one I remember standing out in my mind was that the umbilical cord could come out first, get pinched and cause major problems (come to find out later, this could happen when the baby is head down as well). As I continued to ask questions the conversation ended with "No obstetrician at this hospital will allow you to birth a baby that is in the breech position."

I left the appointment with the hope that maybe this little baby would figure it out and flip within the next few weeks. My blood pressure kept getting worse and with each appointment they would confirm that he was still breech. At my 36 week appointment my doctor informed me that they had already scheduled my cesarean section for August 30th. My son was due September 5th. I told my OB that I didn't feel comfortable having them take him before he was "ready" to be born. I wanted to go into labor on my own, go to the hospital and then they could proceed with my surgery. Doesn't a woman's first labor typically last 12 hours or something? Was that asking a lot? Apparently yes, and as I can't recall his exact words, I remember feeling like it wasn't really up for discussion. I also later found out that they like to schedule c-sections at 39 weeks so the mother's DON'T go into labor on their own. In a nutshell, it's more convenient for the doctors and the hospital.

I left there feeling completely helpless and deflated. I was a statistic. My OB also prescribed bedrest because my blood pressure was still rising and I was already taking the maximum dosage of medication. I went home to prepare myself and try my best to come to terms with the fact that I wouldn't get the birthing experience that I wanted. My son had his first appointment of his life: To be born.

The next day was August 11th, 2007. I was at my in-laws house with Jason relaxing and talking to him about these being the last few days of just the two of us. We came in the house after laying by the pool (did someone say something about bedrest?), I laid on the couch and reached over to pick up a bottle of water and felt something shift inside of me, unlike the baby movement. The sound of it was strange too, like something popping. I thought I probably had to go to the bathroom, stood up and took a few steps and felt the warm rush.

"I think my water broke" I said to my mother-in-law. She replied, "Well, don't just stand there, go and check!" I shuffled into the bathroom and sat on the toilet. My bathing suit and shorts were soaked and it wasn't pee. I sat there for at least a full minute, totally silent. Oh. My. Shit. I vividly remember thinking, "How am I going to get out of this?" He was only 36 weeks along....IT'S NOT TIME!!! I poked my head out of the bathroom and told Jason we needed to go to the hospital. When we got there and I got out of the car my shorts were soaked. As we walked in the front doors I could feel it trickling down my legs and asked Jason to walk behind me. He assured me that I was not the first pregnant woman to walk into a hospital with amniotic fluid soaking my clothes and running down my legs. Thanks, honey. We got to the triage floor and I politely told the nurse that my water broke. She asked if I was sure. I said, "Well, I'm standing in a puddle of it so you can come around and check if you want." I don't think they found the humor in that.

I was put in a room and I can't remember much of what happened next except a nurse casually said, "Okay, looks like you're going to have a baby today!" NOTHING can prepare you for a perfect stranger saying those words to you. Nothing. She left the room and I burst into tears. Sobbing I sat on the edge of the bed and put my head on Jason's chest. I said to him, "Why is he so early? Is he okay, what if he's not ready? I'M NOT READY!!!" And I wasn't. Sure, I didn't have a bag packed (I was in my bikini, shorts and a tank top for pete's sake) and we didn't have the carseat ready, but I wasn't ready for surgery. I wasn't ready for this. I had never had a chance to come to terms with the fact that this is how my first born would come into this world. Less than 24 hours before that my doctor told me it was certain that I would not get to birth the way I wanted. I had never in my life even had a surgery before. Never even had a cavity! I was terrified.

I can't remember how we got to the labor and delivery floor, but shortly after we met the obstetrician that would deliver my son. Oh, nice to meet you, you're about to cut me open to pull my child out of my abdomen. Oh, and the anesthesiologist. You're about to stick a needle into my spine. Great! Glad I got to know you both for 5 seconds. I feel MUCH better. Here, let me just pull my heart out of my chest and hand it to you while we wait for an operating room. Wait.....what is that feeling??? Oh-you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me those are contractions starting.

As Dr. About-to-cut-me-open and Jason chatted, a nice nurse prepped me for surgery. I watched the clock as the contractions kept coming. There were 4 total every 5 minutes that lasted about 30 seconds. Knowing what I know now, I was in the early stages of labor and those contractions were a picnic as compared to what was to come. But, I never got to know. Away to the operating room I went. Alone. Jason was not allowed to join me until they were ready to cut me open.

Much of the next couple of hours is foggy. I was given the spinal to numb my entire lower body and I was helped to lay down on the table. I gasped out loud as I felt a nurse pull my legs open (not gently) and slightly felt her looking for where she was going to insert the catheter. No pain, but I could feel something. Then I heard one of the nurses say, "Uh, oh. Meconium." which I knew wasn't good. (Meconium is a sign that the baby has made a bowel movement in utero and could cause an infection if ingested.) I asked the other nurse if that was really bad. She was a heavy-set African American lady that said, "Honey, your baby's butt is wedged in your pelvis right now. Your contractions are literally squeezing the shit out of him. He's fine". Love her.

Jason was let into the room and sat down next to me, the anesthesiologist was on the other side of me. They both had their haz-mat suits on, masks and all. The doctor I had met previously then introduced me to another doctor that would be assisting him. Another stranger digging around in my innards. Fantastic! They told me they were about to start. Then I smelled it. Jason asked the anesthesiologist, "What's that smell?" I knew exactly what it was but was so horrified I could not speak it. The doctor said, "Do you really want to know?" Jason replied, "Oh, nevermind" as he figured it out.

It was the smell of burning flesh as they cauterized my skin open. Gross. The smell is unmistakeable. I focused on the huge bright surgery light above us and just prayed. Prayed that it would be over soon. Prayed that my son would be healthy. A few minutes later they removed him from my womb and held him up for me to see. I memorized his face right then and there. I knew I wouldn't be able to hold him until God knows when, so I wanted to be able to recognize him in case they accidentally switched him with another baby like you see on Oprah. I really don't remember details after that. I was sewn up, taken away to recovery, and suddenly there was Jason and my sister. I kept telling Jason to go and be with the baby instead of me because I didn't want him to be alone. It BROKE MY HEART that I couldn't be with him right away. His first minutes of life and he was in an incubator, being held by someone else, in a kangaroo pouch bouncing down the halls, I didn't know!?!?! All I know is that I couldn't move and I kept thinking, "Am I sleeping? Is this real? Dreaming?" I really couldn't decipher between reality and dream-state. I don't know how much time passed and they brought him to me. I was able to nurse him and finally be with him. But it was still strange. I never felt fully awake until hours later.

The point of this whole post is this:

It took me a long time to be at peace with the birth outcome of my son. I do believe a cesarean section was the best decision, given that I had a breech baby and hypertension. Had I not had high blood pressure I know in my heart I could have given birth to him vaginally if given the chance. But I can't take it back so I had to come to terms with it. Both for my own sanity and preparing for the birth of my daughter.

Which brings me to my next point. As mothers giving birth, we are taught to focus solely on the outcome of our baby. There is little regard to the feelings and emotions of the mothers. Cesarean sections have become so common and part of birth that our society has accepted it as almost as normal as a vaginal birth. And it's not even close. I can't tell you how many times I have heard, "Well, at least you have a healthy baby. And that's all that matters." And I nod back with a lump in my throat. There is an overwhelming feeling of shame for being unhappy about your birth outcome. It's looked at as selfish. Of course I am happy I had a healthy child and that I was safe. That goes without being said. But giving birth is one of those things that most of us know we are going to face someday. It's a monumental day, one that will live in our memories forever. I think it's not unlike our wedding day, it's something we think about and hope that day turns out perfect. And when it doesn't, it can be devastating.

I just want to put it out there that it's okay to be angry, frustrated, sad and just plain pissed off about your birth outcome. Feel the feelings so that you can move on. If you hold it in, it doesn't go anywhere and will just get worse. It wasn't until I admitted how awful it was, then I was able to shrug my shoulders and say, "Okay, I'm done and ready to move on."

If you have a similar story or even a different opinion, I would love to hear it!

*I should note that not all mothers have these feelings after a c-section. I personally know a few that had easy recoveries, and even elected to have c-sections rather than a vaginal birth. I think it's fantastic that these women can be happy with their birth outcome. I can only speak for myself and the many other women I have talked to that have had the same feelings that I've had.

Photo courtesy of David Maddison

How pregnancy has helped my relationship with food

In the past few months I've talked a lot about eating disorders and my own struggle with disordered eating and exercise. I've had to really think about my relationship with food and quite honestly, I thought it was a crock that people even had a "relationship with food". I thought that was only for over-eaters who used food as a coping mechanism or for other various reasons personal to themselves. Then I took a good, hard look at how I viewed food and realized that it probably wasn't the healthiest. I have a history of sporadic bingeing and purging (either vomiting or exercise, or both), and would ration the amount of calories I would eat every day. For instance, I would starve all day if I knew I was going to go out and have a big dinner with friends. And when I lived alone, I would look forward all day to coming home and eating an entire pizza all by myself. It's laughable that I thought I didn't have a terrible relationship with food.

When I became pregnant in early 2007, I truly felt what it was like to be hungry. Yes, I'd been hungry before, very hungry, but the kind of hunger that wakes you up in the middle of the night and speaks to you. Literally, I would have to get up out of bed and get a snack because I was so hungry. So began the "eat when you're hungry" notion.

Wow, it was just that easy.

At that point in my life I was just beginning to honor my body by listening. Listening when I was tired and truly needed to rest instead of exercise. Listen when I was injured and needed an ice pack or a doctor instead of pushing to run more miles. Listening and enjoying how good it felt to be fit for reasons of taking care of my body and nothing else. But food, eating and nutrition were still confusing, somewhat disordered and the last thing to fall into place.

When I was pregnant, I truly had to listen to my body when it came to feeding it. I was lucky the first time in that I had minimal morning sickness, and quickly I learned that I had to pack with me snacks to be able to eat at a moments notice. One minute everything would be fine and the next minute it was like my body said, "IF YOU DON'T GET SOMETHING IN THIS STOMACH IN 10 SECONDS ANY STOMACH ACID YOU HAVE WILL BE COMING OUT THE FRONT DOOR! 10....9.....8....7...." And the dry heaving begins. I am not exaggerating. If you've ever been pregnant or been around someone in her first trimester of pregnancy, you probably know the feeling.

The second time I became pregnant, I was much farther along in my recovery of disordered eating and exercise, so I became more conscious of all things related. During the first trimester I again noticed having to eat when I was hungry and it was smaller meals more frequently. But a huge "aha" moment I had was in the third trimester when the uterus gets so big it begins to push all the internal organs up and basically just smushes them. Therefore, the stomach and intestines are being sat on. Literally. There is nothing, I mean nothing, fun about over-eating during this time. A few weeks ago I did it once. I made lasagna and served myself way too much. As I'm slowing down and looking at the bowl my mind said, "You're full, please stop, no more. Can't. Take. Any. More. Pasta." But it was sooooo yummy, and there was only about 1 or 2 (okay 10) more bites, so I went for it.

Big mistake.

I had to hold my hand over my mouth and stay still for about 10 minutes while my husband cleared the table. I was afraid it I moved that my baby would do a David Beckham soccer kick and it would all be over. It was truly uncomfortable and I learned a hard lesson. when you're hungry and stop when you're full. Who knew?

So, I'm not saying the secret to healing your relationship with food is pregnancy nor am I saying I'm completely the expert when it comes to eating and nutrition, but my main point is there is something to be said about listening to your body for all things including food. Simply put, when I gave my body what it needed in terms of nourishment, I could almost hear it say "thank you".

Photo courtesy of TowerGirl

Miley Cyrus at the Teen Choice Awards


I recently read an article about Miley Cyrus' "pretend pole dancing" at the Teen Choice Awards. Miley is 16 years old. I finally saw the video of the performance and although it wasn't as bad as I originally thought, but as a mother, I definitely raised an eyebrow.

This story made me think back to when I was a teenage girl growing up in suburbia. I had my first french kiss the summer before I started high school, so I must have been 14. I waited that long because I simply did not feel comfortable doing it before that. Ironically, the boyfriend I had at the time ended up breaking up with me because that's as far as I would go with him. I remember being 15 and 16 being the ages that the hormones really kicked into high gear. I believe I can speak for most girls when I say this is the time that we go bonkers in the boy-crazy department. Some are in tune to the attention they can get from boys, some are not (I wasn't). Some love the attention and seek it out to no end where as others, like myself wait a few years and then finally realize "the power". So, that being said, I suppose Miley is just doing what comes naturally to herself and along side her is her management team with their tongues wagging, nodding in agreement.

I thought about it more and really had to decide if this bothers me. As a woman, not so much, but as a mother, yes. I remember years ago, before I had kids and the whole Janet, "Miss Jackson if you're nasty" Superbowl incident happened. I saw it live and didn't think it was a big deal. So what? A boob. But now as a mom, and although I have years before I will have an impressionable young daughter (she's still in the womb as I type this), I would be peeved with Janet for this.

I never thought I would say this but here it is: When I was young--things were different. And I'm not that old. In the mid-80's our version of Miley Cyrus was Debbie Gibson and Tiffany. We had the Saved by the Bell girls, Alyssa Milano and Kids Incorporated. When they were 16, they kept their clothes on, didn't pole dance and to my knowledge, weren't hyper-sexual. What happened so quickly to change all of this?

Is this just how it's supposed to evolve? I had a friend (a guy) tell me to "lighten up" about Miley. I just feel that if we lighten up so much...what's next?

Hiding behind the notion of control

I’ve recently done some thinking about control. In my “old life” I was a complete control freak. Before my wedding to my first husband I even controlled everything about my bridal shower. I was so picky about the decorations I went out and bought them myself. I wanted everyone to wear pink and only pink. And the wedding itself was even worse with all the details that I was obsessed with.

In the last 10 years or so that I have known someone or known of someone with an eating disorder, I have always thought it was about control. I would think about the persons life and see something going wrong- a dysfunctional relationship, perfectionistic traits or just plain unhappiness. It made perfect sense that someone with disordered eating (weather it be calorie restriction, purging or binge eating) and/or exercise was really the persons way of controlling something in their life. And in this case it was the food they put in their mouth and their weight. For me, I don't think it was something I ever analyzed when it was happening, but it started out as something I thought I could control. I controlled what and when I ate and how much (that was the most important part). I controlled how much I exercised, therefore I controlled how I looked. Unbeknownst to me, my disordered eating and exercise took control of me. Very, very quickly.

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine, Kendra Sebelius and I asked her what she thought of this, having experience in recovery herself. I asked her if she thought that people with disordered eating that tell themselves and others that their issues with food and exercise are their own way of being in control is actually bullshit. I thought it was and wondered if she agreed. She had been doing some reading about this particular topic and told me, "if you have to control something, it is out of control". And I totally agree. She went on to say,

If they [people with disordered eating] only could control the other people in our life, control external stress, control work, control life - THEN our life would be "perfect"... it's once you say you are powerless - over people, things, situations, that is when you recover. The illusion of control is false in all aspects of addictions, and it is often misplaced on external issues versus internal strife. I don't think it ever controlled anything for us - it always controlled us. It became a coping skill to CONTROL the outside things affecting us. A very self centered approach, in my opinion. We care only about ourselves, this illusion of control - thinking if things are in control will mean we are OK. We can not control an eating disorder, just as people can't control drinking - the whys are bullshit. We could be addicts, impulsive by nature, come from shitty pasts etc. It is an illusion - a big fat smokescreen. it becomes the red herring - a way to AVOID the actual issues. A way to place blame & make excuses.

For me, it wasn't until I was well into recovery (in many aspects of my life) that I realized that saying my disordered eating was something I had control of was total BS. The outcome that I wanted- perfection, thinness, beauty, the illusion that I was strong- was all something that controlled me. It had a grip over me that was suffocating and it lied to me. The feeling of power that I had when I could restrict my eating and the feeling of superiority of watching my body change was enormous, but both of those things were very temporary feelings that I constantly had to think about and work for. I've also come to realize the control was something I thought I had over others. My ex would make comments about the way I ate (not how much I ate, just that I should eat healthier), so I would binge just to spite him. Many times he would never even know. It was my way of hating him. The illusion that I had control of my life because I could control my eating and exercise then led me to believe that if I let that go, everything else would fall apart. It would be like falling down a ski slope with no hope of stopping. And there was no way I was going to let that happen.

Years later, through many experiences, therapy and other ways of healing, I have come to know that real life is monumentally better than a life that I thought I had to control. When making plans for my baby shower my mom kept asking me what I wanted at the shower. A theme, colors, etc. I told her I didn't care, that whatever she thought was fine and I would be happy. I said, "Mom, I'm not 'that girl' anymore." She half-jokingly replied, "Thank GOD!". We both got a laugh out of that.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please get help. NEDA can help.

Photo courtesy of Esther_G

Jessica Simpson gets revenge by losing weight?

This is my first post about a celebrity. I usually avoid this because I think the sensationalizaiton of Hollywood is ridiculous and out of hand. And you probably already know how I feel about the media. But this struck me for 2 reasons. One, how my heart goes out to this girl and two, that I have done exactly what she seems to be doing.

I heard that Jessica Simpson got dumped the night before her 29th birthday by her football star boyfriend, Tony Romo. Now, backing up a little, Jessica was recently blasted for her weight a few months back and some photos emerged. These images were splashed across magazines and bloggers went crazy.


Fat? Really? When I was looking for a photo for this post, I happened to see a comment on a blog that read: "If you think she's fat, you ain't ever met a fat chick." It's amazing to me that something like this can cause so much discussion. What was she, a size 8?

A few months goes by and the news hits that she was dumped. Then while grocery shopping I saw this magazine cover while waiting in line:


I rolled my eyes and didn't pick the magazine up. But I couldn't help but think about her and what she was going through. At 29, she's probably ready to settle down and have a family. Being dumped anytime in life sucks, but this was probably a real ass kicker.

In my experience, as soon as it became a reality that my first marriage was over, my own disordered eating and exercising spiraled out of control. Part of it was depression, but most of it was not. I'll never forget about a month after my ex and I officially split, I had stopped by his parents house to wish my former mother-in-law a happy birthday. I didn't know my ex would be there and he asked if he could talk to me. I reluctantly said yes and the first thing he did was look me up and down and ask, "Have you been eating?" He looked genuinely concerned and I immediately replied, "Not much". I instantly regretted my response in that I didn't want him to feel that it was because of him. I suppose I thought the reason was because of him, but in reality looking back, it was all because of me. For a brief second I loved the concern he had about me, but 2 minutes later it was gone. And I was still left with me.

Haven't we as women all done this? Or if not, at least thought about it? A guy you're in love with dumps you and you make a pact with yourself that you are going to be the hottest, thinnest most amazing looking woman EVER! And if he dumped you for someone else, watch out! He'll want you back! ......won't he?

So upon seeing this magazine cover, I couldn't help but think of myself. I googled the story, read the magazine article online and saw a quote from her "friend" saying, “She doesn’t want to give anyone more reason to not take her seriously. She’s tired of weight being a talking point.”

Wait, what????

Yes, I think it's ridiculous that a female celebrities weight determines everything to her, and that's how it is in the real world as well, but does she really believe that she'll be taken more seriously if she is thin? Sadly, YES! The poor girl was made fun of less when she was portrayed as stupid and even did commercials capitalizing on this. But I can bet the comments of calling her fat hurt her feelings more than ever and that's when she really thought people weren't taking her seriously. Wow.

I keep reading that Jessica is coming out with a new reality show chronicling a trip across America that deals with body image. Well, I've got news for you Ms Simpson: Your first episode needs to be about your realization that losing 10 pounds in 10 days because your boyfriend dumped you is not the way to heal your body image issues. Tony Romo is not going to see you and say, "Oh man, she's so thin now. I want her back!" It doesn't work that way, and if it does, he doesn't deserve to see you naked anyway.

I hope Jessica finds peace with her body, and herself.

Self-fulfilling prophecy

I have mentioned before in previous posts that in 2003 I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (click here for an explanation of what GAD is). It was very hard for me to accept this because of the the sheer close- mindedness I had at the time of all mental disorders. In the very back of my mind I knew that something was wrong or different about me, but even that thought made me angry so denial was just a more comfortable place. I suppose I finally reached my breaking point, made the appointment with my doctor (after the urging of my therapist) and was my anxiety disorder was classified as "severe".

Several years later I am happy to say that I don't need medication anymore, but every once in a while it creeps back up. Interestingly, in both of my pregnancies in the first trimester my anxiety came back, but the episodes are few and far between now. I felt it coming back once when I had a coaching session with Larry Laprade and decided to bring the topic to my session with him. This is probably not a topic I would normally bring up, it's more of a therapy topic, but Larry was up for the challenge. As I told him about my worries, he asked me, "What is worry?" I asked him to elaborate and he wanted to know how I would explain the concept of "worry" to an alien from another planet that did not know what it was, or had never felt it. As I tried my best to explain it, I realized just how ridiculous all of my worrying really was.

Later, as I thought about it more, I wondered if all my worrying and anxiety was some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. Wikipedia defines a self-fulfilling prophecy as: "a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior."


Now, I don't want to undermine the severity of GAD or any other mental illness, what I'm talking about here is general worry, stress, etc. That being said, my session with Larry got me wondering if all of our thoughts are little announcements to the universe of a desired outcome that we may or may not want in our life. Especially if a thought is repeated over and over again in our mind (or out of our mouth), that it gains momentum and energy. I don't think that it's a coincidence that when I worry and stress about about something in particular that things seem to fall apart, but when I concentrate on how well things are and all the positive, it breeds just that.

I'm a firm believer that anyone can train their mind to bring what they want into their lives. I also think that it takes more positive energy to counteract whatever negativity someone has manifested about a certain topic. Sort of how we remember the bad and hurtful comments someone makes to us much more than we remember the compliments. Affirmations are a great way of doing this.

If there is anything you do to help with this, or any experience you've had with this, let me know!

Photo courtesy of spaceodissey