Y’all, there was a tornado in December when I was pregnant, my husband was out of town on a business trip/training and I was ALL ALONE in the middle of Wal-Mart with loud thunderclaps amplified from the metal roof and scaring the crap out of my gestating son. It took a twenty-minute frantic drive home to access YouTube and Carol of the Bells to calm him down. I was sore for a week.
Listen to the rest of the stories here 😉
Hint: it didn’t include special drinks, supplements and fad diets. This probably isn’t what you think…I think focusing on weight loss postpartum can be stupid and dangerous.
Hi everyone! 🙂
Just a quick announcement for those who follow my writing (and thank you for that – you know who you are 🙂 ).
As of today I’ve officially been published in the Huffington Post, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!
You can see the article here: An Unlikely Friendship Between a Pregnant Collegiate and a Gentle Black Man
Thank you for your support!
New Crunchy Mom
Hi there! 🙂
I’m pleased to announce that Brittany over at Beautifully Connected allowed me to guest post today on my experience with suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum during pregnancy.
Please go say hi and check out the post! <3
“I felt detached from my body, I had no control over what I ate because my body forcefully expelled nearly everything. I felt like I was failing my baby and, at the same time, I felt an intense bitterness towards him.”
Growing up, I didn’t have many friends. My family moved around too much, and I never had the opportunity to develop close personal ties with people or places. As soon as I could, I got married, moved out, and started my own life. I married a hardworking man who did, (and still does,) everything he could to provide for me.
While I was pregnant, my husband was in trade school full-time, while simultaneously working a full-time job doing hard, manual labor. I didn’t have a car, or a license, and was frequently alone. I spent a lot of time going places that were with in walking distance in our little, rural town. Places like the small, local library, and a few local diners.
I was pregnant with my first son when I was eighteen years old! I am the oldest kid from a large family, type A personality. I am a researcher and a planner. You couldn’t tell me anything! I read everything I could get my hands on. Every book in my public library! Every forum on the internet! Every pamphlet in my Obstetrician’s office! However, my pregnancy was very isolating for me.
I felt very alone, because my husband was busy being an awesome provider. I lived in a tiny town halfway across the country from my family. Because we were young and still working on setting up our lives, we had very little money. My rural hospital had no access to parenting support groups or childbirth education classes. I didn’t know what a doula was, and if I had known I wouldn’t have hired one because of my own pride, and “do it all myself” attitude. I wouldn’t have accepted the services of a doula if someone had gifted them to me!
My Labor Experience
I had a less than favorable experience during the labor and birth of my son. I had enough sense to write a birth plan, but I had absolutely no idea what to expect during labor, birth, and after care. I knew that I wanted to have an un-medicated birth, with no interventions. When I got to the hospital, the on call nurse broke my water, to “speed up” labor! She continued to push medication, and came in to ask me about it every 15 minutes! My husband was completely uneducated about the birthing process and about what was going on. He didn’t understand what I needed in terms of support, and didn’t know what to expect. He was as unprepared as I was.
What I wanted, was for my husband to tell the nurse to leave me alone. I wanted a quiet place to labor and manage my own birth! I wanted some counter pressure on my back and some cold rags for my forehead! I wanted something to drink! (FORGET ABOUT ICE CHIPS!!!) I wanted to immediately breast feed my son. I didn’t want to be left after delivery, shaking, cold, and alone, wondering what they were doing to my baby in a separate room. I wanted to be the first person to hold my baby.
I loved my doctor, I wish he had been present for my labor. If I would have known that doctors are not present during the laboring process, and only show up for delivery, I would better considered my options for a support person in the delivery room! I would have also taken advantage of a childbirth education class if I would have known such a thing existed!
So in the end, Even though I researched, and read, and mentally prepared, and meditated and prayed, I WAS NOT prepared for my hospital birth at all! If I would have had a doula, I believe the way my labor was managed would have been different, and I would have been more aware of my options in the hospital, and more satisfied with my birth outcome!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Brittany started her journey of helping women in 2012, as a pregnancy consultant. She was certified as a Birth and Bereavement Doula through Stillbirthday in 2015 and gained certification as a Gena Kirby Rebozo Doula later that year. She is the Birth Doula for modern women. She is intuitive and open-minded; she is attentive and ready to support everyone. Brittany received over 800 hours of advanced training in the practice of massage therapy in her quest as a healer, and is continually researching and attending training in the art of holistic health and wellness. She volunteers with the Oklahoma Birth Trauma Support Group for mothers and families who have experienced birth trauma and pregnancy loss. She lives in Oklahoma City with her husband and four children.
Hi there! 🙂
I’m excited to announce that I was contacted by the creators of “BabySteps” Scratch-Off Calendar and they offered to send us their product for free in exchange for a review. All opinions in this review are my own <3
Baby Steps Scratch Off Calendar is a calendar that marks down each day of pregnancy with a space to scratch off and read beneficial information geared towards expecting parents. Just to be clear, I’m not pregnant! (Captain Abstinence wouldn’t allow that…;) ) Because of that, I’m not actually going to scratch off anything on the calendar, I don’t want to ruin it and I would like to pass it on to someone who could use it. <3
Baby Steps Scratch Off Calendar has been developed by Splash Brands for over a year and a half and has been tweaked to adorable perfection! It is designed with beautiful pastels that are a perfect mix of colors no matter what gender your baby is. It was manufactured in Germany and is filled with information about pregnancy. In total, it has 236 fun facts, helpful tips, and exciting trivia about gestating your very own bundle of joy!
This calendar showed up at my doorstep (Well, Bubba’s doorstep. You guys already know he’s the REAL boss around here) in a cardboard tube. When Bubba unwrapped it (and I helped!!) it looked a little something like this:
There is a disclaimer on the box that states, “Play it safe: the information provided in the BabySteps Scratch-Off Calendar is for entertainment purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider during pregnancy.” This calendar is just for fun, so don’t use it in place of a doctor or midwife to learn about your pregnancy.
Here is what the calendar looks like:
The calendar begins at five weeks pregnant. I found out I was pregnant with Bubba at four weeks and five days, so this would have been a perfect starting point for us. Week five up to week nine is already visible on the calendar. The scratch off part begins the first day of the ninth week and continues until just shy of 39 weeks. The calender would’ve gone a little bit longer than Bubba’s gestational period for us because his timer decided to go off early . 😉
Although I didn’t use the calendar since I want to pass it on, I think it is a great product and one that would be perfect for a baby shower gift or a newly pregnant couple. I love the idea of finding something new every day behind a scratch off spot, especially when the alternative thing to look forward to is morning sickness. :p
If you’d like to know more about Baby Steps Scratch Off Calendar, you can check out the Splash Brands Website and the Splash Brands Facebook Page. You can buy this calendar for yourself or a friend here: Buy Baby Steps Scratch Off Calendar.
Would you be interested in this calendar? I definitely wish I had one with Bubba! 🙂
New Crunchy Mom
Content Warning – Reader discretion is advised.
I always thought it was strange that doctors were included in the list of people who could touch you anywhere. Even as I child, I didn’t agree with that. What made that okay? What made them above perversion and predatory impulses? Why didn’t they listen to me or care when I said I didn’t want to be touched? I never received a clear answer, only that they were different somehow, and that rules didn’t apply to them.
I recall once, during a pediatric checkup, the doctor made me lay down on the table and proceeded to pull my pants and panties off and inspect my genitals, without warning or asking. I distinctly recall being alarmed and squirming, not only because my tiny body had just been violated, but also because he hadn’t even used gloves or washed his hands. “Hold still.” He’d said, callously. On the way home I told my mother, “I don’t ever want him to do that again.” She laughed and said, “It won’t be for several more years.”
I was devastated. Not only because this had happened, but because I knew that it would apparently be inevitable for the future as well. I cried every night for several weeks. I felt so sick that I nearly threw up. At four years old, I had already learned that my ability to consent, a word I didn’t yet know, had been taken away by someone I was supposed to blindly trust.
Ten years later, when I was fourteen years old, I developed ovarian cysts. Nasty little buggers. They grew on my ovaries and eventually ruptured, dumping blood and fluid into my abdomen. It hurt to move, it hurt to breath…heck, it hurt to exist.
One day, after a particularly excruciating bout of pain, I was taken to the emergency room. Instead of checking my abdomen for things like appendicitis, kidney stones or ovarian cysts, the hospital staff threw my family out of the room and began an interrogation worthy of a Law & Order episode.
“I want them to stay.” I said, motioning to my family and wondering why on earth they were being sent away. I watched as the white door swung shut.
“Have you been raped?” The medical staff probed, ignoring my request as I wavered in and out of being in a present state of mind because of the pain.
“Did someone touch you?” The doctor’s voice became heightened and shrill.
“No. I’m just in pain.” I said, becoming frantic at the tone and direction this conversation had taken.
“Are you sure?” He said in a tone that clearly held disbelief.
“Yes, I am sure.” I yelled as he snapped gloves on.
“We need to do a pelvic exam.” He said, rolling his stool towards the bed and I sat doubled over in pain.
“NO!” I shouted as I hysterically tried to stand up and move towards the door.
He informed me that if I didn’t consent to one now, I would have to the next day with a female OB/GYN.
I said nothing, only looking up to shoot a feral look in his direction. My family was finally allowed back in and after some time of trying to coerce me into consenting. An ultrasound was done and they were able to find the cause of my pain. A large cyst had ruptured on my right ovary and done quite a number on it.
I was referred to an OB/GYN for the next morning and sent home with some pain medicine. I didn’t sleep the entire night, but it wasn’t due to the pain. It was clear to me that what I said and wanted did not matter to these care providers and that, in the morning, I had a pelvic exam awaiting me. Just like before, I was sentenced to being violated without ability to fight back.
As I stared at the ceiling, I contemplated my options. I could refuse to go, but if the cysts weren’t addressed, I was told it would affect my fertility later on. My mind raced in a thousand different directions. I was being punished for something I couldn’t control.
When we arrived at the office and were called back, the nurse checked my vitals and then handed me a white paper gown with instructions to strip and put it on. She sensed my hesitation and quickly insisted that it was the clinic’s policy and I had to do it. After donning the ridiculous attire, I recall scanning the cheery pictures in the patient room that seemed entirely inappropriate for the situation at hand. After all, who wants to stare at cartoonish dolphins while being stabbed in the lady parts with a speculum (that is a hard piece of metal or plastic that purposefully pulls open female genitalia for the purpose of better visibility or obtaining samples of tissue or fluid)?
The doctor walked in, interrupting my thoughts and sending my blood pressure skyrocketing. She spoke for a while, then sent my mother out of the room, after I explicitly said I was not repeating the day before. She smiled a fake, disgustingly sweet smile and explained that the cysts would reoccur and that we needed to have a plan.
“Oh, but you don’t need a pelvic exam.” The words floated off her lips so causally I almost missed them.
Aside from feeling irritated that I’d had to sit in a thin paper outfit with my butt on a cold table for upwards of an hour, I felt relieved. Then the doctor dropped another worrisome sentence.
“You need to be on birth control in order to control the cysts and keep them from rupturing and scarring your ovaries.”
At this point, she left the room so I could change back into clothing that was appropriate for decent human beings rather than a science experiment. She reappeared a few minutes later with my mother trailing behind her.
“I’m not so sure about the birth control.” I said as I raised concerns about the side effects, among other things.
“It’ll be such a low dose, you won’t even notice!” She said happily, adding a quick, “And it’ll help with that acne of yours.”
Thanks for the self-esteem boost, doc.
She fled the room after writing a prescription and sent us on our way, without answering any of my questions or addressing my concerns. Just like that, I had escaped a pelvic exam only to be doomed to taking a prescription that I wasn’t sure about, and indefinitely at that.
After a few weeks of taking the birth control, it became clear that I was experiencing some of the symptoms I had been concerned about. I was assured that they would go away, my body was just taking its sweet time adjusting. All the while, my body continued to make cysts and they continued to rupture.
Several months later, after I was convinced that the medication was not treating the cysts as I had been promised it would, a lump appeared behind the back of my knee. I began bruising easily, started experiencing hair loss and developed excruciating joint pain. I showed the lump in my leg to a friend, who insisted that I call my OB/GYN and let her know about it. I called and was told to discontinue the birth control. The symptoms I had been experiencing dissipated, but very slowly, especially considering what a “low dose” I had been assured that I was taking. I often wonder if that entire miserable time in my life would’ve been prevented had the doctor actually listened to me or taken a moment to answer some questions.
While ending the phone call with my OB/GYN, she said goodbye with the line, “I’ll see you when your 21 for your first pelvic exam.” Ice filled my veins as I hung up without a saying a word in reply. I’d argued with her in her office the last time I’d been there about the fact that I felt them unnecessary and intrusive. I told her I wasn’t sexually active, I wasn’t going to be until my wedding, and my soon-to-be husband’s record was as squeaky clean as well. She raised an eyebrow, said they were just routine screenings for STDs and cervical cancer, adding I could be sedated if I wanted, and tried to send me home with female condoms while mouthing the words,”Just in case.”
I couldn’t help but wonder how the scenario she proposed, being given a sedative to “help” with the fact that I didn’t want or consent to a pelvic exam was supposed to be much different from date rape with drugs, except for knowing that it would happen and when. She just couldn’t understand how anyone would choose to forgo this exam, stating, “You really only bleed a little afterwards.” She completely missed the mark; I wasn’t worried about the physical ramifications, I was worried about the emotional damage. I knew my limits. I knew what I could and couldn’t handle. An external exam at a young age was enough to lead me to fear doctors to an unhealthy point, how much worse would a pelvic exam be? I told myself that I had a few years to decide how I was going to decline and that I needed to put it out of my mind for now.
Then I got pregnant shortly after my wedding, just a few months after I turned 18. All of those years of safety and cushion I thought I had between me and fighting for my own mental health and physical wellbeing had vanished. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I booked appointments with a doctor and midwife in the area. The doctor spouted off about choices, “You don’t have to keep this fetus if you don’t want to…” she said chipperly and with complete disregard for my son’s humanity, “it is your choice either way!” After listening to her use the word “choice” nearly a dozen times in our brief interaction, I decided to test the waters.
“Is there any possibility that I could avoid pelvic exams and cervical checks during my pregnancy? I’m opposed for a variety of reasons and my last OB/GYN said I could wait until I was 21.” My voice shook a little as I explained.
Her face fell and she raised her eyebrow as she informed me that it would be very unlikely to arrange that. I should’ve known, of course. All of the talk of choice really had me going, but of course the only choice I had, according to her, was whether or not to “terminate” my pregnancy.
I held out hope for the interview with the midwife to be different. I brought a pen and notepad with me that held a list of questions to ask. Things were going well and I checked each topic off one by one as we went down the list. They spoke of empowerment, and of the importance of me being in control and in sync with my body. I thought to myself, “Surely these folks, above anyone else, will understand.” Then we came to the question that was the most important to me, “Will I be able to go through pregnancy without any internal exams?”
The midwife grimaced a little and told me they’d do their best, but I’d need at least one cervical check while in labor. She tried to soften this by saying, “You won’t even notice it then, though. Labor is intense!” On the drive home I tried to convince myself that this would be okay, I could handle one cervical check and be okay.
I became sick during my pregnancy. I was afflicted with a variety of illness, including Hyperemesis Gravidarum (extreme nausea and vomiting going beyond the scope of morning sickness) which became so severe it sent me into preterm labor at 18 weeks pregnant. I was continually dehydrated and required medicine and intravenous fluids, sometimes more than once a week. This resulted in nearly a dozen hospital trips through my pregnancy. Each time, I was laid down, strapped to monitors to check my baby and check for contractions. After all of that was done, I was either coerced or forced into a pelvic exam or cervical check, and sometimes both. I was ordered to lay back as they changed the hospital bed to force my legs up and apart as they roughly grabbed my thigh and jammed a gloved finger into me as I held on to the bed and my husband’s hand while trying to focus on something besides what was happening to me. I was too weak to physically resist, and emotionally manipulated into consenting on a few occasions after nurses and doctors told me that if I didn’t, my baby would die.
My birth canal was physically torn open during every single exam, and I bled for a full week after each exam was done. The exams were physically painful, with one health care professionals telling me harshly to “Hold still” or then threatening that she would, “show me what it was really like” to get a painful exam done. The physical pain was nothing compared to the mental and emotional damage that has been done.
I was continually told my women who I sought out for help and support that pelvic exams and cervical checks were normal, and that my hesitation and lack of consent to them was not. I was made to feel crazy for intending on declining them. One woman even suggested that I get counseling for my “problems” because it was obvious to her that something was inherently wrong with me for wanting to choose that a stranger not open my genitals and shove a their fingers, or mental or plastic probe into them in the name of “prevention” or “science”. What I didn’t tell her was that I have been to counseling and although my counselor thought these exams were important, he did understand why someone wouldn’t want them.
These same people who esteem choice and consent, especially in the context of sexual relationship and health, were my enemy when it came time for me to voice that I wanted a choice. I wanted the choice to decline, and the doctors and nurses stopped at nothing to take that choice anyway from me. They even went so far as to intentionally lie to me about the health of my unborn child to get me to comply with their requests.
Perhaps things would’ve been different had any one of them actually stopped and listened to me. Maybe I would’ve been fine if any one of them would have asked why I wasn’t okay with these exams. If they had told me the truth about my baby instead of lying as a way to force my consent, there is a chance it’d have been okay.
But they didn’t.
Somewhere out there, people are supporting your “right to die”.
Somewhere out there, people are supporting your “right to an abortion”.
Somewhere out there, people are defending your ability to say “no” to sex.
Somewhere out there, people are defending your “right to bear arms”.
Somewhere out there, people are defending any number of your “rights”.
There are so many “rights” with the same basic principles; that you have control over your body and your possessions. Everyone will tell you about these rights, for themselves and for yourself.
Except, that’s not how things worked for me.
When I tried to exercise my “right” to withhold consent and say no, I was ignored.
When I tried to say, “That part of my body, don’t touch it!” I wasn’t listened to.
When I tried to make a medical decision for myself by not giving consent, I was physically threatened by medical personnel.
Yes, pregnancy generally comes with cervical checks to make sure baby is okay. I don’t regret making sure my baby is okay.
Yes, cervical cancer and STDs are horrible. Screenings and prevention are important.
That said, those of us who withhold consent for these exams should not be coerced, physically forced, emotionally manipulated, or verbally assaulted, no matter what our reason for choosing to decline is. This is especially true regarding doctors, nurses and medical personnel. You cannot have a healthy patient if you take care of their physical health and blatantly disregard their mental and emotional health.
When a woman says no to sex and a man forces himself anyways, without question we call that rape. When a doctor does the same? It’s just a routine procedure.
I know where you can put your speculum doc, and it isn’t in me.
New Crunchy Mom
While I was pregnant with Bubba, there were a few things I heard with regularity. Among the snoopy questions, snide remarks, and congratulations on my pregnancy, one phrase stood out: “Trust birth.”
“Trust birth” was the mantra of all the pregnant women around me. Every time I hear it, I get an interesting picture in my mind. I envision pregnant ladies sitting in a circle and holding hands while repeating “Trust birth” as they get henna tattoos of trees drawn on their bellies. Of course, there is also a copy of Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth sitting in the middle surrounded by softly flickering candles.
I always wondered what they meant by “trust birth”. When I pressed for an explanation, I usually heard things like “Your body knows what it is doing, don’t let doctors intervene!” and, “Birth is safe, your body will do exactly what it’s supposed to when it is the right time.”
“Sure,” I said, “that sounds nice.”
I should’ve been fine, after all, Bubba was my first pregnancy and I had no reason to worry. I watched as women were reassured that their baby would turn after being breach, maybe even during labor, and that they had nothing to worry about…Right before they didn’t and the mamas had to have emergency c-sections. Countless other scenarios came and went, all ending with me asking myself what happened to their “trust birth” experience. I observed these devastated mamas as they mourned the loss of their easy, “natural” birth.
Although I was skeptical of this mantra from the start, each new story filled me with more doubt. Still, I told myself that these ladies must be the minority, that Bubba and I would have no problems. I tried to find something that they must have done wrong during their pregnancy to attribute their outcome to. That seemed to be what everyone else did, and they always seemed to find a reason as to why these things happened.
Maybe they didn’t try enough things to flip their baby, or maybe they didn’t use enough essential oils, or perhaps their undesired birth experience merely came from their lack of trust in their body’s ability to give birth. Whatever the reason, I was sure we would be fine.
And then we weren’t. Turns out, my body didn’t know what it was doing, besides not cooperating. It was VERY good at that. There was nothing safe about me laboring unsupervised and without intervention. My baby and I were in danger, and trusting my body, or birth, was about the worst thing I could do.
I can hear it now…
“Things would’ve been different with a midwife!”
“A doula might’ve prevented it!”
(She actually was wonderful, the situation just wasn’t preventable)
I don’t “trust birth” because my body and my ability to give birth aren’t trustworthy.
And you know what? That’s okay.
I know, I know. Revoke my crunchy card if you must, but its the truth.
This isn’t meant to be discouraging, it’s meant to be realistic. You can keep chanting “trust birth” and I’ll hope and pray you are able to. But at the same time, I’ll be supporting and encouraging those of us who haven’t been and won’t be able to “trust birth”.
While the phrase “trust birth” is meant to be empowering to pregnant women, it can have a negative effect on those who are unable to. Being open to and prepared for a variety of situations in labor may mean the difference between a stressful birth and a peaceful one. Educating yourself, no matter what kind of birth you end up with, is what is truly empowering.
New Crunchy Mom