Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Love Story: Part I

On February 28, 2005, my Andrew and I had our first official date.  After a month of flirting and hanging out in group settings together, he had finally asked me to come to a basketball game with him, and I happily (perhaps even too-excitedly) agreed.  I was so nervous that day.  It had been months since I'd been on a real date.  Andrew showed up at the door holding a pink rose.  As usual, he was so confident and calm and collected, that I was put right at ease.  And off we went to eat at Il Vicino (where I stupidly ordered a salad that had anchovies on it because I was too nervous to read the menu). GROSS.  And then we went to watch the Shockers play some hoops.  Awkward moment of the night came when Andrew had to tell me that he had actually invited two other guys to the game long before he realized this would be a date... so we shared a bit of our first date... but it gave me a good dose of the reality that is my now-husband and it really didn't matter at all in the end.  He put his arm around me during the game. When he took me home that night, we prayed night prayer together.  And we talked and talked and talked about our pasts and our futures and all the things you're probably not supposed to talk about on a first date. He introduced me to Proverbs 31: The Ideal Wife.  I promised him I would read it.  I didn't know then that it would become one of the readings at our wedding.

That was the beginning, and it was a whirlwind romance from that day forward.  Our second date a few days later was a movie night at Andrew's apartment. He wanted me to see the Notebook which he had seen but I had not.  When I arrived he handed me a rosary and said "I thought we could pray first."  So we prayed together.  After the movie, he turned on some music, and danced with me in his living room.  I remember hearing "When You Say Nothing at All" and "I Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore."  I left that night in a dreamy daze.  The boy had still not kissed me, which I actually thought was super awesome, and I was quickly falling head over heels for him.

Days passed, and we became basically inseparable.  I can't remember whether our first kiss came first or Andrew said "I love you" first, but some time in the beginning three weeks both of those things blew me away completely.  Even though I knew that early in the relationship that I loved him too, I was totally not prepared to say it yet.  So I waited a little longer (but not too much.)

We only had one memorable fight during our courtship.  I got angry because Andrew would tell me he was going to call, and then he wouldn't.  Looking back, it seems really ridiculous that I was so mad about it considering we saw each other almost every day.  But for me, it was a trust thing... and when someone told me they were going to do something, I expected them to do it.  I was also projecting on Andrew some of the remnants of a previous college relationship where my trust had been completely violated.  It took months for me to realize that he wasn't going to lie to me like that guy had.  I think we almost broke up that night, but thanks be to God, we did not.

I remember a moment in late spring when Andrew insisted that we go to my parent's house. He was ready to meet them.  I was so nervous, but he was not at all.  They hit it off right away.  I showed Andrew the church where my mom, grandma and great grandma had all gotten married.  And he told me that we would get married there too.  At one point during that weekend, we were sitting alone in my folk's basement and Andrew put his hand on my belly.  We both closed our eyes and saw our future before us.  The marriage, the babies, the life filled with love.  So many people thought we were crazy and moving too quickly.  But there was something supernatural about the way we clicked.  For us, there was no doubt that God has put us together. By June we had met each other's families and were well on our way to engagement.

On July 3 (four months after our first date), Mr. Andrew put a ring on my finger.  It was a no-frills, unplanned, perfect proposal.  We sat on a couch at my house after a night on the town with friends.  Neither of my roommates were home.  Andrew looked at me seriously and asked, "Do you think I'm conventional?"  My answer (with a strange look on my face) was, "Um... no!!"  He got up... walked to the other couch (where I was apparently supposed to be sitting), and pulled the ring out from under it.  He came back over to me, got on one knee, and proposed.  We both cried. be continued...

Friday, February 8, 2013

If I Could Turn Back Time: Advice for Rookie Preggos

As my Facebook posts, blog updates and general conversations likely indicate to those of you who know me, my birth experience with William profoundly changed the way I view pregnancy, labor and birth.  It changed me in lots of ways.  Probably the biggest and most important change I experienced was truly being able to "let go and let God."  I really DIDN'T have a choice in a lot of things with Will's pregnancy.  And no matter how much I longed for a "natural" birth, I knew it couldn't happen with him.  So I had to give it to God and trust we'd both be okay.

But through that journey with my little William and in the two years since, I have done some serious soul searching and internet searching, and REsearching on all things pregnancy and birth.  I've learned a great deal of unfortunate things about the American medical establishment and their current cultural view of how babies should enter this world.  I've learned that frequently moms aren't really given choices or options anymore.  They're told what the doc believes is BEST, and they're made to believe that this is their only option.  I've experienced it first hand.  It's sad, to say the least, that because of the tremendous amount of litigation in our culture, doctors are now afraid to "allow" women to birth their children naturally.  Induction is easier.  Sections are easier.  Scheduling is easier.  And though all three of those things increase the risk to mom and baby, and though the c-section rate in the United States is very close to an all-time high, that doesn't change anyone's minds.

Well, in all my reflecting, I've been pondering a list of things I wish I'd known when Mia and Vince were born.  These are just a few of my thoughts... more of them always seem to pop up.  But if you're a new momma, or an older momma who hasn't ever thought about questioning your doctor, I hope maybe my thoughts will at least give you some things to think about.

1) It's okay to say "Thanks. But, NO thanks."  I vividly remember the morning in the hospital when I was in labor with Vince.  I had gone into labor about 4 hours before my scheduled induction and my doc said it was "okay to let me go for awhile without starting pitocin."  But after 3 hours of laboring and continued progression, I guess things just weren't moving fast enough for her.  So she called the resident and said, "Let's start Pitocin to speed things up."  Momma instinct (and having experienced induction with Mia) kicked in and the first thing I said to the resident was, "Can I say, 'no'?"  The dumbfounded resident was all kinds of shocked that I would even suggest saying "no" to my doctor and thus offered me no reassurance.  And I let them start the dreaded Pitocin.  I regret that to this day.  An hour and a half of hell all because my doctor wanted to "speed things up."  LISTEN TO YOUR INSTINCT.  YOU CAN SAY NO.

2) Don't trust the scare tactics.  It's so easy in late pregnancy to let your doc convince you that induction is a good idea.  You're tired of being fat.  You can't tie your shoes.  You want to meet your baby.  And if you're past due (like I was with #1 & #2), you've pretty much convinced yourself that baby will never come.  So when the doc tells you "This baby is getting really big,"  or "Your risks get higher and higher the longer we wait," it's easy to believe them.  And it's extra convenient to just get induced.  But induction isn't natural.  It increases your risk for so many things.  And, frankly, the PAIN from pitocin SUCKS.  Don't be scared.  Trust your body.  Your baby will come when your baby is ready.  It's absolutely normal to not have your baby until 42 weeks.  You think you're two weeks over, but on average, you're actually only a few days over when most kiddos arrive.

3) "All the matters is that you have a healthy baby." Sorry to break it to you, folks, that really isn't ALL that matters.  People love to give you this line when you've had a birth experience that was less than ideal.  They say, "But look at that little bundle you have... it's all worth it now."  Unfortunately, that just isn't true.  Birth is a profoundly personal and spiritual experience.  And while it is AMAZING to have that little baby in your arms, the way that baby gets into the world really REALLY does matter.  A traumatic birth experience can cause physical pain for years to come.  But the emotional and mental angst that can be caused by a bad experience, in my opinion, is far worse.  I know mommas who've had PTSD from their births.  I know mommas who can't even consider getting pregnant again because their fears are too high based on their last experience. After everything that went down with Will, of course I felt blessed that he was here, and we both were healthy.  But I still grieved.  I grieved the fact that I didn't get to hold him right away.  I grieved the fact that I had to go home without my baby for 2 weeks.  I grieved the fact that my guts had been cut open and my birth experiences from then on out would not be the same.  And I lived in fear of another pregnancy for a long time.  Could I go through it again?  Would it even be safe?  How much risk was I willing to take?

There are so many more little things that I could write about this.  And I desperately wish sometimes that I could go back to the births of #1 and #2 and tell myself these things.  But I can't do that.  So all I can do is hope that I can help other new mommies be educated.  Yes, you should be able to trust your doctor.  But you should also know that your doctor is human and your doctor has priorities that aren't always 100% in YOUR best interest.  It's okay to question.  It's okay to follow your instinct.  And it's okay to do research even if your doctor says "there are no other options."  You are the momma.  And you need to believe in yourself to know what's best for your baby.  And if you can't decide, then seek out experts to help you.  Find birth professionals like doulas and midwives who believe in natural birth.  Find other moms who have been in your shoes and talk out your fears with them.  You are not the first momma in the world to be worried or to have faced whatever problem you might be facing.  And when you find peace in one of your choices, you'll know which choice to make.