Guess What? A Healthy Baby Isn’t All That Matters!

Have you ever shared something about your birth that was less than perfect?  Maybe it was something disrespectful that was said, bodily autonomy that was taken, silence that was forced upon you, or any other number of things that go wrong in mainstreams births.  Then, after you’ve shared that bit of painful truth, the person you’re trusting responds with a well meaning, but entirely dismissive and damaging, statement…

“Well, a healthy baby is all that matters.”

As a twim Mom with bad birth trauma, I hear this statement almost every single time I share pieces of my birth story.  The only exception I have found are typically women within the out of hospital birthing community.  These women work tirelessly to improve birth for all women.  Because of this, they understand the depth and seriousness that is birth trauma.

Surprisingly, I’ve ever heard Moms say this to me when referencing their own upcoming births.  Even the Moms who are determined to have a different outcome than their previous traumatic birth end their discussions with something along the lines of, “Well…a healthy baby is all that matters so I just want to do what’s best for my baby.”  It’s as if this has been ingrained into her from all of the silencing she experienced after her first first.

There is something that you need to know.  First time expecting Moms need to know this. Seasoned Moms of many need to know this. New Moms in the trenches of postpartum PTSD and the fourth trimester need to know this.  Partners of Moms who still wake in a cold sweat from night terrors of that day need to know this.  Doulas, midwives, Obstetricians, nurses, lactation consultants, and any other person who interacts with a new or expectant Mom NEEDS to know this…

A healthy baby is NOT all that matters.

I will repeat that again.  A healthy baby, is not all that matters.

Of course, a healthy baby matters a lot.  It can be argued it is the most important thing.  But, it is not ALL that matters.  Mom absolutely positively matters.  She is extremely important.  Mom has just carried this baby for somewhere around 40 weeks (give or take a few) and throughout the entire pregnancy everyone encouraged her to take care of herself, sympathized with her pain/discomfort, supported her in her struggles, nourished and loved on and cared for her.

Then, as soon as she has the baby, all of a sudden all that matters is a healthy baby.  Moms feelings, experience, physical and emotional health, none of that seems to be on anyone’s radar anymore.  And, if it is, it’s not very high on the radar and is very uncomfortable so it is quickly dismissed or diminished.  Subjects are changed.  People “have to go”.  They don’t visit again.

“River nearly died at birth…Serenity nearly died the next day.”

I love this article by Improving Birth.  In it, they discuss why a healthy baby isn’t enough.  And they’re right.

 

The birth of my twin girls, River (Baby A) and Serenity (Baby B), was extremely traumatic for both my husband and I.  River nearly died at birth and took 7 minutes to resuscitate.  The next day, Serenity nearly died in my arms when she had a preemie apnea and went blue, limp, and unresponsive.

I had people telling me, “well a healthy baby is all that matters” before I had even met my sick, intubated River in the NICU.  People were telling me “well, a healthy baby is all that matters” when they took Serenity away and told me I couldn’t go with her.  That is not how you support a person who just experienced trauma.

“She brought me so much more than a bottle of soap.”

The most kind thing that was done for me while I was in the hospital was the day after they were born.  Since Serenity was in room with me the first day of her life, the NICU flat out refused to let me visit River since I would have had to bring Serenity with me.  They then banned her from the nursery because we chose to delay the newborn bath until we got home.  This meant that I was left with no way to visit River.  I was appalled at the suggestion to use Johnson and Johnson products on my newborn baby when I was finally bullied into bathing Serenity.

So, a fellow twin Mom left her home and her kids and brought me a bottle of baby wash by a brand I could trust.  She gave me a hug.  She chatted with me.  She told me I was doing a great job.  She encouraged me to keep pumping.  She didn’t look at me with pity, disgust, or sarcasm like the nurses did.  I will never ever be able to adequately thank her.  She brought me so much more than a bottle of soap.

When I was feeling desperate to talk to people about what happened to us, I found my words were too much, too strong, and too scary for anyone to listen to.  Most people interrupted me and casually changed the conversation or dismissed any further conversation with the terrible, “well the babies are fine that’s all that matters.”  I’ve even gotten the infamous, “aren’t you over that yet?” more than a few times considering my twins are almost two and my birth trauma is still very real and very fresh.

If you are a Mom reading this who just had a traumatic birth, I want you to know that you matter.  I want you to know that your experience matters.  Your feelings matter.  Your pain and sorrow matters.  Your scars matter.  Your feelings of isolation matter.  Your PTSD diagnosis is real and matters.  Your depression matters.  Your anxiety matters.  Your panic matters.  Your feelings of lack of bonding matters.  Your tears matter.  Your story matters.

If you are a Mom reading this who had a traumatic birth and is pregnant again, I want you to know that on top of all of the above that matters, THIS BIRTH MATTERS.  It is absolutely okay for you to want better.  For you to demand better.  For you to expect better.  For you to speak out for better.  It is absolutely okay for you to demand your provider is educated and practices evidence based medicine.  It is absolutely okay for you to not accept anything less than your ability to make informed choices (both informed consent AND informed refusal).  It is absolutely okay for you to change providers if they say bullshit things to you like “you’re not allowed to…”.

Most of all, whatever happens during your birth, you have the right to feel whatever you feel, whenever you feel it, however your feel it, for however long you feel it, after birth.

I support you.  There are others who support improving birth too.  Find them, stand by them, and take shelter and strength in their desire to empower and support you and your choices.

 

Because you matter, too.

I Had No Idea How Amazing “After Bedtime” Was…

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Here I am sitting on the couch, laptop on my lap, Martinelli’s Sparking Cider in a wine glass, chocolate cake partially eaten, and one of my Netflix shows on the TV.  My husband isn’t home.  Each Monday he goes to play on a Billiard’s team.

When the girls were younger, I dreaded Monday nights.  Often, I cried after he left because of the anxiety of the night ahead of me.  Bedtime alone was horrible.  Having two high needs twins meant being outnumbered for just about the entire day was enough to push me well past my breaking point.  Often, I ended up trapped on the couch or upstairs with screaming babies trying to get them to sleep.

After a year and a half of life though, we are finally starting to get the hang of things.  Their entire lives they never went to sleep for the night before 11pm.  It was horrible.  If they did go to sleep earlier it meant that I was trapped upstairs with them because they were impossible to transfer off the boob.

This was exhausting both mentally and physically.  Each Monday when he came home I was felt completely and totally broken.

But now, we have fallen into a pretty amazing routine.  We are awake between 7:30 and 8:30.  They nap from between 11:00am and 11:30am until 1:00pm to 2:00pm.  Then, they are typically asleep sometime in the 8:00pm hour.  Obviously, my daughters still nurse overnight.  So, after they nurse to sleep and I slip away (which is basically the equivalent of me being a ninja and I’ve gotten quite good at it) I am met with this new found freedom for 30-120 minutes before they wake to nurse again (which I can usually slip away again after nursing them back to sleep).  And those minutes are incredible.

I can sit without being asked to nurse or have my lap occupied by toddler butt’s.

I can eat whatever I want without having to share.

I can clean without being interrupted to save one twin from being beaten in the head with an object by the other twin.

I can sit in quiet.

I can discuss my day with my Husband (except on Mondays) without being interrupted all the time.

I can blog.

I can work on my word of 2016.

I can basically do whatever I wish.

It is a break which a Mom of high needs twins basically never gets.  Now, after a year and a half, I am getting that break typically twice a day almost everyday.  It is glorious.  And I am finding myself again in those precious minutes.

4 Reasons NOT to Arrive Unannounced at a Stay-At-Home Mom’s House

For three hours you have been fighting a teething, growth spurting, angry at life child down for a nap.  When you finally transfer the now sleeping little and shake off the stress of the battle, gazing lovingly at their little sleeping face……THE DOORBELL RINGS.

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That tiny sleeping face contorts and their body squirms and you not only have someone impatiently waiting at the door (or not because yay delivery people who ding dong ditch when leaving a package) but you also have a crying baby who is now beyond over tired and just as frustrated as you that they are awake again.

I think it’s safe to say that every stay-at-home parent has experienced this exact scenario.  Some have a dog that barks in response to the doorbell or knock.  All usually respond with a bunch of words that are typically seen in a blog like this, “$&%#”

For me, that scenario is with TWO children since I have twins.  The battle is almost always epic and I feel victorious and accomplished when I finally get them both down for a nap and somehow scoot away from their nursing sucker lips.  So, seeing as I currently at this moment have napping twins, here are some reasons NOT to arrive unannounced at someone’s home when they have kids.

  1. The above scenario is not a joke:  I cannot tell you how many times a delivery man has left a package and rung the doorbell before skipping off back to their truck.  Not only does it make often freak out the dogs, scare the crap out of me, and wake the babies, but I have NO idea it is a delivery man leaving a package and not someone who actually needs my attention.  So I end up opening the door with a crying child, boob usually out, to find no one there.  I cannot tell you how infuriating that is.  Even more infuriating is when that person wants to come in and hang out or “just drop something off” or “just wants to chat”.  Love you.  Love the thought.  You should have called first.  No.  Texted.  Because I can’t answer your phone call with a sleeping baby leech either. 🙂
  2. More than likely, I am at least partially naked:  Breastfeeding, especially in the early days, and ESPECIALLY with twins, means that my boobs are out….a lot.  Newborns often stay latched 20 out of 24 hours each day or more and that is normal and necessary and right.  Growth spurts and cluster feeding are pretty intense throughout infancy and toddlerhood.  And quite frankly, it gets old having your shirt pulled on or fighting with it for breast access all the damn time.  My solution?  There is absolutely no need for a shirt when it’s warm in the house and you’re home alone with your nursling(s).  Don’t arrive unannounced because boobs are most likely out and I don’t have an “oh s***” shirt laying out preparing for your arrival.
  3. On top of being naked, there’s a good chance I can’t physically get up:  Take this scenario right here. This is the first time we got the girls latched tandem since they image1 (3)were in the nicu with specialists to help. They were over a month old already. If I were alone and someone knocked on the door or rang the doorbell I literally would not be able to get to the door. I have a burp cloth propping up my breasts to the right height, two pillows under each side of the My BreastFriend Pillow, at least two rolled up receiving blankets to prop the girls sideways, and two pillows to keep them in place. Plus a pillow or two behind my back and one under my butt. It took so much effort to get here. If someone rang my doorbell when I got here and disturbed the nursing session I would be a very very angry Mama Bear.
  4. My home is a disaster:  I play with my kids.  I cook food for them.  I try to cook food for myself.  We make messes.  We make dishes.  They throw food on the floor.  They decorate the home with toys.  I probably haven’t vacuumed in a week because it requires two people to do so.  My life is about taking care of the kids, not cleaning.  That usually means my home looks horrible to anyone who doesn’t have young kids and as much as I have confidence in my above statements, I don’t really want unannounced guests to SEE that disaster.  It causes me all sorts of unnecessary feelings that I don’t need to give energy to.

So, next time you are thinking about just dropping in on a stay-at-home Mom, shoot her a text first.  I am sure that she will appreciate the heads up and opportunity to say “thanks but next time” if it’s been a particularly tough day.  Even more so, she may just ask you to bring a coffee on your way over. 😉