This article moved me more than anything I have read in a long time. I was so choked up I could barely speak. This article speaks so deeply to what I am most passionate about. It is a wonderful story of a mother's love and fear. More importantly, it is a powerful tale of a woman mothering instinctively. The miracles of modern medicine have done so much to prolong life, increase quality of life, and save people from illness and death. However, it has also stripped women of the confidence and knowledge they need to trust themselves and their bodies. It has turned the most primal and natural processes into medical procedures. It has encouraged women to turn to doctors instead of themselves or their own mothers and friends when they have questions. And so much of what they are being told is wrong and driven by the financial interests of doctors and other industries making money off them.
That is why this story is so refreshing. Here, a woman, facing the most tragic moment of her life, when the doctors have stepped back and are not discouraging her, follows the instincts from within, and ends up saving her baby's life. No grand interventions saved her. The cure was simple, mother. It is terrifying to think, what if? What if you don't do what the doctors say and something goes wrong? I haven't been able to totally cancel out this fear, even in myself. But I do try to continuously encourage mothers to listen to their instincts. If someone is telling you to do something other than what your instincts tell you, listen to yourself. You have a connection to your baby, physical for a very long time, and then, I think, through emotions and energy for the rest of your life. You know far more than you give yourself credit for.
The other part of this story that moves me so much is that it is solid proof of the two things. 1) The power of touch to babies, 2) the absolute NEED for babies to have touch. Studies have proven this, but we (in the US especially) are so concerned with spoiling our children that we put them at arm's length, or further. This mother's touch healed her child, brought her back from the brink of death. That is powerful, more so than any modern medicine. If touch can be this good for a sick baby, why wouldn't it be just as good for a healthy baby? Why wouldn't it be just as good for a 6 month old? This is why breastfeeding is so important, why attachment parenting is so powerful. Babies need to touch, to be touched, to be held. Our bodies were designed to meet their needs even outside the womb. We provide their nourishment, can keep them warm, can regulate their breathing and heart rate. Just because they are born to the world, doesn't mean that they are any less dependent on their mother to love, provide, and care for them at every moment and for every single need.
On Saturday morning, I received a phone call from Dr. Henry. Let me emphasise that it was HIM that called, not a nurse... I love having him as a doctor! He wanted to check in on me and to tell me the results of the chromosone screening. They found that it was an abnormal pregnancy. Something in the splitting of all the chromosones didn't go as it should. He said it is a very common cause of miscarraige. This was a relief in the sense that we now don't have to move forward with surgery and we can feel confident that our next roll of the dice will go better. He is keeping me on estrogen supplements for a week and then will have me on birth control for a few weeks. After that, everything should be back to normal, at least physically.
Emotionally is another story. We also found out that it was a girl. I wasn't surprised... somehow I already knew. I have said for a while that I would be the mother of boys, yet from the moment I found out I was pregnant, I knew it was a girl. Aaron and I talked and as soon as I knew the sex, I felt a need to give our baby a name. So, we thought it over and we have named our baby Sidney. Before we were even pregnant I had brought that up as a possible girl's name. I like it and it is the name of Aaron's paternal grandfather that passed away last year. So, it seemed fitting that our little angel share the name of her great-grandfather who she is in heaven with.
Healing from this so far has been an interesting ride. It is so different from the last time. That was our first pregnancy and the normal feelings of loss were compounded with a fear of never being able to have kids. I wasn't able to be around women that were pregnant or young babies. It was all too overwhelming. So it is a blessing this time around that I don't have to deal with those fears. I don't have to overcome jealousy and fear. However, that time we never saw an actual baby, it was more the loss of the concept. When we had the ultrasound that time they couldn't find anything, so the baby never really "took". That didn't "lessen" the pain, but it was different than this time. Sidney was as real to me as M was when we first laid eyes on him. Seeing the shape of a baby and her heartbeat solidified her place in our lives. At that moment we became a family of four. So this time I face a true mourning of that loss. It is more concrete. It is more tangible. In is no harder or easier, just different. We are taking it a day at a time and trying to find our way. It is good to have M to keep us moving and laughing. And there is the need to be there for him that keeps us moving forward. But I do find myself totally overcome with emotions, usually out of the blue. I will simply just be moved to tears at a given moment. I try to just let it come when I feel the need.
I pray that the healing continues and that Sidney is in heaven and knows that, although we never met her, we loved her all the same. She was a blessing to us, truly a gift from God.
Monday, July 6, was one of the best days of my life. And Friday, July 10, was one of the worst. Monday I got to see the heartbeat of our little surprise. I was comforted to see the baby, heart racing, snuggled safely in my tummy. It was perfect. Everything was perfect. Our little peanut was already almost 8 weeks along. Our chances of bringing that baby home in 7 months was over 95%! We started imagining our life as a family of 4. Things seemed to be more complete, more right. However, the rest of that week was a roller coaster of fear and hope. From one crazy episode of bleeding to another, but all without the tell-tale pain. Still having a good feeling about this one, we chose to have an ultrasound done on Friday to ease our fears before the big wedding weekend. I was so nervous before the ultrasound that I nearly had a panic attack. I could feel my heart in my throat. The nurse began the ultrasound and I explained how we hadn't told M about the baby but were planning to as soon as we saw the heartbeat again since he was with us. My first indication that something was wrong was when I caught a glimpse of a measurement and it measured 7w3d. I knew we measured 7w5d 4 days earlier. I tried to not worry about that since it is all based on the screener's mouse clicks and we had a different nurse this time. But I did notice that I wasn't picking up that little beating speck like last time. Still, nothing seemed too alarming. But before I know it, half the screen became a series of flattened wavy lines. I hadn't seen something like that before on an ultrasound and I asked what it was. As I asked and saw her face I knew the answer. I said to her "there is no heartbeat is there". And that is the moment my life changed. That is the moment I lost my baby. I have miscarried before and it was life altering and terrifying. But there was never a heartbeat, never an image. This time we came home to the pictures we had taken of our baby just 4 days ago hanging on the fridge. Never in my life have I been so high and so low in such a short time.
Tomorrow I will be going in for a D&C... my third. My body really loves to be pregnant. Seriously. It refuses to let go of anything inside of me. I find this to be an interesting metaphor for my personality. So, we faced a difficult decision. Do we allow nature to take its course, knowing that my body will likely refuse to give up on this baby? Or do we take the chance of more scarring and complications? Knowing that this was a healthy pregnancy until the 8 week mark, I know I couldn't endure this miscarriage. There would be no way to miss the loss of this child. It would be painfully obvious. And then I would likely still have to have the surgery. Instead we will take this opportunity to find some answers. We will have the D&C in the hands of one of the most wonderful doctors I have ever met. Our baby will then be tested to discover if it was an abnormality that caused it to not survive. If it was, we will be comforted to know that we have good prospects of the coin landing the other way next time. But if it was a normal, healthy baby, we will know that the scars of my past D&Cs likely caused this. And we will then be headed for a few months of recovery and another surgery. We will also learn the sex of our baby through all this. I am simultaneously excited and terrified about this prospect. A part of me that needs this baby to be validated as real feels that knowing the sex will make my pain more relevant, more understandable. A part of me that needs to push this pain away just to survive can't handle knowing if I lost my first little girl or Maddox's little brother. It will be a gift and a curse to know.
I don't know how to handle this. I bounce from positive and hopeful to panicky and blurry-eyed. I have been overwhelmed and lifted by the love and support of my family and friends. I have found peace in the stories of my sisters out there that have lost and gone on to have beautiful babies. I have wept for those that have lost too. I feel guilty for wanting more. I question if I should even try. I have a perfect, wonderful little boy and I know so many that are fighting so hard to get that. Should I be fighting for MORE? I feel guilty for not being able to keep safe Aaron's little joy. I know in my head that I have no control, but there is guilt regardless. I am brought back to the anger at my body, the frustration. The same things that it took 2.5 years of an amazing nursing relationship to heal. And I am angry to be feeling these emotions again! I feel robbed, I feel cheated. From moment one, Aaron and I were calling the baby a girl... did I lose my chance for my little girl? I can't believe that I am here again. And then I feel guilty for all this self-pity because I know how lucky I really am. Tomorrow will be a day of mourning. It will be a day of recovery. And I hope it will start the days of healing.
Welcome, Carnival of Breastfeeding readers! Thanks for visiting! Be sure to check out the other contributors, whose links are listed at the end of this post. Also, please share your thoughts or comments!
As my son is now weaned, here is a story from August 18, 2007. It is one that means more to me than just about any other.
I was just nursing Maddox and my mind was wandering as it usually does. But this time I stumbled upon a memory that had been lost for a long time and I felt compelled to share this with all of you. I suddenly realized how much breastfeeding is at the core of who I am. When I was at my Peer Counselor training I had made the comment to one of the amazing women there that breastfeeding had changed me at the deepest levels of who I am. She said, "I don't think it has changed you as much as it has helped you find a part of you that you did not know". I thought that this was profound and it changed my view quite a bit. But now this new found memory just totally solidifies that!
So, here it is... first of all, some background.
Before having Maddox, Aaron and I became pregnant. We were ecstatic, but we lost that baby early on. The miscarriage broke me, shattered me. And to make matters worse, it continued for nearly 2 months. My body had retained something from the pregnancy and after the miscarriage it continued to grow and my HCG levels began to rise. The ordeal lasted several weeks before I finally had to have a D&C. I had blood drawn nearly every other day during those months, along with the surgery, and the pain of not being able to move on. It was a true low point for me emotionally. I was very angry and have realized since then that I was depressed and mad at my body for not "working". I mourned this loss, but was steadfast in wanting to be a mother and wanted to allow that to happen as soon as this wonderful world felt it was time. At first, Aaron was completely with me. But as the drama drew on over those two months, fear began to wear on him. Then the realities of being a father began to scare him. Soon we found that we were arguing about whether or not to try again right away. I was again devastated... after all, if my body had done what it was supposed to I would be pregnant with my baby. I felt robbed all over again.
This is where the memory comes into play... this is something I had forgotten until now. One night during all of this I had a dream. It was so real that when I woke up I was in tears and could still FEEL it. I had a dream that I was nursing my child. I could FEEL the warmth of his body, smell his sweet scent, and FEEL the overwhelming love and pride created by this connection. I woke up and told Aaron, as I cried in his arms, that I need this, I am ready, I need to have my baby in my arms. I need to feed my child from my breast and connect with him in this miraculous way. It was not long after that that we were able to work through his fears and come to an agreement.
At the time the dream was nothing more than that, a signal to me that I wanted a child more than anything in the world. But, now, 2 years later, I see so much more. I find it intriguing that, even though at the time breastfeeding was not something I had thought much about other than knowing I wanted to do it because it was best, it was rooted in my soul as the pinnacle of mothering. It represented to me the absolute most basic and profound experiences of motherhood. Without giving it direct thought, I KNEW that breastfeeding would be the greatest joy of my early relationship with my child. How? Was it something engrained in my psyche from being breastfed myself? I will never know the answer to that, but I do know something now. My friend was so right. Breastfeeding hasn't changed the core of who I am... it has been there as a part of my natural state. It has however helped me realize and fulfill that internal longing that had been resting so patiently inside of me.
Breastfeeding has offered me so many gifts. I have been thankful for its power to heal my anger at my body, for its ability to create a wonderful connection with my son, for its many health and emotional benefits to Maddox and I. But tonight, as I nursed Maddox back to sleep, I am thankful for it helping me become truly who I was meant to be. That is the true power of breastfeeding.
"A mature view of scriptural authority requires us, as we have in the past, to move beyond literalism. The Bible was written for a world so unlike our own, it's impossible to apply its rules, at face value, to ours." - Lisa Miller, Newsweek
"Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly"
My recent postings on Facebook about breastfeeding have stirred up some interesting conversations. I have been compelled to share some thoughts, but far too much for a comment on there. So here it goes.
First, I will say that I am unapologetically pro-breastfeeding. I think breastmilk is a superior infant food. However, I want to be clear that this does not mean that I judge others for choosing formula. Some of my favorite women in the world have used or will use formula. I was personally very close to not being able to breastfeed myself. It was through the grace of God and a very strong will that I ended up being able to breastfeed exclusively.
Actually, I think formula is important. There are some (very few, but some) that cannot physically breastfeed. They need to have the best possible alternative. I think that the formula companies should constantly seek to catch up to breastfeeding, although it is unlikely they ever will since it is a changing and living thing. But the children that do need formula and those whose parents choose formula, deserve to have the safest and healthiest food that can be created.
I truly do think that judgement is not the right way to reach women about breastfeeding. A new mother does not need heavy handed pressure at a time when she is so vulnerable and scared. I think that by being supportive, informative, and gentle, more women would be open to trying to breastfeed. This is why I do what I do in my online communities. I am a firm believer that many women choose to formula feed simply from lack of information about breastfeeding. Formula is what they know and they haven't given breastfeeding a single thought. It's these women that I hope might stumble on my stories and find a piece of information that peaks their interest. I also post my research because there are SO many misconceptions out there about breastfeeding. The more accurate information I post the more chance I have to educate someone. It truly breaks my heart to hear a woman who formula fed talk about it in a regretful or apologetic way. Sometimes they wanted to breastfeed, but felt they weren't able to. If only they had the proper support and information, they would not have that regret. So maybe by reading an article or two, a woman can avoid that feeling in the future. I post my research to share with my fellow breastfeeding mommies because, like every mom out there, we need rejuvinated too! And reading about all the amazing things related to breastfeeding helps do that. I post my research so my friends and family can understand more about me and the lifestyle I have chosen. They can get to know me a bit better by seeing my passion for this topic.
I do feel that breastmilk is superior to formula. I don't know any other product in the world that has to say that it is inferior in its commercials. We are lucky to live in a country where the risks associated with formula are minimized, but there are many places in the world where formula and the mentality against breastfeeding is deadly! There are countries where women are pressured to use formula but they are too poor to buy it and end up diluting it and babies die. Or the babies die from dirty water mixed with their formula. And yes, we could have a serious issue in this country if we had a contamination issue like China had. And yes, that means our babies would die. I don't take that issue lightly.
When we choose to use formula we are at the mercy of those corporations. We have to rely solely on them to ensure the safety and health of our very young children. I am just not willing to put that amount of trust into a corporation. I posted a quote recently about formula being the worlds longest lasting uncontrolled experiment in medicine. This is so true. Formula is just that... a FORMULA... it is a man-made, man-researched, and man-flawed concoction. It has changed GREATLY over the many years it has been available. It seems to be constantly improving, which is great, but I do not want my child to be the test subject for the latest design.
I WILL NOT judge a mother for her choice to use formula. Every family has to find what works best for them. But I also will not apologize for my ardent support of breastfeeding, my passion for the science relating to it, or my desire to educate anyone willing to listen and seek information.