Sunday, August 24, 2008

Book Review: "Body Mutiny" by Jenna Schmitt

"Body Mutiny"
Jenna Schmitt
2006, 150 pages

I first met Jenna Schmitt four months ago, when she and another HG-mum (Sarah, whose story is on this blog) and I became acquainted. Jenna and Sarah met online; Sarah and I met through our midwife, and the three of us then hooked up as a threesome and eventually met in person. We are all Phoenicians (more or less) and live within an hour of each other. I now regularly correspond with them both and have learned a ton from them - and I value their friendship!

Jenna is an amazing woman. She endured what was probably one of the most intense cases of hyperemesis in history - and lived to tell about it, which is nothing short of a miracle. She tells her story in her book's introduction, and it is truly an amazing story.

"Body Mutiny" is not an informational book like Ashli McCall's "Beyond Morning Sickness: Battling Hyperemesis Gravidarum." It is an experiential book - a book of verse (one section per week of pregnancy) written about the individual experience with hyperemesis and that is deeply introspective and very intense.

I got a real kick out of this:

"When I turn my head, things shift like vertigo -
and my belly
down off an unseen edge;
drool releases,
followed by a full-body heave
which elevates me well off of the throne.
Into the depths of a white wastebasket
I retch boundlessly and enthusiastically without yield -
In fact, I retch joyfully with every muscle, strained from shoulder to toe,
all in obeisance to the great and holy
demands of early life.
My head swirls and
I feel as if I am an honored vessel
of divine consecration
glowing like the Madonna
in my lavatory splendor
I resolve to be humble and accepting,
happy to bear discomfort and
eager to bend the obstinate ego
to a higher love:
'Not my will but thine'
I glisten really at the very thought of it.
These glorious moments of sacred contortion
soon fill my days with the same results:
Prolonged retching within the bowels of self
soon voids up any arrogance that remains."
(Schmitt 2006:35-36)
Oh, that made me laugh!! I did the very same thing. I guess we all have (I hope - I don't want to be arrogant on my own). One is so proud to feel those first faint twinges of nausea - one even wants to feel more in order to feel more pregnant, more self-sacrificial, more like a mother. "Oh, yeah!! Bring it on!!!" And then one's world comes crashing down as one realizes that this is not going to be controllable; this is not going to stop; and no, it is not manageable and cute. That is when your world falls apart.
Although I know somewhat what Jenna has been through, I am by no means in her league. Jenna's case was ten, twenty, fifty times worse than mine. She spent a huge portion of her pregnancy in the hospital with a PICC line. She has been on every antiemetic drug in the book. She dealt with life-threatening staph and e-coli infections from infected PICC lines and skin infections, as well as an infected gallbladder (common side-effect of HG) and the side-effects of an induction leading to a c-section (done to shorten her term with HG). She had to wilfully struggle with enormous temptations toward both suicide and abortion (and she is a devout Catholic who would never consider either thing normally). I pray that I am never where Jenna has been with this horrible disease.
I highly recommend this book. It is not a book that will be useful in terms of finding help for hyperemesis - stick with Ashli McCall for that. It is, instead, a book that is highly useful for emotional healing post-HG and for finding out that there truly is someone out there who knows what you have been through.
Jenna told me that several customers have bought multiple copies of this book to hand out to unbelieving/non-understanding friends and family, and I would highly recommend this book for that purpose. It is a great way to induce understanding without having to get into arguments or involved explanations of hyperemesis.
I highly recommend this book for all HG-mums and their libraries! I am thankful to have had the opportunity to read it and will recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about the subject.

1 comment:

  1. found your blog through google alerts, I am a CNM who has a couple of passions beyond midwifery - one is to see that moms with HG get the care and respect they deserve, the other is ditto the above for ladies with PCOS - I am also an NFP only midwife....


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