Sunday, August 30, 2009

Note to Martha

I wanted to post a comment that I recently received on this blog (Martha, let me know if you'd rather I not post this, and I'll delete it pronto)....

"My daughter is in the 10th week of her second HG pregnancy. The first one was so awful, we had never heard of HG and she was so sick. She lost 30lbs in a month and she and her husband moved in with us so I could give her the round the clock care she needed. When she was 12 weeks her doctors put her on steroids, which helped so much and she was eventually able to resume her teaching job. We are in week 10 this time, she has a PICC line and receives PTN ( nutrition IV) everyday here at my home. This is such hell, she is so sick and feels so alone and misses taking care of her child. We are all exhausted, but hopeful the steroids will again help because zofran and reglan have little effect for her. It is very hard for "outside" people to understand how serious this is and want to give advice about crackers, ginger, etc....."

Martha, I just wanted to say thanks so much for your love and care that you're giving your wonderful daughter. Mothers like you are LIFE-SAVERS, and we couldn't do it without you. I hope that the road gets easier from here for all of you, and we'll be keeping you in prayer. Thank you, thank you for being such a blessing to your daughter, her child, and her family!! I know that this is not an easy road - I had only a fraction of the illness that your daughter is experiencing, and it was life-shattering.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

38 weeks, 6 days: Waiting!

Greetings, all ye in bloggerland!

This week I find myself in an odd circumstance - that of (mentally, at least) sitting around and waiting for labor to start. Weird! Last time I didn't really even think about it - labor took me by surprise. But this time, I find myself doing a bit of clock-watching. Not that I'm anxious for this pregnancy to end, but I am curious about labor and excited to meet baby - and it will be nice to be able to walk comfortably again!

A week ago this past Sunday, three separate people told me, "Oh, you've dropped!" I hadn't noticed anything (didn't notice last time either), but the fact that non-first-time moms aren't supposed to drop until labor has already started put me into a frenzy of baby preparation - a frenzy which, though unfounded, proved extremely useful in that it helped me to finally pound through the last main items on my pre-baby to-do list. Hurray!

So as of this past weekend, our birth supplies are finally ready, our baby things are cleaned and set up, and I'm pretty much ready to go. The house isn't completely unpacked, cleaned, or organized, but it's not bad - and I've given up on any idea of EVER having the house cleaned to my level of perfect satisfaction - at least until all the kids are out of the house, LOL! For me, at least, "perfect" baby preparation was possible only for baby #1 (when there wasn't another ex-baby running about making messes as I cleaned!). But considering that all of my baby preparation from last time went down the tubes as soon as baby was born (i.e. the perfectly clean house, etc.), I don't mind too much!

I have been having minor pre-labor symptoms for the past 5 days or so (upset tummy, mild menstrual-type cramps), and that again convinced me that labor was imminent - but upon research, I discovered that these types of things can mean that labor is either hours away - or weeks away! So we may have a post-due-date baby after all.

Anyhow, having everything at least semi-ready has meant that I can relax a bit and get some much needed sleep - what a relief! So I've been indulging in super-long naps and trying to get some extra rest - anything to build up a buffer for when little one arrives and destroys any semblance of long sleep-stretches!

A quick note - Upon randomly surfing one of my blogs a while ago, I discovered that I have been receiving email notification of only some blog comments. Some are emailed to me, and some are not! I have no idea why - but I just wanted to let everyone know that I'm not receiving all blog comments, though I do my best to review entries manually to find the lost comments.

And to close (as starving hubbie is home and wanting dinner), I wanted to share this fun video! (Facebook friends have already seen this... sorry for the repetition.) This is purely personal - nothing to do with HG, pregnancy, birth, etc. - this is my sister-in-law (she's the dark-haired one) doing a commercial with Fred Willard, and it's fun! My SIL has been working with Mr. Willard for several years now, but being that we haven't been able to make it out to California for their shows, this is the first time we've gotten to see them act together. So fun!!

Love to all!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Note on Pictures

After 30 minutes of fiddling, I finally figured out how to put these pictures on my blog (a computer genius I am not!), but I couldn't figure out how to add text! So I wanted to note that these pictures were done by my sweet friend Jennifer, who should be a professional but chooses to remain a hobbyist - thank you, Jen!! These pictures finally gave me the opportunity also to update my profile picture, which was quite inaccurate due to its being out of date by two years, a different hairstyle, and an unnamed (ahem!) amount of baby weight. Hurray!!

37 weeks, 4 days: Maternity Pictures!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

37 weeks, 2 days: Life Lessons at the Fire Station

Today I would like to start off with a very important life lesson that I would like to impart to the public consciousness:

Don't push your already well-aged maternity pants too far.

Just don't. Really. I mean it.

Unless, for some reason, you relish that moment of exquisite humiliation when you realize that you have been walking around.... for at least 30 minutes.... in front of an entire battalion of firemen (albeit very well-mannered, gentlemanly firemen).... with all the bending, squatting and reaching that accompanies the care of an excited preschooler.... with a very revealing rip across the entire rear-end of said maternity pants! (Only finding out about said rip when DH sidles up to me and says, "Um, honey, let me get you a sweatshirt to tie around your waist... right now.")

Enough said.

Though I have no doubt that our local firemen are currently laughing themselves sick (who wouldn't?)... And the maternity pants are on their way to the trash - pronto.

But at least our car seats are installed properly! Yet another item to check off the to-do list.

Moving on....

We are moving ever closer and closer to D-day! Things are getting done, baby things are getting washed - I can't believe it's so close!

This is SUCH a different experience from last time! As I've mentioned before, last time I was just so sick that the thought of having a baby was a bit of an afterthought. I didn't think about the baby, the baby's gender, anything - I was too tired and sick to care! This time I'm curious about the gender and anxious to meet him or her! So fun!!

I must admit that this has been quite a stressful summer. Trying to move in and get unpacked and baby-ready, dealing with the stress of losing my paycheck as of next week (we've decided that it's time for me to be a full-time SAHM), dealing with the sticker shock of home-ownership and trying to set up a budget on a very small salary. Additionally, I am dealing with a family decision that DH is in the process of making, the initial conclusion of which has proven extremely unpopular with his constituency (i.e. me), and which decision has provoked full-out rebellion amongst said constituency, which has a tendency to be too pig-headed to submit to family leadership with any type of grace. *Sigh.* Anyhow, I'll be glad when things settle down (like when all kids leave home and we're retired).

Sometime when I have extra time, I plan to write "The Art & Science of the Vomiting of Pregnancy, A Complete Guide in Three Volumes." Honestly, I now know so much about throwing up! But seriously, I need to take my own knowledge seriously first... This morning I was so busy when I got up that I forgot to eat and then had to interrupt DH mid-sentence in order to run to the bathroom for a rather lengthy seance with the porcelain fixture installed therein - you'd think I'd learn, wouldn't you?

Well, I have tons more to write - but housework and family call! Have a lovely weekend, everyone - and don't forget my hard-earned wisdom on the fallacy of aged maternity clothing! :)

Love to all,

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"It's All In Your Head" - Myths of Hyperemesis

If you've been around the hyperemesis world for more than 30 seconds, you will hear thousands of women bemoaning the fact that their condition is belittled and ridiculed as being "all in your head." Such as...

"You need to just get out and get some fresh air. Stop thinking about yourself."

"Stop being selfish and think about the baby's needs instead of yourself. Just make yourself eat."

"So... Why don't you want this baby? Why are you subconsciously rejecting it?"

"Are you having problems at home? Why are you making yourself so sick?"

"Get some therapy."


All of this is, of course, beyond absurd. When was the last time you heard any of the following?

"So you've got gestational diabetes, huh? Why are you being so selfish and only thinking about yourself? It would go away if you'd just focus on the baby."

"Preterm labor? You must need counseling, or else you wouldn't be making yourself sick."

"Pre-eclampsia? Why don't you just go get some fresh air? That's all that's wrong with you - you need to get out more."

Yup, that's right... you don't hear those. So why is hyperemesis constantly (and I do mean constantly... look online for the stories) classified as an "it's all in her head" condition?

Ashli McCall has a great chapter on this subject in her book "Beyond Morning Sickness," so check it out if you haven't read it before. In that chapter she writes,

"Kaltenbach seems to have started this whole "HG as a neurosis" mess in 1891. In 1968 a frustrated Fairweather concurred and published a study that was shamefully uncontrolled and obviously biased. He hypothesized that women with HG had mental issues that basically caused psychosomatic illness."

Additionally, in my own experience I have noticed that any physical experience that is exclusively female (i.e. never experienced by men) has been in the past, or is currently, attributed to "female hysteria," "nerves," etc. - i.e. it's all in her head. Examples of this would include:

- Morning sickness of any kind
- Menstrual cramps
- Labor pain
- Emotional nature of pregnancy
- Postpartum depression

(And by "it's all in her head," people don't generally mean that a disorder is caused neurologically by hormone imbalances, etc. - they mean that the woman willfully brings it on herself by her own selfishness or weakness.)

Unfortunately, a lie is a hard thing to kill, simply because the fallacy of hyperemesis-as-imaginary has been repeated ad infinitum in medical textbooks and references. It is present equally in mainstream medicine and naturopathic medicine - perhaps even more so in the naturopathic world, as naturopaths are more likely to recognize the mind-body connection (which can be important but is usually irrelevant with hyperemesis).

For example, see the following excerp (which I am not going to cite, as I love both the author and the book and don't want anyone reading this to write her or it off!):

In reference to a hyperemetic woman, she writes:

"Loving help should be given the mother with any aspect of her life which makes her unhappy, whether it be her reluctance to have a child, her sex life, her fear of labor, or whatever. Encourage her to increase her activity, rather than laying around, and to do things that will get her attention outside of herself. If you can counsel a woman and give her real help, you can stop a condition which, left to itself, could require hospitalization."

That paragraph alone is enough to make your average hyperemetic woman fully suicidal, if not to send her on an enraged killing spree.

I found a similar passage in another book (which shall also remain uncited!) written by one of my most beloved birth authors:

"It bears mentioning that hyperemesis gravidarum is one of the only conditions for which conventional medicine acknowledges emotional underpinnings, and some midwives do note a correlation between hyperemesis and psychological conflicts or difficulties regarding the pregnancy..... With emotional factors outstanding, suggest counseling. Otherwise, have the mother immediately take ginger root three times daily..... If vomiting persists beyond the first trimester, consult with a colleague...."

Point #1 - See above comment about enraged killing sprees.
Point #2 - Ginger doesn't do squat for hyperemesis! Give it a rest with the ginger!!
Point #3 - If you wait to treat HG till after the first trimester, you (a) are incompetent as a caregiver, and (2) will have an extremely ill mother on your hands whose baby and whose life have been endangered by lack of needed treatment.

So, in conclusion, I will note the following:

(1) It is NOT in her head (or in your head).
(2) Unfortunately, the medical literature is often outdated and will point toward psychological causes.
(3) Ditch any caregiver who goes along with #2.
(4) And rest assured that you are not crazy!

Did I miss anything?

Love to all!

Monday, August 10, 2009

36 weeks, 4 days: "In the Window".... Plus a Great Reunion Breakfast!

"In the window" is a phrase used by our midwife to denote a woman who is 36-42+ weeks and thus "term" and able to have a homebirth.... and that is now us! We are cleared for launch at any time now, though I'm hoping very much that it won't be for a while yet!

Last night, in honor of the break in the heat, I spent an enthusiastic hour attacking the weeds in our yard (our "lawn" is a conglomeration of tack stickers and a weird, fast-growing tree-like weed that can grow to a man's height in a matter of three weeks) - and paid for it! I spent the rest of the night crashed due to a nice combo of painful Braxton-Hicks and round ligament pain - not unusual, I just overdid it! So my body seems to be saying, "It's time to slow down. Now!" I think it's about time! I've been nesting maniacally for too long.

So now I'm just trying to focus on getting my birth supplies gathered and my main to-do items finished, but without the frantic haste that has accompanied the past few months. No matter how hard I try, my house is not going to be perfectly clean or organized pre-baby (and wouldn't stay that way even if it was!). I'm going to do my best to be satisfied with "good enough."

I forgot to tell an amusing story that happened a couple of months ago, and which illustrates why pregnant women shouldn't be trusted with anything riskier than cold oatmeal.....

I was working at church (where I do secretarial work) and decided to send a quick email to a good friend of mine... from the church account. (I used to do this all the time... no more.) The email was mostly information about our new Phoenix birth center, and I threw in a link to a now-famous Spanish mattress commercial which features a homebirth and is one of my very very favorite videos. And then, not thinking.... I sent it out to the entire church. That's right... the pastor, elder board, deacons, congregation - everyone. How mortifying was that???

In all honesty, I was really glad in the end that the email just didn't contain any gossip, criticism, personal information, etc. That would have been oodles worse. But people have been teasing me about mattress commercials ever since!

Two weeks ago I went and did it again (sent an email out to the whole church by accident), but thankfully it was only a rough draft of the bulletin. Phew. I'll be thankful when I hand the reigns over to my successor in two weeks and don't have to worry about such idiotic adventures!

Moving on....

This past Saturday was a very special high point in my summer - it was the second annual reunion-breakfast that I've had with two special hyperemesis friends of mine: Sarah, who is a fellow-client of my midwife and whom I met at our midwife's annual picnic, and Jenna, who met Sarah over the web (Jenna is also the author of "Body Mutiny," an internationally famous book on hyperemesis). I am the junior member of our trio, having had an experience which some would call hyperemesis and some would not (had to live on a liquid diet - yes; hospitalized - no, though this was more an insurance thing than anything). But whether or not I am a true member of the HG (hyperemesis gravidarum) club, I'm still only the junior member - my HG/morning sickness merely made my life a living hell - both Sarah and Jenna nearly died, besides spending a majority of their pregnancies in the hospital on just about every drug you can name. Yikes!!!

We had an absolutely lovely time getting caught up, chatting randomly, and having lots of good "HG talk," something that is always absolutely refreshing in a world that often thinks that all morning sickness can be resolved by ginger pills and brisk walks, LOL!! I really need to get more hyperemesis articles on this blog... this is a condition that is so drastically underestimated and misunderstood - I would love to get more public awareness out there in any way that I possibly can. Hopefully soon!

Well, I have tons more to write, but life calls. Thus, I'll try to catch up more later! We are well, are having a very busy week, and are looking forward with our next appointment with our midwife, which is tomorrow. I'll be doing the GBS test (something I don't really agree with, for many reasons, but which I have elected to do so that I don't have to fight any antibiotic-happy hospital staff in case of a transport), so I'm hoping for a nice fat negative on that one. Then a friend of mine is going to do some pregnancy photography for us this weekend, so I'll try to post that after we finish.

Have a wonderful week, everyone!