Friday, August 31, 2012

Breastfeeding, infertility treatments, and judgement

I'm in a huff. My physical therapist said some things to me today that I didn't like (and had nothing to do with my wrist). It started as a tame conversation and we moved into the topic of breastfeeding. He made the comment that it wasn't a big deal, "Just cover up with a blanket. The baby doesn't mind." I used to think that too, then I had a baby the didn't liked to be covered up. So I let him know that. Which led into a conversation where he called me sexist cause I told him he didn't know what it was like to be pregnant or breastfeed because he hadn't ever done either. Go ahead and call me sexist. I'll own that one. Seriously, I'm in a giant huff. I'll probably be pissed all weekend. I'm contemplating quitting physical therapy or at least finding another physical therapist now.*

I do have a lot of strong feelings about pregnancy and women's rights. And yes, I'm passionate about them. But the only point I really want to impose on someone else is that you don't know what it's like to be me. And that extends to whoever you are. Please try to stop assuming things.

One of the particularly bad side effects of making assumptions that everyone should be able to live up to your world view is that it creates guilt and feelings of failure when we can't. I might even want to live up to your world view, but that doesn't make it realistic. Take depression for instance... depression is real. You can have your opinion about what causes it, but that really is beside the point for me. What matters to me, is that it's real and you can't just snap out of it. I could pretend it wasn't real and that I should be able to snap out of it with the right diet and exercise, but if that didn't work, where would that leave me? People that deny depression as potentially serious medical condition stigmatize it for everyone.

Which brings me to infertility and my severe distaste for those out there that say things like, "If it were me, I would just adopt," or "Oh, I would never do IVF," or "If you want kids so badly, just take mine," and, of course, that relaxing bs. There is usually a lot implied behind these statements. Note: This statement is different than saying "We found out that we couldn't conceive and decided to adopt."  The difference is between relating a personal experience and saying what you would assume you would do if you were in that situation. That's a very important difference.

Many women/couples that are diagnosed with infertility feel a sense of failure... loss... that their bodies are broken. As a young girl diagnosed with PCOS, I grew up with the self image that my body was defective, which, I can tell you, was a very negative way to see myself during those formative years.

For me, treatments were critical to proving my womanliness to myself. There is so much emphasis put on young girls about becoming a woman and getting their periods. Missing this step has always left me feeling like less of a women. The first ultrasound where I got to see my pearly ovaries was such a moment for me. And that u/s of my corpus luteum is as precious to me as my first ultrasound of Michael (really, I had that little faith in my body, just ovulating was the proudest I had ever been of my body at that time). Getting pregnant was wonderful, but giving birth and breastfeeding were just as important in repairing my confidence in my own body.

Healing from infertility for many women is about more than just having a baby. It's about mitigating those feelings of inadequacy, defectiveness, being broken. If I had decided just to adopt I don't know how I would have ever overcome those feelings. And I'm not saying that you can't overcome them other ways, but the road is long and hard any path you take. So for me, pursuing fertility treatments were about more than making a baby... it was about making me a woman.

And this post is about more than breastfeeding and infertility... it's about building bridges. We can't all be perfect all the time and we will all say things that hurt others from time to time, but I think it's important to try to be inclusive. I know what it's like to hear harsh words grate across my ears and today was a reminder of what kind of person I want to be. I want people to be comfortable with me and I want to be empathetic of their problems and speak in non-judgmental ways. This is very hard for me. I hope the people you encounter in your life are better at this than me.

And my reaction to my PT's words today were probably out of proportion. As he holds my arm and contorts it in ways that physically hurt me, he doesn't know that injury took a breastfeeding relationship from me and Michael too soon. And then he passes judgment on nursing mothers and rubs more salt in the wound. He doesn't understand the extent of his offense and I can't hold that against him, but it can inspire me to be better than him.

*Ok, I probably won't quit, but I need to be pissed off for awhile.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A giant helping of mommy-guilt

Michael tends to mention that I broke my arm frequently. "Mommy, you broke your arm," is heard about 10 times a day around here.

I got a bit annoyed the other night and I said back to him "Buddy, you don't have to worry about my arm anymore."

And then he replied, "I can nurse again!"


I decided that we were done when I had my accident. Between medications and casts and keeping my arm elevated and the fact that Michael was 2.5 years old, I decided it was time to end it. I maintain that weaning Michael was the most painful part of breaking my wrist, but it was probably easier weaning that way rather than trying to get him to wean on his own (this kid would nurse until he's 12 if I would let him).

But my heart broke all over again the other day. Poor kid. We've talked about it dozens of times, but apparently he still thought when Mommy's arm got better he would get to nurse again.

I am still lactating (apparently) and we could probably step back and start again but I don't think that would be the right decision. He only nursed twice a day and didn't transfer much milk, it was more about the bond. I miss having that bond, but returning to nursing doesn't seem like the most emotionally healthy way to go forward from here. I thought he would have moved past that by this point, but nursing has always been much more than a way get nutrition for him. I just can't go back but that doesn't mean that I don't want to.

Sorry Buddy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hunger Games Disappointment

Just for fun...

I read the Hunger Games books a while back and LOVED THEM. Then I heard that Jennifer Lawrence was going to be cast as Katniss, and I LOVED HER in Winter's Bone*. I really wanted to see the movie, but we just didn't have the time when it was in theaters, so we waited for it to come to video. I heard so many good reviews, I was really looking forward to it.

We watched it Saturday night. What a huge let down. I know it's always worse when you read the book first, but there was a lot not to love about that movie. DH and I discussed a lot of the short comings of the film... terrible casting choices, bad acting, but maybe most offensive was that they didn't really illustrate the literal hunger/starvation of the districts. Seriously, everyone was meaty. WTF. It's called the hunger games folks. Could no one go on a diet before shooting? 

Anyhow, this trailer is hilarious. If you found yourself a bit disappointed with the movie, then this is for you.

* I grew up in the rural Ozarks. Yes, the movie depicted it pretty accurately, except they actually filmed it in a nicer part of the Ozarks, whereas most of the Ozarks are much more rocky, rugged terrain and won't grow much more than some ugly post oaks. It's beautiful down here, but it ain't much for making a living. I'd highly recommend skipping The Hunger Games and watching Winter's Bone instead.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

An "Ah-Ha" Moment

Sibling spacing... some people like to have kids close together, some farther apart. I'm not sure there is a "best" way to space your children (assuming infertility cooperates) but I have spent a lot of time thinking about it, nonetheless.

A lot of my thoughts on sibling spacing are guided by my relationships with my siblings. I have a half-brother that is 17 years older than me, a half-sister that is 15 years older than me, and a brother that is about 2 years older than me.

Obviously, there were extenuating circumstances that created the large spacing between my brother and I and our half-siblings. We have some shared history, but we have never had a close relationship. But I don't spend much time examining those relationships.

It's the relationship with my brother that is 2 years older than me that I constantly mull in my head. My mom always like to comment about how much my brother loved me when I was born. I guess things went great for a couple of years and then we started fighting like cats and dogs. We were really mean to each other growing up. And now that we're adults, our deep, juvenile hatred towards each other really perplexes me.

Would it have helped if we were born closer together or farther apart?

So the Ah-Ha moment came the other night when I was watching a webinar for an internet "parenting counselor" (not interested, but the webinar was interesting). The woman leading the webinar was talking about how siblings like to fight when mom gets on the phone because they know that will get her off the phone and paying attention to them. This statement was an example about how children have to feel sufficient belonging/love or they will act out (something that I wholeheartedly believe).

My mom is mentally ill. I won't go into all the ways, but for this post you really only need to know that she talks NONFREAKINGSTOP and never allows anyone else to talk and totally ignores cues from others during conversations. She'll tell you the same story 20 times over. She's an awful gossip and would spend hours on the phone every night ragging on co-workers. Once you get reeled into a conversation with her, it's impossible to get out and you will do whatever you can to avoid having another with her. I really can't explain how miserable it is being around her, it's just something you have to experience.

So, AH-HA, I really think me and my brother's fighting was a directly result of the total lack of attention she paid to us. And she wasn't just a little negligent when it came to my brother and I.. she's full on cra-cra, so my brother and I really had to escalate our fighting to an extreme to get her attention. Hence, me and my brother's bloodlust.

In addition to being total narcissist, my mom manipulated us pretty badly too and constantly played favorites, woke us up in the middle of the night to clean and scream at us.... So there is a lot more there, but I had never really be able to wrap my head around why we physically fought with each other so much until that moment.

So the spacing between children is probably a lot less important than being a good parent.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

First Day of (Pre-) School

I felt like such a dork, but I had to take those obligatory first day of school pics.

A dirty car makes an excellent backdrop for a moment to remember forever.

A whole classroom full of new toys and I can't get him to put down the farm toys.

He's only going one day a week for a couple of hours. It went really well. The teacher gave a good report and he was super excited to tell me all the fun things he did when I picked him up. 

And while he was in school, I got to dawdle through the grocery store. Dawdling through a grocery store is such a nice luxury. I'm so looking forward to Thursdays now.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A few self-observations

I noticed two things about myself over the last week or so...

1. I don't like pain anymore. I used to think I was a little tough. I've been through natural child birth, in a bad car accident, surgeries, and this arm mess all with little or no pain medication which led me to think I tolerated pain relatively well. But I had my physical therapy appointment Monday and he hurt me, bad. I know PT hurts, but, I mean, owe. Seriously. I was glad that Michael was glued to his dvd player on the other side of the office because I was worried about him seeing this man hurt me and not understanding it. I am so done with pain. No more, please.

And I think my PT realized that he over did it a little on Monday, because he was easier on me on Wednesday. My sympathies to those out there with masochistic physical therapists or living in chronic pain.

2. I don't cry anymore. It's not that I can't cry, I did the night I broke my arm. And I can shed a tear or two (literally, just one or two), but I no longer cry like I used to. Crying used to be a normal part of my life. It's not that I couldn't control my emotions, but they were just so strong that crying was the only healthy to deal with sadness for me. I'm pretty sure this is due to the Zoloft. I don't know that it's a bad thing... I'm not sure it's a good thing. Maybe this is how things should be. I've been depressed for so long, likely since I was a child, I'm not sure I know what normal and healthy is. It's kinda nice, but a little weird still. Maybe I just need to get used to it.

Maybe I just need to hook up with Jude Law.

Friday, August 3, 2012

That explains a lot

Another post about my arm. Eventually I will post about something else again, but this has pretty much taken center stage for the time being.  

I went back to the orthopedist office Tuesday to get my stitches out. I wasn't smart enough to read my chart when they left it lying next to me until it too late to sneak a peak. I was able to catch a few things on it, but really, I have had no idea what happened to my wrist. When I came into the ER, things were pretty mangled, and basic questions like "How long will I need to wear a cast?" weren't even worth asking. And my ortho doesn't have much of a bedside manner*, so when I did ask questions, he mostly ignored me.

Then I had my incision check about a week after the surgery and his nurse,whom I will affectionately refer to as Brunhilde, proceeded to yank and pull and twist my arm with zero regard to its extremely inflamed state. She also informed me that I had to practice turning my hand palm up or I would loose that ability and have to  physical therapy... except she didn't say it that way... it was more like, "If you are a whiny-baby and sit around acting hurt all the time, this will be all your fault and PT will be your punishment."

I tried and tried to turn my hand up (supination) constantly, but it wouldn't go. Not like when you stretch out a muscle and you are fighting the burning of the stretch, but it just flat out stopped at a certain point and that was it. I kinda assumed that it was the cast in the way, but I think deep down, I knew it wasn't the cast.

Fast forward to Tuesday, I got my stitches out and my ortho grabbed my arm and twisted it. No go. He accused basically accused me of not working on it over the last 2 weeks and told me that I needed PT. Then he walked out and made me an appointment for later in the day. I was so angry, because I worked so hard to make my arm move and he made me feel like such a weakling for failing.

So I got to the physical therapist and I'm really glad that I did. The PT explained so much to me about my injury that I didn't know. I suffered what's referred to as a FOOSH injury and it resulted in a Colles' fracture (there are some photos in the link that give you an idea of what my wrist looked like, if you want to see them). He examined me and explained to me why I can't supinate my hand one damn bit.

When I fell, broke both my ulna and radius. My radius was severely fractured in two places and the plate was used to stabilize it. But, my radius also came out of alignment near my elbow and that's why my arm can't twist at all. It has nothing to do with me being a whiny-baby or not working hard enough, the bone is fucking out of place. And all these people that have been twisting my arm and chastising me have been torturing me for nothing. But above all, this is not something I can fix on my own, and I will have to endure a lot of PT to get this working again. And I do mean endure because basically the guy has to twist my arm with one hand while pushing against the bone with his other hand to nudge the bone back into alignment little, by little. In fact, when he saw my report he look at me and apologized to me because he knew the ortho was ordering him to torture me. And this is extra fun because the tip of my ulna is still very broken and the twisting hurts it like hell too. Oh, and the plate the ortho attached to me is screwed on directly over a muscle called the Pronator Quadrus*** and that causes a ton of pain and stiffness in itself. Fun.

The PT's explanation also explained while my whole damn arm hurt so badly even though I only fell on my hand. And that's why I was willing to wait so long for the OR, cause he might have been able to numb my wrist well enough, but my elbow is pretty eff-up too and I don't think the ortho got that. It also explains why my forearm was bruised all the way to the elbow.

So I'm done with the cast. I have a brace that I only wear to go out and sleep. I'm supposed to be stretching and twisting my wrist throughout the day. I'm working really hard at it, but it's frustrating because it is clear that I have a very long way to go, and the path to get there is very difficult.

And in case it hasn't come through in the post, my mood has gone from positive and optimistic to negative and depressed. I have my arm back, but I've lost a lot of functionality and its not clear if I'm going to get it back.

*According to my PT, my ortho actually has the best bedside manner of any of the orthos in my town. The bar is pretty low.

**That isn't necessarily a knock against my ortho. Many, many people I have ran into since getting this done have offered unsolicited praise for this guy. And my PT, who knows every ortho in town close him when his kid broke his arm.

***In case you were wondering, having you muscle screwed down onto your bone feels about how you'd imagine it would feel.