31 January, 2012

my big little boy

you were not an average baby. i have mentioned this many times before, but you hated things that babies are supposed to love. the stroller. the car seat. the swing. you needed to be held all the time. and to nurse all the time. you had to bounce. not in the bouncy seat, but in our arms. i couldn't pee without you. most days i still can't. i couldn't take more than a 30 second shower. and that was on the days that i could. many days now i still can't. you don't want me out of your sight. you never have.

i guess some people believe that i have spoiled you -- or even worse -- ruined you.

i always picked you up when you wanted to be picked up. i still do. i kept you with me while we slept. i still do. you are ninteen and a half months old. it's only been the past couple of months that i have been able to sneak away from you during your naps. and it's been maybe about six or seven months since i could get away consistently at night. the time that i am able to stay away varies, but it really is nice to get some time to myself. to be able to pee alone. and cook dinner. and clean the kitchen floor. but i gotta admit. i already miss those hours of just laying on the bed with you. i can only imagine how much i will miss those times when another baby comes along someday. or when you are all grown up and are only napping because you stayed out too late with your friends the night before.

but the point is, you are becoming a big boy already. right before my eyes. all by yourself. on your own terms. you come up to me and tell me when you pooped. you say, "poop" and point to your diaper and say, "off". you say "thank you" to people when they give you something (most of the time it's after we walk away from them, but i still think it's pretty awesome). it's mostly awesome because i never say to you, "say thank you". you say it just because you hear me say it. you amaze me every day. you are becoming such a good sleeper and i am so happy that i never left you to cry alone. i trusted that you would learn to do it by yourself. and you are learning. same with the bath. you hated it unless daddy or i were in there with you. until a few months ago you wouldn't bathe alone. and aside from a couple of weeks in which you refused a bath altogether because of a stupid thing i did, you love baths all by yourself now. you ask for them. i still can't really leave you without a mojor fit. but the truth is, i hate to leave you. yes, it would probably be nice to be able to go anywhere and see you waving to me at the door with daddy holding you -- or even better -- to go somewhere with daddy and see you waving with uncle chris and your cousins. but i have to trust that someday, there will be someplace that i really want to go bad enough that it will be worth it to put us both through the separation and we will do it. and we will both be smiling and waving and blowing kisses. but for now, it's just something we are not ready for. and someday, just like with anything, i will miss the time when you were attached to my hip. you will be out with your friends and i will miss your presence. and someday you will move out of the house. and go to college. get married. or just take off with a backpack and explore the world. and i will miss the hell out of you and look back to the days when i couldn't leave because you wouldn't let me. and i'll miss the hell out of that.

birthing babies

i was so lucky to be able to be there for our super awesome friend when her beutiful baby entered this world a few weeks ago. to watch her for eight hours labor naturally and deliver her baby while squatting and being held by her loving hubby was truly a profound and life-altering experience. it was the first birth i had witnessed. and now i sit here waiting for you to wake up so we can join our other super awesome friend as her second baby is born.

i have a whole new perspective on birth than i had three years ago when your brother was born. i remember being sick with pneumonia and hospitalized when cooper was just ten weeks in the belly. i stayed home in bed taking tylenol every four hours as the doctor suggested. i went to three doctor visits. your dad made a million calls to the OB. no one seemed worried. finally we went to the ER on a saturday and they said i had pneumonia and that i would be admitted.

cooper survived that experience and so did i. but it did not cause me to take any responsibility for my own health. i look back at that person and want to slap her. tell her to drink more water. to take healing herbs. to see a naturopath. to sleep. to drink garlic lemonade. that person is a stranger to me now.

this is all coming up for me because although i mothered you natuarally while you were in my womb, i still ended up getting screwed out of the experience of birthing you naturally. we all know the story so i won't go into it again here. but even though i can live with my decision to have the surgery, it doesn't mean i won't mourn the loss of the birthing experience i had hoped for.

seeing my friends getting to labor naturally, seeing everything happen at its own pace, the way nature intended really brings up mixed feelings for me. i look so forward to being able to experience it all. the anticipation of the due date. the first minor cramping. the contractions spaced far apart. then close together. then more intense. the exhaustion. the excitement. the burning. and the feeling when that baby's head finally makes its way out into the world. and then to be able to reach down and scoop that baby up into my arms and hold that baby to my chest. and kiss him (or her). and sharing all of this with your dad. i want to feel it all.

with cooper i had an epidural. and morphine. i could feel nothing. i couldn't move my legs. i was shaky and cold. and sad.

with you i was cut open. you were taken out. i couldn't hold you. i passed out from the shaking and from the pain. it sucked.

and though my two personal birthing experiences were in fact life-altering for me, as well as i guess for many others people, i still am begging the universe for a different story the next time. a story with a different ending.

to whom it may concern

January 31, 2012

Garden State Obstetrical and Gynecological Associates
2401 Evesham Rd.
Suite A
Voorhees, NJ 08043

To Whom It May Concern:

On this date four years ago, my water broke while I was teaching a class of twenty-six sixth graders. I was twenty-two weeks and two days pregnant. I called your office immediately, but was put on hold. I called back. Again, I was put on hold. I had just been to your office the night before for the fourth time in about eight weeks complaining of the same brown discharge. I had been given a prescription again to control my “yeast infection”. I talked myself into believing that everything was okay and I went back to teach my last class of the day.

An hour later, I called again and was put on hold. Finally someone picked up and I was instructed to come in immediately. When I got there, I was ushered in to the waiting room. Well, one of your multiple waiting rooms. I was finally seen by Dr. Swift who after a vaginal exam diagnosed that my amniotic sac had ruptured. She also calmly let me know that it had nothing to do with the medication that I had been prescribed by Dr. White.

I went directly to the hospital where I was given multiple vaginal exams by at least two different doctors on your staff. Needless to say, the next day I ended up spiking a fever. I was induced by Dr. Steighner. And five or so hours later, my little son was born. Dr. White was there for the delivery. She asked me at one of my follow-up appointments if I was breastfeeding. Each time I returned to your office, I had to tell at least two people during the course of my visit that my baby had died.

I encourage you to look through my records. The perinatologist’s report came very close to stating that I had bacterial vaginosis. Your practice failed to diagnose that. Because of my lack of knowledge, my trust in your doctors, and the lack of concern on the part of your doctors (I cannot use the term care providers), my baby died.

Four years have passed and the pain still weaves itself into every thread of my life. I am now, however, empowered with knowledge. I have become certified to teach childbirth education classes and am in the process of becoming a labor doula. I am co-leader of the local ICAN chapter and am in the process of starting an Attachment Parenting chapter, as well. I am in touch on a personal level with many, many informed parents. And they are always interested in hearing the story of my baby boy.

I urge you to change your ways. Spend time with the mothers who choose you to care for them. I implore you to care; to listen; to pay attention. Read the charts.

In writing this letter I hope to heal just a little bit more of my self. I need to let you and your practitioners know how much pain I am in and that this pain could have been avoided if someone had just cared…listened….paid attention. And read my chart.

The other reason for this letter, however, is to let you know that as a professional, I cannot recommend your practice to anyone. If a woman hires me as her doula, and is using your for her care, I will support and inform her, but I will not hesitate to share my story. I believe that it is part of my life’s work…my calling, if you may…to help mothers make the best choices when it comes to their prenatal care. And in good conscience, I could never encourage anyone to choose Garden State OB/GYN for that purpose.


The mother of Cooper Thomas Hare, born prematurely on February 1, 2008

27 January, 2012

it's that time of year again

this wednesday will be the fourth anniversary of your brother's birth. and death. it's an overall crappy time of year since your dad is deep into wrestling season so you and i are alone a lot. and it's cold and dark. but on top of it, the thoughts of your brother are always jumping around in my head.

the thoughts vary from day to day. from year to year. but mostly this year during this time, the thoughts have been visions of holding him in my arms while he took those labored breaths. of sobbing and of your dad stroking his tiny head with all of his hair. of asking good old dr. kimberly bridges-white with that oh so very popular practice garden state ob/gyn if he was in pain. and of her telling me 'no, i don't think so'. and of the memory that i did not really believe her.

he was in pain. i know he was.

but now on top of those images and memories, i find myself placing more blame on myself for knowing so little.

for a while i forgave myself for knowing nothing. but these days, these weeks, i have really been hard on myself. i wish i had known to hire a doula who would have known more than i did. i wish i had known anything. i let them induce me because i had gotten a fever (because so many of their grimy fingers had been in my vagina because i didn't know to tell them not to do that) and i didn't even know that the pitocin contractions would be harder than natural ones. so i got the epidural because why should i suffer with this pain when i he wasn't even going to live? and of course i was on my back and tied to a monitor. and i was thirsty. so effing (see i am trying really hard to lay off of the foul language) thirsty. but i could only have ice chips. wtf? so stupid...me and all of their policies and procedures. i wish i had known what i know now.

i am not saying that your brother would have lived. but things would have been different. very different.

had i used a midwife...i mean a home birth midwife who took an hour with me at every appointment to listen to me and to really care about what was happening with me and with my body and my baby, i would have been cared for in a way that both cooper and i deserved. my midwife would have checked me for bv and treated it. and even if she didn't, and my water had still broken, she would have had me stay at home and rest and drink fluids and monitor my temps. and then had i gotten an infection and cooper had to be born, he would have been born quietly and peacefully at home. but let's say i did go to the hospital. and let's say i didn't have a midwife. if i had at least known something. anything other than what i had learned on that g-d baby story, i would have known to tell them not to do vaginal exams on me after my water had broken. why didn't they know that? why? i will never never understand that as long as i live. never. and even if they had done exams and i did spike that fever, and i did have to get induced, i would have known how to deal with those contractions. and at least my little tiny one pound, six ounce baby boy would not have been pumped full of drugs when he was born. maybe he would have had a little bit of fight in him. maybe. and maybe not. but at least if i weren't so drugged up i could have gotten up out of bed and carried him after he died and given him his only bath and dressed him in his tiny little baby doll clothes myself instead of having some strangers do it.

but intead i knew nothing. i had no support from anyone who cared or knew anything, except from your dad who knew nothing, too. all we knew was that we were scared. and our baby was about to die.

and we trusted our doctors.

we didn't know shit.

11 January, 2012

tiger mom

when i was in my twenties i woke up one day with some bumps on the side of my neck. they itched like hell. i scratched and scratched at them. i went to the doctor and she told me i had swollen glands. wtf? are you serious? i went back after a few days without an appointment when the bumps were worse and asked if the doctor could just look at my neck again. she came out and told me that her office was not mcdonald's and that i needed an appointment if i wanted her to look at my neck again.

i switched doctors and the new doc asked me why i waited so long to get the bumps looked at.
i had shingles.

this new doc was the one who told me years later, when i was ten weeks pregnant with your brother that my fever of 105 that was not going away even with four hour doses of tylenol and advil alternating for ONE WEEK was just a virus and i had to wait it out. i eventually went to the ER and was admitted to the hospital for a week with pneumonia.

you know the story of your brother. misdiagnosed yeast infection. multiple vaginal exams at 22 weeks after water had broken. doctor asking if i was breastfeeding your dead brother at my six-week appointment.

when you were a couple of months old the first ped we were seeing said you were cranky because you had an ear infection. he gave me a script which we never completed and you were the same. you didn't have an ear infection. you were just cranky.

even your doc now who we love told me you had intestinal worms because i was curious about some stringy things in your poop. he gave me a script. i never completed it. you didn't have worms.

you can understand why i don't trust doctors.

so last week when you had a swollen testicle, i was hesitant to call the doctor. i finally did and took you in and was told i needed to take you to the ER immediately because it was possible that you could lose that testicle. i am beating myself up now about not calling sooner. so, lesson from mason learned.

luckily the worst case scenario did not come true this time. you do, however, likely need surgery. you have a hydrocele.

today we have to take you to the pediatric urologist to go over the details.

i am terrified of handing you over to some doctors while you scream and reach for me. i can only imagine the intensity at which you will protest as they try to get you under general anesthesia. you are so young. so little. i am terrified of all of the ways they could screw up.

you are my baby. you are everything for me. everything.

i am putting this in writing. if you have to have the surgery and they screw up in the worst way imaginable, i will have absolutely nothing to lose. i won't be able to live with losing you. i will kill someone. i will.

so today when we meet with this doctor i will be exploring all possible options. and if it turns out that surgery is the only choice, i will make it clear to this doctor how and why i feel the way i do. i am sure your dad will be embarrassed a few times by the end of the appointment. but this guy has to know that you are all i have and that i am a crazy woman when it comes to protecting you.

fuck amy chua. i am the tiger mom.