This is shameful.

is-paid-leave-available-for-mothers-of-infants-

From World Policy Forum

The three countries in red are the only countries in the world that offer no paid maternity leave for mothers of infants. Our nation, which I do believe is great, has its glaring flaws nonetheless. Employers are not required to offer paid maternity leave. Parents who qualify may take Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave, which is up to twelve weeks of unpaid, job protected leave in a calendar year. My employer, more generous than many, offers six weeks of paid leave concurrent with FMLA leave, but I ended up needing to take six weeks of leave before my children even were born. I eventually used the rest of my FMLA for 2013, and plead with my supervisor, receiving two additional weeks leave of absence. Without this, my children would have been at daycare without as much as a first vaccination against any disease. I have co-workers who have spent more time on leave for foot surgery.

My heartbreak every day as I entrust my precious children to another woman is the least part of this equation. Think of their growth, safety, and mental development – of which my husband and I are the guardians, despite the fact that we spend only about two waking hours of twenty-four with our children. Think of my recovery from the most intense physical experience I have ever had, of gaining nearly seventy pounds within the space of less than eight months, of expelling two human beings from my body and the exhaustion and bodily injuries that resulted from these. Think of the sleepless nights and the resulting problems of sleepiness, memory trouble, susceptibility to illness.

Think of how many women and children have even more difficult experiences: of my co-worker who had to return to work before her son, born prematurely and with a metabolic disorder, was able to go home from the hospital; of an online acquaintance who nearly died from a placental abruption; of a friend who suffered from HELLP syndrome; of women who have even uncomplicated caesarean sections. A C-section is a major surgery!

We must do something to help families in our country, so children can get the best start possible.

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Augustine and Maria’s Birth Story, Part II

See Part I here.

Note:  There are lady parts and bodily fluids in this post. If that bothers you, I recommend reading something else 😉

It was hard to sleep that Tuesday night, but I managed to get to bed early and have a decent night’s sleep. Brett got most of the things we would need to take to the hospital in the car before we went to bed. On Wednesday morning, I made sure to eat a good breakfast because I knew that they weren’t going to allow me to eat at the hospital.

We checked in at 5:33 a.m. They ushered us right into our room, a large labor and delivery room. I was given a gown and fabulous fuzzy socks to change into. Brett took a photo of the room and posted it to Facebook, saying that we would be spending the next few hours there. Brett and I prayed Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours while we waited for a nurse to come and begin the next step.

This is where we spent November 20th

This is where we spent November 20th

The nurse came in and had to give me an exam. I thought the exam was uncomfortable, but it was nothing compared to how the exams would feel as labor progressed. My cervix was still dilated to about 2 centimeters. Actually, the nurse said it was more like “one and a wiggle,” but still nice and soft and thin. By 7:00, I had had this exam, an IV port started, the Pitocin and fluids hooked up to the IV, and three external monitors strapped to my belly (one for contractions, one for Baby A, and one for Baby B). I was allowed to be unhooked from the monitors from time to time to use the bathroom, walk around the room, or try to find a comfortable position. The nurse showed Brett how to unhook me and how to drape the cords around me.

I had requested the ability to move around, but I was comfortable in bed most of the time. I spent the morning relaxing against the not-too-intense contractions the Pitocin was causing and watching the pitiful daytime television I had gotten used to when I was on modified rest before the babies came. When my doctor came in, I was still dilated about 2 cm. Well, that was disappointing, but no use getting upset about it. He broke Baby A’s bag of waters during The Price is Right (probably around 11:45). It didn’t hurt, thankfully, but I was grossed out by the feeling of that hot amniotic fluid gushing out. He was optimistic that I would begin to dilate more after the sac was broken. He placed an internal monitor on Baby A. I hadn’t wanted to have internal monitoring, but I relished not having so many belts around my waist.

The contractions began to intensify. I still didn’t feel like getting out of bed, but I was hungry, so I had some Popsicles throughout the afternoon, beginning during the noon news. At some point in the early afternoon, I realized I was going to have to get up to use the restroom. I was feeling kind of woozy from hunger and worry, so I asked Brett and the nurse to help me get up. This is when the gross-out really began. The huge rush of hot amniotic fluid fooled me. I said, “Ew, oh no, I don’t think I have to go to the bathroom after all,” thinking it was too late. But the nurse knew better, and she got me into the restroom and got the floor cleaned up. Through all of this, Brett never acted worried or disgusted. I was so glad of that because I think if he had been that way, I would have lost it.

We spent the afternoon learning how to watch the monitor for contractions and by what should have been dinner time, Brett was able to warn me before one would begin. Our friend Jeanne-Marie had seen Brett’s Facebook post about where we were and came to visit us on her break. She is a nurse in the mother-baby floor of the hospital where we had the babies. She was surprised to see the photo because she thought we were going to the other hospital where my doctor delivers (so did I until about 2 weeks before the birth). Jeanne-Marie sent Brett to get something to eat so he’d have his strength up, and she hung around with me until he got back. We were very thankful because he didn’t want to leave me alone and would have been fasting with me if she hadn’t come.

In the late afternoon, my nurse examined me again. I had dilated to 4 centimeters. I was happy to hear that. I figured things were going to start happening, and fast. Brett and I played cribbage to pass the time, as the contractions started to get stronger and stronger. I would have to lay down my hand in order to relax through each contraction. This is when it was nice that Brett was watching the monitor and warning me of impending contractions. We had some trouble with the baby monitors, namely, Baby B kept moving so that the monitor couldn’t detect her. We knew she was a she… even though we hadn’t told many people.

In the early evening, I had another exam. Each exam was more painful than the one before. The nurse had tiny hands, which seems like it would be more comfortable, but actually meant she had to use more pressure to get her short fingers to my cervix. I was still dilated to about 4 centimeters. That was disappointing but okay. The contractions were getting more intense, so I figured I would dilate more soon. She examined me again before shift change, and I hadn’t dilated any more! I was so disappointed, I was crying, and I was starving! The nurse was so compassionate and snuck me the best crackers I have ever eaten in my life. I wasn’t supposed to be allowed to eat, and I normally wouldn’t touch unsalted Saltines, but the crackers were a lifesaver for me.

I hadn’t expected to have to meet the night nurse, but shift change was at 7:00 p.m., and I was still in labor. She examined me early on in her shift (ouch!) and I was still at about 4 centimeters. I tried not to cry, but I was starting to think that the induction would fail. My doctor visited before he left the hospital for the evening, confident that he would be returning soon. I cried again after my next painful exam, not having dilated anymore. The nurse called Dr. P. and he suggested I get an epidural.

I resisted. I didn’t want an epidural. We learned in Bradley Method childbirth classes that an epidural can stall labor, and can make babies dopey and less able to breastfeed early on. I also felt like I had something to prove, and that since women had been giving birth without pain medication for centuries, I should be able to do it too. The nurse tried to help me cope with the intensifying pain by having me bounce on an exercise ball. I didn’t like that, I felt too wobbly, like I might fall. She had me rock in a rocking chair, and that was a little better, but I was getting to the point that I just didn’t feel like I could do anything. I was tired, hungry, and a little angry.

I moved back to bed and started talking to Brett about the epidural. He reminded me why we didn’t want one. He was adamant, but every contraction felt like someone was pulling my innards out. I felt pressure, burning, and nausea. I couldn’t talk. I didn’t want anyone to touch me. All I could do was shake my hands. Even now as I write about it, I can feel a reminder of the pain.

When the nurse examined me around 10:00 p.m. and I still hadn’t dilated any more, I was done. I changed my mind about wanting a baby. I wanted to turn back time to the days before we decided to begin fertility medication and trying to conceive. I no longer believed that I was able to give birth. I felt that Brett was trying to control me. In reality, he was calm and supportive. He kept on reminding me that the pain had a purpose, and that it would not last much longer. He thought I was at transition for a very long time because of my attitude. I couldn’t stop crying and each contraction seemed to remove my mental faculties until it was over. I finally convinced Brett that I should have the epidural that Dr. P. was strongly suggesting over the phone.

We had to wait a little while for the anesthesiologist, and when she came, she sort of rubbed me the wrong way. She had a bit of a brusque personality. She didn’t seem to think that I should have any reason to avoid an epidural. I convinced her to give me the minimum dosage and even decrease that when it came time to push, although she didn’t seem to think it was a good idea. I wanted to feel the birth, even if it wasn’t going to be painful. Sometime between 11:00 and midnight, she placed the epidural. The medication began to work quickly, and soon I decided to take a nap.

What happened after my nap? Stay tuned and find out!

Augustine and Maria’s Birth Story, Part I

It started on Monday, November 18, 2013. I got the oil changed in my car in the morning, and in the afternoon I went to my obstetrician’s office for an exam and what would be my last fetal non-stress test. I was 38 weeks pregnant. The non-stress test went fairly well, the babies were doing just fine and very active as usual. Despite extreme swelling in my legs, hands, and feet, my blood pressure was low as ever and I wasn’t throwing off any protein in my urine. I was 2 centimeters dilated, and almost completely effaced.

Dr. P. had been talking about scheduling an induction for a few weeks. It wasn’t what I really wanted. I had gone through Bradley Natural Childbirth classes  and I knew that induction isn’t usually the best for babies, for mom, and for breastfeeding. Still, I conceded because I was uncomfortable and grouchy, and because Dr. P. said that outcomes for fraternal twins are best around 37-39 weeks. Having not experienced labor, not even many Braxton-Hicks contractions, I was afraid that the babies were just going to stick around if we didn’t do something.

Brett told me I should schedule for Thursday, the 21st, because it is the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, an auspicious day to be born. Dr. P. preferred Wednesday, the 20th, and I talked him into starting in the morning so we could sleep before the induction. So, it was set: we would arrive at the hospital at 5:30 in the morning on Wednesday, November 20th, to begin a Pitocin-induced birth for my twins.

The rest of Monday and all of Tuesday, I tried to do whatever I could to induce labor on my own. I scrubbed floors, did laundry, cleaned bathrooms, and even baked and ate “labor inducing” cookies. I even tried nipple stimulation, despite the fact that it made me feel kind of dirty. Nothing happened. I was really going to be induced.

So, Tuesday night, we had a nice dinner and went to bed early so we could begin our childbirth adventure in the morning.

Here I am, 38 weeks pregnant, and getting too big for my britches (and every other article of clothing I own).

Here I am, 38 weeks pregnant, and getting too big for my britches (and every other article of clothing I own).

To be continued…

See Part II here.

Seven Quick Takes

— 1 —

I’m wearing pre-pregnancy pants today. I’m not very comfortable, but my pants are zipped and buttoned, and I don’t think they look obscene. It won’t be long until I can wear them comfortably.

— 2 —

This week I witnessed the first “conversation” between Baby A and Baby B (or is it Baby M?). I was nursing them (or trying to) and suddenly they stopped, smiled at each other, and started taking turns cooing. Every time they engage each other it is the cutest thing ever, but this event takes the cake.

— 3 —

Mmmm… cake! What’s your favorite kind? I like German chocolate, and anything with “too much” buttercream frosting.

— 4 —

Last weekend we went to Michigan, and my little twins got to meet these little twins, the sons of Thomas from Fuller Life and his wife Alison, a Cathsorority sister of mine. Thomas and I have been bloggy friends for quite some time, thanks to Quick Takes. It was so exciting to find that they were expecting twins too. Then Alison had an eventful pregnancy, with way-premature rupture of membranes. I was afraid she would lose one or both twins. But they made it, and they are adorable.

Augustine, Maria, Jacob and William. This is the only shot Brett took where no one is crying.

Augustine, Maria, Jacob and William. This is the only shot Brett took where no one is crying.


— 5 —

Happy Valentine’s Day! Our tradition is to avoid restaurants like the plague, eat steak, and watch Slap Shot. Not very romantic, but that’s what we do. This year, we’re postponing the festivities because Valentine’s day is on no-meat Friday. Our first Valentine’s Day together, when Brett and I were dating, I went to his house for dinner, and he served STEAK. Not steak and potatoes, or steak and salad or steak and any side dish at all, but just STEAK. I think I had an IBC cream soda with my steak. And, as some people have said, I married him anyway. In his defense, he wasn’t feeling very well. I had even offered to make him some chicken soup, but he refused. These days for Valentine’s, I do serve side dishes.

— 6 —

I’m thinking about a family member who has passed today. Please pray for my Aunt Eileen, who passed unexpectedly yesterday, and our family.

— 7 —

When will this white stuff stop falling from the sky? I can’t remember this much snow since I was a little girl. I have gotten the car stuck in it twice now, I slipped in it downtown and hurt my ankle, I have gotten it into my shoes more times than I would like to count, and I’m over it. It was pretty up in Michigan, but here in Central Ohio, it is slushy, dirty, and there’s just too much of it. I feel like this little boy.

Have a great weekend. Maybe sometime soon, I’ll blog something that’s not Quick Takes. But don’t hold your breath.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Seven Quick Takes

… In which I resurrect my blog.

— 1 —

When last I blogged, it was October, and I was busy gestating two little humans. October and November, in fact, I spent pretty busily growing them. I didn’t work, I pretty much stayed home, slept, and grew a big belly full of babies.

Here I am, 38 weeks pregnant, and getting too big for my britches (and every other article of clothing I own).

Here I am, 38 weeks pregnant, and getting too big for my britches (and every other article of clothing I own).

— 2 —

Well, the babies grew and grew until my doctor said, “It’s time for them to come out,” and I was scheduled for induced labor on November 20, when I was 38 weeks, 2 days pregnant. I’ll write about labor and delivery another time. Suffice to say, it was unlike anything I ever experienced before.

— 3 —

On Thursday, November 21, 2013, Augustine Joseph G. joined the ex-utero world at 3:07 a.m., followed by his sister Maria Teresa at 3:17 a.m. He weighed 5 pounds, 9 ounces, and was 18 1/2 inches long; She weighed 5 pounds, 13 ounces, and was also 18 1/2 inches long.

Soon after delivery. Augustine is on the left and Maria on the right.

Soon after delivery. Augustine is on the left and Maria on the right.

— 4 —

Since they were born, I have been a whole new kind of busy. There’s so much to learn and so much that has to be done with tiny babies. I had to learn to nurse them and get used to their demanding “schedule,” I have had to learn how to carry two babies at once, and how to calm them. I have learned to use a supplemental nursing system so I could give them extra milk or formula at the breast, and how to give two babies a bottle at the same time.

I "wear" both babies in a stretchy Moby wrap.

I “wear” both babies in a stretchy Moby wrap.

— 5 —

Augustine and Maria lost more weight than expected in the hospital when they were first born, about 11% of their birth weight. Because of this, they had to stay at the hospital a few extra nights, and the hospital staff graciously allowed Brett and me to stay at the hospital in our same room even though I had officially been discharged. Since then, they haven’t gained weight as quickly as expected until last week. Now they seem to be growing by leaps and bounds, and we couldn’t be happier. Augustine is even finally getting too big for some of his newborn size clothes.

They were so skinny!

They were so skinny!

— 6 —

Both babies were baptized into the Church on January 18.

Augustine wearing his Uncle Matthew's baptismal outfit.

Augustine wearing his Uncle Matthew’s baptismal outfit.

Maria wore my baptismal gown.

Maria wore my baptismal gown.

— 7 —

A special thank you to everyone who has prayed for me, kept me entertained and occupied, done my housework, and brought me food during this time. I couldn’t have done it without you!  I am back to work this week, and the babies are with a sitter during the day. I am still overwhelmed, but I am learning that I must take things one day at a time. It’s the only way God gives days to any of us.

God bless you!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Seven Quick Takes

— 1 —

Elves cleaned my house yesterday. That is, elves named Mum and Grammy. I knew they were coming because Dad had called and asked me to make a list, but they did even more than I asked. I love a clean house, but I haven’t kept my house very clean since March – I started having some serious smell sensitivity around the same week as my positive pregnancy test, then I started having to sleep as soon as I got home from work, and then I became unable to even clean up after myself (okay, the last one is an exaggeration, but not too far from the truth). My house looks great! I’m so relieved it’s not even funny.

I love you guys! Thank you SOOO much!

— 2 —

Here’s a 31-week belly and my new ‘do. I got tired of always leaning on my hair and getting it caught in things. After 4 years of no professional haircuts and only a few self-trims of the length, I was ready. It was awesome to have my hair washed, cut, and styled by a professional. I’m sure it will never look as good as it did when I came out of the salon, but then again, it will feel nicer without all the “product” in it anyway.

31 weeks and I think I've finally figured out how to take a picture of myself.

31 weeks and I think I’ve finally figured out how to take a picture of myself.

— 3 —

I saw these awesome early color photographs of Paris earlier this week. I didn’t even realize that they had a form of color photo processing that long ago. They are fascinating and dreamlike.

— 4 —

They announced an April 27 date for the canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII. I don’t “know” John XXIII that well since he was before my time, but John Paul II became Pope when I was only about a month old. With his long reign, he was “my” pope, and sometimes, even though I read Catholic news all the time, when people say “the pope,” I still think of him. I’m thinking a canonization party would be fun. I’ve been looking up (gluten-free) Polish recipes (pierogi here, kolacky here). Do you think six months is long enough to plan a party that will probably include ten or fewer people ;), where two of them are tiny babes?

— 5 —

I have also been looking up recipes to assemble, keep in the freezer, and put in the crock pot. I think this would really be helpful for after my babies are born. Do you have any favorites? Maybe even things that I can make in just a few minutes rather than making freezer meals, because we have a small freezer and I have a feeling I’m going to want to fill it up with milk for when I go back to work.

— 6 —

Yes, I’m having twins and going back to work. It’s not my first choice, but families have to do what they have to do to make ends meet. Any tips for entrusting your tiny infant to a non-family caregiver or for the time you get to spend together would be greatly appreciated.

— 7 —

I made Six Sisters’ Crockpot Orange Chicken for dinner on Wednesday (and we had leftovers for dinner last night). Oh my yumminess. I know it’s not “real food” but soooo tasty. It tasted like something you get at a Chinese restaurant. I served it over brown rice because that’s my default. Brett liked it so much he got a piece of bread to mop up the sauce on his plate. I will definitely make this one again.

Have a wonderful weekend and God bless you!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Seven Quick Takes

A Week in My Life

— 1 —

Friday I had to see the midwife for my routine pregnancy checkup. Pretty much everything was fine. She said I had gained weight a little fast. I’m not eating everything in sight, so I don’t think it’s a reason to make any changes. She also said that I should wear compression stockings and if my feet and ankles are still super swollen by 28 weeks, we might have to cut back my work hours. I hate compression stockings, but I don’t want to mess with my disability pay or family/medical leave, so I’m wearing the stockings. I scheduled my next appointment for 28 weeks. I get to take a 1-hour glucose tolerance test, have an ultrasound, and see my doctor… on my birthday. Waa.

— 2 —

Saturday was a super busy day because I felt called to substitute for someone in the perpetual Eucharistic adoration chapel. My hour-long shift was at ten, and there was a funeral, so I couldn’t get out of the parking lot until 11:35. I hadn’t even done my grocery shopping yet, I was hungry, and Brett had to be at church to help clean up from said funeral (meal) by 2:00. So I went home, had lunch, and took a nap. Then I drove Brett to church and went grocery shopping at the worst hour of the week possible. It took almost twice as long as usual. The highlight of the day was that after I picked Brett up and we put the groceries away, we went to visit my Mom and Dad. It was a lovely visit.

— 3 —

Sunday when I got home from Mass, I slept for two hours. I guess the shopping on Saturday wore me out. Then we drove all over town for a specific reason.

— 4 —

Monday, the reason for driving around on Sunday came into effect: BRETT GOT A JOB!!!! And I needed to know how to get from his school to my office and back, so I could drop him off, come to work, and pick him up at the end of the day.

— 5 —

Tuesday must have been a whirlwind. It’s only Thursday and I can’t remember what happened. I vaguely remember getting home pretty late, gulping down some hamburgers and baked potatoes, and saying goodbye to my husband so he could go to a Knights of Columbus meeting.

— 6 —

Wednesday I made a very yummy dinner without using a recipe: Chicken in salsa. Here’s what you do: Dice 4 chicken breasts, fry w/ a little olive oil, and taco seasoning (1/4 t onion powder, garlic powder, and oregano; 1/2 t paprika; 1/2 T cumin; 1 T chili powder; S&P if desired). When brown add 12-oz jar salsa. Simmer until rice is ready. During last 10 minutes, add 1/2 bag frozen corn. Serve over rice w/Mexican shredded cheese and hot sauce if desired. You can probably use a different veg if you like (or if you don’t think corn is a vegetable, which it isn’t, but I use it that way anyway).

— 7 —

Thursday, I forgot to take these pictures, so I took them this morning. With today’s blouse you can’t see my ridiculous belly button like you could yesterday. It’s not exactly turning into an outie, but right above it sticks out. LOL, the things pregnancy does.

What will today and the coming week hold? God only knows. I’ll leave it up to Him.

Have a good weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!