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!

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!

21 Weeks

I’m now 21 weeks pregnant. I’m over halfway through this pregnancy. What a happy time!

Even though I’m having twins, I have just finally started looking pregnant rather than chubby.

Exhibit A:

21 Weeks Pregnant

21 Weeks Pregnant

I’m not feeling very big still, but I am kind of stiff, and having to catapult myself off of the sofa or bed when I stand up. My feet are swollen and I get achy in the ab muscles when I over-exert myself, but I’m surprised at how healthy I am, being an older first timer and having two! I am now craving French toast… I haven’t been able to get any yet, but maybe soon.

The babies are doing great. We got to see an ultrasound of them on Thursday. They are growing well, and they are both about the same size. We found out their sexes… but we’re not telling. You’ll have to wait until they’re born to find out. We have also almost decided on names for them. We are coming to an agreement on a middle name for one, the other one has both names. It could go without saying that we’re not telling their names until they’re born… because that would give away their genders.

Introducing:

Baby A, on my left

Baby A, on my left

Baby B, on my right

Baby B, on my right

I am so excited to share more of this journey with you as I travel it!

“Womb Service” – Pregnancy Cravings

I’m linking up with Katrina at Cedars and Tiny Flowers to talk about pregnancy cravings. She’s a little further along in her pregnancy than I am, and she has another little one already, so she knows from cravings.

People are always asking me if I’m having any cravings, so I thought you readers might be interested. If not, sorry, this blog is mostly about my pregnancy right now. Because my life is mostly about my pregnancy right now. Amen.

So, what have I craved, or what do I still crave?

1. Sour stuff:  Just about from the beginning of my pregnancy I have craved pickles, lemonade, olives, and sour candy… I have eaten a jar of olives (not all at once…) and I order lemonade every time I’m in a restaurant. I haven’t gotten to have too many pickles. I always forget them when I’m in the grocery store. I haven’t even tried to get sour candy. I’m trying to eat  healthy.

2. Lobster:  My first crazy craving was at about six weeks, for steamed lobster with lots of melted butter. I have not been able to fulfill this craving yet, so it resurfaces from time to time. Lobster has always been one of my favorite foods, but it was just much easier (and cheaper) to get growing up in Maine than it is here in Ohio.

3. Macaroni and Cheese:  I wanted mac and cheese so bad that I decided I didn’t need to keep up with the no-dairy diet. So far, I haven’t had any adverse affects from eating dairy. I used gluten free noodles, and I made yummy homemade mac and cheese. I ate the whole pot within a couple of days and then my tummy did hurt. I think it was too much cheese. I haven’t craved that again.

4. Cheetos:  This is when I knew my cravings were really pregnancy cravings:  I craved Cheetos so bad, and I don’t even like them. I was able to get a few, and then luckily my taste for them was gone.

5. Any combination of fat and protein, as long as it’s not sweet:  Cheeseburgers, fries (another thing I’m not crazy about usually), steak with sauce, peanut butter, whole milk. Whatever it is, if it has fat and protein, I’m there.

And now, for my aversions:

I have always loved vegetables, but for the first trimester and a couple of weeks thereafter, the only way I could choke them down was if I put enough butter and salt not to taste them. I also couldn’t even look at eggs during that time. I’m so glad I’m over both of these aversions. I can pretty much eat anything now… and I do!

If you’re interested in what other ladies crave, or you want to share your crazy cravings, go visit Katrina. Do it, it’ll be fun!

17-Week Progress

17 weeks

17 weeks

I’m 17 weeks pregnant and so far, all is well. I am still a bit tired. Okay, sometimes I’m exhausted. I’m also hungry most of the time. I’m constantly trying to figure out how to get enough to eat without eating much junk food. Because of the heat and pregnancy combined, my feet are pretty swollen, but I’m dealing with it just fine. My next doctor’s appointment is Tuesday, July 2, and it’s just a routine check. I guess they’ll measure me and listen to the babies hearts on a Doppler. The big ultrasound, where they look at the babies’ anatomy, is not scheduled yet, but it will be around week 20.

I recently read something where the author said something along the lines of “The thing that most prepared me for parenthood was becoming a parent.” I hope that is also true for me, because I don’t feel very prepared right now. I know, I have months before I’ll be parenting babies, and it will all come along as they grow, but today I’m somewhat nervous about it. These times call for intense prayer.