Saturday, January 21, 2012

Raven brings the light

 It's hard to write about the birth of my daughter without first talking about the death of my son. Our little Fox Elijah was born October 20th 2010 at 3:43 am. He was amazing and looked exactly like his father and took to nursing like a champ. We were all so in love. 7 days later our perfect little son died in his sleep. It was awful. I thought for sure I would die too but somehow I was still living. It was really hard to be a mother who had no living children. I didn't want my child free life back. This was a time in my life that I wanted to be spending taking care of my babies and watching them grow.
   4 months and 3 cycles later we conceived on our first try. I had gotten two negative pregnancy tests but still no period so I gave another one a try, not expecting much. But it was positive!!! I twirled around with the cat and called Morgan who was loading equipment for a show with his band. Not knowing if anyone was in earshot I told him in code "I aced my test!" to which he replied "We did it, mama!" and broke off to go around a corner and do a happy dance. We were going to keep it a secret for awhile but my mom whispered it into my dying grandfathers ear and he apparently mustered up the strength to tell everyone. I'll take it that means he was happy. His last words to me were "take care, dear".
  The pregnancy was healthy and we were thrilled but were still very much grieving our son and still are today. We were able to barter with an amazing and kind traditional midwife and plan a homebirth.
It was hard times, I won't lie. For a long time I wasn't sure we would have a home to have a homebirth in. But I was so happy to be growing a sweet baby that we persevered through all the crap.
   I was worried about picking another baby name so soon and then one night I had a dream. I was in a strange place and I knew there were babies there because I could feel it. There was a woman and she knew everything about this place but didn't want to tell me anything. My baby was there and she didn't want me to know but I did. So I asked her, "what is that baby's name?" and she told me the baby was named Raven. I woke up and said to Morgan, "I think I know the baby's name, I think someone just gave it to me in my dream" and he asked what it was so I told him. "That's it" he said and we went back to sleep. I named Fox because of my love of foxes and tricksters. I think the trickster has much subversive potential. When I woke up I asked him "What role do ravens play in folklore?", "they are tricksters, of course" and I knew it was right.
  Our "due date" came and went. I was so antsy and bored! I'd been having braxton hicks on and off for awhile.Two days later we came home from a long day. Ina May Gaskin had been in town and we were at an event in her honor until late. And then we had sex. When it was over Morgan fell asleep while I started an hour long contraction. Not even a warm bath stopped it. Excitedly I started walking around my house in circles. Happy with every contraction in hopes that it was real labor. After about an hour of this
I called our midwife. She told me to eat something and she would be over to check on me soon. I tried waking Morgan multiple times as follows: "Morgan, wake up! I might be in labor!" Morgan: "What?!, Oh no!." and then he would fall back asleep. Our midwife arrived. We talked and I asked what she thought was going on "I think you are going to have your baby soon" she told me and I preceded to call my mom and the rest of the people who were coming to the birth. Our midwife said we needed to start the tub right away so I shouted at Morgan to wake up and get started. Upon waking and hearing I was in labor he responded "Why didn't you wake me up earlier?" which I thought was really really funny.
 Soon the house was filling with people but I remained in my room with Morgan and our cat and occasionally my mom. Contractions came and went. I sipped rasberry leaf tea and talked with them but wanted complete silence during my contractions. I texted my father that I was in labor. He called back a hour or so later multiple times leaving messages for me to call him back. I walked downstairs to find my mom "call my father and tell him to stop calling, I'm in labor for christ sake. I don't want to be on the phone". I was annoyed but I also thought it was funny. My call records show this was around 5:30 am. I soon after got into the tub. It felt great. I focused through the contractions. Still wanting silence. Every sound or change disrupted me and felt like an assault. Morgan and my mother took turns handing me a cool rag during contractions and taking it back when they were over. And then the contractions began getting harder. I was vocalizing and rocking back and forth through them. It was so intense but it still felt do able. I thought I had a ways to go and they were going to get much worse. And then it felt impossible. I came to a point where I knew what I was doing was the hardest thing in the world. My midwife told me that she thought I was going to have my baby very soon. I checked myself between contractions and didn't feel a head. Then I stood up. I felt her head crowning. I reached down to feel it and my water broke in my hand. I intuitively bent over and let her move through. It didn't hurt at all. I didn't push one bit. I felt her moving through me. My midwife told me to slowdown so I tried. She had her hand by her face and my midwife tried to guide it out but it was blocked by her other arm crossed over it at the elbow. She reached in side and untangled her arms. I could feel that too. And then she came out all of the way. 6:43am. As soon as she was out I turned around. Bringing my leg over the cord and grabbing my daughter and bringing her to my chest. Her arms were straight up. She had the most vernix anyone in attendence had ever seen. I had to peel it off so she could open her eyes. Morgan got into the tub with us. I stood up and delivered the placenta into a bowl. We marveled at our girl. She looked so much like her brother but with a smaller mouth and nose. Same flared nostrils and full clara bow lips but smaller.
  It was beautiful and amazing. It was the kind of birth I had read about didn't think I'd ever have. About 6 hours between the first contraction and the birth. walking around the house and chatting until the last hour. She opened her dark eyes and looked at us so serious and intense. She was the exact same weight and length as her brother. 8 # 4oz, 20 & 3/4 inches. I never needed to ice my bottom or use the herbal compresses that were made. I felt great. We are so happy that she is here. We love her so so much. In attendance was: My partner Morgan, Our midwife Rebecca Polston, two other assisting midwives, my mother, my friend Jill, Our doula and our cat. Thank you to everyone who helped us along the way.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Something I'd like you to know.

Dear friends, minor acquantences and folks I've never even met before who are surrounding myself, my partner and everything else,

  I'm not alright. I'm really mad that you expect me to be. My baby died, not even a year ago. Sometimes that makes people weird and antisocial for awhile. Often it makes me full of anxiety with a complete inability to relate to others. Sometimes I see people I completely adore on the street and avoid them because I didn't have time to emotionally prepare to talk to them. So, if I see you at the co-op or anywhere else and refrain from polite chit chat please give me some space. Please don't go whining to my partner about it, he has enough to worry about and when I hear about it I DO start disliking you. I'm not ok and sometimes I don't care to talk to you or anyone else. Don't take it personally and give me some space to be traumatized without being judged on top of it. Everybody doesn't have to be your friend. Sometimes I just want to buy some vegetables and be left alone. Sometimes it takes me days or weeks to respond to emails. Being alright again takes time. I've made my world and daily dealings as small as possible because I'm not ready to be a part of all of it yet and I can't handle it. And no, I don't want a therapist or my chakras realigned but thank you for your concern.
 Sincerely, April

Monday, August 15, 2011

So much to say...

  There have been so many things I've wanted to write up over the last ten months. I don't have a computer and I only have limited internet access and it's usually at work when I can't wrap my mind around writing because I'm tired and have kids to try to keep safe and sane. I also kind of need private space and I haven't had that in a long time. Soon though I will be moving and somehow hooking up a old desktop a friend gave me to the internet. And hopefully finding the right words for some of the things I need to say.
 I also felt an obligation and need to write about my son Fox's birth and try to remember it positively when actually it wasn't an entirely positive experience at all. His birth was followed a week later by his death and I did not and do not know where to start. It turns out some things don't make you stronger, they just make you weirder and develop a stutter and become unapproachable to most people and have trouble relating to anyone at all about anything. I didn't want to start writing about this pregnancy and baby before I wrote about my little boy for fear of looking like I'm avoiding the subject or forgetting him. Good news is easier to write than bad though. The end of this pregnancy is anticipated in about 3 months so it looks like I'm just going to end up writing about both of my babies at once back and forth and sometimes together. It's Fox's one year birthday next month but he isn't turning a year old at all, he is in a plastic box in a cemetery in uptown. That really bothers me. As does just about everything about how his death was handled. There were a lot of cops who went as far as to accuse me of poisoning my baby with the cat treats they found on the counter. He didn't see any cats around afterall, because most cats hang around when the house is filled with cops and screaming crying people right? They didn't let me hold him and left him on the floor and left the front door wide open a few feet away. It snowed for the first time last year that night. His funeral was only 4 days later because I wouldn't embalm him. Funerals are a lot harder to plan when you are an atheist I think.
  I waited the for the minimum 3 recommended cycles to pass before getting pregnant again giving this baby a due date of 3 weeks after her brothers first birthday. Fox's death was preceded by the death of close friend of many of my friends and partner to my dear friend, My dog Harry Winston, my uncle Paul and my maternal grandfather with whom I share many interests and qualities. My grandpa was heavily drugged and out of touch in the last days before his death but my mom whispered in his ear that I was pregnant again and he was happy to hear it and mustered enough strength to tell my little secret to someone else when he hadn't been talking and people had been saying he wasn't coherent enough to do so. When I was small I remember hugging him and feeling straps under his shirt. I thought it was something related to him being old and having some kind of medical device. Later when I was a very femme queer teenager my mother told me that I was wrong, that my grandpa was wearing a bra and that he wore womens cloths whenever he could without shame from his wife and that probably no other grandkids knew and the family doesn't talk about it. I was thrilled. My grandfather knew that I knew and that it was totally fine by me. So on the rare occasion we were alone he would tell me stories about how hard it was to learn how to wear high heels and openly buy frilly frocks and panties when he gave me a ride to the thrift store. About two years ago I stopped by my parents house to get keys to the my uncles cabin from them with a woman with whom I had been sleeping with and who was to be my companion on the trip the the cabin. My grandpa was there stopping by at the same time and when we left he reportedly when to my stepfather and continually asked him of all people "Is that April's girlfriend!?" which no doubt made my ignorant asshole stepfather very very uncomfortable. I love him for doing that as well as many other things. When my grandpa was on his death bed I was able to look through his many photo albums which included pictures of queer couples he knew in his youth and a recent photograph of two women which had writing on the back declaring it a photo of their wedding day. When all my grandpas stuff was getting dispersed I was angry to find all of his wigs and things gone. I demanded to know where his lady things had went and I salvaged what I could find and have kept them. I love my grandpa and his queerness and I miss him very much. I wish I knew what he liked to be called and that I knew more of his queer history.
  These next few months are going to be crazy and I think I'm mostly ready to have friends again and I plan to start writing again. It might not always be really happy stuff but you don't have to read it if you don't want to.

Friday, September 3, 2010

On gettin knocked up

 So, in the beginning of my pregnancy I felt a lot of people were insensitive at best and gossiping misogynist assholes at worst. There were a lot of things I think if people had known would have influenced people to behave differently (assuming they weren't just assholes through and through) but I was in no mood or place to go around explaining myself nor should I have to. So the first thing i want to do is give some back round history and then go about 7 months back to the beginning.
   I'll start by explaining that I love babies and children and wanted some of my own. I haven't always. I had an abortion when I was 17 and thought then that I never wanted children and if I did I definitely didn't want one then. I will say with no guilt that my abortion was easy. I was lucky enough my boyfriend at the time had the money in savings to pay for it. I had no trouble making the decision, the abortion itself was painful but was very short. I think about 7 minutes long. I took the next day off work but honestly felt fine that evening, I could have went out dancing or whatever. And I never regretted it. I never "got sad when I seen babies in the grocery store" as one rude young woman once asked me. I like mentioning that I've had an abortion when it comes up in casual conversations. From this a few women who I haven't known that well have come to me for help finding information and with questions and I've helped them make appointments and tried to be supportive. This being said I hope its clear I know how to get an abortion if I want one and wouldn't hesitate to do so. So there was no need to pity me when you heard I was pregnant because "now its too late for an abortion" Im an intelligent capable woman capable of making decisions about my body. If you pity me by thinking I ended up in some unfortunate situation and just didn't know what to do you must doubt this about me and all I can say is: FUCK YOU!
    Late last fall and winter was a hard time for me. I was being out of control to distract myself. I made some mistakes and paid for them. I had some friends really hurt me and felt I lost a lot of things that really mattered to me in terms of feeling included and valued in a group of friends I organized with. I had reached a point beyond depression where i couldn't cry and was just numb and felt completely hopeless and helpless. I was basically drinking vodka alone in my room in a punkhouse of people who I didn't relate to and working at a fastfood franchise. Working really hard at that, as well as organizing to unionize this place of employment with the IWW. (that campaign is going public this week btw, I'm so happy for them. Give em hell, friends!!) So when I lost this job I tried hard to be perfect at because the manager was unhappy that I tolerated his sexual harassment less than others at the store (he has since been fired for making employees watch porn) I was devastated as well as instantly dead fuckin broke. Right before I lost this job I met a really friendly sweet young man who was willing, thrilled even to join me in the misery of drinking in my bed, watching crappy vhs's and trying to forget how cruel life is. A week or so after losing my job I knew I was pregnant. I knew because its my body and I could tell even though it would be weeks until there would be enough hcg in my urine to be detected on a pregnancy test. I was happy and in disbelief. I thought I would probably never get a shot at having a baby ever again unless I somehow could afford to purchuse donor sperm. I did contemplate stripping to afford this someday. But none the less here I was pregnant with a home made baby from scratch!
   My mother was pregnant a few times before she was pregnant with me and they all ended in miscarriages. One of them pretty far along and into the second trimester. She was treated horribly by doctors who accused her of doing it on purpose and asked if she wanted to take her dead baby home in a jar as proof of her accomplishments. She was very scarred emotionally from this. When she became pregnant with me she didn't let herself get attatched to the life growing inside her and didn't tell anyone she was pregnant until she went into labor. She told herself she would give me up for adoption. When she asked her doctor about looking into why she lost the other pregnancies in hopes of not losing this one he told her "lets wait until you lose this one". I know it sounds unbelievable that she could hide a pregnancy, espcially because she is a built fairly small but she never got very big. At 9 months her sister and mom began to suspect she was a few months along and when she went into labor she had to argue to get admitted to the hospital because the nurses said she didn't look 9 months pregnant and to go home. But I was born there at the county hospital, with a fit bill of health and of average weight and length to my scared young mother. I grew up knowing this story and feeling very warned about getting attatched to pregnancies too soon and knowing miscarriages can be just around the corner. So, in caution I did not tell most people I was pregnant. It is also widely reccamended by doctors to not share the news of a pregnancy until 12 weeks when risk of miscarriage goes down by a lot. This is so you do not have to tell every inquiring friend, coworker and neighbor you miscarried when they ask how your pregnancy is going.
   A few weeks into my pregnancy it happened, I went to bed with a fever and woke up bleeding very heavily, worse and more painful than any period I'd ever had. Going from burning up hot to freezing with the chills and my teeth chattering. I was in so much pain I was in my room screaming involuntarily. And the only support I had was my cat, who insisted on headbutting me until I acknowledged her and she purred louder than ever. A lesser known fact is that cats often purr when in pain as well as when happy to comfort and possibly heal themselves. I knew damn well it was a miscarriage. The pain in my breasts was almost instantly gone. Eventually the cramping pain got better but I felt completely drained. And very sad about my loss. I spent a few days in bed. Life went on.
But a few days later I realized my breasts were still tender. I figured it would take awhile for all the pregnancy hormones to work themselves out. But weeks went by and I was still feeling pregnant. I called a friend and asked them to buy me pregnancy tests, at least 3 of them and they kindly did. I having lost my minimum wage job didn't have the money to.
   So I took a test, positive. Waited a few days, still positive. I did a lot of research on the internet and concluded that at that point I should not have enough hcg to still produce positive tests. I read about the possibility of not passing all the tissue and the remaining tissue still producing hormones. I was worried maybe I had a partial fetus growing. I didn't have insurance and have been treated horribly as a lot of other poor women have by doctors in sliding scale clinics and the county hospital ER so I didn't see a doctor. It eventually occured to me it could have been twins. My grandmother had two sets of fraternal twins, one of which being my mother so the gene for hyperovulating had my name written all over it. I did some research and found out this is a fairly common occurence in early pregnancy although in most cases the other fetus is absorbed and not miscarried. But I was still scared of losing the remaining pregnancy or that something might be wrong with it. I started seeing a doctor for prenatal care, told close friends and family and waited until I was comfortable. In my second trimester at approx 17 weeks I had an ultrasound to determine my due date. It was concluded I probably did lose a twin because the babies approximate age matched up to being concieved before the miscarriage and my doctor said that it definitely sounded like a miscarriage. I saw my baby on the screen looking healthy and whole and moving a ton. I was much relieved.
  But by this time people had already started running their mouths. When I did go out, to a protest or a meeting people who usually talk to me, hug me and ask how things are going ignored me. Everyone diverted their eyes. It was fucking awful!  Talk about community, what community? Community for who? If I wasn't screaming from the rooftops about my pregnancy I must be scared of being pregnant, or ashamed or something right? Maybe I wasn't having an abortion because I couldn't afford it. Surely I was being stupid, I should just tell my friends and they would've given me the money, or thats what they told each other anyway. I must just be stuck with an unwanted pregnancy now right? Wrong. And When I did tell friends it was usually met with pity,"oh you poor dear what are you going to do?" I never have had a moment of anything but happiness about the prospect of having this baby. I didn't have trouble making a choice because I knew what I wanted.
  In conclusion I have some advice on how to handle a pregnant friend even if you can't imagine wanting to be pregnant yourself:
-If someone doesn't talk to you about their rumored pregnancy its because they don't want to. Mind your business.
- Its always best to assume people are smart enough to make their own decisions. Don't contemplate what is best for them or assume they made the wrong choice.
-no one needs your fucking pity.
And theres more to say about the culture of not respecting womens choices to become a parent than I want to get into today but the bottom line is this: prochoice actually includes the word choice for a reason. Think about it.

  And I am due to have this precious little human in 6 weeks! Can't wait!!!