October 2013 monthly theme – birth story

While discussing and sorting through monthly theme ideas with my fellow PAIL ladies I was SHOCKED to learn we haven’t done a monthly theme on Birth Stories! Now, the theme of birth stories is a little stagnant in the blogging world, but how your birth experience goes on to affect your parenting and future plans is an interesting and under-explored topic.

An idea I have just begun to realize is that part of my birth story instilled a fear and worry of health issues in me that I still carry a remnant of today, 15 months later. For my Stella’s birth we knew I was Group B Strep positive and needed to have two doses of intravenous antibiotic during labor, before she was born. Well, I was so tuned into my hypno-birthing process as I labored at home that I didn’t realize how far along I was. We showed up at the hospital and I was 9.5 centimeters dilated. They started pushing the antibiotics but Stells came out before they could get the second dose in.

I was warned about possible things to watch for to make sure she wouldn’t get sick (a possible rare complication, but it scared the crap out of me). When we were re-hospitalized for poor weight gain and jaundice, I was convinced that this was related, and my fault, for not getting to the hospital soon enough to get those antibiotics. Since then I have been worried about her health and weight. Stella gained slowly, and she has always been on the lower side of the scale for weight gain.

And so I have always been a worrier when it came to her health, panicking if a stranger grabbed her hands or touched her face (True story at church, TWICE, two different people stuck their fingers in my child’s MOUTH! Who does that? I seriously hyperventilated). Worrying about her getting enough food. Checking her temperature to check for fever more than I care to admit (we have a neat forehead scanner that is so easy to use, technology has enabled my worrying).

I’ve also realized that were things in my birth story that I would change, I would not let them rupture my membranes like they did and I would have insisted on being allowed to get in the birth tub even though they insisted there was no time (of course there wasn’t they broke my water which sped things up!).

This month’s theme ask you to examine your birth story from a new perspective, to see how it has impacted your parenting style and future plans. Below are some suggested prompts but feel free to write on whatever moves you. And for the adoptive Mamas, I got some love for you too, of course. See the prompts below for ways to participate (And forgive me any naiveté over my adoption prompts). Also if you created your family via surrogacy we would love to hear from you too on that perspective.

Suggested Writing Prompts

  • How did the birth experience of your child affect your parenting of this child? 
  • If you adopted and were at the birth how did that affect you?
  • If you adopted and were not able to witness the birth do you think that affected your parenting? (ie, did you strive to have frequent skin-to-skin contact and other bonding measures as we did when we fostered an infant?)
  • How did the birth/adoption experience affect your future plans? Would you do it all again the exact same way? Change things? Decide to not have more children?
  • What sticks out in your birth/adoption experience that you still carry with you? (good or bad)
  • What type of birth did you have? (I love reading birth stories!) 
  • Have you felt “judged” about your birth(adoption) experience, and has that affected your parenting or future plans?

As always, these questions are just a guide. Please feel free to write anything and everything you would like to on this topic in whichever way suits you best. If you have previously written on this topic, feel free to link away in your post, or submit any previous post on the topic as you see fit. And of course, if you do not have a blog of your own, we are happy to hear your thoughts in the comments and will link to your comment in the full post list for all to read.

Entries for this month’s theme are due Tuesday October 29th at midnight, EST. The full list of links will go live on Thursday, October 31st.

Please submit your posts using this form:

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september 2013 monthly theme – why we blog

When I started my blog, it was a place to post pictures and hilarious anecdotes about my kid because I had quit Facebook.  I had been secretly reading IF blogs when I was pregnant with him, hoping to find someone mirroring the difficult emotions I was feeling not only being pregnant after experiencing infertility and miscarriages, but also how to cope when you are pregnant and your infertile friend is not. I found a few people that today I call my friends. These people saved my life.

And then… then I starting to write about my journey on my very public, very NOT anonymous blog. I needed to get some of that agonizing weight off my chest. I needed the people in my life to see it. I needed to be recognized. I needed to come out of the shadows. When the PAIL blogroll was first started, I added the button so quickly you would think my life had depended on it. Which honestly, at the time, it did. Even through all of the difficulty in getting this niche space together, I felt very strongly that this space had VALUE. I still do. I always will.

Each of us here at PAIL has a different interpretation of our mission statement. Mine has always been “Just keep talking.” Just keep talking. Or don’t. Or just listen. Or close up shop and move on in a different way. Every path to resolution is valid, as is every path we take with our blogs. You need to do what you need to do to process, to move forward, to heal from this. When I say “just keep talking” I suppose what I mean is that I think it is a disservice to the community as a whole to not talk about what it feels like, IS like, when the baby comes home.  We need to be able to find people further down the path to follow, to lead us through the tough spots, to hold our hands, to cheer us on, to understand.

I am not one to blog about blogging. To be honest, I usually skip posts about it. Ah, but then I entered Blog Identity Crisis #187346 and started to really, genuinely think about my space and what I want to do with it now that I am (99%) sure that family building is behind me. It’s a tricky place to be in, when you feel resolved in your heart, but you aren’t sure how to let go. But I’ll write more about that on my own blog in my submission for this month’s theme.

Suggested Writing Prompts

  • Did you start blogging before, during, or after your journey though infertility/loss/adoption? 
  • Why did you start blogging? What has kept you blogging?
  • When you became a parent did you transition your blog or start a new space? What were your reasons for doing so? How do you feel about your decision now?
  • Have you ever felt pressure to blog about certain things and not others? What influences your writing, if anything?
  • What did you hope to achieve by blogging? Do you feel that you have done this?
  • Why is blogging important to you NOW?
  • What value do you see in blogging the “after”? 

As always, these questions are just a guide. Please feel free to write anything and everything you would like to on this topic in whichever way suits you best. If you have previously written on this topic, feel free to link away in your post, or submit any previous post on the topic as you see fit. And of course, if you do not have a blog of your own, we are happy to hear your thoughts in the comments and will link to your comment in the full post list for all to read.

Entries for this month’s theme are due Thursday, September 26th at midnight, EST. The full list of links will go live on Friday, September 27th.

Please submit your posts using this form:

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featured post – “the most important thing i want you to know about our open adoption” by mackronicles

Every once in a while, I stumble upon a blog post that hits me in the gut – hard.  It’s posts like this one from Kasey of MacKronoicles that motivate me to be the best mother I can be.  Why? Because she’s honest and her relationship with her son’s parents is respectful and familial.  Talking and living OA as an extension of family is something I LOVE and wish existed in more adoptions.

While everything is GREAT with the relationship we have with our birth family I do have fears of how our daughter will feel when she’s older and wants to have that conversation with her birth mother about why she was placed.  That is a conversation I know will be hard for her to hear and  harder for her birth mother to talk about, and hell while we’re at it, HARD for me to watch her have.  But – they get to have that conversation because of the work we all put into making our family close.  It doesn’t happen this way for everyone, but I think Kacey’s post is a good reminder that fear is always present in adoption but the love we have for OUR child always comes first.

I truly believe that you have to hear everyone’s voice when considering domestic adoption and this post by Kasey is probably one of the best I’ve read in a while.

I hope you will always know that it does not matter what anyone else thinks about your adoption and our family. It doesn’t matter what your future classmates think, what people on the internet think, what people who write movies/TV shows think, or what the guy at the grocery store thinks. It only matters what YOU think. I hope you never feel ashamed to tell someone you are adopted, but I also hope you never feel like you have to explain your adoption to everyone…

ALL OF THAT

Head over to Kasey’s kick-ass post “The most important things I want you to know about our open adoption“.

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Kasey is a wife and mother of two boys, the oldest placed in a wide open adoption. Further self-definitions are still in progress and can be found chronicled at mackronicles.wordpress.com.

featured post: you blissed-out moms are ruining futures

I used to volunteer with a youth group. And occasionally I would just be hanging out with the young women of this group and I would feel the need to lay some truth down. One day these young ladies were discussing another teenager who had a baby, and how cute the baby was and that they wanted to go buy this baby a cute outfit.

And after the danger of aneurysm had passed, I emphatically told these young ladies the following truths:

  • Babies will ruin your life
  • Babies may appear cute, but they are not
  • Babies will ruin your life

After this particular rant, talk, the teens seem rather shocked. Probably because I was the mother to an adorable 9-month old who I had raised since she was 5 days old in the NICU. She was my foster child, but she was my child in every other way. I loved her like nothing else in this world.

And yet I could honestly tell these young women those truths listed above. Because they are true. I further explained to my shocked teens that to really understand what it means to be a parent you have to imagine your current life ending. Over, done, no more. Not in the death sense, but in that nothing ever of your old life will remain the same. Certain elements may appear the same, but they are now seen through the lens of parenthood.

I also wanted to impart to them that yes I love my child, but that yes, it is okay to admit that being a parent can really suck sometimes. It’s not all kittens and rainbows and special Instagram photos. It’s diapers and crying and puking, good lord the puking! It’s days when you are convinced that your kid is a grade-A jerk.

And you know what makes being a mom even harder? Other Moms. Other Mom’s who feel the same way but don’t talk about it, like a comment Janelle, of Renegade Mothering, got from a reader:

“Lots of mum’s think this but no one actually says it.”

This is dangerous writes Janelle, in response to this comment:

Though many mothers experience the struggles you talk about, think and feel the same way, they have internalized the societal expectation that they SILENCE themselves for the good of their children…But check this out, my friend: How is dishonesty and lying and the perpetuation of misogynistic expectations GOOD for my kids?

Now throw in the ALI (Adoption/Loss/Infertility) lens. After struggling to have a child for so long how many of you are afraid to ever voice frustration, concern, disappointment, or even anger about your children? Because we, of ALL people, we should just be SO GRATEFUL to finally have our child that nothing else matters. And society enforces this expectation.

I remember when Stella was a few months old I was just SO exhausted. We were still having to nurse every two hours due to her weight gain issues and unbeknownst to me at that time I was suffering from hypothyroidism, low thyroid function. I felt like walking death. I made a comment about it on Facebook, how I just needed the baby to sleep so I could sleep. And I got two comments from friends basically amounting to I should just be grateful after finally getting my miracle child.

What if I was PPD (postpartum depression)? What if that was my one way of reaching out for help? We live in an ever digitized and segmented society. Often our internet interactions are our only way of reaching out, venting, blowing off steam. And two “friends” just told me to choke it down and shut up. What if someone had instead said ‘hey, I know new Moms are always exhausted, but this seems like more than just that, have you checked in with your doctor to make sure you’re healthy?’ I don’t know if that would have helped me get my thyroid issues diagnosed faster, but it would have helped me feel better. To know that I wasn’t alone, and that someone cared about my well-being, not just my baby’s.

This trend is dangerous, we need to talk as Moms. I would say especially ALI Moms because it has been proven that ALI Moms have a much higher risk of PPD or PAD (post adoption depression). And we need to talk to show our kids that life isn’t always unicorns and lucky charms. That creates kids who don’t know what reality is, that don’t know how to handle sadness and anger and disappointment. And it creates daughters who grow up thinking they can’t talk about it, who become Moms. And that is terrifying.

Stella will always know how much I love her, how much I wanted her. But she will also hear the stories of how tired I was, how she wouldn’t nap except on me or her Dad for a month straight, how sometimes I was so tired I would just lay on the floor where she was playing and talk to her, and she would mimic me by laying down too (which is hilarious).

Infertility and Motherhood do not mean we cease to exist. Check out Janelle’s honest and inspiring post, there is so much more that she writes that is spot on and needed to be said:

You Blissed-Out Moms Are Ruining Futures

Comments here are closed so you can join in the conversation at Janelle’s blog, Renegade Mothering.

*Janelle, of Renegade Mother, retains all rights to her original content material. None of her material may be copied or otherwise transferred without her express permission.

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pail mmm 8-20-12 (2)Chandra is a Mom and Foster Mom. She holds a Master’s degree in Theology and is particularly interested in the theology of infertility. Chandra grew up in the Northeast but she and her husband are raising their daughter in the middle-of-nowhere Indiana. She has 3 chickens that drive her crazy, a huge garden, and a penchant for bacon. She occasionally attempts to make sense of all those things, and more, over at her blog, MetholicBlog. She also shares embarrassing stories about her husband and unicorns.

news item: canadian author explains how babies are made without sex or gender

On Monday (Canada Day, as it were) I found this news story in a roundabout sort of way. The short version is that I was reading a new blog called Tiny Human(s) for Two Queers and saw the book mentioned. In the comments, I saw that April recommended sending it to us here at PAIL. I decided to check it out before she emailed (and sorry to beat you to the punch April!) My first thought, was YES! And then I went to read the article, which more or less had me at “Hello”:

Not every baby comes from a mommy and daddy who fell in love. Sometimes, kids have two moms, or a single dad, or they were adopted. Some babies are conceived through in vitro fertilization or with the help of a surrogate mom.

This article discusses the book What Makes a Baby by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth.

What sets this book apart from its predecessors is that it doesn’t refer to moms and dads, nor does it mention gender – there are no blue, tuxedo-donning sperm or pink, girly eggs.

It’s vague on purpose. Silverberg said he describes the rudimentary factors in how his little readers were created. But it’s up to parents to tell them the rest.

“I explain the basics that are true about every child, but I let the parents fill in the details about how (the kids) were made – and it can be as much or as little as they want,” he said.

I still have VIVID memories of the book I was handed to explain where babies come from. It was the usual “When a mummy and daddy love each other very much they give each other a special hug” kind of story with random, graphic details that I can still quote word for word.

Here is the quote from the author that I loved the most:

“We’re just starting to get the notion that a family is a group of people who love each other but just look different.”

I read through this article several times and watched the YouTube video. I have since read (and ordered) the book and suffice it to say that it gave me EMOTIONS. I had serious doubts that this story could be told without sex or gender and was glad to be proven wrong. In my opinion, a resource like this is sorely needed, ALI or not. While waiting approximately 11 minutes for April to email, I started having a vague memory that Josey had mentioned this book before during our “Where Do Babies Come From?” monthly theme back in January. Sure enough, Josey was a contributor to the Kickstarter to get this book going. I chatted with her about it and here’s what she had to say:

When I first heard about this book in February 2012 through the Kickstarter program, I knew that I wanted to give a few dollars to show my support of a project that acknowledged that families are built and babies join them in a multitude of different ways. What Makes a Baby is written in such a way that it’s incredibly open ended – when you are ready to delve into the deeper issues that surrounded your family building journey, this book will be there for you.
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In the forward written by Cory Silverberg, he states “[This book] doesn’t include information about sexual intercourse, donor insemination, fertility treatments, surrogacy, or adoption. But it creates a space for you to share as few or as many of those details as you’d like.” He also includes a free downloadable reader’s guide to help parents feel more comfortable about broaching all of these subjects – http://www.what-makes-a-baby.com/readers-guide/.
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Bottom line – I highly recommend this book to everyone, whether or not you traveled an ALI journey while creating your family. This book will help to explain and normalize the fact that while all families are built differently and that is something to be celebrated, we all share a common humanity, and that is pretty awesome too.
Stella!

Stella!

*****

Do have this book, or one like it?

Do you think telling this story, in this way, is useful for your family and how it was built?

Do you have any resources of a similar nature to share? Link up in the comments.

Many PAIL Bloggers shared their detailed thoughts on this subject HERE – worth a re-read! It is never to late to leave a comment!

*****

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