guest post: sexual assault and infertility

I’d like to preface this article by saying that some may find it triggering.

Take care of yourselves, Mamas!

*****

Thirteen years ago, I was at my church youth group.  When I left the room to go to the bathroom, I was followed and violently attacked by knife point.  The gift I had hoped to give my husband was stolen from me, and I was left alone by the church with a Pastor who immediately asked “Well, why were you outside the youth room?”

Eight years later, I meet the man of my dreams.  He is normal, calm, a gentleman… and dealt with all my quirks.  He had to be in my line of sight to make sandwiches with knives, he couldn’t walk behind me, and he dealt with debilitating flashbacks and nightmares until a magical combination of medication and counseling finally created the woman I am proud to be today.  This entry is not a woe-is-me post… but rather a story about how sexual assault can complicate infertility treatments and birth.

We tried for so long with Ethan. Sex is (was) triggering, and more of a chore than anything else. So many people telling me to “Just Relax” was triggering.  It was laughable, the journey to becoming the very person I wanted to be (a mama) was made traumatic by my past.  And then came the internal ultrasounds; again, things were taken out of my control and placed into the hands of someone else.  Though I was aware of these ultrasounds, I traveled outside of myself frequently, just wishing to get pregnant so every month I didn’t feel violated again and again.  My RE was understanding, at least to the point someone could go who had not been through what I had.  She was informative and empowering by allowing me to set the pace and telling me everything she was doing.  Though I had that power, it was still the hardest three years I’ve ever gone through.

And then we got pregnant.  We were over the moon, and finally I felt like I could have 9 months of blissful lack of vaginal disruption.  I got passed from my RE to an OB/GYN.  I met with this OB a few weeks later, where she had me undress.  I talked with the nurse, and requested to be informed about everything prior to the OB doing anything.  She made sure to tell me that the message would be passed along.

It wasn’t.  The OB came in, and proceeded to examine me in ways that I didn’t feel I consented to, and it was one of the most shameful and triggering experiences.  When I told her to stop, she told me that it was necessary to examine me to make sure I was in good shape for the pregnancy and continued on.  She left and I cried.

After that visit, I made a complaint to the medical board.  They wrote back and told me that what she did wasn’t out of the scope of her practice and they would not be passing along my complaints.  I was flabbergasted.

This infuriated me, but also was the turning point for my care during my pregnancy.

I found a midwife.  I needed to feel more in control, and to feel like I had an advocate.  I finally felt I had a voice.  I started saying “No.”  I required everything that was being done for me and to me to be authorized BY me.   Suddenly, my birth was empowering instead of frightening and triggering.  I took back my own body in a new way.

I write this post as I am starting my own journey towards my Doula certification and reading a book described as the birth for sexual assault survivors bible.  I hope that I can help empower other women to find their own voice; their own power in birth.

I write this post  to empower you to tell yours.  When there are as many blogs on this blogroll as there are, statistically, there are at least 33% of us who have gone through some sort of sexual abuse.

You are not alone.

*****

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Julia, formerly a molder of young minds, has briefly stepped away from that task to manufacture a child of her own. Along with the standard baby accessories such as hands and lips, she is planning on installing chrome side-pipes, rollbars, and a bitchin’ spoiler. She is fending off accusations that Jesse James is the true father.

news item: my effort to CTFD

Throughout my life, I’ve had a penchant to CONTROL ALL THE THINGS!!

This focus reared it’s ugly head when my birth plan of a pretty, quiet, candlelit water-birth went all to hell, and I found myself getting a C-Section.  It was a HUGE awakening which led to me starting to embrace the unpredictability of life with children.

I joined a mom and me group and realized there was a whole new realm to wound parenting.

  • Suddenly, I was surrounded by other first-time parents who avoided disposable diapers like they would personally cause the demise of all landfill controls. (THE TREES, Julia, THINK OF THE TREES, THE TRUFULLA TREES!! Do you hate rainbows?)
  • People shunned television like it boiled your brains, while I was hooked on the latest trial airing on HLN. (It’s wrong to watch Grey’s Anatomy with your toddler?  It’s EDUCATIONAL!  Don’t go out with McSteamy!!!!!!)
  • They read no less than 39485749 parenting books, and I was uneducated because I hadn’t. (CIO CAUSES DETACHMENT AND SERIAL KILLERS!!)
  • Formula was the devil, causing cancer, 6 toes and deformed eyeballs, while I broke out my Kirkland brand bottle.  (YOU DON’T BUY DONOR BREASTMILK????)
  • I gave my son cheerios, but ZOMG IT ISN’T ORGANIC!!!! (And not PRE-CHEWED????)
  • They avoiding giving their children finger paint because the WHITE ONESIES WILL BE RUINED. (Not to mention SKIN CANCER!)
  • “My child is the only kid not sitting up yet, she will be the only kid in college in a bumbo!!!” (Direct mommy quote from group.  Thankfully, 90% in jest.)

Suddenly moms were super worried because their 1 year old wasn’t walking, or saying two word sentences… or able to finish a simple calculus problem.  They had their kids in six different enrichment classes but worried that perhaps it isn’t to early to start Latin.  I bring up these points as a sort of irony.  These were the things I rolled my eyes at when I was a “young parent.”

Then I realized that my need for C’ing the FD was less apparent, a quiet and isolating one.

  • I was nervous to take my son out (What if he misses his nap window?)
  • I was concerned that he wasn’t saying any actual words at one (SPEECH THERAPY MUST BE NEEDED?!?!)
  • I didn’t want anyone to come babysit, because my dog is kind of a jerk and likes to jump in the fountain.
  • I hated having my mother up, because I felt I had to manage her, and also my son.  (And good god, when will I have time to clean the guest bathroom?)

This lead to a life of solitude for a long while. I didn’t want to go out… I didn’t want people over…  I found that my ability to form complex sentences (read; more than 2 words long) was severely diminished. My wit, developed from a couple decades of interactions with creative and fun people… died.

One day my husband sat down and told me “Julia, I don’t feel like I can invite my friends over, because I know how anxious you get… and it makes me sad.”

*BLINK*

That was a light bulb moment for me.  We sat down and had a very long talk about why I was so anxious in all areas of my life.  It boiled down to one thought:

“Things could go Terribly, Horribly Wrong.” 

This thought dominated so many parts of my life, and until I put a name to it, I just had no idea how much control it had over me.  Anxiety runs through my family, and I didn’t even realize I was anxious.  Anxiousness was a state of being, one that I didn’t know there was a way out of.

Relationships are messy.  Parenting is messy.

I needed to Calm the F*ck Down.

This mantra has been a turning point in my life.  My husband says that I have become a brand new person… One whom can acknowledge when things are going to be crazy, and embrace it.

I’m a mom who knows that at any point, Things Could Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong.  Chances are, nothing I do (or don’t do) will scar my toddler for life.  However, the absence of a moderately sane mom could cost me thousands in therapy bills.

*****

In what areas do you need to “CTFD?” 

What things do you worry about going “terribly horribly wrong?”

What are some of the silly things you worried about early on?  

What are some of the silly things you worry about now?

*****

Share. Visit. Read. Comment. Support.

Julia, formerly a molder of young minds, has briefly stepped away from that task to manufacture a child of her own. Along with the standard baby accessories such as hands and lips, she is planning on installing chrome side-pipes, rollbars, and a bitchin’ spoiler. She is fending off accusations that Jesse James is the true father.

guest post: “New Chapters”

Julia‘s post “New Chapters” was originally posted on her personal blog, 3 Bed, 2 Bath, 1 Baby. It is being re-posted in its entirety here today with her permission. She had originally submitted an article to us regarding “The 5 Stages of Infertility Grief,” and we asked her to do the write up on it. Enjoy!

*****

I’ve been absent from the blog for a while.  And though I thoroughly enjoy the Toddler Town Updates (fear not, another is coming) I have something more serious to talk about today.  The state of the Uterus Address is back.

We’ve been trying since the new year for our second child.  We’ve kept it fairly quiet, as the pressure from family and friends of “Are you pregnant yet” took a VERY big toll on me emotionally and physically when we were trying for Ethan.  So, we’ve quietly been plugging along, hoping to have a second child.  My heart has been aching every 40 days as we learned yet again I wasn’t expecting, and I’d have to go through yet ANOTHER round of hoping and disappointment. It seemed like everyone in my moms group was expecting again, and I just felt… so left behind.

We put a limit of trying for one year for baby #2.  Neither of us wanted to go down the road of cascading infertility interventions, and NOBODY wants to see me on Clomid again.  My poor husband lived with an overheated girl in the middle of winter.  Snow was on the ground, and I had to keep the windows open.  But we both felt like we “should” try for another.

We kept it secret, except for a very small group of friends and family… because I didn’t want to pressure of “you’re drinking water… IS THERE SOMETHING YOU WANT TO TELL US?”  “Well you’ve had one, so the second will be easy!”  “You’re SO YOUNG.”  (Can we all have a collective sigh here?  *SIGH.*)  A co-worker even said “Well, you can just adopt! And plus you’ve had one, so the second will be easier!!”  I wanted to cry.  But instead, I smiled and said something like “Yeah, that’s not how it works. But thanks.”  She went off to teach her class, and I sat and cried.

When I originally read this article, we were in the midst of trying.  I related with so many of the stages of grief listed in relation to IF that it hurt.  Since then, the course of our lives has changed.

DENIAL: 6 cycles passed with us trying. Obviously, HPT #50 is wrong, I must pee on another “non-faulty” stick!!!!  I’m sure that’s just spotting from implantation, right?  Those crampy feelings must be that too.  And the sick feelings? Definitely NOT from overeating sushi.  Nope.

ANGER: The highs and lows of hopes going up and being dashed again and again started to take their toll.  As a sexual assault survivor, trying for a baby is triggering, and the idea of intervention again was also triggering… and then one day, we both just sat down, and the topic of baby #2 came up.  We waffled between trying and not trying for so long, I’m sure my friends in my mom group were sick of the “yes we are-no we aren’t” game… so I loathed to change again… but something happened.
We both sat down and said simultaneously  “I don’t think we should have another.”  We went through all the reasons why Ethan was enough to complete our family.

And this time it was so… easy to make the choice.

BARGAINING:  When we decided to try for baby #2, we went through many reasons in our mind as to why it was a fantastic idea.  “Ethan will have a brother!  We LOVE kids!  Won’t it be cool when it’s Christmas and we hear two sets of pattering feet?  Permanent playmates are awesome!  Only children are spoiled and lonelyyyyyyyy!*”   (*I was silly to buy into this one, I’m an only and neither lonely nor spoiled.)

But this time it was so… easy to make the choice.

DEPRESSION: Perhaps the guilt of it being so hard to have Ethan got me thinking that I HAD to try for another.  All that work, and stopping only at one?  You are supposed to have a brood to make up for all the medication, the trials, the ultrasounds, the surgery, the miscarriages… YOU MUST YOU MUST. YOU SHOULD YOU SHOULD.

But, it was so… easy.

ACCEPTANCE: For the past two years, I had been interested in being a Doula.  The “maybe” of #2 was keeping this dream on the back-burner.  Things just kept popping up, as if the Universe was saying “Julia, you CAN stop.  It’s okay.”

– Moms in my moms group started talking about wanting me as their Doula… I could get my practicum birth requirements completed.
-A Doula friend of mine had potential room to include me in her Doula business, giving me immediate access to clients, a friend in the business, a mentor, a partner…
-My birthday money would be almost to the penny what I’d need to get the required workshops paid for.
-A mom friend wanted to give me her library of birthing books.

It went on and on.

Nothing my husband and I have ever done has been the battle that baby #2 was. Nothing that has ever worked out for us  was this struggle and back and forth we endured.  We strongly both feel that the Universe gives us the path, and sometimes we just have to surrender to it instead of battling it. Though I spent a while mourning the loss of the baby that would never be, it was different.  More of an acknowledgement of my feelings, and excitement about the next phase in my life.

And it was so… easy.

I can’t tell you enough about the peace I now feel.  Knowing that at least for the next few years, but possibly forever, the pressure of tracking every cycle, scrutinizing every feeling I had, is over.  I look at Ethan in a new way.  In a “this is the only time I will have a child this age.”  I don’t believe in the Carpe Diem motto of parenting (because I don’t want to carpe today’s diem of him grabbing his diaper, pulling it above his head and smearing poop on his face… can you blame me?) However, I have a new focus on him.  I’m no longer planning for the baby that might not be, I’ve refocused on the one I have. Our family is complete, and I finally realized it.

It is a page I’ve turned.

And it was the best thing I’ve ever done.

*****

Where are you at in the 5 stages mentioned above?

Have you found yourself moving back and forth through the stages during different times in your ALI journey?

*****

Share. Visit. Read. Comment. Support.

Julia, formerly a molder of young minds, has briefly stepped away from that task to manufacture a child of her own. Along with the standard baby accessories such as hands and lips, she is planning on installing chrome side-pipes, rollbars, and a bitchin’ spoiler. She is fending off accusations that Jesse James is the true father.

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