Birth: YOU can do it!

I screamed my head off during The Informant’s birth. From the minute labor got painful I shrieked, I cried, I yelled.

20130809-055302.jpgI can’t believe she’s 8.5yo!

Nobody did anything. I mean, the midwives and doula did stuff, but nobody had the baby for me, which was my subconscious goal. I, who enjoy being waited on hand on foot, did not like that labor and birth. I felt all alone despite the four people with me.

I’ve been thinking about birth a lot as one of my best friends is due soon. Also, as I’m starting my path to becoming a nurse. I don’t plan to be a labor/delivery nurse but if that’s a job available and I need a job, I’ll happily do it.


I was silent — and miserable — during My Masterpiece’s birth. I knew I could do it. I knew I had to do it. I knew nobody else could do it for me. But, man, I wished someone else could do it for me. I was very proud of myself — and shocked — when I had her in a bathtub in our Arizona home.

20130809-060128.jpgShe’s actually nursing while I type this.

With Cousin It I knew what I had to do and when I was in labor I didn’t bother calling anyone til the very end. Or even waking up My Chemical Romance. (I will forever regret not calling Lora Denton of Lora Denton Photography though. Huge mistake.) Once again, I knew only I could do it but this time I tried… not to hate it so much, if not enjoy it. I was attended by my best friend, another best friend, my family. I asked for what I wanted. The birth went as well as I could imagine! (Except not having Lora there.)

My experiences are hospital birth, birth center birth and home birth but they’re all the same: I had to do it myself. It was scary and painful — and empowering each time.


An aside, I have a friend who lived in Australia during one of her births and she said the labor/delivery nurses there do not let you lay down during labor. Here in the States women are encouraged to stay in bed. It makes them easier to monitor, I guess.


Dear Doulas: Please Get Off Facebook

Yes, this is a huge pet peeve of mine, but I also think it gets into a gray area of HIPAA.

Here’s what HIPAA says (bolded part at the bottom is my emphasis):

Protected Health Information. The Privacy Rule protects all “individually identifiable health information” held or transmitted by a covered entity or its business associate, in any form or media, whether electronic, paper, or oral. The Privacy Rule calls this information “protected health information (PHI).”12

“Individually identifiable health information” is information, including demographic data, that relates to:

  • the individual’s past, present or future physical or mental health or condition,
  • the provision of health care to the individual, or
  • the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to the individual,

and that identifies the individual or for which there is a reasonable basis to believe it can be used to identify the individual.13  Individually identifiable health information includes many common identifiers (e.g., name, address, birth date, Social Security Number).

I do not want to see a status update that you’re at a birth. Or heading out to a birth. I feel a liiiiiiiiittle sketchy reading that you’re just home from a birth — but I will give you the benefit of the doubt. I’ll assume that you asked the client if you could talk about it on Facebook and she gave you her blessing.

I will not give you credit for not mentioning the client’s name because COME ON NOW. Birthy people all know each other, especially in areas where homebirth isn’t legally recognized. If I know that three women are due around the same time, and are having homebirths and I happen to see that two of them recently updated their Facebook statuses and one hasn’t updated in a day or two, or I run into one at the grocery store… it’s just not that hard to figure out where you are and who you’re with.

I’m totally stalking you right now (Flickr: Simply.Jessi)

And yes, I’m a total stalker.

How did I learn to keep births off social media? Oh, you know me: the hard way.

I posted — not on Facebook, this was before Facebook, probably even before MySpace — once about a birth I was at where something REALLY weird happened. Nothing to do with the birth itself, just a weird thing happened. And a midwife saw my post and totally nailed me about sharing private information that was not my place to share. By sharing what had happened at the birth I’d shared the following

1. I was at a birth

2. It was a homebirth

3. This weird thing happened

Most of my doula-Facebook-friends are smarter than me. They do not post that they’re in the middle of a birth and something weird (or totally normal) is happening. But I do occasionally see a status about a great birth or a beautiful laboring mama or something birth-related. STFU, please! I don’t want to know! It’s not my business! (Which seems weird, right? Isn’t everything my business?!?!?) Let the mama post and let me hear it from the horse’s uterus.

Yes, I was at a birth. When “at” means, actively participating (although kind of against my will).

A Season of Jugs

I’m totally typing this from my new iPhone!

I’m really looking forward to visiting Charlotte the Charlotte area this weekend. (I stay at Miss Manners house, which is not actually in Charlotte.) I’m specifically going back for Stitches’ and Nice-Nice’s baby shower/blessing ceremony — and we’re also celebrating our new Jug, who had her baby in January.

Yes, we have a new Jug! She was originally introduced to us last spring by Miss Manners, as they went to school together. She fit right in, and she is moving to Charlotte in June.

She does not have a nickname yet — just like my friend Alia who has been begging for one. The thing is, you can’t make a nickname; a nickname just comes to you.

But I digress — we have a new Jug! And she has a new Juglet. And two Jugs are having babies soon. And Mary F Poppins moved to Portland. And I live in Raleigh.

Jugs has evolved.

There was some concern when I moved away that Jugs would end. I didn’t think it would end, but it has definitely changed. Life moves on, as Mary F Poppins’ mother-in-law said recently. (For the record: unhelpful.)

Soon there will be two new Juglets. Stitches and Nice-Nice will get to experience the absolute freaking insanity joy of having more than one child (something I’ve been enjoying experiencing since nine minutes after Mineral was born, when Animal came into the world, foot first. And it just gets better with each kid. Ha!)

After this trip, my next visit will be after Stitches and Nice-Nice have their babies! They are so lucky to have babies with Jugs nearby, just like I was when Cousin It was born. Jugs came over and cleaned my house and brought me food and held my baby and did dishes and laundry and NURSED MY BABY (it’s doubtful either of them will have that particular need, but just in case, there’s nothing like Jugs’ jugs!)

Our motto has always been “it’s all just ‘I'” — as in, there is no TMI among Jugs — but at this point we could probably trademark a new phrase: “Jugs: Bridging the gap between evolution and creation.”

From the Museum of Creationism (Flickr/williac)

I can’t wait to see my Jugs and celebrate this weekend!

My (last) Pregnancy Belly Cast Update

When I did a belly cast with My Masterpiece, I had some inspiration: Arizona. Specifically the state flag. We were living in Arizona at the time, and yet I knew it wasn’t going to be our permanent residence. Maybe it was because I lived among a lot of military families, so it just felt like a transitory place. (Besides, you would not want to spend your entire life in this particular small town, which is right on the border of Mexico and California.) For my belly cast, I came up with this:

Why, yes, it bears a strong resemblance to Wonder Woman. Which also fits, because after having a homebirth I totally thought I was Wonder Woman. My Chemical Romance actually gave me a medal.

For my belly cast with Porcelain, I’ve been struggling to find a theme. She was born on Christmas day but we’re not Christian so I didn’t really feel like anything nativity-related. I thought about trying to include trees and presents and maybe tinsel, but that doesn’t really say anything about my  experience. We got our tree and decorated everything the day after Thanksgiving,  because I was just SO SURE that Porcelain would be born before Christmas and I wanted to have everything ready. I thought I might even labor around near the tree and lights, but that room was so cold — near the attic, just above the garage — that I avoided it completely. Plus, she wasn’t born for nearly a month.

I’ve been asking my Jugs for ideas, “Something that encompasses things like ‘horrified that I was pregnant again’ and ‘acting like a complete psycho” and ‘two weeks past my due date’ and ‘driving everyone crazy.’ Is there something like that, that I can put on there?” I asked Lady Beaver of the Syllables, who works at a museum. She didn’t know.

Tonight, it came to me: The Scream, by Edvard Munch. I will somehow incorporate it into my belly cast.

How I Knew I Was Having Twins

Ah, memories. Picture it, summertime in Michigan, nine years ago…

A little over nine years ago, I found out I was pregnant. And pretty early in the game, I realized something was amiss. First of all, I was violently ill 24/7. Second of all, I was in maternity clothes about seven seconds after I peed on a stick.

31 weeks

But the most obvious sign was in conversations with other pregnant women. You know when you’re pregnant and you run into other pregnant women and you both kind of grin at each other and chat for a second? As it was my first pregnancy, I had no idea what I was supposed to look like, but I’d see another woman who approximated my size and ask her when she was due.

Me: “How far along are you?”

Pregnant woman with adorable little bump: “Seven months now. How about you?”

Me: “Um… three months. Yep, 13 weeks.”

Pregnant woman with adorable little bump: **crickets**

That conversation happened three times.

Then, JUST before the ultrasound that confirmed twins, I was standing in line at the grocery store buying Ben and Jerry’s and Goldfish Crackers tofu-dogs and raw broccoli when the woman in line behind me tapped me on the shoulder.

“Excuse me, are you pregnant?”

I looked at her. It was pretty obvious I was pregnant. I was overweight at the time, but I had a giant bump and if it wasn’t from pregnancy there was probably something seriously wrong with me.

“Well, I just had to tell you that you’re HUGE.”

Me: **crickets**

Even I, never at a loss for words, was dumb-struck.

I have seen a lot of pregnant women with large bellies at the end of their pregnancies and during labor. I used to be a doula, and I was an apprentice midwife briefly. But pregnancy with twins is just a different look. The belly is not just big, it’s more like… filling. It stretches in every direction and seems like it is about to take over the world and eat everything in its path, like The  Blob. Check out these bellies from the Natural Birth of Twins and Triplets video — especially the woman pregnant with triplets at the end!


Don’t mess with a pregnant woman in the summer

This actually took place four years ago when I was pregnant with My Masterpiece. In honor of the hottest summer since dinosaurs roamed the earth, I thought I’d share my favorite summer memory EVER, the time I mailed dead fish.

One of My Chemical Romance’s hobbies is keeping and maintaining his freshwater aquarium. When we lived in Arizona, he had a big hexagonal tank on which he spent a lot of time and money because that’s his way of emoting hobby. So one day when he was traveling to San Diego for work, he bought some new fish at a fancy fish store and brought them home.

Three or four of the fish died the first day. Because the fish store in San Diego had a 24-hour guarantee on all fish, he called to report the dead fish and ask for a refund. The sales associate told him to return to the store with the fish. My Chemical Romance explained that we lived three hours away so he couldn’t. The sales associate then told him that because he’d traveled with the fish — three hours! in the summer! for shame! — the guarantee was null and void. My Chemical Romance hung up.

Disgusted by this obvious miscarriage of justice, I called the store back and spoke with another associate. I explained the situation. The associate gave me the same explanation about traveling and not being able to prove the fish were dead, so I asked to speak to a manager. Our conversation went like this:

Manager: “No blah blah can’t prove they’re dead blah blah”

Me: “I will send you a picture of the dead fish with today’s newspaper. That will prove they died within your 24 hours.”

Manager: “No yada yada yada traveled three hours blah blah”

Me: “In a CAR, dude. With the AIR CONDITIONING on. My husband survived the trip; the fish should have too! But regardless of the trip, your guarantee says nothing about TRAVELING WITH THE FISH. Do you expect every buyer to live at your store permanently???? Is a trip back home not allowed? If there’s traffic in San Diego and I’m driving from Chula Vista to North County, it could easily take two hours.”

Manager: Pause. Checkmate, jerkoff. “You cannot prove the fish are dead.”

Me: I got him on the traveling thing. “What if I could prove it?”

Manager: SNORT, “How, like mailing them back?” Another snort.

Me: “You did not just SNORT at me. Do you know that I am seven months pregnant with my fourth child and we live in Arizona? And it’s AUGUST. Are you freaking KIDDING me, fish store manager? I am a stay at home mom with nothing better to do and I pay no attention to finances; I WILL TOTALLY SEND YOU BACK THOSE FISH!” Click.

Immediately I wrapped the dead fish in about eight plastic bags. Then I rolled an entire package of tin foil around them. And then I mailed them, and I had USPS send email notification to the store to expect the package on a Monday. That’s right, store manager: the fish traveled over the weekend. In the summer.

Three weeks later we received a check in the mail from the fish store, for the price of the dead fish. Had the manager rubbed the check all over his sweaty hairy ass before mailing it? Probably. But I deposited it anyway, and counting the mailing fees, I figure we made about $5.

And this is why you should not mess with a pregnant woman in the summer.

When did you realize you were an adult?

Or a grown up?

I often see this question posed in an essay contest, but I’ve never actually answered it, so here goes: I realized I was an adult when I was pregnant with Animal and Mineral, and my mom let me borrow her car.

It wasn’t when I actually had Animal and Mineral, although I definitely felt like a mom then.

It wasn’t when I married My Chemical Romance, although I felt like I was taking on an adult action then.

It wasn’t when we bought our first house, although the mortgage ate such a huge chunk out of My Chemical Romance’s paycheck that I felt like I understood what all the adults were always talking about.

It wasn’t when we moved cross-country, although moving for the main breadwinner’s career seems like an adult thing to do.

No, it was when I was 23 and my mom gave me the keys to her car.

I bet my mom doesn’t even remember the conversation, and I know she didn’t realize the magnitude of the moment when she tossed me her keys. But my mom had never offered her car to me. In fact, I had my own car, a little black Ford Focus that I’d bought because I’d test driven it while in my first trimester with Animal and Mineral, on a very humid summer morning, and suddenly I’d had a burst of morning sickness so intense that all I could do was vomit — all over the interior of the car. So I bought it. (That did not feel very adult.)

I was getting ready to leave for my childbirth class, which was at the hospital, but by some miracle was taught by a woman who’d had three unmedicated births. She was very kind. (After Animal and Mineral were born, I called her and thanked her for doing a great job and really preparing a first time mom for labor.) So I was about to leave for class and my mom was sitting on the couch in my apartment (which my grandmother rented for me) reading a newspaper, glasses on, and she absentmindedly said, Here, take my car. It was snowing, or had snowed, or was going to snow — Animal and Mineral were born in January, in Michigan — and she thought her car was better in the snow than my car. Or the ice. Her car may have even had butt-warmers. I don’t remember.

I took the keys and left for the class, thinking, Wow, this is what being an adult feels like. It felt like being offered the keys to your parents’ car. It felt like being eight months pregnant with twins in the winter and being responsible enough to drive your parents’ car, even though the cold and snow and ice actually makes driving more treacherous. It felt like being myself.

I relaxed, in that moment. I wasn’t scared. I was an adult and I was driving my parents’ car and I thought, I will be okay.

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