Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Roller Coaster: Empty

This is the eleventh post in a special bi-weekly series.  It's a sequel to The Longest Weekend of My Life series.  Please check back next Wednesday for Part 12, the final part.

Part 11: Empty

The day I calculated I was 11 weeks along I started bleeding. It had been almost exactly 5 weeks since the bleeding had started before. Just a few days earlier I had thought to myself “Well, I haven't started another period, so that's a good sign,” and here it was.

I was crushed. I didn't know what to think or what to do.

It was early morning, and I had to get my kids to school. I didn't have a lot of time to think about it, but I took what time I had to consider my options. If I bought a pregnancy test after taking my kids to school I could take that. If the result was negative I would know for sure I had miscarried already and was no longer pregnant. If the result was positive, it could still go either way. I considered making a doctor's appointment for more quantitative blood tests to check my hcg levels and see if they were still multiplying. That would take at least a couple of days to get any conclusive results, but short of an ultrasound it was probably the best way to know if I was in fact still pregnant.

I decided to start with the pregnancy test and go from there. If I got a positive result I would move forward with the blood tests.

I dropped my boys off at school and carried the two little ones into the store with me. I got some fresh produce we needed and proceeded to find the pregnancy test. The pharmaceuticals had been moved, and after searching several aisles I had to ask a store employee where to go for the “medication aisle”. It's embarrassing enough buying a pregnancy test without having to announce to the world what you're doing, and I'd really been hoping to get in, find the test, pay for it, and get out. When I found the right aisle, the tests were nowhere to be found. I searched, once again, aisle after aisle, re-checking aisle's I'd already checked, just in case I'd missed it. I didn't want to have to ask the nice young man where I could get a pregnancy test, so I found a female employee and asked her.

She explained that the pregnancy tests had been moved to the courtesy booth because they were being stolen so often.

Go figure.

I had to go to the courtesy booth and specifically ask for a pregnancy test there.


I tried to be as nonchalant and friendly as possible as I took my 2 year-old and my 1 year-old with me to the empty booth and waited for someone to help me. A nice lady came and asked what I needed and kindly handed the box to me. I took it to the cash register along with the food I was buying, and my 1 year-old decided he wanted to hold the box, probably thinking it had something yummy in it for him. Um, don't think so. I had to pry the pregnancy test box from his fingers as he screamed, just so the cashier could scan the darn thing in!

So much for nonchalant.

I tried handing the box back to my toddler to calm him down, and he threw it at me, no longer interested. I took my kids, my produce, and my pregnancy test to the car and headed home.

I was too nervous when I got home. I felt like I couldn't pee to save my life! I put the food away and tried to get the kids settled, and I drank some water and tried to calm myself down. I grabbed a small cup to pee into (since the test kits never include a cup and I hate trying to pee on a stick) and headed for the bathroom. Once I got myself to go, I was able to get a good size sample in the cup. I dipped the wonderful test stick into the cup and let it soak for a full ten seconds. I replaced the cap and set the test down on the bathroom counter.

The test instructions said to wait at least 3 minutes to read the results, but I couldn't make myself wait that long. I watched as the white test strip gradually turned pink, as the fluid moved from left to right. A plus sign in the left window, followed by a vertical line in the right window, would indicate a positive pregnancy test. That's what I was watching for.

As the pink gradually moved to the right there was no vertical line in the left window, only the horizontal line.

No, it can't be! I was pregnant! I was having symptoms! I had a baby in me!

I jumped onto the counter and switched on a second light to make sure I was really seeing what my eyes were telling me they saw. It was the same. A solitary horizontal line in the left window, followed by a vertical line in the right window. I checked the clock. It had been more than 3 minutes by then. I double-checked the instructions with the possible results. It wasn't a faulty result, and it definitely wasn't positive.

My husband was sleeping, and I awoke him with the news. He immediately broke down crying. I couldn't cry. In my head I knew I probably should, but I couldn't. I searched myself for feelings, and found nothing. I felt nothing but emptiness. I consoled my husband and talked with him, trying to help him feel better. I didn't know what to do for myself. If I felt something then I could do something about those feelings, cry, scream, pray, anything. But I felt nothing.

I went through the whole day like that. I went through the motions of life feeling empty inside, and nothing else. My womb was empty, and so was my heart.

Friday, October 29, 2010

More About the 2010 Influenza Vaccine

Since my last post about Influenza, the Vaccine and Vitamin D I've come across more pertinent information:

Given this information, one would think the United States would reconsider promoting the influenza vaccine, but doctors all over the US are still telling their patients to get the shot, along with propaganda everywhere.  Even pregnant women are being encouraged to get the vaccine, when we don't really know what effect it could have on them or their unborn children.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Roller Coaster: Shift

This is the tenth post in a special bi-weekly series.  It's a sequel to The Longest Weekend of My Life series.  Please check back next Saturday for Part 11.

Part 10: Shift

Over time my confusion and frustration seemed to gradually ease.  I noticed more pronounced symptoms, as the mood swings intensified along with my exhaustion and increased appetite.  Even my husband started making little comments about my strange food choices, and how the baby must have been dictating what I should eat.  We even started to refer to the growing fetus by the name we'd chosen years ago for our expected little girl.  We were starting to believe again that I was, in fact, still pregnant.  

Around 9 weeks gestation, I asked my midwife about some of the options I'd been considering.  She was suggesting that I could schedule an ultrasound at the birth suites the next week.  I asked her about the risk of ultrasound.  She felt that if we were to keep the ultrasound as brief as possible, maybe 5 minutes, just long enough to identify a viable fetus and hear a heartbeat, that we could minimize the risks.  She told me that in this case the benefits could outweigh the risks.  Looking back on the conversation now, I think she was saying that to reassure me because I was still feeling very conflicted about what to do.  My midwife felt the ultrasound would give us the best idea of the state of the pregnancy at that stage.  She felt a pregnancy test could be questionable because even after a miscarriage there was a possibility the hcg hormone could still be present enough in my body to give a positive result.  She gave me the phone number for the ultrasound technician so I could schedule an appointment.

I wasn't sure what would be best.  I wanted to know ASAP what was going on with my body, but I also didn't want to choose a potentially dangerous method of doing that.  I had always had one ultrasound with each pregnancy without considering any potential risks, and we had never had any problems or obvious complications from them.  However, armed with more knowledge, I felt I now bore a heavier burden of making an informed choice based on my current understanding.  Just as I had discovered the safety and viability of home birth after having given birth to 4 babies in the hospital, I was now faced with a decision I had never considered in the past.

"For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required" - Luke 12:48

I guess my impatience took over, because the next day I called the ultrasound technician recommended by my midwife.  I explained the situation to her, and she told me that even though I'd taken the steps to secure my insurance coverage for the pregnancy, my insurance provider would not cover the cost of an ultrasound prior to 14 weeks.  She said she would contact my midwife to discuss options with her, but without the funds to pay out of pocket, I had little hope that I would have an ultrasound the next week.  I felt my hopes for pregnancy confirmation slipping away.

I was upset at first, and I told my husband about the situation.  His response was “Well, we've already waited this long.  What's another few weeks?”

That was just what I needed to hear.  I realized in that moment that we both had come to accept the situation and also to embrace the idea that I could still be pregnant, instead of being constantly fearful of what could have gone wrong. I was also reminded of the symptoms I'd been having.  Having the confirmation from my husband that he felt I was pregnant as well was exactly what I needed at that moment.  I had a renewed sense of faith, patience, and peace.  Maybe this was a blessing in disguise?  I decided I might just forego the ultrasound altogether and wait until we could use the fetoscope or stethoscope, but I decided to wait and see.  In the meantime I would take care of myself and do my best to embrace pregnancy and enjoy every moment.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Breast Cancer Awareness and Prevention

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

You've likely seen people, cars, and websites sporting pink ribbons and advertising fundraisers.  Maybe you've sent pink foil yogurt lids in the mail.  If you're on facebook you've probably noticed mysterious status updates about where women like to keep their purses.  Oops, did I spoil the mystery?  Last year it was about the colors of our bras.

While it may be cute and garner attention, are we really raising the right issues about breast cancer?

Rather than focusing on raising awareness, perhaps we should be spreading positive information about prevention?

"Breastfeeding is associated with a lower risk (a whopping 59%!!) of breast cancer in women who have a family history of the disease and at least a 28% reduction for those without one (me). And it lowers your breastfed baby girl’s lifetime risk getting breast cancer by 25%!"

"It seems it's about time there was a focus on breast cancer prevention rather than just breast cancer awareness."

For information about promoting breast cancer prevention and THRIVING rather than just SURVIVING, please check out the Best for Babies organization.

Their mission is "To help moms beat the “Booby Traps”–the cultural & institutional barriers that prevent moms from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals. To inspire, prepare & empower™ moms. To give breastfeeding a makeover and give moms the solutions they need to make it work!"

That's a cause I can get behind!

Another thing I found interesting, is where the money from certain fundraising groups is actually going.

For instance, of the money raised for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, only 25% goes to the Susan G. Komen organization.  Up to 75% goes to fund Planned Parenthood clinics, whose primary function is to perform abortions.  Whether or not you support abortion, I think you would agree that money raise in the name of breast cancer diagnosis should go to just that.

For a list of breast cancer fundraising groups that don't fund abortion clinics, click here.

I think it's important when we're spreading awareness and information to strive to make that information relevant, supportive, and positive.  It's also a good idea to do your homework and know which groups you're lending support to and where that support is actually going.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Roller Coaster: Hindsight

This is the seventh post in a special bi-weekly series.  It's a sequel to The Longest Weekend of My Life series.  Please check back next Wednesday for Part 10.

Part 9: Hindsight

I started reconsidering my options.  I could take another pregnancy test around 10 weeks to see if I was still pregnant.  I could also choose to have my midwife use the hand held doppler to check for a heart beat, or I could choose to have a full ultrasound done.  I wished I could simply use my stethoscope to check for a heart beat myself, but that was unlikely until the pregnancy was at least 20 weeks along, and I didn't think I could handle another 12 weeks not knowing.

When I first considered these options, I thought I'd want the ultrasound because it would be the best chance at getting a really good picture of what was going on.  However, I'd heard sayings about ultrasound carrying risks, particularly in early pregnancy.  I was wary of choosing something that could potentially put my baby at risk, even though it would potentially give me the best idea of what was happening.

I started to do some research about ultrasound risks, and it was sketchy to begin with.  Ultrasound technology has been widely used during pregnancy since the 1960's, but it's never really been tested to determine it's safety.  The risks are speculation at best, since no reliable studies or research has been done, but the possibility of these risks was enough to make me reconsider jumping at the chance for another ultrasound.

As I did the research I also realized that the transvaginal ultrasound I had at the hospital was probably not the best choice.  As it turned out, that type of ultrasound is one of the more risky procedures in early pregnancy, and is speculated to cause miscarriage.  I wondered if my transvaginal ultrasound had somehow caused my bleeding.

Just great.

Not only had that blasted ultrasound been inconclusive and completely pointless, it could have also caused damage or possibly death to my baby!  Yes, it was only 5 weeks along, but there had to be something there whether we could see it or not!

I understood the circumstances, and I couldn't say I made a mistake.  I believed the Instacare resident was covering her bases and probably felt she was doing her best to give me the best care.  She most likely didn't know we wouldn't be able to see anything because it was too early.  She wasn't an obstetrician, and likely didn't realize what a waste of time, energy and my emotional well-being that ultrasound would be!

And then there was me.  I'd agreed to the ultrasound and went through with it, believing at that time that it was the best choice.  Had it been an ectopic pregnancy and we'd been able to see a tiny egg sac in the fallopian tubes or ovaries, it would have been worth everything.  We could have caught it early and I'd have gotten proper treatment and potentially saved my life.

But it wasn't.

We hadn't.

It didn't.

I couldn't beat myself up for doing what I felt was best in the moment, but I still regretted not having more knowledge to at least question the recommendation and make a more informed choice.  I might still have chosen to have the ultrasound, but I also might have felt better about my choice after the fact.  

Even the hand held doppler would use ultrasound technology.

That pregnancy test was starting to sound better and better.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Influenza, the Vaccine, and Vitamin D

It's flu season!

You've likely noticed the propaganda.  Signs everywhere I go, at pharmacies, grocery stores, supermarkets, warehouse stores, and more!  I see signs on the side of the road, and I hear news stories about how everyone should go get their flu shot!  Some places even offer incentives, such as memberships, gift cards and the like, all for getting a flu shot!  Our pediatrician's office has a sign with a caricature of a man with an ice pack on his head, a red nose, tissue in his hand, covered with a blanket, and a fizzling drink nearby.  It says "Don't let this happen to you!  Get your flu shot today!"  They'll even bill your insurance for you!  No hassle!

One thing all this media coverage makes me question is why?  Where are the funds coming from to pay for all of this?  The advertisements and the incentives?  The pay for the registered nurses who sit at the tables and booths with their syringes ready?  It makes me think that, just maybe, the flu shot is pushed more for monetary reasons than for health.  Just think about that for a minute.

If you live in a place where it gets very cold in the winter, like I do, then the propaganda is likely more prevalent than in warmer climates.  Flu season here can be quite ugly, particularly for infants and babies who can develop potentially deadly RSV, which affects a baby's ability to breathe and get adequate oxygen.  Indeed, parents are cautioned to keep their infants home and avoid public places for fear of contracting the feared flu bug.  When I gave birth to my third baby in October we kept him home for months to avoid any exposure.  We sacrificed holiday parties and family get-togethers out of fear our precious baby might get sick.  He was healthy all season, and I can't say whether or not staying home really made a difference.

I used to get the flu shot, and I even had some of my kids get it more than once.  Our family doesn't get the flu shot anymore.  The decision was simple for me.  I didn't notice our family getting sick less often when we got the vaccine.  The years that we skipped the vaccine we didn't get sick any more often or worse than the years we got it.  I saw no point in subjecting myself and my children to an annoying stick in the shoulder (or thigh) when I never noticed any benefits.

In the years since I stopped getting the flu shot I've done more research on the subject.  This year in particular I've found a lot of resources about the flu vaccine, and they're not favorable.  I didn't intentionally seek out anti-vaccine blog posts and articles, but the research I've found supports my decision to stop getting the annual shot.

Why is flu season during the winter months?  It's quite simple.  The colder weather forces us to stay indoors more.  We exercise less.  We eat more food, and more fatty and sugary foods, particularly during the various holidays that take place during the winter.  Our health overall suffers, and we're more prone to illness.  Flu isn't the only illness that goes around during these times, but it seems to be the one that gets the most attention.  Perhaps it's because of money.  There's a vaccine for that, and lots of companies make money when vaccines are sold and administered.

In considering whether or not the vaccine is a good choice for you or your family, you should consider the following:

  • The latest flu shot has been linked to seizures:  "Australia, just coming out of its flu season, had to suspend flu shots for kids — because little ones were suffering febrile seizures at 10 times the normal rate."  This is the 2010 flu shot.  The one that's being currently promoted.  My kids won't be getting it.
  • Six reasons to say NO to vaccination: At first glance I thought this blog post was all about scare tactics, but when I took the time to read past the bold print I realized there's a lot of truth to it.  It's about vaccinations in general, but as you read it think about how it applies to the flu shot in particular.  
  • Flu is vitamin D deficiency disease: This post really resonates with me.  It makes sense that during the darkest months of the year we would suffer from vitamin D deficiency, when vitamin D is most available through exposure to sunlight.  Taking a regular dose of cod liver oil or another vitamin D supplement could potentially prevent the flu altogether.  I'm willing to give it a try!
  • Vitamin D proven far better than vaccines in preventing influenza infections:  If you're one of those people who needs scientific proof of a theory, here's some evidence to back up the vitamin D link to the flu.
  • Food sources for Vitamin D: This site has a list of foods that contain Vitamin D.  The major foods listed are: fish (like salmon and tuna), milk, cheese, and egg yolks, but check the list for more.  It's a good idea to eat as many Vitamin D rich foods as possible through flu season.  An adult should have about 1200 IU's of D3 daily, and a child should have about 400.  You can also get D3 supplements from your local grocery store or health food store.
  • Sunlight is the best source of Vitamin D: However, in many very sunny places it's still possible to be deficient because it's dependent on the type of sunlight.  Dietary changes and/or supplementation may still be needed.

I'm not a conspiracy theorist.  I support families making informed choices about their care.  That means knowing what it is you're choosing.  If you choose to get a vaccine, understand the potential risks involved.  If you choose not to vaccinate, understand what you can do to support your family's health more effectively.  Make the choice that makes sense and feels right for you.

I make decisions for myself and my family based on a combination of personal intuition and research.  I go with what feels right, but I also search for evidence and pray about my decision.  This is one vaccine I feel confident about missing.

UPDATE: (10/29/10) Since writing this post, I discovered more information about the 2010 Influenza Vaccine.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Roller Coaster: Normal?

This is the eighth post in a special bi-weekly series.  It's a sequel to The Longest Weekend of My Life series.  Please check back next Saturday for Part 9.

Part 8: Normal?

Life seemed to normalize for the most part after I'd had my break down and gained some perspective.  The bleeding had turned to spotting, and in all it had only lasted a week.  

I consulted with my midwife, who said that the bleeding could have been any number of things.  She said my body could have been trying to have a period even though it was pregnant, or it could have been implantation bleeding.  I asked when implantation usually happened, and she said at 9 weeks.  I said “but my bleeding was from 6 to 7 weeks” and she told me my dates could have been wrong.  I hated that.  I had been told with my first pregnancy that my dates must have been wrong, and it felt like a slap in the face.  When I've been writing things on the calendar, tracking every single date, they have the nerve to tell me I was wrong?  I had to let it go, and realize that even though I had been tracking everything, my body might not have been doing what I thought it was doing when I thought it was doing it.  Apparently I didn't know my body as well as I thought I did, and that was a discouraging thought as well.

My midwife wanted me to move forward with the pregnancy as though everything were normal and healthy, and I just felt I couldn't do it.  Emotionally, I couldn't act like everything was fine when deep down I was still worried.  Yes, the worst seemed to have passed, but I still didn't really know whether or not I was still pregnant.  She wanted me to come to the monthly forum at her house, when I would be only 8 weeks along.  There would be no hope of getting a heart beat, even with a hand held doppler, at least until 10 weeks or more, and I saw no point in going through the motions until I had some kind of proof that things were still OK.

I was feeling occasional waves of nausea, but they were mild and at odd times.  Most of the time the nausea would hit just after I'd eaten a good size meal, and it would pass within a minute or so.  I was also feeling tired a lot, especially in the afternoon and evening, accompanied by great bouts of grumpiness.  More than one night I would lie down with my youngest 2 children to help them fall asleep, and end up falling asleep myself hours before I intended to go to bed.  This was common for me in early pregnancy, but I was still nervous to really believe I was still pregnant.

My husband had turned inward.  When we talked one night about the situation he told me that he couldn't even think about the pregnancy without considering all of the possibilities, which scared him.  I understood how he felt, because I was feeling the same emotions.  However, I felt alright talking about the situation, and felt that in some cases it was helpful for me to do so.  We had agreed early on that I could talk with whomever I felt I needed to, and he would deal with it in his own way.  The hard part was that I felt a disconnect with him because of this.  The closeness we had felt just a week or so earlier had turned into a chasm.  I felt that chasm wouldn't close or be filled until we had more information, and according to what I'd been told, that would take at least another 2 weeks to get.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Roller Coaster: Perspective

This is the seventh post in a special bi-weekly series.  It's a sequel to The Longest Weekend of My Life series.  Please check back next Wednesday for Part 8.

Part 7: Perspective

Sunday was much better than Saturday. Emotionally I was more balanced, and I wasn't having heavy bleeding or physical discomfort other than a headache, which was resolved with some essential oils. We went to church and I enjoyed the distraction as well as the spiritual environment. I found myself struggling to focus, but I accepted that and just tried to appreciate the present and let myself be in the moment. After church I took a nap and focused on spending the day with family.

I was encouraged by the positive feedback I received when various friends responded to my facebook status update and story. Some said they were hoping and praying for us, and some offered information about how bleeding during pregnancy could be completely safe. There were friends I hadn't personally heard from in a long time, and it was wonderful to hear from them in a time when I felt I needed as much support as I could get.

As I thought about things, I had a small revelation. I realized if I hadn't had any pelvic pain things would be very different. If I hadn't gone to Instacare I would have simply waited things out and would have thought I was just having a late period. I'd have had no idea I was pregnant and wouldn't have gone through all of this emotional turmoil. That thought could have made me wish things had played out differently, that maybe I could have just gone through this in ignorant bliss. However, it helped give me some perspective. I felt that everything had happened this way for a purpose, and that I was learning and growing because of it. It also helped me to see the normalcy of my situation and to have more patience in understanding that even though I didn't have all the answers in the moment, the answers would come, eventually.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Breast Milk Reduces Vaccine Effectiveness

"Vaccination proponents have suggested that breastfeeding should be delayed in order to prevent immune factors within breast milk from inactivating vaccine-associated antibody titer elevations and 'vaccine potency.'"

If breast milk immunities decrease the effectiveness of the rotavirus vaccine, then why don't we stick to breastfeeding and skip the vaccine?  Logically the breast milk will also protect against rotavirus itself. Delay breastfeeding?  I think not.  That would put my baby at an even higher risk of getting sick than if I were to opt out of the vaccine.  I've never had any of my breastfed babies get sick with rotavirus.

I'm all for choice, and I support informed decisions whether parents decide to vaccinate their children or not.  I just feel it needs to be an informed choice, and not simply based on one professional's recommendation.  Do your research!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Roller Coaster: Support

This is the sixth post in a special bi-weekly series.  It's a sequel to The Longest Weekend of My Life series.  Please check back next Saturday for Part 7.

Part 6: Support

After my break down on Saturday I chatted online with a good friend of mine who is another pregnancy/birth blogger. I think she felt the despair in my words and tried to help me feel better. I knew I was in a dark place and I appreciated her support but felt bad for her having been put in that position. She told me she had to go, but what she did next was the best thing she could have done for me in that moment. She posted a question on her facebook fan page asking for experiences from women who have bled during pregnancy and gone on to have healthy viable pregnancies and babies. I think at least a dozen women responded, describing their personal experiences with bleeding during pregnancy. I had no idea it was so common, and that helped me realize that my despair was probably at least a little bit disproportionate to the situation.

I had decided to turn my personal writings of this experience into a blog series. I thought that by publishing one portion each Saturday it would allow my story to unfold slowly to my readers and give me time to figure things out and maybe somehow find a resolution to the whole thing. I felt strongly that I needed to not only keep writing, but to share it with everyone I could. I felt that this was part of the purpose of what I was going through. I knew it couldn't possibly be the whole purpose, but being able to find an impetus to move forward and try to help others by sharing my struggle gave me strength, resolve and greater peace.

That evening I made a difficult decision. I had a strong feeling I should share my entire thus-far unfinished story with my family and personal friends on facebook. Oddly, I still didn't feel comfortable making a simple phone call to family members or friends to let them know what I was going through. By breaking the news in this manner I felt safer opening myself up to the masses. I prayed, asking if this was really what I should do, and I felt it was. Even as I typed my personal status update I was nervous:

“Most people wait until the threat of miscarriage has passed, but I'm no good at keeping quiet. There's a chance I could lose this pregnancy, and I don't want to go through this any longer in silence.”

My heart fluttered and I had to step away from the computer without sending the message. I took a moment to collect myself and then I came back and pressed the send button. I then posted a comment on my status explaining the situation very briefly and letting everyone know that I'd been writing as a form of therapy and would post everything I'd written so far for my friends to read if they wanted to. Then I spent the next half hour or so transferring my writings from the word processor into notes on facebook.

I felt that having my friends and family read what I'd written would be easier than trying to explain the situation individually. I understood that some people might be off-put that I didn't approach them individually, but this was part of my coping and healing and it was how I needed to do it.

I talked with my husband that evening, partially to give him a warning that I had just announced to our little world about everything we were currently going through, and he understood. He reminded me that part of how I process and heal is by being able to talk openly about what I'm going through, and this meant having my entire support system available. I loved him even more for understanding that about me, even though it's not how he functions himself. I reflected on how we'd connected in deeper ways over the past week, and it had given me glimpses of how much we really get each other. A different facet of our love was emerging.

Monday, October 11, 2010

HIV From Mother to Child

HIV can spread from mother to child during pregnancy and through breastfeeding.  We have the ability to stop that from happening, and everyone should know about this.

ONE is a grassroots organization working to prevent the spread of HIV from mother to child, with the goal of no child born with HIV by the year 2015.  Please watch their video below and visit their website for more information.

Please also watch the second video to learn how mothers can pasteurize their own breast milk to kill the HIV virus and protect their infants while still providing the best nutrition.

Please help protect babies everywhere by sharing this information!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Roller Coaster: Break Down

This is the fifth post in a special bi-weekly series.  It's a sequel to The Longest Weekend of My Life series.  Please check back next Wednesday for Part 6.

Part 5: Break Down

I was still bleeding on Saturday, still less than a normal period. The cramping had stopped the night before, but I had gone to bed with a migraine and slept fitfully, and the migraine was there to greet me in the morning.  Not wanting to take medication for it, I focused on eating well and trying to nourish my body's needs in any way I could think to. Along with the migraine, I was grumpy. My kids were also in bad moods, and I struggled to keep my emotions in check as I fed everyone breakfast and dealt with trying to get them to do their chores.

I had to sit and quiet myself to help soothe the baby. As I rocked him I felt emotions rising within me. I realized it had been a full week since this whole ordeal had started with the pelvic pain and the trip to Instacare. I realized It had also been about that long since I had cried.

That's when the tears came.

Soft, yet painful, aching tears.

I started praying out loud in an effort to get all of my feelings out of my head and try to make sense of things.

I didn't know how to feel, how to be.

It had been such a strange combination of symptoms, and it felt like a physical and emotional roller coaster. First, the severe pelvic pain, without bleeding. The discovery of the pregnancy coupled with the warning that it might not be viable. The confusion and tears followed by peace. The yearning and searching for answers where there were none to be found. Calm acceptance of whatever would be. The pain had gone completely and I'd allowed myself to feel hopeful, even joyful and elated about the future. I had calculated the due date and dared to imagine our family with a new baby, only to start bleeding and have those hopes virtually ripped to shreds.

What was I feeling? There was anger, even rage, and I found myself unable to keep my emotions under control when faced with any kind of challenge. I threw an adult temper tantrum, throwing things and yelling at the top of my lungs at my children who were refusing to clean their room. Where did that come from? Did they deserve that? No. But I didn't care. Maybe it bought me some time. I wanted to crawl into some obscure hole and hide from my family and the rest of the world, so I couldn't be a danger to anyone but myself. I needed time and space to figure things out, but I didn't know I could possibly get enough, or how or if I ever would figure this out.

I got the baby down for a nap, and I closed myself in a dark room.

I cried. Hard, painful, sobbing tears that shook my body.

For several minutes as I cried, I couldn't speak. I just let the tears flow. When I could speak, I prayed out loud, this time more fervently, more passionately. I begged for comfort. I asked forgiveness for treating my children badly. I explained how I felt and how conflicted I'd been. I had to stop between phrases as more ugly tears would wrack my body. It felt good to let it out.

I realized while praying that I wouldn't know the answers or the end result. It wasn't for me to know whether the pregnancy would last or not. But I could ask for help, comfort, peace, sustaining. It was for me to decide how I would bear this burden and to do it with as much grace as I possibly could. I needed more faith, and I asked for support and help in moving forward the best I could. I asked that I would be able to take care of my family and myself, and as I prayed the tears softened and slowed. I ended my prayer feeling exhausted, but calm. The fear and the anger were gone.

I'm sure my children had heard my sobbing. They'd been in the room on the other side of the door, and as they heard my muffled cries and prayers they had decided to do what I'd asked them to do and work on their bedroom. They were excited to show me what they'd accomplished while I'd been feeling sorry for myself, and it was refreshing to see them cooperating with each other and eager to please. I thought maybe I should have an emotional breakdown more often...

The sadness lingered, and I occasionally found myself sitting at my desk with my head in my hands. My children each came to me at various times and placed their hand on my arm or shoulder, or gave me a hug. My little girl repeatedly walked over to me and tenderly brushed my arm. I knew they felt at least a little bit of what I felt, and they wanted me to feel better. Even though they didn't understand what I was going through, they understood that I needed their comfort. I was grateful for it.