Monday, June 25, 2018

Preschoolers, Consent, Needles & a Trigger

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[Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault]

The title may seem unrelated and odd. And until tonight, I would have agreed with you. But being a survivor of rape and being a parent is not mutually exclusive.

Now, I've had my second baby. We survived and it was scary. I can write about that later. And I SHOULD be sleeping now because both kids are sleeping, but I can't get this out of my head and I don't want to talk about it aloud.

I find writing is helpful. This blog is one of the few outlets I have for getting shit off of my chest.

So... here goes.

Ever since Baby D (who really isn't the slightest bit of a baby any more and should probably be renamed on this blog for increased accuracy) was old enough to talk about feelings, we have hammered home the idea of consent. Of permission. Of allowing or not allowing any other person to make her feel uncomfortable or touch her in any way if she doesn't want it.

It broke my heart nearly a year ago when we found a new hairstyle with multiple elastics to use on her hair that she loved... that she suddenly stopped wanting me to do. I could not understand why, as she really fancied the look and people commented on it often. After MUCH coaxing, she finally told me that people (mostly her young friends at junior kindergarten) kept touching her hair and the elastics, even when she told them no/not to/that they didn't have her consent, that she didn't like the way that felt - that they ignored her and her wishes - so she didn't want her favourite hairstyle any more.

At four years old, my baby girl was already modifying and altering her wants and needs because other people weren't hearing her and were touching her and making her feel uncomfortable. AT FOUR YEARS OLD.

Anyway, we talked about how her friends may not understand what "consent" means, and that she can explain that she doesn't say it is OK/doesn't give permission for them to touch her, and that if she doesn't like it or want it that they should listen to her words and STOP. That she could always get a teacher or trusted grown up for help, too. I spoke with her teachers, but they downplayed it and said she was inseparable from her friends and she didn't seem to mind (WTF?). Anyway, she has only worn her hair like that once since - and that really sucks.

But I digress. The point is that our four year old daughter understands the importance of body autonomy and that she decides who touches her, or when and if she wants to dole out hugs or kisses to people. I suggested high fives as an alternative, too, because the kiddo never has to give affection to anyone if she doesn't want to. It's her body and she owns it. I told her the only time that Mommy and Daddy get to "overrule" or do something she doesn't want, is if it is an absolute matter of dire health or safety, which she seemed to get. She has better comprehension than Harvey Weinstein, or many of the men I have met in my lifetime.

Fast forward to tonight. She was set to get scheduled vaccinations. We talked about it in advance, and she knew the needle would pinch and hurt for a little bit. She wasn't looking forward to it, obviously, but she knew it needed to happen.

As we sat, before the nurse administered the drugs, I could see the fear in her face growing as the nurse legally disclosed all of the horrible reactions and outcomes that could happen in those rare adverse cases. Neither me or The Hubs had considered for a moment that this legal disclosure preamble would actually be TERRIFYING and completely UNDERSTOOD by Baby D. She was much younger for her previous vaccination appointments. She went from apprehensive, to scared, to freaked-right-the-fuck-out. It was awful. Then the panic tears started, and our girl is one of the bravest little kids I have ever met. She was really concerned.

She sat on The Hubs' lap and the nurse instructed him to pretzel around her arm to hold it in place. The nurse was nice enough, but explained that Baby D had to stay still or else she may accidentally scratch her, etc., which she didn't want to do.

THEN, IT HIT ME.

Baby D had her arms restrained. She was tense. She was crying, and it was growing louder and more strained with fear. She was held down, helpless, so scared. And then the nurse gave the first needle and she cried out and started yelling "NO! STOP!"
Her face went red and her voice got louder.
"STOP!"
"I SAID STOP!"

I was sitting beside her, nursing the baby. I felt helpless all of a sudden.
I was slammed into a flashback. I was back in that room of the cottage where I was being raped. I was yelling NO, being held down. Ignored, terrified, feeling alone and hysterical and helpless. It took every last ounce of my pretending to be a responsible grown up to not vomit all over the floor.

I could sense Baby D's terror, mind you I realize the situations were very different, yet the emotions were identical.

I wanted to cry and grab her and run out.

I slammed my foot into the ground to literally try to ground myself and force my brain back into the present moment.

I could see the nurse just wanted to jab the last injection quickly to get it over with but I HAD to hear Baby D, I HAD TO STOP her panic and let her know it was OK. So I told the nurse we needed to stop for a minute, I may have raised my voice a bit, it may have been shaking, I'm not sure.

I looked at Baby D, and I asked her to look into my eyes, and I told her I needed her to hear my words. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I told her that I know we told her that consent was SO IMPORTANT. And that we also heard her saying NO and to stop. But that even though we understood she didn't want the needles, and that it was not fun, that Mommy and Daddy needed her to get this special medicine because it was SO important to keep her healthy. That we understood that she was scared, but that the diseases and sicknesses that she could get if she didn't get the vaccines could make her very very sick or possibly worse. I promised it was the last needle, that it would be over quickly, and that it was important to keep her healthy. And... that there were gummy worms in the car for afterward.

She cried a little more, but agreed, and then cried more as the nurse went to jab her. She then cried out that it REALLY hurt, but then it was over. We praised her for being brave and getting the medicine even though it hurt and was scary.

She was brave. She literally stared that needle down, but took it. The ordeal fucking sucked. And now I've been slipping back into flashbacks tonight and having bouts of panic as both scenarios replay in my head.

As parents we can't be hypocrites. I am sure that I have been more often than I would like to admit. But even a small child knows what doesn't feel right and is scary. When you tell them they have control over their body, and then a stranger is essentially hurting them as they shout a sincere, scared STOP, it isn't right. I feel like puking still.

They deserve to be heard and respected. NO ONE wants to feel terrified, helpless and ignored. I feel like maybe I didn't handle it right, or that I could have done something different or better, especially from the get go, to have calmed her or set the tone better. I'm not sure what, though.

I know I'm an empath. I feel things deeply, and often feel what others are feeling. Not in a psychic kind of way, just in an I-easily-put-myself-in-their-shoes kind of way. I felt her pain. She was fine within two minutes. At least on the outside. I hope that she doesn't remember that feeling inside, even if the actual vaccination appointment memory is long gone. In that moment I feel like I failed her, but I tried to right it as soon as I recognized it.

I hoped I would feel better typing it out. I don't. It likely wouldn't have impacted me so deeply if it wasn't a trigger for the other stuff. Now I'm trying to process this after having a horrific dream this morning of a family member fatally injuring the baby. It hasn't been a good day.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Damn. D Day Is Near.

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Well everyone... I'm still alive. For now, anyways.

The day is drawing near that the obstetrician plans to open me up like a walnut and get this baby out. His abdomen is huge. So large that for the gestational age estimate, they have only listed "n/a". We asked, and that is NOT a good thing.

And this is with MANAGED gestational diabetes. My midwife all but ignored my concerns until I got my own glucose meter after family and a family friend said it was pretty obvious that baby's abdomen measurement meant I had diabetes. I can only imagine what things would be like right now had I not started testing and drastically changing my eating. (Spoiler alert: They denied that I had it and said I was referred to the diabetes clinic because I was anxious about it. Are you fucking kidding me? I ate a banana and my sugars went through the roof, I was huge! They caused a lot of grief with this during labour. It's safe to say I hate my midwives for the treatment I received...)

At my last ultrasound last week, they could tell my fluid levels have gone up another 50%. My own belly is measuring at 42 weeks. That's insanity. I'm so uncomfortable and the pressure is so intense, I vomit every time I lay down. I wish I were exaggerating. Following my stomach check and measurement at the OB's office the other day, I promptly scanned the room for a garbage and when I couldn't find one I proceeded to puke a few times in his sink. Proud moment. I may have scarred his accompanying resident student.

This photo was taken the day I wrote this post, which also happened to be the day I ended up in the hospital! Spoiler alert: WE BOTH SURVIVED BUT IT WAS SCARY AS HELL!!

I love my little kiddo, Baby D. I hope that a new baby doesn't change things too much for her. I want her to know and feel how loved she is, no matter how needy the new baby is and how tired and totally depleted Mommy and Daddy are. It's going to be a tough transition, I have no doubts about that. And I am not looking forward to recovering from surgery... I'm such a wuss. I know we will get through it but man oh man, it's gonna be painful and bumpy.

Next post: We survived.

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Monday, April 9, 2018

My Scary Pregnancy Stuff - Part 3

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It just keeps getting sweeter. And by sweeter, I mean more stressful. And, technically, less sweet. Sugar free even.

I'll try not to be too bodily-fluid focused on this post, but some of the scary stuff IS related to fluids so my hands are a bit tied.

I had my 32 week ultrasound to see if my placenta previa has moved. (Quick recap: Placenta previa is when the placenta covers the opening of the cervix, where baby would be making their way out of mama at some point. If the placenta is blocking the exit, it becomes dangerous, there is a much higher likelihood of bleeding - sometimes severely - and mama needs to have a C-Section to get baby out).

Usually they have to do a "TV" ultrasound to see exactly where the placenta is sitting, but the tech happily told me that he could see it clearly through the standard abdominal ultrasound. I thought that meant I was in the clear! I was so excited that I didn't have to worry about bleeding out any more and that I wouldn't have to be the biggest suck on the planet recovering from surgery once baby arrived!

Dude just literally meant he could see it clearly because the baby was sideways and it was totally visible.

SO... yeah, still need a C-Section. Still risk hemorrhaging. Still can't relax.

The midwife also told me that I had a high amniotic fluid volume and that there was nothing I could do to help that, but that they would monitor it. She never even mentioned to me that the ultrasound also showed that the baby's abdomen is in the greater than 90th percentile for size. That's not good. It means little dude is probably drinking a ton and not even able to pee enough of it out.

High amniotic fluid is called polyhydramnios, and it occurs in about 1% of pregnancies. That's right. Super lucky up in diss bitsh. Often it is due to gestational diabetes. Reading about it is scary because it, too, carries a greater risk of placental abruption. Slap that on top of the previa and I picture myself kind of exploding like an epic, gooey water balloon.

Anyway... I only read that about the baby's abdomen when I requested a copy of the ultrasound. The midwife didn't even want to give it to me. HELLLLLLOOOO, it's my body and my baby, thanks. Turns out a family member who is a doctor, and her good friend who is an obstetrician, told The Hubs straight away that it sounds like I have diabetes.

BUT NO. I thought. I failed the first diabetes test, but passed the two hour glucose screen. I was in the clear. Just barely. But both docs insisted that reducing my sugar and carbs would help with the fluid situation.

I emailed the midwife asking if further investigation would be useful. I didn't want to be eating the wrong food or doing anything to harm the baby, obviously. I just barely passed the 2 hour diabetes test. Maybe it was worth doing the test again, or getting a glucose meter to test my levels?

She was pretty rude, said the test had a range for a reason and I passed it so that was that. If I happened to have a glucose meter lying around, I could knock myself out, but that it was a non issue. And if I was concerned, I should ask the obstetrician at my next appointment. (Hello, she is my primary care provider? And quick to pass the buck?)

So I went and spent $100 to get a meter, test strips, and lancets (technical name: stabby stabbers).

GUESS WHO FUCKING HAS GESTATIONAL DIABETES?

Yeah.
I googled a wee bit for glucose ranges, then ended up talking at length with another mama who had gestational diabetes. She was kind enough to send me a bunch of information and guidelines from the diabetes clinic and there was no doubt that anything with wheat or sugar was spiking the SHIT out of my blood levels.

CUE SAD VIOLIN MUSIC.

This pregnancy I have survived almost entirely on wheat and sugar. And Gatorade.

So... yeah.

So now I get to stabby stab myself 6 times a day, I'm eating shit like all bran buds and PLAIN Greek yogurt, I still look motherfucking MASSIVE because I have extra fluid (and everyone and their brother is sure to let me know whenever I dare set a swollen foot out in public. Thanks y'all, I didn't realize how big I was. I just assumed ALL pregnant ladies resort to wearing tents and tarps in their 7th and 8th months...), may still bleed out, and have to have surgery.

I have a tentative date to remove this baby from my guts, but the operating room was apparently booked so it is pretty much just a pretend date right now. (Um, thanks?)

That date is also 2 weeks after when my daughter chose to show up (a month early). So I don't actually expect to make it to the C-Section date. I bawled my eyes out when the doc told me the timeline. I don't want to bleed out at home, especially in front of my daughter. He told me I wouldn't, and that it never happens (please see my last post, it does happen, and I watched my sister almost die from the same condition).

So, let's hope this baby gives me some kind of warning with a milder bleed, or something that gets me to the hospital before all hell breaks loose. I want to be alive for Baby D and to meet this kid, too.

I have one more ultrasound in a couple of weeks to see if things have moved. I really really really hope that the placenta takes a hike because I am dreading a C-Section. UGH.


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