And I’d Thought I Was Heartless

Some time ago, I wrote the following entry on another blog after seeing a friend’s entry about losing someone.

Its… odd for me. Seeing entries about people who care.

A friend recently lost someone. Not a lover or family member, or a dear friend. But someone she knew for many years, and cared for. Not a peer, either. The person was older, an authority figure of a type.

I don’t know what that’s like.

I’ve lost people that were closer to me than that. I didn’t cry. I didn’t really even mourn.

Just over a year ago (Mother’s Day weekend) my now-husband lost his grandfather. He was bereft and I had absolutely no idea how to comfort him, what to say. Mostly, I awkwardly held him and gently rubbed his back while he grieved.

I felt nothing. I never do.

I’d like to say that it is shock or numbness as a self-defense tactic, but the truth this, that there are only 5 people I would actually be hurt to lose.

My husband, my sons, and my parents.

For them, I would cry. I would grieve. I would ache.

No one else touches me.

I might cry for my best friend. I honestly don’t know. So, at most, 6 people would inspire pain. Everyone else can go to hell, I guess. >.>

No wonder I’ve been called heartless.

Regrettably, life has proven me wrong. His name was Adam Lavasseur. He was introduced to me through my friend Tanya, whom I met via an online blogging community back in late 2007/early 2008. Adam and Tanya went to college together and were absolute best friends. They spoke every single day, multiple times a day. Tanya and I used to talk and see each other that much, but I moved 3,000 miles away and since then we’d lost contact. Adam, or AP, also used to talk that much, but sadly, over the past two years our communication dwindled and eventually fizzled out to virtually non-existent. We maintained a “Facebook friendship” and occasionally commented on each other’s doings, but that was the extent of it.

On August 11th, Tanya told me what happened. I didn’t believe her for a minute and even chastised her for playing such a cruel joke. I just… I couldn’t comprehend how something so horrible could be true. Then she told me how it happened. There had been a collision with a semi. That she’d seen him only hours before it happened. And that’s when I knew. He really was dead. It was like I got hit in the stomach with a sledge hammer. I hurt. I started crying and couldn’t stop. I cried for three days. For the first day and a half it was virtually non-stop. After that, randomly throughout the day I would burst into tears or tears would just begin streaming down my face without any other indication, as if my eyes had sprung a serious leak. Even now, 3 weeks later, I’m tearing up as I write this.

Adam, you are sorely missed.

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Rape Culture, “Othering” and Why “Feminists” Aren’t Helping

Warning: This will most likely offend you. Feel free to navigate away.

Today I came across an article reposted on the blog of a friend of mine, originally written by the infamous BitingBeaver, whom you may or may not be familiar with, and whose blogspot address is no longer functioning. I do not know where she “went” or why, but I do know that Archive of the Biting Beaver is “perserving the writing of BB for posterity” as “another project of the Antiporn Activist Network.”

Let me begin at the beginning; not too horribly long ago I came across another blog entry written by Shakespearessister about Rape Culture which you can read here. When I read the title, “Rape Culture 101” I thought to myself, “What the heck is that? What have these kooky anti-male raging feminists come up with now?”

I began the article with a determinedly “this is going to be a load of crap,” outlook. I no longer had one when I was done. To Shakespearssister’s credit, the article, from what I could tell was reasonably well-researched and from fairly reliable sources. I clicked on every.single.link. and read everything on every link. Until 30 seconds before clicking on her blog entry I had never even heard of Rape Culture.

She talks about we tell women not to get raped over admonishing men not to rape.

That we dilute the significance (and more importantly the atrocity) of rape by making jokes about it or using it in causal expressions such as “I got raped at the ATM.”

She goes on and on, it’s really quite a long (and impressive) entry, and I found myself agreeing with nearly every point she made. While her views seem a little extreme, as a victim of rape and sexual abuse myself, I can see how and why these behaviors and problems in society not only ignore rape but perpetuate it. I’m even guilty of some of them myself (particularly rape jokes like the ATM comment).

But the more I thought about it over the course of the days to follow the more I wondered. And the angrier I became. The final straw was when I came across the above mentioned article by the BitingBeaver, and once I had that soaking in with my marinade, I blew my top. (Enough metaphors for you?)

BitingBeaver asserts that strippers and prostitutes all hate every single one of their clients. That they resent them and being purchased. I believe that, I really do. I’d never really considered it because I’ve never been a sex worker, and I’ve had a friend or two over the years that want to be an exotic dancer. Now, I understand that a lot of the women in the employ of these professions are doing it because they can make a lot of money quickly and with no qualifications beyond having been genetically lucky enough to have a visually pleasing arrangement of chromosomes, or as BitingBeaver says it, “selling the only thing they had of value in this society.” She goes on to say how horribly they are treated, how they feel about it, and so on. She then asserts, that they don’t have any choice in the matter saying, “How much ‘free will’ does a 16 year-old have when she’s been kicked out?” Well, now. There’s a problem there. Either women are equal and therefore are choosing to apply at a strip club or work as a hooker instead of going to a shelter, getting on welfare and trying to find a waitressing job or work at McDonald’s flipping burgers, or they aren’t and are being forced into this by the big, evil, powerful man, and have no choice. You cannot be simultaneously equal and blameless. If you’re that helpless, if you couldn’t go work at McDonald’s and had to dance naked because you have nothing else “of value,” like a mind or two capable hands, then what are you complaining about? You don’t have anything of value and have less to offer to society and world than a man does.

Please understand, you’re ‘othering’ yourself.

I’ve always said that I am not a feminist, and to that I hold. I believe we are all humans, yes, and therefore we have unalienable rights as such, but I do not believe that women, in the majority, deserve equal rights. Now before you rip my head off, let me say it is because of this principle and this principle alone that I hold that belief:

With equal rights comes equal responsibility.

In order to deserve equal rights you have to be willing to make the same sacrifices and take on the same responsibilities as those that are already entitled to whatever freedom, liberty, or privilege you desire. In this case, women desire to be treated as men are; to have the same freedoms, pay, legal rights, access to the same jobs, etc. Well ladies, that also means that in order for you to deserve those things, you have to be willing to do what every man must do upon reaching the age of 18. Sign up for the selective service. The draft.

Now, I don’t want to be drafted. I don’t think any woman should get drafted. And therefore, I don’t think that we should have equal rights.

What I do believe is that this “sameness” of gender identity is confusing and honestly oppressive. Men and women are not the same unilaterally. There are differences. Differences which should be embraced and celebrated. Is a woman just as good as a man? Yes! Is a woman just strong, capable, intelligent, and responsible as a man? Definitely! But women are not men and men are not women.

My real problem with this comes from the five years I spent as a Marine Corps wife and my experiences with women in the military. See, what peeves me about it is this: women want to do the same jobs as men, but currently are not allowed access to some of those jobs. Such as being infantry, also known as 0311 or a “grunt.”

While women are allowed access to jobs that can and do put them into combat situations, they are not allowed access to jobs that are centered around combat. This is because as a general rule of thumb, women are not capable doing the things that are required of a person with that job. A woman would not be able to pull a wounded comrade out of the line of fire while burdened with a full combat load, and nevermind if he has his own gear as well.

Women have different physical fitness requirements for being the the Armed Forces. Different run times, different pull-up standards (flexed arm hang anyone?), different height and weight ratios. This is because women are physiologically different than men and cannot “fairly” be held to the same standards.

Well, ladies, you cannot have it both ways. Either you’re different than men and cannot do everything they can do, or you’re exactly the same and can do everything they can do. Men cannot bear children or nurse an infant. We can’t pull men clear of danger.

Allow me to clarify: Are there some women out there that can do every job a man does at least as good or better than the men doing it now? Of course there are! And I have absolutely no problem with allowing women that can meet the proper standards to perform those jobs. But don’t you dare put an inept and unqualified woman in that situation. I wouldn’t want a man there that couldn’t do the job either, and he wouldn’t be allowed to go. So if you don’t want a “case by case” basis for it and you want blanket access to those jobs, then you need to have the one, uniform, physical fitness standard.

The other qualm I have with feminists occurs less often than the glaring flaw in their logic above, but it still happens enough to irk me endlessly.

The feminists that come down on women who use makeup, perfume, hair dye, etc. Anything that falls under a “beauty products” label. What that comes down to is saying that in order to be a feminist we aren’t allowed to smell nice or use lipstick. Well if that’s coming from a desire to make women the “same” as men and thereby open up access to things like being a grunt in the United States Marine Corps, well, that’s great and all, and I admire your purpose, but kindly go kick rocks. I don’t want to be a Marine, I don’t want the draft, and give me back my Clinique before I cut you. I don’t want to be a man. I fail to see how you’re being a realistic feminist if your goal is to make women into men. Seems more like maybe a “male-ist”? Not everyone has the same beliefs, that’s why we have laws protecting diversity, so please don’t try to take mine away.

Here’s usually where they begin to argue that using cosmetics feeds into the misogyny created and controlled by men to make women more beautiful and appealing because their own job is to be lovely and produce heirs.

Cosmetics have been around for about 6,000 years, so to claim that all women who subject themselves to beauty treatments, makeup, hair removal, cosmetic surgeries, and similar practices have been brainwashed is not only liken to asserting that we are lesser creatures and more susceptible to such behavior programming techniques, but also to obstinately ignore the precept that it is possible for two people to perceive the exact same event and still have interpreted it differently and/or to have reached different conclusions.

At what point does being assertive of women’s rights become forcing women to avoid any practices that they themselves may enjoy? For an example, there seems to be a definite trend that men prefer women who practice some form of genital hair removal, be it a little or a lot, instead of allowing the body hair to be au naturale. To pretend that all women who remove this body hair do so entirely out of a desire to be “attractive” or to please their male mate or attract one is asinine. There are women who practice this behavior for their own preference, independent of the want or desire for male attentions.

My point is basically while the feminists have a point about the problems in our culture, their solution is to blame men and take no responsibility. Well, the simple truth is even if we assume that men are driving the crazy train, we’re letting them. So sitting around bitching about what’s wrong (although admittedly raising awareness) and pointing a finger at men isn’t helping solve anything and it certainly isn’t taking responsibility for your own hand in it. Sure, men have unrealistic expectations of beauty, but women are cooperating with it, allowing themselves to be distorted to reach those things as well as killing themselves trying instead of saying, “Hell no, we won’t go.”

To me, that means a partial blame on women as well. And you cannot convince me that the makeup fiend at the local Sephora buying all the mascara she can find is being “raped” into making that purchase. At some point, it becomes ridiculous. At some point, you’re essentially saying that because men exist, they are raping us.

Don’t mistake me and think that I’m saying rape victims are to blame, or women in abusive relationships are equally at fault. No, never. But not every woman alive has some sort of Stockholm syndrome for the beer commercial during halftime. At some point, she makes a choice. She chooses to either buy into the unrealistic beauty images or she choosesnot to. Either we, as women, have the same capacity to make independent, intelligent decisions to govern our own lives that men do, or we do not. To claim that we are helplessly caught in this tumult created and directed by men is to “Other” ourselves.

Also, I like lipstick.

It Can’t Be Both Ways

This morning, my mother sent me this email (graphics removed because they’re annoying):

Now this is customer service!

GOOD MORNING, WELCOME TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, a Christian nation, land of the free and home of the brave.
How may I help you?
Press ‘1’ for English.
Press ‘2’ to disconnect until you learn to speak English
And remember only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you, Jesus Christ
And the American Soldier.
One died for your soul,
The other for your freedom.
 If you agree.. Keep it going
2012 IS COMING A Nation of Sheep Breeds a Government of Wolves! I’M 100% for PASSING THIS ON!!!
Let?s Take a stand!!!
Borders: Closed…
Language: English only…
Culture: Constitution and the Bill of Rights!!!
Drug Free: Make a drug screen mandatory for anyone on welfare and/or food stamps!
NO freebies to Non-Citizens!We the People are coming
Only 86% will send this on.
?Should be a 100%?. What will you do?

So here is what I sent her in reply:

Don’t send me this shit.
Having a religion is a lot like having a penis. It’s great to have one, it’s great to be proud. But when you whip it out and start shoving it down people’s throats, it becomes a problem.
Also, this isn’t a Christian nation. This is a nation based on religious freedom.
The top part of this email says that we’re Christian only, then the bottom says our culture should be the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? I know this is a reference to the Second Amendment, but here’s the problem: religious freedom is on there too.
As for “Drug Free”? I support the legalization of marijuana.
DO NOT SEND ME YOUR IGNORANT TEA PARTY PROPAGANDA ANYMORE.
Remember, I voted for “the nigger.”

Now furthermore,
I support a revolution. This government has outlived its usefulness and cannot be corrected from within the system. It needs to be replaced.

I support the legalization of marijuana. For more reasons than I can count, it’s the right thing to do. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain to you why. If you want to understand, I suggest researching it somewhere other than Fox News.

I support gay marriage. As someone once said “Or as I like to call it, marriage. Because I parked my car this morning, I didn’t gay park it.”

I support religious freedom. That means I can be whatever I want to be and you can too. It doens’t mean you get to scream at me about Jesus, but it does mean that if you do, I will politely tell you to go fuck yourself. And keep your shit out of our schools. If you want Christianity in schools, then go to a private school. You can’t afford private school? Then get off your ass, parent your children, and teach them yourself. All religions are mythologies not theories and therefore should be taught as such. I want my children to be taught that facts are facts and fairytales aren’t real.

I am also quite frankly terrified at the concept of “86%” of people passing this hate-spweing ignorant piece of filth on when it should not only be erradicated from the face of the earth but the people that passed it on should get a sound caning and the original writers should be shot. What? That’s inhumane? Actually, it’s better than prison. Fine. Gas. Whatever.

Also, I’ve pretty much had it with not only this nation’s governing body, but about 98% of the population, so you can all kindly go kick rocks and leave me alone until I can get out of here and move to Canada.

If I seem hateful, well, I’d apologize, but I am. As I said, I’m absolutely sick about everything this nation has become. Don’t misread me; there was always corruption and ignorance, but everything that was wrong, everything that made this nation sick or weak has been allowed to fester and now those same wounds are infected and the pus they are spewing out is filled with ignorance, stupidity, and a general disregard for anyone but themselves and their own narrow-minded, discriminatory, sin and hellfire dogma. The Jesus they cite as a reasoning to not allow the things they oppose is not the Jesus in the book they refer to. The man who preferred the company of lepers and whores? Jesus, who said you should turn the other cheek, not bomb them until they submit? These people, who tout about how we need to defend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights while continuously voting for people who not only initiate and continue unconstitutional wars, invasions and occupations, but who also constantly enact unconstitutional legislature here at home? They rave about freedom while refusing to vote for policies that would give us freedom and constantly vote for things that take it away so they can be “safe.”
No. No, I’m sorry. They don’t deserve anything but my resentment.

Mama Has a Potty Mouth

I curse. A lot. But I’ve realized several things about this as I’ve gotten older.

  1. It really isn’t very lady like, no matter how you feel about feminism or gender roles, uncouth is uncouth.
  2. It’s an irresponsible choice to swear (especially excessively) once you have children.
  3. It’s even more irresponsible once those children learn to talk.
  4. It doesn’t help you communicate anything more clearly except that you’re crude.
  5. It is very rarely appropriate, let alone truly needed.

So lately I’ve not only been attempting to actually stem the flow of profanity as a whole, but to also substitute profanity for other exclamatory phrases that are much less offensive. For instance, I might say “You scared the ever-lovin’ muffin stuffin’ out of me!” instead of the few choice words I’m sure anyone could come up with in about a heartbeat.

Do you have any substitutions for swear words that you use?

Welcoming Nathan

During my pregnancy I was unknowingly suffering from a condition called Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, and starting around mid-November my condition had worsened enough that I wound up essentially on bed rest, unable to even stand for more than 5 minutes without excruciating pain.

Throughout December and into January my condition worsened, finally reaching a climax on Wednesday, January 12th. I spent the whole day in bed, writhing in pain, trying to figure out what to do since I neither had a doctor, nor proof of my insurance yet. And without insurance, every doctor wants some equally insane and out-of-the-question amount of money. One wanted $50, one wanted $300, and another wanted a laugh-in-your-face-worthy $1,000. Yes, $1,000 for a freaking office visit. To be reimbursed later, of course. Like it somehow matters.

Anyway, the whole thing was extremely frustrating because I actually had health insurance at this time, (retroactive from the date of my marriage to Jesse) but because his HR department was dragging their heels/screwing up, I didn’t yet have any way to prove that I had been enrolled. Even though they’d already withdrawn the payment for said inaccessible health insurance from his paycheck.

My pain continued to worsen as the day went on, and by nightfall I was in far too much pain to sleep. Every position hurt. Shifting positions hurt more. My hips and back were in agony and peppered with the occasional and utterly sporadic sensation of someone cracking me in the tailbone with a sledgehammer. Oh, yes, random back labor. However my random contractions were not the issue, and I knew they were way too far apart and irregular to be actual labor. (Hours apart. Seriously.) Unfortunately, the pain I was in wasn’t getting any better either. It  was only getting worse. I spent the entire night in tears from pain, occasionally waking my husband up to rub the back of my hips in a vain attempt to try to alleviate some of the pain and trying to figure out what to do.

The next morning (Thursday, January 13th) I couldn’t take it anymore, and my husband frantically called person after person to try to find some sort of proof of insurance so I could get in to see a doctor and potentially get some relief, or at least get in and be seen so I could schedule my Cesarean section and have a light in the end of the tunnel on when the pain would end. He finally got some stuff pushed through and then was able to print us both (he’d lost his own insurance card previously) off temporary insurance cards to use.

Now I was calling different offices, desperately trying to get in to see a doctor, and soon. Especially since I would be 39 weeks along exactly the next day. I finally called the office of the doctor that had seen me on my last (the second of two) ER trips about contractions and pain that I was experiencing. When I called this doctor, the nurses for his office told me that they wouldn’t give me an appointment or accept me as a client because I was “too far along in [my] pregnancy,” and that unless I could “hand deliver [my] complete medical records today it [was] impossible.”

Naturally this distressed me quite a bit because I didn’t see how, as long as the baby was still in my uterus, it was possible for me to be “too far along” to be accepted by a doctor. What if I went overdue and needed to be induced? Its dangerous to carry a baby past a certain gestational age, and if no doctor would take me because I was too far along, my baby could essentially become trapped. And no ER or labor and delivery ward would accept me unless I was in labor.

Anyway, the nurses for this doctor’s office informed me that if I was in pain I should call Labor & Delivery, and that they would instruct even their own patients to do so at this point, despite my protests that I’d already contacted them and they would send me home if I was not contracting. I hung up, in tears, distraught that no one would help me. Not knowing what else I could even try at this point, I laid back down in bed and cried.

After a while and discussing it, it seemed like my only option was to try to force myself into labor so that the hospital would actually help me, so Jesse and I got the bright idea to go out to breakfast (we’d been craving it for a while) and then try to walk around Target until I started contracting enough to go to Labor & Delivery. So, we headed out to IHOP. I barely made it through breakfast, quickly losing my appetite and leaving the majority of my breakfast untouched. By this point it was bad enough that I decided to say “screw it,” and we went straight to L&D, me praying they would help me and not just send me home.

We got to the hospital at 2pm and were directed to Triage 1 where they put me in a gown and on both the fetal monitor and the one that monitors contractions. Checked my cervix and I was at 1cm and very thick. I explained about the pain to them and they began putting in calls to the on-call doctor, a wonderful man named Watts. I was so worried that they were going to send me home because I was not contracting that it was all I could think about outside of the pain and I couldn’t stop crying. Anyway, all the stress and fear that they would turn me away without helping me elevated my blood pressure. So over the course of the three+ hours they had me on monitoring, my blood pressure just kept climbing and climbing.

Fearing pre-eclampsia, they told me that they would be keeping me overnight for observation. They moved us to a regular room, drew a bunch of blood, and set up an elaborate system for me to collect all of my urine over a 24 hour period and that I was to be NPO, or nil per os, which means “nothing through the mouth,” after midnight since they needed to do an ultrasound in the morning to confirm gestational age and just in case they’d be able to perform the Cesarean section tomorrow. Once I was all settled in, Dr. Watts came in to talk to us. I explained everything to him and this wonderful, wonderful man told me that he would try to deliver my baby either Friday night or sometime this weekend if he could line up the anesthesia, or worst case scenario, if I didn’t have pre-eclampsia (which would necessitate an emergency cesarean) and he couldn’t get approval for this weekend, I’d leave the hospital with a c-section scheduled. Monday at the latest. I was so happy and relieved I could have kissed him!

At this point, all settled into the room I’d be in for the next 24 hours and also actually having some news/information to share, we set about calling all the grandparents. At this point I was so elated and relieved and finally being helped, at finally having someone care enough to do something about it that a kind of euphoria set over me and I actually had some pain relief. Finally. Worst case scenario, I’d leave the next day, knowing when it was all going to be over and I’d have my baby.

The overnight stay was very uneventful. Lots of waking up for blood pressure monitoring and collecting my urine in a jug on ice. Thankfully my parents were able to keep Andrew overnight so that Jesse could stay in the hospital with me. We tried watching a movie, but we both got so tired that we wound up shutting it off before it really even got rolling. (We were trying to watch I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell since its so inappropriate for Andrew to watch, we don’t get to watch it very often.)

The next morning (Friday, January 14th), I went and had my ultrasound bright and early. Everything looked great and they predicted Nathan to be nine pounds, seven ounces. Not long after I got back to my room Dr. Watts came in to talk to us and told me that I’d be having my son at 6pm that night. And just as Dr. Watts was telling me that I could finally eat something, but I needed to be done by 11am (it was around 10am at this point), the anesthesiologist nixed it and said nothing but ice chips until noon, then nothing at all after that. I was starving by this point, so I wasn’t too thrilled with the news. However, better that then not being able to have my c-section. Besides, I could always have a big, fat, juicy burger after it was over, right?

The doctor had them bring me up a clear liquids tray, telling me that I needed to be done with it by 11:30, but I could have as much as I wanted before then. The tray had iced tea (which I can’t drink), something else (which I was too scared to try… it was some brown liquid in a bowl and since I hate beef…. well, I wouldn’t try it), warm Sprite, a little container of jello and a little container of some sort of Italian ice. I ate the jello, iced the Sprite, and was waiting for the Italian ice thing to thaw enough for me to be able to get a plastic spoon into it since it was frozen solid, when a nurse came in to check my vitals, and as she left, she stole my tray. She didn’t ask or say anything, she just took it and walked out. By the time I realized what she was doing, she was already out my door. The woman stole my jello.

So by now I was pretty irritated that I wasn’t being allowed any food and the little bit of sustenance I’d been allotted had been taken from me, when at 10:30 the nurse came and told me I could have a clear liquids tray until noon and that she’d already ordered one for me and it should be up shortly. So I patiently waited, listening to my stomach growl, for the food service people to bring me my chicken broth and jello. Finally at 11:45 the nurse came back in and said she was going to make me some chicken broth so I’d still have time to eat it since she still hadn’t seen my liquids tray anywhere. She came back in with my cup of broth at 11:50, and brought a little single cup of jello with her as well as a warm Sprite. Normally I loathe chicken broth, but it had been over 12 hours since I’d had anything solid to eat and I was still starving. I chugged the chicken broth (eff that spoon!) and scarfed my jello. I finished with both right at 11:58, when food services came in with my tray. I scarfed another thing of jello and slammed more chicken broth in less than the two minutes I had left. And I gave the Italian ice a rueful look as the clock rolled over to noon.

The wait until 6pm was pretty brutal. Jesse was super nervous, having trouble wrapping his head around the sudden knowledge that we were going to have a baby in just a few hours. I was mostly excited and starving. I had the experience of a previous c-section to help me handle the shock of attempting to wrap your mind around the “I’m going to have a baby at exactly this time,” thing. The family (my parents, Andrew, Jesse’s parents, and Jesse’s sister) all showed up before the surgery, excited to meet the newest addition to the family.

When the nurses came to wheel my bed down to the operating room the trip was a lot of fun because apparently the bed I was on doesn’t steer too well. It was like we were playing bumper beds. Anyway, when we got down to the OR it was time for my spinal. I felt like I was about to teeter face-first off the bed while the anesthesiologist was placing my spinal block because of how you have to scrunch up and lean forward, bending yourself around your baby as much as possible to stick your spine out. The little bitty nurse they had helping me balance didn’t help either. I just felt like I’d fall onto her and crush her with my big ol’ preggo belly when I went, not like she’d stop me from going.

The spinal was almost immediately effective and they had to help me lay down. It was like an instant wave of “whoa, I feel good.” After they got the curtain up they let my husband in, and since thankfully this time I didn’t get strapped down like I was being crucified, I was able to actually hold his hand. They gave Jesse a little chair to sit in, up by my head so he could talk to me while we waited. It was so nice having him right there with me, where I could see and hear him. The whole time I felt this sort of serenity, this utter calmness. I’ve never been so confident in any doctor or medical team with anything. Even during a regular doctor’s visit, like just a yearly physical, I’m utterly confident that they’re going to somehow screw up, but at this hospital, I was beyond certain that everything would be fine. In fact, my entire experience with this hospital from start to finish has been so wonderful that if I were going to have anymore children I would refuse to have them anywhere else. So, if you’re anywhere near it, Overland Park Regional Medical Center is the place to have your children.

Anyway, the spinal has morphine in it. Aaaaaand apparently, morphine does give me the very common side effect of being itchy. It started slowly, with my left palm, and then it attacked my face. Fortunately I was allowed benadryl to counteract it because my face got really itchy. But the morphine did have a much more amusing side effect on me. I got a little high. High enough that in the middle of my tubal ligation (after they’d taken Nathan out, of course) I started singing “Can’t Touch This” much to the amusement of the OR staff and my husband.

Nathan Joseph was born at 7:06pm CST, weighing 8 pounds, 3.8 ounces and 20.5 inches long.

They got Nathan all cleaned up and brought over to me, where Jesse got to hold him down for me. I planted a good one on his cheek and I got to touch him. His APGAR score was 8/9 and he had perfect coloring and a lovely, lusty cry. Perfect health. The only problem or complication was that he had a bit of fluid he was having trouble getting up, which is perfectly normal and quite common with c-section babies. It was nothing to be concerned about, just meant he needed to have it suctioned out a few more times than normal.

Anyway, they finished me up and wheeled me into recovery where everyone, my mother, father, Andrew, Jesse’s mom & dad and sister were all waiting for us. Nathan got his first bath right there in the room with me and got to hang out in a warmer right there too. At this point I was so hungry, tired, and itchy that I was a little out of it. Not to mention still a bit stoned from the morphine. But I was doing good. I wanted to incline my bed enough to sit up instead of being stuck at the silly like 20 degree angle they were keeping me at but the nurse said I couldn’t because it was against their policy. Apparently they like to take the recovery a bit slower there than what I was capable of doing. I was disappointed that I couldn’t sit up enough to give Nathan his first feeding, and had to delegate it to someone else, but it was okay when Lacey (Jesse’s sister) lit up the way she did at being able to feed him. It made her so happy that it made it worth it to just be able to lay there and watch, scratching my itchy face.

After a while (I’m really not sure how long) they moved us to our Mother Baby room, where we would stay until we were discharged from the hospital. Around this time Jesse’s mom went ahead and went back to our apartment where she was staying to babysit Andrew for us, and Jesse’s dad and sister went ahead and left to head back to Clinton since its an hour drive and it was already after 10pm. My own parents only hung out for a little bit longer, then headed home themselves, leaving Jesse and I to bond with our beautiful baby boy.

We spent the majority of the time snuggling and dozing in and out, periods of time punctuated by vitals checks for both Nathan and I and the diaper changes and feedings. Two things I learned as far as my own recovery goes: heating pads are the best thing on the planet, and when a doctor tells you to breathe out slowly during an exam, chances are you should force yourself to do it because it really does help. Fundal height checks, where they mash on your super-sore post-op uterus are extremely painful… when you hold your breath like I’ve always done instinctively. However, this time, I forced myself to exhale slowly as instructed, and they were at worst, highly uncomfortable, at best I didn’t feel them. And the level of discomfort depended entirely on how well I did my breathing.

Unfortunately I still wasn’t allowed to eat, even back in my Mother Baby room. Completely NPO still. In the morning they would see about letting me start a liquid diet again and have a “slow return to a normal diet.” I was beyond starving and beyond frustrated. I’d been looking forward to Chinese food as a reward, which I was now not going to be allowed. My parents promised to come back the next night after work and bring Chinese food for all of us since by then I’d definitely be allowed to eat.

Saturday morning rolled around and the sudden urge to relieve myself came over me. I immediately asked my nurse to have my catheter removed so I could do so, since I really didn’t see a way to do it with it in place that wasn’t problematic at best or impossible at worst. Normally they don’t expect anyone to have their catheter removed until about the twenty four hour mark, but I was at 12 and demanding its removal. She of course had to call the doctor to get approval. Once word came back that he’d allow it, they had to do the “dangle test” which is where they help you sit up and dangle your legs over the edge of the bed and see how you do before they allow you to slowly stand. I practically leaped off the bed, ready to go, and in more ways than one.

My excursion to the bathroom went off without a hitch, so I immediately began pestering them about a return to a normal diet as well as having my IV removed. After some more calls to the doctor and more than a few comments about how far ahead of schedule I was my IV was locked off and I was told I could eat whatever I wanted. I’d been so starved for so long that when I got some food I scarfed it, and by the time my parents came by with Chinese food, I wasn’t even hungry anymore so I contented myself to saving mine, and just snuggling Nathan while they ate.

Eventually they left and we settled in for the night, with Jesse agreeing to take the night shift this time to give me some rest. I’d done the brunt of it the first night because I knew he was exhausted from taking care of me since Wednesday when I was crippled with the pain. I laid down to sleep around 10pm, knowing the nurses would be in to collect Nathan around 4am for his hearing screen and some routine blood work.

It was around 5am on Sunday the 16th that the nurse came in and woke us up to talk to us. Nathan was having periods of elevated respiration and it wasn’t a big deal, it just meant they needed to keep him for a bit and run some tests. She stressed that he was fine and there was no big deal so we should go back to sleep. Once she left I quickly googled what elevated respiration levels in newborns were indicative of and finding that it generally meant either wet lung (which I knew he’d had) or pneumonia (which I didn’t think was likely) I drifted back to sleep.

It was a while later when we woke up that we discovered that Nathan had been placed in the NICU (a precautionary move they do as part of procedure anytime they’re testing a newborn for something like that), and finally, we could go see him. They had him in an oxygen tent that looked like a spaceman helmet of some sort as a precaution and to ease his breathing, and were starting him on a two-day round of antibiotics as a precaution while they waited for the test results to come back. It was heartbreaking to see him there in the NICU like that, with all those wires and an IV in his arm, which was tapped to this little cushioned board thing, effectively turning his hand into some sort of flipper. I don’t know how long we sat there in the NICU, with me crying, looking at him, but eventually neither of us could take it anymore. Staring at those machines, watching his respiration levels go up and down, its enough to drive a parent mad. So we went back to our room and got a call around noon that they’d be taking him out of the oxygen tent and seeing how he did on it. If he had no problems for an hour they’d be moving him to the PCN or Progressive Care Nursery, on our floor, which was much less intense. He passed and finally got all settled in around 2pm. At which point the pediatrician came in to explain what was going on. Apparently wet lung + newborn having problems regulating his body temperature = pneumonia. Fortunately since they caught it so early (within a few hours of development) they were able to knock it out quickly with antibiotics. Unfortunately, they needed to keep him for a full seven day round of antibiotics to make sure that they completely killed it and that it wouldn’t come back later, stronger, and suddenly resistant to the drugs they’d been using to treat it. That meant I’d be going home on Monday… without Nathan.

The week without him was beyond difficult to bear. I missed him all the time and if I let myself dwell on it, I started crying. I know it was for the best, but it didn’t really make it any easier to swallow. Fortunately now that I have him home, I don’t have to let him out of my sight again for a very long time.

The Source and a Little Background

The other day I came across a comment from a friend that no woman in the world is or has ever been loved the way that Paul Childs loved his wife Julia. When talking to my husband about the claim later, I said to him that while I am a woman who is loved as much as Paul loved his wonderful wife, that I will never be in history books like her. He replied that at age twenty-four, she probably never thought she would either. So here is my accounting of my life (my own history book, if you will); my trials, triumphs, and tragedies as I strive to be more like Julia Childs. A woman worthy of respect and admiration, who was strong, independent, unapologetic, and could cook up one hell of a spread.

I was raised by fairly traditional Midwestern parents. While my mother did have to work outside the home along with my father to support the three of us, all household responsibilities were still hers. My fathers responsibilities included “men’s work” like maintaining the yard, repairing our automobiles, and of course bringing home the lion’s share of the income. All of the cleaning, cooking, sewing, shopping, and etc (i.e. “women’s work”) fell onto my mother’s capable shoulders, and eventually my own as I grew old enough to be deemed her helper.

I have never resented or been bothered by these traditional gender roles my upbringing instilled in me. Quite the opposite, in fact. I have always regarded it as having been given steady roots to my plant myself in, while still being allowed freedom. The roles were never restrictive to me. Everything was always presented in a manner of, “well, while these things are inescapably your responsibility as a woman, you can still do anything else you put your mind to.” It was never about holding back, just about proper division of labor. In a way, I grew up believing that women had to be (and almost were inherently) stronger than their male counterparts because not only did we have all of these household responsibilities, but in order to be independent, we had to learn the men’s work as well, and still sometimes work outside the home to help support our families.

Both sides of my family, while given visible male leadership, were actually quietly matriarchal. This was most clearly demonstrated to me by how the women in my family took care of their husbands and children; not in a head bowed, diminutive or subservient fashion, but by nurturing them, and even jokingly pointing out that they would be utterly helpless without us. Our roles as women are to take care of our men, and in return we are treasured and protected, but it would be a mistake to think, even for a moment, that we couldn’t get along just as well without our men as we do with them. I was raised to believe that marriage is a partnership of chosen dependence; that while each party could get along on their own respectively, they choose to rely on one another, to enrich each others’ lives.

It’s because of this that from an outside perspective my views seem rather old fashioned (which they are), and even out-dated or sexist. And I’ll admit, to a certain extent, they really are; I have very specific definitions of gender roles, however, I understand that those are only my personal definitions, and that it’s different for every person. What matters is that two people in a relationship agree on them or at least have found a common ground regarding gender roles. My views aren’t yours, your views aren’t mine. I don’t expect them to be, and I certainly will never judge or criticize another person for having dissimilar views. It is their own choice.