Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Auld Lang Syne

Donald Miller wrote something really beautiful about resolutions today. Nutshell? Basically, don't tell people your resolutions. It makes you far less likely to keep them as you're receiving the gratification for the thought, but not the action. Personally, I don't like to share my resolutions, ever. I'll share when I complete something, but never before. Of course I'll tell David, because he's my best friend and cheerleader and coach and confidante in one.

Also, my resolutions made me feel incredible selfish. We're really striving to create our family's story. There is something beautiful that God wants to say, something he wants to do with our lives. More than myself or David or our family combined. Something that influences and encourages and inspires. I'm not entirely sure what that is now, but ideas are falling like little snowflakes in my mind. Something is building.

There are goals I completed, and intend to continue pursuing. I'd like to floss my teeth every day and take Vitamin D. But basically, all our family goals are in pursuit of preparing our family for fostering/adoption. A year and a half ago, we took an amazing small group with some friends that completely changed Dave and I's perspective on Godly love and the Christian perspective towards the widowed, neglected, and orphaned. Amazing things have sprung from that group. It was a group about adoption. Our friend's adopted two children from Ethiopia. We didn't feel called to international adoption, but I think God placed a desire in our hearts to foster-adopt domestic kids. There are a couple of things we need to get done first: the major one being to get out of debt. We are very excited to see how this journey unfolds. We are going to hit 2011 up, gazelle-style.

Happy 2011!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Awesome Giveaway

Cloth Diaper Blog is giving away a sweet stack of cash for their diaper store.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Update, and the Problem of Positive Thinking

Okay, seriously, I'm a horrible blogger. It took Dave saying, "Hey, you remember you have a blog, right?" for me to think that maybe I should skedaddle back here and get it in motion.

It's probably no big surprise (to anyone who know us) that we are hitting the financial straights big time right now. It's just so surprising the things that will happen as soon as you decide to really pay down the debt and get into financially sound waters. It's been Murphy's law times, like, a billion. Like your adorable husband using a drive-in movie pole as the proverbial butter (giant scratch) to your new van's toast (paint job). Or deciding to use cloth diapers to save money, only to completely flood your landlord's downstairs apartment. Or finding out your medical insurance isn't really covering what you thought it was covering.

I could go on, but let's just suffice to say... cha-ching.

Times like these you'll usually find me in my car, clutching the steering-while with white hands, and practically chanting my favorite verse: "Everything in the heavens and the earth are yours, oh Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as being in control of everything, riches and honor come from you alone. For you are the ruler of all mankind, your hand controls power and might. It is at your discretion that men are made great, and given strength."Over and over again. (Thanks, Crown!)

Of course, it's also times like this that make me so thankful. Especially thankful that financial troubles are the greatest of our problems, and not the least.

So what does this have to do with positive thinking? Don't worry, the train's getting to the station. As I was reading Job the other day (nothing like Job to put you into perspective), I came across this verse in Job 8 "Does God pervert justice? Does God go against what is right? When your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of their sin." Of course, this is good-friend Bildad lecturing Job on exactly why he's suffering. Good friend there, Bildad. But anyone who's read the rest of Job (or Romans) knows that God wasn't punishing Job for what his children did wrong, or even what he did wrong. God wasn't punishing Job at all, because Job wasupright in the eyes of God. Job was just flat-out suffering. Anyone who's lived knows that not good people suffer. They lose their children. They develop cancer. They lose their jobs. They get into debilitating debt.

Even though Romans tells us that "there is now no condemnation in those who are in Christ Jesus," I don't think we as people believe that sometimes. Even me. Especially me. We believe, like Bildad, that if we are just good enough, righteous enough, believe enough, are positive enough, that we can somehow lift ourselves out of whatever quagmire we're in. Good people get good things, bad people get bad things. In effect, we're saying "Sorry, all-encompassing-love-and-grace-of-Christ, I think I'll pick up the tab on this one." And the trouble in thinking that we can save ourselves, or that we even have control, is that the flip-side of that coin is that others who are suffering have somehow lost control. They could help themselves, if only they thought or believed they could.

Barbara Ehrenreich, a favorite author of mine ("Nickel and Dimed," anyone?) wrote a great book about this entitled "Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Pursuit of Positive Thinking has Undermined America." To sum up, Barb discovers she has breast cancer. Barb is pretty frustrated and, understandably, angry. Yet everywhere she turns she is confronted by unbridled, unrelenting optimism. Surrounded by quotes like "don't cry over anything that won't cry over you," and "don't wait for your ship, swim out to meet it." All of which is ridiculous and ridiculously unfair. I'm sorry, but if I find out I have cancer I'm not going to be downright peppy about it. I'm not going to pull a Brendan Frasier in Scrubs and say "Leukemia? That sucks." No, getting no cherries in your diet cherry-limeade sucks. Getting cancer is life changing.

Ehrenreich writes that, in the cancer community, to be angry or depressed is tantamount to heresy. It's giving up.
She writes:
But, despite all the helpful information, the more fellow victims I discovered and read, the greater my sense of isolation grew. In breast cancer activism, the words "patient" and "victim," with their aura of self-pity and passivity, have been ruled un-PC. Instead, we get verbs: those who are in the midst of their treatments are described as "battling" or "fighting", sometimes intensified with "bravely" or "fiercely" – language suggestive of Katharine Hepburn with her face to the wind. Once the treatments are over, one achieves the status of "survivor", which is how the women in my local support group identified themselves, AA-style. For those who cease to be survivors, again, no noun applies. They are said to have "lost their battle" – our lost brave sisters, our fallen soldiers.

The cheerfulness of breast cancer culture goes beyond mere absence of anger to what looks, all too often, like a positive embrace of the disease. Writing in 2007, New York Times health columnist Jane Brody quoted bike racer and testicular cancer survivor Lance Armstrong, who said, "Cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me", and cited a woman asserting that "breast cancer has given me a new life. Breast cancer was something I needed to experience to open my eyes to the joy of living."

In the most extreme characterisation, breast cancer is not a problem at all, not even an annoyance – it is a "gift", deserving of the most heartfelt gratitude. One survivor writes in her book The Gift Of Cancer: A Call To Awakening that "cancer is your ticket to your real life. Cancer is your passport to the life you were truly meant to live." And if that is not enough to make you want to go out and get an injection of live cancer cells, she insists, "Cancer will lead you to God. Let me say that again. Cancer is your connection to the Divine."

Cancer, a gift? Gimme a freakin' break. Why do we as people feel the need to be unrelentingly positive? So cheerful that we, in effect, hide our honesty? Hide the things that make us human? Not only does this place an unfair burden on those who are suffering-- not only do they have to deal with chemo, or cancer, or loss, but now they get the unparalleled joy of always being cheerful about it! -- but it compromises us as Christians as well. Job is a perfect example. Reading Job, I'm struck at the anger, the despair. This guy was not cheerful that he got to lose his entire family, fortune, and battle disease. Job flat out rages against God. He even begs that God would send a mediator so that he could argue his case against God.

I think we would be very flawed indeed, if we expected our suffering to be cheerful. If, as in the above quote, cancer is my passport to "living," then no thanks, I'll take life as it is. Let's take a lesson from Job, who laments: "If I say, 'I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression, and smile, I still dread all my sufferings." Sometimes you just have to sit in it, to be present in your sufferings, and to know that God is present with you.

"Bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Let's Get Lit-Terrell: "The Unlikely Disciple"

Couldn't help it, I'm a sucker for puns.

I'm also a huge sucker for books; any kind will do, really. I have my preferred fiction genres (post-apocalyptic, magical realism, magical non-realism, classics) and then I have my deep and abiding love of non-fiction. It's my go-to when learning a new skill, or whenever I feel that I've completely turned my brain into mush by reading far too many Jim Butcher books. (Just kidding, I love that crazy Harry Dresden.)

A good non-fiction book functions best, in my opinion when it a) spurs an interest in a previously unknown subject ("Stiff: the Curious Life of Human Cadevers" comes to mind), or b) helps the reader grow and develop an already developed interest.

The book I just finished, "The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University" by Kevin Roose, falls into a little of both categories. I'll be the first to admit that I have trouble reading books aimed at spiritual-growth. I don't know if it's the Christian-ese jargon or the fact that I feel I can only read a couple of pages before I feel utterly overwhelmed. It could be that I don't like Beth Moore at all, and it seems that if you're a Christian female, you're pretty much relegated to this type of saccharine-syrupy spirituality. (Sorry, Beth Moore. The only person who can get away with calling me "dear one" is Aslan.) This is also probably why I haven't ever finished "Mere Christianity," though I've started it at least a dozen times. It's also the reason that David is nagging me to start Donald Miller's new book. Oops.

So in an attempt to fix this I've kind of diverted my energy into a new genre: the spiritual memoir. Which is, combined with some investigative journalism, what we've got here. Here's the premise: Kevin Roose, a sophomore at Brown with an upbringing in free-form Quakerism (the kind where a "worship service" involves sitting in a circle focusing on one's inner God-light) decides to spend a semester at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University to understand, and perhaps humanize, Evangelical Christians. It's an amazing idea, but it worried me. Roose was an admitted liberal Athiest, and while I applauded him for recognizing his religous biases upfront, I also knew that my own spiritual upbringing would likely cause some conflicts. I was hoping that he'd avoid the Christopher Hitchins-Richard Dawkins kind of churlishness I'd come to expect from modern Atheist apologetics.

And I'll admit, Roose was extremely even-handed. It was enlightening to see how we as Christians (or at least a large segment of Christians) portray ourselves to the outsider. Personally, this book probably revealed more about my biases and hang-ups than about anything else. I'd never thought of myself as an Evangelical before, but as I read, I came to see that pretty much everything I'd been taught as a child about theology, morals, worship, prayer, and people were centered around an Evangelical standard.

Some parts were painful to read. Kevin's homophobic roomate spews that "If I found out my roomate was a faggot, I'd beat him with a baseball bat." The cold-turkey evangelism at Daytona Beach, where a local campus ministry sets up a fake club (complete with fake bouncers and laser lights) to trick besotted Spring-Breakers into hearing a salvation message. Pretty much every "History of Life" class, where Kevin's Creationist professor hits about every single stereotype about Evangelicals in one fell swoop.

What was surprising, however, was Kevin's fotuitous interview with Liberty's founder himself, Jerry Falwell. The book spends a lot of pages on Falwell, understandably. He was an iconic and polemic figure. Everyone knows the horrible, acrimonious things he said after 9/11, where he blamed the event on gays, lesbians, pagans, idolaters, pro-choicers, and the ACLU, to name a few. Roose was able to portray Falwell as a man fervently committed to what he believed in, dogmatic and bulldog-ish, but legit in everything he said. He humanized him without making light of his political shennanigans. And, interestingly enough, it was the last print interview Falwell ever did before he died.

Did he convert in the end? Well, no. Roose began the project with an agenda, or course. It was unlikely he'd be a die-hard fundamentalist at the end, but I also didn't spend 200+ pages feeling like I'd been waylaid by a Michael Moore documentary. Roose was able to portray Evangelical Christians in a different light, pretty much highlighting that, to paraphrase, we've all fallen short of God's standard. Hey, I could've told him that in about a paragraph, but the book was worth reading if only for what it showed me about myself and the way I interact with people outside of my fish-bowl. This isn't a book to answer your questions. If anything, you'll come out with more questions than before. It will, however, give you an authentic perspective on fundamentalism and Evangelicalism, and hopefully, spur you to a more compassionate state of mind when it comes to people with a mindset entirely opposite of your own.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A VBAC in Retrospect

I recently read an article on Navelgazing Midwife about the dangers of breech birth, and while it affirmed my decision that having Charlotte via C-section because of her complete breech presentation was the best choice, it also left me with a lot of lingering questions about my VBAC attempt with Beatrix. Because while I am firmly convinced that Charlotte couldn't have been born without surgical assistance (in my risks-benefits analysis), I still believe that Beatrix could've been a vaginal birth if 1) my OB had been at the hospital when we arrived, and 2) I was allowed to labor longer.

The one thing that really gets me is that I was adamantly told by my OB practice that augmenting with Pitocin was a standard no-no-no in their group. Only to hear this after my section with Bea: "Oh, Dr.---- didn't give you the option of trying a little Pitocin?" I mean, come one, what's that about? I can't help but think about the repercussions of this one action. Did the doctor on hand realize that I'm practically doomed to future Caesareans because of her actions? Or lack thereof? Having a VBAC is difficult enough; having a VBA2C? Practically unheard of.

So, while talking to a friend who is having a homebirth in my area, we began talking about my own birth experiences, and she told me that her midwife just delivered a VBA2C at home. It was like a breath of fresh air, because while I'm extremely nervous about the prospect of having a homebirth, I've decided that if I want to experience a vaginal birth there is no possible way that it will ever happen in a hospital setting. You may have a willing OB, but the logistics of fighting the obstetric group, pushing for non-interventive practices, fighting the "due date" countdown, fighting the hospital staff... it's just too much. I'm a non-confrontational kind of girl, and it was just too much. I couldn't fight that much, against all those obstacles. That , in itself, was an act of labor.

Don't get me wrong. I've never had a bad C-section experience, but even a good experience is not something any woman hopes to go through. I'm not sure that others completely understand, but I still long for that "normal" birth experience. I'd like to be on the secret, you know? I'd like to be the first to hold my own baby, or not be loopy from the Versed they gave to calm me down, or vomiting from the Duramorph. I'd like to be able to change those first baby diapers, instead of holing up in a bed for a week or so, recovering. And dang it, I'd like to be able to drive without waiting the advised three to four weeks.

I get alot of questions about if we regret attempting a VBAC. The answer is definitely not. It was a learning experience, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. I tell anyone who asks (and many who don't) that'll I'll try for a VBAC with the next baby. The truth is, though, I won't try for a hospital VBAC ever again. The deck's stacked against you. The die are loaded. Go with any analogy you like, it's not going to look good. So, when the time comes, I'll do a lot of praying and seeking. I'll talk to Dave. And if it's possible, if I can find a competent midwife or doctor who will attend a VBA2C with an untried pelvis, I'll attempt a homebirth. I love hospitals; I love all that fancy getting waited on hand-and-foot, and cable television, and maid service. Lord knows, with a whole family of nurses I feel comfortable in a hospital. But it's just not the best place if you want a VBAC. Even having my Mom at the hospital was difficult, because as an RN she kept playing the "what-if" game. So, if it's in the cards, it's a VBA2C for me. Possibly at home.

It's not a guilt thing. I'm done with the guilt-stage of the getting-over-your-bad-labor-experiences. It's almost like the stages of grief. First is denial: "I can't believe this happened to me." Then anger: "My OB was incompetent and wanted to get home to dinner on time." "Who's to blame for this?" After that, bargaining: "If I had just exercised more/waited longer to go to the hospital/refused drugs/gained less weight/used a midwife then this never would've happened." I feel that most bargaining takes place in a past-tense; you go over every detail of your pregnancy and labor meticulously, second guessing, analyzing, and eventually stating that if such-and-such had gone differently, you could've had a vaginal birth. Then depression. This doesn't even need an example, it's so prevalent.

And, finally, blessed acceptance. You (hopefully) make peace with what happened, realized that, although your experience wasn't optimum, you did make it out. Scarred, perhaps in more ways then one, but with a healthy mom and healthy baby.

Well, in my experience.

In conclusion, what would I think it would take to create a positive VBAC? A provider who is more than willing, and who will go the extra mile while keeping the health of both mother and child at the forefront. Someone who is balanced enough to help you in the difficult times, but who's willing to say "Hey, you tried, but it's really necessary to have a section now." AND, a comfortable, positive, and safe environment where you don't feel pressured to progress at a certain speed.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, most research shows that VBACs are just as safe after multiple sections as a vaginal birth. Uterine rupture rates are still under 1% http://ican-online.org/community/users/ican-blog/blog/vba2c-safe-repeat-cesarean-research-finds

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Beatrix Story

After my previous post about Cesarean Awareness Month, I realized that I have yet to post the birth story of our beautiful new baby, Beatrix. When David and I were pregnant with Charlotte, I absolutely adored the name Beatrix. It satisfied every single criteria of my neurotic baby-naming list. In the Biblical tradition, or the tradition of any good science-fiction or fantasy novel, we required that the name be more than just a word we used when we wanted our children to clean their rooms or come to dinner. We wanted our children's names to show intent, the wonderful purpose we hoped their lives would hold. If you've ever read "Earthsea" by Ursula K. Leguin (or even "Inkheart"), you'll know that there's a strong tradition of names having a true meaning or inherent power. Geeky to the extreme, I know.

Beatrix means "bringer of joy." Her middle name, "Story," is a little more difficult to explain. We get a lot of strange looks about that one, but we were largely influenced by a book Donald Miller wrote, "A Thousand Miles in a Million Years," where Miller talks a lot about the powerful influence of creating our story, or more accurately our God-story. We knew Beatrix was such an integral part of the story God was writing for us, even from the very beginning. We wanted Beatrix to know that she was a beautiful creation, something epic that unfolded anew each day. She was a blank page to be written, an adventure waiting to happen, a page yet to be turned. She was, and is, our joyful story.

(Well, she wasn't yet, as she was still in utero at that point.)

As Charlotte was born via C-section, I knew that I had two options with Beatrix: a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) or a repeat Cesarean. Although I had a great experience with my section, and an incredible healing time, I really wanted to attempt a vaginal birth. Everything I read convinced me that the risks were relatively low (under or around 1%) and the recovery times were faster and easier. Plus, I dreaded the thought of recovering from another section with a sixteen month old underfoot! However because of liability concerns and insurance practices and God-knows what else, finding someone who was even willing to attempt a VBAC was in itself an act of labor. I interviewed 5 doctors and midwives, only to find that none of them would accept an "untried pelvis" or "initial VBAC" or attempt a trial of labor with only 16 months between births. I finally found a midwife 45-minutes away who was thrilled to let me attempt a VBAC (I was less thrilled about the idea of driving 45-minutes in Chicago traffic in early February). Everything was wonderful... until I discovered that my insurance wouldn't cover the midwife or the hospital charges.

"Bummer" is putting it lightly.

So I found a new obstetrician with my familiar practice. She was willing to allow a trial of labor, as long as I went into labor spontaneously (no induction) by 41 weeks and as long as there was no need to augment my labor. A large part of the reason that VBACs are so rare was because, in the 90s when VBACs were the rage, doctors used Pitocin in a rather willy-nilly, reckless fashion. Women ruptured, women sued, and instead of discontinuing the practice of using Pitocin to augment labor (which almost doubles rupture rates and creates longer, stronger, unnatural contractions of the uterus), doctors and insurance companies decided to just nix VBACS.

I was fine with these restrictions, with the exception of the 41-week rule. The science on that is a bit iffy. The chances of a successful VBAC go down quite a bit after 41-weeks, but that was no reason for me not to try. So, I fudged my LMP (last menstrual period) just a bit, giving me the option of going to 42-weeks. Yeah, I'm a bad girl.

Anyway, we scheduled my section, if necessary, for the lastest possible date, February 5th. As that week approached, my Mom came up to the great white north to help. It was the Tuesday, February 3rd, two days before my scheduled end-of-the-line section, and I was getting antsy. Beatrix was in an excellent position (left occiput anterior, if that means anything at all to you); basically, head down and facing forward. I was doing lots of techniques to keep her in that great position, and using lots of Red-Raspberry Leaf Tea and Evening Primrose Oil to help soften and prepare my cervix for labor. Everything was golden, but like all potential VBACs, I was feeling the pressure from my due-date/timeclock very acutely. I knew that if I didn't go into labor by that Thursday, I'd have to have a section.

No pressure, right? Anyway, that Tuesday I started having some pretty strong contractions, unlike the regular Braxton-Hicks. I was so excited I called my OB who decided to have me come in for a non-stress test. And just like a girl, Beatrix decided to exactly the opposite of what we expected, staying completely still and quiet the entire time. I'm pretty sure that the OB on call thought I was faking. She gave me some patronizing advice about how "sometimes those Braxton-Hicks can be pretty strong" and sent me on my way. Looking back, I'm sure it was just prodromal labor. I was pretty embarrassed after that, and being a hormonal-pregnant woman, I decided to console myself by esconcsing myself in my kitchen and making an inordinate amount of food. I distinctly remember that I made an excellent Coca-Cola Pot Roast from Southern Living's cookbook of comfort foods and the best Oatmeal-Raisin cookies in the world.

If you ever want to go into labor, by the way, I highly suggest that delicious combo. After cleaning up and going to bed, I woke up at 2 am. My first thought was "Oh, great, I peed the bed. I am never in my life going to live this down." It didn't even occur to me that my water might have broke, because everything I read said that rupture of membranes usually happens when you're settled into a good pattern of labor. I got up gingerly, hoping to avoid waking Dave, and sparing the myself the ignominy of being forever known as a 25-year-old bed wetter. And, gush, like Niagara falls, water spilled all down my legs. I walked (gush, gush, gush) to the bathroom, changed my clothes (gush, gush, gush), and went to change the sheets. I'm blaming the early morning for the fact that it took me an hour to even think that, "Hey! Maybe my water broke." I'm not exactly the sharpest crayon in the box at that time of the morning.

The thing that really tipped me off (and ticked me off) was that I couldn't walk two feet without gushing all over myself. Ladies, don't be fooled. Your water breaking is not like peeing-your-pants when you laugh (another common pregnancy woe). It's more like dropping a Route-44 all over your pants every time you moved. So I woke up my Mom and Dave with the gentle "If I have to be up at this ungodly hour, you better get up, too. Oh, and by the way, I think I'm in labor." Another good thing to know? Who exactly to call when your water breaks at 2 am. I called everyone, got a lot of run around, and finally decided just to head to the hospital after about an hour and a half of waiting.

After we dropped off a very sleepy Charlotte at our friend's house, we got checked into labor and delivery. I got set up on all those nifty machines that go beep and waited. If you ask either Dave or my Mom, they will tell you that I was a very unhappy, cranky person. And I wasn't even in labor, technically. I distinctly remember threating to kick Dave out of the room if he dared, dared have the audicity to turn on ESPN while I was having his child. Unfortunately, my OB wasn't coming in until the next day. sp I was left with the on-call OB, who, conincidentally, was the OB who delivered Charlotte.

When the nurses came, I was excited to see how far along I was (a pipe dream in retrospect as I wasn't even contracting). I wasn't very happy because I was crouched in a strange position to keep Beatrix's heart from doing strange decels, all the while gushing everytime I laughed or talked. Gross. I was not a fan of that sensation. I was hoping that I was at a 2-3, but to my dismay, I wasn't dilated AT ALL. My cervix was high, firm, and closed. I even asked my nurse how it was possible that my water broke but I wasn't dilated or contracting. I had an extremely unfavorable Bishop's score, so the OB decided to do a section. I knew that was a what we had determined best, because of the problems with augmenting labor, but I felt that I had come so close.

So, they wheeled me to the OR. While they prepped me, I layed out my section birth plan. (I had a plan for both scenarios, which I think was tremendously helpful). I wanted a spinal, and I wanted someone with me at the time, because the process of getting a giant needle in your back is extremely unnerving. I wanted a lot of anti-nausea medication, because the wonderful drugs in the Duramorph make me vomit like no one's business. I wanted the catheter AFTER I was numbed. I cannot fathom why they would put it in before you're numb, other than to just torture you. And I wanted glued back together, rather than stapled, which not only left a disgusting Keloid scar because of my (previously unknown) metal allergies, but also made me look like Frankenstein.

And all was well. Beatrix was screaming before they even had her completely out, which was such beautiful and amazing sound. She was also a petite bean, weighing in at 7 pounds, 2 ounces (smaller than Charlotte), and 20 inches long.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Happy Cesarean Awareness Month!

To christen this blog of mine ( which is largely to chronicle our family's misadventures and my own personal neurosis to thoroughly debate everything with myself) I'd like to highlight that April is Cesarean Awareness Month. Now, you either know this already, or you're in the camp that's verging on veering towards another website because this topic is just so, well, not-your-cup-of-tea.

I'm here to wish you all a happy Cesarean Awareness Month. If you're a woman, or if you know anything about childbirth, you're probably aware that the C-section is the debate du jour of the interwebs nowadays. It's a useful point of conversation and argument, but also a convenient straw man that many like to wheel out on occasion and set fire to. My point here is not to create a debate between "natural childbirth" advocates and the rest of us (the "unnaturals," shall we say?), but to provide support for the minority of women who have had a C-section. Yes, minority. Because, despite rising C-section trends, the total rate in the US is still 30%, leaving us women who have been sliced and diced in a ever growing minority. Now, don't misunderstand. This isn't intended to glorify a surgery. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone that thinks that a C-section is the optimal way of birthing. It's very tough, has a big "eww" factor, and definitely not what I would have chose, given the opportunity.

After my first cesarean with Charlotte (that stubborn lady who presented frank breech at 39 weeks and 6 days), I felt horrible sense of guilt and failure. You know, the classic "I'm not a whole woman until I've pushed a ten pound baby out of my vagina" kind of feeling. Which isn't to diminish all that pushing. I hear it causes the hemorrhoids. (Which, consequently, is the most difficult word to spell in the English language). I knew that C-sections were riskier to both mother and child, but I also knew that attempting a breech birth with an inexperienced physician was even more risky. Plus, I didn't want to risk shoulder dystocia, which is a real concern, seeing that that it can cause temporary or even permanent paralysis. I knew that with my next child, I wanted to try for a VBAC, and my OB assured me that I had a great chance of success, seeing that breech presentations are rarely a reoccurring issue in subsequent pregnancies.

What I couldn't understand was WHY I felt guilty. Guilt is, technically, the remorse one feels for committing an offense. Who had I offended? Was a "natural" childbirth right and a cesarean wrong? I visited multiple internet forums, and the response I received varied from armchair OB-ing ("Don't you know that if you had done A, B, and C-255, then you could've had your baby the right way?") to the downright outlandish scare-tactic articles about the horrible atrocities that will befall both you and your baby if you dare, DARE, have a C-section. Like necrotizing fascitis, or more commonly, flesh eating bacteria.

There were Cesarean healing kits, to recover from the emotional trauma, Cesarean themed art, to deal with more emotional trauma, or Cesarean support groups to, you guessed it, handle more emotional trauma. I spent a lot of time here; sometimes they fed my need to heal from the "guilt" and feelings of failure caused by my C-section, but more often that not, they fed my Hulk-sized anger towards the birth community. A community that was so quick to second guess all my medical treatments or decisions. I felt attacked; I could sympathize every "sinful abomination" that had ever had Biblical verses stuffed mercilessly down their gullet in an effort to convince them how wrong they were. There was no grace, and very little love. I distinctly remember crying after I was told that my child hadn't really been "born," but rather was "surgically extracted."

Not cool.

I noticed that there was no place of support for women like me, women who either, by choice or by medical necessity, had a Cesarean. Women who weren't emotionally traumatized by their surgery or had dealt with the false-guilt created by the false dichotomy between natural and surgical birth. Women who insisted that their birth experience was just as worthwhile, just as wondrous, just as full of awe as any vaginal birth. Women who loved and thanked their obstetrician, and held faith in the medical community, rather than demonizing them.

So with Beatrix, my second, I strove for a VBAC. I fought for it. I interviewed various doctors and midwives, exercised, and used every herbal supplement known to man to prepare me for a vaginal birth. But I promised myself, and my husband, that if I needed a C-section this time, I wouldn't feel guilty about it. I would recognize that I did my absolute best, and I would leave the rest in the hands of a grace-filled God who knew better than I what the future would hold. So, when my water broke spontaneously at 40 weeks and 3 days, I was ecstatic. But when contractions didn't follow and my body didn't start dilating, I felt both resigned and comforted. I do wish that I had been able to have that VBAC, and I'm not unsure that I won't try again (making it a VBA2C), but I wasn't comfortable augmenting with Pitocin (you know, the Devil-drug) because it increased the risks of uterine rupture. So, off I went, to be sliced-and-diced, as I affectionately term it.

And you know what? I'm perfectly happy with it. Both with the results. And with the experience.

So Happy Cesarean Awareness Day! Wear that scar with pride. Because, it does look like a smiley face, you know.