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The International Breastfeeding Symbol » 2007 » August

Archive for August 2007


Jill Youse Responds, And So Do I

August 30th, 2007 by MamaBear

I received a message from Jill Youse, founder of the International Breast Milk Project, who wrote me by using my contact form last night. She sent it twice. It was the following:

Hi Breastfeeding Symbol,

Thank you for suggesting that we update the FAQs, I will do that as soon as possible.

Just to clarify, we have donated funding already to Lewa (in conjunction with Run
for Africa, our sister organization) and moving forward we have identified Village
Life Outreach, the organization focused in improving health care for the three
villages in Tanzania as a recipient of the funding. Any other organizations
interested in receiving funding should email jill@breastmilkproject.org.

Please let me know if there is anything else I can clarify or update for you or feel
free to email me anytime at jill@breastmilkproject.org.

I really appreciate your feedback and anything else you can suggest so that I can
continue to serve you and other donating moms in the future as best as possible.

Jill Youse

The first thing I want to say is that I really appreciate you contacting me directly, Jill, and I have to admit that, upon reading this, my heart softened a little. I gotta hand it to you, you do have a way with words. When I read the message, I thought to myself, “Maybe the $20,000+/month she’s getting for selling the donated breastmilk to Prolacta is all going to help African orphans after all… Maybe, just maybe, all your suspicions about the IBMP based on your observations so far have been unwarranted, Mama Bear.”

I thought about it. And then I thought some more. I think “moving forward” onto Tanzania is great, fantastic, even, but I’m still wondering what happened to the children at the Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret, Kenya.

“…we have donated funding already to Lewa…,” the message says, almost dismissively. That’s the only information on Kenya there is. But I have a few questions about that matter, so here’s my response:

Dear International Breast Milk Project,

When did the IBMP donate to the Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret, Kenya?

How much (in US dollars) did the IBMP donate to the Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret, Kenya?

Was the donation to the Lewa Children’s Home 100% of all the money the IBMP made while that figure (”100%”) was used on the IBMP website to collect more breastmilk donations? Because those questions are relevant and still unanswered.

I did notice that the IBMP FAQ page now has this addendum (added August 29, 2007):

Until now, International Breast Milk Project has been an all-volunteer organzition. [sic] As a result of the astounding and unexpected growth we have experienced over the past six months, we will be allocating a very small percentage of finincial [sic] donations to pay for program management and coordination of the International Breast Milk Project including a financial manager. This will ensure full accountability, progress, and transparency.

The typographical errors on “organization” and “financial” notwithstanding, I am assuming that the word “now” implies “August 29, 2007,” because that’s when that statement was written. This means that before August 29, 2007 (yesterday), the program management, coordination and financial stuff was taken care of by volunteers for free, right?

Volunteers don’t get paid a dime for their altruism. Or have some of those funds been “allocated” for some IBMP “volunteers” here in the United States? Or perhaps the volunteers didn’t get paid, but somebody has? In case you’re wondering, I don’t actually think that’s a problem, except in the case where this fact is not disclosed and something else is being implied. As of right this moment, no such fact has been disclosed and the implication is now (as of yesterday) that, other than a tiny percentage of the money made off donations, the great majority of the money will go straight to Africa. The wording also implies that this “allocation” hasn’t taken place yet, that it will take place sometime in the future (”we will be allocating” is what is written, instead of “we have allocated” or “we have been allocating”), so if the IBMP “has been allocating” already, that information STILL isn’t on the IBMP website, yet it should be, instead of “will be allocating.” Does that make sense? Also, I think people probably will want to know how much has been, is being, and will be allocated for operational expenses. It’s only fair that people be told up-front how much of what they donate in breastmilk will wind up making its way to Africa in the form of a monetary contribution, because it might change their decision to donate.

Before this addendum was written, I noticed that in every newspaper and magazine article about the International Breast Milk Project that I read (and I have read dozens, believe me!), the implication is very strong that nobody in the United States has ever made any money off this endeavor, that making money for people here in the United States is NOT the focus of the IBMP, and that all those IBMP volunteers (including Jill Youse) are running the IBMP out of the goodness of their hearts. So, I actually think it’s relevant to know if Jill Youse or anyone else is receiving any money from it to keep for themselves, and if so, for how long and how much, because the implication that the IBMP is doing it for free tends to open up people’s hearts and wallets, but, more importantly, it opens up lactating women’s freezers. I don’t think they’d be so eager to help out the International Breast Milk Project if they knew most of their milk were making already well-off Americans money more than it is helping African orphans. Does that make sense? I’m asking these questions, as uncomfortable as they are, because nothing on the IBMP website and in articles about the IBMP, and nothing that I’ve learned by talking on the phone with Prolacta and the people in South Africa reassures me that the opposite is true. In fact, when I read the IBMP website and after talking to people in South Africa, I’m uncomfortably led to believe that most of the money isn’t making its way to Africa (I already know the vast majority of the breastmilk isn’t). Please set the record straight about this, as I’m sure I’m not the only person curious about the answers to these very important questions.

To clarify my point, I was under the impression that 100% of the money made from the milk sold to Prolacta, 100% of that money would go to the Lewa Children’s Home. If 100% of that money didn’t go to the Lewa Children’s Home while that information was on the IBMP website…. 100%, remember? …If that didn’t happen, I want to know why.

I want to know what happened to all that money.

I want to know what percentage of the funds made off of selling donor milk acquired via the IBMP made it to the Lewa Children’s Home. Additionally, I want to know the dollar amount (in U.S. dollars, please) that made it to the Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret, Kenya, as of today’s date: August 30, 2007.

And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

I will be sending an email to jill@breastmilkproject.org with the information contained in this post, so that Jill Youse can have a chance to clarify all of this and update all of us. Thank you for your kind attention to this matter, IBMP.

Sincerely,

Mama Bear

P.S. I got Jill Youse’s other message, sent shortly after the first:

I went to the page….
http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://breastmilkproject.org

Worked for me…?

Jill Youse

Yes, I (and others) noticed that yesterday it started working perfectly, as well, after I posted what I did. Thanks for pointing that out, Jill. The day before, though, August 28, 2007, it was “experiencing technical difficulties” for the whole day. Also, and this may very well be the archive’s fault and not IBMP’s… Several FAQ pages are missing. Many, many months’ worth.

*******UPDATE*******UPDATE*******UPDATE*******

(The following is an edit to the above original post made September 1, 2007):

Jill responded to the post above by emailing me the following message:

Thanks so much for posting and helping me identify areas of
improvement. I will
work to answer all of your questions.

Good to see there are no hard feelings! I will be awaiting the answers from the IBMP (or Jill), which if everything is on the up-and-up, should be a cinch for the IBMP (or Jill) to answer.

Edit:  A lot of the links under the category of “Prolacta” and “International Breast Milk Project” don’t work anymore because they don’t go to the same place I originally linked to.  This is not anything I did; the changes were made externally.  I’ve chosen to leave the links there and issue this edit so that you, my readers, are aware of what has happened.

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The International Breast Milk Project Rewrites History?

August 29th, 2007 by MamaBear

Congratulations, International Breast Milk Project. You have officially lost all respectability and credibility as of today. There are a couple of reasons for this. All day today, it has been very difficult to access information about the International Breast Milk Project on the Wayback Machine. Every time I type in “www.breastmilkproject.org” into their search engine, I’m met with a “we’re experiencing technical difficulties” report. Funny, when I type in any other website URL, the internet archive has no such “technical difficulties” whatsoever. Other people have reported the same trouble with looking up anything IBMP-related there today.

Lauredhel made an incredibly rocking post on the IBMP recently, pointing out inconsistencies in the IBMP’s FAQ page between about a week ago and today. Two weeks ago, the IBMP FAQ page said that 100% of the money made off selling donated milk to Prolacta would go directly to the Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret, Kenya. Suddenly, that promise to those children is gone, evaporated into thin air. So, what does this mean? NO money to the Lewa Children’s Home now? All the money made in the name of that Children’s Home will not be sent to Kenya? So it’s okay to take more than a hundred pictures of those African children and use those pictures in a slideshow, along with John Lennon’s hit song “Imagine,” for months to help convince women to donate their breastmilk to the International Breast Milk Project, but now that the IBMP have the breastmilk donations, now that they got what they wanted, NO money to the Lewa Children’s Home? Now, supposedly the money will go to some unnamed organization in Tanzania? What’s the next IBMP FAQ update going to tell us? “Now donating money to a remote spot in Namibia”…? Hey, why don’t you change countries every month! That’s fun, ’cause no one will notice, right? Certainly no one in Africa will. Who knows if anyone in Africa is even told they’re recipients of anything. How convenient! Planning on surprising them with your “goodwill,” are you, IBMP? Yeah, that’s probably it.

I find it an incredible stretch that the “technical difficulties” experienced today on the Wayback Machine are a mere coincidence, given that Lauredhel’s post was so spot-on, accurate, and shows without a shadow of a doubt that the IBMP keeps changing their story about where the milk and the money are going.

Dear readers, if you really want to help African orphans, I suggest researching the charity you wish to donate to scrupulously before giving anything. Ask many, many questions and make sure that whatever you send WILL go to the intended recipient.

As for breastmilk donation, I highly recommend either donating to a baby in need locally through MilkShare, or donating to a HMBANA non-profit milk bank. There are only eleven HMBANA milk banks in all of North America, so be sure to check that the milk bank you donate to is a HMBANA one so that the recipient gets the milk for the most affordable price possible.

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Prolacta Bioscience?

August 26th, 2007 by MamaBear

A little while back, Hathor the Cowgoddess created a comic strip on the story of the Zoops, which was really a story about how and why formula became popular and how some women manage to overcome this twisted social indoctrination and (happily) choose to breastfeed anyway. Anyway, I loved the story, and became inspired to do a comic strip of my own. While my drawings aren’t nearly as good as hers, I hope you enjoy reading the following “fictional” tale about an unscrupulous human milk processing company named “Proprofit Bioexploiter” anyway.

Proprofit Bioexploiter, Issue 1

comic1a.jpg

Like this cartoon? Email the following URL to your friends: http://www.breastfeedingsymbol.org/2007/08/26/prolacta-bioscience/. Educate everyone you know about how for-profit milk banking really works.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture?

August 25th, 2007 by MamaBear

Take a good look at this picture:

mcdonalds.jpg

Looks like a sweet baby, gleefully sucking on a sesame seed bun. How innocent. How adorable.

The above picture is of a real ad for McDonald’s in Austria. It is not a parody. The advertiser, whose website is in German, still lists the image, which was used on billboards (and probably still is), as one of its apparently proud achievements. If you go to CCP Heye’s Kreation page, click on the McDonald’s potato image, and then once in the media box, click on where it says in tiny letters “PRINT,” you’ll eventually see the baby suckling image. It’s the seventh of eight print advertisements made for McDonald’s by CCP Heye.

In looking at this image, used for the purposes of promoting the sale of over-sugared, devoid-of-nutrition, soaked-in-partially-hydrogenated-oil snacks which are barely fit for human consumption, I am at a loss for where to begin… Is it because the image of an innocent baby, way too young to be eating solid foods, is used to promote the consumption of junk food? Is it because the photo is clearly a Photoshopped image of a babe at the breast, breastfeeding, consuming the most perfect of foods, and that the purity of this image is being corrupted and exploited for the purposes of monetary gain? Or is it because if the image weren’t Photoshopped, if the image were left alone and you could see that the child isn’t suckling on a sesame seed bun but on its mother’s own naked breast, that that image would be the one causing controversy? Maybe it’s all that and more, that people will see this image and not realize that that’s what it is, a baby breastfeeding innocently, photographed, the image stripped of the breast and replaced with a hamburger bun, and used to promote unhealthy eating… They won’t know, and possibly, won’t care… After all, it’s just a picture, right?

I think I just puked a little in my mouth.

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New York Does it Again!! Woo-Hoo!

August 23rd, 2007 by MamaBear

This just in: New York state governor Eliot Spitzer recently signed a law that requires workers to provide a private place and time for new mothers to pump for their babies or nurse them in the workplace. The law permits this to happen continuously for up to three years after the baby is born. What incredible, wonderful, excellent news!

From the governor’s office: “A woman should not be forced to sacrifice her ability to provide for her children economically or nutritionally.”

Between this and the recent new change in breastfeeding-friendly initiatives in New York City hospitals, New York will soon become known as the United States’ lactational mecca.

Now all we have to do as a nation is get all the other 49 states to enact similar laws, and we’ll have the beginning of a breastfeeding-culture revolution. :)

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More International Breastfeeding Symbol Products

August 22nd, 2007 by MamaBear

I keep getting email after email imploring me to add new products to our store. I decided to open an International Breastfeeding Symbol CafePress store in response to this, where you will be able to find:

I consulted with Matt Daigle, creator of the International Breastfeeding Symbol, before experimenting with different colors. He had this to say about it:

I don’t see a problem with you changing the colors–I think that would be very cool. People will see the original design on your website for a point of reference. I used blue and white when I created the icon to match the international information symbols but I told Mothering that those colors could be reversed or other colors used to represent the same image. Anyway–I think using different colors will make it fun. Thanks for asking my opinion.
Take care
Matt

I hope everyone likes the new store. The original International Breastfeeding Symbol store is still open for business and still offers free shipping. The new International Breastfeeding Symbol CafePress store offers more and different products. Both stores donate 10% of all proceeds to nonprofit breastfeeding organizations, including HMBANA milk banks. For the month of August, all donated proceeds will go to La Leche League International. Last month, donations went to the Mother’s Milk Bank at Austin, a non-profit HMBANA bank. September donations have been designated for the Mother’s Milk Bank in Denver, another HMBANA milk bank.

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My Hospital Birth Experience: Part 5

August 17th, 2007 by MamaBear

Read Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

This next part is where I get a little upset. It bothers me more than the cattle-prodding, more than the invasive checks, more than the vomit-pushing, more than the subsequent exhaustion and all the pain combined.

It’s this:

A nurse took our baby from my husband “for observation” in the nursery. My baby was born completely healthy (thank goodness!) and had already been given a preliminary examination which determined she was A-O.K. (Whew!), so there was no medical necessity for the separation.

My husband tried to intervene and asked, “How long will she be gone?” He even tried to take her back from the nurse, but she held the baby away from him and said something to the effect of, “We’ll give her right back. We promise.” The nurse (not the labor nurse, who was awesome) made an obnoxious little giggle at her own joke. I think at this point I may have protested some, but I can’t really remember because of all the drugs and pain, aching desire to slip into a coma, and the general feeling that my husband was taking care of the situation.

Before I knew what was happening, my daughter was whisked away “for observation” for an unspecified amount of time. At the time, everyone attending us made it seem like she’d be gone for, at most, 20-30 minutes… Like she would be taken to the nursery, given a quick once-over, and then handed right back. I think this is another reason why we didn’t fight any harder than we did to keep her from being taken. It didn’t help matters that we were both dead tired. Well, I was dead tired and in quite a bit of pain. My husband, who got to nap intermittently throughout the day and night, got to eat whatever he wanted, whenever, and experienced everything in all its comfortably distant, third-party, painless glory, was also “tired.” I think, though, that his “tired” was the sort of tired you might feel after pulling a semi-all-nighter at an exciting slumber party, whereas my “exhausted, ravenously hungry, and in incomparable pain, not to mention, possibly traumatized” “tired” was more like what you’d feel after… well, after laboring for 24 hours and pushing a baby out your grumpelstiltsken.

I remember saying, though, that from the moment the nurse had her in her arms to take her away, over and over again, “Please bring me my daughter.” I didn’t care if she was covered in vernix and goo. I couldn’t have cared less if they never gave her a bath. All I wanted to do was establish breastfeeding with her after my stitches were done and I could finally get off my back. I remember their vague and ultimately meaningless promise, “We’ll give her right back.” And then she was gone, taken I-don’t-know-where to be with I-don’t-know-who and done I-don’t-know-what to.

This is what ended up happening immediately after my baby was taken away and my perineum was finally stitched up: my OB disappeared, and a big burly man came in the room and put some panties on me. They were disposable fishnet panties. This wasn’t nearly as sexy as you might imagine. He placed a special cold-pack style pad in it to put between my legs to help stop the bleeding (I didn’t even know these existed before, but wow, what a great invention!). Then he gingerly dressed me in a hospital gown and placed my sore, iced ass in a wheelchair. Did I care that this strange man saw me not only naked but at my very worst? Not really. I figured it’s his job, so he probably sees a lot of bloody, loopy, fat, smelly post-partum women with stringy hair. I was just grateful he had a soft touch, despite his brawny appearance. Also: drugs. I still had a bunch of them in my system, what with my liver not working right, and they made things like modesty and social mores go right out the window. He wheeled me out of the birthing suite and into a room on the other side of the floor. What’s strange about this part is that the hospital I birthed in prides itself on having only “all-in-one” birthing suites, so I never imagined I’d be taken to another room after the birth. What’s it like in other hospitals, then? You get moved twice? Three times? More?

The dressing and transport only took about 10-15 minutes, tops. In that time they could have done an examination on my daughter, washed her up, whatever. When I arrived at my room, the big burly man helped me to get (painfully) settled in the hospital bed, and I immediately called up the nurse’s station so they’d bring me my daughter. I think they said they’d be by.

I waited and dozed off a little thinking she’d be wheeled in any minute. I still had a lot of Nubain in my system and I was utterly dead, dead, dead tired. But the anxiety of not having my daughter in the room with us kept jolting me awake. I’d spent her whole life with her living inside me, she’d been with me always, and now, after waiting for so long to finally meet her face-to-face, she was wrenched from my presence and taken to a room down a long corridor far from me when I was at my most vulnerable… It was a hollow, sickening, helpless feeling.

Whenever I’d come-to and I remembered where I was and what the situation was, I’d call the nurse’s station and ask for my daughter. I must have called them at least five times. I sent my husband there a couple of times, though he was reluctant. The hospital staff and hospital vibe made him feel uneasy. I have to admit, it’s a pretty clever operation they have at many modern hospitals, where they intimidate parents into feeling like they don’t have the right to be with their own children, or feed them the way they wish, or even to see them. I won’t use the word “kidnapping” to describe this practice, but it sure comes uncomfortably close.

Even though my hip bones felt like they’d all come painfully unglued and I was bleeding like only the postpartum can, I almost hobbled out of bed to go get her out of the nursery myself. Just as I was about to get out of bed, though, a nurse finally wheeled her in, wrapped up like a burrito and asleep in her bassinet. She was sleeping so soundly I wondered if they’d fed her, which I’d been COMPLETELY INSISTENT they NOT do. I told every single person I came across in that hospital that I was breastfeeding my baby, and was very explicit about NOT giving her anything by mouth: not formula, not water, not even a pacifier. I said this before and after she was born.

To this day, I still don’t know if those wishes were carried out.

It took the nurses over four hours to bring me my daughter. She’s a year old today (Happy Birthday, Baby Bear!), and I have yet to be separated from her for that long again.

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My Hospital Birth Experience: Part 4

August 15th, 2007 by MamaBear

Read Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

My precious, perfect newborn daughter was immediately placed on my chest. My arms could barely hold her up. I was asked to hold my beautiful eight-pound daughter with shaky, spaghetti-weak arms while trying to push out the placenta, still in the lithotomy position.

My perineum had torn. It was reportedly a second-degree tear, so, pretty average, but still. It needed stitches. I still had to deliver the placenta, though. I thought the pain would stop at this point, but it did not. The BIG BAD PAIN had stopped, thankfully, but the postpartum pain would stay for at least a month. And at that moment, my uterus was still cramping up painfully to deliver the placenta. I didn’t know it would be that painful at the time. Nobody ever talks about the pain that happens after the baby is already born. I was thinking since the worst was over (it was) that it would be relatively pain-free from that moment on. (It wasn’t.)

Delivering the placenta was hurty. I know that’s not really a word, but that’s what it felt like. Like that, and like someone is pulling out your insides, because my OB pulled the umbilical cord to help deliver the placenta. If you do this, you have to be really careful not to pull too hard or too fast, but to pull firmly enough to try and detach the placenta. I hear it takes quite a bit of finesse. Thankfully my OB has decades of experience with this sort of thing, and nothing bad happened, except for more pain, which is, I guess, normal. I delivered the placenta intact, while I tried to convince my daughter to latch on to my breasts. She was more interested in learning how to process air with her lungs, which is pretty normal for just having come out of the womb, or so I’ve heard. The whole scenario felt very rushed. I wasn’t allowed to get in a good position to calm her down, so she kept crying inconsolably. Also, my noodle arms felt like they could barely lift their own weight, let alone hers.

Ideally, I would have been allowed to calm her down and then let her feed peacefully at my breast whenever she was ready. But, alas, it was not meant to be.

Someone took my baby and gave her to my husband so the suturing could get finished without distraction. He held her to his bare chest and someone draped a blanket over the both of them so she wouldn’t get cold. He was tickled pink with his brand-new baby girl! I was thrilled for us too, but at the moment all my body and mind wanted was to sleep for about two hundred years. I honestly would have been fine staying up longer, though, and had already made a mental note to myself that I’d stay up for as long as I needed to in order to bond with the baby and get breastfeeding started right.

At that point, I honestly believed that what would happen next was that as soon as the suturing was done, my husband would give the baby back to me and I’d hold her and initiate breastfeeding.

That’s not what happened, though.

Read the Fifth and final part.

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My Hospital Birth Experience: Part 3

August 14th, 2007 by MamaBear

Read Part 1 and Part 2 first.

Hours passed. They felt like days.

The nurse checked me. I had arrived: 9 cm. I remember feeling ecstatic about this, even through all the pain. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I felt like pushing, though I was told I still had a bit of a “lip” and that I shouldn’t push. The urge was pretty powerful, though, so I did a tiny bit of pushing.

I made a wonderful discovery. Pushing, though scary at first, feels good. Well, good in the way vomiting feels good when you’ve got food poisoning.

I did some more scary vomit-pushes. I tried it in different positions: squat, all-fours, side. Nothing happened; no further progress was made and I was wearing myself out. Finally my OB asked me to get in the classic lithotomy position because as she explained it, it opens up the pelvis more. I had zero energy to discuss this with her, the contradictory information from all the childbirth books I’d read over the years notwithstanding. However, she’d attended over a thousand deliveries in her OB/GYN career, so I figured she had some experience in the matter. Plus, she told me once about how she labored naturally and delivered two babies of her own. Upon remembering that, I took her advice with complete confidence.

Lithotomy position it was. Let me pause for a moment to describe what being in the lithotomy position feels like when you’re nine months pregnant and have been laboring for about 24 hours on no sleep. Strap a fifty-pound boulder to your midsection. Make sure it’s strapped very tightly so that all your organs are uncomfortably compressed. Do the treadmill/cattle prod thing for 24 hours straight. No breaks allowed, not even when you’re having an ungodly internal check or while a tiny vein in your hand is being poked for an IV. After 24 hours of strict treadmill-cattle-prodding torture, invasive internal checking, and needle-poking, you then need to lie down flat on your back with the boulder still tightly strapped to your belly, lift your knees, and wait for more electric shocks so that you may vomit-push your boulder out your vagina. Also, you’re naked and there are at least five people in the room focused entirely on your bloody, possibly poopy crotchal region.

So.

My husband held my right leg and my dear friend Ann held my left. I waited for the next electrocution, I mean, contraction, and I pushed. It felt great and scary, like a good vomit should. Like all cathartic vomits, though, they happen in clusters. So one good push wasn’t enough. I needed to experience a few more to be done with this. I was ready. But my body wasn’t. My contractions put up a little “Be back soon!” sign on my uterus while I lay there, fuming and pushing impotently. I decided to stop pushing and reserve my energy until the next contraction. That’s what they’re there for, after all.

I remember the OB and the labor nurse (who were both awesome, especially the nurse) said, “Oh wow, she’s a good pusher!” and I clung to that like a shipwreck survivor to soggy driftwood. I also remember Ann and my husband, well, actually, everybody, saying, “Oh, I see the head! I see the head!” That alone gave me more strength than the pitocin. Thank goodness they didn’t say instead, “She’s pooping! She’s pooping!” Because I would have grabbed my feces and flung it at the lot of them.

The next contraction came, and I rode that wave for all it was worth. One more solid push and she was out! Whew! What a relief! Good thing, too, ‘cause I’m not sure I could have done that for much longer.

From the moment the Cytotec had been inserted into my cervix to the moment I pushed my daughter out of the birth canal, 24 hours had elapsed.

Read Part 4.

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My Hospital Birth Experience: Part 2

August 12th, 2007 by MamaBear

Read Part 1 first.

It was 6:30 am, I was 6 cm dilated, and my OB just broke my waters. I’d been in active labor for over twelve hours. Oh goody, I thought (as I lay there in agony), we’ll finally get this show on the road and I’ll get to meet my daughter. Yay!

(Long before she broke my waters, when I was in the relatively blissful state of 3 cm dilated, Dr. OB came into my room to tell me she’d run some tests and discovered that I had HELLP. Because of this, I couldn’t have an epidural or I stood a good chance of being paralyzed for life. At the time I actually said, out loud, “That’s okay ‘cause I didn’t want an epidural anyway.” I may have even smiled smugly through my puny 3 cm contractions. She gave me a knowing look and exited quickly.)

By the time I got to six centimeters dilated, I was tearfully begging for an epidural. I thought irrationally (the pain will make you do that) that maybe the nurses didn’t know about my condition and that the anesthesiologist could just run up and give me an epidural anyway, while my OB wasn’t looking. I figured we could all keep it hidden from her when she came back. If she noticed the plastic tubing sticking out from my back, I could just say, “Oh, that? That’s not a legal liability staring at you, Dr. OB. That’s just my, uh, plastic tail. You never noticed I had a tail?”

Unfortunately, I think she may have foreseen this scenario, so all my nurses were very much up-to-date on what I was and was not allowed to have. No amount of begging resulted in anyone giving me any kind of epidural.

They did give me a little intravenous Nubain, though. Nubain, for the uninitiated, is an analgesic similar to morphine. While normally I balk at the idea of someone jabbing my vein with a needle and keeping the needle in there, I totally did not mind it in this case. So, a vein in my hand was eventually located and the IV was inserted. It stung, but I’ve had much worse IVs before.

I thought this would take the pain away. I really did. It didn’t. What it did was keep the pain just as intense as before, but made me even more tired. It would have been very difficult to stay awake at all if not for all the Cytotec-induced cattle prodding contractions and the pain that came with it.

I labored on until 1 pm. They checked me again (AHHHHHH!) and I was still at 6 cm. I’d labored for seven more hours and hadn’t progressed one iota. If I hadn’t been so busy at the time, my fury alone may have resulted in somebody’s untimely demise. Probably my own.

At this point, I was begging for not only an epidural, but a spinal, a cesarean, euthanasia, anything to put an end to the agony.

So then the game plan changed. No, I couldn’t have any of those other things, but I could have pitocin. What is pitocin, you say? It’s a “labor enhancer” or synthetic oxytocin. It makes the contractions increase in intensity, if that was even possible at that point. With the little energy I had, I expressed my adamant opposition. “No! Nonononononononono!” I told them. I told them good.

When I was finished with my tantrum, I was hooked up to a pitocin drip. To the OB’s credit, she upped my Nubain, as a consolation prize.

I became very loopy, drugged and quieter but still in complete agony. The electric cattle prodding continued to intensify, and I sobbed and moaned pitifully as I lay on my side in the hospital bed. Though I’d torn off the hospital gown hours before, I was boiling hot, even as others in the room wore sweaters and wrapped hospital-issue blankets around their shoulders in the air-conditioned birthing suite. My body barely moved, yet I was doing the most arduous physical work I’d ever done in my life.

This is why they call it labor, I thought.

Part 3 here.

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