Monday, November 30, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009


I also wanted to mention something I learned about Pitocin from Pushed. Pit is the synthetic, pharmaceutically developed drug that mimics oxytocin, a natural hormone produced in humans. Pitocin is used to begin labour (induction: usually used in combination with a cervix softening drug that is placed on the cervix), or to augment labour that is slow or stalled. There are medical indications for induction and augmentation, but Pitocin is overused, especially in some hospitals. I personally know of no one who had a augmented labour, though I know several people who have been induced. I think augmented and managed labour is more prevalent/popular in America (though I can't speak for Canada beyond BC, and I have heard that the further West you go in Canada, the more physiological/natural birth tens to be), but it was interesting to read about Pitocin labours. Pit mimics oxytocin in stimulating the uterus to contract, but this stimulation tends to be on the strong side. Pitocin labours are reported to be much more painful than natural ones, and contractions stimulated by Pit are measured to be longer and stronger than your average natural contraction. Contractions that continue at that intensity are often hard for the baby to handle, too, because of the stress of being compressed, and because oxygenation of the placenta is reduced during contractions, so the baby has less oxygen in a Pit contraction than during an average natural one. Some babies get so deprived that they go into distress; hence, the higher need for cesareans with induced/augmented Pit labours.
But another interesting fact is that oxytocin crosses the blood-brain barrier, but Pitocin does not. Oxytocin crossing the blood-brain barrier causes endorphin release (pain relief!) AND stimulation of prolactin, which is the bonding and breastfeeding hormone. Pitocin not only doesn't stimulate endorphins and prolactin, it supresses the body's natural oxytocin, REDUCING the amount of oxytocin available to stimulate endorphin and prolactin release. SOOOO interesting! And so many implications!!
The pain of labour often stimulates fear, which also reduces oxytocin levels and increases pain perception. If women are well supported during labour and understand the fear-tension-pain cycle, they are generally better able to cope with the intensity of contractions. Pushed indicates that it is possible that pain in labour acts much like other pain, in that it gets you to move. If you burn your finger, moving it away from the source of pain is pretty important: if you sprain your ankle, moving it around helps you identify what feels best and what feels worst, and how to protect it. Same with labour. Movement in labour actually shortens the duration of labour because it wiggles the baby down through its tight squeeze journey from uterus to the outside world, so anything that stimulates that movement would be a good thing.
I've often felt that the pain of labour is meant to capture and focus a woman's attention. The pain says, "This is a really important event! You need to find a safe, private place to give birth! You need to pay attention! You need to focus on this important physiological process!" Without which, birth would be less safe.
So, between natural pain relief through endorphin release, natural bonding and breastfeeding physiology, and encouragement of movement and capturing the labouring woman's focus, natural oxytocin is superior to pharmaceutical pitocin.
I'm continually surprised by the amount of things there are to learn....

Saturday, November 28, 2009

More Birth Crack

Yummy, I'm so addicted...
So this one is a MUST READ for anyone interested in obstetrics: Mom, This Means You (you can borrow my copy when I come up for Christmas)! It is VERY academic, footnoted numerous times on every page, with dozens of research studies quoted and much, much food for thought. It is written by a journalist, who interviews individuals all over the birth world spectrum, and witnesses births all over the U.S., all different kinds including a cesarean, 'managed' births, VBACs, hospital births, home births, and 'physiological' births. This book is astonishing. It is heavy on the facts, so it took me longer to read than Peggy's Baby Catcher, but the facts are balanced with stories and accounts and individual experiences and interviews, so it is not solely technical. Oh, it is amazing that birth culture is the way it is, and how it got to be the way it is, and all the different varieties therein.
It also made me re-examine my statement of two weeks ago regarding how significant the actual birth is; I'm not quite sure if beliefs about birth create obstetrical style, or if obstetrical style creates beliefs, but how we treat moms and babies is way out of balance in North America, and the idea that this may have far reaching consequences in our cultures strikes an intuitive chord in me. Not that individuals are irreparably imprinted by their births necessarily, because I believe in human flexibility and redemption, as you know, but rather that our culture has attitudes regarding pregnancy and birth which interfere with our ability to tap into our intuitive and instinctive natures, which affects how we parent and how we engage with community and family, and in turn affects our culture at large. This is an interesting idea that I have to chew further, I think.
Some of the stories in this book are appalling. Women forced by the courts to have cesareans while they are in labour trying for a VBAC and adamantly not consenting to surgery, parents having their children apprehended for having a home birth, a woman 26 weeks pregnant and dying, not wanting a cesarean because it would mean certain death for her and only a slight chance of survival for her baby, but being forced to by the courts: her baby died after 2 hours, and she died two days later as a direct result of the surgery....
And wonderful stories too, of courage and strength and empowering and women's rights and choice and bodily integrity....

I highly recommend this one!!


Dudes, I have great news: Riley has slept from 8pm to 7am THREE DAYS THIS WEEK!!!!!!!! I wasn't shooting for this at ALL yet; Ayden didn't sleep through the night til he was four and a half!

I love it........

Friday, November 27, 2009

Update on Ryen

So Sara posted this regarding baby Ryen and the lump you've all been praying about. It would appear there is good news, but not perfect:

So right off the bat - it's not cancer. There were no signs of malignancy. Relief. However, it is something, not just an infection. The pathology report indicates sarcoidosis but my doctor has never seen it before in a baby, never presenting itself in a single node in the neck so she is reluctant to diagnose it. So we continue to wait. We are going to see the pediatrician in two weeks and hopefully he'll have more answers for us.

Sarcoidosis is an autoimmune disease, I think. It manifests itself in a lot of different ways. It is a mostly benign but lifelong condition. It may require treatment if he has symptoms but most people with this disease are asymptomatic. It's not too scary yet but I don't know. The internet has lots of information but it covers the whole spectrum so it's impossible to know how this will impact Ryen, if this is what he has or is diagnosed with. My doctor said with only one node he may not have the disease, just one node with sarcoid cells.

Back to waiting and not knowing. It's not cancer. But it is something.

He's healing well and the gauze came off today. Now we wait for the surgistrip to come off and we'll be able to see his scar.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I just wanted to mention, since I later thought that it wasn't actually quite clear in my last post, that I think that Matthew is very intelligent. He has his own way of communicating, and he doesn't always fit the ease of school success brand of intelligence because he is so kinetic and spirited and sometimes dreamy; but there is no disputing his natural intelligence. I just wanted to make that clear!



First, here is a message that Riley is adamant MUST reach you, and cannot wait:


zaaa llllloooooooooooooooooonnnmnnnnnjnjjnnnjnkjjnk mnjkQWW111123rt5451`33

(I had to wrestle with him to regain access to my keyboard)

So my second doula client (essentially my first, since my true first client didn't call me when she went into labour) was due last Monday with her first baby. She's still pregnant. It's funny how some women seem to think of the due date as a finish line? An expiry date? Like your primal body knows what date it is?? We've all heard of babies who come two weeks past their due date, and sometimes more. Anyways, she's impatiently waiting. I'm nervous, but trying to remind myself that this woman's labour is not about me, and that it won't be my fault if she has a cesarean or a difficult birth, but it's hard. I'm also nervous because I know I'm going to likely forget something important in my bag, like food for myself or something, and it will be tough. I'm also nervous because the unknown nature of labour makes it difficult for me to leave all my kids at a moment's notice, and not knowing who I will need to call is hard. I like to be prepared and have plans in advance that are set, you know? I have people lined up for daytime and nighttime if Brent is working, but I don't know if or when I will need to call whoever....
Anyways, I'm excited about being present for a birth, and I am pretty sure I'll come out of that experience excited about birth! I might come out inspired to have my OWN baby, that generally happens when I read my birth books, until I put the book down and feel ambivalent again. I'm feeling less ambivalent these days, because Riley is no longer a baby. I can't fool myself anymore, he's definitely a toddler/little boy. :(((((
So now I have to decide if I want another baby--squishy, smooshy, gooshy, lovey dovey smells like heaven but sucks the life outta you for a year baby....

Speaking of little boys, I took Matthew to our doctor because he pees his pants all the time. Here's a short history on Matthew's bladder:
Matthew toilet trained himself when he was two years old.
Matthew has had phases of no accidents for weeks or months at a time, and phases of daily or even multiple daily accidents for weeks or months at a time ever since. Until recently, this was still within the realm of normal. In the summer I talked to my aunt about it, because she has a similarly 'spirited' and passively strong willed child who had toileting issues (this was several years ago; her daughter is now nine). She suggested that it was not, as I had diagnosed, a matter of forgetting or being absorbed in play, but rather a way of exerting control over his body and self in the context of our family. Particularly because by four and a half, it was abundantly clear that we hated the fact that he peed his pants all the time. The control theory seemed to fit, since most of the pants peeing was not an entire bladder's worth, but just a half a cup or so. You know, enough to let off the pressure, but not enough to cause an inconvenient flood that everyone would immediately notice. There would be a suspicious wet circle on the front of his pants, but most of the time no one would notice until some time had passed. [oh yeah, to add to the 'control' theory, he never once peed his pants at preschool because he was afraid of being teased] I was ready to gouge my eyes out, and I didn't want to just put him in pullups because (a) he's a bit old for those, socially, and he might get teased for wearing them, and (b) it's the lazy boy's way to pee. Put him in pullups and suddenly he only sits on the toilet twice a day.
So I backed off the toileting thing. I tried to give him more choices in general, so that he would feel more control over his life and not feel so much need to control the peeing, and I stopped mentioning, noticing, controlling, or commenting on the pee. It made little difference. It was summertime, so I think sometimes it dried or washed off in the pool or water park before I noticed it, but it seemed like at the end of every day there was a wet, stinky pair of underwear at the top of the laundry pile.
When he started school I got worried. If the kids catch wind of his peeing, it will be game over, socially, possibly for all of elementary school. I don't care if my kids are popular, in fact i would be MORE worried if they were in the most popular groups at school, but I don't want to set my kid up for social alienation, either. I remember those kids in school. They were miserable. Peeing your pants daily could put you in the alienation category. Being afraid of the kids teasing him didn't seem to factor this year. He peed his pants every day at school, and every day at home.
Otherwise, he's normal. So, I put him back in pullups a few weeks ago, and called my doctor. I am just so sick of washing pee pants, and the risk of discovery is about equal when wearing pullups or peeing your pants, so I chose the return to pullups option.
Our doctor examined him (and was great about it: she explained what she was going to have to do, and that it was okay because she's a doctor and his mom is right there--he commented that it tickled, and she laughed and said, "It does tickle, doesn't it?" I'm glad he wasn't embarrassed or traumatized. I would've been traumatized as a kid!), and had him pee in a cup which he thought was TOTALLY COOL, and referred him for a kidney ultrasound and to a pediatric urologist at BC Children's Hospital.

This whole topic makes me feel like a total failure. The whole journey. The only part that was good was his initial self training at 2 years old. After that, I felt a mixture of the following:
-anxious and at a loss as to how to teach him not to pee his pants
-worried that I would display my dismay and thus enter the freudian arena of psychologically harming him through toilet training, causing anal retentiveness and anxiety in my kid
-disgusted by the pee
-worried that other parents would look down on me or my kid because he was still peeing his pants at progressively older and older ages
-mad that I couldn't control him
-embarrassed that he was still peeing his pants
-worried about his possible social alienation, particularly when he hit 4 and 5
-worried that he might just have a low IQ and be just plain dumb [this was one of my recurring, deepest, weirdest, most destructive, and most embarrassing thoughts...weird because I don't actually care if my kids are particularly intellectually smart, and don't judge anyone else based on this factor--but for some reason, it worried me with Matthew. And I have never shared that with anyone out loud, so hopefully you'll not judge me harshly!]

It's awful and wrong, but I hope with every ounce of me that he has some sort of physical problem that explains this. Because then I won't be a failure. It won't be my fault. Every day for years I have felt responsible for this behaviour, because obviously if I had been a better parent he wouldn't have this problem. I am particularly scared that it is a psychological problem, because I would blame myself for the incompetent way I handled his transition into our family. Any psychological problem he could or might have would be difficult to attribute to anything else, because my dysfunctional parenting was so awful and it took me so long to fix it. I screwed up, it screwed up my kid, and he's damaged beyond repair because of it. Damaged so bad that he pees his pants in kindergarten.
Oh, my bleeding, grieving heart. This is ridiculous. LIFE happened to my kid, and anything psychological would be more likely attributable to leftover scars from THAT, yet still I string myself out with guilt. KNOWING it's ridiculous doesn't seem to make me STOP being ridiculous.

Blah. Life. Sometimes it's hard, eh?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Man-Nurse Weighs in on Breastfeeding

One of the blogs I follow is by a guy who is an ICU nurse in the USA somewhere. He's very funny, and quite smart. Here is a pie chart he posted today, that I had to share with you guys:

He posted a long post about why he actually likes that his wife breastfeeds here, but I didn't want to plagiarize his ENTIRE post, so you'll have to follow the link. Cool stuff!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Yummy and glummy

Today I made a new recipe. And it was YUMMY! Bacon (noncertified organic), onion, garlic, sauteed together. Then add peeled, diced pear, 1/2 cup white wine, 1/4 cup maple syrup, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add bread, crumbled, to soak up the liquid. Put a salmon filet on a cookie sheet, put some blue cheese (or brie, if not a blue cheese fan) on top, put the pear mixture on top of the cheese, and lay another salmon filet on top of that, face down. Bake @ 375 for 30 minutes, and voila, deeeeelish.

Aside from the delicious, I've been feeling kind of glum lately. Not depressed or anything, but kind of gloomy. Last week I was sick as a dog so I'm just coming out from under that. Yesterday was the first time in 10 days that I walked the kids to school; before that I was too weak and got winded walking up the stairs! On the weekend I had a fantabulous time, so maybe it's the post-major-fun slump? Added to the getting-over-an-illness fog?

Here was my fun weekend:
Thursday, went shopping with best friend for new Christmas/winter dressy dress. Was looking for SEXY. Found it. And earrings. And a necklace. AND SHOES. All in an hour and a half--how wild is that?!
Friday, went to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's Moulin Rouge with aforementioned best friend and other best friend!!!!!! It was so good. SO GOOD.
Beautiful, wonderful, entrancing, made me laugh, made me cry, surprised me at the was perfect. And so fun to go with girlfriends who appreciate it as much as I do. Brent appreciates ballet but doesn't jump up and down and squeal like my friends and I do, you know? :) We also went out for dinner beforehand, and dessert afterwards. I wore my aforementioned SEXY getup and got a compliment from a stranger! Nice! Funny aside--at the beginning of the night, my boobs were empty and fit inside the bra and dress just fine. By the end of the night and two missed feeds, the boobs were a tiny bit obscene.
Saturday, went to the final night of the So You Think You Can Dance (American) tour in Everett, Washington with the same friends!!!!! So cool! I did not want to go at the beginning of the night because I was tired and worn out and still sick, but I went anyways and LOOOOVED it! We had AWESOME SEATS and I could have died of happiness.

It was so cool. I didn't wear my sexy dress because it is not comfortable enough to wear two nights in a row. I wore jeans and a nice top, and I DID wear my new earrings. I appalled my sister in law (who was also at the concert) by texting her that I was so close to one of the male dancers that I could have licked his ass and LOVED it...yummy...You know, if it can't be said, Melissa's the one who will be saying it!
I had Ayden take a picture of me in my new dress but in the photo I just look fat, so no way am i posting that. Maybe Brent can get a better one! If he can stop trying to take the dress OFF for long enough to take a PHOTO (yeeesh!)...

So yeah, now that I think about it, the glummy really is probably a post-fun-weekend slump! All this dreary RAIN sure doesn't help!

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Laundry Woes

I hate my laundry pile. Hate. It. I don't hate washing clothes or drying clothes or even folding clothes, I just hate that it never goes away! It just sits there, washed or unwashed, and silently nags me.
Wash me.
Fold me.

Remember when I started the presorting system? It broke down at some point, and I've never gotten a handle on it again. I was complaining about this laundry situation to my mom and I told her,
"It would take doing three loads a day to stay on top of it, and I can't fold three loads of laundry a day!"
But afterwards I realized, no, we don't create three LOADS of laundry per day between the five of us, it isn't possible. For the Duggars, maybe, but not for five people. So I re-evaluated and realized that I haven't been doing the system properly. I take days off. For the system to work, you have to do one load per day, every day. No days off. So I've started doing one load a day, and I THINK I may have discovered the solution to my laundry pile was actually the solution I tried to implement and thought didn't work! I have also been whining lately that I need a mother's helper to come in twice a week and fold my laundry for me, because I never get to the bottom of it. But I decided to make it more of a scheduled thing, and not every day. So now, Tuesday and Thursday mornings, I fold my entire pile. And put it away. And if I get to the pile another day per week, great. If I don't, fine. It's working! Not once this week has a little boy wailed, "I have no socks!" or "I have no underwear!"

Hold your just might work.....

Saturday, November 21, 2009


It appears that UBCs midwifery program is under review, and there is a risk it will be cancelled altogether! This is the last thing the province needs.
Here is a copy of a letter that was emailed to me:

Dear Members, Midwives, Students and Supporters of Midwives,

You may be aware that it has been announced that The UBC Midwifery Program is to undergo a funding review. The program has been chronically under resourced since its inception and repeated requests for adequate funding levels have been denied. The Program requires a commitment from the Ministry of Advanced Education to create a sustainable and balanced plan in order to be able to meet BC’s growing need for quality primary maternity care providers. Funding for more faculty staff is urgently required, along with adequate resources to recruit and retain those staff members. In addition the program requires funding for expansion to meet BC’s need for more midwives, especially in rural and remote areas.

The MABC will be sending a letter to the Minister of Advanced Education, Dr Moira Stilwell, outlining our position on this issue as well as a number of other key decision makers. The MABC is recommending that members and the public participate in a MLA letter writing campaign to focus on this urgent issue. Spread the word! Email, call, twitter, facebook, whatever you can do will help. The time line is short as the Legislature will be sitting from Monday November 23rd through Thursday November 26th and we hope to have this issue raised at question period during this time. We are attaching draft MLA letters that may be used as a template as well as contact information for individuals (including MLA’s and UBC leadership) that you may wish to refer to. We urge you to lend your assistance to this very important issue, as it relates to the support and future of midwifery in BC.

Thank you for all the work that you do in supporting midwifery, moms and babies.
We will update you as more information becomes available.
Please direct any questions to the MABC at
or at 604-736-5976.

MABC Board of Directors

And here is a letter you can send to your MLA if you are interested in supporting the continuation of midwifery education in BC:



November xx, 2009

Your Address here

MLA Address here

Re: Midwifery Training in British Columbia at Risk

Dear MLA,

I am writing to you for your advice and support as my MLA.

I am a _____________ in British Columbia and I am very concerned about the future of midwifery in the province. I am writing to you to ask you to look into the disturbing news that the UBC Midwifery program is under a funding review and may not be able to continue to operate. I am deeply concerned that this means mothers and babies in your constituency will not get the services that they need.

There is already a shortage of midwives in British Columbia. Currently midwives deliver over 10 percent of the births, with an emphasis on normal births in both urban and rural settings. You probably know that there is a shortage of maternity care in the province, particularly in rural and remote areas. Many of the applicants to the UBC Midwifery program are from rural and remote communities with every intention to return to practice in their communities.

A university based midwifery program is critical for us to continue to meet the growing needs of mothers and babies in our province. The UBC Midwifery program is the second oldest program of its kind in Canada, is the standard for training autonomous primary care practitioners, and plays a critical role in recruiting and training midwives in our province. I believe that this Program trains high quality, skilled professionals who are sought after to provide excellent and reputable maternity care in my community.

The demand for midwifery services far exceeds what they can provide. Since the UBC Midwifery program is the only program in Western Canada, the under-funding and potential closing of this program would seriously impact the maternity care options in the province. It is clear from the growing demand for midwifery services that reducing the supply of midwives would not fulfill the wishes of a large number of British Columbians.

I am asking for your support and I would like to speak with you to discuss the situation for the benefit of your constituents who require professional maternity care. I hope I can count on you to use your considerable influence to affect this time sensitive and concerning issue.

(include contact information)
Cc: (choose who you wish to cc)


I completed my School of Midwifery application and submitted it! There were no further problems with their website, and I just pushed the "Submit Application" button one minute ago. Yippee!!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mr. Boots

Riley has discovered his passion in life: wearing boots. He has also decided he is a movie star who loves having his picture taken. Look at that cheese! It makes it difficult to take his picture and get the boots in the photograph. Following is the final result after i took 27 pictures, all of which DIDN'T capture the boots. Number 28 is my lucky number. He stomps around in his diaper and boots ALL DAY, and I haven't the energy to enforce the (Uber Canadian) no-shoes-in-the-house rule in the face of his enthusiasm. I just sweep.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


(Don't we all feel that way sometimes??)
So last night when I logged on to the School of Midwifery website and was all excited? I was too tired to fill out the application right then and there, and decided there is no rush because the deadline for applications is January 15th. The application would take several hours to fill out, and there is an essay component that might take me more than a day to finish. So. This morning I log on to begin the application process and a message in red pops up: "The maximum number of applications have been recieved. Please contact the Division of Midwifery for further instructions."
AUGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! @#$%^&*()(*&^%$#@!!!!!!!!!! All my plans. Gang aft aglay. I mean, I didn't harbour arrogance that I would get in for sure the first year I applied! 200 applicants, and only 10 spots, after all. But I had hoped I would at least be considered. And I wasn't prepared to KNOW my fate next year already! But then I paused. Something just didn't seem right about this situation. 200 applicants all knew the competition was fierce, and had their applications ready and saved, and went on at midnight and applied ahead of me, and filled the process to its maximum, and I never even heard that this was necessary?
So I phoned the admissions office at the SoM and a nice lady answered on the first ring. With her name. So nice! How nonacademiaish! She reassured me that it was the site itself experiencing technical difficulties, and to try again in an hour or so. Whew.
I think I shaved a few hours off the end of my life with that short term stress.

So I went on ten minutes later, and the site was running again. Yay! I filled in and saved the personal information page, then the resume page (which had work experience, volunteer experience, education, skills, technical trades, research projects published, life experience, etc, etc, etc. I mean, jeepers. When you put me down on paper I'm not all that impressive. All I've got is paramedic for 7 years, and raisin' babies. I got in a funk. I stewed. I racked my brain and stressed.
I had to pray that God would help me to calm down, because it was getting ridiculous.
When Brent woke up he was a tremendous help, which I knew he would be and considered waking him up at 10 a.m. after a long night shift just to help me. Yeah, I only considered that one for about 3 seconds. He is good at taking what I do and turning it into professional sounding jargon, especially for an academic application because he worked in the registrar's office for so long at Trinity. Plus, he's just good like that. Smart butt.
A few more hours off the end of my life, before Brent rescued me from Momma With No Skills and turned me into Overqualified Applicant.

That took a few hours of my day, in and amongst feeding kids and getting kids to school and doing laundry and dishes and showering and having sex (oops, was that my outside voice?). Midway into the afternoon, suddenly my application goes all weird. I had been saving it as I went along, on their website, but suddenly it only remembers a fraction of what I filled in. And some answers are in the wrong slots. And suddenly I need to log in again! And I go to log in and the message in red flashes across my screen again: "The maximum number of applications have been recieved. Please contact the Division of Midwifery for further instructions." @#$%^&*(*&^%$#@????? More hours shaved.
I haven't been able to get back on the website again since that happened. Fortunately I had copy and pasted the essay questions and was working on those on MSWord, so I have something to do, and something saved on my actual computer instead of on their website. But seriously, people. I have to rebuild that resume that took me HOURS today, as soon as the website is up and running again (I'm assuming. I'm not sure if it is saved in its correct form somewhere, but I'm not counting on it)!!
Lamaze breathing is in order, I believe.

Oh, the frustrations of life.

Online School of Midwifery Supplemental Application

OKAYPEOPLE! The UBC School of Midwifery online application just became available, as of 26 minutes ago. NEXT ON MY LIST OF THINGS TO DO!!!!!!!! LALALALALALA!!!!!!! I'm so excited I can't actually work on the application, and I can't sleep. Augh!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Birth Crack and Book Reviews

I ordered three books from Amazon last week, and they arrived yesterday. I picked "Baby Catcher" from the small cardboard box of books, clapping my hands and shrieking with glee. I started reading it at noon yesterday, and I finished it today. Five minutes ago.
Hello, my name is Melissa and I am a birth addict. Books are my crack, DVDs my heroin, and I pimp myself out to this really hot cop who pays for all my drugs and tells me he loves me.

Its full title is Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife, by Peggy Vincent (sorry, professor Pell but Blogger won't let me underline, so italics is going to have to do). It chronicles Peggy Vincent's career in obstetrics, pretty much telling birth story after birth story after birth story. Hilarious, unflappable, and down to earth, any woman would be lucky to have this woman catch her babies! It's different from your Ina May brand of birth stories, because these are written from the midwife's perspective, honestly and with humour and self deprication. It's awe. Some. I'm sorry it's over. I love medical books written like this, with story after story, some of them battles and some of them learning experiences and some of them peaceful. But the best ones of all are the baby catching books. This one is even endorsed on the FRONT COVER by ANNE LAMOTT, one of my favourite authors and spiritual gurus. And can you get over that cover? Though Nirvana should sue, it fits the cover of this book a lot better than their album.

Awk. Hook. Line. Sinker. Thunk.

Next in line is Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care by Jennifer Block (that came in the same Amazon package yesterday. I'm wriggling like a puppy. Like, seriously. My bum is wriggling back and forth and it is most unbecoming). Ya think, maybe, just maybe, I found my calling in life? Though how can I truly know until I actually go to a birth that's not my own, right? [I know with the same intuition that knew I was pregnant with Riley before I missed a period or took the test or even had the sore boobs--you know, the someone-has-cut-off-my-boobs-with-a-dull-razor-while-I-was-sleeping-I-SWEAR-IT sore boobs]

Which reminds me, my first (second) doula client is due with her first baby on Monday. I'm super excited. It's going to be good, and calm, and peaceful, and so great [insert crossed fingers HERE]: this is the Most Prepared Couple in the universe, with the right amount of flexibility and excitement and baby things and lists and openness. They wanted a midwife, but couldn't find one with availability around her due date, so they had to go with a physician they don't really know and have spent all of five minutes at a time with at each appointment thus far. They have done their homework, people. All I have to do is stand by and cheer [butI'msofreakingnervous], right? I'm terrified.

I have to keep reminding myself that this upcoming birth is not about me.

Interested in birth? Baby Catcher is riveting. Five thumbs up.

Surgery went well

Thank you for your prayers! Ryen's surgery went well. He is home now. Sara responded to your comments regarding my last post, but I will repeat what she said; he is well, a bit grumpy and a bit sore and a bit swollen, but well. He's a trooper. A lymph node swollen and solid the size of a jawbreaker was removed from his neck, and the lab results from a biopsy on the node will be back within a week. I will keep you posted.

Thank you all so much!


Baby in surgery

Ryen's pediatrician appointment was reported by Sara as follows:

"We saw the pediatrician today. He agreed that the swollen lymph node needs to come out. He said that the basic rule of thumb is anything under 1 cm can stay, anything over that needs to come out. Ryen's lump is 3.4cm. So we continue. He was a little more optimistic than my GP. He said that most of the time these are benign but that we won't know for sure until it's tested. Also, he felt that our surgeon is great and that the scar would be very small.

The only cause for concern (other than the looming 'lymphoma') was that Ryen is a little sick still and so his lungs may be further aggravated by the intubation and general anesthetic. If he does get sicker the doctor reassured us that we could deal with it and that his virus does not seem serious enough to warrant postponing surgery. The final call will be made by the anesthetist on Wednesday morning.

So, nothing new. A little more reassuring but still scary. This was what we expected from this visit but we both felt it was important to go and get the official second opinion.

I'm dreading Wednesday. The surgery, the waiting, the hospital. Yuck. And then I am totally dreading the waiting for the test results after the surgery. We still haven't heard anything about the x-ray or blood work results. I'm not calling because no news is good news in my books and I'm scared of the other kind of results.

So we wait."

It's 9:15 a.m on Wednesday now, and Ryen's surgery started at 8:50. Sara texted me at 9:00 and said it should last about an hour. So. Pray hard, pray deep, pray with love. Thanks, friends.

I'll keep you posted.


Sunday, November 15, 2009


Okay. I'm ready. I have been mulling and processing the SOGCs change in breech birth policy since it came out months and months ago, but I have not felt ready to post about it until now. I have actually sat down and STARTED to post about it, and stopped or deleted the posts because I wasn't ready. But recently a blogger I follow posted about birth and asked a poignant question: Is birth the most defining moment of mothering, or is it just a door that opens, and all that follows is the defining moment of mothering? How important is the birth itself, really?
This post gave rise to other posts on other blogs, and I got caught up in them. First of all, the original article that inspired this topic was found in Midwifery Today and reads as follows (please keep in mind that in the USA midwife attended birth is almost synonymous with homebirth, but this is not the case in Canada);

This is what I want to say to every young woman in the world: your birth is the most important event in shaping your life as a mother. It is imperative that you be properly cared for, nurtured and, in this culture, educated. You need a loving midwife, because the effects of the birth year—positive or negative—will affect your whole life, your baby’s whole life, and indeed society, as your decisions reverberate through herstory. Even with good midwifery care, prenatal self-care is essential—this is what you do between your visits with your midwife.

If you think you cannot afford the midwife of your choice, because maybe insurance doesn’t cover her or maybe you have no insurance, please think again. Even as an out-of-pocket expense, it is nothing compared to a traumatic birth year. As I sit at my desk and read the many birth stories that women submit to us, I read of the trauma and pain they have endured and realize that loving midwifery care may be the single most important thing we can do as a society. Many of the stories we receive are of a horrendous first birth, after which the mother goes on to have a miraculous second birth with a midwife. The cost of a midwife’s care is the best insurance in the world, at any price.

If you must go to the hospital be sure to get yourself a doula, because in almost every hospital birth you need an advocate and a protector. It is a sad testament to what is going on this world, but it is true.

Jan Tritten,
Midwifery Today

In response, Sweet and Salty Kate wrote this post, in which she is adamant that Jan Tritton is wrong. Birth is not the most important moment in a woman's life, nor the defining moment of motherhood. She says,

"Birth cannot be controlled. Or promised. Or unfailingly protected, or made reliably miraculous and beautiful. It can be nudged, and sheparded, and prepared-for, and supported, and informed. But sometimes, birth is just a gong show. When that happens, it is imperative that we do our best to shrug at the mechanics and hope for better luck next time.

Because I can’t carry any more guilt. I don’t need birth idealists piling themselves upon my thoroughly buggered psyche like a well-intentioned rugby team, calling me or any other woman a warrior for delivering one way as opposed to another.

They’ve got the best of intentions, but the wildly overstated significance some people heap onto birth in order to steer more women towards labouring self-actualization is just too heavy a weight. This weight doesn’t make everyone feel empowered and guttural. It makes some people feel anxious and pressured and damaged and unfulfilled."

I particularly like one of her edits, which says

"Birth is one of countless important events and encounters that all mash up together to shape your perception of your life as a mother.

Birth is one day in a life that will give you all kinds of chances to become much more than a birther. It can heal and inspire and give cause for delight and awe. It can be medicalized or marginalized. What determines one or the other is not your skill, nor the divinity of your preparation, nor your stamina, but random fortune or misfortune. In the case of the latter you’ll have to let it go and find your pride again, and trust that your kid won’t remember it. Because she won’t. Or if she does, she’ll only remember it in an unconscious kind of way such that her innermost self, which is more worldly and less delicate than we all know, says Yikes! That was a friggin’ startle. Hmph. (kid’s innermost self shrugs)"

It is true, this birthing thing is important, and how we do it is important, but it is taken too far if we give it the power of defining us as mothers. What if we don't birth perfectly, or well, or vaginally, or at home in the water attended by nymphs; are we doomed to become damaged goods? Absolutely not. I can say this with authority because I have had all kinds of births, and because I believe in redemption. I believe in healing and growing and the rich learning that happens along the way, and if ONE MOMENT defines my motherhood it leaves no room for redemption, growth, healing, and learning along the way. Life isn't structured so that we can choose to do things perfectly every time. We are born ignorant and we learn by trial and error, which means much of the time blundering things or making mistakes or giving birth under less than ideal circumstances. But I would like to state here that I believe that humans are flexible and forgiving by nature, in order to compensate for the fact that we are born so ignorant and have only one life to live, so the lessons we learn cannot be retroactively applied.

Some bloggers agreed with my line of thinking, though I didn't wholeheartedly agree with Sweet and Salty Kate. Birth wasn't the defining moment of Me as a Mother, but it wasn't just another day, either. It was not simply a portal to a child, for me.

Rixa's blog is one of my favourites, and she wrote this post in response to Sweet and Salty Kate. She and I agree that birth is neither the defining moment nor just another day. I like what she has to say about choices we make as pregnant women and how that impacts the outcome. She also says,

"I was wondering: how would I say that my children's birth ranks in importance in my life? It's hard to quantify. My own journey wasn't just about "the birth," but the entire process of thinking and researching and planning--not just for the tangible, physical birth itself, but also for the spiritual process of becoming a mother. I deeply treasure the memories of my children's births. I love that my labors were experiences predominantly of love, peace, and calm. I love that I was able to meet and overcome the challenges of labor and birth and find strength in other areas of my life, knowing that if I could give birth to a baby I could certainly do ___ (run a half marathon, finish my dissertation, etc).

Making a woman's birth as positive and empowering and enriching as possible is important. Why not strive to make every birth as good as it can be? "

Women can be deeply impacted by their birth experiences, for many years, so birth isn't just another day for those women. I guess we are as varied as we look, and for some, the experience ranks high and for the others it is a portal of little significance. But I do still believe we should strive to make birth as positive and safe as possible for all women, which is why I so vociferously advocate for better obstetrical practices, lower cesarean rates, more VBAC advocacy and support, universal access to midwifery care, and etc. I actually advocate cesarean doulas, which is my own brain child that no one seems to think necessary unless she herself has had a cesarean and felt disappointed by it....but that is a side topic and one for another post.

Another blogger, Jill, responded with her middle ground as far as birth as defining moment versus just another day here. I think my opinion falls closest to hers. In particular, she states that

"I think the problem with these two lines of thinking is that they both seem to believe that only a "good", i.e. natural/drug-free/vaginal/home/water/etc. birth is capable of being a life-changing event. The former cling to this gold standard, and the latter reject, nay, outright abhor it, but vilifying something is still giving it power.

I believe that EVERY birth has the potential to transform a woman and offer her many lessons she can apply throughout her life, instead of just being one day of empowerment and awesomeness (or trauma and suckitude). Take for instance the births of my two children. They could hardly be more different. One, a Cesarean after a long hospital labor with "the works." The other, a VBAC waterbirth at home. Both have taught me countless things that have shaped who I am, not only as a mother, but as a woman and a human being."

Yes, yes, and yes. The three births of my children were significant and holy, and taught me, and shaped me, and I don't regret them or their rogue or peaceful paths. Ayden was a scheduled cesarean for a persistent breech position. Matthew was an airport birth that produced a standoffish toddler of 15 months and an unconventional path to love. Riley was a drug free hospital vaginal birth, supported and celebrated and redemptive in all ways.
The society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada has this year revised their recommendation for breech births based on more definitive research and now urges physicians to offer women whose babies present breech a vaginal birth, and to retrain themselves and train physicians now in medical school on how to assist breech babies on their journey to the outside world. In light of this, it would appear that my cesarean section with Ayden was based on faulty evidence and was unnecessary. I'm sorry, but unnecessary surgery is not okay with me. Surgery is not routine. It is a big deal. It carries risks. It usurps my power and my bodily integrity.
But I don't regret it. I made the best decision I knew how to make at the time, as we all do. So did my surgeon. So did my doctor. And that surgery made me grow. Man oh man did it make me grow. On the operating table in the middle of surgery, I was determined that next time would be different. I learned how to give up control while still maintaining my dignity. I learned how to be weak but still maintain my essential identity. I learned how to cope with the more difficult things in life, the rocky potholes in the road that we just never expect to come across. I wasn't always graceful in my coping, but I fumbled around and learned a lot. And I have empathy in spades. I know what it is like to lie on the operating table and have your baby pulled from you and feel that all your guts are being pulled out as well. I know how disappointing it is to build up for a vaginal birth and have your plans go sideways, and how empowering it can be to recover from it afterwards. I know what it is like to limp around for weeks, and to breastfeed a baby who kicks your incision site, and to throw up while holding your baby and not drop him because you ate too soon after surgery because you were starving and no one was LISTENING THAT YOU WERE STARVING because you just had a freaking BABY dammit, and were not allowed to eat all day in preparation for surgery. I had the spinal headache that lasts for weeks, and vertigo that lasts for months as a result of the spinal headache, which is a rare complication of spinal anasthesia. I have the scar. I wanted the natural birth and didn't get it (the first time). I know.

Which gives my voice power. When I advocate for VBACs, or lower cesarean rates, or doulas for cesarean births, it is because I know what it is like to have a surgical birth.

Would I make a different decision if I knew then what I know today? Yes. I would have gotten my ass to Children's and asked for a physician with skills and willingness to deliver my breech baby vaginally. Do I regret that I had a cesarean? No. It is my history, it is a part of me and who I am, it is the true portal through which Ayden entered the world, it taught me many valuable lessons, and it lends my voice power. So no, I do not regret it.
I am glad for how all my babies entered the world, and I learned SO MUCH from each portal, which made me who I am, and is a true and beautiful beginning for all my children.

I am glad the SOGC reversed their position on breech births, and I hope it leads to culture shifts in obstetrics across Canada and inspires change in the USA. I read in this Globe and Mail article that 11,000 to 14,000 women PER YEAR in Canada had had surgery for breech presentation. That's a lot of unnecessary cesareans. If you add to those the subsequent cesareans that many women had, I'm sure, because VBACs are not encouraged and because the old "Once a cesarean, always a cesarean" belief is really persistent, there are a lot MORE unnecessary cesareans that happened after those first unnecessary cesareans. It saddens me that the culture shifted away from vaginal delivery of breech babies, because it indicates a strong cultural belief in birth as dangerous and something women are often incapable of.
But Ayden's birth was still holy. And positive. And beautiful. It had a powerful impact upon me as a person and as a mother, but it did not define me as a mother.
Matthew's birth (second birth, since he had of course already been born, vaginally, in a hospital in Samut Prakan, Thailand) was holy, and beautiful, and we all cried. That airport moment had a powerful impact upon me, but it did not define me.
Riley's birth was also holy. And beautiful. And redemptive, because I finally had my vaginal birth, empowering and liberating, and one of my most cherished memories. It changed me, it really did, and it was very important to me that I have that experience and take back my bodily integrity and my own power over the birth. It was wonderful. But it did not define me, and it is not the most important moment in my life nor in my journey as a parent. It was a beautiful, significant portal. But a portal nonetheless, because time moves forward and the birth stays behind in the past, and because Riley and me and the rest of our family are more than the sum of our most significant moments.

I'm so glad we have birth, in all its various forms, because it is significant and beautiful, and it teaches us so much. And I don't regret my cesarean.

Saturday, November 14, 2009



15 Months

Our littlest Vose is 15 months old today. What a crazy quick journey the last fifteen months have been. Matthew was fifteen months when we first met him. I can't believe our third ['turd'] monster is already a toddler!! What an amazing journey. Riley has brought me more peace and self discovery and healing than I ever imagined a small child could bring. Every day he is a joy to parent, funny, interactive, bubbly, easy going, flexible, playful, and cuddly. He is really into wrestling right now. Wow, our house is boy heaven. Wrestling is allowed on all beds and all floors and at almost all times, and everyone loves it except maybe mommy, who tolerates it.

food, especially meat and fish
his brothers
hot tubs
being chased, by brothers, daddy, mommy, or the dog
all dogs (having a dog has erased his fear of dogs and given him much greater confidence around animals)
sorting--I don't know what else to call that stage where they looooove to take things OUT and put things IN, which generally entails taking things out of where they belong and putting them where they don't belong!! I've been finding frying pans on the shelf with my cutting boards, glass tupperware with my pots and pans, tupperware lids in the recycling cupboard, and dirty diapers taken OUT of the diaper pail and put back on the clean diaper shelf!
shoes, socks, and mittens
lawnmowers, garbage trucks, recycling trucks, buses, ambulances, airplanes, boats....
escaping out the front door
pretending to steer the car
noisy toys; squeaky dog balls, motorized or noisy trucks or cars, crinkly or banging toys, or music producing teddy bears
bicycles (in fact he tried to climb onto the neighbour kid's bike in July and it fell over on him and made his big toenail turn black and fall off. The toenail has not fully recovered even now)
Sitting on the toilet! I bought him a soft seat to go on the big toilet and now he can't get enough of the potty. All he does is sit there and stuff bits of toilet paper into the space between his legs, but it's a start! He also loves flushing the toilet.

water sprinkling on him; from a shower or a rainfall or any other source
being left behind
feeling left out
his car seat, though he tolerates it better now that he faces front like his brothers
cow's milk
cold food like ice cream
being fed
church nurseries
having his teeth brushed

Is very comfortable walking backwards
jumps with two feet
puts his hands over his mouth when very excited and laughing
squats and claps to call the dog
says "Uh-oh," but it sounds like "Oh-oh," and he will sometimes intentionally toss something or drop something and say "Uh-oh"....not quite, buddy. I'm no fool.
blows bubbles and holds breath appropriately when swimming
signs 'airplane,' 'milk,' and 'more'
sits on toilet, flushes toilet, and washes hands afterwards, with help
feeds the dog any unwanted food on the sly
climbs stairs and ladders and chairs and tables and bookshelves and the stove....
indicates with inflection and pointing and a special "gnuh" sound when he particularly wants something. Toilet paper, cookies, up, a book, a toy, etc.
walks downstairs unassisted without holding the wall (though he often opts for sliding on his tummy because it is faster)
goes to sleep on his own in his crib after being nursed, cuddled, kissed, and having his lullaby CD turned on. And then I leave the room. And it is AWESOME. He plays and talks for a bit, and then falls asleep when he is ready. He doesn't cry. It rocks.
loves books and will open a book and babble away to himself, presumably telling tall tales of adventure in baby talk. He particularly likes interactive touch and feel board books. He tolerates being read to, though he mostly fights to turn the pages or rip the book out of your hands so it works better if he holds a book, and you hold a book, and you read parallel to each other.
blows raspberries
shakes his head "no"

Love to you, baby. I can't believe you are already this big.

Quote of the day (stolen from tamie)

"It's rather embarrassing to have given one's entire life to pondering the human predicament and to find that in the end one has little more to say than, 'Try to be a little kinder.'"
~Aldous Huxley


My internet has been down this last week, and my personal computer genius Mr. Brent Vose was away on a week long hiking trip with his dad and brother, so I had no idea how to fix it. It was a lonely week, what with no husband AND no blogging!!! Yeesh! I read a book, which was really nice, and crocheted, but what I really wanted was some adult contact. I did finally rediscover the joys of the telephone, and spent 2 1/2 hours on the phone last night! Hilarious. Anyways, Brent has returned in one piece and in less than twelve hours he has made me 2 meals, unclogged the downstairs toilet, and fixed the internet connection on our computers. What would I do without him? Seriously. Life as a single parent is REALLY HARD. And lonely.

My cousin's baby Ryen

(and how cute is he here? He hated his halloween costume)

is still in need of serious prayers. This past week he had another doctor's appointment with his GP, a chest x-ray, and some blood work. Last week Sara took him to another doctor for a second opinion, and he told her it looked like cancer and sent her directly to the emergency department at the hospital. The doctor on duty at the ER told her it definitely ISN'T cancer, is just a swollen gland from a virus and will go away on its own, and sent her home. And then her GP told her that she must have misheard the ER doctor, because "No doctor in their right mind would ever say that." Can you say ROLLER COASTER?
Here are some specific prayer requests:
-Ryen sees a pediatrician on Monday. Please pray that the pediatrician will be kind, a good listener, reassuring, and knowledgeable.
-Ryen has surgery on Wednesday. Please pray that the surgery goes well with no complications and that Sara and Leigh will feel peace while their baby goes under a general anaesthetic and has surgery on his neck. Pray that he does not have cancer. Pray that the lump is minor and all tests show clear of any alarming medical problems. Pray that Ryen will not be scared.
-Pray that the roller coaster would stop. Conflicting opinions are helping nobody, and unclear or nonreassuring test results are only abetting the problem. Pray that trustworthy and talented medical staff would be in charge of his medical care from now on, and that support, reassurance, and accurate information would be in abundance.
-Pray for strength, and pray for sleep.

Thank you. ♥

I will post later with news on how my week went as a single parent of three.

Love, love, love.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Midwifery and Adoption

I just came from my friend Jen's blog, and I realized as I typed the title to my post that Jen and I really really have a lot in common. We're both adoptive mommas, and we're both in midwifery (I'm yet to be a midwife and she's waiting for her babies, so were in different stages, but these two subjects are big for both of us!). So props to my friend Jen! Hi! I mean, we always knew we had these things in common, but it was particularly evident to me just now.

I have finished my application process to UBC. Transcripts, applications, fees, etc, are all in. Now I have to apply separately to the School of Midwifery, which I should get going on this week because the deadline is January 15th. With Christmas coming I'm pretty sure schools will be less speedy with transcript requests and stuff, so I am feeling that January deadline looming!! But I'm quite satisfied to have completed the process of applying to UBC. I don't find out from them until the spring, but I'm not worried. It's the School of Midwifery that I'm worried about!

I've been wanting to post about this adoption thing I've run across SO MANY TIMES. Someone will express to me that they or their spouse are very interested in adoption, but that the other one of they or their spouse is not. The other one will generally be afraid they 'won't love an adopted child enough/as much as their biological children/as much as a biological child that could or couldn't be.' These are legitimate concerns, and no one should enter adoption without knowing themselves well and without knowing it is the absolute right choice for their family at that time. But this fear of not enough love for an adopted child kind of makes me frustrated. And sympathetic. And sad.
I think all of us who have children ALWAYS fear we will not have enough or the same amount or type of love for other, newer children than we have for our existing ones. It is a really common feeling. But then the other, newer ones arrive and we realize that actually we DO have enough love, for all of them. In fact, I have found that each new child makes me love and appreciate the other children I have more, and those children make me love and appreciate the new one more, so I am surprised each time to find that the love doesn't just increase by 100% each child. It increases more.
Learning to love an adopted child is different from learning to love a biological one. It is less intuitive, organic, and instinctual, if you are a woman. If you are a man, learning to love an adopted child is much the same as learning to love a biological one, because it doesn't start off as something that IS you and slowly differentiates into an individual. The DNA is really only theory. It doesn't MAKE you love someone. It's the IDEA of the DNA that makes us feel connected, which grows into love. If something else makes you feel connected, that can be your seed that grows into love. It took me a lot longer to love my adopted child than it did to love my biological children, but (a) that is not a universal experience, and (b) it did grow. And it does feel the same.
But all of this talk of love growing in a parent's heart is besides the point. Once a child is born or adopted, it is no longer about what we feel or don't feel as parents. It is about the children involved. Everything shifts and changes, and becomes about someone other than ourselves for the first time, and suddenly when our kids are hurt, we cry, or when they are ill, we can't rest until they are well, or when they need something, we give it to them. So it shouldn't matter whether or not we might love them differently or less, because what a child in foster care or an orphanage needs is a family. Period. Not a perfect one where everyone loves everyone else the same and performs perfectly all the time, but a family with weaknesses and fears and dysfunctions, which values the children who live in it. The life a child could have in the arms of a family that loves imperfectly is far better than a life with no family at all.
What I'm trying to say is that we fear that we don't have enough to give to more children, but we do. We are enough, exactly the way we are, today. We have enough love. We don't have to be perfect or love perfectly or parent perfectly, to be enough. We are already enough. With our imperfections, and weaknesses, and mental illnesses, and tired days, and crankiness, and mistakes, and all: we are enough. Because of God. Because of Grace. Because there is something Holy in all of us.
Could you make a mistake? Yes. Could you fail? Yes. Adoption is the hardest thing I have ever done. But wouldn't you rather live in a family that makes mistakes and tries next time to do better, than no family at all? I would. I did!! I grew up in an imperfect family, and yet it was okay, and I would far rather have grown up with them than without them.
The good you show and extend yourself and your 'other children,' if you have them, through adoption far outweighs the risk of not loving a new addition enough.

Which is not to say that all families should or can adopt. It is a very personal and important decision, not to be taken lightly. But this idea that we 'might not have enough' is a groundless fear. I am enough, and I have enough, despite my fears and shortcomings. So are you. So don't fear. Leap! If it is for you. But don't hesitate because you fear you don't have enough. You do.

In conclusion, Matthew wants me to tell you that he is Matthew. I told him that you are all my friends and of course you already know who he is, but he was afraid you might forget. So consider yourselves reminded: Matthew is himself. Here is a picture from his third birthday, just to remind you:

Monday, November 9, 2009

Halloween and then some...

Sunday we skipped church, so I could recover from my long week of work. Sunday night I fell asleep at about 9:30, and slept til 8 (which means Ayden was late for school--but it was soooooooooooo worth it!!) this morning, so I'm well on the way to recovered.

I have some pictures for you!! So great to have my camera cord again. Here are some from halloween! Keep in mind, Brent and I hand made the mummy costume. The weather was perfect!!

And when I woke up this morning, these two were cuddled up beside me and I just had to take a picture...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

First night shift, and then some...

Wednesday night I worked my first night shift since I went back to work after my maternity leave. Until now I wasn't sure Riley could handle being separated from me overnight, but since we started sleep training him I can see that he is capable of going to sleep for Brent and that he has developed more flexibility surrounding the who/what/where of sleep. I was apprehensive, though. Riley breastfeeds a MINIMUM of twice between midnight and 8 a.m., and generally three or four times. I pumped some milk and wished Brent luck.

People who work shift work often complain about night shifts. Nights are long, boring, difficult, and mess with the body's internal rhythms. It takes days to recover. Everyone else is sleeping when they are up, and up when they are sleeping. This is true. But I love night shifts. If I had to do them as often as someone who works full time shift work, I might not like them as much, but I've always liked being up at night when everyone else is sleeping. It's so peaceful. The advantages of night shifts in my particular spot in the world are (#1) almost no transfers!, (#2) good car crashes, (#3) the right amount of busy-ness. Enough to keep it interesting and ensure we get paid for at least part of the night, but not so much that we can't catch an hour or two of sleep here and there. Just an hour makes a huge difference for one's ability to make it through a night shift.
So, although I was worried about leaving Riley behind, I was looking forward to my first night shift. Life did not disappoint! My job is so cool! We had the ambulance helicopter out TWICE in one night--once for the Infant Transport Team to fly a premature baby from our hospital to Children's Hospital, and once for a car crash. We were SO BUSY all night. We had 3 calls for people with "I have the flu/my child has the flu and I'm scared I am/my child is going to die!!" [p.s. 8-1-1, the nurse's line in BC, is generally a very helpful health care tool. During the H1N1 flu season, it is decidedly NOT SO] [p.s. #2 if you have the flu and are sick but not experiencing numb extremities, loss of consciousness, or difficulty breathing, you don't need an ambulance]
So we did some masking up, and some reassuring, and some ventolin for a very sick, very inebriated man whose lungs were so full of fluid we could hear it from across the room. I wasn't sure if he had the flu or not. When you're drunk, it can be very hard to give a paramedic your medical history or help her ascertain if you have had a fever. [p.s. #3: don't smoke, or your old age will be miserable]
We had a call for a woman in labour and we get there and she's DRUNK. Nice.
Twin six month olds were hospitalized for the flu. Jeepers, they were cute. Chunkers.
And THEN, at 3 in the morning, this woman was driving her car, drunk, too fast, lost control, and hit a utility pole. Her car rolled over like a corkscrew, over and over for about 200 yards until it flipped end over end, ejected her and a passenger, ran OVER them, and hit another utility pole. The car was in 3 pieces. The people were trapped under the vehicle at 5 degrees celsius for a very long time, without painkillers. There was lots of yelling. There were six paramedics, a helicopter, ten firefighters and five police officers. I can't believe I get paid to do this job, it is so cool.
The driver and passenger were miraculously relatively unscathed. They will live without longterm damage or affects, and there weren't even any broken bones involved. The drunk ones always do.

Needless to say, by the end of the night, we were trashed. Happily so.

Then Friday I worked a ten hour transfer car shift, where we drove over 500 kilometers in a single shift, and only transported 3 patients!! Sometimes transfers are really, really long distances. And we worked 2 1/2 hours of overtime. I hate overtime. I really do. By the end of my shift I just want to GO HOME and see my kids. I don't care if I start making $48 dollars an hour, I just want to GO HOME. Whatever. It can't always happen.
So I got home just in time to put my kids to bed, have a shower, and crawl into bed again. Just to get up at 4:30 and do it all again. Yesterday I worked a 12 hour emergency car shift (not transfer car) which was equally busy, and which turned into a 15 hour SLOG. FIFTEEN HOURS. I woke up at 4:30, left for work at 5:10, started work at 6, didn't see the upstairs of the station until 11:40 because we were going from call to call, then wound up covering Abbotsford because they were so busy, wound up with a ridiculous transfer of an H1N1 cancer patient that an Abbotsford crew REFUSED TO TAKE because IT WAS UNSAFE because the patient had H1N1. Holy crap, was I ever mad. Holy CRAP, was my partner ever mad! If you can't wear your personal protective equipment and take proper precautions to avoid H1N1 infection, which we have been trained to do specifically in response to H1N1, you are in the WRONG LINE OF WORK. Most of the reason we were mad is that we got stuck with this transfer so our community has one less ambulance available to help them, because this Abbostford crew wouldn't do their job. And we didn't believe that they were afraid of the unsafe nature of the patient's condition. They just didn't want to drive all the way to Vancouver two hours before the end of their shift.
Lazy bastards.
I mean, I have kids at home, I don't want to bring them H1N1, my partner has little kids at home and he doesn't want to bring them H1N1--everyone has someone who "has to be protected" because they are higher risk. Everyone. But we all have to do our job or no one will get any health care. What a load of crap.

So we take this patient all the way to Vancouver. And the hospital makes us wait. And wait. And wait. And then on the drive back we get diverted to an anaphylaxis in Burnaby and I have NO IDEA WHERE THE HELL I'M DRIVING and we're so beyond tired after 13 1/2 hours of work so busy that we didn't eat, I didn't pump any milk [so my boobs are about to squirt milk at random passersby], and both of us are holding our pee. We were at that tired point where everything is funny, so we're driving around in circles with the lights and sirens on looking like IDIOTS and screaming with laughter. We eventually made it to the call, and props to the Burnaby firefighters; they were very nice, and gave me directions to the hospital, and were sympathetic to the fact that we were from out of town and didn't know where the heck we were going. They didn't even laugh at us in our presence :p
So we wait again in another hospital. And wait. And wait.
And then we get on the road and dispatch says "I know you are the dayshift, we'll try our best to get you home without any more calls." We narrowly miss a few, but when we get to Chilliwack Motorcross is on (remember the dirtbike racing that I totally disapprove of for kids? Yeah, there were calls there all day) and a code 3 comes in as we're driving by on the freeway and there's no way we can avoid being the closest car. It is now 8:30 at night and I can barely remember my own NAME anymore, let alone how to give proper medical care...

Fifteen hours, people. Plus commute, that makes a seventeen hour day. I got back and my kids were asleep. Brent is out of town on a hiking trip so they were at grandma's. I had to drive to grandma's, pack their stuff, put the dog in the car, put the kids in the car, go home, put everyone back to bed, unload the car, and finally have a shower. It reminded me of when Brent was in Regina for six months and I had to work so much....
At least now I'm not pregnant!! And it is VERY rare for me to work three days in one week, and rare to have overtime like that, two days in a row.

I think I'll go have a margarita. I've earned it, don't you think?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Some Riley photogs

Our friends from GC Photography took some more photos of Riley. Isn't he cute? Louise did a great job. Thanks, Wheezer!

Premature celebrations

Well, it seems baby Ryen's medical mystery is not solved yet. Sara and Leigh and Ryen met with the surgeon on Friday and it seems the surgeon is not comfortable with the size of the node, and wants to do surgery to remove it and a biopsy to confirm its source. This is not as reassuring as originally indicated by the ultrasound technologist. Please continue to pray for Ryen and his family today, tonight, this weekend, and next week. He sees his doctor on Tuesday, and will have his surgery and biopsy scheduled next week sometime.

Love to the Reside Mantons.

Love, love, love.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Good news. This just in from Sara's blog:

"Prayers answered

So Ryen had his ultrasound today and the radiologist said that he has extremely swollen lymph nodes and that they should go down on their own. RELIEF!!

I am still a little hesitant to completely relax until I hear from either my doctor or the surgeon but it is a relief. I still want him to have another exam but I think it will probably be a wait and see situation.

Thank you everyone out there for all your prayers and support. It means so much to me to know that so many people rallied and prayed for my little angel.

Joy. "

Thank you, loved ones, for all the prayers.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Like you've never prayed before...

Remember my cousin Sara? She is one of my closest friends, and she has two amazing kids. Kaleb, who will be five in January, and Ryen, who turned one on October 16th. Today Ryen went to the doctor for his 12 month checkup, and the doctor found a large lump on his neck. She referred Ryen to a pediatrician and an oncologist [oh my GOD the words baby and oncologist should NEVER be in the same sentence together. NEVER], and tomorrow he goes for a CT and a biopsy and an ultrasound.
Please pray for this little boy. He is just...well....I guess it is pretty obvious why he really shouldn't have any serious health problems, isn't it? Please also pray for Sara, Leigh, and Kaleb, and for my Aunt Lynne who is Ryen's Gramma. Pray for some freaking strength, and some freaking peace, and some pretty miraculously dependable, trustworthy, astounding medical care. Pray for sleep. Pray for health. Pray that it's not cancer.

My favourite tidbits about Ryen are his big, huge eyes, his grin that takes up 3/4 of his face, his chunker thighs, his brilliant verbal acuity (he could say "bye daddy" when he was only 10 months old), his adamant individuality (he refuses to use baby sign, he commando crawled for ages, which was his way of doing things HIS WAY, and now refuses to walk--though he could, if he wanted to, he prefers doing things HIS WAY!!!), his wildly infectious giggle, and his really, incredibly, shockingly deep voice. His laugh is deeper and gruffer than my dad's. He is a perfect, perfect baby. Here is his picture, so you can imagine his face while you pray for him:

Thanks, all. I'll keep you updated.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

what is up with daylight savings time anyways?

I hate having to try and keep track of when the time is going to change twice a year. It's too frequent to forget altogether, but not frequent enough to actually remember on the day OF. I'm sitting around waiting for an hour to pass because five minutes ago I was running around and sweating trying to get to church on time. And then I realized I was an hour early, and now I've got time to kill. The kids are in the car. This takes a herculean effort I don't much want to repeat, so we're waiting IN THE CAR. I gave them a book and got the laptop for myself, and here we are. Oh, hilarious life. Brent always remembers, but he is at work this morning. Come to think of it, he was probably an hour early for work because his clock was wrong when I woke up this morning. Or maybe it wasn't? But I think it was...
Oh, my foggy brain.

Last night's halloween celebrations were very fun. I've been having trouble in the past few years with all the kid centered holidays, because I get anxious about making them magical and fun for the kids. Birthdays are still a lot like this for me, but I was pretty relaxed about halloween this year. That rocked! Brent worked, so I got three kids, a stroller, and a dog out the door just after five p.m., in costume regalia. I took some pix, so I'll share those sometime when I'm not in the car waiting for daylight savings time church to start. Brent's sister Cherilyn came over to see the boys' costumes and take some pictures, and she offered to come with me when it was time to trick or treat. I was so glad she did! It really is a two man job to take three kids door to door for candy. Especially with a very excited dog and a stroller. It was nice to have an extra grownup to remind the boys not to cross the street blind or alone, and to keep the dog from knocking over the stroller every three seconds. Riley was SO CUTE, and the bigger boys too: they had to tell everyone who opened their door, "Our baby brother is coming too, and he's a monkey, and he has a banana in his pocket, and he's really cute!! And this year we got a lot of chips from people when we were trick or treating!" Everyone gets the full story. Ayden will often do this about his middle brother, to perfect strangers. "That's my brother Matthew. He's adopted from Thailand. His skin is brown, because Thailand people have brown skin. He's five and sometimes he's annoying to me." It's hilarious. Fortunately Matthew doesn't mind. After trick or treating we went to Brent's parents' place for a wiener roast. Awesome!

So I wanted to mention something I've encountered at work, which I'm sure everyone could recognize as a familiar situation--we've all seen it. See, there is this guy who works at my station who is younger and less experienced than me, and than most of the other paramedics in our station. He's smart, and he is a good paramedic. But he's arrogant. And the reason why he is arrogant is because he is somewhat of a golden boy. His dad is a doctor in town, and has been for over 30 years. His mom is a nurse in the ER. So of course every nurse in Emerg fawns over him and admits him into their inner circle and totally trusts everything he says, and pats his ego. Whatever, it happens. But it makes him feel pretty good, right? Which translates into some pretty annoying behaviour. He will cut people off midsentence if he disagrees with them (he has done this to me a LOT, and I've seen him do it with even the most seasoned paramedics in our station), and is very peremptory. He has no inkling of diplomacy. You know, "I think actually...." or "I heard" or "I was taught..." Rather, he says "No it's not." or "That's not accurate." or "I know..." Medicine is an inexact science that passes itself off as absolute truth and it drives me nuts that he can't see or admit that. Not that it is unusual for a medical practitioner to be blind to this, at all, but I usually harbour a higher expectation of insight for younger and newer practitioners. You know? We should be critical thinkers. But so often we're not. It bothers me also that he has set up his life to feel safe. He lives and works in the town he grew up in, works in the profession his parents still work in, has a little wife and baby at home to make him feel grown up, and works in a profession below his intellectual capacity. Wouldn't we all like to live so safe a life, with no one challenging us and everyone thinking we're so intelligent all the time??
But where's the character growth? He's rapidly becoming someone who is irritating to work with, because his safe life makes him so confident and challenges him so infrequently.

I just wanted to gripe. Because obviously I can't gripe about him at work.

It's time for church. I should go!