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Since it has now been a little over a month, I am finally writing about the part I don't like to talk about, so I can move along and write about all of the other things in my brain that I want to talk about a lot more.

It is strange to hear how brave I allegedly was from people who hear about the 50 hours of unmedicated labor because I only did one thing that I was afraid of, and that is go to the hospital.

I never doubted my ability to give normal, natural birth. Not once in my whole, entire life. It was a foregone conclusion.

Until we hit hour 48 and my partner was telling me he didn't think we could afford to wait, that no one rows out in this condition and gets to come back

I never expected to give birth any way but naturally, any where but in my own home, and now I was facing the most extreme medical intervention there is. They didn't let Mike in with me for the spinal block, and I got a drilling from the anesthesiologist that I only understood later when my midwife went over the records and was in shock that they'd ordered a drug test. It went like this, while I was curled up in the fetal position: "What drugs did you take?"


"What else?"

"Prenatal vitamins."

"What else?"

"Acidophilus? Echinacea?" What do you want from me? I'm not answering this question anymore...In my mind I was being interrogated by a masked representative of the SS (he did have an accent that was, possibly, German).

I felt my body shutting down. I was pretty shocky by this point, and thought, this is it, I've really hit the final wall of physical exhaustion.

Then the anesthesia took, mostly, and they let M. back in. It was in some ways more traumatic for him than for me. As he describes it, you come in and see your loved one totally out of it, naked and hooked up to a bunch of wires, stretched out on this table that looks like a cross, in a terrible, fluorescent place that looks like the break room at a bus stop, while eight masked strangers do a cheery dance about "lalala, hi baby, it's your birthday!" and entirely ignore the person on the table and state that she's in.

And then he looked over the curtain and saw my uterus lying on top of my body.

I could hear my baby crying but I couldn't see him. I couldn't look around the curtain, and they called M. away (it turns out to cut the cord that wasn't even attached anymore, and he told them to cut it themselves and came back, but meanwhile...) and then I thought I felt my chest seize up.

And I thought, I am having a heart attack. I am going to die and never even get to see my baby, and I am never going to see Mike again. And in that moment I really believed it.

And then he came back and I told him about my chest, and the anesthesiologist said it was just the pulling while they were stitching my body back together. And they kept doing ridiculous shit, like bringing the footprints around where I could see them but not the baby, and I tried to say "ooh," and be appreciative like I was supposed to so they wouldn't make more trouble for us, but what I was thinking was, "Are you fucking shitting me?! You are showing me footprints but you won't bring my baby to me?! Are you all out of your goddamn minds?!"

I also don't know who's bright idea it was that I would recover better in the recovery room, separated from my baby and from my partner, but it was someone's idea, and that someone was in charge. This is where I was cheery (while shaking uncontrollably from the anesthesia), and engaged in quick witted repartee with the nurse, and tried to look on the bright side, like, I was no longer pregnant, and I was no longer in labor. YFTW! And I started my long run of winning the nursing personnel over to our side (partly by saying that, at the ultimate worst moment, my rating on the universal pain scale was a five, because a ten means you're on fire. The nurses adopted and spread this slogan. And really, I can think of at least four things that would hurt more than your body shutting down after 50 hours of labor. Exactly four, off the top of my head.)

And after 2 1/2 hours we were reunited, and I haven't been out of arm's reach of my baby for more than a few minutes since, and every time we were separated in the hospital, M. went with him. And a good thing, too. While I was in recovery M. ran up once while our son was being bathed because someone was holding him and he knew he wouldn't be alone, and he needed to tell me, "You won't believe this, but you got that six-fingered baby you always wanted!"
And I said, "I do so believe it! Hooray!"

All during my pregnancy we joked about polydactyly and how awesome it would be to have a six-fingered baby (a dominant trait, once established!). I had dreams about having a six-fingered baby. At one point, I heard a voice ask me what I would do if I really had a six-fingered baby, and I said, "I'd kiss his beautiful little fingers and tell him how perfect he was."

My little beautiful son has two thumbs on his left hand. I kiss them and tell him how perfect he is. M. says he will out-text all of us. My mom says he is the next step in human evolution and will be an artist, a surgeon, or a chef because he can hold extra implements. The nurse who bathed him says he has a career in cinema criticism, "Three thumbs up!" or that he'll be able to hitchhike faster than anyone else.

The one time a nurse got him out of the room before M. woke up, she was scheduling surgery for him without our consent by the time he caught up with her.

We must always guard him from the well-meaning.

As M. says, if they had their way, he'd be missing the tip of his penis and his additional thumb, drinking formula from a bottle, confused about what a nipple is. And those who had wrought this situation would be certain they had acted in his best interest.

And also as I said when M. asked me, no. I would not sacrifice his additional thumb to have had the birth experience we'd expected. He is perfect. How he got here is just fine. There is a difference between something being okay, and being okay with it, after all.
03 January 2012 @ 12:33 pm
Yes I did. I still have him. He's right here. For real.
Here is the thing I wrote about how the birth went to send to our Bradley Method instructor, not comfortable putting it on Facebook yet, don't know where else to put it.

Our Birth Story

Our birth story begins with a GBS+ culture at week 36. I had been following an herbal and probiotic protocol recommended by our midwife to clear the colonization in time for the birth. We were scheduled for a repeat culture in week 38 during our midwife and her assistants’ home visit on Dec13.

My water broke at 11:27pm on Dec 12, with my first real contraction. We texted our midwife to let her know what was going on, and agreed to keep the home visit appointment for the next morning at 9:30am since nothing else was really happening yet. 9:30 and our home visit came and went without much action on the labor front. Our midwife recommended going about my day as usual and having a lunch of spicy food to get things moving. I went to the post office and bank, and we went out for lunch, and all day contractions remained around 3 to 4 an hour. We didn’t do any physical exams since the membranes had already ruptured.

Later that night things picked up. Sometime between 9 and 11pm contractions started coming much harder and faster. I waited as long as I could before waking M. up – around 3 ½ hours – because I knew this might take a long time and wanted us both to be as well rested for the serious phases of labor as possible. He woke up to me toning and called the midwife around 3:30am to come over as contractions were 5-7 minutes apart and seemed to be coming faster.

After this point, time was moving very differently for me and things are not so clear. I know that I transitioned at some point before or around noon because I remember throwing up and getting the shakes and everyone was sure the baby would be here by 2pm. Contractions had become continuous and very powerful, and I ended up on the bed in a birthing position and our midwife and her assistants were ready to catch the baby and provide any necessary support.

Around 2:30 I remember kind of waking up from being passed out. Contractions were back to 10 minutes apart, so our midwife asked me to try the next five back on the toilet. I remember a lot of powerful contractions, bracing myself and toning, M. guiding me to relax, midwife and her assistants coming in and out, and occasionally becoming aware of how much time was passing. I was having back labor most of the time and needed M. pushing on my lower back, and later when even that became too much, just putting his hands over my sacrum to make the contractions more bearable. I know I was in and out of the shower a few times, and remember that we did a lot of slow dancing around the room in between contractions, and then the baby’s head would hit my cervix, I’d pee on the floor, and I’d brace myself in the doorway for a contraction. I transitioned once more on the toilet, and then after continuous contractions and everyone being ready to catch the baby, again woke up to contractions that had backed off to 9 – 15 minutes apart. At this point it had been around 36 hours since my water had broken. We had already been doing IV antibiotics to control any GBS infection (I think we ended up doing 4 doses through an IV pump) but we were becoming very aware that we were on a timer for how long we could let this labor continue without progressing. At this point, since we felt time was getting tight and it seemed very strange that I was repeatedly so close to giving birth only to have it not materialize, we decided on a vaginal exam to check my dilation.

During the vaginal exam we discovered that, though the entire interior of my cervix was dilated to 10 cm, there was a ring of scar tissue around the outside that was only dilated to 6, which was holding our baby’s head in like a rubber band. Now my water had been broken for an extended period and we were somewhat compromised by an exam, but we had discovered the problem. At this point our midwife suggested herbally augmenting the contractions, and manual massage of the cervical rim to try to break up the scar tissue. We augmented with a homeopathic blue cohosh preparation and went through two episodes of massaging the cervical scar tissue during a contraction, one with arnica, and one with evening primrose oil. Again contractions moved up to every three minutes, and the scar tissue dilated to 8 cm. Then the contractions became continuous once again, and everyone prepared themselves to catch the baby within the hour.

And the next thing I knew, my contractions were back to 9 minutes apart and, after 2 more hours of augmented labor, the cervical scar was still only dilated to 8 cm. The baby’s heart tones were monitored throughout, as was my condition, and we were both still doing well, but after a third transition with no birth everyone was getting very concerned. At exactly 48 hours since commencement of labor, M. pointed out that I and the baby were still strong and healthy, but things were obviously not progressing, and that we should consider transporting to a hospital now, before either of us were in distress. So we did the one thing I was sure would never happen during our otherwise carefully planned and joyfully anticipated home birth, and packed our bags and went to the emergency room at a local hospital.

Up until the point where we left the house the labor was challenging but I could handle it, knowing that it was bringing my baby. Once we got in the car, the sensation changed to unproductive pain, and I was having a very difficult time coping. At the hospital, we – especially our midwife – were met with a great deal of hostility for attempting a home birth. Several individuals assumed that I had had no prenatal care whatsoever, and did not accept that a licensed midwife counted as a valid care provider. Wisely, she had all of my medical records with her, and could prove that I had been receiving antibiotic treatment for the GBS, which later saved my baby from being placed on a spinal tap in an isolette in the NICU for suspected sepsis.

But back to the present point in our story. Upon admittance I was required to lie flat on my back with an electronic external fetal monitor, which made the continuing contractions extremely painful and much more difficult to cope with. I was still toning and breathing through them, which apparently made at least one person believe I was on illicit drugs. From all we can tell, that person most likely had never seen a woman in advanced, unmedicated labor, despite working in a labor and delivery ward. The doctor ordered a drug test (later, everyone became much nicer to us when the results came back clean).
The last hour and a half of my labor is a whirlwind of an elaborate hospital song and dance routine. Several people – four or five – came in to point out fetal heart rate decelerations (though none were outside of the normal range on the monitor, and they only began when I was required to like flat on my back, and not allowed to stand back up). Two different people, one nurse and the OB, performed vaginal exams without first either asking or informing me of what they were about to do. According to the L&D nurse, I was now 4 centimeters dilated with an extremely swollen cervix, and the baby was at 0 station (he was at +2 before we left the house; later the OB performed an extremely perfunctory exam where I did not feel him actually check my cervix at all, and insisted the dilation was down to 3 cm). After the nurse’s exam, we were told that the on call OB was “on the phone right now and recommending an emergency C-section,” and that we had about 2 minutes to decide if we would consent.

Part of the reason I had chosen a home birth was that I had a strong feeling that once I entered a hospital, I would be railroaded into a cesarean. After more than 48 hours of labor, here I was, in the situation I had been trying to avoid, with every message sounding like I had to make a decision fast. I couldn’t imagine trying to go through another 10 or so hours of Pitocin-augmented labor in a hostile environment, probably with an epidural, too. The most important thing to me at this point was to finally get my baby out.

So we agreed to the emergency c-section. Transport was the first point in my very long labor that I felt in distress, and when they separated me from Mike to do the spinal block anesthesia, I felt my body starting to shut down. The process went shockingly fast from here. They let M. back in and literally about 5 minutes from the time they injected me I could hear my baby crying. He was born 50 hours and 23 minutes after onset of labor. I couldn’t see him around the screen. By the time I saw him he was already swaddled and wearing a little hat. The L&D nurse held him against my chest for about 2 seconds, ordered M. to take a picture, and they whisked him away, and sent me to Recovery. This was another one of my greatest fears – being separated from my baby, but I knew everything would be okay because M. stayed with him the whole time. I was in Recovery for 2 ½ hours with uncontrollable shaking before they decided I was recovered enough to go to a private room with M. and our baby.

There are several things I am grateful for that I think made my recovery much smoother than it would otherwise have been. The one at the top of the list is that I’m allergic to opiates. This made for some humorous moments, like hearing the anesthesiologist say, “I didn’t put any narcotics in this at all, so I don’t know how it’s going to work,” right before they started cutting me. It turns out you can ask, “What do you mean, you don’t know how it’s going to work?” all you want, they will all still ignore you. But this meant that I did not suffer any of the mental or physical effects of morphine or related drugs, and neither did my baby. He was out literally within minutes of the local anesthesia being administered, and he was alert and breathed on his own right away despite the fact that they clamped and cut his cord faster than M. could protest. Another thing I am grateful for is every one of those 50 hours preparing him for life, and getting him ready to breathe on his own. After the fact, everyone was talking about how healthy he was, and how strong his heart tones were.

Our stay in the hospital was quite the adventure. It is definitely not a good place to get any rest, with nurses and CNAs coming in every hour on the hour, especially since everyone had heard about the crazy hippies who tried to have their baby at home. A couple of people were compassionate and understanding, but most thought we were completely insane – even though everyone was also talking about how great we were doing, and how healthy the baby and I were.

One of the things that helped me most throughout was a commitment to not complain. It helped me keep my focus and cope during labor, but it helped me even more in the hospital because we were determined to be released and get back home as soon as possible. Every time anyone came in the room I was polite and cheerful, we were compliant, and it was as clear as possible that I was very strong and healthy and that the baby was doing great. We ended up getting released in 2 ½ days even though the OB who did the surgery has a reputation for never letting anyone out early, and hospital policy is to keep c-section patients for 5 days. Again, I believe not receiving opiates truly helped. Oddly enough, the OB did prescribe two opiates during my stay even though he knew I am allergic, but the nurses said they did not feel comfortable administering them, and I agreed that I did not wish to have them. I am recovering from the c-section on nothing stronger than Tylenol and Motrin. I also avoided pitfalls I was warned about from the c-section, particularly that I would have trouble breastfeeding. In actual fact, my full milk came in on day 2 of our baby's life, and I have been able to exclusively breastfeed since his birth.

The thing I am most grateful for, though, besides having a healthy, live, perfect baby, is M. I knew throughout the pregnancy that I’d be okay no matter how labor went as long as he was with me, and he was absolutely perfect. Having my partner go through the labor for our son with me was the most profound experience of my life, and even though it did not end in quite the way we had planned, and we ended up making some choices that we had worked very hard to avoid, it was perfect because we put everything into doing it together and bringing our son into the world in the best possible way regardless of the circumstances in which we found ourselves.

I am also extremely thankful for everything we did – the prenatal yoga, midwifery care, high protein diet, supplements, exercises, and the Bradley classes, and finally, agreeing to reasonable interventions such as the antibiotic treatment for GBS – to stay strong and healthy in preparation for this birth because being strong and healthy is was got us through an extended labor and allowed me to labor at home for two days, got me safely through major, unplanned abdominal surgery, allowed my baby to be healthy and alert afterwards, and allowed me to recover quickly and get my family back home. The final part of the birth was somewhat traumatic, and there are issues to deal with for future pregnancies but our baby is beautiful and healthy and perfect and that is ultimately exactly what we wanted from this birth.
09 January 2011 @ 12:29 pm
So my ridiculously heterosexual life partner wakes up and he says, he says:
"I was having this dream where I was fucking the shit out of Aldous Huxley, and I just kept thinking how impressed all my friends were gonna be."
And later I tell him and he says,
"I was? Who's Aldous Huxley?"
Aha hahahahahahahahahaha...
Imagine what we'd be capable of if we could actually remember everything we know!
01 August 2010 @ 08:30 pm
We just gave away 6, count them, 6 roosters to our neighbor. I am thrilled. He was thrilled, they are exactly the kind he was looking for to breed. He is letting them loose on his hens tomorrow, and says, "May the best man win." If there is one thing those roosters love to do, it is crow and breed, so that is two things, actually. Neither I nor my partner have, we discovered, any taste for slaughtering and butchering chickens.

Jasper the snake passed away on Friday. My heart is broken. We had ten years without an incident. Ten good years, followed by two horrific days.

And yesterday was my 34th birthday.

My copartner returns from Korea tomorrow and I get back on my old work schedule. From now until Burning Man, every day I vow to do at least one thing that furthers me becoming a parent.

After Burning Man, each day I will do at least one thing that furthers me finding a new, animal-related job, and at least one thing that allows me to be paid for writing.

Happy 35th year.
30 July 2010 @ 11:34 am
I composed this update two days ago, while dismembering the first two roosters we've butchered ourselves in my kitchen sink. It was about how strange it was, the first time I've done this with livestock where a parent wasn't doing the hard parts, because I do care about my birds and I've been their caretaker since they were day-old chicks, but this is an inherent part of the process.

Then I went to feed my rats, and my ten-year-old cornsnake came crawling out of their cage at me.
The wound exposes bone for at least three inches of her back, without enough tissue left to stitch, in addition to the other bites all over most of her body. The prognosis is not hopeful. Last night she threw up her food and began taking the bandages off. She is probably in a great deal of pain. I have never fed her live food since she stopped eating pinkies, to avoid this. She lived with a snake-attacking opossum for four years, the opossum's entire life, in the same room, with only behavioral barriers, without incident.

I am very wrecked right now, even though it won't help her, and my spine is not the one that's exposed.
05 July 2010 @ 03:48 pm
Okay. I am back after almost a year. I think I can do this again if I only look at it once a day. I really missed the people I have not talked to/heard from/read about in almost a year. Big changes in my life. Finished second undergrad degree. Everything is awesome with co-partners and my life partner is renting in my house. Getting ready for resource parent (foster -> adoption) home study. Celebrating the third anniversary of my exit from the adult industry. officially a professional writer, earning some money at it almost every day. getting an insane, unaccredited, amazingly entertaining graduate degree that is a quick conversation ender whenever one is needed, and sometimes when one is not. going to visit parents, some siblings, and extended family in under a week. terrible drama happening to my folks at the hands of mountain top removal / natural gas companies. urban farming. crushing debt and financial hardship that is really not all that bad. life is good.
19 August 2009 @ 09:03 pm
in need of:

1. a refrigerator that works

2. a large man who is capable of feeding pets twice a day and who likes women and hates other men, who has nothing better to do for the week of burning man than to kick it in my house and be a dick for the sheer delight of it

i have a tenant who is being removed. i am doing everything legally possible but it not possible to force him to leave before sept 12. in the meantime it has degenerated to the point where the cops came out last night to speak with him. i am afraid to be there alone with him and also very afraid to leave him there alone. he is a big, whiney pussy when confronted, and an evildoing malefactor when it comes to doing shit to my home while i'm gone, and an abusive, threatening dickwad when it comes to sending me emails (usually two a day).

please send anyone who may be able to help my way.
13 July 2009 @ 10:42 am
so i took all of these demonstration tests at https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/ for a class project and i am glad it is over. i have huge test taking anxiety and the whole process sucked. my desire to give the "right" answer is enormous and it was extremely frustrating. these are supposed to measure how brain-washed you are by societal prejudices. for the most part it did not tell me much that i would have not have expected. here are my absolutely riveting results and some related navel-gazing:

1. Moderate automatic preference for Abled Persons compared to Disabled Persons. (2nd most common result, 27%)
I question their definition of these associations. I have a strong preference for not becoming disabled. I do not agree at all that this translates as a preference for abled persons over disabled persons themselves. I do not really know of anyone who has a strong preference for the condition of disability, so it is not surprising that symbols denoting it have a negative association. What on earth does this have to do with how one feels about actual people?

2. Little to no automatic preference between Straight People and Gay People. (3rd most common result, 17%)
I am a little surprised. I thought I'd have a slight preference for gay people but then, i don't really like anyone all that much on a group level. also, their "heterosexual" wedding cake dolls look like a butch and femme lesbian couple to me.

3. No automatic preference between Other People and Arab Muslims. (Most common result, 20%)
I am not surprised.

4. Strong association of White Americans with Foreign and Native Americans with American. (Least common result ?!?!WTF? 5%)
Well, duh. You know, I heard the sun rose in the East this morning. Shocking and amazing.

5. Little or no association between Asian American and European American with American and Foreign. (2nd most common result, tied with moderate automatic assoc. of Euro-Am. w/Am. and Asian-Am. w/foreign, 24%)
I am not really surprised. I have plenty of association with "white" people being "foreign", with "foreign-born" people being "American", and am often the only non-Asian in a room. (And boy howdy are those kids "All-American".) Oh, and as we've discovered in #4, European Americans are Foreign Anyway.

6. Little or no association between Female and Male with Career and Family. (4th most common result, 17%)
Not surprising. I am female, have a career, and want to be a parent.

7. Moderate automatic preference for African American compared to European American. (2nd least common result, 4%)
Not really surprised but I'll spare the navel-gazing.

8. A strong automatic preference for Barack Obama compared to recent presidents. (most common result, 28%)
Having to sort Nixon, Johnson, Reagan, and Clinton into a category called "Recent Presidents or Good" was extraordinarily painful.

9. Moderate association of Male with Science and Female with Liberal Arts. (most common result, 28%)
This hurt. Up until this one I was sure that it would be really easy to slant one's responses to get the result one prefers, then I took this and despite being sleep deprived and angry and over-tested all of my responses favored this answer. It was Easy. It was Automatic. It wasn't fun to watch. I am totally brainwashed despite having a successful post-secondary academic background in the sciences and math. I guess it is not as easy to make these tests give you the answer you want as I thought it would be.

10. Slight automatic preference for Dark Skin compared to Light Skin. (3rd least common result, 6%)
Not really surprised but probably aesthetic.

11. Slight association of Black Americans with Weapons compared to White Americans. (3rd most common result tied with little to no automatic assoc., 19%)
Uh...okay but it does not measure why, for example, that it is perfectly reasonable to associate Black Americans with being more likely to die a violent death by weapons (say, at the hands of police or during hate crimes), whereas the test implies that it is a measure of a belief that Black Americans are more dangerous and more likely to be wielding weapons. Also, I could personally kill a fella with more than half of their "harmless objects".

12. Slight automatic preference for Young compared to Old. (3rd most common result, 16%)
Yes because I prefer to be considered young rather than old (this changed when I turned about 27--before that I was flattered when people thought I was older). I can tell ya it ain't a preference for younger people.

13. Slight automatic preference for Fat People compared to Thin People. (3rd least common result, 7%)
If you say so...I would have thought that this was an aesthetic preference because I do have an aesthetic preference for fleshier people compared to thinner ones but none of the photos of either fat or thin people (with a single exception) were physically attractive.

14. Religious preferences: I scored as completely neutral in preference between Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.
...Gee, surprising, since I love all of the world religions soooooooo much! Having been raised in American culture, though, it is much easier to have an automatic association between "Christian" and "Good", not because I believe it to be so (ha, ha ha!) but because we are so programmed by mass media (and, of course, by churches and other organizations) to automatically associate the two.

In conclusion, what an enormous pain in my butt!
01 June 2009 @ 04:16 pm
Is anyone or does anyone know a meteorologist or geoscientist I could interview?

Does anyone attend a school that offers courses in these disciplines wherein I may find cooperative subjects?
when i was in high school we were forced to spend one quarter of one year in a class called "microcomputers". this is where i learned to type, and there was nothing else to learn. i am pretty sure microsoft word did not yet exist. there was no internet. it was a goddamn typing class and typing is a skill i am grateful to have.

but now i feel extraordinarily ignorant because, despite two degrees, dozens if not hundreds of academic papers, and nine published books, i am fundamentally unable to make the basic software that came with my computer, that i have used dozens of times, behave.

why does it keep changing my formating from times new roman back to times? i don't know!

why the fuck would it ever change double space back to single space? i never requested such a thing, nor would i!

what is with that horrible dashed black bar? i did not put it there! i did not invite it in! the last time i wrote a book it signaled a page break--now it just appears out of nowhere and i cannot make it go away!

and speaking of hyphens, why do some of them turn into one long line and others stay like this -- ?

who cares anyway? my last novel sold 15 copies... and you want to hear something else really funny? every one of them printed without a title page! ha ha ha! copyright, shmopyright!

and this one? who cares if the margins take up most of the page despite the formatting being set so that it is identical to the last book, which looks normal? who cares about the fucking black bars? and who really gives a flying fuck where the flowering stave has got to, what is going on in ereshkigal, or if the food of the dead is brie and triscuits? who cares if my parents are going to read a book i wrote where someone has frogs coming out of their vagina? i'm sure they'll be so distracted by the fucking inexplicable black bars that no one will care!

i am so sick right now, too!

fuck this, i am going grocery shopping! and then to work! hooray!

(this post brought to you by fever, aggravation, indefensible computer ignorance, and over-privilege).