Monday, December 21, 2009

HELLP Syndrome

I've been asked several times what caused my liver and kidneys to fail.  I forgot to address this in my previous postings.  It's not definite, but the best guess my doctors had was HELLP Syndrome.  The cause of HELLP Syndrome is unknown.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Giving Thanks

Okay, I've written all the gory details.  Now I want to thank everyone who helped us during this time.

First of all, I want to recount that recently I've been remembering a doctor telling me and my family that the only way I would get better was to eat, and that I would decide whether I got sicker first or not.  I asked Greg who it was that said it, and he wasn't sure.  Well, upon talking with my mom last weekend, I found out that it was my GI doctor.  Fucking asshole.  Seriously.  Oh yes, gee, I would really love to feel sicker.  How about we try that?  I really am not eating just for the hell of it.  I think I'll do it a little longer, see what happens.

So anyway, my first thanks goes to my mom, who begged the GI doctors to find out why I wasn't eating.  They finally performed some x-rays and found that I was full of shit.  Literally.  So full of shit that I couldn't eat.  Seriously.  So, we took care of that.  (Fun fun!)  Thanks, mom.

I'd like to thank my mom, dad, and my in-laws for being at the hospital with me when I had my c-section, and for visiting me while I was in the hospital.  Thank you for your love and support

I'd like to especially thank my sister, who was also there during my c-section and visited frequently, and stayed with me a whole day so that my sweet husband could go home and rest.  I didn't want to be alone in the hospital, so she came.  Thank you.  I really appreciate that.

I also want to thank my parents, parents-in-law, and sister for all of their work at our house: taking care of the dog, setting up the changing table, cleaning paint drips off the floor in the baby's room, washing all of our baby clothes, getting the mail, and probably more.

Thank you to my grandma, who watched my little brother while my mom was at the hospital.

Thank you to my little brother for being absolutely adorable.  On Thanksgiving, he said he was thankful for James.  He's only seen the baby a few times, but he wishes it were more.  He wants to teach the baby kickball this summer.

Thank you to everyone who visited me, including my former pastor, several co-workers, friends, and family.  Also thanks to the Thanksgiving visitors, who finally got to meet James for the first time.  Colds prevented them from visiting sooner.  We're so happy you finally got to meet him!!  :-)

Thank you for everyone who has given gifts or sent cards.  I still haven't gotten the thank you cards out yet!!  But please know that your gifts are very much appreciated, and I really looked forward to getting the mail!

Thanks to the friend who brought us dinner after we got home from the hospital.  My mother in law also left some food in the fridge.  Thank you.

Thank you to the people (probably hundreds, it sounds like) who held us in their thoughts/prayers.  I have a strong healthy baby because of you.  All of that positive energy went straight to James!!

Thank you to the nurses who cared for me.  Nearly all of them were very caring and friendly and took very good care of me.

Thank you to Dr. Twombley for being caring and kind.  Someone told me that even when she wasn't at the hospital, she was watching my labs from her home. She also knew that I wanted a natural and was sympathetic, and told me that I should be able to try VBAC next time.

Thank you to my two wonderful doulas (I had a back-up doula). Even though they weren't able to be at the birth, they followed up with me afterwards and visited me after I got home from the hospital.  They have been so encouraging and positive to me, and have given me really great advice.  I really needed that, and I appreciate all of your help. 

Thank you to my midwife, who took me on as a client late in my pregnancy, even though she had several moms already due in November.

And, saving the best for last, thanks to my absolutely wonderful, amazing husband.  He went through about 4 weeks of hell with me and stayed with me every night in the hospital.  He is a great husband and loving father, and I am so lucky to have him in my life.  I love him so much.

Part 4

I was planning to do one more post about the rest of my hospital stay, but I don't have a lot to say.  Basically, I was miserable for a week and then bored and uncomfortable.  I swelled up with at least 30 pounds of fluid, and when I first got out of bed for a walk, it was a challenge just to walk to the end of the hall. Fun. Bloodwork every morning at 6am.  Vital checks in the middle of the night.  A very uncomfortable hospital bed.  Ultrasounds (kidney and baby ultrasounds before baby was born, then gall bladder after), x-rays, and enemas.  That's the gist of it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Why I Don't Regret Planning a Homebirth

As many of you know, I was planning to have a homebirth. I bet that some of you are thinking I'm crazy for wanting a homebirth, with all that can go wrong in birth. In this post I will explain why I don't regret planning a homebirth, but also why I believe that everything that happened to me was for the best.

Hospital Birth Can Be Dangerous Too

The truth is that the United States has one of the worst rates of infant and maternal mortality in the developed world. In the US, birth has become a medical event, where unnecessary interventions lead to more interventions, which then lead to more interventions. Birth must proceed the way the doctor wants it to; a woman must dilate at a certain rate, or her labor is augmented with pitocin. Women are often induced unnecessarily as well, often with Pitocin, but sometimes with Cytotec, even though the drug is not approved for this use and is associated with adverse outcomes. Induction increases risk of needing a c-section, in part because of the increased need for epidurals, to deal with increased pain from stronger contractions. C-sections are more medically risky than vaginal births. Many women choose homebirth after having a horrible hospital birth experience; I chose homebirth after seeing a loved one go through a horrible hospital birth. I highly recommend the book, "Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Women and Children First" by Marsden Wagner.

European countries have a high rate of homebirths, and lower rates of infant and maternal mortality. Certified Nurse Midwifes are highly trained and educated in normal birth, which is what most women have. A good midwife also knows when it is necessary to transfer care to a doctor. Only low risk pregnancies are candidates for a homebirth.

For me, choosing homebirth was a perfectly sane, and even smart choice. Unfortunately, it just wasn't meant to be for me.

For Me, Everything Happened The Way It Was Supposed To

I mourn for all the experiences that I missed, both those that pertain only to homebirth, and those that pertain to any birth. I don't even remember meeting my baby for the first time. Many people say that "everything happens for a reason." In general, I don't believe this to be true. But I do think that in this case, it is true.

As I've mentioned in other posts, I have problems with anxiety. I was nervous about if I would be able to handle labor and birth. I was afraid of having a panic attack and freaking out during labor. I believed that my anxiety would be best controlled in a homebirth, because I would have more control over the situation (because I could control who is present, and I wouldn't have to worry about pressure to have unnecessary interventions, etc). Maybe I would have had a panic attack or not handled labor well, I don't know.

Many women report feeling empowered, more confident, and able to do anything, after a natural birth. Well, I think that my experience empowered me. I went through so much: it was scary, nervewracking, very uncomfortable, and I had to confront my vomiting phobia at least 4 times. But I was strong; I got through it. Though I experienced anxiety, it didn't get the best of me.

Everyone knows that breastfeeding is extremely important to me. I never thought my baby would get even 1 oz of formula. But I was so sick that I didn't breastfeed for the first 9 days of his life. However, I was determined to breastfeed if it was possible, and I pumped around the clock, and now I am producing enough for James plus extra to freeze.

I still feel sad for the experiences that I missed, but I feel that I experienced my birth the way I needed to, to feel empowered and confident that I'm able to be a good mother to my son. I know that I am determined to do what needs to be done, so that my son will grow up and be healthy, happy, and secure.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Birth of James, Part 3

My in-laws came to St. Luke's, and my parents just went straight to St. V's. I was loaded into the ambulance; my husband rode in front. On the way to St. V's, the technician monitored the baby to make sure he/she (we didn't know the gender) was ok. I believe that I started receiving the magnesium sulfate by IV at St. Luke's. Magnesium sulfate is supposed to help prevent seizures, which I was at risk for, due to my poorly functioning liver. I was warned that it would probably make me feel like shit. Great.

After a nervewracking ride in the ambulance, we arrived at St. V's.  I was taken up to a room on the 7th floor.  I remember they told me to drink this super sour nasty stuff, in order to neutralize my stomach acid, in case I would vomit during the c-section.  I was told to drink it like a shot.  I can't drink shots.  I've never drank one the way you're supposed to. I sip them.  Thus, I've only had 1 or 2 in my life.  So, I sipped it some and finally tried gulping it.  After all that I'd gone through already, I had to have an impatient nurse who acted really annoyed that I wouldn't hurry up and drink it.  Well, gee, I'm sorry if you have to wait a couple minutes.  Oh wait, no I'm not.  Of course, as I knew it would, the nasty stuff came back up.  Maybe not all of it, but some.  It was horrible.  Did I mention I have a phobia of vomiting?

Ok, so my liver and kidneys aren't functioning well, and they're worried I might have a seizure.  I have to have my baby a month early, without any of the benefits of being in labor.  So, I'm pretty nervewracked at this point.  But there's more.  First, they tell me I can be awake during the c-section.  My husband can only be with me during the c-section if I'm awake.  They give him scrubs to change into.  He goes to the bathroom to change, and while he's in there, they tell me that I can't be awake.  My platelets are too low; they are worried about my blood clotting abilities, and so they don't want to risk having an epidural in my spine.  I must have the baby under general anesthesia. So Greg changes into scrubs, comes out, and is told that he will not be able to present for the birth.  Poor guy.

So, I'm taken alone back to the operating room.  I hear that they are waiting for the anesthesiologist to get there.  I hate the waiting.  They begin preparing me for the c-section by tying my arm to the table.  I have anxiety issues, and I didn't like this.  I was hoping they would hurry up and knock me out.  They put the oxygen mask on my face and told me to take deep breaths.  One of the last things I remember is someone saying "Look, she has hives all over her back."  Great.  On top of everything else that is wrong with me, I now have hives.

I don't remember much after that.  The next couple days are a blur.  I really don't have any clear memories until Tuesday.  I remember coming out of anesthesia with the oxygen mask on my face and having a difficult time taking in a breath.  I'm not sure why - maybe my anxiety.  I vaguely remember my friends ( the 2 that were planning my baby shower that I missed) visiting on Sunday, as well as my sister-in-law.  That's about it.

But here is what I've been told happened:

After the c-section, my baby was taken past my room (which I was not in, but my family was waiting there), and my family got to see him.  A boy, which we hadn't known before, 4# and 9 oz, 17 inches, James Irving Gillen, named after my grandfather.  Anyway he was taken past my room on the way to the NICU. He actually was in very good shape, however.  He received antibiotics, because he had swallowed some meconium (the first baby poop) inside me. Because of this, they were worried that he might develop pneumonia.  He didn't.  He had an IV, and oxygen, although he was already breathing pretty well.  It was just a precaution. He spent 2 days in the NICU, and then was tranferred to the regular nursery.  He ate well, and had no problems.

They believe my hives were caused by an allergic reaction to the antibiotics I had taken for my "sinus infection."  So now, I'm apparently allergic to Z-pak and amoxicillin.  I still had hives on my back, and I was super loopy, so I would try to scratch them, and then my IV would beep because of occlusion and the nurse would have to come in and fix it.  So, they gave me Benedril so I wouldn't itch anymore.  Again, I don't remember this. Apparently, I also asked to see my baby repeatedly.  I kept forgetting that I had asked already not that long ago.  I kept falling alseep and  was in and out all day Sunday.  In fact, my poor husband actually had to feed me, I was so out of it.  And then, he would have to tell me to swallow my food, and I would think that I had, when in fact the food was still in my mouth...

Why was I so out of it, you ask?  Oh yeah, because they had givien me tons of mag sulfate, and my kidneys weren't functioning, so the mag sulafte was not getting filtered out and was instead building up in my blood.  Apparently they hadn't thought of this earlier.  So, they decide I need a dialysis treatment to get rid of it.  My family is told that the dialysis will start around 2pm and be done at 5pm, and I might get to see my baby.  But it actually starts around 8pm and gets done around 11pm.  I don't actually get to see my baby for the first time until Monday evening, 2 days after I had him.  And, I was still really tired from the past 2 days events, so I don't even remember it.  I have lots of pictures of this joyous event, but no actual memories.  I don't think I have any real memories until Tuesday morning, when they tranferred me to the regular postpartum ward, with the baby nursery.

To  be continued...

Birth of James, Part 2

After my doctor appointment on Friday, I went home and told my husband that I had to go to the ER, and he came with me.  It seemed like a long wait before I was finally taken back to a room/unit.  During the wait, they took some blood. 

Once I was finally taken to a "room" (there's no door to the room, just a big curtain) in the ER, they hooked me up to an IV.  Then there was more waiting, because there wasn't really anything to do but sit there and wait while the fluids flowed into my body.  I was feeling shaky as well, and I was looking forward to feeling much better once I was rehydrated.  I waited a while, but didn't feel any better.  Then a nurse came in and told me that my blood sugar was 49!!!  If it was any lower, they would expect me to be passing out.  So they gave me some glucose through the IV.

The OB/GYN on call was in charge of my care.  Her name is Dr. Twombly.  Normally in a story like this, one would expect more horrible anecdotes to follow about how horrible the doctor was.  But actually, I would recommend Dr. Twombly to anyone.  I feel very lucky that she was the doctor on call that day, and I plan to transfer my OB/GYN care to her permanently.  She's very blunt but also very caring and kind.

 Dr. Twombly came in and told me my labs were awful, specifically my liver and kidney tests.  She said that she couldn't let me go home with numbers like that;  I would have to spend the night in the hospital.  She also said I couldn't go home until I started eating, because I would just get dehydrated again.  At this point, she thought my awful numbers were due to the dehydration.

It was a few minutes later that I remember I had my baby shower the next day.  I asked one of the nurses if I would be released in time to get to it, and she said she didn't know.  I would realize later on just how ironic this question was.  So, we had to call the friends that were throwing the party for me, the night before the party, and tell them I wasn't coming.  :-(  I felt really badly, because obviously they had spent a lot of time planning and preparing for the party.  But there was nothing I could do. 

Eventually I was taken up to a room in the Family Birthing Center and hooked up to a fetal monitor.  The fetal monitor showed that I was having some contractions, but I couldn't even feel them.  They gave me a shot to stop the contractions, and told me that the medication might make me shaky and make my heart race.  Great.  I was feeling really shaky, but I thought it was due to my low blood sugar.  I was really scared about that, but the nurse said I was shaky from the medication they gave me to stop the contractions.  Later, I was apparently still having contractions, and they gave me another shot.  I asked if they could give me some more glucose, and the nurse said no, that that wouldn't help my blood sugar, that I needed to eat.  In fact, for the next week or so, people were really good about scaring me and making me feel guilty about not eating.  Ever tried eating when you were really sick and had no appetite?  It's near impossible.  And then to have people tell you that you're going to get sicker (or, as my mom did, imply that I might die and basically abandon my baby)  if you don't eat?  It's a horrible feeling.

I was hooked up the fetal monitor all night.  I remember watching the numbers that displayed the baby's heartbeat, and getting worried as they went up and down.  The nurse said the numbers were okay though.  I had blood drawn at 6am on Saturday.  I had been rehydrated with IV fluids.  My numbers should be much better now.  Unfortunately, they weren't.  And that's pretty much when the drama started.  That's when we realized that the situation was much worse than simple dehydration.

I don't remember much about that day except the scariest parts.  I was told that I had to be transferred to St. V's and that my care would be handled by maternal fetal medicine.  Also, St. V's has a NICU.  My baby would have to be delivered by c-section that day.  I cried when they told me that.  It was very scary, and yet hard to believe that I would have a baby at the end of the day.  Dr. Twombly considered inducing me, and the maternal fetal medicine doctor she was consulting said that might be ok, but to check my labs at noon.  Well, my labs changed so drastically from 6am to noon that inducing me was not an option.  The baby had to be delivered ASAP.

To be continued...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The birth of James, Part 1

It's hard to know where to begin with my birth story.  It really starts about 2 weeks before his birth.  No, I wasn't in labor that long, but the events leading up to James' birth started 2 weeks and 1 day before he was  born, as near as I can tell.  It was the night before my first baby shower, given by my sister, sister-in-law, and my mother-in-law.  I felt achy and gross.  I thought it might be the flu, and I don't believe I've ever had the flu before, so I wasn't sure.  The next day was my baby shower, and I was still feeling sick.  I really just thought it was either stress related or was a normal part of pregnancy.  After all, I was nearly 8 months pregnant; there's bound to be some aches and pains, right?

Well, I got through my shower, and afterwards my husband took me home. I took my temperature and had a slight fever, so I realized that I must actually be sick.  Yuck. So, I went on feeling like crap and Monday I called in sick to work.  I went to my doctor, who told me it was a sinus infection.  She said it was possible that I also had the flu, but she wasn't going to test for it; she only wanted to treat the sinus infection (with antibiotics), and she also claimed that flu medications are not safe for pregnancy anyway.  That is not true.  Anyway, with hindsight I now believe that I had neither a sinus infection or the flu, but something much more serious that was just starting to take hold of my body.

I called off work again Tuesday, and even though I still didn't feel well, I felt obligated to return on Wednesday.  Wednesday is the day I stopped eating.  Not completely, but I ate very little.  At the time, we thought I wasn't eating due to my anxiety, due to my history of not eating when my anxiety is acting up.  I was also exhausted and felt nasty.  I sat at my desk at lunch, trying to choke a little of the lunch I had packed, but mostly just wanting to nap.  This continued for the next week and a half.  I called in sick again on Friday.

I was taking the antibiotic Z-pak, but it was having no effect, so I went back to the doctor on Friday, and she prescribed a different antibiotic, amoxicillin.   I started the new antiobiotic the next day and was really hoping that my 4 day weekend off (since I took Friday off and Monday was a holiday) of resting would restore my health.  But no, I was still feeling sick come Tuesday.  And it was very difficult for me to take the amoxicillin.  I hate pills, and it was a big one.  I would often gag when I took it, and I had to take it 3 times a day.  My husband would have to coax me to take it.

Speaking of my husband, he was getting pretty worried about the not-eating thing.  Over the next week, he tried to cook my favorite foods, or blend up smoothies so that I didn't have to eat - I could just drink.  Even that was difficult, but I did choke down the smoothies he made.  My husband is so sweet.  I forgot to mention that for these 2 weeks of illness,  I slept on the recliner in the living room.  I'd done this before, but this time, my husband slept on the couch to be with me.  I kept thinking he would be uncomfortable and decide to go back to bed, but he didn't.  He stayed with me every night.

Toward the end of the week, I stopped taking the amoxicillin.  The previous night I had gagged and threw up, so I wasn't about to take another of those nasty pills.  My husband wasn't happy, but maybe it was for the best after all.

TMI alert - Around mid-week of this 2nd week of illness, my urine turned deep, deep orange. I had never seen it this color.  I looked it up on the Internet, wondering if it could be caused by the medication I was taking.  Sure enough, it was on the list of side effects for amoxicillin, and was even one of the ones that you're supposed to tell your doctor about.  This was on Thursday. So I called the doctor's office, and they said they wanted to follow up with me. So I made an appointment for Friday around my lunch break.  I didn't have any more sick time ( I just started this job in July), and I didn't want to take any more time off work.  In the parking lot on the way to my car, I gagged and vomited.  Again, I attributed it to my anxiety problem.  I often gag when I have anxiety, although I don't vomit.

My doctor told me that I should go to the ER to get rehydrated with IV fluids.  I considered not going, as I didn't want to have to tell my boss I wasn't coming back after lunch.  But thankfully, I did decide to go. 

To be continued...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Why I Became Vegan

Why would anyone want to be a vegan?  Don't you just eat lettuce all day?  LOL  No, but I won't go into the details of my diet today, other than to say it's quite tasty, and yes, I do love good food just like anyone else.  I have probably actually found a lot more awesome recipes because I'm vegan than I would have if I'd never made the switch.

For those of you that don't know, I am the regional coordinator for Mercy For Animals.  One of our goals is to educate the public about the rampant animal abuse on factory farms, as well as the impact of a vegan diet on health and environment.  Mercy For Animals has been around for about 10 years now, but just go started in my area about a year ago.  Following is the speech that I gave at our kick-off dinner last October.

Vegan Testimony

...I want to tell you how I got involved with vegetarianism and Mercy For Animals. I had a pretty traditional upbringing. Meat was a normal part of dinner most nights. My favorite meats were chicken and pork chops. While attending [college], I tried ribs for the first time, and I really liked them! Smothered in all that BBQ sauce, I’m sure I was a mess. I definitely had to ask for extra napkins!!

At a campus fair, I walked up to the vegetarian club’s info table. The woman staffing the table told me how egg laying chickens are crammed 6 at a time into tiny cages where they don’t even have enough room to spread their wings. In order to prevent injury and death from their stress-induced fighting, their sensitive beaks are seared off with a hot blade. She encouraged me to avoid contributing to this cruelty by adopting a vegan diet, one that contains no meat, dairy, and eggs.

I have to say, I was skeptical and irritated. I was studying to be a dietitian at the time, and I believed that we needed at least some animal products in our diets to be healthy. I thought this woman was irresponsible for telling people to eat this way.

But her message about the abuse of animals stayed with me. Over the next few years, I would sometimes think back to our conversation. Finally, I decided to do some research of my own. I’m a dietitian, so I wanted to see what the American Dietetic Association had to say about vegan diets. I already knew that a person can be healthy without eating meat, but I was very surprised to see the ADA’s position paper on vegetarian diets say that vegan diets are healthy for any stage of life, whether old or young, infant, pregnant, or lactating!

I could no longer use the argument that we had nutritional requirements for meat, eggs, or dairy. Even the ADA, which heavily promotes dairy products, agrees we don’t actually need them.

I did some internet research, and found out that the horrendous abuses of animals in factory farms are not isolated incidents, but actually are standard practices. For example, in the dairy industry, cows are treated like machines instead of living creatures. They are artificially inseminated each year, and their babies are taken from them within 24 hours of birth. The mother cow mourns the loss of her young. If the calf is male, he goes into a tiny veal crate, in the dark, where he is unable to move and is fed an iron deficient diet which makes him anemic, so that his meat will be white and tender. I had no idea that drinking milk supports the veal industry.

After learning about the cruelty, I decided I could not support these practices, and I adopted a vegan diet. I found some great substitutes for ice cream, cheeses, and meats, plus there are many awesome vegan cookbooks and websites. I learned that being vegan can be easy and taste great!

But it wasn’t enough for me to just give up animal products. I wanted to share with people this important information about where our food comes from. I found Mercy for Animals and I really liked the work they do. Unfortunately, they didn’t have anyone to coordinate activities for... That’s when I decided that I wanted to be a part of getting MFA started in our area.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

We're All Sinners

Wait...what?  I said I didn't believe Christian dogma, and I promised to talk about something positive next time, so why am I talking about sin?  Well, I just thought that since it's Sunday, it would be fun to get some old-time religion going.  Um...just kidding!!!!

You are not a sinner in the Christian sense that "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  There is no Original Sin, no inescapable sin passed down from your ancestors to you, nothing that you've done to piss God off so much that he'll send you to Hell for eternity if you don't believe the right things.  I will be devoting an entire post to Hell sometime in the near future.  But for now, let's get on to my uplifiting message.

You are an expression of the divine!!!  The creative force of the universe is inside of you; it's inside of everyone and everything.  It's so awesome to know that my baby is an expression of the divine.  Knowing that, how can I ever treat him/her like anything but that? 

I attend a Unity church.  Unity teaches that we are all expressions of the divine.  Unity follows the teachings of Jesus (although often interpreted radically different than mainstream Christian churches and thus is why I don't consider myself a Christian).  Unity believes that Jesus is divine, but no more divine than the rest of us.  Jesus is the expression of our highest potential.  He reached the highest level of consciousness that can be attained.  We all have that potential within us.

So where does sin come in?  A few weeks ago, my minister talked about sin in her Sunday message.  Sin is a term in archery that means "to miss the mark."  So, by sinning, you are missing the bullseye.  You must go and pick up your arrow and try again.  Unless you have never made a mistake and are always hitting your bullseye in life, you are a sinner.  You're not going to Hell, because Hell doesn't exist.  The only thing that exists is love.  You have the potential to be like Jesus (or Gandhi, Dalai Lama, Buddha, Martin Luther King Jr., whatever spiritual/religious leader inspires you).  You just have to keep trying.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fed Up with Disrespectful Parents, Part 3

My previous 2 posts were about ways that parents disrepect their children.  This post is about:

What Parents Should Do Instead

Always tell the truth to your children, please. If you want to have a good relationship, you must tell the truth, just as in any adult relationship. You child will not trust you, and won't tell you the truth, if you don't tell the truth with him. You don't have to go into details that are inappropriate for the child's age, but still find something truthful to say.

Secondly, please respect your child as you would an adult. Validate their feelings.  Listen to what they have to say.  Don't ever make fun of them, mock them, or ridicule them. It's okay for them to feel what they feel. If you are upset about something, the last thing you would want is for someone to tell you that you're overeacting or that your feelings are stupid. So don't do it to your kids.

Don't expect your child to respect you simply because you're an adult. If you want your child to repect you, you must first respect him. You are the model for him to follow. You must act as you want your child to act. If you don't respect him, your child will quickly become frustrated, resentful and/or suffer from low self-esteem, and parenting will become much more difficult.

Okay, I'm done talking about bad parents.  Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.  Tomorrow there will be a new topic.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fed Up with Disrespectful Parents, Part 2

Okay.  I promise the rest of my posts are not always going to be such downers, but this topic is something that has been bugging me for years now, and it feels good to get it off my chest.  So on to Part 2:

Parents Deny the Validity of Their Children's Thoughts/Feelings

Even more upsetting is the way parents talk to their children. They ridicule and belittle them. Now, most of the children I work with are under the age of 5, and these poor kids just can't win for anything. No matter how they act, their parents ridicule them. For example, a child is upset because she's getting a finger poke. First, the parent lies to the child about the pain. Then, the parent gets upset and sometimes yells at the child for crying. The parent acts as though the child is intentionally misbehaving, when the child is actually scared. Lying to the child about the pain will not help, as the child knows it will hurt. Yelling at the child will not help, as the child cannot control her fear response. The child needs to be told the truth and then comforted as much as possible throughout the procedure and after the procedure.

When the finger poke is over, many children are understandably still upset and often still crying. Many parents will get angry, and tell their children "It's over. Stop crying." Or, "See?  All that crying for nothing."  But the child is not crying for nothing.  There is a reason.  The parents are telling the child that he shouldn't be feeling the way he's feeling, that his reaction is bad, that they are upset with him for having the feelings he has. There is no comfort offered, and the parents appear to have much disdain for their own children. What a horrible and isolating experience for such a young child.

Another one that gets me is "See, your little sister didn't even cry."  First of all, babies cry less often than older children, as they often don't know what's about to happen.  Older children have been to the doctor several times, and they know the drill.  They have a lot of time to think about and anticipate what will happen, and therefore are more scared than the younger child.  But secondly, why are these parents trying to make their children feel bad about themselves, to dash their self esteem at such a young age?  Even the older kids we see are no more than 4 years old.  One time, a mom was thoroughly disgusted with her child, who was just shy of his third birthday.  She ridiculed him, saying, "How are you going to go to school acting like that?  Do you want all the kids to laugh at you?"  What the hell?  Did this mom actually think her child is the only one who cries about pokes/shots?

Worse yet, there was an incident in which a mom was upset with her child because she had been crying all morning after being told they were going to the clinic that day. The mom kept saying that there was no reason to be upset. Then, after the poke was over, this poor child was finally smiling. Her mom still ridiculed her, saying "Why aren't you still crying? I thought your finger hurt." Good lord. If the child had still been crying, the mom would be mad about that. Now that the child was happy, the mom was ridiculing her. This child just couldn't win, no matter how she acted.

I bet that's how a lot of children feel - like they just can't win.  And if they can't, then why even try?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fed Up With Disrespectful Parents, Part 1

Yeah,  you read that right.  Disrespectful parents.  I daily witness interactions between parents and children, and I find that parents who respect their children are a rare breed.  No wonder we have so many anxious, depressed, and angry adolescents.  Not to mention disrespectful.  If a child is disrespectful, he often takes the blame for it.  But what makes a child so disrespectful?  Is it the child's natural inclination, or does it come from years of being disrepected by adults? 

I have witnessed so much disdain for children that it breaks my heart.  People treat children in ways they would never dream of treating an adult.  Over the next few days, I'll be discussing some examples.

Parents Lie to Children

I work in a health clinic where children are weighed and receive finger pokes to check hemoglobin status.  Almost 100% of parents lie to their kids. The child, upon realizing that he is about to get poked, starts to cry and get upset.  The parents almost ALWAYS say, "Oh, it's not going to hurt."  Why?!  Of course it's going to hurt!  The child knows it; he's gotten poked before.  Sure, he'll be upset even if you tell him the truth about the pain, but it's better to tell the truth than to lie. 

If you lie to your child about whether a shot will hurt, he will begin to not trust you.  Then he will be scared about everything.  Because you haven't been truthful with him, he won't ever know what is safe and what is not safe.  I firmly believe that is why so many children are afraid to get weighed.  All they have to do is stand on a scale, but some kids are absolutely petrified.  They scream and cry and refuse to stand.  I don't believe this would happen if parents told kids the truth about what is going to happen at the doctor's office.

Who I Am and What This Blog Is About

This is the first blog I've ever written. I hope it is a successful venture.

I'll start off with a little information about me. I'm a registered dietitian, a vegan, and an animal rights activist. I strongly believe that animals should not be bred and raised for lives of misery just to become our breakfast/lunch/dinner. But being vegan doesn't just help the animals; it helps us. A well planned vegan diet is healthier than a diet with meat and dairy. It's also better for the planet, as animal agriculture is worse for the environment than the automobile industry. I'll probably expand more on these topics later.

Besides being an animal rights activist, I am 7 months pregnant with my first child and am planning a homebirth. I love being pregnant. Feeling the baby move and seeing the movement rippling on my stomach is the highlight of my days now, although I am endlessly frustrated that every time I place my husband's hand on my belly, the baby stops moving. Seriously, every time! I am really looking forward to meeting my baby.

I currently work in a health clinic with children. I see parents interacting with their children everyday at my job, and let me tell you, I am often very disturbed by what I see. Some of my views on parenting have come from watching these interactions.

I used to be a Christian, but I no longer claim that title, as I no longer believe most of Christian dogma. My husband and I are trying to find ourselves, our place in the world, and our spiritual path. It's hard work! We are currently attending a Unity church.

So, what is this blog going to be about? Well, it's going to be what I feel like writing about that day, and that's going to be a wide range of topics. I will discuss different aspects of veganism, obstetrical and birth issues, parenting, and spirituality. I hope you enjoy it.