Archive for April, 2010
I used to be an apprentice midwife. I thought I wanted to pursue midwifery as a career. It seemed fitting: I’ve always been interested in birth; I’m a birth doula; I’m a childbirth educator; and I had a homebirth which I loved. Pursuing midwifery seemed like the next logical step.
I think most doulas aspire to become midwives. As a doula attending hospital births, your responsibilities are so limited. You see women treated so badly and you can’t really help. I have smiled and nodded when a doctor cut an episiotomy, when inside I was horrified. I’ve kept from rolling my eyes when a doctor suggests “just a whiff” of pitocin. I’ve even heard a doctor say out loud that he always cut the umbilical cord as soon as the baby was out because if the cord was left intact, all the blood could flow out of the baby back into the placenta.
Attending an out-of-hospital birth, on the other hand, it’s like reaching the holy grail. You see a provider who is “with women;” she is kind and gentle (in my experiences) and helpful. She practices evidence-based midwifery. Usually the mom has spent months with her midwife, and they have a relationship that surpasses patient/provider.
So, with that in mind, I pursued midwifery when the opportunity arose.
By the way, I think that was another issue: the opportunity to pursue midwifery doesn’t arise often. Apprenticeships are hard to come by; there’s a local midwife I know who has a line two miles long of women who want to apprentice with her. When the chance to apprentice basically fell into my lap, I jumped at it, thinking another opportunity might not come along for years. Or maybe ever.
So: I talked My Chemical Romance into a plan where I’d spend one day per week at prenatal appointments — and pay a sitter that day — and attend births with my preceptor. Simultaneously, I entered a midwifery school that required full tuition up front (although I paid via a monthly payment plan). It is a very popular school; the students absolutely worship the director and her controversial point of view regarding birth — and I knew someone who had just graduated.
It was not as easy as I made it out to be. I think My Chemical Romance had some concerns, but I assured him it would be okay. And it was — somewhat. With so much extra responsibility, I stepped up my game in other areas. To prove that I could do everything — and be everyone — I kept the house really clean and started cooking all the time. I took as many doula clients as I could to make some extra money (since apprentices don’t get paid). When my kids were in school, I made sure everything was always packed and ready and I didn’t have to rush to the office because I forgot to send a signed permission slip. I tried to make it look easy.
It wasn’t killing me or my marriage or my relationship with my kids, but I was starting to resent pregnant women after a while. Which is not conducive to practicing midwifery.
Telling my preceptor that I no longer wanted to apprentice with her was easier than I thought. She understood. In my heart, I knew she’d understand, but I was still worried about letting her down — or that she might be disappointed in me. Maybe she was — probably more disappointed to lose my company once a week — but she totally understood and our relationship has morphed into a friendship. I love her.
Despite the fact that I am the snarkiest bitch you’ll ever meet, I’m not into confrontation. I’ve read about it. I know how it works. I try to confront fairly and justly, like the books say, and use “I” phrases and stick to the subject at hand. I can do it. I don’t like the idea of someone being mad at me or disliking me. I’d rather assume they’re mad at me or hate me than to confront them and actually find out. I spent a while trying to decide whether I’d rather continue resenting pregnant women than tell my preceptor that I didn’t want to continue apprenticing and face her (possible, but doubtful) anger and/or disappointment.
Meanwhile, when I decided to stop apprenticing, I thought I’d still continue with my school. You can study midwifery without apprenticing; it’s the opposite that proves tricky. But it’s been three months since I stopped and I have no desire to go back. I haven’t cracked a book, I haven’t done anything midwifery-related — and I’ve liked it. I realized: I don’t want to become a midwife. I believe in midwifery care, I support midwifery care, I’d never have anyone other than a midwife provide me with prenatal care — but that’s not enough passion to pursue midwifery as a career.
My Chemical Romance was supportive of my decision — as he is of nearly every decision I make, truly — but I know he doesn’t get it. He is one of those people who discovered as a teenager his interest (chemistry), went on to get a full academic scholarship to college (to study chemistry), and has always worked in his field (as a chemist). I admire that tenacity — or maybe I just haven’t found the one thing I love and want to pursue forever.
If it weren’t for the fact that I’m still paying tuition, I would have just cut my losses and moved on, but I am still paying. And that was grating at me. I’d signed a contract, and I’d sent postdated checks. Even though I had decided I didn’t want to become a midwife, even though I’d returned the curriculum, I still had to pay the tuition. It didn’t seem fair, but I didn’t know what to do.
Finally I decided that as much as I haaaaaaaaaaaaaate confrontation and finding out people are mad at me, I had to do something. I asked my former midwifery school to return my checks, or destroy them. They said no, I had to keep paying. So I filed a claim with the Better Business Bureau and the Attorney General’s office (department of consumer protection). I said I should not have to continue paying tuition for school in which I’m no longer enrolled, and no longer have the curriculum. I said that a resolution would be for the school to return my checks to me, or to destroy them.
I also contacted my bank and let them know that I was disputing checks, and gave them the BBB claim number.
My midwifery school is pissed. I got a somewhat nasty email saying the director is surprised and disappointed — and I’ve removed myself from group emails, but I’m certain there are emails flying about this. Not about me specifically (I hope), but about how someone is not honoring her agreement with the school and taking money away from them. Whine whine whine.
It felt good to confront the school, and stand up for myself. It was scary, but I’m really glad I did this. I believe in what I’m doing. The school administrators seem mad — but that’s okay. I confronted them. They’re mad. The world is still spinning.
Introducing the men who have helped my ass become as painful as it is today.
1. Oh! Canada! (Biliopancreatic Diversion with a Duodenal Switch surgeon)
I had weight-loss surgery on election day, 2008. That morning I woke up early, found a shar*pie marker, and wrote OBAMA on my arm in huge letters. That afternoon I endured glowers from members of the anesthesiology team, and I’ve always believed that my subsequent pain afterwards was because they refused to use my “contaminated” left arm for IV narcotics.
Oh! Canada! came to see me while I was in pre-op, blindly waiting for versed — blind because they’d taken my glasses away! — and he assured me that he wasn’t a citizen and didn’t vote.
(And, yes, for all you conservatives: I had surgery done by an IMMIGRANT! I took a JOB out of the hands of an AMERICAN CITIZEN and gave it to a NON-AMERICAN! And I think it was the best decision I ever made!)
2. Circa-1980s Rob Lowe, MD (local colorectal surgeon #1)
The first time I had ass-pain, I goo*gled for a local colorectal surgeon and found Circa-1980s Rob Lowe, MD. Bad hair and clothes withstanding. I almost started laughing when I realized that Circa-1980s Rob Lowe, MD, was gone to stare deeply into the inner-most crevices of my… behind. While my cheeks were taped apart. And he had on a caving helmet.
Circa-1980s Rob Lowe, MD is… well, you get the picture. Unfortunately, during my first experience with him I determined that he is prettier than he is competent which lead me to…
3. Disapproving House (local colorectal surgeon #2)
When Circa-1980s Rob Lowe MD did a procedure that didn’t quite work, I sought the advice of another local colorectal surgeon, and ended up in the office of Disapproving House. He’s rude, abrupt, unpleasant, and was very disapproving that I’d seen another colorectal surgeon before coming to him. He fixed me up though, and I hoped I’d never have to see him again.
4. My Indian Chemical Romance (Gastrointestinal doctor)
I don’t have much to say about My Indian Chemical Romance. I go see him every few months when I’ve just spent a week on the toilet and he tries various medications/admits me to the hospital for dehydration/does tests that are totally inconclusive/completely wrong. He finds my surgery and subsequent complications very intriguing.
Recently Wii asked me about him. I said, “He’s okay, he does a lot of tests to rule things out, but the best thing about him is that he’s really cute.”
I sent her a link to his office page, and she replied, “You only think that because he’s the Indian version of your husband.”
And — OMG! OMFG! ZOMFG!1111 — she’s right, and I didn’t notice until that very moment. In fact, as I was photo*shopping this picture, My Masterpiece sat in my lap and pointed at the screen and said, “Dats daddy.”
5. Dr. Wins-The-Battle-Loses-The-War (Miami colorectal surgeon)
On one hand, he performed surgery that fixed a very painful problem. On the other hand, the procedure that he did to fix the problem has created — I think — more pain than its fixed. Since coming back from Florida, I’ve seen both Circa-1980s Rob Lowe MD and Disapproving House, and both have agreed that I am suffering from the incisions made by Dr. Wins-The-Battle-Loses-The-War. And they’ve both given me a lot of painkillers.
6. My Therapist. I go there, I pay $10, and for an hour I talk about my favorite subject: ME.
I didn’t have “colorectal surgeon” in my cell phone contacts until after I lost 130lbs. Prior to that, my only experience with a proctologist was watching Katie Couric’s colonoscopy on the Today Show.
I had other issues though, at nearly 275lbs. Mostly that I was exhausted and depressed, and self-loathing. I tend to be harder on myself than I am on others; you might be fat because of bad genes or a really stressful time in your life or a medication that causes you to gain weight but I was fat because I was lazy and had no self-control.
The most difficult part of the decision to have weight-loss surgery was flying the surrender flag. Choosing to have bariatric surgery meant that I had failed every diet-and-exercise-lifestyle-change-program on the planet. I was not ever going to call Jenny (again). I was not ever going to attend another We*ight Wa*tchers meeting (again). I was throwing in the towel instead, and throwing in my lot with a surgeon whose specialty is rearranging the intestines of the morbidly obese.
I had a Biliopancreatic Diversion with a Duodenal Switch on November 4th 2008, election day. (I woke up from anesthesia and asked, “Who won?” and when my mom said “Obama,” I replied, “Really?” and fell back asleep. She claims we had the same conversation eight times. I don’t remember.) I had my stomach cut and a portion of my small intestine moved and connected near my pylorus and duodenum; I no longer absorb much fat or protein in my meals.
My lowest weight, less than a year after surgery, was 129lbs; I’m now between 135lbs and 140lbs. I wear a size six.
When I was morbidly obese I used to think that thinness would cure all my problems. I knew in my rational brain that it was a fallacy, but it seemed like my problems always came back to my weight: I avoided intimacy with my husband because I felt my body was disgusting; I avoided making friends because I didn’t feel worthy of friendship; I rarely played with my kids because I had no energy to do so; I spent too much money buying clothes I hated because I couldn’t shop at normal stores and instead went to Lane Bryant; showering several times a day caused a high water bill; our energy bill was even higher because I was hot and kept the air conditioning going most months of the year.
The surgery and subsequent weight loss did solve some of those issues: I am intimate with my husband, in more ways; I have a lot of friends; I have the energy to play with my kids; I can buy things off the clearance rack at O*ld Na*vy; I usually shower only once a day day.
(Our energy bill stayed high because I was freezing cold all winter.)
However, more intimacy with my husband does not mean my marriage improved; I would not have friends who are fat-phobic in the first place; having the energy to play with my kids is not the same as having the desire to play with them; I still wear the same type of clothes I wore before (shorts or jeans and a solid-colored tshirt or long-sleeved shirt); and there are new problems.
That caught me off-guard. There are new problems.
I could not imagine a size six would have problems. Apparently I was sizist; what possible problem could one have when one fit into an airline seat properly and only needed to shower once a day? What else was there to worry about?
But as I typed the words “colorectal surgeon” into a search engine for the first time, I had to admit, even thin people have problems.
Since that first time, I’ve seen the proctologist three times; recently while on vacation with my kids and dog in Florida I had to have anal surgery. My insurance only covered 80% of the procedure, leaving me with a hefty out-of-pocket bill – and having to purchase a plane ticket to Florida for my husband so he could drive us home. I had taken our four kids (and the dog) by myself on vacation; I thought I’d recover quickly and still be able to drive us all home on my own. I was wrong — the surgery was intensely painful — and I couldn’t drive for days. It’s been nearly two weeks and my butt still hurts. This is a problem.
The issues for which I needed a colorectal surgeon are because of my surgery; specifically how my gut reacts to its new arrangement and how I treat my tender, rearranged intestines by what I eat.
There are other issues, too, daily issues: I do not have much good bacteria in my intestines, and bacteria are very useful to a colon. Just ask the gastrointestinal doctor; another new one on my speed-dial since Obama was elected. Even though I eat yogurt daily, and take a probiotic, sharing a bathroom with me isn’t fun. If you do a search for “Duodenal switch” and “bathroom issues” you will get a million sites. Maybe even my blog.
The leftover skin – the skin I swore I wouldn’t mind, because who cares, it’s just extra skin! I’m not going to worry about that when I’m skinny! – migrated to my mid-section and most days that I don’t wear mom-jeans I look pregnant. I have been asked by well-meaning strangers when I’m due – this means that not only do I look pregnant, I look pregnant enough that total strangers think it’s socially acceptable to ask me about it.
The first time someone asked, I was deeply offended and proffered a very snarky reply; the most recent time, I simply said I had a stomach condition that causes severe bloating. Combine extra skin in the mid-section with a body that lacks the hips to hold up pants; combine the occasion bout of bloating with not standing ramrod-straight all the time and you get me, looking like I’ve just finished my first trimester.
I was wrong when I thought being thin would solve all my problems; it solved some, exacerbated others, and created new ones. There are benefits to physical smallness: I love buying clothes off the rack; I love my underwear drawer full of size mediums and my cute bras. I feel great: I can run around like never before and jump on the trampoline with my kids, and my treadmill is no longer a towel holder. My self confidence has increased dramatically.
But in return, I’m married to my Biliopancreatic Diversion with a Duodenal switch; it’s with me every second of every day, and unlike the days of diets and exercise this has changed my entire body forever, I can’t ever throw in the towel on my own body.
I was raised Jewish, so of course I feel guilt more intensely than, say, Jesse James or Jack the Ripper.
And, believe it or not, blogging causes me some amount of guilt. Thus proving I could never rob a bank or steal fruit from a grocery store; I can’t even type words on an empty page without feeling bad.
(I’m also a terrible liar. My friend Wii is the smoothest liar I’ve ever seen; once, while sitting in the office of a very prominent criminal defense attorney, she ran into an acquaintance who worked in the same building. The acquaintance, who clearly attended the Cream of Mommy School of Tact, asked incredulously, “What are you doing here?” Wii smiled a very kind, very mysterious smile and said, “Just in the neighborhood.” It was probably her smirk that put an end to that conversation.
Still, if you’d asked me the same question, I would have said the following:
“Who me? Here? Are you asking me why I’m here–” not snarky (for once!); just trying to buy more time “– well, um, I know it probably looks like I’m here to defend myself against committing a crime using this prominent defense attorney in whose lobby I am currently sitting looking very very nervous and guilty and flipping through Charlotte Magazine, but actually there’s another reason why I’m here. And it doesn’t involve a crime. Particularly NOT a felony. I swear. Um. There was this cat. It died. And I had nothing to do with it, but since everyone knows I hate cats with a passion, and because I happened to be the one who found the dead cat and reported it to the police, they think I did it!”
That is verbatim what I would have said.)
But, despite the fact that I do hate cats passionately — my friend Emily’s husband used to hate cats too, and he once told me that while in school he had to dissect a cat and did so “with relish;” I relished that story until he went and DIDN’T DISOWN EMILY WHEN SHE BROUGHT HOME A CAT, AND IS NOW A HAPPY CAT-OWNER, THAT TRAITOR — my guilt is about blogging.
1. If you’re reading my blog, and if you’ve ever commented, I have probably read your blog and not commented. And I feel bad about that.
2. If you blog, and your blog is even remotely funny/snarky/interesting/relating to the following topics: attachment parenting; food; cooking; your family; hating cats — basically if you’re more than borderline literate and have anything to say about anything — you probably have a great blog, that I may have saved to my Google Reader, but I am not caught up on it, and I feel bad about that. Alternately, I am not reading your blog, and your blog is teh awesome, and I feel bad about that.
3. If you’re following me on Facebook or Twitter, I’m probably not following you back, and I feel bad about that.
4. If you are Animal, Mineral, The Informant, My Masterpiece, My Chemical Romance, or The Dog Without a Downside, and you’ve ever needed me to wipe your butt/give you a bucket to vomit into/find you something clean to wear so that the neighbors don’t think we’re exhibitionists, and instead I’ve been blogging and let you walk the dog while naked with little poo-flecks on your rear end, while someone vomits into our pyrex bowls that never get cleaned in the dishwasher, I feel bad about that.
5. If you’re my neighbor, and have seen me wearing my pajamas at 3pm, while my children ride their bikes naked with the dog’s leash attached to their handlebars so she can get some exercise, for heaven’s sake and maybe someone is throwing up into a bowl because I’ve been too busy blogging to take a shower/do laundry/walk the dog/ensure my children are using toilets to hold their bodily fluids — I feel bad about that
The truth is, I love reading — and writing. I’ve loved writing ever since The Evil Fourth Grade — fourth grade! — Teacher Who Shall Not Be Named But Forced Nine-Year-Olds To Write Book Reports Each Week For The Entire School Year assigned her very first weekly book report. I hated doing them — seriously! nine years old! fourth grade! — but I had a talent for writing. And my writing improved. I got a lot of A+ on those book reports; once I got an A- during an off week.
I went on to earn a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan.
And yet, until the last few weeks, I’d hardly written in anything beside my journal since I graduated. I was busy getting unplannedly pregnant, with twins, who had Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome, then being a single mom of twins; then meeting My Chemical Romance, then getting married; then moving cross-country; then being a wife and mom of twins; then getting pregnant with The Informant; then moving to another state, then being a wife and mom in a really really depressing small town; then becoming a doula; then having My Masterpiece; then being a wife and mom of four kids ages four and under — all while only knowing my husband for that long; then finding My Chemical Romance a job away from the small depressing town, then moving cross-country again, then being a wife and mom and doula in a completely new part of the country; then having weight loss surgery –
And I’m kind of annoyed at myself; I did so much stuff over those years and I never wrote about it. Only imagine what I would have called the town we lived in on the border of Mexico, where My Chemical Romance learned Spanish slang so offensive he couldn’t tell me — me! Only imagine what I would have written as I lost 130lbs.
I almost feel bad about not writing. Looking back, it seems disingenuous.
I’m making up for lost time. I’m here now.
In several easy steps:
1. Decide to make favorite dish — Shepherd’s Pie — for monthly local midwives’ luncheon.
2. Chop onion in beloved, beloved – beloved I tell you — food processor, which I received as a baby shower gift when I was pregnant with Animal and Mineral. It’s small, but very efficient. I use it mostly for chopping onions, but as you know, I like cooking with onions.
3. Saute onions with 3 tablespoons of butter, over low-medium heat. Note that recipe says “until onions are tender, approximately ten minutes.”
4. Go to bathroom. Get involved in good book. Read for approximately eight minutes.
5. Come back to kitchen and find that onions are BLACK AND SMOKING. Shriek loudly! Take pan off heat and stick it in sink — and here’s where the story takes a very dark, twisted turn into tragedy — not realizing that the food processor’s plastic top is underneath the smoking pan.
6. Quickly grab another onion to chop in the food processor. Note that the top of the food processor is missing. Scan the kitchen, and then, with a feeling of dread, realize that it’s beneath the still-burning hot saute pan. And that the plastic has twisted. In such a way that it will no longer fit the top of the processor.
7. Take out cutting board and begin chopping onion by hand, unsure if crying onion-tears or mourning loss of beloved beloved – beloved I tell you — food processor.
8. Debate how to tell My Chemical Romance that I’ve killed the best kitchen utensil we have. Seriously. We don’t have sharp knives, an electric can opener, or even a salad spinner. We don’t have a Kitchenaid Mixer. We have a small, yet efficient, food processor. Had.
In which I use my recent experiences to illustrate three common types of poetry.
Examined my behind
Very tender tissues there
Rear end floating high
Shining light shows incisions
Doctor says I’m fine
Here lies Cream of Mommy’s ass-ventures. They began in San Diego, during her pregnancy with The Informant. She felt something sticking out that should instead be in; definitely an anal tumor. However, it was “merely” a hemorrhoid.* After pushing out two more daughters**, and having weight-loss surgery( a Biliopancreatic Diversion with a Duodenal Switch), the fun continued in Charlotte, North Carolina. This time, she employed the use of a colorectal surgeon, and thus had her first experience paying a doctor to worship at the High Temple of Ass-In-The-Air-Under-Bright-Lights. Next she took her show on the road to Florida. While on vacation, rather than sip a Mai-Tai on the beach, she wore My Masterpiece in a Mei Tai — which had absolutely nothing to do with anything, except that it gave her the opportunity to use the phrase “mei-tei” twice in one sentence, which may be a blog record. Thinking she may have yet another “mere” hemorrhoid, she opted to see a doctor. Although staying in the vaulted, gated residence of her parents in an affluent neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale, she could only get an appointment with a colorectal surgeon in the seediest of neighborhoods in Miami. Of course. The doctor who performed his version of an ass-ectomy — markedly different from the type of ass-ectomy that would be performed by the surgeon in Charlotte, apparently — continued the chain reaction of events: from ass pain, to pain in the incision of the ass; completely different, and leaving her to wonder if the surgery itself was worthwhile at all, save for the good drugs. Now, thanks to copious amounts of pain-killers, as well as sitting on pillows, she is on the mend and believes the ass-tastic adventures of Cream of Mommy are dead.
*Only people who have never had a hemorrhoid can say “merely” like that.
** Folk wisdom says that pregnancy with a daughter steals her mother’s beauty. I believe that pregnancy with a daughter steals her mother’s blissful unawareness of her own ass and the subsequent pain and discomfort that can happen down there.
Stay tuned for more homeschool lessons: Science! History! Economics!
I used to spend approximately half of My Chemical Romance’s paycheck at a large warehouse-type store.
I looooooathe driving to multiple stores, so I filled my house with store-brand everything, from paper towels to crackers. You would not believe how many items come in warehouse store brand.
And then things changed. First, we watched a documentary on W*l*Mart called The High Cost of Low Prices, and stopped shopping there completely. (Thus, the move to Kirkl*and, which may or may not be better.)
Then My Chemical Romance became interested in growing his own vegetables. Soon we had a beautiful organic garden, and slowly — really, really slowly; like at the pace of a dying tortoise — I started incorporating greens into our food.
Then I met my friend Wii, who is very particular about what her family eats. Nothing with high-fructose corn syrup, nothing partially hydrogenated, no trans fats, and a variety of other rules that can be summed up best in Michael Pollan-speak: Eat food.
I can’t say for sure whether or not I wouldn’t have needed weight loss surgery if I’d learned to eat real food sooner; I can only say I feel better when I eat it, no matter what I weigh. Learning to eat real food has been a gift.
However, this whole real food thing means I spend my weekends driving all over Charlotte and Fort Mill to buy my family’s food.
In my utopia, where things like anal fissures don’t exist, there exists one store where I can buy an entire (grass fed only) cow, mechanic towels, c*ttonelle wet wipes, handmade organic tortillas, organic bread, chocolate chip cookies, Che*rios, Wholly Wholesome pie crusts, frozen organic vegetables in bulk, organic chicken, printer ink, crayons, raw milk cheese, organic fresh produce, Tri-Spy, tshirts, organic canned chicken, legos, spices, pasta, Tom’s of Maine flouride-free kids’ toothpaste, raw milk, underpants, Duke’s Mayonaise, kids’ craft supplies, and my often-obscure vitamins, like Tender Dry A in 25,000 IU tablets.
That is seriously my utopia. I call it “Cream of Mommyland.”
Instead, I buy certain things at certain stores: bulk organic meat and frozen vegetables (and Cheerios) at C*stco; bread/cheese/cooking/baking ingredients at Tr*ader Joe’s; produce and toothpaste at E*rth Fare; the rest at my local T*arget, which has a large variety of organic items.
I buy 1/4 of a grass-fed cow every few months from a Cow-pool. I use a DivaCup and cloth pads (also known as “mama cloth”). I buy my vitamins from Vitalady — who carries the most obscure vitamins for the post-weight loss surgery set — and Vitacost, which is somewhere in North Carolina, so they deliver fast.
And I dream about my store that carries everything from grass fed cows to cray*la.