Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Americans are Coming

Please read the following article and discuss. (Hee hee - I feel like a teacher handing out an assignment). My opinion will come at the end so as not to sway first impressions.

(CNN) -- There was a phrase, or so we have long been told, that was heard in occupied Europe during World War II.

It was often said as a whisper, the story goes. It had the sound of a prayer.

The words were so simple, but to people who were feeling utterly abandoned and who needed help, those words meant so much.

Four words:

"The Americans are coming."

Sometimes we forget about the power of those words, and about how, for so long, they defined the real meaning of what this country, at its best, could be.

Sometimes, in the midst of all the bad news, in the midst of the mistakes this country inevitably makes, we lose sight of how much the people of the United States are counted on by those in need.

Which is why the humanitarian efforts in Haiti this month, in the wake of the earthquake, have been a reminder of who we are when we strive to find our finest selves.

The relief efforts have been an international undertaking; the heartache on the streets of Haiti has summoned compassionate and heroic assistance from around the globe, all of it deserving of praise and gratitude.

But the United States has been at the forefront, as it has so often seemed to be in so many places when hope was in short supply. It is almost beyond imagining to think what has been in the terrified minds of the citizens of Haiti who have been without water, without food, without a way to rescue their trapped and dying children. When there is nothing left to depend on, when all is desolation and despair, what must the hungry and the hurt wish for as they look into the empty distance?

Someone to care.

Someone to travel many miles, with the will and the means to heal.

The slowness with which medical supplies and water and heavy equipment have reached the people of Haiti has been thoroughly reported. Some of the results of the relief effort have been troubling, beset by bottlenecks and breakdowns under arduous conditions. But this is not about the frustrations in getting the job done. It is about the American impulse to help.

There is nothing particularly controversial, these days, about pointing out the failings of the United States. You can say just about any derogatory thing about the U.S., and it's not especially shocking. We're used to hearing it.

Already, as the tragedy in Haiti continues to unfold, there have been pockets of harsh criticism of America's efforts to help. French Cooperation Minister Alain Joyandet alluded to the United States "occupying" Haiti instead of assisting it. It is not the first time the United States has been chastised, and it will not be the last. The history of the U.S. involvement in Haiti has not always been a happy or unsullied one.

But perhaps we can take just a moment to think about the honor that is inherent in being the ones who, at junctures like this one, are counted on -- the ones who show up, every time.

During World War II, those four words -- "The Americans are coming" -- referred to the armed forces who had traveled across the ocean to liberate the people the Nazis had enslaved. In times of natural disaster, the context is different.

In Haiti the words refer to the 82nd Airborne, yes, but they also refer to the American doctors who are volunteering their time and risking their own safety to soothe the pain of people they had never before met. The words refer to the American volunteers assisting at Haitian orphanages, not giving up on the children who have no families to comfort them. The words refer to the American search-and-rescue teams who work past the point of exhaustion as they seek signs of the living among the rubble, and they refer to the Americans back home who, during difficult economic times in the U.S., have donated their money to help people who, for now, have no way to say thank you.

The focus of the news will shift soon enough -- that shift has already started. There will be other crises, other major stories. We, as a country and as individuals, will continue to be imperfect.

There will be political squabbles and high-decibel partisan fights. We will at times focus on the trivial and the coarse.

At such times, we might do well to pause and recall the sound of those four words.

And to let the words remind us that, when we set our souls to it, we still can aspire to be the hope of the world.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Bob Greene

The opinions expressed in this commentary are also reflective of my opinions (and I think it sad that CNN had to disclose that statement). The fact is that despite all that may be wrong with our country (and the media's immature way of bringing up the country's faults over and over again) we still live in one of the most amazing countries in the world. While it is good to realize our faults and work to improve them, we should not dwell on them. I feel that the media and certain groups are dwelling on the faults and forgetting to see what makes our country so grand. Let us continue to reach out to those in need, remember the freedoms that we enjoy, and be happy to live in a country that is capable of responding to the world's cry for help.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Virtual Baby Shower, part trois

First off-thank you sooo much girls for all y'all's participation. Seriously made my week. Now, onto our third and final installment...(you'll have to excuse me the added detail compared to the last two. It was my most recent birth and hence the most fresh in my mind).

I woke up on October 28th at about 7, 7:30ish with contractions every 10 minutes or so. I had been contracting off and on for about two weeks, so I wasn't convinced it was labor yet and figured I'd wait and see how things went throughout the day. The contractions were painful-ish all day, but weren't progressing very quickly and I just went about my day. Mid-day, I decided I was in actual labor, but I have a tendency to putter during labor (as my previous posts attested to) and I went about all business as usual. Anyway, about 5:00ish that evening, I started seriously timing my contractions and realized they were speeding up fairly quickly. I started packing up the kids to go with my mom to her house and getting stuff for the hospital and by the time I left for the hospital that evening, my contractions were about 4-5 minutes apart and were hurting a lot. They continued to get much more intense on the drive down to the hospital (a little over an hour away), but actually spread out in time to about 6 minutes apart. I was paranoid about going into the hospital and having contractions that far apart (heaven forbid they mistake me for an antsy first time mom ;), so I convinced my husband to pick up some dinner for himself and fill up the car with gas before we parked at the hospital. I considered stopping at the mall to walk around for a bit...thank heavens we didn't or I definitely would've had a baby somewhere between Famous Footwear and The Gap. When we parked they were still 6 minutes apart. My doctor suspects at that point in time, I was probably dilated to 5-ish cm. Because I wanted to give my contractions a chance to speed up, I had Spencer park in the parking garage (rather than do valet parking at the front of the hospital) and walk to the hospital with me (it's about a 5 minute walk while not in labor). As soon as we started walking (especially with those pesky two flights of stairs ), my contractions sped up like crazy. When I checked in at labor and delivery, it was 8:32pm and my contractions hurt like h**l, but I was surprisingly managing them really well. I had studied up on the Bradley method while pregnant and the method of relaxing your body while it worked through the contractions was working really well for me. Also, I think in large part, my management of the pain was because I seriously thought I had like 6 hours of labor ahead of me (like I did with my previous daughter), so I kept on comparing them to how much more intense they'd be getting, if that makes any sense. Anyway, they put me in triage and the nurse checked me and lo and behold, I was fully dilated. So, I had dilated from a 5ish all the way to a 10 in the time it took me to walk from the car to labor and delivery. That was a very. long. painful. walk. Right after she checked me in triage, I started to feel a little pushy. They immediately moved me over to a delivery room and called my doctor, who arrived all out of breath about 10 minutes later. While we waited for my doctor, I was practically giddy at the thought that I was that close to being done. I seriously had planned on going for so much longer. The nurses couldn't believe how well I was coping, including the fact I was laughing and making jokes in the moments between contractions. I just couldn't get over the fact that I would be having the baby in a few minutes versus a lot of hours, like I had planned on. Anyway, after the doctor got there, I couldn't hold back any longer and two contractions later, we had a baby. I was lucky and didn't have anything more than a little skid mark. My daughter was officially born at 9:31pm, so about an hour after we got to the hospital and about 14 hours after I woke up with contractions that morning. The pushing was by far the most painful part for me. The contractions were very intense, but I just focused on breathing and relaxing my way through them and I somehow was able to stay on top of them pretty well. The pushing...well, let's just say I was glad it only lasted for like five minutes, although I was at least crowning for nearly all of it, so that probably didn't help things any. After birth, however, I just felt so fabulous. I couldn't even believe how great I felt, both physically and emotionally. It was such a high and it was so nice not to have to deal with everything that comes with an epidural and tearing and all that.

Since the little one descended so quickly, there was loads of mucus still in her lungs when she was born (because it didn't have a chance to get squeezed out in the birth canal), so after the first initial holding and cord-cutting, the nurses and pediatrician started to suck out the mucus and fluid. That took about 30-45 min because they were having a hard time keeping her blood-oxygen levels up. They suspected that part of the problem was how upset she was, so they had me nurse her skin to skin. That calmed her right down and helped loads with her blood-oxygen levels. Other than that, however, she was just fine at birth, alert and active, although very blue. She was a perfect little 6lb 12 oz, 19 3/4 inch bundle of perfect.

My third birth was my ideal birth. Really, truly fabulous. It was totally worth the pain in the butt of traveling over an hour to each doctor visit and then the hospital to have my natural VBAC. I realize that it's not an option, or even a desire for everyone to go natural, or even vaginal, but for me, it was absolutely perfect. I could honestly have 5 more just like her, especially considering she really was a good little baby (as long as she was being held, anyway ;). Honestly, I can't wait to try it again.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Virtual Baby Shower, part deux

And on we go...

My second birth was more to my liking, although there were definite pros and cons. As my daughter was a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), I had to travel well over an hour to get to my doctor and hospital (darn Oklahoma liability insurance restrictions :P). That in and of itself was not super-fun. I had another slow labor start, like I had with my previous birth. I woke up with contractions (about 7:30am), 8 days before my due date, went to Wal-mart (again), went to my little brother's high school graduation that evening, and showed up at the hospital at 1:00/1:30am at 4.5cm dilated. Contractions at this point were waaay more painful then they were with my first baby at a 4. I was crazy with the pain. I guess I just didn't know what to expect and had been so stressed (my husband had graduated and we had moved across the country less then a month before I went into labor) that I just hadn't really prepared. I fought the pain rather then giving into them, if that makes sense

I had a stupid, stupid doctor (my actual doctor was out of town) that was super-anti-VBAC. He actually had the gall to insist that I explain to him why I wanted to go vaginal instead of cesarean (in the middle of a contraction, no less) and then scoff when I said that one of my reasons was that I wanted more than 3 kids. grrr. He acted like I was placing my baby in extreme danger, listed all the tests and monitoring I needed to have done...and then proceeded to only stop by the room once for the rest of labor.

Moving on...I received my epidural at 8 cm dilated. I wondered later if I had known I was so far along if I would've just tried to go natural (they checked me AFTER they gave me the epi). Despite my earlier panicking with the pain, by that point, I felt that I was finally starting to get the hang of things. Whether or not I would've changed it, the epidural gave me a break and a chance to sleep, which was blissful because by this point (3:15-ish am) I was absolutely exhausted. I do think my epidural slowed down the labor by looking at my rate of dilation up to that point, but it really wasn't that big of deal...I got a chance to sleep and there was no harm done. One thing, though, was the the epidural didn't take well on one side, so we kept on bumping the dosage in the hopes it would even things out a bit...which is sort of did, but it also made me completely numb from the waist-down. I couldn't even feel any sort of pressure).

Anyway, fast forward a few hours and I'm ready to push. The doctor came in (this would be the first time I had seen him since he condescendingly dismissed me earlier) and had me push once. I was in a horrible position (not quite flat, but definitely not having gravity helping at all), with absolutely no help or direction from the nurse and didn't push very effectively that first try. He decided it'd be quite a while before I delivered, so he left...as in he left the hospital and went home. Well, as soon as he left, a different nurse came into the room and she actually knew what she was doing. She encouraged my husband and mother to hold up my legs, helped me sit up a little more, and told me to avoid pushing with my thighs...and around 20 minutes later, at 7:25 am, we had a baby (which, if you're keeping track, is about 24 hours from when I woke up with contractions the day before). At this point in time, there was no doctor in the room. There were only a couple of frantic nurses paging the new doctor who was still changing into her scrubs and what-not. The doctor who arrived was fairly upset with how the whole thing was handled...especially since I ended up with 3rd degree tearing because of the lack of a doctor there to help things move a bit more gently. yeeeouch. My recovery, while definitely easier then my c-section, was still pretty darn painful.

Overall, I was pretty happy with my first daughter's birth. While there were definitely things I didn't love about it (did I mention how much I abso-friggin'-lutely disliked my doctor?), it was very much a step in the right direction for me. One of the things I loved best about her birth was that I was finally able to test my body and see if it could really, truly, manage to push that proverbial watermelon out of the lemon-sized gap. I was more than a little excited and relieved to see that it, in fact, could.

Come on, y'all. I just sound stupid if I'm the only one posting birth stories. Aubrey has heard all mine already :P

ps-thanks Aubrey, Steph, and Holly for your previous input!

pps-Here's a humorous side note: I couldn't find a good spot for in the story: In the moment right after the birth, when I found out my baby was actually a girl, I was so completely and utterly relieved. T hat was truly my first thought..."Thank Heavens she's a girl". Let's just say I had A LOT of pink things on hand and my husband had been torturing me mercilessly with loads of blue-related "what-ifs".

Monday, January 11, 2010

Vitual Baby Shower (minus the gifts and quiche)

As my co-blogger, Aubrey, wrote in our last post, she welcomed an adorable baby girl into the world (well, if you want to be technical, she was writing about her intent to welcome said baby...I can now assure you she did in fact, actually have that baby). As I'm a few hundred miles away from my best girlfriend (and her pink bundle of joy), I missed out on all the fun and excitement of a real life baby shower. So, I figured I'd bring my very favorite part of the fabulous baby shower I couldn't give her to our blog. Ok...second favorite (it's really hard to have a cheesecake and quiche through the internet)...The Birth Stories. You know what I'm talking about. Bring a random group of women together, throw in a pregnant lady with imminent birth approaching and you know that every single one of them is going to relish in telling a birth story (or two...or three... ;).

I don't know why I love birth stories so much, I just do. Maybe it's because my three births were so distinct and different from each other. It could be because I have a penchant for reliving my most painful moments in the knowledge that I did, in fact, live through them. It could be my hope that passing on my experiences could possibly help some bewildered first time mom. I'd like to believe that it has something to do with the joy each of us find in bringing a child into the world in our own unique way, yet still forging a connection to the millions of women that have done it before us.

And this, dear readers, is where you come in. Come on...you know you want to...

To get the ball rolling, I'll start. I figure I'll post my first birth story now and then in a day or two, I'll post the next and so on. That way, you y'all will have three chances to post a story, rather then just the one. Like I said, I REALLY want some participation here.

Here goes:

My oldest was my c-section baby. I'd had an extremely uncomfortable pregnancy, so it came as no surprise that his birth was the same way. Little man turned breech at 36 weeks and was too big to find his way back around. As I was a first time mom, my doctor recommended I do a cesarean, rather then attempt to turn the baby. Looking back now, I don't know if I would've gone that direction if I knew then what I know now...but no use crying over spilled milk. Anyway, I woke up at 7:00am, 6 days before my due date, with light contractions that continued throughout the day. They never became super-regular, so I didn't think I should go into the hospital. Silly, I know, considering I was a c-section mom, but I guess I just had the 4 minutes apart rule so ingrained in me that it's like it never occurred to me to go in. Anyway, I picked up my mom from the airport (she was luckily scheduled to arrive that day), went out to Carraba's with her, my aunts, and our husbands (best. meal. ever.), made a quick trip to Wal-mart, and hit the hospital at 11:30 pm. I was then at 4 cm and was in pain, but nothing too bad. They stopped my labor and scheduled a c-section for the next morning (they would've operated then, but I had had a big meal). Morning came, I was sicker then a dog (they wouldn't let me eat anything, which stirred up my still-present morning sickness) and my contractions were returning. At 8:08 am, my 8 lbs, 8.5 oz baby boy was taken from my body. It was not the happiest moment of my life. I was too busy throwing up into a basin (the pain meds were giving me extreme nausea on top of the aforementioned morning sickness) while having my body strapped down to the table. Sooo not fun. Even more not fun was that my father-in-law was watching the whole thing (so not my idea) and would forever refer to my son's birth as a "slice 'em and dice 'em." I was super-groggy for a while and didn't even get to hold my son for the next few hours. I was desperate for him by the time they brought him to meet me. Recovery was long. and painful. Not to mention the tell-tale trademark c-section perma-belly I have to show for it. The whole thing wasn't exactly something that I was eager to repeat.

That all being said, I'm still so, so grateful that in today's day and age, we have the medical knowledge to bring my baby safely into the world, no matter his position or weight. Truly miraculous. And you know what, despite the fact that the doctor took him from my body instead of me pushing him out myself, it was still a birth in every sense of the word. I had grown my son inside of me for nine months and then I gave him up into the coldness and harshness of the world, protecting him as best as I could with my arms and my heart. And that is, after all, what birth is about.

And you?
(ok, ok, if you don't want to type out the whole story, just give me some of the highs and lows, overall feelings about the birth, the basic stats, etc.)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Keeping My Eye on the Prize

With the approach of my due date for baby #2 days away, I have found that it has been on my mind a lot. Mainly because I have a scheduled cesarean section looming on the horizon. I'm not particularly thrilled about this option and have struggled this whole pregnancy with the fact that I would have to deliver via c-section. My anxiety has progressively worsened with each day as I've dwelt on all the not-so-fun things that come with a c-section. I realized pretty quickly that I needed to change thought tactics before a panic attack hit full force. That's when I remembered how excited I was to see my baby boy for the first time and hold his little body that I had just spent 9 months growing. Remembering that made me excited to meet this baby and a lot of my anxious feelings drifted out the window. However, thinking about all this led me to a few things I would like to say to anyone who cares.

First, are to the mothers who have had or just found out they will need the unexpected c-section. Maybe you just found out your baby is transverse, maybe you labored for hours to only have it end in a c-section, or maybe you or the baby is a high risk and you need this c-section. You will most likely have feelings at one point that you are a failure. That you have somehow malfunctioned as a woman. I struggled with thoughts like these with my son and again with this baby when it became apparent that a VBAC was not an option. It's okay to have these feelings, just do no dwell on them. Realize that you spent 9 months building that baby just like every other mother out there and you will spend the rest of your life raising this child and it really doesn't matter how the baby arrived in the world. Besides, cesareans are rather traumatic to the body and you and I both know that it wasn't any walk in the park.

Second, to the women who are friends to those of us who have had c-sections. We do not want to hear how "lucky" or "easy" it is for us. Would you want someone to tell you how easy you had it during labor and delivery? Then why do you think we want to hear that? Sure we get to "schedule" the arrival of our baby, but that's pretty much the only benefit. And in all honesty, I'm kind of bummed out that I don't get to have that surprise arrival. Cesareans are in no way easy. It is a rather invasive surgery (I will let you do your own research as to how invasive I mean), that they keep you awake for, while you are strapped down and helpless waiting for the arrival of your child. You don't get to hold your child for at least the first hour, you're put on bed rest for the first day so if you want to hold your baby you have to have someone bring them to you, and you have to handle all the fun post-recovery stuff. Let's just all agree that bringing children into the world is no picnic and be supportive and sympathetic to each other.

Last, to the fathers out there. Your wife is going to need you now more than ever. She is going to need your support both physically and emotionally. In the surgery room she will need you there supporting her and encouraging her, and when the baby comes out she will not be able to hold it. She needs to know that you are wrapping it in love and attention. She will also need you to be her voice. If she looks exhausted kindly tell visitors to come back later, read her wants and desires, if there is ever a time to pay full attention to your wife now is the time.

In the end it is important to keep your eye on the prize. Meeting that beautiful, perfect child for the first time is why we women do it over and over again. I know I can't wait to meet my beautiful baby girl.