sharing my life experiences, reflections and insights as a mother, a writer, an Occupational Therapist and and a spiritual being having a human experience

Spiritual Connections

When my husband was in the hospital after his massive heart attack, I had many spiritual experiences.  My husband experienced  near death as he went into cardiac arrest in our living room on May 4, 2011. He left the house in ventricular tachycardia, a fatal heart rhythm.  The medics had used the defibrillator several times before they wheeled him out of the house on the gurney. I remember his dark blue face as they took him.  I am forever grateful to the wonderful medics from Mint Hill Fire Department and Robinson Fire Department who took care of my husband and then stayed with me to help make a plan to get to the hospital.  And Lia Schwinghammer who came to my rescue and drove us to the hospital and stayed with us until I got to see Don like 4 hours later. She was one of my many angels and I had many, so I will just thank all my family and friends here.    I am also thankful for the cath lab at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte and the entire team who fixed his occluded arteries with stints allowing him to be with my here today, nearly 5 years later.

He spent 4 days in the CCU and then 8 more days in the step down unit.  I had family helping my kids at home and I would wake up usually before 4 am and head to the hospital each morning and spend the entire day with him and come home in time to put my 2-year-old to bed.  It was a crazy time and yet my priorities have never been so focused in my life as they were for those 12 days.  My husband was disappointed that he did not remember experiencing “seeing the light”.  I told him that I saw it for him.  I really do believe that.

I don’t even know how to begin to explain the spiritual experiences.There were many.  The first one was at home. I called 911 and 5 minutes after the medic arrived, my husband went into cardiac arrest.  The medics immediately moved me and my three children out of our living room.  I vividly recall taking the children to the stairs off our kitchen and sitting down with them and tapping.  I have since decided that the only way I was able to calmly sit with them and use EFT, was because Don’s soul guided us.  Later, when he was recovering in the hospital, I vividly recall being in the cafeteria getting food and hearing a song being piped into the cafeteria and I knew it was Don speaking to me.

The biggest experience was around day 8 or 9 after going with only 3 hours of sleep each night.  Because, the first night at home after his heart attack, I awoke after 3 hours with a horrible dream reliving the experience and I told myself I wasn’t going to do that again.  I did not consciously choose to not sleep more than 3 hours but that is what then happened. So by day 8,  I was very sleep deprived and living on adrenaline, and maybe even having blood sugar issues or just panic attacks.

 I had this one night at home where I  felt panicked and scared and I called my good friend and EFT mentor and therapist, Jan Luther. It was very early in the morning, too early to make a phone call, yet I decided to call her.  I heard the line pick up yet there was no one there on the other side, I began talking. I have no memory of what I said but all I know is there was silence, no dial tone, no one talking, just silence.  I think I tapped and talked.  Later, I talked to Jan about it and she told me the phone rang, she picked up and no one was there and so she hung up the phone and began tapping, because she knew someone needed her to do that.  She hung up the phone, yet I heard no dial tone.  We both knew that was spirit at work.

Just last month, my father had back surgery for his spinal stenosis.  He had the surgery on a Friday and I showed up at the hospital at 5:30 am to meet my parents to help my mom navigate the hospital system.  Surgery went well, took a little longer than expected because it was worse than the doctor had thought from the MRI and he took longer in recovery because of breathing issues. We got to see him for a few minutes in recovery area  but he was in a lot of pain but they couldn’t give him too much pain medication because they needed his breathing to improve.   An hour later, he was in his room and we went to visit with him.  He did well that day, he had to lay flat for 24 hours as a precaution but then the next day even got up with the nurse and walked to the bathroom.  I left after dinner Saturday night, with the plan to return in the morning again.  I woke up at 3:45am.  I have been waking up early for many weeks, most like from peri-menopause but usually after at least 5 hours of sleep.  I woke up and looked at the clock and said, “Why am I waking up now?”  I  had been asleep for like 3 or 4 hours.  I knew it was strange.  I should have gotten up.  I went on my phone like I usually do when i wake up early, using it in the dark in my room.   I got a text from my mom who had seen my posting on Facebook and so she texted me. It was 4:11am: 

 I’m in the family waiting room while they put restraints on Dad. Med Dr saw him then They gave him something for hallucinations and for blood pressure. Thought he finally fell asleep  when he awoke and starting lashing out violently. He is having some kind of psychotic meltdown. REally scary to see him like this.  

I immediately replied to my mom

Oh mom.  I’m so sorry.  I’m awake. I’ll just shower and come in.  It’s going to take time for the meds to clear out of his system. (We new he was reacting to anesthesia and/or medications.)

My mom was surprised how quickly I arrived, less than an hour after her message.  I showered and gathered my things for the day and drove to the hospital. It was 4:45 am, no traffic, easy drive and plenty of parking. I walked into the lobby at 5:13am.   She didn’t realize I had experience with this from the 12 days I spent going to the hospital to be with my husband.  I also had the strong feeling through my dads 5 day hospital stay that this was in part the reason that I became an Occupational Therapist.

It helps that I texted all of this on my iPhone and therefore have all the times of our conversation including the when she texted me, and I let her know when I got in the car to head to hospital and again when I arrived in the lobby.  As I read these posts, I see that she had also contacted me at 12:27am via text because my dad was asking for me. I was asleep and didn’t see those texts until morning.  I can share that in another post.  I talked to my dad tonight to get his permission to share this story and he is happy to sit with me and tell me more so I can share more of it. He believes he was talking to God and telling God to decide about leaving his body or staying.  I believe that he did experience that as well.  More on that for another post.

My dad slept all morning. They had to put him in 4 point restrains and  give him Haldol which is an injectable antipsychotic.  He had kicked a nurse.  It was weird seeing my dad in his hospital bed in restraints.  AFter talking to my mom when I got to the hospital, I had told her to get some rest. The waiting room had a couch.  I went to sit with my dad to be there when he woke up.  I was able to explain to dad as he was waking up that he was in restraints and he was calm.  Later when he was fully awake, he shared the experience with us.  He actually remembered the psychotic episode and described what he experienced. he also appologized to all the nursing staff that saw him for the next few days.   I will just summarize: he explained feeling like he was in a box and there were bad guys trying to hurt him and he had to get away.  He explained it with much more detail but I don’t want to misquote him. But he also told me he heard me laughing. He couldn’t see me or get to me but he heard me laughing.  As the day progressed, he continues sharing about what he remembered in detail from his Psychotic episode.  I wondered if some of what he was sharing was also from when he was under anesthesia for his back surgery (3 hours) as well as the 3 hours he spend in recovery getting his breathing back to normal before he could be moved to a room.

It didn’t occur to me right away, but then I realized some things. I woke at 3:45 am which is when my dad had his psychotic episode and I knew it was odd that I woke up.  Looking back, I should have realized it was my dad.  But then I got ready quickly and grabbed my things and headed out in the car at 4:45 am. I turned on the radio and “Crazy Train” was playing on the radio.  I laughed out loud.  I switched stations and heard, “Take a Walk on the Wild side”.  I had the instant feeling like I did when Don was in the hospital, that my dad’s spirit was speaking to me.  Hearing these two songs both playing at the same time on 2 different local stations tickled me.  I talked to my dad out loud in the car, laughing as I did.  And sending positive energy and love to my dad.  Cause, I am weird like that and I talk out loud in the car.  I really do, all the time.  My favorite thing to do is scan stations to find a song that fits my mood.  I never listen to commercials, ask my kids and Don, I am always scanning for a song, a good song.

Wow!  I was laughing out loud in the car and my dad heard me! 

Some would call this coincidence yet as a student of Unity, Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God books,  and just my own personal spiritual beliefs, I don’t believe in coincidences.  It all has meaning, at least the meaning we give it.  I believe on a spiritual level, we are creating our reality, all of it.

 Creation is energy and all of life is energy.  

Is this rock bottom?

Slowly, it creeps.  Silently.  Without warning.  Almost out of nowhere.

Was there a trigger? 

No way to know.

Surely i can only move up from here. 

Or maybe from here.

When will the madness end?

When will I bounce up again?

How did I get here?

Why did this happen, again.

I thought I was past this.

She told me that I was cured.  I knew that wasn’t true. 

Yet, I prayed I wouldn’t return here again.

Why?

Why me?

I don’t like it here.

I want to go back.

I want to go back to when I felt on top of the world.

I want to go back to when I could only sleep 6 hours at night and yet had so much energy.

Pressure pushing down on me

Pressing down on you, no man ask for

Under pressure that burns a building down

Splits a family in two

Puts people on streets


It’s the terror of knowing

What this world is about

Watching some good friends

Screaming, “Let me out!”

Tomorrow gets me higher

Pressure on people – people on streets


Chippin’ around, kick my brains ’round the floor

These are the days – it never rains but it pours

People on streets – people on streets


It’s the terror of knowing

What this world is about

Watching some good friends

Screaming, “Let me out!”

Tomorrow gets me higher, higher, higher…

Pressure on people – people on streets
Turned away from it all like a blind man

Sat on a fence but it don’t work

Keep coming up with love but it’s so slashed and torn

Why, why, why?


Love


Insanity laughs under pressure we’re cracking

Can’t we give ourselves one more chance?

Why can’t we give love that one more chance?

Why can’t we give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love?..


‘Cause love’s such an old-fashioned word

And love dares you to care for

The people on the edge of the night

And love dares you to change our way of

Caring about ourselves

This is our last dance

This is our last dance

This is ourselves

Under pressure

Under pressure

Pressure


Thank you Queen and David Bowie for those words.

And than you to A-Z Lyrics. You make it so much easier than recording the song off the radio and slowly playing it and stopping it repeatedly,rewinding and replaying.  

Depression

I am listening to my self created play list entitled “Writing inspiration” on Spotify.

This song by Tom Petty came on and it just fit my current state of being.

No, I don’t do drugs, never have.  That is not the point. The point is the title and reoccurring line..

“You don’t know hot it feels…. To be me”

Thank you once again AtoZLyrics

Let me run with you tonight

I’ll take you on a moonlight ride

There’s someone I used to see

But she don’t give a damn for me


But let me get to the point, let’s roll another joint

And turn the radio loud, I’m too alone to be proud

You don’t know how it feels

You don’t know how it feels to be me


People come, people go

Some grow young, some grow cold

I woke up in between

A memory and a dream
So let’s get to the point, let’s roll another joint

Let’s head on down the road

There’s somewhere I gotta go

And you don’t know how it feels

You don’t know how it feels to be me


My old man was born to rock

He’s still tryin’ to beat the clock

Think of me what you will

I’ve got a little space to fill


So let’s get to the point, let’s roll another joint

And let’s head on down the road

There’s somewhere I got to go

And you don’t know how it feels

No, you don’t know how it feels to be me

I wrote this post over 3 years ago. I never published it.  I am going to share it as I wrote it. It feels unfinished at the end and that is exactly how our life felt at that time.  I am happy to say that Abby is now functioning like a typical 14 year old for the most part, or at least like a typical unschooled 14 year old. She has overcome so much and come so far in 3 years.  Whenever I stop and think about this, I feel speechless,breathless,  amazed at how she has overcome such a severe disability. And then I breath out as reality brings me back to my current life, because we are now going through similar issues with our youngest child.  Somehow, my husband and I have two children with OCD.  We both feel compelled to help others who suffer, Don, with his coaching business, and me with my writing. We know how isolating having a child with OCD, or any mental illness can be, and we want others to know, you are not alone, there is help.  Don has recently written an ebook on OCD. His website

 

I woke up this morning and my little one was still asleep.  I checked my phone and saw my husband’s text:  “Left at 6:50, she was still sleeping”.  I stayed put checking email and facebook on my phone until my youngest woke up at 9:30.

We then headed downstairs to check on my daughter, Abby, asleep on the couch.

She said she had been up for a while but was curled up and calm.  (Thank God!)

I went in the kitchen and got her supplements and a new glass of water and a fresh straw.

I brought them to her and gave her the supplements one at a time, dropping them into her mouth and waiting for her to  reach her body across to the table where her cup sat and drink from the straw.

I then started breakfast.  I heated up pancakes for the kids as I started some hot water.  I got pancakes ready for my 4 year old.  He wanted a special cup for his juice and so I told him to get out the one he wanted which he did.  I then started sausages and then brought my daughter’s plate of pancakes, with syrup and cut and the box of spoons to her in the living room where she sits watching TV.  I set down her plate and opened the box of plastic spoons, moving the lid out of the way for her to reach in and take one.  I pointed out how many spoons were left and reminded her that we will not be buying another box of spoons.

I went back to the kitchen and started my breakfast, cut up apple, and quinoa and got it cooking on the stove and used hot water to make myself tea.  Jason was done eating now and so I got his vitamins out.

The sausage was done and my daughter was now in the bathroom.  I called up to her but she said she was too full for sausage.  I put them away in a container and labeled it “Abby” and then I put on some other sausages that she doesn’t like but Jason and I will eat.

Then she called me upstairs to help her wash her hands.  I pumped soap into her hands and then turned on the faucet, waited for her to finish, and then turned faucet off for her and went back downstairs to kitchen to finish making my breakfast.

Jason managed to play by himself and things were relatively calm.  It’s easier when only two kids are home.  My oldest had spent the night at a friend’s house.  And my husband had an all day workshop and wouldn’t get home until after 6pm.

I managed to eat, and make a batch of nettles (I soak dried nettle leaves in hot water to make an infusion which we then let cool and freeze in ice cube trays to use daily in smoothies and to drink.  Nettles are full of minerals and great for allergy relief.)

Keep in mind that my 4 year old talks almost continuously and comes in frequently to tell me or show me something or requests me to come see what he is doing.  Abby and Jason managed to play together briefly but it ended because Abby made too many rules and Jason came to me crying.  He desperately misses playing with his sister but it is not easy to play with her because he can not touch her or her spot on the couch and she does make a lot of rules when they play.  Abby tried to negotiate with him asking him which rules he didn’t like, but Jason was done.

By now it was about 10 am and so I reminded Abby that she was supposed to be Skyping with her cousin at 12.  Her cousin lives in PA and about 2 times each week they chat on skype or Google Chat.  They are working on a story together and building a house for the imaginary family on Google- Auto Desk Homestyler.

I ask her if she has a towel to use after she showers and clothes to wear.  I go to the kitchen to finish cleaning up, unloading the dishwasher etc.  She finally decides she needs to wash clothes and her towel as well as sheets.  she goes upstairs to get her clothes and comes down, “Mom, I need you to open the washer”.

“Just a minute”  and then I head down and open the washer, she drops clothes in and I tell her to get more and then I start the washer and add the soap.  She brings a few more items down and her towel but tells me she can only wash the clothes she is going to wear today.  And I tell her she needs to wash more because I can not wash clothes for her every day.  She gets mad and huffs off.

 

One of my biggest challenges in helping my children with their mental health issues, has been doing so while dealing with my own mental health issues.  I have diagnosed myself with Bipolar 2 because the mental health professionals have failed me in that area. They diagnosed me with Major Depression despite my repeated information on my bipolar symptoms. One practioner wanted me to see if my insurance would cover generic testing, in part to see if Bipolar disorder was likely. I don’t need to take a test for that. My brother is diagnosed with Bipolar 2 and has been for a long time. My brother and I share much other genetic similarities. 

I have found in helping my children, that I have been more qualified than the so-called professionals with diagnosing myself and my children. Especially my youngest child who I know has OCD and social anxiety despite failed attempts with professionals to get these diagnoses. I am a health care professional after all and hey, who knows my children better than me? No one. I homeschool/ unschool them based on my knowledge of who they are so I guess we unschool mental health too. 

That being said, we do use professionals for assistance. We have a OCD specialist therapist who has been vital in helping both my daughter and my son.  But we have been unable as of this writing to find a well qualified Psychiatrist who specializes in OCD.  We had one that was competent and who we liked (we liked her even more after we went to other Psychiatrists) but she was self pay only and we already have enough debt from medical expenses. 

Back to my intent of this post….

Helping my children when I myself am suffering my own mental illness. 

When I look back over the years, there are large periods of time that feel like a fog and in those times, just getting through each day was a big challenge for me.  One area that has been a big issues is getting my children help or following through with referrals and other things when they are doing better. 

When your child suffers with mental illness, it is exhausting, emotionally and often physically. When, they are doing better, there is a feeling of relief and wanting life to “just be normal for a while” or more normal.  As an example of this, last spring, my youngest had a severe flare up of OCD, anxiety and behavioral issues.  We went to a hospital ER to get immediate psychiatric help but because he was less than 7, we could only seek a referral to a developmental and behavioral pediatrician or go to the local mental health behavioral unit which would have been at least a 3-5 hour wait without knowing if they could even help us. We opted for the getting referred to the pediatrician specialist which involved going back to our primary for the referral and then I called to follow up but did not receive any information from them for 6 months.  I repeat, it took the Develpomental and behavioral Pediatrician practice, 6 months to send us information in the mail to complete to be seen.  Well, 6 months later, he was doing so much better. We had started OT services as well as going to the therapist we already had for our daughter. I intended to fil out the paperwork.  I must add that about 4 months prior to this visit to the ER, we had taken him to a psychologist for evaluation, but she was unable to complete her evaluation due to his inability to answer all her questions and complete her tests. It took her a couple months to send her results to us which said nothing really that I did not already know. 

Back to the referral to the pediatrician specialist.  I truly intended to fill out this lengthy paperwork to get my son seen.  I even contacted a friend who had taught him in a class situation to help with filling out some of the information. Since we homeschool, we don’t have a teacher to answer things.  He also acts differently with me than with other people, so I thought her input would be helpful. She is also the person who first pointed out the idea that he has “social anxiety”.  Yet, I have yet to begin to complete this paperwork. Now, I want to get my daughter referred to this practice in my hopes that they will have experience with OCD, particularly child-onset OCD. Because, she needs a prescribing doctor to follow her on her medication. Our previous Psychiatrist, who we did not like at all, does not take our current insurance. 

So why did I not fill out the paperwork for my son when they finally send it to me, 6 months after I requested the referral?

The only answer I really have is: my own depression and anxiety. 

My own depression made doing daily activities difficulty and anything extra was really a stretch for me to complete. I just did not have the time nor the energy to do it. I wanted to do it. It bothered me that I did not complete it. I also think that I did not have much faith anymore that these so called “professionals” could help my son.  Having the experience of taking my time to go to the psychologist assessment and gaining nothing from the experience other than frustration with the incompetence of the psychologist with knowing how to handle a kid with severe anxiety and getting help for us, I had little motivation to pursue this next avenue of help.  

So was it my depression and Axiety that prevented me from getting the help for my son?  

Or was it because I no longer believed that the professionals could help my son?

Most likely a little of both. 

I took some steps today to get my children the help they need.  Despite the utterly inadequate NC government health care system, I soldiered on with 2 different phone calls and even talking to the person who is my “case manager” who I find particularly incompetent and unprofessional.    I know know that I need to do research to find a psychiatrist that takes our current insurance, NC assisted: NC Healthchoscie for Children (when your income is too high for Medicaid). They had Medicaid until the beginning of this year. My husband is self employed and my prn work status does not qualify me for health insurance through my employers. I work 2 jobs. 

I also plan to find that paperwork and fill it out for my son too. Hopefully, I can find it, buried in the piles of paper at my desk. And I do plan to ask my friend to help me fill out the information. She now has seen my son at least weekly in class and might have some valuable insights and opinions to share. 

So this is my affirmation to myself to make these items a priority. 

If you also deal with mental health issues and have other family members with mental health issues, I would love to hear your challenges, thoughts and insights.   Let us help each other. 

Tonight, I went out by myself like I have done on most Monday afternoons for…a very long time.  I was out-of-town last Monday and the week before that I was recovering from a yucky virus and so three weeks have passed.

I arrived at one of my favorite spots, a Panera, where I can hide in the corner in a comfortable chair and set up with my space with my lap top, music via ear buds and now my new to me iPad, as well as my iPhone, and a bag with journals and books.

As I sat there,  first taking care of emails and Facebook messages both personal and on my Charlottehomeschooling and Child-led Learning pages, and then began to focus, I realized  that for the first time in a long time, if ever, I had SO MUCH that I wanted to write about.  I did not know where to begin!  I posted this to Facebook  stating it was a “good problem to have” and to my husband I texted:

I feel like I am ME again.  Not depressed and not manic. Just me.  It’s a wonderful feeling.  Now to decide what to write about first…So many ideas…..

Where do I go from here?

With this post…

I have lost and gained so much in the past year and a half since I first came out of my depression. 

I have lost over 25 pounds, something I have wanted to do for a long time, since I put that extra weight on after my now 7+year old son was born when I was 39 years old.  That is an amazing feeling.  How did  I do it?  Not with a weight loss plan. Not even an exercise plan.  I did it with energy work and focusing on what is important in my life and important to me.  I can expand upon that in another post.

I have gained a new sense of confidence, a renewed spirit for living.

Hope

Inspiration

My optimism has returned. Something, that I thought I had lost.  I can remember the moment when I realized that I  no longer felt like an optomisitic person.  I felt like my personality had changed. Had I become a pessimist? I did not like this about myself.

For as far back as I can remember, I have always lived with a sense of optimism. And you can view other gratitude posts here and here.     Until I no longer did.  And I don’t really know when that first began.

I know it was likely a series of events that piled on me, each event like a weight, some larger than others yet, all pushing me down into the quicksand.  With each new weight, it became more difficulty to pull myself up. And over time, when I did move upward it was never as high as it used to be.  Like a slowly growing sink hole that I kept attempting to climb out of and each time I did, my base of support moved further down, further down the path of depression. Yet, it happened slow gradually, I cout not see how far I had fallen.

I suspected depression for a long time.  Yet, I did not fully realize it until I I found myself lifted up, out of depression, possibly in a hypomanic state common in Bipolar 2 Disorder which is what I suspect I have.  My brother has this diagnosis and ever since I had my first psychology classes in college, I have suspected that I might be Bipolar.  Yet, back then, I did not know about Bipolar 2. I researched it just now and found this abstract from US National Library of MedicineNational Institutes of Health which appears to state that the classification for Bipolar 2 first appeared in the DSM-IV,  published in 1994, 2 years after I graduated college. I had a pocket edition of the DSM-III-R (1987)  for my psyciatric occupational therapy classes. I have that somewhere and have wondered about where it is over the years.  Yet it is out of date with the newest edition the DSM-V being published in 2013.

I digress.

Above, I have shared almost in chronological order all of my other posts in this series and thorughout my process since my first post.  And so I will share the remainder here:

Gratitude: January 11, 2016

I pulled myself out the first time in summer-fall of 2014 but then found myself back in depression by January 2015, having begun falling since November 2014.  I did much work from that time to get help and recover again.  Yet, it was a very slow process. This post is the night I knew I was really out of my depression again, or at least when I felt the most like myself again:

Twisted Sister

And my remaining posts:

Don’t look back, keeping moving forward: Depression post 3

Don’t Look Back, Keep Moving Forward Post4:The other side

Heart rate: 93 beats per minute

Don’t Look Back, Keep Moving Foward, Post 5

Spiritual Connections

I will close with the lyrics from one of the greatest bands of all times, Fleetwood Mac.

Thank you AZlyrics.com

“Don’t Stop”

If you wake up and don’t want to smile,
If it takes just a little while,
Open your eyes and look at the day,
You’ll see things in a different way.
Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.
Why not think about times to come,
And not about the things that you’ve done,
If your life was bad to you,
Just think what tomorrow will do.
Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.
All I want is to see you smile,
If it takes just a little while,
I know you don’t believe that it’s true,
I never meant any harm to you.
Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.
Don’t you look back,
Don’t you look back.

 

On Wednesday, May 4, 2011, my 51-year-old husband suffered a massive heart attack in our home, coming in from moving the lawn with a weird pain in his upper back on the right side which later traveled up his neck and around his ear.  His RIGHT arm was cold and clammy. Despite, my years of CPR training required for my work as an Occupational Therapist, it took me a while to realize that this was indeed a heart attack. His symptoms were atypical. It is usually the left arm and later, the doctor told him, “you had a heart attack like a woman”.

I remember searching in the basement for my bag from when I worked in home health care- over 5 years earlier- for my stethoscope and cuff.  I remember his pulse was faint and slow. Looking back, I don’t know why it took me so long to call 911.  Don had no idea he was having a heart attack.   I finally called 911 and frantically searched for aspirin that I knew we didn’t have when the 911 operator asked if we had any aspirin.

About 5 minutes after the medic arrived, Don went into full cardiac arrest.  It looked like he had a seizure and he became unconscious.  I remember the other medics arriving just as this happened and remember them rushing us out of the living room where we all had been standing and watching as Don went into full cardiac arrest.  I recall walking the children around the corner into the kitchen and sitting on the steps and I began tapping (EFT).  Looking back, I believe the only way I was able to do this was that Don’s spirit was alongside me.

I could hear the medics and understood everything they were saying.  I listened intently to them as I made an effort to comfort my kids.  They used the defibrillator and I could hear them say,“he has a pulse but it is faint”.  If memory serves me right, they used the defibrillator 3 times while he was in the living room before they moved him out to the ambulance to get him to the hospital.  He was in ventricular tachycardia when they left and his face was dark blue. 

 I am forever grateful to the Robinson’s Volunteer Fire Dept. and that medic who stayed with me and asked me, “Do you have someone you can call?”  

My mind went blank. Who should I call?  He asked about family or friends.  I had many friends but tried to think of someone who lived close.  I then though of Lia who lived only about 10 minutes from me and called her and her mom took a message which she quickly got to Lia.  Lia arrived quickly and drove me and the kids to the hospital.  The medic offered to follow me to the hospital, but I knew I needed someone else to drive.  And then Lia could stay with the kids.  As I type this 5 years later, I can picture it like a movie in my mind.  I remember Lia’s calmness and her suggestion to drop me off at the emergency room entrance and then she went to park the car with the kids.  I vividly remember walking into the hospital and asking to find a bathroom first!  I wrote a post on that one.  Then I came out and asked where he was.  I remember standing just outside a small room/ ER area and the doctor telling Don, “you had a heart attack” Don was awake but did not see me and gave the doctor a crazy look when she told him he had a heart attack.  They told me they were bringing him to the cath lab.That all seamed to happen in less than a minute.  They rushed him upstairs and I never got to say anything to him.  He has no memory of that experience.

The next 2- 3 hours were the longest hours of my life. They first brought me to the cath lab floor to a very small room to wait.  I told them that my friend would be coming up with my three kids and was there somewhere bigger we could wait.  They then brough me to the cardiac cath waiting room which was empty due to it being after 6pm.  The nurse or someone had told me it would be about 2 hours and when that time passed, I started to panic.  And Lia, with her calm sense of problem solving called the front desk, or maybe she suggested I do that,finding the number for me and later we learned, that they did not realize we were waiting there because usually after hours, they have family wait in one of those small rooms like they first brought me to.

We watched Idol as we waited because that is what we would have been doing at home. We had been watching American Idol as a family for a few years. Abby needed the distraction.  We ate peanut butter crackers from the vending machine for dinner.  Lia had lots of change on her.  She really was my angel throughout this experience and I don’t know how I would have done it without her. 

You can follow the rest of the story below. 

I will now share a post I started sometime after he returned home from the hospital. This post  was dated December of 2011 before I updated it.   It is a post that I started, but never finished nor shared.  I am sharing it now as we celebrate: Cuatro De Mayo, Don’s 5th anniversary of rebirth. 

I began journaling through the experience of my husband, Don’s  heart attack through Facebook posts.

I began the posts as a way to quickly update family and friends about Don.   I later realized that the posts could also serve as journal entries for my “in the moment” feelings and thoughts.

So now, just over 12 weeks later, I am looking back on my Facebook posts and will share them here.

Note: It has been nearly 5 years since Don had his heart attack.  I started this post copying all my posts from May 4 through May 10 including a blog I wrote.  Now I want to add the remaining posts for May 11- 16 to include  all the days he was in the hospital. But I have to figure out how to do that! So until I do, I will share it as it is.

This is a chronological listing of my Facebook posts. When I first did this, I went back and even included my comments in reply to other people posting to me. I left the posts “as is”including mispellings.  I added some things for clarification in parenthesis.   I also have a few times summarized a post like a conversation with Harrison that we had on Facebook. When Don had a heart attack May 4, 2011, Harrison was 13, Abby was 9 and Jason was 2.

May 4     8:56pm    

please pray for Don. he had a heart attack and is the hospital at Presby Main. all here right now. he’s in cath lab..talked to nurse waiting to hear from doctor.

May 4     10:10pm

Don is stable. waiting to go see him

May 5     4:23am

don is doing better but still in CCU and will be there several days. I Got to see him Ad talk to him and then we came home.kids did not (see him). just called to check on him. he’s improving. will know more later . going back to hospital soon. thanks for everybodys prayers. keep praying

May 5 at 7:29am

here with Don. he’s improving. in CCU all today. he can eat now. feeling some relief

May 5 at 9:07am

Thank God for 911 and the medics with Mint Hill and the other station. and the Cardiologist and nurses and team here at Presby. so glad I live in a big city. and all my friends and family and being here talking with Don and knowing he is improving.

reply to a comment:  Thanks Michele. Holding up ok. He is talking and eating and joking. Still in Cardiac care unit for t least a day or two and then to step down unit.May 5 at 10:38am ·

May 5 at 3:36pm

trying to figure when to go to hospital again and dinner for my family (with all our food issues)

reply to comments and friends offer to bring food:

You guys are awesome. I know Leslie mentioned shopping. There are things at Trader hoes (Joes) we need. We can eat some wheat but we have been eating gluten free and my biggest concern is Abby and not changing what she has been eating too drastically. She has been gluten and egg free and the other big thing with her is no preservatives and artificial colors…
Rice and potatoes and vegetables. Potatoes of all kinds…fruit is great for H and J. They eat a lot of fruit! And we do eat Ezekial Bread…found at most stores in frozen foods.

And Abby loves meat. Yet with her OCD /abxiety issues I am not sure what she will eat that others have made. She still has not been able to eat out.
I am so happy for meals right now cause I an not sure how I an getting through this other than this is far better than the alternative.May 6 at 4:44am ·

I am trying to ask for help (not easy for me) cause the other thing I may need…and right now I have my parents here til sat and then my sister in law comes in Fri – today thru Tuesday. Will be help with day to day at home…cleaning up…for those that k ow me, housework is not my thing. I love doing laundry but other than that…
I an trying to think ahead cause I know it will be great with my family…my sister in law is a nurse but she lives in St. Louis and so when she leaves…is likely to be about when Don comes home and right now that idea overwhelms me.
I am taking it one day at a time. I an just trying to reach out because that is not something I do well. And ask for help when I feel strong enough to ask for help (cause asking for help aibt easy fir me!)….but man am I learning fast!May 6 at 4:50am

May 5 at 6:18pm

back with Don at hospital. he continues to improve.

May 5 at 9:28pm

a picture of Abby and Olive- Olive in Abby’s ballet skirt

May 5 at 10:50pm

loves my family and friends. don – I love you. healthy healing heart ..tap tap tap

reply to the comments:     Thanks everyone! You know I love prayers in every form and every religious or non perspective! And healing energy and all of it…its all energy I think its all helping. In so many ways its amazing he is still here and improving.May 6 at 4:53am

May 6 at 5:08am

I would like to post a picture of my mother and also one of Don and I….can’t seam to find many pictures other than of my children…May 14 is Don and my 17th So glad my honey is still here with me….just trying to do what I need after a good 5 hour rest , while everyone sleeps… My new mantra”the past is behind me… only look and move forward”

May 6 at 5:14am

Dancing with my love at a family wedding Abby about a year asleep in my arms.

(changed my profile picture to this picture of Don and I dancing at a wedding with Abby asleep in my arms)

May 6 at 5:47am

one more source of help could be friends coming to be with kids in waiting room while I an with Don. we are going to hospital later

May 6 at 12:13pm

whoever can help me buy meeting me at hospital to be with the kids in waiting room while I am with Don. call me

May 6 at 5:24pm

thank you Lonna and everyone! anyone who can meet me at waiting room to hang with the kids over the next few days

May 6 at 10:51pm

having a good night after a rough day..fatigue hit me today. sister in law angel arrived. Lonna angel met us at hospital…talked to more friends. dons improving. hoping to sleep more tonight. Needs: taking trash to dump. strong person to lift battery so we can put lawnmover away

reply to comments:  Rough day for me. but Don is doing well…improving well.May 6 at 10:56pm

later reply to comments:  Thank you all. forgive my impersonal reply. FB and my BB are helping me through. I did sleep a good stretch. The adreneline high I was on, has ended to some extent although when I wake up, I figure I need to get out of bed and do something cause I will likely not fall back to sleep quickly. and need food and waterMay 7 at 4:43am

one more:  plan to go back to lay down in a bitMay 7 at 4:43am

May 7 at 4:41am

Slept about 11:30 til 3:30 woke with some bizarre violent dream. Called hospital, don is doing well and sleeping Yea! and he relieved his bloated feeling earlier (you know I work in health care and so I may come across weird with what I post).
The Presby nurses are awesome and answer all my questions cause I need to know as much detail as possible having an anatomy background and all.
J ust wish I could be at hospital 24/7 but it feels good to be home and be here for my kids too. We are all sleeping in my room and have gotten all to bed within 30 minutes or so once we are up there. Feels good to have them close.

reply to comments:   “Thanks Kamilla he is doing well and improving yet it will be a slow recovery and he has another artery with blockage that they have to reasses and in one month check for permanent heart damage. (figure you may understand some of this being a nurse). Getting lots of great help right now.May 8 at 9:55am ·”

May 7 at 5:00am

I need to get real organized real fast. has any one heard about or had experience with Inclusive Health.org? I was told it was a state program to get insurance for anyone. we have a major medical plan covers hospitalization at 80% but no follow up coverage and no coverage for cardiac rehab insurance agent told me to contact them and they will cover anyone.

May 7 at 5:20am

went to inclusivehealth.org NC sponsered company for coverage. went to find a local agent and list is very long for Mecklenburg County…anyone have any experience, know of anyone who has used them or an agent?

May 7 at 6:22am

found a rep in Mint Hill, sent a message. Feels good to be getting some of these things done. more sleep later in day. food and drink got rid of headache, time talking with my Dad. guess time to shower while everyone is still sleeping. plan to go to hospital by myself today once Jason is up and settled. going to let him sleep as long as he needs after two difficult early mornings. breath…..

comments:   Don should get PT today and I really want to be there when they come byMay 7 at 6:22am

comments:  “the past is behind me, keep moving forward”

May 7 at 6:22am

May 7 at 1:34pm

got to spend time alone with my honey. he got to sit up in a chair and walk to toilet. he is progressing well. he got sleepy and needs rest.

reply to comments:  “We appreciate all the prayers and well wishes and I a. Happy to let everyone know how he’s doing. Don’t mind people asking either.May 7 at 2:23pm”

reply:  “Thank you. He had stints put in right away. We won’t know if he needs more for a few months. He has to recover before they can even see how much damage was done to heart…that will be a good month before they can check that.May 7 at 11:09pm”

May 7 at 4:09pm

home with my family…my parents left. have my wonderful sister in law here. my house has. never been so clean and we have clean laundry! kids have had playmates. will go back to see don. he did sleep some

reply to comments:  “Thanks Joyce. Helps to hear that. Happy Mothers Day to you. We have lots of positive thinking going on. He lived and that is all that matters right now…he survived that..we can get through anything. Best mothers day gift ever…my husband alive and doing well.May 8 at 9:53am

-May 7 at 4:51pm Harrison uploaded a photo of Don and I (more recent photo) because I wanted it for my profile picture

May 7 at 11:12pm

we all went to see Don tonight and he was feeling much better and had slept and got to sit in a chair and visit with us. it felt wonderful. kids made him pictures. we love you Don-daddy!

May 7 at 11:20pm

I have the best mothers day gift ever…my husband is Alive and improving and I get to go spend time with him early tomorrow. challenges bring perspective …I am so grateful

Inquiry about if Don is  still in same room-

My reply:  “Yes but he may be moving today in morning don’t know when. But will move to cardiac step down unit. He apprecited you coming and is ok with visitors…he wants the distraction. Just short stay esp if he seams sleepy. He has not slept much. He slept best yesterday and was doing real well last night for our family visit.May 8 at 2:50am”

May 8 at 3:14am

just talked to Dons best nurse…Sharon we love you! and I am feeling relief. I can bring him any foods. she will get social work consult for us. she understood what probiotics are. Ahh……and she was there when the other nurse looked at me H and J and said “no children under 12 allowed”- and let us in. Daddy needs to see his kids and they him…its part of what is healing him along wirh modern medicine!

comments:  “don’t anybody tell me Don can’t see his kids! I understand the hospital policy but love trumps policy. I Will keep j in my arms in hall. Just one more day of CCU then that won’t be such an issue.May 8 at 3:17am”

Comments:  “Its just hard with all we are going through to wallk on the unit with the kids and have everyone look at you with that “why are those kids on this unit?” and I just want to shout. We are visiting their Dad! You don’t know what they saw at home with the medics….they need to see him and he needs to see them. Its part of our healing…Dons included!!!!!!!! Modern medicine is wonderful and so is love!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!May 8 at 3:19am”

comments:  ” Its these little things that are tough on me right now. Seeing my needs more and. More as I am out of SURVIVE mode and now am moving on to other emotions and boy is it a roller coaster. But I got through him almost leaving us…I can get through anything now.May 8 at 3:22am”

May 8 at 4:13am

Sat May 14 is our 17th anniversary. I am so glad my honey is here with me! He was last in the hospital 17 years ago on our honey moon, ask us about that funny story. I love him so much.

comments:  I had a conversation with Harrison about cropping the picture for my profile picture and then about how Jason is doing.  my final comment back to him:   “Thanks. I can likely come home before he needs a nap and then come back over here. But while he is happy I will take some quiet time and be close to Dad. But will likely come home sooner rather than later for his nap…so I can nap too and then we can come back or at least I can or Ann can or something.May 8 at 9:00am”

May 8 at 4:23am

Happy Mothers DAy to my wonderful Mom! It was so helpful having you here when I needed you most. I wish I could find a picture of you to post as my profile, when I scan my pictures, all I find is the kids….:)
You are the best mom and the reason I am the mother than I am.
I love you Mom.

May 8 at 4:42am

I have started blogging about this because I know I have to and need to. And I don’t need to hide my writing but share it for anyone who wants to read it.

ginaslifejourney.wordpress.com

Perspective. Having your 51 year old healthy husband have a sudden heart attack and go in to cardiac arrest in your living room with 2 kids, age 2, 9 and 13 standing by (and thank God, the medics who had gotten there before he arrested) is a life altering experience to say the least.   …
Ahh…..talked to Dr. Iwoka. he is moving to step down today. things are going well. I like him for more than just saving the love of my love and best friend.

my reply to comments:   ” Thanks Adael! Happy Mothers Day to you. This was the most I got to talk with the doctor and watch him assess Don. Our nurse told us he was rated the Best Cardiologist. Helps to hear that. And I like how he answered my questions. It eases my mind.May 8 at 8:57am”

May 8 at 9:43am

Happy Mothers Day to all the mothers and those who act as caregivers and mothering roles….including my sister…the best big sister anyone could have

my comment:  “And my husband is included in this”

May 8 at 9:47am

*converstaion with Harrison about how Jason is doing and me waiting for them to move Don

May 8 at 10:03am

hanging in waiting area while Don tries to sleep..looking out window thinking ..one nurse told us CCU used to be labor and delivery and likely was 131/2 years ago when Harrison was born. he may have been born very near where Don is on CCU…has a spiritual kind of comforting feeling to me in a weird and maybe silly way….

May 8 at 10:10am

was able to peek in window and not click door…Don is sleeping so I am letting him rest. think ill take a walk and get my jacket in the car…its freezing in here!

May 8 at 11:14am

Jody posts a picture:

Princes Harrison and Jason with their crowns

May 8 at 12:05pm

Dad in his new room (picture)

May 8 at 12:26pm

Don is moved to Step down. things are good. great nurse here. think I will head home for a bit. this is a big step! yea!

May 8 at 2:04pm

and sometimes I need to cry and let it all out….I guess the whole thing is just beginning to sink in or are moving out of a state of shock…and over tired….I know all will be well but its ok too to say this really sucks

reply to comments:  “Yes tears are good…a release of energy and I an glad they are coming.May 8 at 4:12pm”

and another reply:  “Love all the hugs and thoughts…helps me outMay 9 at 12:33pm”

May 8 at 4:13pm

slept well and feel refreshed…boy I needed that. Ann and h and J<supposed to say A> going to see Don. me and J going soon yet cool to be home with just my J

May 8 at 7:32pm

don doing great! love his new nurses on 3D. going home for dinner with my family -1. don needs rest.

May 8 at 7:57pm

thinking about tomorrow and play mates for jason …

May 8 at 8:34pm

need to spend lots of time at hositsl next two days as Don may come home tuesdsy and I need to tslk to nurses.

May 9 at 4:41am

Out of shock and on to next stage. still counting all my blessings yet nervous about next steps of this endeavor.

didn’t get to finish my post…3D nursing staff is awesome! Presby hospital has been awesome. Feels good knowing he is in good hands there. He might be getting PT today! Eager to get to hospital and be there all dayMay 9 at 4:43am

May 9 at 5:17am

I am thankful for prolactin🙂

May 9 at 8:18am

Don is tired today and has low grade fever. he sent me message but it wears him out to do so. can’t wait to go over to see him. kids are all still sleeping here as I BB next. to them…we are all in one room together.

May 9 at 12:39pm

at hospital with Don. he is resting but doing as expected. fever is not a concern. he will be going to cath lab tomorrow t0 have other blocked artery stinted. then will come back to room he is in now. it is about an hour procedure according to nurse (and Much easier this time since it is not an emergency)

May 9 at 5:01pm

home now. don is tired but doing well. we don’t know what time he will go to cath lab in the morning. 7am or later so I will be there by then. mom is coming back later tomorrow. got a friend who can come early and stay the day. I will be good to have the stint done to open the othwr artery and know that is behind us yet is a new venture to process and think about.

May 10 at 1:19am

got some sleep. my 3 angels are sleeping all next to me which feels so good. Ann visited Don tonight and he is doing well yet very tired. procedure sometime today…7am or later. ill be there and Will keep ya’ll posted. (I can’t believe I just wrote ya’ll…I must be a southerner now…been here 18 1/2 years!)

May 10 at 2:17am

Blogging again about this experience.

ginaslifejourney.wordpress.com

I sleep maybe 2 or 3 hours and then lay there with so many things going through my mind so I get up to get something done because there are many things to do.   …
reply to comments:  “Thank you. It means so much and I know all the energy and prayers are helping as much as modern medicine is. There are miracles happening every day all around me and I feel so blessed.May 10 at 2:40am”

This is part of an email I sent to a friend on May 9, 2011, just 5 days after my husband had a heart attack.  I have added some additional information in<> to clarify the message but otherwise kept the message as I typed it to my friend because I feel it shows the emotion I was feeling so early on in this experience.

“I think I was in shock for several days when this happened.  We had no idea he had issues other than his family history but he is the youngest of 6 siblings. We eat so healthy and he exercises…etc etc.  I don’t know how I got through him arresting in our home, thank god the medic was already here when he did and then waiting in the hospital for over 2 hours with my friend and kids, when we should have been home watching American Idol, and wondering if the doctor would come out and tell me he was dead.  I watch too many ER type shows, Gray’s Anatomy.  I didn’t even cry that first 24 hours or until I was driving back to CCU the next morning alone.
It is a relief to say these things.  I have great support in many ways but to be able to talk about this esp with someone who gets my parenting style , has good communication skills :)and with someone who has been there helps me a lot.  I know I need to call you.  Right now we are all nervous about him coming home. We want him home but after our traumatic 911 experience, <I’m nervous about him coming home to our family which includes>  my 9-year-old with OCD and my 13-year-old (his own much milder anxiety issues) and me.  I picture myself standing over him checking his vital signs every 30 minutes.  I am thankful I am and OT and feel fine with understanding his rehab, but the medical stuff scares the crap out of me.  I have to reassure my kids esp my daughter that we will have all the instructions we need from the hospital about signs to watch for but inside I am terrified.  I wish I could be with him 24/ 7 right now while he is in the hospital but feel safe   especially now that he is out of CCU with where he is .
ahh…wow…I do need to talk about this…and for me writing is even easier than talking…thus my blog  but I also need to call you and have someone who can really listen “

 Warning: I am going to share my personal experiences with immunity, natural birth, breastfeeding, natural health and unschooling.  Who knows, maybe I will get really crazy and talk about mental health issues, or more aptly described as brain disorders. Because the last time I looked in the mirror, my brain was attached to my body.

Why? Because I am “that person”, the one who speaks up and thinks for herself.  The person who has  chosen to stop living in fear of what other people will think of me and chosen to stop worrying about offending someone because to not speak my truth is to keep myself in a bubble of fear and invisibility. I lived that life for far too long.

 When I turned 45, a year and a half ago, I told myself no more.  No more worrying about what other people think and trying to be a nice person all the time.  Life has taught me that no matter how nice I am, there will be people who don’t like me and that is ok.  I am not here on this earth to get people to like me.  (I have had to learn this the hard way, you know because I attended public school for 13 years.) I am here to  speak my truth and be who the person I am deep down in my soul.  I am a spiritual being having a human experience.  It’s time my spiritual self emerges from the confines of my human body. 

On my usual early morning wake up, I was scrolling Facebook and found this post:

Pediatrics Journal says to stop calling breastfeeding natural

I had to respond, because, well, I am Gina. Here is my response:

Holy cow. Can you say big pharma $ runs the pediatric journal?
How scary- my last child was born at home and we homeschool all our kids- even worse, we Unschool and we use homeopathy. Have you met my children? They are a threat to humanity… At least a threat to the stays quo and listening to agencies run by big pharma like the AMA.
Let me tell you a story about how our immune systems are supposed to work: when my older children were age 2 and 6, we went to a “chicken poxparty” – it was 2 good friends of mine. My 2 year old got chicken pox, the mild childhood disease that it is and was sad when her “dots” we’re gone. My 6 year old never showed any clinical signs of chicken pox. We had him tested years later when he was a pre- teen and guess what people: he had immunity to chicken pox! he was also nursed until natural weaning at age 6, as did my other children nurse until natural weaning at ages 6 and 5 1/2. FACT: breastmilk has benefits for as long as they continue to nurse.

Then I realized that my Facebook response was not enough. It is time I stop just responding on Facebook and focus on my blogs. If I am going to wake up in the wee morning hours not able to fall back asleep, I might as well get my lap top and write, really write. 

I am going to copy most of the article here because you are not going to believe some of the things they said. I have enlarged the text from the article (because I can’t figure out how to change the font here in WordPress) to differentiate it from my comments:

“A new article in the journal Pediatrics is calling on health professionals to stop saying that breastfeeding is natural, arguing that doing so gives the impression that natural parenting practices are healthier. The authors have started a public campaign to end the positive use of the word natural, claiming that it is associated with such “problematic” practices as home birth, homeschooling and the rejection of GMO foods, and that natural parenting movements are interfering with vaccination efforts.”

Where do I begin with this paragraph?

When I read it, I just shake my head and say, “are you serious?”

Since you, my dear reader, don’t live in my head, I will share a piece of my world with you.

“Problematic Practices” Part I: Homebirth

My first child was born in the hospital with an OB/ GYN doctor.  It was 1997.  I had a slow high leak ,which is something me and the nurse learned after she inserted the internal monitor on my in- utero son’s head and fully ruptured my water, unexpectedly showering herself; and the leak was on just the outer sac; did you know there were two layers?  I did not until after I went to Bradley classes for my second child.

Because I described “water breaking” over the phone to the doctor on call, I was put on the time clock of you must deliver in 24 hours.  Yet, I remember telling them “I think it broke but it is trickling out. Not big gush of water.”  I bet that nurse who got flooded wish they had listened to me better.

Because I was put in bed with many monitors, I never went into active labor on  my own, and so they insisted on pitocin because, you know, the clock: if your water breaks you have 24 hours to give birth or its “dangerous”.  I had gone into this birth, wanting a natural birth and certainly wanting to avoid a c-section unless it was necessary for the life of my baby.  I was on a pitocin drip for many hours (or that is how I remember it) and then I got up to go the bathroom and Baam!- contractions!

Instant labor:  0-60 in less than a minute with severe contractions that had me doubled over barely able to breathe.  I said no to the epidural at first, but 5 minutes later was agreeing to it because, the intensity of the contractions was unbearable.

It was around 10pm when my third nurse of this experience that had begun about 3am, told me she overheard the doctor talking about prepping for a c-section.  Hell, no! I thought quietly to myself because even in labor, I was too nice to speak  up.  I was 28 years old.

I remember at some point earlier, the nurses having a conversation about how if you don’t feel the urge to push then it is not time to push or worthless to try pushing.  Somewhere around 10:30 the doctor told me I was “9 cm dilated and it was time to push”.  They had stopped the pitocin but I still had no feeling and no sensation to push.  And continued to have no sensation or urge to push throughout the birth, thus Harrison was sucked out of me with a vacuum suction at 11:10pm. A baby boy!  The doctor went off shift at midnight.  I must say I am glad he was born before midnight because the doctor from the practice who came on duty at midnight was the one doctor in the practice who I really disliked.

I also remember the nurse leaving the room and telling me to put my nursing bra on to nurse my baby.  I was like, seriously?  I am a size “nearly B”- why the hell to I need a bra on to nurse my baby?  I may have said something like that to my husband, but not to the nurse, because I am too nice to be rude to a health care professional even just after giving birth.

So it was not easy to get my son to latch on to nurse and when I finally did, the nurse came in and told me I had to move rooms or be charged more money.  Back then, you labored and delivered in one room, then moved to another for recovery.  I was mad. My baby had just latched on and they wanted me to move.  did I speak up? To my husband only.  Later, I wished I could go back in time and tell them: “charge me extra, I am fine with that! My baby just latched on to nurse and this is more important than moving rooms”

I did as I was told, I was a new mom and wanted what was best for my baby and trusting the health care professionals who specialize in birth.  They took my baby from me to bring him to the nursery to get cleaned up because babies are in need of a both when they are born- did you know that? They live in a sterile environment for 9 months and come out into the world and must be subject to chemicals like soap and city water because somehow they are in need of a bath.   Then they weighed him and we watched through the window, video tapping, because we had forgotten to take out the video camera until that point. We watched our son scream and cry as he was handled gently but more like a glass football then a baby.  They shipped me off to my room, promising to bring him to me as soon as he woke to nurse.  They brought him like 4 hours later.  Maybe he did sleep that long from trauma of birth, or maybe they just felt my sleep was more important than my baby nursing.  All I know, is when I looked back on it after we got home, it all felt so wrong.

My second child was born after attending Bradley Natural Child-Birth classes with my husband. I switched to a practice with nurse midwives, one recommended by my NP who I saw at my OB\/ GYN office, a woman I trusted but a woman who couldn’t attend deliveries because she was just a Nurse Practioner. I later switched to the other practice with nurse midwives, also recommended by my NP, because I found out the other hospital where only this other practice went to, was the better more natural place to give birth. The place where the room is a labor, delivery and recovery room all in one. And where they have a nursery for only when necessary but babies do not have to go to the nursery but can remain in the room with mom and even be bathed and seen by the Pediatrician in the room with mom (if the pediatrician agrees to that.

I had a written birth plan, something also encouraged by this hospital and my nurse midwives.

I woke up about 2am on February 6, 2002 with some mild contractions.  I went downstairs and finished my paperwork for my part-time job as a Home Health Occupational Therapist.I also got something to eat.  (one thing that I remember most from my first birth was how incredibly hungry I was after giving birth and because it was after 11pm when he was born, there were only silly little snacks for me to eat!)  If my memory serves me right, I then went back to bed.  I believe it was about 4am that I awoke with stronger contractions and went in the shower to see if it would slow them.  I did not wake my husband for at least an hour, the contractions were maybe 10 minutes apart by this time.  I knew from my new education and prior experience, that I wanted to labor at home as long as possible. I found leaning over a stack of pillows brought me much relief from the contractions.  I was calm and the contractions were doable when I could lean forward on my pillows.

I had met people who had home births before my second child was born and was immersed in the natural patenting community. But because I did not know what normal labor felt like, I did not know what normal contractions felt like and the urge to push, I felt more comfortable having my natural birth in the hospital.  Deep inside, there was a part of me that really wanted a home birth.  We got to the hospital about 6am, meeting a good friend whose job was to stay with our 4-year-old son and then my parents arrived as well because I had invited them to attend my daughter’s birth. Why? Because my father had never been allowed to attend his children’s births in the 1960s in NJ and 1972 in Canton, Ohio.  I knew that birth is a beautiful miracle and something amazing to witness! I also choose to have my 4 year old son present for the birth.  Our good friend, his godmother, kept him busy outside my room until it was time for me to push.

I got checked into my room and because I had a birth plan, I told them I did not want to be hooked to a monitor that would keep me in bed and I choose to first labor standing next to and leaning over the bed.  At about 8am, things got very uncomfortable and so the nurse midwife suggested I lay on my side. At this point, I went into transition, when you are fully dilated and it is almost time to push.  this was the only painful part of my labor. And it was 8am and the nurse midwives were changing shifts and I remember then standing in my room talking about traffic while I lay on my side thinking, this is not comfortable and I want to be out of this bed! But, once again, at age 32, I was too nice to say that to them. I did finally say, I can’t push on my side because that just felt all wrong and they had me turn over into the usual stir up position propped up like in a chair but still dealing with gravity.  I had no pain medications in me, no epidural this time. I vividly remember that last half hour and thinking to myself, “there is no way this baby is coming out of there!”  Then they told me to look because the baby had a lot of hair” and somehow I remembered there was a baby inside me and I pushed through.

It’s a baby girl!

Abby was born at 8:30 am.  Don laughed because just like in the Bradley video we watched, my reaction to her birth was, “Oh, wow, a baby!”  and just like the video, they set her on my stomach and she crawled her way up to my breast to latch on while her unbilical cord was  still attached to the placenta, because, you know, crazy me had this radical idea that if umbilical blood is so valuable, maybe my baby needs it and maybe we should wait to cut the cord until it stops pulsing.  She nursed like a pro and to be honest, after nursing a child through age 4, her nursing felt like a fluttering butterfly.

The nurse s told me they could show me how to bathe her in the large tub in my room, but that never happened, she never left my side. Oh no!  She had no bath until she was like a week old! We went home the next day.  I can save the experience of my 4-year-old attending the birth for another post, but know this, he called her “our baby” and was sad when he had to go home and mommy had to remain in the hospital for the night but he loved his little sister so much already.

Guess where this is going? Have you figured it out?

I like to try new things and improve upon prior challenges.  The hardest part about my labor with Abby was the 30 minute drive to the hospital.

Now that I knew what natural birth felt like, with a big shout out to NURSE MIDWIVES!, I was ready for a home birth.  I was motivated to have a home birth because I was not a high risk and had no serious complications with either births in hospital.  I was looking forward to being able to stand to push so I was not fighting gravity like I felt I was doing even with my second birth.  I wanted to be home and not hve to worry about driving to the hospital nor having to stay in a hospital with food I can’t really eat anyway with my gluten and dairy issues.

I contacted my fellow radical friends in the natural parent community and found the names of two lay midwives. I interviewed both of them before making my decision. One of them was a referral from many people I knew who had used her for thier home birth and the other was newer to the area.  I also went to my family practice doctor when I first found out I was pregant and got checked out.  I had excellent prenatal care from my lay midwife.  She saw me as frequently as any doctor or nurse midwife would have and spent more time with me each visit. She did everything done in a typical

 

The authors are especially concerned that promoting natural practices such as breastfeeding will harm vaccination rates, since many parents who follow natural parenting practices also delay or decline vaccines for their children. Thy also cite other examples of the “fallacy” that natural choices are intrinsically better, including the rejection of GMO foods, the preference for organic over conventionally grown foods and concerns over water fluoridation.

Apparently the risk of giving the impression that natural choices can ever be positive choices is so great, that the authors conclude that the word natural should not be used in a positive context even if it means undermining breastfeeding. They wrote:”We should think twice before referencing the “natural” in breastfeeding promotion, even if it motivates women to breastfeed.”

In a separate guest commentary at Philly Voice, the authors expanded on the dangers of natural parenting choices.They wrote:

“It doesn’t take much internet digging to find some of the potentially problematic implications for a public health campaign built around an argument that ‘natural’ is better. A search for ‘natural living’ turns up a variety of sites devoted to natural parenting. Parenting blogs and natural news sites often discuss practices and ideas ranging from home-birth and consuming the placenta after birth to homeschooling, breastfeeding, and homeopathy. But these are also spaces where one might expect to run across writers and commenters expressing concerns about the necessity and safety of childhood vaccinations and the promotion of immunity through ‘natural’ disease and healing processes.”

They went on to warn:

“Studies have shown that anti-vaccination sentiment tends to overlap with reliance on and interest in complementary and alternative medicine, skepticism of institutional authority, and a strong commitment and interest in health knowledge, autonomy and healthy living practices.”

 

 

 

And I must add the rest of the article because even the AAP spoke out against this article:

Pediatrics’ own breastfeeding committee condemned the message of the article, however. In a commentaryon the article’s journal page, the AAP Section on Breastfeeding Leadership stated:

“Let us state clearly that breastfeeding is the normative standard for infant feeding, and other feeding methods put mothers and children at risk for both short and long-term adverse health outcomes.”

To be clear, breastfeeding is indisputably natural. The definition of natural, according to Merriam Webster is:

“: existing in nature and not made or caused by people : coming from nature

: not having any extra substances or chemicals added : not containing anything artificial

: usual or expected”

By all three counts, breastfeeding is natural. It is ludicrous to suggest otherwise. Breastfeeding is also undeniably the best food for babies.

Natural practices are often best for our children and ourselves. The authors of this paper are researchers who purport to specialize in medical ethics. To suggest that we should campaign to vilify all natural practices in an attempt to influence parents to accept vaccines or GMOs is the epitome of unethical advice.