Today is September 17, 2014

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Today is September 17th, 2014. My son is a nice reminder that I can never relive a day. He’s only going to get bigger.

This life has many distractions. There are too many. The new, the latest and greatest, they bombard me. I’d like to let go of all that begs for my time. Let me fall into this moment here and now.

fertility

4 Big Reasons Why Understanding Your Menstrual Cycle Is Important

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If someone told me 4 years ago I’d be singing the praises of my hormones and menstrual cycle, I would have told them, “You’re crazy!”  For my whole cycling life, I hated the fact that I had to bleed and tried to forget about my cycle as much as possible.  It was annoying, and although I understood it was part of the baby-making process, I didn’t understand why it mattered during the times when I wasn’t having kids.  I wanted to just turn it off until I was ready.

Luckily, I was also instinctively wary of hormonal birth control (which certainly would have “turned things off”) and started looking for natural birth control options.  This lead me to the Fertility Awareness Method, a natural birth control option that required me to begin the process of understanding my body and my cycle more intimately than I ever had before.  My whole outlook on life shifted (and I’m not being hyperbolic) when I started understanding my cycle.  I could not believe no one had explained to me how amazing my body is and how important my cycle is to my overall health and wellbeing.  This is only scratching the surface, but these are 4 of the biggest reasons why your cycle is actually really important and beneficial to you as a momma and a woman!

1. If you’re trying to get pregnant, there’s a fertility window every month.

Many women don’t know this, but there is actually a very specific time during each cycle when pregnancy can actually occur.  That’s because sperm can only survive in the female body when cervical fluid is present (more on this in the future… you’ll love it).  Once ovulation occurs, the egg can only live for about 12-24 hours.  If it isn’t fertilized within that window, then pregnancy won’t occur that cycle.  Timing intercourse to achieve pregnancy can be a million times easier if you know when your fertility window opens and when it closes.

(An interesting side note: men are fertile ALL THE TIME from puberty until death, with some declining fertility in the later years.  Our bodies, however, operate on cyclical patterns with times of fertility and times of rest, just like the natural seasons, that all depend on our hormones).

2. Knowing your menstrual cycle can be used as a natural birth control or child spacing option.

Because we only have one fertile window per cycle, the rest of the cycle is safe for unprotected intercourse if you’re trying to prevent pregnancy.  The best way to use natural birth control is by using the Fertility Awareness Method, which uses cervical fluid and body temperature patterns to determine when fertility begins and ends.  This piece of the puzzle is my specialty, so you’ll definitely be hearing more about this in the future!

3. You can better understand and prepare yourself for emotional ups and downs (aka: HORMONES).

Menstrual Cycle Hormones (glad rags version)

The drastic hormonal changes we go through each cycle not only affect our fertility, but our emotions as well.  Many women feel the rush and excitement of higher estrogens levels towards the beginning and middle of the cycle (the blue line above), and act more extroverted, verbal, confident, flirtatious, and energetic.  Towards the end of the cycle, when progesterone levels are dropping (the red line above), many women feel the need to retreat, reflect, and be still.  If you understand why you are feeling a certain way, it validates the feeling and allows you to give yourself what you need.

4. You can empower yourself by understanding your body and the way it works.

Have you ever felt disconnected from you body?  Frustrated about being a woman?  Confused about your cycle?  Wanting more information than your doctor provides?  Then understanding your menstrual cycle can help with all these issues and more!  By checking in with your cycle each day, you can develop an amazing relationship with your body, sexuality, and reproductive system.

Ready to dive in?  In my next post, I’ll explain the different phases of the menstrual cycle using the image below, the hormones involved, and how it affects our bodies physically.  If you’re ready to read more right away, check out the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.

The Menstrual Cycle

 

 

By Mindy Dymin

The Liberation I’ve Found in Saggy, Breastfeeding Boobs

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When I was pregnant I was certain I’d breastfeed. I attempted to imagine how it would feel, but in reality, I couldn’t. Thankfully the journey with my little milk sucking leech started without a hitch and we’ve both had a pretty easy ride. Greater than providing nutrition for my baby, breastfeeding completely changed my paradigm about human sexuality. Maybe that’s because a baby exited my womb and now the whole “s-e-x” means more than just play time in bed.

I stumbled upon this art project by Laura Dodsworth entitled, “Bare Reality” and it encompasses exactly what I’ve been feeling and so much more.  The moment I saw these images, the feminist in me was amused, the naive Pastor’s kid in me was made a little uncomfortable, but ultimately the fine artist in me applauded the series.

breasts
Photographs below all by: Laura Dodsworth

What’s truly moving about her pieces is not merely shock value imagery. The juxtaposition of these culturally over-sexualized body parts with emotionally charged stories about their owners reveals “the dichotomy between how women feel about their breasts privately and how they are presented for public consumption through the media,” as stated by Dodsworth’s artist statement. 

Below are excerpts from stories and images she’s collected.

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Age: 21. Children: none

‘Conversations with my mum about weight started at a very early age’

breasts: 21-year-old‘I did notice that men looked at me differently after my breasts grew’

I like my breasts; they’re quite big and not too saggy. They’re not the best pair I have ever seen, or the worst. My dad is Turkish and Muslim, and my mum is Jewish. I’m an atheist, but I have this weird ethnic mix. If I am with my Muslim grandparents, I do think about what I am wearing.

Some of my biggest arguments with my mum have been about my weight. She says she has struggled with her weight and the way she looks all her life, and she doesn’t want me to go through that. If she thinks I have potential, she will push me, and I respect that. She just thinks if I looked after my weight more, I would look better.

I think what Page 3 does is very damaging to young women. It’s like: “This is the benchmark; this is what men find attractive. I don’t look like this; therefore I can’t be attractive to men.” It affects our perception of beauty, and makes young women think they are valued for their sexuality, and not for their thoughts and actions.

I did notice that men looked at me differently after my breasts grew. At uni, I found myself having more casual sex than I ever thought I would. It was almost as if I felt grateful that people found me attractive, which is ridiculous.

In my first year I was part of a very laddish sports club, and there was a lot of pressure to conform. I ended up sleeping with half of them. I haven’t had a boyfriend. I sometimes think that’s abnormal. I do want one, but I wouldn’t have achieved the things I’ve achieved if I’d had a relationship. At the end of a night recently, I was kissing a male friend, whom I have slept with a couple of times, but I told him I just wanted to go home. I said, “I know it’s happened before, but I don’t want to.” He basically forced me to give him head. It was pretty horrendous. That was a guy I thought I had a good relationship with. Halfway through, I managed to stop him. We were both horrendously drunk, which doesn’t help. He says he doesn’t remember it. It still upsets me. I never say I was a rape victim. I think a lot of young women accept that sort of behaviour, because our attitudes to consent are blurred. It makes me feel sick thinking about it. It’s affected me more profoundly than I thought it could.

Age: 33. Children: two

‘God gives life and creates, and as a woman you can connect with that’

breasts: 33-year-old‘The church has had a lot to do with women feeling negative about their bodies’

My breasts are smaller than they were a couple of months ago. I stopped breastfeeding my daughter when she turned one. I’m not sad about it, but the clothes I wear have changed. Things that looked nice before are baggy now. In my role as a priest, I have to wear clerical shirts, which come right up to the neck. On maternity leave I quite enjoyed wearing lower-cut tops in conjunction with bigger boobs. It was nice to get a suntan on my chest and feel a bit more feminine.

The way the clergy dress is partly to diminish our individuality. The priest is vulnerable to quite a lot of projections and transference, because we hold a particular emotionally loaded position; we deal with inner worlds and spirituality.

I feel completely comfortable breastfeeding in church and I encourage other mothers to do so. In the Eucharist service, there is a prayer at which the bread and the wine are offered to God and made holy. The words of Jesus are said during that prayer, about the bread: “This is my body, broken for you; do this in remembrance of me.” And the wine, “This is my blood, given for you.” As I was breastfeeding my baby at that time, the image of Jesus feeding his friends at the last supper, and then the church for generations and generations, had a profound resonance for me.

I have found that quite sustaining when I have been trying to work out the spirituality of being both a mum and a priest, and how those significant things fit together in my life. Both roles require availability to the people you care for. I’ve had to work out how to share myself between the two things.

The Christian church has had a lot to do with women feeling negative about their bodies and ashamed of their sexuality. I think men are probably quite afraid of women’s power to bring forth life and feed their babies. That’s probably part of the reason women have been oppressed and made to feel ashamed.

I encourage women to feel comfortable in church, and I’ve led by example. Baring my breasts in my own church [to breastfeed] wasn’t something I imagined I would be doing. It doesn’t sit uncomfortably with me, though: it’s natural and important, not remotely embarrassing.

Age: 19. Children: none

‘Boys seemed angry with me for getting rid of something they admired’

breasts: 19-year-old‘All through school, I was known as “that one with the big breasts” ‘

Before I had my reduction surgery, I felt a mixture of distaste and shame towards my breasts. I had a lot of physical problems, which were the main reasons I had the reduction. They ended up taking 2kg of fat from my breasts.

I feel much better about them now. I used to sweat more, and I was embarrassed because I thought I smelled. I used to get very bad back problems. There would be times it would take ages to get out of bed or, if I’d been sitting for a while, I would get pain in my lower spine. I still have deep grooves on my shoulders from my bras.

I’ve gone down about six cup sizes. I’m now a DD. That was the most I was able to have taken off without it looking disproportionate to my shape. I’ve always had a broader figure than other girls, sadly, much as I’ve always wanted to be petite. If I could choose any body shape, I would be 5ft 3in, very petite, and preferably a lot smaller in the chest. A lot of my friends when I was growing up were smaller, and everyone thought they were pretty and cute. I’m not tall and beautiful, and I’m not small and cute.

I used to get very venomous looks from girls in the changing rooms at school when we had PE. Some girls thought that I must have had surgery to enhance them. I was a 34GG. Occasionally I’d get rude and suggestive comments from boys, but I used to have more problems with them staring. It made me feel extremely uncomfortable. I felt it was how people defined me. All through high school and college, I was known as “that one with the big breasts”. The breasts were all most people saw when they looked at me.

When I first told people I was having a reduction, the reactions from girls and boys were completely different. My very best friend was more excited than I was. She knew how much it affected me and how upset I was about it. She was really supportive. Boys were the ones I had more problems with. They said things like, “How could you do that? That’s like slapping God in the face”, and, “How could you get rid of them? They’re amazing!” It was as if boys were angry with me for getting rid of something they admired.

I’m asexual, and don’t have a partner. I haven’t had intercourse, although there have been times when I’ve got close to foreplay. I’ve had sensations in my breasts when I’ve been with someone, but it hasn’t been arousal. I would say my breasts were sensitive and I get some feeling from them, but it hasn’t encouraged me to go further. Because I had a bilateral reduction, in which the nipple is moved to put it in the right place, I’ve lost nearly all sensitivity.

The surgery lasted for about four hours. They remove a triangular sandwich of fat, bring the parts together, then move the nipple so it’s in proportion to the newly reduced breast. The scarring is fading very quickly. It’s not red or irritated, as it it was. It will probably be almost fully healed in a couple of years.

I used to have to order bras from specialist websites. I couldn’t wear strapless bras or dresses. I look at going clothes-shopping completely differently now. I can buy pretty underwear – it’s wonderful. Though lots of companies make petite ranges, there are only a few that make anything specifically for busty women. My best friend took me shopping for bras after my surgery. She turned around to me and said, “I want you to see this, it will make you really happy.” She had found one of my old size bras and was wearing one of the cups on her head, and she said, “Look how small you are now, compared with this!” I felt so happy seeing that, knowing just how far I had come. It was hard work carrying all that around.

Age: 101. Children: one

‘I would never have gone topless, even in my younger days’

breasts: 101-year-old‘I fell over last week – that’s why I have a bruise’

My daughter was born a week before Hitler marched in, and my milk went. It was the shock. We were Jewish. I intended to breastfeed her, but in the end she grew very well without it.

My husband was taken on Kristallnacht. He had gone out, against my advice. The authorities wanted me out of my flat. I went to the SS headquarters and told them in no uncertain terms what I thought of them: “I’m not going to leave my flat and you can kiss my arse!” Maybe it was foolish, but attack is the best defence. My husband was in Dachau and somehow I had to get him out. My husband’s boss was an ex-Nazi, but he was a very nice man, and fond of us. I asked him what to do, and he said, “Go to the Gestapo.” I thought that was a good idea. My parents said I couldn’t, but I said, “I’m not afraid of the Devil! If it helps, I will do it.” I rang up and made an appointment.

I saw a middle-aged man and we got talking. After half an hour, he had to go, but he said, “I promise I will get your husband out, in three weeks, but I want something from you.” I thought I knew what he wanted, but I said, “Oh, what can I do for you?” “I want you to visit me twice a week. I love talking to you.” I was quite prepared for anything. What’s my little thing, if it means getting him out? It’s unimportant. But the man really did only want to talk. And after three weeks, to the day, my husband came home.

We came to England as refugees with no money, so we had to start from the bottom, with a one-year-old child. I began as a secretary and worked in the rag trade in a showroom in the West End.

When I was 52, I had a lump in my breast. I’d had a hysterectomy four years earlier, but there was nothing there; it was benign. This time I thought it would be cancer. In those days, they did not take a biopsy: if there was a lump, the whole breast was removed – that was standard. It was benign and I didn’t need the radio treatment I’d been about to start.

I said to my husband, “Do you mind having a wife with only one breast?” He said, “Would you mind if I lost a leg?” I said, “Of course not!” “So there you go.” We talked about everything, and that is why we had 52 happy years.

My breasts were erogenous. My husband and I had a very good sexual relationship, as well as the friendship. Nothing changed after the mastectomy – our sex life didn’t change until my husband had an operation for his prostate. I consider I was blessed: 52 years, how many people are blessed with that? Not many.

I fell over last week – that’s why I have a bruise. It hurts. But it’ll go. The last time I fell over was more than a year ago. I don’t use a stick yet.

When my nipple suddenly became inverted about 10 years ago, I went to the clinic to have it examined. I know it is a sign of cancer, but it can also be a sign of old age. It doesn’t bother me.

I was conscious of the mastectomy and wouldn’t have exposed my chest. I would never have gone topless anyway, never, even in my younger days. Don’t forget, I was born in 1912.

My breasts were always small, and I didn’t consider myself very good-looking, but I was vivacious and always had lots of friends and boyfriends. My body didn’t bother me.

I’m very careful with my appearance. I wear a prosthesis. I forgot it once on holiday. I had to use loads and loads of plastic bags! If I go swimming, I have a costume with an insert. I used to swim every day until three years ago. When I was 97, I would swim 20 lengths in one go, but my physiotherapist said it was too much.

Age: 40. Children: one

‘I’ve got a great pair of melons’

breasts: 40-year-old‘You can have great sex regardless of what they look like’

I adore my breasts. I think they’re fantastic. I’ve got a great pair of melons! I like that they are perky, and that one is bigger than the other. Last weekend I realized with horror that they were beginning to sag slightly. I wonder if it’s because I’ve lost weight, or could it just be age-related? Now they’re touching my stomach, and I don’t like that feeling.

I would have liked to breastfeed, but I didn’t produce enough milk. I had to mix bottle and breast. The electric milk extractors in hospital are literally like cow’s milking machines. You attach one to each breast, and it’s painful. One of my most poignant memories is doing that while fireworks went off on New Year’s Eve. I felt devastated.

I’ve been single for three years, and I think, “Shit! What will a partner think of them? They didn’t see them when they were perky and gorgeous.” I had a seven-year relationship with a man, then a seven-year relationship with a woman. I think a lesbian might judge breasts the same way as a man, but it would depend whether or not she’d had children.

A woman I dated had been very big and lost weight so dramatically that her boobs sagged to her belly button. But it didn’t matter, because I fancied the pants off her. Sex is sex, and you can have great sex regardless of what they look like. My boobs are important in a sexual relationship.

I was your average Asian girl in the 70s. I had a strict upbringing and no friends outside the family unit. Then I got a white boyfriend, and started wearing jeans and showing off my figure. I look back at pictures now, and I was stunning. I’ve got brown skin and no wrinkles – Asian skin doesn’t age as much. My breasts are getting looser around the nipples, the skin is thinning and the elasticity’s going. The rest of my body doesn’t seem to have that. I don’t mind ageing.

It wouldn’t be appropriate to wear a low-cut dress to work, but I might wear a well-cut shirt. Sometimes I change at the end of the evening, even for a short walk home. I don’t want men to look, and I don’t want to feel unsafe. I should be able to wear a beautiful dress with my boobs showing, but I won’t. What that says about society is tragic.

• These interviews are edited excerpts from Laura Dodsworth’s projectBare Reality. She is fundraising for a book of the project.

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Coincidentally, a week before I saw Dodsworth’s photography, I did a quick charcoal sketch of myself on all fours. Why? Because when I’m posed like a dog, my breasts reveal how motherhood has warped my body. My son prefers my left breast and as a result, my left milk jug makes about 3 times the amount my right makes, and now my breasts look completely different. My breasts are now much saggier, uneven, and lopsided. But there’s something so humbling and liberating about this development. I’m no longer a slave to the unrealistic expectations of looking 20 and unblemished my whole life and it feels amazing.

 

 

fertility

Introducing Ashley Annis and Fertility Awareness

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If you’re like me, you might hear the title “fertility awareness educator” and go “wahhhh?” As adults we know about the birds and the bees, and understand there is fertility behind it all so why do we need to be more aware about it?

Well I came in contact with Ashley Annis and all of a sudden it all made sense. Fertility awareness not only helps you track your female hormonal cycles and understand when you’re ovulating, it’s a great natural method of birth control!

So here’s Ashley, and she will be a writer here at Bump into Reality sharing useful content on our lovely lady parts. She shares so many fascinating details that we just don’t learn in high school sex ed. This type of knowledge can empower us to make positive, healthy decisions for our present and future. If you want to take courses from Ashley you can find her website here.

Head Shot 2014
Ashley Annis

“I’m a certified fertility awareness educator and reproductive health educator and love teaching women about their amazing bodies!  I initially got into the fertility awareness method (FAM) because I was looking for a hormone free birth control alternative.  I knew I didn’t want to be on The Pill, and although no one had ever taught me about effective alternatives, I knew there had to be a better way.  I did a lot of researching and self study and taught myself how to chart my cycle.  I had no idea that my body was only fertile for a small window each cycle!

I had a lot of questions about the method and looked for teachers, but couldn’t really find any.  That’s when I decided that this information was too important for women to go without, and that I needed to become the teacher I was looking for.  I’ve been studying and learning for 3 years now, and love passing on this amazing information.  I teach online and in-person natural birth control classes, and will soon be added conscious conception classes as well.
The more I used the method and understood my body, the more I realized FAM was more than just natural birth control.  I realized it’s a way of life, of thinking, of treating my body.  Now that I understand the natural flow of my hormones and my body, I respect myself more than I ever have.  I love being a woman, having a cycle, and being capable of producing life.  Our fertility is not a curse or a disease that needs to be medicated.  It’s a beautiful, mysterious cycle that can be understood with a little practice.  We can learn to work with our cycle and appreciate it! “
-Ashley Annis, Certified fertility awareness educator and reproductive health educator

Newborn Tip: Gold Bond Powder for Umbilical Cord Stumps

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The instant you have a baby you’ll see how bizarre human conception and creation is. I mean…this life form comes out of a womb, and is connected to this crazy looking placenta. Beyond the crazy mind trip, you now have to care for the remnant of this placental cord until it falls off. You certainly don’t want it to get infected, and don’t want it to brush up on too many things so that it doesn’t irritate your new little alien.

NEWBORN TIP:

Use Gold Bond Powder on that lovely baby stump! It’ll dry out that sucker and allow it to fall off faster than any other product. Additional tip: get it in the travel size so that it’s easy to powder the stump during every diaper change.


@the8dunlaps on baby center also agrees. She posted “my midwife always had us get a small travel size of gold bond medicated powder…and powder the cord every diaper change. She said no alcohol as it can actually preserve and make the cord rot, all of my kids with alcohol treated cords took weeks, but my gold bond powder babies (I have 6) all fell off within 2-6 days max.”

Mindy's Clothing

Learning To Be Mom

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I caught my baby’s first “mom” on video. Ironically, he wasn’t cuddled in my arms but on the floor while I tried to get in a little tune while he was in a good mood.

 

I’m 6 months in now. Didn’t know what it would be like on this side. I feel like I’ve travelled into outerspace or warped through a tunnel into another world. 7 months ago I was not mom. Today, I’m “mum.”

My greatest fear during pregnancy was actually about myself. Maybe it’s a little egotistical but all I could think about was how my life would change. I tried to imagine myself as a mom and it didn’t seem to fit in with my lifestyle. I like to be spontaneous and being a mom seemed like lots of scheduling, preparation, and homemaking. I like cooking but I hate washing dishes. I love wearing different types of clothing but hate laundry. There were still a lot of loose ends I was trying to fix in my life and I couldn’t comprehend how I could become a mom.

Tonight I had a revelation though. I think I could have saved myself a lot of anxiety and fear if I had just joined instagram sooner. Haha…yes. Instagram. I stumbled upon a few moms by chance and realized that there are a community of mothers just like me. For the past 6 months I’ve been trying to fit into this square of a mom I thought moms had to be. I started to wear black all the time and even contemplated getting rid of all my clothing and creating a uniform to wear everyday just to save time. Tonight, I went into my closet and had a good happy cry.

Mindy's ClothingI touched my dresses and looked at all the patterns and colors I hand picked throughout the years and felt deeply within my heart that I was still the same person pre-baby, and that I could still be “mum” in the same skin.

And then it occurred to me that my son will have a personality one day, and that he may not like the type of clothing I wear, or the lifestyle I lead. O well, I guess it doesn’t matter because he’ll always be my son whether he likes me or not. What an peculiar thought.

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Why Pregnancy And Labor Education Matters

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About a year ago when I was 20 weeks pregnant, I received a bill from my hospital that was about $2,000 for one specialized ultrasound. After a quick Google search I learned that my ultrasound was standard procedure but not necessary at the time of my baby’s fetal development. I could have saved that money had I known.

If you’re like me, pregnancy will be the first big run-in with the healthcare system. The paperwork, the insurance claims, blood draws, the doctors, the whole shebang. Unfortunately, far too often, we treat the medical industry differently from all others. Most of us will do a ton of consumer research and make several visits before we buy a car. However, not many of us will look into the stats of a hospital or ask our OB-GYNs what their c-section rate is before we choose our healthcare provider and hospital for labor.   (Because c-section stats vary drastically from hospital to hospital and state to state, and so do maternal death rates).

Maternal Mortality Rate state by state from amnestyusa.org
cesareanrates.com

I work as a marketing specialist in the dental imaging field. I help sell highly specialized products to dentists and see firsthand how the dental industry works. Honestly, dental practices are businesses. I don’t know why I never viewed hospitals in the same light. I guess house calls on Little House on the Prairie instilled too many fuzzy emotions about doctors in me.

But my paradigm shifted when that huge bill came, and when I stumbled upon an online forum of nurses complaining about hospital policies for changing gloves due to budget. At the end of the day, we are customers to doctors and hospitals. To make matters worse, throw billion dollar industries like insurance and pharmaceuticals into the mix. You’ve got a lot of hands in one pocket.

Yes, doctors go through a ton of training in their particular medical field. So that’s why we’re supposed to trust them right? But the truth is they can only be as good as the system they were put through, and the environment in which they work. Stories published in 1958 in Ladies Home Journal “included women being strapped down for hours in the lithotomy position, a woman having her legs tied together to prevent birth while her obstetrician had dinner, women being struck and threatened with the possibility of giving birth to a dead or brain damaged baby for crying out in pain, and a doctor cutting and suturing episiotomies without anesthetic (he had once nearly lost a patient to an overdose) while having the nurse stifle the woman’s cries with a mask.” While these stories are perhaps the worst case scenarios, the publication sparked outrage and helped improve maternity ward conditions all across the U.S. soon afterward. If you go through some of the photos posted by mothers on improvinglabor.org, you’ll notice that such harsh conditions for laboring mothers still exist today.

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History proves that there’s always room for progress, and as much as our American pride would like to say we have the best health care system in the world, we don’t. At least for laboring mothers we don’t. In fact, we rank 60th in the world for keeping women alive during labor. Yes, a whopping 59 other countries keep laboring mothers alive better than us. So if you ask me, that’s pretty damn terrible.

Now, this is not a haterade on the medical industry in the U.S. I’m simply suggesting that women who care, should educate themselves before being thrown at the mercy of the medical system. Because time is money in a hospital, and for hospital staff, that often means doing everything in their power to make labor go faster even if the laboring mother’s body is not ready. And if you do the slightest bit of research on standard drugs used in the hospital, you will learn how often times one intervention leads to a slippery slope of complications that ultimately lead to a c-section and increased chance of maternal and fetal death. In the words of childbirth activist Gloria Lemay, “Major abdominal surgery is the fate of 30% of childbearing women in North America. Cesarean section has lasting effects on women’s health and sexual lives. Modern hospitals are more factory-like than ever before. Even very well educated, well armed women find it impossible to “strike a deal” to get a decent hospital birth. Childbirth educators must tell women that going to a hospital and expecting an inspiring birth is like going to MacDonald’s and ordering a steak. No matter how you wheel and deal, MacDonald’s will never prepare a steak for you, right? Unfortunately, too many women find out too late that the system is rigged against them.”

 

Better pregnancy education can empower a couple financially, mentally, and physically. Education about optimizing pregnancy health, learning time-tested laboring techniques, and having information about the various routine labor interventions can have a huge impact on the success of labor and the wellness of a new mother, father, and baby.

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The Serious Dangers of Cytotec for Labor

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Written by: Tina Klonaris-Robinson  from The Meah Foundation

My daughter Meah is the reason I started the Meah Foundation. I know she came into this life for many reasons, one of those reasons is that I must share our story. Inducing labor with Cytotec can be very dangerous and so I share so that women know the risks and dangers and can make an informed decision with the knowledge they have. Below is a part of my story!!!

I could never forget that night... there are still parts of that dreaded experience that are a blur to me and yet there are memories that seem so clear, they come to me at any given moment on any day. Sometimes they haunt me. Sometimes they come like a storm or a hurricane that destroys and shakes my world to pieces. How else can I describe this pain? How can I verbalize something that hurts every part of who you are, body and soul? I have cried so many tears, I have made my own river… and that river has taken me to places I never imagined, beautiful places, scary places, places that I use to fear, places that I’m thankful for and places I have yet to go to.

Meah died on March 6th 2006. The words that are etched in my heart, the words that hurt more than anything I could ever have known until that time were said to my husband as I lay on a cold stretcher in the operating room of the hospital. I did not know it at the time, but I was close to bleeding to death. I remember looking at the doctor walking towards my husband with a look of absolute pain and heartbreak.

‘I’m so sorry Curtis’, he said as his voice broke with sadness for what he had to tell him.

‘… there was no heartbeat’.

I remember the feeling of, ‘no, it can’t be’ and I looked at my dear husband as he put his head in his hands and just cried and cried. The sound of that cry I could never forget, it comes from another place in us. Perhaps it is primal. I don’t know, but it stays with me. To this day, it is with me. My heart felt shattered and the shock of what ‘was’ must have caused the doctors give me more medication to put me back into unconsciousness. I was already under general anesthesia I hardly understand how I woke in that moment. Perhaps it was a knowing that Meah’s spirit had left her body, perhaps it was her spirit that opened my eyes. Who knows, but the very next memory I have is waking to my family and friends all around me, crying as my baby girl was put in my arms for the first time. She was beautiful. She had dark fuzzy hair and the most perfect little lips. I remember how seemingly wrong this was. Her hands and her feet were exactly like mine. Her little chest for some reason reminded me of a little bird. I touched her little body and felt a love so big, it literally tore me apart to know she was gone. I remember not being able to get sound out… like when you’re a child and a ball has hit you in the stomach so hard, you are winded or you are in so much shock of what has happened you simply have no breath and it takes time before you can get enough air in you to cry. That was what happened for what felt like minutes only I imagine it was probably seconds. I can hardly describe the feeling of holding your child, lifeless in your arms. I just remember thinking, ‘no, this isn’t, this can’t be… this must be a nightmare’, only you begin to realize it’s real.

My labor had been induced with the drug called Cytotec. I was never told anything about this drug or the dangers of inducing labor with it. I trusted my doctor and trusted that inducing early would make my delivery easier and safer. I was told that my baby was large and that inducing a week early might prevent a c-section as she’d be smaller and easier to deliver. A larger baby could mean complications and so against my best intuition that made my stomach feel unsettled and against that little voice within that kept saying, ‘don’t induce…wait…just wait’, I agreed to go to the hospital the following Monday for an induction.

The day went by slowly and there was nothing much happening until the afternoon. My contractions began to intensify and I was given a second dose of cytotec, then they broke my water. This is when everything went downhill.
Contractions became more and more painful and indeed, they became so very violent, I felt as though I had no control whatsoever!!! My contractions were literally on top of each other and I could hardly rest or take a moment between contractions to breath. It felt extremely chaotic and very wrong. It felt as though no one understood what was happening. It felt like one of those nightmares when you are trying to scream but no one can hear you. I felt alone in my fear and I was aware that I had no control in anyway. I had a deep knowing this was all going to end terribly wrong but no one would take seriously my pleas for a c-section. At least not until it was too late!

I could never describe the intense unbearable pain of what I was feeling physically, only that it was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I had an epidural and yet It felt as though a knife had torn my insides to shreds and I could feel every bit of it… it was an intense burning pain that made me want to pass out. I felt fear in my heart and in my soul like I’ve never felt before. This wasn’t normal labor pain. Something was terribly wrong!!! This was most likely when my uterus tore in two places and my daughter’s placenta tore away from my uterine wall. This was probably when she fell out of my uterus and into my abdomen! My chest felt as though a hundred bricks were pressing on top of me and I could not breath. The searing pain on my left intensified to the point that it was unbearable. I could not move, I could only get the urgent, frantic words out of my mouth ‘knock me out, please…please… just knock me out’.

It was only after loosing my daughter in this traumatic way, almost dying myself and dealing with intense emotional and physical pain did I learn the truth about induced labor with Cytotec and other inducing agents. I never knew that the company Searl that makes the Ulcer drug sent a letter to the FDA warning about the dangers of this drug’s use on pregnant women for induction of labor stating that,

‘Serious adverse events reported following off-label use of Cytotec in pregnant women to include maternal or fetal death, uterine hyper-stimulation, rupture or perforation requiring uterine surgical repair, hysterectomy or salpingo-oophorectomy, amniotic fluid embolism, severe vaginal bleeding, retained placenta, shock, fetal bradycardia and pelvic pain.’

I share my story so that women may learn from my experience. I did not know then what I do now but with that knowing, I ask that you take the time to educate yourself of all the options available and that you learn the risks of an induced labor. Learn the dangers of cytotec for I am one of hundreds if not thousands of women who have been affected by this drug. It pains my heart and I become so very angry, every time I hear of a new death associated with Cytotec. Almost 8 years later, I am still plagued by the memories, the pain and the trauma of that dreaded day. I will never stop hurting for the loss of my baby daughter Meah who died as a result of the improper use of Cytotec and the inability for my doctor to recognize those life threatening signs in a timely matter.

This should never have happened to me or to anyone else and so it is my hope that as I continue to share my story, women become more aware of the dangers of medical interventions and instead trust their bodies to do what they have been doing for thousands of years. I had an unscarred uterus and it was the most traumatic experience of my life.

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NOTE THE PICTURE OF A PREGNANT WOMAN ON THE BOTTLE WITH A CROSS GOING THROUGH IT, IN OTHER WORDS, DO NOT USE ON PREGNANT WOMEN. PLUS THE WARNING LABEL

Please share my story with as many people as you can who may not know the dangers of this drug and may unknowingly agree to have their labor induced with this drug. I wish I knew then what I do now… had I read the hundreds of stories of horrific complications associated with this drug, I never would have given my consent to have it used on me. Dr. Marsden Wagner once told me it is like playing Russian Roulet… you never know who this will affect and why. I have met too many families who lost their loved one to Fluid embolism to the brain, another side affect of this drug. Yes, the risks are real and for doctors who use it and never had complications, you are lucky. For those of us who have traumatic birth experiences, we can tell you, it is not worth it. Please do the research. I just want women to know the real risks, to know what has happened to too many women and babies… and make an informed decision based on this.

Here’s a great article written by the late Dr. Marsden Wagner… a voice and advocate for all of us who experienced adverse reactions to Cytotec. http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/cytotecwagner.asp

Blessings and love,

Tina Klonaris-Robinson

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Where’s The Auto-Update For My Brain?

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I just had the craziest, most jam packed months of my life. I gave birth at home after a complicated labor, began raising a child, started working again, and had to deal with a ton of health issues from loved ones. On days when I got to snuggle with my chubby baby and hit snooze, I felt like a billion bucks (cuz let’s face it, a million doesn’t cut it nowadays). On other days when my mom wailed in pain, when my husband was bedridden, and a messy household with unprepped foods faced me, I felt completely bankrupt.

Life’s been an intense whirlwind and I’ve been on this hunt. On a mission to prevent cancer, to cure illness, to cure disease, to live holistically, to be healthy, to be happy! There’s so many places to go, so many things to see, so many products to buy, so many subjects to learn. Go to church. Go to the hospital. Go to the acupuncturist. Go to chiropractor. Talk to the holistic nutritionalist. Buy the best vitamins. Don’t take vitamins. Take fermented cod liver oil! Reverse osmosis your water! Remineralize your water. Research your air. Eat non-gmo organic. Drink soursop! Soak your grains. Don’t eat meat. Okay, eat a little meat! Eat the organs. Don’t eat too much. Eat constantly.  And the latest one, don’t use your cell phone too much and stop using your wifi! And stop smart meters or you’ll get crazy radiation. They cause headaches, nausea, thyroid issues, vertigo, and a whole host of other issues and could lead to death. HOLY SH**!

They’re everywhere. The demons. The free radicals. The greedy corporations.  They’re out to get us and we have to keep away. There’s so much to solve but all I can think about is the pile of clothing in my closet. The pile of clothing that sits there…and the other pile of clothing I stuffed in underneath all my other clothes to hide it all out of view. I thought once I became a mom all my stupid flaws were supposed to go away. I was supposed to become this amazing person. I was supposed to know all the answers. How much is the baby supposed to eat at 3 weeks old? Let me just search my mom-oogle database and let you know….AH. That doesn’t exist? My brain isn’t set to auto update when the baby’s born? Sh**…how am I supposed to parent then?

I’m trying to be the best mom I can be with all the information available. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, to want to give up, and to ignore it all. But I can’t. The sickness, the pain, they just keep rising all around me. And there’s still new moms who need information about birthing that might not otherwise come across alternative information.  I would have had a painful labor if other moms didn’t share their wisdom with me. I would have had a terrible time breastfeeding. I would have freaked out with the first diaper change. But I really didn’t. And honestly, it’s been a breeze raising my baby. And my labor? It was the most beautiful time ever that I want to be a surrogate. (Some parents may want to stab me for admitting that). I’m not here to show off.  I’m here to say that I was scared shitless before I became a mom, but that’s why I asked questions. And miraculously, moms I knew all around me flocked to support me with little tidbits of information that helped save my sanity and the happiness of my marriage. Although it’s depressing learning about PBDEs in my couch or trihalomethane in my water, I can’t give up. It’s a fight to help bring balance and order to a world that is trying so hard to modernize, make money, and progress without taking the time to really monitor the harmful, long term effects of our decisions. If I give up, I’m giving up on myself and the world that my baby will grow up in. I can’t stop being optimistic for him. I can’t stop being optimistic for moms facing labor and the crucial first few days of parenthood. Because at the end of the day, I wouldn’t be here without the support of mothers around me and the support of a caring, passionate online community of mothers, fathers, activists, and educators. And so I must tread on…though there’s so much information to learn, so much to discern, so much to share, I can’t stop. I just have to organize just one piece of clothing at a time and eventually that closet will be clean (I hope).

Alternative info on pregnancy, labor, and parenting for the modern parent.