Thursday, August 27, 2009

Just a Vent

I know this post is going to offend some, believe me it is not meant to in any way, shape or form. This is purely my opinion and not meant to start an arguement with anyone over personal beliefs including religion. But, this is my blog and I am so frustrated and angry right now I need to vent, so here goes.

As Shane and I have struggled over the years to have a family, I have joined numerous forums on the internet hoping to find answers or understanding from women experiencing the same things I've been through. I have been pregnant eight times with nine babies and only have Lorelei and Georgia living and healthy. Having these precious children has been a long road of struggle and heartache for me. Many of you know that I have a condition called Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome that has caused me to lose several pregnancies and the treatment caused complications in my pregnancy with Lorelei. Nuff said bout that. Anyhow, one of the forums I visit,, has been a wonderful place for me to go and share and find information about pregnancy and infertility. Most, if not all of the women on that site are dealing with infertility to some degree. Some have been trying for years to get pregnant and will never have the opportunity. Others, like me, have had problems related to health issues that have been resolved enough to carry a child. A couple of weeks ago, a woman on my forum posted a topic requesting input on circumscision. Fair enough. It is my basic understanding that in Canada, circumscision is considered an unecessary cosmetic surgery and is no longer covered by medical. In fact, very few doctors in the valley will perform this surgery anymore. I know this because my sister in law had a tough time finding a doctor to circumsize her son. My feelings on this topic have changed drastically in the last ten years. When I was married to my previous husband, he was circumsized and I had always assumed that if we had children together, if we had a boy he would be too. My feelings changed after I watched a documentary on circumscision put on by the CBC years ago. I never realized that such a widespread practise could cause damage or harm to an infant. In the documentary, various forms of circumscision were shown, including one in a surgical suite at a hospital and one being done by a rabbi in a Jewish temple. There were interviews with several doctors who were pro and against the operation. One thing that was brought up in the documentary was complications from circumscision. There were pictures of babies who had developed infections and scarring that caused horrible damage to their penises. Some babies lost their penises altogether after resulting infection led to gangrene. Yes, in our country and in our civilized society these things do still happen. It got me to thinking at that time, what if I circumsized my son and something went wrong and he lost his penis and was never able to have sexual intercourse when he was a man. What if I had my son circumsized and scar tissue prevented him from urinating properly? Why would I be having this surgery performed on my son for other than cosmetic reasons? It was at that point that I made the decision to not circumsize any male children I would have. This is something I feel rather strongly about, having struggled to have my children. There is no way I would have subjected Calvin to an elective surgery that has a risk of complications for any reason. To make a long story short, I posted my reasons against circumscision in the thread on the forum and included the pathology report from the Penticton boy who died following his circumsicision. Most of the women who posted in that thread had had their sons circumsized and used reasoning such as cleanliness, infection and disease control as to why they had had the procedure done. Most of them ridiculed my concerns of complications, one even said in a post that we risk our lives crossing the street everyday and the chance of something happening like a complication was minimal. I do understand this. I also know first had how it feels to lose a child after being given a ninety percent prognosis on his recovery. It sucks being in the ten percent who develop complications to surgery and die. But it does happen. It happened to us. Statistically circumsicsion is a relatively safe procedure, but things do go wrong. In Canada, most doctors now view it as an unecessary surgery. Men have been born with foreskins since the beginning of time and being married to a man who is not circumsized and who has had no issue with hygiene, infection or cleanliness proves to me that it is not necessary to have it done to be clean. I was horrified that these women who have struggled for so long to have children, many dealing with infertility struggles for years, could put a child that they have worked so hard to have at risk for surgical complications. Yes this is just my opinion, but I was seething mad that some of these women practically laughed at me for my very real and valid points. Complications do indeed happen, that is why parents are informed of complication risks prior to the procedure being done. As a mother, if I had had my son circumsized and he developed complications that prevented him from having a healthy functioning penis later in life, I would not be able to live with the guilt. As for the children themselves, they are not able to make informed consent at this point in life and as a result could end up damaged from a decision that was made for them. I could not believe that my points would be taken so lightly and even mocked after attaching the post mortem findings from the pathologist who performed the autopsy on the local boy who bled to death following his circumsicision. I'm angry right now at those women who could take the health of their children so lightly and without consequence and who refuse to acknowledge risk. Wonder how it will feel for them if something does go wrong? I know how I felt being in the bottom percent, it was the worst thing in the world.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lorelei's Fourth Birthday

My God, can it really be four years already since my first child was born? It seems like only yesterday I awoke at two am on August 23, 2005 to pains in my upper right quadrent. About a millisecond ago I was waking up in recovery screaming in pain and asking frantically about my baby. I'm lucky she made it. Lorelei's birth at thirty six weeks was the result of an emergency c-section due to a partial placental abruption. I remember looking at her in her isolette thinking, "I'm a mother, finally...", and falling instantly in love with the tiny baby that lay there. She was small, six pounds, five ounces and covered in furry blonde hair all over her tiny body. She was breathtakingly beautiful, her face was perfect with each tiny feature exactly as it should be. She was my first and my love for her was so overwhelminly strong I wept many tears in the first months she was mine. I was also terrified. Her prematurity caused her to have a poor sucking reflex, she could only manage a few sucks when she latched and was soon fitted with a ng tube. She also had several episodes of desaturation in the first month, usually during a feed where she would suddenly go limp and turn bright blue. Many times in the beginning I was sure she would die, I was terrified to leave her with anyone, even relatives. I was sure that no one could love her as much as Shane and I did, therefore no one would take the level of care with her that we did. As much as her first year was hard on me emotionally, it was so rewarding. Lorelei became the most content baby, sleeping through the night by sixteen weeks, rarely crying. She developed a strong personality, enjoying attention immensely she would bask in the adoration of strangers when we would go out shopping. By age two, when people would tell her she was beautiful, she would look and say, "yes, I know...thank you!" I was always careful to make sure her clothes were pretty and clean and she began to love to wear dresses because she was absolutely sure she was indeed a princess. Ahhh, mommy memories. Looking back makes my heart smile with love for my firstborn, remembering all the laughter, all the tears, all the silly, funny, scary, new, awkward, wonderful moments. My baby just turned four. Four. This time next year we will be preparing her for kindergarten and oh my word I just want her to stop. Stop growing, stop changing, stop becoming a little girl instead of my little big girl. Stay small stay home with me forever, be my snuggling little stubborn baby/girl who refused potty training until just months ago, the girl who loves to kiss her mommy and hold her hand still. Stay young and innocent and beautiful and unafraid of the world, stay excited to see family and wave at strangers. Keep on announcing your thoughts without censoring them, keep spontaneously bursting into song and dance, stay cuddling with daddy and asking for shoulder rides and dressing up as a princess in your crown and fake jewels. Stay my firstborn girl...stay loving me and everything around you. The older you grow, the less free your soul and your innocence is so beautiful and unaware of the things we adults feel ashamed of. I wish I could hang on to you my girl. Keep you the way you are right now forever, keep you from ever being hurt or feeling jaded. Keep you loving yourself enough to run through the sprinkler naked without shame and confident enough to sing the wrong words at the top of your lungs offkey with a huge smile on your face. I hate that you're growing so fast. I love that you are mine and that you make me proud and happy to be your mother. Happy Birthday Baby've come a long way.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Trip Back

Shane and I went back to Vancouver for a getaway this past week. We stayed in the neighbourhood we lived in when we were living down there preparing for the twin's births. It felt like going home in alot of ways but it also stirred up some old feelings of melancholy. I didn't do much when we were living in Vancouver, I was so heavily pregnant with Calvin and Georgia that it was very hard for me to get around. About the only places I ever went was to the hospital for appointments and to our favorite restaurant to eat. I was unprepared for how strong the feeling of connection to Vancouver and to my son until we were there again. Driving past the house we lived in brought me back to the days where I impatiently and uncomfortably waited for my babies to be born. It was bittersweet, my heart was happy to be back but also sad with the memories of those times, of all the hope that was lost when Calvin died. Shane and I had planned on staying permanently at that time, optimistic that Calvin would live and that we would need to be close to Children's Hospital for his cardiology appointments. We had been told that he would need numerous checkups with the cardiology department once he was born and had had his corrective surgery. We had been told to anticipate two to four visits a month and at that point it made more sense to us to stay down there rather than driving back and forth from our home all the time. I'll never forget the day we left, I felt as if I were leaving a part of myself, part of my heart behind as we locked up our home and got in the car to drive back to our lives. It was an empty, aching feeling. A feeling of futility, that we had done so much to give our son the best chance at survival, only to lose him in the end. A feeling of dread coming back to our home, our lives as we had left them, without our son. Being down there again, with Georgia a chubby, smiling nine month old and Lorelei about to turn four, was hugely different from one year ago. Although it seems like yesterday that it all happened, so much has changed in our lives since then. Lorelei's change is remarkable. She is calmer, more well behaved, more articulate than she was last year at this time. As we returned to our favorite restaurant, she was bubbling with anticipation of seeing Steve, the owner, who had treated her with such kindness while we were living there. As we walked in, the staff recognized us immediately and Steve was happy to receive Lorelei's hugs and kisses. We were seated at our usual table and the staff began to inquire about the twins and what had happened to our son. Several times during our trip, I had to swallow the lump in my throat that threatened to choke me into sobbing tears as I remembered times we spent waiting, hoping and praying for everything to turn out alright. I'm amazed some days that we have lived through it. We have definitely come out on the other side different than we went into the situation. There has been more hurt, more doubt, more questioning why than ever before. There has also been a hurt in our marriage, hurt not so much between us but within our relationship because of the devastating loss of our son. There has also been a shift in my thinking, a greater appreciation for all who have supported us through losing Calvin, and an impatience with those who have no idea that their petty complaints are so small in comparison with the pain of losing a child. I have come through with a stronger love for my daughters, a tenderness that tears at my heart sometimes when Lorelei is angry or disobedient with me. Going back was good in alot of ways, a reconnection with the familiar, with the city where my hope lay for so long. Going back was important for all of us. The day our babies were born, Shane's parents took Lorelei to build a bear where she made two beautiful bears for Calvin and Georgia. I had suggested that we take her back so that she could make a bear for herself for her birthday. I had heard from my mother in law that the heart ceremony at Build a Bear was touching, that as she watched Lorelei go through the ritual of choosing hearts for her bears and then the steps that followed, she had to fight back the tears. This time Shane took her to build her own bear and when it came time to choose a heart, she chose two, one for her and one for her brother. Shane stood with tears in his eyes as she kissed the hearts to give them love, and then blew on them to give them life before she put them into her new bear. That ritual brought healing to my daughter and her father, gave them a moment together in love and rememberance. I felt closer to my son in the days we were down than I have in awhile, I think I will always think of Vancouver as his place, the place of our hopes and dreams, the place of Calvin's birth and death. The city and it's memories are woven together with my love for Calvin, a love that was good to get back to.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

And Then the Bottom Dropped Out...

You've probably noticed I haven't been around. The day before my sixth anniversary, my husband told me he wasn't happy in our marriage, that he didn't know if he could live with the fact that we can't have more children and that he wouldn't have the son he's longed for. I was devastated. Shane and I had made the decision to have my tubes tied during the births of our twins because after receiving Calvin's diagnosis and after losing so many pregnancies in trying to have our family, we felt we couldn't take the emotional upheaval that would come with another loss. We tried talking it out, we went out for our anniversary and tried to spend some time together but there was just too much tension. I was terribly hurt, not having a clue that he had been unhappy for some while I felt blindsided by his revelation and terribly sick about the prospect of losing my marriage on top of everything. Shane decided to take some time away for himself to sort out his feelings, a miserable four days that I spent stewing and worried about what was going to happen to us. During his time away, we had a conversation on the phone that made him realize just how much he wanted to be with us and he drove through the night to get home. Since his return, we have been focusing on us, on our feelings and the sadness in our marriage, trying to find a way to start fresh. It was never an issue of our love, but of years of sadness, disappointment and heartbreak in trying to have a family together. We have been through way more than any couple should have to go through in a lifetime in the six years we've been married. Sometimes it's hard to separate the feelings for what they are, feelings of sadness in what life has dealt us, not unhappiness with each other. Please say a prayer for us as we continue to work on our relationship and trying to find a way out of all the pain we've been through. I love my husband more than anything and want us to stay together as a family, thankfully it's what he wants too.