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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

O Come Let us Vent Together!

I am inspired to share and I want to invite you to do the same.  This motivation came a couple of nights ago when I recently finished reading Sisters are Doing it for Themselves, a post written by Paula, a fellow mom blogger.  It is a great piece about the scrutiny we find ourselves subjected to as moms and how the advice of others can leave us shocked, offended and disappointed. Not because we don't value insight, but we know when the "advice" offered is really a cloaked insult or criticism aimed at our personal mothering choices.  Paula really got to the core when she wrote:

We women fought so hard to have a choice and now we have to question each other by suggesting what exactly the right choice is. Of course I have no answer and even if I thought I did, I wouldn't offer it to anyone else. That's because in all honestly I don't believe there is any one right choice. Not for the children. Not for the parents. Not for any of us. There is only what works for each of us. --Paula, Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic New Mother
After reading this post, I instantly recalled a breast pumping situation that left me fuming. So I decided to share - well vent really.   Please do the same and comment. Spill the beans and share one of those times when you wanted to shout, "Mind Your Bleep-iddy Bleep Business!"
I was still in the recovery room after I delivered my daughters Lauren and Noelle.  A few minutes earlier in the operating room after Noelle was rushed to the NICU, my Doctor gently recommended that I spend time with Lauren, and I agreed.  When I was settled into the recovery room, someone brought in a bassinet and let me know Lauren would be in at any moment, my nurse was washing and dressing her.  We were told that we could hold and sit with her for as long as we wanted. 


While Jon and I waited, a short bird like woman with short ash blond hair, literally popped into the room and introduced herself as the Lactation Consultant.  Suddenly, the volume in the room went from silence to ear-popping and our quiet space was filled with words and movement.   Lactation Consultant was a cross between Tigger and Cinderella  - after she fit into the glass slipper. It felt like she was going to break into song at any second.  To me she seemed inappropriately gleeful and bouncy.


Lactation Consultant let me know that she would be dropping by my room later so that we could get the breast pumping process started.  I can't remember the entire conversation, it could not have been longer than a minute. 
I said something about having breastfed two babies before and really needing to speak to her another day.
 She said something about Noelle being a fragile preemie needing my colostrum and milk ASAP.  
"Another time." I pressed.
She pressed back - harder. "It's so-oh important...preemieeees need the bre-est. It's the best thing for them to get stronger." 


 I can't recall what else she said in her sing-songy voice, but when Lactation Consultant finished, guilt rested right on top of all the other emotions I was reeling from. She got me good.  I was a bad mother, only concerned about myself while Noelle's life hung in the balance.   I gave in.  Lactation Consultant left just as chipper as could be promising to return.  My baby had died less than three hours ago.


The nurse brought Lauren in, the details of my holding her I will reserve for another post.   After about an hour, I was told they were moving me my hospital room was ready.  I wasn't going back to the "sick" ladies ward, where I had been for a couple of weeks.  I was going into the maternity ward. As they started to wheel me out,  I looked over at the bassinet. In seconds someone was wheeling Lauren alongside of my gurney.


In my room I held her some more, cried some more, held Jon, cried with Jon - asked for a Pepsi and finally settled down.  It was time.  Jon pushed Lauren into the little foyer next to the bathroom where I could see the bassinet, but I could not see her.  It was time for me to let her go.  Just as I was about to start crying again, I heard a loud woodpeckish knock on the door.  Before we could answer,  in strides Lactation Consultant pulling a blue industrial sized breast pump, with a manila folder stuck under her arm, and a bulky plastic bag in her hand.


"Hi-eye!" she greeted, "It's mee-ee Lactation Consultant!"  "Is now a good time...oooh isn't she beautiful?'  She paused at Lauren's Bassinet.  "Just a perfect doll-baby! She is so-oh sweet."  I glanced over at Jon and wondered if he was thinking what I was. Did she think the baby was ...alive?Lactation Consultant peeked further into the bassinet and loudly oohed and ahhed, I thought at any second she was going to "kitchy kitchy koo " Lauren under the chin. I thought of telling her that wasn't Noelle when she said, "I am so-oh sorry for your loss, but God needed another angel in Heaven.  It was just His will."  I couldn't believe it - not only did she just barge into my room (twice) to guilt me into breast pumping immediately, now she was telling me that God killed my baby because He wanted her for Himself.
 
"Is now a good time?' Lactation Consultant asked again.  "No." I replied, but she wheeled her crap in anyway.  "I have to leave early - so this won't take long. Breastfeeding is so-oh important. Little Noelle nee-eds it." she sang.   I raised my bed to a full sit.  Lactation Consultant pulled her pump over, which was a blue wheeled version of the one I used.   She went from showing me the on switch to telling me I could keep the the breast kit.   I told her twice that I breastfed and pumped with my sons on the same machine. No acknowledgement.  Lactation Consultant got particularly excited when she told me the bottles actually came in two different volumes and the bright yellow screw caps fit them both.


My anger was starting to bubble up, I was about 30 seconds away from pulling my fat, bleeding, leaky, c-sectioned self out of that bed to slap the jolly out of her.   Jon quickly removed himself.


Lactation Consultant shuffled through her papers and pulled out the rental agreement and some general lactation information, explaining everything in excruciating detail. When finished, she slapped her folder shut and smiled. "Well we are good to go! I just wanted to leave you the machine and get the paperwork to you before I left. Star-art pumping as soon as you ca-an!" she sang along with a jaunty finger wag. She said her goodbyes and left.


I started pumping after they rolled Lauren away. The next morning when I got to see Noelle for the first time, I had a filled all the bottles. The nurse was shocked to see the volume. I expected that they would feed her immediately, but I was quickly informed by the nurse and Noelle's Dr., that it would be a while before Noelle could even be tube-fed. When my Dr. came to visit, everyone got an earful. HE stormed off to complain.


 I had every intention of breastfeeding  Noelle.  I was one of those rare women where breastfeeding and pumping was relatively easy.   I wasn't guilted into breastfeeding.  I just needed a moment to get myself together.  I was angry because I felt manipulated and strong-armed into doing it under someone else's terms.  Lactation Consultant made it clear that Breast pumping was the only important thing, so much so that she willingly and knowingly injected herself into my final moments with Lauren without thought or reservation.


I would love to hear you stories.  Please share. 

24 comments:

  1. Oh God, you have me in tears. Firstly, I am so sorry for the loss of Lauren. That fact that you did not take your breast pump and shove it in a place where the sun doesn't shine in this woman makes you a saint in my eyes. How a woman can be so focussed on fulfilling the 'needs' of a baby whilst completely dismissing the pain of the woman in front of her is beyond me. I am only so glad to have read enough of your work to know what a strong, incredible woman you are to be able to share this story and without a doubt, free other woman to talk of their pain and humiliation. My friend lost her baby recently at 20 weeks and went into spontaneous labor at home. She arrived at the hospital in a complete daze, carrying her baby in a shoebox, whilst still bleeding profusely. She was told in the ER (by a woman) to 'take a seat'. For every woman blinded by their judgement of others there are women like you (and I hope myself) who share these stories to make motherhood feel less lonely. We may have different inclines on our mountains but we are all aiming for the same view from the top.
    Thank you for sharing.

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  2. Paula,

    Thank you for providing the inspiration by your latest post. As mothers we potentially hide so much because we don't want to be judged, or we are fearful to show our weaknesses. I realize how awful my experience must sound, and I was angry, but not wounded. My anger surrounding it now has to do more with the fact that people are so self-absorbed and insensitive that they are - as you said - blinded.

    I think that when we write our own lives truthfully, we give other women the permission to reveal their own secrets, or experiences that have hurt them. According to their own terms of course. Sometimes exposure is the best liberator. I am deeply sorry about your friend, I cannot imagine. I hope she is getting the support and guidance that she needs to help her navigate through. I hope that all the people around her will give her the space to be true to her feelings, no matter how uncomfortable and scary they may be. We can be pressured to "get over it". The truth of the matter - losing a baby is not something you "get over" and that's is completely OK. But those of us who have lost can still be healthy, happy and whole.

    Thanks again.

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  3. Hi,
    I'm following your blog.

    Joanna
    http://joannaslife.com

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  4. Hi cj, I came over from Petula's blog to visit and make a new friend. I'm following you.

    I am so sorry for your loss of baby Lauren, my prayers are with you.

    Ironically, I have a brand new preemie grandbaby and your post is right on target for me. I am getting ready to start a blog about our journey to his delivery, his birth, and first months of life.

    I will see you again -- soon I hope.

    Have a great week!

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  5. Hi CJ,
    I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful baby, Lauren. Thank you for taking the time to share your story. I came across your blog thanks to my "google alerts" that I have set up for lactation related topics. You see, I am a lactation consultant (IBCLC). Normally I wouldn't feel inspired to post a comment to someone's personal blog but your post touched me. I cringed and wept as I read about your horrific encounter with "miss lactation consultant" and her sing-songy ways. How disrespectful of that LC to not honor and support you in a meaningful way while your family was coping with so much.
    I am actually in private practice, not a hospital setting, but I am often called on to support mothers dealing with lactation issues following the loss of an infant. Currently, a friend of mine (who also had a disappointing in-hospital LC experience after losing her baby in labor) decided that it would be beneficial to create awareness amongst health care providers and families in regards to how to cope with lactation issues after infant loss. Many providers (like your LC obviously) may not have adequate counseling skills to know how to respond to a grieving mother's emotional and physical needs, especially in terms of lactation. After infant loss, many mothers are often surprised when their milk comes in and may not be sure of how to cope with that. Care providers may be uncertain too. My friend is planning to create a survey and then a brochure that could be used in hospitals or birth settings that deals with infant loss and lactation. If this is something that you may be interested contributing a few thoughts to, etc feel free to email me through my business site at www.lunalactation.com
    Again, my heart breaks for your loss. I applaud your courage to share your story and am sorry that your lactation consultant was anything but what you needed at that moment.

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  6. Oh my God. I don't know what to say. I am so saddened both for your loss and for the uninhibited thoughtlessness of one human being towards another.

    I am so sorry.

    XO -
    Swati

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  7. Oh CJ - you had me in tears, both over the loss of your daughter and also in anger at the heartlessness of the LC at the hospital. No woman should have to go through what you did. Ever. Your honesty and your words made me feel every bit of the pain you had. Thank you for sharing that.
    I've always hated the expression "what doesn't kill us makes us stronger" so in this case I'll change it to "what doesn't kill us makes us understand others better". You writing about your loss will help someone else understand that pain so if they ever encounter the same situation they will know the right words to say. I know for me I no longer judge anyone's parenting style because I don't know the situation at home, even though I know I am constantly judged by my son's behavior. As Paula said as mothers we should lift each other up and not drag each other down. I think you've done that today. Thank you.
    Alysia
    http://trydefyinggravity.wordpress.com/

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  8. CJ- What a heartfelt and moving post! I am so sorry you had such a horrific experience, and I cannot believe you kept yourself together enough not to scream at her. I would have! I am sure you have done some of your own closure, and that is why you are able to so eloquently share your sadness. I absolutely applaud your courage. I am so with you about Paula's post and how taking that first vulnerable step of sharing has just GOT to help women to remember to be compassionate toward one another.

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  9. Mommacole: Thanks for your words. I am sure the LC was not well counseled in how to deal with women in my situation. The truth is, many healthcare professionals are not. (I didn't get the sense that she was a trained professional anyway). I would absolutely be willing to offer some thoughts if you would like. I have had very wonderful LC's and well-informed nurses with my other children. So in no way was my story a refection on my thoughts about the LC "industry".

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  10. Swati, Alysia and Meagan - thanks for your kind words as always. The strange thing is that situation no longer causes me any sadness or pain. I still get irked, but not in a hateful way. Meagan is right when she talks about my closure - it's true - I did alot of emotional, phsyicall and spiritual work to heal well, so there is an ease that I never thought I would have in telling my stories.

    You guys are great.

    Dellgirl, look forward to your postings.

    CJ

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  11. Dearest CJ, I am appalled at the way this woman treated you and your family after you had experienced such a painful loss. I cannot imagine why someone would be so incredibly insensitive to a person who is obviously deeply grieving. You are very brave to share this story. And I absolutely agree that we all need to work harder to support each other as women, mothers, and human beings. To look past the veneer of all the things that separate us and remember to see what truly unites us all inside. You are a beautiful person and an inspiration. I am so grateful to have met you through the blog world.

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  12. Hello. I found you from MBC. I love the concept behind your blog, infact it is simalar to mine. I am very sorry for the loss of your baby, I honestly cannot begin to imagine what that is/was like for you.
    I have two beautiful boys, but had to work through a lot of fertility stuff to get there. I got all kinds of bad-none-of-your-business comments while going through that ordeal. "If you just relax" "you could always adopt" It made me so angry. Some people just seem to lack the compassion chip.

    Following you now. Please check my blog out at www.getrealmama.blogspot.com

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  13. How sad... I know that hospital births were the worst for me. Everyone there thinks they know more then you even if they never had a baby.

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  14. Sorry for your loss. You kept your cool with that annoying pushy lady. I would have gone off on her. Any of my stories could not compare to yours!

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  15. Six feet Under - I really didn't keep my cool! I was just too shocked to respond - which is a good thing - because I do have quite a temper when it get's rolling!

    Debbie's Lbri - Fortunately I have a fabulous Dr - so I was very involved with my decisions and after having three high risk pregnancies, there is not a lot people can tell me. My first preganancy/ con really taught me that my instincts are usually correct.

    Getrealmommy - I think I have visted you - but I will follow!

    Organic - I love your blog! Really. You have a great voice and a fantastic sense of humor.

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  16. I've got 3 kids & way too many stories to tell. From little old ladies in the grocery story to my very own mom who has a great way of butting in. I had my 1st daughter when I was 17 so the criticism & need to advice has always been there. I decided a very long time ago after allowing myself to be beat up by others that I was going to raise my daughters MY way & I could give a rip what others thought about it. It's working out nicely & I'm quite proud of my little family. Blessings to ya!

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  17. Kasie! Good for you! I have 3 as well...and somewhere along the line you say - my kids, my way!

    CJ

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  18. Thanks for visiting my blog. I am following you back

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  19. How I love, love the name of this blog. And let me just tell you: You know how to be a mother. You know what's best for your baby and for mama, and don't let a nazi LC bully you into anything. They can be wackos. Some are good, a lot suck (at least in my experience.)

    My heart goes out to you and your family. God never 'takes' babies from their parents. He mourns with you, I know that much. True, Lauren is in heaven, but that doesn't erase the pain and confusion.

    You have a gorgeous family and you're a good mommy! I'll be back.

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  20. How could that woman have been so insensitive? That was really horrifying behavior. You were amazingly calm and patient with her. I would not have held my tongue.
    I have lost four pregnancies to miscarriage, but cannot imagine what it must have been like for you to lose Lauren. Big hugs!
    Btw, I am a new follower from MBC.

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  21. Hi, lovely blog there :)
    I already follow you.. a pleasure if you following me back ^^

    Xoxo ♥
    Pinkie Angia

    http://sugarpuff.jp.pn

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  22. CJ - this is an incredible story, and as always, you write it SO well. Moving. Amazing. Pointed. I don't know if you are shopping articles around to magazines, and of course this is such a personal topic, but if you are and feel that you can, I'd suggest this for publication. Really. One of the most amazing pieces I've read for a long time, in and out of a magazine.

    Peryl

    Btw, when I pulled up your blog, my three year old saw your picture, and said "who's her?" I said "that's Mommy's friend CJ." "Oh," he said, "her looks nice."

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  23. Hi CJ,

    I haven't visited in a while, which is crazy because you're such an amazing and honest writer. Anyway, I have no words to express how sorry I am about what happened to you. You're a much stronger person than I am for not losing it with that woman during such a horrible and also sacred time.

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  24. Partly Sunny - no worries. I have been out of commission for a bit. You know I must admit, I think I was more in shock that strong. Lordy, if that had happened in my younger years I might be writing my blogs from a jail cell...I exaggerate - but you know what I mean.

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