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1:59 p.m. - 2012-03-09
It's a mom thing.

Whew. I'm starting to feel okay again. There was a snafu with my bupropion prescription a couple weeks back and I ended up on a half dose then none at all. Not good. Finally got everything straightened out and have been knocking back the full dose for four days now and am feeling more like my usual self. I didn't sink to the bottom of the well, but had been having to try a hella lot harder to maintain an even keel. Another day or two at full dose and I'll be just fine. I know traditionally that anti-depressants are supposed to take weeks to build up to full effectiveness and that going off them should take a similar length of time before the black dog comes back, but for me bupropion disappears quick and kicks in even quicker. Part placebo effect, perhaps. But I'm not a one to bitch about what works, even if it's only in my mind.

While I was at the doctor's getting my meds straightened out I had a terrific conversation with my PA (physician's assistant). Lisa is about 4 months along with her first pregnancy. Trained medical professional she might be, but she's still a first timer and was wanting to ask some questions from someone who'd done this a couple times. Perhaps even more so from me because the first thing out of my mouth was the reassurance that she and baby were going to be just fine.

What? Why not? The odds are overwhelmingly in their favor. Lisa's in her second trimester already and aside from heartburn and the discomfort of wearing a bra for the first time in her life she feels pretty good. Besides, I loathe women who tell horror stories to expectant mothers. It's cruel and stupid. Yet so many women do it it's maddening. When you're cooking a kid it's like everywhere you go there's some cackling harpy there to tell you everything you've done wrong, everything that could possibly go wrong, and taking especial pleasure in making you feel guilty and scared to death. It's the crappiest thing about my gender. Although lately men have joined the ranks of the pregnancy police and also feel entitled to snag you in the food court and smirkily inform you your child is doomed because you're eating cheese fries.

Fuck off. Don't be such a twerp. Me? I go out of my way to say nice things and remind my preggie pals that even crack addicts give birth to babies that mostly turn out okay. So if she's not doing crack or working in a nuclear waste facility there's not much she's going to do that'll hurt her kid in any catastrophic way. Eat the cheese fries, hon. Take a Tums afterward and everything will be fine.

My only warning story is about not pitching hay bales after your 7th month. I had an acquaintance who prided herself on how macho she was and how SHE wasn't going to be some lame-o girly-girl when she was expecting. (ie: Like me when I was pg with Wolf.) Fine. Go sit in the deer stand like always, milk cows, whatever. But when I tried to tell her how stretchy her ligaments and tendons would become toward the end of pregnancy and that she should rethink some of her more rigorous farm activities she scoffed and ignored me. Ignored me until she pulled both arms completely out their shoulder sockets tossing hay bales up into the truck in her 8th month. I'm not usually an "I told you so" person, but that was one "I told you so" I delivered with a huge amount of pleasure. Sue me. That chick always honked me off with her Judge-y McJudgerson attitude toward my love of the femme things in life and making no secret of how superior she was for killing and skinning her own dinner all the time and how she didn't even own mascara. Bite me, Ms Farm Woman Warrior. Curiously enough she also didn't breast feed her kids, this though she owned a dairy farm. If anyone should understand the tits and mother's milk thing it should have been her, eh?

Anyway, back to the convo with Lisa the pregnant PA. I got her to giggling when I pointed out that nobody has dental surgery without pain medication yet women have been sold this crap about having babies sans meds. Oh yeah? Have a root canal au naturel and get back to me, pal. I had a 10 pound baby with nothing but pitocin to make everything a zillion times more horrible and a misdirected shot of novocaine in my zorch supposedly to help with the episiotomy (felt every snip during and every stitch afterward, thankyouverymuch)...and you know what? I didn't get a medal. Nobody came by from the pregnancy prize patrol to give me a giant cartoonish check and a Purple Heart. You try pushing something the size and weight of a sack of potatoes out of your vagina and you change your mind real quick about pain medication.

Hey, I'm all for women feeling empowered and happy about birthing their children. Which is really what the whole 'natural birth' movement was about. It was about wresting control from the arrogant medicos who treated pregnant women like mentally challenged children and the whole paternalistic attitude that doctors (men) had this secret 'in' on what was going down and women were just dimwits who needed to be bullied and doped up for their own good because, bless us!, we just didn't have the smarts to understand anything about what was going on inside our own bodies. But like most movements that make social change the birthing movement swung too far in the other direction. So much so that any woman who didn't squat in a yurt in her backyard and push the kid out into a pool of olive oil she herself had pressed with her own feet was a failure.

Bullshit. Growing a baby and giving birth to it is HARD. While it is a natural process it's also one that can be facilitated by good medicine and education. Just like almost everything else about 21st century life. We don't send mail by smoke signal or carrier pigeon anymore. Most of us go to shops and buy food which was raised by others. We drive cars instead of walking everywhere. So it is with birthing. Women can learn about and do their best to be wise and loving mothers during gestation. Then when it's time for the kid to come out, hopefully, we can assert some control over the venue and the interventions and avail ourselves to all the help we can use. Including pain meds. If that's what she wants. No meds is fine if that's what does ya, but no woman should be made to feel like a failure and a shitty mom because she had some help with her pain. Or had a C-section.

And that's what I shared with Lisa. At most labor is a day or two, and then you have that child for the rest of your life. What's 24 hours against the decades of time and life that come after? It makes a good story to share with the other moms on the playground, but really the birth is the least of what it means to be a mom. Doubt me? Then ask an adoptive mom. She doesn't even have a birth story to swap at the swings, yet she's also a mother. One who's walked the floors with a cranky teether and helped her child with his long division homework and stood in the cold outside a grocery store selling Girl Scout cookies. She's been there mending scraped knees, broken hearts, consoling the loss of the lead in the school play, celebrating the touchdown, advising the prom dress selection.

How you become a mom is such a small part, it's what you do AS a mom over the long haul that truly counts.

Been there, done it twice, still going, ~LA

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