Birth Stories Featuring Kim; Raising Awareness about HELLP Syndrome

It’s #FriendFriday!!!  This week I’m sharing a birth story from my friend Kim Meeks. She and her husband, George, have had an incredible journey with her daughter. Mary Farris was born at 25 weeks gestation, 15 full weeks premature. Kim shares her story here:

It was a normal pregnancy for the first 6 months.  My husband and I were thrilled about expecting our first (and only) child. We found out at 22 weeks that we would be having a girl.  We were unaware, however, that she would be born 3 weeks later.

13550893811764On May 25, 2008, I was diagnosed with HELLP syndrome, a rare and possibly fatal form of pre-eclampsia.  I was taken by ambulance from our local hospital to a St. Thomas Midtown. My husband was told that an emergency c-section was necessary to save not only my life, but to attempt to save the life of our unborn child.  Mary Farris was born at 25 weeks gestation, weighing only 1 lb. and  3oz.  She was born with a birth defect called choanal atresia.  She had no openings in the back part of her nose, and was unable to breathe on her own.  We were finally able to hold her at 54 days of age.  After 3 months on a ventilator, she pulled out the tube herself and began to breathe through her mouth.  After 148 days, Mary Farris was discharged from the NICU.  We hoped and prayed for the best life she could have, keeping in mind that having a “normal” child was highly unlikely.

She had to have a g-tube placed for nutrition related to her defect, as her mouth was her only airway.  Mary Farris was primarily tube fed until age 3 ½.  She required physical, occupational, speech and feeding therapy.  She attended a special education preschool where she could continue to receive some of these services during the school day.  She also had the benefit of 3 years of early intervention services.  In her first 5 years, she had 11 surgeries.

Last year, Mary Farris was transferred to a regular kindergarten class and is keeping up with her peers now in 1st grade.  She met all of her goals in physical therapy and was discharged, and they plan on meeting occupational therapy goals soon.  She is now 6 years old.  We felt after all of her days in the hospital, that she is partly their baby, too.  For this reason, we celebrate her birthday with the NICU staff every year.  Mary Farris says she wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up.

Through all of the experiences with Mary Farris, I have become very active in the g-tube community helping other parents adapt to their new “norm”.   I also was inspired by our experience in the NICU to go back to school.  I will graduate from nursing school in December.  Our story will come full circle when I begin my job as a NICU nurse.

Laughing Gas For Birthing Mothers? [Click to read more]

By Naomi Rendina for M.O.M.
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Recently, the use nitrous oxide in the delivery room has been questioned and even projected as the “next big thing” in American obstetrics. What many people are failing to recognize is that nitrous oxide has had a presence in the delivery room in the US before, and it failed to catch on. Starting in the 1880s, analgesics like chloroform or ether, were used to help take of the edge and anxieties of the birthing process. It was followed by the introduction of scopolamine, which completely knocked out a birthing woman, leaving her with no memories of her experience. By the 1950s, women were overly medicated in their birth experiences, and a backlash against the medicalization of childbirth began.

It seems as though American women are interested in the idea of laughing gas in labor. The skeptics believe the nitrous harms the baby, when, in fact, it takes one breath of room air to clear mother and fetus of nitrous. Some women find it silly that the analgesic that we’re most accustomed to in the dentist’s chair has potential in the birthing room. Other women are happy to see an alternative to pain management that is minimal, and low-risk.

The Atlantic ran an article recently, as did Slate, talking about nitrous in the delivery room.

For more information on the use of anesthesias and analgesics in the delivery room over the last 120 years or so, please see Jacqueline Wolf, Deliver Me From Pain: Anesthesia and Birth in America.34712

Do you think that re-introducing nitrous (or another inhaled analgesic) into the delivery room is a good idea? Do you think it would facilitate a movement towards more natural, de-medicalized births?

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Lindsey’s Family!

Hello, everyone! Each week, I am going to highlight a family that has shared their experiences with me. Some women will talk about their experience becoming mothers, their families, or what being a mother means to them. I am actively searching for fathers to share their experiences as well! (If you, or anyone you know, is interested, PLEASE let me know!)

For this first #familyfriday, Lindsey is shared her thoughts on being a busy family, and how they handle public reactions to being a biracial family.

I hope you enjoy!
*Naomi*
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Hi, my name is Lindsey Pitts and I’m a first year Child Development graduate student at California State University, Sacramento. My husband Will and I have two children: Mikaila, age 5, and Preston, age 3.5. Growing up, I would play house all day everyday, and always knew I wanted to be a mom. However, being a mom who works outside the home, while being a student, has been nothing like I ever imagined.

My studies in Child Development have not only helped, but have hindered my parenting skills at times. No matter how much you know about children and their developmental stages, there’s nothing like hands on experience. There is no right way to raise a kid, and once my husband and I accepted that, it made parenting so much easier. Parenting is a fluid topic. No matter what theory or research says, it’s going to come down to you, the parent, to make the decision about what you think is best for your child(ren) and family. Will and I both have a passion for kids. We have both been working in education for nearly 10 years, and are excited about continuing our own educations. Both of our children started full day Pre-K programs at young ages, and we really believe in providing hands on experiences for them in their early development.

Being busy is an understatement when it comes to our family! My husband and I work, recently finished our undergraduate degrees, and are now pursuing Masters degrees in our fields of study. We really couldn’t have done it without each other, or our kids. Teamwork is BIG in our household, whether it’s mealtime, getting out the door, or daily chores, everyone plays a part. One thing we really try and do is spend quality time together. We laugh a lot (at ourselves and each other) and try to make everything a fun experience for our kids (even cleaning!) There were times in our BA programs when we disagreed, and were just so tired and stressed from deadlines and the daily grind of parenting. Taking a step back, and time out to spend time as a family and with each other, was what put everything back in perspective. It reminded us why we were doing what we were doing, and why it was all worth it. Making our family a priority is why I think our kids are so happy- and is also how our relationship survived the last few years.

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Something that’s unique about our family is that we are a tall bunch, and we are a biracial couple. My husband is 6’8, I’m 5’10, and our kids look like they are about 3 years older then they really are. Walking through Target, having your child who looks like they are 6 have a meltdown over not getting a toy, isn’t fun. We’ve gotten looks. I usually respond with, “I know being 3 is tough, we can’t always get what we want.” Patrons usually smile after that and comment on how tall and beautiful our kids are. When we aren’t making tantrum scenes, the kids usually get comments and questions about them being models (both have lighter complexion and hair, and Mikaila has blue eyes.) If I got paid for every time someone commented on this- both my kids would have college funds by now. 😉 Living in a very diverse city, we receive lots of positive feedback about being an interracial couple. One thing that has been bothersome, however, is the stereotypes society has placed on couples like us. Some people are just going to “hate” because of their own situation. Luckily, assumptions like these are few and far between, and when people do make comments, we just ignore them. With different cultural backgrounds, we have made it a point to introduce and expose our children to both our cultures and families. My daughter said it best the other day when she told my husband, “even though we have different color skin, we are still family.”

-Lindsey

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Contraception Updates [CLICK HERE TO READ BLOG]

Hello, everyone!

In order to discuss contraception, pregnancy, and all things related over the next few months, I think it is important that we discuss a few important terms so that everyone has access to the same frame of reference later on.

imgres-1By definition, contraception is the “deliberate prevention of conception or impregnation by any of various drugs, techniques, or devices.” (Dictionary.com) However, recent debates, including the recent Hobby Lobby decision, debate when pregnancy even begins. Many pro-life advocates suggest that pregnancy begins at conception, the meeting of sperm and ovum. Medical professionals, particularly obstetricians and gynecologists, assert that pregnancy begins at about week 3 of gestation, when the fertilized egg implants itself into the uterine lining.

Contraception thus prohibits pregnancy from occurring either by blocking ovulation or conception. Oral contraception, most commonly referred to as “the pill,” is a mixture of the female hormones progesterone and estrogen. The pill not only prevents ovulation (the release of ovum from the ovary), but changes the uterine lining. (National Library of Medicine, 2012) Unbeknownst to many women, there are various doses and mixes of hormones to suit everyone’s needs. The pill not not allow conception to occur, thus no pregnancies. (If used properly, oral contraception has an over 97% effectiveness rate, however, there is always that 3% chance. Please make sure that you are using your contraception properly, and consult with a medical professional.)

Of course, there are still barrier methods like male and female condoms that have histories of their own. Medical technology has evolved so far as to provide long term contraception in the form of injections (4-12 weeks) and implants that are effective up to three years.

Recently, abortifacients have gotten into the limelight, as abortifacients are substances that emergency_contraceptioneliminate a new embryo. The recent Hobby Lobby decision put IUDs in the same spotlight as emergency contraception although IUDs are most commonly used as long term contraception. IUDs (inter-uterine devices) are small T-shaped devices inserted through the cervix into the uterus, and are either plastic and hormone excreting, or constructed of copper. IUDs prevent sperm from meeting the egg, as copper is a spermicide. IUDs that contain hormones alter uterine lining and cervical mucus so that sperm cannot meet an egg. Controversially, IUDs can be inserted after unprotected sex and act as emergency contraception before being left in for longer contraception, as IUDs can be left in upwards of ten years.

Abortifacients and emergency contraception are not completely the same. Emergency contraception blocks conception if it has not already occurred, and is taken within 72 hours of unprotected coitus. However, if fertilization has occurred already, emergency contraception can create a miscarriage, or will not be effective. Results vary per the type of emergency contraception, like an IUD, Ella, or Plan-B. (Again, should you need this, please consult with your doctor or pharmacist to determine what is right for you, your body, and your situation.)

This blog is intended to give basic awareness of the different forms of contraception. Over the next few months, we will explore the types more intimately.

Until then, let’s get the conversation rolling with a simple question! Where do you get your information in regards to contraception: female friends, your doctor, or the internet?

Until next time!

~Naomi

Graduate student intern

Case Western Reserve University

Questions can be posted in the comment area below, or directed to MuseumofMotherhood@gmail.com

Meet Our New Blogging Intern Rozita [CLICK]

Hi everyone!

My name is Rozita Alaluf, I’m the new graduate student intern for Museum of Motherhood!

Currently, I am a first year MA student in Clinical Psychology at Columbia University.

Born and raised in Turkey, I received my BCom degree with majors in psychology and

international management at McGill University.

I am also a certified yoga teacher who hopes to draw upon alternative therapeutic outlets in addition to established methods.

Rozita - Internships at the Museum of Motherhood
Rozita – Internships at the Museum of Motherhood

My interest in women’s well being started truly early. Growing up in a country that

ranks 123rd in the attempt to close gender gap (among 130 countries worldwide), I

learned at a young age how women might suffer in various ways as a result of the social

order. This awareness, combined with my fascination with psychology, led me to

M.O.M. where issues related to women’s health are discussed openly. I am particularly

interested in the role of spirituality and culture in transition to motherhood.

In this blog, I will explore a variety of subjects related to motherhood and women from a

mental health perspective.

Please let me know if there are any topics you’d be interested in reading about!

I hope the conversations started in this blog can inspire all of us intellectually and

encourage constructive actions in our communities.

Warmly,

Rozita

Also meet our new blogging intern Naomi Rendina, and please go like the Museum of Motherhood on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Please introduce yourself in the comment section, and make any suggestions as to what you would like to see in the blog! We’d love to hear from you, and we will try to answer any questions you may have.