Heritage, Not Hate…And Other Items of Bullshit

I have an interest in genealogy. Part of it comes from growing up Mormon. The other part comes from having a really shitty family. On my dad’s side, it’s loaded with narcissistic alcoholics, so it is extremely difficult to find any redeeming value in them, save for a few. I have to go even further back in my family tree to find a lineage to actually be proud to tell my daughter about. That being said, some research into my family revealed that my family can be traced all the way back to when they came over from Europe, which was before there was even a U.S. of A. My progenitors sailed over, fought in the French-Indian War, the Revolutionary War (so I guess that means I am eligible to be a DAR member), and the War of 1812. They settled down and established a foothold in Virginia where they flourished.

My family was among the original Americans!

A some point, a large group ventured off and settled in Tennessee. The Civil War came along. My direct family line split off and fought for the Union Army while the rest of them sided with the Confederates. It’s entirely possible they may have met on the field of battle on opposing sides, but I’ve not found anything to support it. However, I’m sure this difference of opinion and alliance made for awkward family gatherings.

My Redneck Brother, in all his NASCAR loving glory, always liked to show off the Confederate flag. When I would chastise him for it, he would regurgitate that cop-out line, “Heritage, Not Hate!”. Until I dug into our family history and discovered our black-sheep, Yankee-loving lineage and corrected him. He never again uttered that phrase to me, but that doesn’t mean he still doesn’t have a romanticized view of the stars and bars and how it relates to our family tree.

I’ve always been puzzled by the South’s love affair of the Confederate flag. With the Charleston shooting bringing the flag to the forefront, even more so. No where in history will you find a group of people who worship the symbol of the losing side of a war as feverishly as those who do the Confederate flag. Oh sure, some argue that the flag represents an honor to those who lost their lives in the war, but you don’t see Germans flying the Nazi flag to honor those who died in WW2. We see the Nazi flag and remember all the horrific things about that war. The image of the Nazi flag evokes a strong, negative reaction to most everyone who see it. The Confederate flag has that same reaction to a lot of people, and yet there are others who think it’s something to be proud of.

Those who cherish their flag can defend it and fly it all they want, but it doesn’t escape the fact that the flag is not just a symbol of the white-washed version of Southern history, it is a symbol of hate, of oppression, and of treason. It is ironic that the flag-lovers would decry “Oppression” when their flag is threatened, when their stance in Civil War was oppression dressed up in the fancy wording of state rights. Yes, the Civil War was fought over whether the apostrophe comes before or after the “s” in States, as Southern apologists would have you believe that the federal government had no authority over individual state rights. But, they do tend to gloss over the fact that one of the sticking points of those state rights was the right to slavery.

Like the flags of Apartheid and the Nazis, the Confederate flag belongs in a museum. To be studied as history, a lesson not to be forgotten lest the past repeats itself. The South is too in love with its heritage of hate and oppression. To this day, they are still fighting the Civil War, and they still think they are going to win.

I can’t help but feel the fight over the flag is just a smokescreen when you think about the Charleston tragedy. Racism is still rampant in the South. Open and unashamed. You hear about it even to this day: segregated proms, for example. The Confederate flag is a diversion, and I am sure the NRA is thanking whatever gods they pray to that the focus isn’t even on gun control right now. The flag is an easy target, with no powerhouse lobby that owns Congress and has an unlimited battle chest of lawyers and money to defend it. I’m sure the flag will finally be taken town and put in a museum where it belongs, and people will feel a great satisfaction that they accomplished an historical victory. Until someone brings a gun somewhere and kills again. Then, we will be looking anywhere for another scapegoat. History repeating itself all over again. And we’ll be wondering we can do to prevent it from happening again, while the answer is as plain as the nose on our face.

We know what we have to do. We’re just too ignorant and too chicken shit to do the right thing. Our government is bought and paid for. The only color our government cares about is green. I’m tired of it, and frustrated that this is the society that my daughter will grow up in.

While I am very proud that my family had a part in establishing this country, I am embarrassed by what it has become. Heritage, not hate. Yeah, that sentiment can kiss my ass.

The Arrival of Lil G!

As of tomorrow, I will have been a Mom for three whole weeks.

Three weeks ago, Log and I took our friend, Kant out to dinner for her 40th birthday. She chose Fogo de Chao, which was great because we love that place. And so we ate, like the carnivores we are. Top of the food chain! By the end of dinner, I thought my water had broke, so we all went to the hospital so I could get checked out.

Turns out, my water had not broken. And those pains I started feeling? Just cramps. The docs checked me out, announced I was dilated to 3, then sent me home with instructions to drink lots of water, do a lot of walking (to alleviate the cramps), and call if something more interesting happens…like actual labor. We got home around 11:30pm. I was supremely disappointed. Log is convinced that I am not going to deliver before our scheduled induction for the following Thursday.

We went to bed, and around midnight, I started having stronger “cramps”. I got zero sleep that night because I kept having “cramps”. Sometimes, Log would wake up (when I was more noisy and whiny) and rub my back. By morning, my “cramps” were roughly 30 minutes apart.

So, I spent the morning laying in bed, occasionally making a trip to the bathroom, which was also uncomfortable. My “cramps” getting stronger, and closer together. I called one of my close friends, who is a doula, and she thought my “cramps” sounded more like contractions (which I thought the whole time). I called the OB triage desk and explained recent events, and the nurse told me to come in.

We arrive at the hospital at 3pm, and I am whisked away to the OB floor from the ER because the ER wants nothing to do with pregnant ladies. Back into triage, into the same bed I occupied the night before. Am exam reveals that I am now dilated to a 6, and I am in active labor. Would I like an epidural?

Does a bear shit in the woods??

Back in the day, when I was a newly minted pregnant lady, and reading about all the crap you can read about in terms of labor and birth, I thought I would just hold off on an epidural unless I absolutely had to have one. That was before I actually experienced the joy of back labor. Now, I’m not a candyass when it comes to pain. I’ve had numerous knee surgeries. For lack of a better phrase, I have a high pain threshold. That being said, back labor had me almost begging for death. The description is beyond words. When a contraction would hit, I could not form complete thoughts, much less complete sentences. Instead, I started thinking in colors, and my brain went to pristine white. Another thing is that you hear a lot of women say, “You forget the pain.” You know what?  Those women can piss off. I will never forget how bad that hurt, for the rest of my days.

An hour or so into triage, and I am finally taken back onto the floor to my own room. It’s a newly renovated delivery room. ACME hospital redid all the delivery rooms, and they are very posh. Flat screen television (which I never turned on). Big, spacious shower (which I never used). Fancy crown molding and aesthetically pleasing decor (which I never admired). Like birthing your baby at the Marriott. More on this later.

So, I am as settled into my birthing room as much as I can be, and three anesthesiologists waltz in sometime later. And by sometime, I mean almost 2 hours later. I don’t know what the hell took them so long. Did they not hear me screaming from the hallway?? Did they not want to get the epidural in quickly so I would shut up?? Anyway, Larry, Darryl, and Darrel arrive and educate me all about the epidural. Larry is apparently the more experienced of the three, and he assigns the lesser experienced Darryl to actually put in the epidural. Darrel apparently is just observing. The nurse decides to check my cervix before they start, and I am now dilated to an 8. Contractions are roughly 4 minutes apart.

I am made to sit on the side of the bed for the epidural, and am told to relax. Apparently, Larry has never experienced contractions before, because if he did, he would know better than to tell a laboring woman to “relax”. Larry will never know how close he came to dying that day.  Meanwhile, I am trying to power through as Darryl fumbles his way around my spinal column. Towards then end, I get a contraction that comes with the overwhelming need to push. Just as Darryl finishes, I announce this new development to the nurse, who has me lay on my back again for another cervical check. Now dilated to 10. For those not familiar with cervical dilation…the chart doesn’t go to 11. In layman’s terms, my normally mini-donut-sized cervix is stretched to the size of a bagel.

But Lil G has not dropped into position for her birthday, and I am propped up into what I call the Pretty Princess Chair position. Meanwhile, I’m pushing my epidural button like it’s Raid Night in World of Warcraft. In minutes, I can no longer feel anything below the waist. Then, I realize that I’m hungry, and I am given food. All the sugar free strawberry jello I could possibly want! I’d been jonesing for an orange popsicle, but they apparently ran out. Log also takes this time to relax. My Mom stops by.

About 7:35pm, my OB doctor shows up to deliver my daughter. My cervix is open for business, but the Pretty Princess Chair position did not encourage Lil G to move down the line. It is announced that I am going to do some “practice pushing” to 1) Practice pushing and 2) Maybe help Lil G drop some. I am put on my back, feet in stirrups, and I push. Lil G drops two stations. Practice pushing is officially over.

My OB assumes her place front and center. Log is to my right. Mom is sitting off to the side in the cheerleading section. Word gets out, and every Tom, Dick, and Harry show up in my room. I had said no students so this wouldn’t happen, but instead I get everyone else who is not a student. At this point, half of Kansas City now knows if the carpet matches the drapes because they are all in the birthing room.

And so the real pushing starts. In 7 contractions, and however many pushes I can get within those 7 contractions, Lil G makes her big debut. A faint little cry, and she is whisked away to the waiting gaggle of nurses in the corner. I would have liked immediate baby-on-chest placement, but that didn’t happen. I tell Log to follow the baby and not let her out of his sight. Meanwhile, I am directed for the equally exciting placenta delivery. Oooohhh.

Finally, I get to hold my baby. My tiny, wiggly, baby. The thing that has made me miserable and bloated for the last month of my pregnancy, made manifest. I stare at her in stunned silence. This beautiful creature, that is part me, part my husband, is now here. My Mommy-Baby time is brief, because they take Lil G away to do some more newborn stuff.

Remember that part about birthing in a Marriott. Well, about that…

I don’t know how other hospitals do it. Some hospitals, where their labor and delivery is their cash cow, has really pulled out all the stops. Whirlpool tubs. Family areas in the birthing room. Giving birth at those places is like going to a spa, but in the end you get maybe an episiotomy and an infant to take home. I have heard that some do it the same way as ACME Hospital…which is not a spa experience. I birthed in Posh Room, and the minute I could walk (albeit with assistance), I was plopped in a wheelchair and wheeled to the other end of the unit, which sadly had not been updated, to a basic hospital room. If you were lucky, you got a rocking chair in your room. Talk about Bait and Switch! They had a fold-out for the Dad to sleep in, but it was akin to sleeping on a concrete block, so I sent Log home to sleep in a comfy bed.

Two days later, I was discharged from ACME Hospital, but not before watching their education videos for new parents that were filmed in the 80’s and targeting parents with an IQ of bread. One video was about SIDS, which is what any parent wants to watch. A video of approximately 10 minutes. The first 8 minutes featuring bad violin music and families talking about their SIDS experience, the last minute and a half from the “expert”, telling me to always put the baby on her back. One of the other video was something called Purple Cry. The general idea, spaced in a 15 minute video, is this: Babies cry, don’t shake them. Very informative, assholes!

All the articles and classes and unsolicited advice could not prepare me for everything I have felt since that day. There’s a lot of information out there for new parents, the learning curve cannot be imagined. Even the experts can agree on the same thing whether it’s breastfeeding, or which diapers to use. Log and I have just decided to do what is right for us and for Lil G.

My Thoughts at Two Weeks

Two weeks today, I gave birth to my daughter. Two weeks later, I still struggle with wrapping my brain around that. You see, when I was in my early 20’s, I used to have two lists. “Reasons Not to Get Married” and “Reasons Not to Have Children”. Both a direct contradiction of what being a Good Mormon Woman demands. Oh sure, the higher-ups in church would tell you that’s not the case, but the message “There’s no greater calling than that of mother and wife…” tends to impress certain expectations in your head.

But I digress.

I really did have two lists. Not born of hating the institute of either, but rather seeing the worst of both, and wanting to avoid history repeating itself.

As life went on, and I saw that not all moms and not all marriages worked the same way, I stopped adding to those lists. As I got older, all the reasons went away. Instead, one reason remained, the same one, for both lists: Because you are alone.

And then Log came along, and now I have both. A good husband, a solid father. He’s engaged. Interactive. He soaks up being a Dad like a dry sponge dropped into a bucket of water. I really could not have designed a more perfect partner in my most vivid of imaginations.

So, now I am a Mom, and it’s stunning. I can’t stop staring at her. Kissing her. Feeling her soft, baby skin against my cheek. The way she sounds. The way she smells. The way she curls herself against my chest when I feed her. Looking into those baby blue eyes and wondering what color they are going to change into. (I’m hoping her Dad’s.)

With all this wonderment has come fear. Fear that I may get something wrong, make a mistake. I felt a similar fear when I finished nursing school and started working on my own. How will I know what to do and when to do it? Imagine that magnified. I want desperately to be a good Mom to her. I don’t ever want her feeling the things I felt when I was growing up. I don’t ever want her knowing what certain experiences are like, for they are things no child should ever have to experience. I want to show her all the good things, and protect her from the bad. All the while, I want her to grow up to be a good person. Kind. Compassionate. Smart. I want her to be close to her father, to experience what that rich relationship is supposed to be like, and I want to observe it.

My relationship with my husband has even changed since Lil G was born. It feels even more organic. Like he is a natural extension of myself. I can’t say that I love him more than I love my daughter, for the love is like comparing apples and oranges. It’s different, yet vast and cannot be measured. My love for my husband is the foundation on which our house is built, and when Lil G has grown and moved on, that foundation will still be there.

On a lighter note, we are quickly learning about what we need and what we don’t need. Going into a baby store to register was overwhelming in that there is so much crap, how do you know what you will need to raise a baby? After baby comes, you figure it out. Sometimes, you don’t know you need something until you actually need it. Babies are simple, they don’t need a lot of fancy gadgets. Just a boob, clean diapers, some onesies, and a warm place to sleep.

In other news, after two weeks, I am back down to my pre-pregnancy weight. So, I gained 37lbs with Lil G. I’m convinced most of that was fluid. I can wear my regular clothes, shoes, and my wedding ring. Other than two tears, I think I came out of this pretty good. Even the gestational diabetes went away.

I am filled with all kinds of feelings. Love. Peace. Fear. Anxiety. Which is, apparently, normal. I feel as if the big picture has now come into sharp focus. I look at my husband. My daughter. My surroundings. And I have come to realize that I now have the life I have always wanted, for as long as I can remember.

Life is pretty good.