Did you guys see my series on breastfeeding in World Moms Blog?
I’d love to know what you think and whether it resonates with your experiences.
The tl;dr of it is that I think that the reason so many women in Canada still don’t breastfeed despite astounding pressure to do so is that while we are constantly told TO breastfeed, we aren’t told HOW.
In fact, many women I speak to have been given incorrect advice by their nurses or doctors which actually sabotaged their attempt to breastfeed.
I have met several women trying to breastfeed who have turned to a bottle in the meantime, never having been warned by their doctor that a nipple could make the latch worse. One friend was told that she had poor supply and was given galactogogues, but no one explained to her that breastfeeding is a supply and demand system, so she went out and got a crate of formula. I have met women who thought it was supposed to be easy and natural, and no one warned them that it often isn’t.
If they want us to breastfeed, where is the support?
The friend who was given galactoguges never did reach full supply, but she continues to try to at least partially nurse her baby. Last night I saw her offer him the breast only for him to refuse it in lieu of the easier-to-drink bottle in her hand. I know how desperately she had wanted to breastfeed, and I felt so bad for her. No one talked to her about supplemental nursing systems. No one told her that some people just can’t produce much milk in a breast pump – that doesn’t mean that the milk isn’t in there.
No one helped her. They practically handed her a bottle at every pass. She laments the cost of formula, the fact that she couldn’t feed her baby “naturally” and remains grateful that she can nurse him at all, even occasionally.
We get lots of guilt but where is the help?
I was so frigging lucky.
A week or so before my birthday, Owl, PH and I developed mild cold symptoms. Very mild. So mild, in fact, that even PH didn’t suffer the usual Man Cold symptoms of constant moaning, excessive sleeping, etc.
But it just… wouldn’t go away. I was coughing right up through my birthday, never having actually been SICK… and yet… still coughing.
The cough has since faded away, but one symptom remains.
My throat hurts.
Not a lot.
Just a little.
Just the kind of sore throat that makes you wince a teeny bit when you swallow. It doesn’t hurt to talk, it doesn’t really hurt much at all. It’s just… sort of THERE.
Once a night or so I mention it casually to PH, like “my throat’s still a little sore”. It’s such an off-hand comment that he doesn’t even feel the need to enquire about it the next day.
But yesterday, when I mentioned it for what must be, like, the 14th day in a row, he said “Why don’t you go to the doctor?”
Well, because it feels stupid.
“Hi. I don’t have a fever, or headaches, or any cold symptoms, and I feel perfectly fine, actually. But it’s slightly uncomfortable when I swallow.”
Except now the pain kind of goes up my ear canal a bit, too. So I am going to go in. The doctor will probably think I’m a hypochondriac.
Canadians: If you’re wondering where your tax dollars go… me. I’m spending them. Sorry ’bout that.
Update: OR, the doctor will be totally stumped, and postulate a range of diagnoses from too much caffeine to hypothyroidism/cancer, and send me for immediate blood tests.
My doctor sent me to the pharmacy with a prescription for a three month’s supply of “Diaphragm – whatever brand is available”.
PH insisted on coming to the pharmacy with me so he could have a good laugh at pharmacist’s dumbfounded expression.
Let me backtrack.
I went in to see my doctor, saying I wanted to “discuss my birth control options” because somehow “I want her to measure my vagina” wasn’t my first choice of words when speaking to the receptionist.
My doctor told me that the mini-pill would be best since I’m breastfeeding. I found that odd because my OB-GYN said I should take no hormonal stuff at all. So I said I’d rather avoid hormonal routes altogether. She said that leaves me with the IUD.
Now, I’ve thought for years about getting an IUD after my first child. Sounds easy. However, so many people have gone “Nooooo, don’t doooo it” whenever I have brought it up that I’ve been put off the whole idea.
PH and my mother alike are terrified that it’ll scar my uterus and leave me infertile, and we want at least one other kid. A friend of mine told me horror stories about what happened to HER friends who got IUDs and ended up with horrible hospitalizations for vague reasons. Only one friend (who has used an IUD for 10 years and is done having kids) has endorsed the idea.
So that pretty much left me with the option of diaphragm, and now my doctor wasn’t even presenting it as an option.
“What about a diaphragm?” I asked the doctor.
“Oh… I have a couple patients who use those…” said my doctor. “You realize that it isn’t as effective as an IUD or homonal contraception? They’re only about 80% effective.”
“That’s ok. We want more kids, just not right now. If I do get pregnant, it isn’t the end of the world.”
“Do you need a prescription for one?”
“I have no idea.”
“How much do they cost, do you know?” my doctor asked.
“I… don’t know,” I said, feeling like the conversation was a little backwards.
“Well… why don’t I write you a prescription. I’ll just say whatever brand is available because I don’t know what brands are out there.,” said my doctor, scribbling on a pad. “Why don’t I get you a six month’s supply to start.”
I felt a little at sea in this conversation. “Um… I thought they were reusable.”
“Right. Yes. Well, why don’t I write a prescription for three months, and you can tell me if it is working for you. Call me if you have any problems, ok?”
I took the prescription because I was riddled with self-doubt. Part of me was saying “but I thought she had to fit me for one of these!” and the rest of me was saying “Shut up, if that isn’t right you’re going to look like an weirdo who wants doctors to prod her vagina unnecessarily, and if she is wrong, then clearly she doesn’t know what to do anyway, so what’s the point?”
And that is how I came to be standing at the pharmacy with a prescription that made no sense. The pharmacist gave me a really weird look when I handed it to her apologetically.
“My doctor is useless, I’m sorry,” I said. “Is there anything you can do with this?”
She wrinkled her brow, wrote down the available sizes of diaphragm, handed the prescription back to me and then commented on the fact that my son’s prescription was also wrong.
“I see your doctor has taken your son down from 15 mg twice a day to 10 mg twice day.”
“Oh Gawd.” I said, looking at the other piece of paper. “My doctor’s an idiot. She meant to leave it the same. She thinks Ranitidine comes in 10mg/ml concentrations, even though I keep telling her it’s 15 mg/ml. So I told her he was still getting 1 ml twice a day, and she thought that meant 10 mg instead of 15mg.”
The pharmacist looked dubious.
“It’s for GERD?”
“How much does he weigh? 6.6 kg?” She pulled out her calculator and tapped away. “Well, 10 mg BID is well below the recommended dosage for GERD, and even 15mg is quite low. The old dosage should be fine and you could even go as high as 20 mg twice a day, so I’ll give it the old label.”
“Thank you,” I said meekly, and I slunk out with a chuckling PH trailing behind me.
Now my first period in over a year has arrived and I still don’t have a diaphragm because I don’t want to go back to my doctor and force her to measure my gooch against her will.
Mostly because I assume she doesn’t know how.
Maybe I should just get a damn IUD.
So, remember how I had that great Nurse Practitioner? Well, the same time I got pregnant, she left the clinic I was attending and went to work at an AIDS clinic. She sent my files to an OB, and to the shrink at the Reproductive Mental Health Centre, to make sure I would get proper care. Only the shrink says she isn’t responsible for my prescription/dosage on Wellbutrin – she said a GP should be following that. The OB said the same thing. So I needed a GP.
Took me forever to find one, and she’s this timid little newbie East Indian/South African lady who has the enthusiasm of the young but the lack of confidence that comes with being completely inexperienced. I’ve seen her a couple times and she fails pretty hard at monitoring my depression. For one thing, the first time I saw her she handed me the Hamilton scale with the idea that I should fill it out myself.
To help her get a better baseline for my depression, I promised to get her my files.
This has been an odyssey of complete ridiculousness. First of all, getting my files away from the clinic where I saw my NP was like trying to wrest federal secrets from CSIS. I called twice and no one knew how I could do such an unconventional thing as that. I went down there and got sent to this bureaucratic library o’ files where I had to sign a bunch of paperwork to “release” my information to my GP. But they had difficulty with WHAT files they were supposed to send.
“All of them,” I said.
“Okay, so, like, we’ll send your test results and stuff.”
“No, I want ALL the files sent, because my GP wants to get my depression history so she can know how to monitor me better.”
“Okay, so we’ll just send the files that relate to your depression then.”
“That’s ALL the files.”
“Okay, now, from what dates?”
After that fiasco, I went to the Reproductive Mental Health Centre, where I see a counsellor ever week. I asked if they could have my assessment from the shrink sent to my GP. They said sure, all my doctor had to do was call and ask for them. I gave them the name of my GP, so they would know who was calling.
“I don’t need to sign anything?”
“Nope, just have them call and leave a fax number.”
So I go to the GP’s office, and give them the number for the shrink, and sign a form THERE saying I authorize them to collect this information. It is clearly marked with the clinic’s letterhead, and they fax it immediately to Reproductive Mental Health with a request for my files.
The next time I went in to see the counsellor, the lady at the counter was like “Hey, what’s Dr. Walker’s fax number?”
“I’m supposed to send files to a Dr. Walker…”
“I don’t have a doctor of that name. My doctor’s name is *entirely different East Indian name that also ends in r*.”
“Oh, okay, maybe that’s it. Do you have her number?”
“No, not on me.”
“Okay, we’ll try and look it up, and if we have any problems we’ll call you.”
So I got a call today.
Lady: “Hi, I was wondering if you could give me the number for Dr. Walker? They asked us to send your files.”
Me: “I don’t have a Dr. Walker. My doctor’s name is *entirely different East Indian name that also ends in r*.
Lady: “Oh, okay, maybe that’s it. Do you have her number?”
Me: “I can look it up on the BC College of Physicians and Surgeons website.”
Lady: “Are you near a computer?”
Me: “Sure…” I start typing in her name at the BC College of Physicians and Surgeons website.
Lady: “What kind of doctor is she? Is she your obstetrician?”
Me: “No, she’s my GP.”
Lady: “Oh, okay, and you’re Googling her number?”
Me: “I’m looking it up on the BC College of Physicians and Surgeons website. They list all the doctors.”
Lady: “Carol? I’m getting another call. Can you call me back when you finish Googling her number? Thanks.” *click*
*fifteen seconds later*
Other Lady: “Reproductive Mental Health.”
Me: “Hi, I was just speaking to someone about my GP’s phone number.”
Other Lady: “Okay, when was this?”
Me: “Less than a minute ago?”
Other Lady: “Oh, then you want Ester. Hang on.”
Yet Another Lady: “Hello, BC Women’s operating service.”
Me: “Uh… I’m waiting to speak to the woman who wanted my GP’s number.”
Y.A.L: “Sorry, hon, I can’t help you with that.”
Me: “Can you please transfer me back to Reproductive Mental Health, please?”
Man: “Mental health.”
Me: “Is this Reproductive Mental Health?”
Me: “Could you send me there, please?”
Other Lady: “Reproductive Mental Health. Are you holding for Ester?”
Other Lady: “Ester just went home for the day. Can you call her back?”
Me: “Can you just please give her my GP’s phone number?”
Other Lady: “Oh, okay, sure, what is it?”
I give the number and hang up the damn phone. I swear, if they call me back…
Monday was my 30 week OB appointment. There was a different doctor there that day. Instead of the usual Monday doctor, a friendly and somewhat hazy lady who tends to wander off on tangents a lot while we nod and smile, there was a brusque Chinese (one of those many Chinese names that means “penis” in English slang) doctor man. He came in and had me lie on the table while he whipped out a tape measure, stuck one end of it down my pants onto my vagina, and the other end up between my boobs while prodding vigorously at my belly. Then he bounced my uterus enthusiastically like a kid trying out a new basketball, to get an idea of how the baby was lying. He was running behind (we were the first appointment after lunch but he started us half an hour late because he’d been off delivering a baby) so you could tell he wanted to get through us quickly. Everything he did was swift and hurried.
You’d think I’d hate him, but I actually liked him.
While he was in a hurry, he didn’t hurry us. He asked if we’d had any concerns the last two weeks, and when I told him that my rash was getting worse, instead of better, on the new steroid cream they had given me, he asked to see and then showed great sympathy, noting in my chart that it was “clearly demarcated” and “very prominent” and advising me to discontinue the cream and try an anti-fungal cream instead.
When he measured my uterus, he did something Dr. Hazy never had – he told me the measurement (31 inches). When he bounced my babby like a ball, he told me where he felt hands and feet, and grabbed my hands and put them on my lower abdomen, telling me where exactly to feel the head. Then he flipped through my chart and noticed they hadn’t done a urine culture and sensitivity, or a TSH test yet. Then he asked if we had any questions, and when I asked how overdue I would be allowed to go before they induced me, he told me seven days and then worked out the date – the 6th of September. Then he explained WHY the limit was seven days, while writing out requisition forms for the tests they’d missed.
So really, rushed and rough as he was, he was actually better in some ways than kind Dr. Hazy.
So I’m 30 weeks along, with a uterus 31 cm long, a head-down baby , a possibly fungal rash, and my baby will be born by September 6th.
Where did the time go? I only have 10 more weeks until the baby is born. The nursery isn’t even close to prepared – it’s still a pile of miscellany on and around a bare futon and a rickety wooden shelf that could give you splinters just looking at it, and it smells like my cat’s litter box. We have a pile of donated baby clothes, but they are in cardboard boxes in our living room. We have no dresser for me to put them in. We have no change pad for said dresser. We have no car seat. If it weren’t for Perfect Girlfriend sending me receiving blankets, baby socks, and breast pads when I was 12 weeks along, we wouldn’t even have those vital things.
We’re waiting for the government to actually approve my EI claim and start sending us money. We’ve been on a single income all month, and while Perfect Husband says we’re okay, I just KNOW we’re eating into savings – savings that should be used on baby dressers and car seats and paying that house assessment in October. The nursery is waiting on one of my friends, an incredibly talented person who is planning increasingly elaborate things for our nursery, but who works full time. She’s going to take some time off, probably next month, and come over here and paint but in the meantime the nursery remains Gulag Grey and filled with junk.
I can feel myself growing increasingly more edgy. I’m starting to lose sleep. Suddenly that moment in Marley and Me, where Jen makes John go out in the middle of the night for baby socks because she can’t sleep thinking about the baby’s naked toes being cold, even though she’s only seven months along… doesn’t seem funny to me any more.
10 more weeks – and we still haven’t set up a regular read-to-the-fetus time every night, the way that I thought we would have done back at the five month mark. I’m not really eating right. In fact, I’m ashamed to tell you how often I forget to even take a prenatal vitamin. It’s like that dream I had last year. I think we’ve been floating through in a vague sense of denial, or possibly we’re just afraid to really acknowledge the baby’s reality with dressers or scheduled reading times or videos of my kicking belly, because we’re afraid something will go wrong and we’ll be left with a decorated nursery and no child to put in it. I don’t know.
All I know is my pregnancy is slipping away, and I’m starting to panic.