Friday, January 27, 2012

A Single Mom...With a Husband

...Who's my baby daddy.

Yep, that's me. Ah, the life of a Military wife.

Ask any Military wife/mommy and she'll tell you the same story: the Military essentially makes us single moms, who are married...to the father of their children. It's an interesting predicament to be in, and one that makes you appreciate the time when your husband is home even more so than before.

Conner and I are experimenting with this concept (well, less experimenting than being thrown into it on short notice) currently. And while it's only a few days, it's a lot more work than anticipated...but it's good preparation for things like deployments.

It's easy to take advantage of the fact that when my husband comes home from work, I catch a break. I am, usually, relieved of diaper changes...I can cook dinner without wearing a squirmy little dude...I can sit and do a crossword puzzle...I can just take a few minutes for myself. I've found that these moments are easy to forget to appreciate...until you're on your own.

While Conner has been a great baby always and particularly good while Daddy's been away these past few days, he is still a lot of work. When Derek isn't here, there is no diaper duty break, there is no "can you burp him so I can check my E-mail" or "can you cuddle him to sleep so I can take a shower". There's a lot of "waaaaahhhhh feed me! I don't care if you have to pee!" and "somebody burp me or I'm going to explode!" instead.

The upside to all of it though is appreciating the moments with my son. While the house is quieter and not the same without Daddy walking through the door at the end of the day, it's still filled the coos and squeals from my little boy, and more of my time spent smiling at the sweet things he does rather than worrying about what I'm cooking for dinner. And in some ways I've found that Conner helps the time when Derek is away go faster. No longer am I alone in our apartment. I'm now here with someone who somewhat fills the void of hugs and kisses that are missed when my husband away. And C Man certainly keeps me busy! So no longer am I thinking of ways to keep myself occupied to pass the time. It's a nice new chapter in our Military life.

So yes, if you ask me to classify myself I'd tell you: I'm a single mom...who happens to be married to my baby daddy. And then I'd tell you to laugh because it's funny :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Options and Statistics

Even though Conner is only 2 months old now, I've already started making myself educated about future labors. Coming off of an emergency C-section, I want to make sure that I am well rehearsed in how things can go in future pregnancies and birthings. I'm finding that it's an empowering thing, to recognize that I want to be prepared and knowledgeable, and that it's helping me get over the fact that Conner's birth was less than my dream experience.

In the United States, approximated 34% of women deliver their babies via C-section, though that number is from 2009 and may be higher at this point. While a C-section may be preferred by some women, for me personally it isn't a route I wanted to take, nor one that I wish to take again if I can avoid it. I don't want to deal with that recovery again, or the difficulty I had taking care of my son for the first few days after he was born, or even the restrictions on basic things like driving or carrying grocery bags. I especially don't want to experience the devastating feelings of failure and disappointment again. I don't really want to put my body or my mind through that all over again if I don't have to.

Luckily for me, the hospital on our base is pretty amazing. They're huge promoters of breastfeeding, complete with free-of-charge lactation consultants, helpful classes both pre and post natal, and even weekly E-mails with facts and helpful tips. In addition, they're also advocates of VBACs: vaginal birth after cesarean. This is pretty exciting to me.

In previous years, VBACs were not recommended and frowned upon in the medical community. And while, as of 2010, the U.S. boasted a 90% repeat Cesarean rate, VBACs are now considered safe. In fact, successful VBACs are considered to have lower complication rates than repeat C-sections in most cases. And while things happen and there are always risks, women have the option.

Just the thought that I will have the opportunity to deliver my next child the way I want to is incredibly meaningful to me. And I understand that I am lucky to be a patient in a medical system which encourages women to try a VBAC, as nationally about 57% of women wanting a VBAC have a difficult time finding a supportive provider (perhaps this is where the 90% repeat C-section rate comes from? hmmm). I'm also finding that, for myself, being educated about my options makes me feel safe. Should we ever move before having another child, I feel secure in having information about VBACs and knowing that I don't have to settle with a provider who isn't willing to support my decision to try.

I've come to the understanding that my next pregnancy will be considered "high-risk" because of the infection I had during labor, and the fact that the cause of it is still unknown. I've come to the understanding that my next labor may not go the way I want it to because of the potential for complications again. But I've also come to the understanding that I should be educated, I should continue to be involved in the decisions made about my children and my body and that I should not feel bad or guilty about Conner's birth any more. I've come to the understanding that I have options, I have a voice and I'm lucky to have providers who are willing to hear it and support it.