Gym Class Hero (Ode To My Mother)

Image courtesy of iStock.

“I’d be lost without her,” my friend lamented the other day.

She was talking about her mother.

It was a foreign sentiment to me–the earnest appreciation of the bond between mother and daughter. I suppose it’s because the relationship with my own mother has always been strained.

From an early age, I knew my mother was different from other moms. Around the same time, I believe she came to a similar realization about me; that I was not going to be the daughter she’d always imagined I’d be.

I think that’s when the distance between us began to grow. We have always been two extremely different people from two extremely different worlds. Throughout the years, I’ve lost count of the times and ways we’ve hurt each other; the months we’ve gone without speaking.

Today, the absence between us is as wide as it is far. It will never recede–something I accepted long ago. When I became a mother myself, it still wasn’t enough to bridge the gap we’d created over time and space.

But when push comes to shove, she’s always had my back.

GYM CLASS HERO

It was 1996 and I was in the eighth grade. Gym class had just ended and I was changing in the locker room with the rest of the girls from my class.

Suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, one of the loudest and most aggressive girls in the class yelled out, “Rebecca smells!” and the room erupted in laughter.

For the record, this was probably the first and only time I’d ever experienced any form of “bullying”. By today’s standards, being called out for stinking up the place (which I did NOT, by the way) wouldn’t even register on the bullying scale.

While being made fun of in front of half the class by the girls who could afford new clothes and dance lessons wasn’t exactly high on my list of priorities, I got over it pretty quickly. Again, let’s not even call this bullying.

Let’s call it what it really is–kind of hilarious.

At least I thought so.

I remember casually mentioning the incident to my mother over supper that night, but thought nothing more of it the next day. Life resumed.

At least I thought it did.

Little did I know, while I was eating my lunch in the cafeteria the following afternoon, my mother was on a mission. After the lunchroom cleared out and the children were herded outside, something strange started happening.

One by one, they came up to me.

And one by one, they apologized.

“I’m sorry I laughed yesterday in the locker room.”

“She shouldn’t have said that to you for no reason.”

“I apologize for saying that you smell, I won’t do it again.”

It was a very confusing time.

Don’t Mess With My Child

I never found out exactly what she did, or how she did it.

Did she spend the night calling around to a handful of eighth grade moms, demanding an apology from their daughters?

Did she march down to the schoolyard that morning to meet with the gym teacher?

Did she somehow manage to personally track down and confront each and every one of those girls?

Furious and mortified beyond belief, I refused to speak to her for days. My life was over. How dare she embarrass me like that! I didn’t need my mommy to fight my battles. This wasn’t even a battle!

But that’s the thing. She wanted to fight for me, even if I didn’t want to fight for myself.

And whether she knew by doing what she did, she would make my life a lot worse, I eventually came to understand that it came from a place of love. Despite our differences, at the end of the day, she was just a mom, standing in front of a gobsmacked preteen girl, asking her not to bully her child.

So happy Mother’s Day, mom.

We may not always see eye to eye, but you’ll always be my gym class hero.

So You Want To Destroy Your Vagina: My VBAC Journey – Part 1

Guys, my ladybits are chill.

Like, super-intact and impeccable.

I’m talking fully-functional, here–unaltered and unscathed. That’s because they narrowly avoided the eight-pound fetus that almost came rip-roaring through them nearly two-and-a-half years ago.

Don’t envy me just yet, though.

I am also the proud owner of a six-inch abdominal scar, and vivid memories of excruciating surgery that took weeks to heal–both physically, and otherwise.

I WAS THE 17%: 2014-2015 CesarEan Section RATES in Canada

In 2014, after going into labour naturally but ultimately not progressing, I delivered my son via unplanned cesarean section (c-section). Much to my dismay, I was part of the 17 per cent of Canadian women under the age of 35 whose first baby was born by c-section.

My son’s birth was a hugely disappointing experience, and while I’m grateful for no complications and a good recovery, it left a lasting impact. Mostly though, it motivated me to educate myself and solemnly swear to rejig my plans should I ever be stupid brave enough to do this again.

30 weeks pregnant with #2 = stupid enough to do this again. Image courtesy of Clipartfest.

So You Want To Destroy Your Vagina: The VBAC

Pronounced “vee-back”, this innocent-sounding acronym stands for vaginal birth after cesarean, and is seriously badass.

Why?

Because women who decide to attempt a VBAC are foregoing their right to request an elected repeat c-section, and instead, are willing to subject themselves to 1) hella pain 2) some pretty scary sounding risks and 3) crazy stupid disappointment should the VBAC be unsuccessful.

The good news?

According to OntarioPrenatalEducation.ca, giving birth vaginally after a previous c-section is quite safe, and the success rate for many women is upwards of 70-80 per cent.

Benefits also include:

  • No risk of complications from an abdominal operation
  • Reduced risk of blood loss
  • Less pain
  • Reduced risk of a postpartum fever
  • Reduced risk of an infection
  • Being able to walk sooner after birth
  • A shorter recovery time
  • Satisfaction of having a vaginal birth
  • Earlier start to breastfeeding and better success with breastfeeding at three to six months
  • Fewer potential complications for the newborn

MY TOP 5 VBAC PREPARATION TIPS

This time, I’m doing things differently, so that I have the best chance of sabotaging my vajayjay having the birth I always wanted. I learned a lot from my first birth, and I feel so much better informed and prepared this time around.

Check out my Top 5 VBAC Preparation Tips below:

        1. Research hospitals / birth centres in your area
          Did you know that hospitals are required to disclose their c-section rates? For my first birth, I decided to deliver at the hospital closest to my home–without thinking too critically about it. Big mistake. After my hugely disappointing delivery, I did a little digging and was surprised to find out that this hospital had the highest rate of c-section deliveries in the entire city – a staggering 33%! Needless to say, I’ve made a switch.
        2. If your pregnancy is low-risk, consider a midwife.
          Midwives are experts in normal pregnancy, birth and newborn care. In Ontario, they are funded by the provincial government, so their services are free. Furthermore, becoming a midwife in Ontario requires a four-year university education at one of three accredited institutions: Ryerson, Laurentian or McMaster University. If you are looking for an advocate, informed choice, excellent continuity of care, and a more personalized experience with minimal intervention, a midwife is an excellent option. Midwives are generally more open to VBACs as well, which sealed the deal for me, personally.
        3. Consider hiring a doula.
          Truthfully, the idea of having a doula always seemed a little hippy-dippy to me, but I’ve changed my tune in recent weeks. Although they can be costly (services range from $600-$1,000), a doula provides individualized, non-clinical support and care during childbirth and the postpartum period. According to DONA International, doulas have been shown to reduce the rate of c-sections by anywhere from 28 to 56 per cent.
        4. Read read read.
          I’m constantly researching and reading up on pregnancy, birth and delivery, to the point where I almost feel like a first time mom. There is always something new to learn. I highly recommend Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Childbirth Without Fear, and have you heard of the internet? There are dozens of great studies and articles out there pertaining to VBACs in particular, so get into it.
        5. Attend classes or seminars
          Do a little research in your area and see if your local hospitals or birth centres put on any classes or seminars. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be attending one put on by this program, and I’m really looking forward to it.

I’m all in, baby.

But we should probably talk about the risks, too.

VBAC Risks

Typically, most big decisions–like the time I decided to play drinking games with a $13 bottle of Zinfandel–are usually accompanied by certain risks.

Remember university? Me either.

According to The Ottawa Hospital’s Plan of Care for Birth After a Previous Cesareanrisks associated with a trial of labour and planned VBAC include:

  • Unsuccessful trial of labour (due to lack of labour progress or other concerns) which requires a c-section
  • Infection after birth
  • Blood transfusion
  • Uterine rupture
  • Severe injury/damage to the uterus that requires a hysterectomy
  • Permanent harm to the baby or death of the baby

Fortunately, the most serious risks are extremely rare, and typically hospitals–like mine–take monitoring and safety measures extremely seriously.

Guys, my ladybits are chill.

Time to see what they can do.

Stay tuned.

I’m so glad my mother doesn’t read my blog.