Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Real Deal on Wearing Pants to Church

Last Sunday was the "Second Annual" Wear Pants to Church Day in my church. Although, this time, they claim, is no longer a campaign to ordain women to the priesthood. They are campaigning for "inclusion". This year, their website states:

This event is not about being critical of the LDS Church or changing Church policy. We want to emphasize that there is more than one way to be a good Mormon woman and encourage changes in Mormon culture to support that idea.

Certainly that idea is valid. I'm glad they have shifted from a defensive, critical stance of Church policy. My heart aches and I feel personally insulted when women claim that they ought to be ordained to the priesthood. To me, it implies that what I already am - a woman - and what I am already doing - living my life in the best way I know how - is not enough. I believe that each of us, man or woman, transsexual, heterosexual, homosexual, or otherwise, black or white, tall or short, educated or uneducated, married or single - are enough. My body is enough. Your body is enough.

There is a lady in my ward who wears pants every week - not because she is trying to make a statement, but because she doesn't like her legs. She doesn't need more women to wear pants. She needs to love her body just the way it is. That is the message she needs to hear.

To say that I need something added to me - or that this sister needs something added to her - a priesthood ordination and the invitation to serve in priesthood callings - distracts from the power I already possess within me as a daughter of God.

To follow this logic down the road, we should all start wearing casual clothing to church - JUST IN CASE someone shows up wearing casual clothing. This is ludicrous!

As I have studied this topic, I have come to see - assisted most especially by this recent statement from the Church on blacks and the priesthood - that there may be no doctrinal reason that women cannot be ordained to the priesthood. As the Church reflects and integrates into the culture in which it is established, to an extent, this is simply the way the Church is being operated right now. (Not that I want to add priesthood responsibilities unto what I'm already doing! Am I crazy?!) My worth and potential does not depend on that ordination. (We're already awesome, girls).

Absolutely I agree that there is more than one way to "be a good Mormon woman." What I fail to see is how this is related to wearing pants, or why this even needs to be stated. To me, our Church leaders are already emphasizing this fact. Over and over, I hear praise, love, and encouragement to continue on with what we are already doing coming from the leading bodies of the Church.

Wherever you are, whatever you are wearing, whatever language you are hearing, you [women] are part of a powerful force of joy, peace, and goodness. We are here to rejoice together. . . . Rejoice in the diversity of our sisterhood! It is the diversity of colors in a spectrum that makes a rainbow. It is the diversity in our circumstances that gives us compassionate hearts. (Chieko Okazaki, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, 1993)

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm living in a Utopia that most of the Church doesn't enjoy. In my ward, in my city, I see inclusion. But maybe that's because I "fit in". I live the traditional role of wife, (mostly) stay-at-home mom, driving the preschool carpool and watching my kids at soccer and ballet. Go ahead and write me off as someone who has no idea what it means to be excluded. But consider this: I am the only Mormon in my family. I literally grew up as a redheaded stepchild with freckles, glasses, braces, and the knobbiest elbows and knees you'll ever see. I was bullied at school and at home. I didn't join the Church until I was 16, and even then didn't have any close friends in high school. If anyone knows about exclusion, I might.

My point is this: instead of wearing purple to show off how great you are at including others, instead of wearing pants to purposely stand out as the minority in your meetings, and instead of bragging that you're a feminist and saying that I'm not, let's get out there and be the people that Jesus Christ wants us to be.

Let's all take a break from arguing on the internet about what it means to be a Mormon woman and start embracing the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Don't ask what you can do for someone else - just do it. Give of yourself. Be a truer friend. It doesn't matter what we wear. What matters is that Jesus Christ understands the desires of our hearts, understands our unique challenges and struggles, and that when we see someone who doesn't look the same as us, who is wearing something different, someone we don't understand, that we lay our differences aside and embrace them as children of God. Let's quit focusing on what we are wearing - and start loving those around us! This is what Jesus did. Yes, he crossed cultural lines, but that was secondary to his cause. His number one cause was to love those around Him and heal up their hearts. We, as women, have the power to do this.

I stand firmly with Sister Valerie Hudson Cassler when I say that the Mormon Church - just the way it is, in all its imperfect people and traditional gender roles and cultural abnormalities - is the greatest force for women on the earth today.

In all our seeking for equality, let us not overlook the fact that we already have it.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Andrew's Birth Story

I haven't posted since November.

Because nothing's been happening, and because I've been just barely surviving being pregnant. My lovely chore chart that I posted in my last blurb was not the sort of thing that I could successfully start while pregnant - I have yet to complete a full week of following it. My excuses are as follows: I was extremely sick with the flu, which on top of being pregnant meant me lying in bed all day, then Christmas happened. By the time I recovered from that, I hit my third trimester and all that was good in life went out the window. I was beyond tired - which is one of the reasons I was so very eager to get this pregnancy over with and meet my new little baby!

I also haven't blogged because, frankly, there's a lot of days I'm trying to just forget. I've been depressed off and on, and the kids and I have done nothing but lie on the couch watching movies for many, many days in a row. I've been grumpy, irritable, crying, etc. (Much better now that the pregnancy is over!).

(However, I need to get back on the wagon with house cleaning. Trevor has been going above and beyond my entire pregnancy, and now that I'm feeling mostly back to normal, he deserves a bit of a break!)

On to the birth story.

On Thursday morning, March 14th, I went to my 39 week doctor's appointment. She told me I was about 2-3 cm and that she "wouldn't be surprised" to see me in the hospital that weekend. I tried not to get my hopes up.

That afternoon I had false labor contractions from 1:30pm until around midnight when I fell asleep. I've never had false labor before. I thought I'd be going into the hospital in the morning, early, like the other two. Nope. I woke up in the morning feeling no contractions and sent Trevor off to work as normal.

That evening, March 15th, we all trotted off to the Home and Garden Show - we all love the shows around here, we knew the kids would love the machines they could climb on like last year, and despite my pelvic pain - I wanted to walk that baby OUT!

Well, I guess it worked, because the next morning at 3am, my water broke all on its own as I was lying in bed. This was a huge surprise for me because my doctor has done it for both of my other babies - and after two babies, it's tempting to think that the third will be the same, as if I have some kind of formula figured out. I banked on this illusion way too much. This baby has a completely different story than the one I expected.

Trevor stripped the bed while I changed. I was feeling some small contractions, but nothing regular or serious. I was distracted by the fact that we had promised Grant we'd take him to a free event we were invited to at the Movie Mill - we'd told him the night before that if he stayed in his bed at bedtime, he would get to go, and there is no way I was going to break that promise.

I called the hospital and they said to come in (as always). I decided to wait just a little bit. I tried to get back to sleep, but eventually got up. I packed a bag of clothes for the kids, played on my phone, and ate a bagel. Then left for the hospital at 5:30am, leaving Trevor and the kids to sleep. I foolishly thought the hospital might send me home anyway since I wasn't having contractions, but I truthfully had no idea what to expect since my membranes had never ruptured on their own before (hospital wants you to stay once that is the case). Next time I'll stay at home a LOT longer if I'm not having contractions.

Once I got to the hospital, I was on the monitor for the 20 minutes, and the nurse said my contractions were 4 minutes apart (very mild ones that I barely felt!). They moved me to a delivery room. I took that as a great sign and told my photographer, Liz Cranmer, from whom I won a fabulous birth story session (here's her site), to come down from Calgary.

Then I waited.

And waited.

Liz came. We chatted. I felt mild contractions here and there.

My doctor came at 8am and said the longest we could wait before starting Pitocin would be at 5pm. (Yikes!) She promised to come back at noon.

We waited.

Trevor took the kids to the movie at 10am, then over to a friend's house.

My doctor came back at 11:30am and I agreed to start the Pitocin. I told them that I would definitely want the epidural if I needed to have the Pitocin, and we agreed to get the contractions started before (probably) slowing them down with an epidural. I remember at 12:10pm I ate lunch and said I'd wait another 10 or 20 minutes before getting the epidural.

The Pitocin started working right away. It felt like a regular labor, with contractions gradually increasing. They upped the Pitocin every 30 minutes, and things got moving very quickly.

I had back labor again. For the third time.

Trevor finally arrived. He was only there for a few minutes, because he had forgotten my mirror at home, which I absolutely wanted. Non-negotiable. He helped me through about two contractions and then I sent him home to get the mirror.

Thank goodness for Liz. She became my doula as well as my photographer. She was and is absolutely amazing.

I wanted the epidural. But the anaesthesiologist was called into a joint surgery.

I tried the birthing ball instead. They were able to put portable monitors on my belly to facilitate it. The ball felt nice to sit on, and I was able to grip one of the big bed handles at the end of the bed and maintain my breathing through the contractions. I stayed on it for a while. Contractions intensified a great deal.

At one point while on the ball, I reached my end. I whimpered to the nurse, "Can you give me a little bit of morphine?" Something I never thought I'd say. I was desperate. She said she'd have to check me before administering it, so I got off the ball and back on the bed. As I was doing this, someone told her the anaesthesiologist was on his way.

Trevor finally got back again at this point (finally!). I had him start more or less hugging me during contractions while I squeezed his hand and put my other arm around his shoulder. By this time, contractions were very intense. The anaesthesiologist came in and said "I've read your birth plan, are you sure you want the epidural?" I said yes. Someone checked me and said I was 5 cm. (Whether it was my nurse, Dorothy, or another, Kassidy, I'm not sure - Dorothy went on her break about this time and Kassidy was covering).

The anaesthesiologist started his little spiel and got me positioned sitting up near the head of the bed. They've got to ask the questions like "Have you had any reaction to anaesthetic before" and I answered between contractions. He marked my back with his pen. I heard him say "I'm going to wash my hands, and then I'll wash your back three times" and at that moment, I knew it was all over. I could feel the head bearing down. Coming.

I said to Kassidy, "Can you please check me?" and she said "You feel like you have to push?" I responded "Yes" and as I was saying it, my body told me to push. I lay back, my head crammed up into the corner of the headboard since I was already sitting so close to the head of the bed. I pushed. Nurses rushed in. The anaesthesiologist, whom I wanted to drown, stab, and set on fire for taking so long that he didn't even get my back washed, just stood there and watched the whole thing.

I was able to gasp out "Mirror!" to Trevor, but as soon as he held it up for me, another nurse shoved him out of the way and told him to get it out of there. Three quick pushes later and the head was out - I felt everything - the entire descent through the birthing canal. My mind said to me 'This is too much pain, too much' - and my body said 'you have to go through this pain in order for it to end." So I did it.

One more half push for the body and he was out. My doctor, Dr. Watke, only made it in time because she happened to be checking on someone next door. He was born at 2:53pm.

He took a couple of breaths on his own and Dr. Watke thought he looked okay, so she put him on my stomach (she was amazing - remembered every request I had written in my birth plan!). But as soon as she did so, he stopped responding and they had to take him over to the warmer and give him oxygen. Once he pinked up again, they showed him to me quickly all wrapped up, then whisked him off to the NICU for observation.

Trevor and Liz went with him.

I was having problems of my own - the placenta wasn't delivering and I was losing a lot of blood. It had come quickly with my other two, but this time I felt no urge to push and couldn't even tell if I was pushing at all when I tried. Dr. Watke was able to pull it out after what seemed like a long time. Then the bleeding started - I hemorrhaged and kept passing clot after clot. So they left the Pitocin IV in my arm as well as a suppository. Dr. Watke gave me 3 or 4 stitches and I had to lay flat in the bed for three hours until they felt it was safe for me to get up.

Trevor popped in and out a couple of times from the NICU, but wanted to stay with the baby and hold him until I was able to. He took some photos on my phone to show me, and both Trevor and I were heartbroken that I couldn't spent those first few hours with him. He was hungry and rooting around like crazy, so I allowed them to give him a soother - something else I had specifically banned on my birth plan.

I was able to eat dinner in the delivery room, have a quick rinse in the shower, and then finally go to the NICU at 6pm, where baby was eager to snuggle skin to skin and nurse. Then, he was able to go with me to the mat/child ward as his vitals stayed stable during nursing.

I felt like the lady on What to Expect When You're Expecting (the movie), who laments "But I have a birth plan! And it's typed!" However, I am very grateful that I didn't need to have a c-section, and, while I would have preferred to have an epidural, I do think that unmedicated birth is best.

At the end of the day, I am of course thrilled to have my baby here, and we are both healthy! I had a rough recovery since I lost so much blood - lots of dizziness which isn't completely gone (orthostatic hypotension) - but this weekend Trevor fed me a couple of steaks and Sunday I started feeling much better. My back has also been very sore, and I had Dr. Stewart prescribe me some T3s.

Our sweet baby boy has done very well nursing in spite of getting off to a rough start, and has been interested in it from the beginning. He doesn't have any jaundice and doesn't cry very often. My only complain is that this newborn stage, my favorite time, doesn't last nearly long enough. Welcome to our family sweetie!

Andrew William Curtis

March 16, 2013
6 lbs., 7oz.
19.75 inches

P.S. I really, really wanted to name Grant Andrew - a name I have loved since I was 13 or maybe even younger - so, four years and much begging later, Trevor finally gave in and we named our son Andrew.