Copyright © While They Sleep

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Happy birthday son

One year ago, after 72 hours of grueling labor which included two hours of delivery, my son Elijah came into this world.

They say that mothers tend to forget their birthing experience as a natural way for us to be able to want to conceive again. I mean, how many people want to go through that kind of excruciating pain again? You have to be crazy right? Pretty much. So they say moms forget the pain and only remember the joy they felt first seeing their child. Umm… that’s bullshit. At least for me. I remember a good 90% of my experience and I plan on letting Elijah know one day. Ha!

I was taken into the hospital on a Friday afternoon after eating sushi for lunch (don’t worry, it wasn’t the raw stuff). I was craving sushi so we ate at a local fav spot. Not too long after, it appeared that my water broke, in the restaurant. Embarrassing to say the least. Thankfully, no one noticed (it was mid-day and not very many people were there) and my husband cleaned up the mess before anyone could. I didn’t feel anything though. I didn’t feel the things you see in the movies. To be honest, I thought I just pee’d. We called labor and delivery and were told to come in right away. We took our time. We went home, I showered, called my mom and doula/friend, Avin finished putting together my rocking chair, we ate again, grabbed our bags and headed out, two-four hours later. I still didn't feel anything and figured I'd be sent back home.

Once taken to the hospital, I was told my water did NOT break and it was just “fluid” – it wasn’t pee, but it also wasn’t my amniotic sac. Weird, I know. Doctors and nurses checked me out to make sure everything was okay (fearing something may have ruptured and of course they didn’t want me to get any sort of infection). They drew my blood and checked my cervix. Elijah was NOT ready to come out. I was 37 ½ weeks along and wasn't dilated at all. Technically my due date was still a couple weeks away. Unfortunately, that didn’t matter. During all the checks, it was determined I had developed preeclampsia. Dun dun daaaaah! Preeclampsia is a condition that typically starts after the 20th week of pregnancy and is related to increased blood pressure and protein in the mother's urine. Preeclampsia affects the placenta, and it can affect the mother's kidney, liver, and brain. When preeclampsia causes seizures, the condition is known as eclampsia, the second leading cause of maternal death in the U.S. Preeclampsia is also a leading cause of fetal complications, which include low birth weight, premature birth, and stillbirth. There is no proven way to prevent preeclampsia. Most women who develop signs of preeclampsia, however, are closely monitored to lessen or avoid related problems. I had no signs previously. The ONLY way to "cure" preeclampsia is to deliver the baby.

Sigh. I was devastated. I had a routine doctor’s appointment only two days earlier and did NOT have preeclampsia. I was told it can develop overnight and there wasn’t anything I could do to prevent it. I was eating well, I did gain a lot of weight, but at the same time, it seriously came on overnight. Because of all the risks to me (stroke being number one) and subsequently to my baby, the only thing for them to do was induce me and get baby out. So there began a long and grueling process. Induction sucks. You’re literally forcing the process of labor and delivery when you are not ready and your baby is definitely not ready to come out. It’s slow, aggravating and tiresome. I was admitted a few hours later and the induction process began. Thankfully, I had a doula – Sarah. Sarah is a god send and I cannot imagine what it would have been like without her. As soon as I was admitted, Sarah showed up and stayed with me the entire time, for three whole days. Mind you, Sarah was in her first trimester with her second child. She still stayed with me. I was terrified and thankfully, Sarah was right by my side, so was my husband and mom. Initially I had planned on trying to have a natural birthing process so you can imagine how heartbroken I was. I not only was induced, I was basically forced into having an epidural. Apparently, I didn’t know this before, but an epidural doesn’t only alleviate some pain, but it helps dilate you. Which I desperately needed – because as luck would have it, Elijah really didn’t want to come out and after 48+ hours of laboring, I had barely dilated to 3 cms. Saturday passed, so did Sunday. Early afternoon on Monday, May 23, 2011, I was given an epidural, and within a couple of hours I was fully dilated to 10 cms. I will never forget that feeling that you seriously cannot stop – I needed to push. I had to push. I was ready to go. And I remember telling everyone around me, “He’s coming, I can’t stop this, I have to push, right now!” And so I did… for 2 hours. The first few pushes felt fine. I wasn’t in any pain. I remember thinking “this is actually kind of easy?” – Boy did I have it coming. Because even with an epidural, those last few pushes were anything BUT easy. I remember the distress call over the loud speaker as Elijah’s breathing became weak. He was doing this turtle action of popping his head out a little and then going back in, over and over again. So the doctor tried a vacuum aspiration which didn’t work. And then I was told “you need to push, very, very, very hard.” After cursing really loudly, I did just that. And the doctor reached inside of me and yanked him out, literally. I remember feeling my body rip open as I pushed out his shoulders and head, with the assistance of my doctor. The amount of pressure and relief was overwhelming. But I was incredibly weak. I lost over 2 pints of blood. I almost passed out and I didn’t hear my baby cry. The doctor fulfilled my wish and I was granted the first touch. After pulling Elijah out, he was plopped onto my chest. And I began to cry. Five seconds later, they took him to a table nearby. My heart sank. I didn’t hear him cry. He was blue. He wasn’t breathing well and I began to panic. I remember saying over and over again, “give me my baby, what’s wrong with my baby, tell me what’s going on.” Finally, the doctor got very close to my face and said “your son isn’t breathing well, but he will be okay.” And she went back to him, with about 20 other medical professionals in the room. CPR was initiated and his airway was cleared. I heard a loud cry. And I also began to loudly cry. So did everyone else, Avin, my mom and probably Sarah too. Sarah took his first picture because my mom and Avin were in shock and didn’t leave my side. Avin never let go of my hand. I told Sarah, while crying, “Please tell me the truth, don’t lie to me, is he okay?” She looked at me dead in the eyes and said “I promise I’m not lying to you, Elijah is beautiful and he is okay.” She was right. He was okay. He was healthy and beautiful.

Elijah Ali Prasad was born at 6:06pm on May 23, 2011 weighing in at 8 lbs., 6 oz.’s and 21 inches long. He was born on our second wedding anniversary. He was the best present I could have ever been given. Thank you God.

After cleaning him up, he was returned to my arms, where he stayed for over an hour. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. I remember Avin crying tears of joy and telling me how proud he was of me. We had our son. And he was perfect.

So much has happened since Elijah was born. He has brought an enormous amount of joy in our lives. As much as I love my husband, the love a mother has for their child supersedes everything else. I gave this little person life. I felt him kicking inside of me. I used to put speakers up to my belly so he could dance and kick inside me. Ironically, one year later, he still LOVES to dance. I like to think my playing music for him daily while he was in my belly had something to do with that. ;)

Life has dramatically changed. Nothing is more important than our son. No one is more important than our son. And it’s the strangest feeling to forget what life was like without him, because life would be nothing without him. He is so much of who I am and everything I do is for him, in some way, shape or form.

Motherhood has changed my life. This past year has been one of the best. From the first time he grabbed my hand, to his first roll-over, his first time crawling, that iconic first step, the way he babbles “da-da” and ”ama" (mom). Everything. It has been simply amazing.

To commemorate his first year of life, we celebrate Eju all week long. On his actual birthday we had family over for cake. Elijah freely smashed his cake and enjoyed every minute of it. We threw two parties for Elijah. Avin and I are not very formal people, so having a typical function in a hall or restaurant, as nice as it may be, isn’t our style. We wanted to do something more casual and fitting to our lifestyle. And so we did. The first party we threw was a kid’s party with a Sesame Street theme. We had tons of great food and treats, the décor was adorable (everything matched the Sesame Street theme), we had a bounce house, a snow cone and cotton candy machine and a guest appearance from Elmo. Our great family and friends came and everyone had a blast! On day two, we had a traditional Fijian “lovo” (luau) and were able to host it in our newly made over tropically landscaped backyard. Close family and friends came and we shared another great day to celebrate Elijah’s birthday AND our three year wedding anniversary.

I can't wait for everything that comes with parenthood. It's sad to see this year gone so fast, but I'm so happy my son is healthy and happy. And I can't wait to grow old with my family.

Happy birthday son. Ama loves you more than life itself!

Here are a few pictures from the festivities (definitely more to come)…

Fully exposed breastfeeding in public. Are Americans too modest to handle it?

Last night, while my husband, son and I were shopping in a busy store, we saw a woman walking around, with another woman and her baby. The baby was latched onto her fully exposed breast as mommy was walking around. It was odd. At first, I hadn’t even noticed her. I thought she was cradling a sleeping baby while walking around, I didn’t notice the exposed breast. But I wasn’t exactly paying attention. Of course, my husband noticed. Lol – go figure. Exposed breast, a man’s definitely going to notice. He was very mature about it and turned to me and whispered “did you see that woman?” So I looked over and I must say I was a little flabbergasted at seeing her walking around with a fully exposed breast, in a crowded store as she fed her baby. She wasn’t sitting down, with a breast cover, like I had, she was walking around, baby latched on to a fully exposed breast.

Do I think it’s wrong? No. It’s her preference and the bottom line is if baby is hungry, baby has to eat. That doesn’t mean I would do it. In fact, I know I wouldn’t. I grew up in a modest household. My parents are not conservative Muslims and we grew up in a fun, loving household where we weren’t covered from head to toe in stereotypical Muslim attire, but our cleavage and other body parts weren’t exposed either. We exercised modesty and I still do. Something I will teach my children as was taught to me. So it was a little off putting to see this woman so exposed in such a crowded store, and it made complete sense that she got so many stares, snickers and confused looks.

Americans aren’t used to this. That’s the bottom line. In 1999, I traveled to Paris and London. I was in SHOCK when I went to a mall in London with my cousins (who live in the UK) that there were fully exposed models in canvases all over the mall. No one cared. It was a part of their culture. I imagine Brits to be conservative, so it’s kind of shocking to me that even a semi-conservative culture, that still bows and curtsies to a monarchy wouldn’t be off put by exposed posters of models with their breasts completely exposed. The UK newspapers have an entire section with porn, just like we have a Sports section. You can pull it out and throw it away or go ahead and read it, in public. It’s a daily occurrence and something the people don’t find odd.

This is not the case with Americans. Sex and exposure are faux pas. We live in such a “free” society, but we are not used to this kind of exposure. So for me, a foreign born American, I found it odd to see a woman with a fully exposed breast, breastfeeding her baby in public.

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The death penalty

Reading an article recently on how a death row inmate hanged himself while awaiting his death by injection, I started to think, how do I feel about the death penalty? And I can honestly say, I'm conflicted.

For the longest time, I thought the death penalty was wrong. We are playing God and as Mahatma Ghandi once said, "An eye for an eye and the whole world is blind." Not to mention the amount of wrongful executions due to shoddy investigative work and a failed judicial system. In Illinois, for example, the Chicago tribune examined over 300 death penalty cases and found that 33 people on Illinois death row were represented by lawyers that had been disbarred or suspended, and in nearly 50 cases, people were convicted based on testimony from jailhouse informants, usually regarded as flimsy evidence. The number of mentally challenged inmates awaiting a death sentence is also quite high and in my view, very disturbing. These people aren't fully able to grasp what they've done let alone what could possibly happen to them. Even if there were a way to guarantee 100% that every single person executed was in fact guilty, would the death penalty be used in the form of revenge and the belief that the guilty party was beyond redemption?

All that being said, I'm a mother now and that changes everything. If someone were to harm/kill my child, I would want them dead. Not only would I want them dead, in a moment of anger and sheer insanity, I would probably kill them myself. I think that's a natural reaction for most parents. And I could not imagine the pain some parents have felt burying their child, or even worse, never finding their body.

It makes me sad that we live in a world where we even have to think about this, but we do.

I want to know, what are your thoughts on the death penalty?

Original article that sparked this blog post:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

15 birthdays and counting...

Today is my husband’s 32nd birthday. But what really stands out to me is that this birthday is our 15th celebrated together. Fifteen?!?!?!

We’ve spent half our lives together. Celebrated half our birthdays together. Each year, we blow out a candle and make a wish. And each year, we find ourselves drawn to each other. It’s strange. I’m not a hopeless romantic. I left that part of me in my naïve youth. As a 30 year old woman, I believe relationships take hard work, commitment and flexibility. Of course, a lot of love, kindness, romance, etc… But like any relationship, hard work is key. I find that as we get ready to celebrate our 15th birthday together, I’m awed by all that we’ve overcome, the amazingness of all we have now, and the good times we look forward to in the future.

Happy birthday honey. We don’t pretend we’re perfect. It’s no secret you drive me insane once and awhile (vice versa), but celebrating 15 birthdays together, that’s a big accomplishment.

I love you very much booger face!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The New Girl

It’s been two and a half weeks since I started my new job, so it may be a little premature to say this, but I’m going to anyway. I’m glad I made the decision to leave my last employer, when I did.

Don’t get me wrong, the Child Abuse Prevention Center (CAPC) is an amazing place to work, in a multitude of ways. Namely, the mission. A mission I felt (and still feel) very powerful about. How could you not? Staff at CAPC is working hard to reduce, if not end, child abuse and neglect in Sacramento County and especially amongst our most vulnerable residents, our children. In my capacity, as the Child Death Review Team (CDRT) Project Manager, I managed a multi-disciplinary team of professionals working in the children services/public health and safety fields to review the death of each child that died within Sacramento County. The work was daunting, but very powerful. And I learned a lot. I made great connections, and I’m eternally grateful for that. I’m most grateful for the friendships I made during my four years at CAPC. Many of whom I will stay in touch with as I begin my new path at the California Department of Boating & Waterways (DBW) as an Associate Governmental Program Analyst (AGPA) in the Legislative/Public Information Unit.

I was very hesitant about leaving CAPC and I didn’t know how long I would stay at DBW. I namely thought I would use this opportunity as an “in” with the state, but as I form new friendships, learn an abundance of new information regarding the California State Legislature and the government in itself, I find myself interested in staying. I thought I would lose myself working for the state. That I would become just another “lazy state worker.” Thankfully, although I’ve had some slow days here, I have learned that this agency is not really the place for “lazy state workers.” These folks are busy. And the work they do is meaningful. I was afraid I was going to lose that here coming from an agency that was making a HUGE impact in so many people’s lives. That hasn’t been the case. I get to analyze legislative and policy related issues regarding California’s waterways, and that includes keeping recreational boaters safe. I’ve been able to review work regarding the Wear It California campaign, which was created to educate the public on the importance of wearing life jackets. I get to use my statistical analysis experience, my report writing skills and my “sociological lens” more so than I thought. Not to mention, the increase in pay, better benefits, retirement, etc. etc. etc. – makes a huge difference. I was afraid that taking this job for those “grown up reasons” I just listed was going to bite me in the ass and as it turns out, I’ve started to change my mind. I feel at ease with my decision especially now that I’ve made friends and I’m not just the “new girl.”

I have a feeling I’m going to learn a lot here and I appreciate that my feedback is taken seriously. I get to make decisions and my thoughts on matters brought to my attention are taken more seriously than in the past.

I’m enjoying that. I’m enjoying the change and I feel very fortunate.