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Health Pregnancy and Your Newborn

Advocating for Yourself is the Most Important Part of Pregnancy

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

Pregnancy is a chaotic time in a mother’s life. Even if you’ve been through it before, there can be new challenges and anxieties that make you question everything you thought you knew. Nothing about your hormones and body make sense anymore, yet a common phrase keeps popping out of your OB’s mouth:

“It’s just pregnancy.”

What does that even mean?

I’ve heard of women’s feet swelling to three times their normal size, and others who can barely walk because of severe sciatica pain. Do you know what they’re told? “It’s just pregnancy.”

Fine. Fair enough. Some things are just pregnancy. I’ve dealt with my share of aches and pains, chalking it up to pregnancy and sucking it up. At some point though, it would be nice if doctors took women’s pain more seriously.

Research has already suggested that doctors, both male and female, fail to take women’s pain seriously under any circumstances. Toss pregnancy into the mix, and we’re expected to just suffer for the sake of creating life. To an extent, I get this, but only to an extent.

I suffered from severe migraines for two months of my second pregnancy. Nothing touched them. I was even prescribed a class-C medication (recommended only for pregnant women who have discussed pros and cons with their doctor) that didn’t make a difference. I asked three different OBs (I go to a rotating clinic) and every time I was met with a face of pity and “It’s just pregnancy.”

It wasn’t until I was completely crippled by my migraines (loss of vision, nausea not related to pregnancy, dizziness) that an OB suggested I might need intervention such as an IV cocktail at the hospital or a chiropractor. This was after two months! It was assumed that my migraines were hormonal, so they asked me to push through the weekend and then call on Monday if nothing improved.

Lo and behold, my migraines had dissipated by the end of the weekend and I haven’t suffered since.

Now, this is where I have an issue.

My husband went to the ER recently and was diagnosed with late onset migraines, which apparently is common in young adults. He reported with all migraine symptoms, but with zero history of migraines, so of course there was some concern. What did they offer him? The same IV cocktail that was kept from me, despite months of pain. He had suffered for all of two days.

Yeah, I was a little pissed. Obviously medical intervention is not ideal for pregnant women if it’s not necessary, but an IV cocktail would have given some blessed relief. For me, it was a last resort, yet for my husband, there wasn’t even a second thought.

I’m experiencing similar conversations, especially with a second pregnancy. As if I should know what’s normal and that it’s all “just pregnancy.” Except sometimes it’s not. I had to push for extra tests when I indicated that things weren’t feeling right “down there.” Extra discharge, itchiness, and swelling are all “Just pregnancy.” Except when it’s a yeast infection and BV. I was mostly asymptomatic, but I could still tell something was wrong with MY body. Now I’m on antibiotics, after weeks of being uncomfortable.

Pregnancy is unpredictable, and we don’t always know what is supposed to feel right or wrong. However, at the end of the day, no doctor can feel what we’re feeling. You must be confident enough to advocate for yourself, and for your unborn child. It’s the most important part of pregnancy, especially when it comes to labor. Don’t be afraid to make your concerns and needs known. Sometimes it’s not “just pregnancy,” and you will know the difference before a doctor will.

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Education Let's Talk

Helicopter Parenting vs. Advocating for Your Child

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

In writing and talking to Dave about the damage that can be done when helicopter parents won’t allow their kids to grow, learn, and make their own mistakes, we discussed how likely it was that certain school administrators around the country where our kids attended school might have the perception that we are such helicopter parents.

After all, we did withdraw our son from art class to prevent him from being exposed to her toxic ways. There were times when we were in contact with at least one of our son’s teachers almost every day. And, even as he heads off to high school, we already have started drafting our introductory email that will beat him to each classroom.

Are we helicopter parents?

Nope.

We are involved parents of special needs kids. And for those parents out there who have a special needs child, you will know exactly what I’m talking about when I say there is a difference.

Our older son had Down syndrome. He could not communicate for himself because he was born deaf and has no appreciable language skills. We had to be heavily involved in advocating for him because he could not advocate for himself.

Our younger son has Aspergers as well as a seizure disorder. While he has truly learned to navigate school and society so much more successfully, we do still stay much more heavily involved as advocates to ensure that he is treated fairly – and by fairly, I mean as an individual.

Advocates of special needs kids can certainly become helicopter parents, but there is a difference. Every parent should be involved in their children’s education; it’s when you do not allow your child to take risks they are ready to take, have a voice in their own future, or make decisions they are capable of making that the line is crossed.