Sunday, November 17, 2013

I Solved The Puzzle

I gave birth to four perfect babies in five years. 

Brady was born at a time of "new" for Zac and I. We had just bought our first home and Zac was beginning a new career as a firefighter. Brady was induced a week early - I was told that he would just be too big for me to have naturally if I "waited." I was given pitocin at 1 am and at about 10 am I was told that I wouldn't receive any "brownie points" if I had him naturally and they offered me an epidural when I was at my most vulnerable moment in labor (transition...unfortunately I didn't know I was in the home stretch of labor.) My doctor came in at 1 pm , give me an episotomy without my permission...and Brady was born , 7lbs 11oz. One hour later he was given his first vaccinations. Three week later I was encouraged to formula feed him since I "obviously" wasn't producing enough milk. WIC gave me Parent's Choice formula, I continued his Well Care Baby Check Ups. Everyone told me that he was one of the easiest babies. I remember going out with the soccer teams (Zac was coaching Select Soccer at the time) and the mothers would beg me if they could take Brady for the night because he was so sweet and responsive and full of life. Brady was born December 19th - I love the memories of me and my parents and Zac sitting on our living room couch, the Christmas tree twinkling and all of us laughing at how Brady could follow us with he eyes around the room, we would be in awe of how strong his neck was and how he could lift his head up off of our chests and hold it up for at least ten seconds before needing a rest. He was a perfect baby. Brady was sitting up by himself be 4 months, he was crawling at 6 months...he was running at 9 months. 

Trinity was born a little under two years after Brady. My doctor scheduled her to be induced on her due date because he said it was dangerous for a mother to carry her baby past a week "over due." I went to the hospital again at 1 am but instead of giving me pitocin I was given a 1/4 of a pill (not sure what it was) and within an hour my water had broken and I was in labor. They had no reason to give me the other 3/4. I had an epidural with Trinity as well - I felt like I was talked into it by the nurses. Trinity came out perfect and pink and full of life and she latched on right away. She was given her Hep B shot and Vitamin K. Thankfully I had no problems breastfeeding her. At two months old I took her in for her shots and I was horrified that they had already added an extra vaccine since Brady had been a baby. I got home and started questioning choices, our system...our immune systems. I decided I would either quit vaccinating all together or do the alternative vaccine schedule. Thankfully for Trinity I never had to use formula and as she grew I learned more and more about the awesome world of herbs, I learned about making informed decisions...I learned more about our awesome world and I was convicted about my role in taking care of the earth that God put me on ...isn't that one of our tasks ...being good stewards and caretakers of the world that He so fabulously created for us? 

My sweet Tristan River came along less than 2 years after Trinity's birth. Once again...I was suppose to be induced with Pitocin because my doctor said that if I went over my due date by a week he would refuse to treat me...that it was in the best interest of the baby. If you put it THAT way...don't all mothers what to do what's in the "best interest"?  The morning of my induction I woke up in labor and was SOO happy that I wouldn't need the "help" of pitocin. I checked into the hospital already in labor, told my nurse that I wouldn't be needing pitocin and she informed me that I would need to be put on it because it was in the doctor's orders. This time I had my paperwork all filled out and signed to refuse the vaccines and the eye drops - I got a pretty critical raised eyebrow from my awesome caring nurse and a speech about "do you understand the risks you are taking?"
 They hooked me up to the pitocin at 7 am and by 9 am I was convinced I would be having this baby soon - the contractions were really hard and terribly long. When I asked for them to check to see how far dilated I was the nurse would look down "there" and inform me that I was maybe at a 4. When I asked when my doctor was going to show up she told me he was in surgery at the moment and that he wasn't due to be out until after lunch. I felt a huge surge of panic. What?!!! I'm on pitocin (pitocin makes you have contraction after contraction with no time in-between to regroup, catch your's pretty nasty stuff) and I have no idea how i'm going to last for four more hours. I looked at Zac and told him that I felt like a failure because I knew I would need an epidural in order to have the strength to push Tristan out - I was already exhausted and if I was going to have to wait another 4 hours....there was just no way. They gave me an epidural and I relaxed. The doctor didn't show up at 12. I wondered if I was fully dilated and the nurse looked, shrugged and said "you are probably about a 7." She didn't actually "check" with her hands. At 3 pm my doctor walks into the room with a big smile on his face "are we ready to have this baby ?!" I looked at him confused and said "am I ready?!" He laughed and said "oh you couldn't be more ready, if I would have been here you would have had this baby at 10 this morning!"
 Tristan was born with the cord wrapped around his neck and was blue - he was over 8 pounds and beautiful. He didn't receive any vaccines, I didn't take him into the doctor EVER except for his one week check up - he was my amber teething necklace, cloth diapered, nursing champ baby. Tristan was gorgeous and calm and sensitive. He was so cuddly I nicknamed him "Koala." Tristan had good eye contact...he was soft spoken but started crawling on time and was walking sometime after his first birthday.

My next baby...number four...I was going to have a home birth with. I was tired of the guilt and the disappointment I was having from having hospital births. I had changed my thinking so much over the five years - I now viewed childbirth as a natural empowering experience...not a medical procedure that needed intervention after intervention. I had saved enough money to hire a midwife and got the awesome opportunity to view her home, the gorgeous birthing rooms and her photography of beautiful bellies with babies tucked in them....she captured the essence of "woman" in her camera lense so perfectly. I was 8 weeks along and so happy on my drive home from her house  - I was going to get my beautiful birth that I had always dreamed of.
 That afternoon I started miscarrying my baby. Two days later the little raisin size body came out of me...i held it in my hands in awe and in grief and so very sad and so very thankful for a God that can create life from just a bunch of cells and blood and LOVE. I had to have an emergency DNC.
 Finn was conceived 5 weeks later. Unfortunately the bill from the surgery was so big that I couldn't afford a midwife. We were on Medicaid and there were no midwives on that plan ... I went back to my old doctor.
 I went into labor with Finn 5 days after his due date and did NOT call my doctor - instead I went grocery shopping and then out for breakfast with Zac at Panera. I remember by the time we sat down to eat my contractions were about 10 minutes apart and very strong - I would find my focus (unfortunately my "focus" was some random man seated across from me) and I would just stare, glower....make him mush in my mind until the contraction passed. When we got home the contractions were 7 min apart so we left for the hospital. I arrived 8cm (so they said) along ...ran through the hall and said "I'm ready to have this baby!" My adrenaline was so high I could barely feel pain .... I started pushing 30 minutes later (that was as fast as they could seem to get me hooked up to the monitor...which I didn't want) and when my first push wasn't good...the doctor did all but roll his eyes and looked at the nurse and said "I don't know how to tell a woman who doesn't have an epidural how to push." Well...that did it buddy. I screamed like a warrior and exactly one hour after I had arrived at the hospital...out came my 9lb 13 oz Finnian Arrow Corley.

 Brady started changing close to his first birthday. He was obsessive, had out of this world meltdowns, he was super smart. Brady was diagnosed with high functioning autism three years ago.

 My sweet Tristan River became very very serious around the age of two. I remember him sitting outside in our gravel driveway and he would just scoop up pebbles and just watch them sift through his two little chubby hands - he would do this for hours. When we moved to Colorado in May 2011 I remember how he would go outside and just stare up at the sky - if a plane flew by he would be out of this world excited (planes fly by our house about 1 every ten minutes or's alot - yet his excitement level never changed.) He would throw things directly up in the air and just watch them fall...but he didn't seem to really be focusing on the object. He stopped communicating with words at all and instead would make Curious George noises to let me know what he would want. Tristan hated baths no matter what temperature the water, he would scream like I was torturing him. He couldn't (can't) stand the noise of the exhaust fans in the bathroom, vaccuum cleaners, blenders, loud voices or stern tones. Tristan was diagnosed with ASD this past spring 2012.

Finn has started to hate baths, he also screams. He doesn't like clothes at all. Finn has started throwing things up into the air and watching them fall. If he is in the basement and hears an airplane going overhead and he will run up the stairs and point at the sky and say "airplane" in the exact same tone - every time, without fail. Finn sleeps in shoes...he hates for them to come off. If we go on rides in the car, when we get home and take him out of the car and he crys to get back in the vehicle - even if he really wants to be home. I don't know what will happen...but the same signals are there and the same little nudges from before, the ones in my heart, are there. I'm trying to shove them away, then I try to go ahead and accept them NOW so that I won't be terribly dissapointed later....we will see with time.

 Autism is a puzzle. I don't know if any part of my birth stories had any part of my boys having ASD and sensory issues. I do know that Brady was not to big to push out like my doctor said - in fact he was a full 2.5 lb lighter than Finn...who I had with no interventions. The doctor lied.
 I had plenty of "milk" with all of my other babies - once again i feel like I was lied to. Brady was given Parent's Choice Formula which I now know has the highest level of GMO's out of all infant formula. I know that he had formaldehyde, thimersol, mercury...and lots of other ingredients injected into his little ten pound body...sometime three shots at one time. I was told that these were safe ingredients, that they were good for him - that they would keep him safe. I was lied to.

 As a mother, it's very hard not to take a child's diagnosis very personally. For me, I have gone back and forth over the past 3 years wondering if a choice I made has caused my son's autism. I don't just have one child with autism - I have two and I feel like my third son might also be on the spectrum. I definitely know that he has some sensory issues...time will tell. I think about how I changed my lifestyle so dramatically in between the birth of Brady...and five years later, Finn. The one thing though that didn't change that much was my diet, what I was exposed to...what might have still been in MY body from childhood until adulthood. Even if I avoided a lot of chemicals, I didn't know that my food was laced with toxins...with food dye, high fructose corn syrup...and the worst - genetically modified organisms.
 It's funny because when I took Tristan to the doctor to start his evaluation for autism - the doctor actually looked at me and said "there is no link between vaccines and have one child with autism that is fully vaxed and one that wasn't .... and you can see...there is really no difference. It is probably genetic." When I mentioned diet or the environment, she smiled one of those "this poor ignorant soul" smiles, and then dismissed my concerns.
 Hmmm...but I have no one in my family with autism. NO relatives with autism...neither does my husband. Then I started thinking about the word genetic...and GMO. There you go. Maybe it is genetic - this whole time I was just thinking of that word as "something passed down through my genes " and I never thought of the ARTIFICIAL genetics that I consume and my kids and ALL people in the US consume everyday, all the time....and have for a long long time.
 80 other countries in the world have banned GMO's. Some countries have banned certain vaccines...some vaccinate on a different schedule because they see the potential harm that some of the ingredients could cause a child. Ours doesn't.
 Why? Why would our beautiful country, the land of the free...the land of choice...not give us food choice? Why wouldn't they label our food? Why wouldn't they give us a paper with all the ingredients in our vaccines and actually HIGHLIGHT them where we can see them in the 8 page insert? Why would a doctor recommend that a pregnant mother take drugs during her pregnancy? Why would they risk the baby's health so that it can be born at a convenient time?  I asked "Don't they care about us? I mean...of course they must!"
 When Brady was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome 3 years ago 1 out of every 80 children in the US were diagnosed with autism. That is huge - I remember being blown away with those numbers. I have known a LOT of kids in my life. My parents traveled a lot, speaking at churches....I met a lot of people in my childhood from all different countries. I knew ONE kid with autism and it was the pretty severe flapping arms, non verbal kind of autism. I knew ONE my entire lifetime....until I had my son.
 When Tristan was diagnosed at the beginning of this year the numbers were 1 in 50 kids.
1 in 50. Somehow I got the 2 out of 100. Maybe soon I will find out that I have the 3 out of 150 - I don't know.

 Sin has caused my sons' autism. This is the only answer I can come up with. Solve the puzzle? I have.

 We live in an imperfect world. We live in a world full of sickness and greed. Greed has caused autism. The only reason why vaccines aren't studied out more is because it is a multibillion dollar industry. They CAN'T give ANY of them up. Our country doesn't want to label our food - that would cost them more money because they feel they wouldn't make as large of profits if they used more expensive foods. Doctors induce and give epidurals because they want the convenience...they don't want to hear a woman scream - OBGYNs are surgeons....they think of everything as a medical intervention. They view childbirth wrongly...but are too full of themselves to ever consider the fact that birth is natural. It should happen naturally if it can. Our air isn't clean....our water isn't clean....nothing is really truly clean. Nothing is perfect - my scalp is flaky, teenagers have massive breakouts, cancer has taken over our society, there are people every night in your town and mine that are hungry. It's an imperfect world because we are imperfect people with mixed up priorities.

I guess thinking about this I feel sad - my eyes always start tearing up because I think about how our country is playing Russian roulette with their citizens...with our future generation. What I do know is that when the numbers are 1 in 30 or 1 in 25 and all these kids are adults we are going to be in some big trouble as a society.

Some would like to say that God willed this. No He didn't and I refuse to believe that about my loving God. He gives me grace everyday to walk through my life, to love my life - to forgive myself for mistakes that I make when I handle a meltdown poorly or I have a "woe is me" attitude. My babies all were healthy, vibrant babies - My awesome Creator did not create autism - man did.

I don't want to be mad. Isn't their greed just as bad as ...well,  mine? Maybe on a different greed is that I want more house, better groceries...a piece of land. They want millions more, HUGE bucks - in God's eyes we are the same. He says that it's all the same - we are all imperfect people. Unfortunately, their greed and laziness and "looking out for number one" affects my life so dramatically - it affects my friend's lives dramatically. Me wanting chickens doesn't really affect corporate America very much. But, there are plenty of times in this life that my actions have affected someone else in pretty negative ways - my words, my actions - my stubbornness. I'm not without sin. Guilty.

Forgiveness is the only way I can cope with this pain...with this fear. It hurts when I think about the injustice that I feel - when all those years that I was trying to keep my little baby's body toxin free and would try to give him "mama  milk" and make all his foods by hand - and the whole time I didn't have a shot in hell I didn't have a chance. I couldn't stop this force - I can't stop it...I don't even know if there is a way I can get the bad stuff out of my kid's body so they can have some relief. I do know ... that I'm going to want to blame someone sometimes. At Christmas, when my kids can't open a gift without feeling overstimulated...or when they turn 16 and don't get to get a driver's license like all the friends they won't have...when they struggle to say the words "I love you" because they can't physically get the words out - I will probably feel a little bit angry and a LOT sad. When my child sees tears and doesn't feel compassion, when he jumps crazily and his scrawny little appendages flail about and his pants are pulled up to his chest because he isn't comfortable with them around his waist...and kids his age think he is a dork .... I will feel sad...maybe a little angry. Okay...probably REALLY angry. Mama bear may or may not come out to play.

When I look at my boy, I will smile - I will love those little skinny white legs...I will tolerate  be glad my son hikes up his pants and  doesn't walk around with them around his knees with his underwear sticking out...I will be proud that my child isn't too "cool" to show his excitement when something good happens to him. I will love him all of his life - I will be proud of him all of his life - I will take care of him as much as he needs me too all of his life. I will always be there for my boys.

I think I got 3 out of 3. No...not duds. I got three winners. You see, hope and love can turn anything around, even the effects of autism. If they are going to be greedy...I'm gonna fight...but I'm going to love - and I'm going to work my whole life to forgive them for their greed.

Sin has caused the "puzzle" of autism - it isn't going to be "solved." Don't get me wrong - I hope it changes...but people are going to be people, and as long as they are seeking dollars, well, we will see what happens.

Jesus has given us the answers on how to cope, how to endure...and how to thrive through this growing issue. He says to follow Him, to try to follow His example. We can love, we can choose to forgive - we can hope for change, we can try to demand it - but we can't point fingers at others...or as ourselves. We have to love ourselves, forgive ourselves, forgive the thoughtless power hungry world we live in. Judgmental people throw stones, spiritual people live the fruits of the spirit (throw fruit?)

When I see the blue puzzle piece that stands for autism with the words "Let's Solve the Puzzle" I think to myself -" we already have and unless we change the ENTIRE universe, I don't see the puzzle being solved anytime soon." If you don't have a child with autism, and you see a campaign you may think to yourself "oh, that's unfortunate...I wish that wouldn't have happened" but I'm pretty sure that the majority of people just go on with their day, their same routines, their same diets...same pills, same everything. No one cares enough because autism doesn't change their lives in a big way.

 My puzzle has been solved though. Knowing what to feed my kids or which therapies to try is still a huge overwhelming confusion - but knowing how to deal with the pain, the day to day.... I know what I'm suppose to do. Live like Jesus did. My pieces are in place. Now I will just sit back (yah right!) and pray that someone, somewhere....would take this issue seriously.

I gave birth to four perfect babies - almost 8 years later...I am the mother to four perfect kids in an imperfect world. It's pretty beautiful to be me.

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