Origins. I won't lie, I was totally thinking of X-Men when I titled this blog post. Yeah, I'm kind of a nerd, but it's ok. I embrace the nerd. Anyhow... today I wanted to share a very personal story with you. Since it's my blog, I don't really have a fear of being judged. This is a safe place for me, and it is a safe place for you too! With that, I'm ready to get real, raw and relevant with you. I really mean it though, I will get into some serious detail about my life... and share my oil origins, and warrior story.
My mother isn't originally from the United States, she actually grew up in Germany, moved to Austria for her degree in Ballet, and then moved to the US when she was 18 years old. Why am I sharing about my mother first? Well, that's where my story begins. When I was born, my mother had family send over peppermint oil from Germany, to help support my respiratory system. Through my childhood, I loved using oils for aromatherapy... primarily Lavender. As a teen, I utilized Melaleuca to help maintain healthy looking skin.
Alright. I'm going to dig deep. My story has lots of ups and downs... starting with an UP! I married the most incredible man in the world, Brien. Brien is a US Army Veteran who served for 4 and a half years, with one 15 month tour to Iraq. He is trained as a wheeled vehicle mechanic, so he did all kinds of cool things with big vehicles. We got married at the Disneyland Resort in California, on Friday, May 13th, 2011, and it was absolutely a magical day. I think about it often, and I'm so grateful that we were able to get married there, and celebrate with our loved ones.
After our wedding, Brien took on a civilian contractor job in Afghanistan and would originally be gone for a year. About 2 weeks after he got to Afghanistan, these plans changed when we found out that I was pregnant! He worked overseas for 6 months, and then came home. It was difficult for both of us, not having him present for the entire pregnancy.
I had been working with a midwife while he was away, and was in my own little pregnancy euphoria, not seeing (or not wanting to see) the signs that she wasn't a good match for us, (me and baby) but Brien picked up on it right away. I think that we just went along with things the way they were, so as not to cause any further emotional upset. (Remember, he had been gone for 6 months) We had planned for a gentle homebirth. So you know, I was a breech baby... I was booty first, and my mom was given a cesarean. This was my greatest fear in my pregnancy.
(Possible trigger warning: Traumatic Birth details)
On April 23rd my husband and I went to see our midwife for a check up and it was going to be my first vaginal exam. Everything was great! We were told that Daen was head down, my bag of waters was bulging, and I was already 3 cm dilated. Holy moly. I remember thinking how awesome and scary that was all at the same time. Brien and I went and got some lunch after that and headed home on a back road instead of taking the freeway. It's a good thing too, about halfway home I had to have him pull over because I needed to throw up. It really sucked because I had an awesome salad for lunch. Bummer.
On the rest of the car ride home, I can really only explain the way I was feeling to be "period-y". I felt bloaty and crampy, and that I needed a good nap. The rest of the day we just spent at home. Around 10:30pm we headed to bed and I did not feel good at all. No position was comfortable and I kept feeling some intensely strong (what I thought were Braxton-Hicks) contractions. I tried to sleep and just couldn't. I had to keep getting up and going to the bathroom. As you know, the body rids itself of as much as it can to make more room for the baby to exit. Well my body was definitely in the "removal process" if you will. It was not pretty and I felt awful. I was mildly excited though. Around 3:45 I made Brien get up. I was having timable and serious contractions. My bag of waters broke in the middle of a contraction as I was standing by our bed. Things progressed even more quickly. He called my mom, our midwife and our photographer and started filling our birthing pool.
During the time that Brien was on the phone my body had already started pushing. I was already in transition. I threw up while I was in the bathroom and I mainly stayed on my hands and knees. Finally the contractions and pushing got to be so intense that I asked Brien to take me to the birthing pool. I got in and instantly felt some relief from the warmth of the water. Pushing in the water felt so much better than pushing out of the water. My mom showed up, then Jennifer (my midwife) and Jessica (also a midwife) showed up. At this point, I felt like something wasn't really feeling right when I was pushing. Jennifer had the same kind of feeling and she checked me. If he had been head down, I would have pushed him out before they arrived. There is no doubt of that in any of our minds. Victoria (photographer) showed up and also took some photos of us laboring at home. I was already out of the tub before she arrived.
Daen had either turned breech while I was laboring, or was breech to begin with. Normally this wouldn't be an issue. My body was strong enough to birth him naturally. This I know for sure. My midwife and family feel the same way. The issue was that because his genitals had already "birthed" through my cervix, Jennifer couldn't feel whether or not my cervix was fully dilated, or so she said. This could pose a huge risk as the baby's head is being born. Not knowing whether or not I was dilated for his head, we decided it best to go to the Hospital. This was my decision. Nobody forced me to do it. Nobody rushed me via ambulance. Nobody told me to do it. This was the easiest and hardest decision I have ever made in my life.
I had already packed a hospital bag, weeks ago. I wanted to make sure that if there was a possible transfer that we would have what we needed. The carseat was already in the car (in the Trunk). I climbed into the back seat on my hands and knees. Brien drove us to the hospital (5 minutes away) and ran 3 stop signs. I held on to the door and tried to focus on my breathing as much as I could and tried not to push more than anything. My body continued to do what it wanted however, and pushed without my permission.
We got to the hospital and they wheeled me to a room in the maternity ward. They undressed me and put me in a hospital robe. There were so many hands on me. Brien and my mom were there through it all. There was somebody holding my legs down. There were at least 2 people prepping me for surgery. There was another person putting an IV in my arm unsuccessfully. Twice. There were multiple people screaming at me not to push. And this was all before I got to the Operating room.
Brien wasn't able to come with me. Because my cesarean birth was an emergency he wasn't allowed in the room. The put me on the operating table. There were even more people in this room than the last and they were all yelling at me not to push. I wasn't pushing. My body was pushing. A man came to the table and grabbed my legs. He forcefully pushed them together so that my knees were together in the air. I can't tell you how much pain I was in from this. This of course was an attempt to stop me from pushing. I nearly passed out and I hadn't been given any anesthetic yet.
The IV that they had given me earlier exploded on my arm. They had to do it again and finally got it right in my right hand. I remember hearing everyone in the room talking. They were saying terrible things. What bothered me the most was that they kept telling me not to push. I wasn't pushing. My baby wanted to come out.
They put this bubble-type hose thing on my mouth that was the anesthetic. It blocked my breathing through my nose and I felt like I was choking. Not a good thing for a semi-claustrophobic. I can't remember if it was when they were putting a tube down my throat or taking it out, but I was gagging and they kept telling me "No, no, no."
There is a mix of everything in my head that I'm not sure are from the Operating room or from Recovery. I know when I was in Recovery I felt seriously drugged. All I wanted was to see my baby. I didn't get to see my baby. In fact, I didn't get to see my baby until 3 hours after he had been born. Brien was with him almost immediately afterward and got to see him right away. He was there for his first bath.
Daen's genitals were swollen and bruised. This was not my fault... at least that is what my husband tells me. Because they had already come out of the cervix, the nurses had to push his genitals back through as the Doctor pulled him out. He feels it was a mix of everything and not me. I still don't know how I feel about that... I feel like it's my fault too and I'm sure all my friends in the medical field do too.
I don't want to get into details about my hospital stay because I find it irrelevant. I had great nurses but I still wish my experience was different. Overall, I had an amazing experience laboring at home, going through transition at home and pushing at home. I experienced everything a natural birth would experience except the birth of my baby. I'm truly grateful for all that I did get to experience. I'm also grateful for the doctor who did my surgery, for getting my baby out... I will be forever grateful to him as well. At the same time, I was so completely emotionally damaged from the experience. The healing process has been intense. For the longest time, I felt like there were so many people judging me and thinking that I couldn't "hack it" and that I just gave in and wanted to have him cut out of me.
I was given a VERTICAL scar. It debilitated me more than you know. Every day I would see it and feel the pain of my birthing experience. I relived that day over, and over, every single day. The first two years of Daen's life were an incredible struggle for me. Brien had to take another contractor job in Afghanistan when Daen was almost 2 months old, otherwise we wouldn't have an income. There were no jobs for my veteran here in the US.
I was learning how to be a mother on my own, with my husband working his ass off in Afghanistan so that we could continue living in our home. I was struggling with breastfeeding to no avail and feeling like a complete failure for not being able to give birth to my son, and on top of that I was struggling to feed him. I eventually overcame that obstacle and we nursed for a total of 25 months. Between Daen's birth and June 18th, 2014, I searched high and low. I had tried tons of different creams, strips, pretty much everything to get rid of my scar. I physically did all I could do.
This smiling picture is of a person in pain. Struggling to be everything that is expected of her. Trying to forget all of my feelings, invalidate them, and focus on making my baby happy. Behind this smile is struggle and grief, and it is still up on my facebook.
Why am I sharing this with you? How in the world is this my Oil Origins Story? Because between all of this chaos, these incredible oils came into my life. I opened a bottle of the Invigorating Blend, and it was like I could feel happiness wash over me. Not only did the citrusy aroma invigorate, soothe, and inspire me, but it gave me hope.
The oils gave me hope to reach out to a community of women that identify their births as "homebirth cesarean". In this community, I found that these women all felt mostly the same way that I had.. and I even found ONE other woman with a vertical scar. This community validated my feelings, whereas the natural community I had previously been a part of, pretty much said "You can't sit with us".
The oils gave me hope and confidence to look into different types of surgeries to remove my scar. It's difficult to share, but when you are ashamed to be naked in front of your own husband, something definitely has to change. The hope I found from the oils, gave me confidence to make the right choice for my body, and mental health.
On June 18th, 2014, I had abdominoplasty surgery, and had my vertical scar completely removed- trading it in for a low horizontal scar. I didn't share about this with everyone during the planning process because I wanted to avoid negative comments, and discouraging *compliments* that I am "fine the way I am". As a hippie and earth lovin' lady, I was already fighting that internal battle with myself, and this was what I needed to do for me. And I am so incredibly glad that I did. I needed to do this for a number of reasons, mainly for my mental health and my relationships with others. I appreciate you respecting such a huge life choice I have made and supporting me with your friendship and kinds words.
This was taken 2 days after my surgery. I can see happiness and light in my eyes. I can see my real smile. I'm also wearing a mean girls shirt... oh the irony ;) I'm not ashamed of my happyface scar. I will even tell you about it if you ask. The difference between the two are night and day. This scar is filled with love, joy, and confidence... something I couldn't say with the previous.
I wanted to share this story with you, because it is important that you know me. It's important to know, that I wasn't always bubbly, chipper, and full of joy. I wasn't always happy with myself, or the way I felt about others. I wasn't always a priority in my book, and I found a way to make that happen, with the help of an amazing support system, and some little bottles of joy, and hope.
These oils have been part of my life since 2013, and have given me so much more than I could have imagined. Confidence in my choices. Empowering me in ways I could have never imagined. Giving me courage and love for my body again. Positive feelings about myself and family. A community of caring and loving individuals, that are here for me. All of this and more, from one drop of oil.
This was taken just a few days ago, when we took a trip to Disneyland. I don't see anything hidden here. It's all out there on the table, for the whole world to see! The only thing that stands behind this smile is my warrior story, and how I came out on top. The reason I share these oils with others, is because they have so powerfully impacted my life, and the quality of life of my family, that I feel I would be doing YOU a disservice if I didn't share them with you.
We can all use hope. We can all use courage, and passion, and inspiration. We can all embrace positivity and loving thoughts... but it all starts with hope.
One drop of oil changed my life, it can change yours too.