In the wild, I’d be dead. Something in the past four months would have killed me, that is if I’d made it this far to begin with.

It’s possible I’d have made it through the birth. The medical industry is after all balanced upon a notion of fear. So it’s possible that when they scared me into allowing forceps to be used because it was the final dance on the way to an emergency C-section after 28 hours of labor … they may have been exaggerating. She did shoot out on her own before they even got the forceps unwrapped after all. But then there was the tearing and bleeding. And the constant bleeding for 8 weeks that followed delivery, which sent me back to another emergency room for another round of prod the woman and try to understand the mysteries of the reproductive system.

The one thing I learned in this process of pregnancy and birth is that no one knows anything.

Really, I’ve known that for a long time. I even wrote a paper about it for my master’s degree that caused a professor to question my emotional balance. (Why is it that radical questioning is seen as depressing? I find it exciting.) But somehow I did not understand that it applied to pregnancy and birth. There’s just so much literature on the topics that I figure somewhere in there, there was some knowledge. Nope. It’s all guesswork.

According to the literature I had everything going for me. It should have been an easy birth. I did yoga through the entire pregnancy. I was one of two women in the birth class who could squat down to the floor and stand back up on my own at 33 weeks. I could still touch my toes and shave my legs to the end. As for the labor itself, we set it all up to be in a non-stressful environment at the birthing center. We had food, drinks, music, a jacuzzi tub, and no drugs. Drugs have been shown to slow down labor, make it take longer and be more difficult. That’s funny because in 20 hours I dilated 4 cm without drugs in a relaxed, nurturing environment. At that point the midwife wanted me to rest so she shuttled me off to the emergency room where they plugged an epidural in my back an hour later. In that time of high intensity stress I dilated another 2cm, which hadn’t happened in hours of transitional labor. Then I slept for four hours and finished dilating. I don’t know about all that research, but drugs seemed to make my labor faster and less painful. My water didn’t break until right before our daughter shot out. (And by right before, I probably mean about an hour before since the pushing phase took hours and it’s all a big blur to me.) Supposedly that alone should make the entire process less painful. Instead I had back labor for 28 hours.

An even bigger area of guesswork is breastfeeding. There is so much contradictory information floating around that I don’t even know how the milk is made. It seems like a high school anatomy class should be able to cover this topic, but apparently not. Some resources say the baby experiences many tastes and textures through the breast milk, introducing her to a variety of food through her mother’s diet. Others say the mother can live off of cheesy poofs and diet cola for all they care, the baby will still get the same nutrients. The mother will just feel horribly drained. Folk sources say eating gassy foods leads to gassy babies. Scientific resources say milk contents come from the blood, so nothing that causes gas in the mother’s digestive system passes into the baby’s system. Lactation experts say the foods the mother eats can increase and decrease her milk supply. Others say there’s nothing you can do about milk supply. It’s all just a big mess of possible information.

And if I had made it through the delivery, breastfeeding would have surely killed me by now. I’m recovering from mastitis attack number two. Lucky that I can support my daughter with my milk supply, but unable to do so in a manner that keeps me healthy.

Mastitis is an exciting infection. It makes your entire body hurt. The latest attack began creeping up on me Friday afternoon. I was confused when my fingers ached as I changed a diaper. That was odd. And somehow my daughter had gained a ton of weight overnight, because she was so heavy to lift I could hardly play with her.

The best part is when the fever kicks in. When I get a fever I’m sort of like a stoner, I think I’m really really smart all of a sudden. The thoughts that are racing through my head are pure brilliance, shining diamonds in the sky. Magical.

Even before the thermometer would register a fever I lay in bed, because being up was too difficult, with my whole body aching. My skin hurt where it was touching the sheets. I wanted to sleep. But my pre-fevered brain was not having any of that. It was excited. I lay there for 2…3…4 hours thinking mad thoughts. In that time I composed an application to Google’s Fiber for Communities on behalf of my neighborhood, figured out important aspects of my dissertation — I may have even completed the literature review, wrote those thank you notes that I have been unable to get to, and blasted through a few posts to this blog. This streak of productivity hardly compares to the other time I had a fever and theorized on the progressive nature of consciousness concluding that it is a virus passed on during the prenatal period.

Of course, I was lying there sweating through my sheets and didn’t have a pen and paper much less a keyboard near me so there’s no knowing whether those compositions were anywhere near as magnificent as I thought they were. If I’m really like a stoner, then it’s probably for the best that these ramblings stay in my memory rather than scrawled across the walls.

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