April 23, 2015

Hope is a Delicate Flower

When creating my sacred space to do my birth work, I purchased an orchid. I have killed a number of these in my day, but I was determined to keep this one alive, a symbol of the hard work I would have to do to achieve my VBA2C.

About a month ago, all the flowers fell off, and despite my desperate attempts to nurture it, the plant appeared to be dying. So was my birth journey. I have become so disheartened by what I see and read about VBAC success rates (due to physician or hospital refusals) that I felt helpless most of the time. Each flower that fell off my orchid left me a little more disheartened.

I finally drug myself to the Midwife's office at Doula's urging. The husband and I ran through the hard questions about our concerns about a midwife birth given my medical history. Midwife was convinced that malpositon was a key factor in why my labor never progressed. She was also confident that my body could vbac with the right support. She read over my medical record, and was also convinced that I had a MTHFR gene mutation. After our visit she sent me for some bloodwork, which brings us to today.

So here it is, I do have the MTHFR gene mutation, homozygous at C677T. What does that mean? That means that I have two faulty copies of a gene that cause issues processing nutrients, particularly folic acid. Anyone of childbearing age has heard that you're supposed to be guzzling folic acid by the fistful when pregnant to prevent spina bifida, neural tube defects, cleft palates, and similar genetic issues. Well, from the limited information I've read, MTHFR has been blamed for a whole slew of ailments from autism to arthritis, colitis to cancer, blood clots to miscarriage. What bodies like mine need is Folate, which is the NATURAL form of the mineral, not folic acid which is the SYNTHETIC form of the mineral. The problem here in the US is that all, and I mean ALL of our grain products have been fortified with folic acid. So my system is over run with folic acid, which is creating a toxic overload since I apparently can't process it. Midwife says that her MTHFR clients that have purged their bodies of folic acid describe the effect as feeling like they've, "walked out of a cloud." They feel more energized, less anxiety, less fatigue. Less behavioral problems from their MTHFR positive children.

It's disheartening. I know that sounds odd, but it seems like a lot of blame to place on one tiny gene. It sounds a bit like fringe science or scapegoating. The few sites I've stumbled on inevitably seem to stumble down the MTHFR almost killed me, to fluoride in water is poison, to vaccines are the devil, etc etc. I get that one size fits all medicine isn't serving us the best, but I feel like lumping all of these things together as dangerous government overreach is just as dangerous.

I wonder how much placebo effect is at play here...

I've stopped my grocery store prenatals, and switched to a brand that has folate today. Hubby and I sat down and decided to keep independent logs of how we think I'm doing. Nothing elaborate, just a mood journal and energy scale. As I cut open the pill packet, I cried a little. I feel quite sad like a piece of me is truly broken. But, I feel like that most days; tired, sad, anxious, broken. I guess we will see how it goes.

I walked into my sacred space to tape a week's worth of pill packets to the mirror. Accountability. I see my orchid in the reflection, and wonder if I should just give up and toss it out next trash day. Lo and behold, a new flower has budded. Not pestering it, leaving it alone, giving it the time and space to do what it needed to do to grow new life occurred without my interference. They say birth happens EXACTLY in this way.

Maybe there is hope. Tomorrow is a new day...