Tag Archives: mother

Planning for the Future

A young woman searches for a doctor who will let her be in control of her own body

When Christa Poindexter graduated from high school in 2008, she knew that giving birth to children was something that she did not want for her future.
“I remember talking to my first gynecologist, well before I was sexually active, and explaining that I was interested in permanent birth control for when I became sexually active,” she explains. “The doctors look at you like you are crazy.”
For Christa and many other women, this conversation is still difficult to have with medical professionals in the south, predominately in what is considered the “Bible Belt” region. The double standard still exists that, even in your twenties, you are old enough to choose to commit to a child for the rest of your life, but not old enough to decide that you never want to give birth to children.
Four years later, Christa brought it up to her doctor again. She explained that she planned on adopting children when she was ready, something that is desperately needed across the country. Again, her doctor refused to offer any form of permanent birth control.
“She explained that she would not perform the procedure unless her patient was 30 years old or had two to three children, and she preferred three children. It was a shocking thing to me,” Christa says.
This topic became the first that Christa brought up when she visited a new doctor. Even when she moved to more progressive areas, like Philadelphia, she was met with resistance.
“In Philadelphia, a doctor told me she did not want to dismiss it, but that I was simply too young. She told me that it wasn’t that she wanted me to have children, but my age was not what her practice would allow,” she adds. “When I asked if she knew someone who would do it, she said I should try a different form of birth control.”
This suggestion, although perfectly valid for women who seek temporary birth control, was simply not right for Christa. During her first three months on any form of birth control pills, she experienced severe side effects from headaches to hair loss. When she explained these to her first doctor, she suggested a non-hormonal IUD. Until that time, Christa had never experienced cramps with her monthly cycle. Once she had the IUD, her cramps became worse, and her cycle lasted 18 days.
Christa then switched to a hormonal IUD and began having headaches, back aches, and extreme cramps. She experienced weight gain and emotional turmoil. For years, she struggled with each temporary solution offered to her in place of the permanent one she desired. Then, she moved across the country.
When she met with her doctor in California, at age 26, she inquired about a permanent procedure once more. This time, after acknowledging that Christa was young, she followed it up with the truth that rises above a woman’s age or marital status: Christa owns her own body. She should be able to make decisions like this one for herself.
They agreed to a procedure called Tubal Ligation. This can mean different things for different people, but for Christa it meant that her fallopian tubes were removed. She met with the doctor and surgeon thirty days prior to the surgery for an evaluation that made sure she understood what the procedure meant and that she was not forced. By law, her doctor had to go through every single form of birth control verbally as an option. Once Christa refused all of them, they could schedule her surgery.
“All of the changes that I’ve experienced are positive. My monthly cycle is back to normal. I am happier, not moody and crying all the time. My hair isn’t falling out, and I don’t have any weird body changes. I’ve lost weight. It’s all positive for me,” she explains. “I have no scars. They walked me right through it. I have no pain or soreness.”
Christa does say that some women could have scars, and it is important to remember that, like birth control pills or IUDs, side effects can be different for everyone. People who are interested in this procedure should have full discussions with their doctors about options and potential side effects to make the best decision. Of course, based on your age, you may be having that discussion with more than one doctor. Above all, be the best health advocate you can for yourself. It never hurts to get opinions from a few different medical professionals to weigh your options.
You may also want to look at your insurance coverage before scheduling a permanent birth control procedure.
“When I selected my insurance plan with my employer, I noticed that most of them covered sterilization. It was interesting to me to see that they also believed an individual owns their own body, and they wanted to give options for coverage based on that. The surgery was very expensive, but my insurance covered all of it except my copay since I was in the hospital,” Christa says.
Since her procedure, Christa has received both criticism and congratulations. From her critics, Christa is often told the same things her original doctors said almost ten years ago. She is young. She may regret this one day.
Some even revert to talking about how much they love their own children, which is an odd argument to hear from someone else in the context of Christa’s body.
“Of course they love their own children,” she says. “I’m not telling them they shouldn’t, or that I won’t love the children I adopt one day.”
Because, when it all comes down to it, the public outcry that goes into whether a woman can choose permanent birth control seems to far surpass the energy that goes into helping children in foster care or in need of adoption. Christa, who has volunteered through various organizations to help these children, has seen this problem first hand.
“I work with various age groups, and it has made me feel close to them. I don’t have to go through the challenge of birth, that could be detrimental to my health and the health of a baby,” she explains. “At the end of the day, there are children out there already who need love, and I can provide that for them without going through childbirth.”

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

On Paint Nite and Bonding

As you grow older, it is very common for the child-parent dynamic to transform and it can be a rocky, uphill battle on the way. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a great relationship with my mom, but I’ve got to tell you, there have been more struggles after going away to college.

Before I left home, I was taking classes at Virginia Western and I could feel a sense of friction between us. After nineteen years, I was ready to throw the household rules out of the window and start living my own life. My first semester away at school was great and we talked on a regular basis, and then I came home for an extended Christmas break, and that’s when the struggle I had felt before reared its ugly head, again. It’s my way against hers, and after being away and creating my own lifestyle, it has created a mess of differences. So basically, the things I despised at home didn’t come with me to college, and to my mom’s dismay, didn’t come home with me either. At the time, it seemed as though these little differences mattered, but now I can see it meant so little.

I’ve grown up with parents that act just like that, parents; but I’ve been lucky enough to be able to talk with them as if they’re my friends too. Whatever feelings either side felt could be expressed openly, and I know that not all relationships work in a bi-directional way. Maintaining relationships through the different phases of life is ever changing, and I may be young, but I can tell it’ll be a lifelong feat but one that is certainly worthwhile.

IMG_2580Something I have made the mistake of not doing is making the time to bond with my mom. You may be physically present, but if you are somewhere else in your head, then it doesn’t count! To start the summer off right, we decided to shake things up a little bit, so we bought tickets for Paint Nite, and it was a great experience!

IMG_2545Neither my mom nor I have experience with painting, so it put us on common ground. At arrival we stopped by the mini-bar and grabbed a couple of margaritas, and then we grabbed our smocks and got to work! It was fun helping each other achieve the look we wanted for our own piece of art, since we really had no idea what we were doing!

With graduation quickly approaching in December, and my foot halfway out of the door, now I’m regretting those missed opportunities. There are many things to do around the Roanoke Valley, such as Paint Nite, so take the time to make memories with your family. Our masterpieces we made at Paint Nite will always be a good laugh!

Visit Paint Nite’s website to choose from a variety of pieces that you can create at many locations in Roanoke.

Written by Lani Maddox

 

The Breast Choice

bellaweb1Any cancer sucks. Breast cancer doesn’t cause any more heart ache, pain, or agony than lung, bone, skin or any other cancer. Breast cancer just happens to cause a change in the two things that as women we value a lot. A whole lot. Our boobs and our hair.

As I’ve traveled this breast cancer journey there are two questions that have been asked more than any other. “Are you getting reconstruction?” and “What are you going to do with your hair?” For the past year the only reply I had that made sense was, “I have no idea”. At the time it worked for both questions; now I have a little more experience and can, hopefully, provide a little advice for anyone just starting out on this road. Just remember – these are YOUR decisions and the only opinion that matters is yours and your doctor’s.

I’ll start with the hair. Not everyone going through breast cancer needs chemotherapy so not everyone loses their hair. Everyone diagnosed with cancer, however, thinks about their hair from the beginning. For those of us who did have chemotherapy we view our hair differently. “It’s only hair” or “it’ll grow back” are comments that makes me want to wash a mouth out with soap and possibly stab someone with an ice pick. I also now have less patience for anyone having a bad hair day. It’s a hair day so it’s all good. In the grand scheme of life versus death, yes it’s only hair but as women most of us aren’t excited about going bald. When you’re already sick, having a good hair day means a lot.

If I had a dollar for every person who asked me what I was going “to do about my hair” I’d be rich or at least be able to pay for a really great haircut and a really good bottle of wine. I’ve always been tempted to answer back with, “I don’t know, what are you going to do about your hair?” Until hair actually grows back no one knows what they will do with it so please don’t ask. Just pile on the compliments and leave it at that. No matter what a bald head looks like tell her it’s beautiful.

The question of reconstruction is a little touchier. I didn’t want to lose my breasts and I still miss them. They weren’t perfect but they were mine and I liked them. I knew that I wanted some type of reconstruction so I researched my options, talked to friends who had already went through it, met with more than one plastic surgeon and finally made a decision that worked for me. I’m very lucky that the people around me gave me the space to explore options and make my own decision. I’m also thankful that my perfect plastic surgeon, Dr. Kurtis Moyer (aka Dr. Gorgeous) has been upfront with me every step of the way and gave me tough love when I was whining and kept me focused on the big picture. Albeit not big boobs, but boobs I can live with.

Having reconstruction is not like having augmentation so take the time to make the right decision for you. Not for your husband, partner, family or doctor. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it or at least put it off until you are sure. I know that putting it off isn’t easy. If you’re like me you want to get through and get to the other side. This is a decision you’ll live with forever (you don’t want to go through this more than once). We’re lucky that right here in Roanoke we have a wide range of options such as implants, TRAM/DIEP (gut fat), latissimus dorsi (back fat), gluteal free (butt fat) or TUG (thigh fat) flaps. Just remember that regardless of the type of reconstruction, your breasts will never be the same. Ever.

I wanted so badly to get everything done as soon as possible so I know that waiting is no fun. But sometimes it’s better to wait. You may need to wait until you’ve finished with chemo or radiation, until pathology reports are back or until a time when your mind and body starts to recover from the trauma of diagnosis and surgery. Your boobs – your decision – make your best breast decision for you.

Tara Nepper is a one-year cancer survivor, wife, mother of four, nana to three and happy to be an advocate for self-examinations, enjoys raising funds for research and is getting used to life after cancer.

Unique Holiday Gift Ideas

The holidays are right around the corner! If you are looking for a meaningful, unique gift, we are here to help. Check out these ideas from UncommonGoods:

glassesWooden Martini Glasses: A great gift for your favorite hostess, the bowl and base of this glass are crafted from black walnut with a handsome grain that echoes the ripples in your drink. Wood is a better insulator than glass and helps keep cocktails chilled longer. They are finished with FDA-approved sealant to keep the wood from interfering with the beverage’s flavors. Sold on their webpage in sets of two. 

Mother Nestling Birds Necklace: Inspired by moms but made for anyone, these newly redesigned recycled sterling silver necklaces are sweet, simple and bound to become an everyday favorite. These darling birds are a great holiday gift for moms and grandmothers! Visit UncommonGoods to purchase one for your loved one.

millSteampunk Coffee Mill: Perfect for the coffee lover in your life, this steampunk-inspired design is highlighted by a black walnut lid and cast iron grinder. It holds enough coffee beans to make 4-5 cups of drip coffee. After being grinded, the aromatic grounds settle in a mason jar container, ready to perk the recipient up for their morning routine. Follow this link for more information. 

Uncommon Goods is full of unique holiday gift ideas for every special person in your life! Also, as an independently-owned business, they have the freedom to support several nonprofit organizations. With every purchase made on their site, they donate $1 to the non-profit of your choice. Charities they support include RAINN, American Forests, Women for Women International, and Reach Out and Read.

 

Check out their website for more information, and pick up a November issue of Bella Magazine for more holiday gift suggestions!