We drove 95 MPH on our way to the hospital and ran about 4 red lights.
I feel like every shower may be my last one before I give birth. Pregnancy hair has allowed me to push off washing my hair to every three days, which seriously is enough to make me want to get pregnant immediately again. I kid. Kinda. I’ve tried to increase the frequency back to the everyday or at least every other day rhythm. Point being, my legs are always shaved and lotion always applied because, well, you never know who may be holding your leg later in the day.
Before I call any loved one, I feel as though I need to shoot a text over that reads “I’m not in labor but I am about to call you”. I can’t stand hearing the anxious anticipation that comes with answering my call as if I’m on the way to the hospital. The other day my mom called me and asked, “did you just call? I heard the phone ring but couldn’t get to it in time”… I could hear the anxiousness in her voice and it makes me feel awkwardly disappointed every time I have to say “no, I’m not in labor” and “no, I didn’t call”.
I’ve started wearing deodorant to each of my OB appointments. That’s when you know shit’s getting serious… when someone who doesn’t normally break out in body odor has to prep for the pain that comes with membrane stripping or the uncomfortableness that comes with pleading for another week of waiting…
The last time I had my membranes stripped, my OB turned as he was walking out the door and said, “you know, I’ve never put someone into labor by stripping their membranes”. I wanted to respond with something smart ass like, “well you got to finger me anyway, so consider it a success” but I said something more polite like “maybe I’ll be your first”.
I’ve come to detest the comments that go a little something like this, “well, just remember it’s easier having them inside than it is outside, so enjoy the last few days or weeks because it’s going to get harder”. Sure, the statement is true. But worrying about going post term and the health of your placenta and the amount of fluid in your belly and your baby aspirating on it’s own shit isn’t fun… I’d rather wake up in the middle of the night to a baby next to me, no matter how sleep deprived it makes me… because having the piece of mind of a healthy baby next to me is priceless. But ya, shit’s about to get harder. Duh.
When I went to my 39 week appointment, I remember the receptionist at the front desk telling me about a patient who had just left. She was kind of puffing her feathers when she said, “I could tell as soon as she walked in that she was ready to give birth”. According to her, and she sees pregnant women all day long, there is a “look” that we have when we’re at the end of our rope. I was practically gleaming when I walked into that appointment; knowing that the end is in sight. When I asked her if I had the same look (because hashtag: optimistic), she tilted her head to the side and said, “aw, this is your first pregnancy, isn’t it?”. I knew right then I didn’t have the “look” and felt like an idiot for asking when I knew I was way too jolly to be at the end of my rope. She went on to say that the woman who left the office was 3cm dilated and 80% effaced and said, “I’ll bet he’ll be seeing her in the hospital tonight”. I know now that when I walk through those doors for my next appointment that I need to put on my best dejected face. I do feel rather dejected and I’m basically hanging onto the frayed ends of my rope. Hoping that means I’ll walk out with the same hope. Or better yet, not make it to my next appointment.
My OB waited until my 40 week appointment to tell me he would not be on-call over the weekend. At the same appointment he told me I’m 3 cm and 70% effaced. It seems only fitting that I would be destined to go into labor when he’s not on-call and continue the trend of my babies being by delivered by anyone other than the person I have selected to do so. Buttttt… given the fact it’s Monday, that ship has sailed. This baby must have a thing for douche-bags.
Fortune cookies really blow these days, but the last one I opened made me smile. It read, “Be prepared to receive something special”. I’m prepared, dammit. Now come…
My breast pump is out because I gave the good ol’ nipple stimulation a try. Later in the evening I found the boys, each with the suction part of the pump connected to the bottle, pretending they were guns. Hashtag: signs of things to come.
I scheduled an induction date that I’m surprisingly comfortable with only because I have this weird confidence / feeling that I’ll be in labor before that dreaded date comes. And even if I do make it to the eviction date, I made my case of having my water broken – instead of using pitocin – to induce labor. While my OB didn’t seem to think my plan would necessarily work, he did agree to it.
My neighbor suggested I jump on a trampoline. I wanted to tell her that I struggle to hold my pee in when I blow my nose. And damn this cold because I’m blowing my nose a lot.
I’m in this weird limbo of wanting to have something to do everyday yet not having the energy to finish the few things that have been lingering on my to-do list for months; like updating my photo website, for example. In general, I would describe myself feeling “blah”. Really blahhhh. I imagine this is how dads feel most weekends… laying around, being unproductive, watching TV… Turns out, it ain’t all it’s cracked up to be… for me, anyway.
I’ve been sleeping way too good to be 41 weeks pregnant. Makes me feel like actual labor is even further away.
Timing contractions with two young children is nearly impossible. I’ve downloaded the app, which is something I initially told myself I wouldn’t do until my contractions became something that tore me away from whatever it was I was doing. As soon as I start to recognize a pattern and gain some hope, mama duty calls and the whole keeping track thing goes out the window. So basically I’ve had a lot of contractions, mostly in the 7-10 minute apart ballpark, but capturing any evidence of such has proved futile. And the frequency of said contractions has been occurring for daysssss… hashtag: nothing new.
I’m dying for a stranger to ask me when my due date is so I can say “last week” and get that look that makes me feel as though I should be in bed, twiddling my thumbs and waiting but the reality is most days I haven’t mustered up the energy to leave the house so I’m doing exactly that — twiddling my thumbs and waiting at home. Which is brutal, by the way. Given the fact I’m sleeping well, you’d think I’d have the energy… but scroll back up to that “blah” feeling and re-read. I did make it out over the weekend and when asked, “how far along?” my reply was simply “too far”.
I ventured out to buy some new underwear because daily tasks have become a necessity and new underwear is something I’ve put off for far too long. I ended up also buying two pairs of jeans to add to my post-pregnancy-prize-pack, which essentially breaks my own rule as now I have the dreaded worry of not fitting into them. But, they’re rather stretchy, they were on sale, and I have 180-some-odd days to return them if they don’t work. It’s funny how a few new articles of clothing can make you look so forward to not being pregnant. Oh wait, I didn’t need to buy clothes to feel that way… Hashtag: feelin’ that way anyway.
I’ve watched ‘Gilbert Grape, Lost Angels (a documentary on Skid Row), and Lost for Life (a documentary on juveniles serving terms of life in prison) which collectively amount to more time spent in front of the TV, for me, in the last week than in the last six months, at least. And sadly, it’s not even enjoyable. It feels like such a waste but at the same time I don’t have the energy to do anything else. The thought of even returning emails makes me want to puke. Back to that “blah” feeling.
I’ve succumbed to simply waiting. The day after I tried a combo of root bark cotton extract and nipple stimulation I woke up with sore nipples and swore it all off. I also burned Moxa sticks between my toes, per another friend’s suggestion, and following the smell that filled the house Willy put his foot down and said no more. This baby will come when it damn well pleases. I know this. What I don’t know is why I don’t accept it. Until now, that is. I’m done.
I made myself a cup of hot chocolate and thought the indigestion that followed would knock me out for the remainder of the day. I’m fragile physically as much as I am mentally at the moment. But really, I can handle the physical side effects that come with 41 weeks of pregnancy, it’s the emotional stuff that eats me alive and chops down my core.
When we had our initial meeting with our doula she mentioned coming back, within a few weeks, to discuss our birth plan. I hung on the phrase birth plan much like when you stop listening to the rest of what someone says once they use a word you’re not familiar with; a word not within your known vocabulary.
I didn’t do anything between that first meeting and our second, in regards to my homework, the birth plan, but figured we’d have her over anyway because – well – we like her.
When I arrived at the hospital to be induced to deliver Hooper, the only instructions I gave my nurse – through choked up words and a few tears of defeat – were, “please don’t offer me an epidural”. Words I’d later regret around the 6cm mark but no longer have the ability to form verbal sentences to retract.
By the time the ambulance got me to the hospital to deliver Van, there was no time to make even the meekest of requests; things were happening to me, not with me at that point.
Needless to say, a plan has never proved itself needed and it almost feels sheepish at this point to put any sort of words down on paper as if experience itself hasn’t taught me that plans are, in my case, for the birds.
So when she asked me, all I could come up with is “you… you’re our plan… and to get the baby out as safely as possible”. So that’s the plan: I’ll make some calls when (hopefully) labor starts, we’ll go to the hospital, and we’ll deliver a baby. Sure there’s lots of holes in that plan but I’m going to allow them to fill themselves in.
Did you have a birth plan? How close did what played out relate to whatever plan you envisioned? Did your plan change as events unfolded and if so, how?
When I begrudgingly agreed to have an OB deliver our third baby instead of a midwife, I called the local birth center and asked for a few names they felt comfortable recommending. We interviewed an OB they suggested and given the fact I had already been defeated on the decision to birth with a midwife, I agreed with Willy that the OB recommended to us was fine. He didn’t blow me away, nor did he send me running out his door with the nervous energy to continue the interviewing process with additional OBs. And, as I’ve mentioned in posts prior, I’ve been going through the motions and jumping through the hoops ever since.
Each time I leave his office, I leave with the same frustration; it’s like a copycat performance of the visit before, starting with the appointment itself and concluding with me calling Willy on the way home referring to our OB by adjectives that aren’t so nice.
It sucks to be in the care of someone you don’t really feel comfortable with. I’m sure most would say, “why not just find a new doc that you like” and the answer is because I’m tired. And perhaps a little cynical. Probably more of the latter than the former. The fact he was recommended by a birth center truthfully means more than his horrible bedside manner. The other challenge inherent to the place we live is that many of the OBs are part of a medical group; meaning you may see a different doc each time and whoever is on-call when you go into labor is who you get. I suppose there is some comfort in the fact that my guy is a sole practitioner and that come the day of my labor I won’t have to guess who will be there.
In any event, I interviewed a few doulas in hopes of finding the comfort that all along has been lacking and all three of the fabulous individuals I interviewed supported my choice of OBs. They said things like, “Oh I’ve been at a birth where he let the laboring women labor on her hands and knees” and though it was said with zero amount of sarcasm, I couldn’t help but think (with all the sarcasm I could muster), “wow, this is what it’s like when you move away from birthing with a midwife? You celebrate things like a laboring women birthing on her hands and knees?”… I’m still having trouble grappling with the idea of some doctor dictating how a women can or cannot labor and the fact that some insist on a women staying in bed to push just makes me scratch my head.
We have our first appointment with our doula coming up and thus far, I think it’s the best decision I’ve made and perhaps the closest I’ll get to building the birthing experience I not so badly want, but feel that I need.
I left my last OB appointment thinking about the differences in being seen by a midwife versus an OB. I can sum up my appointments with my OB more quickly than I’d like:
-Pee in a cup
-Have same elderly nurse copy my weight down on a post-it and check my blood pressure. Last appointment, she left a snag in my dress from the velcro part of the blood pressure cuff. She’s slightly cold and continues to tell me whether my blood pressure is okay, ignoring the fact it says I’m a registered nurse in my chart.
-Doc comes in and asks the following questions in the same order, every time, without fail and rolls through them in the same intensity as a military drill sergeant: Any bleeding? Any cramping? Any headaches? Any water leaking? Belly getting bigger? He throws the last one in there to try to fool me into the repetitious “no” that precedes the obvious “yes” answer and every time he smirks like he thinks he’s clever and nearly fooled me.
-He performs an ultrasound that literally takes less than a minute, asks me if I have any questions, reminds me to make an appointment in another month, and leaves the room.
-I brought the boys with me to one appointment. Not one person even said hello to them, there was nothing there to keep them entertained, and I got the general feeling that they were expected to be quiet and not touch anything.
I started timing my appointments because I get some (sarcastic) joy in calling Willy and confessing that the entire appointment, including wait time, took 6 minutes and 8 seconds. That’s 30 seconds longer than the appointment before, where he also performed a vaginal exam within the 5 minute and 30 second appointment that included all of the aforementioned in addition to the vaginal exam.
All my appointments with midwives averaged somewhere in the ball park of 30 minutes to an hour and included the following:
-Peeing in a cup and using a urine dipstick to check my own urine. This may seem minuscule and perhaps there are some that prefer not to have that kind of responsibility, but I like that there was a feeling of trust; it built a different kind of relationship where the control was more-or-less shared. I’d also weigh myself, because who needs someone else to follow you to the scale and write the number down when you’re capable of reporting such yourself?
-They’d check my blood pressure, measure my belly using a tape measurer, and use a handheld doppler to listen to the heartbeat. They’d palpate my belly to determine the baby’s position. I remember my midwife with Hooper commenting on how long he was… just by palpation (and, indeed, he was long).
-We’d go over my diet and what foods are good sources of protein. I think I may have received a handout in my “welcome packet” from my OB that had some vague mention of changes in diet during pregnancy, but nothing that has ever been enforced or asked about. In fact, I ate very differently during my previous pregnancies as a result to the constant checking in with the midwives; this pregnancy? Not so much. Of course that’s on me, but it is nice to know the person in charge cares about your overall well-being and is making the connection between healthy mom and healthy baby.
-The remainder of the appointment was more psychosocial related and allowed for time to discuss fears or issues or “what happens if” sorta questions and to fine tune the birth plan, my birth plan. The time spent talking was longer and more in-depth during my first pregnancy and more to the point with the second, highlighting the fact it was all individual and catered to my needs (we needed more time to discuss fears and issues with our first than we did with our second).
-I’d have new reading material to take home after each appointment, along with the reminder to keep doing my kegel exercises… which is a word I haven’t even heard throughout this entire pregnancy, which is unfortunate because it’s kinda a funny word and I like saying it.
-I’d see my midwives once a month until about the 8th month, when the time between visits would lessen to two weeks and by the ninth month, I would see them once a week.
-If I brought Hooper to my appointment, he was always included. He’d get to hold the doppler or play with the stethoscope or hung out in corner where they had toys and books for the siblings they anticipated to be tagging along during appointments.
I asked my OB during my last appointment if research proves that having gone past your due date in the past is any indication that it will happen again (I was 10 days late with both boys), to-which-he-replied, “did you go late with your prior two?”. Going past my due date is one of my biggest fears, given the fact that I fear having another big baby and that more time in the womb equals more time growing in that damn warm and comfy womb of mine, and I felt sad that this (insert negative adjective here) OB has no idea what my fears are or even what my past experiences are comprised of despite conversations we’ve had in the past. To make matters most, he went on to offer inducing me before my due date to “ease my fears of having another overdue, big baby”. And then he was dumbfounded when I told him I’d downright refuse pitocin unless he were insisting that it was something that I’d have to have. Again, forgetting that the induction via pitocin with Hooper led to unrelenting titanic contractions that ultimately landed me on the operating room table. Considering an epidural is not even an option for me this go-around, I felt like saying “you (insert many mean adjectives here)” for even suggesting such (contractions resulting from pitocin are much stronger than your regular, though still unrelenting, contractions). I told him I fear pitocin ten times more than I do being overdue or having a big baby. And I’m hoping I said it with enough stink eye that he remembers such and that we don’t have to have the conversation again, because where is the trust in that?
A few weeks back you may recall that I was experiencing horrible neck pain. I had pulled a muscle in my upper trap so bad that it pulled so taut over a screw in my spine and presumably caused damage to the tissue overlying the screw. Every time I lifted my arm or moved my arm, that injured tissue would rub over the screw and it felt like, because it was, an open cut being rubbed over a metal screw. I got the okay from the pain doc I’ve seen in the past to take something for the unrelenting pain and reluctantly, I took half of the dose I would in the past on three separate, most desperate days. I sent my OB an email informing him of the situation because I felt like he should be involved in my care and the decision to take a narcotic while pregnant. Not only did I never hear back from him, but he also didn’t ask anything about it during my appointment. A midwife would have been all over that. Again, it just erodes the trust I think all of us pregnant women are looking for. And the feeling that we’re being well cared for.
On the flip side, he did agree that the glucose testing was not needed given the fact I have the tools to check my blood sugar from home and it did feel somewhat good that he trusted me to do so. He also agreed, after my coaxing, that the followup with the perinatologist I was dreading was also unnecessary and so, I canceled that appointment which surely would have me fretting even more over the size of this baby than I already am. So I suppose there are some things he’s worked with me on, on an individual level. But all in all, I miss the care I received while in the hands of midwives… hoping that this first meeting with our doula eases some anxieties.
What has your experience with your OB been like? Can you relate? What are things you like / don’t like about the care you’ve received? And curious to know if anyone else has been seen by both an OB and a midwife and has similar comparisons to mine? And lastly, any suggestions for lowering the birth weight of the baby growing inside me? I kid… but no really, the Marlboro man may be calling.
*Image by Tish Carlson, and don’t let the small bump fool it… it was taken back in November…
It was around the six month mark that I started questioning if my pregnancy style might be better than my regular style; I think there’s something to having something to workaround that forces one to be more inventive and, at times, daring, which both seem to lend to pleasant surprises (albeit a few key misses, I’m sure, too). Willy would ohhh and ahhh with my selections. I’m down to the final two or less months of pregnancy (where it’s easier to know how far along I am by doing simple subtraction) and all of that has gone out the window… this bump proving a harder feat for any sort of ingenuity to conquer. And so I’m down to rotating between the few final things that continue to work; namely a few Free People dresses that I’ve been weaving in and out of rotation for a while now because they’re just that lovely. I dread the day should they no longer fit, though I know it’s coming. And dammit, I just refuse to spend hundreds of dollars on super cute maternity clothes from places like Hatch that will last me all of a few months before I no longer need them and frankly can no longer stand them due to their inherent association with, well, bigger and less glamorous times. Who’s with me?
During my pregnancy with Van, I started putting a few key items away with intentions of surprising myself later when I wasn’t, well, pregnant. Many of the items were clothing related. I realize stashing clothing items away while pregnant may simply be a pre-curser to disappointment when 9 months later they’re not even close to fitting. I also realize that it can be a waste of money, even if it’s just on a $7 dress at a thrift store, if you can’t try it on and have some idea that it’s what you want and/or fits how you’d like. And for these reasons, I chose wisely. I pick one-size-fits-most type of items, skirts with elastic waistbands, and so on an so forth.
This is my favorite post-pregnancy-prize-pack to date… not that it has much in the way of competition, but surely I’m better at this given it my third go-around. Things in this stash that I’m greatly looking forward to: a blue and white striped pinafore dress, an oversized linen top, a fabulous vintage levi’s denim dress, and a suede-like vintage dress with an elastic waist. Most everything in the stash is more-or-less breast-feeding friendly, which is another challenge one has to consider. Toward the end, I’ll also add a few things like my favorite bottle of sweet white wine and my current pregnancy indulgence, chocolate caramels from Sees Candy.
Because honestly, who can gift a gift to you better than, well, you? Ha. In any event, if you’re expecting, treat yourself. I swear you’ll forget all about the items you put away and it feels pretty good after all you’re sure to go through and give to your new little one to have just a little something for yourself. Who’s with me, again?
image on right is from Pinterest
I’ve always felt more or less free to share my thoughts and opinions here on my blog and, for the most part, I still do. I think a blog lends itself to a slower pace, where more thought is welcomed and more consideration is given to the voice. The last time I wrote about my opinions in regards to medical care during pregnancy, I received a lot of great feedback here but a few people that felt offended by the snippet of the blog post I posted to instagram. Following that I kinda told myself I’d be keeping my shit to myself and moseying on my merry way. But alas, with a post entitled “Birthing Fears”, I realize I’m opening that door to criticism once again. I guess I’m just okay with that. I’m hardly trying to sell anyone on this blog as a place to go for advice or parenting guidelines; what I share here on my blog is truly a reflection of my own experiences and so much of the conclusions I draw, and we all draw, are drawn from hindsight. In other words, if my experiences were different, so would be my beliefs about them. Anyway, that’s the asterix attached to this post and any post of it’s kind, but especially the birth related posts because people seem to get really sensitive about this shit.
When I was pregnant with Hooper, I was a newly employed registered nurse, just coming out of nursing school where my obstetrics portion was taught by a very-well-educated and well-practiced midwife. Until that point, I had never really thought much about birth or envisioned the kind of birth I wanted, despite having dreamed of being a mother my whole childhood. I knew that when the time came, I’d opt for a home birth.
None of this is to say that there isn’t a place for hospital births. I’ve had two now, so clearly I’m grateful they exist and I understand their necessity more than I’d like to. All I’m saying is that when taking the classes in nursing school and then completing my own rounds and observations in the hospital setting, much of what I learned and observed had a profound impact on me.
This is probably more background info than is necessary to share. The simple point is that I knew for certain that when the time came, I’d want an unmedicated birth at home.
What I got instead was an induction with pitocin at the hospital. And that’s just the beginning of the story. What followed was an unmedicated birth involving horrible tetanic contractions (“Pitocin has the potential of causing tetanic contractions—contractions coming so frequently that they merge into one sustained contraction”) and being wheeled, on all fours, butt-booty naked, down the hall to the “c-section room” where I remember a lot of people talking about me but not to me. Hooper was vacuumed out, on the operating room table.
I think the whole experience solidified the idea of birth being a traumatic experience in Willy’s mind. So my pregnancy with Van was met with a lot of anxiety from the get-go and even more so when I insisted, once again, to try for a home birth.
The labor portion of Van’s birth was a dream. It was so nice to be at home and experiencing contractions in the absence of tetanic contractions made regular contractions feel, well, not like a walk in the park, per say, but definitely feasible. The tub of water also worked wonders and up until it was time to push, everything was gravy.
Three hours of pushing later and a look of defeat and worry on the face of my midwife eventually led to an ambulance transfer to the nearest hospital. There’s something to be said for being butt booty naked, once again, on a gurney, being wheeled out of your own home (they did put a blanket over me) and being asked not to push when you’re 10cm dilated and have been pushing with all the strength you could muster for the last three hours.
Van was born within the first 15 minutes of making it to the hospital, assisted not by a vacuum but instead by a large anesthesiologist who literally did CPR-like chest compressions on my abdomen. My mom was outside the door and could hear an audible “pop” when he was born.
These two stories combine to bring us to the present day and the exponential growth in anxiety surrounding the birthing process for both Willy and I.
Willy’s fears are a bit irrational, in my opinion, as his health anxiety leads him to worry about things that have not presented themselves as issues (thank goodness)… things like me and/or the baby dying.
My fear is associated more with how I’m going to get the baby out given my 0 for 2 track record of unassisted births. I fear not being able to trust that my OB will try less invasive strategies. I fear not having birthed with this OB before. I fear birthing with an OB. I fear a hospital birth. I fear that I have not prepared properly (gone are the days I had time to do prenatal yoga or childbirth classes that led you to believe some special way of breathing would ease the pain). I fear my fused spine may have a negative affect on my ability to bear down. I fear this baby will be bigger than both of my prior ones. I fear I’ll go past my due date, allowing even more time for this baby to grow even bigger. I fear another induction with pitocin should I go too far past my due date. I fear returning to the perinatologist who wants to see me again to “see how big the baby is getting”. I fear letting fear take over my natural inclination to trust my instinct and fight for what I know deep down is right for myself.
I’ve considered taking up smoking in hopes of potentially having a low(er) birth weight baby. I’m kidding, but the thought has crossed my mind enough times to turn it into a joke.
It’s crazy how much within the pregnancy and birthing experience is entirely out of our control. I’ve always thought of it as the first lesson in motherhood… the idea of things happening to you that you cannot predict or plan or alter; much like the children we bare. I don’t know what the answer is. I feel like the hippies would tell me to simply embrace this time… to talk to my baby and openly discuss my fears with loved ones that will listen. But when the fear is shared, it tends to compound so I’ve more or less kept my fears to myself. And I’m not hippy enough to talk to my baby and even if I were, asking it to diet and come out on time is not realistic.
What were/are your fears associated with pregnancy and birth and motherhood? Do you feel that they were generalized fears that could be applied to all or were they specific fears that applied to you based on your past experiences?
March is right around the corner and I’m finding it hard to find a grip. Right now I’m more or less riding the wave of if-I-don’t-pay-it-attention-it’s-not-there… but the fear most certainly is there and it’s coasting along and reminding me often that much of what I wish and hope for is entirely out of my hands.
I’m struggling to find peace with that.
*Image above by Tish Carlson
I have a lot of conflicted emotions about medical care and for anyone that looks in through a window at my life, I’m sure they would be confused as well.
For starters, I work in the medical field as a registered nurse. I work with doctors, surgeons, case managers, social workers, physical, occupational, and speech therapists, dietitians, radiologists and so on and so forth. I seem to baffle a lot of my co-workers when I divulge the fact my first two children were planned to be born at home, in the care of midwives, given the fact that I should know what “could” happen and all that jazz.
If I’m being honest, I’m happy to be planning a hospital birth this time around. Two failed attempts is enough for me and while I support it wholeheartedly for other women, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just not for me. I wish it was.
This is the first pregnancy I’ve been followed by an OB, from the beginning. The OB that delivered Hooper was fantastic, fully knew and supported the midwives I was working with, and did a fantastic job navigating Hooper’s tumultuous birth (though I’m still against induction despite the fact I know it’s necessary at times — I blame much of the decline in Hooper’s birth experience on the pitocin I was given).
During my pregnancy with Van, I had to chose a different back-up OB (the previous OB suffered a sudden death heart attack, which hit many in the OB community like a ton of bricks). I met with the new OB one, maybe two times. Because Van’s birth involved an ambulance transfer to the closest hospital, the OB that actually delivered him had never met us before (and to-be-clear by delivered, what I actually mean is pushed on my belly until his 9.8 pound body literally popped out — it was, um, audible). Point being, I’ve had OBs that have had to intervene along the way, but this is my first pregnancy where I will have been seen by the same OB from beginning to end, and more-or-less, only by him (I can’t help but think as I type that how ironic it would be if he couldn’t make my birth for some unforeseen reason and baby #3 ended up being delivered by yet another, new-to-me, OB. Hashtag: funny not funny).
So in a sense, I’m merely jumping through the hoops this go-around. I’ve had more ultrasounds in the first half of this pregnancy than I had combined in my pregnancies with Hooper and Van. I’m taking my first ever glucose screening test (I opted not to with the midwives because I was checking my blood sugars regularly at work and knew that if anything, my sugars were running on the low side of normal — therefore ruling out gestational diabetes).
The one thing I did turn down was the genetic testing and that’s based on nothing other than the fact that finding out the results of the test would have no bearing my decision to go through with the pregnancy.
I had my first ever ‘comprehensive ultrasound / anatomical screening’, which I was surprised to learn is not performed by regular OBs but by perinatologists instead. The very definition of a perinatiologiat, by the way, is “a physician that works in conjunction with a patient’s obstetrician when pregnancy complications develop and is able to provide care for both the mom and unborn baby”. My eyes were already rolling before I even made the appointment because I understand the absurdity in involving a physician who deals with complications being involved in the care of an individual experiencing an uncomplicated pregnancy. But, alas, the hoops — I’ve agreed to jump through them (almost entirely for Willy’s sake; as he was rather traumatized from the first two births).
When I arrived at the perinatologists office, the receptionist pointed out where the bottles of water were; they sat on a fancy mirrored tray above the magazines that included none of the trashy stuff I only pick up in doctor’s office and in line at the grocery store, but instead “Travel & Leisure” and other sophisticated crap my burnt out brain cells didn’t feel like picking up. The sofa was oversized and included a large velvety blanket that I presume was there in the event anyone felt like cuddling. Point being, it felt very spa-like. Very pampered. And this experience continued as I was shown to my room, which was dimly lit with a desk at the window like you would find in a hotel room; a desk I’m sure no one has ever sat at with a small cup of pencils I’m sure no one has ever written with. At the sink were special soaps and lotions and a basket of hand towels. I sat back in the large chair, with my feet up, and watched the ultrasound on the big screen tv placed in front of me. I was a bit disappointed the chair didn’t have one of those massage mechanisms like they do at the manicurists. I’m being facetious.
It’s funny because sometimes I want to remind the very patients I care for in the hospital that they are in fact in the hospital, because of medical necessity no less, and not in a hotel. But I found myself on the flip side, wanting to remind the staff that they are indeed in a medical office and not some kind of massage pallor. It made me question further if any of this were necessary as I assume things that are necessary contain less fluff and more, I dunno, latex gloves.
In any event, all checked out fine. I closed my eyes while they checked out the baby’s goods and met with the doc at the end who summarized the findings; “My only concern”, he said, “is the baby’s size. You’re measuring a week ahead of where your dates put you”. He went on to suggest I have an additional test done to rule out gestational diabetes (because gestational diabetes accounts for larger babies). We then had a conversation about the birth weight of the boys (Hooper was 8.15 and Van was 9.8) and how neither of those involved any gestational diabetes. He also confirmed that birth weight has a genetic component (both Willy and I were 8+ at birth). And despite all the exchange of information, and this is the part that makes me hate the medical field, he wrote me script for the additional gestational diabetes testing and said he’d like to see me back, at 32 weeks, to “see how the baby is growing”.
Surely at 32 weeks the baby will be growing. It isn’t rocket science. It also doesn’t take rocket science to make the prediction that I will be carrying another large baby. The best indicator of the future is to look to the past, after all. I also know that ultrasounds later in pregnancy are less accurate due to the fact the baby is taking up more room. Sometimes they say weight can be plus or minus a pound, which is pretty substantial when you’re talking about a being that is only a handful of pounds anyway. And what’s it matter? It bothers me that women are not trusted to birth babies anymore; that so many are encouraged to go down the planned c-section path or the planned induction path (and while I have no judgements toward woman that chose this path, I do have judgments on practitioners that lead their patients to this path based on some kind of instilled fear). I have no doubt that this baby will be big. I also have no doubt in my ability to work with my doctor to get it out safely.
I could go on and on. I could even jump over to the other side of the coin and defend certain arguments from that side as well but all in all I think the take home message that I want to remind myself is this: Trust your gut. The care you receive is at times reflective of the larger population and fails to take the individual experience into account. Be your own advocate and ask questions that force your practitioner to see you as an individual.
And so, thus far I haven’t had many, if any, questions for my OB. I spend more time waiting for my food at the drive-thru window than I do in his office for an appointment. But when I did ask about the baby’s weight and his confidence level in delivering a big baby, he more or less shrugged off my concerns, boasted about the 9 pound baby he delivered that morning, and before-I-knew-it I was back in my car, on my way home.
I miss the care of midwives. I miss having my belly measured and touched. My OB appointments are exactly the same: pee in cup, stand on scale, check blood pressure, wait a minute for doc, doc comes in and asks “any bleeding, cramping, discharge, headaches?”, performs an ultrasound and listens to the heartbeat for maybe 7 seconds, asks if I have any questions, and I’m dismissed.
I remember listening to Kevin & Bean on the radio talk about that show ‘I didn’t know I was pregnant’, about women who actually go into labor and deliver a baby having never known they were even pregnant. They talked about how surprising it was that a lot of these women birthed healthy babies despite the fact they didn’t receive prenatal care. I’m not so surprised; prenatal care thus far has not impressed me. I feel like a cow being led through a corral.
Would love to hear from any mamas out there that also birthed big babies. I have a friend who birthed a thirteen pound baby at home and I always channel her in my pregnancies. Would also love to hear from any others about their prenatal care / OB experience.
Gosh, it was nearly a year ago that I first shared my thoughts on having a third. It was a discussion that weaved it’s way into many of conversations and debates between Willy and I.
My sister left for a hiking trip in Yosemite a week ago. Knowing she’d be gone all week, she wished me luck. I teased that I could still be pregnant when she got back, but you could tell in our giggles that neither of us believed that to be true. Low and behold, here I am. Forty one weeks pregnant. That’s ten months and one week for those keeping a score card. And honestly, it feels like I could be pregnant indefinitely. I try my best to cling on any little change or cramp and am constantly re-evaluating the strength of my contractions (that I’ve had for months, mind you) but nothing seems to pan out. I go to the bathroom with the same excitement I had when I was 15, eagerly awaiting Aunt Flow to come visit (Yes, I was a late bloomer). My trust in my body to go into this thing called labor on it’s own is wavering.
I told my midwife that it feels like I have the laughing-weeping syndrome. As a side note, when I just googled “laughing-weeping syndrome”, wikipedia also co-named the disorder emotional incontinence which made me giggle, giving way to the laughing aspect of this syndrome I’ve diagnosed myself with. I’m being facetious, but in all seriousness, I’ve been a mood-swinging maniac. Mostly on the weeping end of the spectrum.
It can’t be that much longer, right? This baby will come out, right?
On Saturday we went to the Huntington Library in Pasadena to listen to some live music and have a picnic. After asking about my due date, one woman confessed she was “surprised” I was out and about. Maybe she thought I belonged in the hole I’ve been so eager to hide in. What I wanted to say was, “You know, babies don’t just fall out of the vagina. If I didn’t feel good, I wouldn’t be here”. Pregnancy sensitivity.
I stopped at the vintage market down the street from our house yesterday. There’s a point you get to in pregnancy where you just don’t want to hear people’s opinions anymore. Am I wrong? Everyone seems to be compelled to comment on your belly, guess the sex, guess how far along, yadda yadda yadda. It’s gotten draining to admit my due date was last week. I thought I had reached all I could handle until a rough-around-the-edges man came up to me and said, “WOAH! You are preg-nant”. Thanks for noticing, asshole, is what I felt like saying. But I said something better instead, I said, “I’m not sure whether to say ‘Thank You’ or “F&#% You’, frankly”. He quickly tried to redeem himself, feeding me the compliment that I’m “all belly”. Not but 20 minutes later another older man yelled across his booth, “twins?”. I couldn’t even muster anything up to say to him. I really just wanted to smack him clear across his wrinkly face. Pregnancy sensitivity. I’m telling you, it’s a real disorder. I got in my car and left after buying a few really cool things (will share soon) and confessed my new found hatred for the general public to Willy.
So yes, I’m still pregnant. I’ll be following up with my backup OB this week, which is something I clearly wanted to avoid. This path feels all too familiar. And so the anxiety builds…
On the bright side, my midwives are not at all concerned and are very trusting in my body’s ability to get their on it’s own. Van and I are both healthy thus far, so I’m trying my best to share in the same trust.