The Babies!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Quest for a Natural Birth (28w5d)

My birth plan, the rough draft version: I want my birth experience to be as natural as possible. I do not want an epidural. I do not want an episiotomy. I do not want drugs of any kind and, to that end, I do not want an IV. I want to be able to move freely, therefore I do not want to be constantly on monitors. I certainly do not want to be induced or have a C-section unless it becomes necessary (and "necessary" is subject to debate). I want to be able to eat and drink as I desire and not limited to ice chips according to the doctor's or hospital's protocol.

I would deliver this baby at home, if I could. Honestly, I'm still having fantasies about doing just that. But wisdom prevails and suggests having the baby in the hospital will be the safest course of action. But I still want this birth to be as natural as possible.

Jay and I went to the first of our hospital-sponsored childbirth classes over the weekend. I think the childbirth educator is probably pro-natural childbirth, but does try to be neutral in her presentation. However, I found myself growing increasingly frustrated with "the way things are" and "hospital policy" as our 5 hour class progressed. The instructor made several comments that lead me to believe that I might have some battles to fight once I am admitted to the hospital. Comments such as, "Once you're admitted, the nurses will want you to do X, but we know that Y is better for you/baby/labor, so tell them that is what you want." Things like that make me see red.

They (the medical community) knows that laying in a bed is not conducive to productive labor, yet I will be encouraged to do just that.

They know that skin-to-skin contact immediately following birth is best for both mother and child, yet the baby will be placed on a blanket on my chest.

They know that labor can last for many hours, yet they will deny me food and water. However, if I become dehydrated, they will give me fluids through an IV. Where is the logic there? The IV fluids become unnecessary if I'm allowed to hydrate on my own.

And so on.

After our hospital tour yesterday, I bought the book Homebirth in the Hospital: Integrating Natural Childbirth With Modern Medicine . I'm trying to be a rational person and embrace this idea that having a hospital birth is safest for me and baby, despite the statistic that over 30% of babies born in hospitals in this country are delivered by C-section, as opposed to 4% of babies born outside of hospitals. For one thing, I don't think most midwives in this country will deliver me at home because of the "high risk" label. For another, I wasn't able to find a ob/gyn practice that has both a midwife on staff and also accepts my insurance. So, for better or worse, it seems I'm stuck with the hospital.

So now I have this handy little book with different birth experiences and advice on how to have the natural childbirth I want in a hospital setting. Except much of it is contingent upon my doctor waiving certain protocols. And that means every doctor in the practice (there are five or six, I believe) has to also agree to waive those protocols, since any one of them could end up delivering me. Sounds daunting, doesn't it? It is.

I am tired of the eye rolling and snide comments about my preferences. Yes, no matter how it happens, I still get a baby in the end. But I have my reasons for wanting a natural birth. Not the least of which is the fact that I can't afford to have a bad start. Jay may only be here for days-- at most, only a few weeks-- and then I'm on my own. I need to heal and be 100% physically just as quickly as possible because I will be the sole caregiver to this little baby.

From what I've read and heard anecdotally, medicated births (as well as episiotomies) do not lead to quicker recoveries-- often the opposite. Medicated births can also inhibit breastfeeding. C-sections certainly require a longer recovery time. But natural childbirth means no drugs in my system-- or the baby's-- which means my body is already ahead of the game in the healing process. I need that. The baby needs that.

I know I'm not typical and I know I'm rebelling against the current norm (at least in this part of the world). I'm not trying to be a martyr-- I'm simply trying to do what's best for me and my baby. The medical community won't even let me take Aleve for back pain while I'm pregnant, yet they're all for pumping me full of drugs to bring this child into the world. Where is the logic in that? (Yes, I know, not taking drugs during pregnancy is about preventing developmental problems, but still.) I keep asking myself that question when it comes to the medical model of childbirth versus the natural model: Where is the logic??

I don't knock anyone who embraces the current trends in childbirth, it's just not my choice. For those who think the medical community knows best how babies should be born, remember that it was also the medical community who once thought infant formula was superior to breast milk. Despite the fact that the American Association of Pediatrics now recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant's life, over 70% of hospitals in the United States dispense formula to infants. Once again I ask: Where is the logic?

So, I'm doing my research and preparing myself for battle. As if bringing a child into the world wasn't hard enough, right? But this is definitely a battle worth fighting-- at least to me. And from the stories I've heard from women who have had the natural childbirth I want, I won't regret it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

28 Weeks

The 28 week bump. I'm officially in my third trimester (seventh month!) now. Eek!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Contradictions (27w6d)

Oh, crap. Just when I think maybe I know one or three things about what to do once this kid is born, I read a contradiction to one piece of advice that has been consistent. I could dismiss this contradiction if it came from someone less trustworthy, but it's Dooce! You know Dooce, also known as Heather Armstrong. She's famous. She has had two babies. She's written books about her experiences. She knows stuff. So, now I'm panicking because she wrote this:

Worst advice you can give to someone with a newborn? Sleep when the baby sleeps. That is total and utter crap. Because one nap can be three hours and then the next nap is like fifteen seconds, and when that latter naps happens and you've just put your head down to go to sleep, oh Lord, the agony. And the pain. And the ANGER. And of course it's never healthy to be angry at a newborn, bad things can happen, like suddenly you start drinking tequila at 10 AM and are calling your husband at work JUST SO THAT YOU CAN HANG UP ON HIM.



Friday, September 11, 2009

Having a Baby... At Any Age? (27w2d)

There is an article in this month's More Magazine called Having a Baby Over 50. Yes, you read that right: over 50. Of course, that's what you can expect from a magazine whose tagline reads "Celebrating Women 40+."

I love More because it doesn't make me wish I were younger. I've been reading it since I was in my late 30's and it's nice to be reading about women my age and older doing all the thing that I want do-- and, well, more. But I"m not sure about this having a baby over 50 thing. I mean... wow.

The article profiles six different women who, for varying reasons, took on motherhood at 50+. Some already have older children (children who are over 30, in one case!), while for some this is their first child (or children-- at few women had twins). I should note that only one of the six women conceived naturally-- the others were IVF using donor eggs and/or sperm and one used a surrogate. Though I don't discount surrogacy or adoption as valid ways of starting or enlarging a family, in this instance I'm rather fascinated-- and a bit horrified-- at the thought of taking on pregnancy over the age of 50.

Honestly, pregnancy hasn't been so hard for me. All thing considered, I've had it pretty easy. Hell, even getting pregnant wasn't all that difficult. At the time, the process seemed a bit tedious and tragic, but in retrospect, I didn't have any more difficult a time getting (and staying) pregnant than women 10 or 15 years younger than me. I was off the Pill for 14 months and got pregnant twice. Of course, Jay was gone for over 6 of those months, so two pregnancies in 8 months and the second one took. Really, those are pretty good odds at any age. The only medical intervention I used for this pregnancy was a progesterone supplement. No fertility drugs, no herbs, no accupuncture, no special diets or exercise or meditation. Prenatal vitamins and sex to get pregnant, then the progesterone supplement starting at 8 weeks to help me stay pregnant. That's it.

But still. There is a difference between being 42 and pregnant and being 52 and pregnant. I have never felt so old as I do right now. When it comes to energy level, stamina and flexibility, my 42 year old body (non-pregnant) doesn't feel that much different than my 32 year old body did-- and maybe only a little older than my 22 year old body. I notice more of a difference emotionally-- I feel more grounded, for lack of a better word, now than I did a decade or two ago. More like I've grown into the person I'm supposed to be. However, for me, being pregnant feels like I've physically aged at least a decade in just a few months. This, I think to myself as I eyeball the vast expanse of the Home Depot and contemplate hitching a ride on a passing forklift, is what old age must feel like.

There is also the mortality factor to consider. I don't have any desire to be a grandmother, but I would like to see my child reach adulthood and achieve his goals. That's doable at 42. At 52, I'd worry that I wouldn't be around much past college. Of course, people die at every age and I recognize the need for a certain pragmatic attitude when taking on parenthood in later life. The good thing is I'm likely to take better care of myself because I'm having a child at this age. I'm also more likely to encourage him to be independent and self-sufficient (no mama's boys here!) in the event that I'm not always around for him to fall back on. That appeals to me simply because I was an independent and self-sufficient teenager/young adult (for different reasons than death, but certainly just as valid).

I think I can make a very good case for having children at 42 as opposed to 22. Granted, I'm a bit biased. But having a baby at any age is fraught with worries and second-guessing. Far be it for me to say the cut-off for motherhood should be 42. (Though I do think there should be a minimum age requirement.) I just don't think I could (or would want to, rather) do this again at 50. Then again, who knows how I'll feel in 8 years? Maybe I'll be happy the technology exists to assist me in having additional children at that age. Or maybe I'll be the rare 50+ woman to get pregnant without medical intervention. I don't see that as part of my future, but I learned a long time ago never to say never. It wasn't that long ago that I didn't see this experience as part of my future.

The part that annoys me most about women having babies over 50 is that here I am-- thinking I'm being all progressive and cutting edge-- and it turns out I'm not even close to pushing the boundaries of motherhood. In some circles, I'd practically be considered a young mom. Then again, that's not such a bad thing, either.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Oh, The Agony (26w4d)

It is two o'clock in the morning and I am awake and sitting upright in bed. Why? Because if I lay down, I will die of acid reflux. You probably didn't know acid reflux will kill you, but trust me, it will.

I never had acid reflux before I was pregnant and didn't think it was anything to be concerned about. I was wrong. It's horrible. Awful. Searing pain from stomach to throat to nasal passages. A feeling of suffocation if I'm horizontal, followed by coughing and gagging. My throat feels raw. I'm afraid to lay down. It will kill me.

(I'm trying to avoid spicy foods and eating too close to bedtime, but I think I ate too late tonight. My fault. I will learn this lesson the hard way, it seems. Good thing I have three more months to get the hang of it, right?)

Thus concludes my public service announcement on the deadly dangers of acid reflux. That is all.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Overwhelmed (25w6d)

That one word sums up my life quite nicely at the moment. Overwhelmed. Pregnancy takes a lot of energy. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. Even though I've had an easy time of it (so far-- lest the pregnancy gods think I'm being cocky), there are days when I would very much like to detach this weight growing around my middle and pass it off to Jay to carry. Or the mailman. Whomever.

But I really am doing well and I try to take it all-- the insomnia, the various weird aches and pains, the awful heartburn and even awfuler acid reflux-- in stride and with a sense of humor. After all, it could always be worse. And I know it. And I'm grateful that it's not. I truly, truly am.

But on top of pregnancy and the hormones that stay on an even keel most of the time only to send me careening off the deep end when I least expect it, there is the husband who is deploying for over seven months. The husband who I'm not even sure will be here when this baby is born, no matter how he tries to reassure me. There is that and the overwhelming (there's that word again) feeling that I cannot do this alone. And by "alone" I mean without him.

I know I won't be technically alone. There will be Sheri, the closest thing I have to a sister, and there will be friends, the closest thing I have to a family. But it is not the same as the father of my child being there, you know? As grateful as I am to those who will be here even if Jay can't (and I am grateful in ways I will spend the rest of my life trying to express), I feel like I'm drowning when I think about the fact that he might not make it home from Dubai in time for the birth. That he might not be able to leave Dubai before the deployment is over-- next May.

So, I do what any good pregnant woman would do: I try not to think about it. What else can I do? I have my lists and my Plan A and Plan B and Plan C (I'm still working on Plan D) and I'm taking care of myself physically and mentally as best I can and sometimes that involves just not thinking about all of the worst case scenario stuff. (Even though I am trying to have a plan for all of it.) I'm trying to keep my blood pressure within the range of normal and the only way I can do that is not to let my mind wander too deeply into the realm of the Bad Stuff. I'm not actually in denial (since I'm clearly aware of all the possibilities), I just can't think about too much at once. One thing at a time, one day at a time, one plan at a time. That's my goal.

Three more months of pregnancy and who knows how many months alone with a baby. I can do it. I have to. But right now I really, really don't want to think about it.