Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Trusting Birth and Trusting Ourselves as Birthing Women

Trusting Birth and Trusting Ourselves as Birthing Women


Before becoming pregnant, I thought bellycasts were a silly idea and only good for hippy-dippy mommas who want to 'celebrate the female form'. There were painted bellies on all the walls in the Birth Cottage so I thought about it in my initial visits. I quickly decided it wasn't for me. That was so not my style.

Now that I'm here, I understand the desire to preserve a part of your journey into motherhood. I want to mark the growth of my child and the path she is taking into our lives. The one thing that encapsulates that entire thought is a bellycast.

So I'm searching for the perfect way to decorate our belly cast.

I can paint it to show her name and measurements, time of birth, and all those little details.
I can even include her tiny prints from newborn hands and feet.
I could paint with flowers or swirls
Some even tie in the nusery theme.
What one momma did with her belly casts with pictures of her babies in them!

My favorite idea so far, the one that makes me cry, it to have family and friends write blessings and hopes and prayers for this child all over it.
I want her to be able to read  and discover that so many people loved her even before she was seen by any of us.
I want her to feel the support that she has, and will always have from her blood family, and her spiritual family.  Support that began when all we knew was her heartbeat.
It makes me so appreciative to know that she will always have the guidance and love of so many people. She is loved and it makes me see how much love is in the world.
Love from the saints and love from God.

I'm not sure what the final project will look like, but I do know that I will love it. I love the belly and I love her. :)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Keeping a sense of humor about medical treatment of birth

This is a scene from Monty Python's "Meaning of Life" and gives a lighthearted look at the ridiculousness of technology overuse in the process of birth.  I hope you enjoy as much as I do. Laugh a little.  :)

In search of a pediatrician... (LONG)

I am trying to secure a pediatrician for the well-infant care of my daughter who is due in less than a month. I loved my own pediatrician, who I will not name for the time being. I wanted to use the same practice but have been told by the office staff that they do now take babies from the Birth Cottage because it is "risky".

The woman I spoke to this morning told me that they have had issues with babies in the past who had something wrong that should have been detected at the time of birth but went without treatment because they were born at the birth center rather than a hospital. I don't see how the location of birth has anything to do with potential of an undetected illness or problem. I attend a medical facility that provides me with licensed professional care and have a low-risk pregnancy. All my tests have come back healthy and normal. I have no reason to believe that my child will be ill in any way. She told me it was a "one in a million chance and they don't want that one."

My baby is being judged for the location of her birth rather than her actual medical history. She is healthy. She is normal. If something arises, THAT is what the doctor is for. I'm at a loss for why the pediatricians are singling out these babies who may have had something wrong as if they wouldn't have happened if born in a hospital.

My child is at a lower risk of birth defect and delayed effects that are caused by excessive fetal monitoring, anesthesia, and other interventions that I will be avoiding. I'm prepared to birth a healthy baby but they assume she will be unfit just because her arrival will be aided by midwife?!

What if a patient planning on giving birth at TMH, gives birth in her car and only her husband attends? Would they turn her down? Simply because this is my choice does it effect the policy. The real issue seems to be that they don't want crunchy granola moms who think for themselves in the practice. That seems to be a bad maneuver since more and more moms are learning to take charge of their medical decisions. That is the way it should be.

I'm awaiting a call to see if the doctor I saw as a child is willing to accept my child as a patient but at this point I'm not sure what is best for her.

Anyway, this article caught my eye and seems to be what the woman is basing her view of midwifery on...

Do Natural Birth Centers put Mothers at Risk?
Posted by Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah

"In the health section of Scotsman.com yesterday there was an article called Natural birth units 'putting mothers at risk'. The article says:"Up to a third of expectant mothers are rushed at the last minute to doctor-led labour suites because midwife-run wards cannot deal with medical complications or provide sufficient pain relief." Now, this article is based on research in Scotland and says that a lot of the problems are with first time mothers.

Obviously, this is causing a huge controversy where doctors and midwives are on opposite sides.

I have several friends that have recently given birth in birthing centers instead of hospitals. I know a lot of people who have done home births. I understand that women have been having babies for millions (or however old man is) of years without anesthesia and I know that it can be better for the baby.

I also know this: when my children were born I needed a blood transfusion. I had an emergency caesarian. I also had a very complicated pregnancy and odds are that the only reason my children both lived is because through modern medicine the doctors were able to delay childbirth for six weeks. I went into labor when I was 28 weeks pregnant. (Think of it as seven months.) Naomi Wolf is probably going to hate me for saying this but I thank my doctors and medical staff for saving my life and the lives of my twins.

That being said, even if I had gone into labor on my due date I still would have wanted an epidural and medical staff nearby. For me it just isn't worth the risk. I feel fortunate to live in a time where we have all of these wonderful medical tools (including painkillers) available to us.

I don't mean to slam midwives, I'm sure they are wonderful people. I am sure that a home birth without complications is a beautiful thing. I just like to hedge my bets, especially when it comes to my kids."


My reaction to this is that the author is not a good candidate for midwife care but uses that as a justification that it isn't a safe birthing process. Rather she would not be safe in that situation but it remains a safe option for other women. Women like me. She needs a doctor because she has the presence of abnormalities (multiples, preterm, history of excessive blood). I am absent of any known complications and that is why I can safely see a midwife for my prenatal care, labor, and birth.

As a side note, she concludes by saying that she isn't willing to take the risk of midwife care (which she clearly has limited understanding of) and would rather recieve an epidural. It seems that she isn't aware of the effects that could negatively effect her and her baby from this sort of pain management. There are risks there too and she acts as if it is totally safe. It isn't. Its a decision she has to make for herself but it seems from her writing that she is unaware of the full risks and believes herself to be safer than she really is.

Another issue I take with the article is that she sites a review made about transfers and she lumps medically necessary transfers in with mother requested ones. They are not equivalent and they skew any true image of the safety of a midwife attended birth. 

I see this view a lot in my conversations with other pregnant (or recently pregnant)women they are in deep waters and they are holding on to a raft but are totally unaware of the shark encircling them. They hold on to the fact that they have all the medically trained staff and new technology but aren't really seeing the whole picture because there are dangers in that environment too.


Every pregnant woman will tell you that there are many special things about your time carrying a child.  I hope that most of my post focus on that rather than the inconveniences of being pregnant.
This post, however, it will be about one thing.


Specifically weird things they say to you by the mere fact that you are pregnant.
I'd like to make a few distinctions since there are many reaction types.

First, there is genuine interest and excitement that just comes out wrong.
That would be like the woman who was standing in my line waiting to be cashed out at the Barrel.
The podium that houses our computer screen hides my body to a degree and from her vantage point she could see from about my shoulders up. As I finished the transaction I stepped forward to hand her a reciept. This new positioning allowed my body to be seen in its fullness. (and I mean FULLness)

She said "Woah! How long do you HAVE?" Her eyes were wide in disbelief that she had missed my pregnant body for the whole of our transaction.
I laughed as I realized that I had caught her so completely off gaurd and truly startled her with my belly. I answered "I have a little over 3 weeks till my due date."
"No kidding," she replied then with panic on her face she corrected herself, "Not that you look...I mean... Its just..."

She couldn't figure out how to unreact. It was funny but I felt bad that she was agonizing over it so I told her about how everyone at work thinks if I lean over to rest on the counter, I'm going into labor. Or how when I bend down to stretch or reach something from a bottom shelf, they worry that I'm on the ground because my water broke. She seemed relieved that I wasn't offended and we laughed together about how  people are so  worried when a woman is as pregnant as me.

Now another type of reaction is misplaced interest, obivous ignorance, and intrusive touching.
I've heard about this and never experienced it...
Until last night.

James and I decided to use some (very valuable) coupons to the local Waffle House.
Looking foward to my hashbrowns, (double order of extra crispy scattered, smothered, covered, chunked, capped, and diced. YUM.) I sat with my husband as we continued a rather deep conversation we had begun in the car.

Interupting our conversation, a new waitress arrives at the table and hands me my husbands' bacon cheeseburger saying, "aww you gonna feed the baby a wittle burwger?!" (I'm trying hard to type this the way it was said. It's proving to be difficult.) As she sets down the food at the wrong places, I'm trying to move the plates to their correct home.  Meanwhile, she puts her hand on my belly and I try hard to ignore her hoping that she will get the message that she isn't welcome to touch me.

I am looking over the order to realize that my eggs are undercooked, my hashbrowns are missing topping and aren't even crisp in the slightest.
(Note: I've never sent my food back at this Waffle House, they are usually so great. )
Still thinking about my belly rather than my food, she says, "Oh you don't like that do you??"
Her hand is still on my belly.
I point out a particularly lethargic fly sitting on the table right next to my food and she doesn't seem alarmed by it or worried that it may have been in our food. She instead asks "Oh, is it just sitting there?"
'Yeah, it isn't moving much. But how is that relavant?'- I'm thinking.

She moves on and says "I really love pregnant people..."(she has soooo overstayed her welcome at our table by this point) "...well, not their attitudes but more of their bodies. You know?"
Now I have to break it to her that my food isn't correct to the order and of course she sees it all as if I'm being cranky and demanding because I'm pregnant.
She even said "Oh I understand, you want your food, you're pregnant, I'll get it for you."

When she delievered her second attempt at my order, she asked James "That yo baby?" My verbal filter was really struggling to continue working at this point so I said something like "Of course he is, who else would I be out with?" I was so uncomfortable and could no longer enjoy the meal I was so looking forward to. The comments she made made me so frustrated that even though I never got my order completely corrected, I just shoveled my food in and gave my husband the bill and coupons and headed for the car where I couldn't say anything rude to her.

As I'm bolting for the door she looks up from a table shes cleaning across the room and asks "how were those hashbrowns for you, preggers?" Really? REALLY?!

I get mad just thinking about the way she talked to us but I just couldn't think of a way to handle it without getting unnecessarily rude back with her so I left without ever addressing the problem with her.
She was so far out of line to speak to me that way, ask about my personal business, and touch my body. I can't believe that people aren't raised better than that but not everyone had my momma. :)
I am just glad she is a stranger.
I will hopefully not encounter her again.
But in case I do, I'm enrolling in Ju Jitsu. ;)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Entering my window"

As I type, I am 36 weeks 4 days pregnant. If Amelia were to be born right now she would be considered a preemie. She would likely be just as normal and healthy as if she waited a few more days but I am pleading with her to wait.

Why does it even matter? Because, I am about to "enter my window" of normal and term birth. On Sunday Aug. 28th I will be 37 weeks and considered full term.

Right now she would be "early" and therefore high risk which would send me straight to the hospital. Do not pass GO.
Do not collect $200.

That wouldn't be the end of the world, but it certainly isn't what I've been working towards this whole time. If she goes past 42 weeks I'll be "late" and lose my opportunity for a birth at the Birth Cottage.
Now, truthfully, I would like to be over 40 weeks just to have enough time to mentally prepare a little more, save a little more money, wash a little more clothes, and just get good and ready.
People think I'm nuts when I say I want her to be "late" but the truth is, she will never be late. She will come when she needs to.

All of that is a really boring way to get to my point, which is this.
There is no way for my sweet baby to tell us when she is coming. She can't text me and let me know when she leaves the house. She can't call and say she is on her way or stuck in traffic. I just have to wait.

I have practiced many relaxation techniques for use in labor and one is called a mental vacation. You basically create a mental image of a place you find relaxing and focus on the details of it and the way you feel when you are there. My mental vacation is a coffee shop where I am waiting for her. She is coming and I sit with my drink, looking with anticipation at everyone who walks in.

This little daydream has never felt so real to me as it does in these last weeks. I am waiting for her, everywhere I go. I am looking for any sign that she is coming. I think about every twinge in my back. Was that a "low dull ache" and will it become a contraction? I think about every Braxton Hicks contraction. Did that feel any different than my last contraction and how far apart have they been?

I am just generally anxious.
Not nervous.
Almost anticipatory.
There is not a word that can capture it quite like 'waiting'.
I'm waiting to hold her. I'm waiting to know what she will be like. I'm waiting to nurse her and help her grow. Waiting to see her chubby, pink, face, her nose--my nose, the loving and trusting look in her eyes.

With all I've read and learned and talked about, I'm just feeling so ready to experience it.
I'm finally ready.
Well on Sunday I will be.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Amelia Something Kimmel

Its that time in the pregnancy where everyone wants to know, "what are you naming her?" and thus far everyone has been appeased by my answer of Amelia.... Something.
Name Nerds article on middle names.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hot and bothered.

It is important that I preface this post by saying the my husband is a great support in this pregnancy.
He has truly been there by my side for everything from the very beginning.
He brought me toast in the first months as my morning sickness could be curbed with this small snack at dawn.
Later, he rearranged his schedule so he could be at all my appointments.
He has rubbed my aching feet more times than I can count.
Most importantly, he's been my emotional pillar even when I'm a raving, hormonal loon (and my emotional meltdowns aren't exactly rare).

All that being said, he will never understand what it is like to be pregnant.
Now, I'm not picking on him. No man ever can. And that's not sexist, it is just science.
Lucky for them, we talk enough about it that they can live it vicariously.
I think he has the rougher deal though to be completely truthful. I'd rather be pregnant than have to deal with a pregnant wife.
He's a saint.

So here is why this is on my mind,
I woke up this morning sweating like a hog. I pushed the covers away and flopped around in the sea of pillows I need to get any amount of decent sleep. I heaved myself into a sitting position and slowly stood up--what a major process to just get out of bed.
Like any pregnant woman would do, I headed straight for the bathroom since my bladder is now only allowed about a thimble-sized space--Amelia is a bit greedy with the space but we still love her. ;)
Still feeling rather hot, I look at the thermostat to find that my dear husband has turned it off.
It may not matter to any normal person, but this is a cardinal sin against a woman who is great with child.
(Let me remind you of the opening of this post-- He's a dear.)
This is just one of the many things he's unaware of and doesn't consider since he is not, nor ever will be, pregnant.

My favorite example was when we had finished a long shopping trip to the ever-lovely Target and I was tired --I had been on my feet all day at work. The overwhelming heat of the parking lot hit me as soon as the automatic doors opened. I spotted the car and mentioned that he could go get the car and pick me up at the entrance. Thinking of my health, I'm sure, he replies, "The walking is good for you." I could have slugged him right there in front of God and everybody.

I should really be grateful, I guess, for the way in which he looks out for my best interest rather than my comfort but, its just funny how he can't really understand how everything hurts in a new way.
I'm not just tired at the end of my workday.
I'm dead tired.
I never understood that phrase in it's truest meaning until this juncture in my life.
Now if only I could get him to understand it.
I'll just put him on the midnight shift once Amelia arrives. ;)