Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Getting all Doula'd Up

We decided early on to play things by ear throughout this pregnancy. I've heard enough stories about the "curse of the Bradley classes"....where couples take intense birthing classes for 8 weeks straight learning all the ins and outs of a natural delivery, only to find out mom will need a C section for some reason or another. You may not hear parents talk about it much, but it's apparently somewhat common. This abrupt "change in plans" can also lead to an increased risk of PPD in women who feel they were cheated out of something they prepared so thoroughly to do, only to have their dream delivery snatched out from under them by necessary medical interventions.

Don't get me wrong. I am NOT saying that taking a series of birthing classes is a bad idea by any stretch of the imagination. Quite the contrary! I think anyone doing this should be commended for their effort to give their baby(s) the best start at life. They are already winning a mom of the year award in my book. In fact, I feel kind of lazy for not taking them myself in a small way. However, we've just decided to use other means to prepare.

I've been reading books on my own and we've taken a couple shorter classes to prepare for childbirth, breastfeeding and baby care. So far I've read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, and Happiest Baby on the Block. All great reads! We've also taken an outstanding Breastfeeding class and a Baby Care Basics class.  I must say that all of this has awakened in me a renewed enthusiasm for really trying to give birth naturally (meaning no induction, no C section, no epidural, no IV pain meds). I mean, I've always wanted to deliver naturally, but then again I wanted to conceive naturally too and that didn't happen.

I think once you have given yourself over so much to Western medicine, it's easy to settle on the fact that it was actually the thing that got you this far, so maybe it's not so bad after all? However, if there is one thing I know in my heart of hearts, it's that giving this child the most natural entrance into this world is THE BEST thing for baby, mom, breastfeeding...pretty much everything. I really do not see any downside of trying to go natural, outside of the pain. And really, despite the need to use so much Western medicine up until this point, I still believe in my body's strength and ability to do something women have been doing for millions of years. I still believe very strongly in the power of the human body, of the mind, and of prayer.

I feel like giving birth naturally would be very healing on a deep emotional level for us as a couple too (especially for me).
Going through infertility stole so much of the natural process of conception from us. How awesome would it be if we could have a natural delivery that allowed my body to actually do what it was designed to do ON IT'S OWN?! Yes indeed, I do like the idea of that! The pain...well that just seems like such a small sacrifice for me to go through if it means our baby won't be exposed to drugs. (I know, I know...insert scoffing and laughter from most every other mom in America)

I realize my view is not one of the majority, but it feels like something I need to at least TRY. So, as it stands now, I'm mentally prepared to "take one for the team" on the natural birthing front. I'm embracing the opportunity to be empowered instead of lending myself to fear of pain. I don't plan to just wing it though. Because we've opted not to pursue more formal classes than we've already taken, we've decided instead to hire a doula to help support the process.

I am super excited about hiring a doula! We attended a doula info. session this past weekend, a little for me but more for hubby to see what they do exactly. As always, he's on board with whatever I want to do, and I think we've already found a doula that will be great for us. If you aren't familiar with what a doula is/does...

What Doulas Do: (Click to enlarge)

One of the main things I'm concerned with is being in the hospital any longer than absolutely necessary. I would rather labor at home as long as humanly possible, and it's just hard to know when to go or if I'm reading things right as a first time mom. I don't want to go too soon and get stuck there feeling pressured to move things along with pitocin or other induction drugs (or go and get sent back home). I also don't want to get there too late. I think the biggest plus is that the doula actually comes to our house, helping me labor there, and then caravans with us to the hospital for the birth. Doulas also do birth center and home births, but we are choosing to deliver in hospital just in case of any emergencies and also since I'm on blood thinners and all that jazz. Safety of baby and mom is still the MOST important thing for us. The doula will be by our side the whole time, providing encouragement for the birth plan we have outlined ahead of time, and helping us through every situation...even if plans change, which realistically they can. This is what most doula packages include where we live in Austin...

Doula Services: (Click to Enlarge)

The cost of a doula is typically based on the amount of births they've attended in addition to their training. We've chosen someone with 5 years of experience, 100+ births, and who lives geographically near our home....so not a newbie but not a top dollar doula either.  Is it just me, or is this a steal of a deal when you consider ALL that they do for you?!

Like most families, money is tight for us right now, and the amount of things we still need for baby is overwhelming. But, I just cannot fathom trying to go naturally without the extra support. I don't have any friends who have given birth naturally, and my mom is no longer with us. The hospital is going to be full of staff offering drugs and providing suggestions that aren't even conducive to natural delivery (like laying flat on your back and not leaving the bed). I am not convinced that just having a birth plan in my file will deter the staff from their usual protocol in the least...not in this country at least. Nor is discussing it ahead of time with my OB going to truly solidify my chances of pulling it off. There aren't even any guarantees that my OB will be the one who delivers. It would really be nice to have one knowledgeable support person outside of my spouse that I can count on 100%.

Having the extra support from a professional (not just hubby) before labor, while at home laboring,  and once at hospital to guide us and advocate for us is priceless in my opinion. And if it helps me to labor well enough naturally and avoid all of the things I don't want in my body (or baby's), it's worth it times ten. As I've mentioned, I am approaching all of this with the very realistic mentality of an open mind...because things don't always go according to plan. I know this. I also know that if I don't at least TRY, a natural birth won't just magically happen on it's own either. I've already done a phone interview with our prospective doula, and she comes to our home on Monday for a 1-2 hour meeting, where we'll discuss everything and outline our birth plan. I feel like she's a good match thus far, so hopefully we'll feel the same way once meeting her in person.

In other good news, we opted to do a 3D/4D ultrasound of Preston recently. I realized a little late that the optimal time to do these is actually 27-30 weeks, and I will be 32 weeks this Friday. Doh! We were able to get in quickly with an elective ultrasound boutique which charged less than 1/2 the cost of doing it with our OB though, so we went that route. I highly recommend seeking out this option if you ever have the choice. Just make sure the technician performing the ultrasound has the same training (at least a 2 year sonography degree). They use the same exact equipment and safety measures as the OB's sonographers do, and they give you so much more for your money at the boutiques.

Our little one is not the most cooperative model, and we tried on two separate days to get some good pics. Luckily, I drink a ton of water and my amniotic fluid was excellent for being this far along (sometimes babies get squished the further along you are). However, Preston just wanted to be a little contortionist both days. He wants to keep his hands and both of his feet crossed at the ankles right by his head. Yes, all fours by his face! Who does that?! I was half annoyed and half entertained by how cute his little tootsies were. All in all we're happy we did it, and it was worth it. Now I can tell Preston what a weirdo he was in utero...

No pics please...I will block you with my feet!
Moved the tootsies for a quick second finally! What a sweet face.

Our kitchen counter is becoming quite the shrine with pics of this little guy. I've heard other moms say how neat it is to see baby when they are born and how they look exactly like they did in the 3D/4D pics, so we are excited to see how cute he is already...and of course it's always good to know he's got all of his toes too. Ha!

OB appointment tomorrow, hospital maternity tour this weekend, face-to-face meeting with our doula on Monday, and final perinatologist apt. the following week.  Edit: Because clearly I cannot count- 8.5 weeks left until our due date!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Glucose Test: PASSED! RBC's a bit low

It's standard practice at my OB's office that if you don't hear any news following the 1 hr. glucose test within 1-2 days, then you passed. I just like to keep track of my own medical records, so I requested the full results. 

I didn't even realize how much other stuff was being tested at the time of blood draw. I knew they tested for HIV (a state of TX thing), but wasn't aware of the rest...

My nurse, who sent me the results, just said "Your labs look wonderful!" Then, after looking I see that my RBC's are low (pretty sure that indicates anemia).  I wouldn't say I'm constantly tired or dragging, but when I do get tired it hits me like a ton of bricks.

I know that anemia is very common during the 2nd and 3rd trimester of pregnancy, but I'm just surprised she didn't suggest doing anything about it. Maybe my RBC's are not so far below normal range to warrant any iron supplements or dietary recommendations?

Even though my prenatal (New Chapter Organics Perfect Prenatal) contains only 18 mg of iron (100% DV), I know it's lower than other prenatals out there. Still, I'm scratching my head as to how I can possibly be deficient in red blood cells/iron with the amount of spinach salads, beans, 2 whole eggs every single morning, red meat sources, and dried fruit that I consume. The only other thing I know to do is start consuming Vitamin C along with those iron sources so that they're absorbed more effectively. I will have to ask about this at our perinatologist apt. next week and see if I should be taking an iron supplement. I'm certainly open to any feedback if anyone has experience with this.

Either way, just happy I PASSED the oh-so-scary glucose test!!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

36 Years & 28 Weeks Along

Usually we celebrate my birthday in a big way, with past trips to Las Vegas, Yosemite, and Napa to name a few. This year, we did almost nothing, and yet it was one of the best birthdays I've ever had. Who is this person who likes NOT being able to drink champagne or go on 10 mile hikes?!

It was definitely special though despite no firework style celebration. I treated myself to a french mani/pedi and did lunch with the hubs at one of our favorite spots. Also got surprised with some pretty flowers and a card that had me laughing and crying simultaneously. Nothing like fresh flowers to brighten a girl's day. :)

So creative, my man made this funny photo montage that he put inside with birthday wishes from the whole family. We have an unfortunate inside joke in our household about the cat in the bottom right corner named Jazzy, but whom we lovingly refer to as Stinkerbell...She has a very unladylike habit of "leaving presents" and opting not to cover them up with litter properly. There is absolutely nothing we can do about it either! Instead, we just accept it as good diaper training and plug our noses for clean up duty. Still makes me laugh every time I look at this...

It's been an extra special week as well, since we are now 28 weeks along and officially in the 3rd trimester. Someone pinch me please!

Part of me wanted to whine a little since my glucose test was this morning (the day after my birthday) and I would have liked to have something naughty, like a slice of birthday cake, last night.  However, I knew I'd be paranoid about passing that test first thing this morning if I ate poorly so soon before, so I opted to eat clean all day yesterday. Besides, when I really thought about it, how could I possibly complain too loudly about "having to eat healthy on my birthday" or "having to take a glucose test?"

Perhaps my experience was different than some, but I thought the glucose test was a breeze. I haven't gotten my results back yet (fingers crossed I'll pass!), but the actual process of downing the drink was not bad at all! It looked and tasted exactly like the Orange Hi C drink you probably had as a kid from MacD's...

I've been blessed with no food aversions though and haven't had heartburn once, so maybe that's why it was easy for me. My OB did not require fasting for the 1 hour test either, so I had a healthy breakfast an hour before drinking the magic potion, which helped I'm sure.

Today's OB apt. went smoothly, and I had an opportunity to ask my OB some long overdue ?'s about the actual delivery process. It's better to do this before you even choose the OB to begin with, but in our case better late than never. We're not taking birthing classes, and I wanted to know exactly where my OB stood on some important aspects of the delivery. I took a page out of Ina May's Guide to Natural Childbirth and highlighted the ?'s I wanted answered.  Here is the list I used if anyone else can use a guide...

I was very content with the responses I got from my OB. Most important to me, he...

-Delivers about 80% of his patients' babies
-Visits patients 4-5 times throughout labor if possible

-Avoids episiotomy unless tearing looks to be occurring in an upwards direction
-Allows light eating and drinking in early labor
-Allows walking around, sitting on balls, changing positions when necessary (before epidural)
-Has 20% cesarean rate (although I'd like this lower, it's not so bad compared to some)
*National C section average is 33% and up to 70% at some hospitals!
-Does not use forceps. Uses vacuum only if baby is in distress and woman can't push any more (roughly 10% of deliveries...most first time moms).
-Waits to cut umbilical cord until after it quits pulsating.

Ina May's book also contains ?'s you can use to interview midwives and doulas. Although I'm not set on a natural childbirth and am trying to keep a go-with-the-flow mentality, I do want the least amount of medical intervention necessary if possible (ie. no induction or C section hopefully).

The rest of the apt. went well. No u/s today, but Preston's heartbeat was strong @153 bpm. My blood pressure was great @104/62. I've gained a total of 20 lbs. thus far (up to 150 lbs. now), which is healthy for 28w4d. No swelling, no heartburn, no cramping, no issues (other than minor stuff like insomnia, pregnancy rhinitis, and peeing my pants a couple times randomly when sneezing...shhhh don't tell!) haha! I'm instructed to just keep on keeping on...light exercise 7 days a week, swimming/sunbathing, and all other normal activities are still fine.

To know that we only have 12 weeks left is mind boggling. It's going to be here before we know it, and while I don't feel 100% prepared yet, we've done a lot to get ready as new parents. Next up...a book the size of a dictionary on the topic of breastfeeding! Oh, how times have changed, but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.