Monday, July 20, 2009

Baby Week, Conclusion

Continuing from last time...

Tuesday 14 July 2009

Tuesday was our 8th anniversary, which would have been a lot more enjoyable without the nausea. Most of the day I felt so terrible that I could barely work, and late in the afternoon, I had to lay down to try to sleep off the nausea a little bit. I never felt too much better, but eventually Rob and I ended up riding our bikes over to a place on campus for falafel (for him) and a hummus pita (for me).

Wednesday 15 July 2009
Baby Week continued with our Infant CPR class. Again with the nausea. In fact, I felt so terrible that I really was not sure how I would make it through the class, and thought I might have to send Rob without me, but somehow I managed. The class was pretty useful, I guess, even though it was hard to stay focused through the nausea (you would think I would have gotten used to this in the past 7 or 8 months, but I guess not). At least there was no food in the classroom, so nothing to make the nausea worse. They started the whole thing out by having us watch this video that showed a grandma and grandpa babysitting their little granddaughter, who stopped breathing, and the grandma had to perform CPR on her. “Come on, Maria, breathe!” the grandma kept saying, and I wondered if I was the only person in the classroom who had become somewhat hysterical just from watching this. I kept hoping that by the end of class, we would go back to the video and it would show baby Maria breathing and recovered again, but it never did, so I am left just kind of wondering. But at least now I know the pattern—2 breaths, 30 chest compressions, and repeat—even though it is something I hope I never have to use.

Thursday 16 July 2009
It was another day of relentless nausea, but at this point, what’s new. I also felt a different kind of terrible that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I thought maybe my blood pressure was wonky, so I dug out our blood pressure cuff and took it. I kept getting readings somewhere in the neighborhood of 80/60, which is low I suppose, but I didn’t know if it was low enough to be making me feel all sorts of terrible. I tried my best to proceed with revising chapter 8 of my dissertation and actually made some progress in spite of things. In the afternoon, my mom, dad, sister, and little nephew came for a little visit, and even though I had felt so terrible earlier in the day, it really perked me up to get a chance to see them. Nonetheless, by the time they left, I had to curl up in the fetal position, clutching a plastic bowl (in case of vomit), and I ended up deciding to call off pre-natal yoga. You know it’s bad when you can’t even handle pre-natal yoga. I just couldn’t deal with the possibility of doing the downward dog pose. Not to mention the smell of Crane Alley (the restaurant/bar next door).

Saturday 18 July 2009
We watched the Tour de France and nested. Mainly, Rob nested, which made me wonder if it might be him preparing to go into labor instead of me. He did some cleaning out of the garage, and he also helped me clean out the freezer. This latter part, especially, was a major accomplishment I had wanted to get taken care of. The freezer is definitely food purgatory… stocked with random Tupperware containers full of things I had once attempted to eat but that made me sick, so I put them in the freezer in hopes that they would someday seem palatable again. But seriously, it made me sick just to even open the freezer and see these things. The worst was this giant batch of kale I had been making for Christmas Eve dinner, when all of a sudden, the very first wave of nausea came over me and I was like, “I don’t think I can eat this.” Much less look at it. I put it in the freezer, and there it has stayed for these many months. That same wave of nausea washes over me every time I open the freezer now. After all this time, it’s not like I’d consider eating that ancient batch of kale, even if it suddenly sounded good. But the thought of actually touching that container… thawing it, running it down the garbage disposal… blecccccccccchhhhhhh. It was too overwhelming. I stood across the room with my hand over my face while Rob went through the freezer and I told him what to save (almost nothing) and what to throw out (practically everything). I went into our room and shut the door while he ran it down the garbage disposal. When it was finally over, the freezer was amazing. Plenty of room to store breast milk for Fig (assuming that I can figure out how to use the breast pump). The only drawback is that the whole kitchen smelled like ancient kale, among other things. I frantically poured baking soda down the garbage disposal and then lit a candle—momentarily forgetting that the smell of a lit match also makes me sick. But eventually it passed, and I must say I am super thrilled to have all that junk out of the freezer.

Sunday 19 July 2009
It was the first big stage in the Alps of the Tour de France this year, and Rob and I got up early to watch it. I tried to rally myself into feeling better. It didn’t work too well, but I powered through.

Some girl-friends here in town were throwing me a baby shower brunch at the Courier Café. It was fabulous! It was really, really great to see everybody and have such a good time. Even though I didn’t feel so great before the shower, I felt pretty good while it was going on. It really helps to be around friends who tell you that you look great and not that you look huge ☺. Everybody had brought something for Fig, even though I had requested “No gifts please,” so now Fig has even more cute, tiny things. So thank you to everybody who came to the shower—especially those who came from out of state!—and especially thank you to Cara for putting it together!!

After the shower I kind of crashed for a while, but eventually rallied myself for some more nesting. Rob and I washed the windows, both indoors and out. It actually took a lot of effort, because I’m not sure if we had ever washed the windows since we’ve lived here. But now they are so clean and clear that I fully expect birds to crash into them.

In the evening, it was time for our second and final childbirth class. The effort of the baby shower and window-washing had left me feeling pretty wretched, and it didn’t help that inside the classroom, there was a big bowl of popcorn everybody was helping themselves to. Another long 3 hours I had to breathe into my sleeve because I couldn’t stand the smell. Probably because of the popcorn and nausea, I didn’t care for this class as well as I had the first one. Plus it was more medically oriented and even included a tour of the hospital (which is not the hospital I will be giving birth in). I was pleased that they at least paid lip service to some of the risks involved with many of the routine medical interventions used, and we watched another video of a natural childbirth—this one even more graphic than the first—and I was proud of Rob for not passing out. We practiced slow breathing and fast breathing again—the latter, I still can’t figure out why on earth I would use it. I didn’t do it nearly as fast as I was supposed to, and I still managed to drive myself into the initial stages of hyperventilating—you know, when your hands start to curl under and everything starts going black and fuzzy. After that I stuck to slow breathing.

But at any rate, it’s done. The nurse who taught the class proudly proclaimed us all graduates. Maybe I would have felt more triumphant if the room didn’t reek of popcorn. In all, I feel like the childbirth class was another one of those “cover your ass” things… you take it just to say that you’ve taken it, and everybody can feel like you have at least pretended to get prepared. There wasn’t really anything new that I learned in the class (aside from the fact that it’s okay to breathe through your mouth if your nose is stuffy), and like I said after last time, simply reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth was infinitely more helpful.

So Baby Week draws to a close at Casa de Ragfield. Will sign off now for a long day of nausea and revising Chapter 8 of my dissertation. Thanks for reading.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Baby Week, Part 2

Recounting the events of Monday 13 July 2009…
So. After my 32 week prenatal appointment, I had been very frustrated with my current situation and was strongly considering switching health care providers. I talked to the yoga moms who had had their babies with the midwives I was considering switching to. I talked to my doula. I made lists of pros and cons. I made a lot of phone calls. I found out that I could do it if I really wanted, and I even made an appointment with the other midwives, just in case. The only problem was that they couldn’t work me in until the end of July—when I would be 37 weeks pregnant. I was very uncomfortable with this, but I was also very uncomfortable with how things had gone at my last appointment and how I had felt that unnecessary and perhaps problematic interventions were going to be forced on me if I stayed in my current situation. I didn’t sleep very well during this whole process.

I knew I’d have to make the final decision on Monday, when I went back for my 34-week appointment and actually saw the OB in charge of the practice for the first time. I was really nervous about this, and I made Rob go with me to the appointment. It actually ended up going remarkably well. When I met Dr. T, I actually kind of liked her. She didn’t seem unreasonable, and she didn’t seem to be unsupportive of natural childbirth. I didn’t agree with everything she said, but we were definitely able to have a very informed conversation about these issues. And I liked the fact that she referenced her statements with research on the topic, instead of just assuring me I was supposed to believe her. She did seem to brush off my mention of the study that showed most first time mothers give birth closer to 41 weeks instead of 40 weeks, but what was more important to me was that she maintained that the decision would be mine about whether or not to induce, should it come to that. Unless she was bald-faced lying to me, I really didn’t feel that she would unnecessarily pressure me into an induction or that she would break my water without my consent (my doula had revealed that Dr. T had actually done this to one of her former clients, who was livid about it). So in the end, I decided to stay the course. In all likelihood, Dr. T won’t even be there when Fig is born, because unless there is some major problem, the midwife will catch the baby. And if there is some major problem, at that point, I probably won’t care who’s there and what they have to do to me. At any rate, I’m not 100% comfortable with the whole situation, but in the end I know that I am more comfortable with staying the course than I would be with switching health care providers at 37 weeks pregnant.

Oh. And get this. Despite the fact that I feel and look huge (and am regularly told how huge I am by… everybody), I had not gained any weight since my last appointment (I think I actually lost an ounce, but whatever), AND they measured my midsection for the first time and found that I am measuring right on track. Ha. So TAKE THAT, church lady who told me I’m huge. I am right where I am supposed to be.

Baby Week continued on Monday evening with a Breastfeeding class offered by one of the local hospitals. I think I would have found the class more favorable if Our Nausea hadn’t been attacking me full force. It didn’t help that the people sitting next to us had a cup of coffee (oh the horrors) and somebody across the room had brought in a Subway sandwich (oh the horrors), both of which made me have to cover my face with my hands just to try to breathe without inhaling the stench. The breastfeeding class itself I suppose was okay, but I really didn’t find it all that useful. For the first hour or so, they talked about the benefits of breastfeeding to mothers and babies, and they experienced various technical difficulties with audio-visual aids designed to help illustrate these points. Maybe it was the stench of coffee and Subway, but I was extremely agitated and just wanted to scream, “Really? REALLY?? Does anybody not know this stuff already and is it really necessary to spend an hour talking about it??” After the class as I was relaying my frustrations to Rob, he pointed out that perhaps I was better informed than most people on the subject, since half of my dissertation is about lactation. Oh. Good point. But still. What I really needed from the class was not so much why you should breastfeed, but rather, how to actually do it. It seems to be a big struggle for a lot of people, and it would have been a lot more helpful to me to hear more about what to do if you encounter problems, rather than the statement “Did you know that breastfeeding your baby can help you lose your pregnancy weight” like 10 times. But again. It was probably the smell of coffee and Subway that was rubbing on my nerves. And it was actually helpful during the few minutes when we got to practice different types of “holds” (ie., the “football hold” and the “cross cradle hold”) with a kind of freaky looking doll-baby named Samantha (it was embroidered on her outfit).

Stay tuned for the rest of Baby Week. (It will be riveting, I’m sure).

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Baby Week: Part 1 (long)

We’re knee deep into Baby Week here at Casa de Ragfield. Flanked by 2 baby showers, we’re also doing childbirth classes, a breastfeeding class, and an infant CPR class this week. Oh and for good measure, I also threw in a pre-natal appointment. Add our 8-year wedding anniversary to the mix, and all this seriously cuts into our Tour de France viewing time. Luckily Rob is recording the whole thing, but I am so far behind right now that I’m not even sure I could tell you who’s in the lead.

The kick-off to baby week actually happened last Friday afternoon, when we headed back to P-town. A good friend was getting married on Saturday, and since a lot of our group would be in town for that, Amy had organized a baby shower for Sunday. A double baby shower, to be exact. Two of us from the old Dunlap crowd are expecting babies at around the same time!

The wedding on Saturday was lovely, even though I observed it from beneath a thin haze of nausea. Being with my friends helped distract me from the feeling that I was going to puke, and I had a really great time. Except that I got sooooooo sick of random strangers asking me when the baby was due and inquiring about my health. When I said my due date (August 21), the universal reaction was an expression of shock and horror, with some variant of the comment, “You’re huge!” and some statement regarding their disbelief that I had so much longer left to go. I damn near punched a church-lady in the face for saying that to me. As the night wore on, I found myself answering that the baby was due in 2 weeks; gradually, I changed that to “any day now,” and then finally, I got so I just replied that my due date was “yesterday.” Seriously. My friends were all wonderful, telling me how great I looked, but somehow, all I could focus on was the dumbasses who couldn’t shut up about how big I was.

Sunday 12 July—Baby Shower #1 and childbirth class
I slept off my nausea and frustration and actually felt a little bit better on Sunday when it was time to head to Avanti’s (an Italian restaurant) for the shower. I know, I know, it makes no sense that I would have a baby shower at an Italian restaurant when my nausea makes me have a death wish against the sight, smell, or even thought of tomato sauce, garlic, onions, and melted cheese. But Avanti’s has seriously amazing bread, and they do a veggie gondola sandwich that actually has been sounding good to me for a few weeks.

The crowd all assembled and a fantastic double-baby shower ensued! Our friends got us some really nice and thoughtful gifts, but the best part of course, was just getting to see everybody! Amy also had gotten blank birthday cards for Fig and for my friend Ashley’s baby, and then had all of our friends write messages and decorate them, so it will be sort of like a time capsule. I’m really excited about this. As long as I don’t lose the cards, Fig now already has a card to open on his/her birthday for the next 18 years! I can just picture it when Fig turns about 13. “God, mom, why did you used to call me Fig?? How lame!” Hopefully it won’t come to that.

Baby shower

Cake made by Crissy
Baby cakes. Each section was a different flavor!

Melissa & Ashley
Two cute pregnant ladies. I maintain that red shoes are an appropriate accompaniment to any outfit.

After the baby shower, we rushed back to C-U for our childbirth class that evening. I hadn’t really been sure what to expect. It’s a class through one of the hospitals in town, and I didn’t know how useful it would really be. Two of the yoga moms and one labor and delivery nurse have told me that the hospital classes don’t really prepare you for a natural, unmedicated childbirth, but my doula and midwife both said I should take it. In all honesty, I thought the class was pretty good. The instructor was kind of a hoot, but I think she acted that way to try to make people laugh and keep everyone calm so that we wouldn’t be stressed out about the process of giving birth. It was also really refreshing because this first class was all about breathing and other non-medicated ways of dealing with labor. The one useful thing I learned was that it is okay to breathe out of your mouth. A lot of books and especially in yoga class, they always tell you to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. This has created a lot anxiety for me, because my nose is almost always stuffed up, which makes things difficult. The instructor of this class specifically stated, if your nose is stuffy, go ahead and breathe in through your mouth, no big deal. Right then and there, I started breathing easier.

It was also refreshing because a lot of what we talked about in this class was in line with Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, which up to this point, has been my major source of information. Maybe for some of the other people in the class, it was all new information, but for me at least, it was nice to have some reinforcement for Ina May’s ideas. I think that maybe the class was even more useful for Rob than it was for me. (I’m not sure what he thinks about that). They told him stuff to do and how to do it. I really do feel that the one thing I’ve got going for me in all of this is Rob. He is like the most mellow person in the universe, and he is very good at calming me down when I am freaking out or agitated. I would never have finished the “Run for the Ranch” marathon (my 6th) in 2007 if not for him. He saw how bad I was struggling, and he ran the last 9 miles of it with me, every step of the way. Not only did he help me from getting lost (it was dark, the course markers were difficult to see, and I was stark-raving mad from dehydration and glycogen depletion), but he kept me from thinking about all the miles that still lay ahead of me and instead just focus on getting through one step at a time. I distinctly remember him telling me that I didn’t have to go fast—time didn’t matter anymore—I just had to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and eventually I would make it to the finish line. So that’s what I did. And when it was all over, he took me inside and got me a brownie.

I am immensely comforted by the fact that I have Rob, but I am, of course, still freaked out by a lot of things. Mainly, I don’t really have a method. Most people who are successful at natural childbirth have done a lot of preparation—Hypnobirthing, The Bradley Method, Birthing from Within, etc. I’ve actually found out that some of these classes are available in my area, but you kind of have to go underground to find them, and at any rate, I’m way too close to my due date to start anything now. If I’d known about these options in the beginning, I probably would have done one of the classes, but unfortunately, the information was not readily available. So at this point, all I’ve got is my doula, pre-natal yoga, Rob, the hospital birth class, and Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. Oh, and years of running marathons, plus stubbornness to the extreme (though I’m not really sure whether to count these latter two as part of my assets or not).

Another major thing I’m freaked out about is the nausea. I’d kind of been thinking that, you know, the nausea would go away at some point, but by now, it’s pretty evident that it’s not. So when I go into this thing, I feel like I’m already going to start it compromised. And god forbid if Rob has eaten anything containing cheese, garlic, onions, jalepeños, pickles, or tomato sauce within a week of my labor. We did this thing in class that they called the “labor dance”—where you sort of hang on your husband and sway during a contraction (or “rush,” as Ina May calls them). It was really nice, but let’s put it this way (no offense, honey), I was only too acutely aware that Rob had eaten pizza bread at Avanti’s for lunch.

At any rate, this post has gone on far too long already. Stay tuned for the continuing saga of who is going to catch this baby, when I write about the decision I made at my pre-natal appointment on Monday. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

8 years

It’s hard to believe another year has gone by. Despite the fact that Rob and I have now been married for 8 years (and known each other for 12), it still feels like we’re rushing into this whole “having a baby” thing. The past several months have honestly been very difficult, largely because of the never-ending nausea and the ensuing problems it has caused. Let’s just leave it at that and remember some happier times. Here are a few selections from the “1000 Reasons I Love Rob” list:

6. You wear a safari hat to mow the lawn.
31. You’re a feminist.
109. You have gone through the drive-thru at the bank while on your bike.
118. You look really cool in sunglasses.
179. You gave my extra rice to a homeless man in San Francisco.
187. You fixed all the ceiling fans.
188. You’re too cool for Facebook.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hospital tour

So last week in the midst of my ongoing frustrations with my OB/midwife, Rob and I finally went and took a tour of the hospital where I have to give birth. I think that Rob thought taking this tour would actually cheer me up, because he didn’t believe it could possibly be as bad as I’d envisioned. Plus, he suggested that we ride our bikes over there, probably thinking that I would feel empowered just knowing that at 32+ weeks pregnant, I could still do that. And it was pretty empowering to ride over to the hospital, except for the fact that I had not taken the time to change out of the billowy skirt I’d been wearing that day (and was thus hampered by my wardrobe) and also because Rob rides about 10 mph faster than someone whose legs hit her belly with each pedal stroke. But I made it there on my trusty steed, Iris II, and I wondered if I was the only pregnant woman in North America who had ever ridden her bike to tour the hospital where she would give birth. (Well, it wouldn’t surprise me if Aimee has too ☺ )

It is a Catholic hospital, and let it suffice to say that I am not Catholic. When we walked in, we were greeted by a giant crucifix, which I suppose would have been comforting to someone who is Catholic (but as I have mentioned, I am not). Once we were on the elevator up to the Labor and Delivery Unit, I was assailed by the odor of the hospital, which to me smelled like thrown-up vegetable soup (I am quite familiar with this scent) chased with some sort of alcohol-based cleaning solution. Great, I thought. I will have to give birth with my hand over my nose the whole time so that I don’t have to smell this stench. But once we got up to Labor and Delivery, I didn’t notice the thrown-up vegetable soup smell so much anymore—it was overpowered by the antiseptic/cleaning solution smell, which under the circumstances, was the lesser of two evils.

The nurse who gave us the tour was really nice, which was by far the highlight of the experience. I hope she’s working the night (I assume it will be night) when I have Fig. But who knows. And true to Rob’s hopes, it really wasn’t as bad as I’d thought it would be. It still wasn’t great though. It seemed like a very sad, dark place, even though one of the nurses was friendly and cheerful (the other nurses didn't seem particularly so). She showed me the bed where I would presumably be lying down to give birth and the fetal monitors I would have to be hooked up to. She assured me that I would be “allowed” to have plenty of mobility, except for the 20 minutes of every hour I would have to lie down and be monitored. We didn’t get to see the “Jacuzzi,” but she confirmed that there was one and that I would be able to use it if I wasn’t on pitocin or didn’t have an epidural. I asked her if I could do a waterbirth and actually have the baby in the tub, even though I already knew the answer. The website for the hospital clearly “advertises” waterbirth, but my doula—as well as two yoga moms who have given birth there—assured me that they make you get out of the tub to actually have the baby. The nurse said she did not know if you can give birth in the tub (my guess is because most patients have pitocin and epidurals and so the tub is actually used very rarely), but she asked another nurse who confirmed that you have to get out of the tub before giving birth. They did tell me, though, that I’d still be able to use the tub after my water broke—which is encouraging, because I’ve heard that some hospitals prohibit that.

Oh and get this. The nurse told us that I would be allowed to eat and drink whatever I wanted during labor. I couldn’t believe it! Two doulas, my midwife, and various women who have given birth there have assured me that all food and beverages are strictly prohibited once you walk in the hospital door. The doula I hired even told me that she had a system worked out whereby she sneaks her clients sustenance while the nurses aren’t looking (One of the main reasons why I hired her). So what is the deal? Maybe it depends on who’s working (another reason why I hope that this particular nurse is on duty), I don’t know. I just want to avoid being tied down with an IV (I will still be required to have a hep lock though), which would surely be necessary if I wasn’t even allowed to drink anything. Nonetheless, it is slightly encouraging.

So we left the hospital tour, and though it wasn’t terrible, Rob and I were not really on the same page about it. I think he thought it was pretty good, whereas I thought, I guess I can handle this, but I’m still going to keep the bathtub scrupulously scrubbed just in case we don’t “make it” in time.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Another post about what I'm REALLY thinking

For the past 32 weeks, my impression (perhaps a naive impression) has been that my midwife is pretty low-key and down to earth and on board with as intervention-free of a birth as possible. At my appointment on Monday, I pinned her down with some nitty-gritty questions, her responses to which made me sob hysterically all the way home and for the rest of the day (didn't get much work done on my dissertation, needless to say). To make matters worse, I am blaming myself for not previously being a “difficult patient” and not wanting to seem accusatory by bringing up these topics and voicing my opinions.

I asked her how long after my due date I would be “allowed” to go before they told me I "had" to be induced. I basically just wanted to confirm that it was 42 weeks (that seems to be the going standard, even in the more conservative childbirth books/websites). But my midwife replied that the OB in charge of the practice would not “let me” go past 41 weeks. FORTY-ONE WEEKS. Why the whole week early, I asked, given that the 40 week “due date” is really only an approximation and can vary as much as 2 weeks either way. Meaning, that realistically, the baby could be ready as early as 38 weeks, or not until 42.

And she played the “dead baby card.” She gave me this spiel about how after 40 weeks, the placenta deteriorates, the baby stops getting nutrients, stops growing, and will die without the heroic intervention of an obstetrician.

Okay. These things are legitimately terrifying and can happen. But the information I have found about it (including an article published in Obstetrics and Gynecology by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, for crying out loud) at least say that it’s not a risk until after 42 weeks, and there are no benefits to inducing labor (in an otherwise healthy pregnancy) prior to that point. Even at the 42-week mark, it’s not like these terrible things are necessarily going to happen. You can be monitored with NSTs (non-stress tests) to see if the baby is doing okay or not. If the placenta starts to show signs of deterioration, then fine, go ahead and induce. If not, then there’s no reason to.

Plus, as I was saying, the estimate for 40 weeks is a total crap shoot. It’s not a magic number. In fact, the average gestation length for first time mothers who go into labor without medical intervention is 41.5 weeks (I've found the abstract for this article, but unfortunately the library will not allow me to access the entire publication: Mittendorf et al, 1990). An option, I will, apparently, not be given.

My midwife may have gotten her first indication that I could end up being a “difficult” patient. She seemed sympathetic, yet bound to clinical protocol outlined by the OB in charge of the practice. She said that “if” I make it to 40 weeks, I could legally decline the induction that Dr. T would surely press, but once I got to 41 or 41.5 (what is apparently the norm for first time mothers), Dr. T wasn’t going to like it, and there wouldn’t be a possibility of going a day over 42. Plus, my midwife admitted she had never actually seen a woman go over the 41 week mark and wasn’t entirely sure of the protocol beyond that point. Which is an even bigger what the %@#$ than everything else she had told me. She said that most women are very uncomfortable by that time and are eager for induction. THE HELL. I have been uncomfortable and vomiting for the last SEVEN AND A HALF MONTHS. And I would take any amount of “discomfort” over A SINGLE DROP OF PITOCIN.

She went on to mention the various “natural” induction methods that I could begin trying AT 37 WEEKS. 37 weeks? Are you #*&^%$# kidding me? Of course I am familiar with the natural induction methods; I have made it my responsibility to educate myself about these things. But it’s not going to work at 37 weeks if the baby is not ready!

One of the quasi-natural methods that she said we could do would be to strip my membranes. “But can’t this cause the water to break sometimes?” was my response. And she admitted that yes, it could, especially if she herself wasn’t available and Dr. T did the stripping (apparently Dr. T is “rough”). At which point I would be given only 18 hours to go into labor and have the baby. Because after your water breaks, that increases the risk of the baby getting some infection, so they only give you a certain amount of time before they cut the baby out. “But wouldn’t the risk of infection be very low if I declined having repeated cervical exams during that time?” I asked. Well yes, she said. But still. To Cover Her Own Ass, the OB would have to get the baby out (my words, not my midwife's).

The appointment concluded with her telling me not to worry about all this stuff… I still have plenty of time (though apparently less than 5 weeks before I need to start trying to “induce” myself “naturally”). Plus, she said that because I am so physically active, that would probably help speed things along. That’s a nice thought and all, but if Fig doesn't come "early", I am not looking forward to the stress of an arbitrary deadline being breathed down my neck during my final weeks/days of pregnancy.

The bottom line is, I don’t want to be induced for no reason. Supposedly about 1/3 of all pregnancies these days are induced, but the thing is, if the baby is not ready to come, it is not going to come—no matter how much pitocin they jack you up with. That’s why about 50% of inductions supposedly end in c-sections. In my own experience, I know a lot of people who have been induced, or at least augmented with pitocin, and for the most part, it went pretty well and a c-section wasn’t necessary. And even if it was, everything still turned out okay. So I realize that the natural birth advocates can be just as fear mongering (i.e., pitocin/epidurals are evil and will mess up your baby and you’ll end up with a c-section that doesn’t heal properly and you’ll never be able to breastfeed) as the Cover Your Ass OB’s. So it’s hard to sort out the truth in all of this. I realize that the scary stuff doesn’t always happen once you begin the cascade of medical interventions… it just makes it more likely. And I'm not saying that there aren't legitimate medical reasons to induce labor sometimes... of course there are conditions that make induction the best course of action for the baby. But 30% of all pregnancies? It needs to be considered on a personal basis, rather than a blanket policy. As long as Fig and I are both healthy, just let Fig come when Fig wants to come. Even if it’s past 41 weeks.

You know what’s pathetic? Health care practitioners don’t inform you about the risks associated with unnecessary inductions. Not even that the supposedly innocuous tactic of “stripping the membranes” could cause your water to break and end up with you “needing” a c-section for “failing” to give birth within their specified time frame. They certainly don’t tell you what jacking your body up with pitocin will do. So there is no way that women can be expected to make an informed decision about their health and the health of their baby when they haven’t actually been informed. Thankfully, I have access to a plethora of medical journals and I can look up this information myself (even though some of it is drastically biased), but most people don’t have that kind of access. The way I feel, if there truly is a medical emergency, then absolutely, do what is necessary. But if the medical emergency was created by a cascade of completely unnecessary and entirely avoidable interventions, then that is inexcusable.

I’m trying to decide if I should switch health care providers (if that is even possible this late in the game) or if it would even be worth it (i.e., the one other practice our insurance covers may very well have the same non-evidence based policy as Dr. T). I’ve finally calmed myself down enough to decide to wait to do anything until I talk to my doula (who is unfortunately out of town for a few days) because she definitely has the low down on all the local health care providers and can help me sort through my options.

I just want to make it clear that I am not intending to be judgemental of anybody's personal experiences and I really hope that I haven't come across this way. The whole situation makes me very angry, but certainly NOT at anybody who has had the type of medical interventions I've described as wanting to avoid. I wouldn't EVER tell anybody what to do about their body or their baby, and I wouldn't pretend to know what is best for another woman in another situation. Ultimately, I think that health care practitioners need to provide ALL the appropriate information to women who are trying to make a decision for themselves and their babies and to actually do what is in the patients' best interest. I know that I'm cynical and jaded, but it just doesn't seem right that sometimes what is the "safest" (or perhaps most convenient?) course of action for the health care provider is not necessarily what is best for the mother and baby. And I really don't understand why that is.

Thanks for reading.