Friday, June 19, 2009

Unsolicited Advice

Yesterday a friend warned me against my plan of having a natural childbirth. Granted, she recently experienced a natural birth and I have no idea what it's like, but it was also against her will. She never wanted to have a natural birth. She wanted drugs immediately, but her labor had progressed too far for her to have them. This birth experience went against her birth plan. Already, based on attitude alone, that's not the experience that I would have had.

We've only told a few people about the pregnancy so far. I can't imagine how much "advice" I'm going to get once we're completely out of the closet. Everyone thinks their way is the best way and they just have to pass it on, even if you don't ask. I'm sure it's only just begun. When pregnancy ends, "help" with parenting styles begin.

When people try to tell me that I don't really want what I want, it just pisses me off. These people do not have access to my brain. They have no idea what I think, and it's not my job to sway them to my side. I have no interest in doing that. All women have a unique pregnancy and birth experience. Sure, there are similarities, but I'm talking about the total package. No two pregnancies and births are alike, even for the exact same woman. I don't want to hear how there's no way you could have gotten through birth without an epidural. I don't need my choices to be countered by your horror stories or condescending "you just have no idea" pats on the shoulder.

I'm not saying that I want to live in a vacuum with no advice or information. I do want to know what other women have experienced...IF I ASK THEM. And frankly, if our attitudes toward birth (or parenting or politics or TV or whatever) are at completely opposite poles, guess what? I'm probably not going to ask. If we're not starting out even close to being on the same page, their experience will probably have little relevance to mine. Beliefs, attitudes, perceptions...all of these things play a role in medical or health issues and in life.

It's not like I'm super hardcore on my natural childbirth choice, that there's absolutely no way I would ever have an epidural. Ideally, that is what I would like. I want to do it drug free. But I'm not going to completely close myself off to medicinal pain management if I feel like I really need it. There are just other things I want to try first (hanging out in the tub, walking and moving around a lot...things I couldn't do with an epidural). In an ideal world, that will be enough for me. We'll see how it works out.

I would like to talk to some women who have had a natural childbirth and were happy with their choice. I feel like it's kind of hard to find those women, because we're pretty much taught to fear childbirth and many women wouldn't even consider having a baby without an epidural. I'm scared too, but I think that talking to women who have a more positive view of childbirth will help.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Week 8

Here are the big things (including my breasts) that have been going on lately.

I had to buy new bras...that were 2 cup sizes and 1 band size bigger than what I had been wearing! I told the saleswoman that I wanted something comfortable and supportive, and that I'd like to avoid underwire if possible. I had tried a new bra the week before, and while it fit fine in the morning, by afternoon the underwire was carving an unwelcome design into my skin and making my life miserable. She suggested the Wacoal Awareness Wireless bra and it's working for me so far.

My jeans have become tighter and more uncomfortable. I can still button some of them, but the result is something that muffin top doesn't even begin to describe. I decided that American Apparel was going to be my new BFF. Bring on the yoga pants, long tanks for layering, leggings, and soft jersey skirts with expandable waistlines!

On Tuesday I had my first prenatal appointment. I really liked the Certified Nurse Midwife that I met with, but unfortunately she isn't part of the practice and was just filling in for someone who was on maternity leave. The practice consists of four CNMs, and Drew and I will meet and get to know each one during my pregnancy. This visit consisted mostly of a long Q&A. We were really happy with her answers to our questions about the "rules" of labor under the care of the practice. I am free to move around during labor (a.k.a., not constantly attached to an IV or fetal monitor), I can eat or drink during labor if I want, and I am encouraged to give birth in the position that is most "comfortable" and natural for me. These are some of the questions we had after watching The Business of Being Born

She also told us about this cool option that they have for prenatal appointments called Centering Pregnancy. Instead of traditional appointments, you meet on your scheduled day with a group of about eight pregnant women (and their partners, if they'd like to come) who are due at the same time that you are. Each of you have your private time with the CNM, then you meet as a group for a long Q&A discussion session. It sounds like a great way to meet other women or couples and build a community support system. We're really excited to try it out. Our first appointment is July 29th. 

Yesterday, I scheduled an ultrasound and labwork for my integrated screening test that will check for the likelihood of Down Syndrome and other genetic issues. Once we have the results of these tests, we'll decide if we want to pursue further testing. This will happen on July 2nd. I'm kind of nervous about it because of my "advanced maternal age," but mostly I've been feeling pretty positive and trying not to dwell on possibilities. I'm going in with the attitude that my baby is healthy, and happy from all the root beer he or she has been begging for. Yes, this is a new thing. I hardly ever drank soda before my pregnancy.

That wraps up the big things for now. The journey continues...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Pregnancy Books

The day after I took my home pregnancy test, I rushed to the Baby Center website and began reading all about pregnancy. I'm a book person, so I was excited that it was time to start reading pregnancy books and find out about all of the things I used to think that I never wanted to know.

I'm reading a few right now. The first one is the one that everyone reads, according to their marketing anyway, What to Expect When You're Expecting: 4th Edition. It's interesting to see what's going on with your body and your baby each week, and what different fruit your baby morphs into. As my husband says, "Why does everyone want to eat our baby?" I'm in Week 7, so my baby is the size of a blueberry. Some people have problems with this book. I've heard that it's "too scary" and that it talks about issues that hardly ever happen and tends to freak women out. I haven't had that experience so far, but I'm also skipping over things that don't apply to me. If it's not happening right now (or I'm not interested in learning about it), there's no need to read it.

I'm also reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. I've only read the first section of this book so far, which is a bunch of women's birth stories. It's pretty cool, but I have to admit that I got a little bored and didn't read all of them. It was nice to read stories of real women and what they actually went through in labor, emotionally and physically. I'm not giving birth at The Farm (and unfortunately, I might be too afraid to NOT give birth in a hospital), but it does sound fascinating and I'm kind of envious of some of these women and the experience that they got to have there.

The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy is my absolute least favorite so far. I've actually been offended by it a few times, and I'm not even halfway through it. It comes across as very pro-obstetrician and anti-midwife, but in a condescending way. I mean, there's basically one paragraph devoted to midwifery, followed by a How to Choose Your Obstetrician section with an annoying introduction that says something like, "You see how we've chosen for you to use an Obstetrician instead of a Midwife?" Ugh. It also tends to portray the husband or male significant other as a bumbling boob who can't understand or deal with anything, which is definitely not the case in my relationship. I love you, Sweetie. Also, the author appears to think you're insane if you want a natural childbirth. It seems like she's more comfortable with a scheduled C-section than anything in the natural realm. If this is your "girlfriend," who needs enemies? From what I've read to this point, I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone, and I'm not sure if I'll even bother finishing it.

This is a book that is on my "to read" list: Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation. There's also an accompanying website, which lists classes or workshops in your area. My husband found out about this during his pregnancy and birth research. See, not a bumbling boob. It seems to have a very "woman power" kind of vibe, and I like that.

Which pregnancy or parenting books have you read and enjoyed? I'm always looking for new ones to add to my list, so please pass them on!