Made in Toronto – The Birth Story

*As this is a birth story and I’m notsogood at withholding details, here’s your first and last warning that you may read a bit more about pain and body fluids than you’d prefer. Also it’s super long. Read on at your own risk.*

We left off with my water breaking, but I’m going to back us up a bit, just for context.

The Friday before I went into labor, I felt really off. Nothing I could put my finger on, just not really great. It was my grandmother’s birthday and everyone wanted me to go by to see her. I was waffling, but MFH really encouraged me to go. So I went, and my mother was there. She’d flown up from Houston for my grandmother’s birthday and my baby shower, keeping it a secret from me and my grandparents.

Suddenly, I was convinced that I was going to go into labor that night. I barely slept and every twinge had my pulse and blood pressure up. I didn’t want to ruin the shower for everyone, especially now that Mom was in town. I truly believe that I willed myself out of labor. I also willed myself out of some much needed rest.

Anywhoddle, the shower was amazingly lovely, and having Mom around made everything that much better. It’s odd to think that, had she not come up, she wouldn’t have felt Spawn move behind the belly. She flew back home Sunday.

And so it began…

At 3:54am on Monday, Feb 10th, I woke up to a pop-pop-pop-gush. Despite my constant eye-rolling at Hollywood’s portrayal of the Preggo’s water breaking before labor starts (something that happens less then 10% of the time in “real life”), that’s exactly what happened to me. I was 38 weeks and 1 day.

I quickly and quietly got myself into the bathroom without leaking on the bed or the floor. (Thanks to years of super heavy periods, I’m quite skilled at walking without moving my thighs.) I was so thankful for my decision to purchase Depends. Seriously, running around at that hour trying to locate a sizable pare of underpants and equip it with an assortment of pads to control the leaking was not something I could manage. Also, later on the nurses were so impressed/thankful I had some with me. Their words? “Oh, Depends are the BEST. We should seriously give them out to everyone, but they’re too expensive for the hospital.”

So I called M1, hanging out in my T-shirt and Depends. Because my fluid was clear, I was GBS negative, I wasn’t having any contractions, and it was four in the morning, we decided to to try to sleep and catch up around 9:30. Of course, as soon as I laid down, contractions started. They weren’t very long or close together, but it was enough to keep me from drifting off. Then by around 6, they’d picked up.

I chose to let MFH sleep in through all of this until his alarm for work would go off. I didn’t see any real point in having both of us walking around bleary eyed. Plus, it just seemed silly to have him up watching me walk around.

I started timing my contractions and was surprised to find that they were consistently 3-4 minutes apart. What wasn’t consistent was the pain level or duration of the contractions. I wasn’t exactly sure what this meant. Nor was I positive that it was okay that my (constantly leaking) amniotic fluid had turned pink.

MFH got up and I told him he wouldn’t be going to work. We sorted out last minute details, he took a shower and got dressed, and he got set up to time my contractions for me. I felt them as period cramps. Sometimes they were minorly annoying, but other times they reminded me of the old days when I used to pass out from the pain. I never really felt the hard-core tightening of the top of my uterus. I think that part of my core is just too numb from years of over use. :p

I noticed right away that my contractions were much more manageable while I was on my feet. Particularly, I felt like they were much easier while walking around. (Honestly, I think running would have been awesome, but not sure I would have been able to manage that throughout the whole labor.) I looked at MFH and made a rather unexpected declaration, “If they make me stayed in bed, hooked up to the machines, I’m getting an epidural.” MFH didn’t bat an eyelash and nodded, “That’s fair.”

By the time 9:30 came around, M1 agreed it would be worth it to go to the hospital and check on my status.

We met up at 10:30 in triage. I was super bummed to only be 1 cm dilated, but happier that I was almost entirely effaced. They wanted me on an IV, and ordered blood work to confirm that my hypertension hadn’t creeped into pre-eclampsia. A debate went on to determine if I was officially in the care of a midwife or OB. OB won out, but only because of compensation…which…kinda pissed both MFH and I off. Regardless, M1 assured me she wasn’t going anywhere.

When the OB on call came to talk to me, she told me I would be put on Pitocin (Oxytocin). Obviously, this was super bad news for me. I knew Pitocin was used to speed up labor, and I was on a clock due to the broken waters, but it still sucked to hear that. The OB also strongly wanted me on an epidural, because it would instantly lower my blood pressure. At this point, I knew I was going to be attached to the monitors, so I agreed, but I asked to wait. I did worry that the double-punch of Pitocin-Epidural would lead me into the direction of a c-section, but I didn’t exactly see how to avoid it. I said from the beginning; constant monitoring = epidural.

I was super surprised that M1 was all for the epidural. Her words, “In a normal pregnancy, you don’t need interventions. This isn’t normal, so things like an epidural make sense.” Awesome. No judgment.

My nurse, J, was young, super cute, and exceedingly funny.  She let me stand by the monitors rather than sit or lay in bed. I wanted to kiss her. We decided together to time the epidural for in between a few scheduled sections. In the meantime, I chatted and passed the time with M1, J, MFH and my MIL and SIL S.

The anesthesiologist came in to see me, and we chatted about procedure and risks. I can’t remember how it got started, but we started sharing OMG pregnancy tales. I told him and J about the ultrasound tech who told me that a woman had come in at 32 weeks, measuring large. Turns out, she was having twins. Surprise! The anesthesiologist then told a story about his friends who had 3 boys. They decided to try one more time for a girl. Bam! Triplet boys.

The process of the epidural itself was not my favorite. I didn’t have a problem with the staying bent over, but I did not care for the numbing agent he used before applying the needle. It felt like my back bubbled up like it was burnt. The vague screwing sensation of the epidural needle wasn’t particularly awesome either, still that was over soon enough. The catheter was threaded into the needle and into my back, and then the meds began. I was happy to still be able to feel my pelvic floor…something that perhaps I would come to regret later on, but at the time it was encouraging to me.

While in bed, I got visited by a bunch of people. OB-R came by after her surgery, and she seemed genuinely happy to have me go into labor spontaneously. Also, the midwife who taught our prenatal class came by to say hi. Perhaps the most humorous moment occurred when my hypertension specialist, who I’d been scheduled to meet for the first time swung by with her students.

I’d literally just been checked (can’t remember if I was 3 or 5 at that point, but everyone was happy with the progression) and they were getting ready to put in a catheter. So I’m all bottoms up to the world when hypertension doc came by. Despite the calls to halt by M1 and J, she just kept coming. So, M1 and J quickly covered me and the doc with her duckling row of students surrounded me.

M1 and J were so indignant on my behalf, I couldn’t help but find it funny. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was a bit of a Monty Python sketch. Still, that sort of stuff is always funnier when you’re surrounded by friends, right?

I had a new nurse, E, come in for the night shift, and she switched off all the lights and ordered MFH and I to rest. M1 went home, promising that M2 would come in for the birth. MFH and I slept off and on for awhile. Eventually I progressed to nine-and-a-bit. (Her words.) Spawn was still super high, though, so everyone agreed that I could sit up for a bit, to encourage Spawn to move down. This seemed to help, and got me to the rest of 10 cm rather fast.

M2 showed up and we talked about pushing. I was warned that pushing would likely be 2 to 3 hours. The night nurse went on break, and a wonderful older Chinese nurse, D, came in to cover.

Everyone kept telling me to let them know when I felt like pushing. I don’t know that I ever did. Mostly it was just a lot of pressure all around my pelvic girdle and coccyx. By this time, the epidural had more or less warn off, and I could really feel the aching in my lady muscles. I was encouraged to push without it, so I didn’t bother with a top up.

Pushing was a process. I would wait for a contraction, and then roll my back, put my chin to my chest, and used every core muscle I possessed to push. D counted to 9, I got to take a breath, and then we’d start again. They tried to get 2 or 3 pushes out of every contraction.

Let me tell you, it will be a very, very long time before I can hear counting and not think of labor. Seriously, it’s a very odd muscle memory. Looking forward to getting over that one…

I could feel the process of Spawn moving down. Mostly it was just feeling uncomfortable/full further and further into my pelvis. It wasn’t pain, not really, but M2 kept checking different areas inside me while all of this was going on. She hit one area and I lost it. Irrationally, I felt like her finger there was preventing me from getting this baby out. I started crying and lost about 3 or 4 contractions. Everyone talked me down off that ledge. (MFH later said that he didn’t even notice my “breakdown,” but to me it felt like it went on for a long time.)

M2 told me that all I had to do was get Spawn past that point of pain and it wouldn’t hurt any more. So that was my focus. Pushing past the pain. It worked, mostly, although the resting in between I got to feel the phenomenon of my body stretching open to allow Spawn’s head to move down. Spawn’s head actually was a little cocked to the side and had to be repositioned. M2 thought that might be why Spawn stayed so high for so long.

During all of this, I had a very strong thought of my mother. I felt like something had clicked or changed in me. I experienced what she had with me and my brother. And what my grandmother experienced with her children. I never quite got to the all mothers who gave birth everywhere point, but I definitely felt an innate kinship with all of motherhood.

I also felt such a massive amount of thanks for MFH. He was so excited and supportive throughout the whole thing. He just kept saying, “You’re doing so good.” He helped hold my shoulders up, and occasionally grabbed a leg. He’s never let me down, but this was a pinnacle of awesome. But I digress…

Finally, Spawn was through my pelvis and ready to come out. They called in the OB on call to help with the last bit. I felt Spawn stretching me, and everyone commented on the amount of hair on Spawn’s head.

M2 quickly started breathing, “He-he-heee,” at me. I remembered our prenatal class midwife saying that there was this point in labor, when you could really save yourself from tearing if you could just sort of hold the position and not push through. I realized that that was where I was, so I mirrored M2’s breathing and tried to not push, but not let Spawn fall back either.

And then shit got real. They dropped the bed down and M2 and the OB started shouting at one another. Apparently Spawn literally started twirling on the way out, so the two ladies were trying to figure out who was going to grab what and when. Having two sets of hands inside me while pushing out a baby was my second Monty Python moment of the birth. I was so confused as to what exactly was going on, I’m not even sure I actually did any help pushing. I remember thinking, “Uh…what on earth is going on?” And because no one was directing me otherwise, I gave a little push and then had a wet, purple newborn put on my chest.

Almost immediately Spawn picked up her head and looked at me. I’ve been told excessively in the last week and a bit that she is unusually strong, and while she doesn’t have great control of her neck, she can move her head more than I expected a newborn to be able to. I think there was a bit of a concern and they were about to take her away, but then she started screaming and everyone calmed down. MFH cut the cord and discovered that he now had a daughter.

I have no real sense of time, but eventually they took her away to clean her up and deal with me. I had to actually push again to deliver the placenta, something that annoyed me purely because I’d been told you don’t even notice it. M2 joked that it’s a lot easier when there are no bones. I eyed M2 and asked how bad it was. (The it, of course, being the status of my lady-bits.) I managed to get by without a perennial tear, so the hold-and-wait routine seemed to work. I did have a small laceration near my urethra, probably from M2 and the OB having to catch a spiraling baby, but that was handled without much fanfare.

Then I got my baby back. Despite her alien shaped head and vaguely purple appearance, she was perfect. The OB said she had great features. Maybe she says that about all babies, but I took it to mean Spawn was extra special.

Oh. I guess I should properly introduce Spawn, now that she’s officially a person on the outside…

We called her Chloé. Linda Anne after MFH and my mothers. So, without further ado…

Chloé Linda Anne

 

Hurry Up and Wait (Quick Little TMI)

Remember how I don’t really have any shame? It’s important that you remember that. Read on at your own risk.

I don’t have an induction date yet. I see my OB again tomorrow, and then Tuesday. Tuesday she’s supposed to check and see what state my cervix is in.

I’m not going to lie, I was really hoping she’d give me an actual date at this past Tuesday’s appointment. In fact, I was really bummed about it. I thought “hurry up and wait” left my life when I decided I was done with acting. Apparently it applies here as well…

For those of you blissfully unaware, hurry up and wait is your standard day on set. You get rushed around getting into makeup/costumes/places and then you hang around for hours while lights and other equipment is adjusted and people are moved around. You then shoot for twenty minutes or so, then everything gets rearranged for other angles. So you wait again. But God forbid you leave the area or grab a danish from the craft services table, because that’s the exact moment they’ll be ready to shoot and you’re not there. It’s either funny or incredibly annoying. Generally I went with funny, because it made it worth the effort.

So what does hurry up and wait have anything to do with my current situation?

Welp, I thought I had my first moment of incontinence this morning. Just a little trickle of moisture, but still. I’ve always been proud (perhaps weirdly proud) of my pelvic floor muscles, and I just assumed I’d manage to get through this pregnancy without peeing myself. I was disappointed, but figured I’d pushed the issue by sleeping in with a full bladder.

Anyways went to the bathroom. Not pee. Bloody show. Looked exactly like all the books/boards say. (A large gob of snot with a line of blood in it.)

And the most annoying thing about losing some or all of my mucus plug? It’s hurry up and wait AGAIN.

I may go into labor today. I may also not go into labor until next week. Or I may get induced in order to go into labor. It’s this huge moment of action, and yet it basically only means I’m moving closer to labor. Which at 37 weeks + 4 days I already knew.

At least now I know my cervix actually is prepping for labor. It’s nice to know that when I get checked (and I’m hoping to move that up to tomorrow, rather than Monday), it’s not going to be high, hard, and closed.

It’s on.

Now we just have to hurry up and wait.

The Game Plan

So…

I’m having the worst sleep of my entire pregnancy, which explains why I’m up at five a.m. typing here rather than…you know, sleeping.

I guess it’s pretty indicative of my feelings. I have a lot of last minute things to deal with, and my brain is making me repeat them over and over again, rather than letting me just get some sleep.

I met with OB-R yesterday. My blood pressure was still high, so I’ve been diagnosed with Gestational Hypertension. She’s taking over my primary care, which I’m actually pretty okay with all around. I donno if it’s because I’m “hers” now or just because of the situation, but working with OB-R yesterday was so much better than the speed-daemon appointments from before.

I got some more blood work done (seriously, at this point, I should just have a hep-lock put in). Urine as well. I also had a surprise ultrasound to check on Spawn. Apparently the high blood pressure can hinder growth. Not Spawn though. As usual that kid is “perfect” and measuring in the 60th percentile. Oh, and Spawn has a ton of hair, apparently, as well. Now I keep wondering what colour it’s going to be…

Anyways, the real point of all this is that some big decisions were made.

The first of which is that I have been medically ordered off work. This is the hard one for me. It’s the reason I’m up right now. I didn’t finish my projects at work, because I had no idea when I left on Wednesday that it would be my last day there. So now I have a running list of things I have to delegate off to my assistants and hope they get done close to the time I originally scheduled them for.

Please understand that I recognize that fixating about this stuff isn’t helping on the path to lowering my blood pressure. Unfortunately, it’s in my nature. I’ve managed to convince myself that I can handle the coordination of all this via phone and email…but even that took awhile to convince myself. (I really just want to go into work one more day…)

But, according to OB-R, I am to be the laziest couch potato ever. She encouraged me to marathon Netflix. At least it’s not full bed rest.

Part two of the game plan is constant monitoring. I have an at home blood pressure machine now. I also have to have a medical professional check me out every two days or so. (Sunday I go in for another NST and blood work; Tuesday I’m back in OB-R’s office.) I have a list of signs and symptoms that mean I need to whisk myself off to the hospital. If those various things happen, obviously the timetable on the rest moves up.

As you may have guessed at this point, the last part of the game plan is an induction. 37 to 38 weeks was bandied about early on, but I think we’re aiming for 38 weeks. (After all, I’m 37 weeks on Sunday.) The GD and GH together is a placental issue. Basically, my placenta is working so hard to insure that Spawn gets all the oxygen and sugar rich blood it can, that it’s making me sick doing so. Once I deliver the placenta, poof, all of this disappears. So the idea is to find the point in which Spawn has gotten everything from me, while also making sure I don’t get a severe drop in my own health.

Literally we’re looking for when “better out then in” hits.

An induction was never going to be my ideal situation. I know the risks and the procedures and what the numbers say. Somehow, though, I’m content with it all. I suspected Spawn would come early. I just thought it would be on our terms. The fact that it will now be determined by a doctor isn’t so bad, though. As I said last time, there is a bigger picture to this than me wanting my birth my way. There is a baby that will soon be another member of the human race. A brand new person to learn and grow and be launched into this life of endless possibilities.

And more and more, I’m coming to the conclusion that birth is just the start of all that. If the induction works perfectly and starts natural labor, awesome. If it doesn’t and I need pitocin, I’ll deal with that as well. And if it all goes wonky and it comes down to a c-section, then that will be okay again.

Because at the end of birth? I want a baby. A live, screaming baby. And everything else? At this point, who really cares?

Wild

The past couple days have been so crazy and all over the place. I’m really still not quite sure which way’s up, and feel like I need a day or two to just rest and recover.

Saturday, MFH and I had Christmas with my father and MBJ. It was a lovely day, but as always when my father is involved, it was a bit chaotic as well. (He’s literally the only person I know who can leave shoes behind at someone else’s house and not realize it until you tell him.)

Sunday, MFH and I had planned on cooking meals for freezing (and eating postpartum), but MFH was in the mood for more, so he invited some friends over to tryout some new boardgames. The night went overlong, and we both got to bed far later than we should have.

I’d noticed a bit of swelling in my feet on Sunday, with the right being noticeably more than the left. I let my GD team know about it, and they looked me over with a sympathetic, “This is 9 months pregnant swelling. Nothing to worry about.” My handling of GD was also nothing to worry about, apparently. I’ve basically been released, with the caveat that I need to get retested three months postpartum to confirm I am free of diabetes then. One thing of note was that my blood pressure was “elevated.” As my appointment with my midwife was the next day, my endocrinologist just told me to mention it.

So yesterday I had my midwife appointment and my blood pressure was still elevated. I’d invited Dad to the appointment so he could hear the heartbeat, but looking back it wasn’t the greatest situation for him to be involved with. Much like Stan Smith, my father is not his best in crisis mode. He’s high-strung at the best of times, so having M1 suggest I go to the hospital for a NST and toxicity bloodwork was a bit like pressing the “launch nukes” button for him.

Luckily (for me), Dad had to be dropped off to get his car and come back to the hospital. So instead of him sitting there, vibrating with panic next to me, I got to hang out with M2 (and later M1) in a calm corner of the hospital. I was trying to explain to various parties yesterday why I was never scared. Even when M2 mentioned that, “Worse case, you’ll be breastfeeding in 3 hours,” I was fine. I realized then that I trust my midwives 100%. In the face of my literal worst case scenario (barring a stillbirth), I felt completely calm. C-section? Welp, if you say I have to have one, then I know I have to have one. It was a really wonderful feeling of calm and control even in the face of a possible emergency.

In the end, we’re all fine. Spawn’s NST was “perfect” (seriously, I’m starting to wonder about this kid). My bloodwork was mostly normal. The one number that was slightly elevated was so close to normal that the on-call OB theorized it could literally just be my normal.

Still, the initial problem of the elevated blood pressure remains a concern. As M2 said, “this type of thing generally doesn’t get better until you deliver the placenta.” M1 bandied about various options, all of which involve more monitoring, but nothing was decided. I was tired and everyone was happy to release me to go sleep in my own bed.

Today, hopefully, I find out the game plan. I may be transferred fully back into OB-R’s care. I find that a bit hysterical after I just got completely put back into the care of my midwives, but I’m less concerned about then I expected to be. (Again, my trust in my midwives is without compare.) Alternatives to that would be twice a week appointments or weekly blood and NSTs.

When I got home one of my preggo friends, AB, messaged me about getting together one last time before we all gave birth. I responded with info about my day, and how I wanted to hear from the midwives before I made any plans. She called me shortly after and shared her own “change of plans” story. AB’s baby is small, breach, and her amniotic fluid is low. So, even though she was due a few days after me, she’s now got a c-section scheduled for the 12th.

We basically just yammered about our petty disappointments lessening with the realization that these little guys (or girls) are going to be here sooner rather than later. Funny how that works.

I was so pleased she called me to share her own story. We really barely know one another, but it was surprising how much the conversation really showcased how important it is to have someone in the same situation in your life. (It doesn’t hurt that she’s a really fun girl that I genuinely like. Also–and this one is mostly for LC–she says “I KNOW!” like AP-Stats class. :p)

There are two major things that came out of this whole experience. First of all, as I mentioned when I started, I’m exhausted. I need a break. Seriously considering taking tomorrow off work if I don’t end up having appointments or what not on Friday. If that doesn’t help, I may have to reconsider this whole work until the very last second idea of mine. If I’m going to twice a week appointments or weekly appointments plus hospital visits for tests, that only leaves me with three full work days a week. Since the midwives, hospital, and OB-R’s office are all within walking distance of my house and more like 40 mins from work, I’m wondering if a work-from home situation just makes more sense for everyone. Still, not going to talk to the owners until I actually know what the game plan is.

And the other issue? Being at the hospital with my midwives yesterday really hammered home to me that there is nothing “bad” about birthing at the hospital. The choice will be taken away from me entirely if I am completely transferred into the care of OB-R.  So, before that even becomes a possibility, I decided to chose the hospital over the birth centre.

It’s not what I thought I wanted, but as a wise man once said, “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, well you just might find…You get what you need.”

35 Week Musings

First and foremost, I have to share the (I feel) good news.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, I will no longer be seeing OB-R. She was super impressed with the responses of my GD team, and feels like there’s no point in me doubling up on care at this level of progress. She did, however, tell me I can’t have a homebirth. This is amusing to me, mostly because M1 flatly stated that I could still have a homebirth if that was my choice.

OB-R had a student midwife in who did my basic exam. There was a bit of an odd moment when the student measured my fundal height at 3 cm higher than I was last week. The student “double-checked” and I clocked in only 1 cm higher the second and third time. It’s crazy how that little bit of abnormality can make you instantly worried. Still, it was fine in the end.

Spawn’s head has at least partially engaged, which I’d suspected due to all the new weight on my pelvis. I don’t know that this actually means anything regarding the birth or the likelihood of it happening earlier or later than my due date. Still, my instincts that this one may make an appearance before the EDD are at least possible.

The best part of the whole appointment (besides being released from OB-R’s care) was the fact that my brother (MBJ) was able to hear Spawn’s heartbeat. MBJ has just moved up to Toronto from Houston, and he hasn’t had the opportunity to be much involved with me and this pregnancy besides finding out the gender. Spawn gave him a few good kicks on the weekend, but I think the heartbeat was really cool for him to hear.

So, to sum up, at this point I’m back to seeing only my midwives and my GD team. I have one more appointment with the GD team and then I will likely be released from their care as well. Things it will be like it was before, with my midwives handling all my care. The only difference being I’m self-checking my blood sugar 3-4 times a day.

I gotta say, I’m looking forward to it being just me and the Midwives again. As weird as it sounds, they know me. They know my past and my present and they’re doing as much as they can for my future. How could that not be comforting?

Speaking of…I’m going to talk more with M1 about the Birth Centre vs Hospital thing and see what her feedback is. I feel like I’m about 70% confident on my decision there, but I do want the feedback first. Then, I think a good chat with MFH will solidify the deal.

I’m getting to the point in this pregnancy that I can actually feel Spawn’s body from the outside. I occasionally find myself idly running my hand up and down Spawn’s back, thinking about what that will be like when there isn’t a layer of flesh between us. I’m not sure that I’m quite to the “get this thing out of me” point, but I’m starting to really look forward to life after birth. I can see how late-pregnancy symptoms will only get worse, and how at some point I will reach DEFCON 1 (‘cept for baby, not nuclear war).

Every day I cross more off my to-do lists, and feel more and more prepared. Of course, the thing about being a new parent is anything could happen. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not as prepared as I can be. It doesn’t innately mean I have no idea what I’m getting myself into.

A huge help in this department has come from work. We’ve hired my covers for Matt Leave. (I’m not going to lie, it’s flattering that they needed to find two people to replace me while I’m gone.) I’m still hoping I can come back in a work-from-home capacity this summer, but that’s all going to be played by ear. (See the paragraph prior regarding “anything could happen.”)

And in keeping with that “anything could happen” aspect, I packed my labor bag last night.  Part of it was a comment by a fellow blogger, who went in for a regular weekly checkup and ended up in the hospital. (Her attitude towards all the changes and interventions to her birth plan really inspired me to truly be zen about whatever happens. You can read her awesome birth story here.) Another part of it is just feeling like things are changing/moving towards labor as it is. Now, I haven’t packed the full-on “hospital bag,” but rather the things I’ll specifically want at labor. Worse case scenario, it’s ready even if I don’t have a change of clothes for the hospital stay…

All in all the pieces seem to be falling into place. Even though I’m feeling more and more heavy, and tired of feeling like I can’t go or do anything for longer than 20 minutes without having to pee, I really am pretty happy. Spawn is healthy, I’m strong, MFH is awesome and supportive. It seems petty to complain about some weight in my hips with the wealth of gifts around me.

We’re nearing the end–or rather, the start of a new beginning, Folks. All I can do is take it one day at a time…

Weighing My Options

I met up with M2 Wednesday, as well as the Student Midwife I shall call M3 for simplicity. M2 and I realized that we hadn’t seen each other for a loooong time. It was all the way back when I took my first GD screening test.

Anyways, we caught up and chatted a bunch after M3 checked me out. I was told my iron levels, blood pressure, and fundal height were all “really good.” It’s amazing how not being anorexic means I’m also not anemic. Shocking, that. 😛

I was also told–although I knew this one already–that Spawn is head down, back to my belly, hanging out on my right side. While there’s still a few weeks left for Spawn to change that up, it’s nice to think that (besides the right-side preference) Spawn’s in the preferred launch position.

About that, though…

Even though Spawn’s been head-down for a few weeks now, it wasn’t until the end of last week that I really noticed a change in the way I felt. Namely, like an approximately five pound bowling ball is hanging out in my pelvis. The feeling is so odd…almost like the pressure you feel when you need to pee, but radiating from pubic bone to hips and around my back all at once. I feel this bizarre need to hold up the bottom of my belly somehow. (Tried a support belt. Worked ok for walking around, but notsomuch for sitting.)

It’s really the first actual pregnancy symptom I’ve had (tiredness, boob pain, and GD notwithstanding). I remember women talking about having this feeling early on, and I feel terrible for them, wondering what it’s like now that there’s actual weight on their babies.

In theory, Spawn still has another 3 pounds or so to go before birth, so I feel like this weird pressure is just going to get worse. Hooray. :/

Something else we talked about was the Birth Centre vs. Hospital thing. As I’ve mentioned several times, the Birth Centre is my ideal. (Oh, and their website is finally up and running!) I can basically have my low-intervention, vaguely crunchy labor in beautiful surroundings and well rehearsed transfers to hospital for medical necessity.

But here’s the thing…

The Birthing Centre, as I’ve mentioned, has only three rooms. These three are shared with every midwifery in Toronto. Best case scenario, I go into labor, work my way into active labor, my midwife calls, they have a room, and we go. Awesome.

But I’m starting to wonder how I’m going to feel if I’m at home, working through active labor with MFH and my midwife and she calls and there is no room for me….and I completely lose my shit. Do I really want to take that chance?

The other point, and one that I am taking into consideration, is that M2 flat out said that the quality of care she can provide me is now better at the hospital then the Birth Centre/Home. Part of this is the GD, part of it is monitoring Spawn and making sure all’s good there. Now M1 was pretty adamant about there being no real difference. But when I went over the why of my hospital hesitation, M2 did bring up a really good point. I live 5 minutes away from TEGH. I can literally labor at home til the last moment and still get there in time.

One thing that both LC and Mom said, was that I could go into the whole thing with the idea in mind that I’m going to the hospital. Still have my midwife call about the centre, and if I get in it’s a happy surprise. I like it, I’m just not 100% confident that I can get my brain to think about it that way.

So, do I just throw in the towel on the Birth Centre all together? Or do I hold out and try to get a spot on the day? I can’t decide if just making the darn decision will take a load off my mind or if that’s just an excuse I’m giving myself.

We shall see…

In true Ms.I fashion, I have created a spreadsheet (well, several) for Spawn and Labor. One of the sheets is for my birth bag. I have everything I plan to bring on there…organized by if I have it already, have bought it and am waiting for it to come in, or need to get it. You’d think it would be enough to just put everything into a darn bag, but no, it is not. Not for me, at least. Part of it is that it’s difficult to actually pack stuff I’m currently using. Some of it is also just difficult to pack. I’m not going to be able to pack my snack bags of fruits and veggies until the day. But, it’s still good to know that I want to bring it.

Lists: an obsessive compulsive’s best friend. 🙂

33 Week Musings

So this week has been quite eventful already.

Monday I met with OB-R and my GD team again. Best news ever: No insulin for me! I’m also only being seen once more, right about 36 weeks. It’s such a relief to have this managed and, while things could change, I’m doing my best to think that they won’t.

The OB-R is still holding onto me for the moment. I’m really hoping after my next appointment, I’ll be done with her. Look, it’s not like she’s evil or anything. (She’s actually really quite lovely.) I just really don’t get why I’m going there. I wait 30-45 mins in the waiting room, get weighed/measured, she confirms everything my midwife has already told me (baby head-down, weight and fundal height normal), and I leave within ten minutes. That’s an hour out of my day for me to get nothing above what I’m already getting from my midwives. If I was on insulin or was drastically measuring off, then yes, I’d understand. I just find the whole thing really a waste of everyone’s time.

It’s also got me wondering if this is why a lot of women hate pregnancy. If you’re getting only ten minutes of support every few weeks, is that going to put a negative slant on how you feel about yourself? I feel like it probably would for me. Having my midwives greet me like a friend and talk to me about my life and how I look great, etc is part of what makes it easy to be happy in all of this. I’m never feeling like a number that needs to get in and out of the door.

Well, we’ll just see how it all goes.

Wednesday at our prenatal class, we discussed interventions. It was a super helpful class, because we went over the good, bad, and everything in between of various interventions. The overall idea was/is that if you know the cost/benefit now, you have a better idea of what you are or aren’t okay with. As opposed to having to figure it out while dealing with quickly spaced contractions.

I will say that seeing all the accoutrements that go along with an epidural (catheter, anyone?) made me even less inclined to get one. Seeing that needle certainly didn’t help, but it was more the “if you get an epidural then you also have to get/have this, this, and this,” that concerned me. All that stuff definitely has a place in my mind (hello clinical exhaustion!), I would just like to avoid it if at all possible.

Every class seems to be more and more helpful to both MFH and myself. It initiates conversations and clarifies our positions/preferences. Also, as I’ve said in the past, it’s just nice to get together with a bunch of others that are all basically going through it all with us.

Yesterday we took the hospital tour. It was maybe not as helpful/informative as I would have hoped for. MFH said he was happy we went, if only for the purely simple reason of knowing the basics where and what stuff is. Again, the idea being that perhaps the throes of labor is not the moment to try and figure out you’d really rather have a private postpartum room. (I would like to say that it’s awesome that our government covers 100% of your labor and hospital stay. For someone who doesn’t have health insurance through work or simply can’t afford anything else simply having a bed surrounded by professional caregivers is amazing. For me and MFH, who both have insurance through work, sharing that bed with three others in the same room is a last resort.)

The laboring rooms themselves were nicer than I expected. You can totally tell the designers were like, “Okay how do we make this look less like scene out of ER and more like a hotel room?” Everything super “medical” is hidden behind cabinetry. It still may not be my number one choice of locations, but touring the area at least helped me to completely make peace with the idea of birthing there. That alone I realize was worth the effort of going in for the tour. 

All of my weekly preggo emails have advised me that I’m probably starting to feel much less movement nowadays because Spawn is bigger and there’s less room to maneuver. Spawn clearly thinks this is hilarious, and spends much of the day showing off how easy it is to kick or punch through that lack of space to give yourself more room. I seriously have moments where I’m shocked that I have no bruising. Not necessarily because it hurts (although I’d be lying if I said it was totally comfortable), but more because it’s such a strong, powerful feeling. MFH has gotten in the habit of muttering, “Simmer down Spawn,” when the particularly strong movements cross from my belly onto him.

Last night Spawn decided to do some full-on restructuring of my stomach. When I looked down my whole belly skewed completely to the right side. I didn’t quite look non-preggo on the left side, but it was drastic enough that I was disconcerted. I kept rubbing the right-side popup asking what the heck Spawn was up to. Oddly enough, Spawn declined to answer. 😛

The only other thing I want to get out before wrapping up, is to once again say how lucky/blessed I am.

When I talked to CR about the probability of me just not having a shower, she immediately offered to throw one if I needed one. I declined, saying that I was talking to her about it more because I was trying to figure out what I still needed to buy (and that several people had started to ask me when it was going to be…). She then proceeded to buy Spawn’s mattress and Pack ‘n’ Play for us. As weird as it may sound, having that mattress in place makes me feel like we have an actual place to put Spawn down for sleeping, as opposed to just having an oddly shaped piece of furniture in our second bedroom.

And then this week my MIL and her sisters got together and told me that they were going to have a shower for me. It was completely unexpected. Not that it was something out of character for them or anything, but simply because with the holidays and just the general business with life and birthdays and what not, this time of year isn’t super convenient for anyone. It feels almost like a surprise party, and I’m so excited to get the two sides of my family together so we can all figure out how to make the world a better place for when Spawn comes into it.

MFH commented to me last night before drifting off to sleep that this whole thing has gone by surprisingly quickly. I agreed, and added that I think life tends to move at a clip when you’re happy. With only a few weeks left, I don’t see any slowdown in sight. And honestly, I’m perfectly, 100% okay with that. Happily along we go…

Shit Just Got Real

Sorry about the title, I think I’m a bit over excited for the release of the cornetto trilogy. (If you have zero concept of what I’m talking about, don’t feel bad. I’m a nerd.)

So I preregistered for Toronto East General Hospital‘s Labor & Delivery yesterday. Even though ending up there is my backup choice, it’s not entirely out of the question.

After all, my first choice is the new (as yet still not operational) Toronto Birthing Centre. It only has 3 rooms, and those are split by every midwifery in the city. I have to advance to serious labor/transition before they’ll admit me…and I can only be admitted if the rooms aren’t occupied. The odds, in this case, are not in my favor.

I had my Gallbladder removed at the same hospital, so I’m familiar with it and I am comfortable there. I also find, and this really goes for any service-heavy industry, that as long as you act polite and generally positive people work their asses off for you.

The nurse at labor preregistration was no exception to this rule. She rolled her eyes at one of my forms that I had incorrectly filled out. “These are so stupid,” she told me, “No one files them out properly because the lines are all mixed up.” She took my OHIP card and my insurance cards and went to work filling out everything for me.

We chatted about the hospital being my back-up, and she told me that “A lot of people are doing home births now, so we end up being back-up for them as well.” I thought that was interesting. Home birth might be something I would be interested in doing in the future, but not for my first time, in our apartment with our dog. Just too much I don’t want to deal with. Still, it was surprising to me to hear a nurse literally on ground level talk about the prevalence of it.

I was amused by the sign posted on the desk: “If you’re in labor/bleeding, please advise a nurse immediately.” Perhaps because it was a Sunday afternoon and I was the only person there, but it seemed like something you wouldn’t have to work too hard to indicate. Like, if I had been in labor yesterday, I don’t think I’d have to say anything. 

I was also given a package of info for prenatal, natal, and postnatal care. One of the things she indicated was a 24/7 call number for labor nurses. Her words: “If you get a weird stitch and you’re just not sure if you should wake up your midwife at 3am, call us. We’ll let you know what to do.”

The whole event took me less than twenty minutes. Not too shabby.

But realizing that I’m at the point where I need to get into the Hospital’s database (ie far enough along that this “shit just got real”) was not the only “real” moment these past few days.

On Thursday I had a complete freak out and couldn’t stop crying for a good forty minutes. The initial tears came from a valid reaction. It was just the drawn out blubbering that made me feel as if I’d actually lost it. This was really the only moment this pregnancy that I’ve felt out of control of my emotions. I hated it.

Then Friday I noticed a couple of small red marks on my stomach. Some of it was allergies. I don’t know if it’s because I’m preggo or because the woman who lived in our place before us had a cat and that’s still lingering a bit, but my allergies have been taking themselves out on my skin rather than my sinuses. Anyways dealt with the ones that were allergy related. Then noticed that not all were moving or fading.

Well hello, stretch marks. I’ve been wondering when you were going to show up to the party.

I expected them to be higher, more vertical, and a hell of a lot bigger than they are. I would say I also expected more, but this shebang isn’t over yet. I’ve got one very fine, almost spider vein looking line on each side of my underbelly, that points in toward my belly button at about a 45* angle. They aren’t longer than two inches, and together with my belly button, remind me of the Eye of Providence. (Guys, Spawn’s an in-womb Freemason!)

The thing that is really starting to hit me, though, is that I have less then three months before my due date. Technically I’ll hit 3rd trimester this Sunday. That doesn’t discount the fact that I’m currently in my 7th month. I feel like time has flown by up to this point. Without even taking the Holidays into consideration, I can’t imagine that it’s going to slow down. Actually looking at the calendar, what with all our December events, New years, and all the craziness that goes along with it, I feel like this last trimester is going to move the fastest of them all.

With my birthday just days from Spawn’s due date, I’ve just now sort of clued in to the fact that I won’t be able to reasonably plan a birthday event this year. I’m a little sad about that, but I did make sure that I had a great big bash last year partly because I was fairly sure I’d be preggo for this one. I just don’t think it ever occured to me that I might actually get a baby as my birthday present.

Regardless, February is right around the corner. Shit just got real. 😛

Birth Plans (kinda)

Lately (literally within the last few days), I’ve been thinking a lot more about the actual event of getting Spawn from my belly into my arms.

Not really sure why, I just know that it’s something that has taken a much stronger forefront in my mind than ever before. As I’ve been reading about births since before I got pregnant, i can’t blame it on new information. I can’t even blame the dream, as that was more about keeping Spawn in then getting Spawn out. Maybe now that I’m (hopefully) over half way done being pregnant, I realize I’m getting closer and closer to birth every day?

Regardless, birth is on the brain.

I remember being younger, thinking if I ever had a baby, I would have a fully medicated birth. My preference was c-section, but not for any reason I can fully recall. I have vague flashes that had to do with being small and wanting to stay small…

My mother had an epidural with me. My brother messed up the docs timing and it was too late for her to have one with him. (And him at 9 1/2 lbs, no less.) She has much fonder memories of my birth then his.

Suffice it to say that I never had any issues at all with medical intervention and pain meds in birth. I grew up with menstrual cramps that I had to be medicated for. I felt like if the mere act of shedding my uterine lining was going to give me that much pain, managing to get a child out of me was going to be far too much for me to handle.

Then I started my crazy-lady research into all things pregnancy. I listened to other mothers’ stories. I watched documentaries, read medical studies/journals, took notice of professionals sitting on opposing sides of the fence and their varying opinions. I went back to mothers I knew and started asking questions about their births, their friends’ births, etc.

I started to realize that I would like to have a midwife rather than an ob/gyn attend me. I also realized that my gall bladder surgery made me really, really not want a c-section.  All of a sudden, I wanted a natural birth, free from instruments and medication and what have you.

Now, I’m not going to refuse these things if I actually need them.  I’m not anti-western medicine. I’m anti a doctor’s ease/comfort over my health. I have even read of situations where an episiotomy was very much required. If one of those situations was to occur, well, then I’m all for it.

The c-section is the one I’m having the biggest issue with. I know that I will take a serious situation for my midwife(s) to send me into surgery. There will be no other choice. Logically I get that. It is just something I want in my heart to avoid. Hopefully I’ll be one of the 94% that does. (If I wasn’t with a midwife, my chances of not getting a c-section would drop to 72%.)

Because I’m nothing if not a reader, I’ve been spending my non-fiction reading time with books on childbirth. I’m finding it’s best to take the good, disregard the nonsense, and do my due diligence with the rest.

Hypnobirthing, for example.

I might have been able to buy into the idea that the pain of childbirth was all in ones head, if not for two prime examples. The first being my beforementioned period pain. No one told me it would hurt, and I started a heck of a lot earlier than anyone I knew who would have been kind enough to inform me. So I had no fear of pain, just pain. The second is Mongan’s assertion that dogs or horses don’t feel pain in labor, so why should we? Maybe this makes sense for a lot of women, because they live life away from animals. I have watched horses gnaw their sides trying to get their contractions to stop. I’ve seen a horse with a hairline fracture in its leg act calmer than a mare during her first birth. If it hurts for them, and in theory they aren’t comparing birth horror stories in the paddock, then where’s the logic?

Now, do I believe that you can use mind over matter to control pain? Yup. Sitting on top of the pain of my infected gall bladder meant that when the doctors finally saw my scans, they were shocked by the severity.  “She’s been here for six hours,” one of the ER doctors muttered. The specialist immediately replied, “Get her on morphine now.” It wasn’t like I hadn’t told them I was in a lot of pain, I just didn’t want to be a crybaby in ER triage in front of all these other people with colds. I guess at some point they just assume if you’re not screaming, then you’re probably okay. :p

I also believe that fear does bad things for pain. After hearing that above conversation, I can tell you that my symptoms drastically increased. Of course, at that point I was in a bed behind a curtain, so the privacy ment I could permit myself to show/vocalize the pain more as well.

I wonder if that means I’d birth better in front of an audience? (Doesn’t matter, still wouldn’t do it.)

I’m enjoying Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth more than the Hypnobirthing book. There are things about it that still bug me. And I do occasionally just roll my eyes at it all. I do agree with the idea that a “civilized” woman should maybe get over herself and go a bit more “native.” Most ob/gyns will even admit that giving birth on your back is the worst position for getting the baby out, while adding that it is the easiest to monitor/deliver for the doctor. Personally, I’m not overly fond of PAPs/Gynecological exams. I’ll be perfectly happy to squat if that means that I won’t associate my birth with that event.

But despite all that, and my basic personal need to be on top of/control everything, I don’t really have a plan. I don’t know if you can fully understand how weird this is for me. It’s possibly the single event in my life in which I didn’t flare up in hives at the thought of how much I can’t control.

Maybe it is a bit of a lie to say I have no plan, though. My plan basically equals ending the event still alive with a baby. I feel like I’m allowed that plan without being called on my OCD.

More than that, I have a few things I would like, and a few I’d really like to avoid. Most will be managed by my midwife(s). I hired them because I wanted them to have control over my pregnancy. I don’t have any grand plans to suddenly take back the reins for the birth. And who knows, the day Spawn decides to start the process of making an appearance every single thought may go out the window. I can’t get hung up in all that.

All I can do is what I always do…
Read, listen, learn. Go forth armed with information and free from fear.

Birth-plan