Whoop! It’s over the half way point, Firework weighs over a pound and it’s been way too long since my last update.
So, what has been happening?
Nausea: The nausea has eased and gone much more intermittent. It has been replaced with a ‘full’ feeling, but generally that front is a lot better. Some days I will feel really quite sick (but never too sick to eat anything) but about 50% of the time – no nausea at all. I have noticed: my sickness increases throughout the week, and eases at the weekend. I also did not have any nausea in my week off from work. I wonder if anyone else has found that even when busy (like… er… moving house) being at home is so much more comfortable than being at work?
Aches and Pains: I am lucky – so far I am back ache, and foot ache, and generally ache and pain free; many ‘bloggers’ I follow report these symptoms having started by now, but I am as spritely on my feet as ever. This is despite having to be off exercise due to some slight (minor) bleeding. Honestly: I have no excuse now. I could swim, walk, bike ride, elliptical all to my heart’s content. It is just my routine has changed so much, and I don’t have a gym here and it is too hot to just go out for a walk / jog when I think about it (seriously, 103 degrees and 88% humidity today). I do want to get some exercise in before I do indeed have all the aches and pains and difficulty moving though, so I will work on it.
Weight gain: 10 lbs. Perfect. My bump is on the large side, which I like. My thighs have also expanded too – yu-u-ck. I suspect that is one of those things you just can’t fight (the thighs, I wouldn’t want to fight the bump).
Medical check-ups: All good. FW passed his 18-week anatomy ultrasound which blew my mind with its detail. We now know (or almost know) there is no cleft lip, there are 4 chambers to the heart… 2 kidneys.. 2 veins in the umbilical chord. We have a pic of his face, and an imprint of his hands and feet. And also, a very giant and graphic reminder that he is definitely a boy. Bit too much of a reminder for me…
Mood swings: None really. In terms of inter-personal relationships the same things upset me, and to the same degree. I may get more tired, and so go quieter more often, but I am glad not to be crazy or temperamental, or for people to have to walk on eggshells around me. That being said, there have been a few crazy moments (aimed at no one) and the issue that if I start crying, I just cannot stop. Witness:
(1) Standing in Walmart with Wes, asking if he had found my plant ‘Seymour’. Wes could not remember which plant Seymour was so I tried to explain. But somehow, all my words left me… so I decided to demonstrate that Seymour was one of those plants with long vines coming off him in all directions… so I began to waggle my arms about like a demented belly dancer, in the middle of Walmart, while staring meaningfully at Wes and going ‘You know… Seymour” *cue even more frantic arm waving*. Which, was funny. So Wes laughed. And I laughed. Then I decided that it was tragic that a 30 year old woman was unable to describe a simple plant, and so I cried… quite substantially, into Wes’ chest for a good 10 minutes. We rapidly left Walmart. Seymour was never found.
(2) Watching BGT the bad comedian made me laugh. Alot. So hard I cried. At which point my body became confused as to whether it was happy or sad, and I just sobbed broken-heartedly. Wes was confused… I was confused… all I could say was that my laughter has turned to tears (as happens when I am not pregnant) but then now I am pregnant, once I start crying, I can’t just stop. So sobs and tears ensued. The comedian went through though to the final, which on balance we think was probably a good thing for me.
Ah Wes: how is the father to be? Good! Generally excited, and supportive, and happy to dispense hugs as and when, and run lotion into my now very itchy skin. Happy to give up his Saturday for 12 weeks to learn the Bradley method, which is husband-coached birthing. Waiting desperately to feel kicks, but also not patient enough to wait more than about 30 seconds for them!
Good buys: My best buy is STILL my doppler. I love it to pieces, use it a couple of times a week, and it takes my random worries away. I also love my Snoogle. It was a mother’s day present from Wes and we got it consignment for $30 (deal!), It is so damn comfy, whether you are pregnant or not. It also keeps Wes away by sticking out at weird angles, which is honestly not at all why I like it so much. At all. Nor because it has a ridiculously annoying (to Wes) name that i use all the time – “where is my snoogle?” “Did you wash my snoogle” “Maybe we should get the snoogle” etc etc.
Best bits: Firework now clearly practices MMA several times a day. He can even kick my hand off my belly. Wes is not buying ‘Gerrard’ as a name though, and I won’t have ‘Rooney’.
What I have been thinking about: (1) The biggie was where to give birth. I was always quite pro-home births, and pro mid-wifery and was devastated Alabama made midwifery illegal (booo). I was overjoyed that Texas legalized and practised mid-wifery fairly widely (widely for the US… who it has to be said are somewhat backwards in their birthing practised which can be evidenced if by nothing else, from the higher infant mortality (among other negative outcomes) as compared to Western Europe, even considering only insured people). I was also scared by the strangely high C-section rate in the US (although I sadly understand that the UK is catching up on this: Boo England, boo). When comparing like for like, the US also has very high induction rates, epidural rates and general intervention rates. Fine for some (and really, I don’t judge – just get your baby out in a way you are comfortable with) but not for me. Wes was adamant a home birth was not safe (and probably in our unexperienced case right?).
The perfect solution seemed to be a birthing center: staffed by midwives, doctors on call, some availability of medical professionals, but a better track record of allowing extended labours and reducing interventions. I was really excited, and really excited to find a place near us I liked the look of. Wes was wary, but got more and more supportive, and was coming to check things out at the center. BUT…. but…. and this was my personal decision, which I respect others may not make. I was wary of some of the birthing center reviews…my issue was that while ~99% where over overwhelmingly positive, the one that was not, was of course, devastatingly tragic (I have not provided the link here as I find the stories very upsetting – email me if you would like it). One bad review, with the worst possible end, occurred at our birthing center. I felt like there was one neonatal death that could have been prevented by a hospital birth. This shook my confidence a lot. But, I didn’t change my mind totally until a read a lot of birth stories and saw how quickly and unexpected things can happen… Sure, I don’t know that these women and babies wouldn’t have been just fine (or indeed, better off) in a birthing center. But, what sold it for me was that my list of questions grew and grew for the midwives:
What do you do with breech births?
What do you do with sudden (mid-labour) breech births?
How accurate are you pre-labour weight estimates, and what is the maximum size you will deliver?
How experienced are you with narrow pelvic arches?
How rigorously do you check for chords wrapped around the neck pre-birth (and double wrapped) and what do you do about this situation?
How long do you allow pushing not to progress before transferring to a hospital?
How rigorously do you check for meconium, and what do you do about its presence?
It went on and on. To me: it just said: too many risks. Or mayeb: not enough trust from me. I believe the majority of young, healthy, women with straight forward unproblematic pregnancies will be as fine in a birthing center as in a hospital, and probably a lot more comfortable and relaxed and have an more enjoyable experience. Say 60% will have a better experience and outcome at a birthing center than a hospital (I am making these figures up). I believe that of the remaining 40%, 50% might not care where they were or may like a hospital more; and say 40% will have interventions in a hospital that could be prevented at a birthing center. The remaining 10% probably need an intervention, be it minor or major (see here for an example of someone who really HAD to have an epidural – a minor intervention), and most of those will be transferred to a hospital, just fine. But the odd person will not make it through the experience – for various reasons. Travel time… or presenting a situation / in a way the midwife did not expect, and just like in hospitals, something will go wrong. And of those, some will have a tragic end wherever they are. But in a hospital there is more emergency care and more varied expertise. I think in that tiny number cases, you could stand a better chance in a hospital. In my mind, I played off a much increased comfort for me, and maybe some easier outcomes for Firework against the possibility of needing extreme, but rare, damage limitation.
The higher intervention rate is due, in part, the ability to sue Doctors. It’s not an entirely good nor bad thing. But midwives are not accountable in quite the same way – another factor in my decision.
I feel good about my decision. And I utterly applaud and support anyone who chooses another birthing method. This is my decision for my peace of mind. And I am interested in other people’s view and opinions. For now, my task is to find a hospital that provides midwives, personal tubs, birthing balls and all the crunchy-goodness my heart desires. AND will let me labour a long time if necessary. AND perform certain doula techniques such an perineum pressure. And let me squat and kneel and generally be undignified. And not strap me to a damn bed (not a practise in Europe, but some places here practise ‘continual fetal monitoring’). But is right above a pretty powerful NICU, with several doctors, surgeons and neonatal specialists right there.
Yeah, yeah – I want it all. Blame my socialized-medicine upbringing where nothing is out of reach ‘coz you can claim you have ‘already paid’ so have to get what you want – there is no recourse for the NHS to say ‘well, find another Dr / hospital / insurance company’ etc.
(2) Slate has been annoying me. They have been running articles on why some people choose not to have children, and how it works out for them (generally, just peachy). I find these articles interesting, like I find articles on why people do choose to have children interesting. What is annoying is that Slate seem to be encouraging a huge divide between those who choose to have, and those who choose not to have, children. That those with children are foisting their decision on others and demanding that all go forth and multiply, while those who choose not to are angry and embittered at those who choose to for forcing their offspring on society. Slate would have you believe: that those with children think those without are selfish and vacuous, with empty hollow lives, while those without think those with are often selfish, and boring, and importantly: no side has any interest in hearing about the life of the other’s.
Surely this is, in the main, artificial? I don’t give a fig if people choose not have kids – sometimes I do give a judgmental fig about people who do, when I personally think they shouldn’t (my bad I know…). I don’t find either life choice more valuable / meaningful / interesting. I had friend’s who were parents who were really interested in my pre-pregnant life… equally my Godmother chose not to have children, and my best friend thinks she may well choose not to – and both love that I am pregnant, love to see pics, love to ask about it, and can’t wait until they can see the little one. Don’t we all feel like that? That as long as people are making choices that make them happy, without being too inconsiderate to others, then all is good?
I guess I kinda feel like this about most of my friend’s life decisions: I have some who have decided to give up work (permanently, and temporarily; with- and without children; some with plans (travel!), some without) and people have all these opinions about it. I only have questions: Is this making them happy? Is this likely to lead to increased long term happiness? Is it relatively cost free (cost can have a wide definition) to and non consenting adults or any children? Then go ahead: hike the Appalachian, become a wedding planner, sit and watch TV all day, work for the church – if you like. Just. Be. Happy. It is all we can ask, and all we can measure true success by.