Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Guest Post: Mollie's path to pregnancy/birth (Part 3: Pregnancy and Birth)

In Part 2, Mollie talked about learning how important her place of birth was and how she interviewed care providers. In the final installment read all about the part where she gets knocked up!

Part 3: Pregnancy and birth

I calculate my date of conception as August 7. This becomes important, as I learned very quickly to lie to the hospital’s ultrasound tech about the date of my last menstrual period (thanks to FAM, I knew I had ovulated on the 19th day, not the 14th day, and five days is a long time when one risks out of the birthing center at seven days overdue). As it turns out, it was a very good idea to pick out my midwife and go to their orientation night before I was even pregnant, because when I called at five weeks pregnant with a due date of April 30, they said they were already full. They said I would have to come in for the orientation before even getting on the wait list, so when I said I had already been to it, they begrudgingly took me on as a patient (again, this was the receptionist being a little snotty about my proactive approach).

There were a few times when the researchy side of me was an issue when it came to the pregnancy. First, when I went to my gynecologist’s office to confirm the pregnancy (I wasn’t going to see my midwife until about 9-10 weeks), they found a subchorionic hematoma but never told me. A few weeks later I picked up my chart to bring over to my midwife office, and of course I read through it (what sort of researcher would I be if I hadn’t?). I saw the note about the hematoma, and of course FREAKED OUT! (By the way, don’t Google subchorionic hematoma. Better yet, don’t Google anything. You’ll end up convinced that you’re about to bleed to death, guaranteed. In this case, forums, though I don’t recommend message boards in general, were actually more helpful and offered a quicker response than my doctor.) Another time, during my 20 week ultrasound, I asked the doctor if he could tell where the placenta was attached (I had just finished reading about placenta prevea and cord prolapse, so it was on my mind). Instead of just telling me, or politely asking me if I had reason to suspect an issue, he snapped at me with “WHY!?” I replied with a bewildered, “Um, because I read a lot and I know what can happen if it’s too low”, at which point he gruffly checked and said, “It’s fine.”

Around 12 weeks, we started looking for Doulas. Again, this is probably earlier than most normal people would start booking their help, but my experience with nearly getting shut out of my preferred midwife office had me spooked that we wouldn’t get “the good one” unless I started looking early. I asked for recommendations from friends, but mostly looked through the DONA website. You can search by location, and while there are a TON of doulas listen in the New York City area, I looked up a handful, gauged their experience (we decided we didn’t want a newbie), and emailed then. We met with a few, and chose one who best fit our personalities (plus, she had a really nice website).

The rest of the pregnancy was pretty straightforward – I threw up, I gained weight, I did my prenatal tests, and everything was fine. I never had any real surprises. My husband and I took the Childbirth Ed class, Newborn Care class, and Breastfeeding class, and did our best not to be the know-it-alls in the class. Planning like this is second nature to me, so often I would forget just how prepared we were. But there was one moment in class that really solidified it for me, and made me grateful for all my research. In Childbirth class one week, we discussed routine interventions, procedures, and regulations like Electronic Fetal Monitoring and restricted food and drink. The next week, during our “check-in”, one of the couples seemed so upset as they began to talk about their week. Mom was about 36 weeks along, and had just gone on the tour of the hospital. They had found out that the hospital required all laboring moms to stay in bed, on their backs, for their entire labor and delivery; IVs were mandatory, and all food and drink was prohibited; continuous Electronic Fetal Monitoring was required for all moms. They were devastated. They asked their OB if he had any flexibility regarding these rules, and he said no – the hospital’s rules were his rules. No one in class knew what to say to them; nearly all the coping strategies we had learned in class required SOME sort of movement.

I was discussing her situation with my husband that night. “Not to sound judgmental,” I said, “but how did she NOT know those were the rules until 36 weeks?” “Well,” he said to me, “you have to remember – you know more about this than anyone I’ve ever met. You’ve known this stuff for months. Other people don’t know that they don’t know.”

While there were times when I feel like I knew too much for my own good, there was one moment when all my studying felt worth it. Just before 4:00am on April 11, 2011, I was walking the halls of the Birthing Center at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, in labor, with my doula. At the height of one contraction, I finally let the words “I can’t do it” escape my lips. I cried, fearing that if it got any worse, I wouldn’t make it. After the contraction was over, my doula said to me, “Now I know you’ve done your homework. You know what ‘I can’t do it’ means.” And I did. I knew it meant Transition; I knew it meant it was almost over.

By the end of pregnancy, I had prepared everything as best I could. I had midwives whom I trusted, I had chosen a hospital that would allow me to have the kind of birth I wanted, and I had a doula who would guide me through it. It was a great comfort to know they respected my birth wishes, especially because at the very moment of my son’s birth, I was finally NOT in complete control of everything. None of my research could have prepared me for that moment, but at least I knew we were in good hands.

Baby Rowan was born April 11, 2011 at 3:54am.

Just a reminder that you can read the story of Rowan's birth on Mollie's blog, Tough Love Knitters. (You can also follow Rowan's current life and adventures at Little Red Rowan.) And check out Mollie feeding Rowan while he models her newest knitted creation. Congratulations Mollie! I can't wait to meet your adorable baby ASAP!

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