Monday, December 31, 2012

Why me... why not me?

We have dealt with our fair share of challenges this past year; our continuing struggle with infertility, months of IVF, which happily ended in pregnancy, then, just as we past the three month hurdle and settled into a safe pregnancy, hubby was diagnosed with the Big C, but we dealt with it all and moved forward and for the past few months everything has been running smoothly. And not once during this year did I ever really say to myself, why me?

There may have been a fleeting thought of the why mes but it wasn't until I was on that examining table this week and was told the baby had turned breech that I felt a deep down, overwhelming feeling of the why mes? Why another challenge? I thought we were past all this!

But, again, I did not let the news cripple me. I spent the twenty-four hours between being told the baby is most likely breech to going in for the ultrasound to confirm her position, doing everything I could to spin her back into the optimal head down position.

And I am thrilled to say, she is no longer breech! The midwife may have been wrong about her position to begin with but I had been saying to my husband for two days before we went in for our check-up that the baby's position felt different but I thought I was just being paranoid. And maybe I was. But who cares! The ultrasound has now confirmed she's no longer breech.

And we got to see our little one on the ultrasound again, which we hadn't done since she was twenty weeks. It was exciting to see her taking practice breaths, yawning, and sticking out her tongue.

But I still think about that moment of the why mes. It was only for a moment but it hit hard. And yet, I did not let it take me down (okay, I only had 24-hours of thinking the baby was breech and maybe if she had stayed breech I would not be so unfaltering).

In the long run, a breech baby is something that would soon be forgotten once she was out in the world in my arms, healthy and happy. Would it really matter how she got here? Maybe. I do believe natural birth has countless benefits for mother and child but I have to believe that however she gets here, the joy will override any disappointment from not having my optimal birth plan. I may mourn the loss of my plan, as many mother's do, but it would hopefully be eclipsed by the beauty of bringing life into this world.

Or, at least this is what I say now that I know that we are back on track. Ask me again once I've gone through childbirth.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A breech of trust

We had quite a shock on Friday when we were at our prenatal visit. As the midwife was feeling the position of the baby she informed us that our little one had turned into a breech position. I immediately burst into tears because it was quite a large wrench to throw into our plan for a homebirth.

Our little girl is in what is called a "frank" breech position, which is the optimal breech position and contrary to popular belief in America, you can safely deliver breech babies naturally. Luckily, we are working with one of the doctors in LA that specializes in vaginal breech delivery (Dr. Stuart Fischbein). 

BUT, I am not sure what we're going to do if she stays breech. We only have three weeks until the due date!

I was not anticipating this turn of events and I have not done a lot of research into breech births, so I will have to hit the books. I know I have three options if she stays breech: 1) natural homebirth (if baby stays in a Frank Breech position), 2) vaginal hospital birth with epidural, 3) C-Section. 

But first I'm taking action steps to turn the baby and hopefully I will not have to make one of those decisions. As much as I want a homebirth and I do believe babies can safely be born in a breech position, I'm not 100% convinced, and a woman in labor needs to feel safe above all else. 

We are going in for an ultrasound tomorrow to confirm the baby's position and I will save my reading on breech births until after that appointment. For now, I am doing everything I can to turn the baby. I am all about action!

There is a wonderful site called Spinning Babies which I was referred to in my birthing class and these past twenty-four hours it has become my bible. I am now doing multiple exercises and inversions to spin this baby!

Example of
forward-leaning inversion
I won't go through all of them but most of them consist of me getting myself into an ass up, head down position, so that the heaviest part of the baby, her booty, moves towards my chest and her head moves into my pelvis.

Breech Tilt
My favorite position (because it is the most extreme and comical but also the most effective), is the breech tilt

I lie on an inclined, twin mattress, with my feet up and my head down. I place a warm compress on my pelvis and a bag of cold peas on the top of my belly, to encourage my baby girl to move her head to the warmth. I also place large head phones in my crotch and play Beethoven. No, these were not my awesomely creative ideas, this is what you're meant to do. 

I do this for twenty minutes, four times a day. Sometimes hubby comes in to keep me company and he'll playfully talk to my crotch to encourage baby to move towards his voice. 

Between that and several other inversions I do through out the day, I feel like I'm training for a race again. If these positions don't work, there are many other things I can do to spin the baby but sometimes the baby just doesn't want to turn and I will have to trust my body and hers, if this is what she wants. 

Until then, I will continue my spinning Olympics and start researching my options. Who knows, I could go into the doctor's office tomorrow and find that it was all for nothing, and she is not breech. 

For now, baby and I are going to get our Beethoven breech tilt on as hubby speaks sweet nothings down my pants.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Hand on my belly

Questions, questions, questions...

I get asked a lot of questions. I don't mind them. I was very curious about pregnancy before I became pregnant and more so after.

One question I am asked a lot is, "why do pregnant women put their hands on their belly?"  There are different reasons and I'll break it down by trimester.

1st Trimester:

a) To indicate that my bulging belly is in fact, a baby, not a food baby.

b) My tummy hurts and my hands make it feel better

c) To have a little mommy and me time

Baby bump, not food baby!

2nd Trimester:
a) Again, to show that this is a baby, not last  night's spaghetti!

b) Something is moving inside me and I want to feel it (was that gas or baby? Not yet sure)
Baby resides here

3rd Trimester:

a) The damn baby is pushing my diaphragm into my ribs and it effen hurts, so I'm pressing down to make the pain go away. (oops...I mean, I love you!)

b) A big belly makes a nice shelf to rest my hands on. And my coffee cup. And my iPad. And...

c) To feel her little feet and bottom poking out as she moves around in her tiny home (this is way cool)
Oh la la... nice shelf!

But the most precious moment is when my hubby touches my belly. I didn't know I'd feel all mushy about it, but I do! I know, I know... I'm such a sap. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hubby still knows how to party

We had our CPR class tonight. Or, at least, I did.

Two hours before the class started, my husband called to tell me he was drunk. It was definitely not a call I was expecting on a Monday afternoon. Though this is not typical behavior (I swear!), it wasn't the first time I'd received such a call from him. To be clear, my hubby is not a lush, but, especially in the days when we lived in NYC, he'd sometimes attend lunch meetings, which turned into night drinking with colleagues or clients.

This time it was a holiday lunch that became more liquids than solids, not that surprising for this time of year. When he called it was clear that he was too drunk to drive to the class. He offered to take a cab, but I thought learning how to give infants life saving chest compressions while three sheets to the winter wind was not the way to approach infant safety. (Not that he would have been handling real babies! Only baby Annies- anyone remember those from health class??)

But I was not mad. In fact, I was amused. After the year we've had, I was happy to see him let loose. These days we do not sweat the small stuff.

Happy holidays!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fat Face

Everyday I receive lovely compliments from strangers, friends and family... "I can't believe you're giving birth in a month!" "Your bump is so small." "I can't even tell you're pregnant from behind."

So why do I feel like a fat arse? Oh, wait! I know exactly why.

It all started at my baby shower when a good friend of the family said to me (and I paraphrase), "You and your sister were always so skinny growing up. I'm so glad I finally get to see you with a fat face."

And now I have a complex. A fat face complex. I am pulling my hair back from my face as much as possible because I seem to think this will make my face look thinner. And I'm keeping my chin down and shoulders back in every picture. And sucking my cheeks in like a fish.

Why is it that I can hear a hundred compliments but ONE negative one asphyxiates me?

Help... I can't breath... my fat face is suffocating me...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Homebirth is where the heart is

After going through IVF, I assumed I'd have a typical hospital birth with pain meds coursing through my veins. But once I became pregnant every instinct in my body said to go the natural route (btw, natural does not mean vaginal with drugs. It means vaginal without drugs. Too many people think that if you don't have a C-section it is a "natural" childbirth. Er, no. Natural means, just that. No drugs.)

Over the past few years I had read and seen things that made me question if a hospital birth was right for me.  Yes, I'd seen The Business of Being Born,which is a great overview of how labor and delivery has become big business in America but by no means was I going to make my choice off of one documentary  So I began doing my research. I read a ton of books, looked at the how the rest of the Western world viewed birth (and pregnancy), read the stats, and talked to friends from around the globe, before finally coming to the decision to have a homebirth.

We found an amazing birthing center in LA (The Sanctuary) and have had an amazing experience. What my husband loves most about this process is the time they spend with us at every visit and that they see this as a continuing process; before, during, and after labor. We had friends living in Holland, which we visited and discovered that most births are done at home with a midwife and the midwife stays with the mother and child for days and weeks after the birth to continue their care (btw, the Netherlands has one of the lowest neonatal death rates, the US has one of the highest). Ever since then, my hubby always loved the idea of all around, natural care.

His only complaint about our birthing center- there's a whole lot of hugging that happens at each visit. But he deals with it.

What I love about the practice is that their goal is not for me to have a homebirth but to have the safest, natural, and most relaxed birth experience I can. I am monitored very closely, and as long as I stay low-risk, we will move forward with the homebirth. But if there is any indication that assistance will be needed, then they'll come with me for a supported hospital birth, along with a doctor who will respect my wishes to stay drug-free, with as little intervention as possible. At this point, everything is running smoothly, and with only a few weeks left, homebirth is most likely. Woot!

At our birth, we will have a midwife and one or two assistants. We will also have a Doctor hanging out on our couch, sleeping and eating our food, unless he is needed. He's our warm and snuggly security blanket.

And to answer the question that most people ask, no I will not be using any pain medication and no there will not even be an option for pain medication. Please, pick your mouths up off the floor. We are using many other natural techniques, the main one being hypnobirthing. Pregnant women are warriors, not wimps.

Don't freak out! There's a lot of fear and misinformation about homebirths but it is not my job to educate or convince anyone. I am in love with my decision and that's what matters.

And as I say to all moms-to-be, I don't care what you do. Just do what feels right for you and your baby. There are gonna be a ton of decisions to make in the future about your child and there will always be lovers and haters along the way, but stick to your guns and feel free to tell the haters to shut it.

As I like to say when someone opens their mouth to give me their point-of-view of my life:
Your opinion of me is none of my business.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Guilty pleasure: pregnancy after IVF

After I spent years trying to conceive, going through every fertility option under the sun, and finally succeeding after the long and stressful process of IVF- because that's how bad I wanted a baby- pregnancy has become a guilty pleasure.

The pleasures are typical and beautiful: the sound of the heartbeat, my growing belly, the first flutters of movement inside me, the ultrasound photos, the maternity clothes (at least, for the first few months, before I became a swollen hippo), the extra calories (in cookies and cakes), and so on.

But what I didn't expect was the guilt over the displeasures of pregnancy.

Every book says it's normal to have anxieties when pregnant, which vary from worrying about losing my old life, being a good mother, never having fun again, losing my figure forever, losing my freedom, etc...

But I went through IVF. I wanted this baby really, really, really bad! And I better be grateful at every moment.

Ha! Inner B* has one thing to say about that, Pregnant mommas who have struggled (and those who haven't) YOU ARE ALLOWED TO HAVE ANXIETIES, TO HAVE DOUBTS, TO FEAR WHAT'S AHEAD!

Yes, I struggle with anxieties and there are days I want this pregnancy to disappear, and I want my body back, and I want to go to a bar and get plastered with my girlfriends, and take a spontaneous trip around the world and do bad things.

But what keeps me hanging on is that deep down I know this baby will be the greatest thing that has ever happened in my life. And I will love her with a fierceness I have never known. And it will all be worth it.

And just because I went through so much to get here, doesn't mean I'm not allowed to be a human being, and have my OMFG! moments about impending motherhood. All it means is I am experiencing exactly what every other pregnant woman has ever felt, whether she got knocked up on the first try or the hundredth try while laying on a doctor's table, watching her baby being placed gently into her uterus.

So there!


*Inner B is my subconscious- she's not shy to say how it is, good or bad, right or wrong.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Would you like a side of dis-ease with your pregnancy?

About three months after I learned I was pregnant my husband and I began spending a lot of time in hospitals. Not for me but for him. 

Though I am an open book when it comes to my own struggles forgive me if I am vague when discussing my husband's recent diagnosis. It is out of respect for his own privacy and journey. He doesn't mind talking about it but he's a man and Australian, which means he's more private when it comes to his own life.

That being said, I will share my own experiences of being pregnant and dealing with a husband who is 'sick'.  I put that word in quotations because through all of this he has never felt sick or looked sick (except after certain treatments). And we do not like to think of him as being sick, only that life has given us a wake-up call to live each moment to it's fullest and to make some changes so that we will both live a long, healthy life. 

As I re-read that last paragraph, Inner B* is rolling her eyes, thinking how sickeningly optimistic I sound but for once I need to bitch-slap her because this is truly how we both have approached this time in our lives. 

We've learned that the only way to live with genuine positivity is to stay in the moment and take it one step at a time. If we ever stop and think, "what if..." we are doomed. The "what ifs" will kill you before any disease.

And so, at three months pregnant, I sat in the family waiting room during my hubby's procedure that would confirm what we already feared. 

The saddest part about being in that waiting room was seeing the families. Because many of the families are waiting to hear news on their young child. I'm sitting there, my stomach just beginning to show signs of the life growing inside me, and I am surrounded by mothers and fathers living out their worst nightmare. And I was thankful. Thankful that it was my husband and not my child who was in the other room. Having this situation thrust upon my hubby and me is bad enough, but I know (without knowing) that a sick child is the scariest moment of a mother's life. And every subsequent moment that I have spent in that waiting room I have felt the same way.  

After the procedure we had to wait several long days before the results. 

The worst moment is the one you see depicted again and again in movies, books, and TV shows. It's the moment you sit in the little room and hear the diagnosis. It is surreal. And you never know how you'll react (I cried, hubby began to sweat profusely) but it wasn't the worst diagnosis it could have been and there were lots of relatively painless options to stop it in its tracks. The worst part is being told the "what ifs...". We listened and then put those damned "what ifs" in our subconscious, and stayed focused on the good news. It is treatable.

Several weeks later, I stood next to my hubby as he received a round of treatment. I was repeating to him like a mantra "breath... relax... wiggle your toes... breath... relax... wiggle your toes..." and we began laughing, because we knew the tables would turn in a few months, and he'll be the one standing by my head saying these same words. And I hope I remember how helpless I felt next to him, watching his face squish in pain but knowing there was nothing I could do but be there for him. 

God help him if I don't remember! But I have a feeling he'll be happy to remind me.

*Inner B is my subconscious- she's not shy to say how it is, good or bad, right or wrong.