My 4 Day Evolution
So I had the mistaken impression that I’d just have one ultrasound and as long as we saw a heartbeat we’d “graduate” from our fertility doctor and head down the Midwife Highway. I obviously heard wrong as my doc definitely wanted me to come back in 2 weeks following our first ultrasound. And when he said “on the small side,” my heart took it as “it’s never gonna happen for you, Aimee”…a wee bit of a jump in my mind eh? Even though he said it’s in range, anything other than “it looks great!” seemed to stab me in the heart. I actually left the office not feeling on top of the world, but more as if I’d just gotten a temporary stay of execution.
Even though my RE had said that measuring an embryo is more of an estimation and that it’s only looking to be 1 mm behind the average for 6w5d, the word “small” just hung in the air of my mind, ya know? Naturally when we walked back into our house, I immediately went online to research average fetal length to try to gauge our odds….
“From early in pregnancy, babies grow at different rates, so these numbers are merely averages. Your baby’s actual length and weight may vary substantially. Don’t worry too much if an ultrasound indicates that your baby is much smaller or larger.”
Did I relax? Nope. I remember saying to our doctor during the appointment, “we’re just so used to hearing no that ‘yes’ is not something in our vocabulary quite yet”. Maybe that’s part of it. I am so grateful for the recent encouraging comments of fellow bloggers who have also been through this harrowing part of the experience who calmly and gently got me to, well, calm the fuck down.
Isn’t it interesting how sometimes we tell ourselves if we’re not nervous, if we’re too confident, if we enjoy the process, that we’ll magically “jinx” it? I read an article recently discussing infertility and PTSD, which well articulates how this stage actually amplifies anxiety. Here’s an excerpt:
“In the haze of infertility, it’s easy to idealize what things will be like once that positive pregnancy test finally materializes. But pregnancy brings with it a whole new set of worries, especially when you can’t shake the paranoia and worry that accompany infertility…sometimes it feels like a race against the clock, trying to hit each new milestone that will take you one step closer to baby…you can’t shake the voice in the back of your head that the happy ending will not happen.”
~ Jen Jones Donatelli, 4 Things I’ve Learned About Pregnancy After Infertility
So I think this stuff, yes, but after 4 days, I am better. I told my husband last night that We Have Permission to Enjoy the First Trimester. Seriously! Why the hell do we need to freak out? Sure we’re not going to go crazy shopping for crap, but if we want to nest, we’ll nest. If we want to talk about the future that includes this bebe, we shall!
Finding My Smile
“We are the only species of mammal to doubt it’s ability to give birth.”
~ Ina May Gaskin
So like I said, I have begun to do it. I have allowed myself to smile, to rub my belly with encouragement. I even softly sang Itsy Bitsy Spider to it this morning. I am going to ENJOY this first part of my pregnancy rather than live in fear. I’m going to allow myself to feel good that my body will take care of this baby, encourage it to grow, and continue to learn about the journey I am on. Que sera, sera.
And on that note…
- I put any books that didn’t mesh with my holistic philosophy around pregnancy and childbirth in the donation bin. Sadly, I found Expecting Better very disrespectful of a woman’s choice to a non-hospital birth (the author, among other things laughed off homebirth, mocked The Business of Being Born as “propaganda”, then made false statements attributing the higher maternal death rate to homebirths when maternal deaths, which have been on the RISE in the US, have clearly been proven to happen primarily at hospitals, where the rampant rate of unnecessary inductions, elective c-sections and resulting post-op infections, etc., has gotten out of control), so it went into the donation bin along with the eco-tepid books mentioned in a prior post.
- I’ve found my heart wrapped up easily when reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth (hopefully you watched the TEDTalk above if you’re not familiar with the elder stateswoman of midwifery). It’s the first time I’ve had happy tears streaming down my face as I felt warm and nurtured and advocated FOR instead of talked down to. I am so looking forward to my husband and I welcoming our little one right here in our home, with our Ruby dog serving as “junior birth coach” :-). I am so looking forward to the experience, to the memory, to the love we will feel holding and kissing our child we’ve worked so hard to bring into the world. And I am so looking forward to having women around me who will help me feel safe and strong and empowered to give birth in the safest place I know – my home.
- We have decided to re-interview a few other midwives after finding out the place we’d planned on using is NOT covered like they’d originally claimed last year (they are out-of-network, which means including deductible we’d pay over 80% out of pocket). Also, in the simple act of getting rescheduled to see them after our 2nd ultrasound, we learned they chose which midwife we’d meet with, rather than asking us who our top choices were from the profiles on their site. It pissed me off as I am not a number and just because they’re midwives and I like their philosophy does not mean I’ll like whoever they stick me with – especially someone caring for me during the biggest moment of my life. So yeah, something’s just not sitting completely right, and it worries me as our original meeting with them last year was good but their overall processes/practices may not mesh. I want to make sure and listen to my instincts during this, and make sure in this tender time mentally and emotionally that I feel heard, respected, and validated. Our decision won’t ultimately be based on money, but we are definitely interviewing those who we are unequivocally THRILLED to work with. We’re editing this list of 44 Questions for your Midwife list to use during these interviews. I’m excited!
- We have scheduled appointments with four doulas who each have experience with women over 40 who have become pregnant via IVF. One of them even mentioned helping me combine my logic and intuition in that midwife selection process. Obviously I love her already. I’m getting inspiration from this Doula Interview Questions list in preparation for those meetings the first week of August.
The Dumb Questions Don’t End Once You’ve Got Your BFP…
You know how we’ve all seen those ‘things not to say to those struggling with infertility’ lists and we all shout out Amen! to them? Well I am definitely learning about the idiot comments that are out there post-BFP.
Six Things Never to Say to Someone Who’s Pregnant After Infertility is a kickass summary of what I’m getting and why those comments tend to make me want to backhand those who say this stuff. Since my BFP, I’ve already heard:
- (from a prospective healthcare provider who knows I had 2 IUIs then 4 rounds of DEIVF) “Well once you have the baby, I’m sure you’ll get pregnant again right away without even trying!” (Turns out she didn’t even know that women are born with all the eggs they’ll ever have…I actually had to explain to her what diminished ovarian reserve was, oy.).
- (from the Glow pregnancy app forum) “It took me THREE months to get pregnant and once we relaxed and stopped trying, it worked! So everyone out there, don’t give up!” (then after I gently corrected her about the insensitivity of that comment since pregnancy is not caused by ‘relaxing’ or ‘not thinking about it’ and many women on the forum struggled with actual infertility before getting pregnant and many others still are on the front lines of IUI, IVF, Surrogacy and more) “Don’t try to take away my joy of getting pregnant!” (I simply added the RESOLVE link about why those comments are insensitive, but don’t have much hope for fools like that).
- (from my own mother after asking her to check her email for the ultrasound photo that also shared my continued stress/anxiety over this all) “I’ll look at it after I finish watching the Republican National Convention” (…then 3 1/2 days later, an email…) “Neato.”
How I Got Here
I was born breech. Cannonball style, to be exact. Kinda sounds like how I’ve been in life, no? 😉 My mother used to tell me about how her doctor got mad at her because she was on her hands and knees in the delivery room, which was most comfortable for her having a 9+ lb baby in her belly. When it was time to deliver, she was *required* to get on the table, lay on her back, put her legs UP, fluorescent lights shining down on her, and give birth to me without the help of gravity, relaxation techniques, or a supportive team. They didn’t do c-sections back then unless a life was actually in danger, so I came out breech, in 2 hours. But they did do the all-too-common, all-too-unnecessary episiotomy…ugh. My father wasn’t allowed to be in the delivery room even, and kids? Heck no. My older brother and sister (from my mom’s first marriage) actually were required to stay in the lobby even after I was born, and so my brother, who was the oldest at 12 and the more daring of the two, was not about to obey, as you see in the photo above.
These days, things are very different. The C-section, a major abdominal surgery, rate is now ONE-THIRD of all births in the US. “Researchers estimate that almost half of the C-sections performed in the U.S. are done in situations when babies could be safely delivered vaginally instead.” (source) This is not to discount those who truly medically need C-sections, but rather highlight the scary fact that women are often a) not questioning their doctor’s “standard operating practices”, that often include determining cutting through one’s body to retrieve the baby because of situations that more often than not will not affect the woman’s ability to deliver vaginally. A few of the things I was told early on that would automatically require C-sections:
- Being overweight – C-sections are actually more dangerous for obese women.
- Expecting multiples – There is already “evidence that a plan to deliver appropriately selected sets of twins vaginally is a reasonably safe choice in skilled hands…but the practice in the United States may not change — partly because there’s been a gradual disappearance of the skills doctors need to handle breech births or other complicated vaginal births.”
- Gestational diabetes – “Labeling mother and baby with GDM can increase the risks of interventions, without clear evidence of benefit.”
- Narrow hips – “In nearly every birth, the pelvis loosens and moves to make room for baby…In the few cases where CPD does occur, it’s often the result of congenital abnormalities or severe injuries, for example, a pelvic fracture during a traffic accident.”
- Large baby – Along with vaginal birth being totally fine, studies “found that four out of five of the mothers who were warned they might have large babies gave birth to infants who were not large, and weighed less than 8 pounds 13 ounces.”
- If your first baby was via C-section – “Most women are candidates for VBAC, but most are told they “have to have” a repeat cesarean for all future pregnancies. Even though national guidelines published in 2010 state that women should have access to VBAC, that is not happening…After the first successful VBAC, the future risk of uterine rupture, uterine dehiscence, and other labor related complications significantly decrease.”
- Breech presentation – “A clinician with sufficient experience and support might appropriately assist in vaginal breech deliveries…In a dynamic that is repeated in other medical care, doctors perform cesareans, in part, because they aren’t trained to favor or perform less-invasive techniques. With inadequate training and experience, liabilities and patients’ risk increase. Thus, few hospitals even offer the option of vaginal breech delivery.”
And some food for thought:
“Physicians are astonishingly up-front in discussing how much more efficient scheduled inductions (and scheduled cesareans) are. They claim that women will not have to worry about middle-of-the-night births and that hospital staffing and bed turnover can be better managed.” (source)
There’s truly a reason why the Ricki Lake documentary referred to giving birth as a business. And once again, this is not to chastise women who’ve had or plan to have C-sections. It’s about making sure women have access to the facts and know that much of the time, vaginal – and especially natural vaginal – childbirths are often turned into automatic C-sections because doctors no longer are getting the training and are pressured to get women in and out of the hospital if they don’t meet a specific timeline…whether or not the baby is ready to emerge.
“When we as a society begin to value mothers as the givers and supporters of life, then we will see social change in ways that matter.”
~ Ina May Gaskin
A Little Nesting Therapy
And now to totally switch gears…
Following our appointment we came home and worked on little projects around the house. Because our dining room / office is going to become the baby’s room, I’ve slowly but surely been working on cleaning out the beautiful old credenza of my grandmother’s that’s been storing all kinds of stuff, and then just getting things organized. My husband made a “changing box” out of scrap wood which I painted to go on top of the credenza which will fit a changing pad (why would be buy a special table for this?), and we picked up some $3 wood scraps at The Rebuilding Center we cut and stained for shelves, to put plants and books on for the kiddo. Only a few are new but almost all are used books (Why buy new books? Besides that almost all new books are printed in China, little ones don’t care if someone else read them first!), a few were gifts, and several belonged to me as a little girl which I’m so happy to have, including…
- Good Night Oregon – a nice little hometown book for the li’l one
- Urban Babies Wear Black – strangely enough, I bought this when I was divorced!
- Good Dog Carl – a dedication to my sweet Rottie, Daisy, who passed in 2012
- Le Livre de Bruits – we bought in Paris after our first DEIVF failed
- Hope is a Handful of Dreams – my mom gave this to me when I was very small
- Voyage to the Bunny Planet – a gift from a friend during fertility treatments 🙂
- Awake to Nap – from a local author Nikki McClure…so gorgeous!
- Rad American Women A-Z – a killer book for both girls AND boys to read
- Are You My Mother? – one of my husband’s childhood favorites
- Snugglepot & Cuddlepie – an Australian classic I got for Dan when we started TTC
- Miles the Crocodile Plays the Colors of Jazz – AND it includes a Miles CD 🙂
- Where Did I Come From? – from my childhood, about the birds ‘n’ bees
- The Rainbabies – from a colleague who found out we were adopting / IVF-ing
- Dinosaurs and all that Rubbish – saved since I read it as a little one myself
- This is Australia – a gift from my husband when we first started DEIVF
Not a bad start…although if kiddo is anything like us (s)he’ll have loads and loads of books…I finished the Louisa May Alcott and The Black Stallion series plus gigantor books like Gone With The Wind by the time I was 10, and my husband has books on our shelf that I’ve never even ventured to because of the thought complexity involved (no serious, the man is a humanist and the depth of his philosophical library are very, very deep). So there ya go… books are a way of life (not video games, y’all)…
The man who doesn’t read has no advantage over the man who can’t read.