Entry #87: Two Plus One

danstroller

Reality Checks

So this weekend we reach the 8 week mark. Whoa.

While we were out this week running errands, we had to (seriously, had to, I have a serious aversion to this place) run in to Target to get an LED bulb and passed the baby section on the way. Since we’ve picked out everything on our registry via the internet, I thought, it might be nice to see if they had the actual stroller and carseat we’d picked out, to get a look at them in real life.

Well, they had the carseat – looked like a carseat, duh – and they had a near-replica of the stroller (Britax – the brand of the stroller in this photo – was actually sued by Baby Jogger, the brand we chose, for infringement because their design is nearly identical). So what happened?

We. Just. Stared. At. It.

I think the conversation was something like:

Me: Well, take it down and let’s look at it.
Him:
Now what do I do with it?
Me: Well, walk around with it!
Him: No, you do it!
Me: No, you do it! I’ve never pushed one of these around.
Him: What’s this thing for?
Me: Not a clue. How do you recline this thing?
Him: No idea. Where are the instructions?
Me: Why doesn’t this button work that says “pull here”?
Him: (squatting down to stare intensely) I think it folds it up.  Here, YOU push it.
Me:
(staring at the stroller with suspicion, then reaching for it tentatively) This is weird.

Then hurriedly we got the hell out of Target and mocked each other in the parking lot 🙂

Baby steps is right. Seriously y’all we are 42 and 48, and were pretty much under the impression this IVF would never work, so the fear of jinxing-by-touching-baby-gear was upon us big time.

Fear-mongering-PNG

Embracing Fearlessness

“What I’ve found is that fear has become the framework for what it means to live as a woman. And despite increased levels of global knowledge and understanding — not to mention technological advancements that should ease many of our concerns — fearlessness has become a relic of the recent past. Ever since I began to consider having a baby, the most common phrase to pass through my lips has been, “Well, I’m afraid that …”
~ The Pregnancy Fear Factor


One thing I know about our American society (I can’t speak for other countries) is that there is a whole hell of a lot of unnecessary fear out there, so much so that women can’t always easily determine what’s to be taken seriously and what’s overkill. And when it comes to being pregnant, it’s fucking insane. Our C-section rate has risen to ONE-THIRD, triple the WHO’s recommended rate, and women are pretty much told if they eat more than a saltine or don’t do a certain screening, they are unfit to be parents and in essence poisoning their fetuses.

While the Expecting Better book I mentioned in my last post wasn’t a fit for me because of it’s snarky attitude towards home birth, it did question some of the key “rules” out there about pregnancy. And I just knew myself instinctively that a lot of these so-called rules could not possibly be true for the mere fact that women in other countries are not only doing just fine (and have lower maternal death rates) without the rules, but actually encouraged the opposite (i.e., Japanese women encouraged to eat sushi, for one).

The article How to Have the Best Pregnancy Ever awesomely pointed out the incredible hypocrisy out there of what we’re told simultaneously to do, and not do. So I did some homework on a few key topics and found articles with strong research that myth-bust the “advice” out there we see:

And Then There’s All the Prenatal Testing

I’ve decided that I’m not doing any potentially invasive forms of prenatal testing beyond the standard ultrasound at 20 weeks (just to have a look at the bebe). It’s important to remember that all tests are ultimately optional – i.e. YOUR decision, not your doctor’s, no matter what the hospital or midwife or the people in your life tell you.

And while I totally get (and absolutely support that decision) of the many who do want to know all the results of various screenings, what I’ve learned in my life is to think about testing like this – what will I do with the results? Will I terminate our hard-earned pregnancy because a certain test claims my kid has a 60% chance of developing Down’s Syndrome (when that test has also been shown to have a long history of false positives, and irrelevant because I had a donor egg so the embryo doesn’t have ‘advanced maternal age’ chromosomal issues)? Will I take antibiotics that have a history of shredding my body, because there’s a 3% chance the positive result will actually affect the baby? Will taking a glucose screening for gestational diabetes truly do me any good, when the test is so unreliable that 50-70% of women, if retested, will have a different result from the first test AND that there is no evidence that diet or insulin actually improves outcomes for mothers and babies (not to mention if you’re already eating a good diet, there’s not really anything you can do)? Will it do any more than cause me an incredibly higher level of anxiety?

And here’s the deal: this is MY choice. If you feel safer doing a lot of screenings, go for it, knock yourself out. It’s YOUR choice. So when a woman asked on the Glow forum who was doing GD testing and I said I was not, three women had the nerve to tell me I was being stupid, “endangering the life of myself and my baby”, and other insults (even though GD only occurs in 4-7% of all pregnancies and the primary form of ‘treatment’ is diet modification…something that for someone like me would be meaningless since I avoid sugar, white flour, processed foods, etc. already…but these ignorant bitches I’m sure have not done an ounce of homework as to scientific evidence). Classy. Here are a few articles to get you thinking, the history of the screening test, help for those who want to make more educated decisions about GD in particular:

 

 

So for me, the answer is to minimize testing and stick to what our intuition tells us about how we want this pregnancy to be, and how we want to experience this birth. I don’t have high blood pressure, I’m not pre-diabetic (have monitored my blood sugar for years, including while we TTC), and to me, a 9 lb baby is not terrifying. I was 9 lbs and guess what? Just fine. I did not turn yellow and keel over. And I don’t deny that things have happened and I’m not burying my head in the sand. I’m just…having a baby.

Our Big Decision: Choosing The Best Midwife For Us

Back in January of last year, we had complete confidence we’d be pregnant sooner rather than later (HA! So much for that cute li’l idea.), so we started meeting with midwives. Over the past year and a half, I learned about their services to really get an idea of what we like, don’t like, and want when we got our BFP:

  • The first one was one if not THE most popular midwiferies in town. We liked them for two big reasons: 1) The energy/aura of the midwife we spoke to was welcoming and positive. She had that earth mother thing I do very, very well with, and 2) She made us feel empowered, describing how they work and letting us know that when it came to tests, everything was optional, everything was our choice. While she wasn’t our hands-down favorite midwife, we liked her and their vibe, so after being told they worked with our insurance and a friend had her baby with them, we decided they’d be our people. However, scheduling our first appointment, we weren’t allowed to indicate our preferences nor interview any of those particular midwives – rather we, without being told, that they assigned someone and the whole concept of “fit” was thrown out the window. Hell even women in traditional ob/gyn situations get to interview prospective ob/gyns they’re interested in! Then we found out the woman we’d originally met with was not taking on new patients (gee, nice to see that was NOT on her profile on their website). Then their claim that they worked with our insurance was inaccurate –  we are covered for only $500 of their total $4,000 cost (yet the receptionist, while giving this number, claimed that equaled 50%…nice math eh...). Things were repeatedly off. It felt too much like working with an HMO, where you  get who you get, rather than given options as to who will literally enter your home at the most significant moment of your life. We listened to our gut – and said no.
  • The second one was recommended by my former naturopath. This one was easy to decline. We walked in to a scrappy office/exam room that stank – I mean STANK – of old diapers (and there were no babies around). She was disorganized, all over the map, and definitely did not make us feel like we were in competent hands. We left. On a side note, that was the 2nd of 3 poor referrals from my former ND, by the way…the first being the horrifically mean ob/gyn who refused to respond to my multiple requests for an ultrasound when I was on Femara to see if it worked before doing the IUI – which she dumped on another clinic who shat all over me verbally so I had to rely on my ND to do the IUI with a too-large catheter…oh and the final referral that ultimately led me to seek care elsewhere was when she referred me to an oncologist rather than a radiologist for a breast MRI that was recommended after a negative thermogram, an oncologist who didn’t even know how to read the therm scan and talked to me like I was a fucking idiot for my choices.
  • The third one was an independent midwife we had noticed was fairly close to home and had a very holistic perspective. We fell in love with her right away. She spoke our language, has been delivering babies for 16 years, and headed up the state midwifery association. She had strong relationships with the local hospital in case a transfer is needed. She advocates for women, and didn’t talk down to us. Even when I mentioned insecurity about my weight affecting the birth, she said, you’re beautiful, of course you can do this at home. She didn’t treat me like a medical freak because I am not of supermodel BMI. She knows I’m incredibly healthy and treated both my husband and I with respect, and as collaborators rather than subservient to her. My only reason for meeting with others after her was a) because Midwifery #1 said they worked with our insurance, and b) she’s a CPM rather than a CNM so didn’t go to nursing school, so I thought before I make a decision I should meet one more provider who had CNMs on staff. Again, I was looking at pregnancy from a disease perspective rather than a “part of life” perspective.
  • The fourth and final midwifery we visited today, who had great reviews on Yelp (believe it or not that’s how I learned about them – no one referred them to me) and a very friendly, informative website. When I scheduled, they said we’d meet everyone since we’d be coming in after their staff meeting. Cool, plus they’re in-network for insurance. I was stoked. We walked in, the women introduced themselves, and…everyone but 2 of them left, including the one who I’d scheduled with. Huh? So we sat down with an older and younger midwife. The older woman took over (the younger woman mostly stayed silent the whole time). Rather than do an intro, the she immediately began to aggressively grill me, starting out with, “why would you EVER want to consider home birth after IVF?” and pushed me to defend myself, like I was on fucking trial. Turns out she’s primarily a midwife at a HUGE hospital here in town and this was part time, but as she commandeered the conversation, it was clear she held the power over the other midwife. None of our reasons were of interest, and when I mentioned my mother’s hospital experience having me, she accused sternly, “so it looks like your opinions of hospitals are based on your mom’s one experience.” Um, no you fucking bitch, that’s not what I said. I told her right upfront that we both feel the best place for us to give birth is in our own home rather than around a bunch of strangers, and mentioned our alignment with Ina May Gaskin. My husband said, “my wife is not sick, she’s pregnant”. No response. She went down her long list of risks, such as my age meant I could deliver the baby stillborn (FYI: research shows stillborn risk is just 0.81% for my age, compared to 0.47% for women in their 20s..not exactly dramatic) and that because of IVF I am at high risk (the only risk for DEIVF in pregnancy is that the rate for pre-eclampsia goes up from 3% to 10%..and how do they assess this? make sure you don’t have high blood pressure – which I don’t – or diabetes – which I don’t).  She even attempted fear-mongering by saying how one woman, many years ago, who’d had IVF didn’t have a strong placenta, so now she the midwife requires IVF women do fetal monitoring at the hospital in the last 4 weeks of pregnancy. What the living fuck is with this woman – I feel like I’m at a goddamn hospital. She ended it with bragging about how two of them have admitting rights at hospitals – the two hospitals furthest from where we live, I might add – for if they have to transfer. And they end up transferring 20% of their patients! I can’t say that 1 in 5 was a great success number for them. Everything she talked about was risk, risk, risk, rather than here’s what we can offer you, the client, the pregnant couple, at our midwifery. When I asked each of them to describe their style, the only answer I got was “we each have our own styles and you’d be working with all of us here”. So, basically a non-answer, and an admission that we had no choice in who our primary midwife was, even saying we’d be alternating among midwives for every single visit and that there was a chance the 3rd midwife during the birth would be someone “from the outside” – adding “you won’t care by that stage in your labor anyhow”. The fuck I wouldn’t! This is a goddamn home birth, and you bet your ass my husband and I do not want some fucking stranger walking into my house during my most vulnerable moment! Her big sales pitch was that they were there to “keep me safe and let me deliver vaginally” – not one word about giving me a POSITIVE NATURAL BIRTHING EXPERIENCE. Um yeah, so as you can tell from this vent, I was one giant Hell No.

It’s an emotional process, interviewing and vetting midwives for our home birth. Here I was thinking I’d have to worry about having TOO many choices and yet, I felt like the first and last places on the list were basically HMOs disguised as midwiferies – more about their business’s efficiency than creating a collaborative, empowering environment for the couple (customer).

While in that last midwifery interview, I kept thinking of two things:

  • First, I thought of Ina May Gaskin’s approach towards pregnant women during birth, which often included humor – even telling dirty jokes if that was the mother’s style – to get the woman to relax during contractions. Would any of these women care to really know ME, or would they be so stuck into one specific way of doing things that it was their way or the highway? I thought of a couple of of the questions we’d found about assessing doulas after interviews which included a) would we be friends with her, and b) were there any weird vibes? With the 3rd (independent) midwife I described, it was an easy yes to the first and no to the second question.
  • Second, I simply kept thinking of the aforementioned Midwife #3 and her calming presences. With her I felt safe. We could swear around her. She made us comfortable just being in her company. She was a leader in midwifery and has a loyal following and at the end of our meeting last year, we hugged.

So our midwife decision, without a doubt, has been made. It may cost us more because she’s out of network, but who gives a shit. Ultimately, we now know who we feel at home with, both literally and figuratively. I know who I’ll be comfortable with giving birth in our home with my husband, dog, and doula nearby.

Thursday morning is our second ultrasound which will hopefully provide more peace and confidence that this pregnancy is meant to last, through the sound of a heartbeat. It will hopefully assure us that yes, we are meant to, finally, become parents. And that same afternoon, we will go visit our new midwife and celebrate graduation. We will continue to worry, of course, but with graduation in September it will mean the estrogen and progesterone shots are over, I can start prenatal yoga, and the world can know – officially – that Dan and I are going to be parents.

As blogger Brave New World Baby said in her post, Kick Me Baby, said after feeling her baby’s first kicks…

“With each kick I felt like I was waking up and coming back to life.  This was real. This tiny little person, who started life as an embryo in a dish, the only survivor of 14 eggs and 7 embryos, was here with us, kicking so that we could both feel it. I needed that kick.

I’m not the same person I was before the three rounds of IVF, before my losses, before this pregnancy. Sometimes I don’t like how I’ve changed, that I’ve exchanged some of my carefree optimism for cynicism. But worrying doesn’t mean I’m weak. It means I’m becoming a mother. I’ll take that.”

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  One thought on “Entry #87: Two Plus One

  1. July 31, 2016 at 12:27 am

    Love the “How to have the best pregnancy ever article”!

    Over here in the UK I’ve noticed we have different food rules to you guys. We can have smoked salmon for instance. We’ve just been told this week we can have runny eggs. And the whole thing about Japanese women eating sushi does make you wonder how the hell other cultures actually manage to stay pregnant, doesn’t it?

    Here’s another article I read this week from the UK about how it would be nice if we treated pregnant women like adults rather than wrapped them in cotton wool and scared them to death over everything.

    https://www.the-pool.com/news-views/opinion/2016/30/jude-rogers-on-raw-eggs-and-advice-for-pregnant-women#

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 31, 2016 at 6:10 am

      That’s an awesome article. I eat eggs and mayo almost daily and have ignored the sushi and runny egg hype and had cured meat yesterday 🙂 But man is there a backlash if you openly admit it… I suppose that’s a reason I’m glad I’m pregnant at 42 when I give less of a shit when I did when I was younger hahaha…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. July 31, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    I loved the info about food in Expecting Better. I liked having a solid answer for why. I avoided things that would hurt the baby but stuff that would just bother me I didn’t really pay attention to. I ate sushi the whole time but tried to stay away from the high mercury fish or are it less often. And obviously avoided gas station sushi but isn’t that just generally a good life choice?

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 31, 2016 at 1:23 pm

      Haha yeah I really any food at a gas station is probably worth of waiting for any human!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lulu
    August 1, 2016 at 6:54 am

    Haha I love that stroller conversation. We ordered one online on recommendation from my best friend. Since we are so rural, we couldn’t exactly go try it out before we bought it, so I was really trusting my friend. And we did the exact same thing you guys did, pretty much. “What is this fandangled contraption?”. Ours is just a stroller frame and the bucket car seat sits right on top of it. It has awesome storage too, and two cup holders! Love it so much and it is so super compact and easy to use. I secretly push it around the house all the time, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 1, 2016 at 7:43 am

      Yeah we almost got the travel system until we found out the car seats that go on those only last for the first year and as we really wanted the convertible car seat that until they are in booster mode, we ended up putting a separate car seat and stroller on our registry. Oy! Thanks for stopping by my blog!!

      Like

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