Saturday, February 1, 2014

You're doing WHAT when you give birth?

**disclaimer: This is LONG.  That is all.**

I'll be the first to admit, Jesse and I were basically winging this pregnancy for the first 6 months.  I don't mean that we were being irresponsible or ignoring the changes coming to our little family or to my belly.  We went to all of the appropriate appointments, I was (attempting) to eat right while taking it easy and I gave up the sweet, sweet nectar of life…wine.  No, what I mean is that we agreed we had more pressing issues that had to be dealt with before baby was going to make her appearance so those things had to take precedence.  Things like moving across the world.  Needing to find a home and vehicles.  Getting to know our way around a city we will be living in for 3 years. We decided very early on that we would deal with those things before we did baby things.  As it turns out, normal life goes on even when you're growing a human.  

Once we handled all of the moving, it was time to make some decisions about baby and how she was going to make her appearance into this world.  There have been several major things we've decided on in the past two weeks.  I'm proud to say Jesse and I have really worked as a team making these choices for our family and we both are 100% on board with these things.

1.  Our baby will be delivered by a midwife, not an OBGYN.  Maybe even by Jesse.

This was actually a decision that was made in those first 6 months.  I've never liked doctors or hospitals.  It's all very intimidating to me and while I appreciate what doctors do, I would like to avoid them until it's necessary to be seen by one.  The military has midwives (surprising, isn't it?!) and while I knew immediately I wanted to be seen by one of these women, Jesse was going to take some convincing.  It is a little…odd…to some people and it sounds like something out of the 18th century.  I get it.  But after our first appointment in Okinawa, Jess was completely on board and even commented how kind and patient Ms. Beard was (we had a LOT of questions).  We never felt rushed or like we were just another preggo couple.  We were important to her and that was important to us.  After moving and navigating the complicated world of military insurance, we discovered a few different midwife groups in Tampa that our insurance would cover.  We decided on a group based in Tampa but that has a very small office out of St. Petersburg.  Our midwife, Elissa, has recently had a baby herself and her personality is right up our alley.  We felt comfortable immediately and really liked the things she had to say and her whole approach to pregnancy, labor, and delivery.  And yes, she will be catching the baby but has stated that as long as everything is normal, Jesse can do the catching if he wants.  I know that freaks some people out, but man!  What an experience for parents.  He's currently very, VERY nervous about that possibility but definitely considering it.  

2.  Despite my lack of love for hospitals, our baby will be born in one.

Honestly, this wasn't a choice but a decision made by our insurance policy.  Tricare does not cover home deliveries or births in birthing centers.  And yes, I was truly considering both of those things in the beginning.  They will only cover you if you have a hospital stay of at least 48 hours for a vaginal birth or 72 hours for a C-Section.  (Sidenote: this is hilarious to me.  If I have a completely normal pregnancy and deliver my baby at home, it's much MUCH cheaper than a 2 night hospital stay.  Same with a birthing center.  They send you home after a few hours.  But no, Tricare INSISTS on paying for 48 full hours of hospital care).  In the long run, I think we would have decided on a hospital anyway.  Jesse was NOT comfortable with a birthing center or a home birth, and I think eventually my nerves would have gotten the best of me.  As someone explained it to us, you've really got to be all in when deciding on one of those kind of birth experiences and I don't think we both would have gotten there.

The reason we decided on the midwife group in Tampa but to be seen by Elissa at the St. Pete office was because of the hospital she delivers at.  It is a small, community hospital.  When we went on our tour of the Labor and Delivery wing, all of the rooms were empty.  This might scare some people because it means they don't do as many births as a large hospital, but I LOVED this.  It means extra attention from nurses, a calmer atmosphere, and if drugs are eventually needed, a doctor will be available almost immediately.  The main midwife office in Tampa delivers at a huge hospital that has a C-Section rate of somewhere around 45% (The hospital, not the midwife group).  That's a lot of ladies getting cut open.  The same doctors that administer baby drugs are the same ones on call for the operating rooms, so you may or may not get your drugs depending on what's happening in another wing of the hospital.  With an average of 6 births a day and one of the busiest ERs and trauma centers in Tampa, I just didn't feel like I would be a priority.  And dangit, pushing a baby out of me is a big damn deal!

Even though we chose the small community hospital, it has all of the big hospital bells and whistles for the L&D wing.  There are birthing balls and birthing stools.  Yes men, both of those things exist.  You're allowed to walk around the room or the hall.  You can take a shower if the water feels good and the monitors are battery operated - meaning they can strap it on your giant belly and you can walk around without someone pushing a cart behind you.  All in all, this will be the best place for us and where we BOTH will be comfortable.

3. Hypno what?  Hypnobirth.

See what I did there?  I put the semi-normal decisions at the top and now I'm getting to the HUH? stuff.  We are going to have a hypnobirth.  No, this does not mean I will be getting hypnotized.  There won't be a magician in the room swinging a pendulum in my face telling me to cluck like a chicken.  It means that we will go to hypnobirthing classes and learn how to chill the eff out during labor. 

I mean, really.  If you were given a choice, what would you rather have?  SURVIVING your painful contractions, screaming and yelling, and people in your face telling you to push to earn a rite of passage into motherhood?  Or a birth that you can remember fondly - smiling, laughing, being relaxed with the dad?  Listening to your body and telling others when the urge to push approaches?  Just saying….

Elissa actually got it in our heads that we might want to try a birth "method."  This sort of scared us.  Not that she suggested it, but that we were six months into this thing and we were JUST starting to discuss these kinds of options.  Yes, there are options when you give birth.  Who knew?!  These are the things people should really tell you when you get pregnant.  Hypnobirth helps you be more calm and collected.  It teaches you to breathe deeply, recognize what muscles you're using, and go to a place of peace while you're having "surges" (not contractions).  It teaches you what's happening, why, and how to not freak out.  And if you do freak out, it teaches you how to get back to the calm breathing and happy place without a panic attack ensuing.  It teaches you how to visualize what's going on and how to not be fearful of birth, regardless of us being taught for YEARS that birth is scary and painful but worth it in the end if you can just make it through.  Hypnobirths also tend to be MUCH shorter than "normal" births as well as less painful and overall a more joyous experience.  And man, we're bringing a kid into this scary, scary world!  Shouldn't we at least have the opportunity to enjoy the process?

Look, I'm not saying birth is going to be all sunshine and gumdrops in a field of pink flowers.  I'm not an idiot.  I'm just saying, surely there's another way besides letting the medical field hijack OUR baby's birth.  The scheduled inductions, getting pumped full of drugs at the earliest moment, and then "surviving the experience."  Modern medicine has it's place and I'm not opposed to using it if that's where I'm at, but birth has happened for oh, I don't know... 1000's of years.  With and without drugs.  Babies come out when they want to come out.  Can't we give them the benefit of making that very first decision in their life as long as it's safe to do so?  

Jesse and I are both very much on board with this plan.  We went to the informational meeting a few weeks back and were ready to sign up for classes then.  He is excited to be an active part of the birth (something he didn't experience with Sophia).  He's happy knowing he can help coach, massage, breath, and walk with me using the information we learn in our classes.  I'm thrilled to know that he WANTS all of that.  I want him in the room, but I want him to be comfortable in the room.  Having my husband there is a blessing, having him in panic mode would be a nightmare.  Taking these classes together will put us 100% on the same page, using the same language and techniques.

The first of our five classes is this Wednesday, I'll keep you posted on the weirdness level.    

4. A doula will be present during labor - not my mom or girlfriends.


A doula.  Dooo-la.  Doula is a Greek word meaning "a woman who serves."  In more modern times, it's a woman who is present before, after, and during childbirth to provide emotional and physical support for the FAMILY (not just the mother) - NOT medical care.  She helps position the mom, shows dad how to put pressure in the right places, and will come to our house while I'm in active labor BEFORE we go to the hospital.  She told Jesse at our meeting that he will be just as exhausted as me because she will put him to as much work as he'll let her.  She advocates for the family and helps ask the right questions when medical "necessities" come up.  Yes, she will have her essential oil voodoo and other random supplies to help along the process.  She will massage but it will be to benefit baby, not me, meaning it may or may not feel wonderful.  She's on call for us 4 weeks before the due date and available to answer questions 24/7 from now until a few weeks post-pardum.  She will help us with the hypnobirth breathing as she's familiar with the technique.  It feels right and we feel like this is the best decision for OUR family.  And the universe sure works in neat ways just when you need it to.  Our doula, or hypnobirth instructor, and our midwife ALL KNOW EACH OTHER.  Just try to tell me that it wasn't supposed to work out.    

I love my friends and I love my mom.  However, none of them live closer to Tampa than a 3 hour flight, and even if they did I think we would still go the doula route.  We don't know when baby is coming, so how can you ask someone to fly in, take off work, schedule vacation days for a day you can't be 100% sure of?  Stephanie, our doula, has been at over 400 births.  That's a lot of babies.  I'm pretty sure my mom has been at two - mine and my brother's.  My girlfriends, I have no idea.  Most of them don't have children of their own so perhaps it's not my job to show them what that will look like for them someday.  I know that people are concerned that my mother won't be present at the birth of her grandchild but as it turns out, I'm responsible enough to have a conversation with my mother about this.  And I'm truly not trying to be harsh, uncaring, or unfeeling, but it's OUR choice.  She will be coming AFTER the birth, once we are home and trying to adjust, to lend a helping hand.  Jesse eventually has to go back to work and work for him can mean anywhere in this country.  To me, having my mom here with me during THAT time that is more useful than another person in the delivery room unsure of what to do or what exactly is going on.  I'm not saying that she wouldn't be useful or that the familiar face wouldn't be nice, but it's just not the route we have chosen to go.

Also, let it be noted - A DOULA WAS JESSE'S IDEA. 

5. Our baby will be wrapped in cloth…diapers that is.

I know, I know.  I have completely convinced you I'm a hippie and I've converted Jesse to the dark side.  This was another of those decisions we made a while back, didn't think about for a bit, and have come back to.  We're still on board.  First of all, cloth diapers are ADORABLE.  Have you seen them?!  Second, they save a TON of money - I mean a ton.  A friend of a friend says she spends around $200 a month on diapers for her 6 month old child.  $200 a month!  That's crazy to me!  One cloth diaper runs you about $20-$25.  You do need a stash of about 2 dozen if you're going to be successful at it.  So let's do a little math, shall we?  Let's go on the expensive side and say I buy 30 $25 diapers.  That gives me a few extras in case I didn't have time (or energy) for laundry.  That's $750 to diaper your child.  Forever.  That's also about 4 months worth of disposables.  Ummmm, assuming my child wears diapers for let's say 24 months of her life (oh yea, ps, cloth diaper kids are generally potty trained faster), that's a savings of about $4000.  I know that diapers may not cost $200 a month for each family.  Some months are less, some months are more - especially as the diaper gets bigger, the pack size gets smaller, and the price doesn't change!  Yes, it's true I will spend more in laundry detergent, water, and electric bills to wash these things, I'm going to take a wild guess and assume the extra utilities won't add up to four grand.  Just a hunch.

PHEW.  So there it is.  Two very lengthy posts in two short days.  I know you may not agree with our decisions up there, and that's okay.  Everyone has an opinion and I'm happy to hear them.  We are beyond excited for this time in our lives and really can't wait to meet our little baby girl.  I'm happy that we are in control of our situation and that Jesse and I are on the same page.  Even if you think we're getting all crunchy granola, new age hippie on ya, hey.  At least we have a plan.  

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