Monday, February 21, 2011

Birth Matters!

My WIC nutritionist might have thought me a little extreme to decline to answer where I was receiving prenatal care. I told her I didn't want to get my midwife in trouble since midwives cannot legally attend a homebirth in the state of NC. She replied, "I had no idea it was illegal!" Yep, heard that one... I rarely find someone who DOES know that.

My pediatrician probably thought I was a little weird when she asked who my midwife was and I declined saying that I didn't want to give out her name. "It's illegal for midwives to attend homebirths in NC." I said, "So you can see why I wouldn't want her name out there." I would never ever give my midwife's name to anyone unless they were honestly seeking a homebirth attendant.

I think people are a little surprised to find out the trouble I've had to go to to find a midwife willing to attend my homebirth in NC. After all, most states allow midwives to attend homebirths. Trying to find a midwife in NC is akin to trying to locate someone who sells illegal merchandise on the black market. You have to know someone who knows someone.... and so on. Once you're in and trusted, you can get the info you need, find a midwife willing to attend your birth, receive prenatal and postpartum care, etc. Since I've moved to NC and discovered the backwards system pertaining to midwives I have ultimate respect for the 20+ midwives that practice homebirth in NC at the risk of their licenses and thus their livelihoods. They could easily move to a state with a less ignorant government and population but they choose to practice here because they believe in giving women a choice... at almost any cost. I always appreciated that risk but I think I still took it somewhat for granted.

Today I got a phone call from my midwife's apprentice to say that my midwife had been arrested for practicing midwifery illegally. You may be wondering how common it is for a midwife to be exposed in such a way that legal action would be taken. Well, it rarely happens. My midwife's arrest is apparently unprecedented in NC simply because usually midwives just don't get caught. Like I said, it's a very underground operation and women who choose to deliver at home are so grateful that they protect the identity of their midwives.

So today I am an angry mom. I literally cried when I got the phone call... which may be partly due to my overactive hormones but mostly I was so sad that this dear woman who attended the birth of my last child and has been practicing for over 20 years, who understands the need that so many women have to have the birth they want, has been betrayed by someone who should have protected her identity. Whoever the perpetrator is, they not only ruined this woman's lifetime love and career, but dashed the hopes of those of us left of her clients by forcing us to travel even farther to find a midwife to attend our births. Not to mention, this instance has surely scared off many apprentices and midwives who have been training and considering practicing homebirth in NC thus expanding the web of support and accessibility of reputable midwives. How dare they! I'm sure I'll never meet this person and I don't think I've often had the impulse to get violent with someone but I fear I might in this instance if given the opportunity. This is an ignorant and backwards state. Well... it's an ignorant and backwards country as far as birth is concerned in general, but truly, NC may be the most ignorant in the union. It really makes me want to pack up and move out. *sigh*

Well, there are about a million things I could rant about pertaining to birth and how it's viewed but I find myself just too angry to be rational. I know all the arguments... both sides. I've read and heard everything that anyone and everyone has to say. It's been a long time since I've heard a new argument from the pro-hospital and doctor side. More than anything, I just wish that more people cared to educate themselves about the sad state of birthing in the US. I wish there was something I could do to make people care more, to make them understand how much it matters. Birth matters. Your experience during birth matters much much more than people give it credit for. It's an experience that was once revered in a different light that it is today. Today it is a sickness that we treat in a hospital instead of a bodily process that's as natural as breathing. How we see birth matters so much to how we see ourselves as women. Birth matters!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Inquiring minds want to know...

So here's the update for those of you who are curious. I had a midwife appointment today. She wasn't shocked or awed at my condition, however, she was surprised at the fact that I'd gained another 11 pounds in four weeks. That shocks the heck out of me. I don't think I look like I've gained 20 pounds since the onset of all this, but I guess stranger things have happened. On the plus side, my strict adherence to diet and my appetite have yielded a clean urine strip which was a big victory as far as I'm concerned. I love the discipline I have when it comes to eating... even if I don't like doing it much.
I did, however, entreat my midwife to do some searching with her doppler for more than one heartbeat. We heard a heartbeat in two separate places but she said, given the size yet of my uterus, it's just as easily from the same fetus. Furthermore, the placenta is anterior, meaning across the front of my uterus and apparently those things are pretty noisy and interfere with one's ability to hear a heartbeat from such a small person easily. She said she's still ruling it a single for now but in reality, I'm not really at a point in this pregnancy that she would be able to definitively tell. So... next time maybe?
So I'm stuck still in limbo, wondering what the heck is going on with my body and why this pregnancy has been so drastically different. I'm such a steady and consistent person both physically and in personality so such a variance in what I consider the norm for me is just so odd. If it is a single, I'm intensely curious as to the personality of this little person and I hope difficult pregnancy doesn't translate into difficult personality on the other side of the womb. If there's one thing I am sure of after all this, it's that I am soooo done with pregnancy and the decision to make this my last one was definitely the right call.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Protein and Momcation

I think I have mentioned on several occasions that my least favorite part of pregnancy is having to eat all the time (although morning sickness is definitely in the running especially with this one). Pregnancy has taught me that I actually don't like eating as much as I thought because most people inform me that getting to eat whatever they want is their favorite part of pregnancy. Well, I've never been a calorie counter or a person that would EVER buy fat-free anything, but during pregnancy I am a protein counter. I get rather obsessed with protein because as my good friend and Doula Lorell is known to say, "Babies are made of protein, not carbs!" Protein keeps a person fuller longer and also avoids the unwanted and unnecessary "baby weight" that many people find so difficult to shed post-baby. I'm sure you can imagine that being a person that shies away from meat most of the time, getting protein really can become an obsession in order to be sure I am getting enough and eating things that are going to be really filling.

I have to tell you though, that being only 4 1/2 months (20 weeks) pregnant, I am possibly consuming at least half of our grocery budget just on my own. I'm eating like I'm 7 or 8 months along. This past weekend I got a "momcation" in which I drove out to Nags Head by myself where my mother-in-law is on a travel nurse assignment and just enjoyed being kidless for a the weekend and getting to hang out with her. That was quite heavenly and my MIL was quite conscious of my need to eat. I got into the habit of referring to my daily meals as 1st breakfast, 2nd breakfast, 1st lunch, 2nd lunch, 1st dinner, and 2nd dinner. My MIL noticed I was always checking the protein content of everything in her fridge and planning my next meal. I did it so much that when we went to the grocery store, SHE actually started checking. A big thanks to her for putting up with my grossly out-of-control appetite. And really, I kind of feel that way a lot. I can't believe how quickly I get hungry. If I haven't consumed a decent amount of protein I am hungry within 45 minutes after eating. Even when I do eat a good meal, I get no more than 2 hours before I have to eat again.

You would think that this is my first pregnancy or something with how I feel like every experience is new but the truth is that every milestone with this pregnancy has been new. I feel like I don't really know what I'm doing this time around and I keep wondering if either A. Is this twins? or B. Am I just that much older?  Choice A seems to be what Brad has accepted but I suppose I'm kind of holding out hope that there's still just a single in there that's putting me through the ringer. But I can't ignore how HUGE my belly has gotten, how I've gained almost 20 pounds already even though I am not sure where it is, how I have felt fetal movement since 14 weeks and have been able to feel it externally since about 18 weeks, and how my uterus feels like a 15 pound bowling ball already. Oh there's other things too like how I'm eating us out of house and home and how I've been having braxton hicks since 17 weeks (usually they don't start for me til about week 25). I guess I'm just not going to believe it until I hear more than one heartbeat or actually see more than one on an ultrasound... which will probably happen if I continue with this incredible uterine growth rate.

In the meantime, I don't have a whole lot of time to stress about what twins will be like, what with taking care of my other 3 kids and trying to keep enough food in me. Eating, with each child, has been harder and harder because I have other mouths to feed before my own. I really don't know how I could possibly manage to eat even more than I eat now (which will happen if this is a multiple pregnancy). I've kind of started to hate cooking because I just hate eating. If I could afford to I'd probably order some kind of takeout for every meal. I'm sort of wondering how the octo-mom managed to carry so many babies. I mean, is one's stomach actually capable of digesting food fast enough to feed that many fetus? I guess not since all those babies were like 1 or 2 pounds and in the NICU.  Anyway, I digress. I'm hungry again; it must be messing up my train of thought.