Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son

Items Gestational, For The Nonce


Dateline: 38 weeks, 4 days.

Item: I am still pregnant.

Item: I wonder if that will be true for much longer.
The view from now

Item: Had a nice visit at the OB’s yesterday. Sweetly enthusiastic u/s tech kept enthusing during my BPP, making me feel a bit jaded in comparison. (Partly, I’ve been spoiled by the image quality at the high-risk place I go for growth scans.). She really was adorable, taking care to point out specific bones, to enthuse over how Jackalope was practicing breathing, “which they don’t do all the time so we don’t always get to see it!” Apparently both placenta and fluid levels are fantastic, or words to that effect.

After a rather too-lengthy wait for the OB portion of the visit (not because anyone was late but because there are few slots for BPPs, and this was the best we could do), a punchy and overtired Bean accompanied me back to the exam rooms, where he roll on the floor. Blood pressure up a bit, which I suspected as I’ve been having these darling little panic attacks, but not enough to worry anyone; weight down a bit. “Undress from the waist down,” said the nurse, and I said no, I’d wait to talk to the doctor before setting myself up for cervix rummaging, thank you. I do not remember that fondly at all, and have decided I am not submitting myself to painful procedures without good reason.

This, it transpired, was perfectly fine with Dr. White*, who came in wearing yet another pair of hip glasses. (Between my previous visit with her, this one, and my doula’s report of meeting her at a delivery, no repeat frames yet.) She agreed that there wasn’t much to do with the information except satisfy general curiosity and encourage me to go to the hospital quickly when labor starts if it happens that I am secretly already fairly dilated. “But,” she said, “that is already what you are planning to do, so it doesn’t matter.”

* Who is, point of order, not white. But I am into using fairly obvious nicknames this time around (why have I been protecting Dr. Russian and pals?) and the other obvious ways to alter her name are not nice.

I really like her. She was so encouraging about everything, saying she really thought everything was going to go well and I would do great and my birth plan looks good, too. She talked to me for a long time, wanting to hear again a bunch of details from my labor with the Bean, and here, gentle reader, is where she really won me over. I was describing the Horrible Cab Ride, and how even though it was Horrible, I was apparently at 4 cm both before and afterwards (leading to my point about how much better and faster everything went after the epidural, not matter what the books say). “It sounds like you were in transition,” she said.

Internets, I was floored. YES, that is exactly what I thought at the time. Everything about how I was feeling and acting was exactly how transition is described, except supposedly I wasn’t because transition is said to happen from 8-10cm. (This led to some real shock at the hospital when the resident said, brightly, “you’re at 4 cm!” not realizing I had been told the same four hours of agony previously. “WHAT??” I said, or perhaps roared. “Um, maybe four and a half,” she said, in a frankly adorable attempt to mollify me.)

When I told my mother about the transition confusion, she said the same thing (minus the cab) had happened to her when I was born, and that moreover, when she was in med school, they were taught that transition was a kind of labor, not a particular point in dilation. (In other words, maybe many people experience transitional labor in the 8-10 cm range, but that doesn’t mean the two are synonymous). Until Dr. White’s comment, I have never heard anyone with more recent training agree with that concept, and I can’t tell you how relieving it was to hear that maybe I am not crazy, and that did happen. Redeeming, that’s the word.

Anyway, yay, Dr. White. On the basis of nothing except our chat (which included how I’d thought I was going into labor last Thursday and then not and then that being able to walk to a restaurant two blocks away for my date (!) with Sugar on Monday made me think I was having a pre-labor burst of energy and then how I could barely sleep that night from pain because in fact I was not up to that walk and how I’ve been having these panic attacks, sometimes without even consciously thinking about anything that worries me), anyway, on the basis of that long parenthetical, she mentioned cheerfully several times how if I happened to go into labor in the next couple days, she would be on call. “Go ahead and make an appointment for next week, just in case,” she said. She almost rolled her eyes when I asked about their induction date policy. (It’s 41 weeks. I never bothered to ask before because I never expected this pregnancy to last longer than the Bean’s. But here I am, still knocked up.)

And then I went home. And then I lay on the bed in various kinds of back pain and contraction exhaustion for several hours, while the Bean covered me with stuffed animals and trucks. And then I lost a great deal of sleep last night in the same way, unisom notwithstanding, and had a pretty rough morning, to boot. And I am starting to wonder if she might be onto something.

At least we have made it to the lunar new year. The Bean and Sugar are both rabbits, you see, and I have been secretly hoping for a little horse, like me.

Oh, and post-scriptural Item: Thank you for your many kind and encouraging comments on the birth plan. I do want to clarify that many of the things you thought it was horrible to have to request are, in fact, standard at this hospital. I know from being there all but plan-less with the Bean that they always hurl the newborn onto your chest and assume you will all room together. (In fact, the dumb tour guide we had last time said that was mandatory, which sounded intimidating. That was only one of many things she was wrong about. The LCs at that place…I don’t have much good to say about the two I encountered last time. I plan to skip the whole business this time and just see the good one I eventually found in Brooklyn if needed. And my insurance will pay! Thanks, Obama!) As far as I know, non-gestational parents can hang with the baby post-caesarean. Nor do I think anyone’s penis gets automatically docked in the absence of a specified desired to leave the thing alone.

The yelling and so on — well, I certainly hope none of my providers would do such a thing. It’s just that I’ve been so wrong on that count before, and felt so helpless to do anything about it (or even, for a long time, to admit it had happened). Really, putting all that in was mostly an exercise in showing myself I could be an advocate for myself, taking control and all that.

I really do like and trust the OBs in this practice, as much as my twice-shy self can trust anyone. Even Dr. Smarm I think is probably okay, despite not being my favorite: she gets very good reviews online, and Dr. Ready seemed genuine when she assured me that, weird appointment or no, she would not do the things I fear. I feel a bit defensive on this point, partly because of my own history, but also because I often feel sort of demographically pressured to believe I should see midwives instead of OBs. I like midwives, in the abstract, but sometimes the praise of them necessitates a villain in a way I find problematic. Point of order, I have good reason to have chosen OB care, both times. I really like this hospital, and no midwives deliver there. The local midwifery practice everyone loves delivers at a hospital I do not love. The hospital with the fancy birth center and therefore more midwives is farther from our house, and the present cab ride is sufficiently long. In particular during my last pregnancy, I was thought to be at increased risk of needing a c-section, and I thought on the whole I preferred to know the person performing it.

This is part of a longer rant on the problems of birth activism’s concerning itself with abandoning medical systems in favor of options (midwives, home births) that may be great for many people but require, among other things, “good” health. Midwifery has a problem, in my ever humble etc., if hospital-based practices risk out patients for things like gestational diabetes. More to my point, it is not ultimately appropriate to advocate that “healthy” people abandon hospital care en mass as a primary response to problems in that care, inasmuch as removing the most privileged (in health but also, statistically, in race, class, and education) from the system, leaving those less well positioned to advocate for themselves stuck in a system activists would do better to improve. (Mind you, I am talking about activist rhetoric here; a given individual’s decision to have a home birth I have no ideological argument against.)

But meanwhile, my back hurts. I am going to take a bath.

9 thoughts on “Items Gestational, For The Nonce

  1. Year of the horse is here, weather is warming above freezing, on-call childcare is at your service for the next four days…and you are ready. I am so impressed with all the work you’ve done to prepare, especially considering everything about the past few months. So proud (as always) to call you my friend.

  2. Dr White sounds darling! I hope she does get to deliver for you.

    I myself had a home birth, but I am firmly of the belief that (all things being well) a woman should deliver wherever and with whomever she is most comfortable. For many women that is hospital, and I totally understand that. You gotta do what works for you!

    What I really think we need to be advocating for is education and choice, not one particular way over any other.

    Which is all completely irrelevant at this point except to say – you go Mama! I hope that little horsey makes a thoroughly undramatic entrance soon!

  3. You are almost there! Jackalope is almost there! Amazing.
    I’m glad you have a good OB like Dr. White and that she took all this time to talk to you. Sorry to hear about the panic attacks though. Mine, too, come whenever they like and without making an appointment… this may not be much of a consolation, but just to say you’re not alone. But I do hope that this birth experience will be as non-panicky as possible!

  4. You’re almost done! Good luck! It sounds like you’ve done a lot to ensure a much better birth experience this time around.

  5. Jackalope is going to be here so soon!

    While I can, and do, rave about the care I received from midwives, what is more important to me is having choices in healthcare. Just because a pregnancy and birth supported by midwives was right for me doesn’t mean would necessarily be right for you, or anybody else. I think all anybody can do is find the system that works best for them, and advocate as fiercely as they can for themselves within that system: exactly what you’re doing!

  6. Ha, I love that shot. I am sooooooo much bigger this time than I was last time (and I’m only 22 weeks!) so we’ll see how things go when I get to be full term. I can see why you’re eager to be done. Though I imagine the 42 weekers have limited sympathy for you. đŸ™‚

    Dr. White sounds awesome! I am thrilled for you that you’ve found good healthcare providers who listen to your needs and will work with you to give you the birth experience you want and deserve. I love my midwives and will continue to rave about midwifery to anyone who will listen, but my primary problem with the system is not the system itself but lack of information. I just don’t think that most women realize that there are other options out there besides the traditional OB, hospital, standard interventions route. And I don’t believe that that standard of care is appropriate or necessary for many women. Heck, even the OB who did my IUI’s seemed perplexed (not just that he disagreed, I mean he seemed genuinely puzzled about how it all worked) by the idea of an out of hospital, low intervention birth. And he delivers babies for a living! Maybe we could get some more information out there.

    I suspect you have other things going on right now but I do want to read your rant about “natural” birth one of these days. đŸ™‚

    Also, it goes without saying, but I am so excited for all of you and cannot wait to meet Jackalope!

  7. Oh I am so so so excited for you all! I can’t wait to hear that Jackalope is here safe and sound. I have every confidence that things will go well this time around.

    I can understand your decision regarding the hospital. When I was pregnant with E., my selection process for care provider was: a) determine which hospitals in my large city I was willing to deliver at; b) call the midwives with privileges at those hospitals. If I hadn’t got in with my midwives (I was too late for the other collective), I would have gone OB with no hesitation. For me the hospital trumped anything else.

    Thinking of you, my friend. All the best.
    PS. I would really like to send you something when Jackalope arrives. If you do not think it too internet stalkerish to send me your address, I would be so happy.

  8. It sounds like you are in good hands. I am so glad. I hope it was a good bath.

  9. JACK A LOPE ! JACK A LOPE! I’m his or her hype man, see. We have two dragons and two rabbits in our house, so I am delighted that you’ll get a horse because SYMMETRY. I hope that the birth is UNlike delivering a horse, All Creatures Great and Small notwithstanding.

    I don’t want to jinx you, but it seems like things are set up to be so much better in every way that this time just HAS to be easier. I mean, things could be pretty hard and still be easier. Gosh, it’s getting on towards time for us to start hoping you go into labor instead of the reverse. I will spend whatever time I have left working on shaming things to say about not having a midwife.

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