9 August 2012: Week 13: Let the battle begin…
It’s funny how the whole home birth has taken on a life of it’s own. I have been careful not to tell too many people of our intentions yet. It almost feels like I have to go incognito to have a home birth.
Someone told me the other day ‘I bet you are going to have a Caesar.’ When I said no, I hope not. She proceeded to tell me yes I bet you will. ‘How tall is your husband? Oh yes. You will have a Caesar’. I could not believe it! How could someone be so convinced of something so far from my realms of reality? And not only that, but feel quite within rights to tell me what would happen with my body! This is someone that should be in the know. It was easy enough to ignore, but it is no wonder people get so misguided.
The topic of birth was brought up around me the other day. Someone started saying that ‘I can not believe in this day and age women would risk not having their baby in a hospital’. I couldn’t help it, I had to say something. Although I was not trying to convince people that home birth is the best way for everyone, it was fairly evident what my view on it was. I believe it may be the best choice for us, and it is because we are well informed. It is because we know what the options are. We have done research and we know what is important to us. It is not because of ignorance but in fact as a direct result of not going with a ‘see what happens’ approach.
An interesting piece on ‘The Pitfalls of “Going With The Flow” in Birth’. http://birthtraumatruths.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/the-pitfalls-of-going-with-the-flow-in-birth/
We know the interventions that are being offered and know the effects they will have on my body and ability to labour. We have read about the history of birth and how it has evolved into the medicalised process we have today, about legislation and the effect on what was once a natural process. We have looked at all the statistics we can get our hands on for home versus hospital birth. I am not an expert and don’t know it all, but I am informed. I am happy for everyone to have their own opinion, to voice that opinion but please, at the very least, do not class me as someone who is ignorant.
I fear the battle for our home birth will continue up until the baby decides it is ready to be born. I fear that the bigger battle for women’s right to choose will continue well after. I hope to always be an advocate for this. I am thankful for educated women like my friend Kristy and my doula who remind me of the reasons I chose this in the face of doubters and criticism. Of course I am not turning my back on the medical system, I work in it, I know the great benefits that come from medical intervention – for those that need it. If I need it, I will not hesitate, however if there is no reason for intervention, I would prefer to have this baby on my terms. Isn’t that how it should be? There should be no stigma attached to women who have a birth plan, who question choices, who choose home birth, or who transfer to hospital. Maybe one day this will be the case.
27 July 2012: Week 11: Realisation Hits Home
I have told one of my closest friends (I have never been good at keeping surprises!). It was lovely, and I am so looking forward to telling the rest over this next couple of weeks. Most of the people at work know now – it is impossible to keep it a secret. Their response has been really wonderful and it takes me by surprise how all of a sudden you feel kind of special and looked after.
We have been talking about having a home birth lately and have met with Lynda – our possible doula. She was wonderful and we are more than ever convinced that this is the way we want to go. Now it is a matter of finding a midwife who will deliver for us. No easy feat as at the moment there are none in the area. I hope the politics of this beautiful event in a family’s life changes soon. Never fear – Lynda is on to it and I think she will get lucky. I think about the birth quite a lot and am excited to do it our way. I have a vision in my head of what it will be like – right up to picking out the spot it will happen! I think this is really healthy and I am not afraid of the birth or pain at all, only excited to share this with Todd and meet our baby and have our time together as a new family, and then enjoy time with the rest of the family. I am sure it will happen the way we want. Of course there is a little niggle in the back of my mind, hoping that everything will be ok and the baby healthy. But I don’t think this has anything to do with our decision for a home birth. I have come to realise that this is a part of having a child. It doesn’t end when you are out of the 12 week danger period, it doesn’t end when you see 24 weeks and know the baby could survive if born, it doesn’t end when you hit the magical due date. This is what I am discovering – worry about our children will be part of our lives for the rest of our lives. We can only hope to make the best decisions for them, to create the safest, most secure loving and welcoming environment that enables them to grow into themselves. I believe this starts at birth, and that’s why we have chosen a home birth.
It’s funny, someone said to me the other day – ‘Oh your going to be a Mum soon.’ Now I know this –right? I have been growing a baby for 11 weeks, but this comment totally threw me! I had always thought of ‘the baby’ and not so much that I would be ‘the MUM’!! It hit me hard. Oh shit! The responsibility. I am that person! Someone’s Mum!? I told Todd that night and we laughed. It happened to him when he wrote in an email ‘I’m going to be a Dad’. We say it to each other often now – just to make sure we are used to the idea by the time this little one arrives!
It’s funny that all of a sudden – our we becomes three and me is now two. I have forever been conscious of exercise and fitness and eating healthy. But all of a sudden everything I do, eat, think about, how much I sleep, rest, work, how many laps I do at the pool, my heart-rate is all related to how good it is for the baby. Ok so I admit – the odd cheeseburger – that’s just for me. What was I saying about not losing my head or myself? Oh right that was in about week 7 – man how much has changed since then!
I have been mixing the new with the old school and I have this app called positive pregnancy. I have been listening to it when I can’t sleep at night – which is often. It is a relaxation message and calms you down then guides you into positive thoughts about the baby and you, your body and birth. It leaves me with a really lovely feeling of wellbeing – highly recommended.
Back to the no sleep… as lovely as all this pregnancy stuff is I have to admit there are times when this baby wreaks havoc with my system. Just the other morning I had a meltdown. I had not slept nearly all night, you know – lying awake with your mind running faster than Usain Bolt and fighting to get into sleep zone. Far too soon the time came to get up and my body screamed no. I had planned to go to the pool before work and had lists of all these things I had to do (ok so some of them I had dreamt up in my sleepless hours and weren’t really necessary but I didn’t see that at the time). I was overwhelmed with tiredness, I just wanted to crawl under the blankets and sleep for days, but how could I – I had so many commitments! I thought about not going to work and staying put – but I should go to the pool I thought. If I don’t it’s just being lazy. Well if I go to the pool I had better bloody well be going to work. But I’m so tired I might lash out at some poor unsuspecting sole and besides I am feeling like a bit of a useless lump anyway because I have to avoid so many things in my job and not everyone knows I’m pregnant. I’m sick of not being able to do my job, sick of being sick, sick of bloody not sleeping!! But if I don’t go… what if this is only the start and it gets worse before it gets better? You can see my train of thought right… anyway after a few tears and eventual giggles with Todd I agreed to stay in bed for a few more hours and catch up on sleep and not worry about the pool that morning. I did manage to make it to work and instead of lashing out, I laughed with a friend about my meltdown. What can I say – it’s not roses everyday.
21 July 2012: Week 10: Hello Baby
We had a scan on Friday and I got to see our baby again. It was tiny, but a healthy size and even waved as the probe went over. It was the coolest thing I have ever seen!
We have started to think up names. At Todd’s suggestion I came up with seven boy and seven girls names. He didn’t stick to his end of the bargain and instead comes up with names from things that he sees around. The latest is Oke (he saw a Karaoke sign last night). I think this is going to take much discussion!
Todd is taking an interest in all that is happening – reading websites and asking questions. Ok, so he was searching the Internet after I had yet again woken him up at three in the morning, irritable that the fan was on. Once I had rectified the fan situation and given him an earful. I finally drifted back to peaceful sleep, leaving him wondering what the hell I was so cranky about and would it last for the next seven months!? It’s hard to explain the depths of tiredness and frustration at nightly insomnia to someone. I certainly didn’t have the patience at three am as I was woken by arctic temperatures because Todd was hot when he came to bed. I joke but in all we have been really extremely happy. We do not squabble over trivial issues anymore. I think we both know there is something bigger going on for us and we need to love and appreciate each other even more.
We are trying to figure out our birthing options at the moment. I am fairly adamant that I want as little intervention as possible, and to let my body do what is natural. It is also paramount that Todd be an essential part of the birthing and labour process. We are keen to learn how to do it all ourselves and at the moment are trying to explore the possibility of home birth. There are not too many options for this available but I think we will be able to find what we want. Telling the parents this decision may be another stumbling block!
We have told all our immediate family of the pregnancy and their reactions have been truly wonderful. It is so nice to be excited with them. I have told work friends as it was a bit to keep a secret – what with trying to avoid all the x-ray and chemicals etc. but we are trying to keep quiet until the magical week 12 mark. I know that something could go wrong at any time, but for us that’s the point we have decided to shout it from the rooftops. For the moment, I like keeping it close to us for a while.
30 June 2012: The First 10 Weeks
I felt instantly pregnant. I was five weeks when we found out and over the next two weeks the changes in me were noticeable. I think I have had just about every symptom possible in pregnancy so far and I swear they were there before I read about them! The going to the toilet a hundred times was obvious, one that was less recognisable – to me at least, was the abdominal muscle pain. It was like I had been doing crunches or had invested in an ab-swing when in fact I hadn’t been doing anything at all. Before I knew I was pregnant I even asked the acupuncturist if some of the needles could have passively stimulated my abdominal muscles causing the ache. Nope, just pregnant.
I was forgetting everything! It wasn’t just that I was distracted with these secret thoughts – ‘I have a baby in me you know!’ It was more than that – it was a tangible loss of cognitive capabilities. I locked myself out of the house, lost my car keys – twice, left my glasses in absurd places. I pretty much had to rely on lists just to manage my day-to-day life.
I was nauseous all day and the only thing that made it better was to eat. Not looking good for the waist-line. To compound matters – I had to stop running as my boobs were so sore I thought I might do damage if I kept running!
I decided swimming was the key. I was at the pool doing laps and as I got out – I felt faint. I’m not a fainter. I work in the operating theatre – stand for hours on end working on body parts and I never faint. Here I was hovering beside the pool – a newly diagnosed fainter, wow this really was changing everything quickly.
Pre-pregnancy I was determined that babies would not take over my entire life. I was desperate not to become all consumed with ‘trying’. I exercised, started training, entering competitions, started new projects and before I new it my life was full. Or so I thought. Along with the two blue lines came the realisation that all is about to change.
Early on I thought I would not succumb to my life being taken over. After all, I had spent thirty years developing myself into the person I am – I wasn’t about to let all that go. I’m afraid though – for now at least, I don’t think I have a choice in the matter. My body is taking over and there is no reasoning. No longer can I push through being tired – I have to just go lay down. I lay awake at night and think about the baby, the pregnancy, the birth, imagine our baby, I want to wake up Todd to ask him what he thinks about cloth nappies or which room to convert. And occasionally, in the early days, I’ll admit – I literally crossed my legs and prayed that the baby would stay put.
So yes, the baby is taking over almost every waking thought. It slips into conversation without me knowing and constantly wavers at the edge of my brain. But in truth I love it, and wouldn’t have it any other way. Writing is a part of me that I don’t think I will ever lose, and for the moment what better way to preserve my memories, a part of myself, and our growing family, than to capture it in words.
There have been pains, aches, almost constant nausea and debilitating tiredness but I would not change one part of it for the world. Even as I wander around staving off the nausea I am glad that it is there – it is a sign that our baby is growing.
I feel truly blessed. I always wondered why people used that word so much in pregnancy. I’m far from religious but it seems one of the best ways to describe this feeling. I just feel so lucky. So lucky to be able to grow this baby, so lucky to be able to stay home and raise a baby, so lucky to share the love of a great man and to enjoy having his baby.
15 June 2012: Our First Try-mester
Todd and I have been trying for a baby for a year. I have peed on countless sticks, and each time with the same pang of disappointment, closely followed by renewing the self-talk and positivity you need, to stop from falling into the well of despair. You would have thought that when the test finally showed two blue lines that I would have been elated, but sitting in the work toilet I was overtaken by shock.
How could I be shocked you wonder? Believe me, I did too, after all we were on fertility treatment – I should have been expecting this. Well for starters, the last round of treatment was not supposed to have worked. Five weeks earlier my blood test showed a practically non-existent progesterone level and two subsequent negative pregnancy tests a week apart confirmed that it wasn’t a mistake. This round had not worked.
So there I was – racking up the days in my cycle, trying not to count (it was day 52), trying not to wonder when I would be able to try again. For some reason I had resisted taking the medication that was to bring on my absent cycle. I thank the Gods now – maybe it was intuition, maybe it was that I was resisting more artificial intervention, maybe it was me hoping that the acupuncturist I had starting seeing would work. Whatever the case, I was in the land of the waiting again. With Todd away for a buck’s weekend, I was contemplating a long bath and glass of wine after I finished work. I don’t know why – maybe it was the thought of a glass of wine but for some reason I did a test at work, just to put my mind at rest, to convince myself that I wasn’t secretly pregnant.
So that’s how I ended up in a cubicle staring at two lines, silently cursing happy but mostly shocked expletives at the toilet door. Come to think of it I don’t even know if it was silent. I rushed out, grabbed my phone and without even a thought called Todd. I found out later, he had his hands full, and was surrounded by mates as I squealed out ‘I’ve got news!’ The next few hours were a blur of shock, snatched and returned secret calls to each other. Mostly along the lines of ‘Are you serious!?’ – Todd, and ‘I’m freaking out!’ – me!
I managed to get home and did another test – different brand, same result. Needless to say there was no wine for the bath that night. My first reaction was not at all what I thought it would be. I was shocked, Todd was away, I didn’t feel ready or bizarrely, old enough for this.
There I was thirty-two, I’d known I wanted a baby for years, and we’d been trying for over a year and I was worrying I wasn’t ready!
From Pregnancy, Home birth and Beyond
Welcome to our pregnancy journey. I have been keeping a journal of my pregnancy since I discovered that we were having a baby. Some of it is for myself, my partner Todd or our future baby. Some of it I had always intended to share with family, friends and now it seems the world. Friends have asked me when I was going to post blogs again, even though I had written my pregnancy blog all this time, it has taken me until now to feel comfortable sharing some of it. Part of this is because we very much want to have a natural, home birth. As you will read in my journey, this is not something that I always thought I would want – it is an evolving decision process. For those of you who have made this decision – you will know that it is hard to strive for this option in a system that does not support it. I was not prepared for the disapproval from colleagues, family or friends, but I have come to terms with most of it. Most of it, I understand comes from a place of fear. This blog is not intended to convince anyone of our decision, it is not intended to defend our decisions, it is simply our story. For those of you that know Todd, you will know that he is a fairly private person, so blogging our pregnancy and birth is not something that immediately feels natural to him. But he is incredibly supportive of me, he is at ease with our choices and our goals and somehow inherently understands the natural nature of childbirth. We both also know that pregnancy is a series of steps and milestones. That each time we pass one of these we are one step closer to the magical ‘low-risk’ category. We also know that even if we are low-risk things do not always go to plan. If not, we go to Plan B or C or D, whatever it takes to have a healthy baby and Mum. If we have choices though (and as I am learning, you always have choices) we will do it in a way that feels the safest, most supported and right for us. If our story gives others hope or a sense of ‘being in the same boat’ I am glad, if it helps you understand, that too is a good thing. This is one story for which I do not know the ending, and as a writer this is quite a scary concept. I have no guarantees that things will go to plan, no guarantees that every choice we make is right, but I can guarantee that each will be informed, considered and the best one for us. I will attempt to convey some of the roller-coaster of emotional, physical and mental change of my pregnancy, birth and beyond. Welcome to our journey.