Saturday, November 19, 2011

Quick Update (28w4d)

Hello, everyone! Goodness, it's been a long time - an entire month! My apologies!! And, having been so long, it's doubtless that I shall forget most things of import. But an update nevertheless.

NVP-wise, doing okay. Some days are better than others, but I'm mostly off of Zofran. For the most part, except for particularly bad days, I just feel mildly nauseated about half the time. Not too bad.

This month has been incredibly busy, but for the life of me I can't remember what on earth we have been doing. Let's see if I can pull out a few snippets:

- We went on our first field trip with our homeschooling support group, to Schnepf Farms. Despite having heard about this place for years, this was our first time out there. DS's favorite part? The playground, of course. Forget the animals, vegetables, etc. - let's go for the swing set! And then, of course, after spending the entire morning saying "When can we leave?", our actual departure was met with "But I don't waannnnaaaa go!!!" What else?

- Our little Chublet is doing amazingly well! We have not picked up with a new Physical Therapist after our last one left her post, but he is still moving slowly ahead meeting milestones - confirming my thoughts that PT wasn't really doing him much good. And life is much nicer with fewer therapists! So we're just sticking with our other two therapists and throwing PT to the wind for a while.

The Chublet has progressed into his first-ever solid foods - he is now eating small slices of ripe banana, cooked sweet potato, and macaroni - hurray!

In physical milestones, he is doing a lot of knees/elbows (new!), bouncing in his door bouncer (also new!), swinging in the baby swing at the playground (also new, his new favorite activity), and lots of other stuff. His main loves still include mealtime (he can out-eat any of us), bath time, and sitting on my lap while I play the piano. If one walks by the piano while holding him and pauses for just a moment, he will have a tantrum while being taken away, because he zeroes in on that piano like a laser beam - it's hilarious.

- In homeschooling, we have just completed our seventh week of curriculum. Hurray! It has definitely been filled with challenges, and I know that I am going to face major hurdles with our son when I actually add in hard-core academics (math, handwriting, etc.) because he does not have one academic bone in his body. Natural curiosity, ingenuity, and mechanical brilliance - yes. Academics - not a bit. Oh well, that challenge is for next year!

- Our visits with our midwife continue to go well. She is a ton of fun, and I love talking with her. She has an absolutely brilliant mind, and probably one of the best minds for facts/figures-retention that I've ever met. If you ever want some birth stats reeled off to you (say, the cesarean rates by state for the past twenty years), just ask and she'll tell you! She's amazing. Baby is continuing to do well, and we're continuing to plan for a guess-arrival-date of early February.

Though it's getting a little late to be thinking about this, I've been thinking lately that I really do need to do some sort of childbirth prep. Lately I've had some good and painful Braxton-Hicks contractions, the kind that approach easy first-stage labor (no, I'm not going into preterm; this happens every time), and I get panicky with them - "No, I can't do this! Must have pain meds!" Apparently I haven't learned much from my first labors. Suggestions, anyone? 

In my personal life, I can tell that I am stressed the fact that I am constantly prowling the house looking for things to scrub or throw out. That seems to be my chosen method of stress-relief! (I talked to a girl last week who said that when she gets stressed, she finds herself hoarding things - I am glad I got the opposite tendency!) Decluttering the house is going well, and I'm slowly moving through my before-baby list of things to do.

If we can all avoid getting sick in the next 24 hours, we will be leaving to go on vacation - hurray! It'll be super-short (less than 3 days), but at least it's finally happening after the hundred-and-one delays. I'll post pics when we get back!

I know I've forgotten a lot, but that's all for now!

Local Article - Placenta Medicine Awesomeness!!

Check out this article, featuring several of our local Arizona birth professionals on the subject of placenta medicine!

Placenta pills treat baby blues, says local birthing community

I am really excited about this article, mainly because it is a major news outlet choosing to give a reasonable piece on placenta medicine, rather than the usual "Weird Hippie Mothers Practice Gross and Disgusting Tribal Cannibalism!" etc. etc. ad nauseum. This is a great change from the usual nonsense/tripe that is published on the subject.

Mamas of the world.... if you haven't checked out placenta medicine, please do! There is so much good to be said about it - the benefits are endless. So thankful that a few mamas might hear about this in the news!

Rights for Homebirth Rally

Attention, all Arizonans!!

This coming Wednesday, November 23rd, will be a super-important event - a march and rally to support birth choices, followed by a meeting (by four selected delegates) with the Director of Health to discuss changes to the Arizona rules and regulations currently governing Arizona CPM midwives.

Here is the description from the Facebook page:

"This is your chance to show the AZ Dept of Health how important it is for every women to have access to the care provider and location of where she chooses to birth. We will be meeting at Bolin Park at noon and then marching over to the Dept of Health around 12:30pm. Don't forget to look at our invite for SIGN MAKING on MON 21st at Nurturing Hearts!!!"

The address:

Wesley bolin memorial park
1649 W. Adams St.
Phoenix, AZ. 85007

We have been told that getting high numbers of attendees is very important to this event, so bring your family (your neighbors! anyone!) and come on down! I hope to hear great things from this event.

Hurray for Arizona midwives! We have the best in the world, let's show them the support they need!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Endless Impossibilities

Hi, everyone! I really do need to do an official check-in - look for that over the next three days and bug me if I forget, eh?

In the meantime, I am doing well. That resurgence of NVP lasted in earnest only for one week, and then receded again - thank goodness! Now I just spend about half the time mildly nauseated, sometimes a bit worse, but that's about it - nothing to complain about. And I'm once again almost off of Zofran - not quite, but almost.

Anyhow, the other day I finally got all of my thoughts down on paper as far as "things I want to get done before the baby arrives." I think it's doable!

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!

No, in reality, I might get a third of it done pre-baby. Might. As in "probably not, but whatever." But I thought I'd share it with you all!

In the meantime, despite my ardent desire to skip to the holidays and put in the time scrubbing the house down with bleach, I am working through Thanksgiving cooking and getting ready for our trip next week (provided no one gets sick AGAIN).

Here's my list!

("SAT." refers to a project with which I need hubbie's help, and so is a "Saturday" project.)

To-Do List Before Baby

- Clean out and file 2010 papers
- Get back into life – routine, child-training, schedules, AWANA/preschool, cleaning, cooking, MOMS Club and outings, etc.
- Start homeschooling, buy curriculum
- Make appointment with Dr. P
- Make haircut appointment

- Clean, organize, and declutter house

- SAT. - Get started on stocking cars with emergency supplies, per the inventory list we have developed
- SAT. - Vacuum & wash under appliances
- SAT. - Clean high places in house – fans and ledges. Make note to seek out and murder whoever decided to put huge decorative (read: dust-collecting) ledges in each room in this house.
- Switch kids to winter clothes
- Clean & store fans
- Make my Christmas control journal!
- Write Christmas letter
- Address and mail Christmas letter
- Buy & wrap Christmas gifts
- Deal with Thanksgiving
- Go on vacation!
- Cook for Thanksgiving – cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie
- Re-do BOB (bug out bag) emergency kit

- SAT. - Clean out garage
- Get G. sleeping through the night
- Move G. out of cradle into crib in his brother’s room
- Move G’s things to his new room
- Have DH fix our doula's computer for partial doula bartering
- Return computer to our doula, do any additional work
- Pay our doula by 36 weeks
- Pay our midwife at 34 week visit
- Buy or exchange car!
- Get carpets cleaned (need to find a good Groupon!)
- Go to Goodwill to get birth supplies (towels, plastic bowls)
- Finish making up birth supplies
- Replace pillows, buy covers for them
- Wash bedspreads & mattress covers
- Plan my lying-in: (1) Make list of places for DH and kids to go, and things to do
- Arrange for postpartum housekeeping (weekly for 4 weeks?)
- Arrange for regular housekeeping help for after that (bimonthly? Quarterly?)
- Deal with Christmas – cooking, gifts, stockings, houseguests, decorations
- Christmas cookies – baking day and giving out
- Prep meals in advance
- Pack hospital bag, add separate bag for C. and G. (clothes, toys, basic toiletries)
- Stock diaper bag and stroller
- Buy postpartum snacks (need ideas!)

- Get or make mix for baby’s birthday cake!
- Make frosting for cake
- Buy non-perishable food/drink for birth team (granola bars, juice, etc.)
- Buy ingredients for placenta smoothies (yogurt, OJ, frozen berries)
- Print birth signs, put with birth supplies
- Order birth kit @ 34-35 weeks
- Stock up on paper plates, bowls, knives/forks/spoons

Right before baby (late January):
- Have smoothie ingredients
- Have cake mix ready

To-Do List When Labor Starts
- Notify midwife & doula
- Go to Sam’s Club: Sandwiches/lunchmeat tray, Fruit, Juice, Granola Bars, Frozen mixed berries, Orange Juice
- Double-make bed
- Set out birth supplies
- Scrub out tub
- Put up birth signs
- Straighten up, check laundry, etc.
- Make a cake!


I'll check in later in the week, everyone! Love to all!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pregnancy & Holidays

Last night at our Bellies meeting, the topic of the evening was, "How does being pregnant or newly postpartum affect the holidays for you?" etc. etc. etc.

It's an interesting question! I've never been in advanced pregnancy during the holidays; both my previous babes were summer babies, so pregnancy was either begun after the holidays or was in an early state. During my first term pregnancy, I was newly pregnant over the holidays, but I was so horribly sick (lovely, lovely hyperemesis) that all of the holidays completely went out the window, 100%. Some kind friends asked us over for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas so that DH could get a decent dinner, and then we would run home so I could continue vomiting. Lovely!

This time around, with the holiday season beginning, my main thought is "I don't have TIME for this, people!!!" Not that I don't love the holidays - I do! It's my favorite time of year, and I cherish it. But I have found that as soon as my NVP clears up, I spend the rest of each pregnancy in frenetic nesting mode, and my mind right now is centered on how to scrub down the entire house in bleach - not on decorating or buying gifts, LOL! (With my first, I was too sick to nest - only got in about 12 hours of nesting before labor started - but with these last two, it seems to last about half the pregnancy). So right now, my mind is running along lines of "Clean! Polish! Scrub! Declutter! Throw out! Wash, wash, wash!" - not at all along lines of decking any halls with boughs of holly, etc.

What about all y'all out there? How do you feel being pregnant over the holidays?

I should say that one very, very nice thing about being in more advanced pregnancy during the holidays is being able to EAT and not being hideously nauseated - still nauseated, of course, but not seriously. Very, very nice!!

Love to all!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Beautiful & Unique Birth - Told Twice!

An Arizona mama has posted her birth story (with pics), and her midwife has also posted that mama's story, and I just had to share! This is a gorgeous birth, made even better by the fact that it was a birth en caul, that is, a birth where baby was born with intact membranes around her - gorgeous, and my dream birth! I would love to have a caul birth.

Also, I really hope that someone in the textbook business gets notice of these pictures - they are gorgeous, and they would be great for a midwifery and/or obstetrical text! Academians of the birth world, take note!

Here is the birth story from the mama's perspective:

Welcome Earthside Scarlett Sinclaire

And here is the story written out by our mutual midwife, with the caul pictures:

Caul Babies!

A lovely birth! Congratulations to this mama and her family!

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Night on the Town: My First L&D Hospital Tour

How to tell a true birth junkie: Her idea of "fun" is to sign up for a hospital labor & delivery tour.

And boy, did I have fun! It was great!

Here goes:

We live within a stone's throw (that is, a 10 minute drive) of three hospitals, but I have always had a preference for Mercy Gilbert. For one thing, it's absolutely beautiful (and new!); for another thing, it gets consistently great reviews from both mothers and care providers that I speak to. I think I've only heard one bad review of Mercy Gilbert, which is not too bad.

Being that we had tentatively chosen Mercy Gilbert as our transport hospital, and that I thought an L&D tour would be a ton of fun, I signed up for a tour, and after two reschedulings, last night was finally the night. Here's how it went!

Mine was an evening tour, and I arrived at about dusk. I was again struck with the hospital's beauty as I drove up - gorgeous architecture and exterior lighting, and I loved the statues (of Catholic sisters or priests) in front.

I also love that MG is a smaller hospital - over the past year I have grown used to the huge, institutional-type hospitals (St. Jo's, Phoenix Children's, Chandler Regional, etc.), and I always find their size to be off-putting. I love the smallness and intimacy of Mercy.

I should also note that, on a personal level, I love the fact that Mercy is a Catholic hospital. I have found that my views on life ethics line up almost 100% with orthodox Catholic views, and that makes me much more comfortable as a patient. I would not want to birth in a hospital where babies were being killed in abortions, as is unfortunately the case in most non-Catholic hospitals. My preference on that point is decidedly in favor of Catholic institutions - I feel much more comfortable and secure knowing that both I and my baby will be cared for under ethical principles that I value.

Moving on!

The first thing that struck me while walking up to the front doors was one of the most amazing things I've ever heard - absolutely thunderous birdsong! There were hundreds of tiny birds in their palm trees, and the noise that they made was deafening. Such beauty! I loved it. What a way to add to the atmosphere.

The inside of the hospital was similarly gorgeous and beautifully done. I was extremely impressed - especially as I have grown used to hospital exteriors that resemble cement blocks and hospital interiors that are grungy and unpleasant. This was such a refreshing change. It felt like a refuge or a resort.

The tour guide told me later that Mercy Gilbert has been designated a "healing hospital" - that is, everything about the decor and ambiance (interior design, color schemes, lighting, architecture, plants, etc.) was designed specifically to promote peace and healing. I can attest to the efficacy of their design! I so wish that other hospitals would take that idea into consideration in their plans. It makes such a difference.

When I got to the birth center, I signed in and sat down to wait. The tour consisted of myself and six other couples (five married couples and one seemingly mother-daughter couple). I had wondered if there would be introductions or group interactions ("Okay, everyone, tell your names and when you're due," etc. etc. etc.), but there was none of that. I suppose with a 30 minute tour, there just wasn't time!

Our tour guide was very sweet. She was not a nurse, but a hospital childbirth educator, and she told us that there were some questions that she wouldn't be able to answer but that she would get a nurse to answer those questions (nothing like that came up).

Our tour consisted of going through or by:

- An LDR (labor delivery recovery) room, showing off all the various assets. She mentioned their new labor tub (not birth tub, unfortunately) and the fact that several more are hopefully on order.

- A postpartum room

- The cesarean suite (they have two operating rooms).

- The newborn nursery (they have the capacity to care for newborns 32 weeks and above, so any micro-preemies would have to transfer to another hospital). One thing I loved was the guide's description of Mercy's emphasis on "couplet care" - the practice of keeping the mother and baby together as much as possible, both right after the birth and during the postpartum period - as opposed to routine separation. She emphasized that the nursery was only for babies who really needed extra care or by specific parental request - otherwise, mothers and babies are kept together. Great job on that one!!

- The anesthesia lounge (a room filled with needles, drugs, etc.).

Everything was beautiful and functional, and I was really impressed. It's the first time I've looked critically at an L&D unit. I have only been on an L&D floor twice before, and both times were before I had children and before I became a birth junkie (or indeed, knew anything about birth). It was fascinating to get to see it from the perspective of now knowing a wee bit (though not much) about childbirth.

The only thing there that made me go "eww, yuck!" (beside the squeamishness of the anesthesia room) was the sight of hospital housekeeping carts. For some reason, those always give me the shivers! I have no idea why - doubtless some past association that I've forgotten. But other than that, there was very little of that yucky "hospital" feeling. They really have done a great job.

Two things that I found upsetting/negative:

- A blanket statement that "when you are admitted, you will not be able to eat any more." Apparently Mercy still has a blanket "NO" on mothers eating during labor, despite the fact that the studies showing no harm from intrapartum food consumption are now more than a year old. Very disappointing. I wonder if there is any variation among nurses on enforcing this practice? I hope so! (I think a friend told me that there was.) This is one archaic practice that needs to go. In the meantime, mamas - make sure to bring your own food just in case!

Also, she mentioned that - after the food ban - the decision of whether or not a laboring mother would be allowed clear fluids or would be NPO ("non per os," or nothing by mouth, meaning only IV fluids) would be up to the mother's doctor. Really? Seriously? There are still doctors practicing NPO for laboring mothers? Please, tell me it ain't so!! I find this so incredibly disappointing to hear. (Better take your own drinks, too!)

- Also, I found it discouraging how many decisions were left to the doctor rather than the mother (or mother and doctor jointly). When will I be released from the hospital? "That's up to your doctor." Do you routinely practice delayed cord clamping? (My question.) "That's up to your doctor." I found the lack of patient autonomy to be discouraging. (Though she probably had to say that.)

But other than that, I loved Mercy Gilbert, I had a great time on the tour (I wish it had been longer!) and I am confident that it will be a great transport location should we need it (praying that we don't!).

Of course, as with any hospital, the care that one receives depends primarily on one's midwife or doctor and on the nurses that one gets. I'm very thankful that our midwife has several great groups of hospital care practitioners with whom she works in transport cases so that we are sure of good care once we get to the hospital, should the need arise.

After the tour, I stayed behind and thanked the guide for her time. She asked me if I planned to birth at Mercy, and I told her that we have our babies at home but that Mercy would be our transport hospital, and she was very sweet. Afterwards, one of the women on the tour told me that she had had all of her babies at home (a long time ago) and was very enthusiastic about our plans. 

And there you have it! Maybe I'll do another hospital for fun sometime, to compare, but for now, this was a great start. I loved Mercy Gilbert! Thanks for a great tour, and congratulations on all the wonderful work you are doing to promote a healing atmosphere, provide water-labor capacities, and serve the birthing women of our community!