Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pregnancy Week 34: Doulas, Doctors, Family, Yoga, Cribs and Classes--oh my!

Week 34 of my pregnancy has been a very eventful baby-related week for us, so I'll just jump right in before I bump into Week 35!

My parents visit last weekend on their way back from a vacation in North Carolina. The weekend is low-key and fun; we enjoy games, make-your-own-pizza night at home, they try Indian food out for the first time (they liked it!), church and a day with Mike's parents, as well. Mike and I are happy that our parents have an opportunity to feel our son move and shake a little bit. It is strange to know that we will not see my parents again until after the baby is born--but equally strange to know that we will see them in just 6 weeks or so!

On Thursday, we have my 9th doctor's visit. Our OB says my measurements are right on track, and it feels as though the baby has turned head-down now (yay! Hopefully I'm breaking the cycle of firstborn breech babies that my mom and her mom experienced). I mention the "hardening sensation" that I posted about in Week 33, as since then, several people have told me it sounds like Braxton Hicks. He immediately says, "Yes, it's common to experience Braxton Hicks contractions now, and you can expect they will become more frequent." I explain how sometimes I feel it only on one side, and he says that is quite possible. Apparently, my description to him of this sensation in the past ("I feel like I'm going to pass out and then my baby turns into a hard ball!") must not have been sufficient for him to diagnose it as such at that point!

I mention that we are interviewing doulas this week, and he encourages that decision. He says I am the perfect candidate for a natural birth (if I choose that), and he gives thorough advice on questions to ask the doula, emphasizing I should feel comfortable with her and she should do more than just simply hold my hand. He says he recently discovered how expensive doulas are in our area (the one doula he specifically mentions, I tell him, I spoke to, and she is $1500! We are not interviewing ones that expensive!), so he also points out that if the cost is too great, that with the support from the nurses, Mike, and my own body & self, I will do a great job and probably achieve my goal. He says he has a very good feeling about my labor and delivery.

Mike and I are both a little surprised he says this to me, but this sentiment, although the most non-scientific (it is his "feeling" after all), is the most encouraging of all. My sister-in-law once told me the same thing, and when I shared what she had told me with a yoga friend whom I don't see very often, this friend expressed a similar thought. "I wasn't going to say this, because I thought you might think I was crazy," she said, "but since you brought up what your sister-in-law told you, I feel comfortable sharing. I also have this strong feeling that your delivery will go very smoothly."

Of course, these are all feelings, and one cannot predict the future, but it does give me encouragement.

This week, we receive our rocker glider and ottoman (Thank you, Mom and Dad!), and our dresser and crib (Thank you, Nick and Olga--my parents-in-law!). Mike puts together all but the dresser so far, and he does a fantastic job! I cannot believe how big the furniture is (doesn't it seem like a crib should be small?), and I am so excited to see the baby room start to fill up!

On Tuesday night, we attend our first class at Stamford Hospital (where I will be delivering). It is entitled "Basics of Infant Care," and while the teaching maternity nurse does show us how to bathe an infant and take care of the cord stump (what a great name for a body part--"cord stump"), she focuses mainly on what will happen to the baby while in their care at the hospital. We even learn that each baby will not only have a matching ID bracelet with the mother, but will also sport a security tag. If the baby is taken too close to an exit, an alarm will sound, all doors will immediately lock, and elevator buttons will not function. No baby snatchers in Stamford!

On Sunday, we attend an all day Child Birthing Class. This is informative, interesting, and probably warrants a separate post, so I shall save my thoughts for later!

We interview doulas on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday this week. They all offer similar services. They will come to our apartment for one or two prenatal visits, going over our birthing preferences, getting to know us, and showing us various labor management techniques. Once I reach the first stage of labor, I would call the doula, and she would come to our house when I am ready for her, supporting me during home labor. Once my labor progresses far enough, she would accompany us to the hospital and stay with us through labor and delivery, continuing to offer techniques, massage, encouragement, and advocate for my preferences. After delivery, the doula would remain for an hour or two ("If you're breast feeding, I'd stay to make sure you get that first 'latch-on'," they all tell me), then check in a week later for a post-natal visit to debrief the experience, and answer questions.

So far, I am not sure if any of the doulas are the perfect match for me, so we may interview a few more this week before we make our decision.

I have an excellent yoga class on Monday which helps to alleviate some of my lower back pain, and I must remember to keep using the poses that work my hip flexors. Then on Saturday, Gina (one of the owners at the yoga studio) and Megan (a friend and yoga teacher) throw me and Jaime (another friend and yoga teacher who is due 5 days before me) a joint baby shower. Megan has a great baby-photo guessing game, as well as crepe paper belly contest, and an ongoing clothespin "don't say the word 'baby'" game which she and I take very seriously! It is fun to see the yoga gang and receive their love and support. Thank you to all!!
(Guess whose baby is actually a balloon in the above picture?)

So do I really need an "in summary" for this post? I suppose ideally, I would be keeping up on all these events and posting separately during the week, but alas, my days and nights have continued to be busy (besides all the things I have mentioned in this post). Time is truly flying by...and no, I am not yet wishing that the baby "would just be out" of me yet! I still am loving having him in me! But the time is drawing near...


Kat said...

Just to make you feel a bit better if the doula thing doesn't work out (due to the expense or not "clicking" with anyone), I loved having my husband as my birth coach! Those two experiences were 2 of the times in our marriage where I have felt closest to him. Of course, the L & D nurses also do a phenomenal job as coaches too. Anyway, I don't have anything against doulas at all. I just know from personal experience that it can work without one. My husband did an amazing job and I'm sure yours will too, no matter what you decision. I know everything will works out either way!

Monsoon Mama said...

it's wonderful to hear so many people say that they feel like your labor and delivery will go well! how encouraging. doula or no doula, you and mike will do AMAZINGLY well... after all, he knows you best and knows how to best support you. like kat said, no matter, what, everything will work out, and your little one will be in your arms before you know it! yes, the last few weeks do fly by...

Tara M said...

Thanks, Kat and MM. You are totally right that Mike is going to be the core person (although he did tell me yesterday, "We should find something for you to grip onto during labor, because I don't know if I want you to hold my hand because you might crush it. You're good at finding my pressure points on my hand." I said, "Well, if I want human contact and to hold your hand and crush it, you'll just have to deal with that!" If we have a doula, he might just pass on the hand crushing to her.)

Sometimes I do think about it and think, it would be nice to have only me and Mike there, just a very very intimate time for the 2 of us.

But I actually have been in touch with several doulas who have taken the course, but are looking to be certified, so they are much less expensive. We'll be interviewing them this week and if I find a good fit, even without their formal experience, it could be great. We'll see!

Looking forward to seeing you guys this weekend too! So many pregnancy vibes we'll be having around us!!! It's magical almost!

Kat said...

Good luck with the interviews with the doulas and see you this weekend!
By the way, I know why everyone says you are going to have a smooth labor and's because you are in such good shape physically and mentally, so confident, and so relaxed throughout this whole pregnancy! Seriously, it's totally impressive!

Mike said...

Heh. Tara really did describe the Braxton reaction as "I feel like I'm going to pass out and then my baby turns into a hard ball!". No wonder it took 1-2 months for someone to catch-on.

Speaking of the baby security tags, the curious thing is, they only exist for Moms, currently (i.e. if Mom walks with baby near an exit, and both are wearing their respective tags, all is good. However, if dad decides to take a stroll on his own with Baby, it's fire drill and lock-down city. Nobody trusts us...*sniff* :)

Tara M said...

I know--poor dads! You don't get a matching id bracelet yourself! But actually, the alarm tag is only on the baby, in addition to the bracelet id tag, so it doesn't matter who takes the baby near an exit, it'll go off--even the mom or a nurse or whoever.

Monsoon Mama said...

we too are looking into a doula-in-training this time around. much less expensive, and in fact, some will even volunteer for you! i hope the interviews go well.

the baby bracelet alarm thing is quite something. i guess they have their security measures down to a science!

grandma berta said...

In the "old days" the dad was usually the labor coach, or occasionally a best girl friend. I bet Mike could do it! Take something along to squeeze on! Save poor Mike, or the doula's arm.

Tara M said...

Good luck with your finding a good doula too, Div! I think, esp if you've been down the road before, a doula-in-training that you connect with would be great. We did find one that we really liked, who is quite new, so she's probably the top of our list right now.

That is true, Mom, the dad is the main labor coach, even now. Doulas are popular in certain areas of the country, but a lot of people still don't even know what they are (and I didn't until I started working at the yoga studio). But over 85% of births are also epidurals these days, so a lot of women have it much easier with labor than they did years ago when the majority were natural (and then before that, a lot of women labored, then were knocked out during the "delivery"!).

But I bet in the really olden days, someone like a doula really was the main labor coach, as I don't think dads were even allowed to be with the mom when she was in labor (or at least delivery). One of the doulas we interviewed who's from Ukraine said that it's taken a long time for their country to allow fathers in the room too. They do at private hospitals now, but I guess "public" hospitals, they still don't.

grandma berta said...
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