Thursday, January 31, 2013

36 Weeks: Last Growth Spurt, Braxton Hicks, and Classes

With only one week left till full term, I feel like we've been running around all over the place, trying to tie loose ends. But the good news is that we feel comfortable with how things are going. The baby car seat's installed and ready for the hospital trip, all the baby clothes are washed and tucked away in the baby room dresser, and lots of last minute baby products are on their way in the mail. I've begun organizing things to take to the hospital, tho I have yet to pack them in a bag. We've also been busy attending various classes and talks, recommended by the midwives. And of course, now that I'm over 35 weeks, my prenatal visits happen every week. The one hour drive to the midwives office serves as a great time for the two of us to talk about everything, which has been not only invaluable but quite enjoyable. Oh, and I snuck in a prenatal massage yesterday, and it was heavenly... :) (thanks, husband!)

As soon as I wrote my last entry about feeling great, I began to feel really sick for a few days. I was hot, nauseated, and having a hard time breathing. Apparently, right around now, up to 36 weeks is when most babies go through their last bout of fattening up. There were a few weeks prior to this growth spurt when I didn't gain any weight. Then in the past two weeks or so, I've put on about three pounds. I was concerned because I have Gestational Diabetes, and the biggest concern with GD is having a big baby. But my belly was measured this week, and I'm right where I should be. My blood pressure is fine, my glucose level has been under control, and my baby's heartbeat sounds great. They say the growth tends to slow down after week 36. I guess I'll find out.

We talked about Braxton Hicks a bit at my last appointment. One of the ways to tell is if the belly feels rock hard one minute and then goes back to being normal soon. Looking back, it seems like I've been having these contractions - I've noticed the intermittent, rock hard belly for a little more than a week now. I just thought it was the way my baby was positioned. Some say it's painful, and some describe it as being uncomfortable. It has been neither for me, but I guess it might become stronger as I get closer to the real deal. Either way, I'm glad my body's getting ready!

We're doing another set of childbirth classes at the midwives office to cover things we didn't at the hospital course. It's an expedited, concentrated, two-day version of what they usually do in several weeks. There's another couple who moved to the midwifery later in the pregnancy, so they scheduled an additional set for us. The first class was already tremendously helpful. After reviewing all the stages of labor, we learned a few soothing techniques, having the husbands practice on the wives in class. The midwifery is also offering breastfeeding classes, which I will attend next week. I'm excited. :)

I got a late start in terms of reading and learning about everything because I was stuck being sick for most of my pregnancy. But I'm grateful I get a start at all.

What I've been doing throughout the pregnancy, however, is talking to a lot of new moms. Naturally, everyone has different opinions on various issues. I didn't really feel too strongly about anything until pretty recently, but it was helpful to hear a bunch of different perspectives before developing my own thoughts.

Knowledge is power, and we're arming ourselves for what's to come. Learning has taken most of the anxiety out of the equation for the both of us, and we feel ready to tackle this impending "storm," as many call it.

Another important reminder I'm getting through this process is to surround myself with supportive and like-minded people. Changing to these midwives is the best decision I made in my pregnancy. As much as I believe in being open to other people's opinions, there's a time and a place for that. When going through something as crucial and specific as giving birth to your first child, I say it's important to eliminate as much negativity/opposition as possible.

PHOTO at 36 weeks:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

35 Weeks: Discomforts & Joys of 3rd Trimester

The better I feel physically, the busier I get - naturally. In the past week, my husband and I have taken care of most of the big things we wanted to get done before the baby comes. It's been a while since I felt this productive.

I've also been feeling some new physical discomforts, specific to this very weighty 3rd trimester.


1) Back Pains:
I first felt it late last week during a walk outside. I let out a small 'ahk!' and had to stop moving. My first thought for a split second was "Baby, we got 6 more weeks to go!" I quickly realized it wasn't a contraction. Then I thought maybe it's a Braxton Hicks - that wasn't it either. I limped back home and had to lie down for the rest of the evening. For a couple of days, I needed back massages in order to fall asleep.

2) Leg Cramps: 
I find myself stretching my legs/ankles a lot when I sleep because I feel sore all the time, and that's when it attacks me. I woke up screaming a couple mornings, tho the cramp subsided pretty quickly. I guess dealing with 20+lbs of extra weight on a daily basis is putting a lot of pressure on my legs.


1) Congestion: 
I've been congested since what must be Day 1 of pregnancy. Every morning and every night, I spend a lot of time in the bathroom, trying to clear my sinuses and my throat. And heater makes it impossible for me to breathe at nights, so we've been sleeping with our sweaters on instead, with the humidifier on.

2) Nausea & Vomiting:
This one is so much better than what it used to be, but it's still happening. It's alright though. It'll be over soon..... I'm still super sensitive to certain foods/smells, but at least my triggers have narrowed down. One of the main things is cooking oil. So far, I've identified olive oil, butter, and almond oil to be safe. Anything else causes nausea and/or vomiting. So it gets a bit tricky if I'm trying to eat out because I don't know what kind of cooking oils restaurants use.

3) All the other Usuals:
Then there are the common 3rd trimester symptoms many women experience, like frequent trips to the bathroom, indigestion/gas/bloating/heartburn, fatigue, interrupted sleep, weight gain, pregnancy brain, shortness of breath, swelling, and etc........... Almost.... Almost there! 


1) Feeling the Movements:
In all honesty tho, I don't mind these 3rd trimester symptoms too much. I find that I'm rather savoring every moment of this uncomfortable miracle, especially now that we're close to the finish line. I particularly enjoy feeling this baby move. Now that she's bigger and snug in my womb, the movements are different. She's not doing somersaults anymore because there is no more room. I could feel where her back is and where her limbs are. She stretches her legs and sometimes her whole body, and my belly stretches out diagonally. It's fascinating to watch, and it's almost strange how much joy I find in feeling those pokes. It hurts sometimes when she kicks me in the rib, but even then, I love it. It's so cute. And every time she moves, I feel like I'm getting to know her better.

2) Cravings: 
I know 2nd trimester is when things are supposed to be great, but for me, 2nd trimester came and left before I felt any kind of bliss. Until recently, eating has been either a terrible, disgusting chore or something always ending badly even if it starts out well. And with Gestational Diabetes, I thought I was never going to experience any kind of eating pleasure until I was done with this pregnancy. But in the past week, I've been having these nuts and cheese cravings, specifically almond butter and Manchego cheese (not together). My body doesn't seem to want anything it can't handle, and I'm enjoying my almond butter and/or Manchego cheese sandwiches like never before. Eating may not be awesome, but it's the best it's ever been during this pregnancy.

3) Love:
I'm in love with this baby. I can't wait to meet her, and I'm in love with my family. Despite the lingering list of difficulties I face on a daily basis, I'm going through a I-love-my-life phase. I hope it lasts for a while, enough to get me through the challenges of labor & delivery, plus the transition into parenthood. 

PHOTO at 35 weeks:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

34 Weeks: My Baby's Getting Ready!

It's been a wonderful week, minus the occasional vomiting and constant sleepiness. Despite the dark times, I feel privileged to be carrying this child, and I couldn't be more ecstatic about starting a family when we are. As much as I have envied women who breeze through their pregnancies, I feel a special bond with my baby and my husband for having survived our experience. There are only a few weeks left, and the labor & delivery will be our final hurdle before a whole different set of challenges come our way. But I have a feeling we'll be just fine.

This past weekend, we had a little before-the-baby-comes party, where many friends we haven't seen in a while showed up. 2012 was a crazy year, and we were away a lot. Then I was sick throughout the pregnancy, which made it virtually impossible to see anyone - until now. This baby is already much loved, and I'm grateful to have such amazing friends and family. We received a bunch of gifts as well as a huge bag/boxes of hand-me-downs. I've started inventorying baby clothes, separating them by sizes. These little outfits are so tiny and adorable. I can't wait to put them on my baby girl.

Our baby/guest room is also almost done. Our niece is visiting soon with my sis & her hubby, who will be here for my birth. Woohoo! At this point, I'm more excited to get the room ready for their stay than for our baby, who won't be needing it for a while.

We also went to our first official prenatal appointment at the midwifery. It was like any other prenatal visits at the doctor's office in terms of getting the usual things like blood pressure, weight, and baby's heartbeat checked, but they took a lot more time to talk to us and answer our questions. After another conversation about breech babies and my concerns, I was lying on NOT a medical exam table but a comfy day bed, where the midwife touched my belly with her hands, following up with a device that only detects heartbeat by the neck of the baby - to determine where the head is. And it seems my baby girl has finally turned! Her head is down!

It's interesting to look back at what I was feeling the few days prior to the appointment. The baby was moving A LOT more than usual. It felt like the space was getting too small for her, and she was struggling to find a more comfortable position. She was pretty forceful in her movements, and I couldn't figure out what she was doing. In hindsight, she must have been turning, head down. I was worried for nothing - she was going to do this all on her own. She seems to be getting ready for what's to come. That's my girl! :)

I'm so relieved. I'd been reading about and was planning to try all types of homeopathic interventions for breech babies. Now, all I have to do is focus on eating right and doing normal exercises like walking - no more inversion exercises necessary. The closer I get to my due date, the more confident I feel about my own body's ability to do this. The occasional vomiting has slowed down, and I've been feeling relatively more energetic.

PHOTO at 34 weeks:
When my midwife was touching my belly, she said, "You are full of baby, aren't ya? It's rock hard!" My belly is getting tighter everyday. I've been using a really generous amount of oil after showers, hoping it'll keep my skin moist and elastic enough for the next few weeks of more stretching. I try not to waddle, but I do find myself walking funny sometimes, especially when no one's looking.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

33 Weeks: Midwife vs. Doctor

After realizing my doctor might not be on the same page about my wanting an unmedicated, natural birth - especially after being diagnosed with GD, my husband and I immediately began searching for other options. I know it's harder said than done to plan a birth; many things can go wrong, and circumstances change. But I know what I want is possible, and I want to surround myself with a supportive group of people who can cheer me on through the challenging process, rather than arguing my case with an opposing team while I'm in pain.

To be clear tho, I think my (now previous) doctor is lovely and competent. She just seems to have a different philosophy about this whole process compared to what I want. As they say, we're not a good fit. So I've made the decision to move on, even if I only have 4 weeks until full term - better late than never.

Finding a new care provider is always a bit of an uncomfortable transition, starting from having to ask the old doctor to release your medical records to the new caregiver. The patient doesn't owe an explanation, but it could still feel awkward. There was also a part of me that couldn't quite decide if I was overreacting and blowing things out of proportion. But after many discussions with my husband, who agrees with me a hundred percent (I was pleasantly surprised), and friends and family members with similar philosophies and experiences, I decided to bite the bullet. The end result was much better than expected. I'm happy with my new direction, and everything ended on a positive note with my previous doctor, who called me in person to help me tie up the logistical loose ends and wished me good luck.

We had 4 consultations/meet-and-greet scheduled throughout this week and next for two OBs and two midwiferies, but we were sold at our first meeting. As of yesterday, we have made our decision.

Initially, this one specific holistic doctor was my first choice because of the MD title - also she's in-network with our insurance. I liked that she could do everything herself if anything went wrong, yet she advocates the natural birthing process. However, the more I think about what I want, I realize the important aspect of what I'm looking for is in the process of labor, for which a doctor cannot be present at all times.

A midwife, on the other hand, is more hands-on during the often long hours of labor. Midwives are trained professionals who are knowledgeable about the natural birthing process, capable of handling any normal childbirth situations. Assuming the pregnant woman is healthy and has no complications, a midwife is more than capable of delivering a baby.

When we went to our meet-and-greet, I was a bit grumpy while in the waiting room because we had just spent an hour driving (there are no midwiferies in our neighborhood) and almost another hour waiting. But once we were in the room with one of the midwives and her student, I was immediately smitten. I have heard so many great things about having a midwife instead of a doctor, but I was never quite convinced I wanted one for myself. But after talking to this woman for what was about an hour, I was ready to commit. My husband apparently felt the same way. The time we spent in the waiting room no longer was an issue, and we kept saying to each other on our way back home, "I think this is it."

After lengthy discussions with my husband - he and I both trying to play the devil's advocate for many hours, we have decided to go with the Midwifery. We went through pros and cons of all our options, eventually canceling the rest of the appointments. Considering I'm already at 33 weeks, we thought there is no time to waste, especially if we love this midwifery as much as we do. We have our first official appointment early next week, and I'm actually excited about it.

We'll be delivering at a hospital. This midwifery is affiliated with a hospital, where two OBs work as their backups in cases of emergency. They also provide doulas if I want an extra pair of hands in the room. I love the idea of having a group of experienced women by my side throughout my labor until the baby comes. They will take care of me in ways a doctor cannot. But of course, if a doctor is needed, she or he will be there too. In the next few weeks, I will spend a lot of time with the three midwives, one of whom will be at my birth. They're full of information they want to share, which will help me prepare for the birth both physically and mentally. It doesn't hurt that they are also all trained RNs; one of them is also a lactation consultant. With this group of compassionate and competent women whose lives are dedicated to women's birthing process, I am confident my experience can be a positive one, albeit not painless.

PHOTO at 33 weeks:
I'm going through that phase where the baby is pushing on my stomach and intestines; I can't enjoy eating. It's like I've lost my ability to digest. They say it gets better once the baby "drops." And my sister says, "eating feel awesome once the baby comes out." :)

In terms of her positioning, she seems to be moving around a lot more than before and hasn't really settled into one spot, which is good. The shape of my belly changes a lot, depending on what she's doing.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

32 Weeks 2 Days: Birth Plan Dilemma

My husband and I are going through a dilemma. My doctor doesn't accept a written birth plan, which we didn't think was a big deal until recently. After reading a lot and talking to numerous new parents with recent experiences, we think it's important that a doctor takes on our wishes as to how our birthing process should go. Of course, things could change in emergency situations, and I could certainly see why a birth plan could be a nuisance to a trained, medical doctor. However, pregnancy/labor and delivery in itself is not a sickness. It's a natural process. As long as there are no complications, there is no need for intervention. And the issue lies in the trust I have in my doctor. Do I trust that she will respect my wishes as much as she can before she makes a judgment call that goes against what I want? For a trained surgeon, who is able to quickly take the baby out in minutes, would she wait around for 72 hours if she had to, until I was ready to push on my own? My answer right now about my doctor is... I don't think she would. When I asked her again about my birth plan, she said to me, 'You're gonna be scared, and it's an emotional time. I don't want to be looking at a piece of paper.' She said we could talk about it, but she also made me feel I have no say in the matter, that I don't know what I want because I don't know what I'm talking about. Perhaps to a certain extent, that's true. But I am a bit more aware than she seems to give me credit.

Not every woman shares my point of view in terms of wanting a natural birthing process. Some want as much intervention as possible. Some women choose to have an elective C-section for scheduling reasons. And even when a woman wants a natural birth, she could become too exhausted after days of laboring that she ends up changing her mind - I could end up doing that myself. I'm not criticizing what a woman decides to do. But rather, I'd just like to have a choice in the matter and have real support. I don't want to have to fight the system while I'm in pain, vulnerable at the hospital.

There are other minor incidences at the doctor's office, during which I felt a bit uneasy. She is actually quite lovely in a lot of ways. But it's just the medical philosophy most doctors seem to have when it comes to any kind of holistic approach to things. I can see that she tries to be receptive to what I have to say or the questions I ask, but I also see she isn't quite on the same page.

Of course, I could change doctors again (this is our second doctor), but that's not an easy feat. We have to consider insurance, location, reviews, etc. We're also looking into midwifery, but there aren't many in our area. The nearest ones have mixed reviews, and the one holistic doctor who seems promising is booked until the end of the month.

At 32+ weeks, we need to be quick and make some decisions. It's going to be a long weekend...

Friday, January 4, 2013

32 Weeks: Baby Positioning

In the past week, I've met two adorable newborns and talked to several new moms about their birthing experiences. I've begun reading a lot about labor and delivery, and my husband and I have our first childbirth class this coming weekend. We're focusing on getting ready for the baby, and things are progressing slowly but surely.

At 30 weeks, I was told my baby is breech, which isn't a problem until later in pregnancy, close to labor. The baby is supposed to face my back with her head down by the time she comes out. When the baby is positioned incorrectly, whether it's by being sideways (transverse), upside down (breech), facing forward (posterior), or many other 'incorrect' positions, complications can occur. A surprisingly high number of my friends have experienced complications due to this specific problem, all leading to induction with Pitocin and some ending up with C-sections. From what I've seen, most doctors don't really talk about this and just schedule an elective C-section if the baby is breech by say... week 35 and on. And it's the last thing I want to do. So I've been spending a lot of time on, learning about what I can do naturally to help with the process.

It's really hard for me to tell how my baby's positioned. I can't distinguish between kicks and punches. I feel her limbs on my lower abdomen as well as right under my ribs. I also feel really big movements sometimes, where I think she's flipping over. Some women say to pay attention to the hiccups - that's where her head is.

I've been too 'busy' being sick during this pregnancy that I haven't really thought about the kind of birth I wanted. Now that I'm actively learning about it, I really want to experience a natural birth without any intervention if possible. In order to do so, I must prepare myself physically and mentally, also staying open to the possibility that things won't go the way I want. I didn't realize I would care this much about the birthing experience. But that's all I think about these days.

PHOTO at 32 weeks: 
Moving around is becoming more difficult by the day in this growing body. I am so much heavier now, and I can feel the weight every time I have to get out of my bed or off a chair. Once I'm up, it's easier. But it's a challenge to change positions, even when I'm lying down and trying to turn to the other side in bed.