Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Pregnancy update: 24 weeks

I was going to finish my review of The Big Stretch tonight, but then I realized that I'm already a bit behind for a 24 week update and didn't want to put it off any longer. I'm glad I've been working on this DVD review, though, because it's made me think more deeply about how I'd like to relate to this pregnancy and prepare for the birth.

Physically, I feel very good. I'm sleeping well and waking up only once, occasionally twice, to pee. All measurements are spot-on. Fundus is 24 cms, BP is stable and low, weight gain is right about on track with my other pregnancies. I do need to up my protein and water intake, though. I am not in the habit of drinking fluids very often, so I tend to ignore my thirst.

I really feel pregnant now, both in my mind and my body. My belly is getting bigger and I'm unmistakeably pregnant. It's also getting in the way of bending over and moving the way I'm used to. And the baby is really moving, which I love. I had some anxiety about whether or not I was even pregnant--even though all the signs pointed to it--and this baby's movements were much slower to be felt at first. Plus I wasn't able to find heart tones when I normally would have. With both Dio and Zari, I found heart tones easily and consistently at 16 weeks. I still haven't heart a proper heartbeat with this baby! I've heard a second or two of something that might have been the heartbeat, but then it faded away. I listened again tonight and nothing but lots of maternal sounds and that initial elusive snatch. There's very obviously a living baby in there, since it was moving around and kicking at the fetoscope when I was listening (Dio did the same thing, too).

At my midwife's visit a few weeks ago, she listened with her Pinard and then with a fetoscope and heard nothing but that same elusive tease of sound. I actually asked her to give a really quick listen with the Doppler, just a few seconds tops. She said, "Are you sure? I'm now concerned about anything right now." I think she was a bit surprised at my request! But at that point, I'd decided that I'd feel less anxious just to know, for sure, there really was a baby inside of me. A second or two later, she found the heartbeat. It sounded fairly deep inside the uterus, she said, which was probably why I haven't been able to pick it up on the fetoscope.

So the last month has been a time for me to really accept that I'm pregnant. On the other hand, the reality that I will have another baby in just a few more months still hasn't sunk in at all! And it probably won't entirely until the baby is earthside. There's such a mental disconnect for me between the baby I feel moving inside of me and the baby that actually comes out.

I'm feeling the need to start preparing myself for this baby--for the birth, for becoming a mother again, for taking care of three children instead of two. I'll probably start listening to Hypnobabies again around 30 weeks. I loved how much it relaxed me last pregnancy. I don't have a lot of physical preparation for this new baby. At first, my babies wear the same clothes anyway, mostly long nightgowns with elasticized openings at the bottom for easy diaper changes. I have diapers, clothes, a nursing pillow, slings...all the essentials. I have clothes for both genders now, so I don't need to buy anything for this baby. I have way too many baby blankets so I really hope I don't get too many more this time! There are a few items I'd like to buy or make, though. A white noise machine (for Dio) so I don't have to run the fan in the winter. One or two more ring slings from my fabric stash--after all, you can never have too many! A few pocket diapers in NB and S sizes, for helping the baby feel drier when it's sleeping.

At my last visit, my midwife asked me, "Is there anything you'd like done differently for this birth?" I really couldn't think of anything in particular. In part because she was the perfect silent, unobtrusive presence that I wanted. In part because I see every birth as a new adventure and as a clean slate. I try really hard not to recreate the last birth, no matter how perfect it was, but to let the current one unfold how it will. My midwife remarked that it would be fairly dull to have the same birth experience anyway. I definitely agree!

I have a really exciting opportunity for this birth that I'm mulling over. The OB that my midwife works with (unofficially, as his hospital will not allow him to officially collaborate with her) has asked to attend a home birth with her. She says he's an intellectual genius and absolutely dedicated to his patients. He'll go the extra mile for them and really stick his neck out for what they want. He attended her last two births, in fact. One (baby #4) was a hospital VBA2C waterbirth, even though his hospital doesn't "allow" waterbirths. It was also the birth after the loss of her third child. Then the last (baby #5) was a planned home birth with non-progressive labor and then a surprise breech. She decided to transfer in for a c-section and he did the surgery. She also worked with him when she was doing her CNM clinicals, so she knows him quite well.

Anyway, I told her that I would definitely consider having him present. She said his role would be "to sit in a corner and say nothing and do nothing." He is a very skilled photographer and videographer, so I could also ask him to take over those responsibilities. That actually sounds really appealing; I would have liked more pictures & video last time. I'm going to meet with him soon and get a feel for whether I'd mind having him in my space.

Part of me laughs at the irony of this all, since I was so gung-ho about being totally alone when I had Zari. And at that time, I definitely needed just that. But like I said, every birth is a new adventure for me. As long as I feel confident that he won't disrupt my own concentration, I'm definitely open to it. And I think of all the good it could do for many other women--and for him as a birth attendant--to have him witness what birth can really be like.


  1. Anterior placenta in the way of hearing the heartbeats?

    With Trillian they could find her heartbeat at the hospital, so I grabbed the doppler from them put it at the top of my belly and pushed in and pointed down to my pubic bone. Found her right away. Not sure if that was just intuition of where she was, or anxiety that I needed to find her.

    Heck, I've started my Hypnobabies at 20 weeks, and 16 weeks with my last one. I get great sleep, and great tools. Not to mention I know that I'm getting good practice of the techniques. =) Why wait?

  2. *couldn't find her heartbeat

  3. and just think how much safer it will be with an OB there! ;-)

  4. Way to allow yourself to contribute to scientific understanding! I think its great you are considering having an OB witness your birth.

    My mother said that our family doctor growing up had been present at a home birth before I was born. I still would like to have a chance to ask him about it someday.

  5. Where are the pictures?! :)

  6. It is interesting how birth plans change with each pregnancy. For my first I only wanted my midwife (with her assistant of course) and my husband. But, for the next one I'm considering highering a doula. With one child here, I think it would be good to have someone there just for me so my husband can be free to care for our daughter. Still will plan a homebirth, though, and I hope I get it this time.

  7. Please explain more why you are fearful of a doppler!

  8. Wow, you're already 24 weeks! It seems like just yesterday that Zari made the announcement! I'm so happy for you!

    And what a great opportunity for the OB if you decide to allow him to be present. That's how change happens, one person at a time.

    Can't wait for more updates!

  9. I never said I was fearful of a doppler. I just prefer to avoid any unnecessary ultrasound exposure. And this wasn't technically "necessary", because the baby was moving around and there was nothing to be concerned about. Just my anxiety level. So that's why I requested a really quick listen.

  10. I've been following your blog for awhile now, and reading some of your older posts as well. In one of your posts you noted that you do what you do because you want to empower women, but honestly, some of your comments are down right rude and offensive to women who don't choose to birth the way you do. If you want people to have an open mind about your thought process you may want to be more accepting of other's experiences. Giving birth is ALWAYS empowering...even with dopplers, OBs, and c-sections!

  11. Anonymous, you said "Giving birth is ALWAYS empowering...eve with dopplers, OBs, and c-sections!"

    I have to disagree. I think that birth with interventions CAN be empowering, given IF the woman is involved in the decisions about using them. Birth can be extremely dis-empowering for women who feel that her decision-making power was taken away from her by someone else who took control of the birth. There are many women out there who have been traumatized by things their providers did or said to them during their births, some even compare the experience sexual assault, which is very much the opposite of empowering.

  12. I understand that, I guess my point is this blog is VERY pointed and bias in my opinion. I feel that she only "approves" of her way of birthing. When I said birth is always empowering, I should have said it always CAN be empowering.

  13. Different anonymous here...Lots of medical experiences can be extremely disempowering. I would say that "normal" childbirth, without without interventions, is one of the least disempowering medical experiences out there. Just ask a bone marrow transplant or spinal cord injury patient, or even a mental health patient. But generally you accept some degree of "patienthood" in order receive assistance, pain relief, and expert care in the event of complications.

  14. Different anonymous here...Lots of medical experiences can be extremely disempowering. I would say that "normal" childbirth, without without interventions, is one of the least disempowering medical experiences out there. Just ask a bone marrow transplant or spinal cord injury patient, or even a mental health patient. But generally you accept some degree of "patienthood" in order receive assistance, pain relief, and expert care in the event of complications.

  15. To the First Anonymous-

    This is a personal blog, and these are Rixa's personal opinions. She didn't attack anyone that doesn't feel the same way that she does, and she didn't make any statements that make it seem like other women's experiences in birth are worse than hers and the decisions that she has made.

    Also, of course birth should be empowering, but it's just not true that birth is ALWAYS empowering. Many women in this country and others find that even though they wanted to feel empowered, their care providers made that very difficult and tried to take the power for themselves during the transformative process of birth. Most women are simply along for the ride when the time comes to actually give birth, and are sometimes not even allowed to make decisions for themselves, or coerced into decisions that they later regret. That is hardly empowering.

  16. Wow, what an amazing opportunity for that OB, I love hearing about OB's like that! I hope he's in a teaching hospital so he can begin to influence the residents, and med students.

    I second the query into the anterior placenta, but then you would likely be picking up a clear pulse (yours) through the placenta.

    My daughter used to run and hide in the bottom right 'corner' of my uterus when we took out the fetoscope. By 30 wks, she had no where to run LOL

    Anoynomus, I'm sorry you feel Rixa is being rude with her comments. I have never felt that she was unaccepting of others birth experiences, but rather she knows what she wants for herself and her babies, and nothing else would be ideal for her.

    If you or other women feel better with OB's, c-sections or whatever technology science has brought into birth, so be it. Every woman's ideal birth is going to be drastically different from another woman's in some manner.

  17. Ok, re-reading my first comment, I sound like a moron, sorry for all the missing/extra words in there...

    If you feel Rixa is judgmental of other women's decisions about pregnancy and birth, I suspect you haven't read enough of her writing to understand her point of view. I don't think she has ever meant to imply that her way of giving birth is the ONLY way to have an empowering experience.

  18. There's such a mental disconnect for me between the baby I feel moving inside of me and the baby that actually comes out.

    Glad I'm not the only one who feels that way. With both of mine, I had a hard time envisioning the baby inside me as an actual baby, and after the birth, I felt a little bit of shock upon contemplating this little person lying on my chest.

    It's an amazing power we're given, to grow a new human being, and it's a little hard for me to completely integrate it.

  19. Dear first anon,
    I have to respectfully disagree. I have had 2 very disempowering births. I am grieved beyond words. Personally, even though my births have been nothing like I wanted or R would like to have, I have loved loved loved reading this site. I have to disagree with your point that she would disapprove of any birth but her own way. Mine have been o so different and I am certain that if she and I sat and talked abotu them, she would be so so compassionate, gentle and supportive.
    There is a tiny bit of my heart that suspects your experience has not always been what you wanted. If so, I am sorry. I understand.

  20. I am reminded of the old J-P Sartre quote: "When we choose, we choose for all mankind" (or womankind, as it were...). I suspect that this may be why anon #1 finds Rixa's comments "rude" and "offensive to women don't choose to birth the way [she] does"--inevitably, in choosing something for ourselves we seem to be making a judgement on the choices of others.

    My experience as a mother has shown me that it can be difficult to talk about our choices, and not just relating to pregnancy and birth, but also with regards to breastfeeding, diapering, food and nutrition, and so on. This is an unfortunate state of affairs. Instead of speaking openly of our choices, we often keep quiet for fear of appearing judgemental.

    Pregnant women and mothers do not need Rixa's approval. Rixa should be commended for speaking openly about her choices and for bringing relevant issues to light in her blog. By doing so she is clearly not trying to dictate what pregnant women should or should not do (there are national organizations for that). And as a mother myself, I have a strong feeling of solidarity with all other mothers. We are all in this together, and I have a hunch that Rixa may feel the same way.

  21. For both of my homebirths I had a doula attending for whom it was their first homebirth experience. For both, it was a transformational experience! It was a joy to make that possible for them. I think it's cool that you might do that for an OB!

  22. Andrea, your comment struck a chord with me. Well said.
    (yet another anonymous)

  23. Rixa, my first thought was anterior placenta!

    With my first 2, I heard their heartbeats early...but with the third, I did not. In fact, I had a CNM tell me that I "must have" miscarried that time because she couldn't find the heartbeat....but it was just an anterior placenta that made it harder to find for a while. My homebirth midwife found it just fine, though it did take some searching.

    May or may not be an anterior placenta for you, but it's a reasonable possibility to considier.

  24. I didn't realize you were pregnant again! Congrats! I must be coming to visit at just the right times to miss your pregnancy updates. How wonderful! My third baby is 8 months old now and it was quite an adjustment but I'm feeling myself again and loving my new family.
    On another note, I found hypnobabies really did help with my third birth, the only one I used it for. I loved how positive it was, which is SO foreign to birth these days. I highly recommend it to everyone!

  25. I have been thinking about your last paragraph for awhile now. I absolutely had to have my first child home, alone. It was the only thing that made sense to me. Now, having done that, I imagine the next one will have attendants, perhaps family, maybe even friends. My first thought is just that I have the confidence I need to remain as in control of the situation as I need to/want to. The first time around I needed the silence to hear my own voice - I didn't want it polluted with outside observations and opinions. I don't know. It will always be a mystery to me exactly why I couldn't just do it the "normal" way.

    Alicia in Texas, USA

  26. I love the idea of this OB being present at your birth! Though it sounds like he is "hip to the cause," this could be a really transformative experience for him. If he trains other younger doctors, his experience could trickle down...sounds like a wonderful opportunity for all involved, and a great way to advocate for women's freedom to choose homebirth.

  27. Alicia--you exactly put into words why I did my first alone.

    The OB works in a small community hospital, so he wouldn't be training residents. Anyway we're waiting to hear back from him to see if he's still game.

  28. Anonymous--what has Rixa said that has offended you so?

    Rixa isn't so much trying to push a home birth agenda as she is encouraging women to research their birth options, and raising awareness of what is wrong with the maternity care situation in this country. For example: I never knew that home birth was illegal in some states until I started coming to this blog!

    I'm not sure I'll ever have a home birth, but I am an advocate for women's birthing rights, thanks to this blog.


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