Wednesday, September 27, 2006

30 weeks gestation

My belly is growing rapidly. The skin feels so streeeeeetched sometimes!

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

What does a pregnancy cost?

I was recently going over my finances and asked myself "what has this pregnancy cost me?" Here's the breakdown:

Medications & supplements:
$60 for Crinone progesterone gel copays (I had some low progesterone concerns early in the pregnancy)
$100 for prenatal vitamins, vitamin B6, fish oil supplements, etc

Maternity clothes


Books & DVDs
(These were also for my dissertation research)

Chiropractic care
$60 for 6 visits (my copays are about $10 now that I have met my annual deductible)


Doctor or midwife visits
(Okay, technically I spent $20 to see my family doctor about getting my Hemoglobin levels checked and getting a prescription for a postpartum Rhogam shot if needed. However, she refused to help me with those things. Luckily the midwife I work with recently checked my Hg for free, and said she'd help me with the Rhogram prescription.)

Birth Supplies
I already had most things at home. Here are the costs for things I had to actually go out and purchase:
$20 for anti-hemorrhagic tinctures
$7 for afterbirth herbal bath
I'll probably spend a little more money on things like extra secondhand towels, hydrogen peroxide (takes out blood like a charm), and disposable mesh panties for the first few days postpartum.
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Monday, September 25, 2006

Birth supplies

Here are some supplies I have gathered in preparation for the birth. To be completely honest, I don't really "need" most of them. I think the most important birth supply is lots & lots of towels.

Chux pads (rectangular absorbent pads, aka incontinence pads or puppy training pads)
Placenta Out tincture (for bleeding before placenta releases)
HemHalt & Wombstringe tinctures (for post-placenta bleeding)
Afterease Tincture (for relieving afterbirth pains)
Herbal afterbirth bath: great for healing tears & sore bottoms
Placenta bowl (aka a large, shallow stainless steel mixing bowl)
Emergen-C (a powder you add to water, to make a fizzy, energizing drink)
Bendy straws
Various massage tools
Microwaveable rice packs
Electric heating pad (for keeping towels warm)

Things I have but will probably never use:
Plastic cord clamps (I plan on tying off the cord with shoelaces or braided embroidery floss--much more comfortable for the baby)
Bulb syringe
Nonsterile latex gloves (mostly for when I am at someone else's birth and examining the placenta)
Sterile 4x4 gauze pads

I plan to put all of my birth supplies in a basket that I can grab and bring anywhere in the house. I will layer the supplies with things I will need first towards the top, and afterbirth/baby items towards the bottom.
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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Looking more pregnant

I'd say I definitely started looking pregnant about 2 weeks ago. All of a sudden, random people started commenting on my pregnancy. Even just 4 weeks ago, people at church still came up to me hesitantly, giving me that I-don't-know-if-I-should-ask look. Some didn't notice until I told them.

And my appetite--wow! Just this last week I have become ravenous nearly all of the time. Even though I've had to eat more often during this pregnancy, I didn't necessarily eat more overall until this week. I'm even waking up at night hungry, so I've started bringing snacks upstairs when I go bed.

Here's what I ate yesterday:
- milk & cereal (for breakfast, and as a snack mid-day)
- 2 scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese
- spaghetti squash
- apple
- banana
- milk (probably 2 glasses)
- rice with cheese
- salad: arugula, New Zealand spinach, some "mystery greens", & hard boiled egg
- Tilapia fillet with Malabar spinach
- glass of grape juice
- square of very dark chocolate, a small chocolate cookie, and a few spoonfuls of ice cream
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Friday, September 15, 2006

Better Is Not Good Enough

People have asked me why I don’t just choose a CNM in a hospital. After all, there are hospital birth centers now with comfortable (ha!) beds and Jacuzzi tubs. You don’t even feel like you’re in a hospital; it’s more like an upscale hotel. And the nurse midwives will even let you walk around and go into the tub!

That setting is certainly better than a typical hospital birth attended by an OB. Or rather, unattended by an OB, since most doctors generally have the nursing staff manage and monitor labor. Once the woman is pushing and the head is showing, the doctor is called in to take over. But I digress...

But better isn’t good enough for me. I refuse to labor in an environment where I will be “allowed” to do things. My recent attempt at IVF reminded me why being on my own turf is crucial. I went to the fertility clinic in January for the embryo transfer, the culmination of two months of drugs, shots, vaginal ultrasounds, blood tests, and minor surgical procedures. The staff led me to a room and had me undress and place my legs in THE HIGHEST stirrups I have ever seen. They left, and I waited. The four cups of water they had asked me to drink (so the ultrasound would work properly) came back with a vengeance.

There was a bathroom right across the hallway. I have never had to pee so badly in my entire life. I was a grown woman with advanced college degrees, yet I was nearly in tears because they had told me sternly that I was not allowed to go to the bathroom. I finally took my legs out of those stirrups, wrapped myself in a sheet, and sneaked across the hallway. I felt like James Bond. Even after I had locked myself in the bathroom, I was so worried about getting in trouble that I only let the smallest amount out. I sneaked back to the room and waited again. I made another evasive trip to the bathroom. I still was on the verge of exploding, just somewhat less so than before.

When the procedure started, I told the staff that I really had to pee. I mean REALLY. They said, “You’ll have to wait until we’re done and use the bedpan.” I was lying totally exposed, like an omega female on her back with a pack of alphas standing above her. I started crying because the discomfort was so incredible. The nurse dug around on my abdomen with the ultrasound probe for a few minutes. Finally, she said, “I guess you can go—you have a retroverted uterus and I can’t see it with your bladder in the way.” Peeing never felt so good.

My friends know that I’m not a wishy-washy Nice Girl by any means. I stand up for what I believe in. I speak up in class and disagree with my professors. Yet I found myself begging virtual strangers for permission to engage in a bodily function. On that day I understood complete humiliation.

I refuse to ask permission to walk around. I refuse to be “allowed” to drink clear fluids. No one will tell me that I cannot push, or that I have to get out of the tub, or that I have to lie on my back. If I want a steak, I will eat one. If I want to crawl in circles around my living room and bellow like a cow, no one will try to stop me. (My dog will probably think it’s great fun though).

Better is not good enough. I want fantastic. I want euphoric. I want incredibly challenging and painful and exhilarating.

And most of all, I want an empty bladder.
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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Good laugh

This is completely unrelated to pregnancy or birth, but I thought it was pretty funny. These are TV and radio ads for Utah's 2005 State Fair, done by Napoleon Dynamite.

Sweet Rides

Dear Diary

Pedro's Song
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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Prenatal care

One question that I often hear when people learn I am giving birth at home is "but are you seeing a doctor or a midwife for your pregnancy?" The short answer is no. This post is the longer answer about what prenatal care means when you're not seeing a professional.

First, true prenatal care is NOT going to a doctor once a month to be weighed, measured, and examined. Prenatal care is how well you take care of yourself in between those visits. This includes eating an excellent diet, exercising, getting enough sleep, eliminating stress, and taking the initiative to remain healthy.

So, what do I do to take care of myself?

1. I try to eat a whole foods diet, focusing on adequate protein, calories, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fluids, and salt. We rarely eat processed foods or sweets (except very dark chocolate, which is actually good for you! My favorite is 86% cocoa, although 70% is quite good as well).

2. I exercise regularly. I walk at least 2-3 miles per day, thanks to my lovely Dalmatian Zeke. We go down to the bike path every morning for a brisk 2 mile walk. He runs off leash, chases ducks and deer, and splashes in the creek. I usually go on a shorter walk or two with him in the afternoon or evening. I also swim 3/4 mile (24 laps) three times a week.

3. I take good quality prenatal vitamins and some supplements. I don't feel this is truly necessary, but it's a good idea unless you can eat all organic, free-range foods. I use Rainbow Light's Complete Prenatal System. They're big, green, and smell like grass. Mmmmm. I also take fish oil capsules because we don't have access to good seafood here in the Midwest. (Read Michel Odent's fascinating article on the role of fatty acids from seafood.) I took vitamin B6 supplements during my first trimester. I didn't really get sick at all--just a few weeks of feeling blah and "off." Was it the B6? Who knows...

4. I keep track of my uterus' growth by measuring fundal height. I note how my fundus is growing in respect to certain landmarks--3 fingers above the belly button, etc. I also get out my handy dressmaker's measuring tape and measure in centimeters from the pubic bone to the top of the fundus.

5. I listen to the baby's heartbeat and placenta with a fetoscope. I bought the cheapest model I could find for $13 and was able to locate the heartbeat around 16 weeks. I usually count the heartrate when I listen. So far it's been consistently in the 150s. It's fun to locate the placenta; it makes a swooshing/rushing noise in synch with my own heartbeat. Last I checked, mine was on my left side about waist high.

6. I weigh myself occasionally. So far I have gained about 18 lbs (as of 28 weeks gestation). Most of the weight gain occurred while I was in France over the summer.

7. I pay attention to the baby's movements and enjoy the acrobatics. As the pregnancy advances, I've noticed more distinct kinds of movements: kicks, punches, rolls, stretches. This baby likes to move its hands on my lower left side, and kick on my upper right.

8. I checked my hemoglobin level 2 weeks ago. It had fallen from 13.6 pre-pregnancy to 12.9. A stable or rising Hg level is the earliest indication of an inadequate blood volume expansion (due usually to inadequate nutrition), which if unresolved can lead to metabolic toxemia. I was reassured that my blood volume had expanded, although I am still vigilant about my nutrition.

9. I sleep as much as my body needs. I can usually get enough at night, despite waking up several times to go the bathroom, but I take naps if I feel the need.

10. I check my blood pressure occasionally, perhaps twice so far. I haven't checked it since I went to France, so I might again out of curiosity. Blood pressure can fluctuate tremendously depending on a woman's environment and stress level, so it's not something I am terribly concerned about monitoring.

11. I read, read, read. I love my textbooks by Anne Frye (Holistic Midwifery vols 1-2 and Understanding Diagnostic Tests). I talk to my midwife friends if I have questions. I search the internet. Most of all, I enjoy my pregnancy and the sense of discovery that comes when you take care of yourself, rather than waiting for someone else to tell you if you're healthy or not.

12. I keep track of these things, and more, on these nifty "Moon Charts" that I made. They're loosely based on fertility charts from the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility, but with lots of extra columns added for pregnancy stuff. I just started my 8th moon chart (they are 4 weeks each).
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Sunday, September 10, 2006

28 weeks gestation

On the bottom is a random belly shot that Eric took. The watermelon belly is starting to appear. Nicer than a lumpy-sack-of-potatoes belly. The best is watching my belly heave and distort when the baby moves around. Sometimes we'll just lie around and watch the acrobatics. We are so easily amused.

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25 weeks gestation

And I even have clothes on in one picture!

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23 weeks gestation

Gotta love the triple bumps--ribcage, stomach, and baby. Sigh...

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20 weeks gestation

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Belly photos--15 weeks gestation

Since I am getting close to 7 months along (ack! so soon?) I thought I would post some pictures of my growing belly. These 2 photos were taken at 15.4 weeks gestation. I don't like adding 2+ extra weeks--it feels like cheating--so I always count by gestational length. You might be asking what the difference is. Well...

Weeks of pregnancy start with your last mestrual period, so when you say you're 4 weeks pregnant, you actually conceived around 2 weeks ago.

Weeks of gestation refer to the actual number of weeks since conception (assuming you know when that happened). I know my date of conception, but that is no one else's business thank-you-very-much.

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Test run...

Seeing if this works.
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