The Ordeal of Freedom: Childbirth Chapter

Once again I had no wild dreams. I am beginning to think that I just want to get the labor over with.

The only thing that’s bugging me right now is choice. Given that the benefits of epidural outweigh the potential risks so much, why even attempt to brave the pain? I won’t think of myself as less of a woman if I chose medication. As a matter of fact, I will think that it’s stupid to avoid it. I heard of other women who had experienced childbirth both with and without regional anesthesia say that they were stupid to choose natural.

Natural childbirth, be the way, involves certain pain management methods considered “natural” such as acupressure or hypnosis, only they are not as effective as medication. Traditionally midwives used all sorts of herbs and potions, but in this day in age they are not licensed to administer any substances.  You have to be a doctor to do that and everyone knows that medical practitioners are bad, and midwives are good. Natural equals traditional equals unmedicated. Something like that.

According to my Childbirth Prep instructor, midwifes would have a woman drink a shot of vodka when she goes into labor. The instructor herself would not recommend that, perhaps because she was on Kaiser time, but my doula suggested a glass of wine. I love my doula!

On the other hand, if the baby comes out slightly disoriented and has troubles latching on or if I wouldn’t know how to push and they have to cut my vagina and insert the forceps, I’ll feel different about it.

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April 27, 2007. Breedosaurus, Random thoughts. Leave a comment.

Due Date Anxiety Unique to my Family

My own Birthday is coming up this Saturday, and there is a chance that my firstborn will pop out this Saturday, too. It’s a family tradition, after all. Both my sister and my late grandmother were born like me, on April 28.

After giving this whole idea much thought, I have to say I’d rather pass. We are planning on having more then one child, and the next one might feel inadequate if not born on mommy’s or daddy’s or any other relative’s Birthday.

April 26, 2007. Breedosaurus. Leave a comment.

Predictions

My husband predicts that the baby will be born on the 6th of May, that it will be 7.5 pounds and a girl.  He said that once, more then ten years ago, he wagered money on baby size and won.  He knew about baby size ten months ago?  No, but he was the last one to place his bet, so he looked at other numbers and picked something in between.  “If other numbers were between 20 and 40 lbs, I wouldn’t know the difference, — he said.”

I predict we will be worrying about this one and the ones to follow for the rest of our lives.

April 25, 2007. Breedosaurus. Leave a comment.

Due Date Anxiety

I had no wild pregnancy dreams tonight.  I know what it means: I’m coming to terms with the fact that I will probably give birth earlier then officially predicted. 

Relying on predictions of an inexperienced OB doesn’t seem like a good idea.  As a rule OBs do not observe their patients for prolonged periods of time.  They walk into examination room, measure expectant mother’s stomach, listen to baby’s heartbeat and have a short conversation discussing said measurements and test results.  Sometimes they do exciting things, like ultrasound.  When they walk in, mothers are already sitting down.  When they walk out, mothers are still sitting down.  OBs don’t take time to look at their stomachs and see if they are dropping.  They don’t get observe women running to the bathroom every 5 minutes.  In many cases they wouldn’t be able to tell if the baby is positioned correctly just by looking at one’s stomach.  I’m no hippy, but I came to conclusion that a good doula or a midwife is in a better position to observe and make conclusions about certain things.

My OB does not appear to be able to measure anything if her life would depend on it.  Early on in my pregnancy she determined my due date by measuring the fetus on the ultrasound screen.  Her estimated conception date was a week later then what I thought might have been the case.  Later on a sonographer measured my baby and moved the due date six days ahead.  The OB said that she won’t move up the date because some variation is expected, and perhaps my baby is bigger then average.  Another couple of months goes by and she tells me that my baby is small because my stomach measures almost 1.5 weeks smaller.  In a couple of weeks she does another ultrasound and tells me that my baby is good size, and that my stomach might be a little smaller because I’m petite.  None of it, of course, is that important so long as the baby is healthy. And she might still be right about my due date.

One more observation though: If sonogram measurements are off, they are probably smaller, not larger then the baby actually is.  OB told me that being off is easy because of the tiny size of the baby in early-mid pregnancy.  The baby might move a little in one direction or another, and there you go – you got a discrepancy.  However, the sonogram measures the longest distance between points in scull or body.  The longest measurements can’t be longer then the ones taken, but they might, if the baby moves, be shorter.

April 25, 2007. Breedosaurus. Leave a comment.

Vivid Pregnancy Dreams

I had two dreams tonight.  In one of them me and some other people went to Kharkov circus.  I grew up living near that building.  I don’t remember much about the performance or people who went there with me, only that we wound up making white origami birds, and during the intermission threw them on stage.  Then we went out into the foyer and on the balcony.  We threw the birds off the balcony, and went out of the building to check out the nearby Kharkov River and the whipping willows. I remember standing on the embankment looking at the opposite shore and commenting on how expensive the property is and how now that we are moving out, my husband and me would never be able to afford living there.  I was very pregnant.

We crossed the bridge and set on a bench in some very small park.  Then we crossed back and caught up with my dad who was sitting on a bench outside our apartment building and talking to a friend of a friend.  She was stupid and annoying and normally my dad wouldn’t have much patience for someone like her.  She and my companions left.  “Oh great, — I thought. – Now he’s going to lecture me on how retarded my friends are.”  To the contrary!  He said zanyatnaya, or she’s entertaining.  It was a bit disturbing.

Next we went to our old apartment.  The only person left there was my late great grandmother.  The furniture was still there.  My great grandmother put her right leg up on a table and was readjusting her garter.  “I am going to name my daughter after her, — I thought. – Middle name, at least.”  My grandmother was praying loudly in Hebrew; it was an end of the day going to sleep prayer.

I don’t remember my other dream.

April 24, 2007. Breedosaurus. Leave a comment.

Cho and Che

This essay by People’s Cube’s Oleg Atbashian is very interesting, and the first one I came across that actually takes Cho Seung-Hui’s words for their face value. Because the man actually went through the trouble of putting a video together and mailing it to a major network, he thought that his stated motives are worthy of examination. Atbashian notes that Cho’s ramblings regurgitated his educators’ ramblings, and other popular sources. But Atbashian is overreaching at when he suggests a causal connection. Consider this, for instance:

Besides acting as a catalyst on a depressed mind, “progressive” education is also a major cause of depression in itself. Imagine growing up while believing that yours is the worst country on the planet, guilty of death and suffering of millions of poor people worldwide, who are being wantonly killed, robbed, enslaved, raped, and tortured so that your mom could shop at the mall and your dad could fill up the tank. The species are dying, the rainforest is dwindling, the ozone hole is growing, and the globe is warming. If it is frightful enough to turn a sensitive adult into a guilt-ridden neurotic, think about a ten-year-old who, in addition, lives with the fear that if we all don’t die of skin cancer by the age of thirty, global warming and raising sea levels will finish everyone off anyway.

A patriot will find “progressivism” is a depressing ideology, I doubt it can cause Major Depression. It seems to me that even the most committed proponents of not-my-country-right-or-wrong doctrine actually believe it down inside. They are too comfortable, bored and complacent to be honest with themselves. There is obviously too much money to be made, too many carriers to be built, too many cheeks to be picked up America-bashing. If one is comfortable on personal level, why be upset? Children they “help” us raise pick up on this. Sadly, they may learn to identify with “progressivism” not their country. If America is never a part of one’s identity, why despair in the face of its alleged wrongdoings? Cho’s American identify might never had materialized. Although he was certainly eligible, he never applied for American citizenship.

Cho’s mental illness did not originate with his exposure to radical ideology on our shores. According to his Korean relatives his behavior was always peculiar. Atbashian of course, didn’t credit progressivism with causing Cho’s depression, but he does suggest that it might have aggravated it. This is proposition is difficult to prove.

Cho might have been a revolutionary in his own deranged mind, but he was too much of a recluse to make the cut in real life. A true revolutionary dreams bigger dreams building radical networks to ensure that his violence doesn’t stop with its first outbreak. Lenin’s newspaper, for instance, was called Iskra, meaning “spark’ out of which a fire shell rise. Cho was a deluded armature, a far cry from true sociopath like Che.

It seems to me that Cho simply sucked in violent ideologies that are “in the air” today – Marxist rhetoric, terrorist MO, etc. So he wasn’t free of both Islamist and Marxist influences. What is doubtless, however, is that was this maniac somehow influenced by some sort of a right-wingish ideology, we’d keep hearing about for months on in.

April 24, 2007. Random thoughts. Leave a comment.

About That Moment of Truth

I had an unpleasant dream tonight.  One of my leg was lame, and I went shopping at a grocery store near our house.  I had four bags of groceries with me as well as another bag with my favorite skirt that I wore religiously three years ago.  The skirt was attached to a hanger.

I had to carry it all home, and I carried it all for a block or two, but then realized that the bags were too heavy for me and my lame leg.  So I decided that at each intersection I will leave two grocery bags on one side of the street, pick up the other two and carry them across.  Then I will deposit the grocery bags and return for the remaining two bags still carrying the skirt with me because it’s very light although the hanger made carrying the bag a bit uncomfortable.

I almost made it home, but I getting tired when I decided to go home with two bags only and then ask a neighbor to give me a ride to pick up the remaining two bags.  So I made it to our street, and many neighbors were out working on cars, watering flowers and talking.  I couldn’t decide who would be a better choice to ask for help before I woke up.

I know what it means, but I’m not telling.

April 23, 2007. Breedosaurus. Leave a comment.

The Moment of Truth is Coming

So this midwife told me that I should give birth within two weeks.  As I mentioned before, I knew that the previous calculations of conception time were a bit off and that probably the baby is due a little earlier.

Still, I have to admit I am scared to hear that there is one week less to go.  I am afraid of pain, but I also know that there are relatively benign options, like epidural that will help to alleviate at least most of it.  That’s reassuring.  What I fear the most, I guess is my body opening up so much that I will be able to pass a whole baby.  Freaky!  If I am to be honest with myself, I will admit that I’m afraid of the changes that come with the baby, but I am at the point in my life where I need to make choices.  Do I want to have a family, or do I want to spend the rest of my time on this Earth shopping and hanging out looking cool? 

What I am really afraid of is the unknown.  What is this pain that is like no other pain I’ve experienced so far?  I know these women on birth videos opened up to pass the baby, but am I really going to do the same?  Will my body ever assume its pre-pregnancy shape?  Most importantly, am I a mommy material?

April 23, 2007. Breedosaurus, Random thoughts. Leave a comment.

Smart Girl, Stupid Classes

I am approaching childbirth from the geekiest angle.  Not only did I read multiple pregnancy websites, I signed up with a gazillion health education classes, which was mostly a waste of time.  I educated myself on the rare baby presentation I thought I have.  Being a smart girl, she turned, on her own.

Anyhow, to go back to the health ed angle, I signed up with a Kaiser Lamaze class.  The wonderful Oakland Health Ed Department

  • Took forever to return my calls;
  • Singed me up with a wrong class.  I requested a single session, they gave me two sessions.
  • Transferred the class to a different room without telling me;
  • Didn’t notify receptionists that the class is meeting elsewhere;
  • Didn’t post any signs alerting students to the change of location;
  • Didn’t return my call when I was trying to find the class.

Anyhow it all worked out because I was already suspecting that the class might meet in a different meeting where other pre-natal ed classes met.  Plus, the instructor actually came to get us suspecting that some people fell through the cracks.

There was a sing up hick up for my breastfeeding class as well – they got the class length wrong: Two hours, not two and a half.  My hospital tour scheduled for the next Saturday will start at 10:30, not 10:00 as they told me on the phone.

Anyhow, out of all classes I signed myself up for breastfeeding was the most useful, probably because the instructor was the most hands-on, or possibly because I haven’t read much about breastfeeding yet.  The reason why I didn’t is because I know that there is a lot of conflicting info out there, so who knows what I really need to read.

My husband even suggested that perhaps we can switch health insurance.  “It might be a good idea, — I said, — but not because of the silly Health Ed Department.”  In other plans you’d have your OB deliver your baby, with Kaiser it’s whoever’s shift it is.  But then the Lamaze instructor said that it’s actually a good system for preventing unnecessary cesareans.  In none-HMOs doctors are called up to deliver, so if a woman’s labor is prolonged, they are more likely to suggest cesarean for failure to progress.  As a result, cesarean rate for first pregnancy at Kaiser is 18%, versus $30+ at Alta Bates.  18% is still quite high, mind you.

Anyhow, according to the Lamaze lady who is a midwife, my belly dropped quite a bit since the last session, and she thinks I will have a baby within two weeks.

I don’t know what to think about it.  Her prediction doesn’t come completely as a surprise, because people have been telling me that my belly is dropping for nearly a month now.  But hey, she’s a pro!  On the same note, a couple of days ago my OB told me not to worry if my baby is born any time now.  She’s basically full term and should be just fine.  So she’s told me the same thing…

On one hand it would be nice to take time, cash in on my maternity leave and catch up on some reading.  On the other hand, it would be nice to see what my baby looks like.

The Lamaze instructor was able to tell that my baby turned, and was quite happy for me.  I gave my baby full credit for turning – she’s a smart girl!  These two factors made the class worth it for me.

April 22, 2007. Breedosaurus. Leave a comment.

My Baby is a Sweetheart

I guess my OB is OK, after all.  I had an appointment today, and she looked at my baby’s position.  Her head is now deep inside my pelvis, and she is unlikely to turn!  Whew!  After spending eight months either diagonal or transverse, she finally assumed the launching position.

My belly is a bit smaller then usual, and for a while now the OB kept telling me that the baby is on the small side, seven pounds at most.  I was a bit perplexed by that because both me and my sister were just over eight pounds, and my husband, at two weeks post due, was 9 pounds 123 ounces.  So what am I ding wrong and why is my baby small? This ultrasound showed that my baby is good size.  Her head is normal, and apparently her back is long, so she’s likely to be tall.  I like that.  A tall baby with smaller head so that she comes out easier.

Finally, I asked the OB to check if the baby is still a girl.  She said that it will be difficult at this stage because she’s too big for small detail like sex to be picked up, but she’ll try.  She tried, and couldn’t see much because her legs were too close together.  BUT her genital area looked rather flat, so she thinks that the baby is likely a girl.  It looks like I’ll get to dress her up and take to ballet performances!

The main thing, of course, is that she turned, and I love her even more now!

April 20, 2007. Breedosaurus. Leave a comment.

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