20 Questions about the Wife!

Hey little one! This post is to show you how much your daddy knows about the woman he loves so much, decided to marry and begin a family with. Not all my answers are going to be right, but what is most important is that Dad thinks the world of your Mom and will never forget that.

They are sitting in front of the TV, what is on the screen?
1. While I think my wife is more interested in what is on her laptop, I would have to say 30 Rock, the Office, Lost or whatever is at the top of her Netflix queue: whatever independent comedy was seen as a trailer on a previous Netflix selection or the complete series of a HBO or Showtime show.

2. You’re out to eat; what kind of dressing do they get on their salad?
When we are at home it is normally oil and spices. (Edit: blue cheese, but oil and vinegar is healthier.)

3. What’s one food they don’t like?
Mac and Cheese, broccoli and anything with potential texture issues.

4. You go out to eat and have a drink. What do they order?
The last seven months have severely limited my knowledge of what my wife drinks. I would have to say whatever seemed good on tap, but I know this September there will be much consumption of Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale.

5. Where did they go to high school?
Marshwood High School, home of the Eagles (Edit: right high school, wrong mascot. Hawks.)

6. What size shoe do they wear?
I honestly have to say that I have no clue. (Edit: 8.5.)

7. If they were to collect anything, what would it be?
There are a fair amount of purses around our house. Most importantly though, Deanna does an excellent job of collecting memories of us with her DSLR.

8. What is their favorite type of sandwich?
The Moe’s Original Italian Sandwich.

9. What would this person eat every day if they could?
She has said on a number of occasions that she would my shrimp scampi every day.

10. What is their favorite cereal?
Apparently it isn’t frosty mini-wheats, so I will have to guess Raisin Bran? (Edit: Cocoa Puffs.)

11. What would they never wear?
I would have to say anything worn by Carrie Bradshaw from Sex in the City is a no go.

12. What is their favorite sports team?
Red Sox for baseball and the Patriots for professional football. Her allegiance is up in the air for college football, so I’m trying to have her side with the Huskers.

13. Who did they vote for?
Obama

14. Who is their best friend?
I think this depends on the location, but I would have to say Deanna would consider her sister her best friend.

15. What is something you do that they wish you wouldn’t do?
Although I’m probably guilty of this, I would have to say leaving the light on in the bathroom.

16. What is their heritage?
Mostly English and Swedish. (Edit: I forgot to mention the Portuguese, primarily because I haven’t started that part of her family’s genealogy yet.)

17. You bake them a cake for their birthday; what kind of cake?
Although I would have to defer to my wife’s answer for me (Cake Love cupcakes), I would try to make either one of those chocolate lava cakes or a cheesecake.

18. Did they play sports in high school?
She used to run track in high school and primarily ran hurdles. (Edit: one season and not very well.)

19. What could they spend hours doing?
Reading both books and online blogs, watching movies

20. What is one unique talent they have?
Besides being completely and totally nerdy around me, I would have to say that my wife is exceedingly bendy and can do yoga far better than I ever would be able to.

Face-off

**Edited to add: The nurse is no longer teaching the class; at least, not the next few. And tonight’s nurse was the exact opposite of last week’s–warm, accommodating, professional, and a big patient advocate. Feeling much better now.**

Because we are path-of-least-resistance types, we’re going the hospital route. Actually we’re going that route because our OB succeeded in doing what most people cannot, which is put my mind totally at ease and convince me that she’s 100% behind us and our decisions. That’s the big sticking point–she knows us, we know her, we all like each other, and we communicate well. Why alter that relationship?

However, because of that and because we already paid $100 non-refundable dollars and there’s a recession and my job security is a big ? mark right now, dammit, we’re going to finish the prenatal classes at the hospital. Which means five more weeks of the nurse, assuming they haven’t replaced her as an instructor. We gave our names when we made the complaint; I stand by my griping. I’m ready to see her and see if she says anything, apologetic or defensive or otherwise.

And by “ready” I mean we’re going to show up 5 minutes late, sit in the back, and sneak out. Hey, just because *my* doctor doesn’t perform episiotomies doesn’t mean this woman can’t get access to a scalpel.

Survey: All About Tom

Here’s a little time capsule for the baby: the “how well do I know the man I decided to procreate with?” quiz! **Edited to add: Tom says I got all of them except 8 and 17. Go me!**

1.They are sitting in front of the TV, what is on the screen?
“Arrested Development,” “The Simpsons,” something from the AFI Top 500 list, or most recently Lego Star Wars for Wii

2. You’re out to eat; what kind of dressing do they get on their salad?
…Salad? Ranch or possibly just oil and vinegar.

3. What’s one food they don’t like?
Pickles. This has been a fun pregnancy for him.

4. You go out to eat and have a drink. What do they order?
Belgian beer, or whatever seasonal microbrew is on draft.

5. Where did they go to high school?
Seminole High School, home of the Warhawks!

6. What size shoe do they wear?
10, I think.

7. If they were to collect anything, what would it be?
Dictator collectibles, like the Fidel Castro bobblehead doll; photos of obscure monuments.

8. What is their favorite type of sandwich?
Until a few weeks ago I would have said a Reuben, but I think that now it’s probably a good roast beef with a nice au jus to dip. [Ed. Note: I was strongly chastised for this one; apparently I had mentally blocked the numerous hunts for the perfect Cuban sandwich during all our trips to Florida.]

9. What would this person eat every day if they could?
Oreo milkshakes

10. What is their favorite cereal?
He buys the healthy virtuous Kashi cereal but I think Capn’ Crunch would be it.

11. What would they never wear?
Polo shirts, Crocs

12. What is their favorite sports team?
Phillies baseball, Eagles football, Nebraska Cornhuskers college football

13. Who did they vote for?
Obama

14. Who is their best friend?
Frank

15. What is something you do that they wish you wouldn’t do?
Cabinet doors are not a one-way device; they close as well as open.

16. What is their heritage?
German-Irish, with a smattering of other stuff

17. You bake them a cake for their birthday; what kind of cake?
Mmm, chocolate! Actually I wouldn’t bake him one, I’d make sure he somehow got to CakeLove in DC for his free birthday cupcake. [Ed. Note: Yellow cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. But I was right about the cupcake part.]

18. Did they play sports in high school?
I’m not sure when he quit baseball, but I think it was before high school. He was really into attending games and school spirit though, unlike his anti-pep misanthrope of a wife.

19. What could they spend hours doing?
Geneaology research, hiking, biking, fantasy baseball

20. What is one unique talent they have?
There are a few…He can make really tasty Italian food, put together amazing vacation itineraries, make me laugh when I have the grumples, and he can do that weird noise that Cameron makes in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Bloop!

Congrats!

Tom’s cousin and his wife had a baby girl on Friday…and as I understand it, she’s Erika with a K! My sister, Tom and I are all quite tickled that our baby will have an Auntie Erika and a cousin Erika as well. And I’m somewhat jealous that they live in South Dakota; to wit, I cannot count on a low-pressure weather storm system to speed things along for me. I’ll have to rely on lasagna.

Pros and Cons

It was to my great relief and satisfaction that my OB was somewhat horrified to hear of the nurse’s perspective on our hospital as an impersonal baby factory.  That doesn’t mean we aren’t weighing our options and researching, but it goes a long way toward soothing my fears.  I know from my sister’s experience that a hospital birth can be a magical, totally positive experience.  I also know from others that I trust and respect that leaving the hospital setting and using a qualified midwife is safe and also magical and positive.  Plus all my favorite things and my husband are already at home.  In the interest of time–5-8 weeks left to go, and I have a small but gnawing hunch that this baby is impatient and will see the end of March–I am doing my research quickly but I feel more comfortable about the hospital as a fallback.  So!  The pros and cons.

Midwife/At Home Pros and Cons: A qualified, experienced midwife is a trained professional.  She will know what she is doing, and will know if we need a hospital transfer.  We would have every preference of ours met, my recovery could be in my own bed.  I could even make an effort to ruin the mattress so I can get that memory foam king bed I want.  (Kidding.) (Not really.)  My familiar and comforting objects will be handy, including my laptop and Canon equipment–we have some grandparents on the mainland who are going to want photos posthaste and they advised us not to bring valuables to the hospital.  Mainly, I will not be “fiddled” with if I don’t want to be; I also suspect that I will be belligerent and unpleasant if I am unnecessarily handled and a midwife circumvents that.
However–under ideal circumstances, it takes 45+ minutes to get from our apartment to the hospital.  For several hours a day, circumstances are *not* ideal.  To get to a 6:30 class at the hospital in Honolulu on time, I have to leave my apartment well before 5.  It can take almost two hours to get to the hospital, which happens to be the nearest one that is equipped to deal with birth, there’s construction on the way, and traffic can get gridlocked quickly.  I know from nearly a decade of urban living that emergency vehicle sirens mean very little during urban rush hours.  I am not convinced that in the event of an emergency that we would be able to get to a hospital in a timely manner.  I’m not convinced that there *will* be an emergency, but we are nothing if not nervous people.
OB/Hospital Pros and Cons: A lot of people’s discomfort with hospital births stems from their OB.  This was never the case with us, and from the start I have liked our OB very much.  A midwife would put me very much at ease, but my OB already does that.  She was appropriately horrified by Monday’s tour, and then sat down with us to go over every item of our plan.  She was flexible, open to new ideas, and reassured us that what we wanted was quite reasonable and not outside the bounds of what she would consider safe.  She also got the hospital on the phone, got us a personal apology, and from talking to other people there, it would appear that the Standard Operating Procedures are not as rigid as the nurse made them seem.  The staff will review our plan and accommodate our wishes, especially in regard to the few moments right after birth.  I still have to deliver and recover in two rooms, but I regard that as a minor irritation rather than a deal-breaker.  After discussing flexibility with my doctor and the nurse on the phone, I feel better that we probably will not be made to feel like nuisances for wanting to be involved with all aspects of the baby’s first days.  I will get to have my “what the hell just happened to me?!” moment with the baby.  Basically, most of my dislike of the hospital procedures stemmed from seeing it through the nurse’s eyes, and we all know how I feel about HER.  The rigidity and dismissive attitude were hers, not policy.  And she’s not an L&D nurse; she’s post-partum and a night nurse at that.
On the other hand…short recovery time in the hospital.  Crappy parking situation.  There are lots of nurses who really get into natural birth but there’s an equal amount that would sooner see you hooked to the epidural because it makes their lives easier.  It’s the luck of the draw as to who will be working that shift.  My OB is fantastic and she runs the show, for sure, but she won’t be there the whole time and probably won’t be there until the end.  And what if she can’t make it at all?  She’s promised she will but circumstances are what they are.  Uncomfortable bed for Tom, and never mind the cafeteria food.  (Tom’s going out to Whole Foods with a giant cooler once we’re all settled in.  This is one of the many reasons I love him.)  There’s still a possibility of having to fight to get what we want.
So there are things to be weighed.  It’s a huge load off my mind to know that my OB is willing to go wherever we want–and made the effort to warn us about the “baby factory” aspect of another local hospital where it really *is* SOP to strap you to a monitor and a Pitocin drip from the get-go.  She is also pretty flexible; she told us about one couple she worked with where she stood back and coached the father while he delivered the baby, describing it as “really cool.”  She was sincere, appropriate, supportive of our wishes, and supportive of hypno-birthing and eager to see it in action.  If we do decide to push through (I pun) with the hospital, I am glad to know she’s at the helm.  I have documentaries to see about birth and the medical industry and books to read and calls to make before we make our final call, but I feel 100% better than I did yesterday.

Clinical

ETA: My OB was NOT happy with what happened!!! She talked to us about natural birth and how she’s totally on board with our plan; she went over every item of our birth plan and helped us make edits and said we didn’t want anything unreasonable. She also got the head of the department on the phone, and the dept. head gave me a personal apology, the assurance that we and our desires would be taken seriously, and that the policies and procedures outlined during the tour were absolutely NOT graven in stone and that the staff would be happy to accommodate our needs. So I feel better. Not 100% because it’s going to depend on who’s working on the big day, but it went a long way toward easing my mind knowing that my OB is both totally on board with our wishes and was both shocked and displeased with what happened.**

Last night was our first prenatal class and hospital tour. It was a disaster. I did not like our hospital. I would go so far as to say I hated the woman running the class and giving the tour.


The hospital: I will start on the upside and say that the facility itself is quite lovely. Lots of nice hardwood floors in common areas, half the rooms have beautiful views of Honolulu and Waikiki and the other half have views of the Pali mountains. So that’s the upside. The downside is that all I’ve ever known of birth centers is York Hospital and Mercy Hospital in Portland. Both of those places you labor, deliver, and recover all in the same room. They are perfectly nice, pleasant places where I would be happy to deliver. Mercy Hospital in particular was totally wonderful. How can you not like a staff of nurses who sneak the free formula samples out of the promotional diaper bags and are willing to work Thanksgiving to ensure that they’ll have the day off on the off chance the Pats will be in the Super Bowl?

My first red flag was when our nurse/tour guide mentioned she was a “post-partum dept. nurse.” From that I inferred, correctly, that we would be bounced from one room to another. At our hospital, you deliver on one side of the floor and then they move you to another room to recover. You also have to specially request having the baby have its first bath in your room which they “don’t like to do because it takes an extra nurse but they will if you ask.” Um, what? Why is it hospital policy not to automatically do these things in the room with the mother? My sister never had to ask, it was assumed everything would be done with her. Why am I being made to feel like I’m asking for special favors and putting people out because I want to see my baby’s first bath?!

Their standard operating procedure is to have full monitoring and then after labor, they whisk the baby straight off to the warmer instead of letting the baby do immediate skin-to-skin with the mother. You get another hour in the delivery area where you can try to breastfeed. Then when you get moved into your recovery room the dad and baby go to the nursery for another hour of tests and fiddling. All that is a big no for me. Why is a nurse going to be the first person that my baby has contact with? I gave birth! I want to hold it right away! It’s also not consistent with what I saw with Erika’s birth. Owen stayed with Erika for the whole afternoon, was automatically bathed in the room, never left her side unless she asked for a break. I know for a fact he was plopped directly on her chest as soon as he emerged because she mentioned how one minute he was still in and the next minute looking at her like “What the hell just happened?!” It was a powerful-sounding moment. I don’t want my nurse to have our moment.

Another bad thing isn’t really the hospital’s fault, but I am feeling rage-y today so I’ll mention it. It’s my recovery stay and that’s related to the insurance companies–you get two full nights of recovery after your birth, starting at midnight. If you give birth at, say, 11:55pm, your first night starts five minutes later. The nurse recommended that you “try to hold on” until midnight if you find yourself in that situation. Yes, let me just hold back my 8 pound newborn so I can get the insurance to cover sufficient recovery time. I’LL JUST SQUEEZE MY KNEES TOGETHER.

When we were in the delivery tour area we also happened to be outside the door of a woman giving birth–you could hear the nurses and people in the room howling and carrying on and cheering so loudly that you couldn’t hear the woman deliver!! Not okay. No cheerleaders for me, please. This isn’t the 100M or the balance beam, I don’t want to be cheered on like a horse out of the gate! That also goes against a huge component of hypno-birthing–gentleness is also largely silent and quiet. So that was the hospital.

The nurse giving the tour and teaching the class…ohhhhh the nurse…where to begin. I know she’s just one person, but she teaches all the prenatal classes and she’s a post-partum nurse to boot, so someone thinks well enough of her to make her the public face of the hospital maternity center. I have to wonder how much of her attitude and philosophy are the hospital’s as well.

It started when she mentioned that this is a teaching hospital and some people get upset about the residents and such, but it was good to have a lot of people and options so “try to just utilize the staff.” Mrgh. How many people will really need to look up my shorts, anyway? Then there was the monitoring, which will be constant, which led someone to ask a question about “preferences,” or the birth plan. She said, and this is a direct quote: “Yeah, you can write them down, but we find nine times out of ten that unrealistic parents get their hopes up and it falls apart. Plus their babies are more likely to need extra help because their plans don’t allow us to do our interventions.” Oh. My. God. What is this preventative intervention business? Is that like a pre-emptive strike on Iraq?! Are you looking for WMD in my uterus?! So discouraging and negative and fear-causing.

So then we went on to the recovery room and she mentioned that if you’ve had a c-section, you’ll be moved to the room by gurney. And here’s where a woman who took an entirely different approach to her birth became the vehicle for showing me what I had to fear.

This woman in our class–who happened to be the only mom there without a partner or friend with her that I could see–was really upset by that. She mentioned she knows she has to have a c-section and the idea of the gurney kind of freaked her out. Nurse: “Well, then why are you having a c-section?” And the nurse asked this in a room with 30 other people. Well, nurse, since you aren’t attending the birth, it’s none of your damn business why, and it’s certainly not ours. The woman replied “medical reasons” which is more than I would have said with all eyes on me. The nurse goes “Oh, okay, I was going to say, can’t you just flip that thing?” She said it somewhat jokingly but still–what business is it of hers if she isn’t going to be at this woman’s medical team? What of patient privacy? When I hear “have to have a c-section” I assume that there is something like placenta previa, etc. going on, none of which I would care to discuss publicly. And what an insulting thing to say if there were women in the room who had breech babies that they couldn’t get to turn–way to make them feel like failures. And the topper: “But yeah, don’t worry about the gurney. You’ll be medicated.” Meaning she’ll be so doped to the gills that she won’t give a shit, and this is supposed to be a comfort to her. I certainly felt better having a nurse confirm that in the event of a c-section I would be high as a kite and totally incapacitated.

So we chatted a bit more about amenities of the rooms–no WiFi in the hospital so y’all have to wait for your photos, by the way–and thankfully she did mention that the baby can stay overnight with you if you want. The poor c-section girl apparently hadn’t had enough and asked if it was possible to have the baby stay in the nursery and be brought in for feedings. Perfectly legit question since she seems to be doing this alone and will have just had major abdominal surgery. C-Section cracked a joke “Already I’m a terrible mom, huh?” The nurse thought that teasing her back with “Oh, guess you aren’t going natural at all, huh? C-section, not going to have the baby room in with you…someone call DPS!” was appropriate. Her tone was kind of jokey, but not really. The hospital doesn’t seem to put much of a premium on naturalness anyway, and your bedside manner is to tease her back instead of giving her a comforting smile and maintaining neutrality? And again, what an insulting thing to say if other couples had planned to utilize the nursery for nights. I was relieved to know I could keep the baby with me but my choice and their choices are different, and none of them are for her to editorialize on.

From everything else she said, she just seemed really cold and impersonal and kept making all these references to “killing the pain if you need” and “we may have you walk around to help get things moving. That was another huge red flag, as the hypno-birthing guidelines would have you avoid that kind of talk. If someone keeps insisting that you should be in terrible pain, you WILL be in terrible pain. If someone keeps suggesting that you should be moving along faster and should rush, you WILL rush and do so artificially. Even Tom, Mr. Sunny-side Silver Lining, was horrified by her insensitivity. And after reading about natural birth centers, he was surprised to see how the rooms, though well-appointed, were still cold and clinical places.

This woman, who teaches the prenatal classes, who works on the floor, is the person who the hospital chose to have as their ambassador to new parents. Wearing a wink-wink smile and speaking in sing-song the whole time, she was basically every cliche of a clinical, fear-mongering nurse that I had read about in books, medical forums, and articles. Underneath the chipper exterior she seemed jaded, insensitive, discouraging, negative, and anxiety-causing. This is not the place that I had imagined. What she represents is not what I want.

I cried all the way home. It’s the first time I’ve felt anything like scared or negative regarding birth. I hated it. Every fiber of my being was and is telling me that these people are not going to take us seriously, or respect what I believe are very modest wishes–to be allowed to progress at my own pace, without being scared or pressured, with my wonderful husband gently coaching me.

I’ve said it before, but I am not opposed to the medical profession or necessary intervention. The staff does this every single day. I want to learn and utilize their experience to augment my own understanding. I want to be flexible in the face of medical necessity. My birth plan is really a list of preferences, and it all boils down to being treated like sane people about to become parents, not a woman under the influence of a traumatic medical event. I do NOT want some staff member to undermine every good, hopeful feeling that I have because what I want might not fit exactly into the pre-established routine.

I have an OB appointment today, and I really like my doctor. We’re going in to get options. At this point, I’d rather have Tom take a paramedic class and kick it at home in my tub than go back.

Oof

Sorry for not updating, just not too much to talk about! I know I promised an “at the airport” thing, but I can barely see my lap, let alone get too comfortable with my laptop.

It would seem that weeks 30-32 of pregnancy are the magical tipping point weeks. I’ve gone from “Pregnant, you? Just looks like a big lunch!” to “Uhh…why are you smuggling a watermelon under your shirt?” Assuming 37 weeks is full term and 42 weeks is the official “overdue” marker, I have 5-10 weeks left to go. Before I thought I was carrying low, which is simply not the case. I have what I believe to be feet buried in my diaphragm, what I think is a bottom digging into my side, and a flight of stairs is simply a cruel joke that winds me halfway up. The bladder thing is still a concern of mine; I’m a deep sleeper and my body simply does not respond to its cues when more sleep could be had. So to avoid further bladder troubles, since Tom’s been away on business I’ve set my phone alarm for 2:30am so I can wake up normally at 6:30 without being in pain or risking another infection.

The good news is that I’m complication-free and my discomforts are all normal and minor, for which I am thankful. I sleep better than I expected now that I have my Boppy Wedge to stick under my stomach. The baby does outstandingly well in terms of movement; it feels like actual demolition is going on in there. I’m fairly certain it is renovating the interior, perhaps installing a breakfast nook.

One way I have of noting movement and how much water I have had during the day is contractions. I have tons of Braxton-Hicks contractions if I’m not good about my water. If I drink more water and lie down or sit quietly, they go away, so it’s totally normal. A major complaint I have about baby books is that they all say Braxton-Hicks contractions are supposed to be “a painless tightening.” Those books lie, lie, they lie like lying things that lie, and let it ring from the rooftops that those suckers hurt like a mad bastard. My god. Fortunately I have been practicing my Hypno-Birthing and after taking a moment or two to go into full relaxation I can’t feel them anymore. That’s the most encouraging sign so far that this method is working well. I spoke with a friend of mine who actually used Hypno-Birthing and found her birth to be speedy (two hours of labor!!) and not only painless but euphoric. Best testimonial I’ve gotten! I’ll take it!

We also wrote the first draft of our birth plan. Because we start the pre-natal class next week I’m sure there will be revisions based on which of the hospital rules are flexible and which aren’t, but I think it’s a good start. I kept it to two pages, most of which is an outline of Hypno-Birthing principles. Some highlights: do not use fearful-sounding terms (i.e., instead of “contraction,” use “surge”) because it increases anxiety and negates the effects of the relaxed state. Don’t offer pain-management, as constant inferences from the staff that I *should* be in pain only works to undermine the self-induced hypnosis–we have a code word if I am really in need, but we will ask you. Most importantly, don’t “coach” me or cheerlead or ask me to start and stop pushing when I don’t want to and my body isn’t surging; allow me to move and breathe and deliver in a way that’s comfortable to us. And I’m not wearing a freakin’ gown. Icky things.

In short, it’s our belief that unless there is a serious complication necessitating medical intervention, the staff is not there to deliver the baby, they’re there to attend the birth while I deliver. It’s an important distinction to us. They are experts, but if there is no medical urgency demanding that I need to do it their way, it’s my baby and my body and I’m going to do it my way. *Cue the Sinatra* This is not to say that there isn’t a huge disclaimer in the birth plan that in the event of a medical emergency, we will absolutely defer to the staff; there is and we will. There’s a fine line to walk here; clearly they know pregnancy better but Tom and I know me and our baby the best. Our ultimate goal is to have a respectful, considerate dialogue with the staff about our needs and deliver a healthy, live baby into a calm and joyous atmosphere.

Man, when did we turn into such New Agers? I’m going to go have a bedtime Twinkie and try to work out the time difference between here and Wellington.