Birth Story: The Prologue

Okay, kiddo. We’re ready if you are. We don’t know when we’ll be able to post again, but here’s an account of our week prior to the Friday induction.

Monday, April 6th, 4:00 p.m.: I am two days overdue, having a few contractions per hour that are mild-moderate in intensity but do not progress. I have been in this holding pattern for over a month, I’m exhausted and my lower back is killing me. Our doctor reports that I am over 50% effaced but have made no progress in dilation. I have held steady at around 3cm for three weeks. The professional opinion is that I’m “there and ready, and there’s really no reason why [I] shouldn’t have made the leap to regular contractions yet.” Her policy is a 40 week cap to pregnancy (I would have asked why, but a) I’m too tired, and b) I don’t especially care that much), but we’ve negotiated to go to 41 weeks before inducing. Truthfully, I do not want to go to 42 weeks. I submit to the non-stress test, noting that the baby has settled directly on my sciatic nerve and my lower body is in ridiculous pain when I get into the best monitoring position. We agree to schedule a late-week date to induce, although we hope not to need it. Friday is the best day in Tom’s work window, so we settle on Friday at 9:00am, just a day shy of 41 weeks. Waiting until his next best date would be the following Friday, which is longer than the doctor and I care to go. We decide to use the bare minimum of pitocin to “jump start” the labor and turn it off as soon as the contractions become regular.

April 6, 6:30 p.m.: My Macbook hard drive commits suicide. Contractions increase to 5 minutes apart while I deal with the fallout. I schedule a Genius Bar appointment for the next day; contractions subside.
Tuesday, April 7th, 2:00 p.m.: There is nothing the Genius Bar can do, the data loss is total. I am told that “Sometimes these things just happen and there’s no reason why.” Thankfully I have backed up about 90% of my files. Contractions remain in the limbo pattern; apparently Baby has accepted death of Macbook. I arrange for the new hard drive to be installed and leave my mechanical baby at the Apple Store.

Wednesday, April 8th, 12:00 p.m.: I am off work and on leave, sans computer, which I consider essential to the functions of life. Tom graciously allows me use of his, but without all my bookmarks and feeds, it isn’t the same. With all my time to think and dwell, I start to consider calling the doctor and canceling the induction. Work schedules and doctor and back pain be damned; why am I disturbing this baby if it doesn’t want to come out yet? I have horrible guilt for altering the 100% natural plan, even though we will be turning off the pit as soon as possible. Then I realize that the holding pattern of unproductive contractions isn’t good for me, and how will it help the baby if I wait and wait and go for a natural delivery but am too exhausted and worn out from the last six weeks of fake labor to follow through? I would rather have a small bit of pitocin than an epidural; for someone with ADHD, the idea of being confined to a bed and immobilized from the waist down sounds like medieval torture. I resolve to stop being a ninny and decide that pitocin or no, if I can do it without an epidural, thus staying mobile, I will consider it a win. I further remind myself that a successful birth is one that concludes with a live healthy baby and mother, and to try to stay off the high horse. All the same, I take a very small dose of castor oil to see if I can jump-start things at home. At best, it works, at worst, well…my system needs a good clearing.

April 8, 4:00 p.m.: Castor oil does not work, for the record. At least, not in the small amount I’ve taken, and I have seen enough to know I don’t want to see any more.

Thursday, April 9th: Intermittent but increasing contractions make napping and resting difficult. Am exhausted from previous night of tossing and turning and contracting. Maybe the castor oil did do something. I do the Hypnobirthing CD one last time and manage to relax enough to nap a little. While watching cheesy late-90s horror movies, I start to get optimistic about the contractions’ progress. Hopes are subsequently dashed as the contractions taper off late in the afternoon. I decide to call Tom and tell him that what I really want for my last meal is a good steak. My decision to marry Tom and make him the father of my child is reaffirmed as he suggests filet mignon wrapped in bacon, and offers to go to the store on his way home. Now that’s service! We spend the evening watching movies, setting up the co-sleeper, and enjoying each other’s company in baby-less quiet.

Eviction

Friday, April 10th, 9am.

Kiddo, it’s been fun. I will remember our time together always. But Mommy has been lingering in false and early labor for six weeks, and thus you have until then to get hopping on your own. Then you get served your eviction papers.

I suggest you go quietly. I’ve heard a lot of crap about this pitocin stuff. We’ll do the minimum, but it would really be best for all parties if you decided to go on your own.

Things I Have Learned

There are lots of lessons to be taken from my two days of what was ultimately fake (but very convincing!) labor. Sure, these are intangible lessons of patience and humility and the beginning of understanding that my baby is a person with its own ideas and personality. But there’s some practical info I can take from this into the real deal–whenever that might be.

* Buy a second robe to bring along. Man, was my brand new robe a wonderful purchase. Functioned as a lovely blanket when I was in bed and a cozy covering when I was walking around and on the birth ball. But on the off chance I soil that one somehow I’m going to need a backup.

* Ditto extra pajama pants. Those disposable underwear thingys at the hospital are remarkably comfortable but hospitals are chilly places. And I learned that if the contraction is powerful enough and you had maybe been putting off getting up to pee, your bladder is going to fold like goddamn origami under the onslaught and thus you will require new pants. (Apologies to the more modest among you.)

* Phone communications are going to go dark. I made the mistake of sending a mass text when we thought we were being admitted for good and was astonished by how many people texted later on as the process began to slow, “What’s going on?!” While I respect that these are just concerned and curious parties, it’s either one of two things: nothing, or something. If it’s nothing, I’m not going to send a message to say so. If it’s something, I’m going to be dealing with the something and not making contact with the outside world until after. My sister had me to run communications interference with the family, but I don’t have that option. So after the initial message goes out and the people who want phone calls get their calls, the phone is going off until we have a new baby in the room.

Incidentally, a lot of the people who did send that particular text do not have children and are totally unfamiliar with the birth process, so I’m grading on a curve here. They have no frame of reference for the “hurry up and wait” of labor and how it’s all fun and games until the contractions hit about 3 minutes apart, and then you have to focus on making it through the next 90 seconds of your life without strangling the father of your child with a monitor cord. So I wasn’t mad, exactly, but I guess I thought they would know better. But for the most part nobody who’s experienced birth–either first or second hand–sent that message.

Edited to add: I LOVED the messages of the “Yay!” and “Congrats!” and “I’m excited!” varieties. The ones that contained a request for info or that required some sort of reply were the ones that rattled me.

* My memory foam pillow is delightful and is going to remain attached to me in some capacity. Ditto the birth ball.

* Monitors SUCK and I’m going to shamelessly lie, connive, and manipulate in order not to be attached to them any longer than I have to be. And you know what? Not once in any of the monitoring did the baby show the slightest blip of distress–except when I shifted and the monitor slid up and started recording MY heartbeat.

* Hypno Birthing works, by God! I just have to have Tom stay on me to keep me from clenching my jaw and lower back while I do my breathing.

So that’s what I’ve learned thus far. Also, monitoring aside, I’ve been delighted with the nurses that I’ve met so far.

Okay baby. We had our practice rounds. Bring it on!

Letter, Part 2

Dear Thumper,

So it’s been just you and me hanging out here for the last 37 weeks. I have to say that once we got out of the first trimester, it’s been mostly smooth sailing. In the last three weeks you and I have been experiencing lots of contractions, which yesterday I finally tied to the drops and rises in barometric pressure. It falls, we contract. It rises, we stop. Today it poured rain but there were only a few halfhearted twinges. It’s almost as if you decided to be as blase about it as I’ve become; I enjoy imagining you saying in a tiny voice “Screw it, let’s just stay home and eat cookies this afternoon.”

Soon enough it will be time for you to make our twosome into three–your dad is correct, you are the one who will make our little couple a family. He will also be in charge of teaching you baseball statistics, as we cannot come to a detente on the proper way to eat an Oreo. Best that you learn from both of us and come to your own conclusions later in life. Try to remember that our philosophical approach to Oreo-eating will serve you well in all areas of your life.

At some point you may wonder why I picked your father, and the answer is simple: my life is better for having him in it. That’s what I hope for you to find in a partner. Whoever you pick will not be perfect. Your life with them will not be a fairy tale, and you will have bumps in the road. But if you’re like me with your dad, you will see that there isn’t a single aspect of your life that isn’t 1000% better for having your partner in it. That makes the bad stuff bearable and the good stuff spectacular. That’s what I have with your dad.

While I’m rambling, I’ve been thinking a lot about the trip to California that brought you to us. This will one day embarass the hell out of you, but I can’t go without mentioning it. The day you were conceived, we visited Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, which has an indoor and outdoor labyrinth. While I don’t believe in a Judeo-Christian God per se, I do believe there are forces in the universe that operate at a different level than us that can touch and affect our lives. The idea of walking the labyrinth is that you meditate, releasing petty thoughts and quieting the mind, receive illumination at the center, and as you leave you walk with a higher power.

I walked the labyrinth with the idea of meditation in mind and eventually focused on two thoughts: we are ready for a child. Let this happen quickly, and let it be safe. Sure enough, the calendar tells us that my meditation was answered. If you learn nothing else from this story, let it be this: sometimes the higher powers try to get your attention in small ways, and sometimes they take you by the shoulders and shake you until your teeth knock together. The positive pregnancy test just two weeks later would qualify as the latter.

To bookend that experience, yesterday I went to the Kukaniloko birthstones. This is a sacred location on Oahu where for several hundred years, royal mothers would go to deliver their children to assure status and longevity for their chiefly sons (and daughters). It’s a holy location, tied directly to the earth and to childbirth. I walked the perimeter and sat next to the stones, quieting my mind as I did in the labyrinth. My only thought was “Whenever you’re ready to come out, your dad and I will see you home.” I stayed until it started to rain again.

The contractions have ramped up since then, but not in a way that indicates that it’s time to go to the hospital. That’s okay, little one. The world is a weird place, especially right now, and I get the hesitation. Take all the time you need.

Whenever you’re ready, Daddy and I will be there. And we’ll all go home together.

Love,
Mama

Week 36, Or: Not Ready For This Belly


The tank top conveniently hides the three stretch marks that have made themselves prominent on my right side. They look for all the world like the velociraptor from Jurassic Park took a swipe down my belly. There are slight shadows of other marks on my left, but those three are fairly prominent. I’ll be investing in Mederma when this is all done.

35 Weeks and Counting

Yesterday and today I had contractions as well as miserable pain. The contractions go away when I rest or sit in the tub, but they do take one by surprise. Thankfully I have a mute button on my work phone to hush the yelping. I took one of my clients quite by surprise in the middle of a phone call; I just told her it was cell phone distortion.

There was something not quite contraction-y about some of the pain, particularly as it related to the emptying of my renal system, which I mentioned to the doctor this afternoon. Turns out a nice bit of false labor goes great with a bladder infection. I’m now up to three, one for every trimester. Tom has agreed that it is for the common good that I set an alarm clock for 2:30, even if it wakes him up, to relieve myself. They keep recurring because I’m a heavy enough sleeper that I can’t rely on my body to wake me up before things have a chance to sit and stagnate (…yum…) and an alarm seems to be the only solution. That and cutting off my liquids at 6pm.

What else…the baby is officially head down, yay! We had suspected as much but we have doctor confirmation. The baby’s head isn’t especially far down yet–I have not experienced “lightening” or “dropping”–but the doc said the baby is around the -1 station so she is hopeful that I will not go far past my due date. Nothing’s a guarantee but I like that line of thinking.

Work-wise I completed my “how to do my job in my absence” folder. Mentally I have a touch of senioritis; part of it is anticipating the enormous change about to come and part of it is that I haven’t had more than two hours of unbroken restful sleep in months. (I can wake up enough to sense my leg is numb and I need to flip but apparently not enough to get out of bed and take care of my poor bladder. I should just put a waterproof pad under me, wear Depends, and have done with it.) Focusing on real work is an uphill daily battle. I have the same loopy manic energy I had in college where everything I drank was a diuretic–alcoholic or caffeinated–and we decided not to ever sleep. That plus the hormones and I’m a walking mental patient–I laugh too hard at things that aren’t funny and I get horribly emotional about things that aren’t that sad.

I suspect this is why Tom has retreated into the vast world of Lego Star Wars for Wii; I don’t blame him. It’s colorful and happy there and things are supposed to be a little surreal. My boss also seems concerned that I plan to work until I can’t any longer and will go into labor at the office. Even looped on estrogen and prenatal vitamins and ridiculous quantities of Calming Chamomile Tea (not nearly as effective as a good knock of tequila, I might add), I’m more useful to him there than at home. Plus at home I will be insanely bored and drive Tom to drink.

Two more weeks and I’m in the week 37 full-term safe zone. Three more weeks after that and I’m at my due date. Two weeks after that and I’m overdue and heading to the drugstore for some castor oil. We’ll see when the baby decides to join the party; I’m praying for sooner rather than later.

Stuff

The arrival of baby draws nigh, and th most obvious sign of which (aside from the brightly painted nursery full of stuff) is the big pile of laundry already done on the baby’s behalf. All the cloth diapers, the wipes and diaper stuffers, the darling little onesies and stacks of bedding, receiving blankets and bathing accessories all need a good washing before going into commission. That more than anything else, even including the daily “Streetfighter” re-enactments in my belly, has driven home the reality of the baby: Tom’s pile of undershirts and cargo shorts, my colorful underthings and jeans, and a teeny, tiny pile of teeny, tiny shirts and other accessories next to our grown-up clothes.

****

A generous friend gave us her Medela Pump-in-Style to use after the baby is born and I have to go back to work (we’ll just look on the bright side and assume I’ll have a job to return to). I ordered the replacement parts this last week. They came yesterday and I decided to spend a few minutes today assembling everything and seeing how it all worked. Not even a week ago I read this entry on an experience with the Medela on a blog my cousin sent to me, and I laughed so hard that I couldn’t get myself under control for a solid ten minutes. I laughed until I cried gigantic lunatic tears, it was so funny to me. It’s just by sheer virtue of timing that I didn’t wet myself–I had just been to the bathroom. Tom tried to get me to explain what was so funny but all I could get out was “Breast pump…curious husband…Pinocchio.” And the look on his face set me off again.

It wasn’t until the following day that Tom explained that given my reaction and abbreviated explanation, he thought the husband had put…something else…in the breast pump. Ah, I nodded thoughtfully. That would explain why Tom turned a little gray.

Anyway, I decided that it couldn’t hurt to do a five-second test of the parts, nothing that would actually activate any sort of reaction. Two seconds strapped into that machine and I spent the rest of the afternoon holding a cold bottle of Perrier to my chest. Not only do I not learn from my own mistakes, I don’t learn from others’ either.

****

The last big item that we needed to buy was the carseat. Since we are anxious folk, it made sense to have the base installed in the Fit and ready to rock at a moment’s notice. (I already bought some nursing tops and large, cheap, parachute-like underpants for my hospital bag–with no Victoria’s Secret on the island, no sense in ruining nice underwear with the byproducts of labor.) We did our research on Consumer Reports, weighed the advantages of the ungodly expensive but top-rated Britax Marathon against the cheaper but infant-only Baby Trend Flex-Loc (a Consumer Reports best buy!) with collapsable stroller. Much like our other decisions with baby things, we had to see what was available for purchase locally. We located a vendor for Britax seats, but decided to go to Toys ‘R Us and see if they had the cheaper Baby Trend. They did, complete with matching stroller that folds up relatively flat (we have a baby wrap to wear the baby, but the price was so reasonable we had to go for it). The only thing is…the car seat and stroller are orange. So is our nursery. So is our baby wrap. And so is our car. We might as well name it Sunkist Tropicana.

If in 2027 our child tells us that it wants to attend Syracuse University, we’ll know why.

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.

Cloth? Yep.

Tom is a National Parks buff, and whenever we go to a place maintained by the Park Service we always see the signs that say “Take out what you bring in,” or some variation on “Leave the park as you found it.”

How does this relate to our decision to use cloth diapers? We consider ourselves environmentally conscious (with the exception of the nightmarish carbon footprint we leave by traveling so often), but what got us over the “Eeeeew, baby poo in my washer/dryer?!” hump was the savings. Startup with our preferred cloth diapers, which are among the more expensive on the market, is still only about $500-$600. We plan to have two children, so we don’t have to buy them twice–perhaps just buy a few more if they’re both in diapers at the same time, so maybe $700 total. Compared to $2000+ for disposables PER child, it’s a no-brainer. But as for environmental impact affecting our decision, this paragraph from Cotton Babies’ (where I have ordered all my cloth diapers so far, in budget-manageable six packs*) website says it all for us on their cloth vs. disposable options:

“Based on a report from the Women’s Environmental Network, The Real Diaper Association reports:

* Disposable diapers are the third most common consumer product in landfills today.
* A disposable diaper may take up to 500 years to decompose.
* One baby in disposable diapers will contribute at least 1 ton of waste to your local landfill.

Landfill issues are very important. This is a very interesting dilemma facing in Hawaii right now as many of their landfills are either closing or set to close very soon. This article is one of many that discusses this issue. Honolulu has one landfill remaining. Kauai’s only landfill will reach capacity in 2009. Hawaii is running out of places to put its trash.”

We aren’t going to be in Hawaii forever. It’s a tiny, beautiful place. We’d have done cloth anyway, most likely, but this is even more reason to do our small part to help out. As much as we can, being consumptive humans and all that, we’d like to leave Hawaii like we found it and try not to leave 2000+ pounds of baby bottom-related garbage in our wake.

*Yes, I do see the irony in ordering diapers made of cotton, a major source of pesticide and pollution, from a retailer based on the mainland, which then have to be shipped out here in some sort of exhaust-producing means of conveyance. There is no way to bring a child into the world without making SOME kind of environmental impact, and on this one our biological instinct to procreate won out. Well, my biological instinct and Tom’s desire to share the lifetime of suffering of a Philadelphia Phillies fan with a child won out.