Childbirth Prep Class

Today, I attended a childbirth preparation class with Brian. I think it may have scared him a little bit because he kept asking if I was still okay with all this. I must admit, it makes me laugh that he thinks that I’m really THAT frightened.

I’m not scared of the actual childbirth process. I know it will be painful. I know that I will probably be about to strangle everyone in the room. I know that every woman is different and that every birth is different. But I also have a rough guess of what is going to come, and for me that is all it takes to alleviate (most) of my fears.

It’s the after part that frightens me. It’s the part where I don’t even know how to hold a newborn, other than I know you have to support her head because her neck isn’t strong enough yet. It’s our precarious financial standing, the too-numerous amount of animals in both houses, dealing with my mother and his mother and trying to explain that they are grandparents, not parents, and that Brian and I have final say in what is taught to our daughter. It’s not knowing how I’m going to react as a new mother.

The class just gave me a broader look at how things are going to happen during the birth process. It gave me a much clearer picture of what labor will be like. More importantly, it gave Brian the reasons I haven’t been able to voice to him about why I want him there with me. Why he is just as important in that room as the nurses and doctors are.

It’s also given me a very clear image of just how little I have been able to voice to him. Just how much I do not communicate through my voice, just how much I hope that people just “pick up on” in the long haul. I’m sure someday Brian will be able to figure out most of what I’m trying to say, before I say it. But right now we’ve only been together a year and he still misreads things. He’s gotten really good at telling me what I need to work on (like saying what I mean instead of sugarcoating it to the point where I say something completely different).

I admit: I write quite a bit more clearly than I have ever spoken. It’s part and parcel to having such a limited group of social interaction. It’s not my mother’s fault that I stopped hanging out at other kids’ houses at a very young age. It’s not her fault that I closed in on myself, into the books, into the writing, into the art, rather than taking the time to express myself verbally too. There are times I wish she had encouraged me to go over to my friends’ houses rather than save the gas to keep me home.

The childbirth prep class taught me a lot about things related to the birthing process, but more than that it taught me just how much I need to start focusing on verbalizing what I want. More than that, it taught me that I need to figure out what I want. Where I stand. Why I’m there. I need to start working out the me part of my life, rather than focusing so much on others. How else will I be a good role model for my daughter, if I can’t even reach into my own mind and draw out a decision?

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Curiosity About Pregnancy

Before I ever graduated from high school, I decided that I didn’t want to date because I didn’t want to have kids (because for some God-awful reason, men cannot date a woman without the end result meaning sex). Both those notions quickly flew out the window a few years later. So, here are some curiosities I had about pregnancy that I’m finding the truth of now that I’m nearing the end of this one.

Your belly button does not always reverse. I know, I know, this is totally laughable, but in every image I’ve ever seen of a woman who is pregnant, her belly button is reversed. This seems to be the trend in women whose stomachs get enormous. I’m still not convinced that it’s the skinny-mini women who have this happen. I got pregnant when I was 255 pounds and lost a considerable amount of that weight in the process. (Don’t worry, I’m gaining roughly two pounds a week now). If the sonogram technician’s initial guesstimate is correct and I AM due on the 28th of this month, tomorrow is 38 weeks exactly. I am not very large by any means.

Stretch marks are not always apparent. Unfortunately, with my yo-yo-ing weight over the past four or five years, I already had a group of pale white stretch marks. They don’t seem to have gotten any larger or darker, though, which is a relief. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t get very much larger than my heaviest weight pre-pregnancy?

Not all women experience morning sickness. Yes, I am one of the lucky 25% of women who do not have morning sickness during the first trimester. I did, however, throw up a few times (three), but I attribute that to taking my pills on an empty stomach. Yes, I am stupid. No, I do not think I will ever believe that taking even a small pill on nothing but a miniature cupcake is okay again.

Lying down when your stomach gets large is uncomfortable. This I didn’t really expect, though I probably should have. Sleeping on my back makes me dizzy. Some internet research has suggested to me that it’s bad for me to sleep on my back because there’s some artery that feeds oxygen to the baby and me that her weight interferes with. The dizziness coincides with that notion, so I only sleep on my sides. My stomach stretches in either direction and my upper pelvic bones become painful after too long laying on one side or the other. This might be the contributing factor to the next curiosity.

Sleep comes easily, but too often. I’m constantly asleep, it seems like. I can stay asleep for only three or four hours at a time before needing to wake for one reason or another. Sometimes I can’t readily get back to sleep because I need food or my legs are too restless. Almost as soon as I’ve eaten or taken a short walk, though, I can fall right back to it. I think it has something to do with not being able to lay still for more than half an hour at a time.

It’s a bad idea to try and ignore cravings. Almost immediately upon a craving strike, I need to start looking for a means to gain access to it. Trying to ignore it only makes it worse. Trying to “replace” it with something else makes it three times more so. For example: I crave ice cream. I try to replace it with frozen yogurt. In order to satisfy the craving, I must now eat twice as much ice cream AND I have the frozen yogurt to contend with, too. And now I’m overly full up on sweets. Yes, best to just indulge the craving to begin with. Some others I’ve had: hot dog with mayo and honey BBQ, spinach salad with dried cranberries, dark red kidney beans, cheese, and ranch dressing, tuna salad with green grapes, and Mexican food. ANY Mexican food seems to work.

Only God Can Unfold the Rose

Plans change, people change, and the world as you know it changes when you get pregnant with your first child. I’ve noticed this particularly in my situation, where the timing of my pregnancy could not have been worse – and yet I am completely happy with it. It isn’t so much that I suddenly changed personalities, but it’s more like suddenly I have more confidence as a woman.

For instance, it was I who proposed to my fiancé. Rubbish with all the traditions. I asked for what I wanted, no more, no less. We had been talking about it for months before I ever found out I was pregnant, but we’d both agreed that we wanted more time to get to know one another. His reaction to my pregnancy – this stubborn, genuine, often opinionated man – forced me, the just-as-stubborn, just-as-opinionated, but lacking in the decision-making department of a woman, to make a decision. No, not the decision of whether to marry me, but the one of whether to keep the baby.

I knew very well that I couldn’t kill her. I may be an advocate for women’s choice in abortion, but that is one choice I would never make for myself.

It took me all of half an hour to agonize over how a baby would change my life – change our lives, change my parents’ lives, even change my brothers’, as little as I thought they would even be interested in being uncles at the time. I thought about how my mother would take it – I was already living at home, jobless, and I’d somehow gotten myself pregnant. I was never certain how my father would, and there was a point where I panicked that I would be out on the street. I knew both Brian’s folks would be thrilled, if not so much with him or me as with having a grandbaby right in town to spoil rotten. Never mind that mom said later that neither set of parents would have allowed the baby to go up for adoption outside of the family – it was simply out of the question.

My very first priority was to triple the search for a job, for both myself and my fiancé. I thought more about things, made more contingency plans; even as I waited to tell my father that he was about to be a first-time granddaddy. (Obviously, I’m still living at home.) I knew from the beginning of our relationship that I would be the main provider of a family for my fiancé and me. It’s not because Brian won’t work, but because, for a variety of reasons, it is exceedingly difficult for him to get work. It causes no end of hurt pride on his part, but I’d actually prefer one of us stay home with the baby.

My financial know-how, learned from experience and from others’ experiences from years of financial stupidity, has been enough to carry us on 600 dollars a month for the past three months. I think that, once I am a teacher, I will be able to make things work. Even a starting wage of 18 grand a year will be plenty enough for me.

A world that was never very kind to me has suddenly opened up to the land of opportunity that America once was touted as. You would never imagine the kind of things that change when people find out that you’re having a baby, your first baby, and you don’t have much. My baby girl is set, almost, for her first couple weeks of life. All that remains is a car seat to bring her home in, and I may yet be able to get that on my own.

I had expected to run into purists who did not agree with my decision to become pregnant before marrying Brian. I had expected rudeness and malcontent. Instead I have faced nothing but arms-open support from every direction. It has reaffirmed my belief that the human race is actually decent at heart, and reaffirmed my belief in God. For only God could put me in a situation that I had never believed I would be in and make me a stronger person for it. As the song goes… “Only God can unfold the rose.”

Drama of the Due Date

As I also mentioned in my first post, I’m currently pregnant with my first baby, a little girl. Unfortunately, I had approximately ZERO signs or symptoms of being pregnant until about mid-May, which is when I broke down and went to Planned Pregnancy to check for certain. I’d been told previously that I was barren (though I question that particular doctor’s credentials for saying such.) My fiance was told he was sterile from taking Ritalin as a boy. But, SURPRISE! You’re as pregnant as you can get! Since my cycle is completely broken, and was only just beginning to get into a state of repair when I got pregnant, I have no idea when I actually got pregnant.

I informed my OB-GYN of this on my first visit in June. We tentatively based my due date (September 26) on my last known cycle (December), which was more like spotting. I skipped completely in November, which isn’t unusual for me. I’m known to skip three or four months at a time. I went in for my first sonogram and so the entire Drama of the Due Date began. The sono tech told me that we were going to probably move the date to August 28, based on the baby’s weight and her development.

I went back to the OB doc, who told me we were going to stick to the September date until we could get a second sono to look at the development over time. Gre-e-eat.

In  early July, I ended up going into the ER because the baby wasn’t moving (scary!) but it turns out I was just being a paranoid new mama. I’d also gone in because of severe dipping dizzy spells, which they said might be caused by sleeping on my back or right side, or may be a warning sign for early labor in some overweight women (I’m 244 as of today, thank you!). Still, they gave me a corticosteroid for a variety of reasons.

The dizziness stopped, I got used to sleeping only on my left side, and I could feel baby moving again. Turns out that I was watching for the wrong thing (I was used to acrobatics). She’d decided to move into the “pushing out” stage, where she runs out of room and starts pushing at the walls of my tummy to get more. By the way: she’s been face-down since at least June 18, which was the first sono.

In late July, I got the terror of my life: Contractions. Close together (7 mins), painful, clenching contractions, right in the middle of work. I tried sitting down – nothing. No change. I asked to go home, called my fiance, and we headed to the Birthing Rooms (pregnancy ER). I knew I wasn’t crazy when I saw the large lumps on the screen, exactly as I’d timed them at work. Seven minutes apart, lasting fifteen seconds. Lying down seemed to help, though, and the OB monitored the baby and me. The contractions never got worse but it took two hours of lying there in the hospital bed, them poking me with a clickie noise-making thing to check dilation (none), for them to finally stop being so painful. They’d expanded out to about ten minutes apart and the humps on the screen weren’t as big any more.

After four hours, they were fifteen minutes apart and bearable again. Doctors sent me home and told me to lay down until they stopped. They didn’t stop at all until ten days after that first visit. They still start up again after I’ve been on my feet fifteen minutes, so obviously I had to take my leave from work. Luckily, I’m a planner and I had enough money to pay my finances through the end of October, plus buy my fiance and his brother birthday presents (Aug 30 and 31st). And then some.

Today, and the reason I’m posting, was the second sonogram. The technician was unkind and downright rude, so I didn’t even ask any of the questions I wanted to, like what she thought about the baby’s progress and how the lungs were forming up. I explained that to my OB, who said he’ll look at the photos himself and talk to me about those questions next time (the 16th). He said that either the baby was underweight and due at the end of this month like the first sono suggested or she is overweight and due at the end of September.

I’m starting to feel really heavy, particularly if I stand or sit up straight for long periods. He has imposed a new rule – lie down every 2-4 hours on my left side. The good news is, other than the weight/due date issues, she is very healthy. She doesn’t move around quite as much as she did even a couple weeks ago, but you can literally see her every movement under my skin. I’m even able to tell when she has the hiccups, which makes me laugh.

Either due date, I’m okay with. I’ll just be happy when I can finally hold this little one in my arms, hold her out to my fiance, and know that we did what doctors told us both we couldn’t do.