In my uncle's garden
Thursday, January 9, 2003

We had a midwife appointment yesterday. I'm doing great; my blood pressure is still normal, all the stuff they check for in urine is good (glucose, proteins, etc), my uterus is exactly the right size and Delphine's heart is going gang-busters.

I lost the three pounds I had gained last time, which is kind of weird. So far my net gain is exactly one pound. I can tell I'm getting thinner, too; my back fat is going away. I may be the only person on the continent who lost weight over Christmas, and it wasn't for lack of eating.

We spent a lot of time talking about home birthing. I asked her the two questions I mentioned in my last entry, about pain relief and about the mess.

They don't bring any form of pharmaceutical pain relief. Of course, you can still try changing positions, massage, showering, and so on, probably to a larger degree than you would in the hospital. Furthermore, since you're much less stressed out, you're probably feeling less pain in the first place.

I was pretty happy with that answer; I'm not particularly worried about the pain, and not having any pharmaceutical options frees me from having to decide whether I want anything, and when.

The second question was about the mess. I'm not sure quite how much mess is involved in birthing a baby, but we have those new wool carpets...

The midwife said it's not really all that messy. They provide you with a list of supplies you'll need for the birth, including a plastic bottom sheet to protect the bed, and lots of incontinence pads, and they take care of cleaning everything up, leaving you with only a bag of garbage and a bag of laundry. I'm still a little worried about the carpet, so I think I will cover it up with something, just in case.

She also talked for a while about the safety concerns of a home birth. They bring equipment for IVs and resuscitation, blood volume boosters, and lots of other impressive-sounding stuff I can't remember. They are quick to call 911 if something doesn't look quite right, and most of the time they end up sending them away because they have been able to deal with the situation. If you need an emergency caesarian, it takes about as long to get you to the hospital as you would end up waiting if you were already there, since it takes about half an hour to prep for an "emergency" c-section anyway.

All in all, I am completely confident that a home birth is as safe as, and a good deal more pleasant than, a hospital birth.

I was really pumped and excited after the midwife appointment. It's starting to seem more real now, now that we're in the same calendar year, now that we're planning releases at work which will happen after I'm gone, now that we've scheduled prenatal classes.

I'm enjoying the changes in my body. My tummy is the same size as it always was, but now it's firmer and smoother and rounder, like an egg. Pretty soon it will be unprecedentedly large, and I'll get stretch marks and none of my clothes will fit, and I can't seem to be unhappy about that. It's just... neat!

(Actually, on that note, I think these pants will have to be retired. They're black polyester office pants, and they're not all that comfortable at the best of times, so I can't say I'm disappointed, but it does leave me with a paltry three pairs of pants that fit; I still have to grow into two of the three pairs I bought before Christmas.)

More stuff. I'm reading Beth's pregnancy journal, and it's reminding me of a couple of other things we talked about with the midwife yesterday.

This is about the time that you would screen for gestational diabetes, but the midwife gave us the option of screening for it or not. Apparently it's quite controversial; some doctors don't believe it's a condition at all, others believe it is but that there's not much you can do about it, and still others believe that you should treat it as normal Type II diabetes. Apparently no-one in the entire city of Hamilton has GD because none of the doctors there believe it's a pathological condition.

The midwife said I don't really have any risk factors for it, but that I could screen for it if I want to. I decided not to; if the baby starts to grow too quickly they'll catch it soon enough and we can reconsider then.

I also asked the midwife about a birth plan, and she said that unless we specifically want something weird, like some particular song to be playing when the baby is born, there's no point. We're very happy with the midwives' default birth process (that's not the right word, sorry), so we'll just go with it.

Incidentally, here are some features of the midwives' default birth process:

  • they don't need a lot of light, so you can have the lights low if you like
  • after the baby is born, they don't triumphantly announce the gender and then whisk her away and rub her down; instead they will put her directly on my belly to stay warm, nurse, and get to know us
  • they don't do episiotomies unless the baby is in distress. My midwife has only ever done four.

I'm really quite pleased at how well their philosophy meshes with mine. I thought I would have to fight for the birth I want.