A Reader Asks:

When are you due? Very soon, right?

I’m just past thirty-seven weeks pregnant; the baby could come at any time, although I bet I’ve got a couple of weeks. This is the first pregnancy for which I’ve seen an OB, and I am hating it—I am not offered information or a chance to make decisions, but am rather just sort of shuffled through the office and handed conclusions. Next week I’m taking in my list of preferences for the birth, and we’ll see how that goes. The doctor is a very nice man, no question, but the medical model for handling pregnancy just drives me right up the wall (but is all that my current insurance will cover, damn it). I’m in excellent health, my blood pressure is great, I have no swelling, and now I get to tell Dr. P that I don’t want an IV (group B strep negative represent!), I want to be able to eat and drink, I don’t want continuous monitoring, I want to be able to move around . . . we’ll see how it goes. The plan is for my mother to be with me in labor, and as a midlevel healthcare provider herself (and former childbirth instructor and birth coach), she’s a strong advocate. This will be my first hospital birth, and I am unable to muster anything more enthusiastic than grim resolve. Except for the baby part! Tomorrow we’re getting a dresser for the Possum’s tiny clothes, which I have been washing and folding all week. My hospital bag is mostly packed—more packed than it was for Joey’s birth, in fact—and we have some tiny diapers ready to go.

I can’t wait to meet this kid. It’s going to be awfully interesting to see how he’s different from Joey, and in what ways he’s similar—perhaps this one will like swaddling! And hats! . . . Or be colicky! And yes, it turns out that, as Dr. P put it: “[Mr. Book], you keep making the same things!” We had a name crisis, but have a good boy’s name picked out now and plenty of tiny blue things. This is our last child, we’re both quite sure, unless there is some kind of divine intervention. While I think I’m having the healthiest pregnancy so far (I’ve been healthy all three times, but really doing well this time), I’ve had an incredible amount of false labor, which I’m told only gets worst in subsequent pregnancies. It’s pretty miserable, and a reason that I’ve been much less present online than I’d like to be; I am spending much of my limited free time either in the bath or curled up on a couch, reassuring myself that this isn’t the real thing, just painful and pointless.

Joey, though, has come through a rough brain patch beautifully, and while more of a handful than ever (I sort of regret not getting a picture of the Kleenex Apocalypse from earlier today), we’re enjoying him a lot. He’s got such a sweet and basically easy-going personality that it’s hard not to worry about rolling the dice again. But oh, I know that it’s worth it.

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Tiny Blue Kimono

I heard back from Ruth! She sent in fact a very friendly email, asking to set up a visit in January and answering the baby questions. And to answer the most interesting one here: Yes, Cricket knows that I am pregnant. He also apparently knows (as much as one can at two) about the whole birthmother thing—she said that the other day he pointed at a picture of me and said “Mama Susie. Grow tummy.” So strange to realize that he’s starting to be able to think about that kind of thing; even seeing pictures of him toddling around with a serious expression hasn’t done enough to jar my understanding of him as a baby. Clearly it’s time to have a visit again. In the meantime, we have been invited to his birthday/Chanukah party, and we almost certainly won’t be able to go—it’s likely to be within a couple of weeks of the birth, and you’re not supposed to stand for more than ten minutes out of any given hour for two weeks after giving birth. At least, that’s what they told me last time, and boy do I wish I had listened! Additionally, though, and probably more importantly (to me), I am a bit spooked by the idea of bringing a new baby to the party and being surrounded by interested/judgmental family and friends of Cricket’s. It would be a hard way to have the boys meet for the first time, I think.

 

When I saw my counselor last week, she asked what I’m most looking forward to about finally giving birth and meeting the kid, and the best that I could come up with was that I can’t wait to see what he looks like. When I try to imagine him now, I can only picture newborn Cricket—I wonder how alike they’ll be. In my own family, we look like two sets of two; Tammy and I look like our dad (she additionally being gorgeous), and Kate and my brother look like our mom (Kate being also gorgeous, but differently). I was tempted, for awhile, to put the little bird into the same first outfit that Cricket wore just because I like it a lot, but I want to be able to tell in pictures which baby is which, and for whatever reason have some anxiety about possibly failing at that. It has made picking out the first outfit weirdly difficult for me.

Push

I’m on the CUB mailing list, and recently got sent a link to a survey someone has created to collect information about the childbirth experiences of birthmothers. I’ve been sent the same link a few times, and each time, I start it and then give up after a page or two. It’s not really designed for me. The author was careful to word it in a way that wouldn’t exclude non-BSE birthmothers—but since I didn’t give birth in a hospital, I couldn’t answer most of them anyway. I gave birth in a bathtub in a room that looked it like belonged in a bed and breakfast, I left two hours later to go to a hotel room with my sweetheart and the baby. I wasn’t shaved, cut, or sedated. I know that something like less than 1 percent of children in that county are born out of hospitals, but it’s weirdly alienating to try to fill out a form that doesn’t allow for the possibility of my experiences.

Only last week, someone at my support group asked about my experience of giving birth—I had brought in some pictures, and there are pictures of me with a minutes-old Cricket that were certainly not taken in any hospital—and when I explained that I did the drug-free, midwife thing, she asked “. . . and was that on purpose?” My mother was a Bradley instructor back in the day, and I watched my brother come into the world on the floor of our apartment. I remember playing with other kids at La Leche League meetings when I was little. All this is to say that I have never wanted to give birth in a hospital—I don’t think of myself as a crunchy person, but in this area, that is what I seem to be. One thing that bothers me (way out of proportion, I might add) is reading on adoption forums and blogs that “Our birthmom is being induced on—”  That said, every woman should be able to make her own choices about how childbirth is going to go (so far as that’s practical). But me? When the time comes to make a plan for the birth of futurekid, we’ll find a midwife who has a roomy bathtub. 😉