In Which I Tie Up Loose Ends


February 17, 2012 by Leah

I feel like I’ve suddenly become much more involved in being pregnant lately. I’m almost at 26 weeks – or, suddenly closing in on the third trimester. Baby is kicking sweetly – enough so that I know he or she is fine, but not enough to cause major injury or alarm. I have aches and pains, am highly emotional, and easily tired. I’ve also been feeling creative and nurturing and cozy and – oddly enough – extremely stable. Like, mentally. It’s kind of a new thing for me.

So, pregnancy itself is actually fine, and not responsible for how self-involved I’ve been lately. Managing a pregnancy within the social parameters of my place and time is what has been taking up so much time and energy. Switching providers and hospitals and looking to hire a doula and a pediatrician and thinking about childbirth preparation are all kind of overwhelming when done at the same time. Here’s a recap of how all that has been going.

The New OB

  • She looked at my 3-hour glucose test results and said that I don’t have gestational diabetes according to the scale she (and everyone else she knows) uses. She has no idea why my previous provider wanted to do anything about my glucose results. (Woohoo!)
  • She didn’t mention my weight gain. (Yay!)
  • She said my fundal height is measuring big for my dates (this is not new, and baby was not at all large at the 20-week ultrasound) and she might want to do a late-pregnancy ultrasound to get an idea of how big the baby is. I said, “Isn’t that an inexact science?” She said, “It’s totally an inexact science. A suspected big baby wouldn’t change the plan for your care at all unless you were diabetic and we thought the baby might be 4500 grams [almost 10 lbs] or more. That won’t be the case with you. I’d just like to know if the baby might be bigger than average because then I can prepare the nurses to expect us to try different delivery positions. But, you can decide about any further ultrasounds.”
  • She actually examined me. Like, listened to my heart and lungs and stuff. This made me feel like a person, rather than just a baby vessel.
  • We did a quick ultrasound during which the words “Aww, that’s cute,” came out of her mouth, regarding baby having its hands in front of its face and waving at us.
  • She treated Aaron and me like intelligent adults and gave us all the information we asked for and more.

Conclusions: She respects patients, is current on evidence-based medicine, and genuinely enjoys working with mamas and babies. I trust her judgment and will be happy to have her around to catch the baby.

The Hospital Tour

We spent an hour with an L&D nurse. Though Aaron found the atmosphere on the ward a bit oppressive, I thought it was nice and warm and cozy. This is fine since he (probably) won’t be the naked, howling one when we are there.

  • The labor and delivery rooms are nice and big, and all the medical equipment is tucked away and not brought out until or unless it’s necessary.
  • The postpartum rooms are cozy.
  • The nursing staff knew where the birthing balls etc. were.
  • For a normal labor, I’ll have a hep lock but won’t be tethered to an IV, and will be monitored for 20 minutes out of every hour. Underwater monitoring with a handheld Doppler is available. The nursing staff really encourages movement and fluid intake (tea, juice, whatever – which they provide) during labor.
  • The nurse specified that if all goes well, baby will just be dried off and handed to me for an hour or two of skin-to-skin bonding and breastfeeding. She said there’s no better way for a baby to adjust to its new environment than by being skin-to-skin with its mother.
  • The nurse was super-excited about the idea that we are looking into hiring a doula.
  • The nurse made sure to include Aaron in the discussion, to tell him that he’ll be playing an important role, and to ask if he had questions.
  • She went through all the eventualities with us, including who would be doing what and going where in case of a c-section. Barring crowded conditions or a distressed baby, the whole family gets to stay together during a c-section and in the recovery room (along with a nurse for the baby). If we do have a c-section with a distressed baby, or if the surgical floor is ridiculously crowded, Aaron is encouraged to go with the baby to the nursery where he can do kangaroo care (skin-to-skin contact) with the little one, and someone else can stay with me in recovery.

Conclusions: It seems like a baby-friendly hospital. The nurse seemed really informed about what’s best for babies. The rooms were a lot less clinical than at the other hospital.

More About The Hospital Switch

I did some research today. Using data from the Washington State Hospital Association I gleaned that not only did Providence St. Mary Medical Center have a lower c-section rate than Walla Walla General in 2010 (27.6% vs. 30%); births are substantially cheaper at St. Mary’s. (I’m assuming this is because the Providence system is non-profit.) We’re lucky enough to be paying next-to-nothing out of pocket for prenatal care and delivery, but this is still good to know. Also, between 2009 and 2010, the c-section rate at General rose by 5% while that at St. Mary’s dropped by 2%.

More About the Provider Switch

I was secretly hoping that by switching to a different practice entirely, I’d have an “in” with the pediatricians who work under the same practice umbrella. I knew the name of a husband-and-wife team of pediatricians I really wanted for Sprocket, but three people in my swimming class told me that they are no longer taking new patients. While Aaron and I were waiting for an appointment, I mentioned all this to the PA at the OB’s office. She came back 20 minutes later and said she’d called over to the pediatric arm of the clinic and discovered that these pediatricians actually are accepting newborns as patients. Now, this is probably a timing thing, but I’m wondering if she didn’t hook me up. Either way, I’m stoked. Sprocket has a pediatrician.

So. I feel I’m reclaiming the experience I wanted in the first place. Now I can get back to my normally scheduled activities. Like garden planning. Is it weird that I’ve been bathing and sleeping with the Territorial Seed Company Spring 2012 catalog?


8 thoughts on “In Which I Tie Up Loose Ends

  1. lahancock says:

    Woo hoo! All super great news. The hospital sounds great. Your old midwife sounds like a flipping idiot.

    Yay for the hookup on the pediatrician.

    Now for garden planning! You will be posting garden blog posts I hope. I really need to plant my tomato seeds this weekend. So much to do. I can’t wait to start my garden, I’ve already been prepping garden beds. This baby needs some good nutritious foods, plus, if I choose to labor outside this summer, I need the corn to be tall to block my neighbors view. Ha-ha!

  2. Kim_F says:

    I’m so happy for you! Proof positive that knowing what you want, being informed and being empowered enough to stand up for what you deserve can get good results.

    But, this also makes me sad– because you are proof positive of why well-educated, middle-class women have better birthing experiences and better birth outcomes than lower-class and low-income women. (Sorry, thesis writing this week has totally been about symbolic violence in the realm of pregnancy and childbirth healthcare delivery systems.)

    • No kidding. I’ve been reading about birth for years, and I’ve been devoting a TON of time and energy to remedying my own situation over the past few weeks. I’m sure I would have done the same thing if I were working full-time, but my general circumstances (supportive, educated husband who has a great job with great insurance, part-time work for myself, and the ability to use the resources I have – like educated friends, and the internet – and dig a lot to find new ones) were extremely helpful. If I were low-income, lacking education, not a native English speaker, or in any number of other situations, I may not have known there was anything wrong, that there was anything I could do, or where to look for help. And if I were black, I would have, what, quadruple the chance of dying in childbirth no matter what my income and education level? That’s the one statistic that never fails to make my blood boil.

  3. Annie Rittal says:

    Leah, sounds like a wonderful new beginning for you as you enter the third tri. Power to you, lady, for taking control and getting what you wanted!

  4. Delores says:

    Hi Leah, I feel like I’ve been eavesdropping for the past several weeks but I’ve so enjoyed following your experience. I’m a OLD friend of Marla’s from high school and I enjoyed your take on living lightly in your world. And now that you are having a baby it’s been enlightening. Since my birth experience is over 40 years past, it’s a whole nuther world today. I’m proud of you for standing firm in your resolve for the best treatment for you and your little family, since today’s birth involves Dad. Know that you have the innate knowledge of what’s right for you and you’re going to do great.

  5. David G says:

    Congratulations on finding a provider you like.

    On the garden front don’t buy too many seeds, I have a bunch to send you including squash, winter squash, pumpkin, melons, watermelons, and maybe a few tomato seeds too.

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