My due date is coming right up – just 6 more days! That’s not to say that the little guy is going to come right on his due date, but it does mean that he could be here pretty much any time.
Thought I’d update everyone on our birth plan (for those of you that don't already know). Without going in to a lot of background, we decided around the 27-28 week mark of my pregnancy to drop our OB and the hospital birth in favor of a midwife-assisted birth at a birth center. Suffice it to say that we did hours and hours of research prior to making this decision, including many long talks about what is most important for us and for our baby. We considered several different birth centers in the area, and when we interviewed the one we ultimately chose we spent an hour and a half grilling the primary midwife with a 3-page list of questions. By the time we left that interview, we’d transferred care from my OB’s office to the midwife clinic and we were floating on Cloud 9 because we were so excited about the switch!
And that’s what we’ve been preparing for since then – we see our midwives every week, and they are WONDERFUL! I get all of the same prenatal care as I would at an OB’s office, just (in my opinion) in a more gentle and naturally-oriented manner. At my very first midwife appointment, she put her hands on my belly and told us exactly what position he was in and where all of his major parts (head, bottom, feet) were so that we could feel for them as well. Then she talked to the baby and told him that he’d be getting very used to the sound of her voice and that she was excited to meet him when the time was right. I can’t even tell you how great that was – no one (not the nurses or the doctor) had shown that level of compassion toward me or the little guy at any of my previous appointments. The appointments had all felt very clinical and honestly like a waste of time.
In preparation for a natural childbirth, we've also taken a 10-week Bradley class with 6 other couples, and those classes were just fabulous. I was torn on whether we should fork out the money for the classes (because of course they aren't covered by insurance!), but I am so glad that we did. Besides being a great opportunity for Karl to learn how to be the best coach he can possibly be for me during labor, it was also a real blessing to be around other like-minded couples for at least 2 hours a week. It’s not that we haven’t received support in our decisions from our friends and family (we totally have, BTW), but not very many of them have made the same choices that we have so it’s sometimes hard for them to relate.
Finally, we also hired a doula (read this post for a great explanation of what a doula is) to assist us during labor and delivery. Annie the doula is A-MAZING. We clicked with her over the phone before we’d even met her, and then that feeling was completely confirmed when she came over to our house for our initial interview (she interviewed us and we interviewed her to make sure that both parties felt like it would be a good fit). She’s a crunchy granola type person, but not in an overbearing way whatsoever. She’s caring and loving and believes that childbirth is a beautiful and natural thing, but she’s not overly touchy-feely about it (if that makes any sense)...and that fits my personality perfectly. We heart Annie.
So for anyone wondering, here’s how everything should go down when the big day finally arrives...
When Karl and I believe that I’m in early first stage labor, we’ll call our doula and our midwife. They’ll assess the situation and advise us on how they would like us to proceed. In all likelihood, they’ll tell us to get out of the house and do something (go on a walk, take in a movie, go to the market, etc) to get our minds off the long journey ahead. This stage of labor is referred to as the putsy-putsy stage in the Bradley method because it’s not so bad yet and you have a nervous energy that makes you not want to just sit around obsessing over the impending arrival. Our doula will then come to our house to assist us through late first stage labor (late second stage is the pushing stage, in case you are wondering) – and I do mean us, not just me. Karl is my primary coach, and Annie will be there to help make sure that I’m okay and that Karl is okay as well. Annie will probably make the call as to when we head out to the birth center – typically when contractions are between 5-1-1 and 3-1-1 (3-5 minutes apart, lasting for 1 minute and having been this way for at least 1 hour). At this point we’ll head to the birth center and proceed with the rest of labor and delivery. Our birth team (i.e., who will be in the room with us) will be me, Karl, Annie the doula, our midwife and perhaps a midwife assistant. That’s it. Unless there is an emergency situation (which occurs in less than 0.25% of the clients at our birth center), or unless I completely break down and decide I can’t go on without medication, we will not ever be at a hospital. If a problem arises, we’ll transfer via ambulance to the hospital (which is less than 5 minutes away) and our doula will accompany us to see us through whatever happens next. We could also have our midwife join us in the event of a hospital transfer, but we feel like the doula will be more than sufficient to ensure that our best interests are kept in mind while striving for the ultimate goal of a healthy baby and a healthy mother.
After baby is born and we are back home, the midwife and the doula both come to our house for a few postpartum/well baby check-ups. In a perfect world we would love to “room in” with him for the first three days – just Karl, baby and me all getting to know each other and settling in to being a family of three without many distractions or visitors. It likely won’t be just the three of us, since we have several out-of-town family members scheduled to come within the next few weeks without many days in between scheduled visits. But even if people are staying at our house, it is still very important to us that we get sufficient time to acclimate to life with a babe and to gently get him used to being out of the womb where everything is much louder and brighter than what he’s experienced thus far. I’m sure we’ll love having people stay and help take care of us and the house, though, and I am 100% certain that the kitties and Henry will absolutely love having someone there to shower them with attention when Karl and I might be a *little* distracted!
So that’s where we stand, 6 days out from my due date. Karl and I feel prepared and knowledgeable enough that we can advocate for ourselves no matter what happens. We are pretty good at tuning out the noise and the negativity that gets thrown our way (why is it that people always seem to want to share traumatic birth stories with pregnant women??!), and instead focus on positive birth stories and positive thinking. We have complete trust in our midwife and in our doula. Our bags are packed and the car seat is installed. We are sooooo excited to finally meet our little guy (when the time is right)! And I am so excited to have my feet and ankles get back to normal again, too! :)