Sunday, March 20, 2011

I love you, Towel Baby!


Here's what Dr. Pei has been doing to get you to change and then maintain your position, Peach. I go for an hour of acupuncture. You seem to move closer and closer to a head-down position each time. To get you to maintain the new position, Dr. Pei rolls up towels and puts them alongside your body so that you won't go back to where you just were. The towels are held onto my abdomen with a very tight belly band. I am supposed to keep this tight belly band stuffed with towels on 24/7 for 2-3 days at a time---through the night! Now, if I thought the 3rd trimester of pregnancy was uncomfortable, try adding on this "towel baby" treatment! And if I thought it was getting harder and harder to breathe, try adding on this "towel baby" treatment! And if I thought bending over was just becoming a far-off memory of long ago, try adding on this "towel baby" treatment! And if I thought I moved past my feelings of self-consciosness about the shape of my body, try adding on this "towel treatment"---my belly is even more gigantic and now square and misshapen---like I had an affair with Sponge Bob Square Pants. And if I thought it was getting difficult to sleep, try adding on this "towel baby" treatment! Dr. Pei described to me how she first introduced this treatment to some colleagues when she first moved to the U.S. 20 years ago. They were thrilled and they deemed it "Towel Baby".

So, thankfully, seems like you are staying head down, Peach. Nice job. Good choice. Thank you! You don't seem to want to be straight up and down yet--you are preferring a bit of a diagonal position--makes me sing that Phish song about laying diagonal in my bed.... But Dr. Pei says no doctor will fuss about this. Let's hope so. We see a doctor for 36 week ultrasound on Wednesday morning. Even though Dr. Pei has been reassuring, I'd say I still have about 10% of my less-conscious brain doing intricate gymnastics over the possibility of navigating a breech birth.

Papa and I had a good talk. I was apprehensive in approaching the conversation, yet resolute, in stating my desire to go to Dr. Hall (he's one of the only doctors in Colorado who will facilitate a vaginal breech delivery) if you decided to go back to breech position. See, it'll cost a lot more money. But in the end, it's my body and your birth we're talking about, Peach. And the money will take care of itself. So, we have an appointment with Dr. Hall scheduled for next week--just as a back-up. If the ultrasound on Wednesday is satisfactory for our OBGYN team at Kaiser, then we'll cancel our appointment with Dr. Hall and stick with our plan. Stay head down, girlie, OK?

I have to praise Dr. Pei yet again. In our most recent visit with her, she palpated your home, my belly,  and "dopplered" your heart to more precisely assess your position. She declared that your head was at 5 o'clock and your bum was at 10:30. As she told me this, she exclaimed to you, Peach, "I love you, Baby!" This lovely 65 year old Chinese woman has been an invaluable source of reassurance for me throughout this "breech pathway" that we've cruised along together. I told her that she is a much better care provider than any of the doctors I've seen in 8 months of prenatal care. She became very serious and said, "Thank you."

Sleep has been really just awful lately. There is that 10% of my brain doing worrisome gymnastics and there's also this "towel treatment" with Dr. Pei. Weekends have become a time to catch up on sleep, lest I become a Zombie on Thursday and Friday of the workweek. It is a practice in letting go, because there are oh-so-many things I'd like to do and get done on the weekend. I suspect this is just the right practice for the letting go I'll keep doing as a parent.

It's been a while since we've done belly shots. Here's where you live, Peach. Livin' large.

35 weeks and 3 days 

As Mark snapped the camera, he says, "It looks fake."

Visualize "Head down, back to mama's tummy, chin tucked, hands on your heart!"

I love you, Towel Baby. Sleep or no sleep, I'll keep my chin up. You keep your head down.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Name That Bump


I wonder if you like our new game---Name That Bump. As you practice your obviously-advanced yoga moves in there------Bird of Paradise, Five Pointed Star, Extended Dancer-------I am (a bit obsessively) trying to figure out which protrusion might be your head, your booty, your elbows. These bulges appear at different places all the time and with varying degrees of force. We are playing together already. What fun!

So, an ultrasound this morning showed that you were nicely nestled with your head down and to the left while your bum was up and to the right. That was reassuring for me. The nurse was great--far more engaged than the doctor we saw 2 weeks ago. She was interested in hearing about our acupuncturist and what the recommendations are. She encouraged the daily practice of spending time on my hands and elbows to give you more space to move around and to discourage you choosing breech and getting stuck there. The nurse also said that there seems to still be a lot of room in there (which matches with my own experience of thinking that my belly really looks and feels rather elephantine) and that this means that baby position can still vary a lot.  I'm still bewildered by the doctor's demeanor and his complete omission of any suggestions for working with baby-positioning 2 weeks ago. I am formulating a plan for feedback for the OBGYN department. In the meanwhile, Peach, we'll keep hanging out on hands and elbows and burning moxa on my pinky toes and going to Dr. Pei for balancing our Chi. And you can keep moving around, that's fine with me. But in the next couple weeks, I want to remind you that your head down is going to be the best  choice for you and me both. Like Rek said, headstands and handstands are hard, but you can do it. And she promises to take you on a rebellious adventure AFTER you're born, so no need to do that right now.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Turn, Turn, Turn


I have a request. Please put your head down. We have but a few weeks left before you'll likely be too crammed in there to be able to turn around. So do it soon. Please do it soon. I'm doing my best not to worry and to just talk with you about it, calmly, reasonably. Please put your head down. At the ultrasound a week and a half ago, you were happily sitting with your butt down. Yes, we have time. But please put your head down.

There are good reasons for me to ask this of you, Peach.

There are amazingly few doctors in all of Colorado--is it 2?--who will deliver babies who are breech. In most instances, babies who present breech--head up and butt down--are delivered by cesarean birth. It has become standard practice in recent decades. As I've looked into this more, I have learned that it is not necessarily because vaginal deliveries of breech babies are truly more dangerous or complicated but rather because American medical schools are no longer training doctors to do them. What are medical schools training doctors to do? Cesarean deliveries. Hmmm, I don't like what I'm learning and I don't like having yet another reason to be skeptical of, and angry with, "western medicine".

What's so bad about cesarean delivery? Lots of people actually schedule cesarean deliveries believing it to be much simpler, perhaps less scary. I think very differently. I have been looking forward to the experience of labor, Peach. And as I sort through these feelings, I have come to know that it is not simply my own desire, my own wishes. Peach, I believe that labor will be better for both of us on so many levels. You know what I mean--I've been talking to you about it a lot in the past week.

Ok, but what about cesarean birth? I am breathing my way into acceptance that this might be necessary. But I still cry when I think about it. I'll get there if I have to, I promise you, Peach. Whatever way you come into this world, I will greet you with love.

But I am not ready yet. There is much to be done. We have a lot of talking still to do over the next few weeks, Peach. And we have a new song, a bit of a lilty-bluesy-song with the same words for all four lines---"Put your head down, Peach...."...over and over again.

At 32 weeks, a week and a half ago, we went for an "extra" ultrasound. This extra ultrasound was scheduled just to have a peak at this fibroid that doctors have been monitoring. Yes, fibroids are very common and usually cause little to no problems once a pregnancy is well-established. Doctors have just been checking in on us to see if it grows substantially, which fibroids can do during a pregnancy. No substantial growth---that's good. Yet, during the ultrasound, you had your butt down, Peach. I'm not really sure if this is how you are hanging out most of the time. My guess is no since you seem to move around so much! Nonetheless, the doctor doing the ultrasound speculated that maybe you don't want to put your head down because there isn't enough room because of this fibroid. Mark actually suggested (afterward, not to the doctor) that maybe the fibroid would make you *more* likely to put your head down since it might act like an extra pillow. Ok, maybe not. Yet the presentation of the doctor was speculative, without the evidence characteristic of his profession. And arrogant. And frustrating. And anxiety-provoking. He suggested that if at 36 weeks, if your head is not yet down, Peach, that we schedule a cesarean birth for sometime during week 39. I tried to talk to the doctor about breech presentation and what other things someone can do to promote a baby turning. He did *not* mention some interventions that I know are available--I had to bring those up. Such as External Version. We can try it if we need to. Doc also didn't mention that acupuncture has been shown in research to help babies turn. Doc also didn't mention helpful exercises that have been shown to help. No, he mentioned none of it. He simply said, "Oh, there's still hope [for a vaginal birth]. Just think positive thoughts and come back in 4 weeks." Good thing Papa Mark was there to help me make sense of the very crummy feelings I had on the drive home. There's still hope? How the doctor related to us was very frustrating and very out of touch with the process--physical and emotional---- he is meant to guide women and families through toward a happy and healthy birthing of a human being.

So the next day we were at the acupuncturist's office, Peach. And you danced for the whole hour that we spent on her table. She is sweet. Dr. Pei. She is an OBGYN in China. She's been here in the U.S. for 20+ years practicing acupuncture and specializing in women's health. She talked to you, Peach, and said she felt confident that you would listen to us, to her, to the energy shifted by the needles. Dr. Pei spent more time relating to you, Peach, than any of the doctors we've seen in 8 months. This was heartening in that she is such a kind and attuned practitioner, and disheartening in that I've seen doctors and nurses regularly for months and they have rarely (ever?) touched my belly to try to get a sense of where you are in there and what you might be doing. The doctors are interested in those same questions, but their way of finding you is via machines--a doppler, an ultrasound. Dr. Pei likes you, Peach. She also thinks you are large, but that's a story for another day. Large is OK by me anyway.

Peach, let's listen to Dr. Pei. Cesarean deliveries have been linked with more respiratory problems in newborns. And more colic. There are other ways that it scares me, Peach. It is a major abdominal surgery that will make our first few months together more challenging in many ways. It scares me to think about what a sudden way it is to enter the world--to be simply plucked out of your environment without warning, without the long slow process of labor that would by its very nature allow you time for transition.

Peach, I would like us to labor together. Heck, maybe we'll even labor together if you decide *not* to put your head down. Maybe we'll contact one of those 2 doctors who will deliver breech babies. Mark and I will definitely have to empty our savings account to do that, but it may be worth it to choose a more slow and deliberate entry for you into this world. We'll keep talking about it, you and Mark and I.

Ok, head down.