BIRTHING CLASSES 101

For me one of the most exciting things about being pregnant is the anticipation of what contractions and labor will be like. A friend who adopted traditionally has told me that, although she wouldn’t trade her girls for anything; that as a women, not being able to carry her children and experience pregnancy and birth, is a void she never really overcame.

It has been such a long hard journey to get pregnant, I actually look forward to going in to labor. Josh and I have told our doctor that unless medically necessary for the health of the baby, or myself, we do not want to be induced. I also want to labor naturally, and not have an epidural. I know, I know, call me crazy, or maybe just a little baby delirious. My doctor joked it’s ironic since Josh is a nurse anesthetist. I am a realist, however, so I’m going to keep an open mind.

During our recent birthing class, the instructor stated, “Some of you may be considering going natural for your labor, so these breathing techniques will be especially important for you.” A girl on the front row yells out a decisive, “What-Everrrr”, with an exclamation point! Well, I guess her mind is already made up.

I have been reading the birthing book provided by the instructor:

*Slow breathing, patterned breathing, paced breathing…

*Basic relaxation, progressive relaxation, touch relaxation…

Am I going to remember these tips in the middle of an excruciating contraction??
Hee hee, hoo hoo… Or is it hoo hoo, hee hee?

I’ve also been reading about the different stages of labor:

First stage of labor-
*The early phase (sounds exciting)
*The active phase (getting serious)
*The transition phase (getting real serious)

Second Stage –
*The cervix is fully dilated and delivery of the baby occurs (it’s real)

Third Stage-
*Delivery of placenta. (relief)

Our instructor informed us about the different breathing and relaxation techniques to use throughout the different phases of labor. She encouraged us to practice our breathing techniques in advance for the big day.

The cover of the book reads, ‘The gift of Motherhood, your journey through prepared childbirth.’ Prepared? Let’s hope I remember what I’m supposed to do, and when I’m supposed to do it. I guess I’ll have to read all I can, then let nature take over, just as nature has done for women during childbirth since the beginning of time.

And, about that epidural? Mmmm. I wonder how many of those women would have said yes to an epidural if they had the choice back then?

I will just have to keep practicing my breathing techniques, and like the saying goes:
Prepare for everything, and be prepared for anything.

Hoo hoo, hee hee…

Advertisements

NON-STRESS TEST & 33 WEEK U/S

Since being diagnosed with gestational diabetes, I have to go to the doctor twice a week for a Non-Stress Test, or NST. Elastic belts with two sensors are placed on my belly. One sensor measures the baby’s heart rate. The other sensor measures the strength and length of contractions, if any. I am required to push a button on a hand held device every time I feel the baby move. At my last visit, let me say, he was an active little stinker. The baby’s heart rate increases when the baby moves, so my hand device got a lot of use that day. The doctor said his heartbeat ranged from 130-170 bpm, which he indicated was very good.

The primary goal of the test is to evaluate the fetal heart rate during periods of rest and activity. Healthy fetuses will respond with an increased heart rate during activity, and the heart rate will decrease during times of rest. The results show the doctor that the fetus is receiving proper amounts of oxygen and is in no fetal distress. When oxygen levels are low, the fetus may not respond within the normal range of movement and with normal accelerations in heart rate.

Women with gestational diabetes fall into a higher risk category requiring monitoring by an NST throughout their pregnancy. On the positive side, I get to sit in a recliner for 20-30 minutes and watch TV in a quiet room by myself, without feeling guilty that I need to be doing something. Indulgence! Also, because I’m Advanced Maternal Age (I never get used to hearing that), diabetic, and an IVF patient, they recommend I come in every two weeks for an ultrasound. Not that I am complaining, I would go everyday if I could to see him.

At my 33 week ultrasound, my little guy was moving his lips in a sucking motion. In a previous ultrasound, it looked as if he was sucking his thumb. We also saw him “kick” on the screen, and simultaneously, I felt it in my abdomen. The sonographer even said it looked like he was smiling. What a joy that brings to my heart, and I’m smiling back!

3-D SCAN

Me, Josh, and both sets of parents went for my 3D ultrasound this week. It is amazing what technology can do now, considering ultrasounds were not available when our moms were pregnant with us. Now you can almost visualize what your child is going to look like from the womb.

Our 3D scan was done through Stork Visions Prenatal Imaging Center. It is a franchise that performs 2D, 3D, and 4D scans by a ob/gyn or licensed sonographer. You may even be able to go through your ob/gyn’s office. A friend referred us to Stork Visions, and since there is one in our area, we used them because it was highly recommended. It was worth every cent, even though it is not covered under insurance. We were given about 35 minutes viewing time of the baby on a home theater sized TV. We were also sent home with a CD-Rom, and a DVD of the entire session, and about fifteen still photos.

It was a wonderful experience, and I’m so glad our parents were able to share it with us. We got to see the baby move around, put his arm across his face, and even yawn. The doctor confirmed that he was in vertex position (let’s hope he stays that way)! He also indicated on my abdomen where the baby’s head, feet, and arms are positioned.

When I got home, and had time to absorb all I had experienced, I was almost overcome with emotion. Our baby boy has a prominent nose, very full lips, chubby cheeks, and a round face. And, I love his profile! It’s like meeting someone you’ve heard about for along time, then finally meeting them face to face. I am 31 weeks now, so I know he will go through many more changes before his arrival, but what fun it is to get a glimpse. How lucky am I to be this little guy’s mom? What a sweet blessing.

FAMILY MATTERS

Josh and I have had both sets of parents at our house for the weekend. Our town is hosting it’s largest festival of the year. About 8,000 people descend on our little town and people come from all over. Both sets of parents have always talked about coming to the festival, so this year Josh and I invited them all for the weekend.

Fall is my favorite time of year, and I especially love festival weekend. There is such a buzz in the air the week before. Vendors and merchants start putting out new wares, and getting store windows decorated with displays. It motivates me to put out my fall decorations around the house.

It has been fun sharing this time in my pregnancy with them. Josh’s parents live eight hours away, so we don’t get to see them often enough. And although my mom only lives three and a half hours away, I don’t see her as much as I would like. The last time I saw her was at 20 weeks, and my “bump” has grown quite a bit since then.

I have been busy showing them my ideas for the nursery. I found an awesome creme dresser for the baby’s room this weekend. I have decided on a creme iron bed and the bedding will be blue, beige and creme.

It has been a busy weekend of festivities and planning. Tomorrow we go for my 3D scan with Stork Visions. The next time they come it will be for the shower, and then the next for the baby’s arrival. The buzz this weekend will be nothing in comparison to the excitement of those two events, but it has been a fun weekend of spending time together and looking forward to things to come.

GESTATIONAL DIABETES. WHO ME?

When I went for my 1-hour glucose tolerance test for gestational diabetes at 24 weeks, I was quite surprised when the doctor’s office called back and said that my 1-hour fasting level was elevated at 172. The normal range was under 140.

I previously tested negative for diabetes while being checked for thyroid issues related to infertility, and because I have no history of diabetes in my family; I attributed the elevation to a delicious buttercream icing cupcake I had eaten the day before.

The nurse told me I would have to come back for the 3-hour glucose test within the week. “I got this, I thought, I will just limit sweets and eat more fiber and protein before the next test.”

After drinking the sugary orange drink, they did a blood draw, then I waited, then I had to do another blood draw every hour for the next 3 hours.

The doctor called back, “Tamara, we’re going to have to get you to come in for a diabetes consultation, the results came back that you have gestational diabetes. Some of your levels came back elevated.”

The doctor said my fasting level came back good at 78 (< 90 normal). The 1-hour was also good at 163 (< 180 normal). Where I got into trouble was my 2-hr, which was 210 (< 155), and my 3-hr was 167 (< 140).

After I got over my initial shock and disappointment, I was determined I could control it with diet. Again, I thought, “I got this, I’ll just limit sweets and carbohydrates.” What I didn’t realize was that some of my favorite food groups that I considered “healthy” were loaded with carbs and sugar. For example, 2% milk has high carbs and fruits are loaded with sugar. Even wheat bread has about 15 grams per slice. With gestational diabetes you are only allowed about 30-45 grams of carbs per meal.

Ironically, where my numbers have been consistently elevated are my fasting times, not post-meal times. There is only so much I can do about my fasting levels. For example, if I eat dinner at 7pm and don’t eat breakfast until 7am, that is 12 hours without food. The doctor put me on a tablet of glyburide before bedtime, and a spoonful of peanut butter. The peanut butter is to add protein so my blood sugar doesn’t drop during the night.

One of the risk to gestational diabetes is larger birth weights. The doctor told me if I had elevated fasting times for more than two days in a row, in a seven day period to call. My levels were 91 yesterday and 98 today, anything above 90 is considered elevated.

I called the doctor and they increased my dose to a tablet and a half. Maybe this will do the trick. I will keep you posted, but for now, it is bedtime, and I am about to go take my higher dose and eat a spoonful of peanut butter.

Sure wish I could down it with a glass of milk. Mmm, on second thought, I better not.

21 Weeks

I was reading in my ‘Pregnancy Week by Week’ book that by 21 weeks your waistline is definitely gone and people can tell you are pregnant. I was able to get away with wearing regular clothes for a while, but as my “bump” grew, it gave me a chance to finally go shopping for some maternity clothes.

In the waiting room of some infertility clinics, they would have parenting or pregnancy magazines that would have pictures of pregnant moms-to-be. I was always fascinated with the clothes and the articles on parenting.

I feel like I am now a part of this “exclusive club” called motherhood, which allows me the blessing to do those fun things like shop for maternity clothes, and read those coveted books like, ‘What to Expect When you are Expecting’.

This book answers a lot of questions for me. As the name indicates, it explains what you may be experiencing in your body at a particular stage of pregnancy. Like at 21 weeks, it talks about continued absentmindedness. There it is in print! The book validates that for my type-A, ADHD brain, there is a reason for this slightly more than usual absentmindedness. I usually “have it together”, but sharing the oxygen supply, I do believe helps contribute to some short-term memory lapses.

It also talks about the gymnastics, called fetal movement, going on in my belly. I have to admit this is one of my favorite parts of being pregnant. It reminds me that he is still there, and gives me reassurance from time to time. When I don’t feel anything for a while, it concerns me. Then sure enough, he gives me a little “punch” to let me know he is still growing strong.

He is most active at night when I am trying to sleep. My friend told me, and I have read, that when pregnant women are active during the day, it is like a rocking motion for the baby. You also feel movements more at night when you are still. Between the fetal movements, and having to get up to go pee more frequently, sleep is becoming a precious commodity. I do believe this is God’s way of preparing you for the sleepless nights ahead.

I have so much to learn in the coming weeks. I also want to start reading about what to expect when the baby arrives, which will be here before you know it. I am sure I will be ready to meet him when he comes in to this world, but for now, I am content on being his mom while he is growing in my belly.

20 WEEK ANATOMY SCAN

This was a big day, not only would we find out if our baby bean was healthy, we would know whether we were carrying a boy or a girl! At my 16 week ultrasound, it was too early to determine the sex.

I had a really good feeling about this pregnancy. I felt everything would turn out alright, however, there is always a chance a problem could be detected. We were filled with anticipation.

From the first ultrasound picture, I had a feeling it was a boy. I called it a mother’s intuition. Josh said I had a 50/50 shot of being right. It’s hard to go wrong with those odds, he would laugh.

The genetics counselor asked us some general information about our medical history and wanted to know if we wanted to do an amniocentesis. We chose not to, since there are risks involved, and it wouldn’t change anything if something was wrong with baby. This was the child God gave us, and we would love it no matter what the outcome. We told her that we had adopted an embryo and gave her the information we knew from the donors’ medical history.

We were originally supposed to go to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville for the scan, but our doctor’s office directed us to go to a smaller hospital near our town to save us the two hour drive. The UT traveling group were performing anatomic scans at that hospital around the time of our appointment.

Since they were a traveling team, we had to view the ultrasound on a laptop. I could not see the screen most of the time, but it was awesome to watch Josh’s face in amazement as he watched the screen. The tech would talk to the genetics counselor in medical speak, but it seemed everything looked the way it should. Being in the medical profession, Josh would converse with them and ask questions. He had guessed the heartbeat accurately at 160 bpm even before they announced it. The tech and genetics counselor determined everything appeared to be healthy. Our baby has a four-chamber heart, no abnormalities were found, and we were given a very minimal chance of Down’s Syndrome.

I told them my prediction that it was a boy. I had been patient and wanted to get through the important stuff, but was still anxious to know the sex. Finally, the tech said, “Well, I guess mama was right, it’s a boy.”

We didn’t really care whether it was a boy or girl, as long as it was healthy. This mama was just ready to go shopping. I had waited to buy anything for the baby until we knew what we were having. We headed to Target to buy something blue so we could surprise my mom in person with the news.

We had to get creative with Josh’s parents, since they live eight hours away in Alabama. We had told them we would call after our appointment. We decided we wanted to surprise them instead of just telling them over the phone. We called the florist where they live and had a bouquet of yellow flowers, with a blue-gingham ribbon sent to their house.

The card simply read, “It’s a Boy”. They weren’t expecting to hear from us until that afternoon. When we answered the phone to a half-laughing and half-crying grand-momma, we knew they had received the bouquet and were surprised. It was so much more fun than telling them over the phone.

With a healthy diagnosis, and visions of blue “dancing” in my head, I was ready to do some more shopping.