Gratitude, week 10

With all of the excitement of doula interviews last weekend, I didn’t have an opportunity to thoroughly express my gratitude during our ninth week of pregnancy. Luckily, there’s enough gratitude to carry into this week. During our tenth week of pregnancy, I’m thankful for:

  • The opportunity to have worked with a phenomenal reproductive endocrinologist and his kickass staff, who helped us to conceive, cheered us on and supported us when we needed information and empathy. While we’re now moving onto traditional OB care and won’t be seeing the RE for the remainder of this pregnancy journey, I am so very grateful for their skills, expertise and care.
  • Hanging out with our favorite group of queers this weekend. Their support and camaraderie means so much to us! K and I hosted brunch this time and then we went to the Zoo. I made a baked oatmeal based on this recipe. I’ve found it’s easier to incorporate the spices by adding them to the melted butter, then adding brown sugar, an egg, salt and baking powder before whisking in milk and pouring the whole thing over the dry ingredients. My favorite flavor combination includes raspberries, chopped almonds and semi-sweet chocolate chips. YUM!
  • Seeing my parents for the first time in several months! They live about four hours from us and we only get the opportunity to see them a few times a year. They’re bringing down the wooden bassinet my father made for me when they adopted me. I’m thrilled that we’ll be able to use it for Falco and maybe, one day, Falco will be able to use it for our grandchildren.

The coming week brings more excitement, and so much more for which we can feel grateful, including our first OB appointment (which will likely be mostly spent with the nurse practitioner) and a cloth diapering class next weekend.

You’re Hired: a doula overview

What we learned from all of our meetings with the doula candidates is that we live in a truly amazing community of doulas and that we are making the right decision in hiring a doula. With the exception of the far too conservative EB, we trusted them all and felt a sense of acceptance and zero judgment about our identities or birth choices. I feel sad that we can’t hire all but EB because we truly enjoyed spending time with them, and that made the decision really difficult.

Ultimately, we felt that BB and HE were really fabulous, and will make really phenomenal doulas when they’ve had more experiences, but we wanted someone who’ve attended more births than they have at this point. I want to BB and HE to be my mommy friends because they’re the type of mom that I want to be.

LM and MK have all of the qualities we’re looking for in a doula: someone who can advocate for us and tell a caregiver that we need space, help us review what caregivers are telling us so that we can make informed, empowered decisions, provide us with birth expertise through pain management ideas and normalizing of our experiences, and offer empathy and support when we truly need it. MK has attended many, many births, while LM has attended several. Both have a lot of tools in their belts. At the end of the day, I worry that, in the midst of a stressful situation, LM will say something totally earthy and woo-woo, and I won’t be able to take her seriously. She also came across as bit cocky, which is a major turnoff, and MK is just way more approachable and kind.

That being said, I emailed MK on Monday night to tell her that we feel like she is the perfect doula for us and that we want to move forward with a deposit and contract, which are now currently en route to her home. We’re thrilled to know that we have two full trimesters to build a relationship with this phenomenal woman so that we will have the best birth experience that we can possibly have!

Falco’s second ultrasound

Yesterday afternoon, K and I went to our final visit at our reproductive endocrinologist’s office, where we went for our second ultrasound. It was so phenomenal to hear Falco’s strong heartbeat (on the high range of normal at 180 bpm) and see the little one moving all around. It’s so amazing to see how much Falco has changed in a few short weeks. Our baby is finally looking like a BABY, albeit one with alien-like translucent skin.

Our doctor took videos with his iPhone of Falco’s heartbeat and of Falco moving all around, which he emailed to us after our visit. It’s this thoughtful nature, coupled with the doctor and staff’s sweet, supportive demeanor, that we’ll miss the most about their practice. It’s sad to be leaving them, even though it’s for a very happy reason. We look forward to referring many other hopeful parents-to-be and, perhaps, we’ll be back there for help conceiving our second kid! (Right now, K’s rolling his eyes at me and telling me that we’ll see.)

Now, some close-ups of our now FETUS (no longer an embryo!) named Falco:

All nestled in

The heartbeat

A sideways view of Falco

Now, because we’re opting out of some of the diagnostic tests like the NT scan, we likely won’t catch a glimpse of dear Falco again until our sex scan at 16-20 weeks. At least K can continue to watch that video on loop like he did last night.

Doula Interview 5: EB

We met EB at the same local free trade cafe on Monday night. Thankfully, there have been different staff members working at this cafe each time we’ve interviewed doula candidates, lest they think K and I are some crazy, obsessive birth junkies.

EB said she was fascinated by birth and pregnancy since she was a young child and her mother was pregnant with her younger brother. The fascination became more intense when she became pregnant with her first child and she began learning about birth experiences and options. She wanted to follow a path of becoming a doula as a career, but couldn’t justify leaving a well-paying, albeit dull full-time job. Shortly after returning to work after the birth of her daughter, her company laid off several members of their team and she was one of the layoffs. She took this as a sign and followed her dream, attending doula workshops and beginning to attend local women’s births.

Positive impressions:
EB was very sweet and kind. She was well-spoken, clearly describing her role and passion as a doula. She is a very experienced doula, having attended a lot of births, many of which were vastly different from one another.

She was the only doula who was visibly and audibly surprised, if not shocked, by the news of our “unique situation,” and we were concerned that she was far too conservative for us. She said, “I am very, very surprised! C, I thought you were the one who was pregnant!” The way she said it kind of bothered me, because it was mildly accusational, and I was tempted to say, “Well, I never said that I was. You clearly assumed it.” Additionally, she was very serious, almost too serious for us. We need someone in labor with us who can crack an occasional joke to diffuse tension, because that’s how we relate to one another.

Comfort: 2 stars
Experience: 4 stars
Inclusion of Partner: 4.5 stars
Personality: 2 stars

We’ve made our decision and can’t wait to announce it in a future post!

Doula Interview 4: HE

As we neared the end of the day’s interviews, K was frequently and audibly yawning in a way that would have embarrassed me more had he not been in his first trimester.

Doula #4 was also trained at the local doula education center where Doula #3 received her training, and indicated that, while she was still a relatively new doula, her “doula business is exploding.” She currently works full-time but is leaving that role in December to allow her to pursue birth support as a full-time career.

Positive impressions:
HE was a very sweet and kind new doula. She was enthusiastic and passionate about her role as a supportive and informative birth resource and, while she has never been a doula to LGBT parents-to-be, she was clearly educated about our community. Her husband is planning to serve as a known sperm donor to a lesbian couple they consider friends, and one of HE’s best friends identifies as a bisexual and lives in a queer polyamorous household. K and I liked that she had a set protocol for meeting with clients, providing resources and practicing birth strategies, and likes to meet clients in their home when they are in early labor so that they can put into practice some of their planned pain management techniques.

Having only attended three births so far, HE was, by far, the least experienced doula we’ve met. K was initially concerned by Doula #1’s level of experience, but Doula #1 had already attended double the births of Doula #4. At the end of the day, no matter how sweet and kind HE is, K and I feel like we need someone who has more births under her belt in order to feel truly confident in their ability to support us on our big day. I also noticed that she gave K a lot more eye contact than she gave me, and feeling included in this process is critical to me.

Comfort: 4 stars
Experience: 1.5 stars
Inclusion of Partner: 3 stars
Personality: 4.75 stars

Doula Interview 3: LM

Doula #3 was rather early for our meeting, which we appreciated after our interview with her because it gave us the opportunity to grab a quick lunch before Doula #4.

LM was a pierced and tattooed young woman who was trained at the local, highly regarded doula educational center and is also a student midwife. She has made the decision to not become DONA certified because it would limit her from using some of the resources she likes to employ during the birth experience, such as the use of essential oils.

Positive impressions:
LM has attended many births, though not as many as Doula #2, and has attended a wide-array of workshops. She spoke a lot about the mind-body connection and about ways to quiet anxieties and fears during the birth experience. During the course of our meeting with her, she provided us with a long list of books we can read for additional birth-related information, which indicated to me that she is very knowledgeable and has a large network of resources for her clients’ benefit. She led the conversation and was confident, but wasn’t as wordy as Doula #2. K and I were very impressed with LM’s knowledge about gender fluidity and her personal experiences with many transgender friends. She seems like she would be a tough advocate, if needed, and would provide a great level of support to us during the birth experience.

She is the crunchiest of all doulas we’ve interviewed so far. Honestly, after referencing that she has a friend named Moonbeam, I felt like she seemed a lot like the doula stereotype I had going into this process. She spoke a lot about the use of herbal supplements, which made me somewhat fearful that she could potentially assume what path we’d prefer in a given situation. Since I am already defensive about our plan to formula feed Falco, I was irritated that she mentioned that she could refer us to the local breast milk bank when I indicated that I did not wish to induce lactation to feed our baby.

Comfort: 4.5 stars
Experience: 4.5 stars
Inclusion of Partner: 5 stars
Personality: 4 stars

Doula Interview 2: MK

Today was a revolving door of doula interviewees and K and, inherently introverted, are exhausted. The interviews began at 8 a.m. with our most experienced doula candidate so far, MK.

In 2010, she began volunteering for Doulas Care, an agency that provides volunteer birth support doulas, and realized that it was her calling. She then went through DONA International training and, wanting to receive even more experience, went through Birth Arts International training. After that, she worked as a midwife’s assistant and doula, attending more than 23 home births. Since working more on her own, she has had 10 clients hire her to act as their birth doula, and will have attended even more births by the time our estimated due date rolls around.

Positive impressions:
MK’s array of birth experiences is extensive and impressive. K and I like that she, in addition to prenatal doula sessions with her clients, schedules additional time to gather with and intentionally bond with her clients, building a foundation of trust that will carry into what’s certain to be one of our most intimate life experiences. MK is clearly non-judgmental of any and all birth choices and life paths and is flexible in order to meet whatever our needs are or become. I believe she would be a strong advocate when she needs to be, a calming influence when it was necessary, and a wealth of knowledge when it was appropriate. She doesn’t seem “crunchy” at all, which makes me feel at ease. Also, her fees are reasonable and by “reasonable,” I mean that she is seriously undervaluing her expertise.

She was extraordinarily talkative. K and I have a small fear that this could potentially translate to hyperactivity during the birth experience.

Comfort: 4.5 stars
Experience: 5 stars
Inclusion of Partner: 4.75 stars
Personality: 4.25 stars

Doula Interview 1: BB

After all of the initial concerns about not being able to find a good doula, we ended up with a windfall and are now interviewing five this weekend. We just finished with our first doula interview, which we conducted at a local free trade cafe, and I’m feeling overly hyper from too much caffeine and sugar consumption.

Since this was our first doula meeting, we were a bit awkward in telling our “unique situation” story. Luckily, with one interview today, three tomorrow, and one Monday night, we have plenty of time to practice.

The doula we met with today has been a massage therapist since 2006 and a doula and mom since 2011. Her website, which is very empowering to parents-to-be, states:

“From my experience, I have learned that a woman’s recollection of her child’s birth leaves an impression on her heart, and a lasting impact on her very soul. For this reason, I offer my mind, heart, and my hands, for the well-being of the woman and her children. It is my hope that – no matter the circumstances – each woman and family will look back on their birth experience and see their own moments of strength, courage and joy.”

When I initially communicated with her, I let her know that we were looking for someone who was LGBT-friendly/knowledgeable. She was very up-front in having not had experience working with LGBT couples before, but she was literally the only doula I had contacted who did not assume that I was the pregnant parent-to-be, which told me a lot about her mentality and knowledge about queer folks.

Positive impressions:
BB is friendly, knowledgeable and confident. She seems very much like she would be an amazing advocate for parents-to-be before, during and after the birth experience. K and I both like her well-rounded set of skills and abilities, which include aromatherapy, reflexology, massage therapy (with expertise in fibromyalgia, a diagnosis I have had for the past six years), and is trained in spinning babies who may not be properly positioned. Her rates are reasonable, she’s willing to come to OB appointments, seems particularly body-positive, and she was an extensive network of resources, including acupuncturists who are knowledgeable in moxibustion, a technique that can successfully change the position of a breech baby. She also has a ton of experience with cloth diapering and would make a great resource to new parents who are interested in this diapering route.

BB seemed initially negative about our likely choice in hospitals. While she does seem skilled and knowledgeable, she has only attended six births. Her contract lists something about not attending any labor/birth that is induced or augmented by Cytotec (Misoprostol). If she ends up being among our top two doula candidates, we will need to ask her more about this restriction.

Comfort: 4.25 stars
Experience: 2.5 stars
Inclusion of Partner: 5 stars
Personality: 4.5 stars

I’m looking forward to sharing our experiences with you, dear readers, about the rest of the doula candidates!

9 weeks

Well, I’ve hit the 9 week mark!

Here’s an update about how I’m feeling:  I’m not feeling 100% like myself, but I know things could be much worse during the first trimester.

I get tired pretty quickly, even doing little things like walking the dog or doing dishes.

Certain smells make me gag (literally).  Mostly it’s just garlic and vinegar.  I felt really bad for the woman re-heating her garlicky pasta in the microwave today at work.  I was in the kitchen grabbing my lunch from the fridge and audibly heaved a little.  I hope I didn’t offend her—really it’s me and not your pasta.

The frequent urination has been getting a little better.  I’m only going to the bathroom 14 times a day instead of 20 (true story).  The commute is usually where I get in trouble.  It’s exactly an hour one way, and I usually pee once an hour.  I race into work and head right for the bathroom!  I’m really concerned about this winter though when the snow and rough conditions can make the commute even longer.  I hope this gets better or I’m going to have to get creative.

Finally, I have what I’ll call evening sickness.  Most other pregnant people feel better at night, but my nausea is worse between 5-8pm.  I never want to eat dinner.  This has been hard because C and I usually like to prepare and eat dinner together.  It makes me feel sad that we don’t do that much anymore.  I’m lucky if I can eat some crackers or soup or a smoothie or a Popsicle or something.  It’s not that I’m not eating….I’m eating more in the morning and afternoon when I feel better.  But, my major complaint thus far is missing eating and cooking dinner with my wife!

Here’s an update about what’s coming up next week: Next week is a big and busy week full of doctors’ appointments.

On Monday I’m headed to the Endocrinologist to see how my thyroid is doing while pregnant.  While we were trying to conceive, I was diagnosed with Hashimotos.  From what I understand I’ll go to this endo once a month to get my levels checked to make sure I’m on the right does of Synthroid throughout the pregnancy.

Wednesday, we have our second ultrasound with the RE’s office.  If all goes well this will be our final interaction with them, and we will officially “graduate” to our next care provider (OB).

Friday morning is our first OB appointment with Dr. K.  I’m nervous and excited.  I feel so comfortable at the RE’s office and now we have to get comfy at the new place.  I’ve had good experience receiving gyno care there as a transman, however pregnancy will likely be a challenge to their staff.  All the providers at the office I spoke with said they were 100% supportive, let’s just hope they act on their words.

Sh*t my pregnant husband says

Since this is a semi-anonymous blog and K is far too busy with work and growing a human in his belleh to post very frequently, you likely aren’t aware that his charm and humor comes mostly when he isn’t trying to be humorous or charming. He gets a lot of zingers out when he’s just… talking.

He is constantly rolling his eyes at me lately because I am so obsessed with the tiny, adorable outfits at Old Navy or, worse yet, Zulily. I’ve been trying to restrain myself and not purchase things that aren’t total necessities at this point, but it’s been very difficult. The other day, while chatting with him about the must-have brown and cream striped hoodies I saw online, K said the following:

“Just to spite all your adorable clothing purchases, our child is going to be a nudist.”

It’s likely true. As a small child, K would hide under tables at weddings and emerge naked. I’m sure it’s because he didn’t want to wear those frilly dresses his mom forced him to parade around in, but hey. Being a future nudist is technically in Falco’s DNA.

Later that evening, when discussing all of the work I had done to set up interviews with doula candidates (more on that in a future post, k?), I mentioned to him that some of the women provide placenta encapsulation as an additional service. For those who aren’t aware, placenta encapsulation involves the processing of one’s placenta into capsules that you can take. The theory behind consuming one’s placenta is that it:

  • Contains lots of nutrients and hormones
  • Can help to balance your hormones and eliminate postpartum depression
  • Can increase energy
  • Can reduce your postpartum healing time
  • Can increase your milk supply
  • Can reduce symptoms at menopause

As I droned on and on about placenta encapsulation, I glanced over at K, who was growing greener by the second. He said:

“Hon, can we please wait until after my first trimester to talk about placenta encapsulation?”

The poor guy was going to barf. I quickly dropped it.

It’s gems like this, dear readers, that brighten my life. In what ways do your partners unintentionally bring you joy?