Protected: Hole in My Head

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The Best Laid Plans

After hanging out in a hospital room for a very uneventful 24 hours in order to collect his pee, it has been determined that K has pre-eclampsia. Neither he nor the baby are in immediate danger, but doctors rightfully take this stuff pretty darn seriously and K is being induced.

We were transferred over to a less glamorous labor and delivery room, where even less glamorous things occurred to K’s body. He was given magnesium to try to relax his body, as well as meds to ripen his cervix. Early in the morning, he’ll begin pitocin. The magnesium gave him the world’s worst hot flashes and he projectile vomited. The nurse was eventually able to reduce his dose of magnesium and K now feels a lot better.

Since K was already somewhat dilated and effaced, the nurse thinks we will likely be hugging our sweet Falco sometime in the next 24 hours!

Since I won’t be able to personally reply to your well-wishes and words of encouragement, I want to say in advance just how much we appreciate them. I’ll be sure to post photos as soon as I’m able!

Our Birth Plan

I originally password protected this post because there are family members who now have access to this blog and we were waiting until the birth of our child to announce his sex… which is male. Yes, readers – you now know that we’re having an amazing, deliciously imperfect little boy, whom we plan to encourage to express his gender however he wishes/decides. This post, which contains the finalized version of our birth plan, specifically mentions Falco’s sex.

Our Birth Hopes

Gestational Parent/Father-to-be: K
Non-Gestational Mother-to-be: C
Doula: Marie
Location: Our Hospital Birthing Suite

Hi there and thank you for your care and expertise during this exciting moment in our growing family! We’re K and C and this is our first baby. We appreciate you taking the time to learn about us and our birth preferences.

It is really important to us that you know that K, who is delivering our child, identifies as a man, uses male pronouns such as he/him, and will be our child’s father. We’d like you to also be aware that C is our baby’s mother. While we know that mistakes and confusion can occur, we hope that you will do your very best to refer to us using these terms.

Birth preferences:
We know that labor and delivery are unpredictable. Ultimately, we want the health of K and our baby to take precedence. Whenever possible in non-emergent situations, we’d like to discuss all procedures, including their risks and benefits, before they take place.

Labor:

  • We would like only necessary people in the room during labor and delivery. This includes C, our doula, a nurse, and our doctor.
  • K wishes to be able to move freely in order to naturally manage his pain. To this end, he would like a port to be inserted upon our admission, and for an IV to be used only if it is determined to be necessary. He would also like intermittent monitoring instead of constant monitoring techniques, when at all possible.
  • K wishes to be able to utilize natural comfort measures, including but not limited to the use of a shower or tub, changing positions, and the ability to walk to stimulate/progress labor.
  • We are aware of the availability of pain-relieving medication, and will request it if the father feels it is necessary. Please do not offer pain medication.

Delivery:

  • K would like to be able to push as he feels naturally compelled to do so (i.e. spontaneous/patient-directed pushing style). Please do not direct his pushing by counting.
  • We would like the ability to try different pushing positions, including but not limited to squatting, hands and knees, and toilet sitting. Please do not limit K to birthing our baby while he is on his back.

Cesarean Section:

  • We wish for both C and our doula to be present if a cesarean section is necessary.
  • So that we feel involved in the process, we would like for the doctor or nurse to describe what is taking place during the cesarean section.
  • While K is recovering from the cesarean section, our infant should remain with C, unless he is experiencing a medical emergency that requires immediate medical care.

Newborn care:

  • Cord cutting: We wish to allow our child to continue to be attached to the umbilical cord until it has stopped pulsing. At that time, C would like to cut the cord.
  • Temperature regulation: We wish for our child to be placed, skin-to-skin, with C or K, immediately after birth.
  • Eye treatment: We wish to forgo the antibiotic ointment in our child’s eyes.
  • Rooming in: We wish for our child to remain in our room at all times, unless he is experiencing a medical emergency that requires immediate medical care.
  • Circumcision: We do not want our child to be circumcised.
  • Feeding: We are unable to breastfeed our child and would like to use bottled formula.
  • Bathing: Due to a risk of severe maternal allergy, please do not bathe our infant with any product other than what we have provided.

Hot Date: Packing our Bags

We had our weekly OB appointment this afternoon and, despite my continued insistence that the end is coming soon, it took the frank delivery of information at today’s appointment to really shake K out of denial. The doctor confirmed that Falco has descended and informed us that K is 3 centimeters dilated and 80% effaced. Sources on the internet are unsurprisingly conflicted about the value of this information, saying that a pregnant person could be dilated and significantly effaced for weeks, or conversely, that this could indicate quickly impending labor. Our doctor seems to fall on the side of the latter, lecturing us because we still hadn’t packed our bags (“Hey, we made a list!”), and saying that it was highly unlikely that we will make it to our due date of April 26th and could even be unlikely that we’ll make it to next week’s scheduled appointment with her.

We’re feeling quite the range of emotions. K had a massive hot flash after we left the office and also felt pretty teary. I felt slight panic but also felt vindicated. I’ve been trying to convince K that, at the end of this week, Falco will be considered full term, and that labor and delivery could really occur at any time. Two things are certain: this baby will come when this baby is ready and, within the next few weeks, we’ll be parents.

Needless to say, our hot Friday night date consists of packing our bags (and, of course, updating this blog). Fingers crossed for an April Fool’s baby, y’all!

An open letter to my baby at 33.5 weeks

Dear Falco,

Lately, you’ve been doing the weirdest things and have caused us a lot of laughter, head-scratching and slight concern. I’m writing to ask that you please stop torturing your Papa.

We’ve discovered lately that the consumption of sugar – and we’ve been consuming a LOT of it with the baby shower bonanza – really makes you hyper. When Daddy has a piece of cake or a delectable brownie, you pretend that you’re Michael Flatley a la Riverdance. I sure hope you don’t expect this trend to continue when you’re out of Papa’s belly, because we’re going to be “those parents” who make sure you’re consuming very balanced meals.

You hate when your Dad places things on your belly, and I understand your need for space, but it’s not very nice to kick the TV remote or laptop off of your Daddy’s tummy. We need to watch as much crappy reality television as we can before you make an appearance, when we’ll be too sleep deprived to do much beyond feeding you and changing and washing your diapers.

You’re getting SO BIG and the exertion from carrying you around in his belly is exhausting your poor Papa. A few nights ago, because space has been so cramped in your Dad’s belly with you taking up so much real estate, Daddy went directly from a loud snore, into a Homer Simpsonesque belch, and back into a snore. It was equal parts gross and hilarious. I’m not sure about the exact physiological reasons for this phenomenon, but I am certain that it’s somehow your fault.

Since you’ve been head down for weeks, your Dad and I had assumed you’d likely stay that way for the next few weeks until you’ve made your debut. Always one to keep your parents on their toes, you decided to make the most epic flip of all last night and are now wedged horizontally in your Papa’s abdomen. We know that there’s still plenty of time for you to get back into the appropriate position, but you must realize that your parents have the tendency to be anxious, especially as it relates to your wellbeing. As such, we’ve spent a lot of time researching ways to get you back into position. Please make it easy on us and put your big melon back down where it was before. You’re making your Dad’s bump a little lumpy, and that’s never a good look.

Even though you’ve caused a lot anxiety and comical moments lately, I sure can’t wait to meet you, snuggle you and sing you lullabies. You are already my favorite tiny human, even though you’re still a stranger.

Love,
Mommy

P.S. Cut it out.

Bored at the OB office

After a long day of work, K and I hustled over to the OB’s office for the first of our every 2 weeks appointments. We arrived a little bit early, which is fairly typical for us, and they’re usually able to get us in a few minutes early. It was clear from the moment we arrived that they were running a bit behind. After twenty minutes of waiting in the lobby, we realized that we were the absolute last appointment of the day.

We were finally whisked in by one of the nurses for a weight check, blood pressure reading (only slightly above normal – woohoo!), and a quick listen via doppler to Falco’s 130 bpm heartbeat. Then, we were dumped into the likely worst exam room of the entire office, where we continued our wait. The nurse warned us that they were running slightly behind and apologized in advance.

At that point, I was getting pretty tired, which translated into zany behavior in an attempt to stay awake. I did some nutty dances to the easy listening music playing overhead before discovering the training model of Mirena. The insert-the-Mirena game thankfully kept me occupied for a few minutes. K was amused but mildly horrified by my antics.

Go fish!

The doctor finally arrived and apologized for the wait. K inquired about the upper abdominal pain he’s been experiencing lately and the doctor thinks that it’s uterine pain from being repeatedly kicked and punched in the same area by our soon-to-be not-so-Little, who will apparently be gaining about half a pound each week for the remainder of the time inside her/his papa.

From here on out, we’ll be back on weeks 32, 34, 36, 37, 38, 39, and 40, depending on when Falco decides to make an appearance. The doctor said that she prefers to induce at week 41 if the baby doesn’t make a move on her/his own. At our next appointment, we’re going to meet the other doc in her practice, just in case. Fingers crossed that our actual OB is there on the big day(s), though, because I can’t imagine doing this without her endearing social awkwardness and teasing.

Birth classes and baby shower

This weekend will bring the first of our two highly condensed childbirth education courses. Our initial plan of doing an independent study followed by a private in-person birth class just depressed us and made us feel robbed of what can be an exciting milestone in pregnancy. When a really rad local queer couple, who happened to conceive the very same week we did, approached us about finding a class to attend together, we jumped at the opportunity to change our plans.

We opted for courses that were being offered at a crunchy center that educates a lot of doulas in our area. We’re all fairly busy folks, and the course is held about an hour away, so the several weeks of evening courses wasn’t ideal for any of us. The condensed series doesn’t cover a lot of information about medical interventions or navigating the health system, but all four of us are rather savvy when it comes to researching health options and advocating in medical settings.

We received a reminder email with the course booklet over the weekend. My first impression is that it appears to be a summary of all of the information found in Penny Simkin’s The Birth Partner, which is pretty much my favorite birth resource right now. The only thing missing are the more medicalized elements, including possible interventions complications, and considerations, which seems to be in line with the description of the condensed course’s syllabus. The class isn’t perfect, but it should provide us with a great foundation of skills for the birth experience.

In other, perhaps more exciting news, there’s been some very recent momentum on our baby shower. After some hiccups, waffling and some fairly intense and annoying gate keeping on behalf of K’s mother, there’s a plan: it’s going to be held on Saturday, March 16th (time still TBD) at K’s aunt’s house. His aunt is moving full-steam ahead with the planning, investigating food and invitation options, and this is a major relief for me. K’s family isn’t exactly known for their proactive approaches on pretty much anything, so all of the hesitations were giving me major agita. I was actually starting to doubt that it would ever happen and it made us both sad.

First OB appointment

Well, we survived our first OB visit and left feeling pretty good.  When we arrived, I wasn’t in the best mood since we both have pretty terrible colds (wife is almost over hers).  Also, it always feels slightly uncomfortable to hang out in the waiting room and have people stare and wonder why they’re calling me (the guy) as the patient and not my wife.

After they took my vitals, we were given a large purple bag full of informational brochures and samples including this lovely gem featuring a pregnant person who is wearing a checkered tablecloth:

This is what a pregnant person looks like, right?

The first visit is usually just with a nurse practitioner, and I was very excited to have C meet the NP I’ve been working with for the past 4-5 years.  She went over the usual pregnancy do’s and don’t’s, discussed early screening options, cord banking, nutrition, exercise, and expectations around pregnancy weight gain.  I’m sure I’ll write another post in the near future about size and body image, etc.  I did briefly mention some of my history with disordered eating and large amounts of weight loss and gain. I did so mostly just to get it on the table and to mention to her that restriction is stressful and my focus during pregnancy was eating a balanced, healthy diet.

Aside from her being a LOUDER talker than I remember, both C and I were pleased with the conversation.  While we aren’t supposed to see our OB until our next monthly visit, I asked if we could say hello and ask a few quick questions.  I had originally met Dr. K years ago at a previous job where part of my responsibilities included maintaining a list of LGBT friendly health care providers.  I haven’t seen her for a few years but when she popped in our room she was just as I remembered.  Dr. K is what C would call a “soft butch”.  She’s in her late 40’s, glasses, shortish spiky hair, and was wearing *pleated* plaid dress pants and a white turtleneck with penguins on the collar.  Yes, penguins.

We had a friendly, quick conversation where I awkwardly asked her if the NP had talked to her about me (translation: “You know I’m a pregnant dude, right?”), if doulas were okay with her, and how supportive she was of our more natural birth plan. Turns out her answers were yes, yes, and YES, which was a huge relief.

Although our interaction was brief, we both feel really good about her warmth, sense of humor, and nerdy yet unpretentious personality.

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!

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.

Concerns:
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!