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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.

75% Cooked

As of this week, K is 30 weeks pregnant and we officially have about 10 weeks left to go. It amazes me when I think of how far we’ve come. At this point, I feel like the majority of our large preparations have already occurred.

Our choice of cribs kept being reduced in price at every vendor we visited, but because we thought one of our family members, or even a group, might consider purchasing it from our registry, we kept putting it off… until it was even more greatly reduced on Zulily. We took it as a sign and snatched it right up! The crib arrived on Friday and I assembled it late last night while K and the dogs slumbered together on the couch. My parents purchased the crib mattress from our registry, and it should arrive next week. I can’t wait to post photos of the nursery, which should be completed soon!

The invitations to our family shower are officially in the mail, albeit wayyyyyy later than what makes me feel comfortable (or, notably, than what is considered polite to guests), but hey, I’m not planning it. My teammates at work indicated their desire to throw me a work shower, so now I am attending a total of four baby showers in seven days:

  • 3/10 – our friends shower
  • 3/15 – my work shower
  • 3/16 – our family shower
  • 3/17 – attending the shower of some friends
  • 3/18 – taking a random day off work to recuperate from the whirlwind

It has taken forever and a day, but Lowe’s is delivering the new washing machine today. I’m really thankful for this fact, as hauling a week’s worth of laundry to a laundromat is getting exhausting. I intentionally did it alone this week, too, because K’s getting more tired now that our little Falco is getting larger and putting a lot more pressure on K’s back. I have to wait until at least Monday for the rental agency to send someone to actually install it (NO clue why Lowe’s doesn’t install it), but the end is in sight!

So many things on the horizon: the showers, another OB appointment, a meeting with the doula, and further Falco preparations. I am looking forward to documenting it all for you all!

Quick update

Because we have been delinquent bloggers and I know some of our friends read our posts in order to keep up-to-speed in our progress, I wanted to be certain to post a brief update about some of the Falco-related happenings as of late. I wish I had time these days to be more thorough about it, but we’re starting the busy season at work and I’m swamped! In no particular order:

  • K told his favorite aunt and his bosses. He’s under strict instructions to write an in-depth report about these happenings very soon!
  • We had this month’s OB appointment on Tuesday and got to hear Falco’s heartbeat again. It was the first time we’ve been able to hear it via external doppler. It was 166 bpm, which is the high-end of normal. Judging by the old wives’ tale, all of our measured heartbeats would indicate that we’re having a girl, but time will tell.
  • After much pouting and wrangling, we scheduled our anatomy scan for the first possible day we can have it: Friday, November 23rd, otherwise known as my favorite holiday: Black Friday. If s/he complies, we’re going to hopefully find out Falco’s sex that morning before heading to visit my parents for the weekend.
  • The interview with the potential child care provider went really well and I’m a lot more comfortable with them than I thought I would be. The prayers that they do before meals do not mention any deity and are much more gratitude-based than anything. Also, the Bible stories constitute less than 10 minutes of each preschooler’s day there, and are more like life lessons about helping others (i.e. The Good Samaritan).
  • We recently received a reasonable quote from a painter to paint our living room and nursery. K and I know what colors we want, but are going to pick out some specifics this weekend.
  • We have another meeting with our doula next weekend to start to talk more about birth planning, among other things. It’s all starting to become so real!

That’s all for now, friends. Things are going well in our gestational world!

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!

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.

Concerns:
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.

Concerns:
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.

Concerns:
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