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!

37 Weeks

I keep meaning to write a post but I feel like all I would be doing would be complaining about being 9 months pregnant.  I’ve felt pretty upbeat and positive most of this pregnancy, but these past two week has really knocked me on my ass.  I keep thinking that I have 24 days until the due date, and as you’ve probably read from C’s previous posts,the doc thinks Falco may be coming earlier.  Here’s a little update from the preggo.

Hard things:

I’ve been so sick these past weeks, probably sicker than I have been in years.  I think the most stressful part was the constant intense coughing which gave me days worth of braxton hicks contractions and kept making me barf and pee myself.  😦

I’m tired as hell.  Walking to my carpool at the end of my workday I feel so weary.  I walk soooo slowly. And I feel HUGE.  It’s seriously getting hard to get comfortable driving (sleeping, sitting, etc.)  Plus I wake up every 45 minutes to pee all night long.  Really….it is that often; I check the time!

I am feeling a ton of early, early labor symptoms this week (cramping, bad lower back pain, extreme pressure (it really feels like I am walking around trying to hold a bowling ball between my legs) lightening/baby dropping, crazy bowel movements, an increase in cervical mucus).  All this stuff is a bit overwhelming emotionally.  I’m trying to just make a note of what is happening, and not pay too much attention to anything or read too much into anything.  Easier said than done!

I have absolutely ZERO desire to wear clothes.  I’ve been sleeping naked and am hardly dressed when I’m around the house.  I no longer give a shit what I look like or wear to work.  Some of my man-ternity pants don’t even fit me anymore, and I don’t even care.  I just cycle through the same 3 or 4 outfits and think to myself, at least I’m still working.

Good things:

The nursery is done!  It’s so cute and cheery and makes me happy every time I pop my head in the room.

Our bags are packed, and virtually everything left on our to-do list is crossed off.  C and I both busted our butts this weekend.

I have finally finished my contingency plan for my leave after Falco is born–A detailed 5 page document outlining the status of all the projects I oversee, coverage plans, and alternate contact info, etc.  I have a draft of my work email away message ready to go!  This makes me feel so much better.  As much as I want to spend a ton of time home after the birth it’s going to be really stressful for me to be away from work.  I really love and enjoy what I do and it is going to drive me a little nuts to feel disconnected from the studies I manage and work on.

I’m 3 centimeters dilated and 80% effaced at about 37 weeks.  This means nothing EXCEPT it makes me feel like SOMETHING is happening.  My body is getting ready and sooner or later we will meet this little one.


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.

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