I’m pretty sure I’m writing this on the first day of my 25th week, actually, but better late than never.
We usually take a pregnancy photo on Saturdays before childbirth education, but this week we did not, because my mother and I went on a whirlwind road trip to Iowa. We left Friday evening, arrived in Iowa Saturday morning, slept for four hours, went to my great aunt’s 80th birthday party, went to my grandma’s house for dinner, slept 8 hours, then left Iowa on Sunday morning to arrive home in Denver around 7:30. Apparently I slept like a rock Sunday night. Jeremy had a good laugh.
It was the first weekend Jeremy and I have spent apart since getting married, and I was surprised at how much I missed him. I’ve always found it kind of silly when women can’t be away from their partners for any short period of time, but now it seems like I’m experiencing it from their side. I remember mocking an Oregon National Guard Soldier during an AT mission to Japan (Japan of all places!! How cool is that?) when all she could talk about was how much she missed her boyfriend and therefore hated being in Japan. I remember being disgusted with how she could not appreciate a free two week trip to Japan, which involved minimal work, to boot, because she was so obsessed with some loser guy (I don’t know that he was a loser, but at that point in my life I kind of assumed all boyfriends were). Now here I was feeling all these feelings of longing for my husband before we were even apart 24 hours. Strange how things you say when you’re 22 years old have a way of coming back to haunt you.
To make matters worse, the town in which we stayed was a little, tiny, farming community in which we could get no signal at all, so there was no way to contact Jeremy to remind him that I love him and was thinking about him. I used my grandma’s husband’s phone to call him once to make sure he knew we got there safely, but other than that it was a no contact weekend.
Despite this, I can honestly say I had a good (albeit short) time in Iowa, so I guess I still have a leg up on the woman who hated her all expenses paid trip to Japan. It was so nice to see my sister and niece, and it was nice to meet the friend my sister brought along for driving companionship. I loved seeing my Grammy and watching Elijah and my niece play together (most of their games centered around killing zombies). Elijah had been holding this grudge against my niece since he last saw her at my wedding, when she had insisted upon repeatedly dumping out his bucket of chalk. If ever there was a kid who can hold a stupid grudge for 8 months, it is Elijah, and the whole trip out there he insisted that he would not speak to Cate unless she apologized for dumping out the chalk. I was worried he would continue to be a jerk about this chalk dumping incident the whole weekend, but he quickly forgot about it when he saw her, thank God.
At the birthday party which was the whole reason we made the trip my mom decided it was a good time to brag to her cousins that she hadn’t seen in 30 years that I am planning a home birth. It was interesting to see how quickly my positive account of unmedicated childbirth gets shot down by those who had other experiences. I may want to talk about it in detail, but no one seems to want to hear anything beyond the statement “I had an unmedicated childbirth.” Making that introduction is always followed up by being cut off by every woman in the vicinity telling graphic accounts of their highly medicalized birth, and how they really needed this or that intervention because it was life or death (never mind the fact that life or death stuff only happens to about 10% of the women in every other developed country, apparently here in the US somewhere around 90% of the women experience some kind of life or death emergency during the majority of their births), or simply that they don’t know why any woman would put themselves through that (meaning feeling your contractions), here’s 50 reasons why my epidural was SOOOOO awesome. It’s not really that I had a strong desire to brag about my birth to all these relatives that I don’t even know, in fact, I would have been just as happy if my mother had not brought it up at all (people react strongly enough when I tell them that I have no intention of finding out the sex of my baby), but if it’s going to be brought up, I’d like to at least tell my full story before you cut me off with accusations of how brave (which we all know good and well is code for crazy) you think I am and then not allow me to say anything else, instead seeking validation of your completely opposite birth story from me. What do you want me to say? That I am some freakish anomaly that was only able to accomplish what I did because I am lucky or crazy or some combination of the two, and that sort of thing is really rare so don’t feel bad that you didn’t get it? No. I’m sorry, I’m just not going to say that. The vast majority of women can have a birth experience exactly like mine if they want it. The research is pretty clear on that. My birth experience was normal. It is what the vast majority of women will experience if she just lets her body do what it trying to do. Only about 10% of women will find that if she doesn’t mess with the process her birth will turn out differently than mine did. And finding that during one birth does not necessarily mean that you will find it again at any subsequent births.
I will not tell you not to feel bad that you couldn’t accomplish the same kind of birth that I had, because chances are you could have. But I will tell you this; do not feel bad if you didn’t want to accomplish the same kind of birth that I did. You don’t have to have an unmedicated birth if you don’t want to. If you don’t feel empowerment at having accomplished something physically hard that’s okay. You will (I hope) find your empowerment elsewhere, and that empowerment is just as valuable as mine, even if it was achieved by a different method. I hope that you will do your research to figure out which pain management technique is right for you, and how to use it in the safest manner. I hope that you will research the risks and benefits of EVERY SINGLE INTERVENTION that you could face, and learn which ones to turn down in which situations, and how to go about avoiding them if you can. I hope that you will strive for the healthiest, most pleasant birth experience that is possible for you, as an individual, and not push yourself into anyone else’s mold of what a perfect birth should look like, not mine, and certainly not the conventional medical establishment. I hope that you make your own informed decisions during your birth, and don’t hand your power over to someone who doesn’t know or care about you nearly as much as you do (or you should). But if you want an epidural, and you know and are comfortable with the risks, go for it. I just want that to be your choice.
All of this talk, and I haven’t really even mentioned my pregnancy, which this post is supposed to be about. Well, there’s not much in the way of exciting development, I’m afraid. You notice more and more the second time around that pregnancy is actually kind of boring. Yeah, I know, it’s a miracle and all, and it is wonderful feeling the baby move and stuff, but there’s really only so much to report. The baby’s movement is getting more and more strong. Jeremy felt it on Thursday. He was excited. I think he will be able to better feel it in the coming weeks. At 24 weeks, the baby is now viable, meaning if it were born now, it has a chance of surviving. Naturally, I prefer that it stays in there another 16 weeks, give or take two weeks on either side, because premature birth often leads to long term medical problems and not all babies survive it, but it’s still a big milestone.
This morning I noticed something kind of silly that is really the largest visual proof I’ve had that I’m not just getting fat. Normally when I look down at my belly while laying in bed, I see something that looks like this
That’s my boobs with my belly – complete with belly button (I tried drawing nipples on the boobs to make them more obvious, but I’m a crappy artist and apparently can’t draw a decent looking nipple) – rising up behind them pretty much dead center. It looks like a normal distribution of a bell curve, for those of you who have taken stats. A symmetric hill of uterus.
This morning, however, my belly looked like this
A much more skewed distribution, with my belly making a pronounced lean to the right.
I touched my hand to the left side, where baby had apparently decided to abandon my uterus. The baby kicked where my hand was, causing the empty side of my uterus to bulge out then sink back in for a minute. That’s where baby’s feet were
I decided the baby was in a transverse position, not an issue at this point in the pregnancy, but interesting to feel none the less. With Elijah, I could never tell a head from a butt, but this time I felt pretty confident in my palpating. I hugged my belly, and it moved back to the center. Crazy baby.
I don’t know how big baby is. Baby center gives me ridiculous fruit to compare it to. I remember one week they compared it to an heirloom tomato. Yeah, because all heirloom tomatoes are the same size, and that size is different than every kind of hybrid tomato. Or how about when they said it was the size of a kumquat? I can’t remember the last time I saw kumquats in the grocery store, and I’m willing to bet most Americans have no idea what a kumquat even is. Why don’t they compare it to a food Americans might actually recognize, like a large grape?
In other news, my appetite has increased significantly, I’m peeing a lot more, and I’m craving eggs, cheese, and tomatoes. In fact, I believe I will have all three for lunch.