Yesterday, at 5 o’clock, we had our “end of first trimester” doctor’s appointment. They did the usual weight and blood pressure routine, then did a rudimetary physical exam, and then it was time for the ultrasound. For the first time, they were able to do the ultrasound through the belly (which is overall a much preferable experience to the other sort of ultrasound).
Almost immediately I could tell there was something there, but I couldn’t figure out what I was looking at. Then I realized I was looking at the negative space around the baby (the doctor was zoomed in quite a bit). Once I oriented my eyes, I realized… holy heck, there was a baby in there.
“Wow, we’re really wigglin’ around in there!” said the doctor as he tried to get an angle on the picture. Every time the baby would come into focus
I’m not sure there are even words for it. Astonishing. Surreal. Miraculous. Inside me, inside this extra inch or two of belly that looks for all the world like an overindulgence in pizza, there is a 6.54 cm gymnast flailing and somersaulting like crazy. How is that even possible?, it would squirm and flip away.
Baby (who is now going by Kermie Batman instead of Tecumseh Batman, because s/he did this) seemed to be having fun, but I wonder if it was actually protesting the pressure from the ultrasound probe, or maybe even the sound waves.
Through persistence and luck and lots of fruitless attempts, the doctor finally got a fairly clear picture:
Baby is lying on his/her back. That’s the head to the right, with a big round belly, and you can sort of make out the legs to the left. Not sure where the arms have gone in this picture (thinking that might be the left arm lying on the belly? the slightly whiter stripe with a vaguely hand-shaped bit at the top?) and Kermie’s in the process of turning away from the probe, so no facial features to speak of. I do think, at one point, we caught an extremely fleeting glimpse of a nose. Definitely saw the arms (see link above) as well as tiny kicking feet.
Kermie is 6.54 cm long; heartbeat is 160 bpm. Everything is as it should be. I am officially ending my first trimester (earlier announcement was premature, thanks to an iPhone app that can’t do math and my stupidity in trusting it) at which point miscarriage risk decreases to about 2%. (Which, of course, is not to say that my brain hasn’t immediately returned to the queue to find out what’s next to worry about.)
Clearing My Mind
Afterward, we spoke to the doctor about some things that were on our mind. For one thing, I asked about my test results; all is normal and lovely, and he was able to confirm that I am in fact 100% immune to the chicken pox virus. (This probably means that my sister is as well, which is cool.)
Then I was able to talk to him about my lingering concerns from my conversation with his nurse. I told him that she had some very strong opinions about labor and delivery, and that I was wondering if he shared those opinions, because I wanted to make sure that we were a good patient-doctor match for each other.
He asked me to describe my ideal experience, so I said, “I’d like for this to be as natural as possible. I know that flexibility is important, and that there’s no way to predict what my labor will be like, or how long it will take, or if there will be complications. But assuming that all is going normally, I don’t want an epidural. I tend to react badly to medication, my mother and her mother had very quick labors, and honestly, I want to try to do this on my own. I think I can do this.”
He smiled and replied, “That is exactly in line with what I believe.” Then he told me that he was very supportive of women having the birth experiences that they wanted. In particular, he said that he was committed to not rushing deliveries in first pregnancies — that a woman’s body needs to make its own schedule in terms of all of the stretching and rearranging that is necessary to deliver, and that he didn’t believe in manipulating that process unless absolutely necessary.
He explained the two kinds of pain relief offered in labor, the benefits and drawbacks of each (and was honest about the fact that while a “perfect epidural” was great, that the vast majority were not perfect and could cause temporary paralysis, inadequate pain management, headaches, etc.) and then told me that the absolutely only reason that he would come to me and suggest that I try pain medication, is if there was something going on or about to happen that he knew, medically, my body wasn’t equipped to deal with. He talked about how if a laboring woman gets too tense with the pain, that it can cause damage and distress, and that it was important for me to become good at the breathing and other alternate relaxation techniques so that I could manage that. He described the birthing suites at St. Lukes to me: jacuzzi tubs, birthing balls, and beds that “rearrange themselves like Transformers so that you can labor however is comfortable for you.” (And come on; how can you not like a doctor who describes hospital beds as Transformers?)
He also talked about his viewpoint on episiotomy, which made perfect sense to me (he does not consider them routine, and avoids them whenever possible, but when it’s a matter of a clean cut or a devastating tear that is almost impossible to piece back together, he does them). He talked about monitoring, and how the minimum amount of monitoring (occasional external checks for heartrate) is almost always just fine in a natural, normally-progressing, pitocin-free labor. I asked him about pitocin and when he believed that it should be used. He said that he only used pitocin in two cases: when there is a medically urgent reason to induce labor (like maternal/fetal distress), or when a woman’s body wasn’t contracting enough (in terms of frequency or strength) to deliver. He was very clear that pitocin use was not routine.
I’d read that in some hospital maternity wards, women weren’t allowed to have anything to drink or eat throughout the labor. I asked about that, and he said that clear liquids were fine — even encouraged — and explained that food was discouraged because, in his words, “We almost always see it again.” I’m relieved to hear that I wouldn’t be forbidden from having a glass of water!
My favorite thing he said was about nurses. “When you check in for your delivery, tell them you want a natural birth and ask them for a nurse who is passionate about natural birth. There will be nurses like that on every shift, and they will be able to coach and support you.” I don’t think he actually said the words doula or midwife, but as he went on he was talking about nurses who have the midwife/doula mentality and who are committed to helping women labor and deliver naturally.
The only thing he said that I didn’t like at all was that he said that I would have an IV — not with anything going into it, just ready to go in case, because if the baby started having distress they wouldn’t want to have to take 5-6 minutes with a struggling mom trying to get an IV in. I completely see the logic of it, but I hate having a needle sit inside me for an extended period of time. :Shudder: Funny thing about it is, I was whining about the IV on the way home, and R — who is far more needlephobic than I am — firmly agreed with the doctor. Okay already! 🙂
Anyway, I was really happy with all of his answers. I mean, I’m not going to be the woman lying there insisting on absolute adherence to a birth plan in the face of possible harm to self or child. I know what I’d like, ideally, but the #1 thing I want is to have a healthy baby and to be healthy myself afterward. I’m glad that the doctor wants to work with me on that, and that I don’t have to go find someone else.
In the Meantime
Meanwhile, Kermie and the accompanying flood of progesterone in my system are giving me the absolute worst heartburn/indigestion I have ever had, screwing with my appetite, and making my mouth taste like lemons or sour milk all the time. R and I are going to “go public” soon (at which point these protected posts will be un-passworded, at least for the most part)… I was “rarring to go” with that up until we actually had the go-ahead, at which point I suddenly found myself balking. I think part of me dreads the attention…
Another thing. Been reading some things that remind me that I’m probably boring all of my friends to death with all of this baby talk (and of course, that only gets worse once it’s all of my friends and not just this inner circle who already knew I was pregnant). I’m turning into the classic narcissistic pregnancy/mommy blogger, aren’t I? The thing is, I’ve never really blogged for others — I write for myself — and this ability to write down what I’m thinking and experiencing has been so helpful to me. Basically, I guess, this is my “pregnancy journal,” only I’m sticking it out there where the world can see it. But maybe I should stick it on another blog or something? Somewhere where those who aren’t interested can ignore it? I dunno. I mean, honestly, this is the biggest thing in my life and I don’t see myself writing about much else for a while… and it’s been nice to have DYHJ in action again. If you have an opinion, let me know…
And… in case you were wondering, Kermit is an Irish/Gaelic name meaning “without envy” — kind of funny, given that the most famous Kermit is green. 🙂