My Birth Wish List

This would have been much more annoying than it is, but I am trying to stay open and not try to control what is beyond my control. That’s why I don’t call it a “birth plan.” (Who really thinks they can “plan” for this?) But I did make a Wish List so that, even if we don’t follow it to the letter, my caregivers can at least understand who I am: a literate hippie who has done extensive research and knows that I don’t have to do anything just for convenience, even if I’m having twins.

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I am SO grateful to be delivering with the world-renowned UCLA team! I have had a very active, mindful, meditative pregnancy, and would love for the birth of the twins to be an extension of that. After nine months of research, thought, and discussion, I’d like to share my goals for labor and delivery. I understand that these are wishes and not guarantees, but I trust my birth team to help me achieve the most peaceful, natural birth possible, and for this I thank you in advance!

General Requests:

  • If induction is deemed necessary, I request that the pitocin be administered following the “low dose” protocol and increased in intervals spaced out enough to allow my body an appropriate amount of time to adjust and react to each dose increase.
  • I would like to decline routine IV prep upon admission.
  • If it is necessary to move to the OR for the “pushing” phase, I request that the staff does everything in its power to retain the calm atmosphere from the labor room to make sure this transition is minimally stressful or scary.

During Labor and Delivery, Here are my requests:

  • A relatively quiet atmosphere with dim lighting and only the presence of necessary medical staff, my husband, and doula.
  • Ability to walk, move around, and use shower, wear my own gown, and play soft music
  • Only necessary staff present.
  • To drink and, if needed, eat lightly
  • To have only intermittent fetal monitoring, unless for a medical emergency
  • Not to be pressured into an epidural if I don’t want it.
  • To be fully apprised and consulted before any medical procedure
  • To labor in positions of my choosing. (No stirrups, please!)
  • No Episiotomy unless dire emergency.
  • Cord to be allowed to finish pulsating before it is clamped
  • To have skin-to-skin contact immediately after Twin A is born, then to wait for contractions to restart naturally for Twin B. When these begin I’d like my husband to hold Twin A for skin-to-skin contact.
  • Allow placentas to exit body naturally, and take placentas home (will sign waiver)

For Babies, I request:

  • Babies to stay with mother at all times
  • No bottles: breastfeeding only
  • Delayed bath so vernix might be absorbed, bathe with pure water only (no soap)
  • Delayed Eye Ointment and Vitamin K until babies have had ample skin-to-skin time

If Cesarean Birth is Necessary, we request:

  • Kai and our Doula be present at all times during procedure.


Again, thank you so much, and know that we are flexible, should any of these requests truly interfere with the safety of our birth.
                      

With gratitude,

Ginger

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Actual Honest-to-God Email I Sent to My OB

When I found out I was pregnant, I wanted what every sage-burning, moon-cycle-following hippie wants: a med-free home water birth with a midwife and poetry readings. But when I found out it was twins, my insurance and the one-size-fits-all fear mongering that mothers of multiples automatically endure dictated I’d be having a hospital birth and would be taken care of by the High-Risk OB Team. At least I got UCLA, which is among the top 5 best hospitals in the nation. But as time wore on and I found out the potential details of this birth, such as the requirement that I deliver my twins in the operating room “just in case,” I went through a period of stress and fear.

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Subject: Freaked Out!

Hi Dr. A!

I’ve been trying to deal with this on my own through meditation and such…but ever since my appointment on Wednesday I have been nervous and freaked out about my impending birth experience.

From my perspective, it feels like I keep getting new doctors who don’t know me and whose names I can’t remember, and each new person seems to treat me like a 45-year-old carrying triplets because I’m “high risk.” I know I’m classified as such simply because it’s a multiple birth, but I have di/di twins who are both head-down, average weight, and have perfect heartbeats and fluid levels. I’m only 32, and still either walk a couple miles, swim, or go to yoga class where I kick the butts of the singleton moms…and I am dying to have a normal delivery that won’t cause me to have PTSD and postnatal depression!

You and Dr. S have been the two competent, calm presences I feel I can trust, who make me feel like a healthy, normal woman with a brain, and I am so grateful for you both! …But I’m so afraid that on D-day I’ll end up with someone who looks at me and says in their mind “It’s twins so let’s just plan on a C-Section!”

Sorry I’m flipping out…I know it’s crazy. It’s just that at my last visit, after the new doc talked to me about the “plan,” I came away feeling like

a) there was no way possible these twins would start labor on their own, thus I would have no choice but to endure the pitocin, which I SO hoped to avoid,

b) I would be forced to get an epidural even if I didn’t want one,

and

c) (the clincher) I would have to deliver in the operating room, with fluorescent lights blaring, 15 people present with surgical outfits on, and a table full of sharp instruments just waiting to cut me open.

The first two fears I can bend on if needed…but the third is keeping me awake at night. When I expressed this, the last doc just shooed away my concerns like “it’s not so bad– it’s clean.” But the prospect of delivering in the operating room makes me want to not show up and just hire a midwife or something. I have stayed so natural and meditative this whole pregnancy, but my heart is palpating wildly just thinking of being on that “stage” surrounded by all these strangers, no peace anywhere, scary instruments around, unable to move because of an epidural.

Until Wednesday I’d been really looking forward to my labor. On my hospital tour I was led to believe I’d get my own labor room with dim lighting and an ambience conducive to creating the labor hormones that will guide my babies out gently and naturally. If I am forced to give birth in an operating room, I fear that my body will be filled with panic hormones that will slow my contractions and lead to unnecessary complications. Isn’t the OR just a few doors down from the labor suites anyway? Can I not just be wheeled there in the event of an emergency like the singleton moms who have sudden complications? This is going to be my only birth ever, and I really don’t want to look back on it and shudder with horror, feeling like I wasn’t in control of my fate and was forced to do things I didn’t feel comfortable with.

I know I’m going off the deep end. I just have a phobia of hospitals in the first place, and the only thing keeping me going was the prospect of a private birthing room and staff that was on board with my hopes to deliver vaginally. I am willing to sign a waiver or anything to avoid entering the OR unless medically necessary. Is that a possibility?

Sorry this is so rambly and full of bad vibes. I just want to get back to my peaceful waiting and excitement!

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I hate hospitals, I’m scarred from having been talked down to by so many doctors and nurses, and I hate that multiple births are automatically medicalized. Luckily, my main doc actually is a cool, with-it lady who treats me like a human possessing a brain. After this, she called and talked to me at length. She said that I would only have to go to the OR when the babies were actually coming out, and that it would not be fluorescent or scalpel-laden, but just a larger room, and I could even play music and light candles if I wanted. She also said that if I absolutely didn’t want an epidural, it was up to me, and most of the other concerns that the less-than-communicative doctor had frightened me with were not, in fact, mandatory. I am at this point just ready to meet the twins, but I hope my doctor is right and that I won’t feel pressured into any procedure that is not medically necessary. 

New Due Date: July 26th

I haven’t been writing because, like I said, I can’t feel my fingers  (among other issues). But I know that if I don’t at least keep this blog moderately updated, my babies will be here and I will have missed the chance to truly capture what it was like to be pregnant. So I’m typing with ghost fingers, and I keep accidnetally hitring teh wonrg bittons.

I can’t believe I’m here, but it’s 37 weeks, and I have been given one more week before the docs have scheduled an induction. Next Wednesday, July 26, unless they come early or I decide to wait a little longer, I will meet my children. This sounds absolutely made-up to me, and I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I am SO EXCITED! I can’t wait to see their little faces and cuddle them and talk to them and name them and feed them and be amazed at how much love is in my life! I can’t wait to feel my fingers again, and lose a ton of weight immediately, and have normal-sized feet, and be able to walk without my whole body hurting, give my husband a full-frontal hug, sleep without all these pillows, lie on my back comfortably, have a cold, frosty IPA, and go surfing again!

However…I don’t want an induction. I don’t want a painful, pitocin-induced birth that will most likely lead to an epidural, though hopefully not any other medical interventions. I want these babies to pick their own birthday; I don’t want to pick it for them! Especially when I know they’re thriving and healthy. So babies, I plead, please come out this week on your own. Because here’s the thing: as much as I don’t want to be induced, I can’t take much more of this pregnancy. I can’t take much more of lying on the couch watching Netflix like an invalid, then forcing myself to get some sort of exercise for an hour or two, which is miserably interrupted every eight minutes by my need to pee. I need my body back, and I am not as patient as I’d like to be. So if the docs say 38 weeks is the end, I am leaning toward saying, “sounds good.”

In some ways, this pregnancy has zoomed by like a falling star. But this past couple weeks, it has felt as interminable as a visit to the DMV. All the physical ailments are torture enough, but I think the worst part for me is the mental incapacity. I can literally think of nothing else but these babies. I have no desire to work on any projects or meet up with anyone, because my brain doesn’t have the ability to squeeze in any concerns but pregnancy and labor and newborns, and I am aware at how paint-dryingly boring that is. It’s hard when anyone tries to make a plan with me because I know the babies might decide to come any time. My attention span is crap, because I read three pages or watch ten minutes of something before realizing that I need to add a few items to my hospital bag or clean out a shelf to make room for bibs. It feels endless and mind-numbing to be where I am (or, I’m sure, to hang out with me).

So pardon me, I’m sure I’ll be a person again someday, but for now I’m off to drink my raspberry leaf tea, take a two-mile walk, have lustless sex, and then go get some acupuncture in hopes of naturally inducing labor.

Pains of the Twin Third Trimester

I’m closing in on 35 weeks. For most first-time moms, that means five (or even six!) more weeks of baby baking…but for me that means I have three weeks or less to meet my son and daughter. The docs said they’d induce me at 38 weeks if the tots haven’t decided to come out on their own accord. My hope is that at 37 weeks (full-term for twins), they’ll just pop right out, healthy and fully-formed, and start looking for the food.

Though I hear at least once a day, “You don’t even look like you’re having twins,” I feel like I’m having twins. I feel heavy in every sense of the word. I shuffle along the street instead of walk, I moan in pain when I roll over, and I look down to see my feet straining my flip-flop straps, fluffy on top like Pillsbury dinner rolls. Still, I know it could be worse. A twin mom is recommended to gain 45 to 60 pounds during pregnancy, and I’ve gained 45 as of this report. I’m still going to prenatal yoga and pilates, riding my bike, swimming, and taking 3 mile walks, though none of those things are comfortable. In pilates this morning we all had to turn sideways for one of the moves, and in the mirror I compared my silhouette to the other pregnant ladies, some of which are at 39 weeks. No matter what people say, my belly is twice the size of the others, bulging comically like a fully-inflated balloon beneath my shirt. The weight has otherwise kindly decided to evenly distribute itself around my body, but I’m personally aware that my boobs, thighs, and booty have all gone up a few sizes. I’m not too bothered by vanity, though. I’m amazed at how strong my body is to have done what it’s done, and actually excited for what it’s about to do.

That’s right, folks. I am excited to feel my insides ripping themselves into pieces as I push two six-pound bowling balls out of my most sensitive little gateway. (Or whatever it’s going to look like when these kids are born.) I theorize that that’s why they build so much bullshit into the third trimester: to make you desperate for it to end. Otherwise everyone would be too scared to go on to the next step. And to what bullshit am I referring, besides the aforementioned heaviness, slow movement, swollen feet? Well, I’m glad you asked.

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Sorry to do this to you, but these are my feet right now. Not a visible vein or bone.

Third Trimester Misery

For one, I haven’t been able to feel the three middle fingertips on my right hand for a month. No joke. I have ghost fingertips. Typing this sucks (though it’s better than writing with a pen). My hand is asleep, and that’s just normal, apparently. Carpal tunnel is one of the awesome symptoms of having so much blood in your body that it compresses your nerves, rendering your hands floppy and useless. Adding to my floppy uselessness is the fact that my pregnancy brain makes me slow in every sense of the word. Not only can I not form coherent sentences, I also dropped an entire bowl of Frosted Mini-Wheats and milk all over the kitchen floor yesterday.

And remember the extreme fatigue I had during the first trimester? Well it’s back. I had to quit all semblance of work after last week because I needed the days free so I could pass out on the couch over and over again. All day and night, I wake up for a few hours, then collapse again for a few. My thirst for sleep cannot be quenched.

One of the reasons I stay sleepy is that I am not just supremely uncomfortable in every position now, I am in real pain.  My lower back aches, my legs cramp, and when I wake up to pee for the fifth time at night, my bones are so out of alignment that it takes an entire ten seconds to consciously will my leg to lift and take a step. It hurts to walk until I really get in motion. I hold onto the backs of chairs and push against the wall just to make it to the toilet. I have recently moved my bed to the couch, so that my tailbone can rest between the cushions, and so that my pillow fort won’t smother Kai. Not to mention, I apparently snore now, which I’ve never had a habit of before. So I’m all alone in the living room with the meowing cat and my tingling numb hand, finally falling asleep until I get a rude awakening during the night from a Braxton-Hicks contraction, which feels like my whole middle is a tube of toothpaste being squeezed. I wonder then if labor is imminent, but the tightening usually passes after a few go-rounds and then dulls to a mild period-style cramp, then goes away.

Needless to say, these symptoms, along with the hormones, affect my mood at times. I feel broke-down and useless. I start crying about it on Kai’s shoulder, or I cry about something else, like how I’m afraid we won’t get to ever spend time together again, or how I feel bad for him since he’s working so hard to make our ends meet and I’m not contributing. Luckily though, it’s not all bad.

Redeeming Qualities of the Third Trimester

-My mood, though prone to occasional big, sad swings, isn’t consistently morose like it was during the first trimester. I’m really looking forward to meeting these little beings, and they move so much, and so dramatically, that I can almost imagine them as real. We also got a 3D ultrasound of the baby boy’s face, and that was startlingly precious and reality-inducing.

-The sex is still good, despite the fact that I can’t see anything that’s happening below my middle.

-So many people have contributed to our stash of baby stuff that I’m starting to actually feel like we have everything we need.

-Kai has come with me to all the classes, and I have a doula at the ready. My doctors are all badass females who are totally supportive of natural birth. The babies are healthy and head-down, and I feel like there’s a good chance that this delivery will happen with minimal stress.

-PREGNANCY IS ALMOST OVER AND I DON’T HAVE TO DO IT EVER AGAIN!

 

 

It’s Really Happening.

I have these dumb apps on my phone which tell me week by week what fruit the babies supposedly resemble, size wise. The Bump says they’re cantaloupes this week, while What to Expect says “ear of corn.” (Huh? How can a baby be the size of an ear of corn? And furthermore, who decided to put “endive” on the list? Who knows anything about the size of an endive?) These comparisons are supposed to get us moms-to-be excited, picturing what’s happening within us more vividly, I guess. But, needless to say, picturing two ears of corn in my belly doesn’t really make me feel motherly.

However, one thing did make me feel it this week. We took a tour of the UCLA BirthPlace, where, Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, we will be escorting these two precious souls into the physical realm in 14 weeks or less. That doesn’t sound like long.

As we walked the hallways with other couples, looking at the amenities in the private rooms, with their adjustable lighting for ambience and their couch where my husband will be sleeping, the reality began to set in. THIS IS HAPPENING. I actually began to get excited by the prospect of giving birth, once the nurse clarified some things I’d been worried about: UCLA supports natural births and only intervenes when absolutely necessary. They let you wear your clothes, play your music, put flameless candles around the room…they even give you lavender oil if you want, and they make sure that every baby gets skin-to-skin contact with mom as soon as possible. Babies aren’t taken to the nursery; they stay in the room with their mom and dad. And there’s an iPad menu where you can order whatever food you want, rather than eating smelly hospital food. I’m sure it’s not going to be the most fun I’ve ever had, but it doesn’t scare me at the moment.

I know that, depending on the babies’ placement and size and such, I may not be able to avoid an intervention when the time comes, but I am at least going to do everything I can to make sure these two cook as long and healthily as possible so we can keep them out of the NICU and bring them straight into our arms.