Saturday, August 21, 2010

Waiting for Baby

by Ruth
I've heard that women often experience a burst of "nesting" energy shortly before going into labor when they suddenly feel motivated to get everything organized.  Clearly I am not about to go into labor.

It's a shame that pregnancy is such a non-productive time because right now I have more free time than I probably will in the next 20 years.  I still have another five weeks until baby is due, and basically I'm just hanging around waiting.  I'm not exactly complaining about having nothing to do.  If there is ever a time in my life when I am content to sit around doing nothing all day, this is probably it.  And I have things I could do.  I have some nice little to-do lists made up. Sometimes I contemplate actually doing something from the list.  And then I take a nap.

So what have we been doing in these past weeks of waiting?

Well, I have just entered the weekly doctor visit phase, and boy I'm glad to not be traveling 12 hrs to get there!  Actually, my "doctor" is a midwife, and I just love her!  Many people are confused because they think midwife=home birth, but this is not necessarily the case.
Statistical interlude: The percentage of home births in the US has remained at less than 1% while the percentage of midwife attended births had increased  (statistics vary on this, maybe somewhere around 4-8% of US births are midwife attended).  Interestingly, according to WHO, about 75% of European births are attended by midwives.  All countries with lower "perinatal" mortality rates than the US, I might add.

In my case, I have a certified-nurse midwife who works in a hospital.  I can't say I honestly did a bunch of research and after thoughtful deliberation I decided this was the best choice.  I did what I have done for most of my pregnancy and childbirth related decisions: I copied my cousin. :)  She just had a baby last year and highly recommended this midwife and hospital.  And since I wasn't getting here until 3/4 of the way through my pregnancy, having a good recommendation seemed like the way to go.

But now that I have met with this midwife several times, I am so glad I "happened" upon this choice.  I saw 5 different doctors in Thailand, China, and California over the course of the pregnancy, none of whom were bad, but when I finally met with my midwife here I thought, "She's amazing!"  Here are the reasons why I love her:
1. She actually spends time with you instead of rushing in and rushing out.
2. She takes time to answer questions and explains things.
3. She doesn't make me feel dumb or annoying for any of the questions I ask.
4. She seems to be flexible instead of "there is only one right way, and it's my way."  She encourages natural childbirth but isn't one of those people who think you're less of a woman if you opt for drugs.
5. She seems to think it's perfectly normal that we live in and are returning to China.  Which I realize is not a defining reason for choosing a doctor or anything, but it's still pretty cool.

In general, midwives take the approach that most childbirth is a natural process, not a medical problem that needs to be solved.  It's great that we have all the medical interventions when they are needed, but let's not use them just because they are there and we feel like we have to do something.  Also, midwives are apparently around to offer support during a lot of the labor and delivery instead of just popping in at the last minute.

So, there is my plug for midwives.  Or at least, for my midwife.

Other than going to the doctor frequently, we have been attending childbirth class, another advantage of being in the States during this time.  Our childbirth instructor asked us to describe our ideal birth experience and I thought, "Um, I don't know?  I can't say I've thought too much about it.  I'm glad that the doctor and nurses will speak English..."  So far we have talked about things like the stages of labor and different labor positions to try (who knew, you don't have to just lie in bed the whole time like in the movies).  I also created a "birth plan."  I tried to picture coming into a Chinese hospital (maybe not the fancy one in Beijing, but one of your other average hospitals) and saying, "This is my birth plan."  I think they would laugh a lot and then probably cart me off for a c-section.  In the general Chinese hospital, the husband isn't even allowed to be present during labor and delivery.  And somehow I doubt they have quite the same "create your own ideal's all about you" idea.  It seems like one of those individualist kind of things.
Statistical interlude: According to a NY Times article earlier this year, the US cesarean rate has reached 32% and in China the rate is approaching 50%.  The recommended level, according to WHO, is about 15%.
 Additionally, I have been wading through the piles of baby items we have received.  Have no fear; our child will be well clothed.  I only hope she won't grow to expect this much in later life, unless we can continue to get this many cute clothes without having to buy any of them.  I contemplate how we will get it all back to China and try to imagine what our students will think, when they were already a little overwhelmed by the 5 baby things we had in Weinan.

The item I am currently most excited about is our incredibly cool "Peapod" baby tent!  This travel bed can be used for infants through about three years, weighs less than 5 lbs, and folds up into a little 14" round travel bag.  Take that, Pack n' Play!

On my to-do list for the next month:
- Pack hospital'd think you were moving to China for all the things they tell you to bring
- Figure out how this whole baby passport/visa process will work
- Read books about childbirth and babies (I have recently developed quite an interest in this subject...)
- Make a baby quilt
- Wash a bazillion baby clothes
- Take a lot of naps

And perhaps...
- Have baby

That's right...we're just over one month (though still 5 weeks) from due date - September 23rd!

Playing with my new stroller.  And a baby doll.  Because I am very grown up.

1 comment:

Nate and Molly said...

no rest for the weary! you'd better step on it with that to-do-list! :) Actually, I recommend enjoying the lazy days. You're right--there are few seasons like it in life!