I’m Going to Have My Work Cut Out For Me

As you may or may not know, I’m an aspiring nurse-midwife.  I also had my two kids with a nurse-midwife, and my labors were not perfect.  I certainly don’t expect others to be.

But sometimes…. sometimes I read stuff that really bothers me.  Pretty much anything on www.myobsaidwhat.com, for example.  (This is your warning, medical professionals in L&D – you may be quoted when you say stupid things!)  Sometimes, though, it is people I know.  And I always keep my mouth shut.  After all, like I just said – my labors were not perfect.  I agreed to an epidural after 12 hours of labor with Ollie (which really did it’s job nicely in my case, so I’m proof it’s not all bad.  I had stalled for hours upon hours, and was able to progress very quickly and easily after that), and maybe wasn’t the quietest patient with Emmie.  (Although I certainly wasn’t the loudest.)  I may have been the most pessimistic, though.  Not sure.  I was pretty convinced that I simply couldn’t do it.  The good thing about labor is you don’t have a choice.  Once you’re there, you’re there.  Other than that, it was a perfect birth with roughly only a 4 hour labor, of which 1.5 hours was spent in the car at 3 in the morning on extremely foggy roads.  If anyone deserves a reward, though, it is my husband for staying so calm and driving so well in zero visibility with a squirming woman in labor next to him.  Props.

Anyway, so I never say anything.  I never do challenge these women to do their own research, do a little reading, find out more about what is going on with their bodies and their baby’s bodies.  I think ultimately when I tell people I used a midwife, they think I’m one of those scary, perfect-birthing, ultra conservative mamas who is going to chew their butt for having an epidural or a c-section.  Do I like the idea of c-sections? No.  Am I glad I didn’t have one?  Yes.  Do I have a problem with women having the choice to have a c-section if they want to without being scared or coerced into itAbsolutely not.

Sometimes it’s what goes on with the c-section that sets me off.  For example, someone recently told me that her c-section was going to be ordered as soon as they were sure that the baby’s lungs were fully developed, so she wouldn’t have to be pregnant the full 40 weeks.

There are so many things wrong with that statement.

Please believe me when I say that they can’t tell for sure that the lungs are fully developed.  A doctor might argue that yes, they do know, because after all, they are doing ultrasounds, and they know the due date based on the baby’s size.

So I take it one step further and say please believe me when I tell you that ultrasounds after the 12th week can be flawed as many as 3-4 weeks depending on genetics, the tech doing the measuring, the position of baby, and size in general.

Insert quick personal story here – when I was pregnant with Ollie, my midwife sent me in for an ultrasound at 8 weeks for dating.  No one else I knew had done this, but then again, at that point I didn’t know anyone else who had seen a midwife.  (Hospital or home)  She explained to me that until roughly 12 weeks after conception, a fetus is very consistent on size, and that genetics doesn’t ‘kick in’, so the best ultrasound to estimate a due date is before 12 weeks.  Sweet, okay, whatever.  At that point I didn’t know much about the subject, but when I went home and studied it, I found it to be very true. 

Fast forward 12 weeks to my 20 week ultrasound.  Imagine my surprise when my previous ultrasound due date was set at July 28th, and this ultrasound read July 2nd.  I was further along than I thought!  Sweet!  I was totally pumped.

Yet when I met with my midwife, she said “Nope, not changing your due date.  The first ultrasound is the correct one, and you’re just growing a big baby in there.”  Now my friends immediately thought this was sheer insanity.  I think I kind of got caught up in it.

Braxton Hicks started in mid-June, and by late June I was having some real contractions, too.  So early July I was ready.  I wasn’t buying into that first ultrasound.  I knew it was time.

The 2nd passed.  And the 3rd.  The 4th I was admitted, but didn’t progress and was only at a 1, so I was sent home. 

Eventually I went into labor.  I was admitted to the hospital on July 28th, and Ollie was born July 29th.  He was not wrinkly, as post term babies are (my daughter was, though!), and was 9 lb, 7 oz., and 22.5 inches long.  He was a big baby.

Now he’s 2 and a half and wears size 5 in BOYS (toddlers clothes are too small).  He’s still a big kid.

My point with that story is that the early dating with ultrasound works, and that your due date per your 20 week ultrasound can be total crap.

So now, back on track.  Knowing what I know, there was no early ultrasound to date this pregnancy that was about to be forced into completion on what could possibly end up to be a baby that is born too early.  Babies’ lungs finish late in the pregnancy – sometimes as late as 38 weeks – which means that if that ultrasound is off by 2 weeks, you may end up with a baby in the NICU.  Not fun.

So my main problem is that we have a doctor telling a patient that they will know when the baby’s lungs are fully developed, presumably by due date, because they can’t tell with  an ultrasound really, and then they will make sure that she doesn’t have to be pregnant anymore.

Doesn’t have to be pregnant anymore.  That part gets me, too.

This time I’m pulling out a soapbox.  When you get pregnant, a good majority of the time it’s because you want to have a baby, right?  And every parent wants a healthy baby – that’s a given.  So why why why why why are we yanking babies out before they are done growing and developing (because let’s face it, they aren’t going to stay in there forever) and risking their health?  Is two weeks of pregnancy THAT bad, that you’re willing to risk your baby being in an ICU, possibly for more than those two weeks, all because you just ‘didn’t want to be pregnant anymore’?  I understand the feeling… I totally do.  Try getting all pumped up (even though you were told not to) for a baby that you believe is going to be born nearly a full month before he was.  Yet when it came down to it, as much as I wanted to go into labor, I did not want them to induce me (and they did offer to schedule it once I hit my due date) and I did not want a c-section.  

When I went a full week over with Emmie, my only complaint was that my midwife said on Friday “I will see you before Monday, you’re not going to last that long” and I arrived at the hospital around 4:30 AM on Monday morning, and when she walked in the door I said “You said I wouldn’t make it until Monday!  I’ve been waiting ALL WEEKEND!”  Sure, I wanted to be done, but I wanted a healthy baby more. 

Maybe the problem is that people really don’t realize the risks of ‘taking’ babies early.  Or the amount of error you can have in an ultrasound – or that you might have a freakishly ginormous kid who has been in the 99.75 growth percentile his entire life.  (For the record, my daughter has been at the 50% since the day she was conceived, and I see no sign of that changing.  I don’t only have huge kids.)  Maybe it’s poor medical providers, maybe it’s ignorance.  I’m not sure.  But I do know that my dream job of standing up for women’s rights and helping to teach them and support them will be a challenge.  One I eagerly embrace, but a challenge nonetheless, and I am so anxious to get to that point.

*I’m sorry if I offended anyone.  Please, if you don’t agree with me, feel free to dispute it, but also look into the topic a bit, too.  I’ve done a boatload of research and read studies all the time on birth and pregnancy, and this really is my passion.  I do believe in every woman’s right to the birth that she wants, her way, no matter what  before anything else, and I hope you can respect that.  Thanks for reading!*


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