Saturday, September 23, 2017

it's so different {what it's like to try every type of prenatal care available}


My pregnancy and birth history is complicated, which means I have never delivered with the same person or in the same location more than once. The constants at my birth have been Jonathan and my first midwife, but my first midwife has acted as a doula / support person / shoulder to cry on during my subsequent births.

Here's a quick outline of who I've seen and where I've delivered:

Birth # 1: Midwives only, stand alone birth center, all natural

Birth #2: Prenatal care from midwife and maternal fetal medicine doctor (high risk OB), hospital, MFM doc delivered, Pitoicin given, zero pain meds

Birth #3: Prenatal care from midwives and maternal fetal medicine doctor, different hospital from #2, midwife delivered, Pitoicin and epidural used

Pregnancy #4: Prenatal care from OB and completely new maternal fetal medicine doctors and clinic, hospital delivery (different from birth # 2 & 3) and ... who knows the rest. We'll see what happens, but as of this moment I am not planning on a natural birth because this mama has had enough birth trauma / let's try all natural / I can get through this with prayer and deep breathing etc.

This week I had an OB appointment and it was so impersonal. I went through the whole vitals check thing with the medical assistant and then after a while the doctor came in. She spent the visit reading the maternal fetal medicine doctor's notes, asking how I was feeling, checking the heartbeat and then that was it - after she asked if I had any questions.

I feel like I am floating out in the ocean by myself, guys. I know I'm not, but it sure feels like it. I have a GREAT doula and my midwife is going to do her best to be at the birth. Both are available for support via text, which I do require and use, but it's just not the same. I need tea, hugs, shoulder rubs, and heaps of understanding during a prenatal appointment. Ten minutes of interaction where the doctor mostly looks at her computer screen doesn't equal my favorite appointment.

If you need emotional support in pregnancy is that the best environment to receive it in? I'm not even trying because I have others to lean on, but if you don't have that is the ten minutes you get with the OB enough time to get out all the thoughts and feelings you have? And my next appointment isn't even with the OB! I see the nurse practitioner next. AND when I deliver I get the OB who is on call, NOT the one I've been seeing for my prenatal appointments. This system just seems all out of whack to me.

I'm sure some of you are reading this and thinking, I have the best relationship with my OB! We talk for hours and I feel so amazing after every appointment.

For me that is not the feeling I carry out of the office with me. I feel relieved the appointment is over (I hate that still moment - or ten - when the doctor is looking for the heartbeat) and surprised I was only at the clinic for thirty minutes.

This is my first pregnancy where the doctors I am rotating between don't know me and my story. They haven't walked with me for years. They don't understand just how anxiety inducing pregnancy and birth is for me. In fact, in the middle of our first consult the maternal fetal medicine doctor said, "Then we'll start non-stress tests, because that often helps with anxiety, but you, well, you seem remarkably calm."

I am excellent at pretending I am calm during appointments, but inside I just want to be done and get OUT, so there's a good chance the doctors will never know how anxious I am. (Well, until birth. Then I just lose my ever loving mind and any sense that all will be well) Holding all my feelings in is on me. I know that, but I am not a person who is going to open up about all my feelings during a twenty minute consult so I'm not sure that is going to change.

Now that I've vented for a solid twelve paragraphs I do have to say this:

I am so grateful for access to medical care, specialist doctors, insurance and hospitals. Thank you Jesus for options and help and doctors who care. It sounds like I think they don't care, but I know the ability to connect gets lost in the mess of our medical system. Doctors today are incredibly busy and under intense stress because our insurance system makes practicing medicine difficult and hard to navigate.

So yes, I am at sea here, but it's not like I'm going to have to deliver this baby in my backyard fifty miles from the nearest clinic with no way to get there other than my own two feet. I recognize and am very grateful for that.

This is just way more difficult to navigate than I thought it would be. I always try to be a normal pregnant mama, but that goes out the window as soon as I start the journey, because the truth is I have had a difficult relationship with birth and pregnancy. I hope as time progresses I connect with the OB a bit more, and maybe develop a relationship with the maternal fetal medicine doctor. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

here we go {homeschool / kindergarten}


Here is the thing about homsechool: I'll probably never know what I am doing and/or feel completely confident.

The first day I had to jettison the Bible curriculum I picked out. I read through the first lesson and Bennett said, "Huh?" And I said, "Huh?" Then I decided since he chose to participate in AWANA this year at our church that was enough Bible curriculum for his age and put the book in the back of the school cupboard.

We're keeping it simple this year, because Bennett is just 6, but I do want him to learn a few things and begin to enjoy learning.

To get an idea of what curriculum I wanted to teach from I read through the kindergarten chapter in The Well Trained Mind. The thing about The Well Trained Mind is that it appears daunting at 800 pages, but you don't have to read it all in one go.


I was planning on teaching Bennett how to read when he turned 7, which is late, I know, but I've done a lot of research and later tends to be better when it comes to teaching reading. However, when Bennett was finished with his second year of preschool he knew all of his phonics sounds and was beginning to blend words so I decided to keep the momentum going. We did a reading lesson every week or so during the summer, and he played the computer game Teach Your Monster to Read quite a bit, but we didn't start one reading lesson per day until the second week of September.

I tried Phonics Pathways and Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, but I struggled with the concepts. We switched over to The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading and the program just clicked for me. Bennett is doing really well with it too. The lessons don't take very long and require very little aside from index cards and the book. Having an alphabet board with letters does help. I put off buying one at first, but since I added it in last week the concepts are setting in a bit more. I am adding in sight word memorization as well because the book covers so few. I also read aloud from a long chapter book on school days.


Bennett's handwriting book is from Zaner-Bloser. I chose it because it's a continuous stroke program, which helps kids switch over to cursive writing. He is beyond the kindergarten book, which I did not realize when I bought it, so we are almost done with the first book. I think we will focus on copy work for the rest of the year and then move up to the first or second grade book the following year. Teaching a left handed child how to write has been challenging, but we're managing!




I also included a math program called Right Start, which the book does not recommend starting at the kindergarten level, but Bennett was very ready to jump into a math program. It was really hard to choose a math curriculum, and this one has him starting on really easy concepts he already knows, but the overall program seems like it will be a great way to approach math. I feel like it might even help me begin to grasp math, which has always been a difficult subject for me. I bought this curriculum from Rainbow Resource which has great prices. It has a LOT of manipulatives, so brace yourself for that!

Some days we do mazes, dot to dot or drawing to help with his fine motor skills, and I have a preschool science experiment book I want to start using once a week, but our core work right now is handwriting, reading and math.

Most days we complete Bennett's schoolwork in 1-2 hours (we can often get it done in about an hour on the days Ainsleigh is at preschool).

It's been a fairly easy transition. I know it's only going to get harder, but right now we both love it.

When I was going back and forth on whether or not to homeschool I wasn't sure it would be the right fit for us, but seeing where Bennett is at right now in his life, and what his needs are, I am certain it is right this year.

I'll let you know how we fare as the year progresses!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

surprise, surprise ... baby #5!


I know baby #4 was an early loss, but I believe every life matters so I am currently expecting our fifth baby.

Now let me give you a moment to recover from the shock ...

Still breathing?

(I'm STILL recovering)

I'm due in March so I'm a couple days shy of 14 weeks. In 5 short weeks we have the all important mid-pregnancy anatomy scan with the maternal fetal medicine doctor. Keeping this pregnancy under wraps has made it zoom by. I've been super sick, because that's how I do pregnancy, but I haven't thrown up as much as I normally do so that's positive!

Since I like to make things uber complicated I am delivering with an entirely new set of doctors. With the kids nearing 4 & 6 life has become a bit more complex: preschool, homeschool, gymnastics and church programs will fill our weeks this fall and I simply don't have time to drive 45 minutes to an hour to see my previous doctors. Also, my maternal fetal medicine doctor retired and the midwife that delivered Ainsleigh moved to a freestanding birth center.

SO - I'm trying a traditional OB this time and the maternal fetal medicine doctors at the local hospital. I've hired an amazing doula and my midwife from my first birth will hopefully be able to be there as a doula as well so I think it will all be fine. With this birth I'll have delivered in 4 different places without moving from our fine city, so that's something of an accomplishment I suppose.

Also planning on an epidural at 4 cm (is that even allowed?) because I am over birth trauma and getting through it and breathing and trying to go natural. Just get this baby out, please and thanks!

I wouldn't say we are excited, but I would like to get to that point, so we are starting to share about this pregnancy. Hopefully if others are excited for us we'll get on board. With that hope in mind I finally posted about the pregnancy on social media last night.


Everyone present thought this was a fabulous announcement idea, but we were on eclipse party day 3 and all feeling a bit rummy so our judgement was questionable. I *almost* didn't post this picture, because we all look a bit rough, but that's us! In our jams, un-showered (I was too sick to host people for the eclipse and shower; it was literally too much) at 10:30, hanging out in our backyard for a monumental event. We are not a well put together family at the best of times (why get dressed when you could be reading?) and this summer has been quite a mess with B going through a massive diet change and me feeling so ill. We went to the doctors in our jams more than once this summer, so this picture feels quite appropriate!

I believe God has a plan for our family and for this baby. And I believe our family is meant to have a third little one to raise, because that is the only way I can wrap my mind around this year of surprise babies. Everyone who has read here, or known me, or talked to me for more than 10 minutes knows the more babies question was off the table. Pregnancy and birth is so traumatic for me I couldn't fathom choosing to do it again. We have two beautiful kids we are raising and that was enough. But through Christ all things are possible, so here we are, expecting another blessing, and hoping we are done with surprises for a while.

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