Friday, November 4, 2011

What? You’re on Bed rest? I hadn’t heard…

Where to even begin? I'm not even sure if I'm finishing week two or week three of bed rest. The days blend together into one endless day. Every time I think that I really don't need to be in my house (a short trip to Barnes and Noble, an overly long trip to the carpet store, a stroll around TJ MAXX between doctor's appointments, and my son's poetry reading), I end up feeling like the baby is going to fall out on the floor and my contractions start up again. Back in bed I go. While I've been pretty good about not reading pregnancy books or websites (not including my new pregnancy/mommy blog obsession), I couldn't help looking up bed rest. All these studies say it doesn't work. Maybe it doesn't. Maybe I could just walk around in pain for the next seven weeks. However, I'd rather be comfy. Even if I am bored and sick of my bed AND feel a massive amount of guilt about all this help I'm getting…

Speaking of help:

When I was on bed rest with my son, I had very few people to rely on. One person came from the Giant Gentile's work while he was away at a conference in South Carolina (for some reason, the universe likes to send him to the South when I'm put on bed rest. This time, it was Texas). She brought me pizza and let out my Chow Chow. My best friend from college came over and helped me organize myself. Other than that, my Chow Chow was my only companion during the day. But once GG got home, we sat on the bed, watched movies and ate apples with peanut butter and fluff.

Now, almost seven years later, I also have a dog companion on the bed. Unlike my cat-like Chow Chow, my American Bulldog takes bed rest very seriously—making sure that he too stays in bed for as much of the day as possible taking up as much room as possible. The much bigger difference, of course, is that my husband is no longer my sole helper and company keeper. I actually have an entire community of people helping. (wait, I have to pause for a moment. I'm getting Hallmark commercial chocked up). It's funny because I actually get paid to write about community—this community, in fact. I'm always writing or editing pieces about its closeness and its kindness. It's love of each other…blah blah blah. However, these past couple of weeks having proven my writing to be true. My synagogue has sent out the caring committee to bring me food and offer me rides to the doctor. Fellow board members have brought me food and Starbucks. And then, of course, there are my friends: friends that I did not have the first time around. My partner-in-crime, set up a helping hands website where people can sign up to pick my son up for school or bring meals. It's not empty. People sign up. We get meals and my son has something to do afterschool or at least someone to pick him up. Other friends stop by with meals or lunch or groceries! Or just to chat. Two of my friends have packed HJ's lunch, so I don't have to worry about it. One of my friends is even taking my carpet up for me. I can't even express how humbled I've been by this experience. In all my wordiness, I don't know if I could ever thank people enough. (the girl who left home the second she graduated from high school because she never fit and never found her place socially in college is shocked by all of this…but that is for another post…)


The big VBAC…

If conversations about birth make you think TMI TMI! I suggest you stop reading now. As you all know, this pregnancy has made me increasingly frustrated with my doctors. Most of my complaints have revolved around my zavtigness…however, that isn't really the big issue. The big issue is my desire for a VBAC. (that's vaginal birth after c-section). People have many reasons for wanting VBACs. Mine is completely personal. I don't care what anyone else does. If a c-section makes you happy, great! I, however, don't want another c-section. I'm doing everything in my power to have a VBAC. Of course, this experience has brought to me a road I never thought I'd head down: natural drug-free child-birth. I've already forced any friend that talks to me to listen to my adoration of Hypnobirthing classes. Basically, it teaches guided relaxation techniques to get past the fear of childbirth. It also emphasizes birth affirmations: I am strong. My body can birth without pain… It's taken me a long time to get with the affirmations. At first, all I could hear was Stuart Smalley's SNL affirmations I'm good enough... I couldn't help finding them ridiculous. But then, something shifted…my fight to be heard. I've tried my best to surround myself with people who support my VBAC desires: my hypnobirthing instructor (who, by the way, is not some crazy hippie lady, she's a labor a delivery nurse), my doula, my cardiologist and my husband. I've given speech after speech to my parents, who seem to at least be telling me they support my decision. However, as we all know, I make doctors very nervous with my previous c-section, pre-term labor, and repaired heart defect (oh and the whole chubby thing). Thankfully, I do not make my cardiologist nervous. He told me that not only do I NOT have to run to the hospital at the moment I feel real labor, but if they give me any trouble at the hospital, he'll come right over. My OB practice, even the midwife, is clearly skeptical. They are the reason women get defensive at the hospital. The answer is always, "I mean, you can always try…" Mostly, I try not to have a conversation with them about it.

But, two days ago, the ob told me that they had a schedule me for a c-section. "No," I said. She looked at me, shocked. "You can't say no." I sighed and told her I knew that I couldn't say no, but…then I took a deep breath and the tears came.

"I just feel like no one at this practice is very supportive of a VBAC. Why do we have to walk into this birth assuming I have to have a c-section?"

She sits down next to me and sighs. It wasn't one of those empathetic-- I know where you're coming from sighs. It was one of those, here-comes-the-speech-from-the-psycho-pregnant lady- who- thinks- she- knows- everything- because- she- read- a- couple- of- websites- sighs.

I protest the sigh. "I'm not some crazy hippie who thinks the medical establishment is out to get me." (coulda fooled you) "If I'm in a situation that is an emergency or the baby is breech and will not move then fine, but you have to give me a chance. More than a chance. I want to walk into this with the assumption then I'm having a VBAC. Why is that so hard?"

She sighs again, " I don't know any doctor in this practice that wouldn't do a VBAC, you just have to understand your circumstances."

"I know my circumstances." I say back." I was induced at 37 weeks and nothing happened, so I had a c-section."

"Well," she answers, "We'll schedule you for 41 weeks." And then she leaves…

So, when they call me the next morning with my c-section date, I find myself crying again. December 30th. That's 40 weeks and 5 days. Not 41 weeks. I know to them it doesn't seem like a big deal. I know 41 weeks exactly is January 1st and they aren't going to schedule one then…but It means something to me. I want to be given 41 weeks like I was promised. What's wrong with January 2, 3, 4… I want as much time as possible to do this on my own! Was I not clear? When I called to complain the schedule lady said that notes said: Strongly wants a VBAC (thank you for that) schedule after 40 weeks as close to 41 as possible.

Ugh, almost 41 is not 41. The scheduler told me to talk to the doc when I have my next appointment. GG told me not to freak out unless they won't change it at my next appointment. I just feel so unheard, so I've decided to embrace the birth affirmations. Maybe if I can embrace them, the doctors can get with my program…



  1. Speaking as one of the VBAC supportive people that surround you, you must know this. You are NOT required to schedule. NO is a perfectly reasonable answer. Do you see an emergency? I don't see no stinkin' emergency! I asked my doc "are you going to come to my house and get me?" He asked "are you planning on hiding out?" I said, "no, I'll just keep coming in every so often for a checkup and we'll wait and see what is necessary" In your case given your heart concern, maybe you do want to schedule to make sure it's daytime and the people you need are around. How about 42 weeks on the dot? 42 weeks 2 days to be totally sure? If your baby wants to be a 2012'er, so be it. You can call in and be taken off the schedule. If they give you a hard time, just let them know you will not be showing up so they'll be standing around looking dumb (unless of course you agree in your gut that it's the best choice.) You are mad because you are being manipulated and pushed into the same old scenario that millions of us face when simply trying to give birth. They hate when you go past 40w3d, but too bad. It's about you and your baby first and foremost and you are the only one looking out for YOUR best interests. Sheesh...They don't know how to back off "the script", even when you are in preterm labor.

  2. I agree with Shari. Thank you Shari for your comment.

  3. Well, I got forced into my VBAC and will send you a link about some of the aftermath...