Wednesday, August 02, 2006

We Have a Heartbeat

Yesterday Epu, Nutmeg and I all walked through the furnace formerly known as our neighborhood and into the delighfully icy hospital where we're planning to give birth to the baby henceforth to be known here as Filbert. We had our first midwife appointment, learned all about the practice, and, most importantly, confirmed that Filbert is alive in there. You'd think my steadily expanding abdomen would have reassured me of this, but until I hear that heartbeat, I always have a nagging feeling that the whole "pregnant" thing is a big misunderstanding due to my inability to read the language of lines on stick.

Just like with Nutmeg in early pregnancy, it took a long time to find the heartbeat. That's minutes of me lying on my back, stealing glances at the midwife's face to check for alarm. It's a lot like sitting on an airplane where a strange noise is sounding from somewhere in the works, and studying the faces of the crew for clues that we might be about to die. Finally, she found the little guy's quick, quiet heartbeat, and all was good.

I think I will like the practice. There are only 6 midwives, so chances are good that I'll have seen each of them at least once before one of them delivers me. The midwife read on the forms I'd filled out about the fourth-degree tear I had last time, and she took time to discuss with me how they could help me avoid tearing again this time. I was glad that that seemed like a priority. We talked about wearing a monitor in labor (intermittent is standard, which was confirmed today when we took the birth center tour), what gets you transferred to an OB (placenta previa, gestational diabetes), and the practices C-section rate (6% compared to the 27% and climbing national level. of course, midwives always have a lower C rate due to their lack of high-risk patients, but still). I asked how often they used pitocin in labor, and she said that it was not frequent. But then she raised an example that exactly matched my last labor: being stalled for four hours or more at 6 centimeters. Last time, that was exactly where I was when the nurse told me she wanted to start pitocin, and I decided I might as well have an epidural. In the same situation, the midwife said, she would also try pitocin -- IF walking, nipple stimulation, or other efforts had failed to jump start things. I liked that answer a lot, because two years later, I'm still wondering why no one suggested I try other ways to get the contractions going again before turning to pitocin.

Today we toured the birthing center. It's pretty standard and I'm satisfied that giving birth there would be fine. The labor and delivery rooms aren't as prettied up as many are these days, but I now know that I won't care what the room looks like when I'm in labor anyway. They have jacuzzi jet bathtubs, which I feel are a must, and stereos and TVs with VCRs, which are a plus. There was no rocking chair in the room we saw, but the tour guide swore that other L&D rooms have them. I really wanted to rock last time around, but the damn rocking chair was broken and they couldn't or wouldn't locate another one for me.

I asked whether I'd be able to get a meal after delivery if it happens in the middle of the night. Answer: They usually have some sandwiches or a little pasta on hand. That's a lot better than the Cheerios and graham crackers I got last time, after 19 hours of labor and 3 hours of pushing.

One interesting thing: This hospital goes beyond promising that your baby CAN stay with you if he or she isn't having any problems. They require it. They have a NICU (not a high-level one), but no regular nursery just for babies whose moms want to get some rest. In general I find that reassuring, because it means that it's unlikely I'll have to battle anyone over staying with my baby in those early hours. Because I'll be trying to establish breastfeeding, I wouldn't generally send my baby to the nursery anway. But still, it seems kind of weird that it's not an option.

One thing I didn't care for: The postpartum rooms are on a totally different floor, actually a different buildng connected by a walkway over the street, from the labor and delivery rooms and the nursery. I know I'll be in a wheelchair, but still, that's a LONG trek for an exhausted mom to have to make within hours of giving birth.


Anonymous said...

Congrats on the heartbeat! It always takes them awhile to find my little critter's too.

And thanks for the (inadvertent?) tips on what to look for when I am touring birthing centers. I honestly had not even thought about the time of day I would give birth and how that would impact things like available food. But of course now that you mention it, it makes total sense.

I really like "Filbert" - so clever and cute! I guess you couldn't really say "Hazelnut" or everyone would be confused.

Bert said...

Welcome Little Filbert's heartbeat! It's a BOY?! I can't wait to see your belly and say 'hi'. :)

Carrie said...

No, you can't tell the sex by listening to the heartbeat ;-) We have no idea if it's a boy or a girl.