Happy holidays everyone! As mentioned on my social media (for those of you that follow me there), today is the first day in 2 weeks that I am staying home and not seeing anyone other than my husband & my kitties and so, (finally!) a free moment to do a little writing & catch up with the world and my own thoughts.
Today it is 7 weeks & 5 days til Charly’s due date, and I am feeling every single day of the 32 weeks and 2 days of my pregnancy. The past month has really taken its toll as the third trimester has dominated me completely. Anyone who said that the first trimester is the worst deserves a good solid slap upside the head – I have every symptom from trimester one with the added joys of an enormous rock-hard belly that weighs a solid ton, an extremely hyper baby who is going to be born with the most amazing muscle definition, reflux so bad that I can barely breathe almost all of every day and I have yet to manage to sleep longer than an hour without having to heave myself awkwardly and most-often painfully from my bed to waddle to the bathroom. And we shall avoid completely the return of the crazy preggy hormones, completely irrational emotions and fears and mood swings that even leave me feeling shell-shocked half the time.
I am drinking Gaviscon by the bottle daily, over 3l of water a day to try keep the Braxton Hicks as mild as possible and taking ASIC at least every morning to try keep the room from feeling like a carousel all around me. I am hungry near constantly, coz I can never eat enough to feel full since my stomach is completely squished and the reflux & nausea have an amazing habit of striking simultaneously within seconds of eating. My lower back & joints are achy and burning most of the time. The swelling in my feet, ankles, knees & hands is extreme and uncomfortable and often painful as the joints no longer work properly and I wake up in the night with clawlike aching hands that won’t unfold naturally. My belly feels as if it is locked in an endless Braxton Hicks contraction (although when the BH hits, I can definitely tell that the daily tight discomfort is not BH at all), but new doctor has checked me out & there doesn’t seem to be irritable uterus & there is plenty of amniotic fluid, so there is no worrying reason for the tight hard tummy – I am just one of the lucky few who are carrying that way. And Charly’s movements now definitely lean more towards painful and uncomfortable than any kind of flutters.
All of that horridness said – I STILL adore watching her move around and turn my tummy into weird shapes and I have no doubt at all that I am going to miss my bump, not least because it is the firmest my tummy has ever been 😉 And, wonder of all wonders, I also know that barring a disastrous birth experience, I will definitely be trying to fall pregnant with a second baby within a year of having Charly. Pregnancy has been an extremely physically & emotionally difficult experience, with so many horrible side effect I cannot WAIT to have disappear (yes, reflux I AM talking to you), but none of it (thus far) has been enough to put me off doing it again. It has however made me certain that personally I wouldn’t want the added stress of being pregnant after 35 (I am not the fittest or healthiest 31 year old as it is & I know that there are loads of over 40s happily pregnant & having wonderful healthy happy babies). Which means, new baby will need to come along pretty soon after Charly, and I will be happy to have them close in age as well so they can relate to one another more easily and be friends growing up.
Now that the good moan is over – on to the doctor dramas of the last week. As anyone who read my traumatised post on having to move hospitals at the “last minute” knows, I also had to face finding a new doctor. I thought I had done so when my current gynae recommended a doctor who we shall call Dr X, I felt reassured by the fact that he would be from the same era and have the same experience as Dr George and to top it off, when we arrived at the appointment on Monday I realised I had actually been to this doctor once before years ago and had really liked him – fate, right?! No, not right at all.
The first question Dr X asked was how I wanted to give birth. Even though I said I wouldn’t discuss my choices before the time on here, it is very relevant to the rest of this post, so I will be talking about it after all. It goes without saying – if you want to respond to the information I am about to give, feel free, but I still have very little interest in hearing opinions on my choice please. My answer to Dr X was that after a lot of research and soul searching and conversations with my husband, I have decided I want to try natural birth with an epidural, barring complications at which point I am 100% pro-cesarean. His response sent me back to the hysterical tears I am now so familiar with – as of 01 January, he will no longer be performing natural deliveries. While I appreciate the right for a doctor to choose what his job entails, I was still devastated as regardless of my pro-c leanings, I am far more pro-women’s choice than anything else and I am not willing to give up that choice completely, and this meant I was back to square one with regards to finding a doctor.
I really respected Dr Xs honesty & the fact that he talked us through not only his own decision, but the shift in obstetrics in South Africa at the moment. All the pro-natural mommies out there may want to stop reading at this point, because even as a pro-birth-choice mommy I was horrified by what I heard. After much research, Dr X predicts that by 2020 a woman will not be able to have a natural birth anywhere other than a state hospital in South Africa – yes really. There are a number of reasons for this, first of which is the insanely high insurance premiums obstetricians have to pay to cover themselves from being sued if anything is wrong with the baby being born (it is tough to prove that a baby would have been born with certain issues and that it is not due to error or negligence of the doctor who delivered the baby).
There are also the obvious reasons such as convenience, not having to be on call 24/7, the speed & ease of the procedure, and (contrary to the super pro-naturals out there) the safety of the procedures now. From a private hospital’s point of view, there is the added bonus of the fact that cesareans are more expensive, they need additional staff, operating theatre bookings, longer care and stays in the hospitals, and mostly scheduled and planned births, allowing smoother operations as well as increased profits – you can deliver far more babies in a day via c-section than you can with unpredictable natural births.
The delivering doctor is also not solely responsible for the baby as a pediatrician has to be in the room and therefore assumes a large portion of the responsibility for the baby as soon as it is delivered. And then there were South African specific reasons, such as limited qualified new nursing staff (as many of the more qualified staff move overseas where the pay and circumstances are far better). According to this Dr, some of the staff can be so bad as to lead the Dr to see who is in charge of their labouring patient and instantly recommend a c-section as it is the only way the Dr feels they can protect the patient from inexperienced or incompetent staff. There has also apparently been a high number of hijackings and robberies of Drs called out in the middle of the night or early hours of the morning to deliver babies; one Dr was hijacked 4 times in a month and just resigned from obstetrics altogether. With all of that in mind, I can completely understand Drs choosing to abstain from natural deliveries altogether; but where does that leave us?!
Dr X was able to recommend one Dr at Constantiaberg that would still take on a patient wanting a natural delivery (apparently there are 2, possibly 3, at Constantiaberg that still do). I was a little nervous to begin with because this was a “new” Dr to the hospital having just moved here from George and he is close in age to us (I don’t know why this makes me nervous as the logical part of my brain knows I am old enough to have a “grown up” job like a Dr now). Dr X made the appointment for me for Friday and we just had to hope that this one would be “the one”. And wouldn’t you know it… he was!
Dr Cloete is great. The first thing to work in his favour was the simple fact that he looks a lot like one of Brett’s friends who is one of my favourite people in the whole world – completely irrelevant I know, but he automatically got allocated a bunch of great attributes such as warmth, sweetness, sincerity, honesty and trustworthiness that instantly put me at ease before he even shook our hands. Luckily, after a few minutes of talking with him it became clear he had all of those attributes on his own too. After initial getting to know you small talk, he took a full medical history on myself and Brett, and we talked through the whole pregnancy from the first visit at 5 weeks to the visit on Monday with Dr X. I had a number of questions (as I am sure you guys would imagine) and he answered every one of them in exactly the right way – from delaying cord cutting current research to what constituted complications in natural birth that might lead to cesarean (all of which matched perfectly what my own research and beliefs were).
He also has a great scanning machine while he awaits delivery of a 4D scanner which he will use as his office machine (again, something that may seem silly, but after months of not being able to see anything on the snow machines outside of the Fetal Assessment Clinic, it answered the question I had as to why Drs weren’t taking advantage of technologies that make keeping track of baby and mommy easier and more thorough). Younger Dr means more in line with current trends and technology which for the tech writer in me & Brett’s techi nature really works for us. After a full scan, with tracking of heartbeat, placenta flow, amniotic fluid measurement, growth and weight checks and cervical length confirmation (no internal scan also made me feel more comfortable for first time visit), Dr declared Charly perfectly on track and the entire pregnancy happily standard with no obvious warning signs or expected complications – yay us!
After all that, Dr Cloete still sat and listened to further questions I had from my birth plan outline, from inductions (to be avoided if at all possible) to episiotomies (ditto) to delaying all non-essential procedures til after Charly has breastfed for the first time. All in all, we were with him from just after 10am to just after 12 and not once did we feel rushed or like our questions weren’t valid and important. I suspect the good Dr is not only excellent at all things Doctor, but also a natural empath and I have never felt more comfortable and confident about the birth of my baby. New Doctor gets a gold star and 10/10 on all counts and if any of you are looking for a new doctor or even a second opinion, feel free to mail me for his details.
In the end, the rollercoaster of emotions and being passed around like the proverbial parcel has had a happier ending than I might have thought possible. For a pessimist, I am fully believing that everything happens for a reason for now. So that is all (she writes at the end of a seemingly endless post). I have also finished a post on recommended reading that I will post on Thursday (giving everyone a chance to recover from their New Years celebrations). Hubby & I will be continuing our annual tradition of watching Firefly reruns til our eyes can’t stay open any longer. Have an amazing (safe!!) New Year everybody.