I am now 34 weeks pregnant, which means there’s only 6 more weeks until D Day (or should I say B Day?), which means it theoretically could be only 3 more weeks . . . or 7 depending on when the little one wants to make her appearance. I’m not freaking out at all, oh no, not me! I don’t get it. When my friends were pregnant, it seemed like they were pregnant FOREVER. For me, it feels like barely a month ago when I took that test and first found out!
At least we are now one step closer to being “ready” (from what I understand, that term should be used very loosely when it comes to having a baby): we have now completed the prepared childbirth classes at Kaiser. For the last three Saturdays in a row, my dutiful husband woke up early with me so that we could drive to the hospital and sit in their health education center and learn about labor, delivery, breast feeding and taking care of a newborn (here is where Aaron goes into his Bill Cosby imitation about the irony of taking a class to learn about “natural childbirth”). Kaiser called the classes Lamaze, but they were nothing like the Lamaze you see on tv or in the movies. It really was more like a health class, learning the mechanics of what happens to your body when pregnant and during the labor and delivery, and then about twenty minutes of practicing some deep, yogic type breathing (no “hee hee hoo” panting). The instructor also showed us some good massage techniques to try for when we are in labor, though she also warned the dads that “mom” (i.e. me) might not want them to touch her at all when the time comes, and to just be supportive and understanding. Basically the motto of the class seemed to be, “Here are some techniques that have worked for other people, but you know your body best, and you need to do whatever works for you when the time comes.”
I will say that the class reinforced my desire to try to do this as natural as possible (i.e. no drugs, if I can get through it without them). Without drugs, you can still move around in the birthing room as much as you want and shift positions for pushing, etc. With the epidural, you end up confined to the hospital bed because you are completely numb from the waist down. Another thing I learned, that makes sense, but never occurred to me, is that with the epidural, they have to put a catheter in you because you can’t feel the need to pee. I am definitely not knocking the epidural and women who choose it. For all I know, the pain will be so intense that I will be screaming for the drugs. I just know that I at least want to try to get through without them. It’s almost like a challenge for me. In my head, I’m thinking, “If I can make it through an 8-10 hour day on pointe shoes, I can do this!”
The last day of class, we took a tour through Labor & Delivery. It was nice to finally see where we will be when the time comes. This Kaiser has 8 Labor rooms, which are small rooms where you labor (shocking, I know). If everything is progressing well and there is room available, then they move you to one of their 4 Labor, Delivery, Recovery Rooms. If it turns out you need a C-section (or the LDR rooms are full), then they move you to the OR. If you give birth in the OR, then there is a separate, larger Recovery room that they move you to after the birth for what they call “family bonding time,” which you get in-room if you are in one of the LDR rooms.
When we took our tour last weekend, all 4 LDR rooms were occupied, so we couldn’t see them. Our instructor was shocked because that happens so rarely. So all 25 of us crammed into the tiny Labor room, which made most of the pregnant ladies feel a bit claustrophobic. Fortunately, on Monday Aaron and I took a private tour of Labor & Delivery. When the nurse showed us a Labor room, it felt much more spacious with only 3 people in it! It’s still small, but I wasn’t feeling claustrophobic. We also got to see the LDR rooms. Of the 4 LDR rooms, 2 are older, and 2 have been completely renovated and re-modeled. Only 1 of the LDR rooms does not have a window, and that’s one that has been renovated. The renovated rooms are amazing! They are 3 times the size of the labor rooms; they have hard wood floors and mood lighting, and just feel very welcoming. We need to remember to ask to be put in one of those rooms when the time comes! I mean, the older ones would do, but if at all possible, I definitely want to be one of the newer rooms.
One thing that’s nice about our hospital is that immediately after the baby is born, they put the newborn, goopy and all, on mom’s chest for immediate skin to skin contact (and hopefully the first feeding session). They give mom, dad and baby about an hour together for some family bonding time while the nurses clean everything else up. After that hour, they will take baby away for weighing, bathing, etc. (which can be done in the LDR rooms if that’s where we end up). If they have to take baby out of the room, they encourage the dad to follow so he can always keep his eye on the baby. Aaron and I both really liked that. We don’t want baby out of our sight as much as possible.
After the recovery time is over, once they know you are stable, they will move us over to the post-partum rooms. Those rooms have two beds in them, so theoretically I could have a roommate, but they said it rarely happens that they are so full that they need to double people up. If a patient does not take the other bed, then Aaron will be allowed to sleep in it. Kaiser also has a policy that the baby room-in with the parents – i.e. they don’t take the baby away to sleep in a nursery. They want parents to be able to learn their baby’s hunger cues from the beginning and be able to start establishing breast-feeding as soon as possible. They also, as a policy, don’t feed the baby formula unless there is a necessity for it. I just like that a lot of their policies (immediate skin to skin contact and rooming in) are things I would have asked for anyway, so it means I don’t have to worry about forgetting to ask when I’m all delirious from having just given birth. They did give us a form to fill out that acts as a “birth plan” if we want to do that. I’ve only skimmed it. I guess I should take the time to actually read it and fill it out at some point in the next couple weeks.
For those of you who want a bump picture, here’s my shadow during the solar eclipse last Sunday: