Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Baby III Week 16: Curds & Weigh

16 Weeks 

 I've been avoiding the the scale a bit. I decided that I needed to come face to face with what this belly has done to those 3 digits that I so obsess over I about fainted. In two weeks and two days I gained 7 lbs. Dude. That's 11 lbs since conception. I have to preface this, in case you've forgotten, I DO NOT believe pregnant women should obsess over their weight. I don't believe obstetricians should give their clients an acceptable number of pounds to gain. Honestly, if you are pregnant I think you should go ahead and put that scale away until you wean your baby. However, considering my history of gestational diabetes I knew that rapid weight gain can mean that I'm already diabetic, which I should have another 10 or so weeks before that happens. So I talked with my midwife, I went through my diet and I went ahead took at almost all the dairy (something I do respond negatively to when I'm diabetic) and I had been cheating a little with russet potatoes, granola, and fruit, so I took that all out too. Today I did slip down a pound and half since Saturday. I went in for a blood test yesterday (prenatal panel plus A1C) so we will find out soon what this all means!

I am finally adjusting to Eric working in San Francisco AND being a very sleepy preggo. Eric gets home around 5pm, I feed him and the kids (and daycare kids), last daycare baby is picked up at 6:30, Eric is in bed by 7:45 or sooner, kids in bed by 8:30 and honestly, I'm beat by then. When am I supposed to hit the gym? A few days I've been able to squeeze in a run or swim between 6:30 and 7:30. I think I can do this two or three work days then go to bootcamp Saturday and do something else on Sunday. I have to get over my usual routine being thrown out the window, I really miss hitting either the 6am or 5:30pm classes though!

I'm finally sleeping again! Yay! Not sure why, hormone shift, eating a little more during the day? I'm just happy to not be waking up from 3am-5am every day!

Baby is SO so soooo active. He's on one side kicking away and then he's clear on the other side of my belly going nuts. I've never had such an active baby so soon! It's kinda crazy! Oh I learned something interesting this week!

I was researching the Brewer Diet which is basically a high protein, no sugar, no "white" carbs, no processed foods and I read to not use protein shakes because they can make the baby grow bigger than normal. I thought that was interesting because I also noticed that when I am diabetic my blood sugar goes up when I use protein shakes even though they only have 1g of sugar and 3 carbs. I think it's the whey. Dairy seems to always cause some kind of issue with me, why does it have to be so delicious? We really need to break up permanently... unless he promises to never do it again.

 Here's our 16 week pics. I realize my outfit didn't create the best contrast. Baby is avocado sized... mmmmm... makes me want chips.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Not Another Circumcision Post

Right now the natural birth and parenting community is blowing up over the American Academy of Pediatrics revision of their policy on infant circumcision. In 1999:
"Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision."
And now this just in:
"Evaluation of current evidence indicates that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks and that the procedure’s benefits justify access to this procedure for families who choose it."
They repeat this about a bazillion times then sneak in:
"Although health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns, the benefits of circumcision are sufficient to justify access to this procedure for families choosing it and to warrant third-party payment for circumcision of male newborns."
Whatever. Either circumcision is a good idea for non-medical reasons or it's not. I'm not going to labor on over this because so many others are saying it. No new evidence is provided, but suddenly the AAP is making a stronger case for the benefits. It looks like the steady decline in infant circumcision (80% in 1950's, 65% in the 1990's, now 55% nationally and 30% in western states) and the loss of the hundreds of millions in revenue for both preforming the procedure and selling the foreskins for research/cosmetics AND the decline in insurance companies covering the procedure when there is no medical indication for it are all making the AAP and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (who are endorsing this statement) sweat. What? Why are the vagina doctors getting involved? Most circumcisions are actually done by OB/GYN's, not pediatricians.

 However, this isn't another why you shouldn't circumcise your baby post with statistics, studies and a picture of a screaming baby. It's a post about why Eric and I have remained unconvinced by the intactivist movement and what finally tipped the scales.

 Eric and I watched the circumcision episode of Penn & Teller's Bullshit while we were dating, maybe we were engaged. At the end of the episode we had a big "would you circumcise your kid" discussion. He felt like it was an easy decision because noncircs look horrible and he always felt bad for people who weren't circumcised. I felt like it was perhaps risky and unnecessary, but not unlike when women look in the face of science and say "nope, breastfeeding is weird, pass the formula," I couldn't get passed my personal dislike. My experience was that it was like being with a shar pei. No man should have to live with that... off with their heads... or whatever.

I still hoped we would not have boy because I just didn't want to make that decision for him. We found out we were pregnant with Milo so we had the talk again. I had statistics and descriptions of the procedure, but the gross factor won and we chose circumcision, which we watched and it seemed to go smoothly, we didn't know that babies sleeping through a circumcision was a stress response, but like so many other parents we found it comforting.

Another pregnancy, another boy, and another dive into the research. It really felt like for every study that showed a few benefits like an association between fewer cases of penile cancer or STDs, there was another study showing the opposite or an article showing why the first study was flawed -- and we are talking less than a percentage point in increased or decreased incidences of some things! Then there was all the information about how circumcision can disrupt sexual function later in life because the usually protected skin on the head thickens and gets less sensitive... and because like 50% of the nerves are removed during circumcision. But... Eric and I were also thinking, how many guys need to be more sensitive? Isn't that a problem? Has anyone ever thought "this would feel so much better if I had 20,000 more nerves." Probably not. Plus, the studies about actual sensitivity differences are often small, and again for every conclusive result there is another study with the opposite or an inconclusive one. Huge headache. And... then our kids wouldn't match, would that be weird? Would that be telling Milo his penis was a mistake. Sorry son, you only get one and we fucked it up, good luck with that. So we circumcised Ash, for me, mostly based on that last issue. The evidence was not great enough to risk Milo feeling bad, and Ash and I both paid for it.

Ash's circumcision when horribly. The pediatrician would not let us be in the room, Ash was hysterical the whole time and I cried in the waiting room. This went strongly against my instincts to protect my baby and something still wasn't adding up. I began hoping circumcision would just become illegal before we had another boy.

Our third pregnancy, and the intactivist's articles are flooding my news feed and my favorite blogs following the leaks of the AAP's coming announcement. I decided to reopen the case on circumcision and Eric agreed to keep an open mind.

There are buckets of studies and facts to support my decision to birth naturally and to breastfeed, but even if they didn't exist I would still do both. Not because they are super fun or because I'm competing for some better mom award (if you are, there isn't one), but because I believe we are designed. My faith in the fact that God made no mistakes when He created our bodies and their functions prevents me from being able to believe that most women are not meant to birth normally without drugs or medical assistance, and if we have breasts that make milk that babies like that we aren't meant to feed them that way. It's important for me to reach all women, not just those who subscribe to my belief system, so I inform myself of all the facts and studies as well... but for me... I don't hold my breath and hope everything I know about birth doesn't crumble every time a new study is published. 

When I applied the same way of thinking to circumcision, my brain just about short circuited. God designed foreskins, organs with functions. He also commanded the Jews to circumcise themselves as a covenant with Him. We know that for Christians this is a non-issue with the sacrifice of Christ and New Covenant we now have. But why would God command His people to do something that could potentially lead to sexual dysfunction, hemorrhage, and infection? Eric and I believe in the inerrancy of the Word of God and that scripture in the original language and historical context is perfect, Old and New Testament. Any kind of perceived contradiction must be an error in the English translation or a misunderstanding of the context.

I checked the Hebrew word for circumcise, muwl, and it means to cut, some argue it means to cut and not remove, but my usual sources simply said to cut.

So I checked the history of Jewish circumcision. I rarely feel like the Jews lead me astray if we are talking Old Testament. For the most part their traditions seem to be more closely aligned with scripture than Christians'. Perhaps it's because they have a better understanding of their history, which is obviously Biblical history and how scripture matches up to that, or because more of them speak Hebrew and less is lost in translation. Because I feel rabbis' have a better understanding of scripture than many pastors, it's hard for me to not trust that their bris is not how God intended it.

Turns out... it's not...

Brit milah is the cutting of the end of the foreskin, enough to draw blood necessary for the sacrifice and to look different, marking the skin of God's people. To see a drawing of what it looked like, you can go here. The foreskin still covered the head/gland and function was preserved. It would have been a minor procedure  compared to the full removal of the foreskin that is done today. It seems it should be obvious that if under medical supervision and access to antibiotics nearly 200 babies in the US die from circumcision that many more would have died in ancient times. Weren't many of God's commandments for the Jewish people to preserve their race? In case you are about to argue with me, yes... they were.

Commanding His own chosen people to take part in a ritual that could potentially kill many and cause sexual dysfunction for others does not make sense. Neither history or scripture support that this was the case. So where did the full removal of the foreskin come from?
"Many Hellenistic Jews, particularly those who participated in athletics at the gymnasium, had an operation performed to conceal the fact of their circumcision (1 Maccabees 1.15). Similar action was taken during the Hadrianic persecution, in which period a prohibition against circumcision was issued. It was probably in order to prevent the possibility of obliterating the traces of circumcision that the rabbis added to the requirement of cutting the foreskin that of peri'ah (laying bare the glans)." - The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion, ed. R.J. Zwi Werblowsky and G. Wigoder. Oxford University Press, 1997, page 161.
The medical procedure that exists today is not what God commanded Abraham to do to himself or his people, it was invented by men to support their religion. I'm forced to review my other reasons to circumcise and nothing holds up in the context of design. There is just no reasonable reason to circumcise your perfect new baby! 
When we were making the decision for our first son I thought I personally didn't like the look, but first off, God designed me to want the man He made me for. He knew Eric's parents would circumcise him (which Eric now wishes had not happened), and that's what I like. But also, a lot of my dislike had nothing to do with what an intact penis actually looked like. Have you seen one? Erect they look the same as a circumcised penis. What I did know were the joke about the intact penis. The reality looks very... normal. Because that's what it is. Either way, it's not for us to decide if it looks good or not. God made it, it has to good.
And if you do not believe in God... this all still applies. What is more important to any species that the reproductive system? Every species has a foreskin, that would be a pretty huge evolutionary mistake!
I'm not worried about our sons, even if we end up with both circ'ed and intact littles. Children are accepting of differences when they are explained in a matter of fact way. I remember one mom shared that her son just said he was "differs" from his brothers. I don't feel any guilt over circumcising Milo or Ash so they or future sons would not be able to pick up on that. They were not mistakes, just different decisions made with different information.

Update: August 27, 2013
So now a year later with a new little boy, this one kept whole, my feelings have changed some. I do feel regret over circumcising Milo and Ash. The truth is that Eric and I don't know what kinds of consequences our decisions will have for them in the future. I wish I didn't have the memory of Ash's screams, or Milo's long... honestly quite disturbing... healing time. That bothers me, but I think that's ok. As parents we will never be perfect, but we need to at least do better when we know better, and Eric and I feel good that we are at least doing that.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Baby III Week 15: Put a Potato... Where???

Week 15

I met with a licensed midwife this week, in my home, while five kids napped. SO NICE! It may sound like this is the wrong reason to choose a midwife that attends home births and there should be some deeper more emotional side to my decision, perhaps an epiphany, a previous traumatic experience, or a stand against the medical system. However, I rather see women consider seeing a midwife for mundane reasons like mine because that's a sign of women recognizing that a good midwife in your home can provide the same quality (personally, I think better) of care than an caregiver in an office and it's really no big deal. I think every informed reason is a good reason, but it would be wonderful if choosing a home birth or a midwife wasn't fringe birth behavior that needed to be defended with a horrific hospital birth story or a special enlightenment... and it was just a super normal birth option that all women considered or was at least aware of.

My first consultation with Jill was great. I had been up since 3am that morning (as with the two days before, yay pregnancy insomnia) so I was having a hard time remembering my questions and showing how excited/interested I really was. I wish every pregnant woman would see a midwife JUST ONCE so they can see how different the depth of care and attention is compared to most 15, maybe 30 minute prenatal visits with an obstetrician. I need to work out some insurance stuff and get some blood work done then I will have my first official prenatal visit and I will be sure to share the details with you all.

I'm not feeling quite so tired, but I'm suddenly getting lots of heartburn, I don't even have to eat anything, let a lone something spicy! I took tums a few times and it didn't even help, quite shocking considering that I barely took anything with my last pregnancy and when I did it was much later on. Milk doesn't agree with my tummy and I would just like to keep medications to a minimum, so I was excited to see some herbal suggestions in the book I am reading right now, Heart and Hands: A Midwife's Guide to Pregnancy and Birth. I took down the suggestions, even texted one to my pregnant friend Kristen who is also experiencing preggo heartburn in all its glory, but coping med free. Then I started to wonder how much I should trust this book because their suggestion for hemorrhoids was inserting potato slices into your rectum... so... maybe I'll get a second opinion on those herbs. I wonder how many midwives that have suggested the potato thing have gotten phone calls from angry pregnant women with potatoes lost in their butt...

I'm super obsessed with chicken and stars soup. I'd eat it for every meal if I could.

I *think* I'm feeling this baby, but it's really weird. I'm feeling little pokes and swishes, but they are much higher than I should be feeling them, about even with my belly button. Also, I will feel something on one side, then very soon after on the other, which doesn't seem right. Hoping baby feels more normal and obvious soon! I hate wondering what I'm feeling. I've had a couple times where I thought I felt some Braxton-Hicks as well! Too crazy.

Went maternity clothes shopping and bought a couple cute tops, sweaters (everyone who doesn't live in Salinas is confused, it's cold here!) and a pair of jeans... even though my regular jeans fit they aren't quite so comfy anymore. I think wearing maternity clothes makes me look much more pregnant... but I don't think I can totally blame those elastic waist bands, there's definitely been growth this week! I can very clearly feel my uterus and I think I'm gonna be a little more pointy bellied than with the boys, or higher... something... see look:

So baby three compared to...

Pregnant with Ash (a few days more pregnant)

And pregnant with Milo, super low.
So comparing is kinda interesting, maybe all the core strengthening stuff I did this spring/summer are like holding me up and in more? Maybe not, high is supposed to be girl right ;)

Baby is about 4 inches, the size of an orange, it's kinda cool to physically hold something the size of the baby every week!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Baby III Week 14: When life gives you lemons, note that's about the size of my baby right now

14 Weeks

Week 13 complete, whatever rule you go by to determine that you are in your second trimester, at 14 weeks I am now definitely in mine!

Last week I had my first appointment with my midwife at OB-GYN Associates of Santa Cruz. I came prepared to play a one-sided game of 21 questions... I've seriously complied the craziest list of labor and delivery questions over the last few months... like:
"If I need an emergency c-section, what kind of stitch will be preformed?"
In case you are wondering too, at Dominican you will get a double stitch, which is safest but more costly so some insurance companies encourage OB's to preform singles. Priorities.

We got through a few questions but the babies were mid meltdown so we jumped to the belly measure and heartbeat listen. Though I'm measuring right on, she still asked (this will be the 5th time) if I was SURE I didn't want an ultrasound to date the pregnancy. I know it's a standard (profitable) procedure, but it's a standard procedure that goes against the recommendations by the American Institute of
Ultrasound Medicine:
"The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) believe that the use of ultrasound without a medical indication is inappropriate and contradicts the responsible practice of medicine... Although there are no confirmed biological effects on patients at the present time, the possibility exists that such biological effects may be identified in the future. Therefore, the AIUM recommends that ultrasound should be used only when the patient's physician indicates that it will provide medical benefit to the patient." 
I stressed that I am positive of the conception date because I was charting my cycle. I tested at 14dpo (days passed ovulation) and got a negative and tested at 18dpo and got a positive, so I could not be more or less pregnant except by maybe a day or two. My first trimester has followed a completely by the book progression and now... I just measured exactly right on for 13 1/2 weeks and I'm still being pressured into an unnecessary procedure that at this point in the pregnancy could provide little useful information. I held my ground and I was told to make an appointment for another prenatal and a pap in two weeks, which I felt was a little soon, and I didn't want a pap while pregnant (my cervix is providing an important service, I really don't want to piss it off). On the way home I brainstormed other prenatal care options.

I decided that a midwife that attends homebirths and does prenatal care in the home was what I needed. I wouldn't have to close my daycare for appointments, but most importantly she would be less likely to push unnecessary tests because she isn't bound by what the OB's in her practice require (out of obstetrical habit). And she would not be profiting from any tests she ordered. I started asking around and found a certified nurse midwife, Jamie. We chatted on the phone and she sounded fantastic, I was ready to make an appointment, but then she suggested a licensed midwife that she often works with that is located much closer, right here in town. She specializes in natural induction and lives in Africa with her husband (who is an OB) for most of the time, but she will be in Salinas until February.

I called Jill right away. I felt just as much of a connection with her than with Jamie. She said that she had no problem with providing prenatal care in my home then I could go on to deliver in a hospital, she had actually delivered all her babies in a hospital. She also mentioned that she had seen my posts on facebook, and she was the masseuse that attended Sam's birth. Yay for cool connections. We have an appointment this Wednesday!

As for how I'm feeling... good! I haven't made it to the gym this week, Eric working in San Francisco has been a little rough. I have 90 minutes from my last daycare baby getting picked up and the boy's bedtime, and I go to bed soon after they are down. However, I refuse to use the "no time" excuse and will have to figure something out this week. My official first trimester gains were 4 pounds, which was the max I had given myself permission to gain... as if I could control it :)

On my way out to buy maternity jeans... which add about 6 weeks of pregnancy to my bump... just wait til next week's pic!
Lemon baby! Fake lemon actually, this is a lemon juice container.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Baby III Week 13: 13 Miles & Dumb Drowning Turkey

13 Weeks

This week I completed my first half marathon as a gestating runner! Not only did I finish, I destroyed last year's time! I was 20 minutes faster and felt fantastic all the way through! I had been nursing some injuries the week before, what I think is the beginnings of plantar fasciitis (feet feel bruised along the bottoms, walking is difficult, running is laughable) so I taped up my feet and that awesome pregnancy pain threshold pulled through for me. I didn't realize until after that I had run 13 miles at 13 weeks pregnant, kinda funny. I finished in 2 hours and 28 minutes, here's some pictures from the day!

Baby's first race!

On the first day of training we wrote our goal times. Our coach handed back the papers to us the night before the race so we could carry them with us!

So happy to see Eric, and the finish line, almost there!

Runners high for sure! Could not believe my time! And that I still felt pretty good!

I got so many great comments and encouragement from other runners when they noticed the sign on my back! Wish I could do all my races pregnant!
Friend, Sybil, not only did her first half marathon but killed it at 2hrs and 11min!

Dani also took over 20 minutes off her time this year! Lots of smiles at the finish line! Great race, I was thinking running just wasn't for me this week, so feeling back into it now!

After the race I was feeling pretty nauseated, but this was my only free Saturday afternoon until mid September and my hair needed to be re-pinked. As soon as I get a little tired I immediately revert to zombie mode and do stupid things and can't function. Being that I ran the race on only 4 hours of sleep (thank you pregnancy insomnia) I was more than a little tired. At one point when Robin was washing my hair I realized I had been staring at the lights on the ceiling the whole time and now could only see floaties. Ever hear about how domesticated turkeys stare at the sky when it's raining and drown themselves? That's how dumb I feel. I ended up going home with color still in my hair because I was worried about my ability to drive if I was having problems not staring into bright things. I got home and napped instead of rinsing, so my hair turned out a bit brighter than usual. Love it though!

Love you Robin!

Today I have my first midwife appointment! Kinda freaked out, I haven't really felt pregnant this week, other than being tired and not being able to eat a complete meal, oh and a little heartburn, I no longer have that constant nausea, I can't really feel my uterus clearly, and no kicks... so part of me is wondering if I'm even pregnant... so weird. No weight gained this week, I'm actually down a little. Baby is about the size of a peach!