aubreym: Ocean beach at sunset (Default)
I don't even know where to begin.  I'm still pregnant - in the beginning of my second trimester (woo!)... somewhere around 14 weeks and 5 days.  It's less clear than I thought because I was counting from my last period, and I'm not too clear on how long my cycles are (I only had 4 before I got pregnant - after about 4 years or so of none)... I had a computer program that estimated the length of my cycle based on those months, but I don't know exactly when I ovulated.  And I had several days of sex around the right time.  

When I went and got the ultrasound for the neuchal translucency screening, the technician said that the baby almost wasn't big enough for the test.  I was a little worried for a while - was the baby not growing?  Her helpful answer - "I don't know.  I haven't measured you before."  Gee, thanks.  Fortunately other people reminded me that I don't know the exact date of conception, so it's not time to worry about baby size.  I'm ... mostly... relieved.  On the up side - the guppy was moving around in there and the heart beat was 164.  

So when I'm not worrying about whether the baby is still in there, I'm thinking about the birth and trying to talk about it with Tom.  Even though we both agreed on home birth with Tai, he's less sure this time around - and this is putting it mildly.  He's convinced that birth is suddenly "very dangerous" and "very risky".  The only place it should be done is in the hospital.  That will make it much safer.  And though he says that this is my body, my birth and my choice and he "will support me", he says this is my choice and I need to "own it".  Which means, to him, that I'm "responsible" for the outcome.  Whatever that is.  Even though I asked him, he can't tell me what it is, exactly, that he's worried about doing this at home.  I was hoping that I could see if there are ways we could reassure him - to solve those concerns.  Or, if not, I could understand better and maybe decide to go into the hospital because it's so important for him.  But he won't admit that his feelings about birth aren't researched or logical - which is fine!  But he thinks I need to make my case *for* homebirth completely logically and researched.  Even though I've sent him some of the research I have done.  

He says I'm not going to change his mind, he's not going to change mine, so I just need to "own the decision".  Except I really believe this is a decision we should come to *together*.  We are partners, spouses, not friends or roommates.  I just don't know how to make this happen.  I mean, we don't have to agree - but I want us both to feel comfortable with this.  He says this whole idea about homebirth is just about me, not the baby.  And when I try to explain that it's both, he just rolls his eyes and refuses to believe me.

We won't even go into what it's going to be like talking to my mom about this.  She is completely convinced that I would be risking almost certain death for my baby or myself by trying this at home.  I was talking about it with Wendy, and she pointed out that I'll have to have a firm boundary about talking about this with Mom.  Like - "I've made my decision, it's an informed decision, and you're welcome to have your feelings about it, but I'm not willing to debate it."  And then just leave it.  Let her work through her feelings herself, in her own therapy.  I think the hardest part is the idea that I have to let her have her feelings - even if she's worried about me, or angry with me, or upset at me.  And maybe that's partially what I'm worried about with Tom, too.  Our relationship feels so fragile, I can't imagine it surviving if things go wrong.  Even if there's no proof of what caused a "bad" outcome.

I just want to say fuck all you all.  Fuck this shit.  You say it's my choice and I need to own it?  Fine.  I choose to do this at home.  I am going to do it.  Screw the fear, screw the ignorance, screw people who aren't pregnant telling me what to do.  Part of me wants to do it, just because they think I can't.

I want this birth to be the best possible for me and my baby and I believe that the best way to do that is at home.  Yes, part of it is about me.  Because it's my body!  My experience.  And I have done the research.  I am not going into this blind.

I don't want this to feel like a fight with the people who are the most important in my life.  I feel like I'm going to have enough work to deal with my previous labor and birth experience, to prepare for this one, without having to deal with their stuff too.  But I don't think doing it in the hospital is the right thing!  It might be, for them, but not me.  There will be enough work for me to have a natural birth without working against all of the people in the hospital who might push me in a different direction.

I know what's right for me - but I am not doing this alone.   I have *no* idea where to go with this.

aubreym: Ocean beach at sunset (Default)
This Saturday, when Tom and I were out for date night, we were briefly listening to "A Prairie Home Companion" on NPR.  (Not one of my favorite shows; I find Garrison Keillor's voice annoying.)  Keillor read a poem by John Updike and it struck me as something I wanted to remember, though I'm not usually much of a poetry person.  I looked it up online and want to keep it here so I can find it again.


Perfection Wasted

And another regrettable thing about death
is the ceasing of your own brand of magic,
which took a whole life to develop and market --
the quips, the witticisms, the slant
adjusted to a few, those loved ones nearest
the lip of the stage, their soft faces blanched
in the footlight glow, their laughter close to tears,
their tears confused with their diamond earrings,
their warm pooled breath in and out with your heartbeat,
their response and your performance twinned.
The jokes over the phone. The memories
packed in the rapid-access file. The whole act.
Who will do it again? That's it: no one;
imitators and descendants aren't the same.

John Updike


In other news - Tai is definitely on the mend.  His whining was confined only to the hours we were at home - while we were out to lunch with Anat, Karen and Talya and while we were walking with Mom he was totally fine and charming (though still snotty).  I'm glad he's feeling better - when he's sick he's so pathetic, with his big, staring eyes and his little bottom lip tucked under.  

Oddly, he's been refusing the bottle the past couple of nights.  Not sure what that's about - it's a bummer because Tom likes to hold him and rock him to sleep sometimes.  And because I like to have a bit of time to myself.  I think he might be teething - or it could be that he just wants his Momma because he's still not feeling quite right.  Either way, I'm telling myself that this too shall pass, and trying to enjoy the quiet time while we rock.

At 2:30am on Thursday, it will be exactly a year since I went into labor with Tai.  I've been thinking a lot about his birth lately, needless to say.  More on that soon.  Also - I wonder if he has any sort of memory of the experience - our labor and his birth?  A physical memory, maybe.  I wonder if that could be contributing to his restlessness?  
 


aubreym: Ocean beach at sunset (Default)
Friends and family,

On February 7, at 12:17pm, at St. Luke's Hospital in San Francisco, Tai Isidor Harmon-Duffy was extracted into this world.  This, however, was not the plan. 

From the beginning , Aubrey had an idea about how she wanted the birth to go.  Like most of us, she does not like cold hospital rooms and medical procedures.  Instead, she wanted to have the baby in a sanctuary, a place with candles and light scents and soft music, surrounded by close friends and family.  After much research and debate, we decided to have a home birth.  As Woody Allen said: If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.

At 4am on Super Tuesday, February 5, Aubrey nudged me.  I grudgingly opened my eyes. Then she informed me -- her contractions had started.  Bing!  I was awake.  Lisa, Aub's close friend and doula, came over a few hours later.  I called my parents and told them to expect a grandson soon.

The contractions came and came and came, but the baby did not.  This lasted one day.  Then two days.  By the third morning, Aubrey was exhausted.  We hadn't slept and none of the homeopathic  remedies were helping.  Aubrey decided she needed an epidural and something to move the labor along.  This turned out to be a very good idea because it was only after getting to the hospital did we find out that the baby's heart rate started to dip.  After patiently waiting days to arrive, he was in distress and an emergency C-section was in order.  Despite St. Luke's being a run-down hospital in an under-served area, the staff was jovial and made the experience feel as warm and joyous as they could under the circumstances.  Dr. Norrell was always reassuring – once I arrived at the hospital, I never doubted that Tai would be fine.  And the anesthesiologist took pictures during the surgery.  Everyone was unbelievable.  I felt so taken care of.

When the baby arrived, he was not breathing.  He needed his nose and throat suctioned and was intubated.  After finally breathing on his own, he was put into an incubator and sent to the ICU.  As Aub was still in the OR, I followed my baby boy.  We got on the elevator, but it had recently been serviced and the nurses didn't have a key. We spent 15 long minutes waiting in the elevator while they scrambled to fix the problem.  Luckily, there was no emergency at that point.  And it gave me a chance to start bonding with my beautiful son.  And he was beautiful, if green.  Fortunately he was only in the ICU for a short time, then (at Tom's urging) they brought him to me in the recovery room and gave me a chance to bond with him as well.  I was happier than I've ever been.

The labor and birth were the hardest, and paradoxically, most amazing experiences of my life.  Even though it didn't go exactly as I'd planned, the outcome is perfect.  Ten months later, I still can't believe I have a son.  For the first time in my life words fail to express what I feel about him.


We spent a good portion of time in the hospital trying to discover the perfect name for our son.  We agreed on Tai Isidor. His first name, Tai, is an homage to his great-grandmother Thelma "Ty" Curchin who died while he was in utero.  We used the Chinese spelling to commemorate his birth on the Chinese New Year.  It means "great, extreme" (太) or "safe, peaceful" (泰) in Chinese.  His second name comes from his great-great-grandfather, Isidor Kucera, who was born in 1902 and lived to see the 21st century.  We have great hopes Tai will be able to see the 22nd.

Grandma Karen and Grandpa McGee visited us in the hospital.  Grandpas Brogan and Des, were the first to visit from out of town.  Following that, it was Mimi and Popa (Judy and Richard).  Both Brogan and Judy have been back several times this year.  Uncle Patrick came down from Oregon for the 4th of July.  Uncle Quinton met Tai when he was five weeks old, on Tai's first trip down to Southern California.  Tai has charmed everyone he met.  We call him the trainer baby, as he even melts the hearts of those who are unsure about babies.

In September, we took Tai on his great East Coast tour.  We visited Mimi and Popa in Washington DC.  Then we drove north to New Jersey where we attended my cousin's Bat Mitzvah.  Tai loved the party weekend: he danced the nights away.

We visited Tai's two great-grandfathers, Ahah and Pop (Ken Curchin and O'Neill Duffy) in Fair Haven/Rumson, NJ.  From there, we flew to Lansing, Michigan to visit Aubrey's Aunt Chris, Uncle Greg and Cousin Dave.  We drove up to Flushing, MI to visit Aubrey's father.  Tai especially enjoyed Grandpa Harmon's long beard.  Apparently his chin was sore for days.

Since his birth, Tai has blossomed into a curious, happy, stubborn, happy, handsome, did I say happy, boy.  He's crawling and cruising the furniture and hates being confined to a seat for any length of time.  He loves to eat and has tried Mexican, Ethiopian, and American cuisines.  He's not so much a fan of sleeping, but he's improving on naps.  He loves playing with Daddy and Momma.  He points at whatever he wants, then we try to figure out exactly what he means.  He empties our drawers and cabinets.  Fortunately he's only eaten one Christmas ornament (he's fine).  He wakes up with a grin between 6 and 7 every morning and he wakes me up by poking me in the eye and gesturing for his toys.  We're swiftly approaching his first birthday and I'm looking forward to seeing what the next year brings.

Ba ba ba.  Ma ma.  Ga.  i.  ah.

Happy holidays all.  We hope you have a fabulous New Year.

Love,



 Tom, Aubrey and Tai


aubreym: Ocean beach at sunset (Tai)
So this is my first go at telling the extended version of the birth story - and I'm planning on coming back to it with revisions, especially after I get Lisa's notes. She kept much better track of timing and such than I did. One of the oddest things about being in labor was how time went. It seemed to compress in a weird way,
passing without my noticing. Which is good, considering how long the labor was. Read more... )
aubreym: Ocean beach at sunset (Default)
Fortunately digestive issues seem to have subsided without full-blown illness, and also without labor. Even though I am so very excited to meet the wiggler, I really want him to make it the full 37 weeks. Mostly for his sake, but also for more selfish reasons. For instance, otherwise - all of the home-birth vs. hospital birth questions will be rather moot. Not to mention, even if Mom isn't at the birth itself (which is still up in the air) I would like her to be close by for after. But I want him to be completely ready when he arrives.

The longer I consider home-birth and natural birth and the state of birthing in America in general, the more I want to do something about it. I'm not certain what, but something. Needless to say, I'm still in the early consideration stages. I'm thinking about becoming a midwife. I think it would be amazing to attend women's births - to be there at the beginning of new life. To help women discover their own power in their bodies, and to bring their babies into the world.

I'm also thinking about what it would take to start another birth center in San Francisco. Not to take anything away from the one already here, but to broaden access. To offer more choices for women. It seems so strange that there's only one birth center for a whole city like San Francisco. And most of the Bay Area. I'm also thinking about how I might use my other talents (writing, organizing) to make a difference - to broaden awareness about the birth situation in America, to advocate for different options in birth.

All of this is still in the germination stages, but it gives me something to think about in the future. A new vision of what my life might look like.

Week 24

Oct. 10th, 2007 10:24 pm
aubreym: Ocean beach at sunset (Default)
Have I mentioned lately how much better the second trimester is than the first?  No?  Because I haven't mentioned anything at all here in weeks?  Well, it's true.  Very little nausea (every now and again I'll feel a little green, but fortunately those times have been few and far between - though I feel like I should knock wood or something in case I jinx myself).  I have energy back - I haven't taken a nap in a couple of weeks.  I have an appetite (which is both blessing and... not so much of a blessing).  My mood is usually good (though Tom might have something to say about that.)  And I'm finally starting to look more pregnant than fat.  Too bad there's only a few weeks left of the trimester.

I've passed the half-way mark, and things are starting to get interesting.  My aunt (my mom's sister) is throwing me a baby shower in Michigan - so I get to see a ton of relatives that I haven't seen in about a thousand years.  We're going to do the traditional woman-only shower thing, with obligatory silly games.  It should be a trip.  Mom's in town, so we've been doing such fun and productive things as - registering for a bunch of stuff at Babies 'R' Us (because the Michigan contingent isn't of the IntarWeb generation), buying maternity pants, and buying far too many clothes for The Boy.  Oh yes, and eating regular and plentiful meals.  Japanese, Thai, Nepalese, how I love you.  And icecream.  And delicious, buttery veggie pot pie.

The Boy has been moving around in the belly (doing backflips and generally swimming around) for a couple of weeks now.  It's a bit strange, an interesting sensation, and so very cool.  There's something alive in there!  How weird is that?  It's fun to feel him doing his thing while I'm hanging around.

Tom and I are taking a Child Birth class at Natural Resources, a cool little place in the Mission.  The teacher, Amy, is knowledgable and warm.  I like her a lot.  She's really good about not pushing her own agenda, but supporting whatever the students are planning for their births - as well as giving us enough information that we can make a good decision.  We have a ton of information, but the decision is taking a while.  (Good thing we have a couple of months left to figure it all out.)

I know I want a birth that is as natural as possible.  I want to avoid interventions as much as I can.  I want to be able to feel my power as a woman giving birth.  I want to feel supported and encouraged, and not acted upon.  Of course - above all I want a healthy baby.  And even the best laid plans can go awry.  After all - it's all well and good to think I won't need an epidural when I've never experienced labor.  During?  I might be singing a different tune.

I'm still seeing the nurse midwives at CPMC, but I'm also considering home birth with a midwife.  Tom and I were considering the one free-standing birth center (which is also in the Mission) and we went on a tour last week.  The labor/delivery rooms are quite nice - painted with relaxing colors.  The beds look comfortable and homey.  There's a bit of decoration on the walls.  There are large tubs in each room so a woman can labor and/or give birth in the water.  Each room has its own bathroom, too.  There's room to move around.  There are birthing stools.  I liked the facility.  Unfortunately I just didn't mesh with the midwife who heads the center.  She will be at each person's birth, as well as a student midwife, so I would have to work with her.  She is passionate about what she does, and she's a good advocate for natural birth.  But her energy is a bit more frenetic than I can deal with.  I feel like I have enough jangled energy of my own when I get nervous and having her there would just twist me up a bit more.  I feel like I need someone who is more even, low-key and nurturing.

Both Tom and I were disappointed that the Birth Center didn't work for me.  We felt like it would be a good way to get a home-style birth without having our house need to be in perfect condition.  (Renovations while pregnant/birthing/having a newborn?  Not the wisest of plans.)  I had been feeling a bit at my wit's end about the birth - like I might not be able to find what I'm looking for.  I've heard a lot of stories  where hospitals pushed interventions, especially at CPMC.

Today I met with one of my midwives.  I told her (politely) about my concerns and she did her best to explain things.  She says that in their practice they have a lot of lee-way to do what their patients want.  She gave me some vague statistics (2 c-sections in the year + that she's been in the practice, more than 50% of women who want a natural birth have one, no continuous fetal monitoring, few vaginal exams, women in labor are encouraged to move, to eat and drink, to labor in the shower or the aqua-doula if we want one...)  and she promised to get me real statistics.  It's different than the usual hospital experience.  So I'm doing as Mom suggested and trying to keep an open mind.  Tom and I are doing a tour of the labor/delivery rooms this weekend and we're going to ask the woman who's giving us the tour some questions too. 

I'm feeling more hopeful, and that's always a good thing.  Now The Boy is telling me it's time to sleep.  While I have the opportunity.

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