But for Matt and me, there were other decisions that had to be made. For example, we decided to forgo a nursery and instead co-sleep. Co-sleeping is when your child(ren) sleep in the family bed instead of away in a crib or separate room. In most countries around the world, co-sleeping is the norm, as families don't understand abandoning a baby after months of being a literal part of its mother. It also significantly reduces the risk of SIDS when practiced properly (in Japan, a co-sleeping country, SIDS isn't even known of by the majority of people).
We also decided to include baby wearing, or the attachment of the baby to a parent or caregiver at all possible times, as part of our early parenting. Again, practiced in much of the world, baby wearing allows for parents to bring their baby along to slowly acclimate to the world in which it is born. After being inside its mother for months, many believe it is in the child's (and mother's/father's) best interest to create that bond that is so easily thrown aside in the Western world. I must say, I am beyond excited to put this into practice, as Matt and I feel we have mastered the Moby; at least, the kangaroo hold :)
Matt recently brought up the issue of vaccines, so we have spent time debating/researching that, as well. There is an excellent book that is completely free of bias and extremely informative called The Vaccine Book by one of the pediatricians of the Sears family (LOVE them!).
Then there other bits. Should we raise the child vegan like Mama or pescetarian/pescatarian like Papa? Pacifier or thumb? Parent or child-led weaning? To circumcise or not? How do we explain the differences in Mommy and Daddy's spirituality, or lack there of? These are decisions I feel many parents must discuss in preparing for baby.
But there was one decision that Matt and I actually decided upon before we were even married that has received the most criticism. Years ago Matt and I watched an incredible documentary called The Business of Being Born. It sparked our interest in natural and home birth versus conventional hospital deliveries, and we, as we are known to do, began research. Between the two of us we've read ten books on the subject matter, many of which were completed before conception. It became clear to us after reading these books, along with separate data searches, that we would be interested in a natural delivery. No, not just a vaginal delivery. The event must be free of medical interventions, so long as Mom and baby were healthy, to include no epidural, pitocin, forceps, the like. The only way we could ensure we'd have a provider on the same page as us would be to deliver at home.
Again, before even conceiving, we interviewed doulas (birth assistants) and midwives (professionals who offer care to women during pregnancy, during delivery, as well as after birth). We found the most amazing women to assist in this journey, and have learned so much from them in the last seven or so months.
But sadly, though we've put in the hard work and dedicated ourselves to providing the best care for our child, there has been criticism. We typically don't discuss our birth plan unless asked, but upon questions of whether we are delivering at the American or German hospital, it eventually comes out. Matt and I are then met with looks of disbelief, many of which are coupled with a sense of irresponsibility on our part when the people before us, judging, have not done as much as read an article on home births. And so, we are often backed into a corner, feeling compelled to spout off statistics and time after time end with "Everyone has a different journey" or "What's best for us may not be best for you".
The hardest part is when those who are supposed to support you the most call your well thought out and years-in-the-making plan "ridiculous" and "irresponsible". As if on a whim we decided to be "different as always".
So Matt and I shut down. I went through a period where I was not so much confused by our decision, which I knew was best, but confused by the lack of understanding and doubt in our competence.
Matt, as always, reassured me we are doing what's best. As I get nervous about the big day, a completely normal reaction to ANY birth experience, he tells me how proud he is that I am willing to bypass the drugs which bring welcome relief for a birth that is safest for our child - his child. Sometimes I can just swear the man is an angel.
And so I grew up. Just like that. My attitude turned from one of a crushed damsel to a strong ass woman with resolve. Matt is right - we am doing what's best for our child. I would never put our child in danger, and I, we, trust our providers. We have armed ourselves with knowledge, knowing also that sometimes medical interventions are necessary, and we are completely open to that. But that's not likely to be the case.
Overnight I became a Mama Bear even more connected with my body and soul and disconnected with anyone/thing associated with negativity. I decided to no longer feel ashamed of the incredibly responsible and thoughtful decision I, along with my partner, the father of my child, have made.
After all, in our experience, those who have passed judgement don't even know what a midwife is/does. So if you don't know, don't judge. Simple.
But don't go getting the impression we're angry. Yes, that emotion surfaced, but it also got it's ass kicked during our journey to enlightenment. We are so blessed to have had such a healthy pregnancy. I know we've tried to do everything we possibly can to ensure our baby remain healthy. More than ever, I eat to fuel my body and my baby. I've seen a chiropractor since 14 weeks who has significantly reduced the impact pregnancy can have on one's body. She has even assisted in preparing my hips/pelvis/sacrum, something I have definitely noticed (as Matt says, "your hips don't lie"). And what she has done to reduce round ligament pain - the woman is a miracle worker! I have also been blessed enough to schedule the occasional massage to help with tight muscles, as well as a reiki session to balance mine and the baby's energy. Yoga has also been a godsend, along with swimming. In my opinion, one should do everything they possibly can to prepare for this time.
Now we have passed into a phase of elation for the event that is to come. Not only are Matt and I stoked out of our MINDS to welcome our little girl or boy into the world in the next few weeks, but we are looking forward to the birthing experience. Yes, I know it is no day at the spa. However, the bond that Matt and I have will grow only stronger through this experience. I am so lucky to have a partner not only willing, but wanting to be a part of the entire event. Without him, I don't know how I'd get through it! I mean this quite literally as his role is irreplaceable; from working with me through positions to helping catch the baby.
I see I have wandered off topic in my manifestation of woman/motherhood. The point of this post is to give a little insight into our experience. And while I look forward to updating this after the birth of Nugget, I thought I'd start by sharing a little bit of the prenatal bit provided our midwife.
Alexa started coming once a month and typically just spoke with us about our experience/concerns, what to plan for, what not to eat, symptoms to expect, and so on. Though we initially saw an OB as well, and our visits lasted 10 minutes or so, just to do an ultrasound and maybe some blood work. Our visits with Alexa last around two hours and always include a urine check ( PH, protein, glucose, etc), blood pressure, doppler (observing baby's heartbeat), and a physical check of the baby, as well as myself. She measures the baby after feeling around for the head and sweet little booty, and then does the math to estimate the weight. As of yesterday (34/35 weeks) she thinks the baby is 6 lbs!! WOAH.
There was also a time where I was having frequent Braxton Hicks contractions, so she recommended I take a magnesium at bedtime (or when they flared up) and gave me a homeopathic oil to treat it immediately. She also took blood yesterday to check for Hep B and performed a Strep B test. Alexa always inquires about my symptoms, and wants to know it all. If I ever have questions or concerns (and I have definitely had questions!) she asks that I call her. There has never been more than a few hours time pass that she hasn't called me back.
Yesterday we went over about twenty different positions for labor and delivery, and she asked me to start drinking an herbal tea to prepare my cervix, uterus, and other necessary organs for delivery. On game day, she'll observe and take copious notes about my activity, performing a doppler every half hour or so. When delivery comes, she'll observe and tell me when it's time to "reach down and pick up" my baby, as if I'll make it through crowning without knowing.
Alexa is also trained in crisis management, and has oxygen as well as other essentials on hand in the case that there is an emergency, though in her fifteen years of midwifery she has called an ambulance just a few times. I love how intuitive she is for so many reasons, but it is even more important during these possible times, as she is well-known for transferring well before there is an emergency. In fact, the only times there are have been emergencies are when women have defied her advice. Suffice it to say, I trust this woman.
After the birth, she stays for an hour to make sure all is well, and then checks up on us the next day along within the following days and weeks.
We also have a doula, Tara, who is trained in assisting mothers and their partners before, through, and after the birth experience. She has also helped Matt and me with positions, tutored us on cloth diapering, addressed any questions I've had, and had given us so many goodies in preparation. Tara is also a certified lactation consultant and will stay with us after the birth until the baby latches, also checking up with us within the days and weeks after. Just like Alexa, anytime I need her, she's there. It's quite an amazing concept in comparison to conventional medicine.
And that's pretty much that.
Here are some photos from yesterday's visit with Alexa:
Here, Alexa is feeling and measuring the baby. Nugget's head is down, spine/back on my right side, and feet poking left, right above my belly button. I knew there was some action happening there!
Measuring the belly
Here, Matt and I are practicing a position whilst Pace photobombs. And yes, he's always this excited during positioning practice!