It seems like all the pregnant ladies writing books and blogs always mention talking to their bellies, but the first time I did it it felt awkward. What do you say to someone who has no experience of the outside world and no understanding of language? And with me having never been inside my abdomen myself and unable to remember the good ole days when I was brewing in my mother’s middle, we didn’t really have any common ground to start from, Peanut and I.
I rambled a bit about how pointless those factors made my monologue, and then I spent a good ten minutes trying to explain trees. I told Peanut that I thought she would like them. I haven’t really bothered talking to her since. Instead I sing—one of the universal bridges of communication between folks who don’t speak the same language, or don’t speak any language at all. She seems to like it, and stops moving once I open my mouth. I hope she’s just as enthralled when she’s out of the pen and being dragged along to band practices once a week. We’re already fantasizing about our family musical trio, classic country-musician style. No pressure, Peanut. Ha ha.
This morning I had my first at-home midwife appointment. (You can read about how we found her here and here.) Though this woman always comes across as unfriendly in the first few moments with her, she was immediately friendly and pleasant once we were inside. I like her a lot. And most of all, I like her attitude about pregnancy and child birth, which seems to revolve around the phrase “as long as you feel good, it’s not a problem” when it comes to anything that could be considered irregular. This strikes me as being incredibly helpful in 1. not freaking me out and in 2. avoiding unnecessary medical intervention. I’m really glad I found her.
“So, what are we going to do today,” she asked me as she set her briefcase down on the platform next to the wood stove.
I shrugged. “You tell me. As an American I haven’t got the foggiest idea what a midwife does at an appointment.” She laughed. We’d already been over how sadly lacking American culture is in midwifery.
Then she sat herself down at our little table, flipped through my Mutterpass (passport-shaped book where all your vitals throughout pregnancy are recorded by the midwives and doctors you see), and handed me a plastic cup. I was to go pee and stick a little white tab in for thirty seconds. If the tabs showed any green or purple, I should tell her. If they were all shades of yellow, no problem. I had all purples and greens. Protein and sugar. Probably doesn’t mean anything, but the sugar could mean that I have gestational diabetes. I’ll find out after some tests next week. My fingers are crossed. Gestational diabetes sounds kind of annoying.
After a finger prick (low on iron) and a blood pressure reading (looking good) she had me lay down on the bed (on my own bed! how comfortable it is to have an exam in your own home!) and measured my stomach (96 cm), felt around for the baby’s position, and checked my ankles and legs for swelling and varicose veins. When she got out a hand-held ultrasound thing-a-ma-bob to listen to the baby’s heart, the baby started kicking. “She doesn’t like that,” she told me. “Some babies just don’t like ultrasounds. She keeps moving away.” My stomach bulged out like a wiggling plate of jello with each kick. I love watching it move; it is so incredibly, fantastically surreal.
She’d forgotten the equipment she needs to take a larger blood sample for some tests I’m due for before my next doctor’s appointment, so she said she’d drop back over later this afternoon to take care of it and then again next week to put the results in my Mutterpass and give me the equipment for the diabetes test. I still can’t get over how convenient it is to have a midwife come to your home for appointments, how much less formal and more comfortable everything is when it’s not happening in a steriley white-and-gray-toned doctor’s office with paper-lined exam tables. As she was putting on her coat I asked her one last question.
“What about chopping wood? Do I need to stop doing that at some point?” What with all the taboos about pregnant ladies lifting heavy things, I’d been wondering if chopping wood might be off limits at some point as well, and it is not a topic that gets any attention in modern pregnancy books.
She laughed. “If you enjoy it, go right ahead. Chop as much wood as you want. Just as long as you don’t hit yourself in the stomach or chop off your hand. And if you start to have contractions, then stop.” Heh. Guess I won’t be convincing the Beard to take over all the wood chopping after all.
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