I apologize if my posts are a little more erratic these days. Actually as I write this, I am experiencing early labor, and my membranes have been stripped (I am 3cm dilated, 70% effaced, and my contractions are about 5-6 minutes apart). Apologies again if that is too much information, although it was something I recently learned, so I thought it might be informational for some future pregnancies.
We’ve just recently come back from my very last prenatal check-up with the Midwives of UNC Women’s Hospital. As I am trying to distract myself from the intermittent pain of the contractions (which I am told can still last a few days – Lord!), I figured it was appropriate to write a little bit about these women (seeing as how they are quite prominent characters in my life at the moment).
When I first came to Chapel Hill, I had a different perception of what a Midwife, or more appropriately called a Certified Nurse-Midwife (or CNM), does. In Manila all mothers-to-be see an O.B. GYNE, and everything is done in the hospital. Midwives are home care providers who take care of the mother after birth, some with little medical background. They are not medical practicioners per se.
Here, a CNM works in the hospital and is basically capable of doing everything an OBGYNE does apart from caesarean births. If you are assessed to have low risk pregnancies, they recommend that a CNM be your care provider. They have their own set of nurses who assist them, but they are, for all intents and purposes, doctors as well. There are some midwives in Chapel Hill who still practice home births and births outside the hospital, however they work in close coordination with the hospitals in the event an emergency occurs. So it feels like a more flexible set-up. And it’s worked well for us for both babies.
The midwives I see, they are one set of strong admirable women. When I was first new to the system, I was skeptical about having to rotate through six of them through my entire pregnancy, but I’d have to say that all changed quickly once I started to meet them one by one. They can be intimidating sometimes, because they don’t mince words or they don’t beat around the bush to soften the blow of what you might have to go through. They tell you straight, but with as much sympathy and empathy as possible. They dispel all sorts of pre-conceived notions and misconceptions which generally build up your anxiety. The number of times they say it in a day may make you feel like they’re not listening to you specifically, but really they do. They just won’t “baby” you, if you know what I mean. The most I’ve gotten was a sympathetic pout or “Awww, I’m sorry you’re going through that honey, but“… type of response. And you can never say they don’t know what they’re talking about, nor will you really ever feel that when you’re with them.
I’ve been thinking about some memorable quotable quotes I’ve heard from each of them over the past three years, and I wanted to share them with you here. In case you are pregnant for the first time, then hopefully this will help ease the anxiety you’re feeling about going into labor (which is something unavoidable for all pregnancies). If it’s not, then maybe some of these items will be validated by what you’ve experienced yourself!
If you can still eat, sleep, think… breathe — then it’s not “real labor” yet. I didn’t know what this really meant until I was actually midway through active labor. I have a post coming out in the near future about my labor with Sam, and how I was first sent home. I didn’t want that to happen again with this pregnancy, so while I have been feeling constant contractions for several days now, we haven’t gone rushing to the hospital in a panic. My gauge is the fact that I can still go about my day (albeit with a little bit of difficulty as the contractions intensify) and can still sleep through a few hours through the night.
Mind you, this is a hard one to determine, especially if it’s your first time because it’s mixed with anxiety and nervousness and excitement.
Eat and drink what you wouldn’t mind seeing later on. The midwives say that labor is more than a marathon, and so you have to prepare for it and build your stamina. Eat and drink as you normally would — but also just know that it might come back out during the actual labor (and I have witnessed this firsthand three years ago, so now I am careful with what goes into me)!
“Oh Honey. You NEED to go through labor — you have to work for your baby!” I was telling Meg, the CNM on-call today, that I was hoping after Friday’s 2cm news, she’d say I was miraculously 7cm dilated and ready to pop. She laughed and said all mothers hope that they can escape the worst of it. In reality though, she says, we all have to work through labor. It’s like our birthright as mothers (ouch!)! The “reward” in the end is greater than anything you’d expect after all.
There’s nothing like an overdue baby to get you over the anxiety of labor pains. I may have mentioned this in a previous post, when you just get to a point where you just want to get it over with. Depending on how desperate you are, they say mothers try anything and everything they prescribe.
No one is pregnant forever. I am not one of those people who enjoy pregnancy and all the symptoms that come with it. With both girls, I’ve had a tendency to carry past term, and that can really test one’s patience. Apparently though, this statement is a constant reminder the CNMs make to a lot of their patients who are both anxious and excited, and go through long phases of early labor. That’s hard to do too, particularly with this pregnancy since I’m so ready to just get through it and hold my baby!
It shouldn’t be long now, though, I hope. Please stork! Come soon!