Blessing Upon Blessing

At the end of my 21 week bumpdate I wrote "Blessing upon blessing." And I honestly mean it.

I still have my days where worry begins to creep up as I am reminded just a few short months ago I lost a baby. Just a few months ago, I became the mother of an angel baby. And every time it does, I have to quietly ask God to remind me of His sovereignty in all situations, to give me peace no matter the outcome of my pregnancy with Aubrey.

Thankfully, He is faithful.

I find myself more than not basking in His goodness. His grace thus far in this pregnancy. The myriad of blessings I have seen Him give us as I nurture the life growing inside me.

And, so I never forget, I want to write down how my appointment this past week went:

I haven't talked about it a lot here on my blog yet, though I suspect as Aubrey's due date closes in I likely will, but I am doing everything in my ability to plan for a completely unmedicated birth. No, I am not trying to be a heroine or prove you can do it without an epidural. No, I do not think less of those who purposefully choose to get an epidural. I don't want to get into it here and now, but just know this is for myself and no one else, nor do I think less of anyone who decides to bring their child into the world differently.

Because I'm doing everything in my power to have an unmedicated delivery, I have been reading books discussing such and blogs like Mama Birth. Sometimes I find the resources can be a bit harsh when it comes to judging others for having a medicated birth; but, I know why I'm researching. Part of my research was asking my OB his stats and getting an idea of how he runs his practice based on his answers to questions about intervention and other situations. Per many of the resources I've found, OB/GYNs and hospital births are harped on largely because the c-section rate and/or medical intervention (pitocin, episiotomies, etc.) rate is high. (The statistics look even more daunting when you compare it with the ratios for midwifery practices.)

I know having a midwife as your attending generally gives you a better chance at "au naturale". And, many times, this rings true when having a home or birth center birth, too. However, I have no qualms with hospitals; I personally enjoy the care I am given in the hospital. (I have had two seperate, personal experiences aside from Zoë's birth and witnessed care of others in the hospital.) And I like the idea of already being in a hospital should true, emergent medical intervention be needed. Necessary, probably not, but it is what gives my heart peace, as well as my husband, nor do we feel led to do it differently.

So shortly after learning I was pregnant with Aubrey, I began asking around to see if there were any true unmedicated birth friendly hospitals around here. Maybe a practice with midwives who delivered in a hospital. Crazy enough, I was told there was. But it wasn't long before I found out the midwives in the practice weren't taking any new OB patients at the time. I was bummed, but totally understood and agree with why a practice would cap it's patients. Because of my determination, I immediately asked the midwives receptionist if there was an OB in their practice or another practice they knew of who was more "laid back".

She immediately said she would transfer me to my current OBs receptionist to see if he was taking new patients. I spoke with his receptionist, gave her the information they needed, and hung up being told, "I will talk with him and get back with you as soon as I know whether he can take you on or not." Though it took two weeks, with my heart plummeting as time lapsed, I eventually received a phone call notifying me he could take me. (And no worries, I was actually going to call the day after I received my phone call to make sure they hadn't forgotten me. Told you I was determined :])

Since July I have been seeing him, but I had kept forgetting to ask him the "important" questions to feel him out as far as his idea of unmedicated birth. I knew he was VBAC friendly, which says a lot, as many OBs will not attempt VBACs at all, but that wasn't enough to convince me I was in the right hands. About two weeks before my 20 week appointment, I messaged his office inquiring about the statistics of c-section vs. vaginal, etc. I figured inquiring via e-mail would give him time to gather the information and either forward it to me or discuss it at my next appointment. The response I received was he would like to talk with me in person at my appointment. I was actually pleased with that response as it meant he wasn't afraid to broach the subject and would rather talk face-to-face about what can be such a touchy subject.

However, I will admit the thought of talking in person made me a bit nervous. Maybe he didn't like being asked that question, which to me would mean I'd be searching for a new care provider. Maybe the conversation would begin okay but slide down hill as it progressed. (Umm...worry a little? Nah...not me. Ha!) Not to mention, I had other questions I was going to be asking.

I had everyone I knew praying for me because I knew without a doubt I didn't want to burn a bridge with him. If I ever needed the medical care of a doctor, something a midwife would refer me to an OB/GYN for, I knew I would want him. I just wasn't sure about his take on unmedicated birth, though I did know I wasn't as uptight about statistics as some in the "natural birth" community vocalize, because I was aware many OBs see high risk patients. Many high risk patients require medical intervention of some sort. Not to mention, a c-section rate can be a little higher with an OB who is willing to attempt VBAC. With this information, I set my resolve to begging for peace from God as I asked my questions and guidance to assess whether or not I was in good hands.

My appointment began with an ultrasound done in a Maternal-fetal Medicine clinic. Our tech was a God-send as she was great with Zoë, explained what we were looking at through the entire scan, and she even allowed Zoë to sit next to me on the bed. Aubrey was moving so much throughout, she wasn't able to get any pictures of her face. Once she was done, she informed us one of the doctors in the office would be coming in to go over the scan with us. The doctor was really nice, able to get pictures of Aubrey's face, and said everything looked great. Those words were music to my ears, especially knowing I was talking to a doctor who deals with high risk patients on a daily basis and specializes in the care of mother and baby in those situations. Blessing, indeed!

Then it was time...

Gah, I was nervous. I really wanted everything to work out with my OB, but I had no clue whether or not it would pan out favorably.

When he walked in the room, something in me released and I just went with the flow. (Yet another blessing.) He went over the routine weight and blood pressure with me and then went over the ultrasound, during which I found out my little Aubrey is measuring in the 66th percentile. Not huge, but on the larger side. Who knows if that will continue, though for my sake I certainly hope not. Ha! (Yes, I'm also very aware ultrasounds do not always give a accurate depiction of how big the baby is. Sometimes they are right, but it can be off - she could be bigger, she could be smaller - with no way to tell until she's born. Trying to remind myself of those facts whenever I do start to worry a little.)

Come to find out, the Maternal-fetal Medicine doc is one of the top IN THE NATION! I told my OB which doctor talked to us after the ultrasound (He actually told us to say "hi from ----" to my OB.), to which he immediately let out this "Oh my goodness!" sigh and said, "We just brought him down from Detroit. He's one of the top in the nation for [some special aspect of MFM which studies being able to detect anomalies and birth defects in the unborn]. So with my eyes closed, if he says, 'Everything is fine with your baby,' everything is fine." Do what?! I could have very well had another doctor in the practice come in. I could have left the entire practice that morning wondering how well can I be told my baby is really ok when they weren't able to look at her palate. (She never would turn her head into a position favorable for a scan of it.) There are thousands of other possiblities, and ultimately Aubrey's health is in God's hands. Something may have been missed or develop before or after she's born. Yet to know I was in some of the best hands in our nation gives a peace only God can give in the form of an unwarranted gift. (Blessing upon blessing! They just keep on comin'!)

Anyway, as soon as we were done going over the ultrasound, he says, "So my nurse reminded me last Friday you had some questions for me."

My doctor remembered? And cared? That's impressive. I thought.

So we started in on the statistics: his numbers are right in on the national average for c-sections. Considering he sees a lot of high risk and VBAC patients, I was ok with the number.

Then I began asking my questions about how he handles his patients who go into labor after hours (does he pass them off to the doc on call or he takes over as soon as the patient is at the hospital?), what does he consider an emergency requiring an episiotomy or vacuum/forecep use, when does he induce or augment labor with pitocin. Just a few of my questions I had for him.

He sat down in a chair, relaxed as can be, and answered away. He invited my questions, several times telling me I asked very good questions. He was never defensive, always compassionate in his answer, but also giving solid evidence of how he practiced. He had stories from his own practice for every question. He reassured me of many of my fears and was in no rush to run out of the room. He also informed me, near the end of my barrage of questions (ok...it wasn't that bad, but I certainly had a few for him.), his entire practice is no longer going to be taking any elective inductions.

For those of you unfamiliar with this, it is a HUGE deal! This means I can't get tired of being pregnant at 38 weeks, walk in and ask if we can set up an induction for next week. They will only be inducing for medical necessity.

I'm pretty sure I kept him for a good thirty minutes, which for an OB, is a lot of time. (And I'm only talking about our time discussing questions. I know he was in there longer than that between the norm and pretty much just talking with me.) Most wouldn't even blink an eye to give you time like that unless you had scheduled an appointment for an extensive amount of time.

Once we finally wrapped everything up, said good-bye, and parted our ways, I immediately knew God had blessed me beyond my wildest dreams. Part of me was beginning to resign myself to needing to have Ben fight for me during delivery. (I had already started calling about midwives prior to my appointment, just to begin the process in case I would need to try to swap. I wasn't liking what I was finding.) And yet, God granted me the desire of my heart, as far as I can tell. Obviously, I won't really know until I get to the end of this pregnancy and experience child birth under this care provider in this hospital. But I had no need to resign to fighting, there will be no need for that with my doctor. I am confident of it.

I asked Ben his thoughts, to which he immediately replied, "I really like him. He's very personable..." and a couple other things I don't remember. He also loved my doc had a story to go with each question as an example of how he runs his practice. And we both think he's funny, as in has a good sense of humor and has a natural ability to kind of lift your mood. Honestly, I'm not even sure that's a great way to describe it, but just trust me: he's highly personable.

I have literally been basking in the goodness of God this past week after my appointment. I cannot tell you how much my heart overflows thinking about the beauty of how God has orchestrated this entire situation. No, I didn't get in with the midwives who deliver at the hospital (they're part of my OBs practice, by the way.), but I did get in with a doctor who is willing to give me my best chance to deliver unmedicated who is also in a hospital where the nurses are very familiar with women giving birth unmedicated.

I am thankful for this time where I am praising God in the midst of a joyous time. It is beautiful. So beautiful.

God is good!

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