Maternity madness – aka the pregnancy post

8 Jun

From the moment I found out I was pregnant I was adamant that I wouldn’t write very much online about it. Largely because there’s far too much of this sort of thing splashing around on the net already.

But with just 2 weeks to go I’ve succumbed – I’m blaming my hormones, and/or having too much time on my hands now I’ve started maternity leave. So here are a few observations from the last 38 weeks. There may be a part 2 at some point. You have been warned.

Pregnant women on the web
Online and en masse, pregnant women are terrifying, even to me, and I am one. I have an app on my phone which charts pregnancy and includes chat forum for parents-to-be. Conversation threads include:

– my evil bastard partner didn’t buy me a mother’s day card from our unborn child
– my evil bastard friends/relatives haven’t bought what I asked them to buy me
– my evil bastard friend/relatives have/have not arranged a baby shower for me and I do/do not want one
– my evil bastard friend/relative has completely stolen my thunder by daring to fall pregnantย within five years of me giving birth myself
– evil bastard people in general keep asking me when the baby is due, how dare they make conversation and talk to me about the one thing I am obsessed about myself

When they’re not attacking the world around them they turn on each other – woe betide anyone who asks a question that has already been asked in one of the 40,000 other ongoing conversations, and the woman who put a picture of her child actually in the process of being born (I have no idea why she thought this would be a good idea) has been torn limb from virtual limb for not prefacing the pic with the immortal phrase “TMI” in the title. She hasn’t been back since.

There’s also a “dads’ corner” which seems to consist almost entirely of men worrying about how they will manage to play on their Xbox 360s when the baby arrives and complaining about not getting enough sex. I kinda prefer hanging out there.

The rules change. A lot.
The last time I saw my midwife at my local health centre she took a urine sample, tested it and then gave it back to me, saying that she couldn’t dispose of it and so I had to take it home. This has never happened before (and she has done the same test each time I’ve seen her, in the same place, every 4 weeks for the last 8 months). I can only conclude that I am now weeing cryptonite and that this is somehow harmful to the people of Swanage.

There’s no school like the old-school
I’m convinced that ante-natal classes are designed by nursery school teachers, motivational speakers and Blue Peter presenters on acid. So far I’ve had a pink ping pong ball in a jam jar full of water thrust at me (apparently to represent the baby’s head in the pelvis), an empty round box of cheese triangles waved around to illustrate cervical dilation, knitted breasts (neither my partner nor I can remember them being used, they were just there on the table, like a mildly perverted centrepiece at a dinner party) and a wooden box with a paddle to demonstrate the baby’s path out of the womb. I’ve also been encouraged to “brainstorm” the membrane, the cervix and the first stage of labour with a group of other first time parents who were equally agog.

Oh, and half way through you get a glass of squash and a biscuit.

The quacks are out there
A couple of weeks ago the midwife decided the baby may be breech (ie feet down rather than head down). Her solution was to either put a bag of frozen peas where she believed the head to be, or to contact another midwife who was trained in moxibustion. This is a practice derived from acupuncture in which herbs are burned on a pregnant woman’s foot to encourage the baby to turn. The moxibustion midwife told me to “work on my priorities” when I was unable to meet her at her private clinic (her NHS appointments being, of course, fully booked). This from a woman who burns people’s feet for a living. A scan at the hospital revealed that happily the baby is in fact exactly where it should be. So I suppose my priorities are officially back in order.

Midwives vs hospital consultants
I have been under the care of both midwife and consultant because of a previous thyroid problem. From what I can see there is a mutual mistrust between the two. Probably not helped by the fact that the first time I saw the consultant, it turned out the midwife had not carried out the right blood tests for the thyroid condition. She blamed the hospital, the lab and even the courier before it could finally be admitted that she’d forgotten to do it, despite writing in my notes that she had.

When the midwife diagnosed breech, she told me the consultant would probably book me in for a caesarean on the spot and warned me to “be strong”, like having a c-section was a form of ritual humiliation rather than a medical alternative. The consultant cheerfully said nothing more than that she thought the midwife had confused baby’s head with baby’s bottom. In response the midwife now points out that the consultant still wrote “breech” with a question mark by it in my maternity notes every time I see her.

I think these relationship problems are all due to bad communication. These professionals only ever see each other in the few words they scribble in the maternity notes that the patient dutifully carries around absolutely everywhere (Seriously. You’d think in this day and age it could just be a memory stick. A rain forest has quite probably vanished thanks to my ever-expanding paper folder alone).

Of course they sound a bit abrupt, even aloof. “Breech?” doesn’t exactly give you much to go on, and being surrounded by pregnant women all the time must mean their own hormones are running riot. Perhaps it’s just not coming across in quite the way it was intended.

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13 Responses to “Maternity madness – aka the pregnancy post”

  1. ging3r June 8, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    I’m going to get flamed senseless if any of the militants are here, but there’s one thing especially that’s fucked up about pregnancy care is the religious approach to breastfeeding and the piling on of guilt and shame if you even dare to suggest you’re moving on to the bottle.

    Yes, I’m quite certain its better, evolution is good like that, but if its destroying your sanity or worse, potentially harming your baby then stop, buy some SMA, and get on with looking after the kid.

    A few friends have had this problem and it makes me livid every time. The biggest failing of midwifery IMO

  2. zskdorset June 8, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    Dude, that’s a post in itself… The 2hr class about feeding featured approximately 90 seconds on what to do if it’s not working for you!

  3. TexasTrailerParkTrash June 8, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

    Wow, I think I had it lucky back in the ancient days of the late ’60s and early ’70s when I had my kids. It was bad enough when little old ladies would sidle up to you at the supermarket and tell you what sex the baby was. As for breast feeding—I tried for about 10 days and then said the hell with it. My son grew up to achieve a Ph.D in neuroanatomy, so I guess I didn’t scar him too badly.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and wishing me a happy birthday! That was very sweet of you.

    All the best to you and your little one!

    • zskdorset June 9, 2011 at 7:14 pm #

      Wow – you must be v proud of your son!I was also a bottle fed child of the 70s – no PhD (yet) but turned out ok I suppose ๐Ÿ™‚ I had 2 friends (on separate occasions) dangle their wedding rings over my belly to predict the baby’s gender – they had a 50% chance of getting it right I guess!

  4. C-Pi June 8, 2011 at 11:32 pm #

    Hi zsk –
    I’ve been following (in whatever sense of the word) your pregnancy on twitter, by chance really, and it’s fascinating to look back at that time from a distance now. I worked in a fairly sensible place with a decent income before I had children – now 10 and 8. The pregnancies were fine, but the looking after babies/toddlers/children was where it really began to bite.
    I chose to be a stay-at-home mum. My choice. But that didn’t stop me feeling like a nobody and questioning my own sanity very regularly. Some people would think of me as “earth mother” in that I also chose to breastfeed, use cloth nappies and carry my children in a sling. No bottles/buggies/Pampers (at least most of the time ๐Ÿ˜‰ !!).
    In the end though (and this is my point) – you do what you have to do to get through. Do what makes YOU feel you are doing the best for your child, because you are the one who will have to defend your decisions to them later on in life.
    A hundred people will tell you a hundred different things. You will feel elated at times and like the worst wretch at others. But as long as you make your own decisions and are happy with them, that is what gets you through.
    Being pregnant and having children suddenly gives everyone a reason to comment on what you are doing in a way that nothing else does.
    But as in every other situation, as a competent woman, just make up your own mind and ignore all the rest.
    Wishing you all the very best on this wild adventure!

    • zskdorset June 9, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

      Thank you so much for the encouragement! I think we tend to take a short-term approach to pregnancy, and we focus so much on the birth itself that there’s not much thought to what happens after that – the next 18 years. I am no different – but yes, I am quite sure it’s going to be an adventure. My work has until now been a big part of my identity, I suppose, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious about how that will inevitably change. At the moment I can’t imagine myself leaving my professional life – but I am guessing you didn’t either, at the time…

  5. The Leak June 9, 2011 at 12:02 am #

    Heh. “sweet” memories. Militant midwifes, Booby-filled guilt trips – That is the only part of the NHS that isn’t a postcode lottery.

    Our 21 month old was bottle all the way.

    The other thing you’ll get is loads of people offering you advice. The best bit of advice I can give you is, Ironically, ignore any advice from anyone else, especially post-natal midwives. We had 3 midwives. one said we shouldn’t give Abby water as well as formula, one said we should and the other said it didn’t make any difference. Like 3 wise monkeys.

    More like wise-arse donkeys.

    Anyway – good luck for the forthcoming arrival. We’ll be thinking of you ๐Ÿ™‚

    • zskdorset June 9, 2011 at 7:24 pm #

      Thank you Mr Leak! I am relaxed about breast vs bottle. Although I nearly threw something at the healthcare worker who told our class “it only hurts if you’re not doing it right…” thankfully one of her own colleagues put her straight on that one, in front of all of us.

  6. The Leak June 9, 2011 at 12:04 am #

    and moxibustion is a fantastic word.

  7. almost witty June 9, 2011 at 2:56 pm #

    I remember that in the maternity hospital, they posted up a flowchart of what to expect when you ask for formula milk for your baby. And it seriously included the immortal phrase “Health worker to remind mother of the benefits of breast milk”. Then again, there were mothers-to-be furiously fagging away outside the hospital during my week-long visit there.

    Oh yeah, and watch out for the office politics. You don’t really want a midwife arguing with an anesthetist during the 58th hour of your labour at 4am on a Sunday morning. Especially when neither of them seem to speak English properly.

    and at least you got to go to the antenatal classes. Apparently there was no room for us in the antenatal classes we were meant to be at.

  8. almost witty June 9, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    Oh, and I find it interesting that all the mothers’ forums are full of women offering advice, whether it’s solicited or not, or wise or not.

    The Dads’ forums seem to be comparatively empty. Probably because there’s not that much for a Dad to do aside from lend logistical support AT ALL TIMES. Like the washing up, cleaning, cooking etc.

    • zskdorset June 9, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

      It’s inevitably an abstract concept for the guys for a lot longer I guess. My life has already had to change dramatically but it doesn’t really kick in for the partner until the baby is actually in the room. I can’t believe you couldn’t get in to a class though – that is pretty outrageous. We didn’t even have to book, we were just given a list of dates and venues and told to go to whichever we fancied. But we’re a long way from London.

  9. Ann Charles April 5, 2013 at 12:57 am #

    Wrote this, and thought of you and this post ๐Ÿ™‚ https://birthgeekuk.wordpress.com/2013/04/05/why-knitted-breasts-just-dont-do-it-for-me/

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