Doulas and Intuitive Childbirth

One day shy of 9 weeks. Only 1 more week to go before our ultrasound!

Usually I don’t post every day like this, but I felt I had to share my research with the world!
Years ago, before I even thought about actually becoming pregnant and having a child and all the things that entails, I considered myself a feminist and developed an interest in natural child birth and empowering women.
Encouraging other women (and myself) to be confident, comfortable, and to know what we want has been something I’ve dreamed of and have attempted to accomplish. Just this past Spring, I modeled nude for an art class at my local college and it’s amazing the types of responses you get, mostly positive, from other women. Knowing that the little things I do make other women feel like they can push for what they want makes a lady feel accomplished 🙂

I’ve learned about all modes of child birth before. In hospital, at home, medicated, natural, vaginal, cesarean, VBAC, hypnobirthing, water birthing, doulas, midwives, OB’s, farm hands! You name it and I’ve done some degree of research on it.
So, obviously, when I found out that I was pregnant, I had some idea of what I wanted my birth experience to be. I’ve always been a crunchy, granola lady of sorts, and there’s no reason that should end with my becoming a mother.

Not the topic of this post, but as an aside, I’d like to do a home water birth, if circumstances allow. All natural, no intervention, and on my baby’s own time table. 42 weeks does not seem late to me if my child is not ready to face the world yet.

Now to get to the meat of the post.
I’ve looked into what it would take to become a certified doula. At first it looks daunting and mildly expensive (at least to an unemployed 21 year old woman). But then I discovered Intuitive Childbirth. This organization allows for FREE doula training and certification. You’re only required to pay a $25 fee for your certification once you’ve been chosen for the program. The catch is, because it is free and they receive such an influx of applications, they accept new students based on a lottery system. It’s entirely by chance and you must reapply every month if you do not get in. If that seems like too much for you, they offer guaranteed placement for $150. Still, $150, how can you beat that when other organizations are charging $500 or more!
They’re philosophy is that every woman deserves her best birthing experience and that, whether you are planning on making a career out of being a doula or learning for your own benefit, there should be no costs incurred when it comes to helping women do what they’ve done for eons. The only requirement after graduation is that you perform one birth free of charge. You’ve received your training for free, the least you can do is pay it forward for someone who could not otherwise afford a doula.

Personally, after researching for a number of years (more intently at this point) I’d love to make a career out of something like this. I’m so excited about the possibility to help other women like myself and to do something that really makes a difference. If you’ve ever had a positive birth experience and what to spread the wealth or a negative one and you want to ensure that no woman has to go through something like what you’ve been through, I’d highly recommend checking into doula certification.

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Week 8: Things Can Only Go Up From Here

8 Weeks, 4 Days.Ultrasound is 9 days away!

We’re very excited to see our baby soon, can’t wait to show the grandma’s and grandpa’s and uncles and aunts and 3rd cousins twice removed and strangers on the streets outside the obstetrician’s office.
We’re very proud parents, as you can gather.

There were a few days here and there where I thought I might die (as you may recall from my last post), but I mostly thought I was going to have a pretty easy pregnancy.
Well, no such luck. Still struggling to eat, although I learned last night that, as long as I make real meals with lots of protein and yummies I can eat a pretty decent amount. The man made TVP burritos for us with all the fixin’s and I managed to eat two! That’s the problem with not eating appropriately. Now that I’m starving myself frequently, Once I get real food in my belly, I start to need TONS of it right away! So I was ravenous for the rest of the night, which I guess isn’t an awful thing. Except for the part where I ate enough that I started to feel sick again.

I find that the crazy, emotional pregnant lady isn’t quite what I anticipated. Yes, the hormones are everywhere and there are some days where I can’t get enough of my man and then there are others where I don’t even want him to look at me. And I do tend to get a little more passionate about things than usual, but if I’m upset or sad or whatever it’s not SOLELY because of the hormones, they’re just feeding off that original emotion making it more intense.
The other day I was so happy that I cried over a sandwich. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. The story goes, Nikki was sad and sick and not able to cook anything. Eric was sad that Nikki was sad. Eric brings Nikki a sandwich and says “I just want my babies to be happy!” Nikki cries endlessly.
Yep, that’s the father of my child.

I’m a very lucky woman to have so much support from so many different angles.
 As you may know, financially, Eric and I are struggling slightly. He’s working part time at WalMart and they are forever cutting his hours. I am on medical leave from a job that I will now not be able to return to at all. I’ve gotten a series of interviews for a cosmetics job, but I don’t know what to expect.
Fortunately, last week I visited my mother, the lovely woman that raised me. Towards the end of my visit, we started talking and I started crying. I talked to her about how we’re struggling and once our savings are dried up (which will be happening very soon) we won’t be able to afford all of our bills and groceries with just Eric’s income. My mother reiterated that both she and my father will always be around to help as much as they can, but it did little to console me. I’m not going to live on my own if I need to rely on my mother or father to pay my rent!
She offered us, quite generously, my old room back. Eric and I have only been living together for 4 months (see, pregnancy happens when left to your own devices!) I have mixed feelings about the prospect of living back with my mother. I miss my mother every day. When I found out I was pregnant I was devastated that I wasn’t closer to my family. At the same time, I enjoy having my own space, I like living an adult life with my lovely boyfriend and our pets. I also know that we will end up in poverty very quickly if we are forced to rely on Eric’s income. So, with that said, we may be moving, very soon, if I don’t get this job. With any luck, we’ll be on our feet by the time the baby comes. Eric is looking into getting a better job every chance he gets and I am hoping that, while still pregnant and able-bodied, I’ll be able to get another job to at least build us a savings. I’m sure things will work out, but I never expected to be 21, unmarried, pregnant, and living with mom.

Cravings, Sickness, Fatigue (AKA: I think this baby is trying to kill me)

8 weeks, to the day. Only 32 more to go.

Lately my whole world has revolved around peanut butter and pickles. They’re the only things I can stomach in reasonable quantities. The other day my boyfriend and I took my niece and nephew to the park and had a picnic, as everyone was packing their PB&J’s and Eric had his BOCA chick’n patty, I couldn’t stomach the thought of any of it, so I put some pickles on bread and slapped some mustard on it. It tasted like heaven.
Thus far, my “cravings” haven’t been too out of whack or anything, it’s just that sometimes I’ll have the NEED for something specific and have to have it before I start to feel sick again. Today I was thinking about going to Starbucks and ordering something yummy and decaf (*sadface*). I did some research online because I couldn’t figure out exactly which drink I wanted so I looked at my options and saw the caramel dulce latte. The latte itself didn’t sound that appealing, but when I saw the picture of the beautiful caramel drizzled across the top I almost died. I wanted it so much I thought I might cry. Caramel, of course, is far from vegan, so this killed my soul a little, but fortunately for me, I have a wonderful boyfriend who knows how to cook. We currently have a bowl in our fridge of chocolate, caramel toffee that he made per my request a couple days ago. I went to the kitchen and grabbed a chunk and immediately felt better. I do, admittedly crave meaty things sometimes, but I know that’s only because I’m not eating sufficiently, and I generally just fry up some tofu and call it good. I’m a little nervous for when the cravings get potentially stronger or stranger. I’m sure I can power through it, but it makes you feel weak.
I’ve been sick and tired for days now. I want to sleep all day, but then at night I’m up 17 times to pee and am wide awake watching Breaking Bad until 2am. Pregnancy is not fun for me right now.

I’m trying not to get discouraged, and hopefully soon I’ll be back with better news and updates. After all, my first ultrasound is in 2 weeks, there’s bound to be a fun post from that 🙂

Updates and Peanuts

7 weeks, 1 day. The morning sickness that I thought was going away seems to be slowly coming back with a vengeance. I keep forgetting that I’m pregnant, which makes it hard to remember my prenatals or that I need to eat, not just for me, but for that little thing growing inside me. Yesterday I wasn’t hungry first thing in the morning and I didn’t feel like having tea, so I waited for hours until I finally felt so sick it was nearly impossible for me to make it out to the kitchen to get myself some food. Eric made me toast. I thought I might die.
The gas and constipation are crippling. I have lots of belly cramps which I’m not sure whether they are uterine or intestinal. Bloating combined with widening hips are making my pants less than comfortable. Today is a little chillier than usual, so pants were a must. Here’s how I coped.
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I’m growing forgetful and distracted. This morning I locked my keys in my apartment. Before I could drive him to work, my boyfriend had to climb our balcony and break into our apartment to retrieve the keys. At the grocery store, I bought 3 potatoes. 3. I have no idea why that seemed like a good idea.
I’m finding that, as I go farther along, I start to panic more about baby things. I cried the whole 35 minute drive from my mothers house back to my own because I wanted to be closer to family when I had my baby. I feel very unstable. Eric and I are trying to work through it, but it seems that it’s taking a toll on both of us. We’ve talked, we’re trying to relax and get through things.

 

Now, for the real purpose of this post.

Peanuts.
I know a lot of pregnant women avoid them like the plague in fear of allergies. I intended to as well, but if you have read my other posts you have seen mention of peanut butter several times, as it is one of the few foods that I have on hand at all times that is quick enough to eat that I don’t over think it and throw up.
My reasoning is in the science. I did my research. I looked at the pros and cons. So far, there is nothing definitive stating that peanut exposure inutero is dangerous. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary. No one in my family or Eric’s has a peanut allergy (or really anything apart from dairy and seasonal). While I would like to branch out from peanut butter based on it’s high fat content, I generally do not eat a very high fat diet and do not see this as too much of a problem. My only concern with eating peanut butter during pregnancy is getting carried away with it as it is frequently my standby snack. Just an hour ago I found myself famished and dizzy and thought I was going to die in my bed. I ran to the kitchen, grabbed and knife, and scooped some peanut butter onto a piece of wheat bread. Crisis averted. No one died.
On the off chance that my child ends up with a peanut allergy, I won’t blame myself and I won’t assume that it could have been avoided. Sometimes these things happen. But it certainly will not be the end of the world. No one will die. My child will enjoy other nut butters and healthy things. I might even learn to cook from scratch.

Everyone is doing there best. Generally, we all come out unscathed.

Feeding The Baby Inside

So, at not quite 7 weeks yet, I’m far from needing extra calories or anything of the sort. I just need to make sure I get all the right nutrients, which is especially important for me as a vegan to prove that I am perfectly capable.
In doing so, I’ve been keeping tabs on my diet with My Fitness Pal for Android. It seems that I’m getting all the nutrients I need and I include my prenatal in my foods list so that I have a clear list of all the vitamins that I’m getting. My only problem so far is getting the calories in the right range. So far, in the time that I’ve been tracking (about a week or so) I’ve been consistently under in calories. In order to maintain my weight (given that I am not very active), it is suggested that I should be getting about 1800 calories. Most days I’m maxing out at 1500, at the most. Lately my morning sickness hasn’t been bad either, so I don’t feel the need to eat constantly to try to quell the nausea, so I’m getting even fewer calories (only about 1000, give or take). Even when I’m eating 3-4 meals a day plus snacks in between, I’m getting TONS of vitamins and minerals, but not enough calories. I honestly don’t know how to get anymore and my weight isn’t going down or anything so I honestly don’t see why I would need to be.

My only real worries are:

  • The doctor’s visit. I’m scheduled for my ultrasound in 3 weeks. I’m meeting with my OB for the first time and if she asks for proof I want to know that it’s going to look okay that I’m not eating a lot of calories but that I have all the protein, calcium, iron, and folate that I need.
  • My second trimester. I suppose that, once my baby starts growing, I could find myself getting hungrier and finding it easier to get the extra 300 calories that I need, but if pregnancy doesn’t make me hungry then how am I to force myself to eat more than is comfortable for me?

Today was the first day that I thought I might go over on my calories. It’s almost 9pm. For breakfast I was not hungry at all, but I had a bowl of corn flakes to make sure my prenatals would go down smoothly. Shortly after I felt a little nauseous and had a piece of toast with peanut butter. After that (around 11am) I didn’t eat again until almost 7pm. I had chili in my crockpot all day and decided that it was a good time to have some. I sat down to watch a movie with my friend and we kept going out to get second helpings of chili. Before I knew it, all the chili was gone.
I didn’t know exactly how much I ate, but my friend and I split the chili pretty evenly, so I guessed at about half of everything I put into the chili. Now, because of the TVP that I put in my chili and the kidney beans, I’m right on the mark for my protein, but I’m still only at 1065 calories and I’m stuffed!

I hope everything is deemed okay by my doctor, but really, I don’t worry too much. As long as I’m not losing weight and I’m getting the proper nutrients there should be no problems.

Letters To My Baby

Today I started a journal in which I write letters to my son/daughter. It’s been suggested to me before and it always seemed silly, but I strongly suggest that if you haven’t done it, you should give it a try. The beginning of a pregnancy is scary and exhilarating. If it’s unplanned and unexpected, it’s likely no one feels quite like you do about it. The father may be excited, but because he hasn’t been looking forward to create his spawn, it’s not as big of a deal for him yet and as such, he may not be as emotional as you are. So while you’re all alone in your emotions, you haven’t yet started to look pregnant and very few people know, let your baby be your confidant.

If I can manage to hold on to all these letters that I’m writing for the next 19 years or so,I’m planning on giving them to my child on their 18th birthday. To show that, while mom and dad messed up from time to time, the whole time we were waiting for you we were still trying to figure out how to be parents.

I hope that all the thoughts and lessons I provide for my child in this journal will be well received. Even though I still feel strange and not quite like any of this is real, it’s very exciting to be so scared and so full of love and compassion.

Write to your baby. They will love it.

Still feels funny

6 Weeks, 2 Days…give or take

I don’t think it ever feels real until you start growing enough to look pregnant. I know I’m pregnant, but sometimes, apart from being ill, I don’t feel any different.

The past few days I’ve been keeping track of everything I eat. I’m afraid that when I see my doctor, I’m going to feel the vegan backlash, but I know I’m doing well. It’s wonderful! I was feeling nauseous for a couple weeks before I found out I was pregnant, but it was so bad that eating was the last thing on my mind, so I did very little of it. When I found out WHY I was feeling so sick, I made a point to eat, regardless of whether or not I felt like it. Now that I’m eating regular meals and snacks (my meals are so low calorie that sometimes, even with 3-4 meals and snacks in between it’s hard to even meet 2000 calories), I feel better. I still get nauseous every now and then, but as long as I have a cracker and peanut butter or something of the sort, I feel fine until my next meal. My routine is fairly consistent now: Wake up, have a big mug of peppermint tea (caffeine free), once I finish my tea I make breakfast. Depending on how I’m feeling breakfast can either be a bowl of corn flakes with some berries and cinnamon on top or tofu scrambles, toast and a side of strawberries. Regardless of what I have for breakfast, I always make sure I have orange juice. It helps get my blood sugar up (I feel super dizzy in the mornings) and it has lots of vitamin c and folic acid. After I eat half my breakfast, I take my prenatal vitamins and then go ahead and finish the rest.

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Say I eat at 9am. By 11, I’m starting to get a little nauseous, so I’ll have myself a handful of berries, a graham cracker, or an apple. By 1 or 2, it’s time for lunch, typically soup and crackers, but sometimes pasta or whatever sounds yummy and healthy. Around 3 or 4 it’s time for a snack again. This is when I pull out my personal blender. Blend some berries, soymilk, banana, cinnamon, and sometimes a handful of spinach or kale and drink up for a super vitamin packed and filling snack. At this rate, I’m ready for dinner around 7 or so. Usually it’s rice, sometimes it’s a sandwich, sometimes I falter with my healthy eating and have a bowl of ramen (hey, no one’s ever died from a little ramen). Unfortunately, my boyfriend is at work from about 3-11 most days, which means that, despite being exhausted, I have to go out and get him at night because we only have my car (it’s only a 10 minute drive). By the time we get home, I’m disappointed because I still didn’t meet my calorie goals and I’m a little hungry and REALLY tired. So he’ll come home, make something to eat, throw in a little extra for me (usually not very healthy things, like french fries, but damn, sometimes that’s what you need!) and then it’s off to bed.

Being pregnant and being home all day aren’t exactly exciting. But I’m learning new things and I have lots of time to do research. Although I wish I were still working sometimes, it’s nice to not have to worry about accidentally hurting myself or, eventually, the baby while at work (more on that later) or about not feeling well enough to do the things I need to (at home I have all day to get dishes done and vacuum. If I feel dizzy, grab some juice and sit down. No rush!)

Anyway, I’ll be back with more insightful posts later on.

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey.

As things progress, if you have any questions, go ahead and ask, I’ll try to address them as best I can 🙂

I Passed The Most Important Test I’ve Ever Taken

July 31st was the day I seriously started suspecting that my late period was not “just stress” as I had been claiming for a week. I intended to wait for the following morning (even though I have never been ready for a baby, every time I get a negative test I get a little sad), but when I took my boyfriend in to work that afternoon I grabbed a couple tests and by the time I got home I couldn’t help myself.

I peed, I tested.

As soon as the bright pink washed over the result panel and the control line showed up, I assumed that was the end. That was the farthest I had ever gotten before, anyway.
I stood up, washed my hands, and as I was drying them I looked down and saw another faint, pink line appearing. I squinted to be sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me. I got dizzy, I grabbed the wall, I tried to scream but nothing would come out.
I immediately pulled out my phone to call my mother. I paced around my apartment waiting for her answer. When she answered I was out of breath, hyperventilating. I told her what happened and she was alarmed, but excited. She reassured me that there was no reason to panic. It was too late to undo it and things would be fine.

Eventually I calmed down. I wanted to wait to tell my boyfriend until after he got home, but at about 6pm I got a text saying that his friends wanted to go out tonight and asked if I thought it might be fun. I had to tell him then. He wasn’t exactly shocked. He knew it was a possibility. I was a week late, I was sick and exhausted all the time, I was crying at the drop of a hat, and my boobs were sore and swollen.

I’m slowly informing everyone of importance about the impending fetus. My ultrasound is scheduled for the 29th of this month (the wait is killing me). Now that I’m coming to terms with everything, but am still confused and googling like a maniac, I figured that maybe I should start one of the blogs that I’ve been so desperately looking for. So here I will update you all about what it’s like to be 21, vegan, and pregnant.