My best friend Farell, who is currently residing outside of Nuremberg, Germany, just came up yesterday to visit with me. She is only here for the weekend, then will be heading back to Atlanta to catch her flight out on Wednesday to return home to Germany.

She was only here a few hours before my contractions started last night. I was very quick to remind myself that it was probably not the start of real labor. They didn't have a pattern and they weren't increasing with strength or lasting very long. But still... I thought in the back of my head that this baby was waiting for his/her aunt Farrell to arrive and maybe, just maybe, she would be present for the birth.

See, she missed Jaina's birth by TWO days. She had her plane ticket to Seattle booked for May 21st, 2002. I was due on May 12th, 2002 with my first baby and I just *knew* I'd have the baby by the time she left. Nope. Miss Jaina was ll days overdue. Talk about frustrating. I had used Certified Nurse Midwives at our local hospital and they assured me that babies come when they are ready. And most of my friends assured me that if I had been using a "real" OB/GYN, I would have been induced at least by 39 weeks. It was definitely a lesson in patience!

Still, I wouldn't have changed my birth experience with her for the world. Okay, maybe I would have gone back in time to take a Bradley birth class and I definitely would have skipped the epidural (that I got during transition and had no idea that I was so close to delivering!). But, I still think my non-induced vaginal birth was lovely and well worth the wait. She was 7 lbs, 10 oz of beautiful pink skin. She didn't look "overdue" whatsoever and my placenta showed no signs of being old or calcified. She came when she was ready. She got excellent APGAR scores and we had no trouble with breathing or latching issues. There is no doubt in my mind that she needed those 11 "extra" days to develop. And it also taught me that I could trust my body to do its job.

On my due date with Jayce, I had a different set of friends. These friends were more like me... used midwives, breastfed, co-slept, practiced attachment parenting. They were a wonderful support system when my due date with him came and went. I was honestly expecting another almost-two-week overdue baby like his sister, so wasn't I pleasantly surprised when he came just 4 days after his documented due date?

Even past term, he was only 6 lbs, 13 oz. He looked so tiny compared to Jaina. A pound can make a huge difference! Because of some meconium in his fluid, he did have a slight respiratory issue when he first came out. But NICU docs checked him out and all was well. I had him with the same Certified Nurse Midwives by my side and also had a doula for the first time. With this support, I was able to give birth completely drug free. It was a beautiful labor and I felt so confident when I was able to relax through contractions and just ride the wave. It only got intense during transition and by then, I knew he was going to be coming soon.

With those two wonderful, but different, experiences, I can only guess what this next baby's birth will be like. I am sad that I had to transfer from the CNM's practice due to their new policies. I would have loved to have the same wonderful women surround me at the birth of all my children. But it wasn't meant to be. If I stayed with the CNM's practice that they are affiliated with, I would have a 95% chance that my baby would be delivered by an intern completing his round of obstetrics for his residency.

No offense to any residents out there who read my blog (or is married to one!). I know they have to learn somewhere. I just don't want to have to fight with someone who is trained in birth complications to let me labor naturally. Our residents have a hard time believing that birth is not a problem. Believe me, my CNM's are trying desperately hard to change their view. Their main function at the hospital now is to educate the residents in natural birth. If I cared more about my view of natural labor than my baby, I might even be willing to help out in this education. But I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Too many interventions may be suggested and a laboring woman can be very distracted by all of the options.

I have chosen this time to give birth with a South Carolina licensed midwife team at a local birth center. The only difference between this and a home birth is that its not at my house :) The birth center offers birthing suites with full sized birthing tubs in them. I can labor on the bed, in the tub, on a birthing ball or birthing stool, or any way I need to. I'll be permitted to wear my own clothes (believe me, I will not miss the hospital gowns required!) and even my contacts if I want. I will have access to drinks and snacks for energy. I will not have an IV or a catheter. I will not be confined to a bed on my back. I will not have constant external monitoring. I will be free to move around the entire birth center, or even go outside, if I choose. My children are welcome to stay as long as they'd like and even witness the birth. I am allowed a birth photographer and a doula and anyone else that I'd like present. There is no 48 minimum required stay. Instead, the midwives will let me go home when baby and I are comfortable with it. They will then come to my house at 24 and 48 hours after the birth to do both maternal and newborn monitoring.

My husband can be as active or inactive as he'd like (His plan right now is to update FB until the baby is actually crowning, then he wants to help guide the baby out and cut the non-pulsating cord). There is no pressure on him since I'll be surrounded by the wonderful women I've chosen to support me during my labor.

I feel very ready. I want to get this show on the road and meet my new baby :)

Because of liability, I will not allowed to go over 42 weeks gestation. And yes, before you ask, I know exactly the day I ovulated due to charting my cycle, so I am very confident of how long this baby has actually been gestating.

Tomorrow I'll be 41 weeks. I have an appt at the birth center on Monday to check for any dilation or effacement. She will also strip my membranes. If the baby does not come that week, I'll be transferred to my old OB/GYN practice for monitoring with ultrasound and non-stress tests. An induction at the hospital will be scheduled. I have no idea if I could arrange to have my CNM there with me or not. I don't know what her delivery schedule is like. Most likely I'd have a supervising doctor admit me and a resident deliver when its time.

Induction means pitocin. I've never had it, but I've heard its horror stories from women who have had both pitocin inductions and labors on their own. I think the consensus is that pitocin contractions hurt about 10 times worse than your own natural oxytocin contractions. Most women I know on pitocin opt for an epidural early in labor. I will be one of them! And I have to be honest.... epidurals scare me. Yes, I know that I had one with Jaina and everything was fine, but the possibility that something could go wrong (like leaky spinal fluid that results in a spinal head ache and consequent spinal patch) has me terrified. The research is pretty darn clear. Failed induction and use of epidural are directly correlated in the c-section rate.

I cannot have a c-section. I just can't.

I have an intestinal condition that required multiple surgeries when I was just 24 hours old. My 33 years of scar tissue that has resulted from that surgery has left my abdomen a mess. Cutting into that mess would not be fun. And the doctors can pretty much guarantee that I would have massive amounts of scar tissue from any other kind of surgery, especially a c-section. This would make having any subsequent children extremely risky from a medical standpoint.

Although this baby #3 is possibly our last anyway, *I* want to be the one to make that decision, not a doctor. My heart breaks for women who are told, "Sorry... you really should get your tubes tied because our practice won't do more than 3 c-sections on any given mom. So this is your last kid..." To have that choice taken away from you? I never want that.

Sorry this is so long and rambly. Possibly my readers can forgive me since I'm suffering, yet again, from pregnancy insomnia. I would much rather lose sleep over a nursing newborn than be awake for absolutely no reason.

Today I will watch my children play basketball, tell anyone that sees me there "Nope, STILL haven't had that baby!", eat lunch at Chick-fil-a, vote for Herman Cain in the SC Republican primaries ("Because a vote for Herman Cain is really a vote for me!"- Stephen Colbert) and enjoy my best friend Farrell's company. And try not to think about when I'll go into labor.

Feel free to add me as a friend on FB if you would like birth updates. That is the first place that information will be posted :) If you don't think I know your name, please add in a message that you are a blog reader :)

Thanks so much for all the kind, supportive words you've shared with me in the comments section. They mean a lot!


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