Ask Yo Mama: Does Size really matter?

askyomamaOkay, so before you delete this and think it’s a crazy porn site, let me extrapolate. I got an email from a mama this week and wanted to respond more fully on this site so that all can be served from this nonsense.

Dear Yo mama,

I’m hoping you might have some thoughts/advice as it’s looking like I’m turning out to be a statistic… Yesterday, they did a special ultrasound to figure out how my baby is. She weighed in at 8lb 10oz (at 38 weeks 1 day). I’m dilated ½ centimeter and not hardly effaced although baby has dropped pretty well. I’ve had my membranes swiped twice now and have been aggressive with acupuncture and chiropractic to bring on an earlier labor…. All that said, it has been pretty strongly recommended I go for a c-section based on the size of the baby. Because I’m not very effaced and hardly dilated, they are not even recommending medical induction as it seems it could well lead to unscheduled c-section, considering how not ready my body seems to be, despite baby’s size. (Baby is very healthy with healthy placenta and amniotic fluid levels and it seems she’d be happy to float around for 2-3 weeks more, gaining ½ to 1lb/week, so I’m told….)

As it stands now, I’m scheduled for a c-section next Monday and of course my hope is I go into labor before then… I was just wondering if you have any specific thoughts or ideas and/or if based on your experience you agree with this view.                        Signed, Big Baby

Dear sweet Mama (and Big Baby),

WTF.  Sorry, but this is one of the most crazy-making parts of the birth industry right now.   I will highlight what you yourself wrote:  “Baby is very healthy with healthy placenta and amniotic fluid levels and is seems she’d be happy to float around for 2-3 weeks…”  SO LET HER!  I’m going to take a few moments on my virtual soap box here, but I am so frustrated with this ‘cesarean or induction based on size’ thing that I gotta have some words.

here are a few quick facts:

1.  BIG BABIES ROCK.  They nurse better, sleep better, and basically come out like big bouncy buddhas.  They are fully cooked, lovely munchkins and are a delight to be around (in general).

2.  Big babies navigate the pelvis beautifully!  Sometimes even better than a smaller baby, because of reason #1.  ANY baby of any size can get stuck in the pelvis, and very tiny women can rock a vaginal birth of a big baby with no problem. (my delicious daughter was almost 10 pounds, and I am on the smaller side of mamas)

3.  Ultrasounds have no idea how big your baby is.  Ultrasounds have been known to be multiple pounds off.   So, to say we have to induce or do a cesarean birth based on this ultrasound is nonsense.  It’s like making a map with GPS points in Wyoming while you’re in Colorado.

4.  Babies do better who have labor.  Even if it ends in a cesarean birth.  Apgar scores are higher in babies that had a trial of labor before a cesarean birth.  The contractions are essential for helping baby transition into this new world.

So, Big Baby, Here’s the conclusion.  I don’t know if your doc has a little hawaii vaca planned or is having his/her in-laws to visit, but this recommendation is not in the favor of you or your wonderful (and potentially small) baby.  Take your time.  Say no thank you.  Hold steady.   Your baby will pick a perfect birthday, and on that day, you’ll both see how you can navigate getting baby through your pelvis.  Stay active (see Happy, Healthy Pregnancy) so you can walk and do a lot of stairs in labor.  And potentially, if you and your doctor keep not meeting eye to eye, consider making a switch.  I know it’s super late in the game, but as long as you’re not in labor, it is still possible.  (See Three Steps to A Great Birth).

And if you can, avoid empty calories like refined sugar.  These do tend to make babies a little fluffier.  Eat five colors of veggies a day, eat good proteins (vegetarian or meat).  Think of each day as the potential day that your great birthing adventure will begin.

Sending you all my love and patience, to you and your gloriously big baby.

Yo Mama

Ask Yo Mama: Tdap in Pregnancy

Dear Yo Mama,   
I am feeling very nervous and scared about something I read.  My wife and I both did the tdap vaccination.    I was fine with it until I read on Facebook that somebody was saying you shouldn’t do it while you are pregnant.  This has me worried about autism.  I am trying to surrender but I woke up concerned today.  I don’t want to talk to my wife because I don’t want to freak her out. So that leaves me with no one to talk to.  If you have anything you could say that will take a good chunk of this concern off my back that would be awesome.  I don’t trust the cdc. 
I want to let go of my fear and move forward.
Thanks,
Shot in the Dark
Dear Shot in the Dark,
I’m so glad you reached out!  It takes bravery to give a voice to these fears.  When it comes to vaccines, there is no perfect answer.  There are risks with vaccines, and there are risks with the illnesses they prevent.  Each vaccine decision means weighing the specific risks of that illness (and the liklihood of contracting that illness) with the risks of the vaccine.  And we are always making our ‘best guess’ and can’t know the future.  It sucks.
But vaccines are useful and amazing, and a very good thing that we have them.  At the moment, there hasn’t been any consistent or convincing proof of a link between autism and vaccines.  Most studies have been debunked.  It seems there may be a slightly higher correlation in african american boys, and there is a question out there of whether the CDC covered up that subset in their studies.  I know the internet can be a scary place, and I trust my pediatrician (Dr. Roy Steinbock) the most when it comes to these things.  He’s smart, he’s well researched and he’s obsessed with the safety of kids.  A good pediatrician is a parent’s best ally.
I think the decision you made to have the Tdap during pregnancy is a smart one.  Whooping cough is pretty prevalent in Boulder (because so many don’t vaccinate).  And it can be fatal if a baby is very young, and it’s a pain in the butt at any age (6 weeks of coughing).  It’s the one vaccine I feel pretty strongly about.
As for having it during pregnancy, it’s listed as a slightly higher risk than some other drugs (class C), but again- you probably won’t give your baby the Dtap directly until later in the flu season (when your baby is a little older), so keeping it out of the house (by vaccinating the two of you) seems prudent.
Having a baby is shockingly anxiety producing, even before they are here. And it doesn’t end when they arrive.  As parents, we have to make a ton of decisions on behalf of our kids, and it’s overwhelming.  But you get more and more practice, and start to trust yourself- both your research and your instincts.  What I hear in your email is that you’re going to be an awesome dad 🙂
With love and support,
Yo Mama

All You Need Is Lovey

Orange ShirtA story of a boy, a shirt, and a mom on a mission.

What I’ve found most absurd about motherhood are the things I will do to keep my children happy.

“We can’t find orange shirt.” These five simple words sent me into a panic when I received this text message from my son’s daycare.

I texted back: “I’m on it, bringing back up.” I dashed out of work, as quickly as one can dash eight months pregnant, into the volcanic July heat. Speeding towards my sister’s house halfway to Denver, I looked at the clock. I had 45 minutes. Only 45 minutes until that special time of day, that mothers all over the world both treasure and dread. Naptime. Without orange shirt, there would be no napping.

“Orange Shirt” is my three-year-old son’s lovey. A lovey, (binkie, wubbie, num num) is a transitional object, transitioning the child from their mother’s love to self soothing skills. Our ancient monkey reflexes make us fall asleep easier if we hold onto something (i.e. a mother, Iphone, tree branch, or an orange shirt.)

My nephew’s lovey was known as ‘stinky ducky’ because he sucked on it until it reeked like bleach, mold, and cat pee put together. I’m still stunned that he held it so close to his face without vomiting. After my husband met stinky ducky, he was over loveys. He hadn’t used a lovey, and he determined our children (not even born yet) would not need loveys. I failed to tell him about my own history with loveys–my good dream pillow that I loved from age three–now a shred in a box in my mother’s garage, and my soft down pillow from college, called “softest softest” that is still in our bed today.

There is no stopping those who want a lovey. At four months old, my son attached himself to my orange maternity tank top that said “expecting baby” on it. And it was lovey at first sight. He called it “dootch” when he couldn’t say shirt, and now it was called ” Orange Shirt.”

When he was two, we cut it in half. The “expecting baby” half was “home orange shirt” and the other half was “traveling orange shirt.” When traveling orange shirt had been left at my sister’s the night before, home orange shirt, in a rare moment, left the house, and went to daycare with my son, where they had (carelessly I might add) lost it. We had gone from two orange shirts to none in less than 24 hours. A missed nap would not be good, but if we didn’t have an orange shirt by nightfall, I shuddered to think what would happen.

I arrived at my sisters at thirty minutes before naptime. She said she had left orange shirt in the barbeque grill outside her house, before her early morning plane flight. . I confidently lifted the lid, and saw only black wire racks and old coals. I felt like I was in a reality show, designed to make pregnant women freak out like hyenas on camera.

I checked every window and door that a pregnant woman could safely reach. I looked under every rock, plant, rug, welcome mat, all the likely places for a hide-a-key. Even though I knew they were on a plane, I called my sister and mom. Don’t you know this is an emergency? I screamed to their cheerful outgoing messages.

Luckily, there was still Bob. My stepdad Bob was the one you call when your computer isn’t working, or you’re locked out of your house, or your hemorrhoids have gotten so bad that you can no longer drive (which was me a month after this story). I called Bob’s home and cell, but he had forwarded his two phones to each other, rendering them both useless. I looked again for hidden cameras.

Naptime was approaching faster than a whore on roller skates.

I called my sister’s neighbor, Kathryn. I called her eight times and finally got through. I tried not to cry, but you know when you’ve been trying to call everyone else in the world and they are all abandoning you like your dad did when you were three, and every guy you dated till you met your husband, and you finally reach someone who is alive and has an ear, and you’re eight months pregnant and it’s 108 degrees outside and you’re in a desperate hunt for a half an orange tank top that will probably save your child’s life?

I cried. A lot. To this day this woman probably thinks I’m a total lunatic. Calmly, she talked me through how to find the key to my sister’s house. Inside, in a plastic baggie next to the door, forgotten in a rush and looking like trash waiting to be taken outside, was the slightly less-preferred version of my son’s lovey. I grabbed it and got back in the car.

I drove to my son’s school, and burst through the gate like Mercury. My son had skipped nap entirely, but strangely seemed fine, playing outside in the sandbox, confused to see his mommy’s red tear streaked face. Then his teacher said, “I think we know where the other one is.”

She explained the morning’s adventures, while my mind raced. How could they let him take Orange shirt to a park? Would you take the Mona Lisa to a day at the beach? I suppressed my rage and disbelief through a pursed-lip grimace. I thought of reporting them to social services, but I couldn’t waste the time. Orange shirt was out there… somewhere.

Now I really was on reality TV. I waddled out of the gate, and heaved my sweaty mass of pregnant self into the car.

I pulled up to the nearby park, as a homeless man was walking away with a small red wagon full of stuff. For one crazed moment, I imagined he had definitely stolen my son’s lovey. Why wouldn’t he? It’s very soft.

Trying to remain calm, I rolled down the window and said, “Excuse me?” I wasn’t going to be this close, and fail. “Excuse me, sir. Did you happen to see half of an orange tank top?” I was trying to be cool, but my red eyes, and shaky voice betrayed me. He stared at me blankly for a moment, and then said “yeah, I think it’s in the gazebo.”

Cue chariots of fire theme music. I ran across the park, my big belly bouncing. Looking like an old pair of underwear, abandoned on the cement, was Orange Shirt. I held it to my face, inhaling that sweet stinky-lovey smell–familiar and warm.

I felt for a moment, what my son must feel when he holds Orange Shirt. Like it was all going to be okay. Like this crazy shred of fabric, worn by me with my son in my belly, and loved by him every night, was a soft fabric umbilical cord of love between us, connected once again, never to be broken.

Someday I’m sure he will lose something I cannot retrieve for him, his innocence, his first heartbreak. But that crazy July day, I had caught his fall. I saved his Lovey, that symbol of my love, to take with him out into the world. The world might eventually fail him, but not his mother.