In 18 weeks I’ve learned

I have learned a lot in the past 18 weeks, about a variety of topics related to motherhood, parenting and the HMO system. Beware bitching and sarcasm ahead.
I learned how to research and locate a hospital, medical group, doctor and midwife.
I also learned that pregnancy prepares you in weird ways for what I think some parts of motherhood will be like.
Lastly, I had the displeasure of learning that there are too many options available to us as consumers. A perspective that leads to indecision and uncertainty when making a choice.

How to research and locate a hospital, medical group, doctor and midwife that your insurance plan accepts, and is in line with your ethics and values:
1. When you first find out your are pregnant, if you know you are keeping the baby-don’t hesitate! (if you aren’t sure about keeping the baby-then do not read further, as you have other more critical decisions to make) Otherwise, get to work. There is no time to get adjusted, or find your groove. And forget the fact that you have morning sickness, can’t eat, and haven’t had a cup of coffee for longer than you can ever remember going in your previous life. You need to start researching and making decisions about the next 9 months (10 really, but lets not rock the boat of social norms yet (that is going to be discussed in topic #3)).
2. If you have insurance, consider yourself lucky, and get on the phone. Yes, you may wait for 10 minutes on hold, with an operator who doesn’t know jack…but do it anyway. If you are using an HMO like most of us, find out what your plan covers and what hospital and medical groups you can chose from.
3. Find out what hospitals are in your area. You can do a quick search on the Internet for hospital in your city.
4. Go to each hospitals website, find out about their birth centers or maternity departments. Do they have a Midwife option, or can you only select an OB in the provider finder list. Also find out what medical groups they are associated with, and if your selected OB or midwife is affiliated with them. Get as much info as you can and use that to help you make a decision about the type of hospital environment you want to deliver in. There is also the home delivery and free standing birth center option, but since that isn’t an option for me, I am going to leave these out.
5. Call you insurance company back, and make the switch if possible. You can only change medical groups while you are in your first trimester, so don’t hesitate.
6. Make your first appointment with your new OB/midwife. Take the appointment seriously. They typically will want you to wait until you are 10 plus weeks along, but you can force a sooner appointment by saying you have concerns about the viability of the pregnancy or feel at risk. This is critical to get the appointment as soon as possible, because as mentioned in #5, you only have until your 12th week to change medical groups, and if you don’t like the doctor, you may be limited to similar types of doctors (doctors who all share the same ideas) within that group.
7. The other thing to remember is that the first appointment is typically not even with the OB, its with the Nurse Practitioner. She is there to field the questions you want to know about the delivery, the common practices of the doctor and the medical group, your freedom in the delivery room and with your baby after delivery. This appointment is not the time to be shy, or coy. You must be direct and prepared.
8. If after your first appointment, you don’t like the doctors views-change immediately. Do not hesitate. While this may seem like an insignificant issue since women all over the world give birth without the assistance of doctors and hospitals (which is what I thought until well into my 14th week)–it is huge. When American women give birth there is a procedure that doctors and midwives are supposed to follow regulated by the hospital, medical group, and their conscious
and experience. They need to follow hospital procedure (e.g. you must have an IV when you check in, you can’t walk around once you reach the labor/delivery room, you cant have music or candles, your husband can/cant spend the night with you, your baby can/cant spend the night with you) and then the opinions or experiences of the OB/Midwife (their quickness to give an episiotimy, their feelings on breach delivery and the use of C-section, and their use of forceps and vacuums, as well as their availability on weekends, holidays, nights, etc., and who they use when they are not on call).
9. Once you have found your niche office, enjoy your appointments! This is a fun and exciting time-and it goes quickly.

Pregnancy prepares you in weird ways for what I think some parts of motherhood will be like:
Now, since this is my first pregnancy and I don’t like kids that much, I can not be responsible for inaccuracies, or mistakes in judgement.
1. You soon realize that your body is no longer yours alone. You no longer have sole control over it. Your hormones are the first indicator of this-they are going nutz’o. No matter what you do, how you sleep, exercise, eat, or try to perk yourself up-they rule. This is a tough realization for some (me!!!) especially those with control issues. The best advise I got was to ‘give it up to the higher power’ (this saying is mostly reserved for conversations about God and religion as support for how to believe in things you cant see, etc. But, I would like to use it here, and have as little association with religion as possible. Indulge me!) The higher power in this case is your body and your hormones.
2. If you are able to ‘give it up’, you will soon thereafter come to the realization that never again will you have control over your time and many of the decisions that follow. This sounds worse than it is (as my wiser friends helped me see). However, when i originally spoke with a (less wise) friend about this idea-I was swiftly informed that I was selfish. Let me clarify that a parent makes choices and sacrifices for their children willingly and with love. However, that doesn’t mean they are any less of a decision or a sacrifice. it just depends on the level of sacrifice and/or resentment in having to make the choice. I welcome the change and look forward to all that is new, but it took some time to get here and didn’t happen over night. Don’t worry about it, it will.
3. Refer to #1, and remember that your body isn’t yours any longer and the fact that you have to get up 2 plus times in the night to pee isn’t so bad. A good night sleep to me used to be when I could sleep 8 plus hours soundly all the way through! That is a thing of the past. The constant bladder disruptions are preparing us for motherhood, and for sleepless nights filled with disruption.
4. Everyone has an opinion about your pregnancy-from what you are eating, to what type of exercise you are doing, to the sex of the child and your birthing methods. Get used to it. This will never stop. After your child is born it will only get worse-with strangers judging your parenting styles from afar, to the pre-school teacher offering suggestions, to your mother giving advice about when she raised you. Figure out how you best handle other peoples unsolicited advice and opinions and use this time as practice.
5. Maternity clothes suck. Now, I have read what all of the pregnancy magazines say about only needing a few ‘key’ pieces to make your wardrobe shine. Bullshit. When you wear a size 12-14 pre-pregnancy, your wardrobe choices are limited to begin with, and maternity clothes are no different. Finding ones that are comfortable for your belly type, your body type and your budget type is a monumental task. Again, another thing to use in your arsenal for motherhood prep. I have 10 pair of maternity pants in my closet and 3 pair fit. A similar thing for tops. Which means i have to do laundry every few days. Yes, I can wear pants twice or more depending on the length of time worn, use, etc. However, I cant do that with the 4 pair of underwear I have that don’t cut my circulation off, and the 1 bra I have (that incidentally is black…a whole separate issue). So, the lesson here is laundry will need to be added to your daily activity list once your bundle of joy arrives. Oh, and what about being environmentally aware… yeah right. You can forget cloth diapers!

There are too many options available to us as consumers:
My husband and I made our inaugural visit to BabiesR’Us over the weekend. Neither of us had been there before, and we wanted to share the experience together. We both left feeling overwhelmed and dumbfounded. Not to mention a little nervous. Now, that isn’t to say we weren’t oohing and ahh’ing all of the cutesy baby items. But, by the time we left we were exhausted. There is too much to chose from. Too many strollers, too many colors, too many car seats.
This is of course our own fault-free markets, supply and demand, capalism and the rise of the middle-class consumer. God Bless America.
Now, for me…when there are too many choices I get frozen with fear and thereby paralyzed. Which is where I am today. I know that I need to start researching car seats and stroller systems…but where do I start? So, instead I will complain about it for a while, and only after I have had my fill of sympathy will I move on to the next step of action.

If you have made it this far in the post…you deserve a cup of coffee! Please comment I would love to hear from someone who can put up with my ramblings for so long.


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