Week 33: Plugging Along Like A Papaw On A Rascal

If your deductive logic is off today, this post title means I’m slowing down. Like, a lot. I’m not sure if the waddling is in my head, or if I really do look like Randy from A Christmas Story walking down the street, but if you want to hang with me you’re going to have to slow your stride down a bit.

My days tend to involve getting up in a haze because I’ve spent the night making about 372 flips back and forth. Most of the time the thought of food and the audible growling of my stomach propels me from bed. I eat, revel in the burst of real energy I’m feeling. Try to ride that train and get some things done for the next few hours, then around 2:00 in the afternoon I’m spent. It’s nap time, and that’s the only way I will have the stamina to get back up, cook and eat dinner, spend some time with Will, before puttering back out around 9:30.

It’s really exciting right now 🙂

All-in-all I still have to say I feel good. In a sense of, I don’t necessarily walk around hurting, and although my bump is definitely growing and providing a pretty big obstacle for normal activities, I don’t exactly feel like the bloated blimp I expected to. I just feel like I’m running on a inadequate rechargeable battery. And my feet hurt all the time, but I think that may be due to the tile floor we have in our new house. I made it to a crossfit class once last week and was able to complete the WOD, although at a much scaled and slower pace. And I may have needed a nap afterwards, but hey, at least I got moving!

Getting the Storknesting Deets
This past week involved more tasks of getting settled and trying to figure out a routine. We attended a storknesting briefing to review all the ins and outs of my trip to Germany for the birth.

For new readers, a short recap: Incirlik is a very small base with a limited medical clinic. While they offer obstetrical care, they do not have the capabilities to handle actual births. And since the Turkish are of the belief that if you can afford a caesarean you should have one (they have like a 90% caesarean rate!), it’s not really a good option to transfer care to the downtown hospitals. Instead, expectant mothers are flown up to Landstuhl (an Army base right next to Ramstein) sometime between weeks 34-36 (depending on your risk factor), where they wait until they give birth. Husbands are flown up 5 days prior to their wife’s due dates. Then after the baby is born there is about a two week process of appointments and paperwork to get the baby’s passport and visa so they can enter Turkey to go home.

It’s a nice program in that they pay for your lodging and give you a daily per diem for food. During your weeks of waiting there are a number of classes you can attend, and the opportunity to meet and bond with the other storknesters. The lodging is directly across the parking lot from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center making it super easy for you to get to the hospital and your prenatal and postpartum appointments. And the hospital itself has years of experience servicing not just birthing mothers, but also a wealth of emergency situations as it is one of, if not the, first stop for injured active duty members deployed overseas.

The downside is that giving your husband only 5 days before your due date really cuts down on the chance that he will actually make the birth considering the vast majority of women don’t give birth on their estimated due date. The other downside is that you don’t have a choice of any other hospital. We’ve been told that the LRMC does tries to accommodate your birth plan as much as possible, but in reality they are an army hospital definitely functioning more in the vein on the “techno-medical” model of care (a term used by Ina May Gaskin in her book Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth) where pregnancy and labor are viewed as conditions to be treated with medical interventions and drugs, versus the midwifery model of care that views pregnancy and labor as a healthy, natural process, and focuses more on the mother and baby and a holistic approach.

Many German hospitals are known for their specialty in births. Many put midwives at the forefront of their obstetrical departments, and birthing mothers are afforded every “luxury” to help them achieve a natural, drug-free birth. One of the best hospitals in the Landstuhl area is Saint Johannis. Nearly every review and birth story I’ve heard from this hospital has been full of positive experiences and very pleased mothers. There are beautiful, relaxing birthing rooms, and water birthing tubs available. I fought like crazy to be able to go to this hospital, but in the end it was a choice of sticking with the normal program and having nearly zero expenses, or going to St. J’s and paying our own way for lodging, food, possibly some medical bills, and having to endure a year after on the Tricare Standard plan which would require us to seek postpartum and general medical care off base until we could switch back to Tricare Prime. We had to take a long look at the reality of the situation and ultimately decided that going with the normal program was a lot easier in the long run, and in the end probably wouldn’t make a huge difference (other than to me mentally – which could make the ultimate difference, but I’m trying to be optimistic here).

My doctor here has been a great help by forwarding our birth plan on to the nurse that coordinates the storknesting care at the LRMC, and has asked that they plan ahead and try to help me achieve my goal of a natural birth in any way possible. We will also have a doula who has attended births at the LRMC with success, so I feel like we are doing, and have done, everything we can to give ourselves the best chance. Now I’m just praying for my own strength to get through it, because in the end it really comes down to me and my mental resolve and attitude (excluding potential unforeseeable medical emergencies of course).

The Benefits of the Bradley Method
On the note of my last sentence, I want to put in a plug here for our Bradley Method classes. I realize natural birth isn’t for everyone. And honestly, choosing this route is choosing an uphill battle of sorts. It takes a lot of commitment, a lot of research, and a lot of determination to fight off the nearly constant bombardment of people and healthcare providers that think you are crazy for not “taking advantage” of modern medicine and technology.

Some people also prefer to function on a basis of blissful ignorance. I get it. I’m just not wired that way. If I am facing something big and scary, I need to know every single thing I can about it so I feel prepared to handle it. And giving birth is one of the biggest, scariest, most amazing things women go through in their lives. Our Bradley Method classes gave us an in depth look at the process of pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum life. Any fear I had was replaced with real knowledge and a wealth of ways to manage the pain and intensity. It’s much easier to face and welcome a contraction when you understand exactly why it’s happening, and how it is helping your baby come into the world. And oddly enough, the less fearful you are, the less painful (and often quicker) your labor will be.

Having this knowledge has already proven tremendously helpful in protecting our choices when we are being pressured by healthcare providers. It is an easy (and understandable) assumption that the nurses and doctors you speak with know what they are talking about. Just recently after being heavily pressured and questioned, and responding with the factual research I had accumulated and formed my decision on, I discovered that this assumption of knowledge simply isn’t true in every case. In fact, after I had made my case (which I have had to do often during this pregnancy), I discovered this person actually had almost no knowledge of the actual procedure and repercussions of that she was trying to enforce, but was rather just going along with what she has been told to say, and how things normally take place.

At this point, I don’t feel any fear or anxiety over giving birth. In a weird way I’m excited for the experience. I know it’s intense. I know it can be unbelievably painful. But I also know women were created for this purpose, and I’m fully capable of doing it. I want to feel it all. I’m so thankful I’m not spending these last few weeks scared of what’s to come, but rather wondering when this little one is going to make their grand entrance, and feeling lots of excitement.

In a way it’s truly felt like I’ve been training. Working out and staying active as much as possible so my body will actually be strong enough to endure the marathon-like experience of childbirth, and educating myself (well ourselves) so we know what to expect and feel prepared. This is a very important, possibly one of the most important, events of our lives and we’ve felt it deserves the time and effort to develop a solid knowledge about what we are getting ourselves into. Talking to many people it seems most research what car they want to buy more than they research their pregnancy and giving birth.

OK, I’m off my soap box now 🙂

Here’s a bump photo, albeit not the most flattering, taken at a new beach we ventured to this weekend (post coming soon!).

0 thoughts on “Week 33: Plugging Along Like A Papaw On A Rascal

  1. You are in the home stretch! I remember it was around the same time I stopped obsessing over childbirth and started obsessing over breastfeeding… Then after the baby was born I started obsessing over how to get him to sleep! 😉 All in due course. But wow, who knew they fly you out to Germany for a month plus to have your baby when you are stationed in Turkey!? Did you know all this before PCSing? That is so crazy!

  2. Theresa, we did know about the storknesting deal before our PCS. We actually knew about it before we decided to try to get pregnant. I suppose we are a bit crazy for going through with this now, but being in the military it seems there is never a perfect time haha!

  3. Good luck on your journey Lauren. It really does help to be confident in yourself and the birthing process (we've been doing it since the beginning of time!). Trust in yourself and in your body and you will make it through it being even stronger.

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