Monday, October 25, 2010

Circumcision, flu shots, and birthing centers.... or 10 new decisions you face with a baby! (Part 1)

This whole parenting/pregnancy thing has brought me into a world I feel like I knew nothing about. I keep running into these decisions I have to make that it just never occurred to me that I would ever have to think about! Not only that, but when I seek advice it turns out that people have VERY STRONG OPINIONS on most things. I never really knew about the "mommy wars" but... umm.... now I do. Hah.

Strong opinions don't bother me. I like to hear peoples' honest perspectives and understand how they made their decisions, and this can help inform my own choices. I want to be a good parent that thinks through things, you know? What I dislike is when it becomes evident that the other person will judge and strongly disprove if you end up choosing differently than they did. Sometimes people cannot seem to believe that you could possibly have truly looked into an issue and actually intelligently come to a conclusion different than theirs. So be it, I guess. I am entering the world of mommy wars.
So... decisions I've faced in this whole process.

1. Are we ready to have a kid? When is the right time?

Heh. We bypassed that decision. The answer was emotionally, yes, we were longing to start a family. Financially, we didn't know if we were ready yet (I suspected we weren't and if you're just speaking practically, turns out I was right). So we were talking about our options and plans. And... and in the midst of the "talking".... we ended up pregnant without ever coming to the conclusion that it was the right time. So.. now it IS the right time, like it or not!

2. How do you pick a doctor?

I felt helpless here. I didn't want to do research, I didn't know what I wanted. So I figured, hey, I like my gynecologist, they have a very professional practice with other doctors that is literally IN a hospital. I just went with the system already in place and didn't do any picking or researching. As for a pediatrician, I am doing some research. I've looked on an area mom forum for pediatrician reviews, asked my OB for her recommendations, checked with facebook friends in the area, and checked with my insurance to see who is in-network. I will be paying my #1 pick a visit just to see what they're like, but I think I'm pretty set. I was looking for a place near me with good reviews, a lactation consultant on-call, a variety of doctors, Saturday hours, and the ability to call after-hours with no charge.

3. Birthing center or hospital or home birth?

Ayayay... that's a hot button issue. I feel like everyone I know is all for all-natural birth and birthing centers or home births. It's also directly connected to how you feel about the next question. Regardless, I nixed the home birth because we live in a small apartment with roommates, and I just wouldn't be comfortable. I am okay with a birthing center. With a birthing center you will be helped through all-natural (no drugs) labor in a way that most hospitals don't help you, and if that's the route you're going, I recommend it if your insurance will cover it (you must check). If you're worried about pregnancy complications or you really want drugs or overnight recovery time away from home, you have to go the hospital route. For us, finances were a big question. I put together a cost comparison spreadsheet and in the end with my insurance and the baby being put on Isaac's insurance, and the cost of the hospital was just a few hundred more. For some people, a birthing center can cost more since they are more likely out of network. Since we considered all of this pretty late in the game we were already in the hospital system and are unmotivated to change, so there we go. Hospital it is. We've really liked our hospital so far, except for the fact that it's ridiculous how much it costs (pre-insurance) for a hospital stay.

4. Epidural or Natural Labor

Yikes, this is perhaps an even more controversial question. Like I said, I think that while getting an epidural is normal in most of the US, my circles of people are mostly going for all-natural labor. So... I hear a lot of birth stories from empowered mamas who plowed through the pain and loved conquering the birth with no drugs. I know you all tell these stories and love them, but as a wimp I must say they have the opposite effect on me than most people intend! I read about methods to get through intense pain and I don't think, "Wow that's awesome, I want to be that strong." I think, "Wow that sounds AWFUL, how can I avoid this experience?!"
Lol... it's true. Sorry. I'm just a wimp. Yes, I can get through an all natural labor. I have a stubborn determination and calm underneath it all. I just have no motivation to rise to that challenge if I don't have to. The first friend my age to give birth came home and told me her birth story. She said that when it was starting to get really painful she got an epidural and went into a sweetly happy state in which the labor was euphoric and amazing, and she absolutely LOVED the birth and she and her husband cried with happiness, and it was so wonderful that right afterward she said, "I want to do that again!". Hah... now... to a wimp like me this sounds AWESOME compared to hours of fighting intense pain such as I have never experienced before.
Now... if an epidural hurt the baby, that's a whole different story. I wouldn't risk it. However (and this is just me), after doing my research I see that birth is risky regardless. Laboring for hours until exhaustion can have its own complications, and epidurals are most certainly not always as wonderful as my friend experienced. They can make baby and mama lethargic (then again, so can natural labor if it goes on forever).  There are benefits and drawbacks to both methods, and I think this is a personal thing that could go either way. For us, we'll probably go with an epidural, but we'll see. In any case, I'm not bound and determined to go all-natural and that's generally a resolve you need to have beforehand if you're really going to get through it.

4. Circumcise or leave intact?

Hello.... this is honestly something I'd never really contemplated before. I knew circumcision was practiced in my family and was common in America. I also knew most other countries do not routinely circumcise. I just never cared and never thought about having to care. Then it was brought up in our birthing class with a listing of current methods of circumcision, if you should choose to circumcise. I looked at Isaac and was like... uhh.... are we going to circumcise? We came home and talked about it briefly, and then I put it on the back burner until Rachel (my sister's friend, a fellow mk, and a mom who cares about making wise choices for her kid) began posting about questions like this and took a pretty strong stance against circumcision (it's a great, thoughtful series she's doing!).

So... I started asking everyone what they thought (which resulted in some funny conversations, one held with co-workers over lunch as a friend ate a hot dog and we all giggled... lol!) and looking into research, and actually this is a very current discussion within the medical and scientific world too, so there's journal articles and studies coming out... all very interesting. The US is the only country in the world (aside from Israel) that regularly circumcises, and even then the places where the majority are circumcised are only in the Midwest, not the coasts. We haven't decided but after the baby is born I may post on our decision and why we went that route. I'm keeping mum for now!

5. Flu shots

I'd say this is different than immunizations, which I'll talk about in my second post, but it plays into it. I went to my doctor this week for my bi-weekly checkup and they asked me in passing if I'd had my flu shot yet, and I said no, and the nurse was surprised and was ready to give it to me on the spot. I was caught off guard and asked if it was something I had to have, since I never get flu shots, and she said no. This was followed by a polite conversation with my doctor in which she said that it was of course my own decision, but that she highly recommended I get the shot because of how much more damaging the flu can be for pregnant women (and babies). So, once again I came home and started asking other women what'd they'd done. It was interesting - the vast majority of people said not to bother with it, EXCEPT for those in the medical profession or married/related to someone in the medical profession. I got some personal messages from these people really really strongly encouraging me to get the shot, and talking about the immense risk, the things they'd seen in hospitals, etc.

It's a tough one for me. Honestly I hate the flu shot because it may or may not actually protect you against the strains of the flu going around, and it's just for one flu season... and it seems so... useless. BUT when the people that I know who really are experts and experienced in the field really strongly suggest it... maybe I'll give in. I feel like there's a movement in the responsible and "crunchy" parenting gang that really distrusts the medical establishment. It's true that the medical establishment isn't God and they get things wrong, but I hate it when people just flippantly dismiss formal studies and authority when those really are the very best research out there. The research can be wrong, but we really better take it seriously. So... if there is such a strong push for the flu shot from medical experts and research, will I get it?

Part II is here.


junglewife said...

Yeah, there are a LOT of strong opinions out there! I don't mind strong opinions, as long as they are informed opinions and not just reactions to the status quo! I love reading your "thinking-through" posts!

We were kind of like you guys - found a doctor we liked and who was in our insurance, and then just went with the system that was already in place at the hospital.

Epidurals... Well, having had two children, here is my completely unbiased opinion :-) I had my first with no drugs whatsoever. I didn't really plan it that way, it just worked out that way. And no, I didn't have a short labor. My husband and my delivery nurse just kept telling me that "you can do it! Just a little longer!" and I kept hanging in there, and then when I thought I was going to DIE, it was too late for an epidural! So, I swore that I would NEVER. DO. THAT. AGAIN!!!! And with my second, we even made a trip back to to the States so I could have an epidural! (no, not JUST for that reason, but that was part of it!) And honestly, it was heaven! Of course it still hurt, but it was like night and day. I fought through the pain once and have NO desire ever to do that again! So, more power to you! If you need an epidural, go for it! Don't feel like you have to be "super-woman" and go the all-natural-childbirth route. :-)

Anyway, keep it up. I'm enjoying hearing how you're working through all of these decisions!

AHLondon said...

Ah, the Mommy Wars are such fun... You feel my sarcasm radiating from over here in London, right?

To spare you from a deluge of emails I have on this stuff, just know that you have a non-crunchy experienced mom you can email questions to anytime. If in doubt, I'd be happy to help. I will pass on one bit of advice now, though: be aware of getting too focused on the birthday. It is one day. Motherhood is all the rest. Think back to your wedding. I don't know how big or fancy y'all did it, but remember how details that seemed so important to the wedding didn't matter once you were in front of the minister with Isaac, and really didn't matter once you woke up the next day as a married woman? The birth is like that. No matter what you plan or expect, how many prep classes you attend, the only thing that counts is healthy baby and momma. And after that you will be a mother for the rest of your life. Spend more time focusing on what kind of mother you want to be, how to care for an infant. If you have a friend with young children, go help her out and get some hands on training. (If you come from a big family or have otherwise been around babies, not just children but babies, often this is less of an issue.) Also, I highly recommend Baby 411. It isn't parenting theory. It's this is how much they eat, sleep, this is normal poop, this is worrisome poop, call the doc if this happens, go to the hospital if that happens... All the practical stuff.

And congrats. Boys are fun.

Kacie said...

indeed, I was someone that had very few life-long wedding dreams, just dreams of being married! The day was rather stressful as I hate being in front of people, and I much prefer being married to getting married! Sort of the same with this birth - the reason all these decisions took me off guard is just that I've always had a decent picture of what it's like to mother, since I was the oldest of six kids and thus helped raise my youngest siblings. These decisions surrounding the birth, though, are things I'd never thought of before! I've used facebook a lot these days as a resource to see what other mothers think...

AHLondon said...

And don't get a night nurse. I don't know if they are popular at home. They are here. They tend to feed babies at night to let mom sleep, but at the very beginning nursing is all about supply meeting demand. If you sleep through a feed, you miss some of the demand, make less milk...
Alright. I swear I am going now. Gotta write interpretations of the Flamingo album for kids that obviously don't know a gospel song even once they've memorized the lyrics. I'd end up writing about practical motherhood all day.

Rach said...

Good post! Thanks for the shout out. I really do appreciate your thoughtfulness on this issue. AHLondon has some good comments on nursing...the lactation consultant at the hospital helped me a LOT with Judah and encouraged me not to freak out too much. :)

I'm glad you're not worried about what other women will think about circ...I've read that having a foreskin actually brings the woman more pleasure, although I don't personally know...haha.

I felt overwhelmed by the decisions too when I was pregnant, but I'm sure the most important thing in the end is giving your son lots of love and doing your best to meet his needs! Every parent makes mistakes, and you are such a good, well-informed mom by caring so much about these issues.

TulipGirl said...

As a mom with four boys. . . well, we've experienced the three major types of circs (plastibell, surgical and mogen clamp) as well as one non-circ'd. Personally, if we had another boy, we wouldn't circ. But for those who do plan to circ, I really, really recommend the mogen clamp method. Quickest, easiest on the baby, least bloody, fastest healing. FWIW.

Young Mom said...

This is funny, I always thought you had kids for some reason. :) Maybe it was your profile picture that fooled me. I guess my approach is, if it's not nessacary, why bother? So I ended up birthing at home, skipping the flu shot and if we have a boy, I'm not planning on circing. Every person has to do what is best for them, I think the biggest thing in all your planning is to actually do your research and know what you want! It drives me crazy when pregnant ladies know absolutely nothing about their bodies, pregnancy, labor, Post-partum or their Dr/hospital of choice, and then complain about how afraid they are. Learn about it and figure out what is best for you! :)

Kacie said...

Hi Mark - all spam comes immediately to me for disproval or approval, and I didn't see one come in for you. Sorry about that, I don't know what happened! Must just be an internet glitch. please try again, I'd love to hear your comment!

Rach said...

I reposted it before Mark left that comment last night. So I don't know where it is....?

Kacie said...

that is so weird! I promise I'm not filtering it... it never showed up. Rach, message it to me on facebook and I'll post it myself.