Category Archives: Pregnancy

Sixth Parental Group Meeting:

This is the last parent group meeting pre-children. It was held in the morning (second meeting at this time point), and every parent showed up for this final meeting.

The meeting opened with a psychologist talking about the post-pregnancy blues. She defined that has the mother having a lot of hormonal changes, often leading to crying, especially for the first three days, as well as having symptoms of depression.

The psychologist further stated that if the depressive symptoms lasted for 10 days or more, then the parent (either the mother or the father may have postpartum depression) should call the psychologist (who seemed to be funded through the antenatal clinics).

Her main message:

  1. Don’t be too hard on yourself
  2. Call a psychologist sooner rather than later
    • So symptoms don’t get worse
    • The parent can start receiving support.

The midwife then took over and advised us to break into groups, while eating fika, to discuss how we currently divide our time as a couple and for personal time (today) and how we plan to divide our time as an individual, a couple, and as a family once the baby arrives.

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The midwife though didn’t offer any sage advice. Rather, she simply listened as each group described their time spent with the family, the relationship, and by themselves.

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Our answers: Notice our alone time didn’t change, but we increased our overall family hours by 14 hours believing we’d receive 2 hours less sleep per night spent on the baby.

She then thanked us and wished everyone a Merry Christmas!

We will meet one more time in March, after everyone has their baby.

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Fifth Prenatal Parent Group Meeting: Visiting the Labor & Birth Ward

At the fifth prenatal parent group meeting we were told to not come to our usual meeting place; instead, go to Uppsala’s Academic Hospital.

Everything suddenly became so real. The ultrasound brought the baby to life. Charting the growth of the uterus was exciting!

Going to the hospital where my baby will one day be born = slightly scary and exhilarating.

One couple and one expectant father did not show up to this meeting. The rest of us searched for where we were supposed to go….but luckily we had found each other 🙂

Eventually we worked our way down to a basement, and found the rest of the group. A midwife from Hjärtet met us there, introduced us to another midwife who works in the labor & birth ward, and then left us with her, while we got the grand tour.

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We started by seeing the waiting room, where we were told that while expectant mothers are fed, there is no food for the expectant fathers; therefore, they are encouraged to bring their own food, label and date it, and put it in the fridge. Or they could go upstairs and buy food at the food court (if you happen to give birth during normal business hours).

Then we made our way to the bathing area. There was a large bathtub that expectant mothers are encouraged to go in while they’re in labor. There’s even enough room for the expectant father; although we’re told he should wear a bathing suit (apparently because the medical staff may walk in, and for some unknown reason, seeing a naked man, but not a naked woman, is unacceptable).

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Then we made our way to a potential birthing room. It was dull and drab. The midwife pointed out that there were no curtains. And then pointed out that we should feel free to bring objects and entertainment with, since we could be there for several hours before actually giving birth.

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We all sat around the rim of the room, while the midwife sat in the middle, demonstrating to us different tools that could be used, as well as different ways expectant mothers could use the room.

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The size the baby will be, along with a demonstration of holding the baby, resting on the mothers’ chest, and cutting the umbilical cord.
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A cord used to measure the infant’s heartbeat.
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A close-up of the bit that actually measures the heart beat.
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A manual vacuum extraction pump.

This was a very informative visit, and let expectant parents know what to expect, see where to go, and feel more comfortable in their soon-to-be surroundings.

Side note: Interestingly, nearly all of the expectant fathers asked various questions about the birthing process, the medical instruments the midwife described, and made joking comments, while only one expectant mother (Lisa) asked a question.

Second (cultural) side note: There was one comfy leather chair to sit on, while nearly all other chairs were hard metal (e.g. not comfortable). In typical Swedish fashion, no one took the comfy chair until the last couple came in. And then the expectant mother sat on the only remaining metal chair, giving the comfy leather chair to the expectant father….a few minutes later he got up and gave it to his partner.

 

Fourth Prenatal Parent Group Meeting: Tragedies of Giving Birth

At the fourth prenatal parent group meeting we discussed some of the complications and tragedies of childbirth.

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Some people did not attend this meeting. While all of the previous meeting had been held in the afternoon, this was the first meeting held in the early morning. One couple came late (traveling from Uplands Väsby), one researcher couple did not attend, and an expectant father (who lives in Örebro).

All expectant parents who attended noted how tired they were.

Quick side note: The midwife always uses the term “pappa/partner” despite the fact that everyone is an expectant father, and one person will be an expectant grandma.

The meeting kicked off by having a child health nurse from the child health centers (barnvårdcentral [BVC]) come in and introduce herself, as well as discuss what the BVC is good for:

  • A place to visit while the child is 0 – 6 years old
  • Do child health check-ups (preventive work)
    • Growth and development
    • Weight and height
  • Offers parenting advice
  • Parent education classes during the infant’s first year

Then the midwife re-entered the room to start discussing the complications of pregnancy.

Pre-Birth

A rehash from the third meeting was stated–where expectant parents should stay comfortable prior to coming to the hospital via massages, baths, and doing other soothing activities (e.g. petting your pets).

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When to go to the Labor & Birth Ward

We were instructed to go to the labor and birth ward not when the expectant mothers’ water breaks, but when she has had three contractions in the span of ten minutes. Each contraction, we’re told, should last for about a minute and will be intense and mildly painful (I say mildly only in comparison for what’s to come).

Prior to this, she may have a contraction every hour (or even more often), but if they are that far apart, there is no reason to rush to the hospital.

We’re told that the water breaking can be quite different for different people. Some actually have a gush of fluid come out of their vagina, letting everyone around them know they’re going into labor soon, while others have little to no liquids leaving their body.

Ways to Give Birth

There are a variety of ways to give birth–laying on your back, kneeling, standing up, in water, etc. In Sweden, we’re told by the midwife, that they encourage expectant mothers to walk around, to use their hospital room, to use a pilates ball prior to giving birth.

If expectant mothers are having pain, they can use epidurals, laughing gas, sterile hot water, acupuncture, and a few other things. Little information is given about the consequences of using any of these methods; although each method is described (e.g. how it works, how you feel if you take it).

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Different methods of pain relief.

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A Normal Birth

We were told by the midwife that in most cases, parents have a normal birth, meaning that they do not need to have a cesarean section, that the father will cut the umbilical cord, and that the baby will immediately start to breastfeed, while the mother is topless (skin-to-skin contact).

Immediately following birth, the baby will be placed on the mothers’ chest, and be encouraged to start breastfeeding. After one to three minutes, the umbilical cord will be cut. We’re told that this will allow all of leftover nutrients still in the umbilical cord to reach the baby.

The placenta, we’re told, should come out within the first 30 minutes. If not, a procedure will need to be done in order to remove it.

Breastfeeding
The importance of breastfeeding immediately following birth and the baby’s first meal is stressed. Apparently there are extra vitamins/nutrients in the first eating that are stored in the mothers’ breast; therefore, expectant mothers shouldn’t try to pump breast milk prior to giving birth. This process could take a while, and complications do arise with baby’s potentially not having a good sucking reflex. Of course, mothers may also experience tender nipples.

The Fathers’ Turn

Due mainly to breastfeeding, after the mother has had the infant for about an hour, the father can than start to hold the baby, with skin-to-skin contact being the preferred method.

Vacuum Extraction

Some infants require birth via vacuum extraction. This can happen in one of two ways-either they put a suction-cup on the baby’s head via the vaginal canal and then pull the baby out using the strength from their hand (and only pulling when there are contractions) or to use an electrical machine that does basically the same job as the manual vacuum extraction.

Doing this, we’re told, will not damage the infant, but will leave a red mark (bruise-like feature) on the top of the baby’s head (where the suction-cup was placed).

Acute and Super Acute Cesarean Sections

While some expectant mothers will have a planned cesarean section, others, she warned, will have either an acute cesarean section or a “super acute” cesarean section.

The main difference refers to the amount of prep time doctors, midwives, nurses, and other staff have to prepare for the cesarean section. In a typical acute situation, the midwife said that they normally have about thirty minutes to prepare pre-cesarean. Life is less chaotic for the expectant parents and for the medical staff. However, if a “super acute” cesarean needs to happen, then it means that either the infant or expectant mothers’ life is in danger and the infant needs to be removed (for lack of a better word) immediately. In this scenario, medical staff have maybe up to 15 minutes to prepare, and the expectant parents’ hospital room is typically swarmed with multiple medical personnel, which can cause not only chaos between the two expectant parents, but also added stress, frustration, and alarment. Therefore, it’s important to be aware that this scenario could happen.

After the C-section

We were then warned by the midwife that after a cesarean section, the new father would be handed the baby, and they would be left to their own devices for probably 2-4 hours, while the mother is taken to an operating room to be sown up and recover from surgery.

Only after she’s alert again, will the father, infant, and mother finally unite as one family, and breastfeeding can then commence.

Conclusions:

Since many expectant parents can have great amounts of fear regarding giving birth, it’s great to know what your options are and what to expect. This meeting provided a lot of useful advice.

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Lisa took copious notes.

 

Third Prenatal Parent Group Meeting: Preparations for Birth

At the third parent group meeting we discussed what would happen right before you go to the hospital to give birth.

No one was missing, except my partner.

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We first went over topics we had discussed at the previous meeting (e.g. relationships), and then started jumping into preparations for giving birth.

We were all handed a book on breastfeeding (slightly weird, since we talked at length about breastfeeding during the first meeting).

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The midwife checked in with all people present about their current pregnancy situation–one by one. In other words, expectant mothers were not given any extra time or questioning compared to expectant fathers.

Most expectant mothers complained about losing sleep, changing their walking habits, and looking forward to not being pregnant. While most of the guys either agreed with their partner or restated similar sentiments.

Two women complained about a pain in her side. The midwife, later in the evening brought up this ligament in her talk, and suggested that due to the baby growing, the pain from the ligament could affect every expectant mother.

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Since Lisa wasn’t present, I spoke for her, saying that she was losing sleep, but that she was waking up a couple of times a night due to her acid (no solutions or suggestions were provided).

I then said that I was losing sleep and needed to support Lisa during the night with her acid. This was met with laughter from the parents, with one expectant mother exclaiming “oh, poor you.”

“No seriously,” I replied. “And I can see the lack of sleep starting to affect both of us. Now not just one person is irritable, but two people are, which can add to various relationship problems.”

People still laughed, although not as much as the first time. The midwife waited a second before moving on to the next person. Actually, in thinking about it, not only did the midwife not validate my concerns, but she failed to provide any insight to any individual or couple–she let everyone talk about their problem(s), but offered no sage advice or even thoughts.

Sage Advice

After we were all done sharing our problems and concerns (and joys) related to the pregnancy, the midwife then went over several “useful” tips for preparing for birth.

  • Take baths to relax your body
  • Have your partner give you a massage
  • Do relaxing things in your house
  • Play with your pets
  • Take a shower/bath before going to the hospital
  • Eat food before going to the hospital

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We then did a basic profylax course. Profylax is a type of massage that you can give to your partner to make them feel better. There are whole courses that you can take (for a fee) that teach you how to do profylax massages so that when you give birth, your partner can massage the expectant mother to 1) make her feel more comfortable and 2) give the expectant father a role in the birthing process.

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A couple practicing profylax

Side note: I heard from people who took the profylax course that the course had good information, brought the couple closer together (in that they were now both focused on the pregnancy and the importance of giving birth), but that it wasn’t necessarily worth the money. (Sadly I can’t remember how much it costs, maybe 2000 SEK? or thereabouts).

Partners’ Role

The partners’ role was quite basic–be there for the expectant mother. There was little discussed in the way that expectant fathers are important and that they have a right to be at the birth; let alone, what the experience of being there means for the father, for the couple, and for the family. Father’s (partners) were discussed, but mainly in terms of taking care of the expectant mother, and mainly via making her feel comfortable (destressing her in various ways, especially via massages).

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At the end of the meeting, I approached the midwife to go over the highlights from the night (just to make sure I understood everything–after all, I knew Lisa would be asking). After going through the key material, she also handed me an extra book on having a baby (in English)…just to make sure I understood everything that was in the seminar.

Second Prenatal Parent Group Meeting: Relationships

Unli2000px-Svenska_kyrkan_vapen.svgke the first prenatal parent group meeting, not everyone showed up. Two couples did not come: expectant mom/dad who live in Uppsala and an expectant mom/grandma who live in Upplands Väsby.

This second meeting was not led by the midwife, but rather by two people from the Swedish church.

Their topic of the day: Relationships.

They talked a bit about the importance of maintaining a healthy relationship (surface level information): life is tough, having a baby complicates the relationship, make time for each other, support each other, etc.

They then kept the meeting quite interactive, either in small groups, as a large group, or with your partner.

We then broke up into groups, purposefully separated from our partners. In these groups we were to discuss what we need to have a strong loving relationship.

Expectant parents discussed typical things like supporting each other, listening to each other, discussing financial issues, and help each other feel good (see complete list [in Swedish] below).

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After this, we broke for fika. During fika, several expectant parents joked and commented that we were receiving relationship advice from two members of the Swedish church. Apparently, being connected to the Swedish church, at least as far as relationships is concerned, isn’t so highly respected.

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When class started back up, we played a game: To what extent do you agree with the following financial statement:

  • I charge all of my items on a credit card.
  • I just want to have new products for the baby.
  • I like to save as much money as possible.
  • I want to buy used baby products.

If you completely agreed, we were to walk to a woman and if we disagreed, we were to walk to a man (or end up somewhere in between). This would then inform us where we stood, especially relative to our partners. After talking with a few couples (and my own relationship)–no one seemed surprised about where they and their partner ended up. In other words, we all seemed to at least know the spending habits of our partners.

We then met one-on-one with our partners to discuss three things that we think will make our partner a great parent.

The night finished up with some communication tips:

  • “I statements” were emphasized
    • I feel; I need
  • Remember to take a step back before having a big discussion
  • Talk with each other when you start having feelings about something

Then just to be cheeky, I wrote”make-up sex”.

Turns out the leaders actually liked this (or it was coincidence), because then they went into a 10 minute diatribe about the importance of maintaining a healthy sex life and to talk with each other about your sexual feelings.

We then wrote down on a piece of paper things that turn us on–and we were to discuss that with our partners once we went home.

Lacking Couple Relationships within the Context of Parenting
The information covered was fine and fun, but had little to do with becoming a parent. I felt like the leaders could have tailored the meeting better to talk about relationships pre- and post-children: what to expect, and how to deal with problems while raising a child.

For example, how not to fight in front of the child, how the baby alters relationship roles, how conflicts can intensify when new parents are stressed and lacking sleep, how conversations become duller because of exhaustion from parenting, etc.

Oh well–you get what you pay for (#free).

 

 

The Second Ultrasound: A Scary Proposition

In Sweden you have one ultrasound, typically around week 18 to 19 (see my previous post about that experience here). We were told that you only have more than one ultrasound if there are potential complications.

Yesterday we received news that our baby did not appear to be growing, although our midwife said that it was possible the baby had just shifted position; thus resulting in the uterus appearing like it wasn’t growing (read that story here). We were scared, I cried, Lisa comforted me, and off we went to see what the hell was going on.

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Quick Background on Uppsala:
Thankfully, we live in a city with a hospital. Also, we live in Sweden–where health care for pregnancy is completely free. So we didn’t need to ask ourselves if it was worth the money to get the check up. We didn’t need to consider the expense of another ultrasound. We could totally focus on our family’s health.

That was more than enough to focus on.

Even though we had time to walk to the hospital (20 minutes), we were too anxious, and called a taxi to drive us there (5 minutes).

The Visit:
Once we arrived and checked-in, there were two main tests that would be performed: 1) check the baby’s heartbeat over a period of time and 2) get an ultrasound.

Lisa was in the bathroom when they called for us. I sauntered over to let them know.

“Hi, she’s currently in the bathroom,” I politely and semi-quietly said. “Oh wait, here she is.”

The midwife popped out of her chair, walked immediately passed me and greeted Lisa.

Checking the Heart Rate:
She then said, “come this way Lisa” and led the way to a private room complete with a bed and a heart rate machine. It had two circular sensors that would be strapped onto Lisa: one to monitor the baby’s heartbeat and the other to monitor the number of contractions. Lisa also had a joystick-like object, where she should press the top button with her thumb whenever she felt the baby move.

Lisa was all strapped in, and I sat on a chair next to her bed.

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“Oh, I forgot to introduce myself,” the midwife said. We shook hands and quickly exchanged names (my name was never spoken again).

I miss my prenatal midwife! I thought.

“How long will the heartbeat be monitored for” I asked. After all, we had just heard the baby’s heartbeat at the prenatal clinic, where they said everything was fine.

“It’s different. It could take 10, 15, 20+ minutes. Just look for a check box to be on the machine, and then you’re done,” the midwife reluctantly replied.

“You said the number of contractions will be counted. Is there a number or range that’s good?”

“Everyone’s different.”

I prodded her more to get more specifics. “So should we expect to see 5?”

“Yes, that’s possible. It’s also possible to have 0. Anything is possible.”

“So we could have 100,” I asked, looking for a limit to the number of contractions.

“No, not 100. That would be too high.”

No more was discussed on this or any other topic, since she decided to leave the room. The language that the midwife used was always non-helpful, even with multiple questions.

Lisa and I continued to talk, hold each other’s hands, and tried to relax. Meanwhile, I sent out texts to different parents letting them know what was happening–I always need a support network.

I buzzed for the midwife to come back after the “check-mark” was on the screen. She then informed us that the doctor would look at the output and then determine if an ultrasound was needed. She failed to ever mention how our output looked. I still have no clue if Lisa had any or several contractions while the baby’s heartbeat was monitored.

Thoughts on the Support the Midwife (Didn’t) Give:
It was clear that the midwife made no decisions and could provide few answers, as she placed the results on the doctor the way a guy places his results on his wife–“aw guys, I want to come play poker tonight, but I’ll have to check with my wife first.”

There was clearly no accountability to be had via the midwife. She was there to perform the tasks instructed and to not provide us with advice or support or results.

She could however explain what different machines do or what she’s currently doing–although these responses often left more questions than answers.

Nevertheless, we figured the baby’s heartbeat was good, since we had just had that test completed, and we knew how to interpret the results (this time, the baby’s heartbeat was often around 140-150 compared to the slower 130 heartbeat 30 minutes earlier).

The Second Ultrasound:
We were then taken to the ultrasound room.

“Lisa, please come this way,” the midwife said walking us down the hallway.

“I’m not going to measure the baby,” the midwife said after laying on a thick layer of jelly on Lisa’s belly. “Are you ready Lisa,” she asked.

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She then studied the baby, mainly measuring the baby’s head, stomach, and femur. She was silent, clearly focused on her work. This ultrasound was a lot different than the first. The first time we felt a great joy in seeing our baby on the screen. This time, we felt overly anxious, concerned, and in constant wonder of what was being found as the midwife measured these areas.

Brief side note: The stomach was measured twice, from NW to SE and NE to SW, making an X pattern on the screen.

“Did you also check the umbilical cord?” Lisa asked.

The midwife then checked the flow (of blood or nutrients???–this was never explained, but the answer was simple–after hearing a few beeps and seeing wave-like formations show up on the screen, the midwife announced–“looks good.”

The midwife seemed to remeasure the head, stomach, and femur two or three times, and then called in a second midwife to assess her assessment (although leading questions were asked).

“I measured from here to here and I got a normal number. Do you see that?” she said to the second midwife.

We were then abruptly told that everything was normal. No pomp, no circumstance. It was just black-and-white with no explanation.

I prodded.

“How do you know?”

The midwife then when into a litany of how numbers are calculated based off of the mean size for a baby in the week you’re in (e.g. week 36) compared to the size our baby is.

After the ultrasound, we found out that our baby was -6 on their head size and -3 + -3 on their tummy = -12 overall. Of course these numbers meant nothing to me, so I inquired further.

I can’t remember how long the femur was except that whatever the average was for a 36 week baby, ours was one (cm, mm???) longer.

Turns out that there is a scale for the average head, stomach, and femur (for some reason the femur length isn’t calculated, but is still measured. This was never fully explained to me).

Great, the one part that’s above average isn’t calculated into the proper growth of our baby’s size, I thought.

Then they take how long our baby’s head and stomach are, and those numbers are subtracted from the average baby at our week.

You’re considered “normal” or “healthy” if you’re between +22 to -22.

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Meeting the Doctor
We then met the doctor. She had only one agenda–to reassure us in as many different ways as she could that there was no problem. Again, without going into as many (apparently needless) medical details as possible.

“Do you know why you’re here?” she asked as an opening statement.

“To check on the growth or lack of growth of our baby,” Lisa quickly responded.

“Yes, that’s right. Well, this is as perfect as it gets. You’re great. You fall within the normal range. Everything is fine. You have nothing to worry about,” she said.

“You can go home and enjoy your New Years,” she continued.

Again–I had lots of questions, but clearly could see that those were not welcomed. In fact, at one point I even called her out saying “Yes, I get the point that you clearly have one job–to make us feel calm and safe, but…” and then I continued asking several questions of things to look out for or how to prepare ourselves should this arise again, and what to do at our next prenatal meeting.

Conclusion: The doctor could only guess like our original prenatal midwife–that the baby had just shifted position in the body, making the uterus appear as though it’s not growing.

I told her I was quite interested in what was happening with our baby, which is why I had so many questions.

Rather than finding it beneficial to have involved parents seeking answers from a professional, her response to me stating my interests was simple, but dumbfounding.

“Google it,” she said.

“Really? We come to the hospital seeking answers from a professional and your response it ‘Google it’?”

She then argued why Googling was a good method, but that people can’t interpret the results well.

Well no shit! That’s why we’re talking with you right now. We want to be informed parents and understand the potential situation our baby may or may not be going through. Plus it just doesn’t hurt to know more, in case this same thing happens again in the future with another child, I thought.

We left the hospital feeling glad that nothing was wrong with the baby (as far as they could tell). The first baby scare was over. For now.

But I also left the hospital with a pain in my stomach, knowing that I could have a midwife as inattentive, unsupportive, and unwelcoming as her when we give birth.

Fingers crossed that we have one like our prenatal midwife!

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Tried to go into town to enjoy the Christmas lights.

PS–Interesting side-note, the midwife said it wasn’t a problem to take pictures during the ultrasound, despite the first ultrasound midwife saying that we weren’t allowed to take pictures. Of course, no explanation was given on why it could or could not be ok to take pictures during the ultrasound.

PPS–This has so far been our fifth midwife, and we haven’t even given birth! Talk about a lack of continuity of care, as well as trying to develop trustful, stable relationships! Not ideal, Sweden!

First Parenting Scare at the Prenatal Clinic

Yesterday I had my first real parenting scare. I cried. Several times…

Side-note 1: I say “real” because twice now Lisa has felt quite dizzy, with a palpitating heart, forcing us to quit our dinner outings and take a taxi home–presumably due to low blood sugar (or so thinks the midwives who answer the phone at the hospital).

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Laying on the couch after a bad dizzy, racing heart, low blood pressure, spell.

Side-note 2: We’re in week 36. At this point, several people have already gone through miscarriages, pre-term births, or know that they are awaiting various birthing complications. This has not been our case, so far. Despite the fact that we’re currently in the norm, we still feel quite lucky and thankful that no major problems have arisen.

Side-note 3: Our biggest pregnancy problem thus far has been acid that continuously disrupts Lisa’s sleep, often starting in the evening and continuing throughout the night. Even though she stays away from acidic foods, like apples and oranges, especially late at night, she still routinely gets acid, causing her to miss out on plenty of sleep, and subsequently myself as well. A prelude of things to come.

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Helpful acid relief that’s supposed to reduce acid, since the medicine that should hold the acid back didn’t help much.

My schedule for the day: The day started out normal–I was to clean out my old desk, since I will start a new job in the new year. Then I should get a new haircut; a courtesy for the new job. Then I should meet Lisa at the prenatal clinic for our normal two-three week check-up. Then after-Christmas shopping should ensue 🙂

Routine Prenatal Visits: The visit to the midwife was standard and routine. Read my previous posts about these visits here and also here. Therefore, I have not continued documenting every visit (although currently, including the present visit, we have gone to the prenatal clinic post ultrasound 6 times, with two more times scheduled before the birth [since we had two visits pre-ultrasound, we will have a total of 10 visits to the prenatal clinic + 1 ultrasound)–every two weeks, we arrive, the midwife greets us, we swap slightly personal stories about the goings-on in our lives (aka small talk), we ask semi-anxious prenatal questions, and then proceed with checking the blood pressure, occasionally checking the iron levels via a finger prick, and measuring the size of the uterus (a subjective measuring, but still, fun to see the results charted out on a graph). Overall, it’s a fun time, because we like our midwife’s personality and get along well with her (aka–she laughs at my jokes 😉

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In fact, the last four visits to the midwife have been so mundane, that I, a fatherhood researcher of child health care, have questioned if I even need to show up. I figure everything will be normal and if not, then my partner will inform me if anything is abnormal (e.g. iron levels are low; solution = take an iron pill more frequently). So, unless I have specific pregnancy questions, there’s little reason for me to attend–accept that most of our visits have, so far, corresponded with the prenatal parent education classes–and since those go over different information at each meeting, I may as well come 20 minutes earlier and still participate in the routine meetings with the midwife. Plus it’s fun!

Back to the prenatal parenting scare: Yesterday’s visit was not completely routine. Beyond the trivial routine measurements and tests, we were to also talk about how we wanted to give birth. The midwife would then notify the hospital of our requirements–epidurals, laughing gas, sterile water, etc. Do we want things in succession? Do we want a completely natural birth? Do we want a midwife who’s good in English? Yes, that last one is a definite yes! Do we have any special needs, especially dietary?

Lisa was already at the clinic when I called her from the elevator asking where she was. I hadn’t worn a hat, despite the Swedish winter in bitter December.

“Oh, I love your new haircut,” Lisa responded when she first saw me. “She does such a great job, and great job styling it. You need to buy whatever product she puts in your hair. You look so good!”

That felt amazing. I can’t wait to get another haircut! I have the best girlfriend, I thought.

We hadn’t really discussed this at home to any great extent. So we went into the prenatal visit saying “we don’t know, what we don’t know,” and sought out a few more answers–why get laughing gas over the epidural and vice versa? What are the pros and cons of both? And what point are you beyond the point of no return when it comes to getting these?

Prior to having the birthing discussion though, we decide we would go through the normal routine. Lisa’s blood pressure was perfect. Her finger was then pricked, and her iron count was 130; a very healthy iron level, just like every other visit.

Then she went to lay on the bed so that her uterus could be measured and the baby’s heart rate could be measured. Knowing Lisa loves video of the baby’s heart rate, I started video recording with my phone. While the last few times we had visited the baby’s heart rate was always around 150-160 (dropping below 150 and occasionally going above 160), this time the heart rate was around 130.

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“A perfectly normal heart rate” the midwife responded.

I replied back, “ya, but normally it’s around 150-160, because [the midwife] is pressing so hard on Lisa’s belly, forcing the baby to stress out and move around; so maybe the resting heart rate is closer to 115 or 120?”

No one seemed to care about answering that question, including myself. It was just an automatic statement that blurted out, since we had always seen the baby’s heart rate rise (to 160-170) and then drop after thirty seconds to two minutes (to 140-160).

The uterus was then checked. I was so excited. Since the start of the pregnancy, the uterus has been about one standard deviation below the mean, but over the weeks, had been inching itself closer to the mean. I was hopeful that we would be directly on or even just above the mean line this time.

“There is no growth since the last time you were here,” the midwife said in a slightly urgent and bewildered tone.

She appeared confused and re-examined the size. Then she called in another midwife to confirm her findings.

The room wasn’t filled with jokes. The cheery feeling had left. Silence took it’s place, as Lisa and I wondered what all this meant. Especially having just seen a “perfectly normal heart rate.”

The second midwife came up with similar results. Lisa then reannounced that the baby had, starting a day or two earlier, started to move a lot less. This  fact was stated at the beginning of the meeting but was quickly dismissed as “normal” and “anything can happen during pregnancy”. The sentence was not dismissed this time. This time, it was taken seriously.

“The baby not moving much, coupled with no uterus growth–I recommend you to go to the hospital and get another ultrasound,” the midwife strongly urged us.

Thoughts rushed through our heads. What does this mean? How bad is this? Will we give birth today via a C-section? Can something bad happen to our baby? Can we lose our baby!? I want answers, and I want them now!

She then immediately called the hospital to arrange our visit. We found out we could go as soon as our routine prenatal visit ended.

The new chart was created. We weren’t near the average growth anymore. We were on the second standard deviation line below the mean.

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Joking time was over. I didn’t give a shit about my new haircut. I was, for perhaps the first time of my baby’s life, completely focused on whatever might be happening in Lisa’s belly.

Lisa and I didn’t speak to each other, but it was clear that we both just wanted the meeting to end at that moment. We wanted to know what was wrong with the baby’s growth. Answers were needed; were needed quickly; and we were quite done at this meeting.

“Do you want to talk about how to give birth,” the midwife inquired.

Lisa didn’t immediately talk. I spoke up.

“Honestly, I don’t really care. I don’t know if we should reschedule or if we should just decide quickly. Lisa, maybe you have some quick thoughts and then we can go to the hospital,” I said.

“I agree,” Lisa responded.

Even still, we continued on, and made some decisions, asked a few more questions related to the birth….and took a few more deep breadths. Lisa and I were clearly more worried than the midwife was about our situation, but even still, she made sure to know she cared.

“I’ll be off the rest of the week, but I may still check my email. In fact, I will try to check everything before I leave today to see how it went at the hospital. If anything comes up, please let me know. And feel free to email me the results and any questions you have,” she said while we were shaking hands goodbye.

As we walked down the stairs, scared and filled with questions, we easily decided we would take a taxi (5 minutes) rather than walk to the hospital (20 minutes). We wanted answers, and we wanted to make sure we did everything we could to be seen sooner.

Off we went!

The exciting conclusion can be found here.