One of my favorite parts of the second trimester so far has been having more brain space to look ahead. During my first trimester, the mixture of anxiety, fatigue, and nausea kept me in survival mode. I had to take life one day (or hour) at a time. Now that my loss-anxiety and nausea are less constant (fatigue…still rough), I can actually think about making future plans for this pregnancy.

Alli & K at brunch - Alli's Bump Day Blog, Week 17: Planning Ahead

Author’s Personal Collection/Alli Baker

Hiring a doula during Week 17 was a huge step forward.

After a long first interview with our doula, Amanda, K and I both felt really excited about having her support in this process. Talking to a doula has helped me look ahead to birth and shift my idea of what that experience will “have to” be like. I went into pregnancy with the mindset that birth would be a pretty terrible thing that I would force my way through in order to have our baby. The words and images that came to my mind when I thought about birthing this baby were: fear, pain, hospital, needles, and medical procedures. When I started reading the book Transformed by Birth* a couple weeks ago, I joked that I mainly felt terrified by birth.

When speaking with Amanda, more than fear of pain, I expressed my fears around all of the medical aspects of giving birth: induction, epidural, IVs, restrictions on food and liquids, cesarean, and so on. Even before IVF and before becoming pregnant, I have had medical anxiety, especially a phobia of needles. Therapy and IVF both helped improve these greatly (and during IVF I even administered half of my own injections!), but decades-long fears have a way of sticking around.

Amanda said, “It sounds like you are expecting birth to be a very medicalized process, which makes sense coming from IVF.” As an IVF mom, the process of getting pregnant was highly medicalized, so I assumed my birth had to be, too. I am now beginning to realize that I get to make choices about how I want to birth, while also keeping an open mind to all of the adjustments that will have to be made in response to the unexpected.

I am also feeling empowered around my choice of providers during my pregnancy as I plan for the future.

I chose my OB based on the recommendation of a friend, and the two times we have met with the OB he has been friendly, kind, and inclusive. The staff at his practice has been organized and efficient, as well. But there have been nagging worries in my mind that my goals for my pregnancy and birth do not align with my OB’s plans for me. Since our first meeting at 10 weeks pregnant, the OB has hinted that he plans to induce me by my due date for reasons that never made much sense to me: I am thirty-one (which seems so young compared to many IVF moms I know!), I did IVF (but have no infertility diagnosis or complications thus far), and a general claim about babies and birthing parents “doing better” if baby is born by their due date.

If induction becomes medically necessary, then that is certainly the route I will take. But it made me nervous to hear my doctor already planning for this at 10 weeks of pregnancy without ever asking me about my own preferences. When I shared this with Amanda, she affirmed my own worries about working with this OB, and she helped K and I consider the other options we did not know were available. For example, the same hospital I already planned to birth in also has nurse-midwives and birthing suites with options like getting in a warm tub and using nitrous oxide during labor. I have not made any final decision about my providers or my birth “plan,” but it feels exciting and empowering to think about the options available to me.

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