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Listen to your intuition

I recently received a comment on my post on the umbilical cord which I thought everyone should read:

My son was born 7 years ago with 4 nuchal cords. Shortly before his birth, I noticed tremendous movement. The only way to describe it was it was as if my baby was panicking and flailing the same way someone who was suffocating/drowning would flail and fight for air. I met with my ObGyn and she told me the baby was fine, heartrate was normal. I was a new, first time mom close to my due date and probably just anxious. But I knew something was wrong. Her solution was for me to come back in two days in stead of the customary week, which I did.

Thankfully, I met with another Doctor in the practice and she took the time to monitor my son’s heartrate. She listened to my odd complaints about strange itching sensations under my skin (was later told this was a sign of liver distress) and my belief that I was further along than they had calculated. After an hour of making me lie in several different positions and giving me food and liquids to raise my sons heartrate, my sons heartrate continued diving low. She told me this would be normal during a contraction, but I wasn’t having any. I was sent to the hospital for induction but when my son’s heartrate dove below 40 bpm, I was rushed into surgery.

Every doctor/nurse I spoke with the next few days told me that had never seen 4 nuchal cords and that, considering the situation, they were amazed he was born alive. My son scored well on his Apgar, 9-9 but we have seen some effects we believe are related to possible oxygen deprivation in utero. He is currently being evaluated for Asperger’s (Autism) and has some neurological anomalies, symptoms of ADHD. The doctor providing the assessment believes that there is a strong correlation between the nuchal cords and some of his current problems. Who knows?

The whole point I wanted to make was, if at any time, something strikes your gut as not being right, persue it. I felt something was wrong when I originally met with my doctor and felt she wasn’t really hearing my concern, but my belief that she was knowledgable overrode my gut reaction. I still feel guilty over not having insisted she check my baby more thoroughly, especially after hearing the nuchal cords could have caused his problems.

If I could do I over again, I would rather have her think I was a neurotic pain in the neck rather that have my son suffer the possible life long consequences of my reticence.


Pulling this out of my “weird” file:

Swiss restaurant to serve meals cooked with human breastmilk.

Now, as much as an advocate I am for breastfeeding, I think that sorta needs to stop at least by adolescence, m’kay?

I have heard of someone who pumped her milk for years (at the time I heard this, she was still pumping her milk and her children were all in college), and used it in place of cow’s milk to drink as well as in recipes. I think that’s weird. It may be more healthful to drink human milk than cow’s milk (I’m not a huge fan of dairy, although I do use it), but I don’t know about cooking breastmilk. It seems that it would damage it to the point that it wouldn’t be as healthy as raw, straight-from-the-breast milk.

This is just weird. I’m not being ugly or mean, and you’re more than welcome to go over to Switzerland and get a big bowlful of whatever they’re serving… but it’s just weird!

Update: in response to the original article, PETA has asked Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to use breastmilk to make their ice cream. They basically said that breastmilk should be given to babies. I agree.

But it reminded me of a story of older people drinking breastmilk — one boy in his teens had severe health problems (major allergies or cancer or something), and as long as he drank at least a certain amount of breastmilk per day, life was manageable; otherwise, his condition flared up and he couldn’t do normal things like go to school, etc.

However, breastmilk should be given to those who most need it — whether older children (or even adults) who need it, or (more especially) premies and other babies who need it, and for whatever reasons their own mothers can’t provide it. There are many cases of babies who simply cannot tolerate any formula, and breastmilk is literally life-saving for them. If there are women who are willing to pump enough milk for Ben & Jerry’s, they should be willing to pump for a little baby who could really need it, and not just want it — regardless of how beneficial breastmilk ice cream may actually be.

Typical C-section, from the nurse’s perspective

One of the L&D nurses’ blogs I keep with recently had a post about what happens during a C-section from the perspective of the nurse, starting with the prep. It was quite interesting to read, and since about 1/3 of American women who plan a hospital birth will end up having a C-section, you may feel better knowing what is in store. When I was in labor the first time, I was continually reminded of all of the labor stories I had read while pregnant, and although my experience wasn’t just like any of those other women’s, each part of it was just like someone’s experience. So, although it wasn’t a “textbook labor”, I felt comforted in thinking, “Oh, So-and-so in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth felt just the same way when she was in labor,” and so forth. Similarly, you may feel more comfortable and relaxed, if you do end up having a C-section, if you have a good idea of what to expect.

So, you should read it, but I want to talk a little bit more about one aspect of this in particular. The post was inspired by a comment she had received from someone who was upset during her C-section, because

After my husband and baby left the room and they took down the sheet, I looked down and saw that my legs were in “frog” position and people were pushing on my stomach and looking between my legs. I was so upset that no one told me what they doing or gave me more privacy (the room was still full of people and I had made it really clear I have vulnerability issues.)

While the blogger agreed that this was normal practice, that normally it is explained to the woman what is happening. At the end of the post she talks more about this:

This is the point when the doctor pushes on the abdomen really hard while having the woman frog legged to fish out any large blood clots in the vagina. However, unlike the anonymous commenter’s experience, I’ve always seen the woman being told this is going to happen. There are people that are in the room but they are all busy doing whatever they need to do before they leave the OR so they really aren’t paying attention to the manual expression of blood clots from the vagina.

I can understand this. They see C-sections so often, and see naked women so frequently on the operating table, that they are pretty much inured to it. However, the women who undergo the C-sections are not so accustomed to it. It reminds me of the scene in You’ve Got Mail when Tom Hanks’ character tells Meg Ryan’s character that his gigantic bookstore forcing the closure of her little bookstore was “nothing personal.” She retorts, “It was personal to me.”

When I worked at a pharmacy, the first time I told somebody that this medication would turn his/her urine blue or orange or red, I’m sure I blushed. Before long, it didn’t bother me any more. I just got used to it. But the customers weren’t used to it, and I’m sure quite a few of them were quite embarrassed — perhaps at having contracted a urinary tract infection (or yeast infection, or constipation, or any other not-so-nice medical problem) — but I never thought about it a minute after they were gone. But it was personal to them. To me, it was just yet another customer getting yet another prescription for yet some more pills — we filled hundreds of prescriptions every day, and knew most of the customers by sight — but to them, it was not this way. They were a lot more important to themselves than they were to us. Which is only normal, and as it should be.

This attitude is probaby endemic in any profession, not just health-care. I can easily imagine bankers and plumbers and mechanics and gas station attendants — anybody and everybody — having this type of attitude about people they wait on. It’s personal to you; it’s just not to them.

Gotta love the British understatements

I think I may have blogged about this before — that of the British baby named Brandon who was diagnosed prenatally with a rare brain disorder, and doctors declared that he would be blind and deaf and only live a few hours. But he’s not blind nor deaf, and very much alive. An MRI done after he was born shows that his brain is perfectly normal.

This is what the mother has to say about the prenatal diagnosis:

Perhaps doctors shouldn’t put so much confidence in scans.

Kinder, gentler Cesarean

Go over to the blog of Jennifer Block (the author of Pushed) to see a picture and brief discussion on how some British doctors are making surgical birth kinder and gentler on the mother and baby. It’s along the lines of what I blogged about here.


While this isn’t exactly childbirth education, once your child is born, you will have to deal with changing diapers, unless you’re planning on going diaperless.

Before my first child was born, I contemplated using cloth diapers (because it was in The Tightwad Gazette, which is also where I got the bulk of my cloth-diaper knowledge until recently, although there are only a few articles about it), but decided against it. Here was my reasoning at the time — we lived in a condo, and had to use the building’s coin-operated washer & dryer. We lived right next to the laundry room, so I couldn’t complain about any inconvenience like walking up or down stairs. It cost us $1.50 per load of wash and another 0.75 to dry, and possibly more if the diapers weren’t dry after one load. I assumed I’d use three loads of diapers a week, plus extra clothes from leaking. (Actually, I usually washed more like two loads a week, and my cloth diapers didn’t leak any worse than disposables.) When I priced the cheapest disposables (at the time it was White Cloud, from Wal-mart, but that may have changed now), I figured that I would spend about as much on laundry (including detergent) as I would on disposables (about $13-14 per week).

Some people don’t like cheap disposables, for certain reasons. My two sisters both tried the White Cloud brand with their oldest child and both disliked them. However, they had a girl first, and I had a boy, so that might have had something to do with it. Also, they may have improved the brand in the 5 years between when they used them and when I had them. One of my sisters-in-law started off with brand-name disposables (I think they had been given at a baby shower), and then when they used the generics, her son developed diaper rash, so they switched back to the more expensive ones. She didn’t want to keep trying multiple brands, using just a diaper or two, and then having to stop when the diaper rash got bad.

Another sister-in-law found that her son developed a horrible diaper rash when using any disposables (although he had used them without a problem for several months). (And, believe me, she tried everything — including prescription diaper creams, all types of disposables, frequent baths, olive oil.) Her son would scream any time he wet himself, and hated diaper-changing time. Eventually, she just moved to cloth diapers, and his diaper rash went away. Apparently, he was allergic to the disposable diapers. She found that she could use disposables on occasion (for instance, when she ran errands), and not have any problems; but when they went on vacation and she used disposables all the time, the rash came back. Finally, she happened to purchase the Kroger brand of disposables when she was on vacation one time and discovered that they didn’t cause the reaction in her son.

Anyway, when my son was about nine months old, I decided to switch to cloth diapers. I did some research, and found that the cheapest way to go was with Chinese prefolds. It’s been about three years, so it might have changed since then, but at the time, the cheapest place I found was I also went with the good old-fashioned diaper pins (and have only poked my kids a total of one time, and that was just a few weeks ago), because they last forever. Several of my friends love “Snappis” but they have about a six-month lifespan, and since my primary reason for switching to cloth was to save money, I went with the cheap but sturdy diaper pins. (I have on occasion put the kids in this kind of diaper with just one pin [when I couldn’t find a pair] or even without any, and I don’t remember it just falling off, but I never got comfortable with doing that, although it may be possible.) I’d suggest getting lots more pins than you think you’ll need, because you might lose them, and then you’ll have to get some more, and with the cost of shipping these days, it’s much more frugal to buy a dozen extra diaper pins along with your diapers than to buy them separately later. (I ended up needing to buy more diaper pins when both my boys were in diapers and I had only bought 4 sets of pins, and lost one or two on occasion. My baby loved playing with a strand of diaper pins all pinned together — it was his favorite toy for months.)

I bought three dozen of the “regular” sized diapers, because they fit from 15-30 pounds, so that covers almost the whole diapering time. When I got them, one of my nephews was about a month old, so we tried putting them on him, but it didn’t work quite right. They were too small to fold in half and put on him like a regular diaper, but really too bulky to put on him the regular way. So, when I was pregnant with my younger son, I got a supply of “newborn” sized diapers. I got 4 dozen, which was too many since my older son (19 months old) was still in diapers, but would have been a good number if I was just washing one set. If I had to do it over again, I probably would have gotten the “toddler” sized diaper to start with, and just folded it down to fit my older son (here’s one example of how to fold a diaper), and then I probably could have folded it in half for my newborn. For what it’s worth, my older son is almost 4 and my younger son is 2, and they can still both wear the “regular” diapers, even though they both weigh over 30 pounds, and it’s starting to get to be a bit of a stretch for my older son (he wears them still at nap-time). To translate into disposable sized diapers, my younger son is outgrowing the size 4 and my older son is outgrowing the size 5.

As far as diaper covers go, I initially bought the Gerber covers (since that’s what the diaper website sells), which was a huge mistake, because they’re vinyl and tore within just a couple of weeks, even when I carefully laundered them and air-dried them. Eventually, I found that I over-looked one very important point in The Tightwad Gazette, and that is that she said to use nylon NOT vinyl diaper covers. I’ve had to throw away maybe two pairs of nylon diaper pants in both the medium and the large (which have gotten the most use — literally years of usage now), and none of the other sizes (newborn, small, and extra-large, which haven’t gotten very much usage). They didn’t tear, though! I threw them away because the water-resistant inner liner (that I didn’t even notice before) wore out and started rubbing away, and the pants started leaking. Since the nylon pants are the same price as the vinyl, to be able to get years of usage instead of weeks of usage, is huge.

You can spend a lot of money on diapers — disposables or cloth. I’ve highlighted what I think is the cheapest way to go, but you may not need to be so frugally-minded. Here is a link to more discussion of cloth diapers that also includes a wider range of diaper types, as well as some pros and cons not mentioned here. And you’re welcome to do your own research (and if you want to post your findings or experience here on diapering or undiapering, feel free to comment or ask questions).

In looking up cloth diaper prices (mostly out of curiosity), I’ve found that it is conceivable to spend almost as much on cloth diapers as you might on disposables. Some diapers are very expensive, and only last a few months before you have to move up in size; and then there are diaper covers, as well, that may only last a few months per size. I’ve seen some diapers cost as much as $20 apiece, with diaper covers costing $10 apiece, so to get a couple of dozen in each of the 5 sizes they have, to last from newborn to potty-training, could cost $3600, plus shipping and laundering. My brother and his wife got some “one size fits all” diapers (they had snaps in various places to fit the diaper to the growing baby, which they liked), but they were so thick that it took forever to dry; they were also fairly expensive, and they ended up only having two children before she died of colon cancer at the age of 35 — know the symptoms! My brother gave them to her sister when she had a baby, so they are at least getting some usage for their money, though not as much as they intended.

Final tally — I spent about $60 on my initial set of diapers (was able to get factory seconds), including shipping, 4 sets of diaper pins, and those awful vinyl covers. While many of the original diapers I bought are getting pretty ragged (I also have used them for cleaning, and have bleached them several times), they’re still useful for their intended purpose — and I used them on both of my kids for about two years apiece exclusively, so they’ve had 4 years of near-constant use. Then when my younger son was born, I got 4 dozen newborn diapers for about $40. Separately, I bought about a half-dozen pairs (two 3-packs) of diaper pants in all 5 sizes (newborn, small, medium, large, extra-large), for $3 per pack plus shipping; and I also separately bought a box of several dozen diaper pins — I think it was 40 pins altogether, which was overkill, but was actually cheaper than buying just a few separate pairs plus shipping, and I was sure not to run out. So, altogether, I think I spent about $150-175 on the full set of cloth diapers, plus the cost of laundering. Not bad, I think!