Monday, October 27, 2008

Finally, A Bit of a Bump!

There is this awkward stage of pregnancy (for me anyway) where I don't really look pregnant, just like I've put on a few pounds. Where I'm getting too fat to wear my regular clothes, but loose-fitting maternity clothes just look dumb. I feel like I've been at that awkward stage for about two months now... but finally, at 16 weeks, I'm starting to develop a more noticeable "baby bump." See for yourself:

I went to see my doctor again last week, and when she couldn't find the heartbeat, she sent me for an ultrasound, just to make sure all was well. This was not the routine "screening" ultrasound that is usually done at around 20 weeks, so I wasn't expecting to find out what we are having. HOWEVER, one of the first things the tech said was, "Do you want to know the sex of your baby?" So, of course we said, "Yes," and she told us we are having a...

And now it's time to play the "Baby Gender Guessing Game!" Leave your guess as to Baby Dois's gender in the form of a comment below by Friday, October 31st at midnight. I will draw a name from among those who guessed correctly and send the lucky winner a little something special!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Chime In: Childbirth

Since discovering that Baby Dois was on the way, I have been doing a lot of thinking about birth and my birth options here in the United States. It should come as no great surprise to anyone that I am not exactly eager to repeat my first birth experience. Well, let me qualify that statement a little. I don’t want to be in labor for three days this time around! The only positive I can see from my lengthy first labor is that I now have an extremely high threshold for what I would consider a “short” labor. Hey, if I’m only in labor for half the amount of time with Baby Dois (32 hours instead of 64), I’ll be saying, “Wow, that was fast!” (And most people – Americans, anyway – will still look at me pitiably and say, “You poor thing! Why didn’t your doctor give you a C-section?” But that’s beside the point.)

No, this time around, I would like to order a shorter labor, if you please. And I think I’ve established that I’m fairly easy to please on that score! But in all other respects, my first birth experience was a very positive one. If I could, I would go back to Japan to have this baby. I really would! I miss the maternity system there (which basically gives you two free doctor visits during pregnancy and then reimburses you for your hospital expenses after the delivery). I miss my midwife. I like the OB I found here in Memphis well enough, I suppose. But going to see her is just not the same as going to see Kudo-san, spending the better part of an hour with her, drinking tea and talking, and ending with a wonderful and relaxing incense massage! Truth be told, I even miss my Japanese doctor, who, although he was old and gruff, and spoke next to no English, and smoked – in his office (!), was a true champion for natural childbirth. I am beginning to appreciate in new ways, now that I am Stateside, the gift it was that, despite my lengthy labor, I did not end up with a C-section. And the thought that a second lengthy labor might lead to one here in the United States terrifies me.

The fact that I will likely not be having this baby in Memphis is of some comfort to me. There are not many “alternative birth options” here, I’ve discovered, other than homebirth. There are midwives, but midwives don’t have hospital privileges in Memphis, so if you opt to use a midwife, you have to also opt for a homebirth. I am not opposed to the idea of homebirth, but my personal preference would be to give birth in a freestanding birthing center with a CPM (Certified Professional Midwife) or a CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife). I have already begun to research my options in Michigan, and I’m reassured by what I am finding. There are several birthing centers within an hour’s drive of the Detroit area, and even a group of CNM’s who practice at one of the area hospitals.

I have also been doing a lot of thinking about what I wish I had known the first time, what I wish I had done differently, and what I plan on doing differently this time around. I recently became “blog friends” (through some of my Internet research on prodromal labor) with another woman who has had labor experiences similar to mine, and she encouraged me to do some thinking and reflecting about this. And so I have, and I plan to post some of those thoughts here in the next few days. In the meantime, I would like to invite any readers who have either experienced or would choose a “natural birth,” whether at home, in a birthing center, or in a hospital, whether here in the United States or overseas somewhere, whether recently, or many years ago, to chime in with your thoughts, stories, and suggestions. I am especially interested in answers to the following questions:
  1. How did you arrive at your decision of how and where to birth your baby?
  2. What books, websites, and other sources of information did you find particularly helpful?
  3. Did you write a “birth plan,” and did you find it helpful?
  4. If you chose a hospital birth, did you hire a doula, or labor support person?
  5. If you chose a homebirth, did you have a backup plan? (In other words, did you receive “shadow care” from an OB or family doctor in case complications arose during delivery, requiring a hospital transfer?)
  6. What childbirth method did you choose? Did you take childbirth classes, and did you find them helpful?
  7. Would you make different decisions (i.e. choose a different birth attendant or birth locale) for any subsequent births?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Angling Towards Angola

(Thanks to Rusty's Uncle Lyle for this catchy -- and admittedly cheesy -- play on words!)

Time for an update on our plans to do mission work in Angola!

Since returning from our Survey Trip three and a half months ago, we have continued to plan and prepare with our team. We have now decided on a location in Angola to base ourselves and our ministry. We will be living and working in the city of Huambo in central Angola. There are many reasons that we as a team arrived at this (unanimous) decision. I will not go into them all here. Suffice it to say that Huambo was one of the cities hit hardest by the war, so there is a great need; and as far as we know, there are currently no missionaries (from any denomination) working in Huambo. Click here to review the pictures of our time in Huambo.

We have continued to meet monthly with our team. Part of our preparation involves completing several workshops put on by Missions Resource Network. This month, we will do a Theology Workshop, and in November, an Interpersonal Relationships Workshop. Next year, there will be several more workshops to complete. We hope that these will be beneficial, not only as we plan and prepare for the mission field, but also as we weather the "storms" that will inevitably come during our time there.

On a personal note, Rusty is winding down his time at Harding Graduate School. He will complete his degree requirements in December and graduate next May. To say that he is looking forward to being finished with school would be a huge understatement! But the fact that he will not be taking classes next semester has forced us to make a decision about where to go from here. We do not have a sponsoring congregation yet -- if we did, this decision would be easy! But as we are still waiting on God's perfect timing, we needed to figure out what to do in the meantime.

So, we are moving out of our campus apartment next month, putting most of our stuff in storage, and going up to Michigan to live with my parents for a few weeks (or months) -- until we find a sponsoring church or until they kick us out, I suppose! We are looking forward to some extended time with them, especially around what will probably be our last holiday season in the U.S. for quite awhile. Rusty is looking into a job transfer to a Starbucks store in the Livonia area, and I will go back to being a stay-at-home mommy.

So, those are our plans for the immediate future!