Pregnancy and the scale: A delicate balance

Perhaps everywhere, and certainly in Boulder, pregnancy and birth choices are controversial. When I was pregnant with Julia, I was one of only a few in prenatal yoga who were planning traditional hospital births, with OB/GYNs rather than midwives. "I'm planning to give birth in a tub of water, with guitars playing softly in the distance, outside beneath a full moon" felt like a more common birth plan than anything I could have dreamed up. When, at 5 days late, I scheduled an induction for 4 days later, some people told me I should just wait another few days and give the baby a "real chance" at coming naturally. Yeah, right, I thought. I'm hot and miserable. Get this baby out. I didn't really have a birth plan, so to speak. I wanted to try labor naturally, but was not opposed to drugs, and when I saw the anesthesiologist who gave me my epidural, I cried with relief. This time around, my birth plan is about the same: have a healthy baby (though if they'd like to meet me in the parking lot with an epidural, I'd welcome that option as well). And, I've learned a little secret: after the baby comes, nobody really cares how the heck it got here.

When I miscarried in January, I spoke with an OB on the phone, and since I liked her, I decided to see her when I became pregnant this time. While I have been mostly pleased, at my 16 week check up on Monday, I had an experience that left me a little disenchanted. As my doctor walked into the room, before a "hello," or a "how are you feeling," she exclaimed, "You've only gained 1/2 lb this month!" Really? I thought. I was surprised by both her news and by her delivery of the news. First of all, I'm growing out of maternity clothes. I wish there were some sort of Netflix for bras, because it seems like every week, I need larger ones. I'm keeping up with my stepdad, who is outside doing construction all day, in terms of eating, and I'm not exercising (I know... I should be...). When strangers ask how far along I am, they are surprised to hear I'm only 16 weeks. I know I am growing.

"You've only gained 5 lbs total during your pregnancy," the doctor continued. This, I knew, was not true.

"I'm pretty sure I've gained 10," I replied. "I remember my weight when I came in for early testing at 5 weeks."

 "Oh, well we measured from the 9 week physical exam, and since then, you've only gained 5." So, apparently my two-week long Easter candy binge, which resulted in 5 lbs of early weight gain, did not count.

Regardless of what the scale said, it seemed like a rather alarmist stance to take--and I found myself longing for a more holistic view of what was happening with my pregnancy. Where were the questions about what I'm eating? Where was the evidence that the baby is struggling because of my supposed "slow weight gain" (something nobody has ever associated with me, and likely never will again)? The baby's heartbeat was a healthy 150 beats per minute. I have no reason to think that the baby is doing anything other than developing normally.

I certainly don't want to come across as critical of mainstream prenatal care. I had overwhelmingly positive experiences with my pregnancy/ birth with Julia. I certainly appreciated all of the early care I got this time around after miscarrying just two months prior to getting pregnant. And I'm not about to defect to the "outdoor birth while the coyotes howl" birth preference that seems to prevail in Boulder. But my experience on Monday made me appreciate having a good friend who's a doctor who's only a text away, who confirmed my skepticism about my appointment. It also helped me to remember that, just like with parenting,  my own intuition is a valuable pregnancy tool. And so, I will keep doing what I'm doing, and see what happens at our ultrasound in two weeks, as well as at my next appointment, rather than up my ice cream intake exponentially. The scale only tells part of the story of this pregnancy.