First things first: in case you didn't know, the vast majority of pregnancy/birthing stuff in Sweden is done by midwives. Doctors rarely enter the picture. Midwives have university degrees and are an integrated part of the Swedish healthcare system. Midwives do the prenatal check ups, the ultra sounds, the parenting classes and the deliveries.
The standard Swedish approach to pregnancy is to go to an antenatal clinic about 10 times during the pregnancy where a midwife does routine checks. These checks are pretty simple and generally include: blood pressure, hemoglobin, blood sugar, weight and belly measurements. They also ask about mood, sleeping and advise on any unpleasant symptoms that may have cropped up. No one pokes around in your bits at any point during the pregnancy (I've heard they do this in America). One ultrasound is done at week 18.
Then when one is in labor, it's usually off to the hospital. The birth is attended by whichever midwives are on call. These are not usually the same midwives as the ones who work at the antenatal clinic. Laboring individuals can eat and drink, have who they want with them and labor in any position they want. The most common type of medical pain relief offered is laughing gas, but "walking epidurals" are also available. Massage, movement, a warm bath, and acupuncture are recommended first. Laboring on one's back is discouraged but respected if it is the person's preference.
We are going about things a little bit differently. An alternative option is to have midwives who have specialized in homebirthing come to one's home and attend the birth at home. We chose this option for a whole myriad of reasons, some gender related and others not.
A brief list of some of the reasons why we're choosing homebirth:
* The opportunity to become well acquainted with the midwives who will attend the delivery. If we need to transfer to the hospital, they will continue to attend us at the hospital. Contact with strangers is severely limited.
* The belief that birth is a natural process that does not need to be unnecessarily medicalized.
* The strength, calm and power that comes from one's home where one is most comfortable, relaxed and "in charge." And a desire to avoid the anxiety induced by the hospital/unfamilar setting.
* Preference for a drug-free birth.
* Preference for a waterbirth.
*Minimizing the language barrier
The midwife who has taken care of all our prenatal check ups is probably one of our all-time favorite health care professionals. She has embraced us a gay/trans couple and has always shown us the highest level of respect and the best compassionate and competent care.
Through the organization Föda Hemma, we connected with two homebirth midwives who also attend births at our local hospital's birthing center. Yesterday morning, two beautiful women radiating strength, love and wisdom came to our home, sat our on our terrace with us for over an hour and chatted about the upcoming birth of our little Piggelin. These amazing midwives answered all our questions, discussed our feelings-- our hopes and our fears, our needs and desires, and helped us prepare for both the emotional and practical matters of the birth. In addition to attending the birth, they will also arrange all the follow-up care such as a home visit from a pediatrician a few days after the birth and an appointment at the hospital a couple weeks later for the standard newborn hearing test.
They left us both feeling calm and reassured. We are in the very best of hands!
Friday, July 26, 2013
Monday, July 22, 2013
Have you seen Orange is the New Black? No? Really? Are you sure we're friends?
Today, I hypothesized what Taystee would say if I walked into Litchfield Prison.
If she read me as female:
"Wooooo! That one helluva manly dyke! Look at all that pit hair up in there! And that leg hair is out of control! Hmm-mmm. She even look like she got some stubble goin on. Look at her about to pop one out! Her girl must got somethin wrong with her womb or somethin. That's some luv right there."
If she read me as male:
"Dude needs to lay off the PBR or somethin. Boy could be cute if it weren't for that big ol' belly-- wait waaaaat? He pregnant? You serious? Bitches be fucking with me. For reals? You mean he a girl? Ahh, yeah, yeah, I can kinda see it now that you mention. Yeah. He kinda girly."
The best part of Swedish summers is the blue-gold sunsets that linger late into the night. Our flat has a terrace and a set of outdoor furniture because we’re ysggies: young, suburban gays. We sit out there sharing a Sommersby, soaking in the lazy twilight glow and gossiping about our friends or the neighbors. Sometimes we dream.
I let my eyes unfocus and my mind’s eye recalled one of my favorite memories. It’s a shallow one. It’s a deep one. I’m checking out my upper body in the mirror at the gym after a workout. My shoulders and back look amazing: taut and defined. The scars snaking across my chest have begun to fade and I admire how they show off my life. A guy with scars like that has lived.
“This time next year, I’m going to have amazing muscles again.” I said aloud to myself. But he was also listening. “I mean, I’m always gonna be skinny, but I’m going to have some nice definition going on up here.” I waved my hand over my shoulders. “I’m going to have a nice triangle shape leading down to a tiny hard ass in skinny jeans.” I looked over to him to share a grin. To share the excitement of the future.
”Don’t change too fast, Shmoo.” Apprehension filled his eyes. Tender apprehension.
I don’t remember when he started calling me Shmoo.
His Shmoo has skinny arms, a round belly, wide hips, a baby face and thick mat of straw blond hair. He loves his Shmoo.
I squeezed his hand and let the grin soften to a reassuring smile: “Don’t worry, Merp. The changes won’t happen overnight. And I’ll still be your Shmoo.”
He nodded and took a deep breath.
“Your muscle Shmoo. Your Mushmool? Your Shmuscle? Shmooscle?” I teased. Anything to lift the weight off the corners of his mouth.
He gave me one of those looks and got up to go inside.
“What?” I called after him. “You don’t want a Shmooscle? What about a Strussel? Those are sweet!”
A quiet chuckle wafted out the door, over the terrace and up to welcome the stars.