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This past Tuesday I had my first appointment with the midwife. I was very excited for the appointment, as it makes things feel a bit more real to get antenatal care started and start planning for the birth and everything. I was also really happy to meet Susan and Ciska, the midwives. This appointment was with Susan, but my next appointment should be with Ciska, who I've had phone contact with since my pregnancy test in December. Both of them should be at the birth unless something comes up (like another woman being in labour at the same time).

The appointment went really well! I immediately liked Susan, and she made me feel comfortable. I hate medical settings, so going to their office was really nice, because their offices are in a house which houses Susan and Ciska's midwife practice and another midwifery practice. The room was really nice and welcoming- the house had wooden floors, and there were shelves of books, a desk, and an examining table (which was made up as a bed) in the room, along with personal pictures on the wall. The first appointment was basically going over medical history and basic personal facts, then drawing blood for various tests (bloodsugar, immunity to certain diseases, etc.), and the fun part of the appointment- hearing the baby's heartbeat.

Raoul says the heartbeat sounds like horses galloping, and it really does. It's a simile that has often come up in my reading on pregnancy, and it's very apt. The baby has a very strong, steady heartbeat, about 160 beats per minute when we were listening. Susan said it sounded excellent, as did the doctor at the first scan we had- sounds like our baby has a very healthy little heart!

Also at the appointment, Susan gave me contact details for the doctor I'll be working with who will be my medical backup should any complications with the pregnancy or labour arise. I have an appointment with him next month on April 7th, which I'm quite excited about as we'll get our anomaly scan done at the same time. An anomaly scan looks in detail at all the baby's parts, just checking if everything looks normal and healthy. (Of course we'll tell him to stay away from the baby's genitals, or ask him to tell us to turn away when he checks that out, that way we'll keep our surprise. On the other hand, as we've heard from some friends, sometimes you can't help but see, and we'd be ok with that as well- we just don't want to intentionally find out.)

It's rather funny for me because so many women in the church are pregnant right now as well, and my philosophy is much different than most of theirs. I'm working with midwives, avoiding medical things as much as possible (only getting 2 scans for the whole pregnancy rather than one at every appointment with the doctor, and I'll only see the doctor twice if everything goes well), wanting an all natural birth without painkillers (especially an epidural), and planning for a homebirth. It seems most women these days take it for granted that birth will be in a hospital, hardly anyone plans on all natural (as one woman I met put it, "Who would WANT to go without an epidural?!"), and c-sections are increasingly common.

Most of the pregnant women I've talked to are going into it with the midset that they won't be able to cope with labour pain, and that it will be a completely horrible experience if they don't get an epidural so the don't feel anything. They're very scared about labour and birth- terrified of the pain, worried about the baby's health, concerned about their health, etc. Call me naive (after all, I haven't been through it yet myself), but I think that's rather sad. I know I haven't been through it yet (and these women I've mentioned haven't either), but I'm going into it with the midset that I *can* cope with the labour pains, that I will get through it, and that it will be a good experience despite the pain. Not that I'm saying it will all be pleasant and easy- I know it won't be- but if woman have done it just fine for thousands of years before me, I don't see why I can't do it too. I also don't think that the pain will automatically make it a bad experience, or that being numb would make it a better experience. I want to be able to move around- walk, get into different positions, etc, whereas if I had an epidural I would be flat on my back with medical personel bustling around. That for me would be extremely uncomfortable and awkward for me, and that alone would probably give it a "bad experience" rating for me.

Of course, I don't have any problem with women going to the hospital to give birth and having epidurals, etc. I'm just glad I have the option not to (and also glad that I have the ability to transfer if I were to need medical attention). The only thing I wish is that women didn't go into labour and birth with the mindset that they can't handle it, they won't be able to do it, and with the fear that so many have. I'm sure I might get a bit nervous as the time comes up as well, but I'm not actually afraid. Ah well...I'd best leave any more comments on this subject for AFTER I've had the experience.

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