Thursday 23 June 2005

Fourth Week Appointment

I took Istra in to see Elizabeth today for her four-week checkup. Elizabeth always begins these checkup appointments with something like, “So, tell me how Istra is doing” or “Tell me about Istra.” So today I told her about Istra’s sleeping and nursing patterns, cutting dairy, gas and basically all the things that I have been writing about for the past month. Elizabeth confirmed our thought that everything is basically normal and offered some suggestions for coping with Istra’s tummy issues. She had one suggestion which I thought was brilliant—to drink fennel tea, some of which would get transferred into my breast milk, essentially making the milk like gripe water and therefore soothing to Istra’s tummy. So the next time I’m out and about I’m going to get some fennel tea and work it into my daily routine.

I also told Elizabeth about our appointment with Dr. Lewin and about how Dr. Lewin was pushing Vitamin D supplementation, how she thought that Istra needed to gain more weight and about how she lectured me for a good ten minutes about vaccinations. Elizabeth’s response was to give me a sheet listing the pros and cons of Vitamin D supplementation and to recommend some doctors and pediatricians in the city who would be willing to have a dialogue with me about vaccination, rather than just lecturing me about them. I think I’ve been spoiled by the approach of the midwives—exemplified once again by how Elizabeth responded to the Vitamin D question. Elizabeth did not really even give me her own opinion, but gave me a sheet with the facts for both sides of the argument and urged me to come to my own conclusions. I want this kind of dialogue about the vaccination issue, but it is obvious that Dr. Lewin is not willing to have that conversation. Elizabeth did warn me, however, that there are apparently not many doctors who will dialogue about vaccinations, and some will even refuse you care if you refuse their vaccination schedule. The list of names that she gave me she told me are my best bets for the conversation I want to have.

In response to Dr. Lewin’s comment that Istra should be gaining more weight, Elizabeth did her own check on her own scale and found out that Istra weighs 9 pounds 5 ounces now—a weight that she says is excellent. According to the midwives, babies should be gaining between half an ounce to one ounce a day and Istra gained 21 ounces in 15 days. So we don’t really know what Dr. Lewin’s problem is.

Elizabeth also checked Istra’s heart and told me that if she didn’t know that she had a murmur she wouldn’t have been able to detect it at all; so it looks like the problem is just about cleared up and should be resolved by the time we go in for our follow-up appointment with the pediatric cardiologist in August.

After the appointment, I hung around the clinic for a while and fed Istra before heading off for our very first “play date.” Well, it wasn’t really a play date, but I took Istra to hang out with a bunch of other babies and moms who also had their babies at the Midwives Collective. Since it was such a beautiful day, the group was meeting at a park down the street from the clinic; so I popped Istra into the sling (which I adjusted a little bit and she now tolerates much better) and headed down the street. When I got there I found the moms camped out on the lawn by the playground and the babies lying on blankets or sitting up (albeit unsteadily) around them. All of the babies seemed so much older than Istra; I think the youngest one besides her was around 11 months. I noticed that they all had really humungous heads! It’s incredible that babies are even able to lift those heads! Anyway, everyone seemed pleased to meet me and Istra and asked me to tell my birth story, which I did. I was happy to see one person there I knew—a mom (I’ve forgotten her name, unfortunately) who came to talk to us at our last prenatal class about her birth and postnatal experience. I chatted with her a little bit; she seems like my kind of person and I hope I can talk with her more in the future. I was surprised that no one from my prenatal class was there; I swear I was the least enthusiastic about the class of all the pregnant women and I’m the only one who shows up at the postnatal group!

The postnatal group meets weekly, but I’m not sure if I will go every week. I might alternate between this group and another that I’m interested in. There’s a group that meets in both the east and west ends of the city called “Koala Mamas” and their focus is babywearing (as in wearing your baby in a sling or other carrier) and natural family living. I’d like to go and meet these people; I’ve already met the founder of the group coincidentally through Freecycle. I know she just had a baby around a month before Istra was born, so she will be there with a very young baby too. It would also be great to get some help with the sling and the different carries that I can do in it and also my wrap and Mei Tai, when they come in the mail.

It was nice to be out of the house with Istra and not have to really worry about her freaking out and people giving me dirty looks because I have a) an unruly child who b) has to be nursed in public. It was great not to have to worry about nursing her! Really I think that’s one of the most isolating factors of being a new mom—the nervousness I feel around having to expose myself in public. Of course I try and do it discretely when I have to do it, but so far my tactic has just been to avoid the problem altogether and time our trips out so that I can be home before Istra gets hungry again. That really is the easiest way, but it is also extremely limiting. It was nice to just sit in the park with a bunch of other women and not worry about getting home at any particular time.

It seems so strange to me that all of a sudden I actually want to hang out with moms and their kids, just because they understand.

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