Julia interviewed Leslie just before she delivered baby #2, Maggie, on Monday (you can see pictures of the little beauty on our blog here – a big congrats to the Waghorn family!). At the time, she was full term, absolutely feeling it, and had had some time to reflect back on how this pregnancy has been for her, compared to her first pregnancy with her son, Jack.
Julia Bennett : So, Leslie. Let’s talk about being pregnant with bebeh #2 – First up! Word on the street is that you’re very, very pregnant. How very pregnant is very very pregnant? And how are you feeling right now?
Leslie Waghorn: Haha! I am VERY pregnant. Super pregnant if you will! I’m 39 weeks and some odd days.
Julia: We may have heard some stories about how it’s attracting some attention in public. What’s that all about?
Leslie: It’s usually in the form of stares of disbelief. Lots of people are commenting about how I look and what that means for me and the baby. Apparently my stomach now looks like a torpedo which some people associate with having a boy. When I tell people it’s not a boy (based on the ultrasounds and genetic tests) they generally get defensive. But I find the comments more amusing at this point than insulting, and I’m shocked at what people say to pregnant women. Even before I had my first baby my response to seeing a pregnant woman was to usually ask if they knew the sex, how far along they were and to wish them luck. But I’m still shocked at how much my body seems to be a public commodity. I mean, if I wasn’t pregnant would you have any right to comment on my body? Would you feel comfortable doing it if I wasn’t pregnant? But because I have a giant belly it somehow makes it OK.
Julia: That sounds frustrating. Does it happen nearly every time you’re out?
Leslie: Yes. Yes it does!
Julia: How do you react?
Leslie: It depends on the person. If it’s a well-meaning older woman I generally smile and let it slide. I know they mean well. Almost universally if it’s a man my response is to tell them they’re wrong and tell them I trust my doctor more than their weird observation after seeing me for 30 seconds in Target. I’m also Canadian so I’ve been socialized to be overly polite, so to tell a stranger, “those comments are inappropriate” is a big reach for me.
Julia: So you had a rough first delivery, an emergency C-section with your firstborn, Jack. How has this affected this pregnancy and your approach, your fears, and your preparations?
Leslie: I’ve been much more relaxed about this delivery, up until this week. While my OB has been strongly supportive of having a vaginal birth after cesarian section (VBAC), I’m still a little shaken from my first delivery. My position has been that if it was more likely than not that I’d wind up with another emergency c-section during the delivery that I would have a planned repeat c-section.
When my OB gave me a 30% chance of a successful VBAC, my brain read that as a 70% chance of another emergency c-section, so I opted to have a repeat c-section, which was an option for me given the risks. It also turns out that was a good idea as this baby is measuring larger than what my son was at this stage, so my chances of a successful VBAC have diminished since he first advised the VBAC. But a c-section is major surgery, and nothing to sneeze at! That’s become a bit of a stressful issue when I’m trying to fall asleep at night (as if sleeping wasn’t hard enough at this stage!)
Julia: That would scare me too. How do you think your research background has affected your ability to enjoy this pregnancy?
Leslie: During my first pregnancy I searched PubMed for everything. ev.er.y.thing. I drove myself nuts. When we did have a scare in the first trimester with my son I realized that regardless there could be only three outcomes: I could miscarry, I could give birth to a baby with potential complications/disability or I could give birth to a perfectly healthy baby. And in my mind, those were essentially the three outcomes for every strange twinge or symptom that I experienced. So after the scare I just stopped looking stuff up. If I felt it was serious enough I would call my OB, but other than that I wasn’t going to do any more research online, and that saved my sanity. I’ve taken that stance with this pregnancy as well.
Julia: So how do you try to meet that need in other pregnant mothers [through our blog] given that reading too many horror stories can freak anyone out?
Leslie: Whenever I talk about pregnancy I try to offer a sympathetic tone, because I think there’s so much judgment thrown at pregnant women. I try to strike a balance between not sugar coating things and not unnecessarily terrifying women. When I was pregnant the first time around there was SO MUCH that I had no idea about – and I’ve worked on maternal and child health campaigns, so I thought I knew what to expect.
When I’d ask friends and family, “why didn’t you tell me about not pooping ever?!” or “why didn’t you tell me about round ligament pain?!” the response was usually, “if women told each other those things no one would ever get pregnant.”
Which, while well intentioned, was incredibly paternalistic. Let me go into this with my eyes open, so when I get shooting pains in my abdomen I know that it’s relatively normal. I’d totally go through pregnancy and all it’s discomforts again to have my kids. But knowing what to expect takes all the fear out of it.
Julia: Other than being a second pregnancy (so you have more awareness), how is this pregnancy different?
Leslie: I actually went into this pregnancy expecting it to be totally different for a few reasons. First, I thought knowing what to expect and being able to better prepare would make the experience easier. But I quickly discovered that was not so. I felt the exact same as I did during my first pregnancy.
Friends and family have all sworn that when they were carrying children of the opposite sex their pregnancies were completely different, and while I know it’s an old wives tale, I put some stock in it. So when I felt the exact same this time around as I did the first, I was convinced this was another boy. We even had a boy’s name picked out. So when the genetic tests came back with two X chromosomes and when the ultrasound technician confirmed the genetic tests, I was a bit in denial.
Julia: Do you think it helps or hurts parents to have the extra understanding of statistics and science?
Leslie: I think it has helped me to make evidence-based decisions. Because much of what we’re talking about in pregnancy and child birth is risk and likelihood, not certainty. There have been times where that has been problematic because the science isn’t clear on a lot of issues. For example, a VBAC (if you are a good candidate and labor in-hospital) generally carries less risk than having a planned repeat c-section. But an emergency c-section after a trial labor after cesarean section (TOLAC) carries a much higher risk of complication than a repeat c-section does. So deciding how to deliver was truly a balance of risks.
So in that sense it has helped me logically walk through those decisions. But in terms of the emotional side, it’s completely useless! I still have fears, some of them reasonable, some of them my brain has blown out of proportion.
Julia: That’s understandable. So if you could say one thing to first-time pregnant moms… what would it be?
Leslie: Oh gosh! It would probably be that, while this is hard to do, to eschew the judgments of friends and family and make decisions with your OB and pediatrician. You will get so much advice, some of it nutty, it can be hard to figure out what’s best for you and your child.
We’ve had people tell us to do so many things that aren’t recommended any more (or were never recommended in the first place) but that people swear by. If you defer to the opinion of your health care provider you know you’ll be in good hands no matter what.