Tuesday, July 26, 2011

thoughts on labor


Blergh. I don't even know where to start!

Most of my life, when I thought about childbirth, I thought about the pain. And when I thought about the pain, I thought about the epidural. I always said I'd get an epidural. Even after we found out we were pregnant, that was the plan. Epidural = good.

Then I turned into this crazy, researching, list-making mama-to-be and the more I read/learned, the more I wondered if maybe I should give my plan a little more thought.

Now before I go any further, please know this: I'm not going to get all Judgey Von HolierThanThou on anyone. I'm all for doing what's right for you and no one else so please, by all means, go forth with the plan that's best for you.

I'm also not naive enough to think that my current plans will unfold exactly the way I imagine. And so I'm educating myself on all scenarios and all possibilities, so that I'm as prepared as I can be. My daddy always said to expect the best and plan for the worst. Done.

Phew. How's that for a disclaimer? Where was I? Right...the research part.

"Natural childbirth" is basically giving birth with no medical intervention. No medicine, no surgery. Here's what I've learned about the pros:
  • If all is well with you and the baby, it's definitely the safest method of birth
  • You remain in control of your body (you can't move around if you're numb/on an epidural) and you're as alert as possible throughout the whole thing
  • It decreases the risk of other interventions (i.e. Pitocin, extraction or forceps delivery, catheterization, etc)
  • Labor usually doesn't last as long
  • There are links between natural childbirth and the ease of breastfeeding (the more "involved" the birth is, the more difficult it may be for baby to nurse)
  • Recovery is better and shorter
There's a lot of literature out there to elaborate on each of those things (and then some), but that's the gist of it all.

I've been reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (it's okay to laugh) and there's so much in there about how beneficial breastfeeding is for you and the baby and how much easier it can be if you have a natural birth. That's honestly what opened my eyes to it all and after reading more and more, it's what I want to work toward.

Unfortunately, the set up we have with our military insurance limits our ability to get this kind of "alternative" care and support - no midwife, no doula, no birthing center (all of which would be my preference). So we're flying solo for the most part.

And y'all? I'm skeered.

I'm scared that it won't work out, that the hospital staff will push back, that I'll give in (and then feel guilty), that I'll be in labor for a bajillion hours and won't have the energy to finish the task, that the doctor will be mean to me. I'm scared of all of those things.

So I've been doing more reading and prepping. And lately, a lot of praying. I reallyreallyreally believe that if I rely on God completely during this time (and that all is right and normal with my body and the babe's) I can do this. What an exercise in faith, right?

Things I'm praying for:
  • Courage
  • Perseverance
  • The ability to remember why I want to do this, when the pain is convincing me otherwise
  • The knowledge to be able to discuss options confidently with the labor and delivery staff
  • A labor and delivery staff who is willing to work with us
  • That Andrew is prepared to talk me through it when I start to question our intentions
  • No fear, no fear, no fear
  • And peace. So that no matter what happens, I'm not held back by the "could haves" or "should haves"
  • Oh, and that whole grace thing. Because no matter how our boy is born, I did the best I could.
One last thing. The network of support out there is INCREDIBLE. You wouldn't believe the words of wisdom, book recommendations, pieces of advice and prayers of support I've received as we work through this. I love that about women. It honestly makes me feel all "yeah! I'm part of the sisterhood!" and it's awesome.

One more thing (and really the last thing) because it's too funny not to share.

My aunt tells this story (I hope you don't mind, Mir!) about her reaction after touring the hospital when she was pregnant with her first. In a moment of real frustration with conventional birthing methods, things got a little heated between her and Mike, her husband. She was emotionally charged and he was, I'm sure, a little exasperated that he couldn't do anything to talk her down. His response?

"Mir! You're not going to be happy unless Holly Treehugger delivers this baby in the woods!"

To which she responded (while crying harder):

"I don't want to have my baby in the woods!"

We laugh about it now.

I would be lying if I said I haven't had a few of those moments in the last few weeks, but I know that all will be well.

Treehugger, or no treehugger.

10 friends said...:

  1. prayers for you! you will make the best decision for YOU :)

  2. Page - You know me well, and you know I, too, am an obsessive planner and like to figure everything out, so more power to you! While I never considered the no epidural route (I don't do pain well), I was absolutely convinced that I would under no circumstances have a c-section. I had watched hours and hours of Baby Story and knew that I would not cave, I would stand up to the doctors if they tried to "pressure" me into a c-section so they could go home for dinner, blah, blah, blah. In fact, I even skipped that part of our birthing class (but, to be fair, my bladder was 2 seconds away from bursting...).
    Anyway, after all my research, birth plan creation, adamant avowals, etc, things didn't go as planned. My water broke at 4 AM, I was 0 cm dialated and 0% effaced. Then my sweet "little" baby tossed the umbilical cord over one of his "linebacker shoulders" (direct quote from the doctor...before we knew that he was a boy!).
    So, Charlie came via c-section at 10 PM, and as much as it was nothing like I had planned, I wouldn't change a thing. As confusing and frustrating as it was, it was absolutely perfect.
    So, please, research, research, research and figure out what works for you and make your plans and pray...but also remember that no matter what happens on that glorious day, no matter where you are or how your baby boy gets here, it will be perfect, because he will be here -- and nothing else really matters.

  3. Aunt Mir, here....of treehugger-in-the-woods fame. Haha, I still DO love telling that story. :-)

    You know this, of course, but your readers need to know that I had to have two c-sections. So, there you go. Best laid plans and all that. Yes, I had a midwife. Yes, I had a doula. Yes, I went to Bradley birth classes. So your friend Jenny is right that your baby's birth could end up being nothing like you had planned.

    That's why I have to applaud you for this comment:

    > Oh, and that whole grace thing. Because
    > no matter how our boy is born, I did the
    > best I could.

    Re: what your friend Jenny says here:

    > on that glorious day, no matter where you
    > are or how your baby boy gets here, it will
    > be perfect, because he will be here -- and
    > nothing else really matters.

    She's mostly right ;-) ... although I would add that if you really didn't want a c-section and needed to have one, you have the right to take your time accepting that loss. Surprisingly, I moved on quickly and wasn't too upset over having to have c-section births. After the birth of our firstborn, my midwife told me, "Every baby's birth story is unique. This is Merrit's birth story. Honor it."

  4. Love what your midwife said. Remind me of that when my boy gets here :)

  5. That's what everyone keeps telling me, that I won't care how he got here once he's here. Can't wait for that moment!

  6. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'll covet every prayer!

  7. God will give you the perfect labor for your body. You can do it! You were made to do this. My labor was fast (5hrs) and all-natural, and it was my first baby.

    I downloaded (don't laugh!) 'Childbirth in the Glory' by Janet Angela Mills off of Itunes. It's scripture/music meant for preparing for and helping you through labor. It's like Hypnobabies, but Jesus-centered.

  8. Lindsay @ Aisle to AlohaJuly 31, 2011 at 11:51 PM

    Oh, girl. I really have no wisdom to offer on the birthing front, but this was a wonderfully written post and I think you are looking at it in the best way possible. His grace is certainly sufficient and He not only made your body perfectly for this purpose but also gave your doctors and nurses the knowledge and technology to help you should you need it. Will be praying for you!

  9. So much truth. Thank you, friend!

  10. I'll have to check that out! Thank you :)


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