Friday, October 15, 2010

birth thoughts...

Birth. It's a very hot topic, and one that elicits strong emotions. Thoughts about the births of my own children have been at the forefront of my mind lately. Not sure why, but now I feel a great urge to write about them: my thoughts and feelings.

I have shared each of my 3 birth-stories multiple times. Depending on which one I share, and who my audience is, the reactions I get vary greatly. I get everything from empathy, shock, opposition, and comradery. I have even been interrupted so a "friend" could discredit my experience in an effort to justify her own.

All three of my birth experiences have been vastly different from one another. I have learned so much about myself through each.

With my first, my sweet boy Aaron, I was the dutiful patient. This is what was expected of me, right? That's what I thought, and I didn't educate myself to discover another option. That realization is difficult and shocking for me. If you know me at all, it might be a shock too. I ask myself now, "How could I have not educated myself about what is beyond the confines of the typical hospital experience?" I justified it, at the time, telling myself that modern medicine in labor and birth was there for a reason. I know better now.

Aaron's birth was fraught with drama, as one medical intervention lead to another, and another and another. I was being the good patient and didn't know it was within my rights to say no to the pitocin, the 3rd degree episiotomy, and so many other things. I repeatedly heard, "We're going to do XYZ now." There was no human touch, and bed-side manners were nonexistent. Of course, the arrival of my son made much of that less-than-perfect experience fade away. But, now, more than 5 years later, I have much regret. I fixate on experiences within my life, and the memories associated with them. For the most part, it's the good memories that present themselves. But, not in this case. I remind myself of the beautiful boy I held in my arms, to again, make the negative fade away.

I figuratively kick myself that the education I gave myself during his pregnancy was through TLC (yep, Baby Story), the hospital's version of birth classes, and What to Expect... There is so much more out there, so much that is better. Thankfully, I did discover this, later.

Molly's birth was HEAVEN compared to Aaron's. My OB and Midwife were great, and I felt like a mother with choices. I *hoped* for a natural birth, but didn't educate myself on how to attain it. My body could, and did, labor and it really did know what to do!! How empowering! The pitocin just sat on it's shelf during Molly's birth. Relief.

At 8cm, I was tense. So tense, I couldn't relax, and I didn't know what to do with myself. It's not surprising that I tensed up. I can be quite high-strung, in case you were wondering. I was frustrated with myself, and caved in to the epidural. No other interventions, thank you. My Little Miss came into the world perfectly. I have little regret with her birth. Thankfully. It was the morning after her birth when my world came to a crashing hault. I'm tearing up now, so maybe I'll write about those feelings another time. Apparently, they want to be felt again.

A long while after Molly's birth, we realized that our family was incomplete. Nora joined our family a bit over a year later. I am forever thankful for her, for so many things. Her birth healed parts of my heart that were still raw from both Aaron and Molly's births. I needed to experience her birth, completely. I yearned to know the feeling of birth - unmasked, unmedicated, natural.

Thanks several amazing women, I became educated. I learned about what birth could be like, and that I was capable and deserving of the birth I craved, and had a right to have.

I've heard it many many times. "Why not just get the epidural?" "They don't give you a medal for a natural birth." A "friend" even said to me, when I told her I was planning an unmedicated birth, "Yeah, good luck with that." I don't call her a friend now. I realized that comments like that are justifications. They are trying to justify their own choices, because heaven-forbid there be another way, a different way than what they chose. Some woman feel their choices cannot be wrong or changed, especially their birth choices.

I educated myself, maybe to an extreme, this last time around. Clay and I took Hypnobabies classes to prepare my mind for a natural birth. We hired our doula, Rose to be another person of support. And we planned on having a midwife there to catch Nora. Afterall, I was the one that would be doing the delivering. I watched The Business of Being Born and read Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth. I knew I could do it!

Plans changed, as they can and will in life. Nora decided to make her appearance a month early. That meant no midwife, but I was content with my OB being there to catch. I had terrible back labor, which was something else I didn't plan on, and hadn't experience before. But, everything else I could have hoped for with Nora's birth was perfect. All of my wishes were honored, and I gave birth the way I wanted and hoped for. Nora was brought to my chest immediately. I felt AMAZING! There is not a feeling in the world (to my knowledge) that compares with having my baby naturally. I felt strong, energized, and heroic. I could even walk afterwards, and take care of myself and my new baby girl. No one had to be my crutch to use the bathroom, and I could stand strong in the shower. It's the little things, you know.

I am content. I am educated. I know my choices, and am strong in my conviction that every woman has the same choices. Some choose to listen, others continue to justify. And that, is their choice as well. All I can do is what is right for me and my family.

Nora just woke from her nap. I get to go cuddle and nurse her now. I'm a happy and lucky mama.

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