Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Natural hospital brth-- not an oxymoron

When I was about this pregnant with Cooper, Ben and I went to a wedding.  I remember feeling super cute despite the humidity, my hugeness, and the bad hair cut I recently got.  We saw Ben's old boss, a stick skinny, tall woman, who said to me, "Wow, I bet you can't wait to lose that weight!"  At the time, I was totally bummed and thought who the fuck says that to a pregnant woman?  But right now?  I totally get it.
I am, in fact, ready to lose that weight.

In Happier at Home, Gretchen Rubin writes about not eating ANY holiday desserts because she says it was easier for her to abstain completely than to worry about moderation.  This made total sense to me, and I have decided it is the attitude I am going to take toward sweets after I have the baby.  I will already be cutting out chocolate, since all 3 other kids were sensitive to it, so I think this time I am going to go whole hog and stop eating sugary crap, too.  I already abstain from artificial sweeteners of any kind, so I don't have to worry about falling into that trap.  I am going to extend the ban to all flavored lattes, but I am going to eat the organic yogurt I love, even though it is sweetened with organic cane juice. (And don't tell me to eat Greek yogurt instead because I have tried, but it tastes like puke).  I am also going to keep eating jelly on my toast, but no more cinnamon sugar on cinnamon swirl bread, no more cookies, cakes, pies, muffins, scones, brownies, candy-- you get the idea.  I don't want to go crazy and restrict calories until breastfeeding is well established, but I do need to kick the junk habit.  Our family ate 4 dozen cookies in less that 24 hours, and I made another 4 dozen tonight.  AND I ATE HALF BY MYSELF.  This is not good.

Today, I read a fabulous book, Natural Hospital Birth by Cynthia Gabriel.  She is a professor at EMU with a PhD in medical anthropology, and she is also a doula.  Apparently, the 2 natural hospital births I have had are rare.  Jack's birth-- arrival at the hospital at 7 cm and no real time for intervention-- is the way most natural hospital births happen.  One like Cooper's-- arrival at the hospital in early labor, freedom to move throughout, occasional use of hand-held monitors, nurse willing to monitor the baby wherever I happened to be in the moment, infrequent vaginal exams, hydrotherapy, lots of walking, nurse-coached breathing-- is less common.  My only complaints about Cooper's delivery (besides, of course, the horrific pain) are that I had to deliver him lying down, that he pooped in the womb and needed to be whisked away and suctioned out, so I could not hold him before Ben cut the cord, and that a resident with a terrible bedside manner kept trying to give me an amniotomy.  First of all, no, dude, I don't want an intervention, and I am pretty sure my labor is speedy enough as it is (last woman of the morning into a birth suite and the first one out, baby).  Second, anmiotomy, really?  Put down the textbook, Doogie, and just say you want to break my water. 

But the pain thing.  I think that's the whole reason Cooper was so late-- too much fear and adrenaline to let any oxytocin in my body.  I remembered enough of Jack's labor and delivery to know that I had never in my life felt so amazing as I did the moment he was out and the pain was gone and I knew that I could leap out of bed and walk to my recovery suite that very minute, and I knew I wanted that feeling again.  I also, though, remembered how bad it hurt to push him out without any drugs, and that part really scared me as my due date drew closer.  This time, I want to be more zen and want to know that I can stand another day of body-wracking pain because it is short-lived, normal, and the means to a completely transformative end.

Harry's birth was a stereotypical slew of interventions.  My water broke before I started to feel contractions, so I came in to the hospital "on the clock."  He was 37 weeks, and I hadn't gotten my group B strep results back yet, so I was treated as if I had it and immediately hooked up to an IV.  Since I was already in bed, I was hooked up to a fetal monitor, and I couldn't really move around. OF COURSE I wanted an epidural in that situation, especially since Ben was not there right away.  The epidural worked great after a super scary blood pressure situation at first, but I hated the after effects of the catheter; my nurse did some stretching of my perineum that really hurt in the recovery phase (although she did prevent me from getting an episiotomy which the doctor suggested so that the student doctor could get to practice one-- what the fuck, dude?-- by shaking her head emphatically over his shoulder until I got the message), and I was left to labor down for so long that my contractions stopped, and I had to push without them for a LOOOOONG time-- also hard to recover from.  The best part of his birth was that I got to hold him right away on my chest while he was still connected (and the doctor was strangely delighted with his placenta and made Ben pose with him and it in a picture).

I missed out on the holding the baby on my chest moment with both other kids-- Jack was blue and wrapped up in his cord and yanked away quite dramatically.  The doc on call was letting the resident handle the delivery until she saw how blue the baby's head was.  Then she body checked that poor girl out of the way and got Jack out in a second-- I am still not sure how.

I know I should avoid A Baby Story and the medical model of L&D that show portrays-- one slippery intervention slope after another-- but I have reached that point in pregnancy where I can't look away.  So, I am trying to surround myself with positive stories, too.  I want a natural birth, and I want to not be afraid of it.

I am 36 weeks on Monday, and as this birth draws near, I am increasingly preoccupied with how I want it to go, and I don't want my anxiety to interfere.  Up next, a book on hypnobirthing-- I'll keep you posted.


  1. I've been really happy with my traditional medical births, but every time I've wondered if I could have done it intervention free. The feeling of empowerment afterward sounds incredible!

  2. You can do this! Although I know that with each of my babies the c-section was the safest option, I also wonder about natural birth and I envy that feeling of super-woman-ness afterwards (and being able to get up and walk right away.) You've got the right attitude, and this will be another awesome birth story. Best wishes!

  3. Do you read the blog "Birth without Fear"? Tons of great, inspiring birth stories of all kinds (home, hospital, etc.). Definitely pro-mom and pro-natural, but not too preachy or crunchy or judgy. I really like it. Wishing you the best delivery for you and the babe!

  4. With Taylor, I had an epidural, but she came so fast & the nurse shut it off immediately that I was up and walking around the delivery room right away. I also could have walked to the post partum room, but they wouldn't let me. :) Sometimes I think I should have just had her without meds since she came so fast... But she was absolutely my best labor & delivery.

  5. I have gotten an epidural for each of my births, but Jack's is the only one where the pain was actually eliminated. For Isabelle the anesthesiologist left (no clue why) and returned too late so I only got the initial shot to numb me for insertion of the catheter, with Sophie there was some tissue blockage in my spine that meant I was only numb on one side (by far the worst result I've had), and with Beatrice my pain just progressed too fast for the epidural to keep up, so I was in pain for delivery and then couldn't move my legs for several hours afterwards because the epidural finally kicked in. So I think if there is every a next time I might just have to say forget it and go all natural. But, man that's scary. The 20 minutes or so I got pain free with each delivery might be hard to pass up.

    also - if you can bear to give it one more try, Greek Gods honey strawberry yogurt is freaking AMAZING. By far the best yogurt of any kind I've ever had.