Babies

I am totally, totally down with baby fever. Stronger than I ever have been.

Finally, I feel totally ready to have kids.

Now, by “totally ready” I don’t mean I have a damn clue what the hell I would be doing! It doesn’t mean we would have no money worries. It doesn’t mean I’m completely healthy (as if I ever will be).

It just means that I am ready to face the challenges, I am ready to trade short-term happiness for long-term joy, and, mentally and emotionally, I feel ready to take it on.

The same thing happened when my hubby and I were planning on getting engaged. We had talked about getting engaged around the end of my junior year of college, with a wedding within two years of that. And the time was coming…and we just didn’t feel ready. So we agreed not to get engaged. Several months later…the reservations fell away. And we felt ready to take on the challenges and joys of getting engaged (and thus married). So that’s when we got engaged. We didn’t want to just follow what we “should” do, we wanted to do what felt right.

And as an extremely logical person, who thinks everything out to an extreme, going with my gut is something I save for big decisions :-)

Obviously my mind has to be ready, too, but my gut doesn’t usually get much of a voice at all.

Anyway.

I’m there.

But due to some outside circumstances, we aren’t actually ready to start trying.

I don’t resent those circumstances (which no, I’m not going to discuss, and yes, are vitally important). I don’t. But…it still sucks to have something calling out to me so strongly, and to be choosing not to respond to it.

So I’m channelling all of that want-to-have-a-baby-but-can’t-yet energy into preparations. Which is totally me :-)

I’m looking into birthing options. And I’m realizing a lot of really shocking things.

Well, shocking to me. Most people out there probably have already had kids and know this stuff.

Things like, I love my OBGYN. But that doesn’t necessarily mean she would be attending my birth. It could well be whoever is on-call when I go into labor.

And that aside, the OB is pretty much just there to catch the baby, or possibly pressure you to accept interventions or c-sections. Other than that, it’s the L&D nurses who are with you the whole time, and you don’t get to pick them.

Many women are assaulted (I think rape is the wrong term), and their wishes are completely ignored, while giving birth, with regards to things like receiving episiotomies, getting induction drugs, having the placenta removed, getting vaginal checks, etc. It’s like there’s an attitude that women giving birth are hysterical, and shouldn’t get a say in their own care. I was just talking with a family member who told me about her two births in a hospital, just a few years ago. In one, the doctor cut an episiotomy while she screamed “Don’t cut me! Don’t touch me!” after just ONE PUSH because it was “taking too long.”

Many hospitals refuse to let women stand/walk during labor, shift position, drink water, birth in any position other than flat on your back, see your baby before they take it away for testing, etc. I’ve even heard of some that insist all women receive an epidural, so if they “require” a c-section it’s easy to get them into it.

Doctors want the baby out as fast as possible, so they can go see more patients/do other things, which leads to a higher incidence of tearing, episiotomies, labor-inducing drugs/interventions, and c-sections (i.e. “You’ve been here 4 hours and only dialated to 5, we’re going to break your water to speed things up,” or, “You’re fully effaced and dialated, start pushing as hard as you can, I don’t care if it hurts!” or, “It’s been 8 hours with no baby, we’re going to take you in for a c-section now so the baby doesn’t go into distress”).

A shockingly small percentage of women are allowed to carry their baby past their due date without huge pressure from their OB. A larger, but still small, number of women go into labor naturally, without inducing. It is common to “schedule” your labor/induction, so you can set up childcare for older kids, plan around work, or the doctor doesn’t have other commitments interfered with. A larger, but still too small, number of women successfully give birth vaginally in hospitals. C-sections are very common for things like “failure to progress,” which basically means nothing but that labor is taking “too long.”

A lot of OBs think that “birth plans” are ridiculous, refuse to work with a woman who has one, or accept them but throw them away without reading. Even if the OB reads it, many hospitals won’t, and again, the L&D nurse has all kinds of power over you while you’re vulnerable and unable to defend yourself. To me, a birth plan just makes sense. Make sure everyone understands the patient’s preferences with regards to things like pain meds. It seems like it should be a no-brainer.

It just amazes me. To me, an ideal birth is one where intervention is available, but not given unless I ask for it or it is truly needed. I have had so many bad doctors, and I am not one to just sit down and shut up and do what the doctor tells me. I have learned they are just professionals, like any other, doing their job how they know best. They are not gods, they are not perfect, and their personal preferences might make them ignore perfectly good options. As a patient, I want my wishes respected. I want to trust that, if I ask for no episiotomy, I will not get one. I want to trust that if, with my first baby, I labor for 24 hours, I will be allowed to labor for 24 hours without constant pressure from my doctor to give in and have a c-section.

I would like to try to birth without pain meds. If the pain is too bad, I will take them, but I want to try without someone asking me every 5 minutes if I want them, or ridiculing me for refusing them. I went through years of menstrual cramps where, for 1-2 days I was, literally, curled on a bed, screaming, because the pain was so bad. I know of other ways to relax those muscles. Being in warm water is extremely stress and pain-relieving for me, and I would like to try a water birth, or at least using a tub for pain management.

I would like to not be pressured that I am “going too slow.” I would like to take time at the pushing stage, to allow myself to expand naturally and be less likely to tear.

I would like to stand up and walk around to encourage labor, rather than taking drugs or having my water broken, which then requires the baby to be out ASAP.

I would like to give birth in a position not flat on my back. That makes so little sense to me…for anyone except the doctor’s comfort.

I do not want a c-section unless it is really medically necessary. Not convenient.

I’ve always assumed that these kinds of things are completely fine at a typical hospital birth. The interventions are available if something goes wrong, but you can give birth how you want. That it’s generally recognized that there are many good ways to give birth and manage pain, and everyone is different.

I’m learning that it’s not. That hospitals like their cookie-cutter births. That they have their ways of doing things, and that they want them to be that way because it’s easiest for them.

So now I’m wondering…do I want a hospital birth? If I don’t have one, what if something goes wrong? If I do have one…what if something goes wrong? That family member I was talking to is now having a home-birth with her fourth child. She shared with me that, due to some unwanted interventions/poor care in one of her hospital births, they are still having some problems, years later, with one of her kids. She pointed out that things can go wrong either way, in a hospital with too much intervention, or at home with potentially not enough. But at least if something goes wrong this time at home, she knows it’s because of decisions she made, and that she did everything for her kid she could, that she thought was best…rather than it being due to someone else’s actions that she put herself in a position to be unable to protect her child from.

I can’t see going with a home birth, at least not my first time…but a birth at a birthing center with a midwife in attendance sounds like it could be a great compromise! Assuming, of course, I could find the right midwife. Then, however, the midwife stays with you through labor. No extra nurses coming and going you can’t control. There is less intervention assumed. There is more control given to you (MOST LIKELY). And the hospital is still right there in case something goes wrong their own emergency equipment can’t handle long-term.

(Obviously I’m painting with broad strokes. Obviously there are great hospitals out there, and horrible midwives/birthing centers. I’m just speaking to the general/most common philosophy of each. It’s not like you can try one, by the time you’re actually at the hospital/center where you give birth, you’re giving birth, no changing your mind!)

Any input here? Did people out there have hospital births? Midwife-attended births? What did you think? Any regrets? I’d love to hear from you!

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