When I was pregnant with Sadie I refused to do any research about labor and birth. I was petrified at the idea of experiencing all the pain I knew to expect.
This time around I'm going to research until I'm sick of researching.
I've been reading "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth." The book is fantastic. The first half consists of beautiful natural birth stories written by women who are happy and at peace with their birth experience. The second half is Ina May's moment to shine as she analyses different aspects of birth and argues for minimal intervention and a peaceful and loving birth experience. In her book she quotes a paragraph from Stephen King's story "The Breathing Method."
"Believe me: if you are told that some experience is going to hurt, it will hurt. Most pain is in the mind, and when a woman absorbs the idea that the act of giving birth is excruciatingly painful--when she gets this information from her mother, her sisters, her married friends, and her physician--that woman has been mentally prepared to feel great agony."
He's right. This man, who has never labored or carried a child, knows what he's talking about. Movies, stories, books all describe birth as the most painful experience a woman will ever go through. It's a pretty scary experience to look forward to.
In my previous pregnancy I attended an 8 hour birth and delivery class offered at Mary Birch. This was only due to Logan's stubborn insistence that we attend at least one birthing class in order to feel slightly prepared during the labor. We sat through the class and watched some birthing videos from the 80s. I refused to watch the C Section videos and threw pitying glances at the one woman in the room who was doomed to a C Section due to a breech baby. When Logan and I walked out of the classroom I told him under no circumstances was I going to have an epidural or a C Section. Little did I know how fear of pain and death can result in you agreeing to whatever the doctor and nurses say to protect the baby.
I did not understand the dangers of pitocin. I did not know how one intervention usually leads to a C Section. Start with pitocin -> epidural -> baby has fetal distress -> C SECTION!
It's a simple equation and it makes sense. Now, I know it's not always the case. I have met some lucky women who have been induced with pitocin and had an epidural and were able to birth vaginally. I am jealous. Unfortunately in my case it led to an emergency C Section and horrible horrible pain from 24 hours of pitocin and two epidurals that didn't work for the last seven hours of labor. (And many other women with similar stories ended up with C Sections.)
Ina May argues that childbirth should not be seen as the most painful experience of a woman's life. Pain exists but it shouldn't be focused on. Birth is about surrender.
Surrender. I am not good at surrendering. On flights I sit white knuckled and will the plane to stay in the air. If someone else is driving the car I flinch and sometimes press my imaginary gas pedal. I worry about Sadie being alive and check her breathing in the middle of the night. I worry if I don't feel the baby kick me throughout the day. The concept of surrendering and accepting God/Universe/Life's will is very difficult.
One of my favorite books in the whole world has a quote that exemplifies what Ina May is saying: "That which yields is not always weak."
By not fighting the pain, by not fearing the pain - but by yielding to the experience and accepting the ebbs and flows of childbirth I (and perhaps all women) can birth naturally. Pain should not be the focal point. Surrendering to the contractions and accepting that my body is doing what it was designed to do will allow my cervix to dilate quickly and release the baby from my womb.
Spanking is a funny topic. There are a LOT of opinions regarding this act. I grew up in a house where we were spanked. Not over everything and not all the time, but spanking was done on occasion. When Sadie was born I wasn't sure where I sat on the "spanking fence."
On very rare occasion I would spank Sadie and then hate myself afterwards. After two years of inner struggle I decided that I hated spanking and wasn't going to do it anymore. The last time I spanked Sadie I was so angry that I moved her diaper aside and hit her tush directly. It was the first time I ever hit skin directly. Usually a spank involved a tap on the diaper and a scolding. Seeing tears in my daughter's eyes because of my hand hitting her tush forced me to face the reality - spanking was not a punishment for Sadie, it was a way for me to vent my frustration in a physical way. Then and there I swore off ever using physical punishment.
My daughter is too precious to me. I adore every inch of her. Deciding not to spank was a freeing decision. Now when Sadie deserves to be punished she goes to the corner. If she really deserves a more powerful punishment, she will go into timeout in her room. When she makes me really mad I tell her - with words. "Sadie, you have made me mad. <insert reasons>" It has worked wonders in our communication.
Last week I gave Sadie a giant velvet cupcake to eat in the kitchen while I sat on the computer. When Sadie ran into the office a few minutes later I didn't think twice when I realized her arms were covered in frosting. I gave her a bath and we both went to bed. The next morning when I went back to the kitchen I was infuriated to see frosting coating two old decorative plates that were sitting on the kitchen table waiting to be hung on the wall. I was mad. Furious. I am proud to say spanking did not enter my train of thought, it wasn't even an option. Instead I looked at Sadie and told her firmly that I was very mad and needed a time out. A short time later she followed me into my bedroom and sat at the door mumbling. I looked up and asked her if she was saying sorry. She nodded eagerly and ran into my arms giving me a hug and kiss. As a non-spanking parent for several months now I am very happy with my decision.
I do not want my daughter to use violence as a means to solving her problems or venting her frustration. Recently we were in a playgroup where a little girl started to slap Sadie in the face (completely unprovoked). I was proud of my daughter for not hitting her back. Instead she stood there in shock and didn't know what to do. For several days later she would tell everyone about being hit in the face by the girl. As Sadie gets older I know she will find the words to tell the next kid to stop and she will stand up for herself politely and firmly. I'm glad that physical violence was not a solution for Sadie.
I can't believe it's been two months since I've written on this blog. My life has felt on pause for these past few months. I have fluctuated between throwing up in the bathtub, moaning in bed, sipping on Gatorade and swearing to everyone I know that I will NEVER get pregnant again.
Yes! I am pregnant thank God. Sadie will be getting a sibling this year. Now that the worse phase of my sickness is over I am already considering and accepting that I want more children, God willing. Oh and I am grateful for Zofran. Grateful for the miracle pill that allowed me to keep some food and liquids in my system.
I am 16 weeks as of this week.
I feel blessed to have the doctor of my dreams who supports my desire for a VBAC. He also supports having a doula and taking birthing classes. Essentially, he is the most amazing doctor I have ever met. I wish he could be my primary and my obgyn and my babysitter. He's that great. I'm not just a number; I'm a person with feelings and needs. Even if, God forbid, I end up with a C-section I will feel at peace knowing I had an amazing doctor who cared about all the details.
At my doctor's suggestion I am going to have a Birth Story Medicine session (http://prenatalyogawithshelley.com/bsm.html) with a Birthing From Within instructor. It's essentially 30 minutes of one-on-one counseling to help me deal with the trauma of my previous birth experience.
I am also on the hunt for a doula. The one doula I wanted is against circumcision. I believe everyone should have the right to their beliefs; however, circumcision is part of my religious beliefs and is a sign of the covenant between man and God. I don't want to have someone who will try to talk me out of the procedure. And even if she never voices her opinion, it will all be weird in my head and I will feel super uncomfortable if I have a boy and then I'll deal with guilt between fulfilling my religious expectations and pleasing my doula. So I'm at square one. My doctor recommended a few doulas he enjoys working with and a friend of mine asked me to call her to discuss her experience with doula hunting.
I have a few other things I'm working on that I will share as time goes by.
It's good to be back.
Meet the Blogger!
I'm a mom. A writer. A lover of good fantasy. A proponent of nursing when possible. A birth advocate. I am absolutely horrible at keeping my house clean or the dishes washed or the laundry done. I strongly believe in women having a positive birth. When we start to respect women's rights to birth the way they want, we can start to treat women as equal people in this world.
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