Thursday, August 5, 2010

When Moms-to-be make plans for births, God & Babies laugh

This is a part of a series of guest posts for first time moms that I have put together from a variety of moms with a variety of perspectives. This one is written by Alyson of Common Sense, Dancing. Please stop by her blog to read more of her posts. You can also follow Common Sense, Dancing on Twitter.

I’m honored to be sitting in for Cameron today! She has asked me to write about a birth story. I have *4* stories -- how do I choose? I’ve included all of them, because each is different...and I realize now looking back I was so wrapped up in the *when* and *how* of the events that I didn’t really focus on the *wow* of them. Learn from me, Grasshoppers:

I find more useful information from a Cake Boss episode than I ever did in Lamaze class. When you are expecting your first baby, you dutifully go through all the “correct” steps and stages along the way. You eat all the right things, read all the right books, take the birthing class and learn to breathe the “right” way. However no one clues you in that this first baby will be 12 days late (although probably not according to your calendar, but no one will ask you about that anyway). No one will tell you that the music you are told to bring to the hospital to get you centered and focused will irritate the hell out of you and force you to ask your baby’s father, every 2 minutes or so, to turn it down....until he looks at you, puzzled, and says, “But now you can’t hear it at all.” (Um, right.) And no one will tell you that the breathing doesn’t help at all when the doc announces that -- since she broke your water in order to “help” things along, the baby’s heartbeat has gone funky and now we can’t wait any longer to see what happens -- it’s off to c-section land for you. No one tells you how scary and helpless and confused you will feel. Maybe I should teach the class.

You can’t breathe through your vagina, but that’s okay. When we decided to go through the whole birthing thing again (Daughter #2 couldn’t very well stay there, could she?) I decided we would do things differently. I had done a ton of reading and I believed that the reason for fetal distress the first time around was...the dreaded Medical Intervention. This time I was going to go the complete opposite direction. (No, not home birth...Husband wouldn’t have been able to handle that.) I was going to have a vaginal birth after c-section (VBAC), and to assist with this I found a Bradley Method class for us. Bradley relies heavily on relaxation and “coach” involvement, and eschews medical interventions. (Right on!) However, when during the class we were *all* instructed to close our eyes and “breathe through your vagina,” I had an inkling that this method wasn’t going to be well received by the Husband (and 11 years later, it still isn’t). We pushed through the class (pun intended) and encouraged labor at home with showers and long walks through the streets eating jelly beans from my pockets (it was Easter time, after all) before we went to the hospital. After determining I wasn’t “ready” yet, we settled into our room and proceeded to turn away any number of medical personnel armed with bags of medicine and/or crochet hooks (to “help” by rupturing the membranes). I acquiesced to meds after several hours when a doc from my group popped his head in and said, “I heard you were here....I also heard you didn’t want Pit(ocin). That’s fine, but we’ll still be talking about this baby on Monday {it was Friday} instead of holding her by tonight. Maybe you want to consider the Pit?” So I had Pit and an epidural. (oh, *not* Bradley.) However, I kept declining the crochet hook, at one point telling another doctor, “Can you tell me of an instance when a baby has been born in the amniotic sac? No? Then leave the membranes alone. This baby won’t be born in a sac either.” He backed off....and less than 30 minutes later she was born -- 9 pounds (yes, nine) 13.5 oz (yes, thirteen) in ONLY THREE PUSHES. If the doctor hadn’t been there to catch her, she probably would have hit the opposite wall. (Sorry for the imagery, but I *am* proud of myself.) Oh, sure, she did spontaneously break her collarbone, but....

When you commit to a partnership with a traditional OB, you have way less control than you think you do. Apparently, traditional obstetricians find several things scary about the VBAC of a huge baby who broke her collarbone, and therefore they won’t let you VBAC again 16 months later, even when they’ve been saying (for months) that you’re a great candidate for a second VBAC. (Who knew? The breaking of a collarbone is Nature’s way of letting all of us know that there was a problem in the birth canal -- like size or position weren’t optimal. But to that I say, THREE PUSHES.) Ahem. At any rate, for birth #3 -- after being given the bad news about no VBAC -- I decided to leave traditional OBs behind and at 35 weeks I switched to a nurse midwife. Although this was not well received by my-mother-the-RN, the OB group, and a few vocal others (but Husband was smart enough to be very quiet on the matter), I did it anyway. Surprisingly, the midwives were not wild about the VBAC either, but were willing to let me try it on the condition that we induce Baby Boy two weeks early so as to ensure he wasn’t even bigger than his sister.  Thus, after checking into the hospital and doing such things as gels and Pitocin (so much for no interventions, huh?) I ended up getting a dose of the narcotic Stadol to “take the edge off.” After coming down from that WILD trip (saying “never again” about Stadol) and waiting several hours with no progress, the induction was pronounced a “failure” by the midwife (probably the first thing I had ever failed -- aside from a Statistics test in high school) and rolled to the OR for a c-section.  Refer to the title....Baby Boy was born two weeks early at 9 lbs 15 oz...covered in that waxy stuff that lets you know he wasn’t quite done cooking yet.

There’s no failure in birthing a healthy baby, any which way you do it. I had put such pressure on myself to have a certain *kind* of birth, based on what books said, or what doctors said, or based upon my looking back at the other births and wondering “what if.” The birth of Baby Boy #2 (child #4) was effectively taken out of my hands when I was told by both the midwife and the attending OB that if/when there was a next time, I would have to have a scheduled C. In a lot of ways, that was the easiest birth to prepare for -- I simply had to show up (well, a bit more than that, but you know what I mean). And, in a lot of ways it was the loveliest birth: I was relatively relaxed, there was music in the OR, everyone was talking and laughing, and it was a very happy atmosphere. I still remember so very clearly that at the moment of his birth, the Celine Dion song, “A New Day” was playing. (Written about the birth of a baby boy!) It was magic -- right up to the moment immediately after he was shown to me and whisked away with his Dad, when I suddenly felt *really* nauseous and said to the assembled crowd, “I don’t feel very good. I think I’m going to be sick.” And the doctor sharply ordered something to a nearby nurse and the world went black....I awoke an hour or so later with my husband and new baby at my side.

And so I say to you, as someone who has had babies in a variety of ways: just have the baby. Have your baby in the hospital, at home, in water, on the floor. Use a ball, use the shower, use jelly beans, use Pitocin. Make sure you are the healthiest you can be before the birth -- in body and in spirit -- and just have the baby. Those birth moments are just that -- moments -- and although it contradicts Conventional Wisdom, the “destination” is your baby and the “journey” matters very little in the Grand Scheme.

(And really, it won’t be the first time that the baby dictates the how and why and when of your life!)

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Liz said...

Alyson is my newest bloggy love, so I'm pumped to see her here today! Point #1 is what I tell all my first-time mom friends. You can no clue how it will play out for you, so building up a birth plan in your mind does nothing but set you up for disappointment! The only expectation you should have is to not have one.

Sporty Mama Says said...

I love this. It really does remind us that every single baby is different, as are we as mamas before during and after each one. My how they change our lives!

~ Simone

The Planet Pink said...

holy cow you had big babies!! I love this post - great advice, just have the baby. Finding the balance between seeking the birth you want and not putting TOO much pressure on yourself to have the birth you want is tricky.

Alyson -- Common Sense, Dancing said...

Hey Cameron --
Thanks for letting me fill your space today! It's an honor!

And it's fun to check in and see my words "fresh" in a new space, too.

Hope your vacation is going great!!

J. Is A Bird said...

That was wonderful thank you for that.

As someone who had similar issues it's nice to hear "those are just that 'moments'".

adriel, from the mommyhood memos said...

Alyson - One post and you already have a new fan. I can't wait to check out your blog and more of your writing. I really loved this post... and it definitely hit home for me since I had a c-section instead of my "natural water birth" that i had planned! And you know, even though I knew it was just a plan and that anything could happen... it was still a big shock. My little dude is only six months old and i still have to deal with emotions that surface every now and then, but ultimately I'm just so glad to have had my baby. :) You know... And wow, I also need to say that you have super-sized babies... my new hero.

Cameron - I am not lying if I say that I've read about 10 posts this week. My computer is riddled with some virus and I've had no time to do anything this week... To say it's been frustrating is a vast understatement. Now that hubs is home for the weekend I'm gonna be taking over his mac a little. Can't wait to read the rest of these guest posts. You always find amazing women and blogs. Love it! Now... time for me to get some sleep so that I can be fresh tomorrow and use my time online wisely! ;)

Kelly Polizzi said...

wow such a great read! thank you

Mommyfriend Lori said...

Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes! I don't know if this is tacky to say but my midwife had a license plate frame that said, "F- Your Birthplan"

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