Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Giving Birth in America...

About a week ago, I read a friend's blog post about her birth stories and a documentary that she watched that she wished she had seen beforehand. You can read her blog post here. Anyhow, having become a documentary junkie of sorts myself, I was naturally intrigued by the information she laid out and the brief synopsis of the documentary called The Business of Being Born.

The difference between this friend and myself is that she is done giving birth to children (she's actually adopting 2 from Uganda -awesome!) and I, on the other hand, would like to have one more in a couple of years. I'm in no rush but I do feel that twinge every now and then when I see a small infant or walk through the baby aisles of Target knowing he has outgrown most of that stuff. I do want another one - one day. Trust me - that little ball of energy is enough right now. And even though that time should be no time soon, I already know of many things that I will do differently. And it will start with the birth itself.

Last night, being awake after 10pm for some strange reason, I decided to watch said documentary on Netflix. What an eye opener!!! I mean, it actually does show live births so I don't recommend watching with children around or even your husband if he has a weak stomach but I was absolutely enthralled.



Now, here's my birth story in a (perhaps sort of long) nutshell:
First of all, I was actually interested in using a midwife and a birthing center when I first found out I was pregnant but having NOT done my research and NOT knowing what I know now, I was easily scared away from it by my OBGYN. I took her word for it deciding that she was the doctor, not I, so she of course knew best. There in lies the first mistake.

Now, I would be lying if I said I wasn't ready for Gabe to be born. I was highly uncomfortable those last few weeks of pregnancy and was ready! I had no qualms about being induced - again, not knowing what I know now. However, there was a small part of me that wanted to experience going into labor naturally. That small part is huge now. Call me crazy if you will but if God decides to bless us with another in the future, that will be the plan.

On Tues, Jan 18th, we went in for my final doctor visit where they told me that I had an intermediate risk for shoulder dystocia which more or less means there was a significant risk that by delivering vaginally, he could get hung up on my pelvic bone and the means necessary to remove him would possibly cause nerve damage. Just the thought of that brought me to tears. I was terrified at that point but I was more terrified of a C-section which is what my OBGYN recommended. I just didn't have a peace about that. I did, however, have a complete peace about a vaginal delivery but I didn't want to wait. I didn't want him to get any bigger and have my risk only increase which is what they said would happen so that night, I went in. My body was nowhere near ready for labor. I was only dilated 1 cm, and other than that, nothing. He wasn't even 50% effaced. They gave me Cervadil (intervention #1) to soften my cervix and prepare it for labor. The next morning, they started the Pitocin to induce labor (intervention #2). I would just like to say that the images I had in my head of labor are not what I experienced. I was only allowed up to use the bathroom for maybe the first half of that Wednesday and then after that, I was stuck in bed. I wasn't allowed to walk the halls or do squats or really even stand. It was miserable. On Wednesday afternoon, I was so sore from the bed and so tired of not having any development, and so on edge that the nurse suggested stadol (sp?) to calm me down (intervention #3). It took the edge off alright but I was l-o-o-p-y. I was thankful for it then for simply helping me relax but even that is not natural.

That night was awful. I wasn't allowed up - not even to use a bed side toilet (yup, bed pan for me!). I had such distaste for the bedside manner of my nurse that night that I made sure I had to go pee a lot so she had something to keep her busy. I mean, someone had to clean out the bed pan right? Women in labor - don't mess with them.

The next morning (Thurs), contractions were getting worse by 6am but I still had not progressed enough for even an epidural until around 8 or 9am. I had now been in the hospital in the same bed since 6pm Tuesday evening and no baby. Finally around 9am, I was 4cm and I was really starting to feel the contractions. I absolutely went for the epidural (intervention #4). Now, this is the one spot that I teeter back and forth on. I do not like pain. At all. I'm a wimp really. So I loved that epidural. And I would probably take it again without batting an eye. But I would try to stick it out for a little bit first. The next part is where God really intervened. Epidural usually slows labor down and they were already talking C-Section. After they broke my water they were basically saying that they would give me 2 more hours and if I hadn't progressed anymore, then they would prep me for a C-Section (for the good of the baby of course - or maybe because they needed that bed free). For most women who are induced in that manner, I think that's exactly what happens. Knowing I did NOT want that because I wanted to be involved in the delivery process, we prayed, and we felt peace. About 2 hours later, I had progressed again. They broke my water around 10:30am and by 3pm I was 10cm and he was 100% effaced. We waited a bit to let him come down more into the birth canal and I probably started pushing around 3:30. Just about an hour later, at 4:28pm, my beautiful blue eyed son was born. It was by the grace of God I wasn't coerced into a C-Section.

Now, here's my other frustration. I didn't get to hold him right away like women do who do it the old fashioned way with a midwife or if they're lucky, in some hospitals. It took almost 20-30 minutes for me to hold my son for the first time and I was chomping at the bit. Now I don't blame Lakeland Regional for any of this. I blame the healthcare system as a whole. By the way, did you know that America has the #2 spot for the highest infant mortality rate? That is scary.

So I say all that, and give you that story to say this - I will do it differently next time if God allows. I plan to go to a midwife. I plan to (barring any complications) have my next child either in a birthing center or even at home (I already have my husband's support). I plan to labor the way I want to and the way my body was made to. God created the female body to not only give birth but to also endure that pain. I want the real experience of what giving birth is supposed to be - with the possible exception of an epidural :)

As for the other things I plan to do differently - I plan to work harder at breast feeding until we've both got it down. I plan to cloth diaper. I plan to make my own baby food. I want to do a lot of things differently. I didn't research and read enough when I was pregnant with Gabe - probably because half of my brain was worried about finding a place to live. But, I digress.

I don't dwell on these things. They're not regrets, per se. They are just lessons that I learned and plan to carry with me. And with that, you might think I'm crazy. That's okay. I might be apt to agree....