Thursday, February 28, 2013

Labor and Whatnot

Tonight we will be attending our first birthing class. I'm a little nervous because I am pretty sure I'm going to be asked what I want my birth to be like. I'm not sure I have a satisfactory answer.

At the ripe old age of seven and a half, I watched my baby brother be born. Of course, before that happened, I attended classes and read books and learned all about babies and where they come from. Spoiler: Storks have nothing to do with it. I helpfully passed this knowledge along to all the kids on my bus and those in my second grade class. "Hey, you guys, you know that boys make sperm? It come out of their penis!" Yes, I am sure that thanks to me many of my peer's parents were dodging awkward questions about the uterus and testicles.

Though I later learned that my parents were criticized by other adults for allowing me to be present, I was not scarred by observing the birth. This was my mother's third child and the birth was completely natural* and very quick...though at that age I felt like waiting 3 whole hours for the baby to make an appearance was asking a lot.

*I just recently found out that my mother did not have pain medication of any kind. The labor went so smoothly that I always assumed she'd had an epidural.

The only part of the whole delivery that I found disconcerting was the afterbirth. You see, though I was thoroughly prepared for the birth of the baby, no one had thought to tell me about what comes out afterwards. I was momentarily under the impression that my mom had delivered a second baby. The world's ugliest baby. Which was probably why the doctors let it hit the floor along with the poop.

Anyway, I believe that being a part of my brother's birth has prevented me from being afraid of labor. I'm not looking forward to it, but I'm not afraid of having to push a baby out of my vagina. It's something that most women go through; I know, I've seen it. Instead, I find myself afraid of being cut (I really don't want to experience recovery and the unfortunate side effects of an episiotomy, and I'm terrified of having major abdominal surgery because, let's not sugar coat it, that's what a c-section is).

I had always been on the side of epidurals. I can recall agreeing with a friend that there was no reason for a woman to go through the pain. Why would you? That's why they invented epidurals.

Then, a few years ago, I stumbled upon a blog written by a very jaded labor and delivery nurse who was writing about doctors intentionally overusing pitocin. She referred to this inappropriate use of medication as pit to distress. To sum up, doctors who don't want to wait around for labor to progress naturally would encourage women to accept pitocin to speed labor, but would intentionally overdo it, causing the baby to become distressed and forcing an emergency c-section.


So I dug further. I found out that many medical interventions could stall labor and lead to yet more medical interventions, ultimately culminating in an emergency c-section.

Now, before you storm your local hospitals, let me clarify that there are times that medical interventions are totally necessary for the safety of mother and/or child. Most doctors would not sink so low as to providing dubious care. So let's all put down our pitchforks.

I will admit that this knowledge has slowly changed my outlook. It has led me toward what I previously considered unthinkable: A natural childbirth.

The birthing classes we are attending tonight are for the Bradley Method, which is really for women who plan on delivering their child without medication, if possible. Part of me feels like I'll be trespassing because my plan is to try and go without medication unless I feel like I really need it. I refuse to commit myself 100% to no pain killers because then I'll feel like a whopping failure if that doesn't happen. Instead, I plan on approaching this birth like I did my wedding: here's how I'm hoping it will go, but in the end I'll definitely be married. Except, you know, this time I get a baby.

Really, I feel like the honest answer to how I want this birth to go is just a bit to honest. I don't want to be cut!

I am pretty sure I hear some clashing of pitchforks, so let me add the necessary pacifying language. C-sections are often necessary. There is nothing wrong with having had a c-section. I am just saying that the idea of having my muscles and organs cut into makes me sweat bullets. I'd much rather deal with the prolonged, intense pain of labor than to have to deal with the discomfort and difficulty of caring for a newborn while recovering from major surgery.

As for the episiotomy, well, when I was interviewing OBs I asked one of the docs at the practice about their episiotomy rate. While answering me, he told me this horrible story about a woman ripping upward through her clitoris. This scared (and continues to scare) the crap out of me! But I also know that is extremely rare - trust me, you tell me a clitoris-ripping story and I'm going to research the likelihood of that event for days on end. I've also researched how to reduce the likelihood of either ripping or cutting happening. I am going to do everything I possibly can to keep scissors away from my vajayjay, even if those things lack a certain dignity (I'm talking about you, perineum massage!).

Long story long, that is why I've opted for Bradley Method classes. R and I are also hoping we get to meet some soon-to-be parents that we like. Because how can you not be thinking about making friends while discussing your vagina with a group of strangers?

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