April 18, 2012

Defining Moments - Anne

The feelings our featured mom today shares about her first delivery are echoed again and again by women. As part of a growing community passionate about natural childbirth, Anne is not alone in her views.

The "traditional" modern-day American birth experience is not a positive one for all moms. And some are beginning to question the merits and necessity of many common delivery practices, striving to take control of their birth experiences. For Anne, doing so had a significant, positive impact on her life.

What were your plans for the delivery of your first child? What did an ideal birth look like for you?
I was very naive when I was pregnant with my first. I mistakenly thought that the book "What to Expect When You're Expecting" and my OB would tell me everything I needed to know. So, when my doc told me that I NEEDED to be induced 4 days before my EDD due to "a big baby", I believed her. My only expectation for an ideal birth was a healthy baby. I didn't consider any other factor, unfortunately.

What factors influenced the decisions you made concerning your delivery? 
The media in America makes childbirth look like a nightmare. Pain, screaming, cussing out your partner, etc. It's sad, really, because it definitely influenced my "GIVE ME THE DRUGS!!!!" attitude that I had for my entire first pregnancy. I thought that, since it was a viable option, an epidural was perfectly safe. Why feel pain if I didn't have to?

Tell me a bit about your actual birth experience... 
I had a pretty "easy" induction, compared to most of the induction stories you hear (24+ hours of pitocin ending in fetal distress and a c-section). I checked in to the hospital already 3 cm dilated, and they broke my water and started a pitocin drip. Contractions started immediately and were overwhelming from the get-go. I went about 2 hours before asking for the epidural, and was fully dilated 2 hours after that. The combination of pitocin and epidural analgesia (which never fully worked, by the way. The left half of my belly never went numb, which in retrospect made the pain harder to handle) caused baby's heart rate to becoming alarming, so I was told to lay very still on my left side while wearing the oxygen mask while I "labored down," meaning I let the pitocin push baby down so I didn't have to push as long. 

After an hour of this, it was showtime. I pushed for 2 agonizing hours. My OB was getting visibly annoyed that it was taking so long. At one point I mentioned how hot I was (it was August in Phoenix for crying out loud!!!) and my OB actually said to me, "You think YOU'RE hot? I'm standing under these hot lights in full scrubs!" I felt defeated, so when she mentioned the vacuum to "help things along", I gave in. A huge episiotomy ensued, and my daughter was literally yanked from my body. I lost a lot of blood and recovery from the epidural and episiotomy took a very, very long time. My daughter will be 7 this August and I still have pain from both.

How did that experience shape any future births/birth plans you may have had? 
I didn't realize what a traumatic thing I had experienced with my daughter's birth until I was pregnant with my son. A friend of mine had recently become certified as a doula and had mentioned the movie "The Business of Being Born." I found a link online where I could watch it for free, and it blew. my. mind. It was like something clicked - my first birth was awful, and it was okay to admit that. And, more importantly, it was okay to DO something about it!

I started reading everything I could get my hands on about natural birth, my favorite being The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer. I took a childbirth education class. I hired a doula. I learned that my body was made to give birth all on its own, and that pregnancy/labor/delivery is NOT a medical emergency. It's a normal physiological process. I went on to have a beautiful, intervention-free hospital birth that restored my confidence in myself and made me feel like I could conquer the world. If my husband and I choose to add to our family in the future, I will hire a midwife and give birth at home!

Have you ever felt judged for the way you gave birth? 
I have felt judged for the way I gave birth - but not for my over-medicalized, dangerous, traumatic first birth. American women think the way I gave birth the first time is normal and that natural birth is crazy. If being bullied into unnecessary and dangerous procedures is normal, count me out! I'll proudly be the "crazy" one.

Have you been called "crazy" for your views on birth?
Oh yeah, I've been called crazy all the time! It's in a joking manner (mostly), as in: "You had him ALL NATURAL?!?!?! That's crazy! Why?!?!?! That's like having a root canal with no numbing!" It's more annoying than insulting.

With the growing community of women interested in natural childbirth options, have you found support for the way you chose to deliver your son?
Yes, I do find that access to natural-based pregnancy care is becoming more and more available. They didn't have these options when I had Ben, but the hospital I delivered him at now has attending midwives and inflatable birthing tubs. A step in the right direction for sure! 

I hope we can take important steps toward acceptance of the variety of ways women give birth. Thank you so much for candidly sharing your feelings with us for this series, Anne!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts with Thumbnails