Who controls childbirth?

The birth of my baby boy did not go as I had planned. Like many women, I look back and think about what could have been different, what I could have done differently and I question the choices that I made. There were some very good choices  – staying home to labor in peace, hiring a doula, avoiding induction and educating myself on common birth interventions. Above anything else, I am glad and proud of myself for having a drug free delivery, but I didn’t walk away from labor and delivery without any emotional scars. This might seem strange for someone who had a natural birth.

If you need a refresher on my birth story you can start with Part I here.

In case you need/want the edited version here it is: At 6 months pregnant my husband and I decided that we wanted to have a home birth. It wasn’t a decision we took lightly and we had done a lot of research. The decision was driven by our local hospital’s absurd C-Section rate (hovering between 40-45%), the attitude of my OB when I expressed that I wanted a drug free delivery, and my overall confidence that this was something my body was made to do. I had a very easy, pain free labor until I hit transition at 7  or 8 cm. My water broke and there was Meconium in it. I tried pushing for 2 hours at home. My midwife decided we needed to transfer to the hospital in the middle of a snowstorm. We got to the hospital. I pushed for another hour. I asked for the vacuum extraction and my son was born perfectly healthy and absolutely beautiful.

In the days after my sons birth I was absolutely high from the experience of giving birth. I didn’t sleep for 2 days and I couldn’t get enough of this little baby and I was absolutely astounded by my body. It was only later as the weeks went by that I started processing what had happened.

Recently, I switched OB providers and am now seeing a Certified Nurse Midwife. She is a Midwife who delivers babies in hospitals and I like her because she is the best of both worlds. I will still get the care of a midwife while having the safety of a future hospital delivery and will have confidence that my provider favors the natural process of birth rather than the interventions that have become so commonplace. I also really like the OBs in her practice. They are open to natural birth, but still have the surgical and advanced medical training.

My new Midwife told me that I should work on processing our first experience before having another baby or even attempting to have another baby. She suggested maybe trying Reikki or Hypnosis. After giving it some thought I realized that the best way for me to work through whatever issues I have is by writing. It’s kind of the way I’ve always dealt with my issues. Countless conversations with my husband have been helpful. His confidence in me gives me confidence in me.

Last week I read this article on MSN and for the first time ever I felt like I was reading an unbiased piece of writing about childbirth. The author is honest and open and at the end I found myself breathing a sigh of relief. I don’t have nearly as much birth trauma as this woman, but what a breath of fresh air this article was. Finally, a woman talking about childbirth in real terms and confronting both the home birth movement and the C-section rate in the same article without choosing a side. A truly beautiful piece of writing.

So here goes (if you need to get caught up on my birth story take a gander over here – Part I, Part II, Part III)…

I feel these negative emotions about the birth of my son:

  • Guilt for attempting a home birth and for pressuring myself into it. Looking back it was not the right decision for me. My body was capable of it, but the doubt I felt as I got closer to my due date was a sign of my subconscious uneasiness. I didn’t follow my gut.
  • Embarrassment for attempting a home birth and spouting off about it to anyone who would listen. Open mouth. Insert foot.
  • Fear of the pain in the final stage of labor. 3 1/2 hours of the most intense contractions left me drained. I swear if someone had given me a scalpel at 9 centimeters I would have done my own C-Section.
  • Anger at the midwife who attended my birth because she did not provide the emotional support that I was sold on when we first met with her or the coaching that could have helped me to deliver faster.
  • Anger at my OB for not providing any support at the end of my pregnancy and for saying things like, “We can’t let this baby get too big.” “I’m not responsible if your baby dies at home.” and for, in general, not being supportive of a natural birth. The reason why I chose to attempt a home birth in the first place.

I feel these positive emotions about the birth of my son:

  • A true sense of accomplishment for having a natural, drug free delivery
  • A new sense of confidence – I truly know that I can do anything
  • Profound respect for my body and what it is capable of
  • Adoration for my amazing husband who stood by me, supported me and loved me. (One of the best memories I have of labor is looking up into his eyes during one of the last pushes. As the baby was crowing, my husband’s eyes were glowing and I knew in that moment that I was going to DO this. I don’t know if meant to communicate that, but By God he did.)

As I think about/prepare for our next child, I can’t help but envision what labor will be like this time. My new Midwife says that second births are an entirely different story. That they are almost always easier, shorter and that my body will have muscle memory and know what to do. I want to have faith in my body again and if I could have the same first 4 hours of labor like I had last time I would be one happy camper. But I’m trying to not set myself up for expectations like that. I’m trying to be open to whatever it is that my body needs. If I don’t have an easy, almost pain free labor next time I may be more inclined to get that epidural. If my baby or my life is at stake I would undoubtedly have that C-Section without blinking. I’m trying to find peace and strength in that. I’m trying to work through whatever emotional shit I’ve carried with me and I think this is working.

I feel better all ready…


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