Letters to a daughter from her parents, starting from before she was born

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The things natural childbirth taught me

I frequently have difficulty falling asleep at night, and more often than not lay there composing blog posts in my head that I never remember, or have time to write down.  Since the baby is actually taking a nap in her swing, I thought I would share last night's ramblings.

Some of what natural childbirth taught me, in no particular order.

1. I can do it.  I sometimes think that I chose to have her at a birthing center out of sheer tenacity. I've been told my whole life that I didn't deal well with pain and that I was a wimp. Here's my way to prove that I could deal with, what people claim is some of the worst pain that someone could experience, aaannnnnd my kid was almost 10 pounds thank you very much. I have to admit that I remember having contractions while in the whirlpool (hanging off of the handicap bar because for some reason suspension felt good), telling myself to remind myself later how much this sucked when I had the urge to have another child. I knew the 'omg squishy' hormone would hit again.

2. You need to be your own advocate. I did something that not everyone agreed with, and thanks to having an amazingly supportive husband, family and doula, I didn't chicken out despite people frequently telling that there was no way they could do it, and had no idea how I would manage.  Since I had borderline gestational diabetes I had to be my own advocate to keep them from trying to induce me before I reached 41 weeks. I went into labor at 40+3, which is the average time baby. It turns out the ultrasound place had told the midwives to induce, but when we went back to them, they said it was fine to wait. If I hadn't asked, I would have been scheduled to be induced 3 hours after she ended up being born.

3. People can be assholes. Those people that tell you that you're going to kill your child by not having a doctor present? They're assholes, and you need to ignore them. Do your research, talk to professionals and do you.  I had no tolerance for negativity from the outside at the end of my pregnancy. I was already so stressed out by the entire experience that I was done.  I think I lost some friends at that point. Don't tell a pregnant lady how much everything is going to suck. You deserve to be punched in the throat if you do.
4. That ride, in the the car, while in labor? One the worst parts of the entire experience and I was only dilated to 4 at that point. When your doula tells you to get in the back of the car and you think you'll just sit up front, smack yourself..hard. I was miserable up front and that's really the only time I got angry. I may have sworn at the other cars.

5. I didn't get angry (except at other drivers on the way there), or throw up.  My husband has never seen me throw up and for some reason was convinced I would while I was in labor. He was also convinced that I'd have this Hollywood type delivery where I'd be blaming him for everything under the sun. Yeah...apparently I get really thankful and lovey when I'm in pain because I just kept telling him how much I loved him (and um...hated labor). I felt so incredibly close to him, and wouldn't let him leave the room.
early labor

6. While in labor, don't expect to want to do much.  In early labor, I had all of these plans of things I would do, including figuring out foods to take to the birthing center. None of that happened. Actually I had them trying to feed me between contractions because I was starving, but I couldn't really eat before another hit, so I gave up. What I did do was sit on the birthing ball listening to bad 80's music, take a bath while my husband read to me (dammit I was going to labor in our huge tub if it killed me), watched some Star Trek, had contractions while on the phone with my doula and learned that my 'happy place' of an island sanctuary would suddenly be hit by a hurricane during contractions. I failed at hypobirthing, but yoga breathing was an invaluable asset.

7. You will lose any modesty you had. Total honesty? I live with a dude that wears only underwear 90% of the time he's home. I'm used to nudity. However, I wasn't expecting that I'd want to spend most of my labor naked, but between getting checked, getting in the shower, tub and pool, I had no desire to put on clothing. I only wish I was wearing a robe after she was born so that most of our pictures didn't include quite so much boob.

8. Time...it just passes and you don't realize it. I went into labor at 2am, Ada was born at 5:30pm. I only remember looking at the clock once in the  ~8 hours we were at the birthing center, and that was when I got into the birthing pool right as I was about to start pushing. I thought I was only laying on Aaron for like 5 minutes and it turns out it was closer to 20.

9. Getting up, moving, using the bathroom SUCKS. Basically moving triggers strong contractions.  Using the bathroom was hellacious because the toilet seat was shaped weirdly (like a hospital toilet) and not comfortable at all.

10. If you're baby is super low and your water breaks...nothing really comes out.  I sat down to pee (and couldn't because oh wait...10lb kid pushing on my urethra made it impossible), and Aaron and I both heard a 'pop! fizzzzz' sound.  I thought to myself, 'well that's pretty anti-climatic.'  However...after she was born? A least a gallon of fluid came out. It was... insane.

11. I couldn't see ANYTHING. I was actually pretty annoyed about that and told my doula to utterly ignore what I told her before and start taking pictures. I never occurred to me to ask for a mirror...and oddly it wasn't proffered. Also, the gross factor I thought I'd have looking at those pictures? It doesn't exist. I also don't find watching childbirth gross to start with, so I guess I'm starting with the bar a bit higher.

12. Babies head while delivering? Omg...it felt so weird I pulled my hand back.  I don't think I expected it to feel so soft.

13. Poop. It happens. Get over it.  Elephants poop, snakes poop, and you probably will too. It's really not a big deal.

14. Hard contractions are good. They mean that your body is making progress. My doula kept telling me this.  It was the most focusing thing she told me all day.

15. Move.  You're supposed to change positions every half hour, and I was shocked at how often that seemed to happen. It seemed like I only had three contractions and I had to move. But I had just gotten comfortable! Do side squats, kneel on a pillow (we brought a couch cushion, it saved my knees), rock over a birthing ball, do stairs etc. It makes a huge difference. Ada was really high and out, and one of the things they did was rebozo my belly (with short wide wrap) so they could pull her in and down during each contraction. It radically shortened my labor.  We left the room to go walk the stairs and discovered they were painting them and scrapped that idea quickly.

16. I can't remember the first thing I said to Ada. But wow...she's an amazing kid and I can't believe she's ours.
Our first picture, right before we left the birth center

This was pretty random but I think I got most of what I was thinking about last night down.  I'm not sure I'll ever be able to sit and write down the entire birth story, but this list encompasses a lot of what I wanted to remember. I have a lot of friends that have been down this road. Do your experiences ring true to mine? What would you add?

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