Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Birth plan

Disclaimer: This post is not meant to judge. I think all choices we make as women are deeply personal, and I understand that all women labor differently. Have your baby at home, in a hospital, in the middle of a cornfield for all I care. I don’t care if you ask for an epidural the first time you feel a contraction, or you do the whole thing without so much as a Tylenol. I really don’t care what you do. This is just my story of deciding what’s right for me.

While I was trying to get pregnant, I never gave a single thought to labor and delivery. Who cares, right? If I get to that point I’ll be so grateful that I won’t care how the baby comes out.

Now, I find that I do care. The decisions I’m making now (and will make in the moments surrounding the birth of my child) are increasingly emotional and laden with signficant baggage other than just having a baby. If only it were that simple.

I considered a natural birth, but decided pretty quickly it wasn’t for me. I kept thinking about my second retrieval and the immense pain I suffered in the ER. I had never known pain like that before, and I’m sure this will be worse. I would have taken any pain medicine anywhere in my body to make that feeling go away.

If I tell myself I can get through this without any pain meds and then end up needing them, I will feel like an immense failure. So, a natural birth plan wasn’t in the cards for me.

I had no “birth plan” written down (seemed too arrogant to me – too much like tempting fate). But if I had written one it would have gone like this: Labor as much as possible at home. Go to the hospital when contractions have been 5 minutes apart for an hour. Labor with birthing ball and position changes until I can’t handle the pain anymore, get IV drugs, labor some more, push, have the baby. I wasn’t planning on an epidural, but I wasn’t opposed to one, either.

I saw it on a scale like this: Natural Childbirth – IV pain meds – epidural. Somewhere in the middle seemed great for me.

Last night, in our second class, we learned all about the different pain management options. That’s when I learned that my hospital stops the IV pain meds at 6cm, so you don’t give birth to a sleepy baby with shallow respiration. The epidural doesn’t affect the baby at all.

So my whole “plan” went out the window – I want the pain meds for the really hard part, the last few centimeters and the pushing. I never wanted them for the early part. So, I kind of gave up on the IV medicine option.

Which left me with natural childbirth (which I had already ruled out) and epidural.

I sat there in mental anguish for about 30 minutes. I thought I didn’t want an epidural. I didn’t want to “give up”, “cop out”, feel numb from the waist down, institutionalize the birthing process, etc, etc.

I was surprised that when the epidural seemed, objectively, like the best option to me, especially since I could decide when I got it, I was so heartbroken by the idea of having one.

What it boiled down to was this: I felt like I would be less of a woman if I got the epidural. Because I should be able to handle the pain for the sake of my baby.

That’s when a lightbulb clicked in my head: I have already handled a lot of pain for the sake of this baby. I had an HSG that made my uterus spasm and I felt like I was being ripped apart. I had a laparoscopy. I had two retrievals. I had OHSS and my body was wracked with pain, combined with a bad reaction to anesthesia that made me alternate between vomiting and fainting.

I was trying to tell myself I could do without the epidural because I’m a strong woman.

But I have already proven to myself that I am a strong woman.

I am a strong woman who is planning to labor for as long as she can without an epidural, and then (most likely) get one.

I am a strong woman who is also flexible, who understands – all too well - that things do not always go as we plan.

I am a strong woman who is also humble: None of my plans trump the baby’s plans. If he’s breech, or too small, or in distress, they will cut him out of me, and I will not let that make me feel like a failure.

I am a strong woman who will be a good mother no matter how my baby is delivered into this world.

And you, all of you who read my blog, whether you have your baby in a cornfield or on a surgical bed with general anesthesia, whether you adopt or use a surrogate or decide not to have children – you are all strong women too. : )


Alex said...

I love this post! You are so right - we are all strong women!!! You have fought so hard to have this baby, it doesn't matter how the baby comes into this world, it only matters how much you will love your little one when you finally hold it in your arms.

Stefany said...

Good for you not caring about what everyone else thinks and doing what's good for YOU! There is so much judgment when it comes to parenting (just get ready for the breastfeeding, sleeping, etc. comments). We need to be supportive of everyone's choices and not bring other mothers down. Keeping my fingers crossed that you have a smooth birth!

Joys Truly said...

Loving this post and right there with you! I like your take on it all.

Jesica said...

I agree with where you eventually landed mentally, which is you are bringing a baby into this world and that in and of itself makes you a strong woman. Pain meds or a c-section do not make you a failure or make you a weaker woman.

I am planning on a natural home birth but by no means do I believe that everyone should have a home birth. I believe strongly in appropriate birthing which means if you are most comfortable in a hospital then a hospital is the appropriate place to give birth, if it's your home where you're most comfortable then it's your home! Simple as that.

You are right, we are all strong women regardless of how we bring our babies into the world!

Emily said...

Thank you!

I had my trips in an operating room under general anesthesia. When people ask me about their birth and find out that not only was my husband not there, but that I wasn't even *there*, I usually get a "oh, that's too bad you didn't give bith"

Thank you for validating that I did, indeed, give birth! I didn't push them out, but I did get to recover from their birth. I spent three days in the hospital. Damnit, I gave birth! And it doesn't make me less of a woman/mother because I wasn't awake for it.

LC said...

Absolutely LOVE this post! You are 100% right! We are all very strong women within this community. I think your birth plan is perfect.

Chickenpig said...

We are ALL strong women :) I had to endure weeks of very painful recovery after surgery to remove a giant fibroid...which made it impossible for me to have a vaginal delivery. I got a lot of crap for having selective C sections done to keep my uterus from ripping apart. It all boils down to healthy, living mom + healthy, living baby = great birth experience :)

BMar said...


Jem said...

I have come to a similar conclusion to yours. I started out with "i dont need a birth experience " attitude to " I'm going to have a birth experience whether i plan for it or not so I better have a plan". We are hiring a doula to help us through the process.

Amanda said...

I used to be one of those people who jumped on the Ricky Lake band-wagon (referring to the movie the Business of being born). However, going through 2 losses and years of trying, I am now prepared to do whatever I have to do to have a healthy baby. If elected c-section is what my dr suggests, then sign me up!! I just hope that I can make it that far! Good for you for feeling comfortable with whatever needs to happen!

TurtleMama said...

Great post, Lulu! I feel the same way. I think childbirth pain is very individual and you just won't know until you experience it. My childbirth educator said something interesting - having an epidural during active labor can actually conserve some of your energy, so you are not so exhausted when it comes to pushing your baby out. Though I would not advocate for epidurals, I do think they are alot safer than they used to be. Thanks for you comment on the circ battle that is going on in my head :)

Heather said...

Thanks for this post. There seems to be a lot of politics about how we give birth, but I know that each baby is born the way it was meant to come into this world.