March 16, 2015

thoughts on birth, the second time around...

I feel like the whole actually-getting-pregnant thing took up all my mental capacity for over a year, so I'm only now starting to process the fact that in a mere four months I'm going to be having a baby. Last week, I had this panicky moment of, "Wait, what is the actual plan? Do I really want to use the same hospital? Should I research other options? Why did I wait until halfway through this pregnancy to even think about this?"

In a way, it probably doesn't make sense that I would even desire to make a change from my first birth experience as I approach my second. Eisley's birth ended up being better (and shorter!) than I thought it would be—quite wonderful, actually, aside from a few things I had no control over. (My blood pressure skyrocketed toward the end of my labor, so I was confined to my bed and unable to cope with the pain so I received an epidural, even though I feel I could have done a med-free birth were I able to move around. Also, my blood pressure remained high for days after the delivery, so I had to stay a couple extra days at the hospital and be on a dreadful magnesium drip that made me feel a wee bit like a zombie.)

I remember poring over books and articles on natural childbirth when I was pregnant with Eisley, watching all the documentaries that end up haunting your soul and leave you believing that doctors are emotionless robots and hospitals are sterile, unfriendly environments in which to deliver a child. Still, I had no real knowledge of any other birth options, so despite any worries I had, I kind of went with the flow and followed the typical hospital-birth plan. I distinctly remember feeling so much gratitude throughout my experience, and being constantly surprised by how warm and personal all the nursing staff was—even down to the setting of the room I had Eisley in. It was all so friendly and inviting…not at all the experience I was expecting, based on so much of what I had watched and read.

Even when I was getting ready to get my epidural, I kept looking at the nurse and telling her how scared I was. I think she assumed I was scared of the pain, but the only thing on my mind was the terrifying list of risks an epidural brings to both a mother and an unborn child. Pain! Death! Terrifying side effects! Fear and loathing! Just say noooooo! And then once it was in, I sat there in a daze, relieved and surprised once again by the lack of doom and gloom.

I kept thinking, Why did all those books and natural-birth advocates try to instill so much fear in me? From the doctors and nurses, to the hospital experience and the actual labor…all I was told to expect was nothing like it actually was. As much as I appreciated the wealth of information I was given within the pages of those books and the hours of documentaries, I realize now it wasn't completely balanced.

Truth be told, I do know of several women who had dreadful experiences during their hospital births—from dealing with pushy, rude nurses to being forced to make decisions they didn't feel ready for. My heart breaks for anyone who has to suffer through an ordeal like that just to have a precious baby safe and sound in their arms. Their stories make mine feel almost unique in its goodness (even though I know it isn't!).

Long (long, long) story short: it's just a little a little strange to think about how four months from now, odds are I will be back at the same hospital, going through the same motions. I am grateful for the positive experience I had with my first birth, but for some reason I feel the need for something slightly different. Now that I know (generally) how my body handles labor, I have a better idea of the whole process. I feel much more in control. I feel much more confident. I actually want to go into this thing with some sort of preference and plan. Last time around, it seemed almost silly to walk in with any sort of birth plan, because who the heck knew what was about to go down? Was I going to be one of those women who was in the hospital 48 hours before the baby was born? (Thank heavens, I was there less than 5 hours before Eisley made her arrival.) Was I going to be in so much pain, I'd be begging for relief? (I was tolerating it surprisingly well until 8cm, at which point I was told I couldn't sit up, move around or leave the bed.) Was I destined to push for hours upon end? (From what I remember, the total time I spent pushing was well less than an hour.)

These days, I envy people who have much more knowledge than I do regarding midwives, birth centers, and the other options out there. I also envy people who have the income to afford the services of a doula, or the expense of a comfy birth center. (I'm grateful we have decent insurance, but from my limited research I can already tell the out of pocket cost would be too high for us.)

At the very least, I'm eager to do a bit more research into what I do have control over in a hospital birth. I want to be informed, prepared (while remembering I will never be absolutely prepared!), and ready to be my own advocate for the birth that I hope to have. There are so many unknowns with any birth experience, but as long as my body does its thing (and I don't run into the same blood pressure issues I did before) I know it'll be fine.

I'm not even dreading labor at this point. Is that weird? Probably. Maybe you can check in with me four months from now when I'm in a hospital bed, chuckling through my tears just thinking about this blog post, and high-fiving the kind soul who was called to administer my epidural.

There's really no knowing, is there? Ah, well. I guess we shall see.

5 comments :

  1. I've read your blog every now and then. Have you considered a mid wife birth in a hospital setting? My daughter did that! That way a doctor is available just in case. Annie

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  2. Make sure to check yor insurance. Birth centers, certified midwives and the like are covered in California by most insurance carriers. Even HMOs. ;)

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  3. I had a very similar experience with my daughter and the hospital birth process -- everything was just very nice and calm and happy. I never had any plans for anything other than a hospital and always kind of figured I'd get an epidural, so it all just seemed fine to me. I am pretty easy-going in general so perhaps that helped, but I definitely think hospital births don't have to be horror stories. :)

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  4. I LOVED both of my hospital experiences and am looking forward to one more here any day! The idea of home births and birthing centers is intriguing to me, but I, personally, am just more comfortable in the hospital setting. Plus, the two hospitals I've been at have such great family birthing centers with fabulous staff. I hate how one sided so much of the information out there is. I'm sure there are horror stories from any situation, but it seems this new trend of dulas and natural home births has just gone too far one way. I wish you a healthy, speedy and easy labor and delivery! If it's anything like many second babies (including my own), it should be a nice and fast delivery. If it helps any, I'm not putting much thought into my third delivery because I know she'll come when she's ready and the way that works best for her. I go into each one open minded because you never know... :)

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  5. Thank you for sharing - I too have become a bit 'too informed' from things I read online about hospital births and it's only caused more fear, so reading your honest voice on things has been a blessing.

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