The expectant ones

28 Jan

I’ve been thinking about you and what it must be like when you get here. A search term entered here. A series of clicks there, and suddenly you find yourself immersed in this story.

I know, because I was once you.

You’re safely beyond that unpredictable First Trimester. Or not. Your doctor has smirked when you’ve used words like “natural” and “birth plan.” Or not. Your belly it itching. You can’t sleep. You have high blood pressure You feel great. You feel lousy. You’re confident. You’re afraid…

And then you read my story.

How unfair that I have posted it. The horror of that outcome.

And yet here I still am, preaching natural, unmedicated birth. Everything in this culture tells you to be afraid of birth. Tells you that it’s dangerous, best left to professionals. Women die during child birth, don’t you know that? And here I am, the waking dead, singing the song of natural birth.

Bullshit, you say. I don’t blame you.

I used to have this fantasy, during the weeks we attended our Bradley Method classes, that in some future class we would be standing in front, just like those other couples we met. Instead of the blonde opera singer who was married to the polo-shirted engineer, it would be us cuddling our baby and teling the story of our birth. It would be us giving the we did it, and so can you speech. We’d talk bravely about all of the things our doctor thought might be wrong with me, all of the interventions he wanted to do that we said no to. We’d discuss openly our decision not to be induced, talk about how I championed through those weeks of slow labor, and the wonders of that warm shower nozzle for getting through contractions.

All of those things are true. They happened, but we will never be invited to share our story. Mine, is a cautionary tale. That rare possibility that we don’t dwell on in class. My tale says birth is best left to the professional, and carefully controlled with narcotics, and medicines.

Do whatever you have to do, Doctor. Just get me out of here alive.

And now you’ve combed through the archives. You’ve read the stories and you’ve lost hope. Or been shaken. You won’t take chances. You’ll do what your doctor says. He knows what’s best. Birth is risky. birth is dangerous. Women die.

I’m so sorry that that’s the only story I have to give you. I so wanted it to be different. I want to tell you that your baby can come out fully alert with eyes open and ready to nurse. I want to tell you that when your breasts are sore and the baby is crying and it’s 3 AM and you have only slept 2 hours out of the past 48, you will know that you’re going to make it through, because your birth experience will teach you that, if you allow yourself to fully experience it awake.

I want to tell you that I am fat, out of shape, neither an athlete or a an attachment parent hippie. I’m a regular woman who cries when she stubs her toe just like you do. And I want you to know that this is in you. A happy, successful birth is in you. And I believe in you. I know how strong you are. And I can’t wait for you to see how amazing it can be. And yes, it feels like nothing you’ve ever felt. And no, it’s nothing like a menstrual cramp. and you’re going to be fine. women do this every day around the world.

You’re going to be fine. Even though I wasn’t.


4 Responses to “The expectant ones”

  1. Garrett January 28, 2008 at 7:52 am #

    Make no mistake. I fully believe that if the doctors had their way it would have gone worse than it did. As it was you had uncontrolled bleeding, but when that happened you were calm and relaxed and Lyra had already been born. I’m certain this made things easier for all involved.
    Even though the aftermath of our birth was scary. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I feel sorry for fathers who sit in the waiting room for their child’s birth. They are deprived of an event which could bring them a lot of satisfaction, understanding, closeness and joy.
    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Doctors are great and I am glad one was there for us. But, that’s all they really need to be doing. Helping with a normal natural delivery and available to take on the challenge if there is a complication. Our situation was so unbelievably rare (nobody had seen it happen in 10 years) and horrific…. and yet we still had a completely natural birth. If that doesn’t tell you that anyone can have a natural birth I don’t know what will.

  2. Lynne January 28, 2008 at 2:15 pm #

    Brilliant. I’m so proud of both of you!

  3. Suz January 28, 2008 at 5:53 pm #

    It’s interesting. I’m also reluctant to tell my story, but it’s almost an odd reversal of your own. Millions of women have spinals all over the world. I’m the only one I know who was paralyzed by one. We didn’t plan for my husband to stay in another room as I had an emergency c-section. It was the last thing that we wanted. And, yes, I feel that we missed something – although I try not to think about it and, when I do, remind myself that it wasn’t my fault.

  4. Julie Pippert January 29, 2008 at 7:58 am #

    It’s the handing over of the power and distrust of ourselves, our abilities and our bodies.

    By the time I gave birth, I had no trust left in me for me or my body. Still, I tried, I didn’t cede control.

    When we hit the crisis point, and I was faltering (breathing and heart) and the baby was faltering (heart) and the medical team began to panic and people began throwing around C-section terms and nobody advocated for me NOT EVEN THE EFFING USELESS DOULA…only the doctor remained calm and kept my birth preferences in mind. Only he kept trying for the vaginal birth. Only he held off on intervention until the last minute, and thanks to him, I had a vaginal delivery with minimal invasion and intervention and we both came out alive and okay. All I feel is lucky.

    Not empowered per se, just lucky.

    My good friend yesterday and I talked and we agreed we don’t tend to share our stories. We both walked tough paths to parenthood in many respects. She does not share the birth story that resulted in the loss of her twins. Her first birth. She does not share her last birth story, either, which went about as yours did.

    And we wondered, just a bit, if that was so good.

    Should these stories be shared? But to what end?

    So they remain ours.

    Birth for me is so complex.

    But this was a great post.

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