Monday, July 26, 2010

The Birth Series: Prologue

Birth is a defining moment a woman’s life.  Whether we like it or not, our body is not our own, acting against our will in many cases, controlled not by our own power but by the instinctive forces within us that were created to sustain and eventually bring into the world human life.  
Of course, as a young 24 year old, my thoughts were not turned to the wonder and awe of my body’s natural abilities, but rather to all the cute clothes I was going to get to buy my soon to be baby girl.
From the beginning of pregnancy, one question is asked in more frequency than I think any other question, and usually it’s asked by seasoned mamas, AKA. Ones Who Have Gone Before. 
“So, are you gonna use drugs?”
It looks hilarious to type out, as though these Ones are pushers.  And I suppose they are in a way, looking for one of like mind, some solidarity, a common bond in sisterhood:  Natural or not?  That is the question.
With my first baby in my blossoming belly, my response to that question was the typical, “I’ll go as long as I can without!”  And I truly meant that.  I think instinctively I wanted to do what my body was created to do, but the fear of the unknown with only terribly written labor stories on TV as my guide, well, I don’t blame myself for wanting a security blanket.
When I first got that plus sign on my pregnancy test, I eagerly called the first doctor I could find and scheduled my first appointment, with no concern given to the doctor’s labor and birth philosophy, or his epidural and C-Section rate.  I didn’t even know a rate existed.  I just knew that I had a plus sign and I was going to be a mommy!  I gleefully went to my first appointment and met my doctor and did all the required blood draws and guesstimating of due date.  As the hubs and I left that appointment, I gave little thought to the book now in my possession, given to me along with all the coupons, magazines and free samples in the office’s ‘Congrats on your Pregnancy!’ kit:  The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer.
It sat on my night table by my bed for several weeks.  Untouched.  I read many other pregnancy books during that time, but that book, it scared me.  It looked like a text book.    And I was cynical about what I might find inside, surely just a bunch of horror stories designed to scare me into not wanting drugs during labor.  Finally, in about the fifth month of pregnancy, having run out of other books to read, I couldn’t ignore it any longer.
I couldn’t put it down.  It wasn’t an overnight change of heart.  In fact, at first I was very reluctant and hesitant to even begin to believe I might be able to do this on my own.  Goer’s book didn’t sugar coat anything, and it really did read like a text book - just the facts on the effects of interventions in labor.  It gave no tips on exactly how to accomplish labor without them, just the details on what you might expect should you choose to use them.  It covered it all, from eating only ice chips during labor to C-Sections.  I was left thinking that I didn’t want to go down that road, but was uncertain how to get down the road it appeared I was choosing.
Fortunately, my doctor’s office was prepared for that.  Working alongside my doctor was an OB Specialist.  She was a L&D nurse of 25 years who left to become a doula and childbirth educator.  She provided classes to my doctor’s patients.  And it was she who made me believe I could do it.
For 8 weeks we met, learning about the physiology of birth, labor symptoms, coping mechanisms, interventions and the postpartum period.  Although a well rounded class, the weight she gave to going as natural as possible and allowing your body to take over and do what it was created to do left me feeling empowered and dare I say, excited to take on the challenge of labor.
We hired her to be our doula during labor, believing that having her there would further encourage our (my) efforts and would be a welcome source of comfort for myself as well as the hubs, who was jumping into his role as coach with gusto.  We practiced coping techniques.  We bought a birth ball.  We reviewed our birth plan and packed our bags.
At that point, all that was left to do was wait.  And wait.  And wait.

*next installments of The Birth Series coming soon!*



  1. Holy cow! Your experience is exactly why I feel very strongly that every woman should prepare for a natural childbirth. It doesn't take much education to teach you how to labor with drugs. But should you get caught without them, a few coping techniques and understanding of the process can go a loooooooong way!

  2. I wish I had had that type of support. I am a wimp for pain and foolishly hoped I could go without anything, but being military there just aren't as many options. I am required to have an IV and stay in bed throughout the whole process with various other moniters attached to my belly. If we could've afforded it I would've liked to be somewhere that I could move around and bounce on a ball, or take a bath to ease some of the labor pains instead of being stuck in bed! How lucky you had support for yours!
    I look forward to the rest of your Birth series!


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