Part III: How I came to natural birthing
There’s no one thing that brought me to wanting a natural childbirth. Here’s a few of the contributing factors:
I adore my mom (and my dad too but he had less to do with my birth). She was young and naive when she had me. Despite her naiveté, she knew deep in her heart that she wanted a natural childbirth. My parents had little money and she received minimal prenatal care from a clinic. At 45 weeks (yes, 45!) her water broke. At the hospital, she refused pain meds and delivered au naturale just two hours later. There was meconium in the amniotic fluid and the doctors wanted to keep me for observation. They told my parents I was desperately ill. However, when they found out my parents didn’t have insurance I was magically cured and sent home just a few hours later. For my brother and sister’s births, my mom went late again. Each time, she had insurance and better care and because she was seeing doctors regularly she was coerced into inducing at 43 weeks. She endured lengthy pitocin inductions with both of them but still refused pain meds. She also made sure they didn’t give her the surprise episiotomy she got during my birth. If my teensy tiny little wallflower mom can handle all that, I most certainly can!
I won’t get into the complicated mess that was my MIL. She was an extremely difficult (those of you who followed my sob story on the October forum know) and yet inspirational woman. She died this past May following a long period of drug abuse. When I first met her, she was one of the strongest women I’d ever met. She raised five utterly sensational kids on barely more than scraps. She gave birth to Izzy under a tree near Lake Tahoe with only his father in attendance (by choice).
Visiting Izzy's birth tree during our Honeymoon
She gave birth to his four siblings at home with MWs. She became a lay MW later in life and spent a great deal of energy spreading the word that women are powerful and capable. On occasion, she would tell me phenomenally beautiful stories about the births she had attended. While my own mother had instilled in me the confidence that my body could birth a child without intervention, she instilled in me the skepticism for the ways most doctors approach childbirth. Also, because Izzy has always been around natural birth, he has been my strongest supporter.
As a biologist, I have studied the form and function of the human body. I have also studied the processes by which nature has assured that each species has the means to reproduce. The c-section and induction statistics coming out of hospitals in this country solidly contradict my understanding that women are built to birth their babies unassisted at a rate that allows for perpetuation of our species. If 80% of women really needed inductions to safely birth their babies our species would have died out a long time ago. I also happened to go to school with an awful lot of pre-meds and I know for a fact that they are not gods. My obsession with research compelled me to begin collecting knowledge about childbirth the day Izzy and I decided to have a baby. The more I read the more convinced I became that we would both need to be active participants in our birth if we were to have any chance at achieving a natural child birth in this invention-crazed society we live in today.
When I reached the age at which I started to think about one day having my own children, I assumed I would do it much the same way my mother did. I knew nothing of MWs and homebirth wasn’t even on my radar. I figured I’d have my babies in a hospital without pain meds. Years later, when Izzy and I started talking seriously about having kids I was adamant about staying as far away from a hospital as possible. I started looking into alternatives and found that Albuquerque has a wonderful network of MWs and several birth centers. Little did I know, Albuquerque is a gem in a sea of seething natural-birth hatred. I looked into options in Tucson before moving here and found the one birth center in town. Upon getting our BFP, I contacted the birth center and went to an information-gathering class. We decided a birth center birth would be the best choice for us. I am a little uneasy about a homebirth because this is my first, my house is tiny, and I do not have a bathtub (I’m really attracted to the idea of a water birth). We thought about renting a tub but honestly, there’s nowhere to put it. Besides, our insurance won’t pay for a homebirth. Maybe baby number two will be a homebirth but for now it’s the birth center.
I love love love my MWs. There are six of them and I think I’ve met them all. They have never once made me feel stupid for asking questions. They are 100% behind every decision I’ve made. The birth center itself is lovely. It’s the same one Leigh (cactuswren) gave birth at back in July. My only qualm is their 41 week risk out policy. They are overseen by a high-risk obstetrics group and there is pretty much no way of getting around a hospital transfer if I go beyond 41 weeks. Knowing this and knowing my mother’s history of going well beyond 41 weeks, I fudged my LMP date a tad. Little lady has until 41 weeks and 5 days to be born at the birth center. I spent a LOT of time fretting about risking out earlier in this pregnancy. After a lot of soul-searching (and support from Leigh), I am now at peace with the possibility of a transfer. Izzy’s been a harder sell but I’ve now gotten him to a place where he understands that remaining calm about it will assist us in having the birth experience we desire. By sending myself into hardcore relaxation mode, I’m hoping she’ll decide to make her appearance no later than October 17th. If she doesn’t, I’ll have a joyous natural hospital birth. Fortunately, the hospital I’d be transferring to isn’t all that bad. Ironically, I’ve been having so many BH contractions it’s got me a little worried she’s inherited her momma’s impatience and is going to show up early! I hope fudging my LMP doesn’t come around to bite me and force me to transfer because they think I’m early!