Wednesday, January 29, 2014

My Thoughts as a Pregnant Woman about Forgiving Myself

This is a post I wrote on the blog I was keeping throughout my pregnancy...little did I know that less 24 hours later, I would be admitted to the hospital and induced into labor...another story for another day. But this post is an example of how sometimes in pregnancy, like in any other aspect of life, things may not go how you plan and you have to accept that it's not always your fault, especially if you know and do your best.


Maybe not an epiphany, but…

…definitely a tough realization. I had “it” last night while talking to my sister…it was one of those things where you talk and talk so much that eventually something profound pops out of your mouth without even thinking about it.

I was explaining to my sister all the reasons why I want a completely unmedicated birth (in no particular order):
1) I want to avoid the slippery slope of unnecessary interventions. For example, if you are induced and they start you on Pitocin, your body is forced to labor before it is ready, which leads to much stronger and more painful contractions than you might have actually had if you had avoided the drugs. Now that the pain is SO strong, you feel like you need an Epidural, so you get one. the thing about an epidural (or any pain medication) is that it slows down your contractions, and before you know it, you’re being given MORE pitocin because you’ve plateaued or slowed down more than the hospital would like. The pain is back full force, so you get more pain medication. Lo and behold, the doctor walks in and tells you that the baby’s heartbeat has slowed/risen/become erratic, etc. and now you need an emergency c-section. What they won’t tell you is that the heartbeat got like that because the baby couldn’t handle the constant changes in the uterus due to the medications.  Now your baby is in danger and you need emergency surgery just because of one intervention that didn’t even need to happen.
2) It’s safer for the baby to labor naturally, not just because of the reasons I listed above, but because every medication you could be given (and there are LOTS of kinds, not just pitocin or an epidural) can leave your baby in a stupor for hours, even days after birth. I would rather bond with a baby that is more alert than know he has no clue who I am because I made sure he was born zonked out.
3) the most important reason in my gut is that I VALUE the hard work and dedication it takes to give birth naturally. I don’t know if it’s this city and it’s “get in, get out, get on with life” superficiality, or what…but there is ZERO support here for mothers that want to go natural. You’re likelier to be told you’re insane for trying (even by other moms) than receive any sort of support. There’s no natural-method birthing classes in the entire county, insurance doesn’t cover midwives (if you can FIND one), there’s no resources on cloth diapering or baby wearing…even breast-feeding past 3 months is weird and taboo here. I’ve spoken to two OBs and even hospital staff regarding my wishes for a natural birth, and every SINGLE time, I was answered that all my requests would depend on what drug(s) I was on at that particular stage of labor. So literally EVERY person I spoke to regarding my birth assumed that I would have some sort of drugs at some point of the labor, even when I had prefaced the conversation with “I want a natural birth, so…”

 I mentioned that earlier this week, I had a breakdown because I was so frustrated with the anxiety of the upcoming birth and not being able to plan for everything because every time I spoke to someone else about my birth plan, I was told at least a couple more things I could not count on having. While I was talking to my sister, I realized that my problem was the planning. I desperately want a natural, drug-free birth, but the fact is that all the books I’ve read on the topic and all the videos I’ve watched to prepare all assume that I will be among supportive people in an environment suitable for natural labor and delivery.

I am not. And I will not. And as much as I blame myself for that, it is unreasonable to because there’s nothing I can do about it.

The hospital requires continuous fetal monitoring. They don’t have wireless OR waterproof monitors. This means that once I am admitted to the hospital, I will literally be strapped to a bed in one position until I have the baby. In my original birth plan, I wanted to labor in a tub, or at least in a shower because I’ve found throughout the pregnancy that all my pains can be eased substantially with warm water. Well, there ARE no tubs, and I am not ALLOWED to shower until after the baby is out, “considering whatever drugs you’re on have worn off at that point”. Why? “Hospital rules.” That’s it. I’ve not once been given a legit medical reason why I can’t do X, Y, Z…all I get is “it’s hospital policy and they’re not flexible” which is basically they’re way of saying “don’t try to fight us on this, you’re going to lose.” In fact, I was even told by one of the doctors that if I want to labor in the shower, I better “stay at home as long as possible”. Hmm.

Because the hospital requires continuous monitoring, I am also not allowed to walk, squat, or otherwise change position at all because I cannot take the monitor off. Every resource I’ve come across says that changing positions can be the difference between tolerable and intolerable contractions, and that laying on your back is the absolute WORST and most PAINFUL way to labor. Well, that’s apparently the only choice I have.

I’ve been mentally preparing for the fact that labor is going to be hard and painful and will require a LOT of determination on my part, but that’s considering that I’d have the ability to labor in a way that would encourage or facilitate what I want/need. In my current situation, I’m fighting an uphill battle because I’m putting pressure on myself to do something that’s ALREADY so difficult, PLUS I have the hospital policy pushing back at me. It’s an uphill battle at best.

So what conclusion did I come to?

I cannot plan. I should not worry. I am as prepared as I can be, but I do not know what to expect, and I shouldn’t expect anything because it will only lead to disappointment if/when things don’t go the way I thought they would.

So I am still going to do my best to cope with the pain naturally using the techniques that I have been focusing on for months. But I am also trying to come to peace with the fact that I might feel I need pain medication, and that I shouldn’t hate myself or feel disappointed if I go that path. As it is right now, I know I will feel like an absolute failure if I opt for pain medication, but I realize I need to cut myself some slack because the hospital is literally making everything as backwards to what I need as they can, and there’s nothing I can do about that.

As soon as I said out loud to my sister that I should try to forgive myself in advance in case I DO opt for pain medications, a calm came over me. As long as Bu gets here healthy, I should focus on that and not HOW he got here, though I do still feel it’s so important to do my best and go natural for the both of us. I’m not 100% ok with being this flexible yet, but I can’t  regret something I haven’t even done yet, and if I DO do it, I can only use it as a learning experience for next time.

And by next time, I mean I am NEVER setting foot in an OB or hospital again when it comes to having children. I must find support for a more natural path here, otherwise I foresee all of Bu’s future siblings being born outside this city. This pregnancy has made so many beautiful things in my life, but it has also made me deeply dislike this city and it’s attitude, and I’d love nothing more than to give my children a chance to live AWAY from it and it’s influence.

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