It’s my second time around this pregnancy rodeo. And like many people before me, the second time around just doesn’t seem as exciting and mysterious as the first time. Sound familiar? Probably… Like many of you, I have a one year old to take care of, I just went back to work, I have renovations to do on my house, I have to sell my house. Let’s just say that I’ve got enough on my plate!
Right now, this new baby just seems like an idea, something I know is coming but that I don’t really realize is there yet. I didn’t download the baby-tracking app that would tell me how big my baby is. I didn’t try and calculate my due date when I found out I was pregnant. I’m not reading any books, watching videos, or mentally preparing for my second delivery. I think I’m about 12 weeks along right now, give or take a few days because really, I have no idea when this baby was conceived!
My boyfriend was actually surprised when I made an appointment with my OBGYN for my second pregnancy. I had always said that the second time around, I would really like to give birth with a midwife, and in a birth center.
Last time around, I did everything I could to motivate myself for a pain medication free birth. I watched the videos. I hired a doula. I read the books. I did lots of visualization. I was super duper extremely motivated to do as much in my power to assure the “ideal birth scenario”. Not because I think medicine is bad, or that my doctor would kill me if he gave me an epidural. Not because I wanted to be “better” than those women who walked into the hospital and immediately asked for the medication. Hey, to each their own. Really, for me, it came down to the fact that I wasn’t really afraid of the birthing process, and I thought I would put all the chances on my side that the process would progress naturally (if it was even possible).
The day that my water broke, certain things happened that detracted from my birth plan (doesn’t that always happen?!). I didn’t really panic about it, they had to give me Pitocin and I didn’t question it (too much). If it was better for the baby and I, it would have to do. I would try to do it without the medication also, but I also gave myself a mental out if things got too bad. When they told me that a pediatrician would be in the room while I was pushing, I didn’t really think too much about it. After all, the birth was progressing well, the baby’s heart rate was always stable, the nurses didn’t seem concerned, and I was in one of the best hospitals in the city for at risk births.
And so, 20 hours after my labor started, I finally pushed her out. She was checked out by the pediatrician, and she was perfectly responsive and healthy. I left the hospital 24 hours later and never had to come back. I was one of the lucky ones. And I was extremely thankful for such a great experience!
After I gave birth, a whole bunch of friends and family members had their own turns giving birth within a few months of my own birthing story. Having been the first, I had never really had other experiences to compare my own to, which might have been why I went into the process without too much concern. And one after the other, my friends and family members had terrifying experiences. My sister and two friends’ children ended up at a children’s hospital with serious complications and the possibility of brain damage. There were emergency C-sections, and severe tearing… And I sat back and felt extremely concerned for all of them. Thank their lucky stars, all of the children are now perfectly healthy, but it got me thinking… Now that I saw all of these loved ones go through complications that weren’t expected, was I really all that sure that I wanted to risk NOT being in a hospital, where they could intervene immediately if something went wrong? After all, nothing ever happened during my friends’ and family members’ pregnancies that would have indicated that there were risks! What happened for all of them happened while they were pushing. It happened so fast that there really wasn’t much time to plan for the worst.
I thought back to that day that I was in the hospital. Was I irritated that the nurses hadn’t really had experience with women who had not been given an epidural, and constantly came into my bubble in the middle of a contraction in order to talk to me? Yup! Was I a little bit irked by the fact that my doctor ordered the Pitocin without talking to me about it first? Yes. Perhaps it wasn’t the “perfect” natural birth. But I never had any serious regrets about it. I was proud of what I had accomplished despite of all of the little irritations here and there. But really, what struck me was that despite my little personal irritations about how I was treated (which really is nothing when you look at the grand scheme of things), never once did I feel as though my daughter would be put at risk. The entire time, I felt confident that they would take good care of her and that she would be okay. And I feel as though that it what allowed me to relax through the pain, and believe in myself and the fact that I could go through it. I inherently trusted the people who were there to take care of me.
And so this time around, why would I have it any other way? I know that I can handle the labor process. I know that things never turn out the way you want them to, and that at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter to me in hindsight that I had pain medication or not the last time around. What mattered last time is that we are all happy and healthy and there never were any complications. And no matter what we all say about how flawed the hospital system is when it comes to giving birth (which it is), the place where I feel the safest is right there. Would I appreciate the staff to have more knowledge of alternative pain management techniques? Of course I would! But is it the MOST important thing to me, the second time around? Far from it.
So, no midwife for me! Maybe I’ll even have an epidural earlier on this time around and relax the entire time – you never know. I think I’ll see when I get there. Perhaps it’ll depend on how much sleep I’ve gotten the night before. 😉