Yesterday was my due date for baby #5, but no baby yet!
Every woman has a story to tell about her birthing experiences. It is such an emotional and personal experience, and we have these expectations for how it will go. Sometimes it just doesn’t go the way we want it to. For some reason, we never forget it either. Probably because we tell the stories so many times.
I’ve been reading through my Bradley Method book, Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way (my favorite book on birthing) and trying to prepare my mind for what is ahead. Even though I have given birth four times already, I am still nervous! The whole experience is so intense and there are so many different things that happen each time I go in to have a baby. It is never the same experience. The only reliable thing is that Andy will be there with me, and he is the best, most supportive coach I could ask for.
I have given birth with a midwife one out of four times, and it was by far the best birthing experience of the four. It was my son, my third baby, that arrived when a midwife was on duty at the hospital. All the other births were too late at night or too early in the morning for a midwife to be on duty.
What was different about a midwife delivery? Oh my gosh, everything. First of all, she was calm and reassuring. Second, she knew–she just knew–every single thing I had read and studied in the Bradley Method.
When she was checking me in to the hospital, she could tell that I was progressing quickly. I had drops of sweat running down my face and I could hardly answer her questions.
“You are transitioning, aren’t you?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” I said. “The contractions are just one after another.”
“Yes. Let’s get you in there. This baby is coming.”
It must have been about 10 or 20 minutes before the baby was on its way. She instructed the nurse not to give me an iv. She knew exactly how to coach the pushing. She knew to let all the cord blood go to the baby, and to let me hold and nurse the baby immediately. The nurse was going to give me the shot of pitocin to make my uterus contract after birth, and the midwife stopped her mid-air and told her I didn’t need the artificial hormones because I hadn’t had any drugs. She treated everything as normal. Normal. Because a normal childbirth is not an emergency or crisis.
At my 40-week doctor visit a few days ago, I started crying when my doctor asked if I was ready to have the baby.
“Yes, I’m ready for the baby. I can’t wait to hold the squiggly little body in my arms. But I am not looking forward to giving birth at the hospital.”
“Why?” she asked, surprised.
“Because…what if I don’t get a midwife? The doctors and residents just don’t understand a normal, unmedicated childbirth. They don’t know how to handle it.”
“Give me an example.”
“Last time, with my baby girl, I was starting to push my baby out, and a resident came in with a portable ultrasound machine, all confident, and said, ‘I have to take an ultrasound of the baby to make sure it is facing head down.’ It really stressed me out. What was I supposed to tell her? I could hardly speak. I was having a baby. She saw that it was head down two minutes later when the head was coming out!”
“I’ll note that in the computer,” my doctor said.
“Then, when my husband was asked to cut the umbilical cord, I said, ‘No! I want all the cord blood to go to the baby!’ Andy looked at me and said, ‘They already clamped it.'”
That was when I started crying. Why on earth would they clamp the cord before all the best blood went to the baby? I wasn’t donating it or storing it. How could these people not know how important that blood is? Why waste it? I was so hurt and confused and offended that they didn’t even ask me if it was OK to clamp the cord before all the cord blood entered the baby. The midwife knew. Why didn’t this other doctor and resident know? Was the 20-minute wait really that big of a deal? I’d only been in the hospital for 45 minutes total before the baby came! Geez!
“I thought I was over it,” I said, wiping my tears away. “I kept telling myself it was fine. Not that big of a deal. But I guess it meant a lot to me if I’m still upset about it two years later!”
She typed some more notes on the computer.
“I’m so sorry that happened to you,” she said, and she made sure my birth plan was as clear as possible so it wouldn’t happen again.
Still, I know how things are. I know how many times I have to refuse this and that, sign papers because I refused. I can’t leave the hospital until I’ve signed at least 10 papers, and every paper had a 10-20 minute lecture to go along with it.
When you ask, “Are you excited? Are you ready?” I want to say, “Yes! I’m so excited for the baby to arrive!” because I know that is what you are asking, and I am truly excited to have another little baby.
But I hesitate too–because I know that even though the whole experience will be lovely and real, it might also be a real pain in the you know what.
Unless I get a midwife birth. Please, baby, come when the midwife is on duty!