Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Birth Options Ambivalence

Feeling majorly blah.  About this pregnancy and the inevitable birth options.  About my plateaued spiritual life.  About life in general, really.  But here I want to focus on the birth options aspect.

My daughter was born at home.  It was a planned homebirth, and all things considering, it went well. 13 hours of early labor that really was nothing to write home about, and I see zero reason for having any need to be in a hospital during that time.  Five hours of active labor which commenced with my waters breaking, and the first two of them spent alone, as Alex was stuck in traffic coming home from work.  He had to make the hour and a half commute because our daughter came two weeks early, and he had to tie up loose ends to start his family leave earlier than expected.  By the time midwife and birth assistant arrived, I was in the zone, butt naked without a care in the world.  I've never felt so in the moment as I did during labor.  Neither the past nor the future existed for those several hours. I pushed for a mere 15 minutes, and voila!

However, our birth tub never got filled, I didn't really utilize the hypno babies techniques because I felt confused as to what I was supposed to do when on D-day.  Hypnosis and water were the two comfort measures I was counting on, so it sucked not having either.  I needed several interventions after delivery (stitches, IV, pitocin to stop blood loss).  Our nursing relationship was off to a rough start from the word go, taking nearly three months to finally regulate.  And I suffered postpartum anxiety (probably depression too) for over six months.  I didn't hold my daughter skin-to-skin immediately after birth because she was wrapped in a blanket, probably bc we wanted to discover the baby's sex on our own.  I took meticulous notes of sleep, diaper changes, and nursings, and I didn't put Maya to the breast until a full hour after birth, right around the time we found out we had a girl.

Then I felt drained and sleep deprived, as I suppose is to be expected, wearing disposable underwear to soak up my lochia (sexy, I know), and had to drag my tiny, under 6 pounds baby in what looked like an abnormally humongous car seat to the pediatrician three days post birth, which felt sort of counterproductive to having gone through all the trouble of having her at home.

We waited to tell people to avoid having masses of visitors when we were trying to bond, which proved to be sort of unnecessary and backfired a bit with some people.

All in all, I planned the birth I thought I wanted if it was going to be the only such experience I would have, which I didn't know would not be the case until recently.  I made decisions based on the ideals I read about - much like I generally do in other areas of my life.  I wanted to avoid a hospital bc I didn't think I could advocate for myself as a first time mom, shy to start, against hospital bullies.  And considering the hospital that we were closest to, that was probably a pretty spot-on consideration.

But birthing at home meant a lot more responsibility shouldered by us, from arrangements, to purchase of supplies, to clean up.

To be fair, I have nothing to compare my experience to, but trying to be objective, I'd probably give it a B+.  Apparently, shortly after birth, I had two conversations, with Alex and my mom, stating that I felt I've accomplished what I wanted - I could say I had a homebirth, and that should there be another baby, I don't feel as strongly about it anymore.

And that brings us to today.  I'm pregnant a second time, and I'm having to realize that I cannot - nor should I - try to do everything the same way I did with my daughter.  The siblings will be two separate individuals, with different needs etc.

But I don't have a great alternative in mind.  I mainly feel disappointed that I didn't use hydrotherapy or hypnotherapy during my first birth, and I wonder if it really would've made a difference.  I'd like the opportunity to find out, and I'm trying to decide if another homebirth is the best scenario to do so. I sort of know what to expect, we have better circumstances that should allow us to prevent some of the pitfalls of our first experience.  It's not so much that our homebirth was such an amazing experience.  It wasn't.  It's just that I'm concerned about the policies of the hospital being imposed on me, my baby, my family, my birthing time.

I'm concerned that in spite of agreement to the opposite, my birth plan will be ignored.
That I will be put on the clock from the moment I show up, and that my labor will stall due to unnecessary interventions such as fetal monitoring, IV, or just the stress of being in a strange environment.
That I will be told what I can and cannot eat or drink.  (Granted, I had no desire to eat during active labor, but it was amazing to have graham crackers with nutella as my first mom meal, courtesy Alex.)
That I will inadvertently feel pressured to deliver on someone else's schedule.
That I will be encouraged to get an epidural.
That I will be discouraged from freely moving about and assuming various positions.
That I will be separated from my husband or my baby at any time.
That I will be rushed to let my baby go through routine checks so they can check me off their list, instead of letting us bond immediately afterwards.
That I will be put in a situation where I will have to deliver my baby in a way I don't want to - outside the tub, or worse, on my back.
That I will be yelled at to push.  I actually want to try not to push at all this time around!
That I won't be allowed to leave with the placenta. Therefore I won't be able to get it encapsulated, something I hope will help keep ppd/a at bay this time around.

Ok, so really, I don't really see the appeal of going to the hospital to deliver my baby.  I'm just thinking I want it to go differently than the first time.  But that can and will happen with another homebirth.  We have debriefed, we know what went "wrong" and what can be done differently this time around.  Weather I deliver at home or in the hospital, neither choice is the "easy" way.  Either way, I still have to "go through it".

I should count my blessings that I have the full support of my husband, and that I have a dedicated person (my sister in law) willing to come up to watch Maya so that I don't have to worry about her and she can still be nearby, arbitrary policies be darned.

So my conclusion is that switching to the hospital may seem like a quick fix, but in reality it would be a disaster to opt for that option barring any real medical reason.  I already know how it can go, and even if it's not ideal or the way other women have described their experiences, it wouldn't be so bad if my other birth experience were as good as the first.  Even if not better.

Ok, so what remains is to make the commitment to the midwives from before, which includes $300 out of pocket, always a good incentive for me ;)

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