15 December 2011

Alliums, or why any number of intervention-free deliveries do not a NCB advocate make

The following comes of my sick, terrible habit of hanging around birth-junkie websites in the weeks before my due date. GOT to stop that.

The main reason I wanted a med-free birth with our first baby was curiosity. I wanted to know what it was like. Not everybody gets to find out.

Now I know, and I haven't wanted one since, but I keep getting them. Lucky me. As I've said here, there are some valuable lessons in the experience, but the most valuable one for me has been learning that it wasn't really my choice. It was my preference the first time around, and it worked out. I didn't have any complications, so I got my curiosity satisfied. (In a hospital. Yes.)

Then all my friends and relations started having babies, and I started seeing that childbirth isn't any different from breakfast on a busy morning. You can't always get what you want. Some wanted to go "natural" for whatever reason, and they couldn't, honest. 2000 miles or 150 years from here, something bad would have happened to mother and/or child, no matter how ideal their birth ideals (and why the ideal would be anything other than an experience which does not induce terror upon its remembrance--which for a few of us weak-minded people would involve pain relief of some sort--is beyond me). Some decided along the way that hours of voluntary agony weren't worth the Natural Childbirth Award, which doesn't exist. Some regretted not having an anaesthetic in place when it came to the measures which had to be taken upon them after the baby's birth. Some wanted pain relief and it didn't work, or even made things worse. Some got what they planned, whether it was Interventionpalooza or a moonlit glade attended only by maiden wolves. Everyone had preferences and made choices, but not everyone got the birth story they wanted.

The only thing I feel like telling someone any more about how to have a baby is You can do it! Unless you can't. You won't know until it happens. If you get the delivery you think you want, thank God in heaven because that is the third cherry on the real whipped cream on the hottest of fudge on the Haagen-Dazs of a healthy baby. If you don't, don't feel bad AT ALL, because who cares? It is ultimately not something you can control. And however it goes, turn off the comments when you post your birth story because there is always going to be some fool out there who thinks she knows better than you what should have happened.

But I still want to lodge my major complaint about the NCB universe, and that is its ridiculous self-satisfaction. I cannot take pride in my deliveries, much as I would LOVE to after this many times, any more than I could be proud of surviving a lightening strike or bout of ebola. They prove nothing except that God dealt with me mercifully (which is pretty blasted hard to admit, considering). That first time when I got myself all educated and prepped, I was told I'd stride away with this incredible sense of strength and accomplishment. Instead I hobbled off feeling completely ruined and, moreunder (or is it lessover?), lied to. There's no buzzkill for that post-baby rush like the thought of earning it again, or maybe ten more times. I came with onions and left with garlic.

Unlike the farmer and the monk, I also left with six perfect babies. So that helps.

Update: the comments upon this post, while non-explicit, are frank. If that would trouble you, dear reader, do not attend.


HappyFox said...

"... Interventionpalooza or a moonlit glade attended only by maiden wolves." ROFL!

Bonnie, to whom God has been merciful.

pekoponian said...

HappyFox is right! That line was fantastic!!! You perfectly captured the language of birth junkies.

Lucy said...

My husband has gently prohibited my visits to those websites after the first trimester, as I am very good at working myself into a froth, trying to plan the "perfect" birth. This birth I will do it right. Ha!

You are very right. As in all things, God and only God, is in control. Good reminder - thank you.

Leah said...

Beautiful. If only this had been posted about 2 1/2 years ago, when I needed it most!

Took me a long time to stop listening to all those people who thought they knew better than me what should have happened.

And I definitely still look back on the event with quite a bit of terror.

Melrose said...

I did it all right. I ate granola, did pregnancy yoga, slept on my right side with my knee propped up, drank gazillions of gallons of water a day, took all my vitamins...and liquid chlorophyll...and fish oil...and red raspberry. I visualized, I prayed, I memorized Scripture for labor. I was not afraid.

After I pushed out my first baby in my living room with a fire in the fireplace, an awesome birth pool, and mood music I was so angry and felt so betrayed by everyone who lied to me that I could rise above the pain that I didn't even want to hold my baby. Thank God my amazing midwife halted me with the line that if it hurt me that bad, imagine how much it hurts the baby! That was all it took for me to go mother bear on my new little son.

But since then my births have only worsened despite all the granola and juicing and making homemade yogurt. And yet, the Lord keeps bringing me back for more. It's not self satisfying, it's not so that I can finally have a birth where I make it all go right...because as you said, we CANT make it go right. The bottom line is: God be merciful to me! And if not, then welcome me home into your loving arms....which of course is the greatest mercy.

This last birth was the best yet. God indeed was merciful. But I know I will still shudder in fear should I have the chance to do it again.

Marie said...

Well, ladies, your births would have been MUCH better if only you had...Gotcha=) Another winning post, Rebekah! Thanks!

Leah said...

I had epidurals with my first four babies. I kept telling my husband that next time I would do it naturally just to really know what it was like, to which he would shake his head and tell me I was nuts and that there is no righteousness in pain. He's right. I had my last one totally naturally and the one before her with an epidural put in twenty minutes before she was born, which never kicked in until the aftermath, which I suppose counts for something. (Hey, some aftermaths deserve their own suffering award ((especially the first time)), right?)

So now I know. My curiosity is satisfied (with a nine pounder) and I suppose I have some sort of "bragging rights"? So whoopee. (Although I hear having your first naturally gets double ((or triple)) bragging rights, right? ;)

As you say, I have six healthy children. What else really matters?

Mrs Gregory said...

I feel the need to weigh in here, probably as I am less than a month from doing the deed myself.

I don't think (for moi, anyway) of NCB as a heroic act...but rather the best decision for baby and mom's health. Of course, of course, everything can change in a heartbeat and we need to trust God and our practitioners that they are doing what is best for us. BUT, choosing epidurals and other interventions 1) often means some separation from baby early on, 2) poor breastfeeding, poor breathing, and lethargy for baby, 3) blood pressure drops that can result in c-s, 4) fever that can result in c-s, etc. So, in enduring a few grueling hours of pain, I am setting us up for the best possible scenario, deo volente.

I've had a a c-s myself and it was the scariest experience I have ever had. I'll take the worst pain of labor over a year of not sleeping due to PTSD nightmares any day.

We each "choose" what is best for us and our families; I'm just sad that I have to fight so hard (hospitals around here rarely allow VBAC) to have a baby the NCB way.

Rebekah said...

Like I said, weak-minded. I know there are risks. I am ready to take them. I experience nightmares and sleep disturbances as fallout from natural childbirth. It is damaging to other areas of my life. After all the trouble I've had nursing, I do not believe throwing an epidural into the mix could possibly make it any worse. L&D would be a dealbreaker for me if I got dealbreakers. But I don't, so I would like an epidural. I congratulate the strong-minded.

Mrs Gregory said...

Ah. Would that nursing were as easy as it is "supposed" to be.

etem said...

i've just had my second c-section. where the first one was a nursing nightmare, this one has been a dream. where i was completely crazy with the first, with this one i'm hardly crazy at all. where i didn't sleep at all due to craziness with the first, i'm all about my night time z's this time. so, even within the apparently undesirable circumstances of c-sections (which, incidentally,have their own set of groanings and pains), things can be better/worse. and i'll never know the better/worse un/joys of ncb. so.

Allison said...

With my first I did not have my desirable NCB. After 7 hours of pit hell I caved, got everything imaginable, and went through 2 hours of not even knowing what was going on or where I was. Two weeks after the birth I was talking to 2 friends and they asked me if I'd gotten an epidural. When they learned I had one them laughed and said she knew I would because I was never THAT strong and wouldn't be able to handle anything like that. With the next child I did choose NCB for many reasons and had such a nicer experience. Granted there was pain but I was present mentally and able to enjoy time with my child unlike the last time. But another feeling of joy was being able to tell that particular friend that I DID have a NCB, that I WAS able to handle it, and that I AM strong in body and mind. Horrible of me, I know, but it gave me so much satisfaction to tell her off. Sometimes it's worth it to feel that sense of accomplishment. I CAN overcome this. Not everyone is able to and I understand that but it helped me work through so many other things.

Rebekah said...

In my own case, I remain unconvinced that my NCBs are any credit to me. Pain lacks a mechanism to kill. If it had such a mechanism, I would be dead six times over and no one would be congratulating me on my high pain tolerance or for going natural again. History proves that most women CAN give birth naturally. Experience proves that most they think they can't (yea, even Bradley codifies and legitimizes this experience) and don't want to find out when given the option. Thus the question is one of will, and I have no will to answer it with courage. So I have failed and can claim no achievement or satisfaction. Phooey.

I am terrified of having a c-section, but not knowing exactly how bad it is frees me to select for my personal use the other fear as the debilitating one.

See how stupid this gets? :P

Emommy said...

Having experienced my third NCB eleven days ago, I can repeat Rebekah's comment with vigor: "Pain lacks a mechanism to kill. If it had such a mechanism, I would be dead [three] times over." Every birth has taught me that I can't do it. I can't take the pain, I can't take the effort, and this time was the first time I couldn't even take individual pride in recognizing my own weaknesses. I prayed that God would kill me. And I was shocked as I prayed it, and still shocked as I think about it now, but why am I surprised? I am a sinner who, without Christ, spurns all of God's good gifts. If NCB has taught me anything, it's that Christ has done everything for me. Everything.

Untamed Shrew said...

What Emommy said. I'm masochistic and stupid enough to do an overnight induction with no anesthesia. Twice. (I'm scared of a wet tap.) Both times, I was begging for death in one breath and screaming, "God, save me!" with the next. I start to cry thinking about the terror of those experiences, but they have taught me that God alone knows my limits.

Melrose said...

I'm with you Rebekah...and emommy and U.S.. When I delivered my 3rd on my bed with no assistance from my "midwife" who just sat there looking shocked my son came out sideways. I remember I was sobbing horribly and looked up at my husband and in desperation tried to memorize every feature of his face because I was sure when I closed my eyes with another contraction that I would wake up in heaven.

The only reason I have survived is by the grace of God. Pain kills mentally every time and it takes me weeks to get over it...and then some. Also by the grace of God he has provided some amazing friends (thanks Gauntlets!) that have come to my aid pp to help me work through the emotions. Unfortunately for me I"m a bigger wimp because I'm terrified of hospitals and needles and epidurals. I haven't had one friend that has had it go well but instead have had stories of terrible reactions that range from 3 days of hallucinating while baby had to be transferred to another hospital for reactions to the epidural to friends that don't remember the first 3 days of their baby's life due to epidural headaches, etc. I guess labor just sucks all around. So Rebekah next time if you do the epidural, please come back here and post about how wonderful it was so I can not be so paranoid!

Rebekah said...

I'm just going to go ahead and keep exorcising my demons here because that seems like such a good idea. I'm not too keen on the epidural concept either, but this last time around has really crystallized in my mind the fact that I cannot deal with this any more. Since this all comes down to anecdotal evidence for every last one of us: although I have heard a few bad epidural stories (one of them VERY bad), I know approximately one jillion more people who got their stab and have photos of themselves looking genuinely happy with their new babies and no lingering neuroses. So the epidural fantasy is, for me, just that. Realistically it could be a total bust and more realistically in my case, it won't even be an option when the time comes (which is how I've gotten to a NCB rating of VERY ANGRY 6).

I will not get near a narcotic of any kind. I've never heard a good narcotic story (plus I don't want a doped baby).

I am most terrified of giving birth to a baby more than two feet away from the equipment and people who have the greatest likelihood of saving it in an emergency (which, of course, happened--and I will never stop thanking God that there was no emergency).

Katy said...

I have no bad emotional association with childbirth, (except a bit with #1, but that has faded). What does keep me up at night is the fear that I'm ruining my kids by my continuous laziness/crabbiness (probably somewhat related to having babies a lot).

I suppose half the fear is anticipation of the unknown, especially for those of you who have had violent births (?) I don't think much about it. I actually like (I know, sorry) labor up until going to the hospital. It hurts, but it's the only time in my life where I'm allowed to concentrate only on one thing. No multi-tasking. The kids are whisked away and I just lay there in quiet, telling Dad where the stuff is to pack the bags.

And I still somewhat fear getting pregnant each time because of What People Might Think. (Without going into detail, by most people's standards, we're really irresponsible). Thank God I have a husband who really couldn't care what anyone thinks, pretty much ever.

Elizabeth said...

What resonates most with me is the fact that almost everyone here has contemplated dying in those last awful bits (or hours) of labor. THAT makes me feel better than anything. While this last labor was FAR better and shorter than the first (I actually managed my contractions for the first 15 or so hours this time, and we went from 40 hours to 20 total!), long back labors always take me back to Genesis 3 "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
iin pain you shall bring forth children." Especially since this time, my beautiful child came out sideways so pushing was as painful as the 4 (give or take) hours prior. I definitely thought this time, I don't think I can do this again. I'm going to die. Why does this hurt so much? Why can't I seem to find a way to fix it? (I'm anti-epidural, but pro-narcotics, though I'm figuring out the whole doped-up baby and no real relief thing really isn't what it's all cracked up to be.)

Praise God that He grants us (and those precious babies) life, and amnesia to forget about all that pain when our husbands give us "that look".

Marie said...

I better stop reading for awhile, or I'll be having nightmares for the next 5 months!

McDermotter said...

I don't know why I finally found this today, but it's perfect since today is my second child's 1st birthday. She was a repeat c/s. I desired a natural VBAC, but she didn't think she wanted to be born around her Dec 13th due date.
I struggled a lot with not getting MY natural birth. I tried a pain relief free induction with my son. I managed that until pushing for a few hours when they decided he wasn't going to fit. We ended up with a c/s. I still mourn my c/s.
She probably didn't mean it for me, but Katie Schuermann's book on barrenness helped me a TON. I am not promised natural childbirth and my salvation doesn't depend on it.
It would still be nice someday. Especially because I don't really want 1 million c/s's. But I can go to heaven without natural childbirth.