Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Birth Plans

I wanted to have a natural childbirth the first time around but had very little education going into it. At home, I did okay. Our little guy was “sunny side up” so I never really had too much pain with the abdominal contractions but my back took all the heat. I bounced on our big exercise ball, leaned over it while rocking my hips, soaked in a warm bath, squatted down in the shower with warm water running over my back, rocked on all fours with a heating pad on my back. I was in pain, yes, but I was able to switch positions and try different things.

We left for the hospital (for the second time… and this time I will not feel even a tiny shred of embarrassment if I’m sent home at first because the whole last month of pregnancy is one giant exercise in the first stage of labor!!!) as soon as my water broke. Riding in the truck was extremely uncomfortable and I eventually just unbuckled my seatbelt (something I NEVER do!) and turned around in my seat to make it through a contraction at a red light. I got to the hospital and had to ride in a wheelchair instead of walking and being able to change positions to get to labor and delivery. Ryan helped me change into a hospital gown and then I had to lie flat on my back while they put in an IV. It took over 30 minutes to get the IV working and I just sat there crying and moaning that entire time. Once the IV was in place I was ready to move and change positions but they put on a continuous fetal monitor (though I’d had no complications) and that was that, flat on my back it was. I caved in and got an epidural after a few hours.

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After the epidural, Ryan and I both took a nap before playing games and watching a movie. It was admittedly a little bit nice… but I also felt really bad about myself for several weeks following the birth. I’ve since made peace with it but it took me a long time to do so. Since I DID get an epidural I’m of course not judging anyone who does get one… but I know that for myself personally, I felt bad about it and want to do without this time.

Ryan and I have talked about how labor is one of the weirdest kinds of pain out there. If my foot was hurting because he had dropped something on it, he’d pick up the item and lift it off! If my finger hurt because it was burned on a hot pan, I’d jerk it away from the pan almost instantly. There isn’t really an option for that with labor. You can’t really say, “Oh, it’s because I need to have this baby. Let’s just do that right now.” In our culture, we’re very quick to pop an antacid or an NSAID, to swallow down some Pepto Bismol or slather ourselves in Icy Hot. What we aren’t quick to do is find other methods to get through it, specifically mind-over-matter methods.

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Every time I look at the pictures from his birth these days, I cry. Not only because I can’t believe how quickly this time has passed but also because I’m about to get to do it all again and I kind of can’t believe it! Even though I know deep down that it hurt and wasn’t exactly fun, the only way I can picture his birth is the moment he was born and beyond. I can’t help but picture the way Ryan looked when he told me we had a son, the sound of our boy’s first cries, the very short amount of time it took us to notice that he had Daddy’s hands. I can’t help but think about the first time I nursed him, the way he felt in my arms, how tiny he looked when we strapped him into his car seat and headed home. Most days, it doesn’t feel real to think that we get to enjoy this all over again. It feels like I’ll be pregnant forever, or maybe like we’ll wake up one day and have two children, but I just can’t really process that I’m allowed to enjoy two amazing and magical moments like this in one lifetime.

Even though I’ve never had a natural childbirth and have no idea if it’ll help me or not, I decided to make myself some encouraging signs… and then I thought I’d share them here, just in case you are interested in a few signs of your own.

The first sign is, in my opinion, the most important one. I asked about it when we went on our little hospital tour because I didn’t want to offend any of the nurses. Basically, I don’t want to be disturbed. I want to rely on my own instincts and Ryan’s help. They can come in to do occasional fetal monitoring when they have to, but I just don’t really want to be talked to or have to subject myself to anything more than I have to before it’s time to push. I know that probably sounds really rude because I was shocked at the rudeness of statements like that before I’d had my first baby. This time around though, I completely get it and I do think you have to do whatever you can to just “stay in the zone” and get through another contraction!

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(The “Natural Childbirth is Possible” sign lists women I personally know who have had babies sans epidural)

I’ve also got a nice little list of things for Ryan to read to me if I start to cave in.

What helped you during your labor, whether you went natural or had an epidural? My biggest help the first time around was Ryan. He was so supportive emotionally, but he was also really good at supporting me physically. He held our heating pad on my back, pushed on those little pressure points in my lower back for me, let me hang from his neck, etc. After Ryan I think I’d have to say warm water was my second biggest help. I think the bath was better, but at times it felt just as good to just be in a weird position with the shower pouring over my back!

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