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Sep. 27th, 2011

I've been trying to write my and Sylvia's birth story again, this time with compassion towards myself and joy at the outcome. I want to post it on my grown-up blog, but I think my inner editor is keeping from making that easy. The whole point of this rewrite is editing, though writing it in WordPress seems to imbue writing performance anxiety instead of the careful word choices I'd like to have in this telling.

I prepared for a natural birth. Before I was pregnant, I had an inkling that I wanted to be as far from doctors as possible during my delivery, having found home birth stories on the internet incredibly exciting and empowering as a woman. So, before we were ready to have children, I began the process of getting my better-living-through-science beloved on my side. We watched The Business of Being Born together, and he proclaimed himself uncomfortable with home birth, but willing to listen to the possibility of a birthing center.

When I got pregnant about three months before I planned to be, I sought out the advice of friends in looking for a midwife and birthing center. I found a midwife connected to an alternative birthing center in a hospital; the ABC was committed to birth being a natural process, and if there were emergent problems, we would be on the same floor as the OBs and the operating rooms. I attended the required orientations and birth classes to use the ABC.

I asked one midwife her recommendations for doulas, and my partner and I interviewed two. We hired the one with more experience, and she had me email her with updates after each midwife visit, and was willing to answer questions too. She recommended ways to sit and stand so that the baby would be in the best possible position for birth.

At the same time, I was busy educating myself about birth. I got every book on birth out of the library, and bought a fair few too. I began combing them for the wheres, whys, and hows of birth. I collected the combined wisdom of these books into a booklet that I constructed. At times the task seem to be about controlling my birth experience: this is what happens first, second, third. But ultimately I think the book (which did not get finished) was about making the unknown as knowable as possible.

I wrote myself a letter about my vision of how I'd like the birth to go, talking about surrendering to the process. It included a promise to myself that I had assembled a village of experts around me, who shared my philosophy and wanted the best for me, and that if anything were to go wrong I could trust them. I would end up needing to trust them.

Looking back on how I prepared for birth, I see I have two choices. I could frame all the work I did as useless; the birth didn't go as I had envisioned. Or? I can frame it as a process of gaining wisdom. In my reading I learned about pitocin, and how it's different than oxytocin, the body-made horomone that causes contractions, how being on a pitocin drip would affect me. I learned that preeclampsia was a medically necessary reason for a c-section. I learned the signs of preE. All of the things I learned were useful to me in my birth experience.

Posted via LiveJournal app for Android.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 28th, 2011 12:51 am (UTC)
I am still recovering emotionally, and reading other people's birth stories is hard for me. When I was home with Sylvia, I used to turn on TLC and watch the intro to birth shows to see if I could stand it. I couldn't do pitocin stories, I couldn't do induction stories, and I couldn't do planned natural births with complication stories. Birth stories don't have that kind of preview. I want to be in a place where I can read birth stories again, but I don't think I'm there yet.
Sep. 28th, 2011 03:15 am (UTC)
♥ I don't know what to say, but I wish I could make this easier for you. Love you, Katie.
Sep. 28th, 2011 02:28 pm (UTC)
1) I'm glad you feel like you're at a place where you can start to work through this.

2) I am going to be a bit strange and send you to this video: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html (It doesn't involve any birth stories.) It is about how human beings manage to accept things that they cannot change, and I think it might be interesting to you in relation to figuring out how your mind might spin this experience in a different way.

Oct. 10th, 2011 12:16 am (UTC)

I hope you and Sylvia are doing well. Any chance you guys will be around for Thanksgiving?

One of my friends just had (what sounds like to me) a pretty scary birth story too, and I feel for you both.

This was not wasted time - you were educating yourself about your body, about the process, about all of the options. You were cultivating a healthy mindset towards birth in general, and making sure the people you surrounded yourself with would be positive influences. Not to mention, if you do get pregnant again, you will have that information (and wisdom) at your side.

I look forward to reading your new story.
Oct. 10th, 2011 12:21 am (UTC)
Also, you did the best for your baby, so I hope you don't feel like you failed her in any way. I know that our stories are not similar at all, but I thought that if I ended up taking pain medication (which I did) I would be kicking myself over it and feeling all sorts of guilt and feelings of weakness. But I'm not - because after all the research and everything I did, I knew that it was something I had to do for both of us. So I hope you can eventually work through your own feelings and recognize what you accomplished and continue to accomplish each day.
Oct. 10th, 2011 12:39 am (UTC)
I am beginning to be at peace that I did the right thing by myself and my baby, but I'm not 100% there yet. That's part of the reason for this project -- recognizing that it all happened the way it was meant to happen, that good was part of it, that I was powerful (and not a victim), and I have a beautiful baby girl who was brave and strong from day 1. I have to tell myself the story this way so I can believe it. I'm starting to.
Oct. 12th, 2011 01:10 pm (UTC)
I am sure you will get there in time.

And you were certainly powerful and did not just let things happen to you - you were educated and made decisions and was present.

That being said - and I apologize if this is too 'heavy' a topic - don't worry so much about being a victim either. This is in some part coming from a deep (and still ongoing) conversation I am having with another friend about rape culture of all things, but one of the things I struggle with is trying to have a sense of agency, trying to figure out all the right things to do and not do, etc -- when in reality, an overemphasis of that can lead to rape culture because ultimately, it is something that the victim doesn't control (or want, or deserve, etc). And part of why we all want to go that other route is because we want to believe that we can control those things, prevent them from happening to us, our loved ones, etc.

So...sorry to bring up such a dismal subject, but I'm actually just trying to say - don't feel so bad if there were things that were beyond your control, that happened to you. Sometimes bad things really do just happen to people and there is no shame in that.

Certainly, it is wrong to assume that a woman can never be anything BUT a victim, or that there is something about the preson that makes them a victim. But don't put too much pressure on yourself.

And even though something happened that was beyond your control - you definitely were able to respond in your way and took an active part in everything instead of just getting swept along. And maybe that's all you meant by the word 'victim' and I'm reading too much into things :)
Oct. 10th, 2011 12:32 am (UTC)
We will be around for Thanksgiving! We should make better plans.
Oct. 12th, 2011 01:11 pm (UTC)
We'll be in Michigan from Wednesday-Sunday. Thursday itself is out, and I'm thinking Friday we might be going to Saginaw to visit Joe's grandmother (I have to confirm) but otherwise I don't have any plans yet.
Oct. 12th, 2011 03:14 pm (UTC)
Wednesday works! I don't have class that day.
Oct. 17th, 2011 04:06 am (UTC)
Wednesday is good! But it will have to be afternoon, since we'll have been driving Tuesday night/Wednesday morning and will be sleeping in (as much as Luke lets us ;)) Where are you guys? My parents live in Plymouth. What's a good meeting place?
Oct. 19th, 2011 02:40 am (UTC)
We're in Farmington Hills, so Plymouth is doable. Want to say like, 2 or 3 in the afternoon somewhere in Plymouth?
Oct. 26th, 2011 11:24 am (UTC)
Yeah, that's great. Our favorite place to hang out is the Coffee Bean, if you know where that is. Joe doesn't like coffee so he usually just gets hot cocoa.
Nov. 3rd, 2011 12:18 am (UTC)
It's a date! Wednesday 11/23 at 3 pm at the Coffee Bean. See you there.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )