Last year while processing the novel experience of pregnancy and contemplating how this ever-growing baby was going to escape from my body E and I agreed we would try to go the natural route. I am not really a hippie, though some people think I am crunchy and I certainly like to hug trees.
We attended weeks of Brio Birth classes and were surrounded by women whose commitment to an intervention-free experience exceeded mine. I did kegels, pelvic tilts, yoga and squatted whenever I thought about it. We did labor run-throughs practicing relaxation techniques.
I wholeheartedly believed that my body was designed to do this. That for eons, women have been giving birth unassisted by medical technology and given our healthy pregnancy I was a perfect candidate to just allow it happen – hands off. We even considered a homebirth, but decided to stick with our midwives who deliver at the hospital.
The literature I read ingrained the benefits of natural labor. That it may take many, many hours but it gives your baby time to prepare and allows your tissues to stretch. That the squeeze through the birth canal benefits the baby in ways we don’t yet understand. That there is no rush, so allow the placenta to expel on its own. I bought into all of it. The delayed cord clamping, the immediate skin-to-skin contact and suckling, the idea that I’d be less likely to tear if things progressed slowly and there was counter pressure.
I watched the documentaries and listened to the stories of groggy babies after epidurals. Of mothers who died because of complications from medical induction or a C-section. Of mothers who died because their doctor helped pull the placenta out unwittingly leaving a tiny scrap behind which developed into a fatal infection. That fear, coupled with the touted benefits of natural childbirth sealed the deal.
My mother delivered both of her babies without any drugs. E’s mother delivered two-thirds of her the same way – one was even a VBAC.
I trusted that my body and my baby knew how to do this. That they would indicate to me when the time had come. I scoffed at how science could dictate a standard gestation for all human babies; I was willing to go ‘overdue’ if that’s what my body and baby decided. But that’s not what happened. Before I was ever in labor, he died inside my womb and I chose a medical induction to deliver my already dead child. I felt betrayed. Betrayed by my body. Betrayed by my beliefs. Betrayed by the childbirth instructor, book authors and all those who preach the dogma.
Now I stand here in the third trimester making plans for Dragon’s delivery. Obviously the top priority is to get the kid here alive and safe regardless of the details of our birthplan. The midwife and the perinatalogist have recommended induction at 39-weeks if we do not go into labor before then. At this point I agree, but I am still hung up about the medical induction.
You see, the benefits of the natural process are deep rooted and much of me still believes those tenets. Plus, my grief-shaken self-esteem allows the horror stories of medical births gone wrong to grip even stronger. But I do not believe wholeheartedly in either ethos right now. So I am stuck standing in the middle desperate for some place to lay my faith down. I need conviction in one system or another so that I can unsaddle myself of this and all that’s connected to it including my confidence and my courage.