Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Not Just A Means To An End. But Maybe Not The End All, Be All, Either

I know a lot of you read Linda already, but if you haven't read her post today about birth and what the experience has come to mean in our culture, please go and read it now. The comment section, too, is fantastic. (Also, you may notice that someone named Sarah commented no less than THREE TIMES in said section...)

Basically, I just want to blow big kisses to Linda and say RIGHT ON. Also, to reiterate what one of her commenters said, and which I SO need to be reminded of sometimes: "We get pregnant to have a BABY, not a birth experience." After watching The Business of Being Born and and reading Dooce and ob-SESSING about both of my births, of in fact continuing to obsess about possible FUTURE births and how I could make them even more natural and perfect and empowering, I have definitely fallen into the trap of thinking that achieving one's ideal birth experience = perfect mom.

Now, I don't intend to imply that the birth experience wasn't meaningful to me or that it's not something I'll remember forever. Nor do I think it shouldn't matter to me, or that I won't hope for a beautiful, straightforward, natural birth the next time. Maybe even a water birth! I also still think lots of women get bullied by the medical system and that it definitely IS valid to do some research and know your options.

I just mean that I think I may have, in my borderline OCD way, turned my past births into something to agonize over and plan and analyze like I would a spreadsheet or a business presentation. I made it something at which I could succeed or fail, which shames me now. It was never meant to be that. If I had developed high blood pressure and been advised to get pitocin to hurry along the birth, or if the baby's heart rate had dipped for quite a while and the doctor had advised a c-section, I have to admit that I would be here, two and four years later, still wondering about whether I could have done something different- better, braver- to change the situation.

I also have to admit that one of the things that scares me the most about the possibility of twins is that I might be forced to have a c-section. My body would be housing and growing TWO WHOLE BABIES and yet, I'm afraid of feeling weak and unwomanly because I might not get to push my babies out the old fashioned way. That? Is just silly.

Here's the thing: you make the best decision you can with the information and the circumstances at hand. And hopefully, you don't look back. Except maybe at your baby's newborn pictures. They're the only details worth obsessing over.


Michelle said...


My OB/GYN wouldn't even let me TRY to labor my son. He was born at 37 week and was ten pounds. I'm 5'3". My body wasn't anywhere near going into labor on its own and my kid was HUGE.

I can't - won't - spend the rest of my life thinking I could have or should have done something differently. I did the best I could with the information I had at the time and I refuse to let anyone make me feel anything but blessed to have a healthy baby boy.

Hillary said...

As I said on Linda's post, part of the reason I wanted a natural birth so badly was because I was scared beyond reason of a MAJOR FLIPPING SURGERY, which is what a Csection is. I get that a natural birth can be empowering -- it is -- but I don't get or agree with all the judginess and guilt that implies a Csection or a medicalized birth is cowardly.

Michelle said...

I was the mother whose child's heart rate kept dropping and was advised to get a C-section. I was terrified of the surgery but even more terrified of losing my daughter so I went with the C-section. As Hillary can attest to, I have agonized over this for the past year. It pains me that I didn't even get to try to push. But every time I go too far down this road, I remind myself that I have a healthy daughter and that, in the end, is all that matters.

Anonymous said...

You know, the end result is the same no matter how the kid gets here. I wish we, as women, didn't turn every effing thing into a pissing contest. You know?

Katy said...

I definitely wanted to labor naturally and all that, but it just wasn't in the cards. Second time around I'll probably just opt for a schedule c-section. I appreciate the information provided by these sources, but I do feel like it's one step away from being situation where women are being supportive of one another like they should be. We've all gotta figure out the best way to get a human out of our uterus and not kill one of us in the process. That's the goal for all of us, right? So let's all agree that if we go home with a baby, then that's a success.

As someone who went home and didn't have her baby with her, believe me when I say I would rather play it safe than sorry.

Mimi said...

I loved Linda's post too. I am so fascinated by this topic. But one thought has gone through my head a million times since reading Dooce's latest installment of her birth story... I am so glad that I didn't have a gazillion people in the room with me while giving birth. So glad.

Jess said...

I'm so glad that people are talking about this now. This whole conversation has been really eye-opening and empowering for me. Basically what I'm taking away from all these different perspectives is that I should inform myself and make sure I have an advocate, but not freak out if things don't go according to plan, as long as there's a healthy baby on the other end.

Though I agree with the previous commenter. No way in hell will there be 9,000 people in the room with me when I give birth. If THAT doesn't go according to plan, I WILL freak out.

desperate housewife said...

Jess and Mimi: I agree about being freaked out when I read that part of the story. I mean, I do think it's really comforting to have A FEW people who have been through delivery before to help calm and comfort you, but there is no way having an actual AUDIENCE for such an intimate moment sounds HELPFUL to me. But whatever floats your boat, I guess.

Jen @ Rolling Through Looneyville said...

Thank you SO MUCH for posting this.

I'm going in to have my third, a son, TOMORROW. And I've been agonizing over the fact that I don't have a choice over whether I'm getting a c-section. After two, it's pretty much a given that you're never going naturally.

And I keep reading these lovely birth stories and thinking, "I want that. I wanted that. Would my babies be better off if I did that?"

I need to quit. I have two lovely little girls and I'm about to add a little guy to the mix and as long as he's healthy? I did a hell of a good (and brave) job.

You have no idea how much I needed to read this. Thanks

Anonymous said...

I think the woman who goes thru a high-risk pregnancy (to the point of daily injections, lengthy bed rest, eclapsia, toxemia, magnesium drip) all for the purpose of trying to keep what is growing inside her, from being born too early, or having brain damage, or a myriad of other problems. She never had the choice of a "birth plan"....A healthy, normal baby was her "birth blan"...just to make it near term! She didn't give it a second thought about whether to push or not to push...but whether...will the baby breath or not breath and be normal.
This woman is a gold medal winner in my eyes!

Obsessing over "how" one gives birth is kind of just that, an obsession. How a woman "gives" birth is a miracle in itself...not the means.

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