I love labor and delivery. Those periods in my girls’ lives are some of my favorite. Even though I always gave birth in a hospital, I remember those times as being intimate and peaceful and beautiful.
I get a bit protective about my labors. I don’t want extra people there. I’ve never even considered a doula because I’ve always wanted it to just be TJ, me, and any necessary medical personnel. I had amazing experiences, so I never wanted anything to interfere with them.
But this also made me anxious. It made me worry during the third trimester that things wouldn’t work out as planned. That I would need a c section. That I would never experience another one of those perfect birth moments.
And so I promised myself when I became pregnant with my fourth that I wouldn’t worry about labor and delivery. If I need surgery, I would handle it in stride. I would see it as just another way to bring my baby into the world. I would find a way to make it beautiful.
And then I found out last week that my baby is oblique transverse, meaning she is lying at a diagonal. And you can’t deliver a baby shoulder first. It’s not one of those rare things or one of those things they just don’t think women are capable of doing. The mom’s body is simply not made for it.
And so I started talking to my doctors. They think I’m an ideal candidate for cephalic version which is where the doctor tries to manually flip the baby from the outside. This doesn’t sound like a horrible option. The problem with it though is that it is done on the day you are going to be induced, and at my hospital, they require you to have an epidural before it is attempted in case the cord prolapses and a c section is necessary.
I’m not a fan of completely sensation free childbirth. I’m hoping the doctors would turn off the epidural after she would be flipped and I could go on with a normal induction. But at this stage, I just don’t know.
And so then there is the option of other ways to flip her before we would get to that point. My doctor told me about www.spinningbabies.com. So I’ve been trying those stretches to give her room to move. And I spoke with a midwife at a natural birth location in my area and she hooked me up with a chiropractor who is supposedly amazing at flipping babies. I see her on Tuesday right before my appointment with my high risk docs for my next ultrasound.
And that all leaves me here. Right now. Stuck in the complicated web of American obstetrics.
Because in some ways, I feel like I have very little control. I see a regular ob and I see a perinatologist. They make lots of decisions. They have their idea of how things should be done. And while I obviously have rights, a lot is also at their mercy. And while I trust them and genuinely like them all, I also feel a need to be informed myself and make sure our interests are aligned.
And then there’s the other side of the coin, where I have most of the control. It’s my body after all. I can refuse medical procedures. I can insist on things done differently. I can seek out alternative or conjunctive care.
But the two schools operate differently. High risk obstetrics and midwives don’t frequently have the same protocols or perspectives. And you go out there into the world or into the internet, and you’ll meet as many perspectives as you meet people.
And I’m a people pleaser. I usually do follow what I believe is best, but it isn’t without dragging around the shackles of everybody’s opinions to weigh me down.
And perhaps what all of this is showing me is just how divisive childbirth is as a topic. We all like to say that women should be able to be informed and make the best decisions for themselves. We believe all women deserve high quality care. We believe we should respect the process of childbirth.
And yet, we really, really believe our way is the right way. And we really do judge others based upon the choices they made.
Did they follow the doctor’s directions? If so, why would they put themselves at the mercy of big medicine? If not, why didn’t they do what is best for their baby? Why didn’t they educate themselves and advocate for themselves?
In the end, women are kind of left to feel like all the outcomes rely on their choices while really having not that much control over the process.
I hope I don’t have to have surgery. I hope I don’t need the version. I hope (and pray!) that she gets into position on her own, I go into labor, and we pull this thing off without a hitch. I hope to have another beautiful birth experience. I hope it is empowering and peaceful.
But I also know that if I have surgery, I will feel guilty. Not because surgery is a sign of weakness. It’s not! But because I feel like so many people will think that I failed them by not making the right choices.
And so I am sitting here with my head spinning and dozens of Google tabs open trying to make sense of things.
But Google won’t tell me the answers because the answers aren’t medical and they aren’t quantifiable.
The answer is that this is my husband’s and my baby, and this is my body, and we can make the decisions that work best for us. And if that turns out to be a cesarean, then it is. And if that turns out to be an all natural water birth in our local pond while howling ancient chants at the moon, then so be it.
If my decisions lead me to surgery, then I don’t want to feel ashamed about it. I don’t want to feel judged. And i don’t want to spend the last week of my pregnancy with my brain muddled by a million different opinions.
I’m intelligent, right? I can make informed decisions, right? And I can feel at peace with those decisions even if they are different from those of other people, right?
We need to make childbirth more holistic. We need to stop it from the steady progression towards being overly pathologized. We need for the medical establishment to make choices based on best outcomes rather than based on the threat of lawsuits.
But we need to respect women regardless of their choices and outcomes. Because bringing a baby into the world is about a lot more than whether she or he enters it via a vagina or an incision. It’s about nurturing that baby in the womb and then outside. It’s about being a loving home. It’s about sacrifice and self giving. And from what I can tell, that can be launched equally well from a bed, a pool, or a surgical suite.
But please do pray for me because while I am trying to accept all outcomes, I would still really like one last magical experience.
Ha! And perhaps there’s my answer. Instead of praying for what happens, perhaps I should start praying for the appropriate eyes from which to see my outcomes. Because who cares what happens when half our reality is created in our minds anyway.
Good night my friends!