The big test

27 Mar

I’m glad our childbirth class is coming up in a few weeks because I’m definitely starting to feel anxious about birth. I always thought it would be something I’d be so excited for but now all the unknowns are haunting me.

Part of this anxiety definitely has to do with the gastroschisis and not knowing whether I’ll have to be induced or not, and whether that induction will lead to a C-section, or if they’ll decide to skip trying for a vaginal birth altogether and go straight for the C-section. I think if I knew for sure, this is what it will be like, I could totally make my peace and find comfort with whatever the situation, but as it is, there’s no way of knowing.

Not that anyone ever really knows and even the best laid birth plans get tossed all the time. Right now, Dr. Kind is saying we have about as much chance of C-section as anyone entering into a hospital birth has.

In my dream world, the one I was living in when we first started trying, we’d give birth at home with a nurse midwife and possibly a doula. We had even met with and chosen a nurse midwife when we first started trying for real, because of course I’d be knocked up quite quickly and wanted to start receiving care in my home from the beginning. I was even thinking of not having any ultrasounds!

Thankfully, that’s not how things turned out. Because if we never had an ultrasound, we’d never know about Turtle’s gastroschisis, which could have been devastating for him. I did read on a forum somewhere about a home birth situation like this, where the mother never had an ultrasound and did not know her child had gastroschisis. They didn’t know what to do when he was born, so they wrapped his intestines in towels and called an ambulance. Those towels, and time it took getting to the hospital, ended up doing grave damage to his organs and lasting problems the child will be dealing with for a long time.

It’s crazy to think of my MIL, who had all of her pregnancies in Ethiopia in the 80s, never once had an ultrasound. Luckily, all her boys were strong and healthy (as Turtle will be!).

When we first got pregnant with Turtle and I was trying to figure out an OB situation, I did decide on a hospital birth, just because of all of the scares of early pregnancy we had had up to that point. But I chose a local hospital with whirlpools in every birth room and most births attended by a nurse midwife unless they needed an OB. It felt like the best of both worlds.

Obviously we had to give all that up and are now looking at a full-on hospital birth at a fairly big hospital farther from home. I’m reading for the second time Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, and while I really do feel like I could have a natural birth, I don’t know if it will be possible in a hospital, especially with all the stressors of this birth. Knowing he will look different than most babies, worrying about his health, knowing I won’t get to hold him and that he will be whisked off in an ambulance right away. She talks a lot about how the climate in the birth room and the fears of the mother directly impact dilation. In an ideal setting, I could probably do the natural thing, I really believe (however naively) that I could. But in this situation? I don’t know if it’s even possible.

And to be honest, pitocin scares the crap out of me. I’m scared of those induced contractions. I understand they can be way more intense and last longer than natural contractions. I don’t know if I’ll be able to take the intensity of them. But if I can’t, then I have to face an epidural, which also scares the crap out of me. I don’t want to be numb and I understand lots of women have lasting back problems from them. I don’t even want to labor from a lying down position in a hospital bed, hooked up to monitors and IVs. But I know all of these things could very much be in my future.

C-sections scare me too. My body being cut open, having to recover from major abdominal surgery. A section would keep me in the hospital for longer, away from seeing Turtle for longer. I don’t want this. And yet… there is a kind of flip side in knowing your baby will be swiftly removed from your body for you, without having to go through the whole, you know, pushing a baby out of your vagina. I look at my big belly, that’s only going to get bigger, and wonder how the HELL that’s going to happen.

And yet, I want to have a vaginal birth. I want the full experience. Will I feel like less of a woman or less of a mother if I don’t get that experience? Both options are scary, frankly. The only thing, ironically, that doesn’t scare me, is the idea of going in labor naturally, and laboring in a calm, free environment, but that probably won’t happen for us.

This has to be the ultimate culmination of the “letting go” lesson infertility has been trying to teach old Type-A, uptight, super-planner me. This is the big test in learning how to be okay with whatever will be. WHATEVER will be. Will be okay. I’ll be okay, and he’ll be okay and we’ll all be okay and we’ll be together. The journey will be what it will be. All we know right now is that it will be ours. Me, and DH’s and Turtle’s.

And that will be beautiful. That will be wonderful.


9 Responses to “The big test”

  1. Kate March 27, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

    That last paragraph is so true! What a test this is of your ability to let go and just accept what will be! Unknowns can be scary. Labor and delivery can be scary too, especially the first time. I’m glad you’ll be in a good hospital and in good hands, even if that was not your dream situation. But that ship sailed a while ago for many of us, right?
    Keep up the mantra in your last paragraph- it will be fine. Whichever way your son enters the world will be beautiful to you, and, when its all said and done, all that will matter is that he came and will be there with you.
    I understand the desire and need to prepare as much as you can, and I did my best to do that, too, in my last trimester. Making a list of things I could and could not control was actually helpful. Try to focus on the ones you can and work on trusting the universe or whatever higher power you choose to see things through exactly the way they should be.

  2. Jenny March 27, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    I think giving up control – especially when it comes to having children – is difficult for anyone, not just us Type As (though it’s particularly brutal for those of us who need a plan). You’ve already been tested by the hellish uncertainty of infertility and it sucks that you’re facing more uncertainty around Turtle’s birth. But I think you’ve done an amazing job so far of confronting the challenges ahead of you and I greatly admire the attitude you express in that last paragraph. I think you’ll pass this particular test with flying colours.

  3. sams March 27, 2013 at 7:03 pm #

    I’m with you on so many things in this post. I am afraid of having an epidural, a c-section, and induced labor for the same reasons you list. I guess I feel like I would be in more control of my body during labor and delivery if I didn’t have to have anything to numb it. Another one of my fears is that the epidural won’t be effective, nor will whatever they give me for a c-section (which, I believe, is also an epidural). My body is resistant to local anesthesia and I have felt things in past surgeries that I shouldn’t have. I’m also afraid that they will have to knock me out if I have a c-section and I wan’t to be awake for the birth of my babies. The unknown about how my L&D will go is difficult for me.

  4. Courtney March 27, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    No matter how you deliver Turtle, it will NOT make you any less of a mother! I did struggle with my section, after the fact, for a little while but it didn’t make me less of a mother. It made me feel less of a woman, but I got over that very, very quickly.

  5. Aplatanada March 27, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    Oh my gosh, I could have written this post! (Not as eloquently, and with a few circumstantial changes, of course!) Having a high-risk pregnancy takes so much out of the equation, but still leaves so many doubts and worries. So many hopes I had imagined for our birth went right out the window once I found out we were having twins. I’ve come to peace with it- I consider the letting go good training for parenthood in general- but still struggle with making the “right” decision.

    Even if I can do a vaginal birth, it will be in a surgical room, prepped for a c-section, and will be forced to have an epidural. [There is literally not a hospital in this city (home to the largest medical center in the world) that will do a natural twin birth.] People constantly ask me if am doing a c-section. Even at 31 weeks, the answer is still, “I don’t know!” I get looks like, “Shouldn’t you know?” but I just brush them off. No other choice, really!

    This is all to say, I agree with Courtney: how we get our babies into our arms matters not a bit once they finally complete their journey into our families!

  6. alloallo March 27, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

    I’m in sort of the same boat, with twins with excess fluid… In theory I could still deliver vaginally but I’m definitely going to be on the medical ward, possibly induced, likely epidural, heavily monitored… Doesn’t really sound like ‘natural birth’ to me so I’m leaning towards a c-section, in the interest of trying to keep it all a bit more calm and seemingly manageable – but doubting myself at every turn!

  7. Amy March 27, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

    I personally think it is flat-out awesome that you are still able to at least try for a natural birth. We were lucky to end up being low-risk enough to deliver in the hospital birth center, water birth and all. But before the final risk assessment was made, i didn’t think that it would be an option (four prior early losses and I was on heparin until 36 weeks), so I searched out what I could on natural hospital birth. This book ( made a lot of very practical suggestions for how to try and achieve (if possible – they also help you understand how to deal if it’s not possible, though I’m sure not in your exact circumstances) a natural birth in a hospital setting. Your DH may benefit from it, too, if he’ll be acting as your coach/doula. I really hope it works out for you and Turtle both! I’m sure you know this already, but laboring at home for as long as possible, until you’re well into active labor, will be your best bet at avoiding the slowdown that entering the hospital can cause, which seems to be what leads to augmentation with Pit. One of my friends had Pitocin augmentation but not an epidural and I CANNOT imagine how she coped with those contractions! I think you are on the right track – but I know what you mean, the not being able to know how it will all go down is terribly unnerving!

  8. Martha March 28, 2013 at 7:50 am #

    Hi there, just wanted to say– I’ve had 2 full term pregnancies/labours, one induced with pitocin, epidural, catheter, forceps, etc etc the whole shebang!! And the next was at home, no pain meds, minimal tearing etc etc. Bizarrely, there was NO DIFFERENCE at that crucial moment, the moment your baby is born into the world, and you’ve DONE IT!!!! It doesn’t matter how they come out, in my opinion it is just another way that the smug mommies tear each other down to be competitive about it. Of course it was lovely that the second labour was much less painful so that I didn’t need drugs. But dude. If you need an epidural, you need one… and in my experience those pitocin contractions were hard. I endured them for 6 hours before my epidural, and it wasn’t necessary. If i was there again, i would have had the epidural much MUCH earlier.
    My recovery from the home birth was much longer than the first one, not sure why. And my colleague who had a c-section was up and walking around and taking a shower after 1 or 2 days… so these outcomes can vary a lot.
    The most amazing and important thing is that you grew this little boy, who is going to be so fantastic.

  9. Ms. Future PharmD March 31, 2013 at 1:31 am #

    I’ll say, having just recently had a baby vaginally with pitocin, you aren’t limited to epidurals for pain relief. I did hypnobabies (so great for nerves like mine) and got an IV pain med and that was enough. No epidural needed because I was more scared of it than anything. However your little guy arrives, he is miraculous. Enjoy basking in the miracle and let the details sort themselves out.

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