Labor pains

Since I'm now 37 weeks pregnant (36? 38? Egads, I don't know!) and getting larger by the second, its getting a little hard to ignore the fact that despite my best ostrich impressions, I'm going to go through that whole labor and delivery thing pretty soon.

When I was preparing for Zoe's birth, CG and I took a Lamaze class that met for 6 weeks and included homework. I read every book I could get my hands on and google-searched my fingers off reading all the birth stories/advice/"information" out there. I agonized over the possible side effects of epidurals, practiced breathing in so many different rhythms I should have taken up the trumpet, and spent over a month crafting our "birth plan".

This time around, I've managed to read two or three chapters of a hypnobirthing book and either fell asleep 2 pages into it or threw it down in disgust and picked up US Weekly.

Birth plan this time around? GET BABY OUT SAFELY.

I'm not sure what birth will entail this time around and, of course, this makes control-freak-me just a little crazy. And, unlike last time around, I now know ALLLLL the things that can go wrong happen and this freaks me out. "Birth plan"? Don't we all know it's more like "birth wish"? "Birth fantasy"? Because seriously, how can you possibly plan for something when you have no idea how or when it will start, proceed or end? You really have to be prepared for any circumstance.

I am of at least two minds about birth. There is a large, strong, idealistic part of me (the part that used to live in San Francisco and wear Birkenstocks) that wants to squat in a field or a tub or my backyard and birth my baby with nothing but my self-control, my husband and perhaps the support of a soft spoken midwife. I've read all those articles and books and agree that birth is a natural process that has been co-opted by the medical establishment. Before Zoe's birth, I even fantasized about going to The Farm.

I remember reading Ina May Gaskin's book last time and feeling excited. My body could do this! I didn't need a doctor! Medical science has indeed stolen birthing away from women and their natural powers! Even though we decided to go with a hospital birth (have I mentioned that our house is small? And I'm a bit of a germaphobe?), I was convinced that my body could do this on it's own and just needed some guidance.

On the other hand, there is also a loud voice in my head reminding me that the day after Zoe was born, I made CG promise on his life that I would get an epidural as soon as I got in the hospital this time around.

Turns out Pitocin is one OVERLY STRONG form of guidance.

Reading the hypnobirthing book this time has only left me pissed. My frustration began with the repeated assertion that birth doesn't need to be painful AT ALL. According to the author, it's really only our fear that makes it so. As an example, the author tells us if we were to lie down, totally relax and then get suddenly pricked by a needle, IT WOULDN'T HURT AT ALL because we're relaxed and not fearful. Only if we tense and expect pain, will it be painful.

Um. I don't know about you but if I'm lying down, totally relaxed and someone pokes me with a needle, IT'S GOING TO HURT (and piss me off!).

I DO believe in the power of a fear-tension-pain cycle. I don't, however, believe that this very real cycle that we all should work on controlling in labor (and other times) is the only reason labor is painful. I CALL BULLSH!T.

So I listen to my hypnobirthing cd every once in a while when I can't get back to sleep after a middle of the night bathroom stop and I wrote a sketch of a birth plan. But I refuse to rule out an epidural if the circumstances call for it and I'm choosing to spend my labor preparation time working on my ipod labor playlist.

First song: "Push It" by Salt-n-Pepa.


Hillary said...

You're right. Labor hurts. I had a an easy labor without medication, and it hurt. It was workable pain, but pain nonetheless.

grammalouie said...

When I was pregnant with you, Dad and I went to childbirth education classes, just as we had with your brother, and I practiced Lamaze breathing techniques and effleurrage and hoped against hope that all would be well. My first labor was about six hours, helped along considerably by a pitocin drip. With you, everything was faster, also speeded by pitocin, and you were out in about four with much less pushing. That, folks, was in 1972, and I remember it as if it were yesterday (mothers tend to say that, I know, but honestly is is true).
So here's my prediction, for what it's worth: this wee babe will be born after a shorter and easier labor than with Zoe, will be birthed vaginally, will come out pink and crying a beautiful cry and will be a healthy ten Apgar score.
Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers ALL THE TIME that you will feel powerful and victorious and joyful about all this coming true in a few short weeks. I am not quite ready to predict the birth date, but I am working on that.

Kathi McCracken Dente said...

If it makes you feel any better, I am even in a larger state of denial with 5.5 weeks to go. I haven't picked up a book or made a plan (though I have some ideas in my head). All I have done is hired my doula again. And I'm with you... you can't relax away the pain. Do what you need to do (even if it is not much). I think the playlist is a great idea.

Michelle said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who feels that way about a birthing plan. I didn't really have one with Peanut because I didn't think it would work out. I had a vague idea of how I wanted it to go and, of course, it didn't go like that at all. The only thing that did line up was that we ended up with a healthy baby.
Here is hoping you have the same result.

desperate housewife said...

I think that whole "labor doesn't have to be painful" bit is a crock. Maybe there are a select few women who are able to relax themselves so deeply that a six to eight pound body, including a HEAD, passing through their own body is nothing but a joyful experience. There's maybe six of them. In the world.
I do agree that birth is a natural process that more often than not doctors just eff up in an attempt to play with their gadgets, speed things along, and generally maintain the illusion that they're the ones in charge. But let's not forget too that women used to die during birth with a lot more frequency than they do now, so... It's a trade off. You definitely have to stay on top of things and be informed to make sure you get the best of both worlds. And it sounds like you are informed and on top of things, so I am sure al will go smoothly!

Astarte said...

OMG, when I was pregnant with Josie, we took Bradley classes, and their whole sctick is that if it hurts, you're doing it wrong. So, not only can you be in agony, you can also FAIL labor! Good grief!!!! Um, it hurts. A lot. B/c of my scoliosis, epidurals never worked well on me, so I felt the whole thing, both times, one for 24 hours and the other with a plunger. Nope, it's painful.

I can't believe you're so far along already! It's so soon!!!!

Sarah said...

I bought the hypnobabies cd when I was pregnant with my first (and only, so far) - and I listened religiously (but fell asleep every single time!). When it came time for labor, we got to the hospital, I put my headphones on, and about 5 seconds into it, ripped them out 'forget this bullsh*t!'. Ha! We did have a doula and I did forgo the drugs, but yeah, it hurt! Good luck - can't wait to hear all about it - I am sure it will go great - 2nd births are easier and all that.

ripley1309 said...

I gave birth, like your mom, in the rockin' 70s, when people gave birth in water baths, to soothe babies and mamas... I know a woman who did it a few mos. ago and loved it. People also named their babies things like "Sunday Peaches" and "Moon Unit".
Your cousins were both born in hospitals, and with Miranda, I had an 18 hr. labor, with pitocin that gave me severely painful back labor. Alex was 6 hours (see? the 2nd one IS easier!) and came out pink and yelling.
My experience was that the event was so huge, exhilarating and awesome the pain was forgettable. But, I am an idealist! So much love to you all and I think you are doing wise parenting with Zoe. The boundaries you're setting will be so important when baby sister arrives...... love, love and love, Aunt Bobbie

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