On the day that she was born, post script

After I hit "publish post" yesterday, I realized that there were a few important details I neglected to include.

The first one is, I forgot to explain what happened with Lena when I was instructed to stop pushing. My little bear had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck twice. I am so glad I didn't know that at the time. It was scary enough while it was happening and I was in the dark, so to speak, and then hearing it later was also quite frightening. If the two had combined, who knows what I would have done!

If I had continued to push, the cord would have constricted, pulled and strangled my girl. I am just incredibly grateful that Katie was there and knew how to handle the situation. Thankfully, there were no complications or issues as a result. I feel like that experience was enough to strip any fantasies I may have had about ever choosing a home birth. Lena showed no signs of distress throughout labor and we had no way of knowing she was doing such fancy tricks with her life line inside me.  Just as easily as her having no problems and being completely healthy, it absolutely could have gone the other way. Again, we count our blessings.

The second thing is, I didn't mention anything about my recovery. I said at one point that I thought I was tearing in front. The funny thing is that when Katie was examining me after the birth, I asked her how bad I tore. She looked and looked and couldn't find a single one. Not ONE. Not only that, but almost immediately after Lena was born, I was sitting up in bed with my legs crossed. I felt tired and weak, but overall really good. Later that evening, I was able to get up and move around on my own and I even took a shower without assistance. I took the Motrin Katie prescribed to help with the cramping I felt while nursing, but I never took anything stronger, and I hardly needed any at all once I left the hospital. The next day I felt so much better. Not quite as good as new--my stomach ached and my arms and upper back were really sore from all the flexing I did while pushing--but I'd say about on par as I've felt a few days after having the flu.

This was all a night and day difference from how I felt after Addie was born. I had some tearing that required stitches, I was so swollen that I couldn't get my legs closer than about a foot apart, in order to sit up I had to use a lovely inflatable donut for about a week and I needed help to get up and out of bed the entire time I was hospitalized. I needed to do sitz baths three times a day and I was on the hefty Motrin for at least a week.

Lastly, I wanted to say a few words about why I wrote this story the way I did. I wanted to share Lena's birth story, explaining in detail what it was like to go through that experience without any interventions. (I never even had an IV.) Not because I wanted to pump myself up and boast that I was able to do it. In fact, it's for the very opposite reason. So many women have said to me, "Oh, you're so much stronger than I am." or, "Wow, I don't know if I could do that." My response is, I'm not stronger than you and yes, you could do it.

I am not a huge advocate of natural childbirth. When I really think about it, I feel like I chose that route the same way that people who grow up in families that expect them to get a college degree choose to attend University. My mom had no interventions with two of us and minimal assistance with one birth. She always talked about giving birth as something that was natural and didn't say it was easy, but never indicated that it was something only certain women could do. I always grew up thinking that I would try and have my babies the same way.

With Addie, I was induced and very much needed the relief that an epidural gave me. It took the pain away, but it made me feel so sick. The entire time I was pushing, I had a basin on my tummy because I was afraid I was going to vomit. I have never handled anesthesia very well and that case was no different.

When I look at the two experiences side by side and think about what I would choose if I am blessed to have another child, I would absolutely pick the second scenario. If I was a woman who dealt with anesthesia very well and could just erase the pain and feel pretty normal otherwise throughout labor, I would probably choose to have an epidural. Unfortunately, I'm not that lucky. But given the hand I'm dealt, I would rather go through a few hours of very intense pain, then have a complete turn around once it's all over; instead of feel minimal pain, but quite ill and struggle with the aftermath.

Either way you look at it, drugs or no drugs, labor and childbirth suck. The miracle at the end is well worth it, but getting there is no fun. I have no judgement for anyone who chooses pain relief through medical interventions at all. But having said that, I do think that 99% of women I know could absolutely without a doubt handle a natural childbirth if that was what they wanted. I don't think it takes a special kind of woman to do it, I think it just takes making that choice. So if you're on the fence and the only thing holding you back is the fear that you aren't strong enough, trust me--you are. By virtue of being a woman and making it through an entire pregnancy, you are.    

I hope I haven't opened up a can of worms with my words. I just wanted to make sure I clarified my intentions in case there were any questions. The bottom line is that the decisions we make when it comes to how we bring our babies into the world are extremely personal. No one can or should make them for us and we should not be judged for the paths we choose. Whatever best takes us to the end goal: bringing new life into the world, is really all that matters.

Once again, I thank you for taking this journey with me. It was quite a ride, both when it happened and while I relived it all, sharing it here. I think I'm going to take tomorrow off and rest my fingertips a bit. Enjoy the first days of October and I'll see you back here on Monday.


Ginny said...

You did a beautiful job recording Lena's birth.
My first natural birth was with my second as well. Keats was born at home and also had his cord wound very tightly around his neck. My midwife also knew just how to handle things and all was well.
You are so right that labor and childbirth are pretty terrible-so painful (but worth it!!) I am already starting to stress about my next one and I have done this naturally three times now! It never stops being hard.

Us said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story! I love birth they are all so unique (but the same)! I'm so proud of how you handled the good and the bad...and I really found the whole pooing concern quite comical!

I'm certainly going to do the epidural again with Norah since it was such a great experience for me the first time. I'll experience natural childbirth vicariously through you and my other friends!

Lena's beautiful! I'm so very happy for you! Love you friend!!!

sara said...

Thank you so much for contributing your words. I have felt really vulnerable and raw in sharing this story--it's immeasurably comforting to hear from such strong women!