DISCLAIMER: this post is in NO WAY insinuating that I am pregnant!
A good friend of mine came over yesterday. She's just three weeks away from the due date of her first baby. We talked about timing contractions and packing for the hospital, getting the car seat in the car, and other means of "preparing" for what is quite possibly the most life-changing event many of us will ever go through. Seeing her in all her glowing, blossoming, soon-to-be-mother beauty made me think back fondly to the end of my pregnancy with Johnny. Feeling the weight of the impending labor and delivery that would bring new life into the world and make me a mother. I knew I'd be meeting him soon. I was excited/nervous about giving birth. I had ideas of how I wanted my birth to go, things we wanted to do and things we wanted to avoid.
|22 weeks pregnant|
|36 weeks pregnant|
For those who have read Johnny's birth story, you may remember that I had an incredibly long and hard labor (ahem, 50+ hours), and stalled out pushing that left me this close to needing a cesarean delivery. I believe that when it comes to childbirth, you've got to do what you've got to do. I'm so thankful for the medical advancements that gave me the relief I needed after 48 of labor. But after 9 months of preparing for and envisioning a natural, un-medicated water birth, having to use pitocin, an epidural, and vacuum removal to get my baby out felt like a major defeat. Don't get me wrong, I'm so thankful we got him out safely! But along with that gratitude came disappointment that I didn't have the labor and delivery I had wanted, and frustration that my body didn't do what it was supposed to do.
Talking with my expecting friend last night got me thinking about things I wish I had done differently during labor: If you're expecting soon, feel free to learn from what I did- and didn't- do.
I wish I had slept more when labor first started. That was something our Bradley Method of Childbirth classes drilled into us. BE WELL RESTED! But when my contractions started I was so excited/nervous that I couldn't sleep at all! Then when labor became really hard, I was really exhausted.
I wish I had labored at home longer. I was so anxious to get the show on the road, so anxious to meet my baby, that as soon as my contractions were 5 minutes apart we were in the car and on our way to the hospital. I can't help wonder what would have happened if I had stayed home longer. Would I have been more relaxed? Would labor have progressed more naturally?
I didn't make myself at home in the hospital. I didn't unpack. I was self-conscious about trying different laboring tricks. I didn't leave my room to walk up and down the halls (another Bradley suggestion), I didn't take advantage of the bathtub in my room. I had prepared a laboring playlist in my iTunes library, but I never played it. I didn't want to inconvenience the nurses coming in and out of our room. I never really relaxed!
I wish I had used a doula. As we prepared for the arrival of our baby I felt very strongly that I only wanted family members helping me labor. I had great confidence in Alex as a support to me, and my mom as a back up for him. I didn't want someone I didn't know and wasn't comfortable with in such an intimate setting. My mom and Alex were great! But it was a really long, really hard labor. Hind sight being 20/20 I wonder if a doula would have pushed me more to walk down the hallway, to climb some stairs, to sit on the toilet longer (all strange laboring tricks). Or maybe a doula would have given me the confidence and freedom I needed to say, "this isn't working, we need to change the plan. I need help, I need relief" a little sooner and spare myself a few (dozen) hours of sleeplessness and laboring.
I'm not trying to beat myself up here. It's hard enough being a woman/wife/mother without any of that. I'm just honestly wondering, was there was a reason my labor was so long and stalled out? Or was it just one of those uncontrollable things? I'm just trying to see what I could do differently next time.
I'm glad Alex and I made a birth plan, I'm glad we were ok with changing our birth plan. I'm glad I didn't need a cesarean. I'm glad Johnny is ok.