The initial step I took toward a med-free birth was to examine why I was pursuing one in the first place. How would skipping an epidural and other interventions make any difference? I've read over and over again how hospital staff don't hand out metals to women who go without drugs. And how -- after the baby is born -- nobody, myself included, would care how he/she entered the world anyway.
Still, I somehow felt that birth would be important. More than just the means to an end. A rite of passage, of course. And true: My experience might not matter at all to others. It might not earn me any tangible badges of honor. But it would certainly matter to our new family of three.
Or at the absolute very least, to me.
Before I picked a caregiver or paged my way through a number of books, I took a moment to examine my intentions. After all, without a clear idea of what I thought I might want to happen on D-day . . . of my hopes and fears related to the entire process . . . how could I articulate my desires to others?
I quickly outlined a few loose goals. Only in my head. But it helped me somehow. Almost like pre-writing for a difficult essay assignment in college.
- GOAL 1: I want to labor and deliver in a hospital where all options -- medical or not -- are available to me. So many of my friends and family members have had
difficultemergency births or situations where their babies required immediate care. I'm a worst-case scenario person -- shutting out the possibility that something bad might happen was unrealistic. I'll touch on this more in a moment.
- GOAL 2: I want to labor at home for as long as possible, using natural methods to manage my pain. Thankfully we live less than two miles from the hospital where I gave birth. I realize this isn't always a possibility given longer commutes. This goal sounds great written down, but I didn't really know what it might mean because I had such little idea of how consuming my experience might be. Still, it was on my mind.
- GOAL 3: Once at the hospital, I want to play an active role -- both mentally and physically -- in my labor. I knew this goal might be difficult given the stories I had read about immediately being hooked up to IV drips when admitted or constantly monitored, tethered to a hospital bed . . . and the slippery slope sliding down from there. Still, I thought if I could find the right caregiver, he/she could be my advocate. (I'll get to this in another installment of this series.)
- GOAL 4: I want to have freedom and support to change my plan as needed. Above all, and as most every woman will tell you, my goal was a healthy baby. For myself? Empowerment. If interventions were ultimately necessary, I wanted to be a part of the decision. For zero minutes did I think I had total control over what might happen. But I had to be OK with it.
No. As I already mentioned, I'm into worst-case scenarios. I wasn't pessimistic about what might happen, but I was what I'd describe as on the most realistic side of realistic.
Along with all this internal chatter, I had to take a good look at my pregtastic self. (Above is at 11 Weeks -- I can't believe I thought that was much of a bump!) And I think throughout my pregnancy, one of the best ways I prepared for birth was by looking within. Dwelling there at times. Really knowing and accepting the person I truly am and not who I wish I could be or who I desperately want people to see me as.
So, I asked myself a multitude of questions. Like . . .
- How do I react in response to stressful situations?
- How have I dealt in the past with pain?
- Am I scared for birth or excited?
- No. Really. Am I scared?
- What are my motivations for going naturally? Are they truly internal?
- Will I feel disappointment if things don't go perfectly?
The truth is difficult to reconcile. I wish I could just be a person who rolls with things. Who can accept situations for what they are. Who does not spend hours Googling things like "umbilical cord strangulation" late at night in her 37th week of pregnancy. But it's who I am. And I knew that the truest me would be the person giving birth on that fateful day.
At those most trying moments, that's who we become. I wanted to believe what I'd started to read, that I'd turn into some warrior woman capable of things I could only then imagine. I knew that I would find strength in some respects (and I did) -- but the little 7-year-old girl who used to wait up at bedtime worrying about all sorts of things over which she had little control would be there with me. I needed to prepare for her appearance and prepare her for what I wanted to be a beautiful, meaningful experience.
What did you do at the onset of your birth planning? Did you write out any detailed plan? Did you have internal conversations like I did? I'd love to know. And if you're new to the site and want to see where I'm going with all of this, check out the first post outlining the series.
NEXT INSTALLMENT: Picking the Right Caregiver (And Hospital)
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