Saturday, September 21, 2013

Some reflections on Sadie's birth

For quite some time after Sadie was born I was saddened by the fact that I didn't have the birth that I had wanted and planned for. Who am I kidding... I still am. I get a pang in my stomach when I think about everything I missed. I wanted a natural birth. I wanted to experience the feeling of pushing her out of me. I wanted to be able to bring her to my chest and start nursing right away. I wanted constant cuddle time in the hours and days following Sadie's birth. None of these things worked out as planned.

We found out that I was pregnant right before Kevin left for a three month tour across Europe, the UK & Russia. Our only source of income at the time was unemployment checks from my previous employer, so I quickly applied for and received medicaid coverage for the birth.

Three months alone. And pregnant. I had a lot of time on my hands. I started doing a ton of research. I spent hours and hours scouring websites, blogs, and message boards about childbirth. I watched The Business of Being Born. I read Ina May Gaskin. I knew from the start that I wanted to have a natural birth, but now I was starting to think that I wanted to have a home birth. A couple of my friends had done that and they had nothing but positive things to say about it. I began my prenatal visits with an ob/gyn but also scheduled an appointment to meet with a midwife and doula after Kevin's return.

Our meeting with the midwife and doula was at a local organization that specializes in home birth. They both were extremely nice and informative. I got a huge packet of information, which included a recipe for a pregnancy tea that I drank religiously from that time forward. But the issue for us came down to one thing, plain and simple: money. We had none. Medicaid would cover the birth 100% if it was in a hospital but 0% at home. The organization of midwives does make an effort to do all they could do to help low income families. There was a list of things they would accept as barter and a fund you could apply to for a portion off the cost. But they did need a deposit from us and it was something that we just didn't have.

In our initial discussion after leaving the meeting Kevin and I decided that home birth was out of the question for us financially. But could we justify the expense for a doula? Kevin told me it was my decision to make and he would be supportive either way, that we would find a way to scrape together money if that's what I wanted. I toiled over it for weeks, going back and forth and back again. I read blogs and message boards that all seemed to say the same thing: get a doula! But I didn't want to spend money that we didn't really have for something that, at the time, seemed like such a luxury. I also thought about the fact that every single other thing I've done in my life I've been able to through my own strong will and perseverance. Why would birth be any different? I would do it the way I wanted to, on my terms, no problem. So I finally decided to save the money and do it chemical-free, at a hospital, but without a doula.  

I read a bunch of books on natural childbirth. A friend who had given birth at home gave me all of the information and coursework from the home birth class she had taken. As mentioned before, I drank pregnancy tea daily, hoping the red raspberry leaf would prepare my uterus. I typed out a very detailed birth plan and made sure that everyone who was going to be involved with the birth knew my wishes. I felt confident and well prepared, not a bit nervous or scared. I could do this!

And then the birth came and.... literally nothing happened as planned. For the first time in my life I had set out to do something and had failed miserably. Determination, preparation, and will power had failed me.

Some emotions I have felt when looking back on the whole thing: Guilt when I see studies about the long term health effects of natural birth on the baby. Sadness when I see clips from movies or tv shows of a just born baby being lifted up to the mothers arms. Embarrassment for being a big promoter of doing things natural and not being able to. Loss when I think about how I will never experience this part of motherhood.

Luckily, despite the rocky start, Sadie and I had a bond that could not be weakened by circumstance. Just hours after my c-section I was on my way down to the NICU to breastfeed her. I fought nurses who tried to give her formula and complained to their superior. For a week I camped out, never leaving her side. I was a fierce mama protecting my bear cub and no one has ever doubted my commitment or determination to do only what was best for my little one. So yeah, the birth was rough, but I am still one kick ass mom.

Other emotions I have regarding the birth:  Pure Happiness that despite the initial hardship my baby girl is healthy and happy.  Gratitude that I had my husband by my side and my parents were just around the corner.  Confidence that even though I am not a perfect person I am always making the best choices that I can at any given moment for my daughter.

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