When a friend has a baby, I am of course eager to hear that everyone is healthy and what they chose to name the thing, but mostly I want to know how the birth went down. I am fascinated by this topic and could listen to and trade war stories all day long. Anyone with me?
As I’ve mentioned, I have a lot of pregnant ladies in my life right now so the topic of birth—when will labor start, what will it feel like, should you get drugs, how painful is pushing, what exactly comes out of you, etc.—is top of mind. And for many women these days, how you will give birth seems to dominate the nine months leading up to said birth. And those choices and that discussion can be very polarizing. Let me just say that I have friends who homebirth, friends who do it in water in birthing centers, friends who want the epidural as soon as humanly possible and friends who opt for (or agree to) scheduled C-sections for no real medical reason. I love all these friends equally, though I do not fall in any of their camps (particularly the last one) and while I do have my opinions, I generally try to keep them to myself unless asked because, again, passions run deep here. I am also careful not to confuse “vaginal” birth with “natural” birth, something many people do.
My deal: I have no issues giving birth in a hospital with doctors there—I like knowing that if something were wrong with the baby upon delivery (I tend to worry unnecessarily—a lot), we’d be in the right place. This is my choice and I’m happy with it. That said, I am very hands-off with medical intervention and have had no problem telling my docs/nurses that. I was dead-set against being induced if I went past my due date, something doctors often toss around, and I never was (I went into labor on my due date both times, though even if I hadn’t I would have resisted induction). And I wanted to labor at home as long as possible and go as long as possible without an epidural. And I did (with Alex, I got one at 7 centimeters—it quit working when it came time to push but that’s another story—and I didn’t get one at all with Nora and if I have a third, I will likely try that again. Ouch!). In both cases, the hospitals where I gave birth (first in NYC, then out here on LI) were very accommodating and on the same page as me (i.e. not pushing drugs as you often hear). When I showed up in labor both times thinking I was about to give birth and it turned out I was only one centimeter (d’oh!) they sent me home—and I really appreciated that.
Anyway, that’s my personal "plan" for birth and it has worked for me. Everyone is different but I do think it’s good to have some idea of how you’d like it to go down. And I love hearing how it ultimately did. The other night at book club one of our friends who’d just had her baby a few weeks earlier was basically on stage reliving every second because we were all so completely engrossed. It was as if she was telling us about her date with George Clooney, that’s how much we were hanging on her every word, asking for more detail. We are all moms with our own birth stories to compare it to so I’m sure that had something to do with it, but I think the whole process is just so amazing, how can you not be fascinated? The truth: I don’t think birth is beautiful in and of itself (sorry, but I’ve done it twice and I think it was the exact opposite), but it is totally miraculous and exciting and crazy and I get really emotional hearing about how people do it. Maybe I’m a freak, I don’t know!
And here's something cool: My little sister, Meghan, is due with her first baby in two weeks and she asked me to be there with her to help her through labor and delivery and to navigate the hospital situation. Exciting, right?! I am by no means an expert but I’ve had two vaginal births (which she really wants) and one without drugs (which she is trying for), I’m well-read on the subject (see my obsession with birth stories, above) and as a cancer patient/survivor, I am comfortable dealing with nurses and doctors and questioning their calls if need be. I am also equipped at staying calm when everyone around me isn’t (I get that from my mother and as a mom to two stitches-prone kids, it comes in handy!). My friend is a doula and told me to read The Birth Partner, which I’m doing and other than that I’m just hopeful that my sister has a really high threshold for pain! I’m nervous and excited and I really want it all to go smoothly for her so that she has a great birth story to share soon.
I will keep you posted! In the meantime, have you ever watched someone else give birth? Did you have a good birth experience? Did it go as you'd hoped? Do you love telling your story? What about hearing others’? Is it just me or is this a super fascinating topic?!
Come visit me over at erinzammettruddy.com. I'll be posting great new stuff this week!