Temerity Jane (Kelly) recently wrote about her plans for birth and post-birth treatment of her baby, and how she feels about the plans. Her “this would be nice, if it could happen this way,” (instead of a birth plan) is pretty laid back, but she is pretty set about how she wants her baby treated post-birth. As I read her entry emotions (and tears) were welling up inside of me.
When I was pregnant with James I had many of the same wants as Kelly. I had a more formal birth plan, but I went into it KNOWING that there are things that happen during labor that you can’t control, and trying to be open to going with the flow. But when it came to how I wanted James to be cared for after he was born, both Ryan and I were set. We didn’t want him to get the eye goop, we didn’t want the Hep B vaccine right away, we didn’t want him to have formula or a pacifier. I wanted to breast feed him right away, and spend time holding him before they took him to clean him off. We wanted him to stay with us in our room most of the time.
Even writing that out is making the tears well up. To say things didn’t go according to plan would be a big understatement. And it’s not that I had a bad hospital experience, even. I really liked my nurses; I had great access to lactation consultants, and because I had a c-section we were in the hospital longer than normal and so I could see them for a longer time-period.
But that c-section. That was the biggest thing that didn’t go my way. Even though at the time I was actually relieved when they suggested it, and even though I still think that’s what it had to come down to, I am disappointed. Disappointed in myself, because my body couldn’t do what it was supposed to; disappointed in myself for not doing enough to get the baby moving; disappointed in my doctor (who I like otherwise) for not allowing me to try pushing while using the squat bar when it was becoming apparent things weren’t working and Ryan asked about it (Because, she said, she would basically have to sit on the floor. Well, excuse me. I’m sorry that you might have to sit on the floor so that I don’t have to get my stomach cut open, have drugs pumped into me that I had so far gone without (by choice), and miss the first couple hours of my son’s life). As you can see, I’m still a little lot bitter. I was a good patient; I walked the halls, let them put an IV in my hand just in case, and tried everything the nurses suggested for laboring. The only thing I really balked at was when they wanted to hook up a pitocin drip (at the very end, as a last resort). I was so close, and I knew the reputation it had of making labor unbearably hard. I didn’t want it. But my mom helped convince me that it was my last shot at having the baby without surgery, and I still think she was right. It’s too bad it didn’t work out that way, but it was worth a shot. Oh, and they are right. That not only ramped up the frequency of my contractions (there wasn’t a break any more), it made them REALLY painful. Not that they didn’t hurt before, but this was crazy.
After James was born, they let Ryan cut the cord (as much as you can when he was born via surgery), and I got to see him before they took him upstairs and I was glued back up and put in the recovery room. But I had to stay in recovery until the anesthesia wore off, and it took longer than expected. When I finally got to see and hold James he was already an hour or two old, and I couldn’t sit up at all. I had planned on him staying in our room with us pretty much all the time, but since I couldn’t even get out of bed that first night and morning, they took him to the nursery and brought him back when he was hungry. When the nurses started to say he was losing too much weight I was worried. They suggested supplementing with formula after nursing and pumping (they had me pumping after nursing before I even left the hospital, and for a week or two after). Just a tiny bit, and from a little rubber cup instead of a bottle, but I still felt like a failure. One day when Ryan and I brought him to the nursery at bed time (they had convinced us it was better for us to get sleep when we could…we were so easily persuaded) the nurse asked if they could give him a pacifier. I said no right away, and she started to tell me that it was really for our benefit; that he was very oral and it would help so that I could get some sleep instead of having to nurse him all the time (the night before he had nursed for 2 hours straight at one point). I was already so worried about everything else that we had done or had to do that was going to make breastfeeding harder, and everything you read says that you shouldn’t give your baby a pacifier in the hospital if you want to breastfeed. I was also still exhausted from the surgery and the long labor. I started freaking out. Ryan calmed me, and told me that it wouldn’t be a big deal. We let them give him a pacifier. It ended up being ok, but I sometimes wonder if breastfeeding would have been easier for me at the beginning if I hadn’t done any one of these things. Many of them I didn’t have a choice about (the c-section, in particular – he was definitely stuck), but some I did. And some I still don’t know if I had a choice or not (the supplemental feeding).
In the end we had a healthy baby, even if he did lose “too much” weight at first. From what I read that is pretty normal for big babies; it takes more calories to sustain that higher weight, and so they tend to lose a little more of it, percentage-wise. But to listen to the nurses talk he was wasting away. I cried more about that than anything those first couple weeks, even though his diapers were always great and he was never jaundiced. He is still breastfeeding, and I eventually healed from the surgery. Everything “worked out.” Except my emotions about how it happened. And now, every time I hear about someone giving birth, whether it is the birth of their dreams or a nightmare, it brings all those feelings to the surface. And I wonder how things will go next time. The OB that did my surgery (not my regular doctor) says that I can “try” for a vaginal birth next time, but that I’ll probably have to have another c-section. My doctor said that I could try for a vaginal delivery, but that she couldn’t be there for it (she’s a family practitioner, and doesn’t have the insurance the hospital requires for that kind of a delivery), and she sounded pretty dubious as to whether or not it would work. I’m inclined to disagree with them. I know they are the medical professionals and I’m not, but I just don’t feel like that is the case. James was facing an awkward direction and wasn’t as far down in the birth canal as they would have liked to begin with. If those things don’t happen with my next one, I’m confident I can do this the “natural” way. It would also help if it didn’t take 3 days of labor to get to the pushing part.
I really truly hope that TJ’s birth and post-birth go as she wants. I think they SHOULD go as the mother (and father) want, within reason, obviously. I hope she has the courage to stand up to people who try to tell her things that she knows are just scare tactics. And above all of that, I hope she doesn’t have to worry about it. That things just go smoothly and that no one even tries to put those pressures on her. I think she’s right, in that many people worry about being taken seriously. We all feel like the doctors are the authority, and if they say something different from what we wanted it seems like they are basically saying we are wrong. But doctors are not infallible, no matter what they would like you to believe.