November 8, 2005
What goes in must come out. Seven months ago, I propped up my hips praying for microscopic seeds to find a way through my cervix. Very soon I'll be pushing one of those seeds back out. Only this time it will be somewhere around six pounds and nineteen inches long.
Delivering a baby used to be one of my greatest fears. On my second date with Tom, he was a medical student doing an OB/GYN rotation. I remember saying to him, "So, the epidural really does numb the woman up, right? And if you're all numbed up, then it shouldn't be a big deal to push out a baby. That'll take away all the pain, right? Right?"
As for those women opting for a non-medicated birth-- well, they were just trying to be the hero at a price I wasn't willing to pay. After all, you don't go to the dentist without getting anesthesia.
Yet ever since baby fever struck, my delivery fears have been replaced with an inexplicable excitement to see what my body can do. I've fed this thrill with endless reading on childbirth practices from tribal methods to the modern American way. And a funny thing has happened...
I want an unmedicated birth.
"She's turned into one of those," you may be thinking. First it was cloth diapers, now this? Just so you know, I don't even own a pair of Birkenstocks.
It's just that reading statistics, reading about the history of obstetrics in the US, comparing our practices with the rest of the world's, I've decided that being mobile is important to me. I'd like to squat, stand, kneel, and change positions. I'd like to maximize the stretching of my perineum to minimize tearing. I'd like to work with gravity rather than against it.
Of course, I've got some friends who had great epidural experiences. At the end of the day, you could have an epidural birth with no tearing and a natural childbirth with a fourth degree tear. It's just that statistically, it's more likely to be the other way around. I've realized that women opting for unmedicated births aren't trying to prove anything to anyone. They're just trying to be kind to their bodies.
It's true: you probably wouldn't have a dentist fill your cavity without getting some kind of anesthesia. But that doesn't increase the odds of the dentist going up your hoo-hoo with salad tongs.
So there's the childbirth I fantasize about, and there's the childbirth I will have. No guarantee the two will match up!
In fact, there are a few scenarios in which I might consider an epidural. If I need to be induced, the intensity of contractions you get with pitocin may be too much for me. If I became high risk for some reason and had to have the constant electronic fetal monitoring instead of the intermittant dopplar my doctor permits for low-risk deliveries, I don't know how I'd do laboring in the most painful position possible: on my back.
At the same time, I'm not going into childbirth with "an open mind." I'm educating my mind, or at least trying.
I equate a non-medicated birth with something a friend of mine said about breastfeeding, "It's like a marriage. You have to make up your mind to commit to it, because there will always be some reason to give it up."
Belly Pic, Week 28: