Monday, April 4, 2011

Our Birth Plan (Or lack thereof...)

Most of you have been following our journey to bringing Ethan into the world, so most of you are aware of  all of our health struggles.  These struggles were so early that although the doctors were hopeful, Jason and I felt that we would likely face a c-section without a choice or option for a natural delivery.

I have been quite disappointed with this reality because I really want a natural delivery with a shorter recovery time.  I want to be the first one to hold sweet Ethan.  Selfishly, I want to hold him before ANYONE else, including my husband.  I tell him that my prize from all of the struggles Ethan and I faced together should be that I get to hold that precious boy and give him his very first kiss.  With a c-section, my dreams of this would quickly be taken away.  Even more selfishly, I want SOMETHING to go right in this pregnancy, even if its just delivery.

Our most recent trip to the cardiologist kept my dreams alive of a natural delivery, and they will be even more concrete in May when we visit him one last time before delivery.  As long as he feels that the fluid levels are still maintaining and won't need any type of intervention during delivery, we will be free to bring Ethan in the world how we want to.  Although Ethan's entrance into the world is strictly by the plans God has for him, please pray that we continue to be low risk with the ability to deliver the way we feel is best for our son.

With that said, Jason and I have talked a lot about what we want delivery to be like.  Jason has been wonderful enough to understand that he is my supporter and will support any wishes I have regarding my body during delivery.  However, (bless his sweet heart) he has been doing his own reading on options for delivery and also has his own ideas.

Although we live in a large city in Kentucky, our area has minimal options for birth.  We have two hospitals in town, but only one delivers.  We do not have birthing centers, and we do not have centers with midwives.  Unless you hire a doula or midwife from Nashville (we cannot find any in our area) to deliver at home, you will be seen by an OB for 40 weeks and will deliver at our hospital.  Basically, we live in an area that gives you only one choice.  Birth is pretty cookie cutter around here, which is why questioning an OB or expressing unique wishes get many raised eyebrows.

With the health issues we have had, I would not consider giving birth anywhere BUT our hospital for this pregnancy.  However, I have my own ideas about pain management.  Gasp! I do not want an epidural.

As a senior in high school, I participated in a leadership program that allowed us to visit the hospital, and my group was sent to Labor and Delivery.  That day, they showed us the needle for the epidural and explained the procedure to us.  Uh, you're going to put that where?!  No thanks.

To respect my sisters privacy, I will spare you many of the details, but her experience (along with others I have spoken to) with an epidural while delivering Riley has made me even more afraid.  Let's just say re-administration is not on my bucket list, among other things that went wrong.  Although quite a bit of her labor complications were not related to the epidural, it certainly did not help things.

I know a lot of you have done your own research on this type of pain management, so I will save you the statistics.  However, reading the risks of the epidural are also enough for me to run clear the other way.  Although everything comes with a risk, I tend to be an individual to avoid all risk if I can.  Why put my son and myself at certain risks just for my own comfort?

Bottom line, I'm afraid of that darn thing.  Ethan and I have gone through so much over these past 7 and a half months, and he has been exposed to more medications and interventions than I would have ever wanted.  I don't want to expose him to anything else that he doesn't have to be.

I'm also horribly naive and ignorant that I reason with logic that if I can deal with pain post-heart surgery, I can handle delivery. Although the pain I endured post-surgery was certainly intolerable at times, I still got through it.  I still reason that I can endure delivery telling my self "heart surgery was worse, heart surgery was worse."

I say this tonight, but I also say that I have no idea.  I'm a first time mother.  I've never been pregnant before, and I've certainly never given birth.  I have zero clue how it feels.  I know it is going to hurt.  I believe God when he says that labor will be painful.  However, I want to try to handle the pain myself, without medical intervention.  Although this is what I want, I have not fully shut out the option.  Currently, my plan is to see how long I can take it, and hope that it is enough to bring Ethan into the world without it.  My plan is to try other methods of pain management first, and only use the epidural as a last resort.

Last week, I looked up our options for childbirth classes in our area.  All I could find were classes that were offered by our hospital.  They included a Fatherhood Class, a Grandparents Class, a Health & Safety Class (learning CPR-a must!), an Introduction to Breastfeeding, and a Childbirth Class.  Reading the description of the Childbirth Class, I was so disappointed.  It consisted of a tour of the Labor and Delivery area (um, why? I'm only going to be in one room, why do I need to see the rest?  Everyone in this area delivers here, we all know where the nursery is), the c-section procedure, and pain management options including the epidural.  That class is ONLY one night in the entire series, so while they may touch on other techniques, it will be minimal.

I opted to ask my OB about other options in the area that would focus on natural childbirth.  He looked at me as if I told him Ethan had three heads.  He asked me my reasons for not wanting an epidural.  I gave him a brief synopsis, but refrained from too many details because I don't feel the need to defend my choice.  He attempted to reassure me that although there were risks, he wouldn't administer them if they were not completely safe.  He also threw out the old "Don't go through that pain just because you're afraid of the needle."  I told him that I still felt somewhat open-minded about it, but I really wanted to do this without if it were at all possible for me.  He then informed me that the only childbirth classes he knew of were at the hospital, and encouraged me to hire a doula if I "wanted to go that route."  Um, thanks, but we can't afford a doula.  Especially not when one would need to drive at least an hour to get to me.  After a few minutes, he very respectfully promised to honor my wishes for this process, which I very much appreciated.  I really do like my OB, but I definitely like his partner more.  Note: I saw his partner up until 24 weeks, and was required to switch because he is semi-retired and no longer has hospital privileges.  It's definitely been a sad transition for me.  I left discouraged, but still not swayed in changing my opinion.

If you have never been pregnant before, you will quickly learn that people tend to relate to you by explaining their delivery process (the more horrible, the more they share) and exactly the way they did it.  Most also feel the need to tell you that you should do it exactly the way they chose, even if it was the most tragic experience of their life.  People quickly ask me my plans for delivery, and when I tell them my hesitation with the epidural I get the same response every single time.  "Um, you're definitely going to want that.  Trust me."  It is so frustrating!  Why ask me my plans? Just go ahead and tell me what to do, I know that's what you really want.  Ok, rant over.  Like I've said before, feel free to disagree.  Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions, and any information I may not be aware of.  But please, please, don't invalidate my feelings and wishes.

I am woman, but I don't care if you hear me roar.  I'm not doing this to prove something, I don't care about "looking tough."  I have very personal reasons for this, and my husband feels the same.  Jason and I have discussed this to a great level, and while he promised to support my decision if I felt that I could not handle delivery without intervention, he also really wants me to try to endure as long as I can without medication management.  He is spending a great  deal of time researching ways to help me throughout the process.  I'm putting my faith in him to keep my head level during this experience, and even more faith in God to allow me to endure the way we need to.


Amy Lynn said...

I'm so sorry that your ideas are met with such hesitation by others, it's really sad that people can be so ignorant. I have personally met patients who chose NOT to have any medication intervention during childbirth, and have had AMAZING experiences. One of my favorite patients EVER was very sweet, had just delivered a beautiful baby boy while battling Lupus (which is VERY uncomfortable)throughout her pregnancy, and was a wealth of knowledge! She was so excited to inform me of the "alternative" methods she chose, and how great they worked for her. I don't have much "reference" material to give you, but I can tell you that it's very possible to NOT have an epidural, and still have a pleasant birthing process. The one source of reference I CAN give you, is that she told me I *must* watch "The Business of Being Born". I haven't taken the time to watch it yet, but Ed's sister Kimmy has, and she said it was fantastic as well. I know it's available on Netflix, and I hope it can help give you some advice and encouragement. I'm rootin' for ya!!!!!

Mrs. Lukie said...

I just stumbled across your blog tonight--not really sure how I got here :)

I just wanted to say that I think it's great that you & your husband wish to go with natural delivery.

I can sympathize with you completely when you say that others wish to relay their (most horrible) labor & delivery stories to newly pregnant women, and then insist that you do the same for your labor & delivery.

As long as my pregnancy continues to be low risk & smooth sailing, we will be doing a home birth (gasp! horror stories abound when people hear this!) with absolutely no medical interventions of any sort. I'm not doing it because I want an award, or a trophy...I'm doing it because it is what is best for me & my family. Based on the research we have done, it's what suits us best and makes us feel the most comfortable. After all, isn't birth about Mom, Baby & Daddy?

Good for you, and I wish you the best labor & delivery possible. Here's to a happy & healthy remainder of your pregnancy <3

lessonsinlifeandlight said...

Oh, girl. You know I can relate. People hear I'm going naturally and having the baby at a birth center and they look at me like I'm crazy.

I think the saddest thing is that people have forgotten--women's bodies are DESIGNED to do this! But over the years we've introduced so much technology, that we've basically taught ourselves that we can't.

Well I say--YES WE CAN.

One of the reasons childbirth is so painful and unmanageable these days is because we've introduced bad positions for birthing (on your back) and drugs like Pitocin which cause contractions that are twice as long and strong.

I have lots of articles and references on my birth reference page. You and your husband might be able to find something useful there!

You can do it! And if it turns out it doesn't go that way, that's ok! The important thing is that you're educating yourself and that you're going to try. You're doing great.

Brittany Ann said...

Amen amen amen! You know how I feel about this, and you know I have been there with regards to people and their criticisms.

I am just so proud of you for educating and empowering yourself. You are not stupid. You are a woman who has done her research and knows what she's talking about.

It's your Birth. You do it your way. That's your right as a mother. It's the first choice we get to make for our babes.

I am lifting you up in prayer and knowing you can do this in my heart of hearts. I will be rooting for you, even if we're both laboring, epidural-free, at the same time. We'll do it together:)

Amy Lynn said...

And p.s..... Mom had Derek without any of that stuff too because the stinker had the umbilical cord under his arm and was causing a ruckus and they wouldnt let her have anything!

Christine said...

This is great, Paige. I want a natural childbirth too! God created our bodies, and gave us the responsibility of bearing children, so we can handle it. He's not just going to throw us to the wolves. Our bodies are made for this, and people today just don't understand that. Good job in standing strong when people roll their eyes and tell your horror stories. I love you!