Make way for Mommy Angst.
This post was inspired by Megan’s recent post on SortaCrunchy about kinda the same thing and brought to you by my neurotically obsessive brain chemistry. You’re welcome.
The problem with being a natural childbirth junkie, with watching The Business of Being Born and haunting the combox of the Unnecessarean and reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and taking a Bradley class is that you become
really FREAKING crazy a little OVERLY crunchy, and terribly suspicious of medical practitioners in general, as a whole, as if every single one of them is brandishing a scalpel, ready to cut you willy-nilly whether you like it or not, and you begin to think that the only truly safe way to have a baby is all alone, in your bathtub, without anyone around to interfere – or help, for that matter.
Well, that’s what happens if you’re me. I’m sure other people are able to acquire knowledge and let that knowledge be power. But for me, many times, knowledge is just a panic attack waiting to happen.
I’ve been really stressing out about the birth of the child I am currently gestating. Like, really really REALLY stressing out, unable to think about the actual experience of labor and delivery without my stomach getting tight and my breath shallow and thinking, “Oh my God, it’s going to be a complete disaster, what if what if what if?!” It’s not the pain of childbirth that scares me. It’s not the physical act of pushing a miniature human from my nethers that gives me the willies. I’m not worried that something will go wrong and my child will be hurt or die, and I’m not worried about something going wrong and ME getting hurt or dying. No, I’m worried about things that I really shouldn’t be worried about, things that may not even cross my mind if I weren’t so obsessed with the state of maternity care in America.
I’m afraid that I’ll be diagnosed with gestational diabetes and put on bed rest and pushed into inducing way too early.
I’m afraid that I’ll develop pre-eclampsia and be put on bed rest and be pushed into inducing way too early.
I’m afraid I’ll get fat and be pushed into inducing way too early.
I’m afraid that I’ll go to 42 weeks or more and my doctor will push me to induce.
I’m afraid of having complications due to induction that hurt me or my baby.
I’m afraid of having a failed induction and ending up with a C-section.
I’m afraid of going into labor on my own, at some point fairly close to my due date, and thinking I’m home free… and then my cervix not dilating fast enough to make my doctor happy and ending up with a cascade of interventions and finally a C-section.
I’m afraid of complications during a C-section that hurt me or my baby.
I case you didn’t pick up on the theme of this post, I’m just plain old, all over, all around the block, AFRAID.
What I’m NOT afraid of is the normal, natural process of having a baby. I’m afraid of what might happen if my pregnancy and delivery become too medicalized. In case you’re wondering, yes, I have considered a home birth with a licensed midwife. That was the plan with Garrett, and I ended up transferring to the hospital during the second stage of labor. Everything was fine with me and the baby, my midwives were just being cautious. And honestly, I felt like I got the best of both worlds in that situation. I also spent a LOT of money getting Garrett born, and this time around I am feeling like I need to make other budgetary line items a higher priority, for the good of my entire family, so I’m choosing to stick with an HMO-approved OB/GYN and have a hospital birth.
And, you see – I know, from my experience with Garrett, that attempting a homebirth won’t innoculate me from the fear. Because there’s always the chance that I’ll risk out of having a homebirth, and then all of this angst deferred will be waiting for me at 37 weeks or so, when I’m scrambling to find a new doctor.
Better to deal with the angst now.
The completely irrational, needless angst. After all, we’re talking about something that’s still six months away. The best thing I can do (I know this, I KNOW THIS!) is stay calm and take care of myself, do everything I can to stay healthy and strong and ensure a positive outcome for this pregnancy. Do my homework, maybe hire a doula, write my birth plan in pencil, and be ready for anything. If something goes “wrong,” oh well, we’ll deal with it then. Right?
“You’re right, you’re right, I know you’re right.” (Name the movie that line comes from and you get five points. Towards some arbitrary point-collecting goal.)
Don’t think I’m missing the irony that so many women are afraid of the exact OPPOSITE of what terrifies me. Most of the women I know (like, in person real people – not internet people) are scared of the pain and uncertainty of an intervention-free birth, and I think it’s because most of them have never learned about the incredible design of a woman’s body. They see natural birth as some sort of extreme sport, a needless throwback to caveman days. They have no idea why someone would WANT to gestate any longer than 39 weeks or forego pain medication. But these lucky ladies also know nothing about how abysmal maternity care is in America, and they trust their doctors’ judgment implicitly.
And please don’t think that I’m unaware of how very first world my angst (and the angst of most American moms) is. The odds are overwhelmingly in my favor that I and my baby are going to be just fine, regardless of where in my community I give birth or who my care provider is. I know I’m lucky to have the options I do, the fact that I can even consider all these different variables is a clue into how astoundingly privileged I am.
And the fact that I have been blessed with a child, not once but twice, well, that’s pretty awesome in and of itself. I do know how many women desperately want to be in my shoes. Thinking of them, and their heavy hearts, makes my mommy angst feel a little… silly.
Okay, so I’ve gotten this all out. I’ve said it out loud and thought it through. (And through and through and through…) Now it’s time to put the worry doll down and start having a little faith.
And find a (detail-oriented) hobby and (several long-running, preferably available on Netflix) television obsessions to carry me through the next six months.