**Please note that this blog entry could be a Trigger for those who have experienced traumatic birth or child loss.**
Note: I wrote this blogpost several days ago, but have just now mustered up the bravery to share it. Any words of encouragement or insight are welcome with open arms.
I've had an idea the past few months that he has been ready for another. He has been hinting at it, joking about it, and even tried a few times, but I felt that I had been successfully delaying the idea. "Let's wait until Nuni is out of diapers.", or "Let's wait until Nuni is old enough to understand the idea of a new baby", or "Let's wait until I've had a few years of having my body to myself". I mean, afterall, since I'm still breastfeeding Nuni, who is now almost 20 months old, I have not had my body 'to myself' for 30 straight months!! I stayed up late that night, thinking over my husband's request. It began to dawn on me some of the reasons why I may really be fearing TTC another..
I figured out that I absolutely FEAR birth!
Now, I completely understand that Birth is a normal, natural process. I trust that my body knows what to do, when and how to do it, and that it can be simple, uncomplicated, and serene. I've read the books by Ina May Gaskin, Laura Caplan Shanley, Dr. Grantley Dick-Read, Elizabeth Davis, Mongan and all of those infamous names in the natural childbirth world. It is not the idea of birth itself that I fear. It is MY births that I fear. I have given birth already, 3 times. All 3 times were hospital births and all 3 times were traumatic in their own way.
Birth #1, I was 17 years old, and although I was well-researched, I was treated like an ignorant child, and basically was not offered the right to care for my birth and child the way that I wished. Even though I had gone into spontaneous natural labor right on time, I was still given Pitocin upon admission to the hospital, and shot up with every kind of medicine and painkiller on the market for laboring women. Once my beautiful baby girl arrived, I had been breastfeeding her, only to find out that my daughter was continuously being given formula while in the nursery, and I was told that she "needed" it. (Luckily, she went on to nurse for almost 15 months!) I was disrespected and treated like a child the entire hospital stay. I also felt like a trainwreck after all of the drugs they shot me up with while I was having a normal, healthy naturally progressing labor.
My second birth was all around a complete nightmire. I was 21 and induced a little past 41 weeks. I endured the powerful pitocin-induced contractions without pain medicine (I hated the way pain meds made me feel during my first birth, so I refused to go that route again), and laboring alone, with no friends or family by my side until the very end, when I was getting ready to push. My family was at work that day for most of the day, and would come and go to check on me, and the father of baby #2 and I were no longer together; I had a restraining order against him. While in hard labor, I was getting awful and cruel text messages from my absent ex-boyfriend and told I was lying and that I wasnt really in labor, he called me just so I could hear him cuss me out and tell me "Have fun raising that baby alone", and I hear his parents in the background saying that I was a liar and not in labor (all while I'm standing in the hospital bathroom, over the toilet as my water is breaking) even though I was Overdue and Induced by appointment that he knew about a week in advance! He even sent his grandparents to go to the hospital to make sure I was really there. They popped their head in, saw me there hooked up to machines like a robot, but managed to make him think I wasn't really in labor. A few hours later, after only a 5 hour labor, I was ready to push out Bubu man, all while the hospital staff was yelling (yes, YELLING) at me NOT to push! His head was coming out, while I'm halfway standing/leaning across the bed, and my mom's obnoxious pop music ringtone was loudly going off incessantly. I was screaming and crying, and nobody would even hold my hand... It was the worst most terrible experience of my life. To this day, I experience anxiety just thinking about it.
Birth #3, we had planned to have a homebirth, but due to finances at the time, and also a few health risks I was experiencing back then, I was forced into a hospital birth. Nunu baby's labor was pleasant at first. I labored quietly and calmly at home for 6 hours while Blujay slept next to me. I bounced on the birthing ball, listened to music, focused on affirmations, it was nice. Finally the pressure in my abdomen increased until I could hardly stand or speak, so I woke Blujay up, and we decided to go to the hospital. My contractions were 3 to 4 minutes apart. Nuni was arriving right on time. THIS was going to be the perfect birth, or so I thought. I had a written up birth plan signed and notorized, ready for my file. I had read up on all the popular natural birth books. I had my affirmations in mind. It wasn't until we made it to the hospital that things took a turn for the worse. While in the hospital exam room, we were so excited that I was really finally in labor after nearly 2 weeks of prodromal labor! We were chatting and laughing together and then a sour-puss nurse decided to speak up about it, almost making me feel ridiculous for being so cheerful and not being the dead-serious-scared-shitless stereotype that you see in movies. As soon as that happened, my labor got harder and more painful. Then I decided to give the nurses and nurse-midwife (all whom I had never once met before) my birth plan. They didn't even look at it. They just explained that my birth would PROBABLY not go as planned, so I explained that there were some things that MUST go as planned, such as my right to refuse the shots that are given RIGHT after baby is born. I explained (and had it written) that I DO NOT CONSENT to pitocin being used during my labor, that I would prefer my baby's cord to stop pulsating before being clamped and cut, and that I wished to breastfeed him right after birth. That's when it all just hit the fan. Right there, while in hard labor, so hard that I could barely speak, I began to mercilessly be bullied by the hospital staff. When I first expressed my desires, there was one nurse and the midwife in the room. A few minutes later, my reasonable requests drew so much controversy that I was literally front and center in a room FULL of nurses and midwives who were arguing with my requests, pressing me on WHY (even though my reasons were plainly articulated in my signed and notorized birthplan) and they even illegally pressed me to tell them my religious beliefs, and went on to tell me that OTHERS in my religion have chosen to do the things I was refusing. I felt insulted, bullied, stressed, terrified, and to top it off, I was transitioning, and I had not yet even gotten into a birthing room, because they were too busy arguing with me in the exam room. All the while I was experiencing contractions on top of one another, throwing up on myself, and they did not even so much as offer a pan. My husband, who was a nervous first-timer with birth (this was my third birth, but his first) at first was too timid to say anything (my painful contractions had him pretty freaked out!), but he finally had enough. He told them to get me a pan, and get me into a room. All the while, while getting ready to move into a room, the midwives are telling me my baby will DIE without the post-birth injections (those of us in the natural birth community know this is absolutely a false generalization). I finally compromise with, "If I have a normal, healthy, uncomplicated labor, I prefer to let the cord pulsate and I refuse the Vit-K. However, on the offchance that my baby's life may be at risk, I will consent to the vit-k at birth, but I prefer the oral drops. I do not consent to the Hep-B."
From that point on, there was no going back. My labor was intense, painful, unbearable, and the entire time I felt as though I was experiencing panic. I would ask to go into the shower (no tub was available) to help relieve the pain, and we would have to fight tooth and nail just for THAT! They would argue that epidurals and IV meds were available for pain. =/ I was forced through several painful vaginal checks, and when I would ask to pass on them, I was guilted into the exam anyway. Luckily, my husband was there, and he was wonderful. He was coaching me through contractions, holding my hand, comforting me, massaging my back with dusting powder, kissing me through contractions. Finally, when it was time to push, I was forced onto my back, legs up and spread eagle with my most intimate parts in the faces of total strangers and student-nurses...and within minutes I was told (against all evidence) that my baby was at risk, and they began to threaten me with a c-section! THAT was not going to happen, so I pushed with all of my might, until veins were bursting in my face! I got my baby out literally seconds after they mentioned the c-word! I heard his cry, and before I even got to see his face, they told Blujay to immediately cut the cord, and they rushed my baby out the door to clean him, weigh him, and BATHE HIM, and I literally had to wait in agony and helplessness for 2 HOURS without even knowing what the face of my new baby looked like. They brought him to me finally, after waiting 2 hours, and let me hold him for 2 minutes, all the while, a room FULL of staff is STARING at me, so that I felt completely awkward and uncomfortable and they picked him up and told me they had to take him back for monitoring because he was "breathing funny" (don't worry, nothing was wrong and he was perfectly fine), so I never got to nurse him until a few more hours had passed. I was absoluetly beaten to the ground emotionally and mentally by this hospital staff. I forgot to mention, they pulled out the placenta (ouch!) as soon as my baby came out and when (surprise surprise! I started bleeding heavily, they ordered that they "Turn UP THE PITOCIN" that apparently was already connected to my IV!!! Yes, the pitocin that I said clearly, and put in signed and notorized writing that I did NOT consent to! I felt robbed, angry, vulnerable, anxious and in despair. The next day I asked if we could check out, and they forced us to stay an extra 2 days, their excuse being that they had to monitor my baby because he was "too big" (apparently 8 lbs 9 oz at almost 41 weeks is "dangerously big" and requires monitoring?!?!) So during those 3 days at the hospital, we had to fight to keep our baby with us (and sometimes being bullied into them taking him to the nursery against our will), CONTINOUSLY remind them that we did NOT want him circumcised when they would ask us about it everyday, we were reprimanded like children because I would let my baby sleep on me while nursing, instead of the plastic bassinet, and once or twice my husband had to chew them out for bathing and covering our baby in Johnson's Crap after we specifically told them that WE would bathe him, and that we brought our own Organic baby soap. If it weren't for my amazing husband and gorgeous little baby, it would have been a complete and total nightmare. After all of the dreaming and promising myself that birth #3 would be the ideal birth, I felt like a failure, as if a perfect, natural birth is beyond my reach.
Now, don't get me wrong. I LOVE birth! I am a natural birth advocate and I could give advice all day long to expectant mothers about natural birth. The idea of having another baby someday definitely makes me happy, and I hope to someday experience that beautiful birth that I have been so robbed of. But the anxiety that rises within me just at the very idea of my previous births is enough to make me want to shun the idea altogether. My husband has been wanting another baby the past few months, but two recent experiences have made me not even want to try.. I feel that my fear of birth goes beyond just an emotional or mental fear...
---TRIGGER ALERT--- *graphic details below*
Last summer, I experienced spotting, followed by a late period. We did not take a pregnancy test because we wanted to find out "naturally" if we were pregnant, and we were pretty sure we were. We didn't plan on it, yet we somewhat expected it, due to a "heat of the moment" occurance during a fertile day. We didn't entirely feel ready at the time since my husband had just started school and we were paying tuition, but we began to accept the idea, although we had not yet told anyone. Then one night, 2 weeks after my period was expected to come, my Blujay and I were cuddled on the couch watching a movie, and I started to experience labor-like cramping. It lasted for a while and it was very uncomfortable. Instinctually, I felt the sudden urge to run to the bathroom. Right as I got to the toilet, I suddenly began to bleed very heavily. I felt weak and dizzy and even felt like vomiting. I don't remember if I vomited or not, as everything was pretty much a blur. But within the next few hours of heavy bleeding, I felt a huge cramp and expelled a large blood clot. My mother in law happened to be visiting that day, and she expressed to me that she was sure I was having a miscarriage. Although we were not yet ready for another baby at that time, we had still begun to adjust to the idea, and it was still very painful to think that a baby of ours had died. I was bleeding quite heavily for a few hours, but just as we decided I should probably go to the hospital, the bleeding began to lighten. That July, we decided to name that baby Tye, since it was a gender-neutral name.
Then, a few months ago, in December, we had another very similar experience. Except this time, we took a pregnancy test which showed a very faint positive, and I stayed pregnant for about a week longer than the last time. We weren't trying to another, but we also weren't opposed to it. It was welcome news.. Then one afternoon, I felt the familiar cramping and began to bleed and feel dizzy and nauseus like the time beford. This time, when I expelled a large clot, there was a tiny flesh-colored (what we think to me an embryo) nestled within it, with a thin fleshy string ( what may have been an umbilical cord) attached. We said goodbye to the baby, and named him/her Skye.
I felt quite mournful after that last experience and felt incapable and hopeless. It was then we agreed not to try for a while for another baby. This felt like such a relief. No more opportunities to fail or to have broken dreams.
So you could see why I felt very reluctant when my husband began expressing once again that he wanted to get me pregnant. We practice the FAM method of birth control, meaning that I chart and track my fertility, and take special precautions during my fertile days. This means he knows exactly when I am fertile and ovulating. The past few months he had been asking 'permission' to make a baby, and I would remind him that we are waiting...
But something about his sincerity when he asked me for another baby as an anniversary gift, changed everything. This time, he wasn't being playful, it wasn't a hint. It was a genuine desire to create another life within the woman he loves.
My hubby is the perfect father and husband and I have no doubt at all that he is ready.
This year, our financial situation has dramatically improved, so we could afford to have the homebirth or birth center birth that I've always dreamed of, complete with whatever gentle-spoken midwife I choose, a doula, and a birth photographer. He promised me the perfect birth, a prepared and well-thought out birth. A 100% organic nursery. A nanny to help me out with housework and with Nuni. All of the newborn cloth diapers I can get my hands on. But still, I stayed up all night thinking about his request.
The day before our anniversary, my husband and I sat on the stairs, and he just held me while I cried in his arms about my fears and anxieties from my past experiences. He was completely understanding, and calmed my fears with his amazing comforting voice and his incomparable ability to say the perfect words to make everything better.
Our anniversary arrived, and so did my answer to him.
"We can try this month. If it doesn't happen, we will wait a little while."
My sweet hubby is so excited, and so hopeful that we've conceived again. In a few days we'll find out if his dream has come true. Every day he's been putting his hands on my tummy to send "love vibes" to the little soul that may or may not be nestled within me, the same way he did right before we found out about Nuni, and he so very much wanted to become a father.
As for me, I must admit that all of this baby talk with my husband has given me quite the case of baby fever. We are not officially TTC, but not TNTC. We're just going to let nature take it's course. We'll take precautions if we feel like it, and be less cautious if we feel like it. But, I do feel that I have many hurdles to jump before I feel 100% prepared to give birth again. Whether we conceived or not, either way I will be completely happy.
OK, Signing off, as Nunu Baby is requesting my attention <3