March 12, 2012

bring on the birthing ball

As the big "birth day" approaches, I find myself getting strangely excited.

Not excited for the arrival of my second child, necessarily (although I certainly am), but excited for the challenge of getting a second shot at laboring and giving birth naturally. Much like a marathon, the whole "natural birth" thing isn't exactly fun, but yet, in some odd way, I actually enjoy getting the opportunity to do it.

It is a true test ... A way for me to really be in tune with myself, to shut out the rest of the world, and just concentrate on one thing for once.

No more worries about teaching, or grading papers, or cleaning the house, or making dinner, or even taking care of Malcolm.


Just me. Focused. In the zone.

Let's get this baby out.

I would have to say that much of the excitement this time around, also comes from the fact that I have so much support from my husband (he's totally on board now that we've experienced the whole process before), the rest of my family and friends, and, of course, my doctor.

I'll be going to a traditional hospital again (I don't think a home birth is for me), but I am confident that I will be taken care of. My doctor, the midwife working with her, and the hospital staff that I have encountered so far are all very open to women giving birth naturally. In fact, from the moment I was brought into the labor/delivery suite on the day Malcolm entered our lives, I was blown away by how things were able to progress the way that I wanted them to ...

Bathtubs were filled with hot water.

Birthing balls were unwrapped and rolled into the room.

Hot bags of saline were used as compresses when the back labor kicked in.

Hydration was achieved by water bottle instead of IV (so that I could move around).

Monitors for baby heart rate and strength of contraction were used and then removed (again, so that I could move around).

A random midwife (whom I had never met before and was only on the maternity floor to get signatures for a cord blood study) kept checking in on me to assist in whatever way she could.

Malcolm was handed right over to nurse as soon as he was weighed and measured ... And our new family was given time to bond before any visitors (my parents and one of my sisters had been setting up camp in the waiting room) we allowed to see any of us.

Throughout the entire experience (both during and after the birth process), I felt very cared for and encouraged ... I was never pressured (or even casually asked) about pain killers or any other medication. I was allowed to do what I wanted, what felt right for me and my family, without any questions or judgment.

By the end of the night, I felt like a rockstar ...

First, because I had just succeeded in my goal of giving birth naturally (and my baby was darn adorable to boot!). Second, because all of the staff and nurses on duty that night actually cheered their congratulations as I departed for my post-partum room.

To say that I was on cloud nine would be a vast understatement.

Having had such a positive experience (despite the "complications" of back labor), it makes me sad when I hear about other women who are pressured to give birth a certain way (barring medical emergencies) or made to feel poorly for the choices they make regarding their bodies. For one thing, had I personally been discouraged from laboring naturally by the hospital staff, or had I been pressured into receiving an epidural, I may have found myself receiving a C-section due to my son's posterior positioning. Doing things my way actually saved me from major abdominal surgery!

That's not to say that doctors can't be right.

I'm sure there are times when an epidural is warranted and may contribute to a safe delivery ... However, I do not understand why, for many, the pain of labor is seen as something unnatural ... A side effect that should be numbed and removed from the equation. I am not an "Earth Mother" type by any stretch of the imagination, and I don't shout the benefits of natural birth from the rooftops because I believe it is a very personal choice. Yet, I truly feel that the pain felt during a natural birth process serves to make the end result that much more miraculous!

(And they aren't lying about the "mother's amnesia" that sets in after birth ... Birth? What birth? This baby just magically appeared in my arms!)

Not only was the experience good for me, even my husband felt like he had accomplished some great feat the night Malcolm entered our lives ... He was so proud that he had been able to assist me, to be an active part of the event and not just a bystander that watched as I lay comfortably in my hospital bed until it was time to push.

The birth of a child is obviously such a personal experience ...

One that is different for every woman and situation.

One that I, personally, choose to embark upon without the assistance of drugs ... Although I could certainly do without the back labor this time around!

I guess we will see what happens when Baby #2 decides to make his/her appearance.

Only two weeks to go ...

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