Tuesday, April 26, 2011

rethinking emotional signposts.

During Liza's pregnancy, I consumed every thing I could find about natural childbirth.  I read blogs, books,  drug information inserts, birth stories.  If it was childbirth related, I was all over it.  The majority of Liz'a pregnancy was spent preparing not only for a natural childbirth but preparing for a natural childbirth in our local hospital.

To have a successful hospital natural childbirth, you need to be prepared.  Prepared to buck the modern trend of a highly managed and highly medicated birth.  Prepared to know which interventions are okay and which interventions need refusal.  Prepared to politely yet firmly communicate your needs with nurses and the on-call doctor.

And, prepared for the only thing that worried me about birthing in the hospital....when to actually leave your house and arrive at L&D.

Worried is an understatement.  I was scared about arriving at the hospital too early.  Scared my labor would slow down with the cold sterile hospital environment.  Scared my blood pressure would sky rocket.  Scared a doctor would push pitocin.  Scared I would lose resolve for the birth experience I so badly wanted.

So, I took refuge in the emotional signposts.  I told Taylor told time and time again  I did not want to leave our house until I was throwing up, shaking and freaking out, per emotional signpost #3.

That was my "leave the house" plan.  Throwing up.  Shaking.  Freaking out.  And, I have to admit, it was a rock solid plan.  The point during my labor with Liza where it would have been appropriate to leave the house was when I started throwing up, shaking and freaking out.

Exactly as I envisioned.

Now, almost 9 months later, I am left wondering.  Wondering if my vision hadn't included self-doubt and freaking out, would the self-doubt and freaking out occurred?

One of my favorite bloggers, Birth Without Fear, recently gave birth unassisted at home after two previous c-sections.  She describes the labor and birth as long and intense but she birthed without fear.  No self-doubt.  Nothing but living in the moment and giving birth with only her husband in attendance.

My friend, Mandi, commented on my emotional signposts of labor post about why fear and self-doubt even need to be considered a part of natural childbirth.

A facebook natural childbirth page recently posed the question of whether or not homebirth labors have "transition".  It intrigued me to read how many women wrote about giving birth with no expression of self-doubt or thought of failure 

My friend, Kaitlin, experienced 26 hours of natural labor.  When I asked about transition, she told me about a few moments of sadness.  No self-doubt.  No fear.  Just a little sadness.

My husband frequently comments on synchronicities in life, small and large.  His keen ear and eye for synchronicities have led me to believe that when something is meant to be learned it will present itself again and again until the lesson is noticed and absorbed.

My recent lesson:  rethinking emotional signpost #3 - self doubt.

My labor was fast and furious with exactly 5 hours from the first contraction to a beautiful baby girl in my arms.  I never truly lost faith in myself although I definitely let the emotions rule and there was that brief period where I was content staying pregnant forever if the pain would just go away.  Taylor was supportive although a bit freaked out himself.  I was in excellent hands with my midwife's care but she did not provide the emotional support I so direly needed.

What if I hadn't been so prepared to feel self-doubt when labor got tough?  What if I had only filled my mind with positive thoughts on transition?  What if I had focused on the birth stories where the women remained confident and continued meditative breathing and peaceful thoughts throughout the longest and hardest contractions?

Would it have been different?

There is only one thing I know for certain.  

I needed a doula.

To be continued.


Mandi S. said...

double 'LIKE'

I truly am a believer in trusting in your body's ability to birth...YOU'RE capable. Every woman is.

Transition is nothing to be feared. It's the final step in all the hard work that's required to bring your baby earthside. It's a time of reaching into your deepest, most primal being for every bit of strength that you may need. And when you come out on the other side of it, your life has changed immeasurably in more ways than one.

Kaitlin @ More Like Mary said...

Sooo interesting! At the time, I thought I was naive. But I honestly thought that transition was going to be "no big deal" for me. Perhaps that played a role in it actually being no big deal? I've never thought of that.

Laura @ our messy messy life. said...

Mandi, my brain was telling me all those things and I knew it was true but....

Kaitlin, I've been thinking about this ever since you told me about being "sad"...

Rachelle said...

I love your natural child birth posts. I did not have a natural birth. I had pitocin and an epidural. I admit I LOVED my epidural. I definitely had doubt that I could do it without pain meds, and that's why I ended up getting them. I knew in the back of my mind that they were there for me if I needed them... I guess I made myself believe that I needed them. However, I never doubted that I would be able to push him out. I KNEW I was not going to have a c-section. Maybe with baby #2 I'll have more faith in myself and be able to do it completely natural. And I also think I need a doula. Love your blog!