Friday, August 8, 2014

I Can Do Hard Things

The most amazing thing my body has done is…

Well, obvs.  I've twice given birth. I wonder if any participant who has birthed babies will not choose this experience. It's sort of a life-altering one. Certainly body-altering.

Both times, I chose to give birth at home, sans meds. As my sister once asked, with utter mystification, "But why?" I don't have a great answer to that question.

There is a romance to giving birth at home, in a comfortable environment with your husband behind you, providing, with his thighs, just the right spot for you to dig in your elbows with each contraction. I bet I was better able to relax there, in my own bath or my own bed with my own things about me. Our babies arrived in their home, not in an impersonal hospital room. You think of things like that as your prepare for the experience, as you sanitize towels, sheets, and washcloths and seal them in bags, as you buy items like a goldfish net and a large stainless steel bowl (and wonder why).

I am not one of those women who claims childbirth is not actually painful or who manages to make it an orgasmic experience (oh yes, that is what some people claim--I remember the flyers). BullSHIT, I say. Childbirth is horrible, mentally and physically. I remember calling out to my mother and crying to my husband, "I don't think I can do this," while knowing I had no choice, feeling that strange sensation of my body taking over, leaving my brain totally out of control. I remember the midwives reminding me over and over, "Try not to scream; try grunting instead. It will help you keep your energy up." I remember shouting my husband's favorite line from the two experiences, "I think my anus is going to explode!" (To which the midwife replied, "Good, good. That's exactly how it's supposed to feel.") I remember the "ring of fire," a term I learned during my daughter's birth and that really could not be a more apt description of the experience. And I also remember when it was over, it was immediately so.much.better.

I'm also not one of those people who advocate for this choice above others. I don't know what's right for anyone but me, and that means my choice is no better than yours (if yours was different). I don't think epidurals or pitocin are bad things. I think doctors and hospitals are wonderful.

What's more, I never had those horror labors you hear about. Along with the unfortunate traits of asthma, strange toenails, and ready tears, I inherited from my mother the positive trait of relatively short labors. I had six hours of active labor before my daughter was born, and my son appeared three hours after my water dramatically broke (with not a contraction in sight at the time).

(Sorry for the gratuitous boobage and blood.)

I think, in the end, I wanted to see if I could do something truly hard. I think that has been a factor in many of my life choices. Can I follow through on this truly hard thing? Can I really see it all the way? I have, and I have not. But when I have, the outcome is immense personal satisfaction that justifies all the pain and hardship. I find I am not limited to the typical choices. I can rise above pain and perform. I can find my own path and see it through.

And if you ever want to come visit, the bed I birthed my children in is in our guest room. I never fail to remind my guests of this special experience.

with hosts Kristi, Stephanie, Michelle, and Ruchira

14 comments :

  1. Wow! That is so awesome. I had c-sections, but in an alternate universe (with high pain thresholds) I would have like to have given that a go.

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    1. Thanks, Susan! I don't know if I could have done if I had long labors or big babies.

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  2. Wow! you are a brave soul :)
    I remember undergoing a C-section and thank heavens cause that pain is unbearable :(

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    1. Thanks, Ruchira. But isn't it nice how pain in memory is never as strong?

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  3. You are pretty awesome! I admire you a great deal for your experience and your story. Mine was...well, nothing like this at all. I think I would like to have given at least the no drugs method a go, but things did not play out that way. In the end, many choices had to be made urgently and Zilla and I are lucky to be here at all. And for that I'll take it anyway it was dished out that day. (Well save all that sordid detail for our coffee date with Fab Hub's coffee!)

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    1. Yeah, that kind of thing happens a lot. I just lucked out with good genes, I think. I'm counting that blessing loudly since I definitely got the short end of the stick elsewhere (toenails).

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  4. I think it's wonderful that you had your babies at home. I actually considered it but found out that I have an incompetent cervix at 26 weeks and went on bedrest. I had to be monitored 2-3 times/week for the rest of the pregnancy and well. Anyway, there was a danger there so I did the hospital. And, I did have an epidural. Two, actually because the first one didn't work after he punctured my spinal column. See what you avoided? Also, I'm a little glad that I live close enough to drive home and not sleep in your guest bed, if I ever come over! :)

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    1. I think "incompetent cervix" is hilarious terminology. I think I'd probably bring that up just to laugh. Don't you worry about that bed. You have to put all kinds of layers of waterproofing down. It was unharmed. :)

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  5. Your birth experiences sound like such empowering ones. And I am so pleased that you recognise your choice was right for you, but not necessarily for everyone. I also had plans for no meds with my first daughter, but those plans went well awry with both births! The first was 22 hour labour, followed by emergency C-section, the second was way, way too early. So while I do think that giving birth, however it happens, is an amazing thing for our bodies to do, it wasn't what I wrote about. (Though it is connected.)

    I found all the posts in this blog so inspiring, and after reading them yesterday I just had to write one of my own. (Didn't have time to comment on everyone's last night, so I'm getting back to them this morning!)

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    1. So glad I helped inspire you, Yvonne, since you inspire me so often!
      I'm glad my message came across clearly. My decisions often land me in the same camp as people who can be a little overzealous and judgemental. And I hope to never come across that way. I really believe there is no right path and we must choose for ourselves.

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  6. FIrst of all, your title totes has a sexual innuendo. Second, I'm amazed what you went through. I had epidurals, but I know the pain because my first kid, I didn't get that epidural until I was 9cm dilated. I went from 3 to 9 in a matter of an hour, and it's worse pain when you move that quick through it. I didn't plan for it because I told them I wanted that epidural. I didn't have anyone telling me anything supportive through it all. I was grabbing nurses and doctors by their shirt collar threatening them and their unborn children if they didn't find a way to jam an epidural in my back. There is no way I would have ever in my wildest dreams finish that without an epidural. It was like a magical paradise with a high I still dream about when I have a period cramp. If it didn't exist, I probably wouldn't have any children. So I salute you who dared jumped off the cliff without that parachute.

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    1. Ha! I did NOT get that when writing it. But I'm glad you got a laugh.
      Here's the thing. If I had been in the hospital, I bet I would have begged for an epidural, too. But I wasn't, so I couldn't. It was kind of part of the plan.

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  7. YES! I totally get this. Also, I love birth stories. For real. I had a natural, drug-free delivery with my second daughter, and it was one of the most powerful, amazing experiences of my life. No, it was THE most. Experiencing what your body is capable of in that way is so beautiful. Of course I too would never judge anyone for not choosing that, not to mention the fact that many people have complications that don't allow for it, but for me- I'm grateful I got to experience it. And home births for you- wow! Even more amazing...

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    1. Glad you did because I so often GET your posts. And thanks for pointing out the folks who can't because of health issues.

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