Friday, June 8, 2007

The Wisdom of Birthing

Truth be told, after my experience with Søren ended in a c-section, I had a strong feeling of failure. It seemed that nature was telling me was that I was unfit for motherhood, because without a c-section, I - and probably Søren - would not have made it. My husband thought I was being illogical and inconsistent with my worldview. Yes, I realize God allowed me to get pregnant, and did so in a time when c-sections would be available, and I and Søren are still alive, therefore, He must have it in his plan for me to be a mother. I get that. Now I even think my first c-section was unnecessary. But still, shouldn't the inability to deliver a child the natural way be some sort of indicator of something?

I dealt with those emotions and prepared myself for another attempt at a natural birth. This one has gone well. I have been far more healthy, gained half the weight, and can still wear my wedding ring.

Two weeks ago my midwife told me I was 3 cm dilated (externally) and that the baby's head was engaged, she told me the baby could come any day.

One week ago I was fully 2 cm dilated, but the head was floating. She said I could go another week, but not another two.

Then yesterday (at 4 days past due) nothing had changed in a week. Given the lack of progress, we had to talk about things like induction methods, baby stress tests, an ultrasound to make sure my placenta isn't dying, and scheduling a c-section. Not quite what I was hoping for.

I wanted to cry. I couldn't help it. All my feelings of failing as a mother came back and this little voice said "see, nature itself doesn't want you to be a mom". Yes, I could still repeat the mantra above about God and His plan, yadda, yadda, yadda, but I still felt discouraged.

Then my over thinking brain stumbled upon a frustration soapbox as I remembered several things all at once:

#1 - I am only 4 days late! (now 5)

#2 - It is not uncommon for a second baby not to drop until labor.

#3 - Søren was 25 days "late", everything was fine and healthy, and my midwife now thinks my first c-section was completely avoidable and unnecessary.

#4 - It is the statistical, bureaucratic, protocol that is forcing "informative" statistics (like that the still birth rate starts doubling every week you go past "due") on me and making me obligated to submit to a series of tests designed to ease the mind of doctors, with no concern to the psychological effects on me and thus my labor.

#5 - Women used to know how to do pregnancy.

This last one was the one that really sunk in and helped erase my fears that nature didn't want me to be a mother. My midwife thinks the baby isn't dropping because there isn't adequate stomach muscles after my birth and c-section with Søren to hold the baby up enough to let his head descend well. That's great to know AFTER I'm past due with people dangling a c-section timer over my head.

In a different time and culture, all the other mothers would have come to support me and pass on wisdom - like wrapping and swaddling my belly for the majority of my pregnancy. They would know what kind of movements and exercises I should be doing, and they could show me how. They would know that there is no such thing as a "due date", and that pregnancy can take anywhere from 8-10 months. It would be a celebration instead of this impending condition that needed to be monitored.

I know I am ranting, but I need to. I need to remind myself that there is something wrong with our official-clinical-statistical approach to everything. What have doctors and science accomplished in the last 70 years of taking over the birthing process? A c-section rate that is 3-6 times higher than it needs to be? Women who can't get pregnant without the aid of drugs? Women who don't know how to carry or birth their babies without a doctor doing tests every couple weeks to assure them? Women who are told pregnancy and birth are purely a physical condition? Women who can't nurse, or think that scientific formulas would do a better job? This is madness. This is not natural or healthy. Though I want a different paradigm for my birthing experience, I don't have one, and so I will feed the statistics. I hope to feed the statistics for the side of being able to have a natural birth after a c-section, but I know that I might not.

There was a point in my current pregnancy that I decided that if this one ended in c-section, that I won't bear any more of my children, that we would adopt from here. It is possible I will feel that way again, but for the moment I think I have really overcome the feelings of inadequacy and realized that this c-section obsession is just the condition of things now, and that it is not nature telling me I have failed.

Whatever the next weeks holds for me, the important thing is that I will be meeting (Lord willing) this new little person that God is entrusting to Andrew and I for a time. My love and delight over him will have no correspondence to the way he came into the world. C-section or not, he will be my son. Lord or Elliot come quickly!


  1. Just an FYI - a baby takes an average of 41 weeks and a day to develop, NOT 40 weeks! Besides that, the doctor and midwife can't tell you when you conceived, they simply base it off of your last period. The baby will come when he/she's ready and fully developed. Trust your body and your baby! Have you read "Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth"? I think she explains some of it in there...

  2. I hate ( and I don't use that word often but it is the only word that fits here in fact it should be I F---ing hate!) that you are pushed into an emotional roller coaster at a time when hormones are already exaggerating every feeling by a (sometimes well meaning) body of thinkers that seem to have forgotten history. You are so right in your perspective on what the birth experience would have been in another time and place. I felt the same inadequacy before I had Indy and was miscarrying. People thought I was insane for not having every test under the sun run to find out why why why and fix it...I felt more like my body must know what it is doing and when I'm ready to carry a baby to full term I will...and miracle of miracles I did. after Indy was born I went through it all over again but after getting to know her a bit and being Mama for awhile it wore off but reading your blog put me right back into those feelings...and I think all I can say about that is that they are wrong. I know to be PC and all we shouldn't say feelings are wrong but those, those sneaking little insecurities that are really only there because society has decided there is a right way and a wrong way to do birth, they are wrong. You my darling friend are right, you should listen to your body, to your elders who have birthed before you and ultimately to that still quiet voice that is no doubt whispering 'all in my time and my way'
    I just hope you know how loved and cared for you are and that if you need anything I know there are women who long for nothing else but to support you. You are a fabulous mother, a gift from God to that little man you are already raising and to EI on the way.
    By the way...I love that you Yadda Yadda'd Divine Determinism...that tops Elaine on Seinfeld Yadda Yaddaing sex!
    I love you dearly my friend and EI will come right on time.

  3. well sometimes when I know my period is coming, i get anxious and worry about whether it will start while im in public or at home, whether i will have to work or whether it will be on a day off, or whether it will come at all (although I dont need to worry about that now for another 176 days) and so I say to mom, gosh I just hate it when it doesnt start on the same day of the month every month!! Mom says to me that sometimes if you are thinking about it too much and getting anxious ro stressed or worried that it will take its time because your body is stressed. I imagine this is likey to be similar a case. Also i heard that after a certain amount of c-sections, you cant have kids anymore.

  4. Mama Knifton - Thanks for the FYI, Monday should be 41 + a day. I have only read the VBAC chapter in the book you mention, but it was very informative and helpful.

    Summer - I love you dearly too and I cannot overemphasize the significance of your support, love, and understanding in my life during the last year. I am so grateful God has allowed our stories to be so similar, and then placed us close enough to be a support for each other.

    Jen - I know, mom keeps telling me that there is something I need to let go of....I'm not sure what. I think it's just not time yet, but hopefully soon! I don't know about the c-section's stopping you from having kids thing. I know of women who have had 4. But it certainly does increase your need to keep having c-sections. Hopefully we won't have to worry about it. Also, a typical period is on a set day cycle (typically 28)...months vary from 28-31, so it wouldn't be reasonable to expect the same day each month...figuring out how many days your cycle is would be better. What is this 176 days thing?

  5. I figure I'll chime in, since I've had the EXACT same experience...since you don't know me in real life, feel free to disregard any part of this. :)

    Daughter #1 was a planned homebirth, emergency c-section. Long story short, my water broke at 35 weeks, I did NOT want to be induced, so we waited...I ended up with a uterine infection, they did a c-section, Hannah spent four days in the NICU, then everybody went home happy.

    Daughter #2 came along when daughter #1 was 8 months old. I was tortured by the feelings I had after the c-section, feelings similar to yours. I now think I wasn't careful about getting pregnant because I really wanted another chance.

    At 2 days until my due date, I started getting concerned. Colorado law says that midwives can't deliver at home after 42 weeks. If I went to the hospital, they would have tried to force a c-section because they "don't do" VBACs in the hospitals here. (Don't know why the law allows them at home, but anyway...) We could fudge the dates a day or two, but I knew exactly my conception date, so I wasn't terribly comfortable with it. I started going to my wonderful Christian chiropractor for acupuncture to start labor. At 12 DAYS PAST DUE, I FINALLY went into labor. I thought I might die. I have no idea how you waited so long with your first one.

    Anyway, I did go into labor, I did deliver at home, Audrey is in great shape, and that c-section scar that I thought might dictate the size of our family (I had the exact same thought about not wanting more children if I had to have another c-section) now has absolutely no power. It's just my "Hannah mark."

    This is way too long, but I wanted to encourage you as best I can. Try some things to start labor. Natural things won't work unless it's really time anyway. Sometimes your body needs the hormones to build up enough to get started. Walk...a lot. Don't worry; take every thought captive. Go have acupuncture if you are comfortable with the idea (it sure worked for me!) If nothing else, it'll make you feel like you're doing everything you know. Once you've done that, you can rest and wait a little easier. Like you said, either way, you get to meet your tiny baby any day here!

  6. Thanks for your post, raw and real, yaddaing and trusting. I relate to wondering about being "rescued" by medical science - for me it wasn't c-sections but three critical surgeries at different times (one while pregnant with Victoria). Plus, I was induced to be born! Should I ever have been here?! I also don't feel comfortable feeding the statistics, but I dwell in this paradigm, as you said so well.

    I'm coming to think everything dished up on my particular plate of life comes so I will eventually digest what I'm supposed to about truth. Such doggone confusing ingredients at times, though.

    Didn't mean to get into a food metaphor. Just know I care, as you can see so many others do, and try to eat well and relax and live.

  7. Sara Kay - Thank you for your story, I feel good about things happening in the next week. You are an encouragment! We might try a little acupuncture. I have a terrible needle phobia, but I have found it is amazing the things that we will do for our children.
    I hope you are all feeling better in your disinfected house!

    Deanna - Thank you for your encouragment and wisdom. How scary to have surgery during pregnancy. You reminded me that one of my friends had to have a grapefruit sized tumor removed from the outside of her uterus, while pregnant. I think I will take the potential c-section over dealing with that anyday.
    I want truth. Andrew and I were just talking about how the saying "It's all good" is actually quite appropriate with the proper reference frame.
    So, I will try to embrace this all as good, and chew slowly so that I digest well (don't worry, I like food metaphors...I pretty much like anything food related =))

  8. Oh, M, how sad I am that you are pushed and pulled into these feelings of inadequacy by people who are 'experts' in statistics and basically horse poo.

    Relax, babe. It's all going to be just fine. Relax.

    All these comments here, wonderful. Good that you are reading them. Summer is right on!

    Deep breaths, trust the natural universe and the God who has brought all the babies into the world so far. God will do what he will do when he will do it. Your job? Trust.

    (And relax and take deep breaths. Can't wait to see pics of you holding El, with little Soren and doting daddy at your side.)

  9. I'm just thinking about you CONSTANTLY, M, wondering if you are having El..........oh, I just love babies, and the bringing of them into this world.

    My heart is with you.........with love!

  10. Cherie - Thank you for your love! I am still with child...but I am having very crampy pre-contractions at the moment...and a massuse gal just told me tonight about some acupressure points I should try massaging. All in the right time. I am trying to relax and take deep breaths and enjoy these last moments with hubby. I look forward to posting pictures and news soon. I am sure Summer will post news before I keep an eye there too! Hopefully we will be able to bring EI down to Eugene in July...perhaps we can all make introductions!

  11. i love you. i'll be calling soon, hopefully i won't be interrupting your home birth!

  12. I'm so sorry to hear your having such a hard time with drs pressuring you. However I think it's plain silly for you to say that you were 'unfit for motherhood, because without a c-section, I - and probably Søren - would not have made it.
    Sweetie don't you see that Satan is telling you that your not fit because you had a c section. It was God's kindness to your family that you had a c section. No one, but God, knows if your c section was avoidable or not. Even though you and your husband physically created that wonderful child, its actual creation began in the hands of God. Let me remind you of a verse we all know
    Psalm 139:13-16
    13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written,every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

    I hope this encourages you. Sorry this was so long! I would hate for you to say that's it I'm not having any more kids because it didn't go the way I wanted. You may later regret that decision