It has been a year and a half since I gave birth to my daughter. I announced I went natural but didn’t share much detail in a short post about called Labor of Love. Part of me tends to be private about personal and family things. The other part of me did not want to share because it was not picture perfect and it definitely was not the way I thought it would be.
Yet, it was truly a beautiful breaking moment for me, as I felt not only did I give birth to a little life but I was also birthed…in a way, a new person: a mother.
I always knew I wanted to give birth naturally, you can read more about what natural birth is, here, or the reasons why I chose it, here. I actually started out the traditional way because I did not have health insurance so I was able to get pregnancy Medicaid that set me up for the “traditional” hospital birth route. For 5 months, I received medical care from obstetrical/gynecological physicians.
The medical group was made up of 5 or 6 doctors that rotated so each appointment, I’d meet a different doctor. This was because it was impossible to predict who would be on call at the time of labor and they want the patient to be acquainted with each doctor in case it was their assignment.
Some natural birthers may paint the picture that this type of medical care is horrendous. It didn’t feel like I was being harmed while I was in their care. However, I was dissatisfied with the level of care I received.
As time passed, I kept fantasizing about unassisted “free” birth (I know, crazy single mom with crazy independent thoughts). I learned that our hospital does not offer water birth. I learned that they wouldn’t preserve my placenta. I learned that doctors who rushed in the meeting room would most likely rush in the delivery room.
After discussion and tears with my very supportive family, we made a financial plan and switched me over to local midwifery care. Thank God for them helping me even though they thought I was making a risky decision by not taking the hospital route.
From the get-go I was able to make it CLEAR to my midwives that I did not want any medications offered to me. And that I wanted this baby to come out au naturale, I wanted my placenta encapsulated, and I wanted a water birth! AT HOME! None of these things were possible with the doctors.
I did a lot of preparing for natural birth, or so I thought! I was not as prepared as I could have been. I read some books, lots and lots of online articles, and watched many YouTube documentaries of natural birth. All of these things made me very comfortable with my decision and even confident of the chances that I’d have a smooth, safe delivery and a healthy baby.
However as time approached, I realized I was a little bit idealistic. I changed plans very close to the end of pregnancy (the last month) because it was better to birth at the birthing center for privacy reasons. I live in a busy house with lots of loving family and neighbors who—bless theirs hearts—often come over without warning. I also have a dog who would be disturbed by strangers coming in to blow up tubs and touch me, only to be excluded from the commotion. The last thing a birthing mom needs to hear is incessant barking.
Okay, fine. I gave up that picture-perfect dream.
Also, in the last month, I hired my doula. I knew I should have done this earlier but I was worried about the costs. Bless her, she was happy to come alongside me so late in my journey and help any way possible.
When we met, she had me fill out a birth plan that she’d use to make sure it all goes as I wanted. She was actually going to advocate for me.
And that’s when I realized, I was not so ready to have birth. I was comfortable physically but I still had a lot of emotional obstacles. My birth plan was not entirely my own, it wasn’t the honest truth about what I felt comfortable with. I was considering other people’s emotions before my own even though this was my pregnancy. Somehow, in birthing my own child, I did not want to disappoint anyone else.
In my opinion, this emotional struggle set me up for difficulty in the actual labor process. Which was really rough. We’ll talk about that in the next post…