Good morning! It’s Monday morning January 2nd and everyone is getting back into the swing of things. Jeff is back to work after being off most of the week between Christmas and New Years and I know Jul and I will both miss him a lot. It’s also FREEZING here, which is how it’s been the entire past week. It’s currently 1 degree F outside with temperatures reaching 20 later, which is the warmest we’ve seen since Christmas probably. Yeesh. Makes it really hard to get out of the house and do anything but I think we’ll probably stop by the library later this morning just to do something.
This morning I wanted to share something that’s been heavy on my mind the past couple week. LABOR. And how my impending labor is going to go this second time around.
There’s been a strong push over the past 5 or so years to normalize the natural, medication-free birthing process. It started underground and finally even hospitals started to jump on board to support a medical intervention free birth (obviously for healthy moms and babies who were low risk for complications.) It’s an important movement and honestly the more options there are to bring a baby safely into this world for mom and baby I am on board with.
I’m 4 weeks out from my due date and I’m honestly not sure I am going to go all natural again. Totally not what you would expect to hear from a second time mama and yoga instructor in 2018.
I had a completely intervention free birth experience with my now 2 year old son. I had a longer labor, but for my first birth I’d say it was pretty text book. My water broke on the morning of my due date while on the way home from the grocery store. I felt totally normal other than some random cramping every so often. They told me to head to the hospital to check my progress and I ended up getting sent home with instructions to either come back in 12 hours or come back sooner if contractions reached the 5-1-1 (5 mins apart lasting for 1 minute over the course of 1 hr).
My contractions never reached a consistent 5-1-1 (not even when i was 7 or 10 cm) so I headed back to the hospital that night. Since they don’t like to let you go longer than 24 hrs with a broken bag of water I was told I could stay and wait for labor to start hopefully overnight otherwise they’d be thinking induction techniques come morning.
My contractions had already started to pick up by the time I was admitted and things were definitely progressing. Slowly but surely. And definitely painfully. But I had done a ton of reading all about positive natural birth stories (Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth plus tons of blog stories) and I’m a yoga instructor after all so I did my best to use my breath and mind to get myself through the pain.
It’s a long story (as long labors are!) and maybe someday I will share Julian’s entire birth story on the blog but for the sake of this post I”ll keep it short.
Julian was finally born at 1:04 in the afternoon after 2 hrs of incredibly hard pushing and laboring the entire night and morning before. Around 11 or 11:30am the nurse or midwife on duty confirmed I was at 10cm and had me start pushing but it was a Long time until my baby was born. They kept telling me he’d be out by noon, then definitely by 12:15, then 12:30 for sure and so on. Yup, 1:04pm my hell (because it was hell despite knowing I would have a baby at the end) was finally over and I had my healthy screaming baby on my chest. We were both so blessed everything went as smoothly as it did.
I was shell shocked though. Between the huge adjustment of becoming a mom in just a matter of minutes and the hormones and tiredness and thinking back what I had just gone through I felt like I was in a dream. Like this wasn’t even real life. The extreme pain that I thought I was at least semi prepared for rocked my entire world. I was completely wide eyed and in disbelief that I had even made it through everything. I remember telling my sister when she came to visit later that night I was “psychotic” for going through all that with no pain meds. I truly felt that way.
There were no feelings of accomplishment or empowerment or excited or in love or anything. In fact it made me doubtful that could I even be a good mom if I could barely make it through labor. I mean, that was the easy part, right? At least in the big picture. My body felt torn apart even though I had only a small tear that only required a few stitches. And being in the hospital the rest I so desperately needed I wasn’t able to get between nurses coming in every 1-2 hrs to press my uterus or check my bleeding or bring my baby to help me breastfeed.
I started out my journey of motherhood feeling way behind and wayy under prepared thanks to my all natural labor and how shockingly hard and painful it was even though I thought I did everything to prepare, all the “right things”. Those feelings carried over to affect how I viewed myself as a mother. We finally were released home and I struggled with breastfeeding, like pretty much everyone does as first, and then later when I realized my baby had colic and would scream bloody murder for hours on end while I desperately tried everything I could to make him happy.
I can’t help but feel like my medication free birth started the journey of motherhood of with me feeling totally overwhelmed and inadequate. Since then I have watched YouTube videos of labor and delivery stories and there are a few I’ve seen where the moms get an epidural and, while things definitely get intense at times, they gracefully and happily are able to welcome their babies into the world and jump right into being a mom.
Now, maybe the second time around is bound to be easier just because I know what to expect at little more. Everyone, including my midwife says labors are much quicker in subsequent pregnancies so maybe I could actually do 9 hours of active labor vs 18+.
I am aware of the many benefits of avoiding medication while in labor – being able to move freely in labor, milk coming in quicker, supposedly being able to bond with baby sooner, faster recovery – and I completely respect these things. It’s why I decided to go medication free the first time around. I’m just not sure how many favors it actually did me. Recovering from birth is a feat no matter what kind of a birth experience you have.
I’m also thinking that I have a very active 2 year old that I will be coming home to along with my new baby this time. The chances to “sleep when the baby sleeps” are pretty much going out the window. I need to be as mentally and physically OK to continue to be Julian’s mom as well. Of course I’l have Jeff home at first and I’m sure various family members stopping by that can help with Julian when needed but it’s just a different story this time around.
I can’t stop asking myself if maybe a relatively calm, collected birth with an epidural so the pain doesn’t scare the crap out of me and make me question my entire life decisions might not be so bad. Maybe it’ll set me out on a more empowered and positive path of motherhood instead of the latter.
I really don’t know, these are just the thoughts in my mind. I realize how lucky I was the first time to have a fully supported and healthy medication free birth that ended with a strong and healthy baby (even if he hated his life for 9 months after). But they also invented modern medicine for a reason and I might be the type of person it’s meant for. I plan on having this conversation with my midwife at my appointment this week and get her take. I haven’t made my mind up, in fact, I’m pretty set on just seeing how things go, which was my plan last time. I think I’m just getting close to the big day and freaking out a little bit.