Thursday, March 28, 2013

that one birth video...

When I ultimately decided on pursuing a VBAC, I read a lot online about what to expect, what other women experienced, and what I should know about risks.  Immediately, someone told me about an online group that "supports" women that have gone through a c-section.  I perused some of their content and it was suggested several different places that I give a certain documentary about birth my attention.  This is the video I am referring to:

I watched it while I walked/ran on the treadmill over a few mornings when I was around 20ish weeks pregnant.  And, to be honest, as someone who is interested in having a vaginal delivery, I found watching other women have successful and meaningful births helpful and empowering.  BUT, most of the "documentary" really REALLY bothered me.

It basically takes the approach that almost all births should take place in the home setting under the care of a midwife and it asserts over and over again that OBs are only interested in getting their patients under the knife.  Seriously, at one point they go as far to say that OBs should only be used for surgery as that's all they really want for their patients anyways.  Apparently this is the image they think of when they hear the word OB:

 With Piper I NEVER felt like that's all my OB wanted for me.  When I pushed her to move my induction date up from 41w1d because I felt uncomfortable waiting that long, she wanted to make sure that I fully understood what my chances were for having a c-section with my Bishop score.  She knew I wanted a normal delivery and didn't want me to make that decision without fully understanding the risks.  I appreciated that.  (Little did we know a c-section was in my future regardless of my Bishop score).

I was also bothered by the fact that the movie focused primarily on c-sections in a negative light.  They largely blamed the healthcare industry for the rise in c-section rates.  It's because of pitocin and epidurals and those darn OBs who just want to get home to their warm dinners.  Now, don't get me wrong, I think it's good to be educated and to approach birth armed with an understanding of how interventions work and what risks are associated with them.  I don't think that every woman in labor should be given pitocin and I do believe that if a woman wants to have a low intervention birth, they should be allowed that.  BUT, I truly believe that a lot of these interventions exist BECAUSE in general the medical community (meaning nurses and doctors) have seen negative outcomes and want to avoid the same fate for their patients.

Now, I will admit that as I watched the movie, I realized that A LOT of my friends have delivered by c-section.  I actually can only think of one in the last year that had a normal, vaginal delivery.  BUT, in every case these c-sections were done because they were best for both Mom AND baby.  My sister has a canteloupe sized fibroid that my nephew was never going to be able to squeeze past.  My very good friend from college had a placental abruption and would have bled out in 20 minutes without her c-section.  I had one because Piper was breech AND had the cord around her neck twice.  Another friend had a c-section due to failure to progress (she was in labor for over 24 hours).  All of us went into our labor experiences fully expecting a normal, vaginal delivery, but c-sections ended up being the BEST option for all of us.  Best and safest.

Even though I've chosen to pursue a VBAC this time around doesn't mean that I've all of a sudden become a c-section hater.  I truly believe that c-sections are happening more often because doctors are afraid of the worst outcome.  Doctors are being cautious because they know the cost of taking unnecessary risks during labor/delivery.  Allowing someone to go 24+ hours with their water broken just isn't smart, so when it gets to that point, Doctors don't cut because they love their scalpels, they cut because the risks of infection are too high (it's the same reason they might use pitocin after your water breaks, they are on a timeline and want to HELP move things along).  They don't allow breech vaginal deliveries because you can't feel for a cord around the neck.  As my friend put it, without modern medicine and the existence of c-sections she would have bled out and died within 20 minutes IN 2012!!!  Craziness.

I've also been quite frustrated with the fact that when I look for VBAC support I find a lot of women who believe that anyone who isn't high risk should give home birth a try.  I am all for women choosing to labor/deliver at home if that's safe for them and their baby, BUT I don't think it should be pushed as the best option for most women.  And I hate that rather than getting a feeling of comradery from other VBAC'ers I sometimes get the sense that I should be seeking an even "more" natural birth experience.  I want a VBAC, but I also want to deliver in a hospital with an OB and an epidural :).  I feel like that's OK, too!  And, no, I don't believe that giving birth at home would be a good/safe choice for me or my baby.

So, there's my rant about all the negativity surrounding c-sections.  I'm so over it!!

Have you ever felt any judgment over the way you delivered?
Have you watched the movie I mentioned?
Any other opinions or thoughts on all of this :)?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

high standards

The monthly theme for March from PAIL is "high standards".  The primary question is: do I feel like going through infertility has caused me to hold myself to a higher standard in parenting?  The short answer is: no, I don't.  One of the best questions posed was "do I feel that I try to be successful at parenting as a way to cope with infertility?".

I think for me, parenthood was such a surprise that I hardly had time to think about what I was doing.  And I failed so miserably at pretty much every aspect from the get-go that it's hard to feel like I'm doing or have done everything right.  For starters, I look back now and realize that I am not exaggerating in any way when I say that I NEVER believed that my pregnancy would end in a healthy, live newborn.  I mean, I went through all the motions as if it would, but deep down in my heart I never ever considered the reality of bringing home a baby.  I was, after all, the first of all four of my sisters to have a successful pregnancy.  And when you're a part of a community that joins together to grieve unimaginable losses, you start to think that no story has an easy and happy ending.  My pregnancy went really well and I LOVED the experience.  Because of that, I was sure I was never going to get my happy ending.  Even when they pulled an entire human being out of my uterus, I was still in disbelief.  I knew what I was *supposed* to do, but I went through those first few days feeling like it was all a dream.  Looking back, I should have spent more time doing skin to skin with her.  I should have set stricter parameters for visitors and done more of the baby holding myself.  Seriously, I think my mom held Piper more in her first few days than I did.  It was really hard for me to bond with a newborn that I never believed would actually come into existence.  I didn't have to worry about whether or not I was doing it "right" or doing the best thing possible for her, because I was just stumbling around those first few weeks.

And, on the note of being successful at parenting, I can tell you that right from Piper's birth I felt like I had done it wrong.  I had always heard that vaginal birth is the best way to deliver your baby.  Going through the birth canal gives the baby so many benefits and labor is good for both mother and baby.  So, when I ended up with a surprise! c-section, I felt like I was already starting off on the wrong foot.  I couldn't nurse Piper right away, I couldn't hold her in all her goryness and stare into her face.  Instead, she was cleaned up and handed to my husband while they put all my organs back in their proper position.  So, first I failed at birth.  THEN, I failed at breastfeeding.  Piper went 8 hours without nursing well on her 2nd day of life and they forced sugar water on her.  Our problems continued and at 10 days old the supplementing began.  I took fenu.greek and prescription medication, pumped after every feeding, did skin to skin, and nothing improved my supply.  Failure number two.  A few weeks later I was plagued with panic attacks and sheer terror over the idea of raising/entertaining my child(ren).  I was so scared I was going to do something wrong.  Failure number three is that I ended up with Post Partum Anxiety and was placed on Zol.oft, plus I needed some to get me over the "hump".  By the time Piper was 2 months old, I had failed her in every possible way.  And that's why I think I've been able to have such a go with the flow attitude about parenting!

Now, don't get me wrong, I've read a lot of parenting books and I definitely try to figure out how to do what is best for my daughter.  I cloth diaper, I made all of her baby food, and I stayed home with her for most of the first year of her life.  But, I don't sit around worrying about whether or not I'm the best parent out there.  While it was hard and totally sucky to "fail" at all of those basic things in Piper's early life, it taught me that even with the best of intentions, things don't always go according to plan.  I try to parent in the same way that I approach life in general, which is to take it each day at a time.  I can't worry about whether or not Piper will do well in Kindergarten when that's still 3 years away!  All I can do is have meaningful interactions with her that help spur on her physical, emotional, and verbal development.  I can take her to the park.  I can answer the question "what's that?" every time she asks it.  I can be an attentive and caring parent who sets good rituals and boundaries.  I don't necessarily feel that I hold myself to the highest standards simply because I failed to conceive Piper the traditional way... I just hold myself to the standard that I think will give me a reasonably well-rounded and happy child.  And, really, I think the fact that I failed so miserably in the beginning has allowed me to be so much more laid back now and, truthfully, I'm grateful for that.

Do you feel as though you hold yourself to a high standard of parenting?
Do you ever feel like you put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect?
Would you consider yourself type A or are you more laid back?
What's the best parenting advice you've ever received?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

the birth plan

I have been meaning to type this up for months...  But, I kept putting it off, waiting until I was at a "safer" place in my pregnancy.  I did this when I was pregnant with Piper, too.  I would put things off until I felt like there was more of a guarantee that everything would be okay.  Well, now that I am over 31 weeks pregnant and have single digit weeks left before we get to meet this little guy, I am going to go ahead and say that I'm about as "safe" as I'll ever be.  And, besides, I don't really believe that writing this post will cause anything bad to happen.

So, onto the birth plan.  Like any other plan, I am going into it this time around assuming that while I can make plans all day and all night long, sometimes things don't turn out the way we want them to, but I sure do have some preferences!  For starters, I am going for a VBAC.  After much debate from MBL and a lot of research, I've decided that this is the best plan for me and my body.  When it comes down to the safety of c-sections versus VBACs, the first post-cesarean delivery is kind of a wash--neither way is necessarily more safe (especially in my situation since my children will be almost 2 years apart).  If I am able to have a VBAC this time around, then my next VBAC will carry less risks than another c-section and because we aren't sure if we want to have #4, I feel more comfortable attempting a vaginal delivery so I have the option of having more vaginal deliveries down the road.

Another important reason I want to go for a VBAC is that while my hospital did everything they could have to make my c-section enjoyable, nothing about the experience was pleasant for me.  I hated how the anaethesia made me feel; how it made me shake uncontrollably on the table and throw up afterwards.  I felt so miserable during the entire procedure that I couldn't really enjoy what was happening.  I like the fact that during a vaginal delivery I will have a better appreciation of what is going on.  I'm also hoping that I won't be as nauseous during a vaginal delivery as I was during my entire c-section (can you tell I hate throwing up?).

Another clincher for me in pursuing a VBAC is that Piper and I struggled with breastfeeding from the very start.  The nurse tried to latch her on in recovery and I spent the whole time getting sick.  Then, Piper was so sleepy from everything that every feed was a struggle.  I'm not sure if I had low supply due to those first few days, but I know that missing out on immediate skin to skin and not being able to feed immediately certainly didn't help.  I'm hoping a vaginal delivery will give me an edge up in this department.

And now for the interesting part, we are not only pursuing a VBAC, but I am also planning on giving birth 5 hours from where we currently live.  The reason for this is simple, MBL just took a job with a lot of travel and *if* I end up with a repeat c-section, the only family nearby is my sister and she has 3 kids.  With a c-section, I won't be able to pick Piper up and if MBL is out of town there is no way my sister can come over every time Piper wants "up please" or every time she needs a diaper change.  So, I am giving birth at the hospital where several of my siblings were born and we will be living with my parents for about 2 months.  That way, if I have a c-section, someone will be available to help me with Piper any time of the day or night.  My dad is retired and my mom is a teacher who will be on summer break approximately 3 weeks after I give birth.  If I get my VBAC, then it will just be super nice to have help readily available if I need it.  My parents are awesome and this is really going to be a great situation.  I may even get some extra naps in with their help :).  And it sure doesn't hurt that all the birth suites at their local hospital were recently redone:

I came up with this plan while MBL was away in November and when I pitched it to him I was a little worried he might think I had lost my mind, but instead he applauded me for coming up with such a great solution.  It means that I don't have to stress out over the "what ifs" and he doesn't have to feel bad if his work wants to send him on a trip 2 weeks post partum.  Win win.

And there you have it.  My birth plan.  I guess we'll just have to see how it all pans out!*

*the baby is currently transverse, which if he stays that way automatically means c-section.  there must be something goofy with my uterus to make my babies want to lay in there incorrectly!  i'm hoping he behaves and flips soon.

Did you have a birth plan?
Did things go how you expected?
Is there anything you would change?