I'll be the first to admit that I am a birth junkie. I read birth books regardless if I'm pregnant or not. I stalk blogs and message boards, reading birth stories and gazing at pictures. I routinely host Birth Movie nights, featuring films such as: The Business of Being Born, Birth Day, Birth As We Know It, and, always a crowd pleaser, Orgasmic Birth (if you have any other suggestions, send them my way - I've watched these ones to the point of memorization!) My most recent Amazon order included the following books: The Doula Book: How a Trained Labor Companion Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier and Healthier Birth, Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide, and The Birth Partner. I quite honestly dream of having a normal, natural childbirth.
Yet, I've had two VERY medicalized births. The first, a cesarean birth, and the second, a forceps delivery. Both births, I admit, were relatively pain free, as I was frozen quite thoroughly. For years, before the prospect of having children was actually upon me, before I knew anything about anything, I used to joke that I wanted to be frozen from the neck down from the first contraction on. Well, I got that, and I hated it! I'll be honest, the worst part was, I couldn't hold my babies after they were born. My arms were tied down. For the birth of both my sons THAT is the memory that prevails: me, laughing through my tears, just looking at my boys because I couldn't reach out and touch them. The very moment that is supposed to transcend all, and that's what I remember: me, strapped to a table. I am woman; hear me whimper.
I want to have more babies: many more, if God sees fit. But somehow I just can't accept the idea that all that matters is that I have healthy babies. Obviously that isn't all that matters, or I wouldn't think of it daily almost three years after the birth of my first son. With my cesarean birth I know that it was necessary. Four and a half days after my water broke, surgical birth really was the only answer. The forceps delivery, however, I am filled with guilt and disappointment every time I think about it. Guilt that I didn't prepare enough, didn't know enough, didn't insist enough.
In retrospect, I think the midwife I used for Silas's birth had a perception of me that I was very independent and strong, and therefore wouldn't need much guidance in labour. But, I had never gone through labour before. I had never reached transition. I had never felt like I was either going to be torn apart, or blown to pieces. So, when I said I wanted to go to the hospital and get some pain killer, she said okay. And off we went. I'll tell you something: I. DO. NOT. LIKE. HOSPITALS. It was not the place for me. Intervention after intervention lead me to the operating room once again, prepped and ready for a cesarean, with a OBGYN who merely condescended to trying the forceps because I absolutely insisted.
Despite all odds against me, I had my VBAC. I should have been celebrating. I should have been rejoicing. But, I was in more pain than I had been with Eli's birth and I still couldn't hold my baby. They wouldn't let me bathe him. They changed all his diapers. And I felt even more disappointed than I had with the cesarean.
So, where do I go from here? How do I prepare more than I have prepared? Where do I find the empowerment I know exists in birth, but has thus far eluded me? All the movies, all the books, all the meditation, the preparation and the prayers have brought me two wonderful, healthy babies that I love more than life itself, but have left me with a distrust in my body and my person.
Onward I go. I will not be dissuaded. I will read more. I will prepare more. I am taking a class from Birthing From Within called Birth Stories. I am going to do Brain Gym. I am going to do everything I can, because I know it matters, because I know that having the birth I want to have will somehow heal the pain from the births I've actually had. Because, after all, this is the thing that God has given women, and I want to experience it as it is meant to be experienced!