Posted by: emjb | February 19, 2006

Mustering up

All seems pretty much normal and hunky-dory for me now, except that I have no money and need a job. But that’s nothing I haven’t dealt with before. Nathan is doing well, Matt is doing pretty well, and in many ways, I’m doing well too.

But I still can’t think about Nathan’s birth in any detail without tears. I’ve picked myself up, but my sadness and anger haven’t really gone away, just moved to a back burner. I still haven’t written the letters I need to write, to the hospital and the midwives, and it’s time for me to get on that. Now that I’m not so harried. I even start to write the letters in my head, which makes me cry, which makes me put it all off for another day. It’s been so nice, not crying. Being happy, enjoying Nathan. It’s been so nice.

But I don’t want to shirk my responsibility, even though I’m pretty cynical about the effects I can have. And thinking about that, about how births should be and how they are, about how many women have been fighting to make this better and how little we’ve been able to do, just makes me so angry. I’m angry that I have to write these letters, that I have to strike whatever blow, however feeble, against this stupid system we have. When just a little compassion and common sense would’ve made all that unnecessary. The patients know it’s fucked up, the doctors know it, presumably the hospitals know it too. But it doesn’t get fixed. Gah!

If I think about having another kid, the only way I can think calmly about the birth is to imagine myself schlepping out to Tennessee and letting Ina May Gaskin’s midwives take a crack at me. Not because I think they can ensure a perfect birth, but because, dear Jesus, it would be so much easier than having to fight so damn hard against whatever doctors, midwives, and hospitals I’d have to work with in Texas. I guess if I had to have another cesearean, getting the Ina May treatment first would at least let me feel I had done everything possible and gotten the best possible chance at doing it naturally. Because trusting a local midwife or doctor is going to be seriously difficult for me.

But really…is Tennessee the only place in this country where I can find midwives who are really qualified and trustworthy, and not handcuffed by the local hospitals? Because that sucks. That’s like an 800 mile drive. I don’t want to do that when I’m almost due, or when I’m coming home with a newborn. And paying for the whole thing out of pocket, most likely.

Well, that’s all irrelevant right now anyways. Hypothetical Second Child might remain forever hypothetical. Though I worry about him/her/it; I’m one of those odd women who’s never really worried about an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy before, but now I do. If my birth control failed me now, it would be scary. I worry that my body is faulty, or that adhesions or scar tissue from the c-section would cause me problems in a new pregnancy. I don’t know if I will be able to trust my body to take another crack at birth. Every time I get a twinge in my scar, I worry a little that something’s wrong in there. Especially since no one can tell me what went wrong the first time. That makes me angry, too.

I think about becoming a doula, now and then. I fantasize about telling pregnant couples more of the truth than I received. I’m not a believer anymore in the idea that you should only tell pregnant women positive things so that they won’t worry and be in a relaxed frame of mind. I think you should tell them the whole damn truth and let them know that there are things to be worried about, and to prepare for the worst–and to let them know what weapons they have to fight for the birth they want.

All the positive-thinking fooffy-doo in pregnancy books is patronizing and counterproductive in a country that is as hostile to natural and compassionate childbirth as this one. What is the point of learning breathing exercises and labor positions if a woman is going to be faced with a staff intent on forcing her to use Pitocin and labor in bed? Instead of trying to keep pregnant women in a happy oblivious state, hoping for the best, we should arm them for battle. Let them feel confident because they’re strong and determined and prepared, not because they’ve developed pretty pictures to visualize during their labor pains. ( I would like to report that said pictures help not in the slightest.) This would also have the benefit of getting rid of the subtle message in positive-thinking books, namely, that if something goes wrong, well it’s your fault because you didn’t think positively enough! It’s so easy for a woman who had a slow moving labor that went to a c-section to blame herself for not relaxing enough to let the baby move down. But you know, I don’t think it was my insufficient Kegeling that made Nathan’s birth so late and slow. I think it was either something beyond anyone’s control, or a lack of expertise and knowledge of natural techniques on the part of my midwives and the hospital.

Being honest would not be about gleefully terrifying pregnant women with horror stories, but letting them put a face on the boogeyman. Because really, even when I was thinking the most positive thoughts possible during my pregnancy, I was scared. All first time pregnant women are; they know they are facing something that’s beyond anything they’ve dealt with before. In lots of ways, it would have helped me to know what I had to be scared of.

But anyways, I ramble. Wish me courage to get those stupid letters out, ya’ll. I’m really good at procrastinating, so I need all the encouragement I can get.



  1. I just ran across this post on Ask Moxie on what makes a Good birth, and I thought of you. Take care of yourself, and get those letters out!

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