Follow Up

I wanted Sherman’s birth story to stand alone for what it is, but some follow up thoughts have been percolating since I finished it the other day.

I wrote Ruby’s birth story the day after she was born, I was so excited to tell it. I started Sherman’s a few days afterwards, but I couldn’t finish it. And I kept avoiding it. I think that I was avoiding it in part because I didn’t want to revisit how hard it was. When I think about his birth, all that comes to mind tends to be the good bits at the end where I got my baby. My beautiful baby boy who sleeps, rarely cries, and smiles all the time (so cute!). The hard parts keep getting shoved back. But at the same time I don’t want to forget the hard bits. I don’t want to romanticize his birth because I think that just because things are hard doesn’t mean that they’re not worth holding onto as well. Yes, it was hard, but I still came out the other end and I was fine.

And even though his birth was hard, it still wasn’t that painful for me. Childbirth for me is less about pain and more about an indescribable intensity; at times that intensity felt insurmountable during Sherman’s birth. It’s impossible for me to find words to accurately describe the sheer intensity and challenge of birth, but painful is definitely the wrong word for what it feels like to me. I remain staunch in my stance that stubbing my toe is, for me, more painful than childbirth, albeit a million times less intense (and much briefer).

Also, I had a home birth. I didn’t tell very many people that I was planning a home birth because I tended to get one of two reactions: “Oh, I know so-and-so who had a home birth!” or stunned, judgmental silence (sometimes accompanied by statements about how scary this person thinks home birth is.) And it’s impossible to know which one you’re going to get. I only owned up to it if people asked me directly where I was planning on delivering. Kyle and I made an informed decision to have Sherman at home, and we don’t regret it at all. The birth was hard, but not the kind of hard that requires a hospital. And it was the sage advice of my midwife while I was pushing that helped me let go and finally get Sherman here. I’m not convinced that I would have gotten similar advice from a doctor at the hospital, or even that the birth would have been any easier in a hospital.

Some of my favorite bits about having a home birth? Not having to drive anywhere while in labor; my healthcare providers came to me. Only having people that I knew and trusted at the birth; no Russian roulette as to how nice the nurse, the anesthesiologist, or the doctor on call was. When Sherman was born, all I had to do was roll over, and I was in the comfort of my own bed, my own blankets, my own sheets (and, you know, plastic sheeting and chux pads to protect those things). Having my first three postpartum appointments in my own home so that I didn’t have to go anywhere to get baby checked. There were lots of pluses, if you ask me.

Oh, and questions I’ve gotten about my home birth? Let me clear up a few. Yes, I had a midwife, and no I did not do it by myself (I believe in having trained professionals at my births, I just don’t think they HAVE to be OBs). Yes, my midwife has emergency training and medication for complications in birth including taking care of postpartum hemorrhage (the most common complication at home births; my midwife says unless it’s extreme she can usually deal with it at home), neonatal resuscitation, and knowing when a birth has exceeded her capacity and needs to be transferred to a hospital. She even had lidocaine to numb the area for stitches. No, there were no pain relief drugs, I did the birth naturally and I was totally fine. The midwife and her assistants take care of the mess, and I can say that there is not a spot of blood or any other fluids in my house even though I had a baby on my own bed.

And we’re just so thrilled to have our little cutie pie baby boy now. Seriously, he’s my favorite baby boy. Way cuter than yours. And much more mine.

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