Friday, February 29, 2008

The Business of Being Born

If you haven't heard of this movie-you need to. Go look it up, right now. Scoot! After you know what it is, you can come back and read the rest!

And be warned now that this will be another novel of a post! Most of it is just my thinking out loud, expressing thoughts that probably won't mean much to anyone but me. But it will be nice for me to get them out of my head so I can move on and focus on the rest of my day! : )

Since I am too cheap to buy the dvd myself (especially since, really, how many times am I actually going to watch this? not to mention it's not available until May anyway), I thought I'd sign up for netflix and see it that way. Well, great plan except that it is on a wait list (how many hundred people now?) so who knows how long I'd have to pay for the service I don't want just to see the one movie. In which case it would have been cheaper to buy it. Which I'm too cheap to do. Back to square one. Why don't I just go SEE it? It was only set up for select sponsored screenings in a few cities. There were no cities in Utah listed. Ever. It was mostly being sponsored by big group practices of midwives or doulas, and despite the huge numbers of both that are rapidly growing here (I know-it doesn't seem like it, but check out doula listings-the lists are getting long!), no one was sponsoring it.

So imagine my delight when I heard from a woman on a homeschool list that I haven't posted on since we moved from Sandy, that a pediatric autism specialist was hosting a screening in Sandy. YAY! I knew I was still on that email list for a reason!

The screening was last night. My sweet husband came with me with no complaints. He offered to let me take some other female if I'd enjoy it more that way, but I really wanted him to be there and fortunately he was good with that! : ) I'm sure he was a bit nervous going into the whole thing, afraid that I would walk out and be pushing for a home birth. Well, after the movie, good news for everyone on all fronts!

I'm going to preface my comments by saying this: The film was very well done. In my opinion, everyone having babies (not just now, but in the midst of the having babies years) should see it.

*The thing that struck me the most after the movie was one particular thought. I am so glad to be where I am in my life. I am SO glad that seeing a movie about something that is very important to me doesn't rile me up, make me feel guilty, self-righteous, or make me feel the need to go and make big changes in my life and my approach to birth in particular. I think that the biggest reason I feel that way is because I have put the time and effort into educating myself enough to know that I am responsible for my care. And I am happy with the way I do things!

*Next, my dr is an anomaly in the world of Obstetrics. At least, he is for me. I don't know what his relationship is like with his other patients, but the more I learn about drs from other women, from general statements by ACOG, and driven home by most of the OBs in the film last night, I realize that I am in a very unique situation. How many women can say that their dr would-and has-spent hours with them during labor on more than one occasion? That their dr will come in on a day off, night after hours or weekend to check on them and deliver their baby when they are not on call? That their dr lets them be the one in charge-of decisions during prenatal care, labor and delivery-as well as postpartum? That their dr will advocate for them more than any other person, except their husband?
I realize that it can't work this way for everyone. That drs are just drs, and that most of them pack their schedules so full that coming in on a day off-or even calling one of their patients on a day of-would just push them over the edge. That they are trained medical professionals for their patients, not "friends". That many OBs view their job as solely the facilitator of a convenient birth(for both mom and dr), and for medical intervention. That some women don't want that from a dr, and that the ones that do want that kind of relationship are fleeing in droves to midwives who are more known for providing that. Unfortunately I realize that most drs are more concerned about just getting the process over with than they are about doing it the way the woman wants.
-Let me explain in specifics, drawing only from my last birth, why I say my dr is an anomaly. I was in prelabor for over four days at the end of my last pregnancy. Yes, I was actually contracting regularly for almost that entire time. Not regularly as in every 15-20min, much of it was contracting regularly every 5 min or so. It was tiring. I was wasted. I have no big problems with inductions (unlike many other people who prefer natural birth), so when Tuesday rolled around (I had started contracting on Thurs) and I could get in for an induction, I was up and ready to go! Though my dr wasn't at the hospital that morning, he called to check in on things every 30-60min, including coming over to check on me at lunch. We were all surprised that I was STILL not delivered by the time the workday ended, so he came over and joined us after his appointments were done for the day. He stayed with us the rest of the time, up until delivery. His constant concern was if I was doing ok, if I needed anything, or if there was anything he could do for me. Fortunately my husband is nothing short of a saint when I am in labor, so I was well taken care of. When I moaned a few hours later-nothing big and obnoxious mind you, more of a really loud exhale (and yes, it was the first time I had made any noise), Aaron jumped into action, making sure my dr was ready. This was the best part of this birth for me. He came in, sat with us, and helped Aaron talk me through those last really difficult contractions. When I was complete-the nurse got all riled up and ready for her big job of counting and pushing my foot up and all that normal junk. My dr stepped in, moved her out of the way, sat on the end of my bed and told the nurse "let her do it her way." He then just sat until essentially I told him I was ready for him to catch! There was no counting, no one pushing my legs back over my head, no one telling me how to sit, lay, or anything else. Just my husband by my side, my dr waiting for MY cues, and a slightly confused nurse! : ) When the baby really began to crown and the typical mess of birth began, the nurse tried to jump in and instantly start wiping everything away. My dr again reminded her to just relax, let me give birth, and she could clean up later; just for her to pretty much stay out of the way unless he needed something. After the birth my dr remembered (despite the fact that we hadn't talked about it since my last birth over a year and a half earlier) that I wanted to cut the cord, and got everything placed so that I could do so easily. I could go on about the rest of the fun stuff that comes after delivery, but I'll spare you!

*I have realized more and more, that drs just don't work this way. If mine didn't, I would very likely seek out a midwife!

*I am glad that I do things my way, even though most of the time it doesn't make sense to anyone else, on either side of the natural birth vs medicated birth arguement. But it doesn't have to make sense to anyone else; it's my way and it works for me!

*I don't have the overwhelming desire for a home birth that I used to. I guess the biggest part of it is where we live. In my opinion, the transfer time is not short enough that if there were a real emergency we could get the necessary help in time. There are plenty out here who disagree. But that is my opinion, and I'm Ok with that. I suppose the other reason why is I don't feel the need to prove to *MYSELF* that I can do that. I realized recently that it is because deep down, I know I could if I needed to. The thought of giving birth at home, without any help from anyone but my husband, doesn't scare me. If it happened it would not make me feel the need to panic. Not to mention the fact that I know that although there is a very slight risk that something could go wrong, the possibility terrifies my husband, so I am ok with the fact that birthing in a hospital puts him at ease.

*I think that home birth is wonderful! I think that birth centers are wonderful! I am so happy that more women seem to be pushing for the birth that they want instead of just being told "this is how you'll do it."

*I am glad that it's becoming more acceptable for women to openly appreciate the experience of birth and labor, and relish in that experience, as opposed to just the end result.

*I am grateful that I have needed medical help during/after birth before. While it's nice for everything to go off without a hitch, I have greater respect for situations when medical help is needed. I'm glad that I can be all for natural birth and not fall into the group that I call "natural birth nazis", who can be so very anti-medical establishment, barring the last minute emergency of 'oh I guess we should get help or we could lose mom or baby." The extremism-from either side (dr's or naturalists)-is totally unnecessary.

*Most of all, I wish more women would educate themselves. I wish more women trusted themselves and their bodies to do what they were designed to do. I wish labor wasn't something that was looked at in fear, as something to be numbed and taken away from us. I realize that in some situations pain medication is helpful (and I'm not just referring to c-sections, there are times that it can be helpful with a vaginal delivery as well), but I hate that it is the standard here (in the U.S.). When I was expecting my first, I never questioned whether or not I would get an epidural-of course I would! Why wouldn't I? I wouldn't get a cavity filled w/out numbing, why would I labor/give birth w/out numbing?!? (if you ever want my opinions on that argument, please ask!!!) I wish I would have done my research. Weighed the pros and cons. Known the benefits and risks. Not walked into it blindly. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change the fact that I had an epidural with my first birth. I am just grateful that I have grown enough and have found enough confidence in myself to know now what I want and to be willing to advocate for it.

*And I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I realize how much of a blessing my husband is in all of this. I tell people that I think my labors and births are harder on him than they are on me-I'm not joking when I say that. In almost every birth in that film last night, the woman was surrounded by doula's, midwives, mom, sisters....the husband was either behind the camera, or just sitting waiting to be given some sort of clue as to what he could do which usually evolved into dad in the corner until baby is born when he is invited over to hold it. It surprises people when I tell them that I started the training to becme a doula, yet I've never used one, and don't plan to ever use one. They are shocked that my husband can be in tune enough with me and my needs that I have no need for anyone else to be there to help. At this point, our system is nearly perfected! : ) So to my honey-thank you for being my doula-even if you don't fit the mold! ; )

I am really looking forward now to the privilege of doing this all again, in likely less than 5 months!


Kelsey said...

I think that was the longest post in all blogging history! Will Aaron be my doula..he he JUST KIDDING!

Heather said...

Wow, that is beautiful, well said Catey! I'm glad that we were able to reunite at this screening.

I found out that this movie will be shown at different libraries starting next month sponsored by the utah birth network. I spoke to someone today at the successful mothering convention about it.