Today’s Notable Reads

Today is a banner day on my Facebook news feed.  Here are some things that piqued my interest.

  • Owen Wilson and his girlfriend welcomed their baby into the world at home!  I’m not providing a link – I figure you can go to your favorite celeb site if you’re curious.  ;)
  • Did you know that nearly 100% of us parents use car seats incorrectly.  Here’s a 5-minute video featuring “The Car Seat Lady.”
  • I haven’t read this yet, but check out this New Yorker article regarding the decline effect and the scientific method.
  • Homebirth: A Midwife Mutiny is a great blog.  I first read Risk, homebirth, VBAC and am now on to her take on a BBC News article about “womb tearing.”  Next, I think I’ll read Blaming Women, because HELLO it happens all the stinkin’ time.
  • I’m also curious to read a new-to-me blog today, particularly the article on “No, Actually, You Did Not Turn Out Ok.”  We’ll see – I’m a fairly mainstream mama, so I don’t know how I’ll respond knowing that this is one of the blogger’s perspectives: “Where I Post . . . And Kick Your Lily White Arse For Making Your Baby Cry-It-Out.”  We ended up doing CIO with our oldest.  Is she ok – not completely.  Is it because of CIO – not necessarily.  Are we ok – no completely.  Is it because of CIO – not exactly.  But hey, let’s blame ourselves (see blaming women above) and each other (a favorite past-time for some on Facebook) for our kids becoming assholes or freaks as if THEY have nothing to do with it.
  • DEEP BREATH
  • My favorite spot on the internet for sound pregnancy & birth related advice – Childbirth Connection

Feeling Overwhelmed . . . hmm

I’m feeling overwhelmed this week.  Icky.

A couple of things have thrown me off my center, perhaps.  Like my good friend’s threatened labor now at 30w gestation.  Like my sister-in-law’s straight-forward CBAC yesterday – don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful, but it’s still affecting me.  Like having to go back to work in less than two weeks – survival mode.  Like all of the projects that I haven’t accomplished this winter break.  Like my birthday coming tomorrow – gross late-30s number!  Like CBA2C vs. VBA2C vs. CBA2C vs. VBA2C and on and on.

Ack.

What do you do when you’re feeling overwhelmed and ineffective?  Any suggestions?  It’s really causing me to stagnate and procrastinate.

It’s not like I’m doing absolutely NOTHING.  It’s just that I feel like I’m hiding in my birth research and stressing about a lot of different things and not actually accomplishing things in a timely fashion.  I just need to break the cycle.  I probably need a to do list – maybe a reward chart?!  Haha!

We already feel inadequate

I watched Orgasmic Birth last night on Amazon.  When I told my husband what I was watching, he gave me a look like “oh no, you’re going to be one of those women this time, huh?”  I told him that despite the title, the movie was supposed to be good, and for the most part it was.

If you go to the OG website, you’ll see that they define the word orgasmic differently than you would expect: “Intense or unrestrained excitement or a similar point of intensity or emotional excitement.”  I’d agree that all of the normal physiologic births shown on the video demonstrated intensity.  It’s important to read the definition above with the word “or” in mind.  A woman does not have to achieve orgasm during labor/birth to have an orgasmic birth.

I found it interesting that one of the interviewed NCB experts suggested that we don’t share our birth stories because we don’t want to make other women feel inadequate.  Perhaps a woman who consents to an epidural in a hospital setting will feel inadequate, I don’t know.  But, a woman who has undergone a cesarean after trying to labor will almost always feel inadequate in some way.  (I know there are always women out there who will say different.)  Let me explain.

A woman is told that babies come out of vaginas, and that most of the time that is possible.  Women may enter into the last stages of pregnancy knowing that they want an epidural or to be induced, but they still expect that in most cases, the baby is going to come out normally.  However, most hospital birthers are not given the right kind of support to achieve a natural physiologic birth or normal birth.  Inductions are fairly normal.  Augmentations are fairly normal.  Epidurals are extremely common.  As one expert pointed out on the movie, when most (like 90%) laboring women receive an epidural, and you don’t, you take the staff out of its comfort zone.

So after these interventions and more (constant monitoring, restricted movement in labor, etc.), women are still expected somehow to birth vaginally.  And a third of us are sectioned – or more, depending on the location.  Our bodies failed us, we are lead to believe.  “Thank God I was in the hospital or my baby and I would have been in big trouble.”  Our inadequacies are magnified by the overwhelming successes of the medical machine.

Women who have had cesareans are defensive.  “My cesarean was necessary” is a common belief.  But to suggest that women don’t share their birth stories because they don’t want to make a cesarean mother feel inadequate is not understanding the situation.  We already feel inadequate.

I am 1 of 3 women sectioned in childbirth.

I am one of numerous women told that her body wasn’t capable of birthing her baby.

I am 3 of 4 women sectioned in Montana for twins.

I am nearly 100% of women in my community told they cannot have a VBAC in the hospital after multiple scars.

I am nearly 100% of women told to be thankful that they have a healthy baby after a cesarean section.

Share your birth stories in a supportive, instructive, and hopeful manner.  Give cesarean mamas hope that next time can be different, if she chooses.  And she has to choose; you can’t choose for her.  I myself am preparing for a transformational experience this summer.  I can’t get there unless I embrace stories of uninhibited natural physiologic birth.

Fiction gives me unexpected confidence

This may sound strange, but I’m reading Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol at my husband’s suggestion, and it’s really helping me . . . at this moment . . . find peace with my path to successful birth at the end of this pregnancy.

This book introduced me to noetic science.  Huh?  According to Wikipedia, noetic theory is “the study of mind and intuition, and its relationship with the divine intellect.”  That is just right up my alley in some ways.  I’m more prone to read a research study about pregnancy than I am to delve into Birthing from Within, but part of my non-fiction pursuits in the past have focused on theology and mysticism, and this book (and a recent talk with a trusted friend, a “straight up” talk with a midwife who doesn’t live in my area, and some soul searching) has helped remind me of the mystical aspect of birth.  Birth is a divine gift and one bestowed on women.  Should it surprise us that the male-dominated world would try and rob us (think gender subversion, think hegemony, heck think Marxism) of this unique gift?!

Ok, so back to my unexpected fiction-induced fervor and confidence in my ability to birth:

  • “Our untapped potential is truly shocking.” (p. 27)
  • “We have barely scratched the surface of our mental and spiritual capabilities.” (p. 67)
  • Our thoughts have physical mass & can interact with the physical world, “. . . whether or not we [know] it, effecting change all the way down to the subatomic realm.” (p. 67)
  • Intention requires practice! (see http://www.theintentionexperiment.com/how-to-intend)
  • This seems to coincide with what I’ve already learned about Bodytalk (see http://www.bodytalksystem.com/learn/bodytalk/) – that the body can rebalance and repair itself.

Gosh, what does this have to do with natural birth?  Well, in my case, I’ve had a lot of experience with programming myself in the medical model of women’s health.  I have benefitted from this model, surely, but when it comes to natural physiologic birth, the medical model has its severe limitations.  I feel like a hostage to the medical model – and sometimes victims are oddly attached to their captors.  I am one of those victims.

I need God to work with me BIG TIME during this pregnancy.  He continues to keep me safe even though I fall flat on my face every day.  He never forsakes me.  He will protect me and this baby too, if it’s his divine Will.  God’s plan may not be my plan, but I have to believe that no matter what my and my husband’s decision may be for this birth, that His Will will be done.

“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” ~ Psalm 127:1

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  ~ John 14:27

“Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you. Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act.” ~ Psalm 37:5,7

Clearly, I’m still working all of this out and how it connects, and how it may or may not be useful to me.  But I am excited to share this renewed faith with you.  I’ve always been interested in the spiritual aspect of science, and now I’m discovering even more connections to and evidence of God’s presence in modern science.

Here’s to a peaceful and powerful 2011!

Thinking Through Birth

You may be surprised to discover that I’m pregnant again!  I’m due in late June or early July 2011, and this means that I’ll have three babies under the age of 2.  I’m excited and terrified, let me tell you.

I’ve been back on the ICAN yahoo list, the ICAN forums, and Mothering’s forums getting back into the swing of things.  This has forced me to really look at my birth experiences, my fears, and my hopes for this future baby’s entrance into the world.  It’s quite uncomfortable.  I’m a huge fence sitter.  Which means that I do poorly on multiple choice tests.  Which means that I can see both sides of political situations and most conflicts.  Which means that I am afraid to let go of the medical birth model that I claim to so strongly resist.

Why wouldn’t I be afraid.  My first birth ended with medical interventions and a cesarean.  I suffered three consecutive losses that couldn’t really be explained until I saw a specialist.  I naturally conceived twins and had to have early pregnancy supplemented with hormones which led to other interventions.  I was risked out of homebirth.  My OB was in love with his ultrasound machine which means that I had a ton of baby pictures.  I didn’t really have a viable choice for homebirth care.

Even this pregnancy has been medically supervised and supplemented beyond the norm.  First trimester progesterone supplementation and already two ultrasounds to check viability and growth.  How am I going to sever this link?  Even though I am planning a home birth, I am now so used to medical intervention, that I’m having a hard time ripping off the bandaid, so to speak.

Here is the link  to the twins’ birth story for anyone interested in reading it.  It’s not terribly thorough, but I guess that’s because what can I say about it really?  I had double footling breech twins which was a no go for vaginal birth at the hospital.  (Twins and breech are not in the scope of practice for homebirth midwives in MT.)  So, I got cut.  It sucked.  Recovery was long.

What I’m noticing this time around is how many women are UCing their twins, even breech twins.  I was not brave enough for that even though I talked as thought I could be.  Honestly, I didn’t see how I could be prepared to UBAC twins, and I didn’t want to put that kind of pressure on myself or my husband.  I think it’s a real failure of the “system” that I couldn’t be attended by a capable midwife at home.

These stories are great to read and make me feel so much better about my own plans to HBA2C, but they also make me sad.  It’s another slice of the knife reading that other women successfully birth breech twins in the comfort of their own homes.  My good ICAN friend, L, rightly challenged me on my belief that I had no choice.  These stories are proof of this.

But then I think back on the fear mongering . . . the claim that my lower uterine segment is too thin at the end of pregnancy to VBAC safely.  And I think of the statistically significant higher rupture rate with VBAmC – why wouldn’t it be higher for VBAmC than it is for VBA1C?  Considering how many bizarre statistics have applied to me during my childbearing years, the fear flag is raised regarding my potential to rupture.

And then I remember that the risks of repeat cesarean and the risks of serious complications with a VBA2C are about even.  And I realize that it’d be hard for me to have a successful VBAC at the hospital even if there was a provider who would attend me, which there isn’t.  And I think about my recent conversation with my family practice doctor who reminded me that my midwife will transfer me to the hospital if anything goes wrong, and that emotionally/mentally it would be hard for me to be successful to birth normally in a hospital setting.

So this is the snapshot of where I am right now with it all.  And in case you’re curious, here’s my current reading list:

And I’ve placed holds on a couple of Ina May Gaskin books to read during my winter break.  I’ll also review Simkin’s The Birth Partner.

Hospital VBAC: The Don’t Forget List

[NB: Most of what I've written below applies specifically to the hospital venue.]

We all know the books to read when preparing for a VBAC or the videos that will help us gain confidence in our ability to give birth vaginally.  We all know to pack our hospital bags, including our mental focus recordings, and bring a copy of our birth plans.  We all know that we need a doula with us, one who is experienced supporting VBACing women. 

Many of us even know that we need to talk powerfully about our upcoming VBACs.  “I’m trying for a VBAC” is not nearly strong enough.  Replace that with “I’m planning a VBAC.”  Did you birth the first time with “I’m gonna try to give birth vaginally” going through your brains?  Probably not.  I myself never doubted my ability to give birth naturally.

Anyway, I digress.  In addition to constructing a clear but concise birth plan, you need to also do the following:

  1. obtain a copy of the hospital’s VBAC consent form; review it and make changes as you see fit; give a copy to your care provider and bring a copy with you to the hospital
  2. obtain a copy of the hospital’s cesarean consent form; review it and make changes as you see fit; give a copy to your care provider and bring a copy with you to the hospital.  My hospital doesn’t have a cesarean consent form.  They have you sign their generic “invasive procedure” form which I find unacceptable.
  3. discuss the modifications you’ve made to the above forms with your care provider(s)
  4. especially if you’re NOT married, make sure your will is in order
  5. make sure you bring a medical power of attorney in case medical decisions need to be made and you are incapacitated

Bruce Flamm’s VBAC consent form appears everywhere on the internet.  I personally didn’t find it sufficient, but it is a place to start.  Here’s a great post - an actual cesarean consent form with some added commentary from the blogger.  I’ve taken this form and modified it so that (1) consent is not given for elective cesarean; (2) consent is withheld until the situation would arise for an emergent cesarean; (3) my husband is named as having power of attorney in the case of an emergency where I was unable to make my wishes known.  I also added some things that were missed on the form.

Please ask questions or offer your own suggestions!