Why oh WHY would you say that to a pregnant woman?

I’m ready to lighten the mood just a little bit, I suppose.  I found a link to this serious but cheeky post about what pregnant women really think when you say ridiculous things to them via @DarleneMacAuley on Twitter.  Ok, so maybe I should add the caveat that not all pregnant women react like this, but at least Mama Birth and I do!

Here’s one of hers:

Quote 5:
(Said when out in public with ‘gasp!’ all three kids and pregnant belly.)
“Wow. You are going to have your hands full.” ~Must be said in a voice that is a mixture of shock and horror.~

What I say:
“Oh….haha!”
(Why is my response almost always a smile and nervous laughter?! Seriously, my parents are not this polite!)

What I am thinking:
(On a bad day.)
“Are you kidding me, my hands ARE full. I am secretly freaking out, wondering if my sanity will survive and more importantly, if my kids will turn out to be functional adults. Can you get the door for me, load the groceries in the car (even after I say I don’t need help) and then help push me into my Suburban that conveniently has a four inch lift?”

(On a good day.)

“I love my kids! I couldn’t imagine life without them! They are the best thing that every happened to me and in no way a burden. Why does everybody seem so afraid of children? They are awesome.”

This is often said to me, especially when my big pregnant self is carrying a toddler twin on each hip!  (Mama Birth, I don’t have a Suburban; thankfully, a very practical Honda Odyssey!)

Here are a few more in my own voice:

Random persons: “Oh, you’re really carrying high.”

My responses:  (1) “Not really – here are my hip bones.” (2) “Really?  I haven’t thought about it.”

What I’m thinking: “That’s the last freaking thing I need to hear because what I do hear (it’s that small little nasty voice) is ‘yeah, the baby will never drop, never engage, never descend, mwhahaahahaaaa!‘”

Random persons (with my twin pregnancy): “Wow, you’re smaaaaallll for carrying twins!”

37.5 weeks with the twins

My response: “Huh, thanks?”

What I’m thinking: “I imagine she thinks that’s a compliment, but I don’t really appreciate having my twin pregnancy minimized.  I’m friggin’ huge but thankfully handle it well.”

Random persons (with my current singleton pregnancy): “Wow, you’re biiiiiiiiiiiiig!”

27weeks

My response: “Well, most women look bigger sooner when they’ve been pregnant before.”

35 weeks

What I’m thinking: “Eff you I do not either!!  I look fantastic!!!”  I also then think that people shouldn’t ever make comments about how big or small they think you are for whatever stage of pregnancy you’re in.

Various friends: “You’re not going to the hospital?  Wow, you’re brave!”

My response: “Hmm, well I think women who go to the hospital are brave.”

What I’m thinking: Unfortunately, most women take it for granted that they’ll be safe in the hospital and that their births will go normally.  I’m thinking that women don’t really consider their choice of birth venue as seriously as they should.  In my town, low risk women have access to a regional hospital (with a cesarean rate reflective of the national trend), a birth center (run by a CNM), and home birth.  Do women really know the pluses and minuses of each of these birth venues?

Random & Non-Random people: “Well, my baby would have died if we hadn’t been in the hospital because he/she was in distress!”

My response: “Wow, I’m sure that was really scary!”

My thoughts:  Normal, physiologic birth usually (sure, not always) does not lead to distressed babies.  When someone tells me their babies were in distress, I immediately wonder if they had: (1) AROM? (2) non-medically indicated induction? (3) non-medically indicated augmentation of labor? (4) epidural (which most hospital births involve epidurals).  We all usually study the “cascade of interventions” in childbirth education classes, but in the heat of the moment, lots of us forget that information and do whatever is required of or recommended to us.

These are a few of the random and usually not appreciated comments directed at me when I’m pregnant.  What are yours?

Shaken Not Stirred by Interventive Birth

There is no polite way to discuss this.  It comes directly from my soul.  I don’t mean to offend or whine, but it is bound to happen.  The fact is that I still feel sorry for myself.  I still feel jipped.  I still feel like my babies died because providers refused to help me.  I know that I can’t change the past and that rolling around in yesterday’s pain will not help tomorrow’s healing.  I know that I’m fortunate to have my daughter.  I know that people have been through much worse than I.  None of that helps.  And now I sit here still trying to process my sister-in-law’s interventive vaginal birth.  Yes, interventive.  Yes, vaginal.  No, not natural.  No, not normal (in my personal definition of normal birth).

My sister-in-law had cesarean written across her from the start.  She was subjected to a full genetic screening of which she and her spouse were not fully informed.  The result was a pregnancy shadowed by the fear of a child with fragile X syndrome.  They’ve been faced with the choice of abortion (not that they considered it), amniocentesis (they thankfully declined), and several ultrasounds.  And along the way my sister-in-law began to fear childbirth.  It didn’t sound like the typical scared stuff that you expect; she sounded AFRAID.  I tried to console her in my way and bolster her confidence without devaluing her feelings.

Next thing you know it she’s due.  They’re already talking about induction.  The decision was made to induce her a week after her due date.  I did e-mail her and my brother-in-law and remind them that babies should be given a due MONTH, not a johny-on-the-spot due date, and that it was inappropriate to push her towards induction at least before 42 weeks.  I knew I’d lose that one.

At 41 weeks she was induced in the hospital.  Dilation was slow, and understandably she began to get frustrated and concerned.  She was told that she should be dilating at a rate of 1cm per hour.  What an awful thing to tell a woman who’s not progressing – that her labor isn’t normal or on schedule.  They broke her water; they upped her pitocin.  They did all of the things that can cascade into a cesarean.

Only, she didn’t end up with a cesarean.  Her pelvis wasn’t declared inadequate.  Her baby wasn’t pronounced too big.  How in the heck did she avoid the knife?  All the signs were there pointing towards a cesarean delivery and yet she didn’t get cut.

Her experience has caused me to ask myself some tough questions.  Did you want her to get cut?  Did the fact that she had all of these interventions and still have a vaginal birth take the wind out of your arguments against interventive birth?  Does her success reflect on me somehow and my failures?  Did she deserve a vaginal birth and I didn’t?  Or am I just “mad” because she deserved to get cut (having agreed to so many interventions) whereas I didn’t deserve to get cut because I had educated myself and planned for a natural birth.

Two weeks have passed since my sister-in-law had her baby.  I am thrilled for her and my brother-in-law.  I can’t wait to meet my new niece.  But the ghosts are still rattling my cage.  I am not stirred by her experience.  Rather, I am shaken.

Day 2 of New Year Cesarean Watch

The first birth of the year announcements keep coming in.  Here are the births that came up in my cesarean news alert today:

New Year’s Baby
Wayne Independent – Honesdale,PA,USA
Dr. Hoon Yoo performed an emergency cesarean section, and Ruby arrived in the world at 8:47 am The 7 pound, 14 ounce infant is Wayne Memorial’s very first …

Sixteen babies born at Tema Hospital on New Year’s day
Joy Online – Accra,Ghana
She said with the exception of those delivered through cesarean sections, the rest had been discharged at the time of the visit.

NEW YEAR, 2 NEW BABIES – part 1
Brainerd Daily Dispatch – MN, United States
He was born via Cesarean section more than two weeks after his due date of Dec. 18 after more than 17 hours of labor – including more than two hours of …

Family welcomes first baby of 2008
Providence Journal – Providence,RI,USA
PROVIDENCE — Rhode Island’s first baby of 2008 came six days before she was due, and by way of cesarean section, at 2:06 am yesterday at Women & Infants …

Gwendalyne can’t wait, becomes 1st New Year’s baby
Herald Times Reporter – Manitowoc,WI,USA
MANITOWOC — Lisa Wellner’s baby wasn’t due until the first part of February, and she had a cesarean section scheduled for more than three weeks from now. …

And one unknown due to subscription restriction:

Welcome, Samuel! Area’s first baby of ’08 checks in
Daily Hampshire Gazette (subscription) – Northhampton,MA,USA
Surrounded by friends at the Cooley Dickinson Childbirth Center, Samuel’s proud parents, Maria Lozano and her husband, Juan Jimenez, were all smiles after …

So, 5 reported cesarean births and 1 unknown (though likely a vaginal birth due to implied location) in today’s news.  The working total* then is:
10 “First Babies” born by cesarean surgery
2 “First Baby” born vaginally
*  See my post from yesterday for those news stories

So, based on news reporting, the emerging cesarean rate as of January 2, 2008 is 80%.  Do people just somehow get caught up in the mystique of January 1 birthdays?  How many of these cesareans were needed?  How many became emergent due to complications related to position, progressing on a timeline, augmentation, induction, and the like?

This is intensely distressing!

It’s a New Year Rife with Cesarean Birth!

I don’t understand why hospital birth pushers (as in ALL women should have their babies “delivered” at hospitals) generally don’t understand or respect natural birth advocates’ (unhindered/non-interventive birth regardless of location) concerns over the growing number of complicated births and cesareans performed in this country! 

Look at these media google alerts from today!

‘A’ first baby in Capital Region
Albany Times Union – Albany,NY,USA
The doctor performed a cesarean section. Kin filled the waiting room. Avery is their first baby, but they hope to have more children who will also have …

Twins, baby girl are first births of 2008 for Las Cruces area
Las Cruces Sun-News – Las Cruces,NM,USA
She was delivered via Cesarean section. Quintana said the child is her second, but the birth was more difficult than her first because of Brenda’s large …

Region’s first 2008 baby born in Saratoga Springs
Albany Times Union – Albany,NY,USA
The doctor performed a cesarean section. As Avery arrived in the world, family members filled the waiting room. Avery is their first baby, but they hope to …

Boy, did he arrive early!
The Standard – Hong Kong
The 3.46kg boy, who still hasnt been named, arrived at the stroke of midnight by cesarean section. His mother Chan Ha-ling, 32, had suffered from labor …

Savannah’s New Year’s Baby Born at 4:40am
WTOC – Savannah,GA,USA
Dr. Gregory Whitaker got the page and said he was glad to help out in the Cesarean birth. “First baby I delivered in 1977,” he told us. …

[Not a cesarean birth!]
New Year’s baby born at Overlake
Seattle Times – United States
By Seattle Times staff Puget Sound’s first baby of the New Year was born at Overlake Hospital Childbirth Center in Bellevue, a hospital official said. …

One in six reported first births of the year was NOT a cesarean.  Can someone explain this to me?!?!?!!!  I don’t want to speculate here though plenty of thoughts are going through my head, I must admit.

If only more people were aware of the serious implications and complications of cesarean birth.  I am not talking about emergency cesarean or even emergent cesarean . . . sometimes babies have to be born this way.  But I know from my research and interactions with birth professionals that cesarean surgery is way over-used.  That augmentation is way over-used.  That induction is way over-used.  That many women are not allowed to gestate to term (term being 38-42 weeks, generally).  That women with cesarean scars are finding it incredibly difficult to have vaginal births.  That women who desire to VBAC are being told “no” without good justification, and that these women accept that response.  That women are socialized to fear childbirth, to fear their bodies, to fear their power.

Thanks to the International Cesearean Awareness Network (ICAN), I have learned differently.  I hope someone will read this post and find their needs attended to through this organization.

I will continue scouring the internet for more “first birth” information.