There was a whole lot of fun going on this past weekend – DC Veg Fest, Barracks Row, National Book Festival, DC State Fair – and I didn’t go to any of it. I still have a terrible lingering cold which is more annoying because my immune system is wacky and I can’t take regular meds because of Bassou. We did venture into the ‘burbs to visit a couple of hardware stores and I had some restorative phở bò at a Vietnamese restaurant. Late Sunday afternoon I was feeling well enough that we walked around Roosevelt Island in the beautiful fall sunshine. I was feeling melancholy anyway because of the poor dead panda baby.
I’ve taken a temporary reprieve from reading preggy books because I’m annoyed at the constant comparisons between Bassou’s size and some sort of food (currently the size of a lemon) and I’m just overwhelmed by all the crazy things that are happening (or could happen) to my body. Or to Bassou. Poor Bassou will probably enter the world with a stress afro and a Diet Coke in one hand and a bag of Doritos in the other.
My gynecologist, who’s been my doctor since grad school, doesn’t do OB anymore and is retiring soon. We settled on GWU Hospital since it’s convenient and goodness knows I’ve been there lots of times. GW has a midwifery practice as well as the traditional OB/GYN services; I originally thought I’d prefer a midwife but the midwifery practice is super-rigorous (natural birth, excellent health, strict diet/exercise regime). I already had an appointment with the one of the OB/GYN specialists so I asked her about all the things I was interested in, like being able to move around during labor. She said that was all cool. (In fact, she herself is expecting, so I doubt she’ll be around to deliver Bassou.) It all boils down to my low threshold for pain. The midwives said that they sometimes allow “a whiff” of something to help ease labor, but I can’t even stand wearing high heels, and I want the back-up possibility of a medicated birth if I choose to have one. I want to honor what my body is capable of – and I have a pretty good inkling of what it’s not capable of. Quite frankly I don’t care if people think that I’m not a good feminist because I’m not having a natural birth; for me, feminism is all about choice, and I’m so lucky to have choices about how Bassou will come into the world.
Omg - yes - you need to think about what your tolerance for pain is. Before I had my children I was all set for a 'natural' childbirth. I never made it past being dilated to a 2 w/out an epidural! I do not handle pain well, and I don't care what that says about me. All I know is that my children (even with epidurals) were alert, healthy and happy, and I was able to nap while progressing to a ten when a lot of those ladies who win the iron ovary award are screaming (or tolerating needless) pain. But that's just my opinion. :)
I'm like Celeste above. I'm all for 'give me my painkillers now gdammit' choice. Both kids were c-sections for medical reasons, but my water broke one day early for my first one and the second one was a day early too. So I was pretty much wheeled into the OT asking when they would conk me out please and thank you.
The feminist approach to birth is having choice.
Yes, there are a lot of reasons to consider having a natural child birth. There are also a lot of reasons to be skeptical of what the medical establishment is offering as normal or standard. Being aware of the process you're going to go through is important. I'm not sure if you're doing any reading, but the three very reasonable (i.e., not large tomes) books that I would recommend are The Doula Book, and two by Ina May Gaskin: Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, and Birth Matters: A Midwife's Manifesta.
Please don't read this comment as "don't use epidural," but do read it as "be informed." One intervention can lead to a cascade of others, and it's best to know what you want going in, make sure everyone else knows, and make sure you have someone to advocate for you (Mo or family member or friend?) when only your cerebellum is still at work during labor!