Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Childbirth, cont.

There are more issues with giving birth in a hospital. I don't want to go into them in detail, but they mostly have to do with hospital policies. The position that women are put into when delivering only benefits the doctor. Ideally, the woman should be in a position she is most comfortable in, and one that also utilizes gravity. When women lie on their backs, it makes it harder for the baby to go down the birth canal, but it's an easier position for the delivering physician. Also, women in labor need to move around, and switch positions as needed. They need to be able to walk around. This is not efficient when you are attached to 5 different machines and confined to the hospital bed. Women are also not allowed to eat anything, which seems backwards and a total unnecessary precaution, since they need all the energy they can get.

I understand that hospitals need to take precautions. But these precautions are put in place not with the mother in mind, but to mitigate against potential liability. Childbirth is treated like every case is a potential disaster, when we really should be celebrating the joy of life being created.

So, with all this in mind, I have decided to forgo the drugs and attempt to deliver naturally. I pondered a home birth delivery for a while, but I really like Dr. Pepper (I'd have to get a midwife otherwise) and since this will be my first delivery, I don't know what to expect. If something goes wrong, at least I will be in an environment that can get me through it.

We spoke to Dr. Pepper about delivering naturally, and he had no problem with it. He even agrees that its better because epidurals delay the contractions anyway, and would make my delivery longer than it needs to be. Ideally, he'd like me to go through the bulk of the contractions at home, and only come to the hospital when I'm sufficiently dilated. This way I won't have to fight too much with hospital staff who want to strap me in and drug me up.

So now the next step is to adequately prepare myself for the pain. I've started prenatal yoga, which helps to strengthen and stretch the muscles I'm going to need. I'm going to sign up for birthing classes. A friend of a friend who is a doula suggested I have a close friend or family member in the hospital with me. Someone who knows my needs and will make sure the hospital staff doesn't talk me into something I don't want.

I want to feel. I don't want to be numb. I want the entire experience of giving birth. Watching all those women in the documentary gave me a renewed sense of pride. I am woman. I can do this.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


S and I used to laugh at women who opted for natural childbirth with no anesthesia. It just seemed kind of silly not to want to utilize modern medicine. Why go through all that pain when you don't have to?

Then one day I was browsing through prenatal yoga videos on Netflix and accidentally came across the movie The Business of Being Born. That movie opened my eyes and changed every view I thought I had on the topic of childbirth. Ricky Lake (of talk show fame) had her first child in a hospital. She was unhappy with the experience and decided to explore other options for her second baby. The film explores the differences between having a baby in a hospital, with all the advances of modern medicine, and having a home birth, with a midwife present. The film also shows in graphic detail, the births of five or so babies. It was the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. Nothing else comes close.

What fascinated me about the movie was the way that hospitals treat laboring mothers. Pitocin is a drug used to induce labor and speed up the contractions. There are significant risks with using Pitocin, including fetal distress. Also, because the contractions are being sped up, it becomes more painful for the woman. Because of the pain, an epidural is administered. In addition to numbing the lower body, epidurals also slow down contractions, making it necessary to again use Pitocin. Which in turn brings on the pain, requiring more anesthesia. And the cycle continues, benefitting only the hospitals, which get a faster delivery and a free bed sooner.

Another alarming trend is the increase in cesarean sections. In 2007 one in three births in the United States has been through C-sections. This is an all time high. One reason for the increase is the use of Pitocin and epidurals in the delivery room. Labor induction too early, before the mother and baby are ready can cause fetal distress, which increases the need for a surgical delivery. Infant mortality rates are also highest in the US than in other developed countries.

Hospital staff will often recommend C-sections, even when it might not be needed. This is to prevent liability issues, because a C-section confirms that they did everything that they could do. Also, nine out of ten women who had C-sections, have repeat C-sections because health professionals are unwilling to offer the choice of VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean sections).

Although one can argue that the documentary is one-sided, it doesn’t make the facts any less true. A co-worker of mine went through the exact steps listed above. She was a healthy 26 year old mother-to-be in labor. She was given Pitocin and an epidural, which caused the baby to be in distress. She needed to have a C-section. When she became pregnant with her second child, her doctor did not even give her the option of a natural delivery, he instead scheduled her delivery again via C-section.

I could go on, and I will, in a future blog post.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Energy! Libido!

Oof. It's been a while. I've started four blog posts since my last update but always end up saving them as draft. Sometimes the urge to write hits and the words flow beautifully. That urge hasn't presented itself lately.

Nonetheless, there is much to say.
  • I'm in my second trimester, and life is back to normal. I no longer get mood swings, and I have energy to spare. And! My libido is back! S is quite pleased about this.
  • I have decided not to renew my contract at work. I put a lot of thought into this, and there are just too many negative factors involved with me staying. The only positive is the paycheck, which I admit, is a big positive. However, the reasons I left this job a year ago are still valid. If I don't move forward with my career goals now, I will find myself stuck doing something that I hate for longer than I'd care to.
  • Along those lines, I have also decided not to "announce" my pregnancy at work. The two co-workers closest to me know, and there is really no reason for anyone else to know. After I leave (again), I won't be keeping in touch with anyone else here. It's fun hiding my bump. It's not outrageous as yet, so scarfs and shawls have been doing the trick.
  • I've been taking advantage of my new found energy. I spent the weekend at happy hour (albeit sober), celebrating two birthdays, watching a baseball game at the newly constructed Citifield in Queens and walking through Flushing Meadow park with a few girlfriends.
  • We have picked out a name for Peanut. We are keeping it under wraps for now, to avoid the usual negative opinions that are bound to come from all sides. I sometimes wish we could wait a little longer before naming the kid, at least until his personality starts to show. That way we can tell if he's a Bob or a Storm.
  • On Sunday I rode the train with a toddler who did not want to sit in her stroller and wasn't afraid to let it known. She threw a tantrum, screaming her head off, taking off her sneakers and throwing them across the train, all the while the mother calmly ignored her. Yikes. I don't know what I would do in that situation. I guess I'll find out soon enough.

Friday, April 3, 2009


On Wednesday S's hairdresser (barber?) noticed my belly. That's two in one week.
I've gotta say, I don't look that pregnant today though. I don't feel pregnant either. I think it's the second trimester kicking in. I feel normal.

Making another lame attempt to reclaim my social life. I'm going to my regular Friday happy hour destination, my Cheers, where everyone knows my name. I haven't been since last year. Hopefully they still remember my name.

My last lame attempt:
Last Saturday I made plans to go out with a girlfriend. S went off to work, then a concert, then realized that my wallet (read: money, driver's license, credit cards) was in his jacket pocket. So there I am stuck in Brooklyn.
Undeterred, I remember that my metrocard was not in the wallet. Aha, I can still travel! And since alcohol is a no-no, I don't actually need any cash or credit cards. And I have my passport! Wahoo!
I get dressed, and dolled up and was quite pleased with the results. Tight jeans, high heeled knee high black boots, a red halter top with an empire waist that minimized my belly while showcasing my newly ample bosom. I was ready.
I walked to the subway station and swipe my metrocard and swiped only to get the following message:

Insufficient funds

Curses! My monthly metrocard chose that day to expire. Still determined, I walked all the way back to the apartment (did I mention it was also raining?) to find eight quarters.

Then I realized that it just wasn't meant to happen. I'm all for creating your own destiny and paving your own path. But I also know that sometimes you have to give in, and let the universe have its way. So I settled in for the night, watched Made of Honor, and waited for S to come home bearing french fries and the promise of a massage.