Friday, January 29, 2010

Issues? Me?

Please Note: This is a 'poor me' post about being pregnant after infertility. If you are not in a space to read about anyone, let alone an infertile, complaining about being pregnant then please skip this one.

I have recently realized I have issues - issues surrounding being pregnant and giving birth.

I did before too, but I tried my best not to think about it. Not entirely true - I did think about it, but didn't think it would effect the birth experience. And maybe it didn't. Certainly I tried enough positive thinking, imagery, meditation, you name it - all failed - during the infertility journey to doubt their efficacy during birth.

There was also my first birth experience. Let me tell you how ready I was to give birth at 27 weeks and knowing that immediately after the baby was born to be faced with life and death decisions. I was not prepared at all - for any of it. Not for the physical pain. Not for the emotional experience of being in labor. Not for being more convinced than not that the baby would die. Not for what it would be like to hold our dying or dead baby. Not for the image in my head of a limp baby trying to find his way out of the birth canal. Not even the tiniest fraction of any of it.

Yet I gave birth vaginally and without drugs. Despite not being mentally ready. Despite checking out emotionally because I didn't see any other way. Despite doing all the things 'wrong' that those natural birth books talk about - my body did it. Quite on it's own, it found a way to push out a baby I so desperately didn't want to see born - at least not yet and not how I was so afraid it would be (and was).

Going into LB's birth, I also wasn't ready. I couldn't allow myself to believe I would be a mother. There were moments it did seem possible. There were moments I could embrace and celebrate being pregnant, but I couldn't really believe I would be a mom. After six years, one neonatal death, two miscarriages and more compromises than I care to count; I knew with certainty that it could all still go to hell and we would be left childless. Since I could not allow myself to believe that it would actually work out, I also couldn't allow myself to prepare either for the birth or for having a child in our home afterward.

Not a problem. I allowed myself a few onsies, I had breasts to breastfeed and I ordered a diaper service. I had all I needed for a baby to come home. As for the birth process? I had my midwife and a home. The rest was left up to my body. It worked before, it would work again.

But it didn't (not that it wasn't still wonderful in many ways) - at least not the way I wanted. I am mostly convinced that there was nothing I could have done about it - that it was the double nuchal cord that caused LB's heart rate to drop every time she tried to descend which led to the cesarean birth. But I also had, per some studies, a tired uterus (my contractions were slow to build and slow to recede by the time I got to the hospital). There is some indication that this can be caused or made worse by a build up of adrenaline. Was my body responding to my mind's inability to face what may come - for good or ill - by pumping out extra adrenalin? Could I have made a difference if I had been more mentally prepared?

While I feel that the likelihood is small, this time around - my last ever chance for the birth I imagined twice already- it is beyond important that we at least have a birth a bit closer to that ideal. That is, a home birth with a live baby. It is so important that whenever I verbally express my hope, tears come to my eyes.

To that end I have been doing what I can to prepare (fortunately this time around I can imagine having a live baby and am willing to take the emotional risk to plan for it). One of the things I have recently been doing it rereading a book I read before Ernest was born: Birthing From Within. In the second chapter, it encourages you to do 'birth art' - basically drawing a picture on a particular topic and see what comes out. Rather than participate fully, I just visualized what I would draw. The first topic: Draw yourself as pregnant woman.

Pregnant woman?! I am NOT pregnant woman. Pregnant Woman is arrogant and boastful and undeserving. Pregnant Woman walks around in tight maternity shirts, rubbing her belling. Pregnant Woman thinks she is all that when she is really just lucky and has no idea how lucky she is. Pregnant Woman is fertile and I hate everything about her.

I wasn't quite expecting such an angry response. I felt my whole body stiffen. I am not one of those people. And I am pregnant.

Suddenly, as I stop to reread the last two paragraphs, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Remember the phrase, "I'm not bitter, I'm just consumed with hate."? That's me.

It's all good. I am pregnant, the baby is seemingly healthy and it has all gone remarkably easy so far. I just have some work to do. It might even help. Thanks for listening.


Sunny said...

I really do hope you get the birth experience you are hoping for this time. It's sad how many of us are disappointed in how things went the first time -- those "what ifs" are killer because we can NEVER KNOW.

When I was considering a VBAC with the twins, I emailed Peggy Simkin (well-known doula and author) over here in Seattle. She suggested I see a birth counselor to work through my trauma from delivering my son. If I would have gone that route, I would have done it. Something to consider!

MrsSpock said...

Before I had the experience of doing everything right and having everything go wrong, I put a lot more stock in the good mentality equals good birth outcome theory.

And I have done a 180. My son did a little tornado on the inside and had such a tight nuchal cord he almost killed himself. And there was no amount of "right thinking" that could have changed that. And LB did her own thing- totally separate from your fears and doubts.

I think you were the one who told me the day I went to the hospital to be induced, that whatever the outcome, I was still the one giving birth. And that held true.Because LB's cord issue was something that happened by chance, I say you have just as much likelihood of having a good chance at a successful VBAC as anyone.

musicmakermomma said...

I was so glad to see you yesterday! Sorry if I was an attention hog, but it is such a relief to talk to actual PEOPLE! Thank you for getting us together.

I was just reading Lorraine's story
and it made me think of you - you may want to check it out! I have NEVER had any interest in home birth or even unassisted birth until I read this.

tireegal68 said...

I just read about LB's birth. Wow - for some reason when I was reading it I did not connect the dots and did not know if she was going to live. You have been through so much trauma with being pregnant, miscarrying, giving birth to Ernest at 27 weeks. You have every right to feel afraid and angry and have a hard time visualizing yourself as pregnant.
I second the idea of working with a birth counselor or therapist to do some of that work before you give birth this time.
Thank you for sharing your stories. I know what you mean about those unaware but lucky pregnant women who have no clue that it's so hard for some of us. ((HUGS))

Leah said...

I gasped when I read your description of Pregnant Woman. That is EXACTLY how I feel. In my head, I know it's not always true nor rational. But in my heart, that is how I feel, vitrol and all, toward pregnant women.

I am happily at the end of my babymaking road with two healthy children at home. I feel a tiny shred of myself healing a bit at a time, but I still have a loooong way to go. And I don't even have the genuinely traumatic birth experiences that you endured. (I did have 2 c-sections, but was okay with them.)

So this is a long winded way of saying that I can appreciate the feelings you have for Pregnant Woman -- and the contradiction that poses since you are pregnant yourself. I was there too.

But I also wanted to say that I hope your next birth experience is much, much closer to what you've been hoping for. I will be wishing for that from now until the day arrives.

Leah and Maya said...

I don't know how else youshould feel, I think everything you feel is normal for us screwed up infertiles. the feelings of seeing pregnant people the tighten of your stomach and body becasue the anger and just how much you detest them. Awful isn't I really am a nice person but I get you, never wanted a home birth but still its your dream. hey I"m a mom with a child and still I don't really fit in with everyone else, oh well I wish I didn't feel this wasy but thats what life does to you, experiences change you for good or bad. If nothing else I am more grateful to have Maya home and know the dispair of having no child yet feeling like a childless mother.

Sara said...

I am bitter too. I wish I wasn't. I'm ashamed of it. I try not to be, but I'm bitter. Most days the bitterness doesn't rear its ugly head, but that almost makes it harder to face when it does come out.

I think that birthing is about 10% attitude, 90% sheer luck. The only, and I mean ONLY reason that I didn't end up having a c-section with Eggbert is that no medical professional ever suggested it or even offered the option when I was 20 hours into labor. I had 0 confidence that my body could do it. Rather the opposite, I was in tears of frustration that I was in SO much pain (water broken for 20 hours, tons of pitocin, no other meds) yet it was obvious that I was going to end up having a c-section (I made almost no progress with dilation until about the 25th hour). But in the end, long after I had given up and checked out emotionally, my body rallied and I could push. From then on out, everything was fine, but I could never take any kind of credit (you know the kind I mean--the almost macho "I had a vag birth without pain meds" credit) for any of it, because the first 25 hours of labor were something that happened to me, rather than being something that I did.

That was my long-winded way of saying that I'm with you about the power of positive thinking not being worth much. However, having said that, I think that my experience would have been a lot more pleasant for ME if I had been better able to believe in my body. Hard to do after IF, but really the only way not to feel like birthing is just another strange accident.

Good luck Kami. While we all know that what you deserve isn't necessarily what you get in this life, you of all people certainly deserve a fantastic, redemptive birth experience. I hope you get it.

battynurse said...

I hope you get the birth you want this time. Thinking of you and sending many hugs.

Lisa DG said...

Thanks for sharing how you are feeling. I so appreciate your honesty.

I also hope that this birth story is just as you want it to be.

Lorraine said...

I love the idea of a cherished birth memory - I hope you can have the experience you want and have waited so long for. But, and of course you know this, it's not the most important part of the overall experience.

I'm so glad that LB is healthy and happy and part of your life, and if a C was the way to get that, then it was well worth it. Whatever your next birth experience is, it will be the way you meet that little dish-mate, and that will be the best part of it, no matter what.

Of course, I'll still be sending you good wishes for the perfect cozy home birth...

sarah said...

Amazing how that rage just hides out in pockets and then erupts! A really sweet friend of my mothers offered me condolences on my miscarriage yesterday (at my paretns anniversary party of all places), and I think I might have erupted a bit myself. Oy. At least you found where it was hiding!

Ryan's Mommy said...

You have every right to have issues about pregnancy and birth. I'd be shocked if you didn't. What you are feeling is NORMAL. I hope that you get the birth experience you want this time. You deserve it.

maxandzuzu said...

Thank you for leaving that comment on Riley's site 2/1/10. I really needed to hear someone say something like that. It meant a lot.


Me said...

I SO hope you get the birth experience you desire this time around! ((HUGS))

Panamahat said...

Hoping Lady Luck is passing your window at the right moment. xx

B said...

Would it help for me to remind you what kind of space you were in this time, last pregnancy?

I remember feeling your intense worry, and intense disbelief that it could work. You were writing a lot more posts to try and sort out the immensity of what you were going through. I ached for you each time I read a post.

I'm getting very different vibes from your posts of late. Yep, there's fear and worry and lots of processing......... but the rawness has gone.

I'd say you've come a real long way. While there is still anger to get through, and a shit load of other stuff, you can have confidence that you will travel that distance from the fact that you've come so far already.

Hope that wasn't presumptuous.


Summer said...

I'm late to comment as I never seem to be able to catch up on people's posts until well after they have been posted. But, I wanted to say that I agree with you. I don't think any of us infertiles can be the Pregnant Woman. Maybe you could just visualize yourself at this time, now. It doesn't have to be you pregnant, just how you see yourself.

Big Love, Big Acceptance - or so I say said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I'm "new" on this journey of loss (I lost my baby in Sept), but can relate to what you write. I'm very attached to having the birth I want. I hope to the next time around (whenever that is). For my first birth I read Birthing From Within and took a birth class w/ a woman who was "certified" in teaching that kind of class. Since my baby died, I've been working w/ a therapist almost weekly. She does art therapy and I have found that very helpful. Usually I do most of my artwork at home. It's interesting to look back at my artwork from months ago. I find it a helpful way to document my journey on this path of grief and loss.

Like everyone else, I too hope you have the birth experience you want. And I too know it doesn't always work out that way. But I sure keep hoping! Thanks for letting me share!