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.
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