Thursday, August 10, 2017

My birth story : Part 1 : The BEFORE

As I mentioned in my to do list, I've gotten most of the big things done. All the cloth diapers are sewn, all the baby stuff has been bought, all the furniture has been moved, things have been assembled... but some of that moving of stuff made the house messy again, so I gotta do that. But mostly, I'm feeling really good about where everything is, physically speaking. So now it's time to work on the mental stuff.

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I've decided to put away all the baby books and baby blogs. I had an Ina May Gaskin book, half of which is birth stories, all ready to go...and then I decided not to. I've already studied up on the anatomy of my body, the physiological processes of labor, the interventions I don't want, the risks of various complications, and so on and so forth. But I think all the book reading in the world isn't going to prepare me for actually giving birth. Instead, it's time to take the knowledge I have and internalize that and focus on preparing myself for this experience.

There's an amazing women's group in Lakewood (near Cleveland), that holds a monthly group for pregnant women and new moms and I think even those planning on becoming pregnant. I found out about this group when looking for midwives, a service they provide as well. I was unable to use them for a variety of reasons, but I was able to attend their birth group a couple of times and really enjoyed it. They were very supportive when things were very difficult for me, and they've even followed up with what's happening with me. I missed the group in June and July, so I wanted to go in August, since Smashface is due this month.

It was very helpful and made me want to write this blog post. I was able to get my mind off of all the information I've been collecting and on the track of what I need to do. Social situations are hard, because I'm always plagued by this feeling that I'm talking too much. This particular group was an open forum for moms to talk to those in the group who are going to become moms. So I was able to ask a lot of questions about labor and delivery, and the experienced moms were able to lay down advice. It was helpful in two ways; I was able to speak out my thoughts and reframe my mind, and I was able to parse what was being said to me...but it was also unhelpful in one way that has occurred throughout my pregnancy...


Most experienced moms feel the need to impart labor and motherhood stories either as cautionary tales or downright horror stories.


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I'm finding this to be largely useless. I know the women mean well. I know they are sharing from their personal experiences. I know that going into having a baby for the first time can be really scary but can also make us naive again. For some women, it's been a mess of inaccurate medical information that leaves them feeling powerless over their bodies, and hearing from women who have done it can be very helpful to bring back empowerment. For some women, it's a naive perspective, not understanding that labor and delivery can be complicated and unexpected, so hearing from women who have overcome those complications can be incredibly helpful. Sadly, some of the women sharing their tales seem to think that none of us can go have the birth we want. They were blind sided by their own situation and feel the need to make sure women understand things CAN go wrong. I understand their desperation, even if it isn't helpful. If you've lived through something scary or traumatic, you generally don't want other people to do experience the same thing.


However, in all these cautionary tales and horror stories, I've never been able to just say, "I feel confident in my body and my knowledge of the process and I believe I'm going to have a complication-free birth that I hope to enjoy."


And honestly, that's a bummer.

Instead, I feel like I'm not even ALLOWED to talk about what I envision my birth will be like. Certainly, doctors are not helpful. When I tell them my "fairy tale" ideas, they roll their eyes or laugh at me. Whenever I speak to a doctor, I always preface my thoughts with, "I KNOW this is probably a fantasy, but..." I'm not trying to fight this, because I've learned that the medical community views pregnancy and birth as a series of things that can go wrong. However, it's frustrating to me that I'm not allowed to talk to other moms about my positive attitude and my belief that my body is capable of this amazing natural process, and I think I'm gonna do it just fine. Instead, most conversations about pregnancy, and labor and delivery, and the early days or weeks of postpartum are just chock full of all of these, "LET ME TELL YOU!" sorts of stories. I'm not so stupid as to think nothing could go wrong, and I'm not so naive as to think that I will immediately transition from pregnancy through birth to breastfeeding and caring for a newborn with zero obstacles, but I believe my body is capable of this experiences and these transitions, and I just want to have that space to believe in my body.

I don't have a solution to the problem, because I wouldn't want to silence women who have become moms...and I do find their stories valuable, for sure. But I just wish I had been given the space to voice my optimism and my confidence with a positive response, even if only for five minutes!

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I did say the birth group was helpful too and it was!

Being pregnant has taken away something that has become more important to me than I realized; running. I'm already trying to plan my next marathon! I'm somewhat nervous about how slow and out of shape I'll be when I get back into running, but I AM NOT going to push myself into injury. Making a baby and having a baby is a big deal that has long term physical effects, some of those physiological changes can directly effect running and distance running, so it is VERY important that I take care of myself. I'm happy to take the time to rest and to heal, even if it means getting back into running slowly and at a lower ability than I had before pregnancy.

In talking with these women and listening to them, I was also able to reframe my mental state and remind myself that I've done hard stuff before! I KNOW having a baby is not running a marathon, but I also know that most people haven't run a marathon. I know what it took to prepare myself physically and mentally for a marathon and what it feels like not to finish a marathon because physical obstacles overcame my mindset. I haven't talked about running in several months, because I haven't been running! Instead, I've been training to have this baby, and I FEEL GOOD! Talking with these women and reminding myself of how I approached marathons and how I've managed to finish one marathon and three half marathons reminded me of the mind set I think I need to adopt when going into labor. I was able to voice these thoughts out loud and I felt so comfortable having put away all the books and blogs, because I feel very ready to enter into this experience!

I've done all the research and all the training and found my support system, and now I'm ready to do this...and yes, I'm a little scared, but I have to say, I'm also really excited.

I'm hoping that my positive attitude isn't the insanity I've been lead to believe it is. But that's why I wanted to write this post. I wanted to record how I'm feeling in the BEFORE, so that I have a great reference for how I'm feeling in the AFTER.

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