As I have mentioned previously, I am currently under the care of a midwife at one of our local hospitals, and we will deliver the baby there at the hospital. Originally I thought this was the greatest compromise between the unmedicated homebirth I desired, and the 'safe' haven of the hospital, that Colin desired. I wanted a midwife as a cheerleader by my side, someone who was all for me and wanted me to have the most fulfilling pregnancy possible. I really didn't want an OB to saunter in and catch the baby, pat me on the head, and retreat from the picture until my next pregnancy and delivery.
From the beginning I've had ZERO support from friends and family on the idea of natural, unmedicated childbirth. I had expected some doubt or worry from those who aren't overly educated on the subject, but I never expected to find that hardly one person would be remotely optimistic or supportive of my decision. It's like an epidural is the difference between a sane, modern birth and a savage, torturous delivery. All along I thought that at least Colin, my very own husband, who witnessed the births of his brothers right in his own home, was behind me. I sensed a reluctance in him concerning homebirth, but I thought that was merely due to the fact that he feared the small chance of the unexpected. This being our first child, our first labor experience, I could understand his concern and so we found our compromise of the midwife/hospital birth.
As my pregnancy has progressed I've become less and less sure of the midwife I have chosen and the environment in which I will delivery. Every fantasy of my baby's birth, and in every one of my daydreams I've imagined myself at home, laboring in that warm familiar environment, accompanied by a midwife who is not only a care provider, but a friend, and close family members who are behind me 100 percent, reassuring me of my capability. The dream ends sadly when I realize that as of right now, that is not what my future holds. I felt deep down inside that I at least deserved to be able to reconsider the midwife I had chosen and look into any other available options. I expected my husband to be open to this also, but the more I try to talk to him about it, the more resistant he becomes. I would never want to convince him to do anything that he doesn't feel comfortable with, and I believe strongly that a wife should listen to the concerns of her husband and respect them, as he loves her most and truly wants the best for her, so I wasn't telling him what I wanted and demanding that he accommodate me. I simply wanted the chance to present him with all of MY concerns and provide him with some research and information that I had found, and have him honestly consider it. That was really all that I wanted, to really be heard and to be taken seriously.
I asked him if he would want to just meet another midwife, for a free consultation, just to see what we felt and thought after that, but he basically said he didn't want to take off work to waste that time but if I wanted to go I could. He then explained the real reason he has been so unyielding in his opinion. When we became engaged last year I went in search of a birth control method that would work for us. Birth control pills, because of the hormones, have always given me chronic yeast infections and affected my general health, so I decided to try a hormone free IUD. I knew that the procedure was usually painful, as most doctors administer a cervical block to numb your lower half, but my doctor told me that the cervical block usually ended up being more painful than the quick procedure and informed me that she would be inserting the IUD without any pain or numbing medicine. I had never been the type to be nervous about pelvic exam and figured if she thought it didn't warrant medicine, I could certainly handle it.
Colin drove with me to the office that morning and waited outside during the procedure. The doctor was very kind and explained most of what she was doing as she went about it. She told me she would be dilating me manually and that I would feel some 'pressure'. I began breathing deeply trying not to concentrate on the discomfort. As she dilated me, I began to feel cramps all around my stomach and all the sudden the pain became so intense that the room disappeared into a white light and I couldn't hold my legs in the stirrups anymore. Apparently the insertions hurts quite a bit. I blacked out and came to, I was covered in cold sweat and lay on the table shaking uncontrollably. I started crying and she explained that it was all over but I couldn't even think clearly.
She called in another nurse to hold my legs up in the air, as I had turned white as a ghost, and went to get Colin. By the time he returned I had begun vomiting and they kept me there for awhile before I convinced them that I really needed to go to the restroom. In the hallway I fainted and they carried me back to the room. I spent the rest of the day throwing up, my body basically in shock. It was a horrendous experience that has left me with a bad case of nerves at every pelvic exam since. Just the thought of something touching my cervix makes me shiver. Colin reminded me of all of this the other day and said that if I thought that was the worst pain of my life, when they only dilated me to 8 cm, how could I think that I would be able to handle child birth? He said he thinks I need to be somewhere where pain medicine is readily available, since I can't know that I will be okay without it.
I know that I didn't do well in that experience, but I guess I thought that labor pain is a little bit easier to handle, since most people build up to transition and their bodies have a chance to adjust to the pain and the physical strain. When it is natural, it is your body in charge and if you trust it to do what it is suppose to do, things usually go more smoothly -- it's not some drug or person trying to force your cervix aside. I didn't think it would be easy, but I thought perhaps I could handle it a little better than the sudden pain of a manual dilation. Just like pitocin is usually a lot rougher than a natural contraction. I also thought that since I am so wary now of having people 'tamper' with my body, I would probably be a lot calmer with an unmedicated birth that I could feel in control of, instead of being hooked up to monitors and different medicines and not knowing what each intervention would lead to. But then Colin told me that he didn't even think I could do it.
I feel completely alone, and maybe he is right, maybe I have hopes for something beyond my capability, but how crushing is that? I have no one who believes in me, and that makes it even less likely that I will be able to have the birth experience that I've dreamed about. I am only hoping that as I start to interview doulas, I will have some of that support that I need, and I do hope that along the way I find the strength and the resolve to prove everyone wrong.