Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Redeeming an unexpected hospital transfer

Welcome to the June 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Embracing Your Birth Experience

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about at least one part of their birth experience that they can hold up and cherish.

The birth of my second son was healing for me. It allowed me to birth on my own terms, as I'd tried to with the birth of my first. I was able to have a peaceful, unhindered water birth in a dim and quiet room, unattended by anyone but my partner.

Alrik born into his parents' arms

But even without the second birth to make things all better, I can still look back at my interrupted first birth — the one that lasted 42 hours and ended with hospital indignities — and sense the grandeur and euphoria of it as well.

Mikko born into an unfamiliar nurse-midwife's hands — but what an ecstatic experience all the same!

For one thing, I gave birth. I pushed an 11 pound, 13 ounce, baby with a huge head and nuchal arm out of my body — all under my own steam — without medication, and with only minor tearing. That was an accomplishment, and as someone's who's always had a tumultuous relationship with her own body and its modest potentials, I am proud of myself.

I lasted 42 hours of active labor without panicking … much. There were a few moments, but for the most part both Sam and I stayed calm and reassured by the baby's strong heartbeat and our acknowledgement of my own strength, my body's abilities, my mind's endurance.

Despite our rocky start in the hospital with breastfeeding and taking over parental autonomy from the nurses, I was able to breastfeed and sleep with my baby cuddled beside me even that first day and night — practices that, well, are still continuing!

And then here are some small, silly things. Ready? Be prepared for inanities. I've warned you.

My hospital room had this cool jacuzzi tub that you opened up a door and walked into, sat on a seat, started filling it with warm water, and then pulled a lever to tilt the whole thing back, and then it swirled with bubbles. It was awesome. Like a Back to the Future tub. I would love one of those installed at home, let me tell you.

I asked the nurses for more of those mesh panties and huuuuge pads to take home, and they totally supplied me. I loved how useful those things were.

I also got a swaddling blanket. Which we never really used (see above re: baby, size of). But it was kind of nice to get a parting gift, and not a booby trap at that.

The food was good. I know, right? I was surprised, too.

The nurses also supplied me with a couple days' worth of stool softeners, laxatives, and ibuprofen. I'm sure my insurance and I were paying for these few pills through the nose, but for whatever reason, it was so convenient to have them all in one place like that.

I could blow through sheets and chux pads and hospital gowns and not give a fig about the mess. Someone else did all the cleanup and the laundry.

It was nice having staff around to baby me.

All right, back to the heavier stuff: I have no idea if I'd have hemorrhaged if I'd been at home for the birth. But since I did, and since I'll never know if the hospital caused it, I'll just say that I'm glad I was with people who could take care of it, and that I didn't have to transfer post-birth.

Since Mikko was so huge, it was reassuring for all the worrywarts in our lives that he had his blood sugar check out normal, something that likely wouldn't have been tested at home.

I also appreciated how it prepared me for the next birth: It convinced us to just keep going, even when it felt rough.

It consoled me that when it felt most like too much, that there wasn't much time left till I met my baby.

It showed me, firsthand, that I could birth, and birth well. That my body was made for pushing out babies. And I don't say that as a boast or in jest; if my pelvis could fit a baby that big with nothing negative to show for it, then clearly there was little that could stump it!

It confirmed many things that I knew but had to experience for the power of that knowledge to sink in: that cervical checks are meaningless, that labor doesn't follow a neat progressive line, that the urge to push should be obeyed, and that it feels so much better than not pushing.

Similarly, it gave me the quest for information about what I could do differently the next birth, to have my dream of a homebirth realized, and to keep the postpartum period safe. At first I was too nervous to seek those answers, but once I did, it greatly calmed my fears for what could happen better the next time.

I don't want to think of Mikko's birth as a practice round for Alrik's, because it was beautiful in and of itself. But I do appreciate it for what it taught me, how it steeled my courage, and how it set me up for future homebirth success.

But most of all? When the birth was over, up onto my chest came a fat, wiggly, squalling baby. And five years later, I see that same baby transformed into a little boy, just as loud and wiggly, but with even more charisma!

I hate it when people dismiss women's birth stories by saying, "All that matters is a healthy baby and healthy mama," as if holding autonomy over our bodies was not also important. But when it comes down to it for myself, while it's not all that matters, having my healthy boy and a healthy me is pretty dang important. And I really am glad of of the outcome: Mikko, my darling son.

What was most beautiful and empowering to you about your birth experience(s)?

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon June 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • I was Foolish Then — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings describes how foolish lack of preparation for childbirth led to a feeling of powerlessness and fear, but that in the end she had her baby in her arms, and that's one thing she can celebrate.
  • Sometimes no plan is the best plan — Tat at Mum in search contemplates that maybe she doesn't need a birth plan for her upcoming birth.
  • Disturbing the peace — Kenna at Million Tiny Things thought she would be a calm, quiet baby-haver. Ha!
  • Accepting the Unexpected During Birth — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM imagined herself laboring on a birthing ball but she never imagined where she'd really be most comfortable when the time came...
  • Sacred This Time, Too — Kimber at The Single Crunch learned enough to know that the way she birthed wasn't they way she wanted to; but she also knew to enjoy it for what it was.
  • The Birth Partner: A Great Natural Labor Companion — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger thinks that the secret to her pleasant natural labors was having a great support system.
  • the Best Thing About My Labor ExperienceCrunchy Con Mommy realizes that amidst all the things that seemed to go wrong with her labor, the love and support of her husband was the one thing she could always count on!
  • Your Birth Was My FavoriteDulce de leche describes some of the highlights from each of her four births and explains why despite the differences, they are all her favorites.
  • Birth Story: Part One - Moon on a Stick! Gentle Mama Moon tells the first part of her birth story to share some of the delight of labouring at home.
  • Embracing My Birth Experience by Sharing My Birth Story — Dionna at Code Name: Mama made peace with her first birth by sharing the story with her son.
  • Focusing on the Beauty of Birth — Julia at A Little Bit of All of It shares the beautiful aspects of her birth center water birth.
  • A Joyful Induced Delivery — Amy Willa: Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work notes the meditations and perspective that helped her achieve an unmedicated birth despite being induced for medical reasons.
  • Finding Joy in an Imperfect Childbirth Experience — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells what she learned from her two very different childbirth experiences.
  • What's to like about a c-section? — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama is glad she her second child at home, but she also cherishes much about the c-section she had four years earlier.
  • What Story Will I Tell? — Rachael at The Variegated Life realizes that the way she tells the story of her second child's birth matters — and could be exhilarating.
  • I Quietly Put My Hopes to Rest E — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her emotional ups and downs with the highly intervened birth of her special needs daughter, Bella.
  • Tale of Six Births — Jessica at Instead of Institutions appreciates that unique challenges and joys of each of her births.
  • Labouring naturally: nature’s gift — Caroline at stoneageparent describes the most beautiful, spiritual aspect of the labour of her son, the first stages along a bumpy road to giving birth.
  • All The Woman I Am. — Lindsay at This Woman's Work shares a poem about letting go and surrendering during the thralls of labor.
  • A twin birth story: embracing the unexpected — Megan at The Boho Mama shares her twin birth experience and how she found the silver lining when faced with preterm labor, premature birth, and a two-week NICU stay.
  • Giving Birth With Eminem — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how fiery rap music contributed to an empowered homebirth with her third baby.
  • Two Different Births — Cassie at There's a Pickle in My Life shares how she learned from her first birth experience and how to trust yourself and your body.
  • Embracing Our Potential: Birth as a Metaphor — Sheila from A Living Family guest posts at Natural Parents Network and expresses how birth has served as a metaphor to help her through other experiences in life.
  • Little Sister's Birth Story: Our VBAC Adventure — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama describes the recent birth story of her baby girl, her pride in an epidural-free VBAC, and how her story isn't exactly the birth experience she had planned for.
  • A Journey in Birth Confidence — Shannon at The Artful Mama shares her experiences with labor during both of her sons' births.


Margaux said...

I love that you view your birth as a lesson. I too had an unmedicated hospital birth and I feel similarly that it taught me strength in myself that I didn't know I had.

Though, I don't know that I can see quite as many positives about my hospital experience as you were able to hehe. The staff was wonderful but the food definitely was NOT!

dulce de leche said...

Beautiful! Veronica was also a hospital transfer, although she was tiny in comparison--only 9 lbs 6 oz. :D And like you, I enjoyed the food, the clean up, and supply of mesh undies. I would have *loved* that pool, though!

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

I feel the same way about not wanting to think of Kieran's birth as practice for Ailia's, but I do not feel at all bad that I learned from it and harnessed that knowledge to feel even more empowered!
And I had to nod along with you on the inane hospital stuff. When Kieran was in the NICU, I totally took advantage of the free food, etc.

Amber Strocel said...

I have these amazing memories of awesome hospital food after my kids were born. Honestly, in retrospect, I'm not sure whether it was actually good (doubtful) or whether I was just so hungry that ANYTHING would have tasted good (more likely). Regardless, I still fantasize about this three bean salad I ate after Jacob was born. And I don't even usually like three bean salad.

Anonymous said...

You remind us that hospitals aren't the evil Misogynistic corporporations that we crunchies usually claim. Mesh panties rock! Someone cleaning up after you rocks too! And no matter where you did it, YOU pushed out an 11lb baby. Your body can do amazing things! Erika@cincodemommy

Hippie Housewife said...

Beautiful! It's always nice to hear the positive side of hospital births. My first was born in a hospital and while it wasn't perfect, it was very very good. I had an angel of a nurse who stayed with me even after her shift ended, and never once was anything pushed on me that I didn't want. Although we've chosen homebirth for our subsequent births, my hospital experience was good and encouraging and empowering.

Momma Jorje said...

I think we learn from every birth experience, especially progressively. I'm sure if you have another child, you will feel even that much more prepared for having both of these birth experiences.

Meegs said...

Thank you for sharing this. Its great to be able to see what every experience teaches us.

I Thought I Knew Mama said...

I'm so glad that you are proud of yourself! You deserve that pride for all of the reasons you said above and more. You are a rock star for what you accomplished!

Lisa C said...

'I hate it when people dismiss women's birth stories by saying, "All that matters is a healthy baby and healthy mama," as if holding autonomy over our bodies was not also important.'


I'm glad you can feel good about Mikko's birth but also that you got to have your experience with Alrik's birth. Even though I think I've healed a bunch over Michael's birth, nothing would finish off that healing like being able to have the birth of my dreams! But we shall see. :)

I found out about this carnival today and had to write my own post, so I did. I'm so glad for the opportunity to rewrite my story in a positive light.

Deb Chitwood said...

You're a hero ... I loved reading about your strength and courage! Even though my first childbirth experience ended with an emergency cesarean, I found it empowering in its own way.

Just doing whatever you can to have the best possible childbirth experience and then sacrificing your own wishes for the benefit of your child is also part of becoming a mother. And it's easy to see the beauty of the outcome. Deb @ LivingMontessoriNow.com

Anonymous said...

Lauren, your first birth reminds me a lot of my own very long first labor. Like you, it also gave me confidence for my next birth. If I could do that, I could do anything! Sounds like you had better food though. :)

Laura said...

To begin with, you deserve a rock star award for Mikko's birth weight alone. :) You've learned so much and been able to support so many other mothers. I'm so glad you were able to embrace your experience enough to reach other to others!

Laura said...

I thought the hospital food was surprisingly good too. Very thankful I was able to get a tuna fish sandwich delivered to me at 4am. Helped me perk up my colostrum supply.

yeah there were some good things about an unexpected hospital transfer. :)

Rachael said...

I hear you on not wanting to think of Mikko's birth as a "practice run" for Alrik's, but ...

I learned *so much* from *both* of my experiences (and I'm sure that you could say the same, btw), so much so that after the Gnome was born, I thought of what a friend told me about running marathons. A seasoned marathoner once told her that you don't really understand the distance until you've run at least five marathons. I wonder if something similar might be said about childbirth. Alas that I will never know, as I will not be having any more children.

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