Why I’ve Distanced Myself from NCB’ers

NCB’ers (otherwise known as those in the natural childbirth movement) stand up for many things – none of which they are shy to share. Back when I was pregnant, I knew I didn’t really fall into a category, but if you had asked me then I was aimed for what I believed was a natural birth. I didn’t want an epidural, Pitocin, or any “drugs”. I was going to use the heck out of that jetted tub. I was seeing a midwife – but little did I know that my CNM would be seen as a “medwife” – not someone with my best interests.

I struggled in labor, and things did not go as I had planned. After hours and hours of stalling at a 9, I think everyone in the room knew that something had to be done because this was spiraling backwards – not moving forwards. An epidural and a low dose Pit drip was administered, and I spent about an hour and a half wide awake before it was time to push – finally out of misery and knowing so well that my baby was on his way. Bonding? It was excellent. I spent the whole night staring at him, studying him – the perfect little baby that was so unbelievably cute and that no one could take from me for a second – except when I wanted a shower, which took me about three minutes… a personal record. I went home with nothing but a raving review of my midwife and the immense pride I felt for the amazing birth I had – no matter how long, miserable, horrible it was – and for my perfect son.

My love for this perfect birth led to reading. I began to toy with the idea of becoming a CNM myself. I studied, I read, I researched. I accidentally stumbled onto a popular birthing facebook page one day, which then lead me to a blog about the things that health care providers say. I began reading to discover what I wouldn’t want to say to a patient someday. Soon I began to read it and believe the comments. That’s where I lost myself, I think.

I began to doubt my CNM. Was she a “medwife”? Had she not had my best interests in mind? What would have happened without the Pitocin? Sometimes I would stare at my son and feel as though I failed him. Who knows what all those “interventions” did to him?

As I became more involved, reading more blogs, following more facebook pages, I also became more involved as a nursing student. My class reports – no matter what class – centered around childbirth, pregnancy, or women’s health. In reality, I think they kept me grounded – scientific research isn’t perfect, but paired with an intelligent and skeptical mind, you can really analyze anything.

I went on to give birth to my daughter, with the same CNM in the same hospital, but no Pitocin, no epidural, and not a mere utterance of such from the nurses or CNM. In fact, the only debate I really remember is me in transition saying “I can’t do this… I’m not going to be able to” and my CNM saying “You can, you’re doing great, and that baby is coming in less than half an hour” – and she was right. I think the sheer terror of the potential of hours and hours of horrible labor were behind the words I spit out, and her confidence was all I needed. Although I’ll admit my husband replying with “You’re silly, you ARE doing it” were pretty darn nice, too – but hey, he hasn’t witnessed 1,000+ births. What does he know?

My faith was somewhat restored in my CNM. I was confident and pleased with birth #2, and I can’t say I’ve doubted it for a second. And while hours and hours of labor isn’t fun, I would never be able to say that one birth trumped the other. Both gave me beautiful children, and isn’t that the priority?

Yet I still continued to follow these pages quite regularly. One night – one particularly bad night, when my three year old was simply a terror, I finally ended up shutting myself in my room, where I sat on the floor bawling. My husband was left to diffuse the situation outside first, then cautiously enter, unsure of what was really wrong or what to do. He sat next to me and I crawled in his lap and cried “What if this is my fault? What if this is my fault for failing when I was in labor?” I sobbed for I don’t know how long. It felt like hours. Hours and hours where I sat there blaming myself for all that happened in my labor with my son, and how his spirit, his intelligence, his curiousity and his damn stubborness was surely my fault for not having the “perfect” birth that NCB’ers talk about, by themselves in a rented pool in their living room, or with a home birth midwife – a REAL midwife – not a “OB in disguise” like I had.

It took a couple of days for me to level out before I realized the error in everything. NCB’ers tell you to have an empowering birth – one that makes you feel incredible about yourself. I did – twice – and then spent some time where that was taken away from me, and I began to doubt that the incredible feeling I had for weeks after delivering both of my children was well deserved. They then mentally vaccinated me with horrific ideas of all the things that would be wrong with my son because I had “failed”, and all the things that were wrong with me because I wasn’t patient enough, didn’t wait, didn’t “know enough” to manage the pain – and I began to feel as if I wasn’t even a woman, and had no right to birth a baby. They left me bawling on the floor one night, convinced that the Pitocin used to get my labor moving again was so dangerous, so harmful, and so awful of me to do that I had destined my son to be a mess – without little regard for things in natural labor that cause issues, too, like hypoxia in labor having a very strong correlation in a lot of research to be associated with schizophrenia. Do you ever see a NCB’er mention that?

I have such a smart son, and such a clever little girl, and while neither are perfect, both are beautiful, healthy, normal kids who were born in beautiful, healthy, normal ways – and never again will I doubt what I did for them. I will not let anyone lead me to believe that anything I did in labor made me a horrible mom, or destined them for anything. And never ever EVER will I doubt my CNM’s – to this day I think I got better care than I could have imagined, and the best partners in my labor that I could have asked for. My births were perfect, even if they weren’t perfectly natural, perfectly intervention free, or perfectly at home. They were perfect for me, perfect for my husband, perfect for my babies… and no one else has any room to say otherwise.


Psychology and Pregnancy

During my studies, I decided that linking psychology with pregnancy would be a fun topic to explore.  As I did initial research and narrowed things down, I ended up with a project aimed towards oxytocin use in labor and the psychological effects, postpartum depression and PTSD as it relates to birth experiences.  I completely believe in terms like “birth rape” or “birth trauma” – I do feel that women can be left feeling abused, mistreated, and taken advantage of.  I thought it was interesting to tie that into PTSD and studies done on the topic.

Anyway, so here’s a little Powerpoint if you are curious.  I should add that I am not saying that oxytocin should never be used – I’m fairly natural-birth friendly, but every situation is different.  Mom and provider need to weigh pros and cons and decide what is best for them.  I don’t necessarily take a side for or against, but side with education and well thought out choices.

So here you go – enjoy!

View this document on Scribd

Mommy’s Doctor Visit

I went to the doctor today to have a thyroid test done. Does it sound pathetic that I’m hoping it comes back as a problem? I’m figuring though, since it was normal last year that it probably will be this year, too. My conclusion? I am going to spend the rest of my life pregnant so I can eat 6,000 calories a day and still lose excessive amounts of weight, instead of eating 2,500 and gaining excessively. Not being pregnant kind of sucks.

Anyway, so after my visit with Ollie and I’s doctor, Amy Haupert, we headed on down to the lab. I got down there and took a seat. Across from me was a guy about my parent’s age I’m guessing. I sat quietly and talked to Ollie for a few minutes, and then he says “your baby is really cute” from across the waiting area. I smile and say thanks, although when guys say my baby is cute it really throws me off. I don’t know why, but it does. Anyway, so I sit there and talk to Ollie some more, and he’s laughing and smiling, and the guy asks “What’s his name?” (Okay, readers, should I not be disclosing this?) and I say “Oliver”. He’s like “wow… you don’t hear that name much anymore. You probably don’t want to hear this, but that’s my dog’s name.”

Oh good Lord.

So as he tells me all about his dog, I sit there nodding, still making the occassional face at Ollie to keep him from realizing he’s still belted into his car seat. A few minutes go by, and our new friend, “Maynard”, is called into the “area of death” as I used to call it. (Before pregnancy, I couldn’t get my blood drawn without them having to lay me down afterwards.)

We sit there for another moment or two, and a mom with two little ones comes shuffling down the hallway towards us. She sits, and the kids crowd her with “Can I have chapstick? Where can I sit? Do you have crayons?” As she situates the stroller. The oldest is a little girl (3 and a half) and a little boy (2). They get situated, and after a moment, the little girl says “Mommy, can I go sit over there?” She points to my side of the waiting room, but about 6 seats down. She says “Yeah, that’s fine.” (I was really impressed with this mommy, even though later the two tried to take off toward the ER.) The little girl sits at the end of the row, and keeps stealing glances in my direction. I can’t help but notice her, but I continue my chatting with Ollie quietly. Finally, her mom says “Are you okay?” to her daughter. She nods and then, whispering, points at me and says “I kind of want to go sit by that lady.” I turn and smile at her, and I say “Did you want to see the baby?” She nods shyly, and I say “You can come see him.”

She runs over, and Ollie is in his seat on the floor. She kneels next to him and whispers “Hi, baby.” He turns and smiles a HUGE smile, and he immediately starts talking to her. Usually he’s not very talkative with people he doesn’t know. But he took to her immediately. He reached up, and sat there feeling her face while she sat and talked to him, telling him how cute he was. IT WAS THE MOST ADORABLE THING EVER. He just totally loved her.

You would have thought that everyone in the lab had seen a baby before, but they sure acted like they hadn’t. Although not as bad as when after Ollie’s last visit I went up to make an appointment with Rhonda in the OB clinic and the nurses came running out when they found out there was a baby at the appointment desk.

I gave blood and skipped out of there, convinced myself that tomorrow I would be stricter about what I ate, and went through the McDonald’s drive thru. Don’t judge me. I’ve been craving a McD’s ice cream cone for a week. Anyway, I end up with a mighty kids meal and a cone, and pull out onto 65. I get north of Grandy and finish my cone, and start digging for the fries.

There are no fries.

Now, I’m sorry, but seriously…. HOW THE F$!K DO YOU FORGET FRIES IN A KID’S MEAL!?!?!? And what if it had been for a KID? Can you imagine?

I called them. They are sending me a coupon. It better not just be for free fries. I was MAD.

Perhaps, however, it was a sign from God. I shouldn’t be eating the fries, but the chicken nuggets were okay?

My Hair Is Falling Out, And Other Updates

Number uno on my list, I just have to say congrats to Alison and Jeff for their beautiful baby girl Evalynn Mae (God I hope I spelled that right… pretty sure I did…), who was born at 1:15 AM on Thanksgiving. Talk about something to be thankful for! I look at the pictures and I tear up with joy. This in itself blows my mind.

Secondly, my hair is falling out. Constantly. In large gobs. And I know all of you moms are nodding your heads in understanding, but HOLY COW. It just doesn’t seem to stop. I am tempted to save the globs of hair that come out in the shower for a wig for someone. I can’t even take a shower without ending up COVERED in long strands of hair. I’m excited at the prospect of my wanna-be ‘fro thinning out, but seriously? All at once? Someone give me some prenatals and some willing sperm, because being pregnant was wayyyyyy better.

Wait, no. My hair was a crazy, dehydrated ‘fro then. Never mind. At least not for the hair’s sake.

Went out on Thanksgiving Eve. Had a good time, yet felt distanced, and sometimes like an ass. I remember one semi-intoxicated point where someone asked me why I would want to be a midwife. I responded “Why WOULDN’T you? You get to catch babies! And listen to their heartbeats! And see happy mommies!” Perhaps I’m trading a career in large life events for one even bigger. I like to change lives – instant high for me. And I’m not a millionaire, so I can’t go around buying houses for poor deserving souls. So I’ll just have to deliver their babies instead. 🙂

A few funny looks from people. Mostly tons of comments on the adorable-ness of my baby. Yeah, I know. 🙂

Ollie is going to do his “photo shoot” in January. I’M SO EXCITED. He will be about 6 months old then… crazy. And some of the shots will be with Ellie, too. Then someday, when they graduate, we can say “HA! You knew each other before you even properly figured out how to poop!” Okay, well, that’s an exaggeration. Ollie figured out pooping a few months ago I guess. Funny how babies just don’t really get the whole pooping thing for a while. No one tells you that. You just assume they know how. Then they are screaming their head off, and you’re reading about it, and somewhere, in tiny little letters that take up half a sentence that lovely piece of literature informs you that your little bundle of joy has no idea what’s wrong with him, or what to do about it. Then, for weeks afterwards, you sound like a labor coach every time you are convinced your baby has to poop. “Come on, push down! You can do it! Don’t forget to breathe!”

Okay, I exaggerate a little. But it’s true.

Even the other day, I knew what Ollie was trying to do, but it just wasn’t happening. New foods in his diet leave him pretty unpredictable, and kind of constipated. So I’m helping him “walk it off”, using gravity to our advantage. I’m coaching him to push. Nick walks into the house from work and says “Why are you coaching my son in childbirth?”

Yeah, well, they are kind of close to the same. Although I’m pretty sure I’ve never pooped 9.5 pounds before…

I’m getting so frustrated with Anoka-Ramsey already. You have a million (okay, 150-200) pre-nursing students, and you don’t offer enough of the pre-req courses, even. I’m checking the openings 5+ times a day, hoping and praying someone drops. UMD was not this bad. Sure, some of the courses I wanted were full, but I watched them for like two days and they’d open up. This is just getting insane. And I didn’t get to take my math placement, because Nick didn’t make it home in time. So I need a babysitter so I can get down there to do it again. I need to get it done ASAP, so I can snatch up an opening in Interpretive Chem if there ever is one.

Also, in more college news, I requested a transcript from UMD the other day, and the next window pops up and says “cannot fufill request due to hold”. So I click on the holds. They want a freakin’ exit interview. THEY HAVE BEEN ISSUING MY TRANSCRIPTS UP UNTIL NOW. All of a sudden they want to know why I left? So I need to figure out if they will do it over the phone, or if I have to drive up to Duluth just to get them to send a transcript to SCSU. It’s totally worthless, I withdrew. But whatever. I can view my grades… maybe SCSU will just take that. So I have some phone calls to make. Anoka Ramsey has it on file, so I KNOW that they have sent them out. Pine Tech got one, too! Crazy a-holes.

I can’t sleep. It’s nearly 4 AM. I need to open the office tomorrow at 9. What is WRONG with me!?!?!?!?!

My favorite picture from Thanksgiving Eve. Katie F. found it necessary to get even with me for the bathroom picture I took of her last year. I am fully clothed, in case you were wondering. She just reached over the stall and snapped the picture right after I closed the door. And I don’t really look as wide as a house, so that’s always a plus.

My God, I Am Lucky

I am reading birth stories on www.unnecesarean.com. Having nothing to compare my birth to really, I had no idea how lucky I was until I started reading all these birth/midwife books. Now I’m horrified.

I’m reading Mason’s birth, which is currently the second story on the RSS feed. Some of the little things that I guess I didn’t even consider were really important to me now that I read these stories. When given her epidural, she had to lean into the nurse. Her husband couldn’t move at all, and was not allowed to touch her. I leaned into Nick, which was so nice. His smell, just HIM… it was so comforting.

Not being allowed to eat, too. I didn’t have much. I think I had some crackers and some soup. Big whoop. But still, not having eaten for hours and then getting induced, which usually results in a LONGGGGGGG labor…. how can they possibly expect a woman to deliver her baby vaginally if they have her absolutely famished? Probably not going to happen.

Because she was on a pitocin drip, she wasn’t allowed much freedom. Not even to sit in the bathroom for very long. I was all over the place. Hallways, tub, toilet, birthing ball, pacing… here, there, everywhere. And all of you women who have labored know how good it feels to sit on the toilet during!

But what really, REALLY makes my heart bleed is this:
“I felt very ashamed as I was wheeled down the halls, and by the nurses’ station. I couldn’t look any of them in the eye. I felt really embarrassed, even silly. I was totally numb, I felt like a beached whale; like a cow going in for the slaughter. They knew why I was going to the OR. I was going because I failed as a woman.”

Now I’m definitely not going to sit and preach to everyone that they should all give birth naturally, and that if you don’t you are a failure, because that is CERTAINLY not true. Any of us who have had something in labor (or afterwards!) not go the way they hoped/planned can relate to this, though. I felt this way when my midwife suggested an epidural for me. Just because I had stalled at a 9 for like EVER, I was a failure. (Of course, I’m blessed. An OB probably would have “sent me in for the slaughter” too. And no lie, Ollie was a big dude.) I also felt this way because of the failure in the breastfeeding department. But we, as women, should NEVER EVER feel this way, be made to feel this way, or have a reason to feel this way. And yes, not everything goes the way you plan it to – it never will. But when NOTHING goes the way you plan it to…. I can’t even imagine.

I talked to a friend the other day who was asking me about my labor. She’s pregnant with her second. Had an “unnecesarean” with the first. She said sadly “I really wish I had been able to do a normal delivery”. I said “Why don’t you this time?” to which her response was “my doctor won’t let me. It’s not safe.”

Oh, ladies. It may be true, it may not be safe in her situation. I don’t know all the details. But generally speaking, most women do just fine with a traditional birth after a c-section. Research VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean.). My mom is a perfect example. Rose was an unnecesarean – a pretty common story where they induced labor because she was “overdue”, her heart rate dropped, and they had to do an emergency c-section – and Gus was a natural birth. My suggestion? Talk to a midwife. Susan and Rhonda in Cambridge do VBAC’s constantly.

Like Peggy Vincent, the author of “Baby Catcher” says. Doctors think that labor is abnormal unless proven otherwise. Midwifes believe labor is normal unless proven otherwise.

Well put, Peggy.

My Hair!

I just am freaking out a little. I think I’m experience the whole “post pregnancy shedding” thing. I didn’t expect that, since my hair was so dead while I was pregnant and then all luxurious again within a month of having Ollie….

I’m losing like chunks.


Maybe I’m Greedy, but 15 Pounds Isn’t Enough

Okay, so I’m 3.5 months postpartum. And I’m 15 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight.

I know, people hate me. And yes, I’m going to complain now. I’m backwards. While you all enjoy weight gain during, I did not. I know, it’s not fair. However, weight gain afterwards? NOT COOL.

After delivery, I was 25 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight 4 weeks after having Ollie.

Then I began to feel like I was starving all the time.

It wasn’t hungry like “hmmm, I’d like something to eat.” It was hungry like “IF I DON’T GET SOME FOOD RIGHT NOW I MIGHT CHEW YOUR ARM OFF”.

It has been that way, since.

So, in two months, I’m fighting the 10 pounds that keep trying to creep back on. And more. I do workouts. I eat breakfast. But I can’t seem to find a solution for the constantly starving thing.

Susan said the weight usually starts slipping off four months postpartum. Anyone have any experience with this? Is it true? Or am I only going to be 10 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight?

If anyone has had this problem, PLEASE HELP ME. I don’t know why I’m backwards, but seriously, I can’t be the only one, and someone has to have a solution…

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