Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How Natural Labor is like Running a marathon

A friend of mine is scheduling an early-ish induction because last time her labor went so quickly she didn't have a chance to get an epidural and she found herself in an unexpected drug-free birth. Mother and baby were both fine, but the pain of that birth has convinced her that rather than risk it again she wants to hand the control completely over to the doctor and anesthesiologist. While obviously this represents a very different way of thinking than my own, I also can't really blame her. If my only labor experience had been drug-free without any preparation, I'd probably give drug-free childbirth a less-than-stellar review.
Another friend of mine recently ran a marathon. We chuckled at the idea of someone CHOOSING to run 26 miles... that is NOT my idea of fun. I've never even jogged for more than 6 blocks. But I'm still proud of her for doing it, and I have no doubts she's gotten a lot out of it.

Anyways, it got me thinking. Imagine someone told you that in 9 months you had the chance to run a marathon. With preparation you could run the marathon, or you could opt to take a car to the finish line- either way it takes you to the same place.
You know that running a marathon is intense- some might say painful, even. You know you may have to push yourself harder than you ever have before. You know a lot of preparation will have to go into it if you are going to make it to that finish line. People have gotten hurt running marathons- heat stroke, pulled muscles, or sheer exhaustion. There's almost always someone there to come take a person who can't make it any further off the course and to the finish line. But you also know you will be a healthier person for all that hard work. You know you have the potential to do it, and you know the sense of achievement you will feel if you conquer that marathon.
If you were to plop me as I am on the starting line of a race, I would "try" it. I would run, then jog, then walk, then sit down and wave my white flag. When I drove up to the finish line I might say "I tried it, I now know what running a marathon is like, and I still don't know why someone would put themselves through that".
But with preparation I could make myself physically ready. Even then, I could run and run... and odds are, like most runners, there would be a point when I hit a wall. The only thing that would get me through that is mental preparation- confidence, knowledge that I could do it, faith in my body and in my preparation.
Would I ever judge a person if they tried to run a marathon and something kept them from running to the finish line? Of course not! Sometimes no matter how you prepare things just don't work out the way you planned. Is that reason to regret preparing for and trying to run the marathon? Of course not!

I'm sure you can get the whole point of my analogy, I won't spell it out for you. There are obvious loopholes in the analogy- for one, by taking a car to the finish line the only thing you really risk is missing out on the marathon. By choosing an intervention-filled birth, you risk a lot more than just missing out on experiencing childbirth. But that's another post.
The thing that is interesting to me is the different social views on running a marathon versus birthing naturally. If I were to tell people I'm going to subject myself to the intensity and risks of running a marathon, I would get hearty congrats and encouragement. Some people might express doubt in my abilities to complete the task- but in general, I would get tips and support. People would understand that I was challenging myself, improving myself, and that I would have something to be immensely proud of, even if I tried and ended up needing help to the finish line anyways.
But if I tell people I want to endure the intensity and the risks of a natural childbirth, the general reaction is "why on earth would you subject yourself to that? we have drugs and medicine and doctors for a reason".
Why would anyone subject themselves to a marathon? Don't they know we have cars for getting around?
The reason? Some people know that the journey can be just as important as the destination.

Some late belly pics

Sorry for not posting over here more regularly. Here's a cross post from my family blog from last Thursday:

You know how they say you're more likely to show a pregnant belly sooner with a second pregnancy? Yeah, they're right! Check this out. For a "before" picture, here I am at 6 weeks ago:

That's from today- I'm ten weeks along today! One quarter of the way done!

And here I am from last pregnancy, EIGHT weeks further long (18 weeks) :

I'm excited to be showing so soon though, makes the whole thing feel more real! I'm down about 7 pounds from where I started and just beginning to get my appetite back.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


I just got back from watching the new documentary, Babies. I had been looking forward to it a long time, so my husband watched the toddler so I could have some "me" time at the theater. If you haven't seen the movie, probably don't read this, so you can form your own opinion.
It was good. Not what I had hoped for, but good. I mean, how could I not love watching 4 cute babies? But I found something very lacking- mommies. I understand that the filmmakers wanted this to be about babies and not about parents, but it felt hollow without showing more mommy/baby interaction. We saw no tearful or smiling welcomings to the world, The credits finally showed the mongolian mom playing with her son and it may have been one of the more endearing moments of the film- and it was during the credits. I loved the little African baby, her interactions with the other children and with her ever-present mother (with her ever-present natural, sagging breasts). The mongolian baby had such an adventurous, happy little spirit, it was so sad to see what a lonely little life it seemed he led. Really, with just a few more scenes added showing the moms playing with and smiling at their babies, the film would have been everything I wanted it to be. But you can't have a baby without a mommy-figure, it just doesn't feel right.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

7 weeks!

Today I got to meet with my midwife again. When I first walked in the door, one of the midwife apprentices I didn't meet last time was there to greet me. She was obviously far along in pregnancy herself, and when I asked her the due date she said "any day now, though I really want the baby to hang in there a few days longer!" How refreshing, to hear someone who WANTED to keep their baby in toward the end of pregnancy. It seems like most women when they hit 38 weeks or so are completely done with pregnancy and want that baby out (to be fair, I got impatient long before 38 weeks).
We discussed husband/partner involvement in labor- basically the midwife will let the husband be as involved as he wants to be (or, in the case of my husband, as he does NOT want to be). Husband K is HUGELY supportive of my decision to homebirth (largely in part to his hatred of doctors). As a matter of fact, the other day he told me he always didn't understand why doctors interfered with labor so much and why it was always such a big deal- my husband who before having met me rarely thought about such serious and, um, womanly topics.
Last pregnancy, he was a champion during my 8 weeks of bedrest and did a great job of taking care of the house so I could just focus on the baby. But he does NOT handle blood or medical things well. I've come to terms with the fact that he won't be catching my baby or cutting a cord- his sole job is to STAY CONSCIOUS during labor. And while I was surprised last pregnancy when I was in the hospital for preterm labor by his ability to hold my IVs for me so I could go to the bathroom without a nurse (I would never in a million years have thought him capable of holding an IV, he's gotten queasy just from thinking about IVs in the past), when the actual labor came around he mostly held my hand and looked at my face and completely ignored anything going on "down there". He did need to leave the room once towards the end when things got bloody but aside from that he held up quite well. When the baby actually came, K teared up and took pictures and played the classic new father role quite well. So yes, while he is supportive of my birth, I am not disappointed that he may not be that involved in it. To make up for his lack of involvement I've asked a friend to come help out and will probably ask yet another friend to help with pictures.
The exam itself: My blood pressure today was 84/56- yikes! No wonder I've been getting so dizzy. I just wish I could eat something without wanting to gag. I have only thrown up twice (still, that's twice more than my last pregnancy and twice more than any other woman in my family has ever experienced from morning sickness) and even then it's been over a week, but my food aversion is going strong. Thank heavens for Crispix, they always sound good.
This is what Kermit looks like this week: