For the first time in this entire pregnancy, I feel ready. Sure, the only baby item we have purchased thus far is a Halloween-themed baby bib (it has a black cat on it and says "I'm so cute, it's spooky!") but that's not important. I finally feel like everyone is on the same page and we're all working towards the same goal, everyone has a job to do and it's all going to be great. It's a good thing they give women 40 weeks or so to get used to all of this because it's a lot to cover. Bear with me.
When I first got pregnant I knew very little about labor and delivery. Hell, I knew only a moderate amount about pregnancy, based almost exclusively on my friends' experiences. You know that cliche where they say "your mileage may vary"? Yeah, that's pretty much how it is. Pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood are all just basic lessons on taking things with a grain of salt.
When I first told friends that I was pregnant, one friend in particular (actually a woman I haven't talked to in probably 10 years) sent me an email saying how I could have a homebirth as a diabetic and quoting me a myriad of statistics. I admit my first reaction was "uh, what the hell." I wrote back with some generic "we'll see how it all goes" thank you email and got back another four page reply about how breast is best and don't let doctors scare you with "dead baby" tactics. (I shit you not. She wrote "dead baby" several times in an email to a pregnant woman.) I swiftly archived that email and moved right along.
My own mother's labor stories were from the perspective that things were hectic and a bit confusing but it didn't matter because the goal was to have healthy babies. My most vivid recollections are of her telling me the Chinese doctor that delivered me spoke little English and sewed up her episiotomy crooked. (You see where I get my oversharing from. I come by it naturally.) Perry and I were huge babies and Mom did it all without any pain meds. It was no cake walk and from her experience she talked like a cesarean would have been just as easy to recover from if not more so. Like so many things my mother has endured, I got the feeling that childbirth was not joyful by any means, but was what we endured to get the baby we wanted.
I scoffed at women who talked about what music they wanted playing during labor. I may have even said, "do you tell your doctor what music you want playing for your appendectomy? It just doesn't seem important to me." Yeah, I can be a butthead like that.
One of the first visits I had with my OB, I told her that I was not "one of those Earth mother goddess types" and my goals were 1) a healthy baby 2) to not have my lady parts shredded and 3) as little drama as possible. She said that vaginal delivery is still possible for diabetics but that in some cases the head would make it out but a shoulder would get stuck if they were too big. I balked that that didn't sound like low drama to me and mentally started scheduling my induction date and possibly my cesarean.
All of these thoughts went through my head in a time period when I knew I was pregnant but hadn't really interacted with this baby at all. He was a blueberry in my belly, according to BabyCenter.com and I just couldn't focus on how that blueberry was going to be our son or daughter eventually. It's a big thing to wrap ones head around.
For the first half of this pregnancy, I went along my merry way. I figured we would take one of those day long birthing classes and get a tour of the hospital. Then around week 21, I started feeling this person inside me.
At first they were just tentative movements. But as he started to grow, our son developed a personality as well. On the plane to BlogHer, I sat in the window seat looking out and humming an old bluegrass gospel tune stuck in my head. From the moment I started humming, the little guy started swimming lazily back and forth in my belly. It was very comforting. I landed in Chicago, dumped my stuff in the hotel room and headed down to the pre-conference party where people were stacked like sardines and yelling over the un-chu un-chu un-chu of pop music at volume 11. And as I sat down in one of the only available seats and felt the crush of humanity around me, my unborn son started freaking out in my stomach as if to say "WHERE HAVE YOU TAKEN ME, WOMAN?!" I cut that evening short and headed back to the peace and quiet of the hotel room.
As all these experiences were happening, my attitude about bringing a person into the world started to change. I wasn't thinking about how labor was going to be like all my other hospital experiences where I just wanted to get the hell out of there and more on how I wanted to know everything I could about how my body was going to successfully introduce this person to the world in the best way possible.
Unfortunately, every book I read talked about all these options for "most women" and "low risk pregnancies" and I wasn't really feeling like they were speaking to my demographic. But as I sat in the waiting room at EVMS amongst some morbidly obese pregnant women or ladies who didn't look like they could withstand the stress of a brazilian wax, I didn't really feel at home there either. As Rich has said before, "not everyone is like me."
Faced with these challenges, I turned to the Internet for help. I read up on natural childbirth. Rich and I interviewed several doulas. I made Google documents called "Questions for OB" and "things to worry about" and updated them regularly. And in the beginning I felt very much between the rock of medicinal "high risk" birth as a type 1 diabetic and the hard place of adversarial "keep your dirty paws off my womb" philosophies.
In the last week or so, though, things have started to fall into place. We hired a wonderful doula who will come to our house and help me labor at home for as long as I'd like. She will be a wonderful middle ground between my housecat instinct to try and birth this child in a pile of laundry at home and Rich's protective instinct to rush me to the hospital if I so much as fart with gusto after week 38.
Our doula gave us a list of birth instructors to contact and one of them was starting a class this week. We managed to switch to an 8 week course on unmedicated childbirth. The first class was last night and everyone was great. Best of all it has given Rich and I a common experience and list of topics to discuss before we are in a hospital room with a bunch of strangers. Even after the first session, I already feel like he and I are very much on the same page.
The final piece of the puzzle was to get my OB on board with our game plan. Our previous visit three weeks ago was alright except that there were quite a few mentions of epidurals and inductions. But today I had a very candid conversation with her. I can't stress enough how much having this particular doctor and her campaign to let me manage my own blood sugars throughout labor (which is a major control issue for me that has caused epic fights in previous hospitals) is a huge deal and something no other hospital would let me do. She said that my decision on if I'm induced is completely up to me and that she believes strongly in a mother's instinct to know what's best for herself and the baby. She also said no one would pressure me to do something I didn't want to do but just give me all the data and let me decide.
I could have hugged her right then. That's all I wanted. I just wanted to know that going into the hospital was not going to be going into a war zone and that I would end up throwing down with every medical professional around me while in a very vulnerable state. I just wanted to feel like we're all on the same team.
I am not like most pregnant women. I have a very particular disease that adds additional risk factors to my pregnancy but is relatively easily managed. I also have a birth instructor, a doula, an OB, my kick ass husband, ridiculously excited grandparents and a cast of thousands out in Internet-land to all cheer me on. With all that support, I feel downright invincible these days.