Archive for the 'epidurals' Category

Being cheated

Last night I attended a Childbirth Ed class taught by the wonderful Hannah. She’s a fantastic educator, very entertaining and informative. We took a tour of the hospital where she took the bed apart, hoisted her little frame up into that bed and showed several different positioning examples, including all-fours and legs spread with feet up on the squatting bar. What a dynamic lady she is. I’m just not sure I could get in front of an entire roomfull of people and spread eagle. Lol. Very cool of her.

The whole experience was really neat, watching everything from an observation standpoint instead of being an expectant parent. I got warm fuzzies just seeing all of the couples, so excited and full of hope. The Daddy next to me was rubbing Mama’s belly and the one in front of me kept looking at his wife and smiling lovingly. It made me want another baby so bad I could taste it.

But when I got home and sat down to unwind, I was overcome with so many feelings that needed to be sorted out. Mostly, anger.

I’m angry that at 18 years old, I trusted my doctor when she told me at a prenatal appointment that “an epidural would be best for me.” I’m angry that I was always stuck in the waiting room for my appointments, that I could never get through on the phone, that everyone was too busy to answer my questions, and that she would fly in and out of the examining room before I had a chance to process the information she had given me. I’m angry that I was treated like cattle, along with the rest of her patients. In and out. Push them through. I’m angry that she sent me to Childbirth Ed classes, where I was taught how to be “a good patient”, to do exactly what they wanted me to do instead of giving me options. I’m angry that although my labor was only 6 hours long, she augmented with Pitocin. I’m angry that I was gripping the bed rails, curling up into a tiny ball and screaming from the pain. I’m angry that there were decels in my son’s heartrate, that there was distress and meconium that probably could have been avoided if my doctor would have been patient enough to keep the Pitocin out of my veins for a few hours longer. I’m angry that I never moved from the bed, strapped to monitors and an IV pole. I’m angry that I was numb from my breast bone to my toes, that I could feel nothing, that nurses were yelling, that I pushed so hard I bruised the sockets of my teeth and popped blood vessels in my eyes. I’m angry that my son was pushed too hard and too fast into the world and countless stitches were needed to repair the damage. I’m angry that my doctor tugged away at my placenta and that there was so much blood that she mentioned a transfusion, that I was anemic afterwards and had to keep my catheter in for the entire next day because I could not even stand. I’m angry that when breastfeeding went terribly wrong, the nurses, the lactation consultants, everyone gave up on me. And I’m angry that 18 months later, when my second child was born, everything happened all over again.

I almost feel like I need to grieve my first two births. Sure I had no major complications and my babies were healthy. But there was so much I missed, so much my boys missed. I feel so lucky to have had my last child be born at home. It was definitely a real healing experience for me. But in a way, it made things worse. I feel cheated. Even though I was reading everything I could get my hands on about pregnancy and birth and breastfeeding, the information that was presented to me was one sided. I was molded into my doctor’s perfect patient. She got paid for doing so very little, and now I forever pay the price for her lack of concern.

I guess it’s important for me to keep focusing on the fact that I was able to reclaim my motherhood, my instincts, myself. I have to remember that a year ago, I was in my own bed, watching my baby be born. I was letting him come, allowing my body to do the work as his head crowned so slowly and gently. I have to remember the waves of contractions that washed over me, the absence of fear and pain. I have to remember lifting his body to my chest, no one cheering or yelling, no bulb syringe, no gleam of the scissors to immediately sever him from me, no towels to scrub away his vernix. I have to remember that a year later, he still finds nourishment at my breast, that my child is still nursing when I was told again and again that I would never breastfeed. I have to remember it all, and be gracious for it, for the way I was given that one last opportunity to discover empowerment.


The First Birth

So I suppose I should probably announce that I have acquired my first client as a doula-in-training. Am I allowed to even call her a client if I’m not a certified doula yet and I’m not charging her? I wouldn’t want to be using improper doula etiquette.

Anyway, in order to complete my certification I am required to attend three births as the primary doula. I hadn’t really thought of this portion of certification yet, since I am mainly focused on the actual four day workshop I will attend in March that will hopefully teach me some necessary doula-ing skills. And so, I wasn’t keeping an eye on prospective clients. One just happened to fall in my lap. She’s an acquaintance of mine, pregnant with her third child, and due in early April. I was so shocked when she asked that I fumbled on the phone for quite some time. Obviously, I’m excited. I’m absolutely thrilled about it and I’m so very honored that she would think so highly of me that she would want me to be at the BIRTH of her CHILD! But mostly, I’m nervous as heck. And here’s why:

1. I’ve never attended any births. I narrowly missed my best friend’s labor and delivery, when my goddaughter decided to cannonball into the world at warp speed before Auntie Estella could make it to the hospital. Of course I’ve had three children of my own, but obviously, not the same experience. I realize that at some point there will be this first birth, but I would prefer to have at least observed one before I’m taking the main supportive role.

2. I never had a doula present at any of my births. And not just that, I didn’t even want a doula. When I’m in labor, I don’t allow anyone to talk to me or touch me during contractions. I don’t even want to look at anyone. I want to close my eyes and go to the Happy Place, and I don’t want you coming with me. When I was pregnant with Animal, I did some interviews with a few doulas thinking that I should just go with it, since it was the right thing to do. But in the end, I couldn’t fathom spending a few hundred bucks on a doula when I wouldn’t have even allowed her to speak. I also wanted to make sure that I was birthing in the exact way that my body wanted to birth. I didn’t want anyone suggesting positions or coping techniques. I wanted my body to tell me what to do. And in the end, it did. A little over two hours of silent-no-touching-me-contractions and we had ourselves a little Animal.

3. This particular momma desires a natural birth. Now normally this would be the ideal situation, right? I should be a wreck over the women who automatically plan for the narcotics, the epidural, the episiotomy, the purple pushing, and the whatever-else. But this momma has tried to go natural the past two times. During her last birth, she stalled at 8cm and she reports that her doula kept pushing her to resist the OB’s advice to break her water. She states the pain became too great, too long in transition and she caved on the epidural. She says that she’d still like to have a doula this time around, so that someone can “keep her butt in line.” It just makes me feel so terribly responsible for the outcome. And considering my inexperience, it’s stressing me out.

What if I ruin her birth experience? What if she hates the sound of my voice or my suggestions or the way I smell or something? What if she thinks I’m annoying and kicks me out of the birthing room, or even worse–what if she doesn’t have the courage to kick me out and she regrets having me there for the rest of her life? What if she ends up with another epidural and wishes that she would have called upon Patti Ramos instead of Estella the aspiring doula? It’s so huge. It really is just SO HUGE. Rationally, I know that these feelings are pretty normal. I know that there must be a First Birth. I know that there is probably some anxiety before every birth, and not just the first. I know that this is something that I will have to work through. I’d just like to start feeling a little less worried and a little more capable.

Epidural Risks

The question has been asked, “What are the possible effects of an epidural on the baby?”

-Epidurals can slow labor, and as a result, oxytocin (Pitocin) will be administered through an IV. Pitocin brings on unnaturally strong contractions and almost always causes fetal distress. Pitocin also increases the chance of a forcep or vacuum assisted delivery, as well as cesarean section. (All of which can cause even more unpleasant side effects to the baby.)

-An epidural will also require electronic fetal monitoring, which I believe is highly inaccurate and prone to error. Inaccurate signs of fetal distress picked up through electronic fetal monitoring can lead to an obstetrician’s hasty decision for an unecessary c-section.

-An epidural requires that a precautionary IV be put in place. Any fluid overload from this IV can cause fluid in the baby’s lungs and/or blood chemistry disturbances.

-Epidurals can cause a considerable drop in maternal blood pressure, which may endanger the baby.

-Anesthetic is delivered into the cerebrospinal fluid, then passes into the maternal blood vessels, crosses into the placenta, and into the baby’s circulation. It may act directly to slow the fetal heartrate.

As Henci Goer states in her book “The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth” :

“By the time you are hooked up to an IV, an oxytocin delivery pump, a fetal monitor, an automated blood pressure cuff, an epidural pump, and have a bladder catheter, what was a perfectly normal labor has been transformed into a high tech event.”

Congratulations, you have now pretty much sealed the deal on an “emergency” cesarean.

Ladies, there are REASONS why God created us to experience pain during labor, and it ain’t just because Eve ate the forbidden fruit.

Pain during labor tells your body what to do. Pain will drive you into the most comfortable position, and that position is the one which is perfectly suited to effectively bring your baby into the world. Your body responds to labor pain by secreting massive amounts of adrenaline and endorphins. Adrenaline gives you stamina, keeps you going, gives you strength to push through. Endorphin levels at the time of your baby’s birth will be THIRTY TIMES HIGHER than normal. Natural oxytocin secreted in your brain will elevate your mood and will cause amnisiac properties. (This is why we forget the pain of childbirth and want to do it again!) The pain also prepares your baby for life, readying his lungs to breathe, mobilizing glucose for energy, protecting your baby against lack of oxygen during labor, and pushing blood into the baby’s brain and heart. THE PAIN IS SUPPOSED TO BE THERE, IS HAS A PURPOSE!

As a young, uneducated mother, I birthed my first two babies with the aid of an epidural. I was completely paralyzed from my breastbone to the tips of my toes. I felt nothing, and I thought that was a good thing! I couldn’t walk until the following day, couldn’t go to the bathroom on my own, had extensive tearing and bleeding, was exhausted, and felt like shit. My babies were sleepy and jaundiced. I failed at breastfeeding both times.

My last baby was born at home, completely natural. My body felt strong and alive. I could feel my baby’s head as it crowned. I felt in control of my body. When he was born, I felt like I was on Cloud 9. I felt energized. I was able to get up right away and walk around. I had minimal bleeding. My baby was alert and healthy, and scored perfect on his Apgar’s. And maybe best of all…We are now into the 10th month of breastfeeding.

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Suri Cruise to appear in Vanity Fair

So this morning, I opened up my good ole trusty Internet Explorer, and was greeted, as usual, by my MSN homepage. (My only source of current events, if you don’t count the Island local news, which you can’t really count.)

I see that Suri Cruise, daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, has finally been photographed and is set to appear in the next Vanity Fair.

This whole Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes pregnancy/birth/newborn/baby saga has driven me crazy from the start. Here’s why.

#1 Give Katie a break, for God’s sake. If one day you found out that Tom Cruise had a crush on you, I’m willing to bet my life that you would drop everything and accept his advances. Even if that meant being followed around by crazy Scientologists, going through all sorts of creepy religious training, and putting up with Tom’s wild antics.

#2 Give Tom a break for the jumping-on-Oprah’s-couch episode. God forbid a man show any sort of unleashed emotion for the woman he loves. May all of you mean spirited, jealous hags die as old maids.

#3 Stop acting like Tom Cruise was a total nutcase for wanting Katie to have a natural, silent birth. As opposed to the gruesome, traumatizing, paralyzing, drug induced, surgical and/or narcotic laced births that the majority of you are having? Please.

#4 I won’t even mention the stupid rumor that Katie’s “baby bump” was staged, and then these conspiracy theories that Suri didn’t even exist. How painful those claims must be to a brand new mother.

#5 Kudos to Tom and Katie for keeping their baby in seclusion for the first few months of life. This is the way it should be done, and IS done throughout most world cultures.

#6 Also, bravo to them for getting Annie Lebowitz to take the first photos. I hope the jerks and paparazzi in the media that perpetuated all of this ugliness take one look at Suri’s beautiful little face and feel just a small inkling of remorse.