November 18, 2012

Thoughts on Childbirth and Patience.

“Try looking at your mind as a wayward puppy that you are trying to paper train. You don't drop-kick a puppy into the neighbor's yard every time it piddles on the floor. You just keep bringing it back to the newspaper.” --Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

I was talking a good game about patience as recently as a couple of weeks ago. But even though I'm smiling in this photo from today, my smile is a pile of phoney baloney. I feel heavy, exhausted and stuck. My patience has left me, even though I keep trying to pull it back like a balloon (or a puppy) with prayer and meditation and pep talks and hot baths. Still, the truth is: I'm the girl who would rather drive across town to another restaurant than endure a 20-minute wait at the restaurant we're already at. I'd rather watch you unwrap your Christmas present today--right now, go ahead!--instead of on Christmas morning.


Nine months is an incredibly long time to hand your body over to another person (even to my child, who I love already but who remains a stranger to me). I am much better at giving my heart and my head to a baby I can see and hold and hear than I am at giving my body to a baby who is known to me only by her slow rolls inside my womb, by hope and faith. I want it back--myself. I am ready. I am tired of peeing my pants when I sneeze and of not being able to cross my legs comfortably or lean into a conversation with a friend. And there are stretch marks this time. There weren't stretch marks with Tessa.

I'm sort of embarrassed to write this blog because I wish that I could find a well of patience somewhere inside myself and pull some extra buckets from it. Instead, I decided last week to schedule my induction for the Monday after Thanksgiving--a week from tomorrow. That's a full three days before my due date. My OB is tops at dangling that induction carrot in front of me, and I'm junk at resisting it. In spite of my somewhat conflicted feelings about my choice, I want to capture them here because this is part of my story. This is part of me, imperfectly. And pregnancy is such a time of growth and new self-awareness. Of this I am now aware: I am really lousy at patience.

I was induced a couple of days before my due date with Tessa as well. I was lucky to have had a fantastic experience, without any hiccups, and to have had the peaceful birth I wanted. Are my inductions medically necessary? Not even a little bit. And I get the impression that they rub some people the wrong way because I'm evicting my baby before she's "ready." But that, I think, is one of the blessings of being a woman today. I get to choose.

I feel differently about modern birth than many of my friends. I'm the girl who turned off the documentary The Business of Being Born, which is this famous exposé about how "medicalized" and unnatural birth has become, after 20 minutes because I was annoyed. That documentary, and many of my feminist friends, advocate for the right to give birth naturally, without intervention. As a feminist myself, I'm on the other side of the fence. For me, one of the greatest freedoms of being a woman today is in having the right to deliver my baby with minimal pain, on my terms, on my schedule, instead of being forced to endure the greatest pain of my life. Is it "natural"? Nope. But I'm grateful for my freedom to give birth the way I choose, just as I am grateful for my other reproductive rights. And just as I'm grateful that we all have the right to plan our births, whether they're in a hospital or in our own homes, with truckloads of pitocin and cervidil and epidurals, or with gritted teeth and saintlike purity.

So, as Tessa says all the time now, "Let's get this party started!" Only eight more sleeps until I meet my Liv. Then I can try to locate my patience in the heft of her little body, the smell of her mouth, her hair, and with the help of others. I won't have to carry her alone any longer. Until then I have to try to enjoy doing just that.

13 comments:

  1. THANK YOU! I am also a feminist, but there is no way I could handle a natural birth (I am childless at the moment). I feel like what you say is looked down upon in that community, but I totally agree with you! I will be all drugged up when I have my child, and as long and I and my baby are all healthy after, what's the big deal? Good luck with your birth Ellen!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think you are perfectly imperfect, friend. Thank you for being so vulnerable - it inspires me to do the same. Love to you & your sweet Liv....

    ReplyDelete
  3. Could not agree more. Love my epidurals! I scheduled an early induction with number 2 and she came a few nights early so you never know. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh, is your perspective a breath of fresh air in the mommier-than-thou blogging world.

    ReplyDelete
  5. you are so right!! you have the right to choose whatever you want for yourself and i wish you all the luck!! almost there. also, i always look at pregnancy as 10 months. and that is an awful long time... xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  6. I wrote something similar before giving birth. I agree that a hospital birth with medical intervention seems to be frowned upon by the natural birth community, but really... who gives a flying F what they think? It's your body and your baby. I got a lot of hell for getting an epidural but it's the one thing that saved my sanity and let me enjoy my labor. I'm excited for you and can't wait to see pics of your new baby!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I can't believe in just a week she'll be here!! You have to do what's right for you and make the choice that will make you most comfortable! It amazes me how judgmental people can be about such a personal experience. Enjoy these days with Tessa! She'll be such a great big sister :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. wonderful. and how exciting for you! she will be here so soon.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I applaud your courage at voicing your opinion, even though it may come with a backlash. I had my daughter drug-free at a birth center, so I am on the other side of the fence than you. But I can 100% agree that your educated choice is the biggest, most important factor when it comes to your own birth experience. I am a different woman, with different fears, so I had a different experience. I think it's refreshing to be able to say I am proud of the way I gave birth, and I can also be excepting and encouraging in the way you choose to give birth. Neither of us are wrong or right, just women in control of our own independent bodies.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh yes, I remember these days. You are a good woman, its so good to hear this perspective.

    ReplyDelete
  11. good luck today mama!!!!! hope all goes well and that you will soon return home with the sweetest and healthiest baby Livvy. xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  12. Can't wait to hear story/see pix!! All the best!

    ReplyDelete
  13. YAY that was yesterday right?? The big day? I hope everything went smoothly. I really appreciate you sharing your perspective. Being 27 weeks with my first it's nice to hear an opinion like yours.

    ReplyDelete