Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Business of Being Born

There's this new movie (I think it's new) coming out - The Business of Being Born. So far the trailer has made me cry while changing Kathleen's diaper and apologizing for birthing her wrong.

The thing is - I really was interested in having a midwife and going to a birthing center. My husband was not so into it. He used to say, "Sure, why go to a hospital where they have millions of dollars of equipment and where the doctors have had years and years of education when we could go to a birthing center where someone has taken a six week course". He was kidding and exaggerating, of course, but I took his point. I was of advanced maternal age and I honestly don't know if I could have gotten anyone to take me on as a patient - they act like you're poison or something.

So I got a doula and it ended up to be such a bad experience. She was with another patient for a long time and my husband and I just ended up going to the hospital. We had no idea what was going on, it seemed like my contractions were so close together and so intense (I'm sure it was nerves contributing to that feeling) we just went to the hospital. This was a *mistake* as the rotten resident doctor immediately starting saying that I couldn't have ice chips, I needed to have a fetal monitor on at all times, etc., etc. Then Joseph never did descend after like 24 hours and they said they had to do a c-section. Did they? I don't know. But man, that baby's heart rate starts going down and I do whatever they say. I wish that the doula had come to my house when I called her so that I could have labored at home for a while and been comfortable and drunk some damned water if I wanted and walked around or bounced on my ball or rocked in my rocking chair. Then maybe I wouldn't have had Pitocin and the epidural and maybe he would have come down. But maybe not. He has a remarkably large head and even with Kathleen, the doctor had to use suction on her gigantic noggin and that was for a scheduled c-section!

But I feel bad. I wish I were 10 years younger when I had my kids and they couldn't hold my age against me. I wish I were 10 years younger now because I distinctly recall needing less sleep when I was almost 30. I wish I wish I wish.

But do all doctors do unnecessary c-sections on patients because they only take 20 minutes? I talked to my doctor about Joseph's delivery and he said see? Women say they want 'natural labor' but no one wants 'natural' labor. Unmedicated labor, maybe, but not natural. I said I thought of that - I thought what if I went to a birthing center, or tried to have Joseph at home and then he didn't descend and his heart rate dipped? What if it was 100 years ago? My doctor said he probably would have died and maybe you would have died too. I can't really type that without crying. The thought of the baby dying because I wanted to have the kind of birth experience that *I* wanted to have is too much for me to think about. But maybe it was just a scare tactic?

I don't know - I hate to be a sucker to the medical community, but aren't we all, really?


Constance the Thirteenth said...

I have seen previews for this movie too, but I'm just not sure I can watch it, mainly because I think I fall at the opposite end of the spectrum - since I worked OB, I support hospital birth. Period. End of story. Because if you want an unmedicated birth, you can do it in the hospital. Because things go wrong and it happens fast - I've been a part of it and while running down the hall I could only think over and over 'thank god we're in the hospital, because any extra seconds could have made this worse'. I've also been on the receiving end of things that go horribly wrong at home.

I personally have not seen anyone get a c section for 'convenience'. Because when you weigh the risk of continuing against surgery, you have to make a choice. But without significant medical reasoning against it, I never saw a patient ask for more time and not get it. But it does make me sad to know that some people are disappointed and see c sections as 'failing'. You didn't fail at anything - you came, you had a baby - and as a bonus, you get to take your baby home.

What a bummer to have such a poor experience with your doula - I'm sure that didn't help things. But in the end, I really believe that if kids don't fit, then they don't fit and there isn't usually anything that can be done to change that.

So I will end my rant and say that I'm sorry it didn't turn out the way you had hoped the first time. But I will also say that I think you made a good choice going the way that you did, and I'm so glad that you have some beautiful kiddos as a result.

Anonymous said...

The fact of the matter is that birthing babies is serious business. Women and infants used to die at alarming rates. I'm a firm believer in the medical system because it is the reason so many women and infants live today.

I was in labor for 22 hours which resulted in an emergency c-section. My doctor did not take it lightly.

I think that the big thing now is all-natural and I know I've been harassed for having a c-section as though it is some moral undoing.

Even I was very adamant about NOT having a c-section, about being "natural". My husband about had heart failure when they mentioned c-section while I was EXTREMELY thankful.

In the end what is important is that you and the baby are fine. There is no "right" or "wrong" way.

Swistle said...

I'm REALLY not interested in seeing a movie that makes women do MORE doubting of their decisions and the things they couldn't make decisions on. As you saw in your own life, it isn't just the formal medical community that fails women: doulas and midwives and the women themselves all contribute to an unsatisfying birth experience--and so does the concept that the birth experience should be satisfying.

Childbirth used to be a dangerous thing. Now it's something we can take almost for granted. I am really, really, REALLY willing to exchange "doing things naturally" for that.

Also: I don't think OBs do c-sections for convenience, no matter how many times people say it. My own c-sections took way longer than 20 minutes, and I had two OBs in there with me as well as hospital staff and a lot of futzing about with appointments and pre-ops and post-ops, and it seems like that's a lot less convenient for the OB than if the woman were laboring at home with a doula.

ConstanceTheNinth said...

Thanks for your smart comments, all. I don't feel badly about my choices anymore, I am/have working/worked through them all during the hours that I'm sitting up nursing Kathleen. I think, well, she's here right? That has to be better than me NOT nursing a baby right now because I wanted to have her by a tree or whatever. But I was *very* disappointed after having Joseph, and how it all went down. I think especially because I paid that dumb doula like $500 for basically nothing! I hate to be such a sucker. But as time went on and I stopped being up so much in the middle of the night (when we all do our clearest, calmest thinking, right?) I started to think who cares? Who cares, when you're holding a PERSON that was BORN and is FINE and HEALTHY, who cares how they got here? Anyway, thanks.