In Which People Think We’re Crazy

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It is inevitable in this day and age that when you tell people you’re planning on having a drug-free childbirth outside a hospital, the response is often mixed.

There are the people who high-five you or say something like, “Right on!” and you know those are probably parents who have done or planned to do the same.

There are the people who nod and sincerely wish you well and you know those are people who weighed the options and decided it wasn’t right for them.

And then there are the people who look at you and say, “Lady, you are nucking futs.”

The truth is, I don’t have any concept of how painful this is going to be. I read birth stories and I have talked to my mother, but every woman is different and the range goes from “eh, it wasn’t so bad” to “OH GOD GET IT OUT OF ME”.

The closest comparison I have is the miscarriage which…I’m not sure how accurate a representation it was. For one, it lasted longer than a typical labor is allowed to last (five days, of which three of those I spent actively contracting and passing tissue and blood). For another, the embryo was only at nine weeks. I don’t know if the cervix is required to open quite as wide as it’s supposed to when you’re pushing out a full-term baby.

And then again emotionally, the result is not the same. When I had the miscarriage, I just kept wanting it to be over so I could move on with life and pass through the mourning phase. With the birth, I’ll want it to be over so I can bring our daughter into the world.

I have lived a pretty self-sufficient life. Well, as self-sufficient as one can get while still being connected to society. Bought my own house, my own car, my own cats. Found my own career and made my own mistakes. And I don’t like hospitals. Not in the I WILL NEVER STEP FOOT IN THAT UNHOLY DEN OF WESTERN MEDICINE sort of way but in the “I would rather not go there if I don’t need to” sort of way.

I’m not anti-medicine, nor am I anti-doctors, or anti-anything that will result in a healthy baby and mother. If I am anti-anything, it’s “anti”. Take an extreme view, and you’re going to get yourself in trouble. Sometimes women need epidurals. Sometimes they need Caesareans. Sometimes they just need a quiet room and a calm voice, or room to pace and cuss.

In my ideal world, I labor hard, have a baby, and a few days later bounce back so that I can spend many sleepless nights nursing and rocking her to sleep. I don’t really want to be laid up because of an incision in my abdomen, or lie around in an uncomfortable hospital bed waiting for the feeling to fully come back in my legs. Actually, being trapped on a bed or bound to a monitor or an IV is one of the things I least want. I like freedom. Even at the cost of pain.

And…I am fortunate. I am healthy. This is, so far, an option for me. When it stops being one, we’ll start talking interventions. Until then, I’ll keep focusing on avoiding them.

If you’re wondering about Mike’s view on all this: he’s supported me from day one. It’s like this — natural childbirth isn’t without risks. Epidurals aren’t without risks. Cesarean births aren’t without risks. Laboring and birthing in a hospital isn’t without risks.

Childbirth isn’t without risks.

The risks to a natural childbirth for a low-risk woman in a birth center attended by a CNM are about equal to the risks of a natural childbirth in a hospital. If at any point I stop meeting those qualifications (having a CNM, a birth center, or a low-risk pregnancy), I’ll be going to the hospital.

Until then, I’d rather labor in peace and welcome my daughter to the world without subjecting her or me to drugs and the risk of hospital infections and interventions.