What's Your Goal?
"What's your goal here today?"
I must have looked at my labor and delivery nurse like she had two heads when she asked me what my goal was. I replied, "Um, to have a baby?" She laughed and explained that they were required to write two main goals on the white board. I quickly figured out where this was going, but I was still confused. I would have expected this at a birthing center or to come from a doula. But, I was at a hospital, a regular hospital. I only slightly amended my response, "I guess my main goal is to have a healthy baby" I responded. "That's great!" she beamed. "What's your second goal?" That was pretty much it. I had some things in mind like skin to skin contact, and I wanted to go as long as possible before getting an epidural, but I didn't see those as major goals. I relayed that info and also shared that I was VERY intent on breastfeeding as soon as possible. It was important to me that Bryce got a good latch as early as possible, but I understood that if for any reason they were concerned about him or if there were complications this might not be possible. But that was why breastfeeding was goal number TWO. So my goals were 1) Healthy Baby and 2) Breastfeeding.
I know that how a woman chooses to have her baby is a very personal and somewhat touchy subject, and I am not here to judge anyone, but I would like to offer some advice.
There is a very fine line that we need to be aware of when preparing to deliver our children. As mothers we only ever want the best for our children and it can make us a little crazy trying to achieve that. And all that begins with pregnancy and birth. We put SO MUCH PRESSURE on ourselves to have the "perfect" pregnancy and the "perfect" birth. But really shouldn't our goal be as simple as having a healthy baby? I'm not saying we shouldn't want these things or even take special steps to ensure that we get them. It's all about our mindset going in. This is very similar to the Mommy Mindset I have talked about previously. The mind is an extremely powerful thing and we have a lot more control over it than we realize sometimes. I am definitely a prepare for the worst but hope for the best kind of gal. My expectations aren't low, but I try to make sure they aren't unrealistic either. Things happen in life that we have no control over and the sooner we can understand that, the happier we will be.
Going back to my main goal, to be clear, I need to define the term healthy. That day healthy, to me, meant alive. It was that pure and simple. Please do everything you can to bring my baby into this world alive, and keep him that way. If that was going to require forceps, a vacuum, or god-forbid, a c-section then fine, do it. I was going to be ok with that. Does that mean I was going to let someone pressure me into doing something I didn't think was necessary? Hell no. Would I have been upset if I had needed a c-section? A little, but if that meant that my child was going to be ok then I would have dealt with that. Would I have been pissed if I had been pressured into an unnecessary c-section? Probably, but I wouldn't want it ruin what is the most amazing day in a woman's life.
I haven't been there, so I am not judging, but I don't understand why some women feel robbed of their birth experience? I'm not saying they don't have a right to feel that way, because they do, that's a genuine emotional response, I just don't understand it. And really it's not my place. No one has to defend their reaction, I'm just curious.
I've heard the stories where women felt that they were rushed to c-sections or other forms of assistance and they are angry about it. All I can do is look down at their healthy children and wonder why? As I see it they are robbing themselves of that happy experience. If you feel that a doctor, due to negligence or malpractice endangered the life of your child, then that is a huge thing and I would be truly pissed. No beyond that, I would be enraged. We as momma's are supposed to go ape-shit if anyone ever threats the well-being of our babies. However, if someone has altered your birth plan and things didn't turn out exactly as you wanted them, don't let them tarnish what was still a beautiful thing. We live and learn.
Noah's birth definitely wasn't a walk in the park. I was induced and received an epidural immediately. I ended up having to push for 3 1/2 hours, all the while it felt like someone was pulling my legs off at the hip. Bursitis is a bitch. In the end I asked for help. Luckily they didn't have to. My doctor gave me an episiotomy to prepare to use the vacuum and he shot out like a cannon. Sorry for that visual! :) Because of the episiotomy and all that pushing my recovery was a little longer than normal, but hey I never expected child birth and recovery to be easy! The second time around I knew that I did not want to be induced and I wanted to go as long as possible before getting an epidural. I made it 8 cm! This time the epidural was a little wonky and it wasn't working so great on one side. That meant to keep my pain level bearable on my right side (damn bursitis again) my left leg from hip to toe was completely dead. One of the nursing students had to help me hold it while pushing. That combined with a 9lb baby Bryce who has the cutest/largest melon head I've ever seen meant an hour and a half worth of pushing! Do you know how heavy a completely numb leg is? I bet that poor girl was so sore the next day! Neither experience was what I thought child birth was going to be, but both ended with beautiful healthy baby boys and I would go through it all over again in exactly the same manner if I needed to.
I guess what I'm tiptoeing around is that I hope women don't set unrealistic expectations for themselves and then get so disappointed that they become depressed. There. I said it. Please know that I mean absolutely no disrespect and am totally not judging anyone who has gone through a situation similar to what I am describing. I am only wishing that it didn't have to be that way. I read recently that this can be a risk factor for postpartum depression. And if just one pregnant or postpartum woman reads this and is able to alter her mindset and prevent this then I will be happy. I know it won't work in every case, but what have you got to lose! Look at the bright side. Focus on the positive. Where's that silver lining? Do whatever you can to prevent someone's stupidness from keeping you from enjoying this wonderful moment in your life.
It is so easy to get mired down in all the details these days. Many women want to plan out their birthing experiences to a "T." And that's all fine and good as long as they understand that all of that can change in an instant. There are pros and cons for everything. The list is huge. But 6 months down the road do you think it will really matter? Does it suck when things don't turn out the way we want them to? Absolutely! Should we allow that to adversely affect our lives and the lives of our children? Absolutely not! In then end we should put our wants and needs aside and focus on what's best for our babies, and that is a happy healthy mom.
I realize that this has the potential to piss off some people, and that is truly not my intention. If you desire to have a very specific experience when giving birth to your child then more power to ya! But if for some reason that doesn't turn out as it should, don't let it rob you of your experience. The miracle of birth is a beautiful thing. It shouldn't matter how it happens. As long as the result is a healthy happy baby, who are we really to complain?
Edited to Add: I am constantly reading articles. I was inspired by another article to write this. Since then I have read another article, or two, that reminded me of a few things I would like to add. So here goes. When I mention post partum depression above I want to make it very clear that this is not something I take lightly. I know that women have no control over this. It's not something that they can just "get over." I was definitely not implying that they are being selfish or placing their happiness in front of the needs of their child. I guess in hindsight his article really isn't written for women who have already had an experience like this. It's to help other women NOT have to go through this.
I was talking to my mother today, Love you Mom thanks for reading :), and she pointed out that when her and my father were taking the Lamaze classes that they were prepared for if things went wrong. They were educated about what drugs were out there and c-sections etc. In many ways we are living in an all or nothing society. I am a huge breastfeeding supporter and I think lactation consultants are our friends, but I have heard many people say that they felt seriously pressured by them. You know, Formula is the Enemy!! I think natural childbirth supporters can behave in similar ways. Having an epidural or c-section or whatever does not make anyone less of a mother!
My main point is that our PRIMARY goal should be to have a happy and healthy momma and baby. How that happens is important, but we need to keep an open mind. In all things.