My first two birth experiences were, in many ways, very different. Sunshine was born on her due date; Lily was a week late. Sunshine's labour began as bad backaches every seven minutes; Lily's labour began as mild abdominal cramps every ten or fifteen minutes. Sunshine's labour began early in the morning and went until late afternoon; Lily's labour began in late afternoon and went until early morning. Sunshine's labour was back labour; Lily's labour was front labour. I pushed for forty minutes with Sunshine, five with Lily.
Because we've moved so much, I've had different care providers for each of my pregnancies. This time around, I know I have a midwife whom I trust. In fact, at times I've been amazed when I said, "No, I don't want __________" and the midwife said, "Okay." I didn't have to present all my research? Explain why I'm down that test or procedure? Great. That's a huge change from Lily's birth, where I felt like I was in a losing fight and had no control over what happened to me—or to Lily—once I went to the hospital.
And yet... as I face this pregnancy, I realize I'm scared of the pain. When my second kidney stone hit a couple weeks ago, and I was writhing in pain on my bed, I thought about going into labour in a couple months. Dealing with a similar pain (though kidney stone pain is worse because it doesn't take a break like contractions) for ten or more hours. And I thought, "I don't want to do that again. I'll take a C-section or an epidural now." I'd hoped that Lily's birth would be faster and easier than Sunshine's, and it wasn't, so I don't want to cling to that hope for this birth.
Pam England says in Birthing From Within, "Who you are in labour and as a mother is merely an extension of who you are in the rest of your life. So if you want to be present and strong in birth, you need to practice that way of being in your everyday life." I've been meditating on that quote and what it means to me. I can see how my birthing choices fit in with my personality and other choices I've made in my life. So how do I live as the woman I want to be, not just in giving birth but every day?
Sometimes I wonder if I'm making too much out of birth. Why does it matter so much to me where and how I deliver my babies? I haven't found the answer to that yet, but I do know that in reading birth stories across the blogosphere, I see a common theme: birth is a big deal. A baby's physical entrance into this world is an amazing, emotional, miraculous event. Birth has a profound impact on every woman who goes through it. And so I continue to attempt to sort through my complicated thoughts and emotions about what's going to happen sometime around March 1st.
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