Thursday, August 12, 2010

Birth Story According to Luis

This wasn't something he just decided to write; he's not that guy. Well, he kind of is. He wrote a few words documenting the day because of it's impact on him, but he didn't set out to write a "birth story". He was falling behind in his online English lit class, so this is extra credit. There are a few cheesy references to a couple of female authors- that's just fluff for his grade, haha. I think you can still get the gist of his emotions and his feelings about the birth. Enjoy, and please let me know what you think.

Every year a few elite climbers grace the top of Mount Everest. These climbers studied the terrain, prepared themselves physically as well as mentally for one of the most challenging feats of their lives. Do most people understand why a person would risk their life just to stand on top of a mountain? No way! Most would fall in line with the mentality that the view is the same whether you get there by helicopter or by foot. Why go through the pain, the cold, and all else that comes along with it? Only the climber and a few people who understand the climber ever truly know.On May 9th, 2010, my wife, Myndee, climbed a mountain of her own. Everest? No, but just as much training and dedication went into the preparation of her accomplishment. My wife gave birth to our second child completely natural and medication free!

As I read some the writings of Grace King and Kate Chopin I started to see my wife as a woman of great determination by wanting to take control of her body and delivery experience. I of course don’t feel that having a birth med free is as monumental as woman’s liberation as a whole, but I do feel that it has its roots in the same fight these historic women were in. As my wife and I discussed having children we were in mindset of having the doctor come to our house to give her drugs. However, as the birth of our children went from fantasy to reality my wife’s planning mode kicked in. During this planning and learning process she discovered that modern women have almost forgotten how to give birth. She realized that many hospitals viewed labor as a medical event, instead of a natural process. She learned that one of the main problems was that a lot women are for the most part uninformed when it comes to childbirth. And it was this uninformed state which caused them to put all of their decisions about the birth of their child into the hands of another. The problem is that often times, the more interventions there are, the more there is a need for interventions. It's difficult in this day and age to go against the grain of the medical professionals.

My wife has been met with such opposition due to the choice to have our children naturally. The strange thing is that she isn’t over the top hippie, she just wanted to experience a natural part of life without drugs, but people acted as if she was going to have the baby in the dessert alone. They made comments that implied that she would be helpless and beg for the doctors to intervene. Just as the girl in Grace King’s Little Convent Girl, my wife took a plunge into what many believe to be the dark unforgiving river of labor. Just as the girl in the story, even though many didn’t agree and it would seem alien to others, she took control of her life.

A year and a half earlier my wife gave birth to our first child. It was a beautiful experience. Our child was healthy, and we were so overjoyed with being parents for the first time. But something was amiss. Even though my wife labored from 6am to 10pm without an epidural, 30 minutes before the birth she couldn’t deal with the pain and received the epidural. She felt defeated. I didn’t understand what the big deal was; to me healthy baby trumped med free baby, and after insensitively stating this to my wife I learned that a healthy baby was her ultimate goal as well, but she wanted to experience birth naturally. She couldn’t believe that she was so close to accomplishing her goal and gave up in the last few minutes. She swore that the next time she would fight it out to the end.

My wife isn’t an adrenaline junky, and she isn’t very competitive, so it was unlike for her to be so gung ho about delivering med free. Although she researched for our first, the sense of failure that lingered afterward kicked her research into warp speed. She read everything she could on the subject, spoke to anyone who had experience, practiced relaxation techniques, and prepared herself mind, body, and soul for the mountain that lay in front of her.

The day had arrived! Contractions started around 9pm on the 8th. Myndee stayed cool and collected through these contractions, and once we realized this was it, she calmly had me call our babysitter and doula and make all the arrangements for us to go to the hospital. At about 2:30am, contractions were in high gear, so she took a bath to help her relax and cope with the pain. When 4am rolled around, we headed to the hospital.

After arriving at the hospital, Myndee stayed focused on her goal. Doctors and nurses were prepped with birthing plans, and she made it clear that no arbitrary procedures were going to be done without first explaining the necessity. There was one nurse who resisted at first, probably because patients don’t normally question them, but soon left us alone.
Contractions began to get much more intense a couple hours after arriving at the hospital. Myndee refused to be on constant monitoring so she was free to labor in the shower, standing, sitting, or however she felt like dealing with the pain. I knew the pain was bad, but I wasn’t sure how far into it we were because she was doing such a good job dealing with the pain. I was shocked when the doctor said that after a few more contractions she would probably be ready to push. I won’t lie, the last few contractions seemed like they were unbearable; she shouted some obscenities and had a few “what did I do?” moments, but one of the last contractions before she pushed she didn’t make a sound. She focused and relaxed through the pain…it was as though she were asleep.
When the pushing started, I did the best I could to be encouraging and keeping her focused on me. But I was also able to step back and take in the entire room as an outsider. I noticed that everyone in there, including her doctor, was calm and completely believed that my wife could have a med free birth. The research was necessary to prepare her, but the support system that she had in place was pivotal in helping her reach her goal.

Finally, with two big pushes our new baby entered the world. At that moment it was clear to me, I had been supportive but wasn’t 100% on board. Now I knew why she did it. I finally understood why she endured a pain that most choose to bypass. She wanted to experience child birth for all it was. And she did.

I am not a sappy father who thinks that all that is natural is beautiful. I don’t recycle much, I eat processed foods, and I don’t care how big my carbon footprint is. But this experience was beautiful almost beyond words. I have a new level of respect for my wife for setting her mind to such a goal and reaching its peak. I respect her for doing all she could to make sure our child was healthy. I thank her for opening my eyes to how beautiful child birth can be when done naturally. It’s difficult as a man to encourage women to remember how to give birth naturally; no I haven’t done it and never could, but I would encourage you to try. Your body and your baby know how to do it.

My wife astonished me with her dedication and drive on May 9th. She wasn’t the first nor the last to do it but that doesn’t change the fact that she tackled one of the most difficult things known to (wo)man.

1 comment:

Robyn said...

Love this!