valancystirling: (Default)
I'm so into this book The Mask of Motherhood. I've only had a few minutes here and there to read it, so it might take me forever to finish, but I'm liking it.

I was just reading about pregnancy, and how insane it is that the modern woman, more educated than previous generations, has all this information at her fingertips, and most of it is intentionally misleading.

I remember in the throes of labor, commenting on Ina May's "rushes" and various other prominent childbirth "educators" with all their "manageable pain" bullshit. BULLSHIT.

What bothers me the most is that these lies fuck you up DURING labor. What I NOW know was normal excruciating pain, at the time I was terrified that I was dying because it was NOT supposed to hurt like this. All the books, the midwives, the other women, the videos, all of it. They never gave a hint. Especially the more earthy crunchy the source, the more full of bullshit it was. They find the most serene woman, who's probably high or dead, and film her moaning quietly in a tub, and then voila, there's a baby and all is happy and joy sweeps across the land. And I'm highly gratified after the fact, to know that it wasn't just me. Up till right now today, honestly, I've been afraid to talk to other women--especially pregnant women--about my labor and birth. Because I was so convinced that mine was atypically horrible and I didn't want to scare them. Now I am utterly convinced that my experience was normal. It was prolonged, no doubt, by the position of Topie's head through most of it, but that was about all that wasn't strictly typical.

Well let me tell you right now. I'm not going to participate in this "mask of motherhood" thing, and i will be totally straight with you. None of this stems from my dissatisfaction with my midwife's actions, or bitterness about any of that. When I think of my "horrible labor" I don't think of the pain, the suffering, the NORMAL part of it. I think of the stupid midwife and her stupid assistant, and the way they treated me.

So let me just be honest and straight about it right here and now, with no mistake.

Having a baby hurts like nothing you will ever be able to fathom in this life or the next. While there ARE some women who have different experiences and for whatever reason get out relatively easy, for most of us, you will pray for death before it's over. You will think you're dying. You will be confused and panicked. You will wonder if you can possibly go on. You will be sure that you can't. You will beg for drugs, unconsciousness, and you won't care. You will feel like the core of your body is being ripped in half, in the most brutal and inhumane way imaginable. you will feel attacked by your own body. You will not think once about the baby. You will forget everything except the pain.

ETA Or maybe you won't. I think it's important to understand that no matter how proficient you are with the various strategies and breathing and techniques, that there's still a good chance you're going to hurt like hell. ETA

All this coming from someone who spent 10 months reading every book and website about childbirth and labor. I read the full range. The books written by male OB/GYNs, the mellowest hippie midwives, and everything in between. I read books on homebirth, and hypnobirth, and painfree birth, and medicated birth, and every type of labor "management". I took prenatal yoga and birthing workshops. I watched all the videos. I was entirely sold on all of it. I honestly believed that if you weren't afraid or anxious, that your body was never meant to hurt during labor. That you could relax and breathe and let it go and all that, and you would doze off between contractions and your body would do all the work and you just had to sit back and experience the ride.

Even worse, when some woman would tell me that it DOES hurt like hell, I would smile to myself rather smugly, and pity her, that she had clearly not read the right books, and probably didn't know how to relax enough. Poor, poor, misinformed thing she must be!

I don't feel any bitterness or regret or anything bad about all the pain. Now. But at the time I felt so shocked, stunned, horrified, and betrayed that I had been lied to by EVERYONE. Doctors, midwives, women, men, everyone. I think now, that my one real regret was buying into all the crap and having to go through those few hours of complete shock and panic that something had gone horribly, terrifyingly wrong, because it just should not hurt like that. If I had been told the truth, I would have gone into it expecting the worse and could have been spared that indescribably horrible panic, that I was going to die.

In my case, something WAS wrong, and that was that Topie's head was in a terrible position. And probably if we hadn't taken care of that, things might have gone very badly. But even after her head was in the right position, it was still hours, and it was still almost unbearable. I think it was even worse AFTER her head was positioned.

So that's what I feel like I need to say. Not to instill fear in anyone, because labor and childbirth are no place for fear. I do strongly encourage pregnant women to read books on relaxation, because without that I would have been lost. No, breathing and relaxing isn't going to take all the pain away. Get it out of your head right now. But it will help you get through it without feeling broken after. No point in clenching all your muscles and fighting your uterus the whole way, and prolonging the whole thing, and then feeling like you were run over by a truck the next day. So yes, by all means SERIOUSLY learn to relax. Practice relaxing. But don't think that by reading "the right books" you are going to sneak under the radar and have a pain-free experience. Most likely, you won't. And while I enjoyed reading all the birth-under-the-tree-in-the-woods-with-primal-screams and all that fun stuff, don't build your hopes around it.

I hope this won't all be dismissed because it was written by someone who is bitter about her midwife's participation in the labor and birth. I'm talking strictly about the physical aspects of it. I don't want to further the cause of disservice to women by lying or telling half-truths. This is the truth.
valancystirling: (Default)
I went to the birth network group tonight. Walked in, saw midwife's assistant, sat down, stood up, walked out. I just couldn't be in the same room with her. Oh well. So much for that.

I know that I am an emotional person. Often overly so. And I know that it probably discredits much of what I say because I am better able to communicate what I feel than what I think and why. This is probably why I shouldn't pursue becoming a midwife, and why I should probably distance myself from pretty much everyone outside of this apartment, because I frustrate myself and others by speaking and acting out of emotion.

So whatever. I'm not arguing anymore, with anyone, about anything. It occurs to me that I just don't care anymore. I'll do what I'm going to do, for whatever reasons, and that will be that. I'm not interested in changing the world, because I think it's a lost cause. I don't care enough about people in general, so it's not worth the bother. I feel like I've set myself up to be in an argument with someone everywhere I turn. That's my problem, not anyone else's. So whatever. I retreat, having nothing further to say on the subject.
valancystirling: (corn poppy)
I should probably change the subject.

Or maybe start writing these as private posts. If three of you tell me to, I will from now on, no questions asked.

So. The top things that still bother me are as follows:

--the way the midwife and her asst. made me feel like a little wimp and a whiny baby the entire time, dismissing all my assertions, whispering to each other while looking at me, mocking me the entire time, general obvious condescension.

--the countless interventions on the part of the midwife. her impatience and unwillingness to let things happen naturally. the way she just wouldn't listen to me.

--the abrupt course of events after the birth. i didn't get to see topaz for too long after she was born because she was whisked away, cord cut prematurely, my cord was yanked on, baby was given oxygen and mouth-to-mouth because she wasn't crying enough to satisfy midwife. then i was taken to the shower, and i finally got to see topaz, fully dressed already.

I suppose it all falls under one of those categories. Ugh.

I'm trying to put my finger on why I feel all this humiliation.
valancystirling: (On no you did NOT.)
era;ljgn:DFLgn :SDFLjkn Wnm

And there you have it.

I talked to Jake a bit more about this whole stupid birth thing. I had an idea that maybe what's really bothering me after all this time is my pride, plain and simple and superficial.

I walked all through that argument and decided that I don't think it's right, even though it would have been a neat and tidy way to close the discussion.

The aspects of the whole thing that still bother me the most are...good grief, they're still so many. I won't write out the whole list AGAIN, but I will say that in some ways I feel closer to figuring it out, but still a long way off. I am so sick of this. I want to think about something else.

My mom thinks I should just go talk to J about it, but I know exactly how that would go.

Jake says she and I were just a bad match from the start. I agree. I was stuck, though. Probably next time I'll just do a hospital birth and whatever happens, happens. No, even as I write that, I know I could never, unless there was some serious and legitimate reason I needed the extra care.

So many things have pissed me off lately. I was--a while ago--a member of the lj childfree community. I was so serious about it, too. And now, those people are the people who try to make my life difficult. I see it everywhere I go. The glares, the whispering, the exaggerated physical shows of annoyance some people feel compelled to make. It's frustrating, because I know how they feel, and largely WHY they feel it. I used to be one of them. I know this isn't true for everyone, but for me and for lots of people, everything changes when you have a baby. EVERYTHING. Life is upside down. You think about things differently, from a different center. Jake's mom points out that your politics change, your priorities, EVERYTHING. And childfree people don't have any clue. Nor could they. No way. You can only smile to yourself and imagine the shock they'll feel should they ever decide to have a child. It's not about smugness, it's about being old and wise and experienced and all that crap.

I never thought it would happen, but to a large extent, I just don't relate to my childless friends the way I used to. As Jake says, the married man wonders what he ever spent his money on when he was single. And there you have it. What could I possibly have thought about way back then?

Oh my, I am riled up indeed. I feel like a whole pit of rattlesnakes.
valancystirling: (Default)
I would just like to announce that, six months after giving birth to an 8lb 10oz baby, I am wearing my old clothes. No doubt this miraculous transformation was brought to you by the letter G(odiva double chocolate cheesecake).

I'm still reading The Mask of Motherhood here and there in spare moments, and I'm determined to post more from it. The discussion about the idea of what is a "good birth" is particularly interesting to me.

Apparently a lot of what many women have a hard time dealing with is themselves, and their "performance" as it's being called. Honestly, that's not my problem at all. Yes, I did go into the experience with a lot of preconceived notions and expectations that turned out to be wrong, but I still feel proud of myself and the way I dealt with it all. I'm not saying I didn't have my moments of begging to be taken to a hospital and given every drug there was, and I distincly recall saying I just wanted a c-section to have it over with at one point. But that was by far not the majority of the time. Most of the 23 hours I was handling it fine, doing whatever I had to do to stay alive, or so it seemed. I don't feel like I ever "wussed out" or made an exhibition. So yes, I'm proud of my "performance", all said and done. It's the rest I'm not so thrilled about, as we all know.

And it kills me to hear obs/midwives talk about delivering babies and all that crap, because really, in a natural childbirth, what did they really do? *I* delivered my own baby, *I* gave birth, etc. Why do we give that up so easily? Who delivered your baby? I was there, I know how it went. I think too many childbirth professionals have an inflated sense of their own importance in the whole thing. If I ever do decide to become a midwife, I want to be very clear on what my role is in the semi-grand scheme of things. I know what role I wanted MY midwife to play, that's for sure. I think it's really sad that so often the experience is taken away from women.

Of course, from talking to lots of women about this, many of them don't have any strong feeling about their births one way or another and were glad the doctor "took care of everything". So who knows.

I hope I work all this out soon. It's literally taking a huge percentage of my brainpower lately.
valancystirling: (Default)
Where previous generations of women approached childbirth expecting the worst--and usually got it--today's generation suffers and even crueler indignity. Having been led to expect the best, we experience the disjuncture between anticipation and reality as a yawning psychic chasm from which we emerge not only battle scarred but angry. For many women that anger is directed at themselvesl it is experienced as guilt, a sense of shame that we have failed to perform to standard. Others experience the anger of betrayal, of violated trust in the authority of experts once implicitly believed.

This really resonates. I have so little to add, because it says it all.

I think I'll be posting more from this book.
valancystirling: (You just made my head expode.)
So I'm reading this book called The Mask of Motherhood. And right now I'm on the chapter about pregnancy. WHY is it so terrible for pregnant women to complain about the discomforts/tumultuousness of the pregnant experience? You know what? It does suck some of the time. What, are we supposed to delight in puking our guts up all day? Sure, I loved being pregnant, I was filled ith wonder and amazement, blah blah blah. But when people ask you how you're feeling, and you say anything other than "amazing, holy, beautiful", you get the standard disgusted response, Well that's because you're pregnant. Which translates to, Suck it up, cupcake, we all go through this, so quit your bitching.

I don't get it. And then they tell you childbirth doesn't have to hurt, that you can manage it. And again they're totally full of crap. What is with this conspiracy amongst women that the truth must be hidden at all costs? There's this image of what motherhood is "supposed" to be, and from the bweginning it's a complete opposite if the actual experience. Non-parents don't have a clue, and parents don't seem interested in telling.

I should post exerpts from this book.
valancystirling: (Default)
Things are good. It's amazing how little free time I have now. I know I've been overdoing it a bit, but that's just the way I am. I'm supposed to be "recovering" and in bed and all that, but I just can't deal with seeing stuff needing to be done. I have to get up and do it.


Did I ever mention that I was in hard active labor for 23 hours? Yeah, that was fun. That's what I'm really recovering from. I did okay for most of it, but toward the end I was in so much pain I just couldn't keep myself relaxed anymore, and so pretty much every muscle in my body, and especially my back, is absolutely at the snapping point. I've been trying to relax as much as possible, but it's hard when I don't get enough sleep, and I'm carrying a baby around all day.

But I really do have the best baby in the world. She sleeps well, is happy and calm and almost never cries, she's alert and interested in things, and she's really no trouble at all. The only thing that's getting to me now is nursing, which is more painful than they will ever tell you. I think I might contact someone at LLL soon just to make sure I'm doing it right. I don't think it's supposed to hurt THIS much. This kid is apparently lazy and doesn't want to open her mouth any wider than she thinks is necessary, and I think that's the problem.

I took a bath with her today and she just loves the water. I suppose being born in water has something to do with it.

Her umbilical cord stump fell off today.

The cloth diaper thing is going well. We just ordered a bunch more of the kissaluvs size 0 because they work SO well. I would highly recommend them to anyone. Even my mom is sold on them and wants to get my sister to use them.

I suppose I should write out my official birth story soon, but I'm kind of waiting for those of you on my friends list who are pregnant to have your babies because I don't want to post anything so horrifyingly awful that might freak you out. It can totally wait.

My sister is having some health problems, so my mom is cutting her trip very short and leaving in the morning to take care of her. I'm a bit nervous about being here alone with a baby when she's gone, but I think I'll be okay. We'll see I guess.
valancystirling: (Default)
After a good 6.5 hours of sleep, I am up. I'm tired and I wish I could go back to sleep, but it is apparently not to be. My mom's flight is due to arrive here sometime after 9:00 tonight, and I hope I make it. I might have to force myself to take a nap today.

I made a list last night of the last minute things I need to get done today. I would go out now and start running my errands, but Jake is asleep and I need him to take me to pick up my car first. I suppose a shower is in order.

I find that I have a somewhat intellectual approach to pain. When I understand it, and its causes and purposes, I am much better able to tolerate it. Unnamable pain with no discernible cause or predictable end bothers me much more. Is my headache a brain tumor? Why does my toe hurt like that--is it toe cancer?? So, in the interest of educating myself toward dealing with labor, I've been reading more technical descriptions of what the muscles are actually doing, what the bones are doing, what the baby is doing, and all the other little things that happen in preparation for childbirth. It's very interesting, and I think that being able to understand and picture the process seems more practical and reasonable than NOT knowing and wondering WHY THE HELL DOES THIS HURT? I don't understand all those women out there who take no interest in learning about the process, and only accept what they've heard all their lives that labor has to be excruciating and it's best not to question it, just get the drugs. I'm sure it's a perfectly reasonable approach for certain personality types, and I'm trying to break myself of the bad habit of criticizing people who think differently than I do. But still. I figure if I was diagnosed with cancer or something, I'd probably go to the trouble of reading about what to expect with it. Why be ignorant? Isn't it better to prepare yourself and understand? I don't know, this just bugs me because it seems so obvious to me.

If I thought this constant achey pain across my pubic bone was going to last forever, I would be really freaked out right now. But I have sort of a general idea of what it probably is, and I can discuss it with my midwife on Tuesday at the latest. I think this is a far better position to be in than chronic fear and worry that I'm going to break in half or something.

Whatever. I don't know why I ever even think about or care about how other people think and do things. Sometimes I think I have an extremely holier-than-thou approach to life that alienates me. My mother certainly would agree to that. I can't seem to get across that I really believe it ultimately stems from my desire to make people's lives better, and because I am so conceited I seem to believe that converting people over to my way of seeing things could do that. I see it as wanting to educate and enlighten and encourage broadmindedness, but perhaps it's really not that at all and I'm just a misguided psychopath no better than Hitler. Who knows. I wish I did know.

I hope that in my role as a parent I can get past all this crap and just let my kids turn out however they are naturally inclined. I certainly won't allow willfull ignorance, but it's probably folly to project all my own beliefs onto other people, my offspring or no. The word overbearing comes to mind, and I hope my kids never think of me that way.

It's kind of nice to be up this early for a change. I've always loved the lighting of early morning. It's so seldom I get out of bed in time for it anymore.

I hope my mom has a nice day of traveling. She's never flown by herself before, and she has a layover to deal with. I know she's really nervous about it, and I'm really hoping that she has a series of good experiences all day that give her a boost of self-confidence. I think she could really use it.


valancystirling: (Default)

December 2010

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