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Monday, July 4, 2011

Natural birthing at home, pot-smoking hippies, and pizza deliveries...

I was reading the blog of one of the genius bloggers that I follow at Divine Secrets of a Domestic Diva about unconventional sex education methods. I recommend that you click the link and go read it right now...I'll wait.

Wasn't that funny?? Anyway, when I got to the bottom and saw the SNL video she had there, I was reminded of my own birthing story with my son Jack 11 years ago. I am using the video as an introduction to Jack's story as well cause it's freaking hilarious and, well, because it sort of brings back some memories...

Jack was my second baby. To say that he was an accident is not QUITE accurate. When Lee was about nine months old (and still screaming with colic and misery every day) Kurt began his attempts at convincing me that we should have another baby (he has stated many times that if he had the money, he would want 10 kids...he loves them!) I actually felt like he had lost his sanity and reason. ANOTHER baby? Are you kidding? I couldn't deal with the one I had much less see adding another one! I had seriously questioned the whole idea of motherhood at that point, I mean, who, in their right mind, would choose to alter their lives to the point of not being able to recognize themselves? Who would choose to go an entire day without brushing their teeth or showering? I was so overwhelmed with the ONE bundle of joy I had that I could never, in a hundred lifetimes, imagine adding ANOTHER one!

I honestly couldn't even understand how Kurt could really want another one. The changes in his wife alone would be enough (you would think) to put him off of sex for the rest of his life!

So anyway, he was working on me and I was telling him he was nuts. I didn't want another baby...EVER! And then one drunken night, no birth control method (I was breast feeding the most voraciously hungry skinny little baby ever and couldn't take birth control pills...Kurt was supposed to be in charge of birth control and he was using the early withdrawal method...which he failed to use that night and afterwards, I punched him several times and said something like "I can't believe you just DID that!!) and a baudy session of sexual activity later, I found out I was pregnant with another little parasite! My son Lee was only 10 months old at the time and my first clue that I was pregnant came when he latched on to get a meal (breastfeeding, remember?) and it nearly killed me. I had been breastfeeding for 10 months at that point and my boobs were basically bullet proof, so when it hurt for him to nurse, I knew something was wrong...very wrong.

So after the shock of finding out that I was, indeed, pregnant, I actually started to get excited about another little bundle to love and care for 24 hours a day. I managed to get through the morning sickness by plugging in one video after another for Lee while I laid on the couch in a semi-conscious haze of exhaustion and nausea. Fortunately for me, Lee loved Barney and could watch the same five videos over and over without getting sick of them. I managed to memorize every word and song of those videos and could tell you the names of all the children and characters involved...oh yes, I was that good! Oh, and while I am confessing that my first born child was babysat by television from a young age, let me also say that he is still intelligent and manages to function in spite of all of my short-comings as a mother.

I digress...

As my pregnancy moved along, I started to realize that I was going to have to give birth at some point. I had been seeing the obstetrician who delivered Lee at the hospital as he had been my doctor for about 12 or 13 years at that point, however, I was beginning to have doubts that it was the right thing to do (continue seeing him.) I was starting to think that I should do everything different with this whole birth thing this time. Remembering how awful Lee's birth had been and how he had almost died in the process (no joke) I was thinking I should find out more about alternatives.

Kurt and I attended a Bradley birthing class and got a real education about what happens to your body when you are in labor. Seriously, I didn't learn anything at the Lamaze class the nurse at the hospital taught. She mostly talked about how there was going to be a monitor hooked up to my belly and I should just relax and do whatever the nurse told me to do once I got to the hospital...you know, be a good patient. Well, I can tell you that I TRIED to be a good patient the first time. I really did! I had gone to my epidural class at the hospital and signed the consent forms knowing full well that I didn't want to suffer if I decided that the whole "natural birth" thing (ie. no pain killers) wasn't for me. When I was in labor with Lee, I was basically tethered to my bed with an IV and the baby monitor hooked up to my belly. At some point, they started giving me pitocin "to help my contractions become more effective" and that's when things went south. It did help my contractions get stronger and I started begging for my epidural. I signed up for it for cripes sakes...give me my fucking epidural!

I never got the epidural and Lee came along and almost didn't make it because my placenta ruptured and a whole host of horrible things happened to me right before and after he came out. It was literally the stuff of nightmares and I have the video to prove it! I will save us all the trauma of posting that though...just believe me when I say I wanted everything to be different, and better, with baby number two.

Turns out, we didn't have a birthing center nearby and when we visited one in Sunrise, FL (about 45 minutes south of our home at the time) the woman there suggested we check into home birthing and gave us the name of a midwife. My reaction was something like "Um, excuse me...did you just suggest that I give BIRTH in my HOUSE??" She assured me it was perfectly safe for healthy moms and babies and that I should check it out. Kurt and I left shaking our heads and I was saying "I am not having a baby on my kitchen floor like some pot-smoking hippie from the 70's...I'm a Republican for God sakes!"

Well, after a few weeks of researching and watching videos and talking to our Bradley class instructor and the midwife we were referred to, we decided to go ahead and have our baby at home...I know, crazy, right?? All of my friends thought I was a nut because you definitely couldn't get an epidural in your living room. There was going to be nothing to relieve the pain and things could go wrong. We were aware of the risks and the potential benefits and decided to do it, in spite of what everyone else thought about it. I ordered my "birthing kit" off of the internet as per my midwife's instructions and bought a blow-up baby pool at Toy's R Us because we had decided that "Jack" was going to be born in the water because it was "gentler" and I was thinking that maybe if we did everything in the exact opposite way with him, he would be calmer and quieter and easier than Lee...HA! (that's another story.)

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you...when I called my doctor to tell him I wouldn't be back I spoke to his wife (who was his nurse.) I told her I was planning on having the baby at home and she said, "Well that's one we haven't heard since the 70's." Of course, this made me feel odd because, believe me when I tell you, I was NOTHING like a hippie mama from the 70's. My house (before Lee) had been very clean and orderly...full of antiques and beautiful things...clean (did I mention clean?) and I was (again, before Lee) conscious of my appearance, well groomed (no big bush or armpit hair,) educated, smart, adventurous and, well, not even on the same planet as people who are "crunchy" and "natural" and who could live in a commune.

So, on the fateful day, (my due date) I went into labor. Kurt filled the baby pool with warm water and walked around with me to help the contractions. My mother in law picked Lee up and took him with her (unlike the SNL video, I didn't want children around...ewwww!) and I called my friends and let them know I was having the baby. (All of my friends wanted to see this home birth thing and plus, none of them had ever seen a baby born even though they had all had their own babies.) I had a steady stream of visitors and five of my close friends actually stayed with me the whole time. I also had three midwives (yes three!) as there were no other births in their practice that day so they all decided to come.

My labor lasted a long time and let me tell you...it hurt! The baby pool with the warm water really did help. I also had my girlfriends all around me. They massaged my lower back during contractions, held my hair out of my face, spoke softly to me and told me it was all going to be alright and loved and supported me the whole time. Kurt was busy making sure to keep the pool warm by bailing out the cooling water and adding pots full of boiling water (yes, he boiled water!) to the pool. He was also in charge of doing hypnosis on me (he is a certified hypnotist and we did the whole hypnosis thing in order to keep me relaxed and yes, I am very susceptible to hypnosis and it worked pretty well) and feeding everyone. At one point, I realized he wasn't there and one of my friends told me he had gone out for pizza!

It was about 1 a.m. on Mother's Day that Jack was born, in my kitchen, in a little baby pool, in our home, with my friends and husband present and my sister on the phone from North Carolina. Kurt delivered Jack and handed him to me to nurse and he cut the cord a few minutes later. It was not rushed or crazy or messy. After the midwives got us situated in my bed and Jack had been checked and weighed and everyone went home, the three of us got to sleep undisturbed by nurses checking my blood pressure and temperature and telling me to nurse the baby every 2 hours. The whole experience was amazing and awesome and I would do it all again if I ever found myself pregnant again (bite your tongue!)


Dwija {House Unseen} said...

Diana, this brought tears to my eyes! If we are ever able to have another baby (stupid money is so stupid and limiting!) I am totally having him or her at home. Not just because of this. No, I had already decided long ago. This is just so wonderful to hear from a non pot-smoking, non-hippie who shaves her armpits. Yay!

p.s. You should have another baby, stat! The world needs more awesome people like you :)

Diana Burfield (BettyShmetty) said...

@Dweej...Thank you my friend! Can't do the baby thing again at my age, but I have to say, I am glad I'm not the only nut running around thinking home birthing is the bomb! And by the way, if YOU have another baby and decide to have it at home, let me know, I'll come cheer you on...I'm an expert!