Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Like my title says, gather sound advice and trust my instincts. Here we go...

Tomorrow morning, at 8:30 am, me and my husband will be checking into the hospital and registering for my procedure. My procedure is a C-Section birth of our daughter. Followers of my blogs over the past 2 years might be sad, shocked, worried, turned off, disappointed, confused, disturbed, angry, horrified, dismissive, or worse, more, beyond. But there is no shortage of fairy-tale homebirths out there on the blogosphere and I am just a person telling my stories to a computer, same as them. Yeah, I get on soapboxes, and yeah I have beliefs--strong, heartfelt, passionate beliefs. About women and birth and the healthcare system and midwifery and history and feminism and power and medicine and nature and the human condition. But like so many parts of growing up, the ideals and ideas have to fall in where they can, when reality is here. Being in my 30's has been different than being in my 20's for one stark difference: I can be very much ABOUT a cause and yet able to deal with it when I cant be a part of it personally.

The reasons for the c-section are long and yet not really. I have been contemplating "explaining" it all to you for weeks now, but it sounded so defensive-- bordering on exaggerated, that I have never found the right words or made the time to do so. No evil doctor has chopped me in half, no one has threatened or coorced me, there is no sad tale to tell--so I almost didnt know how to tell it.

There will be many many of you who simply do not understand what it is like to have the issues that I have right now with my body and my mind and my life. That is to be expected. Again, agreeing with or even understanding what other people go through isn't always possible, in fact it can be really difficult. some of the things I am going to tell you might really touch nerves, might really roll eyes--and there isn't anything I can do about that. I cant tell you enough how much I do NOT need anyone to tell me "you go girl" or "we totally understand". In fact, the fear of appearing to pander for these kinds of comments have kept me off the computer lately. I overthink things, if you haven't noticed ; )

About a month ago, I was listening to Hypnobabies Cd's***. I was filled with a sense of deep annoyance and frustration at the soothing lady telling me to relax, let my uterus do the work, that my body was perfectly designed to birth my baby, that soon my precious baby would slip into my arms. I was growing from irritated to enraged and then very very sad. I thought about how many women for whom this was just not true and then I "let" myself acknowledge what it was that was truly troubling me, that I felt this was completely not for me. Not truths, not something I needed to do, not something that I needed to delude myself with, and recognizing and facing this "demon" needed to happen that very day. I turned it off.
I started to think about so much of the time and energy that I have poured into this stuff, the BIRTH STUFF in my lifetime. From the first time I got my hands on Our Bodies Ourselves to my own birth experiences, to the thousands of hours of research, films, tv shows, reading, writing, and I knew that something was quite bullshit about what was going on for me, and I was afraid of it, but it had to be dealt with, immediately. This was about 4 weeks ago, when I began to get incredibly honest with myself and how shitty hiding behind what I thought I was suppossed to do was making me feel.

That night, me and my husband had a "big talk". I had no agenda except needed a very very trusted and close sounding board--the one person who truly, truly knows-knows-knows me and what I am about and when I am serious and what life has been for me. We have been together since I was 16 and believe me, he has been there. So I said to him (no use beating around the bush, right?)

" I am not going to be able to have a VBAC. the entire thing is a fricking sham. We found a "cool" doctor willing to let us play out the fantasy that I gave it my all, but Steve, it isnt going to happen. I have never been more sure of anything in my life. this isnt stinkin-thinkin', this is reality. I have a separated pelvis and cannot move my legs apart more than a few inches. I have scar tissue that I can feel ripping and tearing every minute of the day. The baby is breecher-than-breech, her round little head is clearly visible in my sternum and her feet dance and stab my crotch and hip sockets constantly. I am not going to be allowed to be upright or freed from IV fluids or external fetal monitoring, so this means beddy bye on my back and this will mean epidural which will mean loss of the sense of what my pelvis can and should do and alot of fear about the nursing staff not forcing my legs apart. I can suffer permanent damage to my pelvis if this occurs, and have read about women who are in wheelchairs for months after their SPD lithotomy position births. I do not trust my body, I do not think BirthWorks. I think I am in for another exhausting upsetting disappointing sham of a huge huge baby not coming down again, and I have NO interest. I am going to tell all of this to the doctor and see what he says."

My husband completely understood and agreed. To have this NAUGHTY SECRET THOUGHT "out there" for discussion, without having anyone with any agenda to have to be burdened with, to just tell my thoughts to, was very very good.

We discussed what we pictured the differences would be between a planned cesarean and the other kind. We talked about how unprepared and devastating we were and it was the other two times; the 24 hours of exhausting labor, the scrambling and failing to obtain time off work for Steve, or childcare of any kind, the confusion, the questions, the exhaustion, the irony of having the pain of the abdominal incision AND the pain from hours of pushing in the form of hemorrhoids, bruising and swelling and minor tears from the nurses constant perineal fiddlings and urgings to push right down here, Mom, right down here (rub rub rub rub stretch stretch stretch rub rub rub rub invade invade invade...) We talked about how we imagined just showing up one fine morning and getting a c-section would be SO WEIRD like some goofy celebrity, and yet so so so much different. TO be clean and rested, at a decent hour, to have childcare all lined up and to have time off of work, to not be alone and in pain for a week with my devastation and nightmares but to be cared for and supported...this had the potential to be something very different than we had ever known before.

I saw the doctor that week and opened up the floodgates. I cried through my whole speech, bumbling and stammering and over explaining and, with boogers and tears literally all over my entire front, he came around from behind his desk, this man who was and is completely willing to support VBAC ladies, in his special and rare status in our state, and his trustworthy and kind Mister Rogers way, gave me a hug. After offering me the entire box of Kleenex, he hugged me and he talked to me. He told me that I was very brave and very mature and that I was, without a doubt, making the best decision for my situation. We took out a calender and looked at it together. He told me more than once that I could change my mind. He answered all my questions and when I told him over and over just how WEIRD it seemed, he was right there with me agreeing. It was a genuine moment and I felt at peace after the visit.

Over the past few weeks, my physical condition has only gotten worse. I am in such astonishing pain that it has become isolating, and I have actually stopped talking about it for the most part. My pains I have in my lower abdomen are now to the point that I no longer fear surgery whatsoever. I AM living with terrible hobbling pain, and taking care of the children and the house, too. My dislocated crotch and creaking ribs are just part of my life, now, as is almost no sleep and terrible, terrible mood swings. For the first time in my life, having a special birth experience is literally one of the lowest priorities ever to me. I NEED to have my baby, and I NEED this pregnancy to end.

I have joined the legions now, I suppose, of the just-be-glad-your-baby-is-here, and I am looking forward to it with a clear and peaceful heart. There are many, many causes that I support and believe in, many of which do not directly touch my personal life, and that does not affect my ability and determination to devote my time or energy or passion towards. Homebirth is now definitely one of them and I am OK with that. DO you have any causes that you support that might not pertain to you personally? Save the Whales? Stop Apartheid? Bio-Fuel?

I am having a baby tomorrow, and my husband has two weeks off of work. My mom, my sister, my mother in law, and my best friends are all pitching in enormously to share childcare responsibilities so that Steve can stay with me most of the time and that my recovery is a normal one. My gratitude for this gift of not having to worry about my children or about being abandoned in hospital will never end. This really was the only factor which made me ok with this, the knowledge that I would not be all alone in the hospital this time, fending off nurses and being left to die in unattended showers and in charge of a baby I cannot lift or feed or change....god the horrors of all that, I shudder. Never again is all I can think to say.

I am very excited to see the dear baby and to move forward with my motherhood. Thank you for reading and think of me tomorrow. I will have Steve post her name/weight/etc probably Thursday when he comes home to sleep.


***Hypnobabies is a fine product and my story is in no way against this type of thing. I appreciate all of the women it has helped and I hope that it helps many more women to come.


jen said...

Joy, I'm glad you've found a solution that works for you. That's what it's all about - not what anybody else would/could/should/etc. Have a wonderful night's rest knowing this is all about to come to an end...and a beginning! and I look forward to hearing all about it :)
I'll be thinking of you in the morning.

Barbnocity said...

Hi, Joy,

You will be in our thoughts tomorrow :)

Good luck with new baby girl!!

:) Barb, JD, Simon and Gwen

Mere Mortal said...

you are a wise, intuitive, conscious, informed, thinking woman who had made a decision that is loving and best for both her and her baby.
there is no harm, no wrong, no guilt in that.
as you are entering your laboryinth of birth tomorrow, i will be thinking of you, sending you peace, knowing that overwhelmingly intense and beautiful feeling that will wash over you as you see your baby for the very first time. the baby you will have birthed with love, grace, and authenticity.
i am proud of you.
love to you, joy.

Anonymous said...

Ill be thinking of you tomorrow!

amanda said...

Best wishes to you and your family. You know your body better than anyone, and your choice is a wonderful one. I did not have a natural birth, I was induced and the baby was a vaccuum delivery. Still, I do not think that the moment I first saw his face was any less magical than it would have been had he been born naturally at home. I am so happy that you will be meeting your little girl tomorrow. Her brothers and sister must be so excited!

K8 said...

What an incredibly difficult decision to have to make. I hope I can be as thoughtful and (dare I say it) brave should I ever land in your situation. I'll be thinking of you (in between nursing the 12-day-old) and looking forward to hearing the details!

reticulatedmama said...

birth is life and life is weird.
you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Issue V of The Birth Project has a story of a mom who chose a c-section for her third baby after two vaginal homebirths for her own reasons. we all have to do what is best for us and only we know what that is.

rest and take care of you and your new wee nugget.

Stacey said...

Joy, you're doing what you gotta do. You made a very thought out and heartfelt choice. Can't wait to "see" her!! You'll be in my prayers tomorrow.

Sheridan said...

Good for you for following your instincts! I am glad you had the little note at the end about Hypnobabies. I think if nothing else it helps mom get more in tune with her baby and herself. You are making an informed decision that is best for you.

I am so glad that you have a wonderful doctor. I wish all women had support for whatever choice they wanted.

Have a wonderful birth!

Laurie Michelle said...

I've kinda wanted to add a "yeah, that!" to some of your posts these last few months... The clothing issue alone, being a tall girl myself and a former Michigan native. And if I didn't have SPD while pregnant, I had a darn good imitation of it.
So I haven't posted, but I wanted to now. I'm so glad that you feel cared for and prepared and excited to meet your girl.
I hope the weather in Michigan is sunny for your little one (s) and I'll be thinking of you in time lapse from Portland.

Laurie Michelle said...

oops, can't really be a former native, but that's me over or under thinking.
Enjoy your babymoon!

brooke said...

It is amazing to hear the rightness and clarity of a heartfelt decision - a CHOICE about birthing because it just feels right - no slogans or camps or idealism hijacking the situation - just simple introspection and trust in your own knowing. We all have ideals and hopes and beliefs, but you are so right when you speak about the way life tiptoes in...we must respond to what life asks of us.

Two months ago, almost exactly, I gave birth by cesarean that was sad because I wanted something else, but it was also joyful, respectful, it was a choice, it was loving, it was my daughters Birth. It was not traumatic or dramatic and I know just how healing it can be to choose rather than react. How much freedom one can feel when listening within and responding to your own, inner voice about what must be.

I will be thinking of you tomorrow. Thinking of you and your daughter and the courage and hope it takes to birth her with medical support. May your birth journey be completed with the introspection and self-love that has been guiding you all along.

Sending you peace and love, joy and celebration...and lots of down time with your husband's time off and all the other kiddos being cared for!

KEM said...

Peace. You'll be in my thoughts tomorrow. Enjoy your birth!

Shelly said...

*hugs* You'll be in my thoughts! Enjoy your babymoon!

CNH said...

Just like you told me last week, you don't have to justify yourself to anyone. I knew, deep inside, that I needed to have an unassisted birth with Isabella. I also knew, deep inside, that I needed to have support at the twins' birth. And you know, deep inside, that this morning you needed to have surgery.

I'm praying the SPD gets right on out of town.

Enjoy her soft sweetness Joy. I'm thinking about you and praying for a peaceful birth. I admire your courage and your honestly so much.

Judit said...

Wow, your sweet baby will be here tomorrow???? That is so exciting!!! Joy, this is such a relief... I can easily spare you from gushing how totally I understand. I don't just freaking understand, I already read your mind a few weeks back. I was *so* hoping you're not still trying to put yourself through more of... ack, you described it better than I can.
You know what though? (cheeky me) You are ready and prepared for your baby's beautiful birthing. You're staying centered and balanced and will be giving birth in safety and peace. (this is the one mantra that's forever burned into my brain by hypnobabies from listening to it six hundred times during labor. I hope one day you'll pass that stuff on to someone who might benefit from it, or back to me so I can do the same, when you get a chance, not necessarily in the next fill-in-the-blank number of weeks, okay dear?)

Hooray for the baby daughter you'll meet sooooo sooon! Yay!

Kneelingwoman said...

For all that might be unsaid or unhealed....I am so grateful and happy that you are in the "place" you are; I am so pleased that you have, finally, gotten the support, care and peace of mind through this birth that you've needed. I could not have asked for a better "outcome" for you: "birth choice" means nothing if you don't have interior freedom; that's what I've been saying and writing about for so long; for all the differences, Joy, we still share so many basic agreements about the nature of birth, women, life.....I'll be thinking and praying about and for you and I'm so glad that you will soon be literally, "on your feet" and "up and around" and tending your little flock in the wonderful, unique, fun and tender way that you do. Best of everything.

TracyKM said...

What a great post. Between what you wrote, and my own painful pregnancies, I can understand, and I am in awe of your calm insight. I was 'against' induction but in so much pain that I had to change my belief. There is no better birth than one that has a mother at peace with herself. I'll be thinking of you all tomorrow!!

Jill said...

You know what, Joy? I am glad. Really GLAD. I kept checking your blog every day hoping to hear you'd had your baby, partially out of excitement to see the little one, but mostly in hopes that your suffering would finally be over. I agree with your doc (he sounds like a gem, BTW!), and to be quite honest, if I were in your shoes, I might make the same decision too.

Yes homebirth is awesome and it should be the gold standard for healthy low risk women everywhere. But the dangers of you having a normal birth far outweigh the benefits, so you are making a smart choice, and that's really what it's all about, isn't it? We can't prattle on about rights if we scorn those who choose Plan B, beacuse they have the RIGHT to do so too.

It is 11:30 a.m. here, and you likely are holding your babe for the very first time as I type this. I'm so happy for you, and so relieved.

Andrea said...

I'm glad, too. And whatever I say here isn't pandering to whatever I think you want me to pander to. I'm a bigtime homebirth proponent, but even bigger is my belief that people should do what's right for them personally. I've been worried about you, not in the way elder family members condescendingly worry about women during their pregnancies, just worried for you, for someone I admire, for the pain you need to be through with.

And I totally understand your decision. I'd likely make the same one were I in your boat. I'm really glad you don't have to go through the horrible fight just to have a vaginal delivery, that you can deliver this baby in peace.

Kelley said...

I'm crying as I read your post--not from sadness, but from happiness that you have found something so right for you. Maybe we'll be having our babies on the same day. I started contractions this morning at 3:00.

I love you, and I am so happy that you found something so wonderful and workable for you.

Congratulations on the birth of your new little one. :) Yay!

Emily said...

You need to write a book! This is your best post yet.

Anonymous said...

good on you joy! as someone more terrified of hospitals and c sections than anything else in the world, if i was in your position (with the spd alone) i would do exactly what you're doing. you're not a martyr to some cause, you're a real mama. you're doing the right thing, absolutely the right thing.

you probably have your sweet baby now, way to go warrior mama.

clara said...

You are in my thoughts too. I love the way you write and everything you have to say. I was in a similar spot 2 years ago as you and I can relate. I can't wait to hear about your precious new baby girl!

Anonymous said...

Best wishes, Joy. You sound like you have thought everything through very carefully, and if this is a true inner knowing, I can understand you following your intuition.

Have you read my website page on SPD? I had it too, and I know how debilitating it can be. I'm so sorry you have had it so badly.

I have not read your blog before so I don't know if you have already tried all the different therapies like chiropractic care etc., so apologies if you've already tried them and they didn't help......but if you haven't, you might want to check them out. They help many people with SPD, including me.

Look for the pubic pain page on my website www.plus-size-pregnancy.org, if you want to read more about chiro care as an option. It's not enough to just do back/sacrum adjustments; they really need to look at whether the pubic symphysis itself needs adjusting (and not all chiros do this). But again, if this is something you've already tried, my apologies and please don't feel judged or nagged. Just putting it out there for your consideration.

Regardless, I wish you and baby the best, hope all goes well tomorrow, and may you feel better soon!!!


I am a Monkey's Mama said...

I'm not going to read any of the other comments until I write my own, so here goes...

Mama Joy... I have been thinking about you nonstop lately. I know this pregnancy has been nothing less than an incredible journey that you never in a million years anticipated.

If there is ONE thing I ever harp to women (in general), it is to make decisions based on your gut, based on your experiences, and based on what is best for you and your family.

I'm proud of you for making such a tough decision. Nobody wants to set themselves up for misery and failure, nor does anyone want to cave and make the supposed "easy choice". You have done neither.

You and your family will be in my thoughts in the coming days and weeks and I wish you nothing less than a speedy recovery and good health.

Monkey's Mama

Rae said...


I am turned off a bit, however, that one of your reasons for choosing a cesarean was that you have fears regarding the SPD because of stories you've read. So many of us have suffered through debilitating SPD and it has not hindered our births whatsoever.

That being said, I personally would never attempt a breech delivery, and I'm one of those homebirthers that will avoid the hospital unless it's a life or death emergency (or a breech babe.)

Good luck and enjoy your new arrival.

HW said...

So you probably have your precious baby by now. Congratulations.

Your honesty is beautiful. I am only sad that you feel the need to justify and defend your decision. We women are very hard on each other when it comes to giving birth.

With my first child I was in labor for 23 hours, 10 of those on pitocin and did not dilate past 2 cm, and ended up having a c-section.

My second c-section was scheduled, and yes it made a huge difference in my recovery, not having labored first.

You have done what is right for you and your family. I think most of your readers know how hard the decision was; so your honesty is even more beautiful.

Congratulations again.

mama k said...

I want to say congrats!

This was obviously not an easy decision for you and one you considered for a long time. But it was yours alone to make. You know your body and you know what is best for you. Maybe that's cliche, but it is true.

And you are not some creepy celeb coming in for the scheduled C/tummy tuck so that you can go film a movie next month. ;)

Praying for a quick and easy recover this time!

Corin said...

Nothing feels better than to be at peace with your decision. You've put so much time and effort and thought into this, I just wish you a Happy Baby Birthday. I'm sure she's here by now. I can't wait to see her!

God bless you and your family.

Kelley said...

Our babies have the same birthday, Joy! How cool is that! Congrats, and I'm sure you're snuggling your baby girl this minute just like I am.

Love ya!

Morag said...

Much love to you and your sweet new babe.
I'm so very proud of you.
Speedy healing and much milk to you!:)

Angi said...

I'm very excited to hear about your new beauty. Congratulations! It's been amazing to watch your journey this last year. You never know where life will take you...I'm glad you could make the best choice for you. :)

vbacfacts said...

Hey, just wanted to say that if you found the Hypnobabies tracks annoying now, you probably would have found them to be completely irritating during labor... I said, "F*** the bubble of peace!" and other profanities directed at the Hypnobabies tracks during my HBAC labor... I think for the women it works for, great... but I kind of felt like I was sold a hill of beans. :) I "read ahead" and saw the pics of your beautiful baby girl. Congratulations!

rachele said...

Mamajoy- I think you did exactly what you should have done- You listened to your body, to your baby, and you made a conscious choice about your birth. All of the factors you described, from Steve's time off to your hobbling pain to your need to conserve your energy- The whole picture you painted made me support and trust your decision, and your right to make it. Mamas have to think about all of their children and what they can realistically do- and how to safeguard valuable resources like energy. Love and peace to you and your brood, and congratulations on a powerful and empowered birth. I feel very proud of you, for what it's worth!!