May 2009: I was six weeks from my due date for my second child. My partner, our almost-two-year-old daughter and I were enjoying our last few weeks of being a family of three, and I was getting psyched for a summer with another maternity leave.
Then my partner found a lump in her breast. More
I was upstaged while giving birth to my daughter. I’d heard of dads trying to take center stage before – chatting with the nurses, befriending the doctors, that type of thing. But never in my wildest dreams did I think it would happen to me, mid-delivery. More
Okay, I’ll admit it: I had an epidural while 1.5 centimeters dilated. Twice.
With my first, the anesthesiologist just happened to be available to administer the epidural and I had heard that if you miss your window in which to receive one, you could end up screwed. So I went for it. Thirty hours of labor ensued and, don’t hate me for saying this, but it was a breeze.
With baby number two, I was going for the same thing. I felt slight cramping and – boom – epidural! Only this time it didn’t totally work. More
Within an hour, the epidural had completely worn off on my left side. Utter panic. I had never deluded myself into thinking I could get through labor without pain medication. The plan was: Get epidural. Continue existing until baby is out. There was no Plan B. The doctors tried to give me a second epidural, but the pain in my left side persisted. And it was getting worse. A lot worse. And I was only maybe three centimeters dilated. How would I rate my pain on a scale of 1 to 10? What kind of question is that, anyway? More
For many modern mommas, epidurals are a blessing. They make the entire birthing process more comfortable for everyone involved. Admit it, men enjoy the experience more when their wives aren’t screaming curse words at them. When done right, an epidural takes away the majority of the pain while still allowing moms to feel the pressure to push. I knew the pros of epidurals, but I was still a little terrified of them, because long before my own pregnancy, I witnessed the cons.
My due date for my first child was in late August. I somehow survived all of a brutal Washington, D.C. summer. And that was with a diagnosis of borderline gestational diabetes. No carbs for the last four months of pregnancy. And yet I enjoyed pregnancy in the later stages. I was huge. So huge that sometimes people who just gasp when they saw me. My short stature only compounded the look. My doctor told me that I had all the risks that normally warrant a C-section but I didn’t want one. We compromised with an induction.
My husband and I got to the hospital bright and early. My doctor met us there and started the induction. Without getting into the nitty gritty of it all, there are a couple of invasive things that are done and I happen to be unbelievably ticklish. Like, when I get a pedicure, I can barely keep my foot from kicking the poor salon technician. I’m ticklish in many ways. This was interpreted as me having an exceedingly low pain threshold, which actually isn’t true. More
Last week, we ran a piece on this site called “In Defense Of The Epidural.” As the title suggests, I am all about the epidural (just as I am all about taking an Advil when I have a headache). A close girlfriend, on the other hand, breaks out in hives if you even mention the word “epidural” – or the words “hospital” and “obstetrician,” too, for that matter. Each of us has done our research and each of us feels informed about our respective decision (I’ve already had my babies, though; she’s still pregnant).
But according to a new study published in the June issue of Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, fewer pregnant women are attending prenatal education classes and are apparently following whatever advice their doctor or midwife recommends. More
On Saturday night I celebrated a dear friend’s 40th birthday. L. is 26 weeks pregnant with her first and, towards the end of the night – following many bottles of Champagne and wine (excluding L.) and endless laughter – the conversation turned towards birthing methods.
L. is planning a home birth assisted by two midwives and a doula. She goes to weekly birthing classes, has a supportive husband who’s right on board with her wishes, and has even arranged for a birthing pool (which are actually considered illegal, if you can believe it. Apparently, the FDA wants them registered as medical equipment and has even seized an incoming shipment in Portland, Oregon – but that’s a whole other story).
For the first time in my adult life, I was outnumbered by a group of women who were so 100% into natural, drug-free, doula-assisted, home births – it was mind-boggling! I guess I’ve inadvertently surrounded myself over the years with people who hold the same view I do when it comes to childbirth (two key words: hospital and, more important, EPIDURAL). I’m used to having the sole home-birth woman in a crowd defend her point, not the other way around. But there I was, sounding like a complete drug addict with the mere mention of the e-word (and h-word, too, for that matter). More
A doula can provide comfort, support and guidance during pregnancy and labor, along with that extra boost of confidence you need after your baby is born. The cost? About $750. For the same price, you can buy a really great designer handbag, which also provides comfort and support during trying times (retail therapy, anyone?). And, not unlike a doula, your fancy new purse can raise your self-esteem, postpartum, while you’re walking around in your stretchy pants, not quite able to fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans (people will be looking at your awesome bag instead of your post-baby muffin top).
Two years ago I would have told you that if you could only afford one $750 luxury, doula trumps handbag. The first time I gave birth, my husband and I engaged the services of a doula. It seemed only logical given how apprehensive my husband was at the thought of seeing our beautiful child be pushed out of my body. And she was fantastic – calmly guiding us through labor and convincing me that pushing was the only way to get the baby out when I refused to do so after learning that it was too late for an epidural. She helped me with nursing and my son’s first bath and showed me how to use our carriers. She was such an invaluable resource that we called her immediately after the 18-week ultrasound to book her for baby number two. And when we learned that she would not be available for our baby’s birth, we hired the woman she recommended after one meeting – no references necessary.
Thirty-six weeks into my pregnancy, my very conservative OB suggested that we induce at around 38 weeks. Unsure what to do, I called the doula for advice. And then I called her again. And again. It took so many tries for her to return my phone call that I started to worry about what would happen when I was actually in labor.
When she finally called back, I could tell that she did not think the induction was a good idea, telling me that my baby was obviously a tough baby and didn’t need to be born early (what?). She also told me that the best (and only real) way to know what to do was to lie down in a dark room and ask my baby whether she was ready to come out. More