After My Traumatic Birth, I’m Scared To Give Birth Again
I’ve been very vocal on Mommyish about my struggles with pregnancy loss. I have vowed to be more like one of those women who have never experienced a loss and move through their pregnancies “blissfully unaware that Mother Nature was a total bitch who could take it all away at any moment.”
And I’m trying – I really am.
But lately there is an endless loop of scenes playing through my head, over and over again – the string of events that took place the day that my son was born. Although I seem to be conquering my fear of miscarrying, I keep obsessing over the day I gave birth.
I was 41 weeks pregnant and at my weekly check-up. I was planning on giving birth naturally and was getting prenatal care at the only free standing birthing center in Brooklyn. We were joking about how easy my pregnancy had been and my midwife was congratulating me on keeping my weight down. At the end of the appointment she reached for the baby monitor so we could listen to my son’s heartbeat. I saw her face drop.
You have to get to the hospital right now.
What? What do you mean I have to go to the hospital right now? I’m not delivering at a hospital! I’m delivering here –naturally – at the birthing center. And I’m not even in labor!
She explained that his heart rate had dropped – dramatically – and I needed to get to a hospital so they could monitor it better.
We get to the hospital and they hook me up to a fetal heart monitor. His heart rate seems to be doing fine. After about two hours of monitoring, the nurse reaches down to disconnect me from the machine and let me go home. Right as she is doing so, his heart rate drops again. They admit me.
Now there is talk of induction and of the need to get a better read of his heart rate. Apparently the best way to do this is by sticking a fetal heart rate monitor on his head, via my un-medicated vagina. Ouch. They get the monitor on his head and after a few minutes — another drop. This one is very drastic and his heartbeat almost slows to a stop.
Honey, the baby has to come out now, okay? We are taking you into surgery now, okay?
There was one thought that kept rolling through my head while all of this was going on. Bad things happen to people. I thought this as they were rolling me into surgery. I thought this again as I struggled to remain still when they were sticking a needle in my spine. Bad things happen to people, I thought as they hefted my immovable body onto the operating table, and one more time when they finally let my husband into the room.
Then I heard my child cry and I finally realized that bad things weren’t happening to me. Not that day. But it didn’t change the fact that I was terrified and really emotionally scarred by the whole experience.
It seems now that I am not terrified of carrying a baby – but of birthing one.
I’m nine weeks pregnant and I honestly couldn’t tell you what kind of fruit my child resembles. I haven’t been on a baby board even once. I am breaking the general rule of not telling anyone you are pregnant until the 12-week mark. I’m determined not to obsess this time around.
Still, that doesn’t change the fact that when I think about the impending birth I break into a cold sweat and want to cry. What I didn’t realize the first time around was that I was one of those “blissfully ignorant” pregnant women – I had yet to experience any birth trauma.
Yes, women have been giving birth since the beginning of time. There are no doubt hoards of them doing it by themselves in a field somewhere as I write this. That doesn’t make childbirth any less of a huge, scary deal if you have been through one that didn’t go as planned. But just as I am choosing not to obsess over the possibility of a miscarriage, I refuse to let myself go down this rabbit hole of fear any longer.
At the end of the day I have to remember I’m one of the lucky ones that can look at my beautiful healthy 2-year-old and think, great things happen to people. After three years of infertility I can say, we had a baby, and after completely writing off the possibility that my son would have a sibling –holy crap I’m pregnant.
Maybe I need to start giving Mother Nature the benefit of the doubt – or at least stop calling her a bitch all the time.