Monday, February 11, 2008

The Middle Ground, and Regret

Here I am about 2 hours after yesterday's photo. Baby Aoife, how beautiful you are.

Rixa's comment from yesterday: "

I want to thing, though, about birth advocacy is in the end, I want women to be able to make choices in true autonomy. That means that for some women, having all of the technology right there will be something they embrace and that is inherently right for them, and for others that will mean staying at home and having only their family members present. Or a multitude of other approaches somewhere in between those two."

Who is this woman who says it all so clearly?
This is so beautiful, because this comment in itself liberates me from the defensive place where I stand.
Why can't I believe, truly, from the bottom of my heart, that I had beautiful, gorgeous, perfect hospital births with really low interventions? That my births were not somehow lesser than somebody's beautiful homebirth because I had an elastic full of electrodes strapped around my belly? This monitor that brought me more peace than any other single piece of technology ever invented?
It's because there don't seem to be many people who I know who occupy the middle ground of believing that there are many, many things that fall inbetween a birth in the hospital which includes pitocin, an epidural, and a c-section and a birth in your own bed with your other kids gathered around to watch. I feel like the only people I ever hear speaking are the ones who say, "Oh, I love my epidurals, I get one as soon as I walk in the door", and those who say, "The tub is all filled up on the deck, and we're ready whenever she is. Thank god I don't have to worry about getting a staph infection at that dirty awful hospital place for sick people."

I guess one of the things that has also been inspiring about the great people that I have worked with at my local hospital and at my births is that I can see that there are people who believe in educating women about all of their choices and options, and who do listen to them when they're in the hospital, and I wish this could happen for more women. I feel so lucky.

It is ironic that I do feel I had great births even though one of my babies died.
And would you like to hear a confession? I did get an epidural when Charlotte died. I think about this in the way that I bet lots of other people wish away their c-sections, I wish I hadn't gotten it. I never wanted to get an epidural unless I really thought I couldn't be present for my birth. But when we found out Charlotte had died my midwife calmly suggested at one point that I might want to think about getting an epidural as a means of carving out some space for my emotional pain. She spoke of the difficult decisions to come and the great difficulty of the task I was about to embark upon. It wasn't so much a suggestion to get an epidural as it was a suggestion to consider it a possibility now that my circumstances had changed. I chose that route. I now know that I did this because I was afraid of what my threshhold would be. How much pain could I handle? Could anything trump what was in my heart at that moment? What would it feel like to wrestle with physical pain on top of what was searing through my soul? I chose the easy way out, the avoidance route, because I was afraid. I had never had a baby before, and I didn't know what it would be like. My regrets for having made this choice, if you could call them regrets, come only after I have had two more relatively effortless, unassisted labors without any drugs. I now realize that the grounding rhythm of labour might have drawn me into a thinking spot. I wish I could have felt the work of birthing her more than I did. What I will say is that luckily (from the perspective that I am looking at it from) the epidural didn't do too much, I didn't feel painful contractions but I did feel them, I could walk, and pee, and by the time I needed to push I was feeling them strong and hard. So this did allow me to be present for some.

But what I will also say, as the flip side of my "regret", is that I never fault myself for any decisions that were made on May 13, 2003. I know that I did the best that I could. I made choices that seemed to make sense to me at the time. I was blindsided, stunned, captivated by this upcoming event that would crush me like a bug. What was this, this no-mans land I occupied? This space where I had been told that my baby would be born dead, but she hadn't yet been born? The space where maybe they were wrong? The space where it was up to me to make this prediction come true, where it was up to me to push out this baby and see for myself that my life with her was about to end. It was a place I could not bear to be. So I trust that I made the best choice for me at that time. I am in no place to judge that woman who lay curled in that bed, her arms wrapped around her huge, beautiful belly, encasing her long wished-for daughter who would never take a breath. That would be unfair, and would cause me nothing but further pain. So I rest here, and trust she did what was right for her.

No comments: