Week 27 Musings
This could be because of my recent emergence from the ultra-liberal Women’s and Gender Studies minor at Cal Poly, but I’ve realized how political my upcoming birth is going to be. The Second Wave Feminists coined the phrase (taken from the Civil Rights Movement) “the personal is political”, and I feel like this applies to me and the way that I want to give birth.
Obviously, if you know me at all, you know I have a passion for women in their childbearing years. You probably know that I was upset at how my labor and delivery with Jonathan was managed, and that Hannah arrived REALLY FAST at home (unplanned, but totally awesome). With Baby #3 (who we are calling Joshua, although there is a 20% chance that “he” is really Isabella), we really tried to make it work to have a midwife come to our home for the birth. Oddly enough, even though the raw cost of a homebirth (including all prenatal and 6 weeks of post-partum care) is $3,000, our insurance would only cover about $600 worth. The raw cost of a hospital birth, if we did not have health insurance, is closer to $30,000. However, because of our insurance, we only are paying $300. So really, the cheaper option all around is the one we can’t afford. How does that make any sense?
How is this political? Well, the Feminist Movement is well-known for upholding a “Woman’s Right To Choose”… but choose what? Abortion is pretty much the only action associated with this statement (and if you know me a little, abortion is something I’m FIRMLY against, but that’s a post for another day). What about a woman’s right to choose how she gives birth? I’ve asked this question of all of my WGS faculty, and most of them say that’s a great idea, but that “Choice” is primarily limited to a woman continuing her pregnancy or not. Hmm.
Additionally, I’ve been watching the news a lot (a really bad thing to do if you are prone to depression… the world sucks), and there has been a lot of coverage on health care reform. I like the idea of everyone getting health care that needs it, but I have a serious problem with the structure of Obama-care. For instance, how would you like a committee of penny-pinching people (not medical specialists) deciding what you can and can not have in terms of medical coverage? While I think our family’s current health insurance plan is pretty sucky, its better than what it could be under socialized medicine! However, those same penny-pinchers might be the ones who see that not every pregnancy and birth requires the full-on hospital set up, and it might bring about more homebirthing midwives to take care of the 90% of low-risk pregnancies and births that don’t require anything more than loving hands to guide a new life into the world. But I’m pretty skeptical of that happening in America while ACOG and AMA have so much influence.
Just so I don’t offend anyone, let me be clear that this is MY opinion. Most women that I know really loved their epidural and their hospital births, and that is awesome for them, because that is what they chose to have. My personal experiences with the hospitals has been that my body and my birth have been dictated by the hospital and not by my instincts. Obviously, if something is done for the benefit of my baby (if there were to be a problem), I would do it. I’m not so focused on my wishes that I would insist my way while putting my baby in danger. But I’ve developed my own intuition about my body. I’m the one living in it and sharing space with this growing human being. I want to do what is instinctual when I’m in labor, not what I’m told to do by hospital protocol.
My baby and I understand one another NOW, before I’ve gone into labor. Last night, I couldn’t get comfortable and couldn’t fall asleep. I walked around the house and thought deep things while sitting on the couch. Joshua was awake too, kicking and bumping around in my womb. As I massaged my belly, he calmed down. His movements became more fluid, and in rhythm to my massage. We worked together to relax enough to go back to bed and fall asleep.
When I was in labor with Hannah and my water broke in the shower, I fell to my hands and knees instinctively, and I remember my slow-working rational brain going “what are you doing on the floor of the tub?” Hannah’s birth was so fast, but I didn’t tear or have any complications, and I feel like this was largely due to me following my “monkey brain” (subconscious instincts) and doing what was right for me and my daughter. I remember when just Hannah’s head was out, reaching down and rubbing her scalp until I heard her breath sounds. It wasn’t until this pregnancy when I was reading up on emergency childbirth procedures (just in case) that rubbing the scalp was one of the best ways to get breathing started if the body hasn’t been born yet. I’m pretty sure I hadn’t read that before I did it, but I followed my intuition that it was the right thing to do for her.
Birth is personal to me. I don’t have anything to prove to anyone except myself. I want to make my own choices about what is done to my body. So my plan is to have a simple birth in the hospital. I know I’m going to piss off some nurses when I refuse the fetal monitor (I hate how that machine becomes the focus of everyone’s attention) and ask for a doppler to hear the baby instead. I already know they freak out when you start walking around the hospital and going up and down the stairs outside, but letting gravity pull the baby down is easier than forceps and vacuum extractors. I’m not sure what they’ll do if I start making love to my husband to keep my oxytocin levels up, but that sounds like a lot more fun to me than a Pitocin drip. Hopefully we get a door with a lock on it… Ina May Gaskin says sexy loving gets the baby in and sexy loving gets the baby out. In the end, love is central idea, our love, bringing a new life into the world.