|First night in the new bed. Time to paint, at least that one wall!|
Ah jump'a tyam-po-yeeeeen!!!!
Ge'yup mama! 'ah-mon!"
I laid on the couch like the moment you are awakened from a deep sleep by a sudden, explosive sound, not knowing at all where you are or what is happening. Grog clouds the brain, yet your heart pounds like you have just flown out of the starting gate at a dog race. It was just after the first hospitalization, just after the first procedure. We had a lot of adjustments to make.
"I am so sorry, baby. Mama can't jump on the trampoline with you," I said as he pulled on my shaky hand, and even in my deep fog, the humor of the moment reached me.
Though that was many weeks ago, we are still adjusting. I am managing to do more each day, and learning to handle bad news like baseballs in a bating cage, but there are things that have changed that won't be returning to what we once called normal. There are disappointments that don't show in an ultrasound or a messy house, that only matter to me and my sweetie.
From the minute I was put on a blood thinner, my plans of having another homebirth dissolved. There was no discussion, no pros and cons list, no prayer to help decide. It just was.
I know, I just lost most of you.
You can stop reading. Most people don't think I should have an opinion anymore about how my birth goes. "You should just be hoping for a healthy baby", I am told, as though by wanting a good experience I am simultaneously disregarding my baby's safety. I just have to ask, must we throw the birth out with the bathwater?
What may seem to some a simple change in venue has become a change in the axis of my planet. It is kind of like having to suddenly change nationality or religion or some other deeply ingrained and heartfelt identity. Maybe compare it to your beliefs about health care or politics. I have only had one baby in the hospital, and it was a miserable experience. The subsequent choice to avoid the hospital birth machine, with all of its policies and protocols, its shift changes and intrusions, and the dozens of personalities that could be encountered in one long labor, was a hard one at which to arrive. We had to battle the ignorance of people who accused us of selfishness and "wanting to hurt" our baby, who had arrived at those opinions without study or research, and who held on to mythical notions of birth they had acquired from a lifetime of TV sit-com birth scenarios or second hand horror stories as their textbooks on the subject.
Our next birth was simple and beautiful, and at home. The three after that were hard, but not terrifying. I was safely cared for by a midwife who measures her experience in the fat little faces of 2,000 healthy babies. Add to that the experience of four miscarriages at home, labors included, and we have worn a comfortable groove in the way we bring our babies into the world. With each birth, my way of laboring was not dictated to me. No one ever told me when to push. No one nagged or said "you have to do it this way, these are the rules," because birth doesn't create rules for itself, institutions do.
But now I have fallen outside the lines of safe and normal, and suddenly there is a need for the institution, with all it's rules. And please understand, I am grateful. I didn't want it when I didn't need it, but now that I do, I am happy to accept the help available to me to keep me and my baby alive and safe. But even the simple guidelines I have held golden, like telling my doula clients not to rush to the hospital until labor is well established, are ones I cannot follow. I will need to be induced in order to manage the blood thinners so I don't hemorrhage, and to have the baby closely monitored during labor in the event of an abruption. Gone is the notion of walking along the river in early labor, going to a puppet show, and having lunch with Guy and Francine while I laugh and breathe through early labor.
Mine will be the labor of a woman with an IV, with fluorescent lights, with noisy machines, with nurses constantly scanning my wrist bracelet for my member identification number with their little grocery-store beepers. Certainly, I know what to expect. I've been to labors at the hospital with dozens of clients before. Sometimes I would watch a woman labor and think to myself, "I don't know how she's doing this here! I could never do this in a hospital." I would see her struggling and think about how, at home, I would be able to get through this part of labor so much easier if I were in my own space with my own things around me. I would see the intrusions of strangers with no way to defend her from their voices and noise and perfume and opinions. Some don't understand why I would opt to feel the sensations of labor when the drugs that would take those feelings away are so close at hand. They have been trained to minimize pain, and they don't seem to understand that the pain has a purpose and a benefit in the grand scheme of this beautiful system.
And I still believe it is a beautiful system. I believe birth can and should be a gentle, family building experience. I am not ready to give up everything.
Yesterday the boys built Jonah's new toddler bed. He had long ago outgrown the large wooden cradle on the floor in our room, and had moved to a foam pad on the floor. We've had the bed, but we just had to figure out how to shuffle things around. Would we put him in the den, Adam's room? Finally, we settled on the girls room. It is not ideal, but he doesn't seem to mind the pink yet.
We are rearranging things.
Spaces, expectations, paradigms.
I had never imagined I would be pregnant again.
I certainly never imagined all that has come because of it.
I haven't figured out how to shuffle things around in my head yet,
but we will figure out how to make it work.