Originally Posted by jenniey
You are so vague (and mysterious) in the above, I wonder, would you be willing to share more of that experience?
The reason I am hounding you about this is that you seemto be at a much more... i don't know the word, peaceful? better? more grounded? well reasoned? well thought out?... place about the different experiences of your births. Honestly I think about my births and why they were different from each other and how that affected who my boys each are and my relationships with them SO MUCH. Like, at least 3 times a day, sometimes it is more like all I think about.
Do you really think your births affected who your children are? That's an interesting theory. Something I've never thought of. My boys... well... okay, we'll get into it.
Both of my births were midwife-attended homebirths. The first was an unplanned pregnancy and I gave birth at my mom's house at 42 wks + 1 day surrounded by my family and friends. Labor was 10 hours from first contraction, about 6 1/2 hours of active labor. The midwives (my mom and an assistant who I've know half my life) didn't really do anything during the labor. I was checked twice and they listened to the heartrate some, but mostly left me to labor with my husband and good friend. I don't feel like it was interventive and I don't feel like I was too closely watched or anything with all the ppl there (8 total - husband, friend, 2 midwives, 2 sisters, photographer and step father, dogs, cats, chickens... just kidding the animals didn't watch). I did however feel like it was really hard.
He was posterior and had a nuchal hand. He turned just fine for birth, but by then I was in transition and didn't even notice. I was throwing up, passing out between contractions and flailing spastically in the pool (hot water never did nothin' for me). Transition sorta sucked. But pushing didn't suck too much less. Pushing hurt like hell too.
I pushed on my side, which was a great position, except I had to yell at Sarah to hold my leg up higher and I was laying on my arm. It was all just intense. Fast and intense and by the time he was born, I was shaking uncontrollably and then something was wrong with him. I wasn't panicked about that. I wasn't horrified. But I was heartbroken.
He couldn't nurse, though I tried. I pumped milk for 13 months. I drove across country to live in a city I'd never seen when he was 10 days old. He had three surgeries in the first 10 months. Long surgeries that he didn't recover too quickly from initially (first two - hospital stay of 5 days).
In those moments after birth, I didn't know that all of that was to come, but then, I didn't know anything. And I think that's what I was stripped of. There was some aspect of "here's my baby and I gave birth and holy crap! I'm a mom," and I recall fixing specifically on the "holy crap I'm a mom," part a lot. But what was missing was a sinking into the comfort of my home and getting down with getting to know him. He cried a lot and didn't eat much (if he could have nursed he would have nursed non-stop around the clock for the first three months, I'm certain) and that all made it more difficult. And I was a new mom who didn't know what to do at all. We coslept and cloth diapered and all of those AP/NFL things, but I couldn't figure out my sling and I didn't know what to do with a baby who screamed so much and yet didn't eat. I just rocked and walked and sang and sat around half-awake for a long time. Did the cleft make that part of his personality? Probably. He was burning so many calories just trying to eat that it was hard on him and he was grumpy about it. I wish sometimes I could go back and save him.
I put an intense effort into planning DS2 so that the cleft never happened again. I took huge doses of folic acid for months and charted and obsessed and planned it all out really perfectly, or, uh, obsessively. whichever.
I decided that I didn't want that many people at my second birth. The only reason was because of one moment in my first birth when I was transitioning. I went into the bathroom with just my DH and everyone else was standing around eating lunch in the room next to it. They were all talking and I felt like, "hey! I'm having a baby here!" I just thought it was weird at the time and was able to move on (didn't have much choice). So because of that instance I didn't want a bunch of people around. I wanted it to be all about me and our creating a larger family. I sent DS1 away (he's too wild - can't get down into labor with him around). We hired a midwife because we live 4 hours away from my mom and she didn't want the responsibility. I talked about UCing, but what I really wanted (and couldn't have) was me, Dh, and my mom. So we hired the midwife. I had the secret idea that maybe she wouldn't make it, but when it came down to it, I needed an extra set of hands around to fetch things. Maybe I didn't, but I felt like I did.
I'm not thrilled that she was there. I'm not thrilled that she's the one who caught my baby. But that's kinda birth - it is what it needs to be at the time and it's never perfect. We don't get a kodak moment. Everyone else's births always sound that way, but they're not. They're all tied up with emotions and secret wishes. It can be beautiful, but it's never perfect and those two things are very different from each other. I think being engrained in this (and by this) culture means that we think beauty is this money shot of perfect skin and glowing features and that relationships are all a simple balance of good looks and charm and wit spiced with appropriate amounts of antagonism (enough for a punchline or sexual tension). Or maybe it's not. Maybe there's a biological basis. Something to do with the searching out for a mate who is attractive and thus healthy, who looks like you, but not too much like you and all that (did you know, for instance, that humans are predisposed to liking certain landscapes?). But whether it's cultural or biological, the desire for beautiful things is there. How that got translated into a need for a beautiful experience, I don't know - maybe that's exclusive to here and now, that commodification of experience. It sounds bizarre, but I still can't help but to buy in. I want the ideal moment and I have yet to figure out how to have it. There's a major problem with experience though - all this other crap informs it: my history, my relationships, my level of pain, my level of highness from hormones, how much and what I ate that day, the colors in the room. Okay, maybe there are people out there who have perfect lives (they certainly appear to), but I'm sure they just create their own problems out of nothing the same way I do. It seems to not be enough for me to just have totally random crap happen to me, I have to further complicate it all with my freaking feelings.
See this huge tangent I just took? This is exactly what I'm talking about - the complication of a simple experience with emotional needs.
Getting back to it - Sebastian's birth was fast and intense too, though differently so. He wasn't posterior (though in early labor I stayed on all fours, expecting him to be). There was this great break of painlessness between contractions, so much so that it was like not
being in labor. The downside to the breaks was that it only helped me to anticipate the coming contractions, which were really variable for a long time - some hurt a lot more than others until the very end when I guess they were pretty on top of each other and the breaks between were short enough that I just had time to catch my breath. It was really intense. Labor was 4 1/2 hours from first contraction, about 2 1/2 hours of active labor. Intense is the only way to describe it. For a long time, it was fine. I was just groovin', dealing with what came to me, totally lucid between contractions, listening to Modest Mouse, hanging out in the tub. Then I was waiting to throw up (never did) and waiting for the next contraction over & over. They were hard and they were painful. I kept thinking it might be nearing the end way before it did. I think I started feeling a little pushy here & there the last hour or so. Sometimes I would push with the contrx (though I didn't tell anyone of course) because I was anxious to get it over with. See, with my first birth, the thing that sucked the most about all that pain was that I had absolutely no idea how long the labor would last and pretty much thought I was going to be in pain forever. The second time around, I knew that if I pushed a little I could get the show on the road. The midwife even thought that his head might be tilted weird or something for all the noise I was making without obvious signs that his arrival was imminent. There was never any mucous plug or bloody show or leaking water or anything. Just contractions. Mucous plug, bloody show and broken water all showed up as I was pushing him out (first labor started with leaky water followed by bloody show - had lost mucous plug DAYS before). I don't think that Sebastian was tilted or anything, but he did have a nuchal hand too, which I think was causing a lot of pressure on my pubis. The intact water felt that way too, but I'm not sure that was anything other than a stupid thought on my part. I remember thinking in labor that it made sense that people would want epidurals and scheduled cesareans. At some point, you just want it over, damn the consequences. I also couldn't figure out while in labor what I thought was so cool about birth. Birth kinda sucks (how many times can I use the word suck?
). Lord was that labor intense. Grinding teeth, grunting, spit-out-from-between-teeth sort of intense. And no matter what anyone says, it was not any sort of fear-pain cycle. I wasn't scared. I knew I could do it. I was telling myself so. Hell, I'd done it before. I would survive and he would be out and it would be over and I'd be happy again. I knew that. I was trying to tell myself to smile my baby out, but I wasn't having any of that. Too intense for that sort of nonsense. Labor for me is like a runaway train. It's like having a semi fall out of the sky on top of you. There's no preparing for that! There's no hypnotizing my way outta that! And that's okay. I don't want to miss it. (back to commodifying experience) It's my experience and I want it. This is the only shot at life I get. Orgasms be damned (I'm not exceptional at having those anyway). I'm a shot-out-of-a-gun kinda gal anyway. I mean, I'm not quite burning the candle at both ends, but I'm certainly eating up all that I can because I only get this one chance. tangenting again...
So once Sebastian was out and in my arms and I'd had a bit of aconitum to calm the shakes (symptom of too-fast, intense birthing, imo), I was HIGH. I was so happy to see him and I was so satisfied with my birth. I knew that it didn't happen at all how I thought it would, but it happened how it needed to. And here was this beautiful baby at my breast, staring up into the world like the wisest of little men! He was so calm and happy and okay with being on the outside. He just wanted me. He didn't know there was any difference between us yet. We took a bath in the very clean Aquadoula together and he sat quietly in my arms staring up into space. It's like the Leboyer baths, or what they're supposed to be - the light was low and he was just content to be warm and I was just happy to have him.
I sat with Aleks for hours after his birth too, staring down at him in wonderment, trying to grasp the seemingly impossible, infinite truth of my motherhood, but at the same time knowing that I couldn't be a mother fully. I couldn't nurture him with my body the way I'd grown him and birthed him. It was a failure to some extent. He wasn't born whole and that was a product of my own doing somehow (whether or not I know I didn't do it to
him). I couldn't reconcile my birth. I couldn't feel like I'd done it. People said, "you did it!" I said, "I barely did it." I felt like I'd survived that birth and I spent the next two years surviving Montana and surgeries and loneliness and isolation and heartbreak. When I finally decided to try it again, we were back in Ohio and I was planning on surviving not sleeping and the trial of newbornhood and the added trials of two children all over again because that's how I thought it was. I had to convince myself that I could do it all again and that it would be somehow worth it. There was some biological imperative making me want the second baby, I'm sure. And of course the urge to get it all right. The sad truth is that I did. I got it right. Or right-ish. As close to right as I could. And that was really healing. That's what I needed. I needed to know that I could grow a whole baby and nourish that baby the way that I was meant to. That first time though? pain, pain, pain and more pain afterwards. Who would ever want to do that again?