Can I ask a favor?

Somebody please disagree with me if this is not you experience.

This is my request.  Please, please, do not tell me that “the only thing that matters is a healthy mom and a healthy baby.”  I’m not saying I don’t want a healthy baby, or that I would rather bleed to death, or that I don’t appreciate that I live in a place where I have the opportunity (not to mention the medical insurance) to allow us to catch a placenta previa and do something “safe” about it.  But what I hear, although I know it is not what it intended, which is why I try not to get upset about it, is, “don’t get so worked up about your birth.  Your experience of it doesn’t matter.  Stop being upset.”

I know that’s not what people who say this mean.  But I also know that I need to mourn the birth I was really, really hoping to have.  And it is mourning.  I am between “denial” and “bargaining” at the moment, and in a way watching myself work through it.

So I know, of course, that the most important thing is a healthy mom and a healthy baby.  Otherwise I would not be signed up for surgery in two weeks.  But it is not the only important thing, by any stretch of the imagination.  And it rings empty to hear it in the midst of the emotional pain that comes with this kind of change of plans.  It strikes me as the rationalization of a society that isn’t comfortable with suffering, that doesn’t want to admit that what it often forces women to do with their bodies is suffering, and that focuses on the ends to the exclusion of the means.  ( I had to throw some psychology and philosophy in here sooner or later, right?)

And I’ve been there, so I know that holding a beautiful, healthy baby does not make the experience of birth go away, no matter what the birth was like.  Particularly when you can’t nurse the baby in your lap because it is too painful, or wear your favorite baby sling for two months, and you are constantly reminded how the birth went.  I do not love Lucy less because she was born by a c-section.  But if I could go back and change the way she came into the world, I think I might.  Of course there are lessons to be learned from every situation, and I do like to think that things happen for a reason, but adding unnecessary suffering to a situation (and a lot of it with Lucy’s birth had to do with the way we were treated, not just the fact it was a c-section rather than a vaginal birth) doesn’t make sense to me.

So even if it’s meant to be comforting, I’d rather not hear about how lucky I am right now.  On the other hand, I am curious if anyone out there did actually, truly, find the “healthy mom, healthy baby” argument comforting.  Particularly at this stage of things.

So I’m really looking forward to meeting this very wiggly baby in two weeks.  And I’m looking forward to enjoying the last two weeks of this pregnancy as much as I can.  But I can’t simplify my feelings (blame it on the hormones if you want) to “thank God things are going to be ok”.  I do, repeatedly.  But I’m stubborn, and I’m an oldest child, and I’m still going to be upset that things didn’t work out “my way”.

Enough ranting.  I should say that I do appreciate all the prayers and well-wishes we’ve gotten over the last couple of weeks.  We certainly need more prayer for the next month or two now.  I’m sorry I’m keeping you all so busy!  But like I said before, it has been a true blessing to know how many people care about our family.  And in looking for a bright side, I certainly find one there – how many people have spent a little more time in prayer these last few weeks than they would have otherwise?  How many people have I reconnected with because they heard one way or another about what was going on and reached out to us?  I don’t think I’ll ever doubt our support system again.

I know there’s reason to all this somewhere.  Our OB thinks maybe she had such disappointing birth experiences so that she would become an advocate for fewer c-sections and interventions, so that more women could have experiences they could remember with more joy, healthier bodies, fewer complications, etc.  And she has been a great blessing to us, especially when I think that some women go to doctors like a couple of them I’ve met over the last few weeks – lacking sympathy, lacking anything that could be called “bed-side manner”, very nearly lacking respect of me as a person (as opposed to a condition).

Apparently I babble when I don’t sleep well.  But since all this is what has been keeping me awake, I thought I might as well record it for posterity.  If you’ve read this far, thank you, and I’m sorry.  I’ll quit now.

6 Replies to “Can I ask a favor?”

  1. Christina, your webpage was beautiful and really helped me understand your position on things. When I had babies I never wanted to experience natural child birth because I was afraid of the pain. Things now adays seem to be different. I love you, Craig, and the girls very much. I understand now why you were so excited to have Oscar at home even if it didn’t work out that way. I am always there for you if you need me. Love Helen (mom)

  2. Christina,
    I understand how you are feeling about not having the birth you desire. I went in for a blood pressure check when I was pregnant with Jackson and was told I couldn’t go home that I needed to stay for observation. Then they told me they needed to induce because of complications for Jackson and me. I was scared because Travis was on the other side of the ocean and I didn’t have definite plans for Emi yet.

    Hearing the doctors and others say it was fine because Jackson and I were okay didn’t matter much to me when I couldn’t hold my baby. Even today when I think back it hurts to think of those first 24 hours that he was apart from me.

    I know that all that matters now is that he is a happy healthy two year old and that I am here to experience it, but still our experiences shape us and I wish that I could look back on Emi and JJ’s births without remembering the fear that I had.

  3. I’m really glad you wrote this. and I’m really glad you feel this way. I’m sorry I haven’t called you to be supportive. I have cried a few times over the outcome of your ultrasound and it makes me sad to tell you right now.
    It IS good that we have the technology to help you and Oscar survive this pregnancy – I just wish that your stupid placenta had moved. That would have been the better outcome. I’m mad about it. I’m mad at God for not fixing things for you – and that makes me sad too. In protest, my prayers have been me complaining about your case. and I haven’t prayed the rosary in two days.
    Most people won’t understand that you want to have a million babies, and that this c/s puts those future children – and you – at risk. Most people won’t understand the joy of having a baby at home (or in a birthcenter) with a midwife who peaks in the room to offer you a glass of juice versus nurses and doctors banging in and out of the room checking your blood pressure and turning up the EFM machine.
    While I’m probably the least comforting person to you right now, I do have words from someone else – that helped me a little when I heard them. Miquele emailed me yesterday and she wrote, “I’m sad things didn’t turn out the way we had hoped, but I’m glad to know that God could not have failed to hear us. Now we can aim our prayers at February 4.”
    I really need to change my attitude and be greatful that God did hear our prayers – just deny us the requested outcome – for some other reason perhaps. I like what your doctor said. I am really glad you’ve found her to guide you through this process.
    If you want to complain and cry to a very sympathetic ear – and not be uplifted at the end of it, please call me any time. I love you so much. I’m glad you are getting to wait till 38 weeks. That is really going to help. Again, I love you.
    Love, V

  4. Christina, I understand even more today what you have shared here. My daughter, Courtney, who is due with her second baby April 3 was rear ended today on her way to drop 22 month old Rory at my house and to go on to work. Courtney and Rory are fine, but Courtney’s OB wanted her to be checked out at the hospital just to be sure all was well with the baby. Courtney had no symptoms, and eight hours later looking pretty worn out , she is home with instructions to “take it easy”. The babies’ other grandmother is an RN in labor and delivery, but as luck would have it she was off today. However, they recognized Courtney and treated her very well. What a difference that can make! Your physician sounds like a good ally for you.
    I hope nothing I have said adds to your frustration or emotional pain. I have so much admiration for you and your desires for your children. You are in my prayers right along side my own children. Godspeed! Maureen

  5. Alisha – Thank you for sharing this. As much as I hate for anyone else to go through this kind of thing, it does help to hear that others have gotten through it, and I can, too.
    V – I always appreciate you support! I’m mad, too, and it’s hard to pray without either being angry or crying. But just half a week’s time has helped, and I think (I hope!) it will be easier when there is a baby to hold, not just this waiting to go through. “Offer it up” seems like good advice at the moment, because I can’t see what God’s plan is here!
    Maureen – Please know that you certainly didn’t add to my pain. I was so thrilled to hear from you and I really appreciate your prayers. I’m glad Courtney is ok. It is so stressful to sit there while they run all their tests and all you can do is wait. We will be praying for her, too!
    I hope I didn’t step on too many toes with this post. Part of the problem was that I only slept three hours that night, so I’d had a long time to go over, and over, and over everything I had heard the last day or two. After biting my tongue (repeatedly) with the ultrasound doctor and his really terrible and misguided attempts at comforting, I don’t know if anything anyone said could have helped much. But no matter how it’s said, it does help to hear that the people I love are praying for me and that I’m really not going through this alone, even though that’s very much how it feels sometimes.
    And what’s really cool is that when Oscar gets older, we can look back at all this and see how many people cared so much about him (or her), even before he was born!

  6. Thank you for the prayers for Courtney. So far all we have to deal with is the car repair , and that we can handle. I keep in touch with a friend of my other daughter through her blog. I asked Jane if I could share it with you, and she said of course and recommended lots of protein in these last pregnant days. The blog might bring a smile or two. The blog title is Expect the Unexpected
    I hope you can find it.
    Thinking of you, Maureen

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