Before I Tell You Way Too Much About My Labor, Let Me Piss Off All The Natural Labor Advocates!
Eve, 11 days old.
Photographs taken by child photographer (and my bff), Emily Cobb Henry.
You can see her photo site here.
I have no idea why I was ultimately able to conceive so easily, or why I had an easy pregnancy, or why I seem to have an easy baby. I am anxious even writing these words, as though putting them into type will make them no longer true, or somehow "jinx" me and everything will fall apart.
I lost both my parents to cancer by the time I was 30 and, as I've stated before, this has had a significant affect on my ability to think rationally when it comes to matters of health. Things could be fine, but maybe they aren't, and maybe that maybe will result in the worst possible outcome. That's how I think. That's how I thought, felt, feared throughout my pregnancy -- that anything (or nothing) could lead to the worst possible outcome.
I barely believed I'd ever get to meet my daughter.
Dramatic? Yes. Silly? Yes, as it turns out. Also? True.
But. But but but.
In the grand scheme of things, I understand how much is not up to me, and how much is simply not in my control. I spent a huge portion of my growing-up life trying to fix things I couldn't fix, wanting to repair messes that weren't mine, trying to solve problems I didn't create. And for so many reasons we can let my therapist work out, my efforts didn't work. When my mom got sick and my husband left me, I realized -- with tremendous fanfare -- that you can try really hard to make things turn out a certain way and fail anyway.
I am grateful to have learned that. I'm not happy about the circumstances under which I learned that, but at least I know. I have no illusions about what I can control. My controlling-ness comes out in my work, in small day-to-day things, sometimes in (non-personal) projects. But I have let go of a lot.
Sometimes you plan and plan and plan and then the worst thing happens anyway and what was the point of all your stupid planning? All it did was make you crazy.
This is why, once I realized I was really and truly pregnant, I became the most mellow I have ever been.
The internet and pregnancy books and websites are treacherous places. As a new mom I was clueless and wanted to learn everything I could so I could do things "right". But it took me about two hours to determine that if I were to follow every recommendation, I'd be a complete basketcase. The list of off-limit-just-to-be-safe foods and drinks and activities and products could, if you were under the impression that you could control things, consume your whole life and you'd be worried at every turn about every little thing.
I know lots of pregnant women who were that way. I should have been one of them. Except.
Except I let go. Except, I guess, I'm cynical. Except I don't, really, believe that all the tiny things matter because if something horrible is going to happen, it's going to happen and there's very little you can do to prevent it. Not one but TWO of my best friends did everything by the book and it didn't make a difference to their failed pregnancies. My sister did her damndest to have the perfect pregnancy and that had nothing whatsoever to do with the genetic condition that befell her beautiful baby boy. And you know there are crazy crack moms and alcoholics and underaged high-schoolers who don't even care having healthy babies every day.
I stopped my own madness before it started.
The second I found out I was pregnant I started to read, yes. I researched. I explored and discussed and blogged and studied a lot and then said OH MY GOD THIS IS SUCH BULLSHIT to most of it. I mean, I didn't drink tequila and smoke crack. Of course there are reasonable things to do and not do, reasonable things to worry about. But if I focus on the big picture, then I drown out the noise.
I live with the gripping fear that comes from knowing there's absolutely nothing -- nothing -- I can do to guarantee I have a healthy baby. But that fear also puts into perspective how unnecessary it is to obsess over whether I can, say, eat a soft cheese, have a glass of wine, or take a bath.
My perspective may be rooted in something rather grim, but the result has been quite positive.
So why am I telling you all this?
Because it's not that I don't care. It's not that it doesn't matter, it's not that I'm a go-with-the-flow kind of person naturally, it's not that I really think "Oh, whatever." But that's how it came across -- not just when I was enjoying a piece of cheese or glass of wine while pregnant, but when I had to decide whether to induce labor, whether to have a c-section, whether to give the baby formula, when to leave the hospital.
I just (ha! "just") wanted to have a healthy baby. I didn't let myself get wrapped up in how that was supposed to look. If I could be lucky enough even to just HAVE a baby, I didn't care about the rest of the stuff. Or rather, I didn't overly care.
I'm envious of the women who are trusting enough in the world to have birth plans. Who think that if they write it down, that's how it will go. Who have resources enough to go to the hospital and choose to have a home birth anyway, because they trust it will be fine. Who want their experiences to be heightened by not taking drugs, who have immovable conviction about needing to bond with their baby the moment it's born. Who, basically, worry about the details because they assume they WILL have a baby.
Whereas I just don't. I didn't. I went into it thinking I had no idea what would happen. I didn't make a plan so I wouldn't be disappointed
I'm beyond grateful it worked out.
And hi. Now with all that weird background given, I can finally get into what actually happened. The whole "labor" thing was rather enjoyable, all things considered.