Saturday, July 31, 2010

When did I turn into one of "those" moms?

I make all our bread from scratch.
Wary of chemicals, preservatives, dye.

And now considering having my next baby at home?

When did I turn into one of "those" moms?

None of these were "cultural" decisions, though. To me, they are well-thought-out decisions that might fly in the face of popular culture, but I feel like I have good reasons.

So why a home birth?

Well, I've had 5 in the hospital, and I started thinking about my experiences. I made a mental list of all the things I am NOT looking forward to.

First of all, I am pretty set against having an epidural this time. I've had five so far. ALL 5 had side effects I didn't anticipate and didn't like, ranging from severely swollen feet for a week to a spinal headache for a week (and another they patched). One epidural left me getting shots to keep my heart going and put my baby in the NICU for 24 hours. Two of them left me with numb spots on my lower body that didn't regain their sensation for six full months (so I'm a little worried about permanent nerve damage). The recovery at the epidural site for at least 3 of my babies was actually months longer than the recovery from the childbirth. Plus I end up having to get pitocin after every epidural, and usually the epidurals don't take evenly all over my body, which leaves me either dead numb on one side, or feeling things on the other. At this point, I'm more afraid of the epidural than the labor pains, so I've decided to try a natural childbirth.  If I could get a legitimate walking epidural, I'd probably change my mind. I actually really like how it works when the epidural has almost taken effect--I can feel everything but the pain in my belly, and I can still walk and shift my position, etc.

Besides, I've noticed over and over that women who have natural childbirths recover a lot faster than women who have epidurals.

So what else am I dreading?

The IV--it interferes with my ability to move around during labor, gets in the way of nursing and bonding with my baby after its born, and hurts the whole time I have it. Plus the IV site hurts longer than anything involved in the actual childbirth. And having a needle constantly sticking into me makes me woozy.

The hospital beds--the beds, plus the lack of ability to squirm around when you're in labor and having a baby, leaves me with no comfortable place to be. For someone else, this might be a minor discomfort. For me, it triggers and then exacerbates fibromyalgia pain to the point that it's screaming. The fibro pain is actually worse than any labor pains I've felt so far, and being forced to stay in the bed (they "SAY" you can walk around, but they really don't want to clean up the mess, actually, so they panic if you get out of bed) makes it much worse. I am in severe, screaming fibro pain the entire time I'm in the hospital, with no relief (because pain meds don't touch fibro pain in most cases). I dread this more than anything else--especially since this has been a bad fibro pregnancy anyway, and I already am only marginally functional. When Fibro is flaring, contact of any sort can be painful, and staying in one position is excruciating, and I recover slowly from injury (for example, I had my blood drawn 3 days ago for my pregnancy labs, and my whole arm still aches and the needle site hurts, too). So I need to be in an environment where I am in as much control as possible of everything around me that touches my body or my senses (including lights and sound)--and hospitals don't give you that.

No sleep.  Thus far, with every baby, I've literally had a couple of hours of sleep for the entire 32-50 hours I'm in the hospital.  Right after you have a baby, the thing you need MOST is sleep. Everyone complains about not getting sleep in the hospital. Try doing it with a sleep disorder! My "night" is from 4:00 am until 2:00 pm. During that time, the hospital always asks me to talk to pediatricians, make important decisions, eat meals, evaluate my pain levels, get a massage, and just generally be awake. The day nurses are required to do things like take your blood pressure every 2 hours. All "night."

Wires and tubes interfering with my ability to nurse, care for a new baby, etc.  They leave that stupid blood pressure cuff on, pinching my arm every so often, for 24 hours. Plus IV tubes, catheters, etc. It really gets in the way! And they are so patronizing if you complain, and they panic if you just refuse to keep them on--I've had nurses bully me. I thought I was a grown up?

The high beds and high bassinets. I can't get out of bed to get the baby after it's born. I can't get back into bed. I can't reach the baby from my bed. I can't safely put the baby in bed with me to nurse it. There is no comfortable chair to settle into to receive visitors and nurse.

Worrying about the kids a) running off and getting lost or b) breaking things when they come visit the hospital.

The food. Hospitals always want me  to eat inedible food or food I really am not interested in. After a baby is born, I want popsicles, applesauce, juice, sorbet, etc. I don't want to be pressured into eating stuff that sounds yucky or be criticized for not doing so. I don't want to be in trouble for wanting food at the "wrong hours" or have my dinner taken away because it wasn't eat by 7:00 pm when I eat dinner at midnight on a normal day. Actually, most of my meals get taken away because they want me to eat two of them in the middle of my night, and one right when my kids want to visit.

I always worry about the kids having to be with a babysitter for 24-48 hours.  We run our lives so different from most people, it's traumatic for the kids to be with a "normal" person for a long time like that. Not only that, then a "stranger" sees our house and our lives for what they are (and that's hard on me, especially since we have had no family in the state for most of our babies).

I hate the medical interventions when none are called for. I hate having nurses check my progress in the middle of a contraction without my permission. I hate that they always want to put an internal monitor on the baby--a needle in the baby's scalp, which hurts the baby (even though they say it doesn't, it does. I feel that kick.)

I hate having to ask permission to do things like go potty. Sheesh. There is no dignity in childbirth.

Oh, and labor pain. I'm dreading that.

So I looked over the list and realized that 90% of what I am dreading about having a baby is actually the HOSPITAL, not the birth of a baby. Then I looked at the complications we've had in the past, and, while two of the babies were in distress and really needed to be induced in a hospital setting, most of the complications we've had were actually caused by the medical interventions in the hospital (specifically, the epidural).

So I started looking into home birth. I would still have to clean the house, but at least a midwife is used to alternative lifestyles! I would still have to do the labor and delivery pain--and with no option to back out like I'd have in the hospital.  But I could control my own fibro, schedule, and food. I could stay in a comfortable environment. I think it would be a better experience and, more importantly, the recovery would be faster. Plus the hospital is literally right around the corner, so if there was a problem, the midwife would be able to send me over there without any problem.

So we're asking the questions. Where would I want to labor and deliver in the house? Water birth, or no? What to do with the other five kids? Could we find a midwife that would let us trade for services since we can't afford $3000 and medicaid doesn't cover home births--and what would we trade? Can I have quite a lot of control over things with a midwife--or do I have to do the whole homeopathy/energy medicine thing, too, which I don't believe in? Can I get a midwife to hurry things along--strip my membranes and then break my water--like a doctor will, or will they really let me sit in labor for 47 hours or pregnant for 42 weeks, neither of which I'm in favor of? What of the care babies get in the hospital is really important (like the vitamin K shot?), so would we be missing any of that care? What about screenings babies get in the hospital? How do you get a birth certificate for a home birth?

Most of those questions a midwife could answer easily. I just need to start meeting them, I think, and pick one I like, and then go from there.

So yeah, I guess I'm one of THOSE moms.


Catherine (Jones) Carlson said...

I am having so many of these same thoughts this time (baby #4). Although I don't have the day/night sleeping issues, I do hate that I don't have much control over my labor. But I think a lot of that is because of the epidural. Without one, I won't have to have an iv, I will be able to move around, and I will certainly be able to feel everything. So, I'm thinking of doing a hospital, but without drugs. Can I hack it? We'll see....

Becca Jones said...

Oooh--if I could do the hospital minus the IV, I might just deal with the other issues (since my doctor agreed to let me out 24 after I got in). But my hospital says you have to have an IV no matter what.

I'm jealous for your hospital!

When's your baby due?