Thursday, 21 November 2013

Fear of Faffing

It's a topic that is quite emotive.  The Birth I Want.  The Birth I Deserve.  Or sadly for some, The Birth I Wish I'd Had/Been Allowed.

To clarify, I had a Caesarean section with Scarlett as she was breech.  With hindsight, I think she was probably slightly premature.  I think I was naive and terrified and I wish I had waited, or tried, to turn her.  I was going to be 'allowed' a water birth last time (although as my husband helpfully points out, every time I give a death glare to my consultant when I complain for the hundredth time that I wanted a water birth, the hospital I was booked into last time only had one birthing pool, so the chances of me actually getting one would've been slim!!)

I think ultimately, I know, and I have to trust every instinct in my body, that our boy will get here safely, one way or the other.  I have to believe this.  I have to put faith in the fact that all will go according to plan.  And if it doesn't go according to my plan, which is to have him 'naturally', he will get here just as fine through the sunroof as Scarlett did before him.

But if it does all go according to plan, I have massive misgivings about going into labour, because I just don't know what to expect.  It's weird, I know once I'm in labour what my plan is; stay at home, bathe as long as my waters haven't gone, walk, breath, chant, sing.  It's a routine I have practised over and over in my head.  That I will stay here at home for as long as I can.  For as long as the lure of gas and air stays out of my mind!  The fear of monitoring and 'faffing', as I have termed all the shit they're likely to inflict on me at hospital, makes this plan exciting.  My plan to try and defy the system, to prove them wrong, to prove that I can have a natural birth, despite my previous caesarean and my high BMI.  Might I possibly become an 'Oopser' or will our baby be BBA (Born Before Ambulance)?

My fear of faffing, is greater than my fear of giving birth.  In some ways, that's glorious, for I do not fear birth, but in other ways, it's troubling, that faffing has become such a byword for me for unnecessary intervention, that I fear that the most.

In spite of my fear of faffing, there's still that niggle in the back of my mind.  What if you rupture?  What if he's in distress and you don't know?  What if, what if, what if?  I try to answer all my niggles with the response, "My instinct will tell me."  My inner monkey will tell me.  Surely?!  Right?!  I'm sure no one can give me an answer either way.

Those who have read Ina May Gaskin and others like her (although, her book is the only one I've had time to read) will agree, instinct and inner mammal will tell me.  Those slightly more favourable of CEFM and generally, keeping tabs on a fat VBAC bird (which is honestly how consultants make me feel), will disagree, and suggest that I come in to be monitored right away.  I can, honestly, see both points of view.

It's no secret that I would like, one day, to retrain as a midwife.  I'm therefore not completely stupid as to why CEFM is practiced (half because it is useful, and half because our poor midwives are so overstretched, it helps them look after 3 women at once, at least, that's the conclusion I have come to).  However I think I want for some utopian vision of birth and midwifery care, where mothers do see the same midwife during both antenatal care, birth and postnatal care.  It's something that I know isn't going to suddenly change overnight and it's certainly not something that is going to change in the next month before I give birth.

I think because I so desperately want to just be with one lovely midwife during birth, that I sort of worry about going into hospital and submitting to some of the faffing with different midwives and consultants.  I know the midwives aren't doing it to be mean (at least, I would hope not!) but because they're sort of under orders to.  If there was just one of them to every woman in labour, apart from there being a hell of a bill to pay, I do kind of feel that maybe intervention rates would go down because they have more time to watch and listen (and in some cases, possibly learn?) to labouring mothers and spot the signs of complications a bit sooner, or at least, a bit more compassionately than a machine currently does.

It is that fear of the faffing that puts me ill at ease with the whole process which lay before me.  I don't want a pre-sited IV, I don't particularly want monitoring, I certainly don't want induction or augmentation of labour, but that is my own personal choice and surely, as we're told regularly, we're meant to have a choice in childbirth these days.

I know deep down, I've read it and seen it and truly believe it, staying upright, moving about, kissing my husband, mooing like a cow; all those 'hippy' things, will help my labour progress without the need for fake hormones and IV lines and being 'strapped to the bed' as I term it.  Sorry to anyone who believes in all these things, but to me I personally just find them all a bit unnecessary and terrifying (in my case).

I do have one secret weapon in my war against the faffing - my husband.  My darling man has diligently read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth on the bus this week.  Whilst it has made for an hilarious anecdote; he turned the page to be confronted with a naked, crowning, fully pubed mother in a state of pure ecstasy during birth (ah, orgasmic birth, another post for another time...) which had him hastily turning pages in search of sanctuary from any funny looks it might have garnered!  But aside from naked ecstatic mothers, he says he's learnt a lot.  About kissing, about positions etc.  He now has a completely different take on CEFM to the one he had before (he was quite pro, he felt it was the safest thing, Ina May has turned him) and generally feels ready to ask for peace, and calm, and dimmed lights.  To ask for time before being rushed into anything and to help me get the best out of labour.  He knows it's become quite important for me to have my 'hippy' labour and birth.

When I sit back and I try to visualise the task which lay ahead of me, I see two very distinct things; being here, in our bedroom, pacing, breathing, swaying, and then I see myself in hospital, moments after pushing our son out, eyes wide with awe and wonder and what I've just achieved and marvelling at our boy.  I get almost crazy excited and tearful when I think of the latter.  Because I know I can do this, I CAN do this.  With Andy by my side, and Ina May in my heart, I can do it.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Ready as I'll ever be?!

I'm 35 weeks pregnant today.  That means that in no more than 7 weeks, we will have our baby boy here.  As you may recall, if I get to 41 weeks it's game over and straight into theatre.  I am seriously hoping it doesn't come to that.

I finish work in just over a week now.  In real terms I actually only have 5 full days in the office, by the time I've done a half day Thursday for antenatal classes (more on that later) and another half day on Tuesday for a Consultant appointment.  That's such a lovely feeling, so close, and yet, still so far as I feel I have quite a lot to finish off.  I'm trying to hand quite a lot of stuff over but I'm feeling slightly guilty as the team are already creaking slightly under the pressure.  But anyway, screw work...!

I was lying in bed this morning, feeling bub moving about, thinking about his imminent birth and as I got in the shower, I thought how strange it's going to be in a few weeks time to call myself a mother of two.

Which still feels alien to me.  5 and a half years down the line and I still find it odd to be called 'mummy'.  Which probably sounds like a really horrible, bitchy, selfish thing to say, but I find myself in an odd sort of limbo - half stuck between my uni days (I had only graduated 18 months before I had Scarlett) and half stuck between the generation of mothers at Scarlett's school.  That's not to be rude either, they all seem nice enough, but they grew up in a different time to me and when I'm never at the school gate, I feel quite alienated and distant from being a mum.

I'm hoping next year I can try and lose some weight, have a bit more confidence and generally get out there a bit more.  Maybe I'll feel more like a 'mum'?!  I think being at home, on my own, with bub and having to fend for myself will probably make this all feel a bit more real.  It really is a bit like being a first time mum.  Last time we sort of lived in one room upstairs, and Andy was there all the time as he was caring for his mum.  So it was more like being a couple of teenagers with a baby than it was being 'grown ups' with a baby.

That probably sounds really stupid, but I think that's what I'm so looking forward to this time.  Being a grown up.  Having the whole house to ourselves and our family.  It being 'proper'.  Being a housewife, doing the school run, meeting other mummy friends for coffee (because thankfully this time I have a few, I'll post about it separately).

'Proper' seems such a daft word to use, like my weird ideal of having a family wasn't quite right last time.  Heck, it kinda wasn't in any way, shape or form.  It's why I've been so obsessed this time; having a proper bump, feeling him wriggling, doing antenatal classes, getting a nice new pram all for ourselves.  I feel sure we won't have any more, for various reasons, I feel I'm just going to be happy and blessed with two.  So I guess that has added to the desire of it being 'proper' this time.

It's probably also why a new epithet should be invented for what I've become, Mumzilla, maybe, or a Pregzilla anyway.  Determined to have it my own way and make it all 'just so'.

This time has been so monumentally different.  It really has been like a first pregnancy in some ways.  I've ended up seeing our boy 6 times through various scans, had multiple midwife and consultant appointments (although sometimes I wish I could just go for a coffee with the specialist midwife I see, she's just brilliant, I wish it was her who would be there when I give birth...!), started antenatal classes, fully prepared a space for him, and clothes, and toys and just generally, I feel quite prepared.

Or do I?!