I have always thought that giving birth was a black and white situation. You walk into the hospital and barring any complications, come out with a baby bundled in a soft blanket. Apparently, that’s not the case.
Childbirth has come a long, long way since my grandmothers’ time and much like how people order their coffee these days — single/double/triple shot, nonfat milk, soy, almond, half-and-half, latte, cappuccino, machiatto — there are a lot more different options to choose from: Natural. C-Section. Water Birth. At the hospital. At home. By a doctor. By a midwife. With a doula, and without. Even pain relief comes in a variety of forms these days. Acupressure. Acupuncture. Breathing techniques. Hypnosis. Massage. Meditation. Epidural. Gas. Demerol. Or nothing at all. And did I mention that you can even choose the position in which you would want to deliver? Semi-recline. Squatting. Lying on one’s side. Standing. Leaning on your partner. On your hands and knees.
Has it always been this complicated? This confusing? (If only they offered just as many options when it comes to buying baby stuff — because it’s in this department, where Norway needs greater variety and options).
And the pressure women feel these days to opt for as naturally a birth as possible, foregoing the comfort of anaesthesia, makes planning for our little jelly bean’s birth all the more challenging, more frightening.
Maybe I’m strong enough to go through labor without any medical intervention. I am my grandmother’s granddaughter after all, the Amazonia who directed, choreographed and arranged the birth of her first child whilst in the middle of labor because my grandfather was still attending to his patients (they owned a small hospital and clinic back in the day).
Then again, what if I’m not?
Ultimately, it’s going to be my decision and people can judge me all they want — but as with everything in life, we have all been given the right and liberty to choose (of course, within certain legal, ethical and moral limits!). So, go jump in the lake if it bothers you when I decide to get pumped up with drugs (they’re there for a reason, otherwise, it wouldn’t be on offer in the first place).
We attended the state-sponsored birthing course a few days ago, hoping that it would help me decide on a birthing plan. I had this image of a Lamaze-type class where everyone would be sitting on the floor and throughout the course of the afternoon, be taught a couple of breathing exercises we could use, on top of the usual “what to expect” information, and maybe the cliche video of a woman giving birth. Instead, we were sat around a conference table and given slide handouts. Then for nearly three hours, we listened to a PowerPoint lecture on things I had already read about at some point, and learned from somewhere or someone about the stages of labor, what to do in each stage, who to call, where to go, etc.
It didn’t prepare me at all for what’s to come and I was nowhere closer to completing my birth plan — other than the fact that I now know which ward/s I could potentially request to be checked-in to at the Women’s Clinic downtown.
Nevertheless, like all things, the silver lining was that — while I may not have learned anything new, my husband learned a great lot. He knows what to expect now and while he’s terrified out of his mind about what’s going to happen and what could potentially happen during childbirth, he has come to appreciate this epic challenge that we (moreso, I) will have to undergo in six weeks’ time. He has found ways to support me even more than he already has to make the home stretch feel a little less overwhelming, like giving me a 2-hour back massage and head cuddle in the middle of the night, for example, after what can only be desrcibed as an emotionally and psychologically draining day for him at work (he quit his job yesterday for what he hopes is going to be a better one!) — just so that I can sleep better at night. Bless him.
Whichever the case may be and whatever I do decide to do or what not to do, or what the circumstances ends up dictating (a birthing plan is never bullet-proof!), I am going to try and take this whole childbirth challenge like I would whenever I order a cup of coffee:
Simple and to the point, with perhaps a little frill and just a tad bit of sweetness on top…
…then enjoying every moment of it, when it’s finally handed over to me, all wrapped up in a pretty and delicious little package.