Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Perfect Visions to General Anesthesia

What is it about birth that is so unpredictable sometimes?

It is common knowledge amongst caregivers that those that live in their heads (dancers, athletes, computer geeks) have the hardest time allowing birth to happen in their bodies. Some women take several childbirth classes and read a hundred books, all in the hopes of conquering the mysteries of birth. But, those mysteries are different for every woman and not taught in any book.

In 21 years, I have known 3 women to have general anesthesia for their cesareans. 2 in the last year. I find that incredibly odd.

In preparing for The Perfect Birth, women read all the "right" books, take Bradley and Hypnobirthing classes, hire homebirth midwives that believe in them, hire doulas to tend to the needs the midwife or partner can't or doesn't... and visualize, meditate, pray... all in the dream of creating a peaceful, wondrous (usually) waterbirth.

Labor arrives (or not) and obstacle after obstacle falls in the way of that Perfect Birth. The due date comes and goes far, far away... membranes rupture long before labor begins... blood pressure climbs... a posterior labor digs into the pain threshold like no one else can understand... a fever elevates... fetal heart tones do funky things... exhaustion sets in.

What is the lesson? Is it surrender? How much does one have to surrender before the obstacles vanish and something resembling the original birth desires materialize? Even when the woman does surrender, I still see the Universe throwing shit at the woman's birth plan: she gets the crappiest doc on-call... the vacuum doesn't work even after 3 tries... the baby is too high for forceps... her vagina gets cut and THEN she has a cesarean... the spinal or epidural don't take... and then she is out for the entire birth. Why do some women have to experience this?

The worst is that 2/3 of the women I know who had this experience will never birth again (choice), so replaying their births differently will never happen. Therapy, talking, rebirthing, etc. have still not quelled the pain of not being there for their babies' births (consciously).

I speak often to women who talk to me about their Perfect Births... about how there are 2 players in this game of life. That mom might be totally evolved and ready to birth the way she visualizes, but the baby might have its own agenda (don't they always?) and might need to be born out the belly instead of through the vagina. Perhaps in another day and time, out the vagina might have meant death and they remember that, so choose out the belly instead. Surely they know things we don't know about how to move inside the uterus, right?

What happens when there is direct conflict between two extremely powerful people's needs?

Someone gives in. Oh, sorry... the common (PC) word is "compromise." cough

And if mom isn't the one to give in, the baby does... and one person's needs vanish.

This is my issue with UC. Whose will wins?

taking a break for a few minutes

I don't understand so much about birth. I wonder if women in the jungle ponder their birth stories as much as we do. There is no need for marriage counseling in cultures that have black & white rules about what marriages look like. Someone might be unhappy, but that's just the way it is.

Women's vaginas fall out in Africa. Women's bladders fall out in Asia. Women struggle with bodily injury due to their caregiver's inability to respect and help properly. From what I know, they don't call it birthrape. Are we thinking too much? If we lived in a subsistance culture, would we have time to worry that we can't write a letter because our midwife yelled at us? Our culture affords us too much time, I think. Blogging probably isn't a priority in Ecuadorian pueblos.

Navelgazing can often spiral into vertigo.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like what you said here: "That mom might be totally evolved and ready to birth the way she visualizes, but the baby might have its own agenda (don't they always?) and might need to be born out the belly instead of through the vagina."

I no longer have sadness or regret about the c-section I had under general. I am actual so thankful for the experience. Another thought to go along with this, we are all a product of our experiences. There is nothing I would ever want to change about my son's personality and part of his personality is his experiences, even his birth experience. I am just grateful to be along for the ride. There are so many positives to the experience and those are what I hang on to. The negative parts have gifted me with a compassion that I might not have had otherwise, not to mention the gift of an open mind.

Jo