Archive for the ‘ Preparing for labor and delivery ’ Category

Pushy Presents

Friday, January 25th, 2013

My first introduction to the “push present” was a Bentley. No, no, no, not for me. That’s crazy talk. I saw it on The Real Housewives of Orange County as the wealthy mother zoomed around town in her new “baby bauble” (although really, a Bentley is hardly a bauble).

Statistics show the “push present,”  a present a partner gives to the mother after giving birth to their child is a growing trend. I’m curious as to who this trend growing amongst? Celebs like Rachel Zoe and Mariah Carey made the push present a thing, but are celebs the only ones raking in the gifts at birth? Are we the common folk growing this trend as well?

To me, the term “push present” feels well, pushy. It feels greedy. It feels entitled. It feels like the baby is secondary.

Proponents of the push present say things like “yes, the baby is gift enough but…” the but makes me feel like well, a butt for thinking a present is required for experiencing labor.

As one mom put it, “Labors really tough. It’s nice to have something to look forward to apart from the child of course.” Yes ma’am. It is really tough. But it’s more than just “one of dem days that a girl goes through.” It’s a monumental and special part of life that feels weakened by an “I had a baby and look at this gift I got!” moment.

Many women have being doing the labor sans gifts for centuries. While I believe in having things to look forward to, I know the thought of meeting my child at the end of labor was motivating me through each swear inducing contraction (I joke, sort of…), not a bracelet.

I’m just sayin’ this.

A present isn’t inherently greedy. If a husband wants to give his wife a gift out of the kindness and thoughtfulness of his heart, I’m all for it. But he shouldn’t do it because he’s told to or it’s expected.

I think it’s thoughtful to surprise a new mum with a trip for two post baby or a sentimental token that could possibly be gifted to the new baby one day. Again though, that should happen of the spouse’s own free will and choice and not out of guilt because he didn’t have the “burden” of pregnancy and labor or the need for his wife to have an answer to what she received as a pushy present.

I’m also just sayin’ this.

Ladies, treat yo self. Labor is really though. Having a newborn is really tough. Be kind to yourself after birth.

If that means you want your gams massaged, your toes painted, or your house to “shine like the top of the Chrysler building” through the angelic cleaning hands of someone else, treat yo self. I just think those things should be separate from the birthing experience and not a reward for labor; but a nod that you are a human being who needs help at times and an occasional indulgence to make you feel like a woman.

Image: Bentley emblem via olgaru79 /

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Is There Anything to Gain from the Pain of the Cervix Check?

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

As I inch, or should I say centimeter (I slay me), my way to this due date, there’s another milestone that must be discussed.

The cervix check. Whoomp, there it is!

This is the point when pregnancy stops being polite and starts being real.

Call me dramatic, it’s my trademark, but the cervix check is worse than childbirth. I don’t know what they taught in med school back in the day, but it must have been something along the lines of, “if your patient doesn’t cry when you check their cervix then you’re doing it wrong.”

I don’t want to call my doctor out too much. Her bedside manner is impeccable and she’s listened to and assured an awful lot of hormonal tears from me, but dang gina, dem hands is rough.

My first pregnancy, I wasn’t prepared for the ol’ cervix check. I mean I’d had a pap smear and while not my best friend, no tears were shed. The cervix check though, ov vey. It was definitely a “like a virgin moment” and I don’t mean that in the way Madonna tries to spin it. There was nothing enjoyable about it.

The cervix check is not my favorite activity…but it is my least favorite activity.

I pity the fool who like me, so unassumingly, gets the most painful feel up of their life.

We’re not strangers my doctor and me. She brought my pride and joy, my darling first daughter into this world. Please ma’am, understand we’re close now. Next time, warn me if you’re going to do anything that will make me loathe you for an entire week.

Now that we’re all aware of how much I truly, madly, deeply hate the cervix check, let’s talk the dilemma.

The slightly wussy lady in me who despises pain, wants to opt out of all cervix checks until labor is literally taking my breath away.

However, the curious, glutton for punishment part of me wants to know, is there any reason to suspect, hope, dream that this baby might be coming early? Have the floodgates opened?

The problem is the dilation status messes with the ol’ head. It adds another level of crazy to the waiting game. Just because one dilates does not mean one immediately labors. It can take weeks.

I hear tales of women who walk around dilated to a 5 for weeks. WEEKS! I hear of women who go from 0 to 60 in 5.2 (figuratively speaking of course).

Theoretically, the cervix check means nothing. Like babies, cervixes do what they want, when they want. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but I’m curious, oh so curious if anything is happening. It might not make a bit of difference in predicting her arrival to know the dilation digits, but maybe, just maybe it might?

I can’t get you outta my head cervix check.

Is the pain worth it to find out if my business is doing any meaningful business?

Image: Gloved hands via Dan Kosmayer/

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My Birth Plan is Not to Plan

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

24 weeks/5 months

As a type-A, calendar using, to-do list making, color-coding, incessantly annoying planner, I really mean it when I say, my birth plan is not to plan.

I’d like a little trust here, people. A little understanding that I’ve done my research and this ain’t my first rodeo. Maybe it’s the crowd I run in, maybe it’s trendy, maybe it’s legitimate, but I feel immense pressure to labor the way the vocal minority of society expects me to, not necessarily how I want to (one report cites 61% of women using epidurals while other statistics report usage as much higher). If I want to labor in a hospital with a doctor and specific interventions of my choosing knowing all the risks and side effects, that should be my choice to make without judgment and guilt.

A common theme I’m hearing is mothers have a right to control their birth. I don’t get it. Yes, we all hope that birth is a positive experience. And yes, mothers should choose what happens to their bodies. But my personal feelings are birth is mostly uncontrollable. I cannot control what my body does and I don’t want to take any risks in a precarious situation. I do not want my experience and desire for control to be more important than the healthy birth of my child.

The baby’s health is paramount to any experience.

For example, I wanted my daughter placed on my chest right after delivery, I requested it but it did not happen because she was in distress and needed immediate attention.

I’ve read studies and information that state that babies who are away from their mothers for the first 10-30 minutes struggle with a poor rooting reflex and cry more than those that who go straight to the chest. While it would have been ideal to have her immediately on my chest, I did not get the ideal. Instead of beating myself up that I didn’t have the perfect scenario, I enjoyed the heavenly moment I did get to hold her.

Therefore my birth plan is simply that I choose to birth in a hospital. Even though they have germs and problems and imperfect doctors, I feel most comfortable there. I want to be as close to medical help as possible in case of an emergency. That is my choice to make without scrutiny. And without scrutiny others may choose to birth elsewhere, or forgo pain relief, or get an epidural the moment they walk through the door, or opt for a C-section.

For my peace of mind, I’m giving up control of trying to create the perfect experience. Please do not misunderstand me.  This is not to say I will naively do whatever the doctor says. I just think that my body does what it is going to do and I don’t have control. I do have control of not being forced to do something I don’t want. But for me, actual control comes from letting go of huge expectations and everything not going according to plan. Really, the only plan I ultimately have is to bring a healthy baby into this world to the best of my abilities and choices.

Image: Calendar with baby shoes via Matthew Benoit/

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The Problem With the Language of Birth

Friday, October 19th, 2012

When you’re pregnant, people like to ask you questions. Or should I say, people like to tell you your business and their opinions. It just comes with the territory. And yes, “people” does include plenty o’ strangers. I’ve had many a nitty gritty Q&A in the checkout line at the grocery store. Not always by choice, but by lack of an escape route.

The epidural question comes up a lot. I’m happy to share my opinions because, as we’re all aware by now, I have them. But I don’t like to share them only to receive judgment, especially from randoms.

I recently read that pregnant celebrity Amber Rose wants to have a natural birth because she wants “bragging rights!”

I don’t have a problem with wanting to have a baby au naturel, but why is it that bragging rights seem only to be associated with natural childbirth? Carrying a baby, birthing a baby (however you choose to do it), and recovering from a baby are worth bragging rights alone.

With my first, my birth plan was non-existent. It wasn’t that I hadn’t thought about it or didn’t have ideas about how I wanted it to go, I just didn’t know what exactly would happen. I knew the biological process, but not what my body would do. Did I want an epidural? Maybe. I wanted to see how labor felt first. Did I want an episiotomy? Not really, but if I felt it was my best option, I’d be fine with it. I read books, I heard horror stories and beautiful stories and read and researched some more. I read about the risks of home births, water births, hypno-births, hospital births, and even options that did not interest me.

Mainly, I came away feeling frustrated that the birthing process has become so divisive. The word “interventions” in reference to epidurals, pain relief, epistiomities etc., has become stigmatized. It feels like women are told that the beauty and empowerment of birth is only available to those who do it “naturally.” That mentality divides women. The process of conception and giving birth in and of itself is the essence of nature. My first birthing experience felt profound and empowering despite the use of “interventions.”

Also, the word natural is the binary to “unnatural,” a negatively charged word. When did birth become natural vs. unnatural? Why has it become us vs. them?

It does not make someone more or less of a woman depending on how she chooses to birth. Women are uniquely able to experience carrying and ushering life into this world. Personal birthing choices and circumstances do not negate that fact.

I will never forget the source of shame and embarrassment I felt at having to be induced with our first. My shame caused me to tell no one but our parents when we were having the baby. I felt my body had failed me and therefore, I had failed as a woman. Where did those feelings come from? I think they came from the language of birth that bombards women today. The ability to choose how one births is a magnificent right, but not when those choices are judged and cause women to feel they are unfulfilled, inferior, or irresponsible.

Birth is individual. It is hard for some and easy for others. I wish and hope that birth is ideal for every mother. But really, reality makes me wish more that birth is less competitive, less divisive, and less a source of judgement at grocery store check out lines everywhere.

“To epidural or not” should not matter to anyone else. If an at-home water birth is not for you, fine. It may be for someone else. And that has to be okay. I believe, in the array of birthing choices women make, most women have the health of their child in mind and that is what matters most. Not how one births.

Instead, we all need to quit the bickering. Quit the judging and the comparing. Whether you do it “naturally” or “unnaturally” the language of birth needs to be changed to not alienate the majority of women, or any women.

Image: Paper dolls holding hands via STILLFX/

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What Scares Me Most About Having Another Baby Is…

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012


As my cousin’s husband so eloquently put it after his wife gave birth, “It’s like a bomb exploded on her crotch.” I know it’s graphic, but it’s as close to the way I felt after birth as can be put into internet appropriate words.

Warning: if you have not had a baby yet and are nervous or squeamish about the birthing process, this post may not be for you.

With our first, I was terrified to have a baby. The idea of pushing a baby out made me weak in the knees.  But I will never forget the one friend who sagely told me her honest opinion that I painstakingly recalled after birth, “it’s not the delivery that’s hard, it’s the recovery.” Amen. Labor seems like summer camp comparatively.

No one adequately prepared me for the feeling of being ripped apart that lingers for a good six weeks post birth, not to mention every time I peed or #2-ed. I was unaware an inflatable donut would be my lifeblood, and I’d sell my soul to the devil to have a constant supply of them so I didn’t have to schlep my one true donut love around the house like a vagabond.

No one really prepared me for the incessant bleeding either. It’s not all that unfamiliar as it’s like a period, but on crack. And as the stereotypes about periods indicate, that cannot be a good thing.

And I’ll never forget the optimistic words of the postpartum nurse who told me I only had one little hemorrhoid. So bright. So encouraging. So wrong.  Dear tiny little hemorrhoid, you’ve blossomed into my constant companion. Your mother would be so proud.

I don’t fault that nurse. In fact, I hold her on a pedestal. All those labor and delivery and postpartum nurses. They are the salt of the earth. The best people I know. I mean her job is to care for me, a stranger as I come to comprehend what lack of bladder control really means (read: repeatedly pee the bed). Not to mention the tasks of continually cleaning up my blood from all over the floor, comforting me while I cry because I’m scared to poop and then analyzing my bowel movements. If that’s not a saint, I don’t know what is. Nothing but straight up respect for those ladies.

The thing that is most difficult about the aftermath is the length. It’s rough being tore up from the floor up (see what I did there?) for an extended period of time. Sure, showering and getting dressed helps, but it doesn’t erase what you and I both know. A bomb went off down there and 6 weeks ain’t no amount of realistic time to undo that damage.  After being so bamboozled by birth, I felt more ready to rejoin society not in 6 weeks (and many agree), but maybe somewhere closer to 6 months.

Maybe I’m being dramatic, it is my specialty, but the thought of enduring the exploded crotch again terrifies me.

Congratulations if you are one of the lucky ladies who is up walking, running, and sexing before your six weeks. I am not of that breed. Maybe I’m of the “wuss breed” or the “sissy breed,” but there is one thought making “the aftermath” seem surmountable. Nothing compares to the feeling of meeting a new little person.

While I’m not looking forward to the aftermath, I am more aware this time of the intoxication of a newborn baby and the indescribable love that make donut buddies humorous and bladder control just superfluous.

Image: Obstetrician via dabjola/

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