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Jun. 7th, 2006 | 08:20 pm

Throughout this pregnancy, labor and delivery just haven't scared me.  Motherhood scared me much more than labor -- all the responsibilities of trying to raise a child. I was actually kind of excited to think about labor -- how my body would work to do what was natural.  I felt well-prepared for what to expect in labor by the classes I've been taking on the Bradley Method of natural childbirth.  From the books I read, I knew ways to deal with the contractions, what to expect emotionally, the advantages for both mother and baby if unnecessary medications and interventions are avoided during labor.  I felt a little bit like I did going into the bar exam -- nervous (how will I deal with this when I have no real experience with severe physical pain -- not even a "real" broken bone?), but excited that I'm finally at that last hurdle, I'm prepared, I'm strong, I'm healthy, I'm ready.

But after yesterday's doctor's appointment I feel like the scales are tipping and I'm more afraid of something going wrong in labor than of parenting.  I had an ultrasound yesterday, and got two pieces of bad news.  Not horrible news -- and I feel guilty even saying "bad news" when there are expectant mothers who have to deal with so much more.  But "bad" news in the sense that I feel like my plan is derailed, my confidence gone.  I feel sick and scared.

Okay, first -- I tested positive for Strep B.  Apparently, this is pretty common -- 20 to 25 percent of pregnant women test positive for this.  But it freaks me out for a couple of reasons.  During a Bradley course when we were talking about Strep B, my mom announced that my cousin Stacie's two babies died when they were days old because of Strep B.  Now that I've tested positive, my mom has "no idea" what caused Stacie's babies to die.  I think she has a good idea -- she just doesn't want to say it anymore.  The other thing that freaks me out is that I will have to get IV antibiotics during labor.  This apparently is very effective in reducing the risk of transmission between the mother and the baby -- but it messes up some of the Bradley advice.  For instance, Bradley says one of the keys to a medication-free birth is to get the hospital as late as possible -- you're more comfortable at home, there are more things you can do to deal with the contractions, etc.  We were even taught what to do if we have to deliver the baby on the way.   But if I'm worrying about making sure that I have at least four hours of labor at the hospital so I'm sure to get these IV antibiotics, I'm probably going to be heading to the hospital sooner than I would have hoped.

And then there's the IV.  One thing I've learned about myself in planning for labor and delivery is how many of my fears are rooted in what must be some form of claustrophobia.  My fear of flying, for instance.  I think it's less about flying than being stuck in a constrictive space with no way to get out.  Or the way I sometimes feel short of breath if I get "trapped" in the middle of the aisle at a movie theater (I always try to grab the aisle seat, even if the view is not as good).  So when I started to write my birth preferences and identified what was important to me and what wasn't, I found that everything that caused me to be confined scared me (much more than the pain), and everything that allowed me mobility made me feel in control.

Epidural?  You have a needle in your arm for the IV, a needle in your spine to numb your lower half, a catheter in your bladder because you can no longer feel when you have to pee, and you can't move your legs to walk to the bathroom anyway.  Being chained to the bed with so many tubes terrifies me. The pain of a contraction, no matter how horrible, sounds better than this.

And then, I'm afraid that what happened to my sister-in-law might happen to me -- after getting her epidural, she no longer could feel how to push effectively, and they had to do a c-section.  C-sections freak me out even more than epidurals.  Not necessarily the surgery -- at class, the part about it that scared me the most was when the instructor was describing how they will have to strap down your arms, because some people panic and want to reach for the incision or reach for the baby.  When the instructor talked about this, I felt myself start to panic -- my throat tightened, my eyes teared up, and I had to swallow hard for a few minutes to get control.  Nothing else we've discussed in class has bothered me this much, and we've discussed some pretty graphic things.

In contrast to the things that make me feel claustrophobic, the parts of the labor plan that appealed to me were the things that allowed me to move -- walking during contractions, having a hep lock instead of an IV, trying different positions like squatting (I used to be a catcher, so this sounds good and comfortable to me), moving from the shower to the whirlpool bath (if you're lucky to get one of the rooms with the whirlpool bath) moving around on the birth ball, etc.

So doing a natural birth for me isn't an act of bravery or being tough enough to overcome my fears -- rather -- a natural birth is the best way for me to avoid my fears.  And, where things are going right, it's healthier for mom and baby.  And my friends who have had natural births (especially those that used the Bradley method) tend to have more positive descriptions of labor than my friends who have had epidurals or other medication.

So being attached to an IV to get antibiotics is a little scary for me.  It messes up the plan.  It still might work out -- maybe they can give me the IV through a hep lock during certain times and the rest of the time I can move.  Obviously, I'll do whatever I can to give the baby the best chance of being healthy, so if I have to be hooked up to something, that's how it goes.  But it makes me feel nervous and out of control.  So Strep B -- that's one concern.

But the bigger issue -- as of yesterday, the ultrasound measured my baby at 8 pounds, 9 ounces -- and that's with almost four weeks to go until the due date!  If normal babies grow at about half a pound a week for the last four weeks, and my baby has been growing faster than normal already, this baby could be close to 11 pounds.  Yikes.

Once again, this might derail my natural birth hopes -- how can a baby that big fit through the birth canal?!

And between the Strep B and feeling like it's my fault that the baby is too big (did I eat too much?  Was it the cookies or the cupcakes?), I now have the feeling that my body is hurting rather than helping the baby -- that if anything is wrong with him/her, it's my fault.    One thing I've enjoyed so far in this pregnancy is knowing that my body is sustaining and nourishing this baby -- it is such a good feeling to know that my body can take care of him and her and help him or her to grow.  But now I blame myself for gaining too much weight, and making him/her too big.  And even though I have no control over the Strep B, it bothers me that I know there's something in me that could possibly kill the baby.  My body feels toxic, and I'm scared for him or her.

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Comments {4}

(no subject)

from: anonymous
date: Jun. 10th, 2006 06:36 pm (UTC)

All of this is normal! You're going to feel more anxiety about the actual labor the closer it gets... I think everyone does! Especially the first time!

Also with the IV... A lot of times you can still walk around with it. They have those IV stands and there should be no reason for you to stay in bed. Just make sure that your doctor and nurses understand your wishes. Normally they will be ok with certain things if that means keeping you relaxed! Have you checked in to having a doula? I was supposed to have one - but my labor went too fast!

It's unlikely your baby will be 11 pounds! Possible, but unlikely! The ultrasound isn't completely accurate, especially since they guess weight by measurements of the baby's body parts. And also, your baby could come early. I had an ultrasound three weeks before my due date and they told me she looked squished in there - like there wasn't much room left to grow. A few days later, I had her!

Big babies CAN fit through the birth canal. Jen (I think you know Jen - Darcena?) had a nearly 10 pound baby completely natural!

Just try to stay relaxed. Things will be ok! Even if you have to change your birthing plan a little, it's not a big deal. You and the baby will both be fine! You are obviously prepared and educated - so hopefully no matter what happens it won't be a surprise.

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(no subject)

from: lockedrooms
date: Jun. 12th, 2006 02:08 am (UTC)

Thanks Ashley -- that made me feel better. Especially about Jen having a nearly 10 pound baby naturally!

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