Tuesday, January 29, 2013

AP Our Way: Birth Bonding

This will probably be my most difficult post on AP. I was so determined to bond with Doodle Bug after birth and establish our breastfeeding relationship that I completely ignored my body and it's ability to birth a baby without modern medical intervention. In true first time mom form.... I PANICKED, and Doodle Bug was soon evicted at 39 weeks 5 days.

I was told at my 36 week appointment by my OB/GYN that I had a "narrow pubic arch" and that my baby might be too big to fit through my pelvis by the time I reached full term. These words scared me... I had read the research and was concerned about failed labor resulting in a Cesarean section. I was terrified that this would happen to me. What I was most afraid of was that by attempting labor and failing, I might jeopardize a strong nursing relationship. I continued to go to my weekly appointments, and each time I was told the same thing... only now it was added that, "baby has not dropped,"  "your pelvis has not spread," "Your placenta is prematurely aged." I was told that I could "attempt" a vaginal delivery, but it would most likely end in failed labor and emergency c-section. I even brought my husband to the final appointment just to make sure I wasn't overreacting-- he also became nervous. We weighed the options, and quickly scheduled the c-section.

We had no close friends with kids, and neither of us really knew what to expect when it came to birth.  We took a birthing class at our local hospital, bought tennis balls, packed a bag, but had no real idea of what might actually happen. I used to be the "just stick that needle in my back" woman. I have suffered with chronic migraines since I was 15, so I know endurance and pain. I always thought, "why would I want to willingly put myself through that much pain when I already experience pain on a regular basis? If there is modern medicine to spare me the pain, then sign me up!" Oh how the times have changed... I WISH I had started this blog when I first became pregnant... the transformation to mom has been such a magical adventure.

I posted a picture of my baby belly a few days before eviction on my FB listing the number of days I had left... I'm not going to lie- when a few FB friends saw that I was having a section-- they offered their advice, but I was so convinced by my own fears that I ignored it. I honestly didn't think I was the mom that scheduled their c-section. I thought, not it's not "scheduled," but suggested by my doctor.

The C-Section was scheduled for 7:30 on the morning of July 7th. We arrived at the hospital and were kindly met by the doctor. We were prepped and anxiously awaiting the birth of our little girl. 7:37 AM. She was out- 7 lbs 3 ounces (not quite the big baby that was projected). She was healthy... and the weight of the world was on my shoulders.  I am a mother. I am her mother. She is my daughter. What will the rest of my life be like? Am I going to be able to take on such an enormous task of raising a loving, kind, well-adjusted, respectful, and moral daughter? They handed her to me and it was hard to support her weight. I was lying there feeling helpless-- I couldn't hold her, I couldn't snuggle. All I wanted to do was nurse her, but also get someone to take her from me because it was too hard to hold her--- the numbing sensations were creeping up my arms and making them tingle. Daddy took Doodle Bug to the nursery to get cleaned up, and my insides were put back in order and my abdomen stapled. If you look at the pictures I look more bonded with her while she is still in me than I do after the c-section. It happened so fast my mind didn't have time to adjust to my new role as mother!

I was wheeled into recovery and Daddy and Doodle quickly returned. The recovery nurses were amazing-- they gave me tips for nursing, helped me do skin to skin, told me "just push through these first two weeks and I promise all will be fine." I used that mantra to keep my spirits up and force myself to get out of bed, walk around the hospital, take a shower, etc.

The Lactation Consultants were fantastic as well, and I was able to have bonding time with my little girl. One woman joked that I needed to give my daughter a pacifier, because every time she came to check on us she was nursing. I just smiled and kept right on nursing. She wanted to be next to me... and I was eager and willing to oblige. We were able to establish a strong nursing relationship-- one that is still going strong 18 months later. But, I felt like something was missing... I was anxious and out of sorts due to all the medication I had to take. The anxiety was crippling, and it was so out of character for me that I didn't know how to respond. I thought I was failing as a mother, and as if having a newborn isn't hard enough... I was recovering from major abdominal surgery!

Now, reflecting on my experiences, I am at peace with my decision to schedule my c-section. I wasn't at peace with this for quite a few months after my daughter was born (which resulted in a nasty case of PPA & PPD), but now that I see that she is truly healthy and happy I have no regrets. I have learned from my uneducated "mistakes", and my knowledge of birth and birth options has vastly expanded.

Hopefully one day (in a few years God-willing) with #2 I can post an entirely different blog about birth bonding. One where baby is born peacefully in an environment surrounded by love and serenity... not blue curtains and scalpels. I am excited by the possibility of having a VBAC one day... if that day comes I will share my experience, and I'm hoping I can put my new birth education to work. Hypnobabies, water birth, placenta encapsulation, delayed cord clamping... the whole works. Yes, you read that correctly Placenta Encapsulation... we are mammals after all. ;)

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