Thursday, March 01, 2007

Peace Of Mind Dearer Than All

It took two months to get an appointment, but when we finally saw her, I was almost disappointed by how natural-birth supportive my new OB was because I was afraid she would give The Admiral a good reason to say, "Hey, she's going to help you do what you want. Why do it at home?" (To his credit, he didn't say that.) She even supported homebirth "for the right patients," and when she read my chart and heard about my first birth, she said, "Well, it sounds like you practically had one already!" But even with her approval, we've still been pulled into a more medicalized process than I'd like. Unlike most back-up physicians, she wants to see patients on the regular pre-natal schedule, so between her and the midwives, I'm doubling up my appointments. I'm a fan of information, but I know that it's going to get pretty old once we hit the weekly visits. Especially since an OB visit means an hour of waiting and 15 minutes of consulting (as opposed to the midwives, who are 100% punctual barring a conflicting birth and are happy to have the appointment itself take the full hour for which it's scheduled).

As I was going through the paperwork for all these caregivers, I ran across a section of the midwives' info sheet that made me pause. It wasn't the legal release or the lengthy list of reasons for transfer. It was just one line asking if anyone under the age of 10-years-old would be present for the birth, and if so, who (other than the parents) would be responsible for her? The only answer I could give was "To Be Determined," because although I know I have plenty of friends who would be more than happy to watch Miss M while I'm in labor, I couldn't think of anyone I'd want to watch me in labor. I'd like to leave it up to our intuition to decide whether or not Miss M will be around the moment her brother breathes air, but this simple question reminded me that we'd need to have someone designated to tend to her regardless of how and where she was present during the birth. I was completely stuck trying to think of someone to ask when The Admiral suggested my mom.

It was the best possible suggestion, since there really was no one else I could think of around whom I'd feel comfortable during the most challenging and modesty-losing portions of childbirth. But it still seemed a little weird. I hadn't had a particularly strong desire to have my mom, or anyone other than my husband and doula, present during the first labor, and frankly, she didn't have a very strong desire to be there, either. The idea of seeing me in pain didn't really appeal to her, and since she lives 1000 miles away, the mere logistics of trying to be here on the right date were, well, illogical. And I'd already figured out, from her subtle, subject-grazing comments, that she wasn't all that comfortable with the homebirth idea. Her worries were numerous and varied, but she'd avoid her deepest concerns by tossing out the more superficial issues, like, "Won't that be messy?"

So when I decided to ask her to (possibly) attend the birth as Miss M's liaison, I wasn't surprised by the less-than-100%-enthusiastic response. And that was fine. I knew that, if she wasn't comfortable, I wouldn't be either, and it wouldn't help anyone to have her there. But in the weeks since then, a strange thing has happened. I get the sense she's been doing research on her own, and she's also asked me for recommendations on books that would help her better understand the whole homebirth concept. And she delighted in recounting to me how she shocked her friends by telling them that she was going to be there when her daughter gave birth at her own house! So I guess that means she's in. And I'm delighted. Whether she's at my side or down the street at the park with Miss M, I'm happy to know she'll be close by, able to meet her grandson during his first hours on the planet. Plus it'll make a fabulous story at her next bridge club.

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