Installment #1. I've sort of been keeping a secret -- a cyber secret, anyway, because it was obvious by looking at me --that I was pregnant over these nine (10?) long months, culminating in the birth of a gorgeous boy five minutes past midnight on Dec. 8. The delay in posting since then has more to do with the avalanche of work and sleeplessness that a newborn brings than my desire to withhold the information about Harrison's arrival. In fact, I have a lot to say about this most recent birth. Including where and how it happened. But I think I will serialize the story on my blog, starting today.
After writing a book about the history of childbirth, processing the unexpected cesarean birth of my first son, born 4 years ago, and hearing from some hard-core readers pick apart my book for not being forcefully anti-hospital or decidedly pro-natural enough for their taste, you might imagine how difficult it would be to discuss the pregnancy and birth and my choices as they were happening.
Well, when we found out I was pregnant, my first stop was not at the office of my former OB. I knew enough that five minute office visits, curt answers to my questions and the rash of tests they throw at you without even fully explaining them was not how I wanted to proceed. I wanted to slow down. Be seen by someone whose was not afraid of being sued, who accepted the idea that a vaginal birth after a cesarean was not just OK, but a good move. I decided to see a very well respected midwifery practice at a smaller local hospital that supports VBAC. (No way will I ever go back to one of Boston's enormous teaching hospitals unless I am in cardiac arrest, need an organ transplant or have cancer.)
Anyway, the midwife I saw was delightful. She asked about my previous birth and I burst into tears. She said she understood. When we talked about VBAC, she was encouraging, and when it was time to leave she handed me a red folder with all of the hospital's obstetrical practices explained. I asked about electronic fetal monitoring, and whether they offered it intermittently. She looked me in the eye, said they had always offered EFM intermittently, giving the mom the ability to get up and move around during labor, but that practice had just been ceased weeks before.
"You can sign a form saying you do not want continuous monitoring," she said.
I was devastated. I intuitively knew that being flat on my back, hooked up to an epidural and an EFM for hours had doomed my ability to give birth vaginally with my first son. And if I chose to go to this hospital, I would walk in having to fight against standard procedure.
My husband and I had to make a decision about what to do.
In installment #2, what happens next.