I spent a wonderful morning with a good friend of mine the other day.  She and I have a few things in common.  We have nearly 3 year-old boys who are just a few weeks apart, a similar desire to keep a few chickens in the backyard, and, coincidentally, we are are both pregnant – our due dates just two days apart.  She also had a turbulent pregnancy with her little boy, although none of her troubles were directly related to the pregnancy.  But her son’s birth itself, or at least the telling of it, is the stuff of reverie.  He was born at home, in the company of loved-ones and supportive midwives.  Acceptable pain and no complications.  No monitors or tubes.  No hospital gown.  No NICU team.

I have several friends who have made the decision to give birth in the comfort of their own homes, a choice that seems to be rapidly gaining in popularity, at least among us neo bohemian types.   By quick count I can identify 10 babies born, only a single birth transferred to the hospital due to complications.

I’ve enjoyed hearing these birth stories.  Without resorting to terms like “natural” or “meant to be” that are commonly thrown around in reference to birth, it is obvious that all of the women I know came away from their home birth experiences with positive memories, which is something that every mother-to-be hopes for.

I, however, am not planning a home birth.

Personally, I haven’t managed to lose sight of the fact that things like disease and death are also perfectly “natural” and “meant to be”.  I am grateful to those advances in modern medicine that have succeeded in nudging those parts of the biological process a little closer to the margins.  But there is one aspect of the decision to choose a home birth that truly inspires me: the trust.  A pregnant woman chooses this option because she has complete faith in her body’s abilities.  It is a trust that those of us whose bodies have met with failure, sometimes repeatedly, will never know.  And I suspect that it may even be a powerful force in determining outcome.

As I come closer to acknowledging the reality that I will be giving birth in the near future, I realize that I may have some decisions to make about the process.  This is new territory and I don’t really know how to approach it.  While I know enough to avoid developing things like expectations or hopes (beyond the safe delivery of both of us to the other side), I’m beginning to think that I should formulate something resembling a birth plan.

I may never know the kind of trust that allows one to convert a bath tub into a birthing center but it may be time to prepare a little, just in case….


Retracing old footsteps

In just a few months a full 3 years will have passed since I exited those bright lobby doors, not quite 5 pound baby in my arms, my heart as heavy as my shaky legs from the long weeks spent inside.

They redid the lobby. It’s modern and airy, like an upscale hotel, proof that the business of delivering around 8,000 mostly affluent babies per year is a good one. I wasn’t quite ready to go back just yet but my doctor heard my complaints about the difficulty of adapting to life as a standard ob patient and declared that it was time to exercise some vigilance.

Non-stress tests (fetal heart rate monitoring). Twice/week for now. You remember, don’t you?

My trivial attempt at rebellion faded into the ether and there I was again staring at those glass doors, attempting to focus on the fidgety toddler at my side, the one who really needed to be home getting ready for his nap. Selfishly, I was grateful that I could drag him along, a powerful reminder that things are different this time, that I am different this time.

The thing about experiencing pregnancy after a loss is that it pretty much guarantees that you will find yourself walking along familiar pathways.  It’s hard not to notice your old footprints. The calender itself is a minefield of  LMPs, EDDs, ultrasounds, and anniversaries of loss. Then there are the exam rooms, the milestones, that jar of prenatal vitamins, that blue maternity shirt…….

I tried not to think about going back to the same room where I had last sent the nurses into a frenzy – no heartbeat on this one – what do we do again?

The testing went fine.  I went back there and I’m fine, probably better off now that I won’t have to face another first time back.

They redid the lobby, after all.