Continuing with the theme of discussing items mentioned in my birth plans, I’ve gotten quite a reaction from one line.
Of course, I would like all precautions taken to avoid tearing. If tearing does happen, I do not want local pain medication to repair.
Or alternately stated in my hospital birth plan:
If stitching is required, do so without the use of pain medication.
Everyone wants to know why in the world I would want someone coming at my girlie bits with a needle without numbing me up first. I don’t blame you. Before Peanut’s birth (and the subsequent transfer to the hospital) I would have thought it equally insane.
When Peanut was born, I tore both up and down. My hospital midwife said that it could have happened just the same if I were in her care, but having spent quite a time analyzing Peanut’s birth (don’t we all?), I would bet that I at least wouldn’t have torn so severely. All the books tell you to stop pushing when you feel the ring of fire. Ease up for a moment, let your body stretch. Every woman tells you that is the most difficult thing to do at that particular moment. In my case, I would say that my inability to stop pushing during the ring of fire was even more intense because I was in panic mode.
People always compliment us on how we handled our accidental home birth. Really, we did amazingly well for our situation. Regardless of that fact, we still were in (what I call) panic mode. This is what happens in an emergency when you lose all track of time and just act. Your only priority is to fix the situation. I think that this reaction is why it took me time to “get over” Peanut’s birth not going as planned, even though it had all the basic requirements (healthy baby, intervention-free, vaginal, etc.). Her birth was not peaceful for me–it was panic.
When I realized that she was coming right now, I didn’t have time for shock and awe. I didn’t stop to analyze. My knee-jerk reaction was to Get. Her. Out. I wanted the situation that had caused the panic to be resolved. I wanted to make sure she was okay. So when I felt that ring of fire, I pushed. Not only did I push, but I pushed harder. I used all my reserves and I got her out. It’s always been amazing to me watching birth videos where you see the baby’s head gradually coming out, then there’s a pause where the head is out and the body is in, then one final push to get the baby’s body out. For me (while I admit that I don’t have the clearest memory of this time), it was like one big push. I felt her head was probably an inch or two from crowning, tried to get into a squatting position (which didn’t work because my husband was getting ready to catch her and my mother-in-law couldn’t support me squatting like I needed) and when that didn’t work, got onto all fours and pushed. There could have been more than one actual push, but there weren’t minutes between. There wasn’t a pause. The baby was coming, so I got her out.
Of course, after transferring to the hospital, the OB that was on call stitched my tears. While I was no longer in panic mode, I most certainly was in shock. I remember giving no forewarning what was happening, I remember it being incredibly painful over and over, and I remember trying to tell her to stop (which she did not listen to). In my memory, I was jabbed probably as many times as the amount of stitches I actually received. Then there was the incredible burning of the numbing drugs. In my mind, it was the worst part of my birth.
Of course, I realize that all of this is likely over-exaggerated in my mind. I realize that it probably wasn’t so many jabs and she was probably much nicer than I remember (though they told me she had just done 3 births pretty much simultaneously and wasn’t not in a good mood, so she probably wasn’t super nice either). It probably would have hurt worse to have her stitch me up and down without pain medication. Regardless, I do not want to experience that again.
So that’s what prompted me to put in my birth plans that I do not want pain medication. After discussing it with my midwife, we will evaluate it at the time. She said I am no more likely to tear having done so in the past (she said she had 3 episiotomies and then went on to have 5 tear/cut free births). She also said that if the tear is minor, she likely won’t stitch at all. Even if I do need stitches, there are other options besides the injectable numbing medication. She understands my previous experience and is willing to work with me. One of the many reasons I love having a home birth midwife.
I am now 35 weeks and 2 days along. We’re still getting over our nasty cold over here, so honestly pregnancy-related complaints have been the least of my worries over the last couple of weeks. It sure does suck being sick while pregnant. It’s also difficult to ascertain whether a symptom is “just pregnancy” or something related to the cold. Things like my shortness of breath and inability to eat much are likely related to both. I’ve also “surrendered” and taken Guaifenesin a couple of times today. What was just nasal and throat has now moved into my chest and I was getting concerned about pneumonia (which I was lucky enough to get at the beginning of this year, likely due to my asthma). The medication made breathing much easier, which I would like to see as a sign that it’s not pneumonia, but only time will tell.