My Hope for Labor and Delivery

24 Weeks Pregnant

Dana labor-main.jpg

Now that the nausea and fatigue of the first trimester are behind me, and now that the initial worry over our 18-week ultrasound is behind me, I’m trying to just relax and enjoy this “honeymoon trimester” before the inevitable fatigue and discomfort of late pregnancy settle in.
Right now, this pregnancy is feeling so much easier than my other two. There’s no rushing around taking care of the details that I felt compelled to deal with during my first pregnancy: finding the right doctor; researching and registering for baby gear; finding the right pediatrician; getting a nursery ready; thinking through decisions about work, and childcare, and even circumcision; or even just trying to anticipate the dramatic change that our lives were about to take. The first time around, I was consumed by pregnancy books and childbirth classes, shopping for maternity clothes and nursing bras, assembling the crib and the changing table and the dozen other new contraptions that were taking over our household. There’s so little of that this time around. We have everything we need. We’ve done this twice already. We’re ready for this baby to simply slip into our lives. No need to learn how to install the car seat, or how to care for the umbilical cord, or how to give the baby his first bath. We’re already living and breathing baby care. We’re already parents.
This time around, I’ve had more time to simply reflect on the pregnancy itself, minus all the logistical details, and on what I would do differently with the benefit of hindsight.
One major change I’ve made is switching from the O.B. practice I used with Julia and Charlie to a midwife practice at a birth center. While I truly loved my O.B., she had the bad habit of being out of town for my deliveries, and the on-call O.B.s at the hospital left me wanting a different experience this time around.
In hindsight, I look back on my labor with Julia and see that fear, anxiety, and tension were the ruling factors in the delivery room, and I don’t think that those feelings initiated with Will and me. The O.B. on call was stern and negative, concerned that my amniotic fluid had been leaking too long with my cervix making little to no progress. He painted a dire picture and insisted on pitocin, which in turn brought on crazy contractions, which in turn made the baby’s heartrate plummet, which in turn resulted in a flood of doctors and nurses in our room. “I’m going to insert an electrode in the baby’s scalp,” the doctor yelled at me. “In the baby’s scalp?!” I asked, stupefied, trying to figure out exactly what he meant and exactly how that was going to work with the baby still inside of me, but my question was cut short by a nurse pushing me back against the bed and forcing an oxygen mask over my mouth as the doctor went ahead without answering any questions, so that all I could do was look up at Will, trying to communicate with him with my eyes. Will looked even more worried than I felt. And while we delivered a perfectly healthy, beautiful baby girl in the end, and the drama associated with the labor immediately faded away, I still sometimes look back and wonder if it could have unfolded differently.
With Charlie, my early hemorrhage and bleeding throughout the pregnancy left no doubt in my mind that I wanted to deliver in a hospital with a state-of-the-art neonatal unit and an O.B. standing by. Still, not wanting to be pressured into interventions, I waited at home as long as I could (my contractions started at 4 a.m. and we went into the hospital at 8 p.m.) But again, the O.B. on call pushed interventions, wanting to speed up my labor, and he wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. Thankfully, my gallant husband stood up for me and my wishes, to the point where he had to basically stand toe-to-toe with the doctor to tell him in no uncertain terms that he needed to back off. (You know that scene in Knocked Up where Seth Rogen takes the doctor into the hallway for a little “man-to-man chat”? Yeah. It was kind of like that.) And even after the doctor stormed out of the room in a huff, the nurse (who I assumed would be more supportive of our decision to let nature take its course), came over to my bedside and launched her own campaign to convince me that I should just follow doctor’s orders.
This time around, I’m hoping to replace the general tone of anxiety, fear, and pressure with a more peaceful, calming, reassuring one. I’ve decided to deliver at a birth center on the grounds of our local hospital, in the hope that I’ll be able to labor without timelines and interventions, with support and reassurance that my labor will progress exactly as nature intends it to, that the baby and I are both healthy and safe, and that danger isn’t actually imminent every step of the way.
Maybe it’s just wishful thinking. But, this time, I’m hoping to do everything in my power to bring this baby into the world in the most peaceful way possible.
Join’s Managing Editor Dana Rousmaniere each week as she blogs about her third pregnancy