Posted by Smurf in Smurf Friday, 14 February 2014 16:23 5 Comments
I failed at having a natural birth.
This is a thought that’s entered my mind in one way or another every day for the past 11 months when I look at my awesome, loveable, healthy and exuberant daughter.
Yesterday, I read this recent blog on Runner’s World as I do most birth stories, like a teenager watching a horror flick with one eye closed through parted fingers, waiting for the proverbial monster to jump out of the closet– The big ol’ ego blow of “birth was the most painful thing I ever experienced… but I am a victorious, self-actualized woman who, like millennia of women before me, powered through with only the help of Mother Nature and a warm perineal massage.” What I wasn’t expecting was to be moved to tears by actually, finally, reading a natural birth story that ended like mine.
Like the author, I didn’t have any deep spiritual need or Ricki Lake-level medical conspiracy theory driving my desire to have a natural birth. I don’t believe natural birth is necessarily any better for the baby than one with pain relief (though I do believe that things generally go smoother when you are up and moving around– gravity is your friend). Like the author, I just happened to be an athlete who likes setting physical goals and thinks the human body is a wonderful machine that can accomplish some pretty astounding things if you let it. I wanted a natural birth because I knew it was possible and thought it would be a neat thing to experience. Call me crazy, but I honestly thought it would be fun. I chalked my super easy pregnancy up to physical fitness and positive mental resolve; I didn’t imagine birth would be any different. And, like the author, I didn’t succeed.
So, despite not really “needing” to have a natural birth, why, a year later, is it still a near-constant source of regret for me?
It seems you only read three kinds of birth stories: “I had a natural birth and here are a bunch of photos taken through a Vaseline-smeared lens in the throes of ecstasy only a mother accomplishing her true female calling can experience,” “I had a precipitously dramatic birth experience and am just glad we all made it out OK” (seemingly the only subset of birth stories where “failed natural birth” is an acceptable plotline) or “I looked at birth like going to the medi-spa. Here’s an Insta of me in my Juicy velour sweats checking into the hospital and the Pinterest page of crafts I did while waiting for the baby to come out.”
In the interest of adding a fourth type of birth story to the conversation, I’m outing myself—I wanted a natural birth and failed for no other reason than that I changed my mind. The ladies on the Hypnosis for Childbirth board tried to let me off the hook by asserting that I must have had some posterior-presentation, extenuating circumstances, some dramatic and unusual thing that would make it “OK” that I changed my mind. I didn’t. (To be fair, the blogger I referenced above did have a posterior presentation.) For me, it was a simple act of logic: When I got to the hospital after 15+ hours to find I was only 3-something cm, I assessed my goals, did a quick cost-benefit analysis, took a look at where we were headed and made the conscious choice to get the epidural. Nobody pressured me into it; there was no “medical need.”
Backing up, I did HypnoBabies as birth prep. This means that I spent more than an hour a day for four-plus months getting programmed with thoughts like “Every birthing wave will feel like a warm, comfortable hug” and “I will have a fast, easy, comfortable birthing.” I am the perfect candidate for the system, because so much of the “programming” HypnoBabies does is things that I deeply accept as true. The body is made to do this. Every birthing sensation is serving a purpose and, as a “medical person,” I knew really specifically what those purposes were. My mom didn’t have a particularly dramatic birth with me or my brother, so I didn’t carry any deep-seeded “birth is horrible” baggage with me. I really think it’s a pretty amazing process. It should have been easy-peasy. I practiced religiously, defended my “bubble of peace” as much as I could and was active in online communities, reading about these wonderful birth experiences every other HypnoMom had.
So, imagine my surprise when the whole “warm, comfortable hug” thing proved to be a complete crock of shit, and I was left without any other coping skills but an incessant audio track that was reminding me of all the things I’d expected for my birth– “I will have a fast, easy comfortable birthing,” “I will be calm and present during my birthing…” When I did my birth visualization tracks, I pictured the day spent with Rob a lot like the Tough Mudder we did together when I was 20-something weeks pregnant, only with me “doing the obstacles” and him being the SAG wagon with the backpack full of SHOT Bloks.
What I shortly realized when we got to the hospital was that I was facing the proposition of needing to go deep inside myself, shutting off from everyone and only interacting with the soup-slurping, cot-hogging doula we found on the internet and had met all of twice. The exact opposite of being present and spending an important day with my husband becoming a family. I also realized that, while clearly the “fast” part wasn’t going to happen, I could still achieve “comfortable” and “easy” was in my grasp, too. In fact, every time the hypno-track would talk about comfort, ease and being present, it only served to remind me that those things were available to me right there at the end of the anesthesiologist’s catheter.
Aside from the epidural, I did stick to my birth plan. I didn’t fall victim to the oft-threatened “cascade of interventions” (and, trust me, once you get the epi, they will WANT you to have that Pitocin.) We even stood firm in the face of an asshole OB who used “c-section” every other word when there was no indication we were headed that direction. There was a lot about that day to be proud of, so why is it still a constant source of disappointment? I hate that when I think of that day, it’s not the “happiest day of my life,” it’s a day I failed. It’s a day where I harbor regret. I hate that every time a friend wants a natural birth, I find myself secretly hoping they don’t succeed so that I feel better about my birth experience. I guess this is the seedy underbelly of the natural birth movement. Maybe it’s not as “woman empowering” as we would believe. Or maybe we, as women, are just generally disappointed in our birth experiences as a whole and prone to comparison- Why is this? Surely people who have their gall bladders removed don’t have whole internet industries tied up in sharing and comparing their experiences.
Now, this post is in no way meant to discourage anyone who wants a natural birth, and if you are reading this because a friend or loved one wants a natural birth, please don’t be that dipshit who says, “*snarf* Lemme know how that works out for ya!” (Opinions on natural childbirth, apparently, are like assholes. Even people without vaginas have ‘em.) I operate really well on spite, so, trust me, I had a mental slideshow of all the people who said negative or disparaging things about my natural birth goals to draw from when things got tough. But, apparently, you can only shit your pants in agony to the smug face of an acquaintance you wouldn’t piss on to put a fire out for so many hours before that trick loses its charm. Fifteen hours proved to be about my limit.
And, let’s also be clear that I know I am absolutely lucky that I had a birth experience many women would be over the moon about, so my regret is served with a healthy slice of guilt and feeling, frankly, like a whiny brat. Healthy mom, healthy baby, very little intervention, etc. It really was an uneventful birth. Like myriad other women, it just wasn’t the birth I wanted, and that is a heavy proposition. Regret over my birth story doesn’t make me special, it makes me solidly average.
So, why post about it? Well, I hope that, by sharing my story, maybe some other mom like me will feel the same “not so alone”-ness I did when reading Lauren’s birth story and seeing a little bit of myself in it. My OB told me after my birth that only about 25% of the moms she sees who want a natural birth end up getting one. You figure 25% have an unavoidable medical intervention (c-section, induction, etc.), that leaves 50% of the women who want a natural birth not having one for no other reason than that they just don’t succeed. So this version of a birth story does seem statistically underrepresented—and, for my part, after being very active on the natural birth and hypnosis boards before the birth, I never really went back to tell my birth story out of shame and embarrassment, so I’m as guilty as anyone of contributing to the dearth of “failed natural birth” stories and perception that not succeeding is an anomaly.
And, selfishly, I hope by talking about it I can start to move past the negativity and actually celebrate my daughter’s birthday, not mourn my failiversary.
NOT AN AD!!!!
This is a continuation of our progress. Started this week at 197lbs and I have been sticking to the diet, taking the supplements If weight loss is the end goal, I am achieving it. I don’t seem to be losing muscle mass, though I am failing occasionally mentally. This could be due to the fact that I have not completely stopped working out. (Though I have been dialing it back a bit, teaching classes more than training every day.) The mental stuff has been just weird moments of near senility/really stupid stuff.
Example: Today (Day 9) when I went to brush my teeth for some reason I reached for my contact solution instead of the tooth paste. Went so far as to pop the cap and turn it over, as if I was supposed to put it on my toothbrush. WTF? Hope this is a one off occurrence.
Yeah, I am over this program. See my final thoughts below!
NOT AN AD!!!!
Smurf and I began the BB Ultimate Reset on January 20th, and this will be a list of my notes/thoughts/results as the process goes. Also, I have a bit of an advantage as Smurf is an amazing cook, and has been doing my meals for me. (For the most part) Both heather and I are still working out as well.
Note from 9 days in: BeachBody did an OK job with the menu, as it is nothing special so far. They really need to up their game by creating multiple menus which are both seasonal and regional around local produce. The cost of the meals is not low, and shopping from a farmers market would be a HUGE win for people on a budget. Another note, their companion videos for the program are terrible.
My starting weight on Monday morning was 207 lbs.
Day 1 January 20th:
Breakfast: Good amount of food. Pretty Tasty, if a little bland.
Lunch: WAY TOO MUCH WAKAME in the Miso Soup. Gaaaa. the rest was good.
Snack: Skipped it
Dinner: Very good dinner.
Overall Feeling: Started getting a headache midway through the day that stuck with me until bed.
Posted by FitLifeSFRob in Contributors Friday, 3 January 2014 00:54 No Comments
I am going 2 months with No Mochas, No Booze, and a goal of getting to 185lbs. (a 15 pound drop) The plan is to do it before Feb 24th. Will keep everyone posted!
Posted by FitLifeSFRob in Contributors Friday, 20 December 2013 13:05 No Comments
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Posted by FitLifeSFRob in Contributors Friday, 27 September 2013 23:13 No Comments
Yes, We are consolidating our web presence, and trying to get things to work together. We have created a ton of content over the last few years, and we don’t want to see it go to waste. So we may see a face lift going on at FitLifeSF, to add it to the FitFight world. But for now FitLifeSF is STILL the official Blog of FitFight inc! Here is to all of you for reading our stuff. I hope you find the new content fun and interesting!
It is a good read.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m participating in a program with Target in support of its C9 by Champion activewear line. (I’m wearing my C9 yoga pants as I type this- love that you can get them in various lengths for us leggy broads. Yay!) Today’s topic: Fitness and Family. Read on to find out how you can win a $25 Target gift card!
So, how has family influenced me to be fit and how do I share fitness with my family? Wow… This is a three-parter for me, I guess, so let’s welcome the ghosts of Smurf past, present and future.
I’ve mentioned before than my mom is the person I credit as my fitness role model. When I was younger, I actually thought she and Jane Fonda were close personal friends in real life. She also helped instill a sense of adventure in eating and cooking which I feel is imperative on the journey to health. (So often, people write me here on the blog and say, “I want to lose weight/be healthy, but I hate vegetables. What should I do?” The answer nobody wants to hear is, “Well, you need to find a way to learn to love ‘em!” Having an adventurous palate and “f*&k it, what’s the worst that could happen?” attitude in the kitchen is the way to do that. But, I digress…) My tendencies as a kid were more book-wormish, but she was that mom who would see us getting pale in the face and down in the mouth and lock us out of the house until sundown. Fast forward 40 years and my mom is running marathons (she recently completed the Tahoe Trifecta) and, really, putting me to shame. I can’t wait for me, her and Emilia to do a three-generation run!
Present-day, my husband and I are equally driven by our fitness pursuits. We did a Tough Mudder together when I was 20-something weeks pregnant. (To be fair, he did the true Mudder, I “just” ran alongside over 11 miles and 4000 or so feet elevation because I’m not sure fetuses cotton to electrocution.) We understand that making the time to stay fit isn’t a luxury; it’s core to who we are. Sure, we are experiencing some growing pains as we figure out how the new baby affects, mainly, my ability to keep up with fitness goals- after all, I can’t simply disconnect for multiple hours at a time, because I’m not just a parent, I’m also the milk truck- but we know that finding a solution is not optional.
As Emilia grows, both Rob and I look forward to sharing our love of a fit life with her. He can’t wait to teach her how to pound skulls and cause grievous bodily harm; I look forward to taking her on stroller runs in the near-term (her current mile PR is 10:42) and showing her the breadth of activities I’ve had a passion for over the years- running, cheer, dance, yoga, etc. It’s especially important to me that we share with her both the mental and physical benefits of being fit, since there’s a pretty good chance she’ll inherit at least a bit of our less-savory traits- From me, that means depression and anxiety and from Rob it’s an endearing dose of (not so) bottled rage.
On that note, I took her for her first yoga class yesterday. Sure, it was mostly singing “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and making kissy boo-boo faces, but it was an utter fail. Ms. Emilia Toes was way more interested in checking out the pretty purple flowers outside the studio window than doing “Rolly-Polly Bug Pose,” and then she decided it was time to eat. I’d like to think it’s because she’d really hoped the class would involve more arm balances and inversions, but even if it’s just because she prefers flowers and lunch to yoga, that’s fine with me- I’m just happy she tried.
Post in the comments about how your family has inspired you to be fit and/or how you share your fit lifestyle with friends and family, and I’ll select one commenter at random to receive a $25 Target gift card so you, too, can have a pair of yoga pants that cover your ankles (or don’t cover your toes, depending on your individual situation.)
Content and/or other value provided by our partner, Target.
Posted by Smurf in Contributors Monday, 6 May 2013 21:15 No Comments
I’m trying to decide if we’ll make this one Emilia’s first race! Regardless, Girls on the Run is a great organization that helps middle school girls achieve the goal of running a 5K.
Check out more about the race and organization here:
I’ll tweet if we decide to run it- we’ve got two days to decide and our stroller 5K is solid (if not on the slow side), it’s just a matter of whether we want to commit to getting out of the house on time.