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Saturday, March 6, 2010

"Are you done having kids yet?"

Since I've had my third child, so many people have asked me that. It's like I have an invisible sign on my forehead that says, "Ask me if I'm done having children!" Friends, strangers, you name it. (Thankfully, the only person who hasn't asked me that is my OB, surprisingly.) And I've always wanted three children, but now that I have them, I think to myself, "I don't know. Am I done yet??"

My son isn't quite a year old yet, so it's a little soon for me anyways. My body is, needless to say, not quite ready either, but then again, I'm not sure if that will ever happen. My husband isn't ready either, and probably would be perfectly fine stopping at three, but somehow yields to my bizarre desires to grow our family further. Like me, though, he wishes I would exercise more and possibly lose a little weight if only for health reasons, especially since I had borderline pre-eclampsia with my last two pregnancies. I echo his concerns, but not loudly enough to get myself back on the treadmill, I guess.

I've been reading birth books again and obviously blogging a lot, and it's carried over into my dreams. I have nightmares about pregnancy, bleeding out, doctors, cold, sterile hospitals, and of just-born babies covered with vernix held to my breast. It's bizarre, and I know it's influenced by my mind over-thinking everything. In reality, I think about the possibility of pregnancy again and I just don't know if I can do it - if I want to put myself through it again. And it's not even the pregnancy part that bothers me; it's the final weeks leading up to the birth that give me anxiety, knowing that it would be near-impossible to find a doctor in my area who would support me with my complicated history, which already includes two cesarean deliveries.

I wonder, isn't one VBAC enough for me? What, if anything, am I trying to prove? It's been on my mind since my youngest was literally about 24 hours old, when I was recovering from my c-section. I thought I must have been crazy and surely it was the hormones talking, but it's been very difficult to not think too much about the birth and feel cheated, ripped off somehow, even a year later. I distinctly remember lying on that table and not feeling much joy about it, even when he announced the sex of the baby, except the thought "I can't believe I ended up back here again" playing over and over in my head like a broken record. The hours and moments leading up to the birth, I was fine with: while crazy, perhaps risky, showing up at the hospital 10 cm dilated with a double footling breech baby didn't bother me. Ending up back on the table did, somehow. Even though I knew it was the best decision: I wouldn't trust anyone to deliver my baby breech when he hadn't done it in 20 years.

The biggest hesitation I have about pregnancy is "What if the baby is breech again? What if I have another c-section?" I don't know at what point the idea of multiple surgical births really bothered me, but I know it's been a long journey from my first birth until now, and my ideas and opinions on the subject have changed radically. I have gone from a close-minded midwife-distrusting mother-to-be to a woman who would gladly have birthed at home with the local fire squad, if only I knew the exact position of my baby. And I still wouldn't change that part.

I started watching Ricki Lake's "The Business of Being Born" last night and wondered if it would make me really want another baby. I'm not done watching yet, but so far it's made me very sad, and very angry. Angry for all those women who are taken advantage of, coerced or gladly accept their fate without so much as a second thought. The hospital images in the movie made me tense and anxious just looking at them, remembering how something so innocuous as the smell of hospital hand soap can remind me of bittersweet memories surrounding the births of my children. Even the idea of scheduling a yearly regular exam with my OB makes me nervous and I'm anxious about going, having rescheduled twice. Normally I have no problem with it, but this time I detest the thought of even having one at all.

I suppose the best thing for me to do right now would be wait until my children are farther spaced apart and then weigh my options. One of the things I wish I had done last time was interview doctors even before I got pregnant, even though really it wouldn't have changed my outcome. I'm starting to think that one of the reasons women have so few children anymore is probably because their birth experience was so terrible, and even though it had a "good outcome" (the all-important healthy baby), they can't quite put their finger on what they feel except a deep sense of dissatisfaction. Perhaps they shrug their shoulders and acknowledge that, "without doctors and hospitals, my baby could have died," which might or might not even be true.

I don't know why I essentially want a "do over," like I'm getting closer each time to my version of an ideal birth. I don't know if I can "fight the good fight" anymore, because it seems like a battle that's been going on for so long.


AtYourCervix said...

I don't know if we ever get to that point where we say we're truly done having children. I just had a tubal done last week, but still yearn for that birth experience/new baby sensation. However, I *know* that having another baby is NOT in anyone's best interest in my family or situation, thus, I went ahead with the tubal ligation. Doesn't mean I don't still have those maternal urges!

The Deranged Housewife said...

I know ... I did think of you earlier and your surgery. :) I just think the whole system is so intensely frustrating (like you don't know that LOL) and sometimes I feel like I'm caught up in the middle of a hurricane, almost. My last birth was totally like that - doctors, nurses, interns, everyone running around and the room packed full of people, and here I sit in the middle of it calm as a cucumber (while my husband was ready to throw up LOL) as if somehow my nightmare will end and I will wake up. Right? Right?? *sigh* It was, and still is, such a weird feeling.

AtYourCervix said...

You're absolutely right! Us medical and nursing people can come upon you like the proverbial hurricane, during an urgent situation. We (medical/nursing folks) have GOT to calm the heck down. It's incredibly traumatizing to be in the middle of that hurricane.

The Deranged Housewife said...

It kind of reminds me of my kids - when they're babies and get hurt, they look to mama to decide, "Should I cry about this?" If mommy looks concerned, then baby cries. Kind of the same thing. If you're surrounded by support, both emotionally, physically and psychologically, it's usually a much calmer, more tolerable scenario, even if something does go awry. But when everyone is panicking, freaking out, and getting all bent out of shape - especially when it's a perceived threat instead of a REAL threat, then it tears down the mother's confidence and plants a seed of doubt that grows very, very quickly. What OB would admit that perhaps he/she overreacted? That perhaps they reacted too quickly, too harshly, and maybe needed to step back and reexamine the situation? Usually it's too late, because the section has already been done and the doctor did 'all he could,' and then some. :(

AtYourCervix said...

I am honored to work with one physician who will, even in a moment of emergency/crisis, will calmly state to everyone, "Take a few seconds, calm down, breathe.........."

He says it so calmly and quietly, that instantly everyone's stress level goes down 10 notches. Makes it all seem so less urgent.

He has done this during a stat c/s for a cord prolapse. Amazing how well it works for EVERYONE!