Thursday, April 10, 2008

Good News (and a little rant...)

I had another doctor’s appointment yesterday, and I am one centimeter dilated. Dr. Larson seemed skeptical that my three sets of 15 squats per day had much to do with my progress, but I figure, even if they didn’t help, they certainly didn’t hurt, and I’m going to keep doing them in the hope that by next week’s appointment I’ll be at least to a three or four. I was relieved, though, to hear Dr. Larson say she’s not in a hurry to induce me yet, which I consider a great blessing. She said the baby’s a good size but not too big, and we can wait until next week and see where I am. I’m using these pelvic exams to help prepare myself for childbirth and the relaxation and breathing techniques I’ll need to use to get through it. The exams are uncomfortable and somewhat painful, but there was a big difference for me between the first and the second because, during the second, I made the conscious effort to relax and breathe deeply, which significantly lessened the discomfort I was feeling. I know a pelvis exam and the birth of an eight pound baby may not seem comparable, but I’m using ever instance of pain or discomfort I feel as an opportunity to practice relaxing and breathing through it. Any practice is good practice, I think, and it’s helping me to be even more comfortable with the idea of what my body will soon be going through.

The two books I’ve been reading, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method have both been instrumental in helping me prepare myself for natural childbirth. The thing I’ve really enjoyed reading about and found profoundly interesting is the idea that childbirth doesn’t have to be painful. Western women are made to believe that labor and childbirth have to be a tortuous experience, but, in other, less civilized cultures, women understand that childbirth is a natural experience, one a woman’s body was made for, and needn’t be unnecessarily difficult or painful. When women understand what their bodies are capable of and aren’t fearful of it, the pain associated with the experience will be considerably less. Even in the childbirth class John and I took, which did not advocate natural childbirth over medicated, our instructor told us that the uterus is simply a smooth muscle, very much like the heart. When the heart is healthy and working properly, it doesn’t hurt. So, in theory, when your uterus is healthy and working as it is meant to, it shouldn’t hurt.

I was telling a friend all this over dinner one night at Tokyo Garden, and a women sitting nearby at our table interrupted us to say, “Trust me, it hurts.” I get really irritated when people—strangers, friends, family, anyone—feel the need to discourage a woman who is considering giving birth naturally. Not every woman’s birth experience is the same. I don’t expect labor and childbirth to be completely without pain. I do expect, however, to approach the experience without fear and for the pain to be manageable. And I don’t see that as an unreasonable expectation. So when other women hear that and feel they need to scare me into thinking I’ll need medication to get through the arduous task of delivering my baby, I don’t get discouraged; I get angry. I would never tell a woman she was crazy for wanting to have an epidural, and I wish people would stop telling me I’m crazy for not wanting one. I believe I can have a natural, joyful experience, and I’m grateful for the people in my life who support this decision. I’m also grateful to have a doctor who supports this decision and who told me she would do everything in her power to ensure I have the birth experience I want.

After my doctor’s appointment yesterday, I visited a new store on Brookside called Lundeby’s Eco Baby. It’s a store similar to Soleil Moon Frye’s The Little Seed in Los Angeles that sells natural, organic clothes, diapers, toys and other baby necessities. It’s a really cute little store and its presence, combined with that of the Holistic Moms Network, I think proves that women in Tulsa want safe, natural, healthy options for their babies. I hope the store does well. I only wish I had the idea and the start-up capital first. I’ve always thought owning some kind of little boutique would be really fun, and now that my world revolves around this little life inside of me, having an all-natural baby store would be kind of the best job ever. You never know what could happen, I guess. Maybe by the time I have enough money to do something like that, Tulsa will be ready for two organic novelty shops.

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