Adam and I decided before the birth that we wanted to let the umbilical cord stop pulsing before we cut it because we had read that it's like a big infusion of vitamins, minerals, blood, etc for the baby. The midwife told us that can sometimes lead to jaundice because the baby gets too many red blood cells, and also that I would not deliver the placenta until we cut the cord and it could take 30 or 45 minutes before it stops pulsing. I was in a complete daze and everything apart from the baby on my chest was a blur. I hadn't done enough research on it to know whether jaundice was a concern, but I was pretty much ready to be done with the whole ordeal of the birth and Adam seemed to think it was a good idea, so after about 1o minutes, we cut the cord and thus began Avery's life as a person separate from me! A couple more contractioins and the placenta came out a few minutes later. I felt about 20 pounds lighter once that and the baby were no longer inside me!
Then the fun of getting stitched up began. I had a second degree tear, which the midwife said was not bad and would probably heal on its own without stitches, but she wanted to put some in anyway. She numbed the area with a lidocain injection, but I could still feel pretty much every stitch. It was uncomfortable, I'm not gonna lie. After all I had been through, I was really ready to be done with the pain! It took about 20 minutes for her to finish the job. I'm not sure how many stitches she put in but it felt like a lot! Finally, finally it was over and they left us alone for a bit to enjoy the baby.
I'm not sure how long we lay there - an hour? Eventually the nurse came back and asked if they could take the baby to weigh her and check her out. I didn't really want to let her go, but I figured I might as well not delay the inevitable so I let her go. She was only with the pediatrician for a few minutes, but she cried and cried.
Poor baby. This is one of the things about giving birth in a hospital. Of course, the point is to make sure mom and baby are ok and there aren't any problems, but it seemed so torturous to both of us all the poking and prodding we endured during our stay at the hospital. Modern medicine is miraculous and I'm grateful for it. But it does seem so unnatural taking a newborn baby away from its mommy to be prodded and poked like that. They finished with the baby, swaddled her and gave her to Adam - his first time to hold his daughter!
Then the nurse came and helped us get positioned to breastfeed. Avery nursed for about 45 minutes right off the bat!
We got to hang out in the delivery room for a couple hours. The nurse came in after a while and told me I had to get up and go to the bathroom before they could transfer us to the mother-baby floor. I was pretty nervous about using the bathroom after all that trauma to the area. Adam helped me get up and I was able to go with no problem. Then the nurse prepared what was basically a big diaper for me - a pair of the infamous mesh undies they give you in the hospital, a gigantic pad, an ice pack, and a bunch of tucks pads lined along the whole deal, covered with this foam stuff that numbs you. Good times. I really didn't feel too bad, considering! Then we got our room in mother-baby.
Doing skin to skin time... look how teeny tiny she was!
We spent the whole day hanging out and admiring the baby. We both really wanted to go home, but ended up having to stay for 36 hours - until 10 pm the next day.
So, am I glad I did it naturally? Yes. In retrospect. Because it is true that the baby was really alert as soon as she got up on my chest, and she was looking around at all of us, and we were able to nurse right away. Plus, I felt like myself immediately. I didn't have to wait for pain meds to wear off, or deal with a catheter or any of that. I got up and walked to the bathroom within hours of giving birth, and I was up walking around our room in mother-baby.
Would I do it again? Um... maybe? I don't know... I mean, probably. Probably I would. Because I do believe there are so many benefits for both mom and baby. But I didn't experience a huge emotional high (aside from the intense adrenaline rush that lasted several days), or any sense of a big accomplishment or empowerment. Right after the birth, my main sense was one of being shell-shocked. I was thinking - wow, that was really kind of traumatic. And why was I not one of those serenely birthing women I had so wanted to be? I remember asking my mom - who birthed both me and my sister without pain medication back in the 80s when they actually made you lie on your back the whole time! - while we were still in labor and delivery, "how on earth did you do this TWICE?!" In the aftermath, I could not honestly fathom how anyone would want to get pregnant again or endure a natural birth more than once!
Of course, it is true what they say - that you forget the pain. I suppose it must be that way otherwise the human race would have died out long ago. I keep wondering how those African bush-women manage? I have heard that birth is a non-issue in more traditional societies. Weston Price wrote in his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration about women who would go into the bushes alone in the middle of the night and give birth and when their husbands awoke in the morning they would have a new baby.
I keep wondering how much of my experience was colored by being in a hospital and all that entailed. Our Bradley class talked about how animals need dim lights, quiet and solitude when they give birth (think of a cat finding a corner in the closet) and humans are no different. Is it just a coincidence that my labor seemed to intensify and become unmanageable as soon as we got into the hospital under the neon lights with multiple strangers poking on me, talking to me, and forcing me into uncomfortable positions?
Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against hospitals - thank goodness they are there for situations that need them. I was very lucky to have a completely normal and "easy" birth with no complications. I just have to wonder, in my case, would my perception of labor have been different if I'd been in a different setting? At home, or in one of those crunchy-granola birthing centers, would it not have seemed so completely overwhelming and traumatic?
It's not that the birth was a negative experience. Nor was it positive, though. It just was what it was: something I somehow got through. Neither was our hospital stay an overall positive experience. The endless march of various nurses and doctors coming through to check both me and the baby was exhausting and invasive. Seriously, sometimes the pediatrician would come in to check on the baby - take her temperature and listen to her heart - and 15 minutes later, the nurse would come in and insist she needed to do the same thing. We just really wanted to go home and be in the comfort of our own bed, our own space, and it seemed silly with both of us doing so well that we had to stay. The morning after the birth, they told us that they had to keep the baby another 12 hours to make sure she didn't develop jaundice. Which made no sense to me because she was nursing well and had zero signs of elevated bilirubin levels. AND we had to come back the next day to have her checked anyway.
Ok, so that's my rant! I hardly have room to complain given the outcome: