For my first pregnancy, I decided I would do everything by the books. I would find a top-rated OBGYN and deliver at one of the best hospitals in the country. I was going to read all of the books and make sure I was 150% prepared for motherhood, or should I say, the uncertainties of motherhood.
To say I went through a lot during my pregnancy would be an understatement. As a healthy and fit person, I never thought I would experience 9 months of digestive issues, a non-existent appetite 90% of the time, an ultrasound scare that required extra testing/blood work, and then at the home stretch, a misdiagnosed intrauterine growth restriction which saw me at the OB's office twice a week for a month, extra visits to the ultrasound clinic, not to mention, the onset of unnecessary anxiety and stress because of all the excessive monitoring and testing.
The last couple months have been almost unbearable at times. From the outside looking in this might seem like a dramatic overstatement, but it truly has been overwhelming.
Every doctor's visit became an anxiety attack waiting to happen-- "is my baby ok? Is today the day?" I wouldn't breathe until I heard the baby's heartbeat on the monitor.
Every visit we received the same response "baby is happy." She has continued to grow, although her abdomen has remained much smaller than the rest of her. By 38 weeks she was measuring larger than both my husband and I overall-- and we were both delivered well past our due dates-- so I never fully understood why she was still being called "small for gestational age" or "SGA" when she was tracking to be an 8-pound baby by week 40.
At my second 39 week visit, 2 contractions were registered on the fetal monitor machine, and my cervix was deemed "unfavorable" for induction, so I was told to go home and wait some more.
As you can probably imagine, by this point I was ready to explode. I lost my shit at home-- literally cried all day and all weekend. Weeks of anxiety and stress building up to a cataclysmic explosion. To be told I most likely wouldn't see my due date and they wouldn't let me go past it "just to be safe, even if things progress well." Only to be told now that they wanted me to go home and WAIT. For what? The second coming?
NO THANK YOU.
With my due date tomorrow, I am writing this post on a high of hormones and emotions that will soon be superseded by the joys of holding my little one. But in my current state, I am mortified by our medical system.
Pregnancy is hard enough without the added and unnecessary stress that improved technology has brought on. We've taken "play it safe" to such an extreme that a mother's experience is completely pushed aside in favor of standard procedures and interventions-- most of which end up being unnecessary.
At the end of the day, I realize that my doctor is doing his job, and I still think he is a very good doctor. But would I go through the big hospital system again for childbirth?
If I had gone through a more natural process with a Midwife, I wouldn't have had a million ultrasounds, extra tests and the looming threat of an induction. I would have never known my baby was growing at her own pace as opposed to one that fit into some "average" mold. What is "average" anyway? I would have used her movements (which, until recently, have been insane) to guide my awareness of her wellbeing, and probably had a higher likelihood of a natural birth. And I would have been cared for in a more compassionate and human way, rather than feeling like all I am is a body host for a baby.
Do I believe that Western Medicine has a place and purpose? Absolutely. As a clinical nutrition student, I believe strongly in the importance of science and medicine. It isn't the science and technology that is the issue, it's the system that is very flawed and not appropriate for pregnancy/childbirth. After my own experience, I feel Western Medicine is too procedural and detached for an experience that's so personal and natural. It doesn't serve a purpose in the birthing experience except when medically necessary for emergency interventions, complications, etc.
I don't believe I will want to go through pregnancy again, but if I did, I would go to a midwife and birthing center. Labor shouldn't be a traumatic experience. There has to be compassion for a woman's personal experience and more emotional support than the hospital system is able to provide.
I have been totally healthy, as has my baby, this entire pregnancy, even if aspects of it have been very uncomfortable/painful-- that's life. I did not need to go through all the extra B.S., and I hope my experience can help other women, especially first-time moms, understand how much power you actually have over your choices, even if it doesn't seem like it. You can say no to extra tests and ultrasounds. You can let baby movements be enough to determine their well-being. Not enough credit is given to our intuition, and when something is wrong, it's usually pretty clear.
I will never let myself be in a situation like this again where weeks are wasted waiting and worrying instead of living. I will take ownership of my needs and wants and remember that they are just as important as my daughter's.
I am so excited to meet my little girl so soon and know that all this shit will have been worth it. She's made her momma a little crazy but only because I love her so much.