Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How We Became Hippie Parents, Part 1

Well, let's start the finger-pointing. Mairs' story of the birth of her daughter made the Bradley Method and natural childbirth get into my head. I found the list of Bradley Method teachers online, and my husband contacted one. She said that she was taking a break from teaching, and referred us to another teacher on the list.

I checked out some of the books listed on the Bradley website. (Here are my reviews of parenting books.) I wanted to read the original thoughts of the doctors who came up with the natural childbirth ideas, and read the "basic" books I could find for Bradley (also called "Husband-Coached Childbirth"), Lamaze, and almost anything else I could get my hands on. However, after reading Dr. Bradley's Husband-Coached Childbirth, I realized that everything else sounded silly, and this was obviously the best way to go for us.

So we signed up for classes and started going to them. Our Bradley Method teacher had a little library of books and other media to check out, so I happily perused several of those options.

Then it was time for the Birth Plan. (If you know me at all, you understand that my love of over-planning and of making lists warrants the capitalization.) So I asked my OB/GYN (several of them, repeatedly, since it's a group) about the various "normal" things. And the more I learned about natural childbirth, the more I realized that ... um ... my doctors weren't listening to me. Coming up with several drafts of a birth plan, they seemed to get a particular Look on their faces when they came across things like "no IV" and "food and water." (If there is a desire for an explanation of what I wanted and why, I'll be happy to explain. I took lots of notes, and may even be able to find some of them.)

We took the suggested hospital childbirth preparation class, and the idea struck me that I was going to be much too busy having the baby to try to fight the doctors and nurses to get them to leave me alone when I didn't want interventions.

So we took this difficulty to our Bradley Method teacher and she suggested taking a tour of the local birthing center. When we went to look at cloth diapers at a nearby store, I picked up a flyer (wow, the hippie-ness!) and there was an advertisement for the birthing center there, too. So we made the appointment. I never had to discuss my Birth Plan with the midwives there. Every single thing in my birth plan was their normal operating procedure. Also, the birthing center was nice and cozy, and the people seemed especially friendly and attentive.

So we switched (after much worry (on my part, at least) and discussion) from the standard, everyone-normal-does-this OB/GYN to the almost underground alternative midwife-staffed birthing center.

I borrowed Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin from our Bradley Method teacher's lending library. I thought there would be lots of theory and discussion, like many of the other books on natural childbirth I'd been reading. On the contrary, this book was mostly birth stories written by the mothers, fathers, midwives, and attendants, in their own language. (This had initially put me off, as it was written by actual hippies who had "rushes" instead of contractions and when things were serious, they were "heavy.") Yet when the midwife asked me to make the decision during labor of whether I wanted her to break my waters, I knew that Ina May Gaskin (after whom the Gaskin Maneuver was named) regularly broke the waters of the mothers under her care, so I was able to make an informed decision, despite being in heavy labor.

Oh, and when we took the hospital tour, I was just laughing to myself that I had ever considered going to the hospital over the birthing center.

Before I get too ahead of myself, I just want to say "thank you" to Mairs for her unintentional help to me, my husband, and our little son.

(I also want to add that although I have nothing against going to the hospital, I have had too many unpleasant experiences in the hospital (and one at this particular hospital) to make me feel altogether comfortable trusting the staff there.

(When I was sixteen I had back surgery (insertion of Harrington rods for scoliosis) and stayed in the hospital for a week. At one point during that week, I was given morphine orally. I threw it up, and the nurses changed shifts. They had down on my chart that I had taken the morphine, and, despite my mother's protests (which are all I remember coherently, besides pain), they would not give me any more for the next two hours.

(My father was discharged from the hospital by a doctor who looked at the test results instead of the man. The nurses, when he had to be readmitted within a few days, were shocked. One said, "He should never have been discharged!" Within a week, my father was dead.

(When I had a miscarriage later that summer, and I wanted to have one more ultrasound to make sure (and to give God one more chance for a miracle) the morning I had the D&C, I had everyone except the sonogram technician express complete disbelief that it was even possible for me to have a full bladder (for the sonogram) and to not have eaten or drunk anything that morning. Don't most people have any idea of biology, or the fact that it takes time to process what you eat and drink?

(When my mother goes to the hospital, she always gets an itemized bill and checks it, and has taught me to do the same. She has had to fight to get things removed from the bill like the anesthesiologist fee. She didn't *have* an anesthesiologist.

(And that is why I don't like hospitals. I will use them when necessary, but I don't trust them. This is not to say that there aren't good people working in hospitals, but when you already have an idea that people aren't going to listen to you ...)

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Blogger Elizabeth said...

Wow, great post, Magda. I became a hippie parent, really, when Carissa liked being in our bed with us rather than across the room by herself. It felt like such a white trash thing to do to me! But I'm glad I trusted my gut and kept her with us. It's where she needed to be, for her sake and ours. If trusting your own parenting gut is what makes one a hippie parent....then I'm all for being a hippie parent. :-)

Wed Dec 31, 05:18:00 PM CST  
Blogger DebD said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Wed Dec 31, 06:29:00 PM CST  
Blogger DebD said...

I wanted to re-phrase that because I thought it ended up sounding a bit snarky...

Great post! It is always so encouraging to hear these stories. You did one of the best things to protect yourself from the knife. A hospital is the last place I would want to have a healthy, normal birth.

Wed Dec 31, 07:02:00 PM CST  
Blogger Mimi said...

I agree with Presbytera Elizabeth, and I'm definitely a Hippy Parent )(did I mention my youngest was born at home?)

Fri Jan 02, 06:33:00 PM CST  
Blogger suzannah said...

we had our little girl at a birth center attended by a midwife and doula, and it was wonderful. i wish more people knew they have birth options beyond the hospital.

thanks so much for the links. i contacted the first, but as i don't speak islandic(?), i let the other one go. how did you ever know to find my photo there?!

Sat Jun 06, 10:53:00 AM CDT  

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