Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Making Peace With Change

I'm 13 weeks pregnant with my 7th baby. The nurse taking my information at the first appointment pauses when she sees it, that word on my file like a scarlet letter. "I see here you'd had a few, um, homebirths. Is that your plan this time?"

Time seems to stand still as I spiral down memory lane. That first one, Jonah, our only baby that we didn't know the gender until birth, surprising us two weeks early in a wild three hour labor, born still in the amniotic sack. The next one, our Peter, born while the kids were all away on various summer trips, a whopper at 9lbs 9oz and my very favorite birth. Then Rosemary, born after a night of laughing through labor with my closest friends while J brought everyone coffee - more of a girls night than a birth day.

Yes, I answer. Three.

And this time? Her pen pauses and she looks up. Where are you planning to deliver?

The hospital, I say. And I feel it, that unanswered cry deep inside me to I hush to deal with later. Not here, not now.

I'm thirteen weeks pregnant with baby number seven and I need to make peace. But first, I need to grieve.

Ever since our pregnancy announcement, we've been asked why we have chosen the hospital this time. The reasons are varied and complicated, but the short answer is this.

1) Our wonderful midwife who gave us the gift of her time and care during those three pregnancies has moved on from her practice. For my own reasons, she is the only local midwife I would be comfortable birthing with. I completely respect and support her reasons for leaving baby catching behind her. The days we had with her were a blessing and I'm full of nothing but gratitude for the tender way she cared for our family.

2) There is nothing unhealthy or strange or unnatural about a healthy young woman having seven babies, but certain risk factors do go up after a certain number of deliveries. I am in excellent health and there are no concerns about my ability, but that factor, held with my midwife's departure, lead us to our current choice.

The local hospital.

Permission to grieve freely.

"It'll be fine." Friends assure me. "You're older now and have had more babies than the last time you were there. They will respect your wishes more." I smile and nod and bite back any retort, swallow back that lump in my throat. I birthed three children in that hospital. I know it's not hell on earth, nor the employees there some kind of awful people intent on ruining my birth experience. In fact I truly do believe that I will have a fine experience there. I'm not afraid. Despite wondering if I'll be able to manage the mental peace required for me to make it through a natural birth in an unnatural space, I'm not overly worried. But then, what is this?

There it is again, deep in my heart. That little plaintive cry. The one that is wrapped up in all the warm memories of the past three deliveries that no hospital can replicate through no fault of their own.

Again come the reassurances. "You can make it as much like home as you want. You can wear your own clothes, bring your own pillow, play your music, invite your friends. It'll be almost the same."

Yes, and no. How can you explain to those who haven't experienced it? No clipboard questions or triage beds. No "just because" heplocks, digging around for veins while labor. Not a soul you didn't handpick to walk that path with you, no strange nurses or aids you've never met who don't know you. No bands around your belly to "get a strip" before you're allowed to move. No eye drops or injections in your baby when they are fresh out of the womb and want only your arms. No mandatory 24 hour stay before you can take yourself and your little one home to where everything feels right.

Homebirth has been a beautiful gift in my life. A warm cocoon with which to usher in new life in quiet peace and familiarity, away from the rush of the outside world. A space and a place so intimate and personal that I can hardly verbalize it.

There's nothing wrong with hospital birth. I know I'll leave there bursting with gratitude at the lovely nurses and doctors we work with, holding my newest love all wrapped up in my arms. It will be fine. It might even be nice.

But tonight, tonight I'm giving myself permission to grieve. To sit with the hurt that comes from knowing a door to something you love is firmly closed. To think back on and relish the beautiful experiences I've been given. And to prepare my heart for what comes next.

I'm linking up with Transparent Tuesday.

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  1. Lydia, you are allowed to grieve{{}} I DO understand, a little part of me still grieves all these hospital babies later. Our first was in a birthing center, our next 2 were home births and I love home births! Sadly our third birth ended up being a hospital transfer after I hemorrhaged (husband delivered, midwife hadn't arrived). So subsequent births (8) in hospital as husband too traumatised. and yes though our hospital is lovely, I still yearn a little for my homebirths every time. Praying for you{{}}

  2. "Permission to grieve freely" - this is beautiful! Thank you for sharing your heart. I will be praying for you and baby and a healthy delivery. I have always wanted a homebirth but my husband has not felt comfortable with it. I don't know the laws where you live (I'm in Arizona) but after a traumatic hospital birth with my first I learned I had a lot more say in things than I thought I did, even in a hospital. I had an amazing doula for my second birth that explained all the laws and hospital rules before my son was born so I knew what decisions I could make. When my son was born she communicated clearly to the hospital staff how I wanted the baby cared for - nursing right away, no eyedrops or injections - and respectfully but adamantly made sure the nurses left us alone. =) They checked his vitals as I was holding him and didn't even take him away from my arms for his apgar score until he had finished nursing 2 hours later and my doula made sure he was returned right away! Is a doula something you could consider, maybe? We found one that worked with our financial situation and was so instrumental in my labor and recovery we started saving for her again as soon as we found out we were pregnant with number three.

  3. I have had three hospital births so can't weigh in on the location of birth question but relate with this idea of permission to grieve freely with our struggle to decide whether to have more biological and/or adoptive children after having had three really traumatic high-blood-pressure births ending in an extra long hospital stay with my life at risk. It took me at least 15 months afterward before I could even begin to have a conversation about future family planning without tears and sorrow and anxiety at the possibility that I may be done carrying babies when we were really not ready to be done. We have always longed to also adopt but we have a somewhat unusual life situation and I just really can't fathom what the Lord has in store for us. So we have simply put off the decision for now and after counseling and specialists' recommendations, feel I have finally given myself permission to grieve and also to find ways to feel settled and content and joyful with whatever size the Lord has planned for our family - even if it's "only" three children. Amazing how I can feel content and longing at the same exact time. I am so blessed by my three beauties and they make it just a little easier to be content no matter what comes. His plan for our family is good and He is worthy of trust - for me and for you. Thanks for sharing your heart struggle.

  4. Thank you for sharing Sarah! No matter the path, there will be grief at some things. I'm learning this. And grief is ok. It's fine to feel, to acknowledge, to sit with. God bless your day!

  5. I'm considering it. I don't really need anyone to help coach me through having a baby - in fact I prefer to be left completely alone/not touched/etc. But I can see it might be valuable to have an advocate.

  6. So wonderful to hear from someone who understands! It's very hard to explain to someone who has never experienced how gentle home is for everyone involved. Thank you for your prayers!


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