Short Version: invitation to a bitch-slapping. The bitch would be me. Subjects discussed - birth, infant care. And infertility, again.

You know how, sometimes, what you need isn't unconditional validation and support, but a good, stern talking-to from a friend? This is one of those times. It's about the birth. Well, it's not just about the birth, that's the whole issue - it's about the infertility. It's always about the infertility.

Every so often someone asks me why we're keeping The Foetus' sex a secret (except from you guys), even though we know ourselves, and I say something flippant about how much I enjoy teasing my mother, but that's not it only a small an initially small but steadily increasing part of it. If pushed further, I will add that we wanted gifts in a more imaginative variety of colours than the traditional pink or blue, but that's really nothing to do with it. When Mr Bea and I discussed it together, our reasoning was two-fold. First, there was this sense in which we were still feeling trepidacious about letting people know we were "having a baby" at all. We were far too scared to commit to having this baby.

But we also just... well, we just wanted to keep it a surprise. It was our private information, and we controlled it. Infertility made that precious to us, having taken so much of our privacy and control away. Even if we had tried to keep as much as possible of our journey a secret, we would have needed to tell our GP, our fertility specialist, his nurse, his reception staff, the phlebotomists, the scientists and lab assistants, the anaesthetist, the hospital admissions people, the clinic's nurse counsellor, the chickie who comes in twice a week to freeze semen, the accounts department, the claims staff at two separate insurance agencies (one state, one private), several pharmacists, the security staff at the airport who checked my needles through, and any number of people at the clinics in Sydney (where our recurrent miscarriage specialist works) and Singapore.

Now I know what some of you are thinking. You're thinking, "Girl, if you're complaining about a loss of privacy and autonomy, you're talking to the wrong face. You had insurance, two sets of gametes, a functioning uterus, and a partner who was on the same page. Come step in my shoes and we'll see just how violated you feel." I'll cop to that - it's true. Infertility doesn't treat us all equally, and so far it has treated us relatively well. But although it takes more from some than others, there's no doubt it gets a certain piece of us all. It has robbed me of my desired level of privacy and autonomy.

And, God help me, I want it back.

Somewhere in my presumed-fertile past I didn't much care about my birth experience, and not so long ago I had whittled my aspirations down to a single, live, take-home baby (bonus points for being healthy). So when, and how, did this new transformation occur? When did I start worrying about the fact that I might want pain relief or need any number of interventions? When did I gain this ardent passion for exclusive breastfeeding? Why do I feel such a need to prove that I can do it alone? And how, when there are genuine things to worry about, can I be afraid of simply... needing more help?

Also, where the fuck do I get off even wanting these things? Did I not get beaten down hard enough, that I've bounced back so quickly and with so many extraneous demands? Have I learned nothing? Have I forgotten it so easily?

I want to be ok with whatever has to happen. My head has my priorities straight - I'll be fine, it says, with anything that brings The Foetus home safely. I just want to be sure my heart will agree.

You may start speaking sternly now, I can take it and won't hate you, I promise.


Jess said...

LOL Bea, it's ok to have wants for the birth.

I want to say that I am both pro pain relief AND a wuss...BUT even though I had an epidural, it never worked and Ethan came so quickly there was nothing to do about it and it was FINE. So if you are wanting pain control, I'll tell you the process of the epidural isn't too bad (though I was pretty far along so holding still blew the big one) but on the flip side, if you are wanting a natural birth, YOU CAN DO IT even if you are a big wussy baby. You can, you can, because I did. And I am the wussiest wuss ever.

I promise you, though...that even if things go tits up and you have to have a c-section and are knocked flat out, if that baby is healthy, you'll forget about it. You'll still be overjoyed beyond words.

I can't wait for you to have this baby, Bea. Isn't it just too sweet to imagine after waiting so long?

SarahSews said...

it is totally ok to get greedy & want what any other mother would want. if not i'm in a boat load of trouble! i want a quiet, peaceful birth experience that will be so unlike our TTC experience. Yes live baby is the utmost goal but damn it i'll be upset if I don't get a vaginal birth and a chance to breastfeed my baby.

Rachel Inbar said...

Well, I don't get why IF should take away any of your rights... I mean, morning sickness isn't any more fun after IF (actually, I think the drugs make it worse). Leg cramps don't hurt less. Feeling your baby kick isn't more exciting. And your dreams don't actually change to "all I care about is a healthy baby". You've had more time to think about what you want, more time to build up expectations and (at least this was what I thought when I finally got pregnant with Hadas) you (not you, Bea, but a generic 'you') don't know if this might be your only chance, so you want to make sure to have the experience that will be closest to fulfilling your dreams... You have every right. Actually, having waited so long and going through so much to be where you are now, you deserve to have a great experience.

With Abigail, I got to the hospital too late to have an epidural and the pain was bad - but it was only the last 10 minutes before the birth that I felt it was intolerable. I kept reminding myself that with my last labor & really, as soon as the pain got really bad I was ready to deliver. I honestly don't know how it is with a first labor, since I had an epidural (which I totally don't regret). BTW having an epidural also doesn't mean that you miss feeling the birth, you almost always have time to let it wear off before the birth (each dose only lasts about an hour - at least the kind they give here). Nomi's birth was with an epidural and I not only felt the birth, I was actually able to sit up and help deliver her (my hands were on her as she was being born)...

And about telling the gender. I think keeping it a surprise makes it so much more interesting - and isn't it nice that you and Mr. Bea have a secret? :-)

Bea said...

You guys are always so kind.

To be honest, I think part of the problem is hearing from fertile people how having a c-section was this big disappointment, or even now, that their greatest fear is needing an episiotomy. And I kind of think, "Oh, spare me." I hope I'm not losing my sense of perspective.


Suzie said...

Bea, second what sarahswes and rachel said.

but also, just because you have gone through a shitty conception doesn't mean you have to just be happy that you got a baby in the end when others haven't (yet). The process is so important and more so for you because the conception didn't go as planned so now you want the birth to go as planned. Be greedy, it's yours for the taking.

Jackie said...

I don't know we can be sure our hearts will agree until we're in the thick of it. I definitely have strong feelings about the labor and delivery, almost guaranteeing that I'll be disappointed in myself or my memories of L/D if things don't go the natural way. On the other hand, in the fog of the after it all occurs, I hope to have the perspective that so many others have realized. And not having done this before, who knows? As far as needing help goes...I hope the only help and support we all need we can get from our friends and families and the internets of course, but that hasn't always been the case, has it?

TeamWinks said...

No stern talking over here. It makes sense to me!

beagle said...

I have an odd perspecitve on this topic. As someone who will likely never give birth, I have attended more than my share. And you know what? As much as I've wanted to be pregnant, I never was looking forward to the birth bit. It's just a necessary evil to me and if they allowed the placement of epidurals 6 weeks in advance I would have been one to sign up and if they allowed elective c-sections, I would have gone for that too. (Maybe I sent that anti-birth signal too strongly and the gods spared me too well??)

Anyway, you deserve to want whatever you want. But I get a bit worried when people have very exact birth plans because there are just so many variables and I hate to see disapointment in something so out of your control.

A live take home baby is non-negotiable, right? And the rest? Aim for what your ideal plan is but try to go with whatever happens and let the details fade in relation to the big picture.

That's my assvice.

JJ said...

I think your thoughts are completely logical...Im just sorry that IF robs us of so much. No sternness from me=)

Piccinigirl said...

No stern talking from me, I wanted certain things, like a c-section, with the dr I liked and not the one who was seeing me after the bedrest. I wanted to get to 36 wks and just have the babies etc.
So my water broke, on the day the dr I like was on call and Gio was still breech so I get my c-section too and I'll tell you to this day I am so grateful just for those two things. Out of my control things that somehow (TG!!) worked out the way I wanted it.
You're so right when you talk about how IF takes things away. I am not private about any of it, but if I was I understand what you are trying to say. I do. I know you'll be ok. You're thinking about all this now because hey any day now the decisions will have to made or your water will break and the show starts. Control out the window ! HA
There is nothing that prepares you for all of it Bea, you just take the ride. You bring your healthy wonderful baby home and then the posts are all about that baby.
So yes, don't let the IF take the "wants"'s normal and good to have them.
I will keep my fingers crossed that whatever you WANT for this GET!

serenity said...

Why SHOULDN'T you want your privacy and autonomy? Why shouldn't you want a particular kind of birth experience?

Because you were infertile, so you should feel lucky to just bring home a baby?

That's bullshit.

I don't think that worries about pain management and wanting a particular kind of birth experience are "extraneous demands."

Yes, ultimately you want to bring home a healthy baby. But why SHOULDN'T you have a hope for the way you bring your child into the world?

The most fucked up part of infertility, in my opinion, is the fact that we feel a pressure on to be so damn thankful to be out of the trenches... that we cede our desires and hopes that fertiles get to take for granted.

Just my two cents, for what it's worth.

Pamela Jeanne said...

I can only imagine what it might be like to be pregnant after infertility and loss -- but I think I'd feel the same way you describe. A certain innocence and naivety goes out the window. It leaves a weird otherness in its wake. I long for the more carefree days, too.

Not on Fire said...

There is no reason why you should not make plans and prepare for what you want to have. You are keeping your priorities straight with bring home healthy baby. The rest is fine too.

I did natural childbirth for both of my boys, with hypnobirthing which really worked well. I know that there is a perception of being in the "In" crowd if you do natural childbirth and breastfeed exclusively, but in hind sight it matters way less than just being able to have a family. I think that the IF crowd wants it more because we are trying to get the "authentic" experience.

I hope that you get all that you are hoping for.

Cibele said...

Its okay to have these desires, I had them too, but things changed and it is hard not to get frustrated when once again your body does not perform as expected (in my case with breastfeeding).
I am tired of the pressure coming from other “super my life is perfect women”, they look at me with disappointment when I say that I had a C-section , or that I am not breastfeeding exclusively. All those things were out of my control and yet I feel so guilty and small just like I felt when I was not able to conceive. I am trying not letting those things get to me, but it is hard.
I keep repeating to myself, it is not about me, is about my girl and whatever is good for her... in our case a C-section and supplementing is what is best for her.
I hope that you have the experience that you wish for!!!

Betty M said...

I hate the fact that the IF takes away some of the pleasure in the pregnancy and the birth. The fact that the stories we know and the experiences we have had mean we don't take any milestone for granted like a fertile does. I don't like the feeling I had that I shouldn't gripe and moan about the aches and niggles like a fertile would. I don't think we should be owned by our IF in that way so you should go for it: make a birth plan, aim for exclusive b/feeding; have your privacy. Its high time you got to have your cake and eat it.

ms. c said...

Two weeks into this mothering thing, I can honestly tell you- It's alright to want to life beyond birth (including the birth) to be normal. But it's hard letting go... Everytime something goes "wrong" (and yes, plenty has been amiss in my boy's short 18 days on earth, including a trip to the NICU), I think: can't I just have it easy for once?!

Having just been there (and not having the birth of my dreams, or the breastfeeding experience of my dreams), the best I can offer you is the assvice to have an open mind.

Cuz a healthy baby is the end goal- screw all the fertiles who feel they have the right to tell you how it "should" be. Again- screw them!!

Carol said...

I'm right there with you. We chose not to find out the genders. A big reason for this was because of the IF. We felt like there had been nothing old-fashioned (or even fun) about the way our babies were conceived - and this was one aspect that we could do the old school way.

I also have hyper sensitive about the whole breastfeeding thing - again I attribute it largely to IF - I didn't get to do any of the pregnancy the 'natural' way, so I sure as hell want to feed my babies the natural way if I can.

And the birth. ah that. I had such high aspirations. I still feel ripped off about the c-section. Again - I think because of the IF - I wanted a natural birth.

so sorry. no stern talking from me. I think you sound like a very normal gal who is recovering from the trenches of infertility.

Barb said...

I really think it's ok to feel this way. Though if you want someone to snap you out of it, I guess that could be arranged. ;-) I'm not the one for it though.

A lot of what I've been reading lately says that psychologists think that part of the reason women who parent after IF have the chance of stronger post partum depression is b/c they couldn't "do it right" to get a baby and felt so horribly about that, that they are determined to "get the birth right," and to "get parenting right." Of course it's impossible to meet the standards you set for yourself, therefore here comes the fall. Add to that all the conflicting emotions about what "category" you now belong in and what group is your support, and you have a recipe for some serious doubt and possibly depression.

I think you're emotionally intelligent though and will get through it all. It may suck at times, but that's what we're here for. :)

Ellen K. said...

What Serenity said so well.

I've read that with pregnancy, adoption, and parenting after IF, we have to work harder to build a sense of entitlement and to believe that we have the same right to the same expectations and hopes as fertile people.

Anonymous said...

I think there is one thing you need to get over, your thoughts that you shouldn't be entitled to have this go your way. There is no reason you can't have a birth plan that is a mile long. I think in this case, dealing with infertility could be a blessing in disguise. It has taught you coping skills, that you can't control things, that you will still survive if things don't go as hoped and that you can survive pretty much anything.

That being said, if your birth doesn't go according to your plan, you may be disappointed, but I doubt you will be one of those 'my life was destroyed because you had a c-section' types.

Just because you know what it is like to struggle to get pregnant doesn't mean you aren't entitled to want things with the birth and the baby's care to go your way.

Anonymous said...

In a couple of weeks I will have a scheduled c-section with general anasthesia with my second child. It isn't exactly the way I would have pictured it. But, I know after going through a tough birth experience with my first (ending in a c-section after trying to do everything "natural", hypnobirthing etc.) that birth is to parenting as a wedding is to marriage. Sure, we plan the experience we want but then whatever happens, happens. Then we have years and years together to make the most of everyday.

So, I think you should plan for exactly what you want, share it with whoever can help you achieve it, and follow it. You certainly deserve that. Just be flexible if some of the details go a bit astray. (At least I won't have a drunk MIL at the birth!)

(And we found out the sex as soon as we could, going under general I didn't want to be the last one to know when waking up in recovery.)


jemyr said...

I ended up having a suction birth, (also an epidural while fully dilated that took effect shortly after the delivery of my son... long story). I had wanted to do the natural thing, but honestly didn't care one way or another. I'd heard too many scary stories, and was happy to have him any way he came to me.

My only serious advice is that you demand your doctor/midwife whoever wash their hands in front of you. You or a husband should be bitchy about this. The nurses and doctors must wash their hands AGAIN in front of you. It is such a ridiculous thing, but it's probably the number one cause of all complications, and why not be careful? With your own life and your childs?

I still kick myself for not telling my doctor to wash his hands because I felt I was being an ass. so, that's all from me.

snowhite said...

Hey Bea,

My ideal was an all natural birth but I ended up with an epidural (mainly to stop vomiting), episiotomy and suction. It did not matter at all - when my boy was placed on my chest all else was completely forgotten.

Having said that, you do have right to fight for what you want. I was outraged when a lactation consultant told me that after IVF I should not care much about breastfeeding. But I did care a hell of a lot and I persisted until I found someone who could truly help.

By the way, I can't wait to see baby Bea!

Lut C. said...

I don't believe you'll lose all of your perspective overnight. You need expectations, how else are you going to find your parenting strategy?

What would you do? Just shrug at everything "at least we have a live, take-home baby?"

You're allowed to yearn to breastfeed, to yearn for a good birth experience, ...

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