This I believe

Beth at The Natural Mommy (pregnancy/parenting blog that isn't part of the IF or PL blogosphere) has an interesting post about What I believe - about parenting. (Her post on natural childbirth - in normal pregnancies - is here, and it's pretty good)

The idea intrigued me, because in early December 2007, I could have told you exactly what I believed about pregnancy. There was me, used infertility drugs, but never had beta's done, didn't have an 8 week ultrasound to check for a fetal pole. In fact, the last conversation I had with my Gyne's office was to confirm that the day 21 blood test said I ovulated that month.

So, I went through 24 weeks of pregnancy, planning to birth at home, in the water. With Mr. Spit and my best friend and my amazing midwife. I wasn't going to do the drugs, I didn't need the 18 week fetal anatomy scan, I didn't want to know what the sex of the baby was. I think the antibiotics for group B strep are sometimes over prescribed, and I wasn't going to be tested, never taking drugs. And you would give my baby erythomycin to prevent blindness in the case of gonorrhea over my dead body. I came from a midwifery practice that was quite relaxed, and non invasive. My midwife doesn't even test for Gestational Diabetes. (Before you think she's out to lunch, the Canadian Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists doesn't recommend routine testing either.)

I should say: my plans aren't out of the ordinary, they aren't odd for the community of women I move within, IRL. There are more women in my community who have birthed with a midwife at home, or birthed with a midwife in a birthing centre than who have had babies in the hospital. It's strange to see women in my circle of friends who don't carry their children in a sling, and who don't cloth diaper, and who don't breastfeed for at least a year, if not more. I was in the company of women who were well educated about pregnancy and birth. I'm quite ashamed to admit, I was pretty darn militant about natural birth, and I disparaged women who insisted that birth was a medical event, and had to take place in the hospital.

I could have told you all about how hospitals set women up to have epidurals and c-sections and episiotomies, and how I believed that women's bodies were meant to do the work of birthing babies. Leave our bodies alone, and we would do just fine. (To be clear, I think the "free birth" movement is a really, really, really dumb idea. I just don't think we should define child birth as a medical event that needs tinkering to get it right.)

And then came pre-eclampsia and my baby died.

You will have the kind of birth you are destined to have. Birth for me was a medical event. That medical event saved my life.

Educate yourself? Absolutely. Yes, there are some things that some women can do to prevent having a c-section. You should know what's going to happen and why. You should know the pro's and con's of various medical protocols. No, we don't have to tell all women that they will be begging for the epidural. We can teach women that it's going to be painful, and here are some things that they can do to cope with the pain. Knowledge really is power.

We humans control very little of the process of conception, pregnancy and birth. Ask anyone with infertility and they will tell you, so much of conception is a mystery. Ask someone like me who lost her baby during pregnancy to disease with no known cause, and no cure, and I will tell you that so much of the mechanics of pregnancy are hidden from us. Ask anyone who has ever had an emergency c-section, who has torn badly, who has hemorrhaged, and she will tell you, many things can change during birth, in an instant.

I wanted to control my pregnancy. I believed in an equation that said if I just trusted in my body, I would be ok. My body was designed to give birth. As long as I didn't interfere with the process, I would have a great pregnancy, a great birth and a healthy baby. I have learned that what I believe really doesn't count for all that much in the real world.

There was me, who hadn't taken Tylenol for a head ache, who had refused diclectin for nausea that caused me to loose 10 pounds. Next to me was a mother who wasn't quite sure how pregnant she was, had no prenatal care, obviously hadn't planned to be pregnant, was still smoking, had been drinking, and she was going to have a happy, healthy baby.

This I have learned: what I do doesn't matter very much. The end goal is a living baby, and how you get there is how you get there. My pregnancy is designed to give life to a baby, it's really not about me, and it's not about how I feel or the way I think things should be.

Every part of conception, pregnancy and birth is a miracle, that I am allowed to take part in. None of the process is a personal growth opportunity, none of the process is under my direction, none of the process can be managed or controlled. At the end, there is no one handing out badges because you did any part of it the "right way".

My next pregnancy will be a high risk pregnancy. All of the medical trappings will be a feature. One ultrasound? I'll have one a week until I give birth. No drugs? The very least I'll likely have is baby aspirin, and blood pressure medication. No medication for the baby? I'll be getting steroids at 24 weeks. No poking or prodding? I truly hope that I can spend months at home on bed rest, and not in the hospital on bed rest.

I'll have multiple appointments each month. I'll spend lots of time at labs. I'll see a high risk OB, I'll see a perinatologist, NICU, an internal medicine specialist, ultrasound techs, and yes, I'll see the amazing midwife too.

And I'll keep reminding myself, the goal is a living brother or sister for Gabriel. The goal is a baby in our arms. And how we get there? It's how we get there. It doesn't matter if the baby arrives vaginally or by c-section. It doesn't matter if I have an epidural. What matters is that the baby comes alive.

God willing, by the time our next child goes to kindergarten, no one will know or care how he or she got here.

This I believe: how you got there doesn't matter all that much when you have arrived.