Monday, November 16, 2015

The Birth of Hosea: Day Four

On this day, one year ago, the sun rose again and I found myself surrounded by eyes. Sitting in my tub, I felt like a seal in a tank at Sea World. My friend spooned honey into my mouth in between contractions, my partner held my hands. The air was electric, tense, and I knew we were at a cross roads.
"Do you think I need to go?" I asked
"No," the midwife said.
"You're so strong." My love told me
"You're so tired" the midwife said
"I believe in you."
"I'm worried about you."
"You can do this."
"You could rest...".

Terrified. Relieved. I folded.

The car ride to the hospital was the longest I've ever been on. I writhed in the back seat of our car, hugging the headrest, moaning into my partner's shoulder. The lazy traffic of an early Sunday morning passed us on the highway and I watched the woman in the car behind us. Could she see me? Could she imagine the story that this little box of steel was transporting? How could this just be a normal day for all of these people?

The hospital was grey and quiet. Though I had been to births in hospitals before, I think a part of me still expected the commotion of a movie scene. Nurses and doctors fussing over me as they whisk me through the hospital doors. But, it was just us: the midwife, the friend, the partner, and the crazy-looking pregnant woman with sopping wet hair tied clumsily to her head, wrapped in pajamas and sweats and jackets and blankets. And the security guard who insisted we register for ID tags, while the midwife shut the elevator door in his face.

They say there are actually 3 responses to danger and threat: fight, flight, and befriend. Trading my home for a hospital, the very insitution that I had spent years learning how to avoid, was not safe and I knew that I could not survive whatever would happen next alone. I lathered our midwife with undeserved compliments and gratitude. The nurses and CNMs were kind and sympathetic and I thanked them as many times as I was able. I accepted almost every intervention they asked my permission to do. It was easy. I had already given up having a safe, natural birth. There was little more to give away. I needed support, kindness, validation more than I needed autonomy. And, truthfully, I needed some of these interventions too. I felt as if I were watching a movie of a labor and I watched as the mother need the interventions that are overused and abused by care providers. I learned what useful intervention looked like. I saw what the cost was. But that mother couldn't be me, because I knew better. And this mother didn't care.

Hours ticked by. Shifts changed over. My labor unfolded as if in some other room, behind closed doors. I would awake to a nurse or a doctor asking me a question, giving me information, and I would choose What To Do Next with this mysterious labor that was unfolding, unseen by me. "No more epidural, yes pitocin." "No more pitocin, yes more antibiotics." "Yes, more pitocin, no, absolutely no, internal monitor." It was like a game that I played with no hope of an ending.

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