It seems now that I’m processing this second birth experience, I can’t help but compare it to my first. I suppose they are inseparable. Now I had a very good birth the first time around, but it was an uphill battle to accomplish a natural birth at a hospital, especially DRMC, and with the very unsupportive doctors I had. Even though Peer’s birth was natural, there were still many unnatural things that were done to me and the baby that I wanted to make sure didn’t happen again. Like the routine pitocin I was given after the baby was out. I was not asked or warned at all about this and only found out as I was receiving the shot in my arm. Or like the premature cord clamping and cutting, and the subsequent yank the doctor gave the umbilical cord to get the placenta out. Or, in general, the separation that we experienced just to have the baby bathed. Now that I’ve experienced another way, I’ll never go back. (if I can help it)
But mostly what I want to talk about today is the overall unsupportive attitude I had to combat with the doctor throughout my whole experience, and it was culminated in a final comment he made immediately after the birth and then again at my six-week postpartum check-up. He said that I was very small inside and that if Peer had been any bigger, I wouldn’t have been able to deliver vaginally. Peer was 6 lbs 2oz. At my check-up he told me if I ever have a baby any bigger, that I should have a c-section. I was just too small.
I always thought this opinion was hogwash. And guess what, Doctor Bender? I did it. Despite you. I had a bigger baby (a whole pound and three ounces bigger), again without drugs, no episiotomy this time, and considerably less tearing. You cut me badly last time because you thought I couldn’t do it. I needed 30 stitches. I took 10 weeks to heal. This time my birth attendant believed in me and let me do it on my own. As a result I had minimal tearing that needed only 3 stitches. You were wrong.
Here’s another thing that I now know I was right about. The whole issue of the perineum. As I mentioned, last time I had a really bad cut/tear because the doctor insisted that I “needed” an espisiotomy and then when I resumed pushing, the tissue tore like crazy from the already-started laceration. With both my births, I seem to have gotten really powerful and determined at the end (what woman isn’t?), paying no mind to my perineum. So some tearing is probably inevitable for me. Ever since Peer was born, I always knew that I had been somewhat robbed of that culminating sensation of childbirth– the ring of fire. This is the feeling of the soft, thin tissue between the vagina and the rectum stretching (or tearing) as the baby’s head crowns and is born. Why, you may ask, would anybody actually want that sensation? Shouldn’t I be grateful to have been spared? True, it was frickin’ painful. It burned like crazy. But one also must observe how considerably less damaging this series of events were than during my first birth. Last time, my birth attendant intervened and injured me badly. This time there was no intervention, and my perineum remained mostly intact. I am far less injured this time around. And what “injury” I do have from this second birth was my natural fate– not the result of the poor judgment of a pompous, faithless doctor wielding tiny scissors.
Also, in terms of my own experience, feeling the ring of fire was extremely encouraging in the moment of birth. It was obvious what this feeling was, and I knew that I would be completing my hard work and meeting my baby very soon. On a personal level, the more intense the sensation, the more meaningful the memory. In other words, it was an amazing feeling. I’m so glad I got to feel my baby coming out. Fire and all. I’ll never forget it–in fact, I will cherish that moment in my memory forever.
Dr. Bender, you laughed at me when I said I wanted a natural birth and told me I’d be screaming my head off in labor. Well I did it once in your presence and did it again without you. Your words have been lingering in my memory for three years. You don’t know what you do to women when you say these things. You should believe in us. We have more power than you think.