Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Memories of Birthing in a Hospital

I got some very exciting news yesterday!  My brother and his wifel who live in Germany, had their third child, Julia April.  It sounds like Bianca is a powerful birther, and the birth went off without a hitch.  My brother said that his wife doesn't react much to pain, so the birth seemed very easy (to him, at least, and to me on the phone 3000 miles away!)

My joy over their new baby led me to remember giving birth to my children.  I have three birth children, two sons and a daughter, and a stepson.  My first child was born in a hospital in Sandusky, Ohio with a DO attending.  (DO's are slightly more progressive than ObGyn's in general.)  The other two were born at home here in Richmond.  I conceived my first son in Vienna, Austria and went through 5 months of my pregnancy there.  It was very different from being pregnant in the US.  When I first went to the doctor, I was given a Mutter-Kind Pass - a mother-child pass - in which to record all my pregnancy information.  It was wonderful and so logical to have one place to keep all the information and for the doctors to be able to look at to follow my progress.  I orginally planned to stay in Austria after I had my son, but my husband at the time was working on a book (and not earning money), so I would have had to have continued to work, and he wouldn't have been able to continue writing, so we came back to the good ol' US of A where he could work as well.  Ultimately I think it was a good choice, but I missed the perks of having a child in Europe.  For example, my brother OR his wife can take off a full year with 2/3's pay then another 2 years without pay (but still with health insurance paid) with the guarantee that he/she will get his/her job back when he/she returns.  In addition, they get Kindergeld, a stipend for each child they have.  The population in Germany is shrinking, so the government subsidizes people having children.  Pretty good deal, huh?!

Birthing in a hospital was fine.  I didn't know all that much about possible alternatives, so it seemed awesome - after all, look at the results - a fantastic baby boy!  It was a bit bothersome to have been tied down to the bed by the fetal monitor most of every hour, but I didn't know better.  At one point I felt a strong urge to sit on the toilet and labor there, but I felt too embarrassed to do so in case someone saw me on the toilet.   Another time I was screaming as I was going through transition.  My husband was in the room but no one else.  It was scary.  The pain was very intense, so I screamed.  A nurse came rushing in and shushed me, telling me I would upset the other patients.  A little bit later, in the middle of a contraction, several people lifted me over onto a guerney to take me into the delivery room.  I did not use nice language to let them know how I felt about that!  Once there, I had to wait 2 hours to push until another woman had her baby.  The darvon (twilight sleep) meds they gave me "to take the edge off" put me to sleep between contractions only to rip me into awareness when the contraction crested, leaving me almost panicked by the pain with no time to prepare for it peacefully.  The medicine wore off as I got to the point of pushing, so those two hours in the delivery room were quite intense. 

But all of that paled in comparison to seeing Andrew's head begin to crown in the mirror at the foot of the bed.  The doctor had me touch him, then he handed him to me as he was born and I brought him up on to my chest.  I felt the Spirit of God in the room as Andrew was born.  Pure spirit.  Pure love with a force I hadn't even known existed.  As I entered the realm of motherhood in that instant, I was transformed by a force as old as the Universe and more fierce than a raging hurricane.  I have loved unconditionally since that moment and will forever more.

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