You may remember that a few weeks ago I posted about my friend Mollie's birth story, in which she had a lovely and exciting (in the good way) delivery in a birth center, attended by a midwife, with the support of her husband and doula. I also promised a guest post by Mollie. So now you know the end of the story, I'm delighted to bring you a three-part series that she's written about how she came to learn about her options for birth, decide what she wanted, and find her care providers and place of birth.
Of note, Mollie and I met a surprisingly large number of years ago (surprising to me at least! I don't feel that old!) living on the same dormitory hall, at a college known for having its students do a lot of independent, self-guided research. As you can see, Mollie learned these lessons very well!
Mollie's path to pregnancy/birth: Part 1: Preconception
The path to becoming a mother is different for everyone, as is the path to getting pregnant. My path was in many ways straightforward – get married, get settled, get pregnant, have baby. I did manage, however, to insert a step in the process which, for anyone who knows me well enough, was absolutely essential: I researched the crap out of it. I left no pregnancy book unread, no birthing blog un-lurked, and no midwife in a 10-mile radius without at least a hit on her website. I needed to know it all, and I needed to know it all before there was even a fetus to worry about.
It all started about 15 months or so before the baby was conceived. I was on The Pill and was interested in a non-hormonal form of birth control. I chatted with some friends and with my GYN, and ultimately picked up “Taking Charge of Your Fertility,” a fantastic how-to guide for the Fertility Awareness Method of both birth control and conception. I devoured this book! I couldn’t believe how much I realized I had never known about my own reproductive system. “Why didn’t they ever teach me this in health class?” I kept yelling! I couldn’t get enough of it. I charted my cycle for over a year before ever attempting to get pregnant, and I learned more about my hormones and my body in that year than in my previous 15 years as a reproductively mature female.
Now it was time to research conception, because who could POSSIBLY do that without adequately researching it!? [har har]. So I picked up a few books (and thank you New York Public Library, for allowing me my fill of research without having to purchase a single book). “Your Pregnancy: a 90-Day Preconception Guide” was pretty informative – a lot about nutrition and vitamins, exercise, and understanding genetic diseases. I went back to “Taking Charge of your Fertility” and reread the conception chapters. I also picked up “What to Expect Before You’re Expecting” . . . oy. If you thought the “When You’re Expecting” book was bad, the “Before You’re Expecting” may just give you an aneurism. Unless you’re not quite sure on the mechanics of sex leading to babies, don’t waste your time with this one.
Alright, so I had conception down. I had negotiated with the husband to start trying in September, so on June 1, 90 days out, I started my preconception routine: I was taking my prenatal vitamins (woo Folic Acid!), charting away, and trying to convince my husband that “no, I promise I won’t go crazy and tell you which days we have to have sex!” I made an appointment with my GYN to get checked out, talk through which medications were still fine to take, and discuss genetic testing.
At the same time I had the “Why didn’t I know this about my body” epiphany, I had the “Why didn’t I know this about childbirth” epiphany. The Public Heath Doula herself invited me on a little movie date one afternoon. “There’s this documentary about childbirth that’s supposed to be great!” she told me. Little did I know I would soon become one of those Natural Childbirth advocates who feel the need to educate the world about epidurals and yell at sitcoms which portray childbirth incorrectly. Because, you see, she took me to see “The Business of Being Born.” I’m not exaggerating when I say it changed my life, or at least my outlook on life. If you haven’t seen it, you need to. If you ignore everything else I write here, if you take away NOTHING . . . just see this film. It’s on Netflix instant-watch, and it’s only an hour or so long. I promise, it’s worth it. And get your partner to watch it too. I’m telling you, my husband was on the fence about this whole non-medicated thing (“If it makes the pain go away, why WOULDN’T you want it!?”) until I sat him down and made him watch this movie. He now excitedly educates his buddies about the side-effects of epidural analgesia and hospital policies on freedom of movement. (He still wasn’t sold on a home-birth, but he eased up on the opinion that I was effing crazy.)
Stay tuned for Part 2... Preparation!