Wherein I don't know what the best version of myself would do

Now that I’m six months pregnant, I can’t continue to live in denial about the fact that this kiddo of ours will be coming out — one way or another — in about three months. Much as I’d prefer to avoid planning, preparations must ensue.

The one I’m struggling with the most is who should (and shouldn’t) be around while the birthing process is going on. My husband and I had a brief (uncomfortable) discussion where he (as expected) assumed his parents would be right there, I mean, c’mon, this is their grandchild.

Right. And that’s my hoo-ha.

I’m hippie enough to believe that if I’m going to succeed at producing this kid sans drugs, the environment around me will have to be damned near perfect for birthing a kid. This is me. I get distracted by my to-do list during Twister; “put it all out of your head and don’t worry about the people around you” isn’t something I can do.

So I take a trip down memory lane for comparison.

The day before we got married was rough. Rough. Too many decisions, too many people I cared about, too many opportunities to be the shitty version of myself… and my stress was infecting the people around me. My almost-husband, best friend and I hatched a plan late that night: I spent the next morning (pre-wedding) holed up in my bedroom putting on make-up, getting my hair done, and drinking. Yup, I had a drinky drink to artificially cause the Laid Back Me to appear.

Hmmm.

Also, Twister, which is the only other deeply intimate (yet shared with another person) experience I can conjure up, generally requires me to be in the right frame of mind. I don’t go from off to on in a second… it’s a process, and one wholly dependent on feeling comfortable and mentally into it.

Hmmm.

Added together, I’m feeling like I’ll be okay if I’m very clear – very. clear. – ahead of time on what is okay with me and what’s not. While my husband’s feelings certainly get considered, I get an extra vote since it’s my hoo-ha… and body, and pain, and mental toughness upon which we’ll be relying.

But the other lesson I learned during wedding planning was that it’s much easier to include people than to exclude them. Given the chance, most people will have personal boundaries that limit their overstepping.

I’m conflicted. I want the space to do (and say and feel and experience) whatever it takes to get this kid outta me successfully, but I’d like to find a way to do so without firm do’s and don’t’s.  The biggest challenge is that my husband is also easily stressed by other people. Are they okay? Will they be okay? What are they thinking? Are their feelings hurt? He’ll tend to worry about them more overtly than me, so part of the debate in my head is whether to try to control his response so I don’t end up angry that (once again) he was worried about the people in the waiting room while I was just trying to get through. Or whether I accept that and have someone else there for me… but then, that feels like giving up, like not believing in the man with whom I created this kid to be amazing when necessary.

In my darker moments, I have visions of him suggesting I be a little quieter because I’m freaking people out. (What? I said they were my darker moments.)

I think I’ll want a moment (or two, or five) to get myself together, to recover just a bit, to hang out with my child and my husband and maybe even try to breastfeed without an audience.  Hell, maybe even to put on a bit of lip gloss for the inevitable picture extravaganza that will ensue.

And I wonder how much of my reticence would go away if we were talking about my people and my hometown.

So I’m conflicted.

This post gives me pause:

By 2:00, my water had been broken and my contractions were in full force. The room was full of excitement and laughter. I chatted with my girlfriends until a contraction came on where I shifted gears, “ow-ow-ow-ow-ow’d” my way through it (and cursed), and came out of it as fast as I went in, picking up the conversation where we left off. I checked to make sure Brett was okay. Several of my girlfriends were headed out for a birthday party but, with news of my status, they all huddled into the room, dressed to the nines, before their night out to check on me. I liked the commotion…I loved the anticipation. I loved the feeling of people waiting anxiously for our baby. It felt special. …and we were so ready.

I couldn’t grasp it even then. It was all just happening so fast and I wanted to savor it. I looked around the room and tried to take it in…the candles, the music, the lavender oil I brought that wafted through the room and calmed the tension. And then I remember just speaking to myself. You are about to meet your daughter. You are about to be changed for good.

At this moment, I heard the sounds of our birth song begin to fill the room…When You Love Someone.

And I began to cry.

My husband, my friends, my dad, my nurses…all of them smiling…cameras flashing…

One more push.

Oh, this is so hard…

I pushed. I pushed and watched as the tiniest little body came out of me, arms flailing, lungs wailing…and then, they put her in my arms.

A birth day party! (Note: there’s more to the story than just this excerpt suggests, so if you have a few moments and a box of tissues, do follow the link. It’s a beautiful post for so many reasons.)

And then I remember how much fun it was the morning of our wedding to get ready with my favorite women. I have proof:

But I got to choose those people.  That said, I recognize the importance of family stuff and I “get” my husband wanting to share a moment with his parents.

Conflicted.

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16 thoughts on “Wherein I don't know what the best version of myself would do

  1. I have told my husband absolutely no way on this one. Giving birth is really all about you, and you should only do what you are comfortable with. After the baby is out, I think it should be just about your little family if you want for a while (grandparents not included). There’s plenty of time still for grandparents and others on the day the baby is born – I don’t think it impacts their enjoyment whether they are there at the actual moment. But it could definitely impact your stress. My in-laws stress me OUT and there is no way they’re going to be there. Of course, this is also easy for me to say because none of our parents live close.
    But really, having your first baby should be as magical as you want in whatever way you want.

  2. You and I? We’re married to the same person. I wanted no one in the room except my husband and medical peeps and that’s what we had. One of the birthing videos we watched had the couple, each of their mothers, his step-mom, and then in strolls the pastor and his wife. Wha? Huh? Nooooo, like you said, my hoo-ha. And I had those dark moments where I wondered if my husband would try to crack jokes or do something equally as unhelpful. But he did great. (I’m jumping all over the place I know.) Also, I made it very clear that while I wanted everyone to meet the baby, I didn’t expect folks (like close family members who live 4 hours away) to drop everything as soon as they heard. I let them know that I wouldn’t be offended if they didn’t meet her the day she was born. Like you said, VERY important to set good boundaries and expectations. You could also have people visit during your early labor as an option. That after a certain point you’d like everyone to leave. I don’t know. It’s a very special/specific moment where the two of you become a family. I just wanted it to be more intimate. Good luck working through the conflict.

  3. Im with Kimberly 100% on everything she said above. HELL to the NO for me. I dont even want my mom in there (Im having a c-sec though, so its really only allowed to be me and DH. But when that wasnt the case, there was no way anyone but us and MAYBE my dad would be in there.)

    The day is about YOUR new little family. The birth is about you. Dont do anything that makes it uncomfortable or stressful for you, you dont need that. I love Kelle Hampton, and I love the blog post you referred to, but I always wondered how much of that was roses and glitter as opposed to reality.

    Bottom line, I get your conflict, but DO NOT make a decision based on “much easier to include people than to exclude them.” Whatever you choose, be firm and know that this is deeply personal, and that cannot be argued.

  4. My husband and I both agreed that we’d be the only ones (plus our midwife and a nurse) there for the birth of our daughter because we wanted to be 100% focused on us and our baby, and not have to think about what our families were doing. Or what they were thinking. And really, we wanted those first few moments alone to meet this little person we had created. Truthfully, I don’t think I would have such fond memories of labor & delivery if we’d allowed anyone else to witness the absolute miracle of our daughter’s birth. I also don’t really subscribe to the “once you’re in labor, you won’t care who’s looking”… because once someone who isn’t your husband or a doctor sees that business, holiday dinners because sort of awkward. Or at least I assume it’s awkward…

  5. His parents? No, no, no. At least, that’s what I’d say. In my case, I dearly love my mother-in-law, and if she managed to be there in the early-mid stages of labor and wanted to hold my hand for a bit while hubs took a break… ok, sure. She’s a comforting presence and that would be fine. But for the actual delivery? No. And my father in law? NO. Love him, too, but… no way. It’ll be hubs and the midwife and a nurse or two. Maybe a doula. And that is IT. There will be plenty of time for first meetings and pictures and laughter and tears, but first there’s the actual hard work of birthing that person, and that takes boatloads of concentration.

  6. Sweetie, you are so not alone. Scott and I just had that same conversation this weekend and while he’s leaving it all up to me, he made it pretty obvious that his mom would be diappointed if she was told to not even come to the hospital until she gets a call to do so (which initially in my mind was a few hours after baby arrives for the same reasons you mentioned…bonding, breastfeeding, maybe a little rest after who-knows-how-long-labor, clean up the room, make myself presentable, yadda yadda yadda). But then I feel crappy because I totally see myself maybe calling my sisters and mom to come hang out in the early stages, and I know if I was in my MIL’s position and not invited while everyone else was, I’d be hurt plain and simple and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Ugh. Seriously such a difficult thing to decide when you have absolutely no idea how you’re going to feel in the moment. I hear ya and I hate it, too.

  7. This is why I’m glad that my husband’s parents live 13 hours away and mine 4.5. Because I’m a selfish asshole like that.

    I haven’t had a kid yet, but my preliminary opinion is this: you’ve already got enough moving parts (mentally and physically); worrying, considering, even THINKING about someone else while in the throes of labor just isn’t a productive use of your or your husband’s time. It’s a very, very personal and intimate moment and I’m just not sure I want anyone but my husband there.

    BUT, the caveat to that is to see how my husband handles my pregnancy. If he’s supportive and intuitive and knows what to do? Then yes, just him. But if he closes off and gives me the panicked “I don’t know what to do!” look, all hell will break loose and I will want my mommy, who will know what to do. Or my grandma. She had 7 babies. She’ll know what to do.

    So yeah, I’m conflicted to the point of knowing I don’t want my in-laws present. My mommy? Maybe.

  8. I carefully thought about who I wanted there, and finally decided only my husband and my mom (we are close and she’s a nurse). I didn’t want a lot of people there because I am quite modest.

    But when I was actually in labor, it turned out I just didn’t care. At some point, a new male doctor walked in as I was squatting naked on the floor, throwing up and grunting. Usually I would have been horrified but I was too busy and detached from reality to have a reaction.

    You might care less than you think, especially if you aren’t using pain medication. Maybe you could have them wait in the waiting room until you are past the point of caring?

  9. My mother-in-law had it in her head she would be present at our (first) son’s birth. She never asked, mind you, just assumed. She was pretty damn disappointed to discover I didn’t even want her at the hospital, much less in the room (so much so that they didn’t speak to us for over a week after our baby was born a month premature but whatever). Here’s my attitude on the subject: the act that made the baby was intensely personal and private so the act of giving birth need only involve (at least on an emotional level) the two people that made it. Birthing has become a spectator sport and an excuse for a middle of the night party for a lot of people. I didn’t want that (not with baby #1, 2 or 3) and I have no regrets.

    For me it wasn’t all about modesty (though that certainly played a role), I wanted my baby’s first few moments in this world to belong to the three of us- me, my husband and the baby. I love that the memories I have of our babies emerging are of my husband exclaiming, “he’s got hair” and “her cheeks! look at her cheeks!” and “it’s a boy! I think it’s a boy!” and that there’s no other external noise, no other cries of joy (however lovely), no other chatter, nothing but the two of us and meeting and reacting to our babes. If your gut is telling you NO, that it should just be the two of you, he needs to respect that.

  10. I am due with my first this July. Luckily, my husband and I are on the same page, and doubly lucky, no one has even requested to be in the room. My Mom was actually afraid I WOULD ask her to be there, and my mother in law has yet to say anything.
    My thoughts are, it was just my husband and I when little baby was created, we don’t need anyone else there when he is birthed.
    Also, not sure if this helps, but a midwife friend recently told me that the cervix is much like the, eham, anus, in that when stressed, the cervix will not open. Just another thought to keep in mind if you think you don’t want anyone else in the room.

  11. My MIL was a little upset that I didn’t ask her to be in the room with me, but thankfully didn’t say anything to me, just my SIL when I wasn’t around. I had my step mom and my husband there. My in laws visited earlier in the day (I had a scheduled induction, assuming I didn’t go into labor on my own) and they stayed at the hospital from noon Monday to 9am Tuesday, about 3 hours after I gave birth. My in laws were in the waiting room with my father, listening to me push, in a panic for all three hours, because I was in pain and making a lot of noise. If I had known that they could hear me or were even still there, it would have bothered me, but I didn’t know.

    There was no way anyone except my step mom and husband were going to be in the room with me. If I were you I would definitely put your foot down. This is the birth of your first child, a very intimate and private moment to share with your husband. My step mom was in the background and I mainly asked her to be there because she is very calming and is a nurse. My in laws and father came in to see us right after the baby was born and it was incredibly overwhelming. I wish they had listened to us and stayed home, only about 30 minutes away, and given us time as a family before barging in.

  12. I gotta say, in this situation, ESPECIALLY with your first, where you’ve never done this before and truly don’t know how you will feel or what to expect, you get to make this call. My in-laws would NEVER be in that room. Nor would my dad. I think that I will of course want my husband, and maybe my mom, because she always makes me feel better and let’s face it, has managed to survive the whole birth thing (12 times!) and probably also my older sister because she bullies me into toughing up. I’m such a baby.

    Other people, seeing my neverminds and being part of such an intimate moment in which we go from a family of two to one of three? Obviously I haven’t traveled that ground yet, but I definitely think it should be your call. In fact, most people in my life (even those I love, love, love) will probably not know I’m in labor until I’m well into it, so neither my husband nor I have to stress about them.

    Now – if a birth party is what you want, then go for it. Or change your mind in the middle, and kick everyone out, or bring them all in. But it should be both of your decision… just more yours. Ha! 🙂

  13. Going into it, my thinking was it’d be me & my husband only (along with necessary medical people), because I wanted privacy & that special time with just our new family. I’m very shy/private, and was not looking forward to anyone viewing my hooha. When we got to the hospital after my water broke, I was 5 cm dilated, so we called my mom so she could start heading down (she lives 8 hours away, and honestly would not have been a helpful presence), and my mother-in-law. My MIL (with whom I get along really well on the whole) came to the hospital right away & told me she would leave at any point; I’d just have to ask. (To be honest, I’m not generally confrontational enough to have asked her, unless the “labor feelings” would have made me.) As it turned out, she was *extremely* helpful during labor, having done 2 unmedicated births & an emergency c-section herself, and helped with SIL’s medicated labor/eventual emergency c-section a few years ago. She’s very good at asking questions I wouldn’t think of, but the thing she was especially good at was perceiving when I was suddenly burning up & needed cool towels, and encouraging me throughout. My husband is generally *really* good at that, but she caught it faster than he did, having been through it herself. Once I hit transition, I stripped down and had my eyes closed until my ob told me to open them so I’d see my baby being born, so I honestly had no idea who was in the room most of the time (and didnt care). It meant so much to her to see her first granddaughter being born. Then after the birth, she was able to take pictures that we were too distracted by the baby to take, which is such an amazing thing to have. Since that was 8 months ago, we’ve had many a family holiday, and I really never think about her seeing me naked and in labor. And for what it’s worth, I know that if *she* ever thinks about it, it’s with admiration that I was able to do that, and appreciation that I did it and included her.

    So that’s how it worked for me, but labor & delivery are such personal things. I’m glad I was open to having her there (but also am comfortable with my choice for my mom not to be there, since they are different people, with whom I have different types of relationships).

  14. Yet, again, this is another decision I am so glad I don’t have to make. I worry about hurting people’s feelings, and I know I would with this one.

    I hope you can find what works for you guys. (and I think it should be about the two of you, exclusively)

  15. I gave birth to my daughter naturally and for many of the reasons you and others gave, I did not want anyone else in the room except for my husband. I didn’t know how I was going to feel, and I knew that giving birth naturally would require a lot of concentration and focus and I did not want to have to worry about what other people in the room were doing. (And I didn’t want them worrying about me if I was in pain!) My mom was hurt at first, but understood. My MIL never expected to be there. One thing to consider, though, if you like the idea of having someone there to help, support your husband, and take pictures, is hiring a doula. We hemmed and hawed about it and finally decided to do it, and it was a great decision. I felt much more confident with her there, it provided a little relief for my husband, who could go and get a cup of coffee or use the restroom without feeling that he was deserting me, and she captured moments on film which I wasn’t sure beforehand that I wanted, but that I now treasure. The moment my daughter was born was such an intimate, joyous moment, and I would not trade anything about it for the world. I think you have to do what you feel most comfortable with. And while it is good to take your husband’s feelings into account, you’re the one doing the birthing. It should be your decision, and if you’re not comfortable with anyone else being there, that does not make you a villain.

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