People at the Birth Center, a decision (um, sort of)

*I posted before that I didn’t want anyone at the Birth Center — waiting room or otherwise — except my husband and I. We talked and argued and talked some more, dropped it, came back to it, and then started the cycle all over again. We talked about it at HippieBirthing, over dinner, late at night, with multiple midwives, in the car outside Radio Shack (seriously) and on a dog walk. We’ve beat this horse to death.

And I pulled the vajayjay vote. My vajayjay, my decision. Despite my discomfort with that kind of power play, I stand behind it.

But then I lost my shit twice in a week and admitted what my husband had been trying to remind me: he’s not always able to comfort me when I’m overwhelmed. He tries, but often, what he’s laying down is not what I want to pick up, ya know? He began to campaign that I allow (such the wrong word, somehow, but accurate nonetheless) my mom to be nearby, at least, if not in the room.  He would like the option of someone to tag-team in, he said, if it would be helpful to me in that moment.

Me: fair point.

We talked again about his parents. It’s not so much that in-laws can be stressful to me, I said, but that they were more likely to be so to him. “I need you on your A-game, here with me, not trying to make sure they’re okay and settled and comfortable. And even if you’re not, people get impatient. They peek their heads around doorways. They ask if you need anything, if everything’s okay, if they should be worried. They mean well, but I don’t want to be on a timetable, don’t want to think about the people who have been waiting for 12 hours.”

Him: fair point.

So after a discussion with our midwife last week and another quick tour of the Birth Center birth area, I’m coming closer to a compromise. If my mom’s in town, we’ll make sure she knows how to get there. If either of us starts to feel that we need reinforcements, we’ll call her in. We’ll call his parents to head over, but not until we’re very, very close to the end, and he will talk to them ahead of time about our preferences. And we’ll ask them to bring chocolate muffins, because how can you not look forward to people arriving when they’re bringing chocolate muffins with them?

It’s tough when the behaviors you know will drive you nuts are those caused by people caring. Checking in, wanting to be there, making sure everything’s okay – these are not actions borne of anything at all negative. And yet, when you know what stresses you out, you must do some mitigation if you’re already anxious, no?

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6 thoughts on “People at the Birth Center, a decision (um, sort of)

  1. “It’s tough when the behaviors you know will drive you nuts are those caused by people caring. Checking in, wanting to be there, making sure everything’s okay – these are not actions borne of anything at all negative. And yet, when you know what stresses you out, you must do some mitigation…”

    Thank you for putting this into words! My mother in law and I are pretty close, and I’ve had a few very casual conversations with her about birth (options, preferences, asking about her experiences and all that). Since I’m not pregnant, they’re all very vague, but I try to hint towards things I do feel pretty strongly about so that decisions aren’t a big surprise when they are actually made. She’s wonderfully supportive and gave birth to my husband and his sister without medication – I hope to learn a lot from her and include her in my future pregnancy. But it never fails that when I mention having no one else there, I always get the, “you think that but in the moment you won’t care about any of it.” line.

    Yes, I will care. I am not so naive that I don’t know how I react.
    I will care, a lot. No matter how much pain I am distracted by, I will notice you.
    I may change my mind and I admit that every time, but as of now I really, really doubt it.

    So yeah, thanks for giving me a perspective I can relate to and some nice quotables to get me through some future conversations.

  2. When I was pregnant last year, my husband and I decided we didn’t want anyone at the hospital with us. I said we would call them when we were getting really close and they could wait outside. Well, I called them when my labor was progressing pretty quickly (went from less than a 1 to a 7 in about 3 hours). They got there and it stressed me out. Everyone was in and out, taking pictures, eating ( I was in a hospital and couldn’t eat… really you are bringing food?). Then my labor stalled and it took the next 6 hours to get to a 10. If I could do it again, I wouldn’t have anyone there like I had planned. It would just me and my husband!

    Oh, when it was time to push, my mom gave me a guilt trip about not being able to be in the room- which we had talked about a million times. Really, you think now is a good time to have this convo? GET OUT!

  3. I know everyone’s situation is different, but it sounds like you picked a good compromise. I knew I’d need someone to offer different support and to give my husband a chance to eat and use the bathroom, so I had my step mom right there with me. She’s a nurse, so I liked that with only a look I’d know what was going on, since I was nervous about trusting the nurses at the hospital.

    Since I was induced, my in-laws knew when we’d be going to the hospital. I was admitted at 7 and they showed up at noon, against my wishes. They waited all day and all night until I delivered at 6am the next morning. They poked in, stared at me, talked to me when I was trying to get through contractions, left to go eat real food, and made sure to ask everyone what was going on once they were asked to leave my room as things progressed. The nurses had to ask my mother in law several times to go to the waiting room because while I was pushing she kept trying to listen at the door and peek in. WTH?? I’m glad I didn’t know it at the time, or I would have been yelling at her to get out of the hospital. Right after my son was born, she forced her way into holding him too. After my husband and I had held him, but before my step mom, who had been there for me for 24 hours! It’s over and done with now, but my SIL now knows better, as do I if/when we have another.

  4. This sounds like a good compromise. If my mom lived closer, it’s probably about the same setup as what I would go with. As it is, the tentative plan is to have only the hubs, a volunteer doula, and the midwife/nurse folks there. I figure the doula can tag-team with DH so he can take breaks when needed. DH doesn’t even want to call anyone until after the baby is born; I’m on the fence – I’d like to call my parents when labor is progressing, because they’re a 6 hour drive away and they likely wouldn’t get to the hospital until the next day, anyhow. His family is VERY EXCITED about this baby, and his mom’s side tends to travel in a pack, so I can see why he wants pure secrecy until after we get to meet the little guy. If I knew there were 10 relatives pacing around the waiting room, just waiting to get their clutches on my newborn, I would be stressed the hell out.

    Of course I appreciate their enthusiasm and I know they’re going to help a lot when we’re overwhelmed new parents, but just because they love us doesn’t mean we’re obligated to bend to their wishes at this life-changing moment. I think you’ve done a good job of separating their good intentions/enthusiasm and what you will need.

  5. I’m totally with you. This is a hard decision when you have no idea how you’ll both handle things. I wonder if my husband will be able to be assertive enough when I need him to be, but I don’t really want someone else there. I ended up with a similar compromise – it will be just the 2 of us, but if I change my mind, my sister will come (my mom is way too far away).

    I have been very clear with my husband that his family is not to come until we’ve told them the baby has arrived. As our lamaze teacher said, during labor its “ME ME ME” and no one should argue with that! Your husband should ONLY be focused on you – not who is on the waiting room or how inconvenient it might be that it could take you a long time.

  6. When I gave birth last year, I was adamant that only my husband and my midwife be in the room. My mom and the rest of the families could either wait at home or hangout in the waiting room – isn’t that what they’re for, after all? Well, when my mother showed up in the hospital room, rolling her suitcase behind her as if she intended to stay for weeks I actually didn’t have the heart to ask her to leave. And you know what? In the end, I was so incredibly grateful that she was there.

    Labor is hard (they don’t call it labor for nothing!). And often long; I was in labor for 36 very long, not pleasant hours. My husband was amazing but one person alone can’t always fulfill the whole support system role. When I insisted that he grab a bite to eat or try and catch a few minutes of sleep, it was truly comforting to know that my mother was there. And there were other times when it was just nice to know that the person who brought me into this world, who has known me longer -and sometimes better, whether I like it or not- than anybody else on earth was sharing this experience with me.

    All this to say that sometimes the thing you think you want the least may actually be the thing that helps you the most. Only you and your husband can decide what feels best to you but don’t be afraid to change your mind!

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