Go back and read the first one.
Weeks passed by. Brock and I were pregnant with our second child that appeared to be sticking around. We decided not to find out the gender, and I committed to not doing any more ultrasounds on myself, so I couldn’t accidentally find out.
I started doing some research on my birth choices… not because I had learned anything from my last birth, but because we couldn’t afford another hospital birth. We, at that point, were still paying off Ronan’s birth. Out of pocket, our expenses ended up being just below fifteen thousand dollars. Yes, fifteen. Yes, thousand. Our out of pocket maximum WITH insurance was seven thousand dollars. I was hospitalized with Ronan in December, and then delivered in a NEW insurance year, which means we had to meet the out of pocket maximum twice.
I cried many times when I realized what that meant. I also cried when I tried to find any kind of financial assistance – we couldn’t afford fifteen thousand dollars. But we made too much money for any help. Too rich for help, too poor to pay. We had no other choice than to set up payments – a hundred dollars a month to pay Ronan off for the rest of our lives. In the end, we used two entire tax refunds to pay… but Ronan wasn’t “paid for” until his second birthday.
We couldn’t do that again. I had read about a birth center that had recently opened in South Carolina and looked into costs. To deliver with them, it would be $4400 out of pocket, assuming that our insurance wouldn’t cover a cent. Now, I’m not super great at math, but I DO know that $4400 is less than $15,000. So I called the birth center and scheduled a prenatal.
At this point, I wasn’t entirely sold on the whole “natural birth” process. My MFM doctor, Dr S, had told me that unmedicated birth was equivalent to unmedicated tooth extraction – why go through that if you don’t have to? And remember, I took his word as gospel. I didn’t imagine that was going to change.
Interestingly, when Ronan was born, I had a very strange… disconnect. I couldn’t explain it and I couldn’t understand it. I didn’t even voice it to anyone – not a single soul. The thing was, I didn’t really believe he was my baby. Now, don’t get me wrong. I watched him come out. I physically watched him exit my vagina. I saw him crown, then his head came out, and I saw his face, and I fell in love, and then he was on my belly… I watched him come out. They never took him out of my sight. But for WEEKS and MONTHS afterwards, I couldn’t ignore this awful feeling that the baby in my arms wasn’t MY baby… he was just the baby they gave me. And MY baby was still in my belly, and I hadn’t done the work to get him out yet.
I hadn’t done the work to get him out yet.
It wasn’t until he was six months old that I finally googled “Why don’t I believe my baby is mine?” I felt certifiably fucking insane. I thought someone was going to take him away from me. Rationally, I knew he was mine, and I KNEW the bonding that happened during nursing him was probably responsible for how attached to him I was, but I couldn’t shake it. Why don’t I believe my baby is mine?
I read article after article, study after study on the side effects that are possible after a medically augmented birth. Story after story of post-partum depression and post-partum anxiety caused by the lack of “hormonal cascade” that is necessary to start, process and finish labor. How pitocin (synthetic oxytocin) binds up the sites that oxytocin (the love hormone) is supposed to fill, and there is no room left for the oxytocin. I read these things, and suddenly it made sense. I wasn’t fucking crazy. I had a common and well documented side effect of induction.
So when Brock and I made the decision to deliver at the birth center, it was a two-fold win for me. I was going to have a natural birth, and we weren’t going to be in thousands of dollars in debt. I had my first visit with a midwife, and it lasted an hour. We talked about my previous birth, my miscarriages, and my current pregnancy. We connected. It was beautiful, and I left my appointment in tears. I couldn’t believe I had never experienced the midwifery model of care before, and knew that I would never be able to deal with the medical model of prenatal care again.
At that appointment, I checked a book out of the birth center’s lending library. It was Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. It was in abominable shape; the pages were no longer connected to the spine, out of order, and the cover was worn out. I thought that was a good sign. I started reading it immediately, and couldn’t put it down. I knew women could have natural birth – clearly, the human race wouldn’t have flourished without our ability to birth children – but I was afraid. I was afraid that I couldn’t have a natural birth. I was afraid that that was something other women did. Powerful women. Special women. Different women. Just not me.
Ina May changed that. I read that book and felt something inside me bloom. My confidence. My wisdom. My divine feminine power. I KNEW, without a doubt, upon finishing that book that I was going to have a natural birth. I knew I was going to ROCK it. I never looked back. Ina May changed something within me that could not be unchanged, and I am forever grateful to her. That very day, I bought three copies of her book – one to replace the worn out copy at the birth center, one to keep for myself forever, and one to lend to my friends because everyone needed to read it.
In my 18th week, I was looking around on craigslist and found an incredible sale of an entire batch of girls clothes (birth through 18 months) for a phenomenally low price. I realized that I immediately wanted to know if we were having a boy or a girl, so I asked Brock if he cared if we found out? He didn’t. At 2am on a Saturday night, I called my mama and talked to her on the phone as I took a quick peek at the baby in my belly – my first ultrasound since 13 weeks. I set the probe on my belly and IMMEDIATELY started crying. “What’s wrong, Mandy?!” my mom asked heavy with concern. “Why are you crying??”
“It’s a girl, mom,” I sobbed. “I’m having a baby girl.”
In my 27th week, I started bleeding. I tried not to be frightened. It was “old blood”… brown and thin. I called my midwife, and we rationalized that it was what was left from my subchorionic hemorrhage finally finding its way out of my body. We decided that, as long as there was no other bleeding, we didn’t need to worry. I secretly continued to worry.
To be continued.
Go one to TWENTY.