Today I am 39 Weeks pregnant. Some people might complain but I know enough now that I should be grateful to be able to maintain a healthy full-term pregnancy. Also, I really don't want to deliver before my due date because then I have to go back to work right before Thanksgiving instead of right after (although I have no reservations about going back to work after maternity leave, no one wants to work the day after Thanksgiving)! At this point, however, I am just hoping she comes on her own and that I don't have to be induced. With my last pregnancy I was induced as part of a trial study. My labor actually went really well. No complications, I went home the day after I delivered Everly, and I barely felt any pain while I was waiting for my epidural. The thing is, those first 3 months after Everly was born were really hard for me. I know part of that is due to all of the hormones and a lot is also due to the shock of having to care for a newborn for the first time, but I think that part of my issues started with my delivery. I didn't really experience labor. I can't even tell you what a contraction feels like. I obviously pushed Everly out, but I don't know what that felt like. I definitely didn't work hard. After she was born, I really didn't connect with her. Of course, I loved my child immediately but I remember feeling guilty that I didn't feel more connected to her. Although I successfully breast fed her for 6 months, I am sure that the struggle with that the first couple of weeks didn't help anything either.
When we decided that we would start trying to have another child, I started thinking about the possibility of attempting a natural (drug-free) childbirth. In general I believe I have a high tolerance for pain and I kind of wanted to challenge myself. I didn't talk too much about it, however, because I didn't want to be embarrassed if I was unsuccessful. As I began to research more in my second tri-mester, I really was shocked by all of the information I was reading. I was shocked to know that 1 in 4 births in America are done by C-section. That's crazy to me. I began to realize that it was kind of crazy for me to be scared of failing at something that women's bodies have been doing for centuries. I also realized that my "clinical" and "scheduled" delivery with Everly was very mechanical and likely lead to some of my post-partum issues. I became more interested in really committing to delivering naturally. I read Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way and really feel like it helped me a lot (I would have liked to take the classes but they are 12 weeks long and kind of expensive). I also watched a documentary called The Business of Being Born and read a lot of birth stories. I am still reading some in Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. Justin watched the documentary with me and has also read a lot about what to expect with the labor as I know I will need/want his support throughout all of this.
It is really crazy how much I didn't know before and after I had Everly and it wasn't like we hadn't planned that pregnancy. We both took classes at the hospital, and I had a birth plan, but this time my plan is much different. A lot of women who choose a more natural delivery method tend to go the home-birth or birthing center route. I have always been happy with my care at my OB office and had fantastic nurses at the hospital that I delivered at (and really they did most of the work) so I decided to stick with a hospital birth. The problem for many people can be if your doctor or hospital sets a lot of guidelines around your birth but I don't believe that will be the case with me. Some of the things in my birth plan this time include the ability to go into labor on my own, the ability to move around and labor in different positions (as opposed to being hooked up to a monitor and stuck in bed), and the ability to delay typical newborn procedures done immediately after birth so that I can have that time to bond right after delivery. Both my doctor and hospital have been supportive in those requests, assuming that the health of myself and my baby remains well, which is really all I can hope for. I know that although I have a birth plan, things are likely not going to go exactly how I planned, but I feel I am more prepared for that now. I feel like with the support of my husband, I can do this. Sometimes I still get a little scared, but then I force myself to remember that this is how it used to always be and that I will be fine. I also remind myself that all ways of birth are amazing and that ultimately a healthy mom and baby is most important. Only God knows when/how baby Aspen will come, but I feel like I have done my part in ensuring the best possible outcome. My doctor will induce me if she has not come by 41 weeks so at most we have 2 weeks left as a family of 3! As of Tuesday I was still showing no signs of labor, but that could all change overnight so we shall see! I have a hair appointment and a mani/pedi this weekend so I won't be sad if she lets me get those things done before coming.