Monday, April 6, 2009

Fear

I ran into an acquaintance at my daughters dance class the other night. We've chatted a few times before and the last time I saw her, she was nine months pregnant with her third daughter. Naturally, as so often happens when two moms get together, talk turned to the topic of her impending birth. I usually try to put out my feelers early into the conversation and really try to listen before speaking . And what I felt from this mom was FEAR. She was trying to decide if she wanted to be induced. And if she were to be induced, what method she wanted to use. Right off the bat she said she was scared of cytotec. So I know she'd done at least a little research. I asked her, since she was leery of cytotec, why was she being induced in the first place? Her answer shocked me. Her second daughters birth was very scary. It was something to do with the cord. It was wrapped around her neck(great blog post about cords here) and she said her daughter almost died. Now, I don't know if that's how it really happened, or if that's what the care providers told or implied to her, or if that's just how she perceived it. Either way, she was petrified and really that's all that matters. I could literally feel the anxiety rolling off of her. Now I'm not going to go into PTSD and birth trauma in this post but I can guarantee she had some of that going on. I'd like to focus on how fear and trauma from previous births(or even from hearing other womens horror stories), affects their actions during their current birth. I asked her what her doctor said about it and he said that you can't predict when it will happen and that he doesn't expect it to happen in this birth. So, back to the original question. Why induce? Would inducing prevent this from happening again? Of course not. In fact, it would certainly increase the likelihood of fetal distress. So why would she shoot herself in the foot by inducing? Well I didn't press the issue further. We just continued to discuss the pro's and con's of the different induction methods and I wished her a great birth no matter what she decided to do.

But her fear stuck with me. I just couldn't wrap my mind around her thinking!I remember her saying something to the effect of "I'm scared and I just want to get it over with so I can stop worrying". Finally I think I may get it. It's about CONTROL. Spontaneous birth is an unpredictable journey. You really need to get over the need for control and surrender to the power of birth. Not so much give up, but I liken it to getting stuck in a rip tide. It is scary but if you quit trying to swim against it and instead surrender and swim WITH it parallel to the shore, you will eventually get through. It involves a certain vulnerability and trust. And since she's had the bejeesus scared out of her, that wasn't something she could fathom doing. And what do people do when they are anxious? They look for order. They look for control. Some people clean their houses when they feel anxious. That way they feel in control of SOMETHING. From that perspective, I understand where she's coming from. And her personal mentality can be reflected in the broader sense to our cultures view of birth. Birth is something to be feared. With birth we induce. We monitor. We worship technology and the Friedman curve. We have set protocols that we can point to and say, "See! Look! This is abnormal so we must do such and such to remedy this". We have long strips of heart and contraction tracings to point to and look for clues to prevent a disaster. Instead of intuitively trusting the process while watching for potential problems, we rush in and intervene before there is one and in doing so, many times create the very catastrophes we were trying to avoid! It's maddening and now I have a headache so I'm going to stop.

Back to the present. The mom had her daughter who is now 6 months old. And yes, she got induced.