I’m usually an eternal optimist who is really good at compartmentalizing and shoving under the rug any negativity. But lately I’ve been thinking a lot about things I regret so far in my parenting experience. Maybe it’s because I’ve thought seriously about the fact that we may not have another child and I may not get a do-over. Whatever the reason, I’m going to treat these four negative thoughts like a meditation and let them come into focus and then hopefully pass on, out of my mind.  

The first regret is probably a common one: I regret decisions made that impacted my birth experience. Although I had a positive birth experience in the end, it wasn’t what I wanted. I regret not fighting harder to naturally progress rather than be induced. I had in my head that if they pushed for syntocin/pitocin, I’d negotiate for more stretch and sweeps and go back for more acupuncture. But instead I gave in to pitocin at one of several non-stress-tests (that revealed baby was totally fine in there). I wish I’d held out. Having the baby in the hospital wasn’t even the part I regret – it was the IV. That was the worst part of the whole birth experience for me. Really and truly. 

Along the lines of how I ended up giving birth with pitocin in the hospital, I regret not taking blood pressure drugs near the end of my pregnancy when the consulting OB offered them. It could have enabled me to have a home birth, and it might have prevented my postpartum blood pressure scares and several trips to the walk in clinic with a brand new baby. I wish I could have done the lie-in where the new mom just lays in bed for days with the new baby. 

I regret not having a photographer at the birth, or at least a good friend to take pictures. The only pictures we got from the first 24 hours of her life were a few I asked the nurses to snap when she had already been on my chest for a while, and a few my wife took of Avery swaddled in the plastic hospital bassinet later that morning. We were a little too preoccupied to think about taking pictures. 

And one that’s not birth related: I regret trying so hard to move Avery toward independent sleeping, from the nights we battled with putting her down in the bassinet when she was colicky (and it was the witching hour) to the arduous no-cry sleep training we attempted when she was 3 months old. I think it’s important for me to think about this regret now, as we continue the battle of moving her to her own room. We’re moving her so my wife and I can get alone time in bed, but I haven’t been in our bed for almost a month now, what with the phase of sleeping in the chair when she woke every 15 minutes, to now, as I sleep on the floor with her in her room. Maybe I shouldn’t be trying so hard. Maybe I should welcome her back into our bed… 

Maybe some regrets aren’t just “too lates.” Maybe they can be signs that you can do things differently moving forward… 

Bye Bye Birth Plan

Well, my blood pressure spiked again, and I was back in the hospital for a complete work up. I was there 10 minutes and already arguing with the OB about unecessary interventions. [This was an OBGYN I had met before – he gave me an uneccesary intervention for an abnormal pap test years ago and asked me what it was like to be a lesbian]. He wanted to put me on a saline IV just to see what that would do, even though I told him I had been drinking water like a fish and was definitely not dehydrated. “We’ll just try it”. He said. “Might as well”. Luckily after he left my midwife agreed with me that it was uneccesary and didn’t do it. In the hospital my blood pressure was totally normal at every measure, baby’s heart rate was normal, blood and urine came back completely normal.

This is just a case of labile hypertension – blood pressure spikes will come and go, and aren’t harming me or the baby at this point. According to a large scale study I just read, this kind of hypertension only has a 15-20% chance of becoming the more serious pre-eclampsia, or full on hypertension. Yet, the midwife told me to make peace with a hospital birth and likely induction. She recommended we save our money by cancelling the birthing tub we had ordered for our home birth. She said that in her experience, hypertension only gets worse the further along the pregnancy gets. She wants us to aim to reach 37 weeks, which is in 5 days.

I somehow kept a calm face through the entire evening at the hospital, but when I got home I lost my cool. I have been laying awake for most of the night thinking about how I can manage a peaceful calm birth in a hospital room. How will I go within and enter deep relaxation when I feel the need to constantly defend myself and question an OB’s many recommendations? If I need to be induced, how long will they give me to progress on my own without pitocin, and just membrane sweeps and cervix ripening gel and walking around? Will I be able to walk around, or will they have me heavily monitored and strapped to machines? If I get pitocin, will I be able to labour without an epidural? Will I end up flat on my back with my feet in stirrups being told what to do by an outsider? Will I lose control of my body and lose any semblance of this birth being a natural event?

I was excited about labour and delivery the way I had pictured it. Now I am full of dread and anxiety. I know many women are able to have very satisfying birth experiences in hospitals, but I can’t help but get my back up in a hospital environment. It is NOT my safe place. It is not comfortable for me.

I clearly have a lot of processing still to do. I go back to the hospital for more monitoring and an ultrasound on Monday.