I had my first official prenatal visit this morning, during which I came about 30 seconds from getting a THIRD ultrasound, except that my doctor happened to flip back a page in my chart while the machine was warming up. "Oh!" he said, "We saw the heartbeat already, so we don't need another one just yet."
Dammit. I got a pap smear instead.
So, I really do like my doctor, although I also occasionally want to stab him in the ears with a fork, or maybe one of the handy Ortho-Tri-Cyclen pens he keeps in a cup on his desk. Like today, when he asked me how I was feeling. Which, you know, BAD. AWFUL. Like, I-have-only-told-the-Internet-half-of-it bad and awful. The migraines, the insomnia, the fact that I made my two-year-old cry yesterday (twice) simply through the power of my drained-of-patience angry-mommy voice.
(I'm not counting the time I simply screamed at him to STOP CRYING! STOP CRYING RIGHT NOW! because...come on. He was ALREADY crying. I'm sure I didn't help the situation but HE TOTALLY STARTED IT.)
(Don't let the sarcasm fool you, of course. I could totally die from the guilt right now, especially since I yelled at him AGAIN in public today when he wouldn't get on the elevator we'd been waiting 10 minutes for and I believe something along the lines of "you are going to GET IT" came out of my mouth and oh yes, I should just go ahead and have five more children. I'm the BEST AT THIS EVER.)
Anyway. Where was I? Oh. Right. The doctor's office. I was toddler-free and everybody was finally asking me how I was feeling, like I was a person who mattered, and I broke down and told my doctor how terrible I feel and how I can't get out of bed during the headaches and I'm throwing up in the shower and I can't sleep at night and...dear Lord in heaven, please tell me you can write a prescription for SOMETHING, ANYTHING, PLEASE DON'T TELL ME TO EAT SMALL MEALS AND TAKE SOME TYLENOL AND...
"Good! Feeling bad is good! That means everything is healthy and great! You might want to try eating more small meals during the day!"
Needless to say, I did not walk out of there with a prescription for anything. I did get an offer from a nurse to walk me back to my car, because I looked so very positively green.
And yes, I finally had the conversation with my doctor that so many people have been inordinately curious about: VBAC or scheduled c-section. (Seriously. The pee had barely dried on the test stick and suddenly everybody wanted to know whether I'd made my "decision" yet.) I hesitate to even bring this topic up, because yes, I've seen that website. Yes, that one too. And probably that other one as well. I find much of the information from both sides of the debate to be horribly biased, and both arguments tend to rely heavily on scare tactics instead of real data and OH YEAH, it's just not that big of a fucking deal to me either way.
Before I had Noah, I thought his manner of birth was terribly important. This led to a series of blog postings that I am now terribly embarrassed about, because I let people work me into such a STATE about it. Scheduled c-sections are awesome! Emergency c-sections are hell! All c-sections are unnecessary! And around and around my naive little head went.
A recap for anyone just joining us: My doctor suspected that Noah was on the big side, and knew for a fact that he was not in the ideal position. (He was facing forward, or sunny-side up.) He suspected that I might need a section, but he is overall very anti-intervention. So I wasn't induced or scheduled and went into labor on my own. And it was pretty awesome, actually, and I felt powerful and damn impressed with myself during it. And then the complications started piling up -- nothing particularly major, but enough. Meconium. Fetal distress. Irregular heartbeat. I pushed and pushed and Noah didn't budge past my pubic bone. His heart rate became more and more worrisome with each contraction. So I had an emergency c-section, which revealed that the umbilical cord had been wrapped tightly around the neck of my 9 pound, 15 ounce baby who had little marks on his head from pressing against my freaking bones.
I know that doctors in this country are awfully trigger-happy with pitocin and c-sections. I have no doubt that many sections could be avoided and I will never, ever understand celebrities who opt for completely unnecessary MAJOR ABDOMINAL SURGERY because they're afraid of an episiotomy or whatever. (Ladies! Slicing open your gut really fucking hurts too! Imagine that!)
But in my case, I think the decision and the timing of that decision were appropriate. I have no regrets over my c-section. I was nursing within 10 minutes of delivery. My recovery was a breeze. I was up and about in no time and my scar is small and smooth and practically invisible. (Seriously. I tried to show a curious friend recently and it took me five minutes to FIND the stupid thing.)
I'm extremely happy that I got to experience labor and pushing and if I had managed to deliver vaginally, I would probably attempt an even lower intervention birth this time -- probably with a midwife and a birthing center and no epidural. I know I could do it.
Of all of our (minor, run-of-the-mill) complications, the only one that's likely to repeat is the high birth weight. And even that isn't a sure thing. Then again, an ultrasound from just days before Noah was born put him in the eight-pound range, a full two pounds under his actual weight. And he never measured particularly "big" at any point in my pregnancy. So no matter how many measurements I get, I know there's no guarantee that I won't end up with another linebacker baby who is just not gonna come out that exit, sorry, at least not without a significant risk for us both. So even if I do attempt a VBAC, I would choose to do it at a hospital, with an epidural (to avoid being put under in case of an emergency).
My doctor droned on and on about the benefits of a scheduled c-section. Benefits that frankly, I couldn't give two shits less about. Convenient for childcare! (Right, because it's not like we have two sets of grandparents so chomping at the bit for this baby they'd gladly move in now and stay through 2009.) You won't have to go through labor! (Right, except that I thought being in labor was kind of awesome, in a way, and am totally not scared of doing it again.) Your recovery will be faster! (Right, except that I am apparently half cyborg and recovered really damn fast last time.)
We all have our things that we care deeply about. Our secret little judgey list of The Way Things Should Be Done. I've got them too! Serving wine at the correct temperature, for example. Drives me batty, all this overwarm red wine. But birth plans? No. At least not anymore. I look at Noah, at all the little moments where I can either be a great mother or mess it up completely, at all the things that are worth worry and guilt and stress, and the manner in which he exited my body isn't anywhere on that list. It's like this old, weird worry from another dimension, or a past life.
I will probably schedule a c-section. I will probably schedule it on the later side, leaving the possibility of letting labor happen if it's meant to happen, provided we keep on top of the measurements and provided I give even the smallest slice of piping hot rat's ass about any of this by October.
Now if you'll excuse me, I think my emergency c-section child needs me to go wipe his butt. God, this is ALL THE EPIDURAL'S FAULT.
I'm leaving comments open (eyes the room suspiciously), but...let's all remain calm, okay? I have really and truly seen the websites you're itching to link to, I've done my homework and so help me, if anyone mentions anything about dead babies I will close comments, ban your ass and snatch you bald headed. Thank you. I love you. Mwa.