February 17, 2012

My Funny Valentine

I usually could not care less about very much dislike commercial crap such as Valentine's Day. This year though, I managed to land myself a hot date.

Well, maybe not so hot unless you're into the Eastern-Europe-mafia-hit-men-walking-like-big-brown-bears type.

And maybe not so much of a date either unless you consider an 8mth pregnancy visit to an Ob-Gyn like a date.

My relationship with my ob-gyn started the day of Malo's birth. Until then, I had no ob-gyns . I had seen one at the start of my pregnancy, had liked what she had said (read "yes, you can run as long as you feel comfortable about it... which is what I wanted to hear, and what I thought was sensible, but which is definitely not what your average ob-gyn would say here), then proceeded not to see her ever again since everything was going super well and I'd rather have my monthly appointment with the midwife.

Fast rewind 2.5 years. On the day Malo will end up making it into this world, I turn up at the hospital, feeling pretty cheerful. What, are those the extremely painful contractions I am supposed to experience, especially as my waters have broken? It looks like I am going to be one of these exceptions who don't experience pain during labour, which is fine by me (I want a natural, drug-free birth, but if this does not involve intense pain, all the better, I am not that much of a masochist).

Two hours later, a guy enters the room. He does not say hello, nor does he introduce himself, so I decide that he must be some guy emptying the bin or something similar. Then he checks the monitoring. Oh, wrong, he's not the cleaning guy, he's the on-call ob-gyn. In any case, he clearly does not think that, as the woman giving birth, I am anybody important in the room, since he is totally ignoring me.

Then, having once again checked the monitoring, and still not looking at me but rather opening slightly the bathroom's door and poking his head in, he says, before barking at the midwife and leaving the room :  "that we don't like".

We will not see Mr Big Brown Bear for another couple of hours, during which it has become quite clear that, pain or no pain, things are not as rosy as we would like them to be. Bottom line is, as we find out after a lot of questioning, Malo's heart is not dealing well at all with the contractions. By the time his heart beat gets as low as 50-something bpm, we expect our son to be dying any minute, and, when Big Brown Bear, called in by the midwife, decides that this is it, it is either an emergency C-section or Malo may not make it, I am well past the "natural versus assisted birth" question, and just want to know my baby will be out soon. And alive.

Back to today. In the space of these 2.5 years, I got to know Big Brown Bear a bit better. Or enough at least to realise that, although his manners may be a bit on the rough side, and his biggest strength is definitely not his inter-personal skills (I just wish I knew this on Malo's birth day, instead of mistaking him for a non-French speaking cleaning person), he's a very competent guy, one of the best ob-gyn the hospital has, and he'll do what's best for the baby and for me.

I must now even admit to a certain liking of his rather -shall we say... dry? - sense of humour :
- "Do you want to know the sex of the baby", he asked on the day of Baby #2's second ultrasound.
I replied I did.
-" You've clearly not be advised I am not divulging this information any longer", he then said... then proceeded to the entire U/S without telling us what he had clearly seen the minute he started to check what was inside my belly.

For this second pregnancy, I have not seen Big Brown Bear much more often that I did see a ob-gyn the first time round, at least since we found out that the biologist's news that the baby was not viable was just rubbish. What has changed though is that this is pregnancy #2, and that, with an history of C-section, I am now part of the sought-after "risky pregnancies"club.

Hence my Valentine's date with Big Brown Bear, during which we did not dissert too much about the good old days of our first meeting, but more of the odds of me having a natural birth this time. And the odds are not super high, is the outcome of our "date".  The baby is high, the baby is big (and there is still some weeks to go!), and my pelvis not so much. 

What would have been terrible news to me 2.5 years ago is actually now OK. I came to realise that no matter how I give birth, I will love the little girl, the same way I did with Malo. Sure, if a C-section it has to be, I will miss immensely not having my baby against my skin the moment she's out. But on the other hand, I could do with not having to re-live, even if only in imagination, the horrible fears that ended up summarising Malo's birth. Oh, and if she continues growing and ended up getting anywhere close (or even not that close, come to think of it) to her dad's weight at birth (4.650kgs - 10.2lbs ladies! Respect to my mother-in-law is all I have to say), I think I'd rather not even try to get her out the "normal" way.

So following my hot date, I have been considering C-section as a very tangible prospect, and unlike 2.5 years ago, not a very scary one. And at least one thing would not change, should the prospect materialise. As I gave birth to Malo at the end of August, a month which sees about 99% of France's population taking their vacation, I had to deal with the slightly unreal experience of having to listen to the Ob-Gyn telling the nurse about his holiday (and complaining about the scorching heat... well, guy, just try again with a belly the size of a hot air balloon next time, and I swear you won't complain ever again), all the while stitching my uterus back together.

Guess what, this time round, should we need to plan a C-section, this will have to wait until full term minus10 days, because he'll be on holiday again. And unless "Petite soeur" decides to come and check out the world earlier, it therefore means I'd better get ready for some incredibly frustrating accounts of ski-touring trips in spring snow then.

And that's all fine by me, if this ends up being the toughest part of that day.


PiccolaPineCone said...

well you knew I was going to comment on this post! I love your attitude towards birthing strategy i.e. whatever nets me a healthy baby (I would selfishly add and me the least possible amount of pain). As I have been trolling the internet reading about vbac etc., I have been amazed at how VBAC vs repeat c-section has been so politicized with women talking about "defending the RIGHT to use their vagina" whoa! maybe i am too hopelessly un-political, but really?
and i remain amazed at how similar malo & la cocotte's birth stories are (her heart rate "only" got down to 70 bpm during contractions). scary. totally. enough to make any birth "plan" fly right out of one's head!!
anyway before my comment becomes longer than your post - congratulations on your little girl! i am excited for you & your family.

Angela and David said...

I had an emergency c-section as well and for this pregnancy the doctor told me "there's no way in hell if you were my wife that I would let you try to push a baby out" so a c-section has been scheduled and I am okay with it. And given I am not dilated at all, my pelvis hasn't expanded and the baby hasn't dropped it look like we've made the right decision as I have the same issues. The drama of bringing Zach into the world was terrifying. I'm relieved not to face that drama again. I still consider the birth of Zach the greatest day of my life but David calls it his worst. I guess he was worried he was going to lose his baby and his wife at the same time.

Mapp said...

Angela, out of curiosity, and unless it is a bit too personal to mention here : what's the reason why your ob-gyn told you this that early? I remember thinking, when you wrote about having your c-section already scheduled, that this was very early on in pregnancy. In France, unlike 20-30 years ago where, if you had had one c-section, they would not even consider letting you try for a vbac, they know - bar some rare and specific cases - wait until the very last weeks to take that decision. My ob-gyn for example told me that, even tough the prospect of a vbac does not look too good rigth now, he'd rather wait until the 9mth visit to make up his mind, since, despite a narrow pelvis, the chances of a "normal" birth could improve between now and then, if the baby decides to get down more, if she's well positioned, if I start getting more dilated, in a nutshell if my body shows signs of being more ready! What's ob-gyns's take on all this in the US?

In any case, your "due" (as in scheduled!) date must be fast approaching now! Are you like me and having mixed feelings about the prospect of knowing the date in advance? For me, on one hand I am like "I am bit enough as it is, not having to wait until week 41 - mind you, the c-section would be scheduled only for week 40 because of the ob-gyn's holiday! - is fine by me, and feeling weird about the absence of "who knows when she'll turn up" this time, and feeling like I'll turn up at the hospital like I would for routine surgery... while I'll be actually giving birth to what will most certainly be our last kid!

Mapp said...

PPC, I agree with you to some extent, although my thoughts about birth were quite different from yours the first time round. As I said, I did want a natural birth for Malo, because I thought that was good for him. But, having spent LOADS of time thinking about all this since then, I now realise that
1. I kept thiking about what was good for him (or what I thought was good for him... what the hell did I know?), never about what was good for me, although it was definitely the two of us on that boat!
2. I let myself getting influenced by some people around me and some readings, who make you feel very guilty ("you're letting your baby down if you don't go through the suffering of coming to the world with him") if you consider something else than a drug-free birth (at home of possible... although I did not go that far!). I am not saying I would do differently if I had my first baby now and already knew what I know now, but I would probably be more ready to acknowledge that 1. I was s*** scared about the prospect of a natural birth because to me that meant to lose control entirely (for other women, it is of course right the opposite!), 2. things can go a different way you would like / plan (control, hey?!) them to, and it will not mean you, as a mother, have failed in any way...

For these reasons, I am more open to... anything!, this time round... If the propsect of a vbac does not look good, will it necessariy be better for my daugther that I give it a go anyway? Will a c-section have a negative impact on how we bond (as some litterature wants you to believe)... I don't think so...

OK, no need to worry about your comment being longer than my post anymore... I think I managed to set things right again (and also commented for far long on yours... sorry!).