No, I'm not pregnant. :-) But I jumped back in the saddle of being a "natural childbirth advocate" last weekend. I suppose when I put all my birth books on our new bookshelves in the living room, I also sort of "shelved" that passion for a while. Plus, having moved to a new place, I suppose I've been busy with other things--one of them being making new friends. And I guess I haven't felt ready to expose myself as a birth nazi and lose all those newfound friends just yet. ;-)
But, as most people who know me well are aware, if you bring up the subject of birth (and not in a "OMG! Give me the epidural!" sort of way) and seem interested or open to my views, you will find that I have a way of going on and on and on and a very difficult time shutting up. One of my favorite things in the world is to talk birth with others who are willing and eager. If you don't want an earful, well, don't bring it up.
Well, we were at a Halloween party last Saturday and we ended up sitting by some neighbors. We hadn't had the opportunity to really sit and talk with them before (partly because the wife has been awfully sick with her pregnancy), but we did get a chance to talk at the party. I don't even remember how the subject came up, but my new pregnant friend asked me if I had given birth without drugs. My radar detector started beeping like crazy, and I said, "Yes." Then she did what would make any natural childbirther salivate--she started asking me questions! And she seemed genuinely interested as she listened to me tell my birth stories! Oh my... I had forgotten how much I love talking about this stuff.
My new friend is pregnant with her second child. She had Pitocin with her first labor because her water broke and then her contractions didn't start. The Pitocin-induced contractions came one on top of the other without any breaks. She started screaming at the nurses to give her an epidural but they told her they couldn't until she dilated more. They reassured her that she would be able to get the epidural soon, but she yelled at them more: "You're lying!" She was in so much pain that she was out of control. Needless to say, she isn't a huge fan of Pitocin. She said, "Pitocin is evil." An now I have one more story to add to my list of reasons why I get irate and start foaming at the mouth when I hear the nasty word.
I can't recall now why, but she has a feeling that the labor with her second child is going to go very quickly and that she may not have time for an epidural. And she said that the booklet her doctor gave her has very general and fairly unhelpful information about how to cope with labor pain (surprise, surprise). I gleefully offered my collection of birth books for her to check out. Then we arranged that I would give her my copy of The Birth Partner, by Penny Simkin, the next day. I put a scrap of paper into the chapter on coping measures so she could find it easily. Oh how I love sharing this stuff!
I also hosted a baby shower for a new friend this past weekend. She is due to have her baby any day. And, just before she got into her car to head home after the shower, she happened to mention that she would really like to avoid drugs while she's in labor. I tried to restrain myself, though that inner radar detector started beeping like mad. I did my best in those few minutes to encourage her and give her a positive take-home message that might (just maybe, I really hope) help her make it through labor. But it's hard to make a huge difference in three minutes. I told her she could do it, that I love giving birth, that I'm practically addicted to it, and that I wouldn't do it any other way than au naturale.
I'll never forget the conversation I had that was the spark for my interest in natural childbirth. An acquaintance was pregnant with her first child and had some books from the library. I asked her about the books. I don't even remember what the books were. But she ended up mentioning that she would be giving birth without drugs. It floored me. What?! People still do that?! I couldn't believe it! But she explained that her mom had all her children that way and she planned to as well. She said there were lots of benefits, but didn't go into them much 'cause there wasn't time. But that little exchange is what started it all for me. It got me thinking and wondering and intrigued. So when I entered my first pregnancy, I went to the library and checked out some books and I was never the same.
So I guess I hope that even if my two pregnant friends don't have wonderful birth experiences THIS time, maybe our conversations will have been the spark that will intrigue them and inspire them to check out some books and prepare themselves in the future to have the kind of birth experiences their bodies were intended to have. I really do hope so.
In the meantime, I'll enjoy the natural buzz/high that follows a few good conversations about birth.