Sunday, November 12, 2006

Dreams, Fears, Nesting

I had a v. cool dream last Sunday. I was post-op and to my amazement there were no scars and no pain. I woke up and realized that there was no pain but then suddenly thought, "Where's my baby? She hasn't nursed yet! Take me to her!" and before I could get there, they brought her to me. I put her to my right breast and she opened wide and started sucking away. I was delighted that it was so easy and again, no pain. She had a full head of black hair!
I think this dream clearly focuses on some of my key fears: pain, nursing success, and more pain. No idea what the black hair was about but you can see why the other parts made me sooooo happy and relaxed! Bonus is that she was cute and normal looking. Early in pregnancy I had dreams about v. tiny or v. big, odd-looking babies. Wacky hormones, once again!

I think the pain of natural childbirth freaks me more than the C-section, so at this point I'm hoping that's what it will be. We find out for sure on Monday. It used to be that I couldn't truly imagine how natural birth was possible (it comes out of where???!) but after a) seeing natural childbirth film and really paying attention and b)experiencing all the wacky changes my body is capable of, I'm now ready and willing to believe it. Still, it strikes me as being a bit like SCUBA diving. Example, so many ways to die! And unlike SCUBA, it hurts and there are no cute fishies to look at as you do it.

Read a good article in the New Yorker about modern medicine and birth. Author (Atul...?) claimed that birth is one of the few areas in medicine where truly dramatic strides have been made in the last 100 years. The Apgar test, named for a smart woman doc from Columbia U. who invented it, provided a simple measure for evaluting a baby's health after birth and helped many, many more babies survive than used to when they started being born in hospitals under the eye of idiot doctors instead of experienced midwives.
So the stats for babies are really, really good. The author complains (sort of) that part of the reason for the improvement in outcomes for babies is the increased use of the C-section which is apparantly much easier for any old doctor to learn, as opposed to natural birhting techniques which are a real "art" and require a special "touch". It's like the difference between a successful manufacturing line vs. artisinal production: on average, your odds are better because they're less dependent on the mastery of the craftsman. But you lose the "art".
However, he states, the next frontier is making things (recovery) better for mothers. C-sections are not a walk in the park, and there's currently no standard Apgar-like rating for how mothers do.

Speaking for myself though, I'd say any situation where baby and I come out alive and without brain damage is worth all the post-op pain you want to throw at me, esp. since I can then take pain killers freely. And intend to! I also think about the untold stories of friends of mine who suffer their share of post-natal symptoms following natural births (like, months of incontenence), so that doens't sound like such a great shake either.

You know in Brazil middle class women now consider natural births "barbaric".

I'm scared of the pre-op enema. I've never had to do one before and did not like the look of the plastic bottle the midwife showed us on our hospital tour. I suppose this will be the least of my suffering, but you know how it can be, how you focus on one (seemingly) insignificant point as the focus of all your real anxieties. Like when my sister-in-law planned every detail of her wedding in relative calm, then totally lost it when deciding how to do her hair. With another friend it was wedding shoe selection (she settled on pink platform mary janes, inspiring my pink pumas). Or how I freaked before college that my comforter wasn't cool enough and made Jake take me on a several hour return journey to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Or how ALL my apt. rennovations were just fine, except when it came to choosing the ceramic tiles for my bathrooms which for some reason became a massive ordeal.

It's strange when she moves. Here, she just did it. I can't tell what's a foot, finger, or face. Or butt. Of course it makes me happy since v. v. often I wonder how this can possibly be true that I'm growing a person in me and her independent movement is a reassuring confirmation of sorts. But frankly it is not always comortable. And she is most likely to move when I am calm and stationary (read: interested in resting, not playing kicking games). Sometimes now it's quite strong and sometimes it's not that comfy. But then I have to try hard not to freak when she doesn't move.

I imagine the operation and reaching inside will feel wierd but a) wierd is better than PAIN and b) the whole thing is so incredibly wierd when you think about it! The movie on C-sections we saw in our birth class featured a sweet British couple having twins. They were so cheerful. And it's so quick! The father was like :
"Oh, it was such a jolly good experience! Everyone should have it so well." Ok, he probably didn't really say "jolly good" but you get the idea. And amazingly the mother was nursing BOTH twins minutes after the procedure, big smile on her face. If it's half as good as that, I'll be happy.

As for recovery, my friends who have been through it range from a Superwoman who drove herself from TA to Jeru less than 2 weeks after the op. and did everything herself, to another, usually fit and intrepid soul who was totally incapacitated for a month and refused to get up and walk around.

I imagine I'll be somewhere in between. I plan on accepting a lot of help. But I hope I'll also have the courage to get up because it's supposed to help you heal, though it feels at first as though your guts will all rush out. And I'm sure that knowing me I'll want to be independent if I can be and will feel some frustration at not being able to do everything. In a way, the fact that here with a c-seciton you have to stay in the hosp. at least 5 days is probably a good thing. If you can get over the hospital part of it, it can be more restful than home because there's not much to do. The clutter is not yours to organize, the cooking and dishes are done for you, and there are highly trained professionals who can diaper your baby for you round the clock.

Meanwhile, massive nesting instinct kicking in, causing me to run around and do stuff. Many lists being made, things being organized!

I have a colleague in Russia who asked how I could still be working.
"But isn't there a point when you're not supposed to be on the computer?" she asks. Turns out in Russia you get A YEAR AND A HALF materinity leave!!!!!!!!! And I was thinking the Israeli 3 mo. was pretty darn good! She can't believe we ONLY get 3 mo. Ah, socialism!

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