So what happens when an all natural girl finally gets pregnant with her test tube baby? What’s next?
As I shared in an earlier blog post, I never imagined that my healthy lifestyle raised on organic milk and eggs would ever take such a drastic swing towards to this drug and surgery filled conception process of IVF. I assumed conception would be “natural” and that pregnancy would be a “natural” process as well. Although I wasn’t about to have an at home birth, I expected a “natural” birth with limited intervention and a midwife who boiled water and basically made sure everything was going ok down there as I gracefully pushed out a baby the way nature intended.
I was born in a hospital myself, before my parents made their hippie life in New Hampshire. Two years later my mother gave birth to my sister at home with a midwife on hand. After the delivery, my mother had hemorrhaging so doctor had to be rushed to the house, finding his way through the back country roads to save the day. When my brother came along a few years later, my mother ruled out another at-home birth and researched alternatives nearby (“near” being relative in New Hampshire) to find a “birthing center” in a hospital staffed with midwives in Vermont.
In the liberal city where I live now, I have friends who are midwives themselves, or have delivered their babies “naturally” with midwives. From them all I get an earful about how wrong modern medicine is when it comes to childbirth, that birth is a “natural” process and the increase in c-sections and inductions have made giving birth more dangerous than ever before.
Since I’ve been going through IVF for what seems like forever, their war cry seems irrelevant to me. I’ve had my ovaries pumped up on drugs and harvested, my eggs injected with my husband’s sperm in a lab, grown in a dish for 6 days, and then I watched on a monitor as my doctor and embryologist released these embryos into my womb. Nothing natural about any of that. There’s no possible way my husband’s sperm would have connected to my egg any other way.
Finally graduating from my fertility clinic was incredible, though going from their closely monitored and protected nest into the big world of what comes next has been intimidating. The idea of seeing either a midwife or OB seemed impossible. And I’d have to decide. I put it off for a long time, fearful of the decision as well as being terrified of “jinxing” my good luck.
A couple months ago I was sitting outside in the courtyard of my condo building, painting the flowers that were blooming in the garden. Our neighbor came out with her new baby and preceded to go on and on about her baby, how wonderful it was to be able to walk to the hospital for labor (two blocks away) and how even if she moved back to San Francisco, she would come back to this hospital just to give birth again. At the time I was annoyed. I was fresh off IVF 3.0, waiting for the terrifying first ultrasound, and had no desire to hear her unsolicited advice or answer her questions about my baby plans. I just wanted to paint my pictures in peace and keep my mind off anything baby related.
A few weeks ago I finally summoned my courage, and emailed my neighbor about what doctor she saw at the nearby hospital. She gave me the name of her midwife.
“Did you ever see a doctor?” I pressed her, still feeling unsure if my “brave new world baby” would be safe with a midwife.
She hadn’t seen a doctor, but assured me that they were likely wonderful too.
That night I mentioned to Mr. T that I had made the appointment with the midwife our neighbor had recommended.
“A midwife?” my husband asked, looking horrified. “After all we’ve been through, do you think that’s a good idea?”
“Fine- if you want a doctor- I don’t care. You can call and reschedule,” I said, annoyed that he thought he needed to remind me of the endless worries and all that we’ve been through in this process.
He assured me that if I felt good about it, then he did too. But his reaction struck a chord. Of course I wasn’t sure. After all we’ve been through, we didn’t need to take any chances. I don’t have any pride about having a “natural” childbirth. I honestly don’t care if I need drugs, surgery or whatever interventions they tell me are necessary to have this baby- just so long as we are both healthy at the end of it all.
I called the clinic and asked if I could interview both the midwife and doctor on our visit. The nice receptionist who already knows I’m crazy assured me that I’m welcome to change at any time.
I ran into our neighbor this weekend. She wanted to warn me that her friend didn’t have such a positive experience at the hospital, that the midwife was out when she went into labor and the doctor recommended a c-section.
“Were they both ok?” I asked.
They were. Her cautionary tale didn’t worry me in the least. Instead, I felt reassured that the hospital didn’t have qualms about taking “drastic” measures if necessary. Give me drugs and cut me open if necessary. I’ve been through that already.
So yes, I’ve come a long way from “natural,” baby. I’m grateful for modern medicine and doctors. I’ll do whatever it takes- whatever is necessary- to get you here safely.
For now, one day at a time. Please let Thursday go well. Please let this be the first of many appointments to the midwife- or doctor- whoever we choose.