I know it’s no longer Down Syndrome Awareness Month, but a conversation with my midwife yesterday has had me thinking.
She called me yesterday just to see how I’m doing. It’s still so early that there really aren’t any developments to report, and I won’t have my first official appointment with her for a couple of weeks yet. During our call, I blurted out to her that I’m scared of giving birth again. I feel a little guilty for this fear I’m having. After all, I’ve given birth six times already, twice at home; I’m completely pro-homebirth and have been known to get on my soapbox and preach about the strength and power of women’s bodies to do amazing things like give birth without unnecessary intervention, and scowl on society’s collective warped attitude about birth being a disaster waiting to happen. And here I am, feeling scared about doing it again myself.
It’s not that I’m considering the interventions I’ve done without the last two times around, and it’s not even that I’m considering a hospital birth. Of course I won’t do anything (nor would my midwife allow me) to endanger my or my baby’s wellbeing, but barring complications that may arise, there’s no place I’d rather have this baby than at home. I’m just scared.
See, Finn’s birth was rather traumatic. Not that anything went wrong – labor and the birth itself went off without a hitch. But I had developed polyhydramnios in the late stages of my pregnancy, to such an extent that I measured almost as big at the end as I did full term with the twins, despite the fact that I was carrying a wee 6 pound baby. All that excess fluid, and the sudden, rapid loss of it, sort of put my body in shock, and after Finn was born I was so weak I couldn’t even stand up without being held up. Even before that, though, I clearly remember thinking, as I pushed Finn out, that “I AM NEVER FUCKING DOING THIS AGAIN, EVER!!!”
(And here I am. Sigh.)
Then there was the aftermath of his birth: him spitting up blood, the rush to the ER, the surgery and extended hospitalization, the finding out he has Down syndrome. And me, just a few hours postpartum, shuffling the corridors of the NICU, feeling like I might die. It was just all a very dark time, and physically, I was so weak and wrung out from the birth that it made everything harder.
When I was talking to my midwife yesterday about all this, we kind of went over Finn’s birth and the aftermath together. I’ve suspected for a long time that she suspected something was up with Finn very soon after he was born – much sooner than she actually broached it with us, and she confirmed this during our call yesterday. She told me that she suspected Finn had Down syndrome almost from the moment he was born. She didn’t say anything to us until she came back later that day to check on us, though, and even when she did say something, she was very hesitant. By then, I had seen it in his face just moments before, though I brushed my own suspicions away; I just couldn’t wrap my head around such a possibility.
She asked me on the phone yesterday if I wish she would have told us right away. She said that all this time, she’s wondered if she did the right thing in waiting. The truth is, I’ve always been extremely grateful for the way it all unfolded – that we were able to curl up in bed with our newborn boy and just get to know him and love him as our new baby, and not as A Baby With A Problem.
I guess until yesterday I never really thought about how it must have been for her. It wasn’t just that she wanted to break the news (or at least the possibility) to us gently; she agonized over it, and still does to some extent. She was personally and emotionally invested in us and our baby, and that made it all the more difficult for her to have to deliver potentially shattering news.
So. Not sure what my point is here. Just an acknowledgment, I guess, about how grateful I am that things happened the way they did with Finn, and that we had such a caring, invested midwife on our side.