This is a long-ish post that's been brewing for the better part of 9 months, so bear with me guys. By the time you've read this, however, my precious little son, fresh out of his own 9 month sojourn, would have just experienced his first week of life.
We call him The Conquering Lyon and he seems to like it - Rasta folk or reggae music fans should get the reference...
From his incredibly tiny fingers to his sweet button nose, everything about Lyon is perfect in our eyes. I am supremely humbled to be his mum and thankful that my goodly hubby and I were chosen to guide his journey through this life; it's corny, but words can't begin to convey the overwhelming feeling of love you instantly have for your perfect little child. Perfection, however, is furthest from my mind when I reflect upon my actual pregnancy as a West Indian having a childbirth experience in the US.
Coming from Trinidad & Tobago, where having a child is less of a life-changing event or medical condition, and more of a normal bodily function not unlike having one's menstrual cycle or a bowel movement, I was beyond horrified upon learning how childbirth is dealt with in the US from both a cultural and medical standpoint.
Frankly, I disliked being pregnant in America.
North Carolina's a lovely place for mountain biking and for camping on the Blue Mountains. And America in general has lots of fantastic aspects to it. For one, I'm quite grateful for the high calibre of tertiary education I was able to pursue whilst living here. But is this the place for having a child?
I don't think so.
From the very moment my pregnancy was confirmed in the doctor's office to mere weeks before I gave birth, I found myself in battle mode, fighting off the many unnecessary medical interventions that are routinely dished out to expectant women during the course of a normal, low-risk pregnancy as my own. One understands the need for doing the usual checkups to ensure the wellbeing of both the mother and growing child. And one certainly understands the cultural need for reiterating the many risks and concerns involved with the process of having a baby.
Still, is it really necessary to inundate a mother with multiple cervical exams, foetal growth screening tests, non-stress tests, extra ultrasounds and doppler scans, flu shots, group-b-strep tests, penicillin during labour for mother & child in the event of a positive group-b test, preeclampsia screenings, Pitocin inductions, membrane sweeps, hepatitis-b injections to the newborn, and RhoGam shots? In some instances these protocols may certainly save lives, but surely, that doesn't mean they should be upheld as standard measures for all births. And is it really in the best interest of the mother and child to be pushing for a C-Section at the slightest indication of anything that falls outside the incredibly narrow margin of US statistical normalcy?
Not to mention the ridiculous timeline of events that one is supposed to strictly adhere to. If you're in a 30 week exam with a growing tummy that doesn't measure exactly as it should for that week, you could easily find yourself being diagnosed with one of many 'serious' pregnancy conditions as you're carted down the road to an early induction and major abdominal surgery. For the safety of the child, of course. And you'd better hope that once you deliver said child, he/she doesn't run a fever before hitting the 3 month mark, because then it's 48 hours in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for multiple blood tests, urine tests and a full spinal tap with administered antibiotics.
On an infant.
Just to rule out the scant possibility of the fever being due to 'something more serious.'
Needless to say, I found myself at odds with many a member of the medical and birthing establishment during the course of my pregnancy. And those birthing gurus who try to help you through your pregnancy by scrutinizing and overanalyzing each aspect of a normal human condition in the name of birthing education? For all their crunchy granola gusto, they're no better than the medical doctors they despise.
My thinking is this: humans have been birthing their offspring for eons without a need for labour coaches, medical interventions, birthing soundtracks and all the complicated hoopla that goes into having a child in the supposedly civilized, First-World.
So why should I buck a trend that's been working forever?
In my quest to grow and deliver my child in a most natural fashion, and in an unhurried manner not unlike the way my sisters, cousins and I were calmly delivered back home in Trinidad, I've made a few observations that I'd like to share. That is, if you're planning to have a kiddo and want to do so, on your own terms...