Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How Social Media Influenced My Birth Views and How I Changed Them Back

I was literally on the floor bawling when my husband got home from the gym. He may have thought I was crying from the contractions I had been having for the past 22 hours, but I wasn't. I was crying because they stopped, and because I was worried about being induced.

"What are you most worried about?" He asked me. "That it may lead to a c-section?"

I shook my head. "I was just looking forward to waking up in the middle of the night and the excitement of the surprise of it all," I admitted.

He sat silent for a few seconds before comforting me some more. He told me what he'd remember more than the hustle and bustle of getting to the hospital and getting her out, would be seeing her for the first time. And watching me watching her, and falling in love with our little creation.

After gaining some composure we went to the nursery where he said a sweet prayer for me. A prayer which key points I'll remember forever. A prayer that truly calmed my soul, and has made me feel better about--and more excited to meet our daughter than ever before.

Over the past year I've been inundated in a world so many people don't know exists. People know about social media--sure--but not many understand the cliques, the strong opinions and even radical groups that are out there.

I'm a curious woman, and being the journalist I am, I really enjoy learning about different sides of a story. I would say "both sides" but there are more than two sides to almost every story.

When it comes to birth, I grew up only really knowing about one side--The side most all of my friends have experienced--The side I've been comfortable with all my life. That's hospital births, usually with pain medication, sometimes involving inductions or other medical procedures.

Positioning myself as a huge spectacle online has put me in the spotlight and made me fresh meat to any and every mom who has an opinion about anything. Most commonly, or at least most noticeably, I get comments from the "crunchy" type. The moms who feel natural is best, sometimes despite popular beliefs and what anyone else says.

At first I thought some of these people had a few loose screws, but as I've gotten to know them, I've learned more about where they're coming from, and started to learn a different side of things I may have never been open to learning had it not been for their influence online.

Now the difficult part in befriending said-crunchies, sharing with them my pregnancy experiences, listening to their experiences, sympathizing with them, and learning from them, is that I grew to feel an immense amount of pressure. As if they'd taken me under their wing and were watching me like a hawk to see if I'd make the wrong move.

I began to worry about choosing to get an epidural, not because of rare and possible side effects, but because if I did go into the "cascade of interventions" I'd disappoint (or probably prove right) my acquaintances. I was more nervous about disappointing my audience with my birth story, than doing what I really wanted to do, and the added stress was obvious at home.

My husband insists I don't blog my birth story; that I experience it for me, and not worry about sharing the ifs whens and hows to the world.

"Just say we had a baby, The End," he tried to persuade me. "That's all that matters."

"Yes, but women like to talk about and read these things," I pushed back. "It's like our version of war stories we like to share."

"But who needs to know how many doses of pitocin you get, or why you got an epidural? That's just opening the door to let people judge you and make you feel bad."

Basically he's saying I'd be asking for it. True. To an extent. I don't think anyone asks to be critically judged, but putting yourself out there like I have does assume that position. The difference is now I have the confidence to stand behind my decisions no matter what someone else says.

Before starting my blog I never focused on what kind of birth I wanted... Other than the end result to have a baby. I knew c-sections happened, and I never thought they were a big deal. I knew if I needed one, so be it. After developing my blog and its audience, the thought of having a c-section felt like it would equal a failed birth.

Why? Why? WHY?

I don't feel that way deep down. I don't. I know some people do, and that's their challenge they'll have to overcome--Or not, if they don't want to. I had let other people's opinions on what's right and wrong in a situation brainwash me into believing that if it didn't go a certain way, I was cheated. But I shouldn't have let their negative feelings about a birth outcome change my views of what's important to me.

There's a difference between being uneducated--Naive, and differing in opinions with someone. Everyone can find a different study to go along with their viewpoint.

Something I think a lot of people need to suck up and realize is just because someone's opinion differs from yours doesn't mean they haven't done their research, or that they are wrong. It just means after looking at the evidence, you both came to different conclusions. Nothing is wrong with that. Can we please shout that message to the world of moms, the world of women?--Just because we disagree doesn't mean I'm wrong.

A friend of mine who was induced before her due date tells me everything went perfectly well for her, her baby's fine, and "I was having a big baby, nothing is wrong with inducing early."--While the next person tells me I should wait it out as long as possible, "43 weeks or more can be totally fine, the baby won't stay in there forever."

I smile at both of them, knowing I disagree equally. I've read that it's best inductions aren't done before 40 weeks because calculations could be off and you can be risking having your child prematurely. I also have read that staying pregnant longer than 42 weeks can increase the chances of infection, injury during a vaginal birth, and double your chances for needing a cesarean section.

I'm done being everyone's baby doll. I know most have good intentions but it's become information overload.

I enjoy hearing other people's experiences, and learning from them, but the truth is everyone has different experiences, and there's no cookie-cutter solution for everyone. And it all goes a little too far when people start telling you the way your deciding things are wrong, just because it may not have worked for them.

My sweet husband reminds me that he and I are in this together, for our baby. And no one else's opinion on the means of which she gets here matters.

I'M her mother. I know what's best for her and I'm not going to let the next person--be it doctor, blog writer or twitter follower--tell me they know better.

As of now we are considering inducing labor July 3rd. No longer do I feel anxious or disappointed about the possibility, I'm excited about our decision. It may not be what's right for you, but I'm at peace with the choice. I may not have the "OMG this is it!" moment in the middle of the night, but I will get to get dressed up before we go in, and plan around her new due date. I'm finding the positive sides in what some may consider a negative position.

Most of all, I'm so happy to know that I'll finally be meeting my daughter in less than a week. I feel divinely guided in the decisions we're making for our family and whatever happens will be what's meant to happen for us.

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