Successes in Maternity Quest

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My brain has been drowned since making the last blog post. But on the up-side, I made good progress and am now in a much more comfortable place!

When I’d been chatting with midwife after midwife in my search to find one that would take my case, I was met with dead-ends. They either didn’t support elective cesareans, or they already had a full caseload. I was getting frustrated. I could go through the hospital system and just use their team of midwives, but not only would that mean seeing a different person at my every checkup, if I couldn’t get the surgery after all I’d be birthing naked and miserable in front of a complete stranger…who could feasibly have large fingers. (I find this a significant factor when a midwife checks dilation during labour.)

I’ve only recently come to learn that there is such a thing as ‘tokophobia’. Who knew it was a real word? It describes, essentially, a fear of pregnancy and childbirth. Initially I was curious to learn more about it, wondering if it held any explanation for what I was feeling. So I started researching, and with each article discovery, it was sounding more and more familiar.

Then I discovered that reading about tokophobia was a very, very bad idea.

Reading about something on the topic of what horrifies me did nothing for my already-panicking psyche. What I was doing suddenly made as much sense as reading articles about cockroaches. I’d rather avoid the topic altogether, thanks. Especially if the articles come with pictures.

Besides, I didn’t want to be one of those self-diagnosers, who reads something intriguing on the internet then thinks they know more than medical professionals. Nobody likes those people. (Especially the medical professionals, I imagine.) So, being undiagnosed, I don’t know that I have tokophobia. But in the end, it doesn’t matter — however many characteristics of it I recognise in myself, ‘tokophobia’ is a label, not a solution. Best I stick with what I know, rather than worry about fitting a label.

So here’s what I know: My pregnancy would be my last thought at night, my first thought in the morning, and would frequently play on my mind during the day. And more often than not, at night too, with nightmares. The feeling of anxiety that accompanied such thoughts would make my breathing shallow and the muscles in my torso tense — sometimes I’d only realise this when my back started aching or I got dizzy. Talking about my pregnancy would make me feel too warm, and my pulse too strong. I didn’t want to be around anyone who was talking about babies. Timmy’s playgroup sessions were now horrible, as they come with mothers who talk about little else.

I have reservations about using the word ‘fear’ in reference to my stressful anxiety regarding pregnancy and childbirth, even though it may be clinically correct to call it so, because I’ve found it has associations with the irrational. I fear cockroaches. In the completely irrational sense that others may fear spiders, the dark, or monsters under the bed. That’s the kind of baseless sentiment that arises in one’s mind when thinking of ‘fear’, I find.

So I’ve found it infuriating and discouraging in equal measure when, presumably with the misguided intent of being helpful, representatives of Team Nature tell me that I just need to ‘overcome’ my fear, then everything will be fine and I can birth naturally without a problem. That only works if, like my fear of cockroaches, this fear is purely psychologically based.

Sure, I don’t like pain. It’s what keeps me from getting my eyebrows shaped. But my ‘fear’ of birthing as nature intended is based on medical and physical realities too, relevant to my own case, which no amount of self-education and positive thinking can make disappear. (I don’t suffer from lack of education on natural birthing, anyway. I’d read screeds of books about the ‘wonder of birth’ and how it works, in preparation for Timmy.)

Thus, I’ve learned to assess my audience before being too cavalier with sharing my thoughts when asked how I’m coping. (This blog being the exception. You’re in my head-space, here.)

After several days of immersion in the topic — reading various articles, searching for an appropriate midwife, collecting names, compiling other medical contacts, more reading — my anxiety and tension had ramped up to the point of making me physically sick, so I had to take a few days off. I told myself I wasn’t pregnant. (Really only a feasible tactic in early second-trimester.) Whenever I was asked how I was doing by someone expecting a pregnancy/quest update, I’d inform them that I’m not pregnant for the next few days, sorry, so obviously can’t talk about something that’s not there. It may have confused them a little, but it worked for me, which was good enough.

After the days off, my ever-present anxiety had cooled to a manageable level, so I was able to resume the task of finding ways to reach my prize: the golden c-section.

I finally found a midwife in the eleventh hour. I’d told myself that if she wasn’t available (and I really didn’t expect she would be), I’d go through the hospital system. In the shiniest silver-lining thus far, I was accepted. I was now a client of the Maverick Midwife.

Soon after that, I had other positive connections. I spoke with a team from A.I.M (Action in Maternity), who were generous in their supply of relevant information. AIM exists to support families requiring assistance or advice after a maternity-related tragedy, but even though I didn’t fit this niche (Timmy is, after all, fine), they were still very accommodating, informing me of options and contacts available to me.

I chatted with a birth trauma counsellor of Ch.A.T (Childbirth After Thoughts) , who was encouraged to hear I was now with Maverick Midwife, whom she knows. Having learned my concerns and wishes, she suspected that with my being in the care of MM, things may very well turn out fine without further help from herself, so rather than set up a meeting with me, we made a plan that she would call me later for an update. I was encouraged to hear her tell me that, given my distresses at the prospect of another ‘natural’ birth, it was probable I’d be allowed a c-section. Immediately my lungs felt larger, and my shoulders lighter.

I’d planned to contact a maternal mental health nurse I already had a professional relationship with (she was my ‘friend-for-hire’ in my Dark Days post-Timmy), but Maverick Midwife raised her name first, recommending I meet with her. When MM learned I was already acquainted with this mental health nurse, she said a beautiful, beautiful thing: “You already know her? …Okay… I can almost guarantee you’ll be allowed a c-section.” Lungs larger and head even happier now, I hoped the ‘almost’ was tacked in there just because MM was recognising she doesn’t have the power to authorise one for me.

It was wonderful to see my friend-for-hire again. Her smiling face represents sunshine to me, in dark days. Of course, as I was now feeling much better after positive feedback on the likelihood of my getting a cesarean, I was no longer a picture of stressed anxiety, so I told my friend-for-hire my new biggest concern: that the consulting obstetrician, who does have the power to authorise a c-section, would take one look at me in my new state of improvement and think, ‘She’s fine, no notable distress, she can have a vaginal birth’. Then I think I’d suffer from the world’s worse case of brain petrification.

My friend-for-hire smiled, and reassured me that the obstetrician would make the decision based also on my history with others; from statements and recommendations by herself, and my midwife — who, I was told, gave my case a fabulous strong start in her referral to the maternal mental health nurse, explicitly stating it was her recommendation I have a c-section. So now the mission isn’t to make a case for me, but to strengthen it.

An appointment for my obstetric consult will be made at my next midwife appointment, in a little over three weeks. But already, the ‘fear’ has eased. The nightmares are gone. I’m more relaxed. I even look forward to meeting my new baby. (Although admittedly, when I visualise the new baby, he/she has already passed the unpleasant newborn stage and I’m holding a happy 4-month-old.)

My sleuthing skills aren’t super. I couldn’t have made the quest thus far on my own steam — the journey of discovery that has brought me to this point, surprisingly, largely owes its thanks to the reach of this blog! Up until a couple of entries ago, this site wouldn’t get much traffic at all. Most (or even all) of its visitors were people who already knew me personally. But with a few internet superpowers (Facebook sharing begetting Facebook sharing, URL link-back notifications to other site owners, search engines noting the topic, etc) it got an explosion of visitors — and with them, an influx of reader responses. (Not just the post’s comment activity — those wanting to avoid the public approach would email me directly via the Contact page.)

Among these responses were messages from professionals in maternity, even internationally, which was very humbling (they’d given their time to my little ol’ personal blog, after all) and gave good boosts to my quest’s motivation and momentum.

I expect I’ll be nervous anyway, when it comes time to having my obstetric consult, but for now…I’m well.

And, because every blog post should have an illustration, here’s a conceptual one of a light-piercing-the-darkness breakthrough:

breakthrough-wall-800x600

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(4) Comments

  • Tehila
    26 Mar 2013

    Wow, Eve! What a great and thorough account about all that you’ve been going through! Thank you for sharing so openly. May God’s will be done, and if it is a “golden c-section” then so be it! Love you and so thankful for you (will email you soon 🙂 )..

  • Glenys Michael
    27 Mar 2013

    Thats great news Eve, you have been in my prayers over the past few weeks and will remain so, Im glad the weight is lifting.

  • Mrs. W
    15 Apr 2013

    So very happy to hear this update….

  • Pauline Hull
    15 Apr 2013

    I’m so pleased to learn that you are finally being properly listened to and supported. Best wishes.

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