Looking back on the birth, I wish I would have spent some more time understanding my wife’s birth plan.
If you’re unfamiliar, a birth plan is what you write up to let your doctors know how you want to deliver the baby. Things like: do you want to deliver through your woo-woo, or do you want to have a c-section? Do you want any anesthetic, or does screaming in tongues sound like a good time to you?
These are a couple of the bigger questions, but the birth plan can get very detailed depending on how strongly you and yours feel about this stuff.
Note: I wrote this month or two after our son was born. He’s now almost 2. I thought it was worthy of a repost here. Enjoy :)
My wife (Mellisa) feels very strongly about this stuff. In many ways she feels so strongly that I’ve shut myself off from trying to learn more. I never cared to investigate doctors practices or pharmaceutical side-effects. To me, if the doctor says so, I’m good with it. But that’s not the case for Mellisa:
Doctor: Looks like I’ll need to prescribe you some vitamin k supplements.
Mellisa: Don’t bother; I’ll just chew some ginger root.
Mellisa’s mom: [nods knowingly]
On Vitamin K and Form Ribbin’
I’ll let you in on a little “Fort McReeves” inside joke: Mellisa has been running with a bad crowd online for a while now. We’re all very concerned. She found a seedy group of forum dwellers online by searching on the Google for things like “natural vitamin k supplement,” and “all natural birth resources.” These forum dwellers write (non-stop) about their questions and experiences having babies. They seriously have alternative advice for anything your doctor has ever told you. They think they know all the answers, but in actuality they’re just talkative.
Anyways, Mellisa has been running with this crowd for the past few years. She’ll hole away with her computer and read forums for hours. “What are you doing, babe?” “Reading my forums.”
Sidenote: one of my greatest talents is hearing things wrong. You’ll say something and I’ll mis-hear you saying something hilarious, or awesome, or both; it leads to amazing discoveries of things I should patent, like “Vagournal,” and “The Turbanator.”
Well, one day I asked Mellisa what she was doing, and I swear I heard her respond with “Ribbin’ on forms.”
“What!?” I said, “Ribbin’ on forms!?”
Since then the term has not left our vocabulary. “Where did you learn that one, babe, whilst ribbin’ on some forms?” “Where have you been,” I’ll ask, and she’ll respond, “ribbin’.” It’s my way of naming the beast that’s slowly deteriorating the mental stability of my wife (If I can name it I can kill it).
Mellisa always comes back from her forays in the forum world ready to share her new “insight” and “understanding”:
- “We’re not giving the baby a vitamin K shot.”
- “I’m not going to take antibiotics for any infections, just an herbal cleanse.”
- “You should be supportive and wear this lavender sash over your loins.”
These sorts of things always make me uncomfortable. It’s like, I love you, babe, but I still trust the doctor, and the doctor thinks its absurd to refuse the vitamin K shot… In fact, our doctor had NEVER HEARD of anyone refusing the vitamin K shot, which was more than a little concerning for me. Time used to be when her ribbin’ on forms had minimal repercussions, “oh, it looks like it’s just indigestion.” But as we got closer and closer to having the baby, the ribbin’ implications got more and more serious.
Sidenote: To give you an idea of how far away my family is from naturopathy: my uncle Wally thinks having an epidural is just the baby’s first cocktail; he’s fine with that.
Suffice it to say Mellisa and I were on a teeter totter with this stuff. She mistrusts the regular medical industry, gravitating instead towards these form ribbin’ miscreants – like a goth girl to The Cure. This gravitation only served to heighten the “give him a cocktail” identification I had with my family.
The main difference between her position and mine was this: hers was grounded in hours of study and, oddly enough, a good deal of scientific research, and mine was rooted in deep familial “group think” or “the best kind of ignorance” resulting in a hearty trust in dear ol’ doc. When you put the two together like that, you realize I never really had a choice in the matter.
Know A Birth Plan, Save The World
And this brings us back to the birth plan. I wish I would have spent some time understanding why these choices about vitamin K supplements and epidurals were important to Mellisa. Through her voracious appetite for ribbin’ she came across some values and practices that meant a whole lot to her, and I didn’t really support her in it. My attitude was basically: whatever you want, babe. And I wish it was more like: why is that important? Let me read the report you’ve found.
When we were about 40 hours into labor the doctor finally said it’s time for the epidural; that if we didn’t have an epidural Mellisa’s body wouldn’t relax and loosen up, and we wouldn’t be able to deliver this baby without a c-section. This CRUSHED me because all I knew about an epidural was that it was bad.
I thought an epidural was bad because I never took the time to learn what Mellisa knew, I didn’t have the context. I felt like an epidural was just a first step towards something terrible like the baby never breast feeding properly, or never feeling loved by the family. But that wasn’t the case at all (it can be, but it wasn’t). That epidural brought us closer to our goal and was a BIG part of Mellisa delivering the baby successfully.
So, spend some time exploring your wife’s values and feelings about her birth plan. Try to understand why she wants what she wants and maybe, just maybe, together, we can all love a little more and rib’ a little less.