Friday, January 22, 2010

If my body was created by heaven to do this, then why does it hurt like hell?

(maybe you shouldn't read this if you are considering natural childbirth and want to hear only happy stories about it)

I gave birth naturally two weeks ago. It hurt.

My first birth experience (with little josh) was long, horrendous, and medically-interventive, and I was determined that for the second time around, I would do it all naturally. I wanted to experience the real thing and have a positive experience.

I decided to go with the childbirth program of Hypnobirthing after researching a few different methods. The hypno claim is that if you teach your body how to relax, birth can and will be a comfortable, smooth, easy, even painless experience for you. Marie Mongan (founder of the method) claims that birth was never supposed to be painful, but that our culture has conditioned us to think that it is, thus leading to fear, which causes tension, which causes pain. She says that animals don’t scream when they are in labor—they just go find a quiet, dark place and give birth. This all made perfect sense to me, and I wondered why no one else seemed to be catching on to such a sensible attitude about birth.

Maybe because it's a load of hooey.

Okay, I will give credit where it’s due—after months of teaching myself to relax, I was more able to cope with the pain than I would have been otherwise. I spent the first six hours of labor relaxing in my bedroom in an easy chair, drinking my favorite juice, listening to music and my husband’s relaxing prompts, surrounded by pictures of my family. The breathing I learned from the hypno program was a way of coping with the pain, and I stayed calm. I was in pain, there’s no denying that, but it was manageable.

We left for the hospital, and two hours after checking in, I had a beautiful baby in my arms. No IV's, no catheters, no drugs, no complications-- everything that I had wanted.

But that last hour and a half was the most painful, awful thing I have ever experienced. I lost control.

Maybe if Bennett’s heart rate had been passing all the tests and I had been allowed in the bathtub, things would have been different… I don’t know. But giving birth felt like I was being ripped apart from the inside while being stabbed with knives. I couldn’t stop screaming. You could probably hear me screaming from outside the hospital. I wondered how it was possible that my body could actually feel that much pain. Most of all, I wondered why God would allow it to be like this.

The age-old argument the agnostic will use is this one: If there were a God, how could He allow so much suffering? My question is a different, more specific one though, because I know there IS a God, and I know that He loves me very much. My question is instead:

Why would God create my body with the purpose (and commandment) of having children, and then make it so painful and complicated and risky? There has to be a reason. A good reason.

Why would women since the beginning of time not only be trodden down by men in so many other ways, but be forced to endure such agony after one act of pleasure, or even after an experience such as rape? Where does the man fit into all of that? Where is his just reward for the act? Why must the woman face it alone? That’s not to say that I would want my wonderful, loving, supportive husband to suffer—I just wonder why the shares seem so unequal. Why isn’t childbirth easy? If it were solely to discourage people from taking sex lightly or to punish them, surely the man would suffer some of the consequence as well.

In church I’ve learned that Eve’s decision was the necessary one to allow humankind to progress, and that she was right in doing what she did. Thus, I find it hard to believe that the sole reason we suffer to bring forth children is because of her decision.

I also find it hard to believe that my experiences have been atypical—that for some reason childbirth is easier for everyone else than it is for me. Many women (and babies) have died throughout history because of childbirth. Even if I am just a big wuss, you can’t deny the childbirth mortality rates that we know of from other places and times.

So here are some of my possible guesses. Maybe...

1. It gives the woman an opportunity to be like Jesus Christ-- suffering intensely so that someone else can have life-- something a person cannot do for himself. A savior of sorts.

2. God wanted to show even the most civilized, cushy, convenienced society that life is a time of suffering as well as joy. He didn’t want us to forget and become complacent in our modern experience.

3. God wanted to give the woman a claim on her children that no one else would have. A mother who has just brought her child into this life will most likely be fiercely protective, if not possessive, of that child, and love him dearly. They always say that you grow to love those you serve.

4. It's just another instance of God using the law of opposition to make us appreciate what we have. We have to know the bitter so that we can know the sweet. Could we ever really appreciate life if we weren’t at some point made to suffer in some way? The many trials and tests we have here on Earth help us grow and progress in a way that nothing else ever could. Perhaps childbirth (and being a parent after that) was meant to be just another bittersweet experience that allows us to become better.

5. The greater test is for the man—it would be so easy for him to walk away from the consequences of his decisions and allow the pregnant woman to fend for herself. Perhaps this gives him a chance to step up and be better and face the consequences—and be more harshly judged by God if he doesn’t.

6. It's to guard the virtue of the woman—the virtue that God so highly prizes. If a woman knows what the consequences can be, maybe she will be motivated to be more careful with her body.

7. It gives the woman the sense of accomplishing something truly difficult and truly great.

8. It's so the man will feel sorry for the woman and buy her chocolates.

I don’t know the answers, but I am going to continue to search for them. It’s therapeutic for me to write out these thoughts as I process the stories of my sons’ births and the prospect of having more children further along down the road.

Will I give birth without an epidural again? I don't know if I will. I haven't decided. But everything else aside, maybe the most important question of all is this:

Is childbirth worth it?

Yes, I think it is.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

10 things I love about you, Bennett

1. you nurse like a champ.
2. when jr gets jealous and hits you, you never hit back.
3. lately you've been going right back to sleep after eating during the night.
4. even after being on biliruben lights for days and days, you never complain.
5. you are perfectly happy in your bouncer while we chase after your brother.
6. you poop every 3 hours so that we won't worry if your bowels work or not.
7. you have only peed on daddy and grandma, but never on me.
8. you let me kiss your cheeks and hug you all I want.
9. you smile in your sleep.
10. you are adorable.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

the babyjosh show: how to be a big brother

i'm so glad you're here now, bennett.

we'll always stick together,

i'll always be there for you,

and i'll always take care of you.

(but just so you know, i'm still in charge around here. and don't you forget it.)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Right on Time...

Bennett William Karoly
8 lbs 9 ozs - 20 inches

Mom and baby are doing great. Adele keeps talking about how cute he is. I hope jr. doesn't get jealous. Or me for that matter.

We are so happy to have this addition to our family. It's just as awesome the second time. Thank you Heavenly Father.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Poop. Don't read if you are easily grossed out.

Jr. used the toilet today! I was filling up the tub and he said "poop" so I put him on the toilet and he pooped. (He also pooped a lot more in the tub later, but that's beside the point, right?) Potty training is going to be lots of fun. Below is an excerpt from a chat between Josh and me from a couple of months ago to show just how fun it can be.

11:49 AM me: k so here's the story
jr is in the bathtub
11:50 AM
I turn and see that he's standing up
so I think "oh, maybe he just peed" oh well.
I turn back and continue what I'm doing
the next time I look, jr has pooped.
In about 4 inches of water.
so I'm like "aaah! in the toilet josh!"
11:51 AM and I grab him and put him on the toilet
so he's sitting there and nothing's happening, so I'm like "okay are you done?"
and I move him.
which is right when the poop comes out and smears all over the toilet.
so I put him back on in a different spot and hold him there for quite a while
finally, I figure he's done
so I take him off.
11:52 AM So I try and wipe his bum a little
next thing I know, he's peeing all over my feet
I'm like "sick, junes!"
but I can't just wash off my feet because there's major poop in the tub which hasn't finished draining
11:53 AM so I finally gather up the poop in the tub with some toilet paper and flush it in the toilet
and jump in the tub to wash off my feet so I can go get some wipes
sometime during all of this, jr. pooped again
this time on the bathroom floor
and stepped in it.
so I had to put him back in the tub to wash off his feet
11:54 AM I finally got my feet washed off, got his feet washed off, gathered him in a (now poopy) towel
wiped his bum with a wipe and put a diaper on him
this whole time he's being super cute and obedient and innocent so there's no possible way I can be mad at him
the end.

8 minutes
12:03 PM Joshua: oh man
i didn't laugh
at all
12:04 PM me: did you laugh?
tell the truth.
Joshua: ...yes
i kept thinking you were done
and then you kept going
me: haha
12:06 PM I kept thinking jr was done pooping.
funny how not a bit of that poop made it into the toilet
except for the parts I wiped up