Friday, September 15, 2006

Better Is Not Good Enough

People have asked me why I don’t just choose a CNM in a hospital. After all, there are hospital birth centers now with comfortable (ha!) beds and Jacuzzi tubs. You don’t even feel like you’re in a hospital; it’s more like an upscale hotel. And the nurse midwives will even let you walk around and go into the tub!

That setting is certainly better than a typical hospital birth attended by an OB. Or rather, unattended by an OB, since most doctors generally have the nursing staff manage and monitor labor. Once the woman is pushing and the head is showing, the doctor is called in to take over. But I digress...

But better isn’t good enough for me. I refuse to labor in an environment where I will be “allowed” to do things. My recent attempt at IVF reminded me why being on my own turf is crucial. I went to the fertility clinic in January for the embryo transfer, the culmination of two months of drugs, shots, vaginal ultrasounds, blood tests, and minor surgical procedures. The staff led me to a room and had me undress and place my legs in THE HIGHEST stirrups I have ever seen. They left, and I waited. The four cups of water they had asked me to drink (so the ultrasound would work properly) came back with a vengeance.

There was a bathroom right across the hallway. I have never had to pee so badly in my entire life. I was a grown woman with advanced college degrees, yet I was nearly in tears because they had told me sternly that I was not allowed to go to the bathroom. I finally took my legs out of those stirrups, wrapped myself in a sheet, and sneaked across the hallway. I felt like James Bond. Even after I had locked myself in the bathroom, I was so worried about getting in trouble that I only let the smallest amount out. I sneaked back to the room and waited again. I made another evasive trip to the bathroom. I still was on the verge of exploding, just somewhat less so than before.

When the procedure started, I told the staff that I really had to pee. I mean REALLY. They said, “You’ll have to wait until we’re done and use the bedpan.” I was lying totally exposed, like an omega female on her back with a pack of alphas standing above her. I started crying because the discomfort was so incredible. The nurse dug around on my abdomen with the ultrasound probe for a few minutes. Finally, she said, “I guess you can go—you have a retroverted uterus and I can’t see it with your bladder in the way.” Peeing never felt so good.

My friends know that I’m not a wishy-washy Nice Girl by any means. I stand up for what I believe in. I speak up in class and disagree with my professors. Yet I found myself begging virtual strangers for permission to engage in a bodily function. On that day I understood complete humiliation.

I refuse to ask permission to walk around. I refuse to be “allowed” to drink clear fluids. No one will tell me that I cannot push, or that I have to get out of the tub, or that I have to lie on my back. If I want a steak, I will eat one. If I want to crawl in circles around my living room and bellow like a cow, no one will try to stop me. (My dog will probably think it’s great fun though).

Better is not good enough. I want fantastic. I want euphoric. I want incredibly challenging and painful and exhilarating.

And most of all, I want an empty bladder.


  1. DAMN FRIGGIN' RIGHT. I hate that "allowed" shit. You're "allowed" to have ice chips (no water! OMG!). You're "allowed" to use the birthing stool/ball/chair (if the only one isn't being used by soembody else at the moment!). You're "allowed" to labor for 12 hours (or else your baby will DIE and we'll have to CUT YOU OPEN TO SAVE IT!!!). Ugh.


  2. (screaming at the top of my cyber lungs...) ME TOO!!!! My 'journey' to my upcoming UBAC has been SO incredible!! I want (& God-willing will have) what I only DREAMED of having with my son!! I know now that I can make it happen! I don't need to ask anyone's 'permission'! HA! How empowering is THAT!!

  3. This post is absolutely brilliant.

  4. Can I ask...what led you to IVF? Granted, I am reading this post for the first time in April 2013, when you just had your 4th baby!
    Slightly related, do you know anything about IVF drugs and breastfeeding? I am nursing my 22 month old and my doctor is strongly urging me to do another IVF sooner rather than later before my endometriosis gets any worse than it already is, but I am adamant that I will not wean my baby before she is ready.

  5. Long story related to male-factor infertility. I hope to write about it some time.

    I don't know much about the IVF medications and breastfeeding. I'd consult the Hale Handbook (is that what it's called) about medications and mother's milk. Sorry I can't remember the proper name!


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