By Lindsey Roderick
Do you see a difference in these two photos? At first glance, probably not. Both show the first photo taken of me holding my brand new babies after their births. The first photo was taken on February 14, 2010. The second in May 27, 2016. I still remember how I felt in both photos. It’s seared in my mind forever.
Now look at them again. Can you see you see the forced emotions of the first picture? The sweet baby clearly upset with no sign of soothing from me. I’m fully clothed, he is fully swaddled and has a hat on... to stay warm because he’s not benefiting from skin to skin with me. I had hired a midwife and instead of taking responsibility for my care and educating myself, I put literally EVERYTHING in her hands. She said “jump,” I said “how high.” The emotions behind the “smile” in the first photo are that I’m distant. I'm numb... blank. I know I just did this thing of bringing a baby into the world after what felt like 632.2 days of pregnancy and exactly 17 hours of labor but other than that, I hadn’t really processed it or FELT it. I had gone into labor on my own and was progressing but agreed to Pitocin, which in my case was completely unnecessary. That led to an epidural (I promptly passed out after it was placed) after I couldn’t stay on top of the pain. I was also on Benadryl to counteract my allergic reaction to the antibiotics for GBS. I had created an environment for my birth that ended up inhibiting my body's natural release of hormones--with wires, uncomfortable (and potentially preventable) interventions. I remember being tense and fighting what my body was trying to do instead of riding the waves.
It’s like it all happened to me but I was still trying to process everything as if I hadn’t been there at all. I’ll never forget how I felt when they handed my son to me. I had no clue what was about to happen to my body beyond random google searches. I never invested the time in learning nor did I know I needed to. I assumed if I had a midwife, she’d handle everything and I’ll just show up. I hadn’t learned or even heard of skin to skin and it’s importance in helping baby regulate respiration and boy temperature. I really didn’t even know how to soothe this baby and my body didn’t just instinctively pick it up. I was in such a fog and still coming down from the medications.
Ultimately, the birth of our first baby was NOT optimized to be my "best" birth--mostly through a lack of informed consent and education.
"Don’t rely on your doctor to make every decision without knowing how that could positively or negatively effect you and your baby."
Fast forward 6 years and countless hours of researching and learning...
The second picture: THAT mom took responsibility for her birth and it’s outcome. She’s over the moon happy and glowing. That baby is doing true skin to skin and taking a rest on my chest after the hard work we both did. She’s nice and pink and I’m not washed out and pale. I showed up for that birth. It was intense, it was the hardest and most painful thing I’ve ever done, but I did it 100% drug free because I decided that was my best chance of preventing the feelings and issues I had during and after my first birth--this type of birth was the best birth for us. And the oxytocin high? It was real y’all. I swear I was on cloud nine for months after my daughter was born, just like the photo.
I’m not saying you have to go drug free if that isn’t your ideal birth, but whatever you decide, show up. It wasn’t necessarily the medications that made my experiences so different. It was the research. education and learning about my body and births process and taking the responsibility for choices made during the process.
Be present. Take responsibility for your care. Research and educate yourself.
Don’t rely on your doctor to make every decision without knowing how that could positively or negatively effect you and your baby. I promise that it can make a huge difference in your experience. These two photos are night and day and prove the growth I made not only as a woman but a mother in taking control of my body! You can do the same--all you've got to do is take control.
This is us.
We are Women. We are Moms. We are here to help your family blossom.