Why I insisted on a natural birth (it’s not what you think!)

I saw a doctor yesterday, trying to determine the source of numbness in my arms. It’s likely carpal tunnel presenting a little unusually, but it’s enough to drive me crazy.

“No typing,” the doctor said.

I laughed.

“No typing for more than 30 minutes at a time,” he amended.

I laughed again.

“Computers are the bane of humanity,” he concluded.

Well I can partially agree with that.

Anyway, they will do a nerve test and then there’s surgery, but I’m into Avoiding Surgery, if you know what I mean. See, I have this aversion to needles…

The day before yesterday, I went to give blood.

The mobile collection team was in town. I missed it two months ago, so I made a point to get there on my lunch hour.

Aren’t the blood-collecting people all just so gosh-darned friendly? And thankful? You walk in, and it’s all “Hi! Thanks for coming!” You get called in to answer questions about your sordid past and they say, “Thanks for coming, have a seat!” Then you get to the bloodletting chair and they say, “Thanks for coming in today, left or right arm?”

As I see it, all that thanks could stem from one of two reasons:

1. They want to somehow make up for the fact they made you relive your sordid past, and now they’re going to stick you with a needle and suck your blood.
2. They really truly appreciate you being there, because the demand for blood and platelets always outpaces the donations.

And I’m pretty sure it’s a lot more of the latter.

So I go, even though I’m not down with needles. No, not at all. (There’s a reason I turned down an epidural, and it wasn’t martyrdom*.)

But this time, I came prepared! I brought a book, a scarf to shield my eyes from the whole operation, and a real can-do attitude.

The can-do did do me for two minutes and 25 seconds. Then I passed out. Like I do.

Let me be clear: It’s not the blood, it’s the needles. Blood fascinates me. Needles mess with my head.

So while the nurses flip my chair back, apply cold compresses to my neck and wrap a tourniquet around the hole in my arm, I can’t stop apologizing. “I’m so sorry! I don’t want to be a waste of time! Did you get enough to use? I’m so sorry!”

Because I know my measly 285 grams of blood was not worth their time and effort to tend to me and bring me juice. All that time could have been better spent taking blood from other people who would have remained conscious while delivering a full pint. Each time I convince myself THIS is the time I’m not going to faint, and each time I never make it to the finish.

Why do I put myself (and them) through it? Because you see, I know there’s always a demand for blood. I’m healthy. Why shouldn‘t I donate?

I explain my conflicting interests to the bloodsuckers each time, invariably as I come to from my swoon, and they all say the same thing. “Thanks so much for trying! Thanks for coming!” And then they gently excuse me from every having to come back.

Now I just have to excuse myself.

In the meantime, if you’re healthy and have 15 minutes to spare, drop by a blood collection clinic. The cookies are tasty, the juice is plentiful, and the staff are the friendliest bunch of people you’ll ever want to meet coming at you with a 17-gauge needle. (Just looking that up gave me the heebie jeebies).


*Let me tell you a true story about refusing an IV port while I was in labour. No really, I did.
Me: “No.”
Nurse: “You might need it.”
Me: “I don’t need it NOW, so keep it away from me!”
Nurse: “But if you need it, we’ll have to put it in.”
Me: “If I NEED it, I’ll deal with it. Until then, you do NOT want to have to deal with me in labour, AND me with an IV port.”(Seriously – a couple of years ago ER nurses in the very same hospital had to hold me down to administer antibiotic for an advanced case of strep throat).
Nurse: “Well we’ll see what the doctor says about that.”
… doctor arrives…
Nurse(to obstetrician): “She says she doesn’t want an IV port.”
Doctor (to me): “You might need it.”
Me: If NEED it, I’ll get it. I don’t need it now, so I’m not getting it now.
Doctor: But you MIGHT.

…The bridge never came.

Later, after Sylvia was born all healthy and slimy, the OB says, “We have to put you on a petocin drip”
Me: “Why?”
OB: “You’re stomach is not hardening up fast enough.”
(See, after delivery your womb should contract again, firming up the belly. If it’s soft, it could be a sign of internal hemorrhaging).
Me: “Is there any other option?”
OB: “I’ll give you one hour to contract, or else the nurse will have to hook you up.” (He says, on his way back to the gym. No, really.)
Me: Ok, one hour.

… one hour later, my belly is doing just fine on its own. See how my fear of needles twice spared me from unnecessary intervention?

And all this from the only OB in a hospital where the C-section rate is over 42 per cent! That’s nearly THREE TIMES the recommendation of the World Health Organization! Interestingly, the doc I saw yesterday noted that the inflated C-section rate is not only due to a scalpel-happy obstetrician, but women are requesting them more because they want to avoid the pain of labour. So let’s talk about our prenatal education a little bit.

Wow this turned into a little post-within-a-post! If you leave with one thing, let it be this: give blood! They could really use your donation, and your nerve.


One response to “Why I insisted on a natural birth (it’s not what you think!)

  1. Pingback: Slave to the machine(s) | The Sheds Project

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