Birth Fears and the Third Trimester Blues

By: J

Well, we’re nearing the end of this incredible journey. T will be full term at the end of the week, and the days are flying by so quickly that it truly feels like we are running out of time. Good thing we have just about everything ready–just about, anyway. Now is as good of time as any to write about the third trimester and some of my anxieties about the upcoming birth of our son.

First, I’m not sure I have the “blues” exactly, but there are some things sort of dragging me down, so I’ll discuss them briefly.

1. I’m tired, and I can’t seem to shake it. Obviously with T as far along as she is, I don’t expect and won’t allow her to do much, which makes it incumbent upon me to lift, carry, clean, cook, shop, etc. Lately, especially, I seem to spend my days doing things that wear me out: putting together the nursery, shampooing the carpets, getting the car repaired, etc. We’ve always had a very egalitarian relationship, so taking over all the duties has taken its toll on me. I’m not a youngster anymore! I don’t have an endless resevoir of energy. Of course, every time I start to feel even the teensiest bit sorry for myself, I look over at T and see her huge belly and consider just how hard it is for her to get around, and then I slap myself for getting pooped in the first place.

2. I want to live in a cocoon. The past couple of months have been really busy in regards to obligations, traveling, etc.: two baby showers, one wedding, several overnight visitors, birth class, appointments, hospital tours. I just want to turn off the spigot of outside disturbances and focus on us! T and I love to host; we are very good at it. That said, I don’t want to be responsible for anything or anyone right now except for T. Even the cats seem a burden right now. In the mornings, I just feed them and put them out. But it seems as soon as I sit down for a brief respite, one of the beasts is screeching to be let in–or out. Put simply: go away and leave me alone! (disclaimer: this does not apply to my neighbor who may be reading)

3. I feel more exposed than ever. T wrote about the “Daddy’s Night” issue. It’s a tough one. I’ve been selectively “out” for fifteen years; that’s what’s comfortable for me. I get to know someone, and then when it feels natural, I may mention my partner, and that’s it. Being thrust into the heterosexual world of birth, I’ve been exposed in a whole new and unexpected way. Now, most people have been great. Our midwives and OB seem to like it, actually. They’re very inclusive, so I never feel different. It’s the straight couples that are having a hard time with us. Not all, but some. Here’s what I mean. In birth class, I get stared at all the time by two of the husbands. I don’t know why, and I can’t figure out whether I’m just a novelty or there is true hostility coming from them. The last hospital tour we went on, the nurse kept using the word “fathers” to describe the labor coach. I tried like hell to let it roll off, but T was visibly upset. The nurse seemed to catch on and changed her vernacular afterward. So, yeah, I feel different than everyone, and everyone knows it. I just want to blend in and be a part of the experience without having to be some diversity example.

4. I have my own set of birth anxieties different than those of expectant mothers and fathers. Early in our birth class, the educator had us break up into groups of mothers and fathers to discuss our fears about birth. I stayed with the moms and acted as a note taker. We went around in a circle, and all the mothers discussed their greatest fears about giving birth. T’s was easy: C-section. The other women, who are considerably younger, had totally different fears. They worried about side issues like tearing during labor or pooping while pushing. They didn’t fear unnecessary interventions as T and I did; I suppose this is because they have a lot of trust in medical professionals and feel in safe hands. Me, not so much. I absolutely do not trust medical professionals. There’s a very good reason for this. I did battle with them when my dad was sick. He died, in my opinion, due to their policies. Some call it “Death by Kaiser,” which sounds about right to me. So I distrust them and their pitocin, epidurals, etc. I do not believe they have the best interest of the mothers in mind; in my mind, they want to get the baby out at all costs and will do unnecessary C-sections out of convenience with little regard to our wishes. This is my anxiety and what I shared that day in birth class, that my greatest fear is having a “combatant medical staff.” I feel like I’m bracing myself to do battle with these people, that I have to protect T from all their interventions and callousness. Maybe I watched one too many episodes of the “Baby Story,” wherein the story is always the same: interventions, interventions, interventions. Then epidural, directed pushing, or, all too often, C-section. T and I took to calling it “The C-section Story.”

The thing is, I don’t want to go in there with a defensive or crouched posture. I don’t want to distrust these people or their intentions. I want a loving and supportive atmosphere for T. I feel like if I go in there thinking I have to do battle with these people in order to protect her, that I will inevitably create the very thing I’m  trying to prevent. I don’t want her stressed out. Stress slows labor, which can lead to interventions. At the same time, I am, and always have been, fiercly protective of her. I’m working to prepare my mind and spirit to welcome a positive experience, but it doesn’t help that our OB has already suggested induction. We’re working on a birth plan, which we are trying to make braod enough so that we don’t back ourselves into a corner. We’re also talking about ways we can avoid interventions and the like, so T is definitely aware of my fears, even sharing some of them, but in this final stretch, I don’t want to be dealing with fears. I want to be opening up, welcoming our baby into the world and preparing the best possible environment for him. I’m trying, ladies, I really am.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Birth Fears and the Third Trimester Blues

  1. A.

    J, thanks for sharing all of this with us. T is very lucky to have such a supportive partner, and I hope that you emerge from this process feeling as valuable as you really are. I know your boy will arrive into the best possible home environment. xoxo

  2. CA Bounds

    Thanks for your disclaimer J.

  3. I’ll second A on the thanks for sharing. As the “other” mother to our potential child, I can understand where you are coming from and, as the daughter of a labor & delivery nurse, I have heard many stories in which the doctor was less than agreeable to not intervene. The most important thing to remember is to be clear and firm about what it is you both want.

  4. 1. I think its awesome that you are doing so much to help out. Even during the times when you would rather lay around and do nothing. T is very lucky to have such a supportive partner!

    2. I can completely understand what you are saying in number 2! Holly and I host all the time and one month it seemed as if we were doing a party every week. Sometimes you just want to lock the doors, shut off the lights and lay in bed with the one you love with no other distractions. I hope you two are able to find that time soon before the baby arrives!

    3. I think its horrible how you two are treated in the birthing classes. I thought about this scenario a lot when Holly was trying to get pregnant. The only difference is that I would have stood up and said something… even to the gentlemen who were staring. I’m just that type of person… lol We ran into the same thing when Holly and I took ballroom classes. The classes were organized in a way that everyone dances with everyone at some point and since Holly was the ‘lead’ she had to dance with other straight women. We got looks all the time and there were actually times when Holly was turned down to dance with another woman. My point of this story is… we left there with the knowledge we paid for, despite the looks and the whispers. We still had a great time.

    4. I’m hoping that your son’s birthday is a positive experience all around and that everyone involved is healthy and happy! Having a plan in place is a great step. As long as you both are on the same page with your doctor, I think all will work out great.

    When all is said and done, just know that you two are going to make excellent mothers! Only a few more weeks left until your precious baby boy is here!

    P.S. Sorry for the long post but I wanted to touch on everything you said. 🙂

  5. Elsha Quinn

    I see T has Nursing Birth in her blogroll. I’m not sure if either of you have spent much time there, but her site (and the ones in her blogroll) are EXCELLENT resources, specifically for women who want to avoid unnecessary interventions. A lot of the sites are natural childbirth oriented, and even if that’s not your focus, there is a lot of great advice on how to stay empowered and take control of the birth experience. One of those is to make sure your labor partner is just as informed and involved in the process as the laboring mother will be, so if you haven’t already, make time to check it out. 🙂 Great post!

  6. poppycat

    J,

    Your fears are completely justified and I know it’s going to be hard to deal with everything that comes at you when the time comes. I know you will be a perfect partner, coach and advocate for T. It’s not fair that you have to feel anything but complete bliss right now and that others are causing uneasiness around being a female partner and not a husband. It is rediculous and I wish you didn’t have to fight the good fight as you are trying to support T and the baby. It’s total BS.

    Time is rushing by but try to give yourself a little bit of down time before the baby comes. You need to be refreshed and new going into this just as much as T does so don’t forget to take care of you too.

    You are a wonderful partner and you are going to be an amazing advocate for T and the baby as well as a fantastic parent. Keep up the good work J!

  7. lyn

    1) Go ahead and complain. It’s exhausting to be doing so much work, and it’s also hard that you feel pressure not to complain! There is so little support out there for what you are doing right now. It’s hard and you’re doing a great job.

    2) To the extent you can, try to ignore the house after the birth. You’ll still feel pressure to keep everything afloat, but you need time with Egghead too, OK?

    3) I could have written much of what you wrote just before Leigh was born three years ago. It does get easier once there’s a baby. Yes, you will have to be out more often than you used to be, but you’ll be less different than the other moms than you are now. When you are out with Egghead, particularly if you are alone with him, the world will interact with you like a “normal” mother. Let them. It really does wonders.

    4) As far as fears go, do *you* have support for during the birth? I had all of these fears heading into Leigh’s birth, and when we had to transfer from home to hospital, I was a mess. We hadn’t lined up enough support and I was utterly exhausted and deeply fearful for how things would go once we entered a medical setting. This time, we had ample doula support for Gail, and it made a huge difference in terms of her ability to let down her guard and enjoy the birth of her son–and we were in a situation where lots of intervention was guaranteed (early induction due to liver complications) and my biggest fear was C-section. Ideally, you could have a doula, who could help you assess medical advice from a less defensive but well informed position, but I know cash is an issue for you guys. So if that isn’t possible, do you have a friend who could be on call to support YOU? Someone who you can talk to (even if just by phone) once you’re in the thick of it, who could hear your fears about how things are going if you hit a bump, and support you, so that you can be a better support T? Someone who could remind you to take care of yourself (eat, sleep) and possibly come to the hospital if you need a break?

    These last weeks are so intense, and you are both doing a great job. Hang in there.

  8. jay

    It IS exhausting. In fact, what you described sounded exhausting to me… yes, T is the pregnant one, but you’re allowed to be exhausted too! ;o)

    Those men staring at you sound creepy!! I’m sorry you’re going through that. They’ll be gone soon!

    And lyn is right about being out more often with a baby. If it helps any, I don’t think I’ve been treated much differently to vee at all, only really in the beginning because of medical stuff (like, “how are you getting on with the breastfeeding?”) and by two clueless medical staff at about 4am just after BB was born. Apart from that, I’m just another Mum to BB.

    And that’s what you’ll be too… only you’ll be a Mom, not a Mum, I’m sure!

  9. gypsygrrl

    i dont have any words of advice, but am here listening and sending you love and peace in these last days/weeks of preparation for your son to greet the world and his kickass mamas!!!

    xo,
    gypsy

  10. I am so excited for you two. I watch F everyday and can see how exhausting it is being the support person. She is out there mowing the lawn right now. I can also imagine what it is like preparing to be the support one for the birth. I have so much confidence in you though!

    It is too bad your prenatal class was not more progressive. They missed out on a great opportunity to be there for you. Instead of father class, they could have had a class where they talked about being the partner and all the worries and work that goes with it.

    As for the out issue. For myself, I think it is pretty much game over. I was out most of the time, but in some work situations I prefer to avoid the issue if possible. It is no longer possible. I work in a minority community where word travels fast. There is no way the only married pregnant gay girl in this community, can pass for straight! Each time I have to deal with this, I look at is a chance to make the world a little better for our kids. Last week we came out to some people from Southern Texas. I wasn’t sure how that was going to go, but it was fine.

    Best of luck with everything! I am sure you will do an amazing job during the birth just like you have been now. I am looking forward to Egghead’s arrival.

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