Thursday, March 24, 2011

"Spencer's Story"

         It is considered a long time to be in labor 60 hours. Because of my supposedly advanced age of 36 years, my doctor wanted to continually perform tests, which I declined. I was very healthy, so intuitively I knew much of what my doctor urgently recommended was not necessary. Finally, I chose to forego conventional medicine in favor of a more natural approach to pregnancy and childbirth; therefore, we had a midwife from the time he was three months in the womb, until the date of delivery.
During my pregnancy, everything progressed even better than planned. In addition to avoiding the other so-called “normal” effects of pregnancy, I experienced no vomiting, bloating, leg cramps, swollen ankles, or mood swings. It was a model pregnancy. My husband and I anticipated a home water birth and were relieved at the prospect of avoiding the necessity of medical intervention.
My water broke in the early morning hours. Hundreds of sporadic contractions and 47 hours later, I was transported to the hospital. Spencer, our son, was born by way of cesarean section. After 60 hours of labor, I was relieved to finally have my baby safely cradled in my arms.
We were forewarned sleep would become scarce after the arrival of our new bundle of joy. As it turned out, the warning was all too true. Over the course of the next three weeks, Spencer and I were crying non-stop. Between my tears and anxiety, I lost 30 pounds within this three-week period. I was absolutely certain; I made a grave error in becoming a mother. I felt totally inadequate, believing I did not possess the emotional maturity to be a parent.
As reflected by the size of our telephone charges, for three weeks I sought the advice and counsel of everyone I knew. Sadly, in my mind things were so dreadful; I no longer wanted to live.
Thinking I was breastfeeding incorrectly, I visited a lactation specialist four times. Because the breastfeeding process was incredibly painful for me, I thought I was doing something wrong. We took Spencer to the pediatrician on three separate occasions and each time the doctor wanted to prescribe medication as a solution.
The doctor described Spencer’s condition as “colic.” Telling him I wanted to get to the root of the problem, I became increasingly frustrated with his advice. Shortly thereafter, I located a more holistic pediatrician.
When I bathed Spencer or put him in his car seat, he would scream. He refused to nap during the day. When I put him down for the night, he would immediately wake up screaming again. To soothe and comfort him, I would instantly pick him up, holding him in my arms. Neither of us was getting any rest.
During that period, my midwife came to our home on several occasions in an attempt to assist. She was very comforting, however, Spencer’s crying continued.  All too often, well meaning folks tried to reassure me with phrases such as: “All babies cry,” or “You obviously have not been around babies much,” “Things will calm down in a little while, it just takes time,” or “It will get better.” It was truly one of the most painful periods in my life.           
           My parents lived four hours north. After three months of non-stop crying, I loaded Spencer in the car and drove to their home. I required a break and someone with whom to talk, face to face. I needed to be around somebody constantly at this point. My husband offered all the support he could, however, he worked during the days and traveled out of town on business.
        Before leaving home I called my midwife, letting her know where I would be staying. She said the answers were inside me. I needed to calm down for a few days, relax and start thinking straight. With my mother at my side, I knew this was possible.
One evening, I was attempting to breastfeed Spencer. As usual, he was screaming loudly. I told my mother it seemed as though he had a more difficult time feeding while laying on his right side. My mother stopped chopping vegetables, looked up and asked, “Do you remember the doctor saying Spencer’s head was tilted to the right, turning in an upward direction during labor?” I said, “Mom, I was on so many medications during the delivery, I remember little about the process.”
            At that point in our conversation the telephone rang. It was Bonny, a close friend from the Bay Area, calling to see how I was doing. I told her about the puzzle pieces my mother and I put together. As it turned out, she heard about a similar situation. She said she would get back to me.
       The following day, Bonny called with the name of a Bay Area osteopathic physician. An acquaintance of hers experienced tremendous success with him. I drove Spencer to see him. Healing became evident approximately 45 minutes into our initial consultation. Despite the perspiration dripping from the doctor’s brow, he manipulated Spencer’s head with feathery fingertips. During the first session, Spencer stopped crying and smiled. I cried. Soon thereafter, I located an osteopathic physician closer to our home. His specialty is cranial work for children.
           In conjunction with the treatments by the osteopath, I took Spencer to the energy-balancing center where I studied. Through applied muscle kinesiology, Spencer became harmonized. He is able to function effectively, lovingly and freely in all aspects of his life. Spencer continued to heal and within a brief period became known as the “Happiest, Most Alert Baby.” In a matter of weeks, he was a different child.
I learned to persevere during difficult times, listen to my own instincts and be grateful there are alternative options available. The emotional and physical pain from the 60 hours of labor and first three months after Spencer’s birth is now a faded memory.

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