"Pregnant" appeared on the pregnancy test, and my first thought was, "Why couldn't this have happened while we were still in Sweden?"
That was back in November, just one month into our new life in Portland.
Our Oregon-born baby was due to enter this world and our lives on August 8, just two days before my own birthday. But he decided that he liked his sister's birthday better and popped out two weeks early on the 24th of July. (Sophie was born on the 25th of January.)
I got to the hospital a little before 4 a.m. and he was in my arms at 10:32 a.m. It was roughly 5 hours of labor and an hour and a half of pushing. It was the pushing part that made me both anxious and eager. I wasn't able to push Sophie out after 18 hours of labor. They had to go in and get her with the vacuum extractor, and that made it not-so-pleasant for me, as well.
This time, as I tried to quell any lingering episiotomy fears, I felt completely connected to what was happening. As chaotic and scary and exhausting as that last hour was, my midwife completely empowered me. It was my redemption, so to speak. My chance to prove to myself that I could do this, despite the fact that a Swedish doctor told me to have a C-section next time.
Actually feeling my body push Mathis' head out was amazing. And when they told me to look down as I pushed out his body, it's an indescribable moment that will be etched in my memory as one of the best in my life. It was a combination of "He's here!" and "I did it!"
In both cases, we ended up with a wonderful, healthy child. And I am grateful to both my Swedish and American midwife for that. But if we were going to have a third, I would kiss the American soil I was standing on when that positive pregnancy test appeared.
1. Every single person we interacted with at the hospital was super friendly, from the woman who pre-registered me the week before to the man who wheeled me out the door when it was time to go home. Seriously, there wasn't a bad egg in the bunch.
2. Drugs in my IV instead of sucking laughing gas.
3. Chocolate milkshakes delivered to my room.
4. Very knowledgeable lactation support, with an emphasis on support. After having Sophie, the Swedish staff ordered me to feed her formula and made me feel even more pressure when breastfeeding wasn't going well. The only pressure I felt here was self-inflicted.
5. EVERYTHING WAS IN ENGLISH. Holy cow, I knew EXACTLY what was going on with my birth at every moment. In Sweden, it wasn't until after Sophie was born that I was told that her heart rate was dropping to a scary level toward the end of pushing.
6. The hospital is 10 blocks from our house. In Sweden, we had to drive 45 minutes to the nearest hospital. This was especially scary in the middle of the Swedish winter.
7. New mommy groups where EVERYONE SPEAKS ENGLISH. :)
Don't get me wrong, I loved the Swedish medical system. I'm more shocked than anything that this experience made me a fan of the U.S. system. And I am extremely grateful that Sweden introduced me to the whole concept of midwifery. Otherwise, I'm sure I would have gone the ole OB-GYN route.
Now I'm off to spend this year bonding with my baby without any sort of government-sponsored maternity pay.