Ignorance is not Bliss
“What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You.”
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Luke 23:34
“In Him I have learned to put my Trust. He is faithful to do exceedingly more than I can ever hope and imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Those who put their trust in Him will not be disappointed (Psalm 22:5).”
When I embarked upon the journey of pregnancy and childbirth for the very first time (1970), I had little knowledge. I did not read any books, take any classes, nor had I witnessed first-hand an actual birth. All I had to go by was what other women and my mother told me concerning their experiences. The media and Hollywood portrayed a woman in labor as helpless and needing assistance. So therefore, I placed myself into the hands of the obstetrical experts, who gallantly waited to deliver me from this threatening peril. I remember that the prenatal visits were seldom pleasant, and at best the attitudes of the physicians, nurses and office personnel were condescending. This attitude added to my lack of confidence in the whole affair. I couldn’t help feeling helpless and inadequate throughout my pregnancy. Whenever I did ask questions, they were met with vague explanations. The countless examinations were degrading. I never got used to having my legs placed in stirrups and the constant probing. The focus was continuously on my weight at every visit, and I remember feeling like a “bad” girl if my weight gain was outside the preferable scale.
When I went into labor I did not wait long before heading straight to the hospital. I still did not know what to expect. After the nurse examined me, prepped me (shaving and enema), I was placed in a little dark room on a narrow cot facing a wall. I can’t remember how long I labored there, but I was by myself. My husband was not allowed to come in. Again, the fear of the unknown was overwhelming. These memories are shadows of recollections. The whole event is foggy to me, except for the pain. The next thing I remember is lying flat on my back on a gurney. I also remember the tremendous tension of contractions and trying to cope by holding onto the metal rails that surrounded me. I remember begging for any relief that could be given. I received two injections of Demerol, and after that things really got hazy. The pain medication gave me little relief, and I felt out of control while drifting in and out of semi-consciousness. During this episode of labor my husband was with me. The OB nurse tried to have me breathe in a certain way that was not familiar. Suddenly, I was being transported somewhere else and my husband again, could not go with me. I remember a mask covering my nose and mouth, and then waking up to a nurse’s contorted expression, standing behind the OB who was stitching up my episiotomy. By the expression on her face, I could tell things were not going well. Someone asked, with a surprised tone, “do you know how much this baby weighs?”, the answer was over 10 pounds. The next thing I remember is being wheeled out in a hallway where my husband was waiting. The mood was morbid, and there was no celebration. I was in real pain, unlike the contractions. I stayed in the hospital a week trying to recover. The pain was so intense, I could not bear the weight of holding my baby girl. I remember crying when I reluctantly pushed her away. I could not welcome visitors, and my surroundings were a mess. On one occasion, I remember a nurse coming in my room and sarcastically saying, “It looks like someone needs to do a little housekeeping”. It was absolutely unbearable to stand and walk to the bathroom. I felt that I was still carrying a baby with the throb of pains transferred now to my bottom. I was eventually released carrying home a prescription of Demerol with also no clue as to how I was going to take care of my baby. The pain finally subsided, but twelve days later I started hemorrhaging heavy clots. My mother was visiting at the time, and when she witnessed the constant bleeding, she immediately called my doctor and we headed for the ER. I was examined by the senior OB not the one who delivered. His examination was not gentle, and I was still tender. I began crying, reflecting on the stressful past week of trying to rent our duplex, while at the same time trying to manage the aftermath of a painful birth and now colicky baby. He made the comment, “looks like someone is feeling sorry for herself.” Again, I felt humiliation and inadequacy.
The biggest problem occurred with my pediatrician. He took an instant dislike to me because after one day and night hearing my baby scream relentlessly, we decided to carry her to the ER. My baby was refusing to take the bottle and fussed with irritation whenever I tried to feed her. She had also developed a rash and I could do little to comfort her.
My pediatrician never showed up. but on our first office visit, he addressed my husband in an angry manner informing him that I was the problem. I felt like the worse mother in the world. I remember that awful encounter like it was yesterday. The nurse told me in an unfriendly manner, to take all the clothes off my baby and then left. My husband and I were concerned about this because the room seemed cool and drafty. But she insisted that the baby remain undressed until the doctor arrived.
It was a very long time before the pediatrician entered the room. During the lecture the pediatrician told me I was putting too many clothes (this was in the middle of winter) on her and diagnosed it as heat rash. He told me that the reason she was continuously crying was that “I was handling her too much”. He told me to give her 4 ounces of formula, every 4 hours, stop holding her, and let her cry. He told me the problem with her fussiness with the formula was because she was a big baby and was not getting enough milk. He then instructed me on how to make a “heavier formula” that contained a dilution of evaporated milk, with Karo Corn Syrup.
See potential risks: (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/karo-syrup-for-constipation/AN01826).
He also diagnosed the constant screaming as colic and prescribed Paregoric. My baby later developed Bronchitis, my husband and I believe, from the long exposure in the drafty room. Also, during this first office visit she received her first immunization. When I got home I noticed the place of the inoculation was hard, hot, and red, and she had developed a fever. When I called the pediatrician’s office to voice my concern, the nurse receiving my call laughed, insinuating I was stupid and with a condescending voice, prescribed the application of a cold pack and an over the counter pain medication every four hours. Finally, without reservations this time, my maternal instincts kicked in and I made up my mind that I was going to find another pediatrician.
I’ll never forget that first visit with Dr. Paine. Dr. Paine took one look at my baby and instantly diagnosed the rash as a milk allergy and prescribed a soybean based formula. He was livid when he heard that my previous pediatrician was prescribing paregoric for the colic and told me it was a form of “opium”. But he did something else. He “treated” me with respect and restored my faith in myself as a mother. My baby soon changed from hungry and fussy to a calm and peaceful child.
Four years later (1974), I became pregnant again with my second child. I learned that ignorance proved not to be bliss, but rather quite the contrary; very painful. So I started asking questions and learned from hearing the birth stories of other women that the experience can be powerful and exhilarating. At the same time I had rededicated my life to Jesus Christ. I was hungry for His Truth and could not put my bible down. He was revealing so much of Himself to me through His Word. He gave me a hunger also to know the truth concerning childbirth and breastfeeding and how he designed it. I grew in confidence concerning my ability to give birth and knew that when the time came, the Lord would be there to support and guide me every step of the way.
At my second birth, I relied not on the medical team, but rather my Lord. He did not disappoint me, but showed up, just in time to deliver my child and myself. DF
“May my cry come before you, O LORD;
give me understanding according to your word.
May my supplication come before you;
deliver me according to your promise.”
See Faith: Waiting on God’s Intervention