In some ways this post will be a departure from the norm in that a large part of what I’m going to talk about has to do with pregnancy and childbirth rather than MS—but never fear, MSers, it’s relevant to you too.
When I first started thinking about what I wanted having children to look like,
a million maybe 15 or so years ago, I knew that most of what I wanted fell outside of the mainstream. These things included:
- as much of a “hands off” and non-“managed” pregnancy as possible, including infrequent (if any) ultrasounds, infrequent (if any) vaginal exams, limited prenatal testing and limited interference from my healthcare provider—who would preferably be a midwife, not an OB
- not being in a hospital or being delivered by an obstetrician, who is a medical doctor and by definition thereby “medicalizes” the process
- no unnecessary interventions or procedures, including an epidural or any other anesthesia, induction or augmentation of labor, electronic fetal monitoring, frequent checks of my cervix, restriction of movement during labor and/or demanding a certain position in which to give birth, and certainly no unnecessary episiotomy or C-section
- limited interference with both baby and I after the birth, including leaving the baby with me after the birth and not taking him/her away to perform necessary examination (which can be done right next to me); no immediate bathing of the baby; leaving us mostly alone to skin-to-skin bond and breastfeed unless I ask for help
The more I researched and read and learned over the years, the more important these things became to me. Of course I know that fluid and flexible processes such as pregnancy and childbirth can’t necessarily be predicted and thus my wants were not guaranteed. That’s one area where MS is related—I’m living with one of the most unpredictable medical conditions in existence where nothing is guaranteed. But the above was so important to me that I was going to do everything under my control to make sure it happened. And it did happen—all of it! and it was wonderful!—but recently I got to thinking about my husband’s role in all this and how helpful it was that not only did my care provider and I see eye-to-eye—after all, that was on purpose; she wouldn’t have been my care provider had that not been the case—but that also did my husband and I.
What on earth, I wondered, must a woman’s experience having a baby be like if she and her child’s father aren’t on the same page? My husband and I were perhaps unique in that we talked about our future family plans VERY early in our relationship (we had baby names picked out within 6 months of dating) but I doubt this is the case for every or even most couple(s). I was also fortunate that my husband, although he possessed less knowledge about the process, seemed to fully share my common-sense, organic views on pregnancy, birth, and child-rearing in general. I can’t imagine having gone through the process with someone on the fence about—or worse, openly hostile or resistant to—my views.
He was such a help and support to me, especially throughout the marathon of labor, that having that been otherwise is unthinkable. Although I was very confident in myself and very sure of my choices, thereby not needing his or anyone’s validation, I would assume that it would have been a lot harder and less enjoyable had there been contention between us in how we wanted and expected things to go. I’m sure there are pregnant women out there who, for example, want the holistic, natural, homebirth or birth center experience with midwives while their partners are dead set on the perceived greater safety and support of a hospital and a doctor. And although in that it’s the woman having the baby and thus likely the final decision-maker of what route she will take, certainly opposition from her partner wouldn’t be helpful and probably would be harmful, if only emotionally.
As far as relates to my MS, my husband is similar to me in how he views that, too—as a minor inconvenience, not a major disaster, and not at all a source of stress or a cause of aggravation. He supported me when I took the Rebif injection, and supports me being off it until we’re finished having children. He sympathized when I had a relapse but looked at it as optimistically as I did, seeing it as a minor bump in the road rather than a tire-popping pothole. It’s a blessing to have a partner with a shared philosophy as pertains to health, medical, and body issues.