This morning I woke up to a baby show. Must have fallen asleep with the tv on again. Anyway, I remember when pregnant, I watched those things all the time. TLC was my favorite channel and I loved hearing other people’s birth stories. Back then, when I was pregnant with my third baby, I belonged to an online group of women due the same month as me. It was really very encouraging, especially since I was on bed rest and lonely. I had the ladies in the same stage of life as me. It was through these women that I learned what I wanted- natural birth, and what I didn’t- the Hep B vaccine in my non-sexually active newborn less than 24 hours after he’s born. I learned about homeschooling and autism and how to live and cope through the support of the women I came to grow very close with. As each one of us had our babies, we shared our birth stories and it was my favorite part of the group. Some women had planned C-sections, some had them after emergency situations arose, some induced labor and others had natural labor. There was no judgment of another’s birth plan or how we chose to have our babies because we all brought life into the world and each birth was beautiful.
After having Jacob, my last, I only told my entire story once, to the group. It really is one of my favorite stories to tell so I don’t know why I don’t tell it more. Maybe because people are weird and if I talk about how having natural childbirth was one of my proudest, most favorite moments, I would be discounting any other way of giving birth? I had several drugs with the others, so I understand and can relate to that path as well. But the birth with J was my favorite. Although he’s not my favorite kid. As my Dad used to say, I hate all my kids equally. So here on this blog, I am telling my favorite true story. And maybe some expecting mom might stumble across my post and gobble it up like I used to do…
The first two live births were very different. My oldest son was born out of pain I didn’t know was possible. In the midst of it, he came out, they took him and did their thing, I looked at him and he looked at me and I just wanted to hold him. When he was finally laid on my chest I couldn’t stop looking at him. Hey there little cutie… so you’re the one who’s been in there this whole time. I loved him the minute I looked at him. Then I was encouraged to breastfeed and I hated it. The minute he had a health issue pop up (something minor, I think it was jaundice related) and he had to bottle feed I was so secretly relieved. I hated breastfeeding. I also developed PPD. That could have played a part in it, who knows…
Then I had Hunter. Hunter is a very… let’s call him special… little boy. I love this little guy so much, but he’s my handful of work and takes most of my patience. His birth was painless. Literally I felt no pain from the moment I was induced, given narcs, then the epidural, then narcotics again afterwards. No pain. It was unbelievable. I didn’t know a birth could be so cut and dry. I had a baby, I healed, and all was well with the world. Until the day a behavioral specialist told us he was on the autism spectrum. I thought he was mentally challenged and it turns out he has autism. Everything broke. My heart still breaks and I get very angry when he makes those awful sounds. It’s a reminder of his issue and I just can’t handle it sometimes. That’s why I need my husband. He is so much better with Hunter than me…
When I was a six months pregnant with J, my mucous plug came out. I had pain and blood. Chris was out-of-town and I drove two and a half hours to Orlando with my little ones because I didn’t want to be alone. Dropped in at the ER and whatever had been happening was over and I was not having early contractions. When I got back into my hometown I had an appointment with my gyn/ob right away. He confirmed that I had went into a form of early labor, I had placenta previa and I was to be on bedrest for the rest of my pregnancy. Part of my placenta had been resting on my cervix. When my cervix dilated after I lost the plug, the placenta began to tear away. It’s a dangerous condition that is the number one killer of women during childbirth today. Neither medicine nor man can fix this problem, although there are ways of preventing women from dilating and dying.
Every time I ran and errand or was around on my feet for a few hours I would begin bleeding. So I went on bed rest and my mom found a “nanny” to come live with us until I had my baby. During this time Chris and I decided that this would be our last baby. The chances of having pp again are high after having it the first time. Had I gone into early labor, me and baby would have been dead within 20 to 30 minutes. We were scared and couldn’t handle having this happen again. My doctor saw me often and he was happy to report that the placenta was moving and by the time I was 36 weeks, it was barely touching the cervix. It was marginal and I was going to be able to try a vaginal birth. We were prepared for a C-section if the plan went awry, but I was going to have one final birth and it was going to be all natural… something I had never done.
Here’s what I was taught “natural birth” means and what I call a natural birth, although I know that many women have different viewpoints. This is only mine and to each his own. No Pitocin (a drug that induces contractions in a forceful and violently painful way- had it twice), no drugs, and no interventions. Jacob had to be born in the hospital because of the previa, but I was allowed to have him as naturally as I wanted as long as everyone stayed healthy.
I waited until the last minute to head to the hospital. I woke up at 3 am with back pain and knew I was in labor. I took a shower and packed my stuff. Woke Chris, called my mom. Drank some raspberry leaf tea and timed my contractions for about an hour and a half. They began getting painful at 3 minutes apart. I was trying to stay as still as possible because as I got up, they would come right on top of each other and my husband was barely out of bed. I remember telling him over and over that we had to go NOW. I didn’t care what he had going on, but I was about to have this baby and we are supposed to have it at the hospital. We all hopped in the car and as we drove past the grocery store I had been at 12 hours earlier I had wished I was back there… 12 hours earlier and in no pain. At the hospital I had my cervix checked and apparently the nurse who checked me had some level of brain damage because when she told me I was 3 cm dilated, I was shocked to find that I had closed up a bit from my last check-up when I was 4 cm dilated. Nevertheless, if I am only at 3 cm and I am having hard contractions every minute, I am going to need some drugs. I asked, no… I BEGGED husband to find me drugs. The nurse with an actual brain checked me and said that I was about 8 cm dilated, not 3. Okay, I can go without the drugs having that new information. There was no way in hell I was experiencing transition pain all day long, but I could hang in there for another hour or two.
Every time I contracted I had to look into Chris’ eyes and squeeze his hand with absolutely no distraction in order to make it through. Without doing just that, I would lose it to the pain. I managed to kick the “locked in position” bed apart with the force of my legs kicking out when I felt one of those suckers without my husband’s support. He was watching the boys between contractions. As soon as one ended he would go over and make sure they were good and then when I called he would rush over to grab my hand. My mom and sister-in-law arrived at one point and I remember not having the ability to concentrate on anything but the birth. If I lost focus I would need the drugs. When I focused, it actually felt euphoric in a very, very weird way. I am told that I started screaming during my last couple contractions that I was transitioning. And sure enough, after those three or four monster contractions, I was ready to push. He came right out within minutes of doc arriving on the scene. I healed quickly and felt very, very happy for a week after the birth. I heard that it was a natural endorphin release that happens when a woman gives birth without an epidural. I don’t know how true it is for others, but I found it to be true in my case. I had Jake within an hour and a half of arriving at the hospital. Had we waited a little longer at home I would not have been able to walk to the car and I would have had him at home. Not in the birth plan. Note to pregnant women… if your husband won’t wake up when you are in labor, throw a bucket of cold water on him. It’s important.
Shortly after I had a friend tell me about her birth experience. She said that she could have done it “naturally,” because she made it up to the final hour without the drugs. I didn’t ask for the drugs until the final hour, so I don’t know what she meant, but I understood that there’s a weird obsession with defending our need for drugs during childbirth. I highly recommend them as my first child wouldn’t have come out had I not been given an epidural. My body was tearing apart and my labor was not progressing. There is a place for pain medicine during the most painful feeling in the world. I have had 3 kidney stones and they DO NOT compare to childbirth… sorry guys. But I noticed, again, when I asked a wife of a brother of a relative how her birth went as she had told me about her plan to have a natural birth, she got almost angry as she said, “I had the epidural and I loved my birth. I don’t feel bad at all about it.” Not what I asked, but okay. So I was right, there is a feeling of angry defense against our decision and/or need to have the epidural. Seriously ladies, there is nothing wrong with getting it… many babies need their mom to relax into the contraction in order to come out. The level of pain birth causes can hinder that from happening. We all carry the label of Super Woman.
I loved my last birth. Would I do it again? Don’t know. It was hard work, but the pay-off was great. I really liked my middle child’s birth. I would do that again in a heart beat. A birth experience is a good one if mom and baby are healthy and happy. It really is a triumph to give birth. Even with drugs, surgery, and interventions, every story has a beautiful ending. Every birth story has a moment in which mom sees her baby and falls head over heels in love. It’s a feeling like no other.
So that’s my birth story with Jacob. It was my best. I almost had to have an early C-section, but gave birth past my due date. I felt everything. I felt my body do what it was made to do. I experienced the power of what our minds can do when we focus on serenity rather than to give in to the worst pain in the world. With practice and trust and faith, the mind melted the pain away. But the moment I took my eyes off Chris or lost my focus or was touched anywhere but my hand, I would lose it. (Neat analogy there for all you Christ followers:))
Have a good day friends. Off to homeschool my kids…