Welcome again to our series on Becoming Family called Birth Stories. We want you to know that every mama is different, every family is different and every birth story is different and we can learn from each other differences. With this new series, a mama will tell her story of the birth of her child in their own words, not with purpose to persuade you to have birth in their way, but to share their experience with the community of mamas here. If you are interested in sharing your story please email us. I want to thank Brooke for allowing us to share her birth story. You can find Brooke from Boholistic Mom and follow her story there as well. Also, check her out on Facebook.
Before getting pregnant, going through nine months eight months of carrying a child, having my water break, and ending up in the hospital, I really thought that childbirth was straight forward. You got pregnant, you grew a basketball, and you popped that sucker right out after 9 months. I knew there was a little pain behind it at the end, but women have been “birthin’ babies” for centuries. With all the medical knowhow that we have these days, why shouldn’t my baby’s birth go well?
Soon, I discovered something . . .
“I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ babies!” – Prissy, Gone with the Wind
It All Started with . . .
It all started with my water breaking. I was getting ready to go to work at my Decorating Consultant job with JCPenny’s and I ran to the bathroom.
[Stop here and go to the resources at the bottom if you get squeamish]
Basically, I heard water hit . . . then I peed. My water broke!!!! Of course, I had to be home alone that day. My husband had to be at training a couple states over. So I called the only friend who had offered to come drive me to the hospital (because no one else offered a whole month early, who would think of it?).
I happened to pack my hospital bag up two days prior. Somewhere in my head I must have known. Before I left I called my husband who was heading to his Great-Grandmother’s funeral one state away from his training. I told him that I was pretty sure that the baby was coming and that he needed to get home. He ended up going to the funeral and flying out an hour or two later. I flew (not in a plane) to the hospital.
In childbirth, there are certain things that no one ever tells you before you go in. One of those things I discovered as soon as I got checked in and was checked to see if my water had indeed broken. First they ask you to change into a hospital gown . . . which they are going to make you stay in unless you were smart enough to bring your own pretty hospital gown. Then . . . they bludgeon you. They slap on the rubber gloves and shove their fingers inside of you to see if you’ve dilated. Dude. It’s painful. Tell me something. In this day and age of all sorts of wonderful technology . . . do you mean we’ve really got no other way to see if a women has dilated except by shoving giant fingers to reach the cervix? Please someone start inventing something fast! Like a video camera with a light that can see your cervix . . . GENTLY!!!!
I found out that my water had broken and I was not dilated.
Insert Fact Here:
After rushing to the hospital to find out if my water broke, I found out that the Amish wait for up to 48 hours for contractions to begin after their water breaks. If your water breaks and you passed your Strep test, there is no rush to go into the hospital. The biggest risk is infection . . . which the risk is heightened if the people in the hospital shove gloves up your vagina every 30 minutes to an hour to check to see whether you’ve dilated. (Of course, I’m not a medical professional . . . )
I was in such a rush to get to the hospital that fine lovely Saturday morning that I forgot to eat breakfast. Something that I, as a new mother, did not really think about clearly is that they won’t give you food at the hospital before delivery. They say it’s so you won’t throw up, but what they really mean is that they want you to have no food so they can have you prepped for surgery as soon as they get tired of waiting for you to deliver naturally. Tell me something. If you are going to run a marathon, what would you eat and drink before you set out to race your marathon? Nourishing food and plenty of liquids. Trust me. Birthing a baby is no different from a marathon. It’s a marathon that you can in no way fully prepare for and will throw up during . . . but don’t some people throw up while running? It’s no big deal. You puke and you move on. Having no food is a problem. No food equals no energy.
So a few hours after I arrived at the hospital, my friends arrived to keep my mind occupied. We chatted. I worried. I sat on a big ball. We chatted some more. The hospital agreed to wait on the Pitocin that they wanted to give me as soon as I arrived at the hospital. I arrived at 9 that morning and they waited until 5 p.m. to give me the Pitocin. My husband arrived at 9 p.m. just in time for the fun. Ouch.
Contractions on Steroids
In birthing class, they tell you about contractions. You have a contraction. You have a break. Another contraction. Another break. Rhythmic. Difficult, but workable. No one mentioned that Pitocin produces contractions on steroids. I wanted a natural birth. As much as heavenly possible, I wanted to avoid drugs and do it without intervention. Then hit 2 a.m. and a 4 minute contraction. Then a 5 minute contraction. No real breaks per say . . . just a breath or two before the pain billowed into my abdomen. This was caused by the Pitocin. Due to having drugs, I needed to have more drugs. I asked for an epidural around 3 a.m. and they had to call the doctor back from home because they let him go home when I said I wanted to have a natural birth.
You Need to Push
Around 8 a.m. I was fully dilated. I was at ten centimeters and ready to go exhausted. My cup of water was just not providing any energy for this much exercise. Finally, they told me to push. So with my epidural going, I pushed. Nothing happened. They kept telling me that I wasn’t pushing. I was. At least I was trying to push. Then the doctor came in and told me “you need to push” as if I was being stubborn and refusing to push the baby out. I was so tired.
They decided to turn off the epidural to see if I would be able to feel my body enough to push. I pushed for an hour and a half at ten centimeters. The pain was intense. I had no energy. Then the doctor came in and told me that there was no other choice but to have a C-section. “Pushing just isn’t working,” he said. I was crushed. I felt like such a failure. All of my plans were obliterated. The doctor was saying this was my only choice.
Insert Fact Here:
Don’t let your doctor tell you that you have no other choice. Ask questions. How is the baby positioned? We had no idea . . . the doctor had NO idea. Is the baby in duress? Our son was in no duress, there was no problem. If there is no problem, then you can go on pushing until the cows come home or at least until your vagina is sufficiently stretched to fit a small human through. If there is really a problem, then get that baby out any way possible.
My Horror Movie
What was supposed to be simple . . . painful . . . but simple, turned into my own personal nightmare. They prepped me for surgery and had to be told that my epidural had not yet been turned back on. So we had to wait longer for that to begin to work again. Then they gave me morphine for the pain. I shook. I had no blankets, no warmth, only fear. Raw fear. My whole body was in duress. I was sliced open to remove a small precious human from my body. For only a moment, I saw him and then he was gone from the room. They gave him the shot that I asked them not to give him. They probably gave him the eye drops too.
Then my husband left to go be with our little baby boy and I was left with them. Monsters with the blue faces. I was still shaking. I was alone. I had no one. I went in and out of consciousness. I heard them say they thought they nicked my bladder. They spent a lot of time putting me back together. I couldn’t talk. I was mortified. I passed out.
The DVD Player!!!
After normal childbirth, I’m sure there is pain. After surgery, I think there is more. I was given some more pain medication after surgery. I saw my son in the bassinet across the room from me. Then they took him away for tests. The medicine didn’t feel right. I was so confused! My husband came in the room and I wanted to explain to him that the medicine was having a strange effect. “The DVD won’t work in the DVD Player!!!” I insisted. “The DVD Player!!!” I tried again. I looked at him with worried eyes. I was able to tell him that what I was trying to say wasn’t working. He got the nurses to keep that medicine far away from me.
What’s the Matter with my Bladder?
Before I was released, I told them that I was having some trouble peeing. Things just didn’t feel right. During a C-section, you are given a catheter. This can easily get bacteria in your bladder causing a bladder infection. They told me I was fine and to go home with my baby. A day later I was in so much pain I had to come back to the doctor to find out that I had a really bad urinary track infection. Then, of course, I was on more medication.
Modern childbirth shouldn’t be a horror movie. This is an example about what happens when a woman has no information, no support from a doula or midwife, and is completely ruled by modern medicine. They want quick procedures and to get things moving. They care everything about the baby and nothing about the mother. When childbirth brings no comfort to the mother and is only a medical procedure to get a baby out of her body . . . then how could it ever be beautiful?
Insert Fact Here:
During childbirth, if a mother is relaxed her body naturally releases a hormone that covers up part of the pain of childbirth. When stressed, a mother releases a second hormone that completely removes the benefits of the calm childbirth hormone. If then, a mother is kept calm, relaxed, and in a positive environment, she will have less pain.
A Child, but No Beautiful Birth
They told me afterward that he was trying to come out tilted on the side of his head. Maybe this explains the problems with pushing and labor, but somehow I don’t buy it. He didn’t know about the “problem” until my son was out of the womb. Why didn’t he know where he was in the womb? He didn’t even offer to use forceps or other methods. I’m still confused on this point to this very day.
My son was perfect. A bit jaundiced, but perfect. Nothing about him makes me sad about the childbirth. If he had been in danger, everything would have been worth it. But he wasn’t. I consider him separate from my birthing experience. He was the result of birth, but had nothing to do with the process that came before his arrival. If there is anything to be gained by my story, it is that childbirth should be a beautiful experience that you will always associate to the birth of your dear child. Cherish it. FIGHT for it. PLAN for it. Get people on your side who will help you stay strong and who will be your advocate. Your birthing experience matters, even if it doesn’t matter to so many in the medical field. It’s not just the surgical removal of a baby . . . it’s the first beautiful moments you should be spending with your child without fear.
Wife and mother of twins. Founder of Pride & Joy Baby Planners and The Expecting Mamas Network.