I love hearing women’s birth stories. From the hopes and fears to the actual events that take place to seeing your baby for the first time, they are all unique and fascinating treasures. I have reached out to several friends to ask if they would be interested in sharing their birth stories. I hope that these stories will comfort, empower and help all women to see their strength and beauty. Look for them over the coming weeks.
When I was pregnant with Fleet, I soaked up as many birth stories as I could. I wanted ALL the details. I only had one friend who was willing to tell me everything. I hung on every word. I wanted to know what time she arrived at the hospital, when she was induced, what drugs were used, what it felt like, what happened during and after delivery and what it was like to see your baby for the first time. She didn’t hold anything back.
She had a fairly easy labor and delivery followed by a terrible case of mastitis and other complications. Over the years I have come to realize that no one has a perfect experience because bringing babies into the world isn’t perfect.
With Fleet, I had a birth plan but I was also aware that I needed to be flexible. I was really, really hoping things would go as planned.
I envisioned this lovely experience of laboring at home with big Luke (no induction necessary). We’d take a couple of walks while timing my contractions. When they got close enough, we’d head to the hospital. My doctor would be the one to deliver my baby. Ideally the pain wouldn’t be that bad and I wouldn’t ask for an epidural. My baby would be born within a few hours of getting to the hospital. I wouldn’t need any medical assistance (forceps, suction). I wouldn’t need an episiotomy or have any tearing. Add in about 15 more expectations for perfection and you’d have my “birth plan” for my first born.
That baby had different plans. He was cozy in my belly and might have stayed forever or at least that’s how it felt to me. 12 days after my due date the doctor said that it was time for him to come out. I really didn’t want to force him out. I didn’t want to flood my newborn with Pitocin (drug used for induction). I thought that the whole experience would be less traumatic for both of us if he came on his own. Now I know that that isn’t necessarily true.
So on day 11 post due date, we headed to the hospital to have a full night of cervix softening. Turns out, Fleet did not like that drug and they removed it within an hour or so. I spent the rest of the night getting fluids and restless sleep. In the morning, the doctor came in and broke my water around 8am. Immediately the contractions were severe, intense pain lasting 5 minutes or more. The nurses and my husband looked on in sympathy. The anesthesiologist was called.
When he arrived, I did my best to listen to him and appear “with it” enough to consent to the epidural. I didn’t want him to declare that I was too far gone or out of it to consent. I felt almost immediate relief. The epidural made me shaky and jittery, even my teeth were chattering. It was better than the pain.
Within about 2 hours, I was ready to push. I pushed for about 30 minutes and there he was. The most beautiful little man, who looked exactly like my husband’s baby pictures. 7lbs 11oz of perfection. So worth the wait.
Fleet’s birth was beautiful but it wasn’t perfect. My body was a rock star but it wasn’t perfect. I carried that baby for almost 42 weeks and it was not a perfect time. But here he was and he was most definitely perfect.
I forced my baby out. I pushed out poop along with a newborn. I drugged my baby before he was born because I couldn’t deal with the pain. I had an episiotomy that Luke said was pretty horrifying . . . all things that I didn’t want to happen. All things that are pretty normal.
That was 7 years ago. I’ve had two babies since then and have another one due in 7 weeks. Their stories are all different and none of them followed my birth plans. They are beautiful and unique to each child and I love that.
The only thing you can plan on is that things won’t go as planned. But the chances that you and your baby will survive are great thanks to modern medicine and that is the ultimate goal. Most importantly, YOU ARE AMAZING. You are going to rock this experience, even if it doesn’t go as you hope. You’re strong and tough and this is only the beginning of the strength that your baby will bring out in you. You will be surprised at what you can do, physically and emotionally. But you won’t surprise me, I know you can do it.
I listened to a podcast today with Marie Forleo and Tony Robbins. Tony said that expectations put us in a box and that changing expectation to appreciation will lead to greater happiness and fulfillment. I am working on this with myself because I always struggle with expectation.
We all have ideas of how we would like our birth’s to go – from big concepts like hospital vs birthing center vs homebirth to anesthesia or not. My main hope is that no matter what experience you have, that you can see how AMAZING you are.
And mamas, it’s okay to mourn your experience. I encourage everyone to find help through counseling, friends and your doctor, especially if you are having a hard time bonding with your baby which is also a perfectly human experience.
Lately I find myself obsessed with real pictures of childbirth, the ones where the moms look crazy, messy, exhausted and blissful and the babies are squishy and covered in vermix. The ones that show blood and blankets and body parts because these are real. This is what childbirth is really like. And I want to embrace the reality.