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I was expecting a relatively normal birth experience, but because of my gestational diabetes, I had a few extra ultrasounds and weekly appointments for the final ten weeks of my pregnancy. We just purchased our first home and moved in two weeks before I was full term. There was a lot of worry that my daughter would be too big, so we went in for another ultrasound and then was told that they would try to induce. However, my cervix wasn't "ripened" so they gave me something to ripen my cervix. I was ready to go back home to wait, but then my daughter's heart rate dropped and I was hospitalized. It was a little crazy because it was unexpected and my mom was going to be flying in soon. The baby's room was not ready and we still had boxes to unpack! I was not ready to give birth. However, the baby's heart regulated and I was sent home and told to come back in a few days. When I arrived back at the hospital, my due date was still about a week out and nothing was happening except for the fact that Michael Jackson had died. My doctors decided to break my water and get started on the pitocin about a day in. Having your water broken is not a pleasant experience, but I was glad that it had happened in the hospital and in a controlled manner than somewhere else. It's funny because I never thought about this scenario or any real birth scenario, except that I would eventually push the baby out and the nurse would help me through it. I didn't bother to take any birthing classes and knew that I would get an epidural. These decisions were based on the birthing experiences of my close friends who had given birth a few months prior and my fear of pain. I didn't know anything about doulas or midwives. I thought I would be giving birth in a more sterile room, but when I did the hospital tour, i was surprised that we would just be in this room to labor and give birth! My labor was quite bearable, but that might have been because of my epidural! (I found the epidural process much more frightening.) Now, it was just a waiting game. My mom flew in and arrived at the hospital. She was surprised that she wasn't hearing any screaming and was wondering if anyone was actually giving birth! She had an interesting perspective on birth since she had a scheduled C-section and then was in the room when one of her younger sisters was giving birth without an epidural. Maybe that's why she was expecting a bit more screaming? I'm not sure. I thought that I would feel a lot more when I was fully dialted and ready to push, but it didn't feel different than before. The nurse and my husband held my legs and I pushed when I was told. I thought I was pushing so hard in the first 10 minutes or so that I was convinced the baby's head would've been out by then. I kept asking my husband if he could see her head! Suddenly, 3 hours passed by and the vacuum came out to help get the baby out. I really didn't know what was going on since I couldn't really feel much because of the epidural. One last push, and finally, my daughter had entered the world on her exact due date! The first time I held her in my arms, I was amazed that this tiny little human was inside my body and I had just pushed her out. I was grateful to my ob/gyn - both of them! - for being patient and letting me have a vaginal delivery. I didn't know if that was what I wanted, but looking back on it, I am definitely glad that I did. I am also glad that I had an epidural, but I don't know if I would do it again. I think having great labor and delivery nurses, awesome ob/gyns, and getting some much needed rest before the actual pushing made my birth experience really great. I also think that my birth experience was the first glimpse of my daughter's personality, especially since she came out when she was ready to come out - on her timing! I'm still amazed at the whole experience and that we live in a country where giving birth is a relatively safe experience.
Thanks for posting Phyllis! - Annie
My birth story is one I cherish though it wasn't what I expected AT ALL. I'm Mom to boy-girl twins. I ended up with a c-section for both and both were "born" slightly differently and one minute apart. I can still recall every detail of the experience but most of all I remember the pure joy of holding both babies in my arms after I recovered from the c-section. I'm flooded with all the sensations, sights, even smells 10 years later. These 2 were my first babies and first births and I'm confident that they entered this world the way they were supposed to and each time their birth-day rolls around our entire family revisits this life-changing memory. I finally feel like I know the real meaning of the word BIRTH-DAY now thanks to my twins. It's a gift to be a Mother. Thank you for your work, book, and community here, Anne.
Thanks for sharing your birth story, Laura, and so great to hear about the very special experience of twins! It *is* a gift to be a mother. -Annie
Childbirth has changed dramatically since I delivered my one and only in 1971. I have read your book with fascination, and if I weren't 70 years old, with my newly enlightened viewpoint, I would contemplate having a second child! Our family physician served as my doctor. I arrived at the hospital feeling great, and was put into a regular hospital room to labor. I could feel contractions. They were tight, but not painful. I was given an enema. My pubic area was shaved. I joked with the doctor when he came in to check on me that "If this is labor, bring it on!".He did. He broke my water with what looked like a knitting needle. My serene frame of mind and body took an abrupt turn. I remember lying in bed wishing this blessed event would hurry up and be finished. A hospital chaplain stopped by my bed and asked if I'd like to pray. I wasn't in a prayerful state of mind! I had blithely chosen to have no medication during childbirth, and although I wanted to change my mind, I didn't think I should say so. At last I remember being wheeled on a gurney from my room to the icy cold delivery room. Nurses covered me with a warm blanket. There was a vertical wooden handle on either side of the delivery table for me to grasp when called on to bear down. I registered the true meaning of the word labor! I made sounds of work I have never made before or since. My husband was present at my side for our child's birth which was a groundbreaking change at our hospital from the traditional waiting room for expectant fathers. When permission was granted to me to give the last big push, I was aware of an ecstatic feeling as our baby boy was lifted onto my chest and the doctor, my husband and I all cried and had a glorious hug with arms around each other encircling our precious boy.
Thank you Josie for sharing this amazing and vivid story -- some things have thankfully changed, but fortunately some of the truly good things seem to endure. -- Annie