I have two kids. Two boys. I had two very different experiences in childbirth. I am sad to say that I wouldn’t describe either of them as particularly positive, or empowering. But they did result in the arrival of two of the most important people I have ever met, so it’s not all bad.
Birth Story #1:
I woke up and got off the couch, somewhere I frequently slept during the end of my first pregnancy.
You know the sleep circuit: couch, lazy boy, bed, couch, lazy boy, bed, couch… and so on and so forth.
As soon as I stood up I felt a gush of fluid come out of me. I thought I peed myself, and I went to the bathroom to clean myself up. Fluid continued to trickle out of me for a few minutes, but I didn’t panic… pregnancy does weird things to a body, right?
I changed into clean clothes and started to walk back to the couch, when it happened again.
I went back to the toilet. Cleaned myself up. Changed my clothes again.
….then it happened again.
At this point I was fairly certain that pregnancy had made me incontinent. I started to cry and I called my mom to commiserate. She suggested that perhaps my water broke and maybe I should consider calling the labor & delivery nurse to let them know what was going on and to see if I should come in.
She was right!
My water broke. I spent several hours at the hospital that day walking and trying to encourage contractions to begin naturally on their own. But, that never happened.
Later that evening I was started on a Pitocin drip by my care providers. I spent the next two days having extremely painful, and largely non-productive contractions because it took my cervix a VERY long time to become fully dilated.
36 hours later (after lots of cussing, screaming and an epidural) my first son, L, was born.
I ran out of the hospital and back to my normal life as soon as I was allowed. I was back at work two weeks later.
I was a machine.
I WAS CRAZY!
Birth Story #2:
I was sitting on the couch on Tuesday night, probably just finished watching This Is Us when I felt a little pop inside down low. Then I started leaking fluid. I was no stranger to this story, I knew what this meant. I didn’t panic. I called my OB like I was supposed to, they wanted me to head in straight away to be checked - so I did.
I wasn’t dilated.
I was barely contracting.
How depressing, right?
Well, this time around - that changed and it changed FAST. While I was in triage contractions began on their own, and they began to increase in length and intensity… this time, we were cooking with oil.
Things continued this way throughout the night and I had nurses left and right complimenting me on my coping skills and even suggesting that I would be holding my baby in my arms at 8am.
Well. 8am came. And it went. Then they were saying I would be holding my baby by 11am.
11am came. And it went too…
Suddenly I started feeling a TREMENDOUS amount of pressure down low. I told my doctor’s it felt like I needed to push, I was only dilated 7-8 cm so everyone kept screaming at me not to push.
I started to panic.
I kept trying to explain that I wasn’t pushing, but that the pressure was continuing to build and I felt like I was going to be torn in half, vagina first. I started crying. Then they came to give me some pain meds, I went out cold and when I woke up a few hours later I was told my cervix had made no progress and that it was actually beginning to swell shut.
My doctor recommended a cesarean section.
30 minutes later, my second son, J, was born.
10 days post-cesarean I was standing on a soccer field coaching a team of 6 year old boys.
Less than 6 weeks later I was back to work full time.
I am STILL crazy.
Despite my birth stories not being something fun for me to reminisce about, I will say that in both scenarios I made the best choices I could at the time, with the information I was given.
Did I have all the information?
Do I have all the information now?
…but I certainly do know more than I did even 8 months ago when my second son was born.
Would I have made different choices then knowing what I know now?
What I wish for every woman, is what I didn’t have:
An unbiased support system that would have helped me cope with my fears, anxieties and pains surrounding the delivery of my children. Someone who could have provided me with the education and information to make knowledgeable and informed decisions regarding my own birth experiences.
Does that mean that I believe everyone should have an unmedicated natural birth? Or that every woman should have a planned cesarean?
As I began to educate myself so I could better understand my own births and options, I decided to take an active role in the birth world and become a doula. Although I know there is still much to learn, I look forward to sharing my knowledge with others and providing them with the education and tools to make the decisions that are best for their families in the moment.
Does that mean that their decisions will mirror my own?
They might not.
Either way is perfectly okay.
Women should be in control of their own pregnancy and birth narrative. My hope is to be the doula for others, that I wish I had by my side - to help families make informed decisions they will continue to feel good about when they look back on one of the most important days of their lives.