My son’s birth story does not begin on his birth day, it begins three years prior—two years, 11 months and two days to be exact. That’s when I gave birth to my first born, a beautiful baby girl named Makena. Like many first-time mothers, I had everything mapped out in my mind about how my daughter’s birth would take place. I had never loved anyone or anything remotely close to how much I loved this growing child, and I wanted to ensure she had a healthy entrance into life.
I prepped the entire 40 weeks and one day of pregnancy for the perfect birth. I had read books, spent countless hours practicing Hypnobirthing techniques, read blogs, took natural birth classes (where my husband submerged his hand in a bucket of ice for one minute—an activity to help fathers understand the intensity of a contraction, later to find irony that his same hand rubbed my lower back for 16 hours of labor). We watched, what my husband called bloody, scary, “you aren’t having our child like that” videos, took a breastfeeding 101 course, bought an obnoxious balance ball, listened to pregnancy/parenting podcasts, installed a contraction timer on both phones, and wrote a birth plan. Everything would go according to plan … or so I thought.
After 16 hours of labor without pain control I threw in the towel. I felt like I was in a triathlon, was in the lead and lost to the dredged person in 2nd place we call “Epidural.” However, 45 minutes later I was holding my daughter. All thoughts of defeat melted away as I stared into her eyes now understanding the phrase “love at first sight.” She was wide-eyed, alert, strong and healthy. Not what I expected her to be after an epidural.
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Hours turned to days, which turned into weeks. It was still haunting, my birth story. I played it on rerun in my thoughts. Would I have to share it now with all those I told I was going natural? Maybe I could hide behind my newborn and the question won’t even arise. Maybe they won’t even care enough to ask. Or remember. Everyone will forget. Everyone … but me.
When I found I was expecting my second child I decided to be lighthearted about the birth plan. I wasn’t going to have one—simple as that! Why go through all that planning and daydreaming for it to end up the way things are intended to be? I took a practical approach and had the mantra of “Que sera sera; whatever will be will be.” Secretly I still wanted my natural birth story. Not only for my selfish reasons but for my child. But do I dare put my husband through that again? Me?
Fast forward (because it really was lightening speed) to week 39. This marked the week I was to go biweekly for stress monitoring and ultrasounds that would measure my fluid levels in the sac. I had shared on my routine checkup with my doctor that movements had slowed. He wanted to ensure the health of our little boy blue, so he ordered testing. Nothing new to us, as we had done the same routine with our daughter. However, we only went to one appointment before her birth.
So when we strolled into the office for the fifth time, this was all new, and the anxiety of all this was growing greater by the day. I was 40 weeks and three days; we could sense something off this time as the ultrasound specialist excused herself from the room to grab a doctor. As our sharp glare towards each other wasn’t enough, my husband and I verbalized to one another that something wasn’t right. The doctor told us that my fluid had dropped from a 9 to a 7 (normal range 5-25), and to make matters more intense the umbilical cord was wrapped around our little guy’s neck. He felt the best way to proceed was to schedule an induction for that day.
I was totally, utterly, full-body nervous. 1) I did not want any complications with baby boy’s health. 2) What if I had to have a C-section? 3) Pitocin!! 4) An induction is not natural. 5) Was I ready for two children? A little too late for my fifth and final thought …
I had already dilated to a 5 upon arriving at my appointment where my child was going to be evicted from my womb. I was in no pain. I was a warrior … or so I thought. Two delivery nurses and one joke about women with birth plans. It was 6 a.m., a long time from when we scheduled the induction (8 p.m. the day prior). It was now 10 hours later, and my doctor was ordering the Pitocin drip to be increased.
My doctor again came to check on me at 8:30 a.m. and decided to break my water. Oh boy, oh boy (no pun intended), did I begin to feel the contractions. It brought back those intense 16 hours of labor pains with my daughter, and I couldn’t help but bluntly say, “What the hell.” I wanted the epidural. We were friends now anyhow.
Gosh what a production it takes to get an epidural. I wasn’t watching the clock or anything, but it felt like eternity. My friend had sent me an inspirational quote that said something to the effect of, “Each surge brings you closer to your baby.” I tried to focus on that and think about the end result. However, the contractions were getting the best of me. To be honest, I didn’t even feel the epidural. That’s how much pain I was experiencing. I already felt extreme pain in my lower back.
Apparently, I was slightly lying on my left side causing the epidural drip to not work properly. I could feel everything still with numbness in my right upper thigh. What is that good for? I demanded the anesthesiologist return to my room. “He is in with another patient and then heading to another room after that, so he will be in shortly,” explained the nurse. Having to wait that long was a true test of patience. It felt like an eternity before he arrived. He ordered more medicine and checked the entry site. Nothing at this point could be done. I was far too close to having my boy to start another pipeline running out of my spine.
“Let me know when you feel pressure,” my nurse said over her shoulder as she was walking out of the delivery room.
“NOW!” I blurted.
She rushed back and check my dilation. “You are having this baby!”
Quickly I noticed a team rushing to my crying plea. There must have been six maybe seven of them. This was way too sudden. It had only been 1 hour and 50 minutes since my water had broken, since I had endured contraction after contraction, since I had been stabbed in my spine. This was really happening!
My doctor’s office was across the parking lot, which is where he was during all this action. “We can’t get in touch with him, but we do have a labor specialist here in case you feel the urge.” I looked up at the labor specialist who told me that if I could hold on and wait for my doctor that would be the best option. Finally after several contractions, they were able to get in touch with him. He advised them he would be in the room in five minutes. My sweet husband kept encouraging me, “Only a few more contractions until our doctor arrives …
Three more contractions to go …
Two more contractions…
One more contraction …”
And in he flew.
“Alright, Lindsey. When you feel a contraction I want you to begin pushing.”
What? Wait! It was happening! It was happening naturally. The way I wanted. The way I wanted.
And that’s the story of Stanley’s birth.
As I reflect back on my attitude towards my “birth stories” I have learned a valuable lesson. I learned that when it comes to parenting things aren’t going to be the way you dreamed. Nothing will match the plan you have in your head during the nine months when you first begin your journey of parenthood. It’s not practical to hold on to an idea that may not be your path, your destiny, your design. What is practical is to take deep breaths and remember that everything almost always works out the way it was intended to for you, your body and your baby. Parenting isn’t perfect, nor, does it have a written plan. It takes on its own course. Allow room for error, and smile or cry tears if happiness when moments do resonate with you. Most aspects of life aren’t perfect—why should my birth story be? Why should parenting? The only part that reaches perfection are my children. They are the only parts of my life that are perfect.
Send us your birth story! Whether you had a home birth, hospital birth, 37-hour labor or emergency C-section, we’d love to read the tale of your little one’s grand entrance. Write up your birth story (click here for tips on getting started) and email it, along with a few photos, to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!