Because this is my first blog post, I thought it would be most fitting to share my experience of having my first child. I have come to understand after six children, that each labor and birth experience builds to the next, and it all weaves into one another, thus creating your own personal story. I cannot stress enough, through experience, that having a supportive birth team is imperative to creating the birth experience that you are looking for. As a first time mom, we go into the whole experience feeling like we can conquer the world, but let me be honest, labor and birth are tough- and take a look at history, there was a time when birth was left to women, they came to celebrate and join together to share the experience and wisdom that they gained and helped the laboring mother bring her baby into the world. Birth wasn’t about fear but a rite of passage and a beautiful event.
The pregnancy of my son came to us as a surprise, and I can’t say that it was a good one. I remember crying when I found out that I was pregnant for the first time. My husband and I had been married for 6 months, “practicing” family planning, which translates into, well….whatever. Yes, I ended up pregnant and feeling very overwhelmed because at that point my husband was trying to run a small business and it wasn’t going as well as expected. His father was just diagnosed with cancer and we were in a very difficult financial situation, lots of my husband’s debt to deal with and I felt at the time, how is this going to work? Well, as a Christian, I knew God had a plan and a baby was a blessing to us, even if it might not have been the best timing.
My OBGYN was not local because we had recently moved, so I switched to another one that was down the street. It was a group practice and a friend of mine had gone there, so why not? It was a group practice and I noticed that I would never have the same OB or midwife each time I went for an appointment. It was strange, but I determined that this is how it worked. My husband and I signed up for the birth classes and breastfeeding classes at the hospital and they were very informative.
We ended up relocating to the next state over because my husband got a new job, and we didn’t have an in-network provider there, so we had to travel back an hour to our hospital when I went into labor. I started having contractions throughout the day and by nighttime I couldn’t sleep as the contractions became heavier and heavier. Out of fear for not making it to the hospital, we left for the hospital and arrived there in time. I remember going to be evaluated, and the OB told me that I was 2 centimeters and that I should go home. I knew I was in labor and we were afraid of traveling all the way back home again, after an hour they saw progression so they decided to admit me. We had a great nurse attending me that we knew from a friend, but she had to leave because she had already done a double shift. After that we were assigned another nurse and let’s say she needed to grow on us, her first impression was not a good one, but after time, she seemed to be more supportive.
I remember trying to keep up with the contractions at one time, they were so intense I couldn’t move, and I started to panic as blood was streaming down my legs. That’s when I knew it was time for some type of medical relief, I was in panic. The whole pregnancy, I knew that I wanted to give birth naturally. I had read a book about homebirth and the spiritual side of laboring and birth and knew that the hospital was not the place that I wanted to have my baby. I knew quite a few older moms that had home births successfully, but my husband was not on board.
As a first time mom, you definitely have a very skewed view of birth, you have no idea of the pain and way the hospital system works. You think that everyone is in it to support you and what you want. Well, I now know that isn’t really the case, most of the time. As a doula with experience with moms in hospital birth, it is very difficult to find a hospital that cares about a woman’s desire to birth naturally. If you pay close attention, as a doula, I can see that nurses and doctors can become very far removed and desensitized to the rights of a birthing woman and the effects that medical interventions can have on the birth and the afterthoughts and processing that the mother will go through. I have previously worked in the medical system, I have myself seen this happen. It’s a job for them, and then they go home to their own lives.
I tried some Stadol, but it didn’t work, twice. I then got the epidural and I was not aware that there would be a pocket of pain that the epidural could not work which was located on my hip. I was still in pain, I could feel the contractions on my hip, but this time, I couldn’t move. I labored for 10 hours at this point, two hours with the epidural and then all of a sudden the nurse came in and checked me and told me it was time to push. I remember telling them, I didn’t know what to push, I couldn’t feel my legs, they said they turned the epidural down and I told them I still couldn’t feel what to push. I started to push with my stomach muscles, hoping it would work and 1 hour later, my baby was born. We were elated and happy, and so excited it was boy!
The processing of birth for the mother comes later. It doesn’t happen right away, you are so happy that you have a safe delivery and baby is finally here. It doesn’t usually come until later when you finally get to see the bigger picture of your birth story. I am grateful for a healthy baby, and that I didn’t need a c-section of course, but processing my story, I began to think that my story was not my story at all. I felt that an interference took place, something that took place of the natural process. It became about the doctors, the nurses, the recommendations and the medical relief. And at this point, I believe this is where my story began. As I have mentioned earlier, if I didn’t have this experience in the beginning, everything else would look so different, I wouldn’t have gone on to have the other birth stories that I have had with my other five children, I wouldn’t pursue getting certified to be a doula and become a birth photographer. I knew that when I got pregnant with my second child, I wanted something different. I wanted to reclaim what was taken from me, an experience that was supposed to be mine to tell and not someone else.