Birth seemed like just another step in the road to becoming a parent- and in a way, it is. But that’s how nonchalantly I looked at it. Before the pregnancy of my first child, my husband and I dealt with our share of infertility struggles and losses. I was no stranger to a medical office either. I worked as a surgical assistant for years and had a medical chart of my own at least 2 inches thick regarding my cardiac history. For me, planning the births of both my children was almost a no-brainer. I loved my OBGYN. Halfway through my pregnancy, we moved several states away forcing me to pick a new provider on the fly, and I couldn’t have gotten luckier. I knew because of my history, I’d be having a hospital birth. I went about the whole ordeal not having any expectations except bringing home a healthy baby. Natural labor and birth sounded great- I loved the idea of trusting my body, but I knew my body had let me down before, so I was mentally preparing for whatever needed to be done. I still went ahead with lamaze classes and educated myself as much as possible. Mine and my child’s health were most important. If I needed a little medical intervention- so be it. After some lengthy conversations with my doctor, I felt safe in trusting her with our lives.
I had an inkling about halfway through my pregnancy that I would deliver early, and my last few office appointments confirmed my suspicions. My son had “dropped”, I was completely thinned out, and 3 centimeters dilated at 37 weeks. I was still working as a waitress part time! (I obviously called them walking out of that appointment letting them know I wouldn’t be making any more shifts!) Other than killer heartburn and getting sleepy a little more than usual, I took great joy in hopping up and down flights of stairs, eating spicy chicken wings, walking continual laps around my neighborhood in efforts to induce labor. My son didn’t want to seem to go anywhere. 3 days later, my husband and I gave up and succumbed to “He’ll come when he’s ready!” A few hours later, we decided to go to the local hardware store to buy a birdfeeder and I started feeling some pressure in my lower back. I thought I had just overdone it on the walking. We went home to rest. The pressures continued. Was this labor? It was a distinct enough pain to compact into a timed thing, but it was certainly something new. My husband stared at me. I told him to go to bed. We both tried to get some sleep. About an hour later, the ache in my back began to come and go in waves that I could time, and the timing was becoming a regular thing. This was it!
I think it was a great thing to walk into my birth being so relaxed and having such little pressure or expectations.
Soon after arriving, the labor pains got pretty intense. I braved it out for a little while, but my blood pressure had gotten a little too high for their liking, so I decided of all the options, I’d try an epidural. I wasn’t given much, I was still able to move my legs around and feel the contractions, but it took the edge off and brought my blood pressure down nicely. Soon it was time to push- everything was so surreal. In the midst of knowing what was about to happen, I felt completely at peace. I pushed for about 15 minutes and my son was in my arms! The nurses buzzing in and out of the room remarked that it was one of the calmest births they had seen in awhile! (I did feel a bit nauseated afterwards, but it only lasted about an hour)
My second son was slightly different. I had moved back home and gotten yet another new doctor, and he was fabulous as well. We planned on another hospital birth- same idea- no expectations except for a healthy baby.
Curiously enough, about a week before I delivered, I had a dream where I gave birth to a little baby boy (we hadn’t yet found out the gender!), with a little head full of hair, and he was a little smaller than my first born, and they were worried about him eating. Taking it with a grain of salt, I recorded this dream in my pregnancy journal and almost forgot about it.
I was already showing signs of delivering soon, and was only at 36 weeks. I was running around after a very active 17 month old, so I had little time to fuss over trying to induce labor. A few days later, marking the beginning of my 37th week, I began to feel a tightening in my uterus that didn’t seem to let up and kept persisting- more so than Braxton Hicks. My back was already pretty achy, but it had been for months! We left our oldest with my sister in law and went with my mother in law and father in law to the hospital. Depending on how I felt in the moment, I was considering letting them be present for the birth. We were all pretty close and it was my idea. They never pressured me. ( A lot of people are shocked to hear that- but you should never feel pressured to “let someone be there for the birth”. It’s your rodeo- what you’re comfortable with matters most!)
I ended up getting another epidural and was again able to move around pretty well and still feel contractions. Because my inlaws were present, we were all laughing and joking around between them and when I felt the signature “NEED TO PUSH NOW” feeling, the doctor said “Alright, time to kick this party into high gear!” After about 15 minutes of pushing, my doctor said “Baby’s mostly out- you can finish the job if you want.” And brought my hands down to catch my little one. How small he felt compared to my other “little one!” I brought him up over my knees and told everyone “It’s a boy!” True to my dream, he was a little smaller than my first (but not unhealthily so- he was a solid 7 pounds, 1 ounce), he also was born with a thick head of hair, and there were concerns about his eating later on. Luckily, I had already nursed my firstborn for 15 months, so I knew enough when to worry and not worry despite what my pediatrician had to say. He’s 3 years old now, hilarious, brilliant, and is still a picky eater!
If there was any advice I could give to a mother about to birth, I’d say this: Don’t listen to other people’s scary stories. You’re going to do great, no matter how it happens. This is just another exciting chapter in the road of parenthood.