Updated: Jan 21, 2018
Is it just me or does it seem like only women who have traumatic labor experiences share their birthing stories? Writing is therapeutic for most so I completely understand why these women would write about their experiences, but these very stories scared the crap out of me during my pregnancy and i'm sure it does the same to other expecting moms.
So why is it us women who have our dream labor and delivery choose to keep our birthing stories to ourselves? Could it be the guilt that many other women, some whom which we know personally, deliveries did not go as planned? Do some women feel as though no one wants to hear their story because nothing "exciting" occured? Well, I feel inclined to share my story for anyone who needs to read it because I too wished I read more labor experiences from women whose labor went as planned.
At 40 weeks and 3 days pregnant I was ready. Well actually, I feel there is no such thing as being ready to push a baby out your privates but I liked to pretend I was as ready as I could be because I had a plan. With only 7 weeks of pregnancy left before my due date, after reading a midwifery book and taking a tour of the facility I decided I was going to switch from my planned hospital birth to delivering my son at a birthing center. I researched and explored my options and why I chose to deliver there will be for another post but in my mind I fully committed to an unmedicated birthing center delivery. I highly suggest the book "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" if you plan to go the same route.
It happened on August 16, 2017 after a one mile walk and 2 1/2 ounces of castor oil to induce my labor (talk to your doctor about ways to induce your labor if your'e completely over being pregnant like I was). I started to feel mild cramps, but that was nothing new at that stage of pregnancy. However, they became very consistent so at 7:24 pm I called the midwife on call to let her know what I was experiencing but she instructed me to call back if I began to have cramps that make me have to catch my breath. Just 30 minutes later those cramps she was referring to had me speechless, I was experiencing my first real active labor contractions for sure this time. I attempted to run water for a bath because all the books I read said it would help me cope with the pain. But after running the water about half an inch high I started to panic a bit and called the midwife back to tell her about my new plan.
"Hi, I changed my mind I'm just going to go to the hospital and get an epidural, thanks anyway."
Every plan I had went out the window at that moment.I was home alone and though I wasn't scared of what was happening, I simply decided I no longer wanted to feel the pain and that an epidural sounded divine. But thank goodness for my midwife because she tricked me into coming into the birthing center in order to "check and see how dialated I was, and then we go from there" and I reluctantly agreed. I didn't realize it was a trick in that moment just to get me there, but it worked. My bags were already packed, and my favorite mantras I practiced throughout my pregnancy were on repeat in my head for my 45 minute ride to the birthing center.
I arrived at the birthing center at 8:55 pm and the rest went as follows:
9:15 Gets vitals checked
9:20 Asks to go to the hospital to get an epidural
9:59 6cm dilated and laboring in shower
10:30 Asks to go to the hospital to get an epidural
10:53 8cm dilated and laboring in the Jacuzzi tub
11:05 Asks to go to the hospital to get an epidural
11:28 10 cm dilated and pushing
11:41 I gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy
So here's the thing. I already knew during my pregnancy that once I was to go into labor I would be asking for an epidural, I just know me. That's one of the many reasons I didn't want to deliver at a hospital to begin with, if I had an epidural staring me in the face I would have totally got it. Though I committed to having my son at a birthing center, I was very open to changes if need be. I am in no way anti-epidurals, I completely understand why women get them trust me. But I wanted to have my son the way I felt was best for both him and I. And because of my commitment to have him at a birthing center where they do not administer epidurals I knew I was giving myself a better shot at achieving the goal i set forth.
And I did it! Thanks to the most encouraging team of nurses and midwives at Special Beginnings Birthing Center. Each time I said I needed to bail on my plan they recommeded a new pain management position and words of encouragement that kept me going. The atmosphere was warm and home-like and the ambiance was quiet just as I wanted. I couldn't have asked for a better experience. I was fully present during labor and after delivery and was able to enjoy my son right away. In fact, by 5 am I arrived back home with my perfect baby boy, just 5 hours after I delivered him. This may sound completely insane to some but it was amazing to be in the comfort of my own bed so soon after such a tiring experience. Don't worry, for safety precautions a nurse came to our home to check on us both the next day once we were settled in.
I realize I was blessed to have such an "easy going" labor and delivery therefore I felt the need to share a piece of my story in order to encourage women to look into their options of how and where they bring their child into the world. If you're like me, initially when you hear about midwives, birthing centers, and water births you think these things are either outdated or for super natural hippie women. Sorry, but it's what I used to think. But there is a reason so many women choose that route and it is unfortunate that so many younger women, particularly women of color are not even made aware that this is an option. During my pregnancy I did not share with many people outside of my family that I will be delivering at a birthing center partially because I began to get crazy looks and discouraging words. That's not okay! If you're an expecting mother be confident in one of the first decisions you will get to make for your child and yourself. Educate yourself on your options. And don't let anyone scare you out of what can be an amazing experience for you too.
PS, I was butt naked the entire time so unfortunately I cannot share my videos and pictures with you, my only regret of the night.