Saturday, June 9

Proud of Me

I've been in a bit of a funk lately. I recently had some good friends talk to me about areas in my life where I need to grow up (important conversations, but never fun). Adam and I have been dealing with some work-related stress as well. Generally, I've just been kind of down on myself.

Additionally, for the past several months I've been spending a lot of time participating in some on-line discussions about childbirth. I've realized that I had a number of unresolved issues from the birth of my daughter. Everything seemed a bit out of control to me and I felt forced into some decisions I was uncomfortable having to make. Now that Adam and I are trying to conceive once again, these issues started resurfacing as fears about another birth.

Today, for the first time, I found myself able to write a positive description of my experience. I was responding to a question about Natural Childbirth (NCB) on one of the bulletin boards I frequent. NCB can be described as birth without pain medications or, for some, without any medical intervention. Another poster to the discussion had suggested perhaps women who succeed in having a NCB simply have lower-risk pregnancies. She wondered how many women who had risks higher than those considered acceptable for a birth at home or in an out-of-hospital birth center were really able to achieve NCB.

Here is part of my response to her:

I left my homebirth midwife at about 25 weeks [six months pregnant] because of high blood pressure. I usually say I risked out, but I was the one who made the choice to leave at that point in order to have more time to build a relationship with the midwives in the practice to which I transferred.

My active labor was...20-some hours long. My contractions stopped getting stronger and closer together pretty much from the moment I set foot in the hospital. We tried walking, other means of naturally stimulating contractions, and finally breaking my water. None of it got the contractions moving forward. After I was there for nearly 12 hours, stuck at 5cm [full dilation is 10cm], they started Pitocin. I spent about an hour not thinking I could make it--the Pit-induced contractions were horrible. When I was asked to give my pain level on the 1-10 scale (1 being hardly anything, 10 being the worst pain you've ever been in), I said 12!

But I did it. After the first hour or so, I started listening to my body again and stopped fighting. It still hurt, but I was able to take one contraction at a time. When I quit trying to figure out how I'd deal with all the contractions after the one I was in right then, I found my groove, so to speak. From then on out, I knew I could do it.

Three-and-a-half hours later, my daughter was born. I was amazed at myself, because I really hadn't thought I could do it. And yet, I did. I guess that's what I would have had a hard time with if I'd consented to narcotics or an epidural--I'd have always wondered if I really could have done it if I'd tried.

Some women may never care one way or the other and that's their prerogative, but for me, I wanted to have the lowest-risk, least-interventive birth I could in the circumstances. I was (and am) quite proud of what I accomplished.


  1. You should be proud! Isn't giving birth the most amazing rush? It made me feel like I could do anything. Superwoman. And it helped that my husband was totally in awe of me after watching me go through it. :-)

  2. birth is such a deeply personal experience and there is no right or wrong way to feel about it. i think people had a hard time understanding why i was unsatisfied with my sons birth (in a hospital, with pitocin, and an epidural). to most it doesnt make sense but i couldnt shake the feeling that i wanted something different, that there HAD to be something different. i am so blessed to have discovered the joys of homebirthing. definitely one of (if not) the most empowering events of my life. i agree with the previous poster, birth is amazing and any woman should be proud regardless of how the birth wound up happening - but that isn't always what we feel inside.

  3. Amen!

    I'm a mixed bag for my 4 births, myself. I had one "managed, epidural, ventouse assisted, V-birth", one emergency C-section at 36 weeks, one planned C at full term because of forehead presentation, and one blessed VBA2C homebirth in the water with no drugs. Guess which happened to be easiest? My VBA2C. I was called crazy, I was called insane, but it was honestly the best of the four FOR ME, and if blessed again, I don't know how we would's all in God's Guidance!

  4. Every bith and labor is so different. I had my first two (a very difficult labor and a very quick easy labor) with no meds with either. With Baby E's birth, I ended up needing some interventions. At first I really struggled with that--feeling as though I was somehow "less than" or a failure because of the pitocin and then epidural. But it seems almost certain that without those interventions, we would have ended up with a C-section, which I was glad to be able to avoid.

    When E was finally born--something like 10 and 1/2 hours after I started pushing--I didn't feel that I had been pushed into any decisions I wouldn't have made if I had it to do over again. But they did strongly encourage some things that at the outset I thought I'd never do, and since they helped E get out healthy without a C-section, I'm glad I followed their advice. It helped that I trusted them enough to know they wouldn't be recommending those things unless they felt they were really important, and that they were in general adverse to unecessary interventions.

    I was really blessed to have midwives and other care providers who listened to me and talked through decisions with me, so maybe that helped me to feel that--even though I would have preferred that the interventions weren't necessary--I had something close to the best experience possible under the circumstances.

    I hope that you can find similar care providers that you feel comfortable with.


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