I realized recently that I have not taken the time to write out most of my birth stories. These are the stories that I want my kids to have, so I’d better get them out there before I forget more than just the little details.
I had my first baby in 2001 when I was 19. I was pretty carefree and “invincible”. I was a Marine. If I could go through boot camp I could do anything! I didn’t really do anything to prepare beyond the 1 hour required new mom birth class at the Naval Hospital. I didn’t have a birth plan.
I started having contractions about every 7 minutes while watching a movie in the base theater. Form the very first one they were INTENSE. I waited it out during the movie (had already been to the hospital for false labor twice) then headed in about 9:30 at night. They hooked me up and said “contractions every 5-6 minutes and wow those are STRONG!” Then they checked my cervix. Zero effacement and zero dilation.
they disconnected me from the monitors and told me to go home. I asked if they could give me some pain medication. Take Motrin. Geez thanks guys. I felt so defeated. What was wrong with my body?
I went home a laid on the couch contracting every 5 minutes all night long. I cried and cried. I hadn’t prepared and I didn’t know a darn thing about managing this pain on my own. About 12:30am I got a call form one of the nurses. She asked how I was doing. I told her through my tears how frustrated I was and that the contractions were killing me! She coached me through a few contractions and helped me to breathe and relax. She then told me to come back first thing in the morning. Shift change was at 7 and the new head Dr. coming on would make sure to either stop contractions or get that baby out. WE went back in at about 7:30. I was fully effaced and dilated to 5!!! I was super excited and also a bit mad at the mean nurse form the night before who thought the first time mom was clearly exaggerating her pain level.
By the time they got me all checked in and offered an epidural I decided I didn’t need one. I had been undecided before because honestly the idea of a giant needle in my back totally freaked me out!! After going all night long contracting on my own I decided I could totally do this and I didn’t need it. I did accept a shot of some pain medication in my IV. Stuff didn’t touch the pain, but it made me not care that it hurt. Shortly after they administered the meds baby’s heart rate started decelerating with each contraction. they were discussing a C-section. Thankfully little bub decided it was time to make his grand entrance before the attending midwife could get an OB up to labor and delivery.
When it came time to push I was completely fighting my body. It hurt and I didn’t like it!! Each time the ring of fire started I pulled back and screamed. after about 3-4 times doing that the midwife attending told me very rudely “If you put as much effort into pushing as you did screaming you’d have a baby by now!” While I thought she was a big jerk I did take her advice and on the next push he was out. All told I only pushed for about 5 minutes.
I honestly don’t really remember much else after that. I was totally wiped out. I do remember scarfing down a hot meal right there in the labor room then insisting I wanted to get up and walk to my recovery room. They thought I was crazy, but I walked with a nurse on either side ready to catch me if I fell.
I was pretty disappointed with my birth experience. I was filled with my own fear and doubts. I fought my body. I made things much worse on myself by not trusting my body. My “birth partner” aka ex-husband was completely disconnected and useless.
Despite all the negative feelings, however, I did walk away from that experience with a sense of power. I had done it. I had a natural vaginal birth. I was in awe of what my body could do. I also gained a determination to know and do better next time.
My biggest regret is that I don’t have a single photo from his birth. This was before the days of digital cameras in our phones and no photos were taken during the birth at all. The few pictures I had from the days afterwords in the hospital were lost or destroyed in the divorce. That’s one thing I definitely rectified for the future. Even if it’s a crappy cell phone shot, I have a picture of each of my brand new babies covered in their birthday frosting!
If you’re interested you can read the rest of my birth stories here on the blog as well