I’ve been stuck on what to write about since the birth of my daughter. I thought writing about my labor experience might be too cliche in the extensive pile of birth stories on the internet. Then I got to thinking…who reads birth stories? Expecting moms. And, having been an expecting mother twice in the past two years, I think moms everywhere can use a breath of fresh air when it comes to worrying about childbirth.
There are so many FRIGHTENING facts, stats, and stories on the internet about childbirth…not to mention pictures and videos. When I was pregnant the first time, the internet was my frien-emy #1…I knew I couldn’t believe all I read but I was addicted to reading. Luckily, I’m not a hypochondriac so everything turned out fine!
So, I want to tell my birthing journey. Why? Because it was a positive, beautiful journey with a happy ending and expecting moms deserve to hear more stories like that.
To start, I am not a doctor. Everything I write is based off what worked for ME. Read it with a grain of salt and find what works for YOU 🙂
So it began…
One day, my fiance and I decided that we wanted kids. Yes, it was just like that. No long discussion, just…if it happens it happens and we will embrace it. Well a couple weeks later it had happened and we were on the path to a whole new life.
We picked a hospital an hour away because it’s where I felt most comfortable going.
There are two hospitals within a half hour of us, but we chose to drive an hour. People asked, “aren’t you afraid you won’t make it?”. Well, yea, that would have sucked! But, we did make it. And I never once felt stressed about the distance because I had complete trust in the provider we had chosen and they walked us through everything like the angles they are. They’re damn good at their jobs.
Most of the time when I hear negative birth stories, it is not related to the mother or baby…it’s related to the facilities or care mom and baby received. This was something I was not going to budge on, and you shouldn’t either. Don’t be afraid to be picky. Pick your doctor, midwife, birthplace, birth plan, etc based on what YOU feel most comfortable doing. Ask a million annoying questions, call you doctor or midwife with any concerns you have and don’t let them make you feel like you have to do any less! It’s your baby and your birth and you are in control. Pregnancy is stressful but labor is a whole other realm…you don’t want to be confused, worried, or even more stressed out about stupid little things. All you should have to concentrate on is breathing and pushing. Find a place where you can be confident that everyone else will handle the rest.
I knew I wanted to try for a natural labor, but it didn’t happen naturally. And I’m OK with that, because I accept my limits.
With our first child I had no idea what to expect, I felt so ignorant to medical terminology and I knew I wanted to try for an unmedicated birth, but the idea of that scared the shit out of me. I, of course, did lots of research on “what does birth feel like” and got answers from pouring lava on your vagina, to women not even remembering the pain. When I went into labor with my son, it progressed very quickly, which no one was anticipating. I ended up having IV medication and an epidural. The IV meds made me loopy and the epidural worked wonders, I didn’t feel a thing when I pushed him out.
I don’t regret either. Yes, I would have loved to have my son naturally (as I was able to with my daughter), but my ultimate goal at that time was NOT to have him naturally, but rather, to make it as long as I could into labor and accept medication if I reached my limit. My son progressed so quickly I was told we had another couple hours and I knew I couldn’t handle that. So, I got the epidural. Turns out he was already crowning and I pushed him out a half hour later! Figures.
Don’t give yourself some crazy unrealistic expectation and set yourself up for failure. Heck, we even brought my ipod and essential message oils to use during birth. Yea, didn’t happen. Women are human, humans feel pain regardless of what the room smells like or what song is playing. BUT have confidence in what you expect of YOURSELF. I expected I would make it pretty far into labor and ask for meds, which is what happened. My second labor, I expected to do it without medication at all. Not only did I have my daughter naturally, but I don’t remember once even thinking about medication. Because…
I was much more mentally prepared for birth the second time around.
But, of course, no surprise there! You have no idea what to expect the first time! No matter how much you read, every birth is unique. However, there was something I read on a blog post during my first pregnancy that I truly believe got me through, both times. It was, regard labor as a means to an end, not something that will never end. In other words, every contraction, every breath, every second is one step closer to holding your child. Birth is physical, yes, but don’t underestimate the mental toll it takes as well.
During my second labor, my fiance told me “one step closer” literally over and over through EVERY contraction. It became a mantra I needed to hear every time I felt the pain coming and it’s the only thing that got me through. It changed my mentality from “woe is me the pain!!!!” to “one more down, one step closer, almost there”. And I did it.
Birth is beautiful.
So whether you are a first time mom or a 10th time mom (God bless you), it’s wondrously beautiful every time. Even the midwife that delivered our daughter described it at beautiful…and she was down there watching the whole thing. OK, so there are definitely some gross parts, but when that kid comes out and you awkwardly hold them for the first time and their tiny slime covered bodies wriggle around looking for food…its just amazing (do skin to skin if you can is SOOO worth it…that’s my 2 cents).
Finally, no matter what, give yourself a pat on the back. You made a human.
My births were completely different, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m happy I had a medicated birth with my first child because it showed me my limits and taught me to push through them.
I’m happy I didn’t settle for convenience over expertise.
Love yourself and love your body for what it can do and it will help you get through it. Your body knows what to do. In fact, there comes a moment when you cannot help but push because your body says, “hey, its time”, and there’s no going back.
Being confident and mentally strong in the face of uncertainty and pain will get you through.
I’m no longer worried about stretch marks, even after all the coconut oil I still got them. Embrace them…there are too many women who want them but can’t have them. I may even get some tattoos that show them off even more someday.
Birth is like a triathlon, you don’t win because you are biggest and strongest, you win because you had the mental determination to push yourself beyond your limits to the finish line. Literally, push.
Happy Birthing 🙂