Before I jump in, I want to say that this series shares my personal, individual experience, and feelings for the childbirth that I want. In no way do I pass any judgment on how anyone else has chosen to or wants their delivery to look. That is yours, and I want that for you.
In this series, I’ll take you through the childbirth of my first child, what I’m doing differently during my second pregnancy, how I’m preparing, and where that takes me.
Since I was young, my mom has shared with me the stories of her bringing three children into the world naturally and unmedicated, outside of the need for Pitocin toward the end of her labor with yours truly. While acknowledging the effort it took and that yes, there was pain – she always focused more on what getting to the end was like. The ultimate reward, after a process that our bodies were made for.
That colored my decision to want to go as unmedicated as possible with my first child. I felt capable and wanted to experience that same feeling she had so lovingly described. However, things didn’t go as “planned.” And, honestly, I was naïve to the preparation I needed to put in to carry out my unmedicated birth plan.
After some mild contractions starting at 1:00 am, my water broke around 6:00 am three days before my due date. I called the on-call doctor, and he wanted me to come into the hospital. The clock had started. After confirming that my water broke, I was admitted and checked. One centimeter dilated. I had expressed to my nurse and doctor that I wanted to go as unmedicated as possible for as long as possible, but they seemed less confident in my ability to do so given the situation. I sensed that my nurse was less than thrilled to hear of my birth plan and my doctor’s reaction was that, “hopefully, we’ll have a baby today.”
I felt discouraged. The contractions that I had been getting every 15-20 minutes had gone away once I was in the hospital, and by 10:00 am, I agreed to be given Pitocin. This is where I was most naïve. I knew what Pitocin would do, but I didn’t really know what Pitocin would do.
I went from zero to 100 within the hour. Intense contractions every two minutes from the start of one to the beginning of another. I remember feeling that I was experiencing the most pain someone could endure without dying. After a couple of hours, the nurse questioned why I wanted to go unmedicated for my childbirth and not get an epidural. At that moment, I didn’t know.
I worked through a few more contractions and then asked for the epidural. I was emotionally, mentally, and physically defeated.
The most significant benefit of receiving an epidural was that I was able to rest. I took advantage, and by the time I woke up, I had progressed from five centimeters (where I was upon receiving my epidural) to fully dilated and ready to push.
I pushed for nearly an hour and a half and welcomed a healthy girl at 5:30 pm.
My ultimate goal was to give birth to a healthy baby and for me to be safe in the process of doing so. I had accomplished that. I had carried a child to term, with little to no issues during pregnancy, and I had so much to be happy about as I held my perfect girl.
But, I didn’t feel that way.
Over two years later, I’ve finally come to a full understanding of what that experience meant to me and how it carried over into my first few months as a mom.
Looking back, I had felt out of my own body. I felt out of control – that I had given it away as soon as I decided to have an epidural. And that feeling bled into my mental and emotional health postpartum. I’ve journeyed through postpartum anxiety and depression, and have had to learn a lot about myself in order to shed the feelings of my status as a mom being the byproduct of my pregnancy and childbirth.
Now into the third trimester of my second pregnancy, what am I doing differently for my next childbirth? Stay tuned for Part Two: Changing Provider Lanes.