Shortly after I gave birth, a friend advised me to write my birth story so I wouldn’t forget anything. I ignored her. The first moments I held my child are indelible in my memory and my childbirth experience was unremarkable. This was exactly the way I wanted it.
The dramatic story of my birth was a favorite family tale. I was due in early January. On Thanksgiving weekend, my parents took a “last vacation before the baby” to my grandparents cabin. I decided to join the party. My mother had to hike uphill to the car and then endure a harrowing ride to the hospital. They barely made it. My goal for my daughter’s birth was to have as undramatic of a story as possible.
I had a textbook pregnancy. I gained inches and weight exactly as predicted by the midwife’s charts. My morning sickness and heartburn were mild and well within normal parameters. I planned to give birth at the local hospital under the care of certified nurse midwifes. My decision to try for a unmedicated birth was motivated more from a desire to minimize my chance of a Cessarian than becasue I wanted a trans-formative natural birth experience. My research indicated it was a safest way to give birth and the nurse midwifes would likely honor my low key approach.
My daughter was due in early January so I figured that as long as I didn’t go into labor before my birthday in late November everything would turn out alright. Despite my bodies best efforts, I succeeded. In early December, I started getting braxton hicks contractions every evening just under the threshold where I was supposed to go into the hospital. This continued until I went into labor almost a week after my daughter’s due date.
By the time I went into active labor, I was thoroughly sick of being pregnant. My maternity clothes were getting too small and I hated that I was constantly tired. For the past two weeks, I had been eating tons of pineapple and going on long walks to try to induce labor. I accidentally stranded myself at the local library for several hours becasue I lacked the energy to walk the half mile back home. Every evening, I would get contractions and every evening they would go away. I was paranoid that I was going to be one of those women who went into the hospital several times and then got send home because they were not actually in labor.
Finally, one night I was still contracting at midnight and they seemed to be getting closer together. My husband and I went to the hospital around 2AM and I was very discouraged to hear that I was only 2 cm dilated. However, my contractions were less then four minutes apart so the nurse told me to walk circuits around the halls. When they checked me an hour later, I was 4cm and admitted to my own room.
The next couple hours were kind of a blur. I hated the shower, liked the peanut shaped birthing ball, and hummed loudly through every contraction. I made my husband press hot packs into my back because of painful back labor, but I thanked him and the nurses frequently. Apparently, I am very polite while giving birth. Around 10AM I was 9cm dilated and the nurse turned on a baby warming drawer. I was told to start pushing as soon as I felt the urge. Six hours later I was still at 9cm. The nurse broke my water to try to speed up labor, but that mostly made the contractions more painful. I received an epidural at 5pm and relaxed for an hour before pushing my baby out in about an hour. My daughter was officially born at 7:10.
I am proud of how I gave birth. There were no emergencies and I felt reasonably in control. My birth experience was not inspiring and the details are interesting to no one except my close friends and family. Like most greatly rewarding things, giving birth was hard but worth it. The prospect of giving birth again will have no impact on my future childbearing decisions.
Many brave woman are taking a stand on reclaiming birth and reducing unnecessary Caesarians. I have listened to friends talk passionately about home birth, birth centers, and health insurance politics. Although I am sympathetic to their movement, this will never be my chosen issue. I have gotten glared at one to many times when I try to mention historical statistics of death in childbirth. However, I think there is something to be learned from trying to make childbirth a normal and natural part of life.