As anyone who has known me very long can probably attest, I am deeply interested in the subject of childbirth; particularly natural childbirth. Get me in the same room with another mom with the same bent and we will talk till the wee hours of the morning. Been there and done it! 😉
I thought a good way to lay the foundation for the childbirth section of my blog would be to give my birth stories. Some are more interesting than others – with #4 being unequivocally the most interesting of all – but they all are, of course, deeply a part of who I am now, and have all informed my own philosophy of birth. So without further ado…#1, 1999.
Erin’s birth story has to start way before birth. I found out I was pregnant with her just before my 21st birthday; I was in college and had been married for 2 months. I hadn’t really planned on getting pregnant yet – we had not, at that time, yet come to the conclusion that under most circumstances babies should be welcomed, not avoided. So, it was all a big surprise to me – which just seems pretty funny all these years and babies later.
I had never learned anything about labor and birth, and had never given the subject any thought – so I did what “everybody else” seemed to do, and rang up the nearest OB clinic. There I went for eight months of my pregnancy, during which time I read and studied about pregnancy and birth tirelessly. Around month eight, it was final: I was a firmly convinced natural birth fanatic. I was then, and remain today, absolutely convinced that, barring complications, natural birth is by far the safest and healthiest route for baby’s entrance into the world. So I trotted trustingly into my OB’s office next visit, and mentioned that I didn’t think I wanted a routine IV. This started a dreadful scene in which the OB became more and more upset by my views, to the point of literally shouting at me in the office. It was terrible…and I walked out, never to return. Eight months pregnant, I started from scratch to find a new provider, this time a local, natural birth friendly midwife.
It’s funny, though – it is the mistakes I made after that point that taught me the most important lessons for future births. My biggest mistake (after choosing a random OB out of the phone book) was in not having a birth plan. I didn’t think it was necessary; I knew what I wanted, my husband knew, and we talked it over with the midwife, and we were all good. However, there was a hitch – the midwife had a partner, whom I never met, until – sure enough – she was the one on call when I went into labor. Now, not meeting my midwife’s partner was another mistake I would not care to repeat. I ended up with a midwife I had never met, overseeing my hospital birth, with no birth plan. (Brilliant, O Childbirth Fanatic…) My labor was pretty textbook for a first labor – on the fast side. It was 11 hours from start to finish, with about an hour of pushing. I did have my natural birth, in terms of being unmedicated and mostly free to move how I chose – but I ended up on a monitor much more than necessary, and even had an internal monitor placed toward the end, for no real reason that I was ever informed of. I would never have consented to this without being informed of the justification, but I was not asked, and it was placed before I had any idea what was going on. I also tore pretty badly, probably due to poor positioning and lack of proper support.
So – all things considered, it was a good birth, and it achieved its end: a strong healthy baby. It could have been better if I had been just a bit more proactive about things, and avoided those two big mistakes.