I felt ashamed, guilty, and mad about how my birth happened. I did not have an amazing birth; I recently was challenged to tell my birth story to someone, anyone I wanted. While telling my birth story, my hands were shaking and my breath was heavy. Never even realizing I felt so badly about my birth story, ashamed to tell anyone, a whole side of this hit me. I did not want to be judged because it did not go the way I wanted it to, or because it was not a huge tragic story. I did not feel strong or confident during my labor and birth. Not wanting anyone to see that, especially other moms, I kept it deep inside myself.
So here I am, going to tell you my birth story through my eyes. Holding nothing back because I believe all mothers should have the space to process their birth. To know that their story has purpose, even if it’s not amazing or tragic.
The beginning of my birth story
I began my birth on Tuesday August 23rd. Packing my overly large duffel bag so full I had to pull both ends of the bad together to get it zipped. My husband arrived home from work and we left for the hospital at 4pm. Feeling nervous, I tried to only show confidence in being prepared for this. I was so ready to not be pregnant anymore that I felt a glimpse of relief that it was finally time. We arrived at the hospital ready to start induction at thirty nine and half weeks along. I had gestational diabetes, so I had to be induced before my due date so my baby did not get any bigger.
Once I was settled in my hospital room I became very nervous about having Cervidil placed inside of me. I heard that it could be painful and uncomfortable and I’m not one for pain. After it was placed, my nerves calmed as I remember thinking that wasn’t too bad.
The next morning I woke up feeling the same as the day before. The Cervidil got taken out and I was able to take a shower. It was so nice to feel at home and clean and cozy. An hour or two later they started me on Pitocin to get the process going. I was not dilated at all or feeling contractions of any sort yet. After an hour or so of being on Pitocin I started to feel light mild contractions. Immediately I felt excited, but also homesick. I called my mom to come be with me for support because I was feeling slightly scared and just needing her.
Within a very short time I was full on feeling contractions. I asked for a mobile IV bag for the Pitocin and a wireless fetal monitoring system strapped around my belly. I wanted to be able get up and not be confined to the bed. Thinking to myself, just keep moving, keep walking, keep doing exercises. As long as I was moving it felt not too bad. I had my mom text my doula to go ahead and come in, as my contractions were feeling harder to bear. I needed some laboring support.
The Easier Part of my birth story
As she arrived I was rolling around on an exercise ball “look at you doing your labor exercises” she said. I felt good and proud of myself for starting off strong. This won’t be too bad, I thought to myself. At one point we walked the hospital halls, after two laps we went back to the room. It was becoming very difficult to do things and move around. I started feeling slight annoyance at this piercing pain that comes and then passes. Once the peak of the contraction comes and starts to decline it’s very relieving. I swear by now I was four or five centimeters dilated.
I believe it was five or six o’clock in the evening when I went to the restroom and it was just hard to walk there. Sitting on the toilet breathing through a contraction, all I could think was oh my good god we’ve got to be close to this baby coming out. Once it passed I went pee, got up and told my doula that I wanted an epidural, maybe. It was sounding enticing now, even though in my birth plan I wanted no drugs initially.
My cervix was checked again. According to the nurse I was six centimeters dilated! I was so proud of myself for making it that far. It felt so good that my body was taking right along to the process of induction. I decided that an epidural would be just fine at this point. Exhausted, there was no way I was going to get any rest at this point.
When the anesthesiologist came in with a whole cart I was so relieved he was finally there. I was miserable, shaking involuntary, in pain and agony, so ready for an epidural and not caring about my birth plan at all. Everyone had to leave the room except for one person. I chose my mom to be that person. It definitely hurt going into my back and was a little nerve racking. I was disappointed in myself for breaking down and getting the drugs.
Not the Plan
Once it was all done, I got a huge list of directions and things which I was in no way listening to. I’m trying to focus on getting through these contractions! Not the mile long list of directions and side effects of an epidural. I had lost track of time, all I knew is it was nighttime and I wanted this to be over. My mom, doula, and husband ordered chipotle for dinner and were talking and laughing. I just stared at them and listened to them from the bed, wishing I was not the one in labor. I was sad and felt so alone. Everyone else in the room was enjoying themselves, but I laid there in agony, exhausted, unable to sleep.
A different nurse came in and checked my cervix and she said “actually you are only two and half centimeters dilated”. Sinking deep inside myself, I felt done. I gave up, I was still so far away from giving birth and it had been a whole day. Getting the epidural confined me to the bed, and I could not eat anything until the baby was out. I didn’t think I could get more miserable, but I did. I let myself go completely, I did not feel strong or even wanting my baby at this point.
Giving up on this birth
How could something so beautiful be this terrible of a process. I was angry at the nurse for mistaking my dilation. I was angry at myself for giving up so early. If this is only two and half, I am weak and we have a very long way to go. I just wanted to go home and cuddle up with my dog and cry. The doctor came in and had to pop a small sac of fluid because I was not moving forward in labor at all. Once the sac was popped I could feel a difference very fast, my baby started to move down and contractions were coming on strong.
I laid in the bed crying, holding my husband’s hand, wishing this would be over. I lost all sense of any strength I had, it just went out the window. The pain was pissing me off. You still feel with the epidural, it’s just not quite as bad. I had no idea that it does not numb you completely, I mine as well not have even gotten the damn thing. With having no sleep, I was so exhausted, that’s what gets you. I was so tired that it was painful. I begged for more drugs, to up my dosage of the epidural.
The nurse crew made me wait it out for a few hours. Finally, they called the anesthesiologist back in which took some time for him to actually get to the hospital. I was so irritated because I felt like I was not being taken seriously. I had to ask multiple times for them to up my dosage and beg before they actually did it. Once I finally received a higher dosage of the epidural I felt such relief. They also gave me something that numbed me from my belly button down. It felt really weird to not feel half of my body. All night, every half an hour I had to have people turn me from one side to the other. I felt like nothing anymore, not even a person. I could not move my own body, this was degrading.
The next morning I woke up to contractions, intense and like I had no drugs at all. The nurse checked my cervix yet again, and I was nine and three quarters dilated. I just kind of stopped, everything froze for just a minute. This was really happening, no backing out, no opting for a c-section, I was going to push this baby out and soon.
Finally! I became a warrior, I was strong again, and ready to push. I was worried about how painful pushing would be, but I knew it couldn’t be as bad as everything I just went through. Then I got news that the baby wasn’t as far down as she needed to be to come out. All I thought was oh, hell, what now. The nurse told me I could start pushing now and push for four hours, or labor down and only push for two hours. Two hours of pushing! That’s crazy but it’s better than four I thought.
Time to warrior up
I got in my zone, I could feel everything, I had my mom on one side and my doula on the other, giving me water and blotting my face with a cool washcloth. Slowly moving my head side to side, my eyes closed, breathing. I thought about when I was a little kid and would get constipated a lot, but I didn’t want to push because it would hurt. Remembering this from when I was little saved me, because that’s exactly how it felt. It was like I was constipated and wanted to push so bad but you just can’t, you have to wait and let it come out on its own.
I would say “water”, “cheeks”, “hot” to signal I wanted something. It was hard to even spit out any words, I was so inside myself and powering through. I felt so powerful and in tune with my body. I could feel my baby moving down inside of me. This is a priceless connection, I cannot explain. It is extraordinary and hell at the same time. Eventually I couldn’t stop myself from pushing and my body just took over. When the nurse came in and had me explicitly push for the first time, it felt amazing. I had been making my body go against what it wanted to naturally do, until now. That first push was the best thing out of my birth.
The Pushing part of my birth story
Pushing for twenty five minutes I was surrounded by women cheering me on “push, go go go! Come on, you can do it, one more!” It felt so good, it was a huge reward to my body. My daughter came out at nine pounds and nine ounces. She is the light of my life, I love her unconditionally. Not having an amazing birth really opened my eyes to not having expectations and going with the flow. I can say that labor and birth is so different from anything I expected. It’s only been three months since she was born, but as of now I don’t think I could do it again, and that’s okay. That’s the hardest part to say… because I don’t want to be judged, or be told that I am selfish.
The end to my birth story
It was extremely exhausting. Going into my birth I was thinking I was strong and I can do this. I am stronger than the other women I’ve heard about giving birth. I was not stronger; telling this story, processing the harsh feelings is what makes me stronger. As in individual, I take great pride in my body and what it allows me to do. My mind and body are very physical and physically strong. I felt torn down. Everything I believed about my body was gone; I could not trust my physical self.
I have since gained some of that back, it’s a work in progress to accept and trust myself again. Putting this story out there helped me gain confidence in my childbirth, and process the difficult feelings that come with it. I encourage all women who have given birth to tell your story, to your support system, your partner, your family, or maybe the whole world. Give yourself the power to process your childbirth. It’s okay to not have an amazing birth. Your birth story is valid and important.