Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Tale of Four Labors - My Green Birthing Experiences

Posted by Heather Shields On 9:50 PM | 8 comments
  I have 4 beautiful, unique, crazy children. When I became pregnant with my first I thought, "Ok, I'm going to do this the way nature intended. No drugs. Just me, pushing, and *voila* baby time!" Yeah, it didn't happen that way. I did nothing to prepare. No childbirth classes, no reading up on pain management techniques... nadda. When my first contrition hit at 10pm I thought my uterus was trying to turn itself inside out. Via my va-jay-jay. It wasn't pretty. I got my epidural at 4 centimeters and after 15 minutes it stopped working. They gave me a booster and still no relief. Henry's birth is a hazy blur. I remember the pain, I remember the nurse yelling at me telling me to breath, and I remember my husbands terrified face. Apparently he had never seen a woman experiencing labor in it's full throws. 

In labor with Henry. I don't remember this picture being taken.
Two and a half years and a few natural birthing books later I thought I was pretty well prepared for Luke's arrival. My water broke at 2 am on October 20th, and with no evident signs of contractions I thought it must be all my preparedness paying off. 24 hours of walking around the hospital still didn't bring about any natural contractions, so with fear of infection setting in I was induced with Pitocin. The contractions hit me fast and hard. I held my husband's hand, gripped the side rails for dear life, and squirmed around on the bed until I couldn't bear it any more. As soon as the epi was placed the nurse checked me and I was at 8cm. I look back now and think that if I had known how close I was I would have tried to hold out, but the truth is that I wouldn't trade my birthing experience for anything. The epi worked beautifully, and with total calm and clarity (and the aid of a mirror) I was able to watch my 2nd son being born. I was able to touch his head before I had ever seen his face. And it was pure magic. I left the hospital ready to give birth again!

Loving on Luke during some quiet time in the hospital.

 When Luke was a year old we moved halfway across the country, and shortly after making a lifelong friend I became pregnant with #3. My new friend had 5 boys, 4 of whom she had birthed without pain meds, and she was the example I wanted to follow. I had 2 boys already, and after finding out #3 was also a boy it felt like we were destined to find each-other. The day I went into labor was hectic. Henry had preschool, I told off a rude man in carline, scrambled to make dinner while I was feeling run down, and then it happened. Regular contractions that weren't painful, but I knew it was labor. I was nervous, excited, impatient, and scared. What would a completely natural birth feel like? Would I "fail" like I had with the other 2? Would it be worth it in the end?


Hubby helping me through contractions during monitoring.
 My friend met me at the hospital before I was even admitted to a room, and after an hour of monitoring my contractions were steadily becoming more painful and frequent. The pain was building but something magical was happening at the same time. I was surrounded by experienced loving people who said just the right things, did just the right things, and were here to experience this magic with me. My friend held my hand and told me what a good job I was doing. My nurse was an absolute godsend and gave my husband tips on how to ease me through the contractions. As the pain grew and grew she started giving me more detailed instructions. Squat down. Groan in a low voice, not a high voice. She was a relentless place of comfort and direction. A very short while later my beautiful third son made his memorable entrance into the world. It was painful, it was fast, it was empowering, and it was a relief!! More than anything I couldn't believe that I had done it. And how much it added in terms of emotion and joy to my son's birth.


We were never supposed to have a fourth child. We had moved back home to the South and the hubby and I had all but decided that our 3 crazies were as much as we could handle. But, God had other plans. Finding out I was pregnant for a fourth time was a shock. I didn't know how I would handle 4 boys, if this baby was a boy. And the odds weren't looking good. I wondered if I would be able to have another natural birth, or would I "chicken out", because now I knew what it felt like. And I admit, I was nervous. Quite by accident I stumbled upon a local doula. I called her with some questions about the hospital I was birthing at and their policies with natural births, and wound up meeting with her face to face to discuss hiring her! 


If you are wanting a natural birth a doula is quite possibly the most important investment you could make. I had read all the books, watched countless videos, practiced pain management techniques with ice cubes... nothing compares to the undivided attention and complete mental, emotional, and physical support that a doula provides. I was worried she would overshadow my hubby in the labor process, but it was quite the opposite. She actually brought him into the experience more than he had ever been before. She gave both of us direction, and provided him with a sense of purpose. Together they supported me through a pitocin induced labor, and despite being forced to lie on the bed, despite wanting to throw in the towel at some moments, and despite the fact that I had been scared I wouldn't make it... I did. My sweet baby girl was born, and the first words out of my mouth were, "She looks just like Luke!"


My experiences were varied. My love for my precious littles is not. No matter the birth you have, the depth of your love doesn't change. But, when you allow yourself to work with your body the result is POWERFUL. Labor pain builds gradually for a reason. You body will acclimate to that pain. It will still hurt, yes, and as labor progresses it will hurt more, but you ARE capable of handling it. Lack of support and fear are the biggest enemies of natural childbirth. As much as people are scared of pushing, that is the BEST part of labor! When you push there is relief. With every squeeze you know it's almost. over. And then when you push your final push, and that little one is born into the world, the flood of emotions is nearly indescribable. The first thing you feel is relief. That it's over. That your baby is here. That you don't have to do that anymore. Then the joy in seeing your baby's face, the wonder at their tiny toes, and perfectly shaped ears. The heart-bursting happiness that makes you want to run the halls of the hospital holding your perfect bundle up and shouting, "This is MY baby!!!" Finally, something I like to call "I am woman, hear me roar!" You will never know the full power that your body possesses until you give birth. Take away the medical interventions, the numbing medicines, and the restrictions and you are left with raw power


I hope you've enjoyed hearing about my green, and not so green, childbirths. I also hope that if you are having a baby you will consider making the choice to birth naturally. If you are looking for a Doula there are many resources, but I am currently finishing up my training through Birth Arts International, and my doula, friend, and now co-worker was trained through DONA. you can visit both of their websites and find a doula in your area. If you have any questions about my experiences, or the natural birthing process in general EMAIL ME or leave a comment! Happy birthing, ladies!

8 comments:

  1. I LOVE birth stories! I have 3 boys myself. My third was unintentionally natural - I went complete as they were trying to place the epidural. I LOVED it! A good friend of mine is a DONA certified doula. Sadly, all our hospitals have a strict 2 person rule in labor/delivery and there are no midwife options except homebirth (not comfortable with that). My mom and hubby have been at all 3 births. Should I have another, I'd love to use a doula, but I would still want my mother and husband there. Not sure how that would work. Thanks for linking up at Thrive @ Home!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Would you consider another local hospital? Or perhaps talk to your OB about wanting the additional support. Best of luck! When it comes time, and if you have any questions, feel free to contact me!

      Delete
  2. Thank you for sharing your story, and I feel privileged to have been apart of the tale of your fourth;))) I love that birth is so symbolic and it is no mystery why the bible says women will be saved in childbirth. Although theologians and scholars have agreed and disagreed on this one verse I do feel it is a purposed
    vague reference with deep spiritual
    meaning. I can't wait to doula side-by-side!

    ReplyDelete
  3. It is *amazing* how much difference fear makes vs. feeling prepared, and low-pitched vocalizations vs. high-pitched ones! There was a night-and-day difference between my first birth and the following two.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anyone who can handle pit contractions without pain meds is a star in my book! Congratulations on your doula training. You will be able to encourage so many other women as they experience this rite of passage.
    Thanks for linking up with the Tuesday Baby Link Up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think with the right support and preparation anyone could do it!

      Delete
  5. Beautiful stories and beautiful children! I agree 100% that a doula is the best possible birth investment you can make. I would have NEVER gotten through my natural VBAC four months ago without my godsend of a doula :-)

    Thanks for linking up at The Tuesday Baby Link Up! Hope to see you there again next week!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for your input!

Unordered List

Labels