Posted on April 18th, 2011
I’ve been spending so much time visualizing how I want this birth to unfold.
This pregnancy stands in stark contrast to my daughter’s for many reasons.
I remember being 8 months pregnant and reading the chapter on labor and delivery in What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I didn’t even make it half way through and I freaked out! I can still see myself sitting on the floor in the middle of the nursery crying, feeling like there was no way I could possibly give birth. I decided to go with the ignorance is bliss idea. I did not attempt to read or learn any more about giving birth.
I had an appointment with my doctor on Monday, January 19, 1998. It was Martin Luther King Day. I was anxious to have my baby, as the college semester began the next day and I was registered for a full course load. The doctor said I could be induced that evening. She instructed me not to eat anything more that day and to go to the hospital that evening for an induction. Part of me couldn’t believe that I was finally going to meet my baby! I remember feeling excited and sort of in disbelief that the day had finally arrived.
I know that my recollection of my labor and delivery may not be completely accurate. Time is fairly meaningless for many women in labor. Also, these events occurred more than 13 years ago and this is the first time I have attempted to write them down. Here is the story as I recall it… My mom and I checked into the hospital that evening and I was given a dose of Cervadil and hooked up to a Pitocin drip. My contractions started around 8pm and felt pretty strong. I labored for the next few hours with my mother’s support. I remember the contractions as very intense, but manageable. I found great relief from holding a cold wash cloth over my face. Apparently I pressed pretty hard because after Megan was born I noticed my face was red with brushburn!
I felt that I was handling labor well and that my baby would be born soon. However, the hospital staff had a different view. Nurses started asking me about taking morphiene to help me sleep! Even at 19 I was resistant to medications, not just as a pregnant woman but in general. I was convinced to have an epidural. Around this same time my mom called Megan’s dad to join us at the hospital. My epidural was in place right around midnight. I no longer felt my contractions. I went from being quiet and inwardly focused (what I now know is referred to as “Laborland”) to chatty and alert. I simply relaxed in the hospital bed, in awe of how effective the epidural was. Fairly soon after my doctor checked on me and determined it was time for me to push. I couldn’t feel my contractions so the nurse had to tell me when to push. At some point I was given an episiotomy. I don’t recall the doctor asking my permission or explaining to me why the procedure needed to be done. My beautiful, perfect little daughter, Megan, was born at 1:59am on January 20, 1998.
With my current pregnancy I have been consuming nearly as many childbirth books as chocolate chip cookies! My husband and I have spent considerable plan discussing our birth plan with each other and with our midwives. I am much more informed about birth and I am ready to advocate for the intervention-free birth that I hope for. I’m not saying that one is better than the other. My birth with Megan was a pleasant experience and I think it was exactly what I could handle at that point in my life. I have often felt frustration over what I perceived to be pressure to accept pain medication and the general feeling that others were in control of my birth experience. However, there is no way for me to know how my labor would have progressed (or not) without that intervention. Also, in preparing for this birth I take solace in the fact that I know effective pain medication is available should I feel I need it. And this time I’ll be the one calling the shots.