Hey mamas! I’m sharing the birth story of my daughter, in hopes that it might help any nervous mamas-to-be. You can read about it ALL, or skip to the sections that interest you most if you want to, including my:
When I was pregnant, I loved reading other women’s birth stories. That’s something I never imagined would be the case for me—the whole idea of birth freaked me out for my whole life until it actually was over, so I have really had no desire to read other women’s accounts lest they terrify me even more.
However, once I was pregnant, especially toward the end, I found myself clicking on more and more birth stories and asking other women that I knew what happened for them. I wanted more details. I want to know it all! Perhaps it was because I knew that these women had come out just fine and so I wanted to hear everything they went through to prove to myself mentally that you could come through it unscathed.
In that spirit, I decided it might be helpful to another future Mama to read my story. Each one is certainly unique.
I had what you’d call a totally “normal” pregnancy. As far as symptoms and side effects, I think I was fortunate and that most of them were fairly mild. I didn’t experience much nausea. And hold on—let that be my first point to any Mama’s reading this:
I have a dear friend who unfortunately went through nine solid months of nausea everyday. That terrified me. Because I’m the sort of grown person who would literally cry if I’m even close to throwing up. I thought if that happened to me, I wouldn’t be able to make it, but turns out, I think I felt nauseated only a handful of times throughout the whole nine months, and it was after I would take a medication that I needed for my migraines, unfortunately. Otherwise, my stomach was pretty rock solid and I continued to eat the same as I always had no real food aversions. Toward the end, I had a lot of back pain and the inescapable swollen feet. But the back pain, though intense, really only started toward the end so it’s not like it was a nine-month ordeal.
Around Thanksgiving, I was 8 months pregnant. My husband and I decided not to go anywhere for Thanksgiving because it would be too hard on my back to ride in the car and visit family 3 hours away. So we stayed home, just the two of us. It was actually pretty divine. We fixed a whole meal, but it was very low stress and calm because no one was coming over and we weren’t going anywhere.
We really tried to appreciate the fact that we had this one last Thanksgiving without a child to take care of and we enjoy it to the fullest. I was relaxing several hours after our Thanksgiving meal and sitting in the living room quietly reading a book in the rocker when I felt my daughter do a humongous flip flop. Like, she moved around all the time and I had felt her move pretty intensely before, but this was not just some kicks, it was a huge wallop that went on and on and it made me sit straight up and drop my book. I thought to myself that she must have just done a complete flip inside me. Turns out I was right.
She had been facing the right position for birth, head down, but perhaps due to the wonderful Thanksgiving meal, she got overly excited and flipped around into a breech position. (I mean there was delicious baked mac-and-cheese so it was pretty exciting.) At my next appointment the doctors figured out that this is what had happened and gave me a week to see if she would flip back into correct position. They assigned me some stretches and breech position poses to get into to try and encourage her to do so. However, at the next appointment she still had not moved, and at that point, with only a few weeks to go, it seems unlikely that she would turn into the right position by herself. So they scheduled me for an inversion.
I had never heard of this before, but what happens is that the doctor manually tries to turn your baby around in your uterus using their hands and pressing on your stomach.
This was a little bit scary since there is a slight chance that something they do in this process will cause you to need an immediate C-section. But I wasn’t overly nervous. I told myself that the chances of that happening, as they had pointed out, were very, very slim. They offered me pain medication before it was about to happen, which I refused. Turns out I definitely didn’t need it. My daughter turned dutifully back into the correct position in less than one minute. The doctors only had to give two good pushes and she was completely flipped back in the right position. Yes!
So everything seemed rosy again and I could avoid having to schedule a C-section because she was facing breach. Woo!
My due date came and still no baby. I had opted to be induced on the day of if she hadn’t arrived yet because the doctor told me that I was fully ready to do so and because honestly I would rather go ahead and get it over with at a scheduled time then play the wait-and-see last minute game. That’s just the type of person I am. Again, this was something I was very nervous about because I had heard that the medication to start the induction was strong and could also make your contractions hurt a lot more. Having nothing to compare it to I can’t say for sure, but my suspicion is that this is true, because the contractions were admittedly extremely painful.
I have always been someone who had really terrible period cramps if not medicated. Now, my point in saying this is not to scare any future mama’s, but I can say that this was tons worse than period cramps. It’s just a totally different feeling that is indescribable until you have experienced it. Each contraction feels like it involves your whole body. And I found myself, before my epidural, dreading the next one. I was crying and saying “No please not yet, not another one!” So yes, there were lots of tears and I won’t sugarcoat that it hurt very much.
However, I opted for an epidural after a while, which magically took care of that problem. I mean honestly ladies. An epidural, despite how you might feel about having one, is pure magic when it comes to pain relief. This is just my personal opinion, but I would suggest that you not hold on too tightly one way or the other on that front. Leave yourself open to the idea that if the pain gets too bad you will ask for an epidural. It was like night and day. Agony versus complete calm and ready to focus on bringing the baby into the world. That’s just my two cents worth. Each mama has to do what is right for her. I was not a mama who had strong feelings about having a medication-free birth, so for me, I was like, okay bring it on please!
And then I was literally crying tears of thanks and joy once it kicked in in the pain stopped (it only took like 5-10 minutes for me). Oh, and by the way, I was also terrified of the epidural itself beforehand. I have never had anything like that done, and the prospect of them putting something in my spine, AND me being numb was terrifying in and of itself.
However, as many women will tell you, at that point I really didn’t care. Even if the anesthesiologist would have come into the room wielding a needle the size of a fencing sword, I still wouldn’t care! But as it happens, of course it wasn’t anything that dramatic, and I really didn’t find it scary after all. He did his thing behind me while I sat up on the bed and I really didn’t feel anything from him at all. They rub a numbing agent on the injection right before they do it so you don’t even feel the prick. Five minutes and the pain was all gone. I’ve never felt such a sense of relief IN. MY. LIFE.
The induction all-in-all went smoothly and my body responded quickly. I went from 4 cm dilated to 10 cm in less than an hour. On my side, (post epidural!) I was doing great.
Then came the pushing. By this point the epidural was in place and kicked in, and I was feeling good and pain-free and ready to push.
So I pushed. And I pushed. And pushed. However, she just didn’t want to come out. This went on for I want to say about 2 hours! (With a couple of breaks where they made me rest.) But the nurse started noticing that my daughter’s heartbeat was slowing down significantly with each attempt to push. And the longer we went on, the more her heart rate would falter and slow. I was desperate to just give that one magical push that would end the worry and bring her out into the world! However, that was not to be.
The doctor eventually called it and said it was unsafe to keep pushing because her heart rate was dropping lower and lower and even coming to a complete stop for seconds on end, which I can tell you, was terrifying to listen to over the monitor. So, there was really no choice except to have a C-section after all of that.
I was pretty devastated, partially because I’d gotten so close to having her vaginally, and partially because I was terrified of the idea of a C-section and had wanted to avoid it. I think a lot of soon-to-be mamas must have the same notion. It’s a scary concept! Major surgery, and not just any major surgery, but one that you have to stay awake through? AHH!
I was not looking forward to it to say the least. But I truly didn’t have a choice. So, completely worn out after over 10 hours being in labor, at 3-something a.m., they rolled me into the surgery room with tears quietly streaming down my face. My husband said a prayer with me and then stayed by my side while the surgery proceeded. I can honestly say that as nervous as I was when they first wheeled me into the room, that was as nervous as I was through the whole process. Once they started, I actually calmed down. There were lots of doctors in that room. To me it seemed like 12 or more, but my husband tells me it was more like five or six. What can I say, my memory might be a little skewed–I was a bit tired! But the attention of so many wonderful doctors made me feel really safe. Not to mention their demeanors. They had obviously done this lots of times and the lead surgeon assured me that they were going to take good care of me and get the baby safely out and that it wouldn’t take long.
I have to admit, he was right. All in all, the surgery was not a scary experience after all. It turned out to have a lot of positives! And ladies, the scar is sooo much smaller than I imagined! I can still wear a bikini if I want to and you can’t see it! Either way you deliver, you will have some pain afterwards, but I can honestly say that 95% of my pain and recovery was from all the pushing I had done, not from the surgery.
My abdomen, back, and whole torso was basically racked with soreness after delivery and that was from the pushing. The actual site of the surgery was not very painful to me. Yes, I wouldn’t want anyone pushing on stitches or anything, but it didn’t ache. It only hurt to the touch, and a pair of soft comfy pants solved that issue.
Needless to say, the surgery went fine. They did have to help her to breathe right at the beginning because she had some fluid in her lungs. This is fairly common with a C-section since the pushing of the vaginal delivery typically squeezes out some of the fluids that are in the lungs but that process doesn’t happen with a C-section. And although that sounds scary, keep in mind that because it’s so typical the doctors definitely know what to do for it and do it all the time.
They got her breathing fine pretty quickly. They wanted to observe her in the special nursery for a few hours though. So my husband and I prepared ourselves to have to wait a little while before really getting to hold her which was a bummer. (They did put her in my arms for a few minutes in the surgery room though, they just had to take her away afterwards.) However, after she was in there she perked up so quickly that we didn’t need to wait even a fraction of that long. It wasn’t very long before they were bringing her into my room. And let me tell you, a more beautiful baby there never was. Emelia June was seven pounds exactly and cute as the cutest button! The doctors were raving about how clear and wrinkle-free her skin was, and she had bright glistening blond hair and deep blue eyes like her dad.
It seems kind of funny to me upon reflection that all of the parts of delivery that I was afraid of, I ended up having to experience THEM ALL. I thought I might have to experience one or the other. For instance, I thought “Well, if I end up having a c-section scheduled, at least I won’t have to go through the scariness of pushing!” And vice versa. But I had to do it all. I had an inversion, got induced, pushed, AND had a C-section after all of that.
While it was a tiring time for sure, it does bring a little satisfaction to look back and think that all of the scariest parts I went through are now behind me. I can say, I’ve done that. I can also say truthfully I’ve done that, and it wasn’t that bad at all!
Thoughts on Having a “Birth Plan”
Soon-to-be mamas can spend a lot of time thinking about their “birth plan.” It’s a big thing nowadays, and if that sort of thing seems right to you, then by all means go for it. I’m a fairly controlling person who likes to have a plan when things are frightening to me. The plan makes me feel better. But for some reason, a birth plan never appealed to me.
Perhaps it was because I realized that I simply hadn’t been through it before, so I figured, who am I to know exactly what I’ll want when the time comes? The doctors asked me at the beginning what my “plan” was for pain medication and I told them “Umm, my plan is to let you know when I need something.” I said through the whole process, I don’t know what I’m going to want because I’ve never experienced this before! I wanted to reserve the right to be flexible throughout this.
Plus I wanted to let the doctors be the guide as well. That was fine with them! And it worked out fine for me. I don’t mean to dissuade any Mama’s from having a birth plan if that’s what makes you feel good about things, but for me, I really enjoyed the freedom of not having a plan and just letting the doctor’s guide me as it seemed necessary. It made me feel safe. It made me feel like I could trust them. It made me feel more relaxed because I didn’t have the stress of “My plan, my plan, are we going by my plan?”
My plan was to bring the baby into the world however it worked out best that I should. And I nailed that plan. I think it was good for me for her to be born exactly the way she was, because our experiences, even when they’re scary, help to mold us. I really appreciate talking to my friends who are starting a family and telling them my story. I tell them “Hey, you know what, if you end up needing a C-section, don’t sweat it, it ain’t that bad! I promise. You’ll be on a table talking to your hubby or significant other for a little while not feeling a thing…and then your baby will be in your arms. I wouldn’t be able to share that comfort with them if I hadn’t been through it.
And I am definitely a sharer! I hope this story helps someone out there who is nervous about giving birth and might be feeling a bit overwhelmed at all the variables. I spent 30 years of my life being terrified of the idea of birth. I thought well, some women make it look easy, but I can’t do it!
However, I can assure you that even if that’s the way you feel, it’s not the case! During the whole process I kept thinking that surely the “truly terrifying part” was still to come. But eventually she was in my arms, safe and lovely, and I realized “Hey…there wasn’t still a terrifying part yet to come.”
She was here.
I was done.
I had done it.