Originally Posted by LilacMama
I want to preface this by saying that I am very aware that other women have had truly long, difficult births, often resulting in vacuums/forceps/c-sections and other things that have been far more difficult to process than my birth. I feel guilty for posting my "easy" birth story, but I also wanted sort through some of my negative feelings about my birth.
Wow, reading these posts has been so moving. I didn't know other women felt like this-- I have felt so wimpy and foolish for feeling the way I do about my birth, but now I feel almost validated.
I gave birth to my first baby just 3 weeks ago. She really is my pride and joy but I have such mixed feelings about childbirth... I have always been determined to have 4 or more children and I still want them, but when I think about giving birth again I feel almost terrified, almost sick, and I truly don't know
if I can face it again.
I had been heavily pregnant all through the hot weather, and by 39 weeks I was losing my veneer of cheerfulness I'd kept up fairly well throughout the pregnancy. One Sunday morning, I went to church as usual but halfway through the service asked DH to take me home (something I never do!). He did, and stayed home with me, which was sweet (he could have easily gone back as we live 5 min. away from the church). I holed up in our bedroom the rest of that day. DH said I was "like a cat in the bathroom," which was both offensive and bewildering to me until he explained that his family's cats always slunk to the bathroom and brooded there before having kittens, lol.
However, that night I was feeling a bit better, and so we got a bit romantic. We'd been told by the midwife that it can bring on labor... and maybe it did the trick, because shortly afterwards, at about half-past midnight, I felt a sharp pain that kind of took my breath away and a small amount of fluid gushed out. I thought, Has my water broken? Is this it? I told DH what had happened, and then when I started having contractions both of us got a bit excited and scared, and we headed off to the hospital. I still didn't know if it was real labor or not--it hurt pretty badly, but what threw me off was how close the contractions were! I thought real labor started out with 10-15 minute intervals between contractions that began somewhat mildly. I had been instructed to wait until they were five minutes apart before coming in. Mine were 2-3 minutes, if that, so I thought maybe it was some really strong Braxton Hicks that would vanish any second. Called my mother on the way, and she seemed to think it was real labor. By the time we got to the hospital, I knew it was. The pain was becoming almost too intense to speak, but I wanted to be calm and so I made myself stand (horrible) at the counter answering inane hospital questions and then sit (horrible) in the waiting area filling out paperwork. My sweet husband took the clipboard away from me, thank goodness, and did it for us. I, meanwhile, could barely find the wherewithal to get out my hair tie and bobby pins to pull back my hair.
Next, I was told to give a urine sample. I took the cup and wobbled to the bathroom, but while I was in there I guess my water really did break, or finished breaking, and I was so surprised I just came right back out without a sample and apologized to the nurses, still feeling like I had to stay calm and be polite. They laughed and sent me to triage, where a cheerful nurse overlooked what was becoming agony and told me my water had definitely broken and that I was definitely in labor!
From there, things progressed quickly. But all I knew was that I was in pain I couldn't handle. Oh, I dealt with it for a little while, but I was not anywhere close to in control. I was like a child, pleading with the nurse for the tub, frightened of the pain but frightened of an epidural, miserably wondering why the midwife just walked in and walked out, and wondering but trying not to think about how long labor might go on and how much more painful it might get. It only took about 20-30 min, I guess, to get so far past my inhibitions that the pain had me screaming with each contraction-- hoarse, whinnying, muffled screams that eventually gave way to louder and louder ones. I was so scared of the pain
. Not of giving birth, or complications, but of the pain itself. I began to think, How can I endure this for the whole labor? How can I? I was starting to push with contractions, which helped a tiny tiny bit, but I asked my husband if I could have an epidural, and he (looking sort of pitying and shocked blended together) told me whatever I wanted was fine with him. The nurse told me she thought I could keep going naturally, but I was past the point of considering it. She made me lie down on the bed (excruciating) and began to insert the IV (I had previously requested not to have it inserted at all unless necessary). When she told me they'd have to run a bag of fluids before the epidural, I thought I could not bear such bad news. Between contractions I felt so completely undone just knowing another one was coming. At this point, I was 8 cm dilated "with some cervix left." Before the nurse had the bag of fluids for my IV, I felt a new, awful pain and knew the baby was coming. I screamed this to the nurse, feeling even more scared, and although at first she did not believe me, she examined me and called for the midwife and held my hand and told me to push with the next contraction. It was all so unreal. I couldn't do anything but scream with the contractions-- no breathing, no concentrating, no awareness exercises or anything that I had practiced. I could feel that although I pushed as best I could, the baby kept moving back up the birth canal. It was so awful. Eventually she crowned, which was even worse, and I tore both perineally (which hurt badly) and in the labia (which was the worst part of all-- and I thought the midwife was doing it to me on purpose, so I screamed, "You're hurting
me! You're tearing me!" I felt a little mentally reassured when she soothingly told me that I was
tearing up top but that it happens sometimes, but the pain was so bad. Finally the baby's head came out, but then the shoulders hurt so badly after that. When she was actually out there was not a remarkable decrease in the pain until they laid her on me. I felt shocked. I couldn't believe it was over. I was so relieved... until the midwife began stitching me up. I felt traumatized by that. What had been damaged? Would I still be able to have sex and live a normal life? No one had told me about labia tears, and I didn't know what was going on with it, you know? It seemed like such a vulnerable place to tear. I wanted her to stop-- I was desperate for her to stop, but I felt like I couldn't say that, of course. But my baby did seem like such a miracle to me. I couldn't believe that she was the product of all of those months and of all of that pain. I couldn't believe the pain was over. I couldn't believe I had survived it, and if I had not found this thread I would probably have never admitted that.
I have not told anyone all of this, not even my mother, who is my best friend. I have joked about them and laughed at myself for having nightmares about childbirth. I have commented on how lucky I was that my whole labor and delivery took less than four hours, and that I had a baby that only weighed 7 and a half pounds. I've made fun of myself for getting credit for a natural childbirth when I did ask for an epidural. I have only tentatively suggested that such speedy labor and delivery might have its own difficulties, and given respect (almost reverence) to women who've had long and arduous labor. But underneath it all, I've wondered what was wrong with me. Why do other women who went through long labor and delivered large babies look back on it with aplomb while I, who sincerely desire more children, literally may never have another because I can't face childbirth? Only since reading these posts do I start to feel validated. And I still don't, really. I'm sorry this is so long, but if anyone has any feedback to offer I would appreciate it.