My first child was born in a hospital when I was 20 years old. I had wanted to birth at a birth center, but allowed myself to be talked out of it.
It was Easter day, 1997, and I had been having mild contractions all day. Around 11:00 p.m. we drove out to the hospital, I was about 3 cm and they put me on monitors and told us to stay the night. By morning the contractions had stopped and they were about to send us home when my water broke, approx. 8:00 a.m. I managed to talk them into letting me walk around for a while, until about noon, when they insisted on starting pitocin. They started the pitocin and doubled the dosage every half hour. I think my natural labor must have kicked in also, because by 2:00, the contractions were unbearable. Forget the Lamaze breathing I was just trying to breathe. Of course at this point, his heartbeat started dropping, because I wasn't getting enough air, and they put me on oxygen, and then half a dose of Demerol. The Demerol had the effect of making me very sleepy, so from about 2:00 until 4:00 I would sleep for a minute, wake up and scream throught he contraction and then sleep for another minute. The most satisfying part of the whole thing was when I woke up, grabbed my dh's arm and yelled that I had to push. It was such a relief to know that it was almost over, and the pushing sensation was incredibly intense. Dh called the nurse who insisted that I had 7 more hours of labor before I would be ready to push, I had been at 4 cm around 3:30. She finally agreed to check me, and (surprise) discovered that I was fully dialated. Of course, the doctor was no where to be found, so they wanted me to "blow through the urge to push" I believe I told them that I was pushing this baby out and if they wanted a doctor there they had better get one there. The doctor did make it, and Nicholas was born after about 10 minutes of pushing. I tore a little internally, required a few stitches, but was relieved that I managed to avoid an episiotemy. For a very long time I was very mad about my birth experience. I felt completly violated and powerless. I was determined to never step foot in a hospital for a labor and birth again.
When I was attending childbirth classes for my second pregnancy, the instructor talked one day about grieving. She was talking about allowing yourself to grieve if for some reason the impending births didn't go the way we were expecting. I realized that I had never fully allowed myself to grieve for my first birth experience. After Nick was born and I expressed to people how upset I was about the experience, the response that I received was that it was okay, because I had a heathy baby, and the end result was all that mattered. This of course was not how I felt, and allowing myself to greive what I had lost was very helpful, especially as I was preparing for my second birth.
On October 2, 1999, 9 days pass my due date, I awoke around 5:00 a.m. wondering if I was feeling amniotic fluid or if I had just peed on myself, the old bladder wasn't as reliable as it used to be. I got up, went to the bathroom, couldn't detect anything unusual, and went back to bed. Around 6:30 I felt another little squirt and was sure that I hadn't peed that time. I knew that this would be the day. Around 7:00 a.m I woke my dh and insisted that he get up, there was laundry and dishes to do yet. Since I wasn't really having contractions, I waited until around 10:00 to call my midwife, thinking that I would let her sleep in. She asked how I was feeling and told us to call back when we felt that we needed her. My good friend came over and brought lunch and we ate and scrapbooked for awhile. My mom showed up and we all took a stroll around the block. By this time contractions were starting to build and I was paying attention tp them. Mike (dh) called the midwife around 3:00 or 4:00 and she was soon at our house. By 6:00p.m. I was heading into transition. I closed myself in our bedroom with Mike and the midwife, who by the way was wonderful. She rubbed my back at just the right spot to help with the pain. She was so gentle, I hardly remember her touching me, (very different from the hospital nurses who would come in and push on my belly without announcing themselves in the middle of a contraction). I went through active labor standing next to me bed hanging off of Mike. At about 9:20 I had one contraction that I couldn't handle and I felt myself tensing up. After it passed I went to pee, and instead my water exploded across the bathroom. From that moment on I was done with contractions. I came out from my inner spot, and was walking around talking to everyone who had gathered for the birth. They were all very confused by it all. Not to fear, after about 20 minutes, the urge to push started. We all assembled in the bedroom, I was on hands and knees, and after 5 minutes of pushing our daughter Maria came into the world. It was a truly incredible event. My mom, her boyfriend, my friend and her 9 month old daughter, my cousin, and our 2 year old Nicholas, were all there to see her join our family. I felt great right after the birth, no tearing, just a "skid mark" as my midwife put it. I couldn't have asked for a better birth!
Now my third experience, this one is sad.
On the last day of November, 2001 I was almost 12 weeks pregnant when I noticed a bit of spotting. I called my midwife and she said just to wait and see what happens, it could be nothing. I waited and nothing did happen until around noon on Saturday December 1 when I started to bleed. We went to the hospital where they did an ultrasound and told us the baby had stopped living a few weeks prior. It was completely devestating, I started crying, and didn't stop for many days. I must say though that everyone at the hospital was very nice and supportive. The nurse and the doctor where incredibly sensitive and kind. They suggested that I come back the next day for a D & E (?). I asked if there was an alternative, and they said I could wait a week and see if it would miscarry on its own. After consulting the midwife, we choose to wait. I had been planning another homebrith and was not willing to give that up, even under these circumstances. We left the hospital with warnings about coming back if I started bleeding too much. Nothing much hapened until mid day Dec 2. I had been told that I would just bleed alot, but that is not what happened. I started having contractions, I actually had to call my dh in to hold me up, they were intense. I felt my water break, and a few minutes later the urge to push. One or two pushes and I delivered our third baby. I don't know if it is a girl or a boy, the baby was still inside the amniotic sac, and I didn't have the nerve to look. We named the baby Jaime, for the french term I like or I love. I wrapped everything in cloth and put it in a basket. On the 4th Mike and I had a private little ceremony and buried Jaime, planting tulip bulbs around the basket.
It has been a hard thing. I have been lucky to feel the love and support of so many friends and family during this time. I included this in my birth stories because it was very much like a mini labor and birth. It is difficult to go through contractions and pushing and not have a baby to hold afterwards. But, I am glad that I had Jaime at home, I didn't want to have another hospital birth. As sad as it has been, I know that I did the right things, and that I won't have any regrets about the experience. We are hoping to get pregnant again soon. Maybe this time next year I can post a fourth birth story, typing with one hand while a tiny baby nuzzles my breast.