Before getting married, I never envisioned myself with children. That just wasn’t what I saw for my future, and honestly babies really didn’t interest me much. That said, after being married for a few months, we decided we should have a baby. Low and behold, we were pregnancy immediately, and it was a shock to say the least. We really thought we would have a bit more time to wrap our brains around the whole becoming parents’ thing. I was still in undergrad, and I was due two weeks after graduation, but I just knew he would come early. I was so set on graduating on time, that I never took the time to really think about being pregnancy, labor, and then being a mom. I just needed to get through graduation first, and THEN I would start to figure out how I was supposed to get this baby out…..
True to my mom intuition (which I finally learned to trust by the third baby), Maddox decided to arrive during my finals. I actually stayed and finished my final after my water had sprung a darn good leak. I was stubborn, and I was graduating…even if that meant having a baby during my Psychology of Drugs finals. Once my final was done, I called the hospital to say, “My water broke, and I want an epidural when I get there!” I was 37 weeks pregnant, and I had not taken any childbirth education classes or read any books. I hadn’t had time, and I figured birth would be a good hard work out; one that I planned to be very numb during. At admittance, I asked for the epidural before I even gave them my name. Now, you may be assuming I was in some serious labor, right? NOPE! Hadn’t had any contractions at all. I just knew I didn’t want any to begin with, so give me the good stuff ASAP! Maddox was born twelve uneventful hours later, and without complication. In fact, my epidural was so high that I answered my ringing phone mid push, cause why not? The above photo is actually after his head started to crown. That is how high that epidural was. This may sound fantastic, and I thought it was at the time, but the downfall is that I never felt him being born.
There was a lack of bonding that took place, because his birth seemed very separate from me. Although I think back positively about his birth, there are things that I now know I missed because I wasn’t really present. I checked out of the hospital as soon as possible, and went right back to finishing my finals. He was formula fed from birth, because I wasn’t interested in breastfeeding. At the time, I thought the whole experience was great, because there had been no pain, but I remember feeling very alone. As a result of some interactions with the staff, I left and felt like I was not capable to taking care of this baby. It was not a healthy adjustment, and after ten years of reflection, and much research, I wholeheartedly believe that it was the result of how detached I was from the process, and how I felt during labor and delivery.
With my second, I assumed I would go with the same plan since the pain meds had worked great the first time. I developed pre-eclampsia, and as a result I was induced right at 37 weeks. It was a 36 hour induction, and I had an epidural and Pitocin. I was sleeping wonderfully, when they decided in all their wisdom to turn off the epidural at 8 centimeters so I could push when ready. I had not agreed to this, and as such, I was very angry at everyone in the room. My only clear thought was that I wanted the Doctor to perform a vasectomy on my husband, sans pain meds, right then and there. I refused to push until they agreed to my demands, but somehow I still pushed for over two hours and his manhood stayed intact – hence the smiling face featured above. Maguire was born a very happy and healthy 8 lbs and 8 oz at 37 weeks, and he was sunny side up. He took a good two hours longer to push out than any of his siblings, but I predict that had more to do with the induction, lack of food and being exhausted, than with his actual size at birth. He latched on right away, and he was breastfed for three months.
So, what happened between my second and third? I found out about this “crazy” idea called natural childbirth, and I decided that I too could totally do that! After all, I like a good challenge, and this would be the ultimate challenge. I planned and researched, and I knew my options. I was prepared to make hard choices when my water broke (yet again), and no contractions followed. I agreed to start Pitocin after eight hours in labor and delivery, and I was expecting labor to hit me like a Mac truck. It turned out to be the easiest labor imaginable. It was so easy, I don’t even have anything funny to write. The below photo is around 6 cm, and we were just hanging out. One moment I was bouncing on a birth ball watching a Cake Boss marathon, and then I stood up and screamed, “Push!”
That part was definitely intense, but up until then, it was really easy compared to what I expected. He was born after maybe three contractions (it’s really a blur), and my only disappointment was that I had really wanted to catch him myself, but he crowned too fast for any of that. After his birth something amazing happened, my OB quietly said to me, “This is overkill for you. Next time, just stay home.” My mind was blown open. I went home and co-slept, and baby wore, and nursed him for two and a half years…..and I studied home birth like crazy. I chose my providers a full year before we were expecting baby number four. I was going to be prepared for this home birth experience.
So, just imagine my bravado when I decided to have a fourth baby; at home and in the water. I had heard about this "midwives epidural," and I knew that if I could have a natural birth on Pitocin, I would easily do it at home! I knew that I was going to be the best laborer ever, and I wouldn’t even be loud or out of control. I would make labor look like a piece of cake, because I was clearly very good at it.
Cue fourth baby.
Cue three hour labor from first contraction to nursing.
Cue me yelling, “Nothing is working!!!!!”
I vividly remember the very first contraction was fifty-two seconds long, and there was only a twenty second break until the next one. I promptly threw my phone, and decided that the app was clearly made by a man, because that contractions pattern didn’t make any sense. I am a long laborer. I don’t go straight into hard labor. I spent my short labor alternating between the tub that I swore wasn’t working, and the small bathroom downstairs. I remember bracing against the walls, and thinking that I sounded like a dying cow. I remember my husband calmly asking me to please unlock the door, because he needed to get in if I delivered in there. I was too dang busy bracing my arms, sounding like a dying cow, and starting at the meme to the right. That way my sole focus at that point.
Once I was back in the tub, I actually tried to bite my husband at one point, and I have zero shame regarding my reenactment of Jaws. I needed to bite something and he was there. I know I asked for an ambulance and an epidural at the very end, and my brilliant husband lied through his teeth and said he would get right on that…even though he could already see our fourth babies head. As the midwives weren’t there, he was furiously texting them while trying to get ready to catch. In the end, the midwives ran in the front door as the head was crowning, and I caught Kingston in a partially full birth pool in our living room. It was perfection, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
He was born less than three hours after my first contraction, and within two hours we were tucked into bed and sleeping. It was everything I could have ever wanted. We are still co-sleeping three years later, and he was breastfed for around two and a half years.
Looking back over these birth stories, there are things that I would do different, but I don’t necessarily have regrets. Each birth was exactly what I was capable of at the time. I wouldn’t have been ready for a three hour almost unassisted home birth with my first or second. Maybe I would have been ready by my third, but I needed that experience to show me that I would need to birth at home to get my epic dream birth. I needed an OB that would be straight up with me. I needed to be 100% sure of my decision in order to not waver when people brought up scary stories. The only thing I would change is that I didn’t research and take control of my first two births, and those were harder on me regarding bonding and adjustment to motherhood. Once I started researching, and sticking to my guns and my decisions, I was much happier and healthier. I feel that I became a better mom with each baby. I got more confident. I trusted myself above others opinions. I did what worked for us. For me, going through the process time and time again was healing, and I am glad that I had all of these experiences.