In the Middle – A Progression Through Four Birth Experiences Part 1

Thank you for joining me in some collaborative parenting discussion.


This post is part of the Carnival of Birth Reflections hosted by Patti at Jazzy Mama and Zoie at TouchstoneZ. Participants are writing about how birth has transformed them into who they are today. Read through to find submissions from other carnival participants.

I offer this series to liberate any ideas about how birth should be to accept and appreciate the experiences that mark the entry of new life moving through us into this crazy, yet amazing world. When I realized each birth story was turning out to be more than 1,000 words I decided to break them into parts. I do encourage you to read all four to experience the progression. :)


Birth signifies the first moment of conscious relationship between mother and child and yet it is a process of becoming, a literal blossoming from pregnancy. Each birth has its story and we get to define and re-define the version we not only give, but live.

The first – Learning

I always wanted to be a mom. As I prepared myself for the birth of my first child with nourishing foods, books, and supportive discussions about birthing naturally I thought I was ready. It was easy to give up partying habits and birth would be easy, too. It’s a natural process women are born to perform, right?

Reality hit when contractions came and intensified with no dilation. What was happening in my body? Where was my ability to meet the pain? Why didn’t I feel supported? Much of the book knowledge didn’t seem to apply and fear set in. Relaxation and sleep felt impossible. I was not prepared for this.

Three hospital visits and two prescribed sleeping pills later, I was called in to begin the process of birth. I was ready. Still contracting, the doctor punctured the bag of waters and I relaxed in a warm tub as I dilated to 4cm. Although I had read a bit about the potential dangers of medication, I was consumed by the experience of pain and I chose to use them anyway.

First, Nubain, which resulted in feeling drunk… and sleepy. Interesting combo for someone about to experience the most arduous physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual marathon of her life. Relaxation set in and I was able to rest. Finally, rest.

Second, an intra thecal, a spinal sort of anesthesia inserted in the back with the purpose of relieving pain – but not blocking it. I recall signing the forms to receive it thru my Nubain induced drunkenness and something about a 3% morphine “cocktail”.

Then the itching started – profuse, intense itching. All over my body, most notably my face. I asked my friend for a washcloth so I could rub it, over and over. I actually ended up rubbing a layer of skin off of my face. And I still experienced pain.

Through the experience I attempted to open and after a few hours of having my cervix both manually stretched and through intense contractions with Pitocin, I was given the go ahead to push. I did, this way and that. On a birth stool, on my side, on my other side, legs up, legs not so up. Finally, I suggested a catheter because I could not pee and one tidbit I had remembered from my reading was that a distended bladder could take up just enough space for a baby to not be able to push through.

It didn’t appear to make a difference.

As the pushing neared three hours, the medical staff quietly prepared a c-section room unbeknownst to me and I continued to push. The baby’s heart rate had dropped. The doctor, knowing my desire to birth naturally and vaginally if at all possible, suggested an episiotomy. I conceded. I wanted to have my child, safe and healthy.

About thirty minutes later in an effort to help me finally birth this labor of love, my mom recognized what I was needing: the support of my spouse. He had been present, but was not touching me. As she instructed him to put his hand on my shoulder I felt what I was missing all along, although I did not realize it. Within moments, the first being I was given to cherish and nurture popped out!

What is it? A girl! As the staff put her on my belly I reached down to touch her slippery skin. I felt happy, and exhausted. She was rubbed off and swaddled, then handed to me for nursing. But first, I had to kiss her. The daze in my eyes from the lack of sleep and several medications shows through in the picture of that first kiss – and so does the love I hold in my heart for my oldest child, and fervent teacher.

As I tell this story it is easy to see that I did not meet my own expectations and that brought some disappointment for a while. I learned that I needed support, like a coach, someone who would smile in my face, hold my hand, and be with me. I learned that certain medications did not work with my body or provide the relief I desired. I learned that I had little skills to relax through intensity (which was marked in other areas of my life) and I wanted some more. I learned that books are great, and knowledge applied with practice is necessary for it to have true meaning in my life. I learned that love is stronger than fear. I became a mother and scary as it was, it felt amazing. Thank you, Althea.

In the Middle – A Progression Through Four Birth Experiences Part 2
In the Middle – A Progression Through Four Birth Experiences Part 3
In the Middle – A Progression Through Four Birth Experiences Part 4

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Carnival of Birth Reflections
Visit Jazzy Mama and TouchstoneZ to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Birth Reflections!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

 


Are you are struggling as a parent? If so, I’d like to share something invaluable with you: hope. If you would like to change how you respond when parenting feels intense, I invite you to consider this challenge.

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10 Responses to In the Middle – A Progression Through Four Birth Experiences Part 1

  1. Zoie @ TouchstoneZ August 26, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    Thank you for taking part in the Carnival! I read this post a couple of times because it is so powerful to me. I, too, found my most fervent teacher in my first born (and, well, each of them actually :)

    I just have to quote your entire last paragraph because, oh yes! This so much! Yes!
    “As I tell this story it is easy to see that I did not meet my own expectations and that brought some disappointment for a while. I learned that I needed support, like a coach, someone who would smile in my face, hold my hand, and be with me. I learned that I had little skills to relax through intensity (which was marked in other areas of my life) and I wanted some more. I learned that books are great, and knowledge applied with practice is necessary for it to have true meaning in my life. I learned that love is stronger than fear. Thank you, Althea.

    I became a mother and scary as it was, it felt amazing.”

    Support is vital. The focus and safety when we are facing whatever we *need* to face in order to transition into motherhood must be there, whether physically or emotionally. Relaxing in intensity-is it just me that sees labor as the part that illuminates our biggest challenges in the day to day journey of parenting?

  2. Rosemary August 26, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

    It’s amazing how much we really need the support of our partners, isn’t it? I don’t know what I’d do without my husband. His care throughout our pregnancy and parenting has been priceless. That’s fantastic that the simple action of his touch gave you the strength to birth your baby. Love it.

  3. Adrienne August 26, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    Sigh. What a great reality check for people who argue that medication makes no difference in birth. It’s so true that we can learn so much from our first little babies. Thanks for sharing your story, I can’t wait to read the rest!

  4. Kerry @ City Kids Homeschooling August 26, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

    Amy, it is so fascinating to read birth stories. I look forward to reading your others too!

  5. CatholicMommy August 26, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    What a wonderful post! I’m glad you were able to make peace with your disappointments and treasure the joys of your first birth.

  6. Patti @ Jazzy Mama August 26, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    Thankyou so much for participating in the first Carnival of Birth Reflections. I have read your Part 2 and I look forward to Parts 3 & 4 (especially since I am also a mama to 4!)

    I admire how you have looked back on the experience of your first birth in order to see what you have learned from it. The birth of my first child (natural, in hospital, attended only by a midwife) left me feeling that no matter what I did, it was the wrong thing. I am still struggling with that feeling.

    I think that fathers experience the birth of their children in very unique ways. I would like to read more from fathers about their experiences. Maybe the next Carnival???

    Joy to you,
    Patti

  7. Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama August 26, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

    Oh Amy! I just love this post (and your second one as well)! First, I am so relieved that someone else in this world was also disappointed that she did not meet her expectations for birth and that you clearly have been able to overcome that! I also adore how your partner was the missing link and how that single touch was what released your baby to make her way into the world. Clearly, she was waiting for that connection as much as you were.

    You have such a powerful voice and a deep insight into your birth experiences. I love that you are the mama that you are even with all of that medical intervention. You have overcome that and have moved forward, having more and more beautiful births! I just admire your strength so!

  8. Shana August 27, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    I can totally relate to needing the support of your spouse. He was my primary doula when things got really intense, I don’t think I could have done it without him. I’m also a ‘book researcher’ kind of gal, and I can also relate to books just not preparing me for the real life experiences. Although they can be great references, I have to laugh a little at myself for investing so much in ‘what the books say’ – for birth, for parenting, for so many things in real life.

  9. Amy Phoenix August 27, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    Thank you, everyone, for reading and commenting. :) I am working on part 4 now. I have really enjoyed the process of writing these out and hope they provide some insights into the ability to write our own birth stories from the perspectives we choose.

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