The Birth: My disclaimer here is that this is my opinion only. Please consult with a doctor. As well do not be afraid to get a second or their opinion and talk to nurses that deliver babies, as I learned more from them than anyone else.
Confessions of a P̶e̶r̶f̶e̶c̶t̶ mom:
I share my stories in the hopes that you will be able to relate and/or use my mistakes to learn and be better at parenting.
My husband ‘wisely’ (I say very sarcastically) told me one day that he didn’t think I would need Lamaze; after all, I am a smart woman, and I know how to breathe. Being the kind of person who does not like the ‘norm’ I thought he was brilliant and agreed. “Ya,” I thought, “I don’t need that silly class, I know how to breathe.” Let me make this story short, this brilliant thought of his that I so quickly agreed to was STUPID!!! That was my first lesson on realizing I was not as smart as I thought I was.
On the eve of my son’s birth, while I was on the phone with my husband, the other duo of this dynamic team that felt I did not need help from modern science, my water broke and soaked the dining room floor. Not sure if this was important or not, (due to not taking those ‘unneeded’ Lamaze classes) I thought back to some movies I had seen and realized this was the start of this process. Since I hadn’t taken a birth course, I had to rely on what others had told me or what I had seen in movies and realized I best get my butt to the hospital.
While we were waiting for something, anything to start, I became concerned that there might be something wrong. I asked the nurses and behind their quiet smirks, their words of wisdom were that I should start to walk. So, I paced. And paced: in my room, in the hallway, around my husband in front of the nurses’ station in the hopes of getting the show on the road. Still being confused and wondering what the heck was going on and why it was taking so darn long. When I would allow myself to be out of view of the nurses’ station, which I passed by on purpose to remind them I was still there, I would lie down, but not on my back as it felt like it was on fire. I didn’t know that I was having back labour. Can you guess where you learn about back labour? Yep, Lamaze class. When my husband tried to help by giving me a back rub, I growled, “Don’t touch my back.”
I stubbornly had decided that I was not going to turn into one of those non-human people who scream and yell at this other person who helped get me into this pain-wracked state, only because I was so determined not to be one of ‘those’ kinds of wives not because he didn’t deserve my wrath. I remember people, including my husband, asking me during my pregnancy, “You’re not going to scream like in the movies, or get mad at me when you give birth, right?” and so I didn’t make a sound. To this day, my husband wonders how I stayed silent during the whole thing. I know the answer: it is called pride. In truth, I didn’t want to cause a big scene, as I was very aware of my ignorance at this point and was embarrassed enough.
After several hours of walking, pacing, and bearing down with contractions, I suddenly felt like the baby was right there, and I mean right there. I told my husband to get the nurse. The nurse refused to come in and see me, as it had only been minutes since she had checked on me and I was only a couple of centimetres dilated at that time. I can at least sheepishly say I knew what ‘dilated’ meant from going to my doctor’s appointments. As I was not aware of the notion of time, a few minutes might have felt like hours, and I was not happy with the reply, “We were just in there a couple of minutes ago”. I knew that something had changed quickly. Again, I would have known what that ‘something’ was if I was as smart as I thought I was and had taken Lamaze classes. When my husband relayed their reply to me, I don’t know if I grabbed him, or what I did, but I do remember telling him with great determination, “You go back out there and tell them I need them to come and check me, and I don’t care what you have to do to get them to listen to you, but come back in here with SOMEONE.” I don’t know what he said to the nurses but knowing my husband and the respect he has for me, I am sure he was much kinder than I would have been. To my relief, the nurse did come in with my husband and after a very quick examination started screaming for a gurney and the doctor. I had jumped from two to three centimetres to ten within minutes. I gloated in my mind; at least I am not ‘that’ stupid.
But here comes the really dumb part that makes my standing on that pedestal for those few minutes seem totally ridiculous. The doctor told me to push until the count of ten. After two pushes, I asked if I could push longer. With the doctor’s consent, I pushed my 7lb 7 oz baby boy into the world in the very next push, causing me to have over thirty-four stitches (I stopped counting after that). All because I didn’t know that your body will stretch with each contraction so that you can give birth, hopefully, without any stitches. To prove that fact, with two out of my four children, I didn’t have a stitch. With child number three I had two stitches, but he was almost 10 lbs.
From the beginning, we must learn that as parents, we do not know it all. The lesson you need to learn from my mistakes is you really should take some form of birthing class, read books such as you are reading now, and listen to those that have “Been there, done that.” Not everyone’s story is the same. And you may or may not have a better or worse story, but if you will learn that you do not have all the answers. If you search for the wisdom of others, then you will save yourself a great deal of pain, not only in birth but in all the stages of your child’s life.
One thing that someone shared with me that I did heed was to try and not listen to the ‘bad’ stories. You know the ones where the mother wants to tell you how horrible it was for her, all in the hope of getting some sympathy. We all know that birthing is hard, so don’t make it worse by listening to those stories. Unless it starts with her explaining something you ‘should not do’ or ‘should do, don’t listen. Just quietly walk away or politely request that they not share anything that is negative.
Giving birth is not the same for everyone. We all have different pain tolerances. We all experience pregnancy, labour, and birth individually, and so the decision regarding whether to have or not have a natural childbirth is totally a personal opinion. I am not here to say everyone should do natural childbirth: I just know that I didn’t have an epidural, and it had nothing to do with being brave. It had everything to do with being terrified. I saw the size of that epidural needle and thought, No thanks; I’ll take my chances with the pain.” My sister had the ‘needle’ and as her coach, I saw her have a painless birth. I also saw her have pain later when it wore off, and so I figured, for me, I would rather get it over with sooner rather than later.
Since I have given birth over 20 years ago now, I know they have medications available now that will give you many more options. My advice is to learn all your options and decide for yourself. Even the father of your baby really cannot make that choice, as he is not the one going through it. Ask for his opinion but warn him to not judge you one way or the other with the decision you eventually make. I am sure when he sees you going through childbirth, he will be more than understanding with the choices you make. Do what you feel comfortable with. Know there really is no ‘right’ answer for everyone. Ask around, as this is one time in which you should listen to other peoples experiences, as it will help you decide what is right for you and your baby. Do not allow horror stories, just ask for opinions.
Confessions of a P̶e̶r̶f̶e̶c̶t̶ mom:
To prove my point that women want to share all their stories, but more importantly to show you that all births are different with even the same mother, let me share the other three births. First off let me tell you all three of my children were thirteen to fourteen days overdue, according to my doctors. But I think I was one of those freaks that just had a strange cycle. How can all 4 be that late?
My second child was giving me contractions for six weeks before I gave birth to her. Even in the womb she was showing me what she was made of because they had to break my water for her to be forced out. Stubborn kid! I was told that I could have given birth at least a month earlier, as I was dilated at least three to four centimetres four weeks prior to giving birth. After having four children, with all of them arriving late, I am thinking it is a good thing I didn’t do that as then she would have been a preemie. I am telling you that part so that you do not panic if your doctor tells you that you are overdue. That does not necessarily mean your child will come to harm or that it is a bad thing. Ask lots of questions and don’t let the doctors push you into doing what they think is best if you don’t agree. This is one of the many reasons I suggest that you find a doctor that is not just worried about their own schedule.
My daughter had her doctor tell her, “ok let’s do a C-section and get this kid out of there so I can go home”. What??? Because she was in so much pain and is not a patience person, she let him do the C-section. She later regretted that decision. Even though I tried to gently talk her out of it, she couldn’t see past the fact that a c-section would put an end to this for her. Be prepared to think illogically to some degree, and don’t worry if you make a bad decision. Just try to be armed with as much knowledge before you start giving birth so you are prepared for questions or suggestions that doctors might pose.
My last child was a breeze. No stitches, not as much pain, and no complications. I think God was having mercy on me for being stubborn enough to think I really had to have four children. I was the third in my family and for most of my childhood I really felt left out so I had decided I wanted an even number of children. My husband wanted six children; I wanted two, so we felt four was a good compromise.
Now let me tell you about my third pregnancy. Wow, this one was rough. First off let me explain I had lost a baby in between. People ask you how many pregnancies you had and how many births, so to stick to the verbiage that is used today let me clarify that this would have been my 4th pregnancy, 3 birth.
I was less logical and more hormonal and scared due to losing the previous baby. Being one week overdue I was having stress tests that the doctor ordered as a precaution. Since they were not able to hear the baby’s heartbeat and due to my fears of losing another baby, I allowed them to induce me.
I had three different types of inductions and nothing was working. After lying there with nothing happening for hours, I had decided that if he didn’t want to come out now, then he wasn’t ready. Whether it was my common sense finally kicking in or just that fact that I was thinking ‘enough is enough,” I told the nurses I was going home. The doctors would only let me go home if I agreed to come back in twenty-four hours and start over again. I lied and said okay.
I showed up one week later about 15lbs heavier, later learning it was probably due to the inducement drugs in my system. I then allowed them to give me two more of these chemically induced labour tricks. Although it worked this time if I had just had them to break my water at thirteen to fourteen days overdue it probably would have had the same effect. Hindsight is great and I wish I had thought of it at the time or had a nurse or doctor or someone I trusted suggest it.
My point here is that fear, lack of knowledge and just plain old tiredness can cause you to do things that are not good choices for you. I know in the final stages of pregnancy you are tired, weary, and just ready to be finished with pregnancy, but be wise and learn everything you can about your individual situation and your options. I encourage you not to simply just listen to one doctor. Get more than one opinion and talk to others who have birthed and listen to what their stories are in order to learn and help yourself be prepared for a ‘less than perfect’ birth.
I was convinced by a well-meaning doctor to have all the inductions, and I personally think these were the reason my son’s immune system was down and why he contracted RSV. (Respiratory syncytial virus *1) I do hope that our medical system will sway away from being so firm on the birth dates being exactly 40 weeks. As I am proof, there must be some of us that have unusually cycles and our ’40 weeks’ start later than most.
The other thing that comes with giving birth is the question: Where do you want to give birth? There are many options and I really suggest you check them all out. Don’t stress yourself about it, though, as I have seen many women put more emphasis on this than on taking care of themselves. Through pregnancy, the most important thing for you to do is to keep yourself healthy so stressing is not good. The options are:
- At home
- In the hospital
- With doctors present
- With midwives present
It is important for you to do your homework in this area and find out what midwives can and cannot do to ensure you are getting exactly what you are hoping for. If for any reason you do not have the birth of your child exactly as you had planned, be ready and willing to be flexible in your ideas because what is most important is not where you have the baby but that the baby is healthy.
Again, this is just the start of you having to learn to be flexible in order to be a great parent. A great parent learns quickly that you do what is best for the baby. Not for any perceived dream of what you think your life will look like or how it will all work out. This is not a wedding where you can plan the ‘event’ down to the last minute. The main goal always is to always think ‘what will be the best choice to have a healthy baby and a healthy mother’.
Here is a link regarding someone who wanted me to share her story of what went wrong. It is a good lesson for us to read and know. The more educated we become the better we are for our children in every stage of parenting, including pregnancy and birth.
*1 Info on RSV
To Read: Stage 1: Pregnancy,
What to find out what kind of parent you are, or if there are ways you can be better?