Editor’s note: The following article is written by a Skinny Mom Resident Mom. The Resident Mom program gives a voice to our readers, allowing moms across the world to contribute content to Skinny Mom. If you’re interested in becoming a Resident Mom, click here to apply.
When I discovered I was pregnant, it was nothing short of a shock. At age 36, I never thought I would find myself staring at two pink lines on a pregnancy test. I was convinced it was a faulty test. But after the same results on two more tests, there was no denying the fact that I was soon to be a mom. I was scared, nervous and shocked; I was also partly relieved to find out my recent crazy behavior was not due to a nervous breakdown, but instead to a gush of hormones as my body created new life.
In typical fashion, I soon began learning everything I could about my new journey. The Internet became my best friend. Researching. Reading. Planning. I read all sorts of birth stories. Some stories warmed my heart and some just plain scared the dickens out of me. I knew I wanted to try the natural way. I believed I could do it. I believed I was strong enough. I would have preferred a home birth, but due to my age and it being my first pregnancy, I allowed horror stories and fear to discourage me. My alternate plan was to deliver all natural. People told me I was crazy, so I stopped telling people my plan.
My pregnancy went smoothly. I had very little sickness and no complications. I gained weight exactly on target. At one appointment late in my third trimester, my doctor called me “the perfect pregnant woman.” He was on board with an all-natural birth but also wanted me to be aware that labor does not always go as planned and that complications happen. I was determined to prove him wrong. I found joy in my pregnancy and did everything I could to ease labor. I remained active, ate healthy (for the most part) and spent time visualizing labor going exactly how I anticipated it would and holding my precious new baby in my arms. My husband remained supportive of my choices.
My due date came and went, and my doctor began talking to me about inducing. I was opposed. I wanted as few interventions as possible, but at 41 weeks on a Thursday, I suggested he strip my membranes. He did and my husband and I drove the 60 miles back home.
The next morning, I began labor. I tried to handle labor as much at home as possible and finally on Friday evening we drove to the hospital. I was dilated to nearly six centimeters. I told the nurses I wanted to have an all-natural birth. I was assigned a nurse with a lot of experience with that type of delivery. She told me I should have a baby by midnight. Everything was going as planned, then she went off-duty.
My next nurse was honest with me that she had limited experience with natural births. This was discouraging but I was determined to carry on. Being a private person, I didn’t want anyone in the delivery room except my husband. Friends and family began arriving and waited patiently in the waiting room. My husband tried to help me through the contractions. Eventually, it became too much and I asked for something for pain. This medication combined with the labor pain caused me to begin vomiting.
Time began to blur and I found myself mentally and physically exhausted. I asked for an epidural. After they administered the epidural, they checked me and told me I was at 8 centimeters. So close. The pain disappeared and I stalled out. My labor completely stopped for hours and hours. I was not progressing any longer and midnight came and went. Another nurse came and went. Because it was the weekend, my doctor was not on call for his clinic and another doctor, whom I had never met, was there in his place.
The next day, I finally reached 10 centimeters and got the okay to push. I wanted my body to be my guide, not monitors, but still I was told when I was having a contraction and when to push. I asked them to turn down my medication so I could feel something, anything. They were able to do this but, unfortunately, my daughter had turned at some point and was not in the position to deliver easily. She also had pooped in the womb and there was concern about the meconium that was present. I was wheeled to surgery for a C-section where I delivered a healthy 7-pound girl. Afterwards, I was taken to recovery. While in recovery, I was told they were taking my daughter to the NICU because she was having trouble breathing. In my mind, I thought surely they would keep her for a short while — a few hours until she was better. They wheeled my little girl in the recovery room so I could see her before she went; she was grunting like a little pig.
My 7-pound, 41-week gestation baby was going to ICU. It was a heart breaking time for me. After one week, we brought her home, happy and healthy, yet I cried daily. At a time when I was supposed to be at my happiest with a beautiful new baby, I was grieving. It wasn’t Postpartum Depression; it was grief. Grief that my birth plan had not gone the way I envisioned. I felt as if an experience had been stolen from me — an experience that I could never reclaim.
Now, I can look back and see what I would do differently. I do think if I could have continued to labor on my own, without accepting an epidural, I would not have needed a C-section and would have delivered a baby who would not have needed the NICU. Here are my tips for expectant mothers:
- Have a support system in the room with you — either a team of strong women who fully support your decisions and who have delivered similarly or a doula who can be your voice and coach when you mentally begin to struggle.
- Be educated and informed. Do your homework and know your rights as a patient.
- Listen to those who have gone before you, especially the positive stories whose birth plans were similar to yours. Don’t let scary stories discourage you. Take what you hear, throw out the bad and keep the good.
- Be prepared for anything. This is real life we’re living here. Things don’t always go as planned.
- It’s okay to grieve if your birth plan goes awry. Allow yourself time to sort through all the feelings you’re experiencing. Get help if needed and talk to others about it.
My delivery certainly did not go the way I ever expected it to. But truly, the most important thing was that I made it home with a healthy baby. I did. And for that, I am grateful.
Read Resident Mom Megan Robison’s story:
“I was 41+ weeks and went into the hospital in the evening to be induced. The nurses never started the induction process that evening because, when they put the fetal HR monitor on my abdomen, the baby’s HR was abnormal. Before I knew it I was being wheeled into the operating room for an emergency c-section. I was scared because I was worried something was wrong with the baby, but my ob/gyn was very reassuring that everything was going to be okay. Well, my sweet little girl was playing ‘jump rope’ with her cord. It was wrapped around her neck and her abdomen. She was delivered healthy that night, no complications. I am forever thankful I went in that evening because if it weren’t for the monitor I would’ve never known. I had a doula and my detailed birth plan ready to go for the next morning, but let’s just say neither of those things were needed.”