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Thoughts on birth

Pookie birth

Last week at Pookie’s dentist appointment, they scheduled her next checkup for three months out (apparently kids under the age of three go every three months to the dentist – who knew?). As the receptionist told me the first available date, October 31st, I had one of those “holy shit” moments.

In my head I thought, “Um, that’s about a week before my due date. Holy crap!!!!”

The receptionist must have noticed my sudden change of expression because she asked if I was ok. “Fine,” I said, “It just really dawned on me at this moment that I’m having a baby. In like three months.”

She looked at me sweetly, although with a little hint of “you crazy” in her eyes. Sidenote:

This situation was kinda like how about two weeks ago my upstairs neighbor stopped by, who just had a baby, to see if I wanted any of their extra newborn diapers. I thought for a minute and replied, “Hm…I can’t think of anyone I know that needs that size. Thanks though!”

She looked at me perplexed and then a lightbulb went off, “Oh right!” I laughed, “I’m having a baby!! Sure I’ll take them.” I think she really thinks I’m missing a few marbles. It was not a proud moment for me. As usual, I blame hormones.

In three months I’ll not only be going from having one child to two, and entering into the unknown chaos of infant+toddler, but I’ll have to do the work to get that second child into the world. Labor will be upon me.

I’m not sure if I ever really talked about my birth experience with Pookie, and don’t worry, I’ll save all the details, but the overall experience has been on my mind – a lot.

With Pookie I wanted, and prepared for, as natural of a labor as possible. I believed in my body and mind’s ability to take on the task. Rob and I took a Hypnobirthing class and I am thankful that we did. We received wonderful information and techniques that really made us feel empowered and full of confidence.

The downside was that I felt some of the class was a bit misleading. We saw lots of videos of women peacefully pushing children out of their bodies with little or no sound or obvious discomfort. The idea was: if you do x, y, and z, then your labor will be like that.

It wasn’t.

That aside, the most important thing that the instructor taught us was to not focus on the “I’m not having this or that,” strategy but focus on having a good birthing experience. If you end up needing a c-section, here’s the information so you can prepare yourself beforehand. So you can still feel in charge of your body and ask for things that are available to you.

Pookie was born ten days late. My water broke and had meconium in it (= not good) but I wasn’t in labor. Hence my birth plan already was a no-go. I wanted to labor at home for as long as possible before transferring to the hospital. Now I had to go in right away.

I worked with amazing midwives at OSU and the on-call midwife was compassionate while also giving it to me straight. This was the gist:

Midwife: “Your water broke and it has meconium in it which means we’re on the clock with getting this baby out. You’re not in labor and you’re only dilated one centimeter. You need Pitocin to get this labor started. You’re looking at a long road ahead of you, and the longer the labor, the more likely it will be that you will need/want an epidural.”

Rob and I processed that information, mourned a bit that I needed Pitocin, and then said, “Ok. We trust you. Let’s get this started.”

With all that said, my body was so ready that I ended up delivering Pookie about eight hours after starting the Pitocin. Pretty great for a first time mom. To all involved it was an incredibly beautiful labor and birth. Very smooth, progressed at an ideal pace with no complications, and Pookie was perfect. I had no epidural and birthed little Pookie with full sensation and presence.

I could recognize how wonderful of a labor it was, especially for a first birth, but it was so much harder than I expected. It’s indescribable. Intense is a word that now has a whole new meaning to me. I attribute part of my surprise to the Hynpobirthing class.

I really thought that if I did a lot of the techniques during labor, it wouldn’t necessarily be “easy,” but it would be manageable. When it was all said and done, I was thrilled with the outcome, felt very positive about the labor and birth, but it was by far a peaceful or enjoyable experience for me.

I remember that point, the breaking point. I looked at my doula (yes, I had a doula and it was awesome) and said, “I’m there. I’m at that point. I can’t do this anymore.”

Pookie Labor

I remember asking my midwife, “How many more centimeters do I have to go?” in partial panic. Thankfully I had an amazing team of people helping me and I got through it. I ended up having exactly the birth I had hoped for. All natural except for the pitocin.

I remember thinking afterwards that next time, that epidural is going to sound real good.

And now it’s next time. Actually, about three months until next time. And I’m not excited about going through it again, but I know I need to get myself ready and pumped for this. It’s going to happen and I want it to be a positive experience, like it was with Pookie.

I decided that I’m not going to decide whether I want an epidural or not until the moment is upon me. During my first pregnancy, I read many natural birthing books and several made the analogy that: “If you’re going to run a marathon, you don’t practice with the mindset that you’ll see how far you get during the event. You practice so you can finish. Natural birth is the same way.”

Well, people, I’m not feeling that this time. Here’s what I am hoping for:

  1. To find some more resolution regarding my first birthing experience before birthing for a second time.
  2. To feel committed and strong going into this birth by embracing it rather than fearing it.
  3. To be ready to deliver without pain management if it feels right or if labor progresses too fast, but also to be open to accepting pain management if I want to feel more relief this time around.

The way I’m going to address #1 and #2 is by doing a Closing Ceremony, which I will write a post about soon. For #3, I’m going to review my Hypnobirthing notes and do the exercises, but with more experience and openness this time.

As another aside, to anyone who is reading this and will soon be giving birth for the first time: I’m not an advocate for one way of birthing over another. I am an advocate of education. Take a birthing class or ask your provider about details of the processes that you’ll go through, medications that might be offered to you, and what you might experience if you have natural birth, an epidural or c-section. It will greatly help you toward having that “positive birth experience” no matter how things unfold.

So there you have it. That’s where I’m at with preparing to bring this baby into the world. I feel like I’ve forgotten most of the stuff I need to know for infant care, but I also feel that it will come back quickly and it’s an easier thing to brush up on.

It’s the actual birth that I’m needing to rally my energy for, especially since birth is such a defining experience. I want to set myself up for feeling lots of positive vibes and warm fuzzies whenever I think back on Baby #2’s entrance into the world.

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