Have you told your story?

Giving birth can unleash us, it can light us up, and it can connect us with women and babies around the world.  This is a virtual collection of birth stories—all kinds—to empower and inspire women to claim the power of this potent transformation.

Peruse our collective stories, tell yours, and join the discussion on the Facebook page.

Thanks for being part of The Birth Story Project.  These are our stories.

Lisa Lee’s Story

Not every pregnant woman is willing to talk about their emotional state and what really happened on the day they were about to give birth to their first born, but I’m not afraid to put myself in a vulnerable position. After all, pain and hardship is what makes us human and the only way you know you are alive. My husband used to tell me “pain is your friend.” Going through pregnancy and labor pain didn’t break me but it has made me stronger! I’m not afraid of anything in the world now, not even 2 of my biggest fears, heights and tarantula.

On April 27, 2017- At 7:20 am, my water broke, 3 weeks ago the doctor said my cervix was 2 cm dilated, while 2 weeks ago when we went to Complete Women’s Care and the doctor said I have been dilated to 3 cm. I’ve been having a little bit of a pinching sensation down there 2 weeks before I was about to deliver my baby, it comes about every 2 or 3 hours for only 15 seconds and sometimes it skips a day or 2. My husband calls it precontractions but it doesn’t even hurt, which feels like a few tiny needles poking you, it feels a little bit weird and ticklish but not painful.

I’ve been feeling a lot of my baby kicking since I was 5 months pregnant with my baby, so I can’t tell the difference between a contraction and a baby’s kick. The baby kicking doesn’t hurt for me, it just feels like a random bump that pops up on your stomach every now and then! Haha! It makes me very excited because I know she is growing really well! I’ve started to read her storybooks and fairytales when I’m 8 & 1/2 months pregnant. The lactation consultant and my mother-in-law told me that the baby is very smart and she can already feel you when she is inside your wound starting when you are 5 months pregnant!

At 8:00 am, my husband and I have checked into Complete Women’s Care in Long Beach. The nurses at the client were very observant, they’ve said that the fact that your wife keeps going to the bathroom and there was fluid consistently coming out down there, which it seems apparent that her water might have broke. They have suggested that my husband immediately admit me into a room at the labor and delivery department in LB Memorial.

At 8:30 am, I’ve been admitted to the hospital and the nurse has confirmed that my water broke and I’m 5 cm dilated. We’ve established that my pain tolerance level is a 7/10 for childbirth. You will never know what that means until you have personally experienced it yourself. The nurses checked my temperature, draw blood, and checked the fluids dripping down there to make sure it’s my water that broke before they’ve hooked me up to the IV, water bag, nutrition bag, induce labor medication (Pitocin), and strapped the heart rate monitoring machine on my belly for the baby.

I’m guessing by now, I’m probably having regular contractions every 1 hour, but I have no way of knowing because I can’t feel a single thing and there was no pain in my stomach. I was way too distracted watching “Raising Hope” on my husband’s tablet with him and my mother-in-law at the time to even notice any discomfort or pain. Trust me, when you are in intense labor, no amount of TV, movie, music, and massage will distract you. I was very lucky to be able to skip the first stage of early labor, active labor and transition, and went straight to the second stage of intense labor, so I’ve practically skipped the 1st stage of these 3 types of labor. A lamb toy that plays white noise and soothing music that we bought for our baby girl is also what helped me worked through my labor pain, along with my husband massaging my back and my mom-in-law coaching me through breathing and helping me calm my nerves later on. I took the Lamaze birthing class weeks before my delivery, which I was able to use their effective breathing technique to help me cope with labor pain.

The nurses has explained to me that because my water has already broke, we can’t wait any longer and we need to deliver the baby as soon as possible. Pitocin was given to me right after I’ve been admitted into the hospital in order to prevent any bacteria infection that might get into the placenta in the future.

The nurses at the hospital were encouraging me to get an epidural at this point, but I’ve felt no pain, so I told them there is no need. She told me that the wait time is between 1 & 1/2 to 3 hours, which depends on how busy they are that day. If I want one, I should request it ahead of time. They can give me morphine shots while I wait for the epidural but it won’t be as effective and after you are dilated to 6 cm, you can no longer take it anymore, because it will make it difficult for the baby to pass down your birth canal.

At 10:30 am, the nurse confirmed that I’ve been having regular contractions every 35 minutes, the nurse asked “can you feel anything?” I responded, “I can feel my stomach hard as a rock, other than that, not a single thing.” The nurse replied, “we are going to need to double the doses on your oxytocin. In the back of my head I thought this isn’t even as bad as I thought, those women screaming on TV, they are seriously exaggerating! Haha!

At 12 pm, the nurse came in to check on my IV, she said my contraction has gone up to every 15 minutes, but I still felt nothing. I thought maybe I don’t need an epidural after all.

At 2 pm, this is when I started to feel pain and when it has started to intensify, and I’ve started to feel little pinches on my spine every once in awhile, but my pain is still under manageable level for me. The nurse confirmed I’ve been having regular contractions every 5 minutes.

At 4 pm, it is when my pain started to get unbearable and it feels like my spine is about to explode and pop out of my body! I feel that I’ve been having regular contractions every 1 minute, which it has lasted more than 20 seconds every minute. No, I didn’t feel like punching or stabbing anyone at that time and I was too low on energy to scream, Lamaze breathing method and my husband massaging my back has really helped me work through the pain!

The nurse confirmed that I was dilated to 7 cm and my contractions has went up to every 30 seconds. I’ve told the nurse this is my limit, I probably need that epidural, so I’ve waited an hour and a half for the epidural and sat 2 minutes completely still for the doctor to inject multiple needles into my spine, which it felt like nothing to me compared to my labor pain. Yes, I would describe the feeling of intense labor pain as an excruciating pain on my back spine and tail bone.

A friend of mine at church told me that the baby makes you forget the pain after childbirth which is completely true, I can’t remember a thing and how it used to feel like when I think about it now, it has become a distant memory to me. All I can remember is the joyful moment that I had when I’ve held my sweet angel in my arms and how much love I had felt for my tiny little human at the time.

I had the epidural at 5:30 pm, by 6 pm the nurse has confirmed that I’ve been dilated to 10 cm and ready to deliver the baby. I was too afraid to push and the concept of holding my breath underwater sounds completely foreign to me. By the way, I’m a good swimmer but I can only hold my breath under water for no more than 15 seconds.

After the epidural, I feel like I’m in heaven, the intensified and consistent spinal pain has turned into a sore and numbing sensation that almost felt like nothing to me. I was stuck on a peeing tube so I can no longer get up to pee. The nurse insisted I switch my body positions every 20 minutes and wrap both of my legs around a huge exercise ball, in order to allow the epidural medicine to effectively drain through from my spine to my abdomen, and for the baby to pass down my birth canal a lot smoother and faster. It is very uncomfortable for me. First position: lie on your right side, second position: lie on your left side and third position: lie on your back for 20 minutes each.

The doctor and nurses at Long Beach Memorial were extremely helpful to their patients, but it’s really not their fault that they don’t always know what’s going to work best for their patients. Unfortunately, they’ve made it worst. The birthing process could have took 30 minutes instead of 5 hours, and my whole delivery time would only have been 10 hours instead of 15. You might ask me, “It’s only 5 hours, what difference does it make?!” Yes, it makes a big difference for the mother because I could have preserve that extra 5 hours to help me recover after my delivery. 4 & 1/2 of unsuccessful pushing has used up a lot of my energy, I was running out of breath with every push, and getting more exhausted with every hour, especially with no food and water for over a day. I feel like I was about to starve to death.

No, it doesn’t help to put a reflective mirror down my cervix so I can become more self-conscious and freaked out, so I will be more afraid to push and rip open my vagina. I get more disappointed with each push because I was able to witness the entire thing with absolutely no progress. My two legs should have been held up with the 2 medal sticks which stretched out from my hospital bed so I don’t have to keep holding up my own legs and get distracted from the most important task at hand, and simply focus my energy on one thing “pushing”. No, the nurse putting up a bar and some ropes on the hospital bed so I can pull up to better push my baby didn’t help, it has only made me more tired and discouraged.

Baby’s head got a little bit stuck, this is when the doctor did an episiotomy and she was sufficating for over 20 minutes, this is when her heart rate started to go down. The doctor has suggested a vacuum like object that sucks the baby’s head out of my vagina so I won’t have to push so hard, but this might accidentally injure the baby’s head. In the end, I’ve decided to continue pushing without outside assistance. The pushing sensation for me was not painful at all, even after they’ve turned off the epidural, but it feels more like a soreness around my vagina and butthole, and the feeling of me trying to poop out a huge object that has been stuck in my butthole for decades. Haha! The epidural made it so that I can’t feel my pain so I didn’t know when was my next contraction and when was the right time for me to push.

The doctor administering the epidural is a bit of a wacko, she won’t stop talking to me before giving me the shots and she has asked me stupid questions like “do you speak English, why are you not responding?” I’m in a lot of pain right now and I’m not actually in a mood for a chit chat, just get on with it already, you psycho b#**#! This was what I was thinking in the back of my head at that time.

The doctor gave me an ultimatum at the very end of my delivery, she has looked really serious and told me that “your baby’s life is in danger, are you going to start pushing?”. What she doesn’t know about me is that I’m the kind of person that falls apart under pressure and I’m extremely self-conscious. At the end, I was pushing so hard, I’ve bleed heavily through my IV and ripped it apart from grabbing my husband’s hand too hard, there was a lot of screaming when I was trying to push the baby out in the last 20 minutes, which it felt like only 5 minutes to me.

The only thing that has motivated me to push this hard is when the doctors and nurses has announced that the baby is crowning, we can see the head, and a team of 30 medical staffs has rushed in to get ready to deliver the baby, a nurse putted a blanket on me to get ready for me and my baby to do skin-to-skin (they do this at Long Beach Memorial). In the back of my head, I was thinking this is going to be over soon and I will be able to hold my sweet angel in my arms any minute now. This is what got me going and speed up my delivery process from 4 hours to 20 minutes. I do best under positive enforcement, and the nurses cheering me on in the background every time I do a hard push has really uplifted my spirit. I would want to relive this moment everyday, not the part of my labor pain, but the part which I get to anticipate the delivery of my baby. I even have tears of joy in my eyes even thinking about it now.

4 hours of pushing with no progress made me want to give up and ask for a C-section instead, but the doctor and nurses refused, which made me really upset! The pushing of the baby took about 4 hours until the doctor has decided to turn off the epidural, I’ve started pushing on my own with no assistance, and the baby came out in 25 minutes.

At 10:35 pm, the doctor confirmed that she has delivered a healthy baby girl that weights 7 Ibs and 7 oz, and measures 20 inches.

My husband and I filled in love with these two TV shows because they are shows I can totally relate to after I had Anabelle, which are Raising Hope (2010) and Switched at Birth (2011).

This might come as a surprise to new moms but I’ve realized that I needed my baby more than she needs me. Everytime I hold her, I release this unique hormone called endorphin, which makes human beings happy when they hold their baby, exercise or pat their pets. I can’t get enough of her everyday! I think this might also be because I was never held and rarely kissed and hugged by my parents as a child, which makes me crave it more than other people.

My husband told me after the 7.5 Ibs baby I’ve delivered comes the 4.5 Ibs placenta that has been bursting out of my wound. The process of sewing me back up with over 25 stitches was very graphic for him, which I can’t feel a thing back then because I was too distracted with my newborn, and overjoyed by the birth of my baby. This is the happiest and proudest moment of my life.

One scenario my husband came up with to help explain my smooth pregnancy with no morning sickness, no back pain, and minimum labor pain is the fact that God knows you had a hard life, and He knows you have gone through multiple pain and hardships your entire life, so He has decided to take away your pain (and most of my labor pain). My husband was incredibly blessed to be given the privilege to cut my baby’s umbilical cord before the doctor cleans it up and added a cute little stump for her. The labor pain is nothing compared to the beautiful gift you get from God, which is 100X better. I love my little bundle of joy.

Lisa Lee

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