I am choosing to submit my story anonymously because, although this is my personal, true story, it also belongs to my children.  I have their personal birth stories written down and stored in a special place to be shared with them when the time is right.  I do not want them to stumble across their stories in any other way.

~mom of three

With my first baby, the due date came and went, and with each passing day I grew more and more impatient, worrying that the contractions would never start.  Finally, at eight days over, the doctor determined that there was too much meconium in the amniotic fluid and that he would have to induce.   I drove myself to the hospital for my last appointment, and checked in, like I was going to camp.  I got to know my roommate, chatted with the other women in the cafeteria at dinner and tried my best to sleep listening to the sound of crying babies in the nursery, the nurses’ shuffling feet throughout the night while doing all I could to communicate with the (big)little one moving around inside me.  “Please come out soon!”

The next morning I was brought a warm roll, runny eggs and hot, bitter tea in bed at 6:30 am, along with a little white pill that was supposed to get my contractions started.   Not long after taking the pill I felt waves of nausea overcome me and I had to empty my stomach of all that was in it and then some.  At 9 am I was taken to a labor room, put into bed and hooked up to  a pitocin IV.  It was not long before I first began to feel the ache of cramps focused in my lower back.  The cramps felt as though they were clutching my back constantly and then would wrap around my entire middle section every once in a while with a pain so intense I could not even utter a sound.   Meanwhile, I continued to feel nauseous, and yelled at my husband for breathing his sweet coffee breath in my face.   I felt better having him behind me, rubbing my lower back especially when the contractions hit.  By then I realized that the cramps I felt were actually contractions, but they never really let up.  I dreaded having the nurse come by to up the drip on the IV because I knew it would cause an immediate elevation and intensity of pain.  There was no way to ease it but to breath shallow breaths, lie on my side and have my back rubbed.  A little before 11 am, the doctor came in to check my cervix and was surprised to find that I was at 9 cm.   I felt a sudden gush of fluid as the doctor said,  “Oops – I just broke her water.”  It was determined that I needed to be moved to the delivery room, so they took me in a wheel chair although I would have much rather walked – sitting was too painful.

I found myself propped up in a delivery chair with my feet in stirrups only two hours after they started the pitocin.  I went from nothing to super intense pain with no transition whatsoever.  I was told to push, but nothing happened.   I felt each contraction come on, and tried to push and breath as all the midwives were telling me to, but my frustration grew with each push and I felt as though the whole process was stalling out.   Irrationally, I told myself I was a failure at pushing.   After nearly an hour, a midwife climbed up onto the table next to me and put her hands on the top of my belly.  During the next contraction the other midwives told me to bear down while the one up next to me started to pound on my fundus as though she was performing CPR.  After the next contraction, a midwife declared that she could see the top of the head and that the hair was brown.  All it took was two more contractions and there  was my baby,  cuddled against my chest, suckling at my nipple.   From the time they started the IV to the time the baby was born was exactly 3 hours.

I remember feeling such loneliness at having my body back to myself, and yet such an incredible sense of connection to the little one I was holding for the first time as I felt my uterus contract when my baby sucked on my nipple.   This person in my arms was the one I shared a body with for nine months, and yet already  wholly separate from me;  feeling  own sensations, being held and cared for by others as well as me.  In bringing this baby into the world, I was meeting the baby and beginning the process of letting this person go all at the same time.

My second experience was completely different.   It was the day of my due date and I spent the day like any other, with my 2 year old, never having even a hint of a cramp or contraction.  A little past 9 pm I went to the bathroom and noticed that I had some bleeding and realized that I had lost my plug.  I told my husband that we would not be sleeping that night and that he should call his mom (who lived an hour or so away) to look after our child.   My contractions suddenly started and came on strong.  We decided to go to the hospital right away and have his mom meet us there.   I remember looking at the digital clock in the car;  it said 9:50.  I had three very intense contractions during the 10 minute drive and managed to walk into the hospital from the parking lot on my own.

When we reached the labor and delivery ward, the nurses questioned whether or not I was really in labor because I looked and sounded so calm, but I remembered that lower back pain and the cramping contractions that did their job so very quickly only two years before and knew I was making progress toward delivering.  The nurses ushered me into a private room on the floor (as opposed to a labor room) and left me there with my husband and 2 year old child.  After about 20 minutes, a midwife came in to check my cervix and was surprised to discover that I was already at 6 cm.

My husband left for about 10 minutes to meet his mother and complete the handoff, and while he was gone I felt as though I was already transitioning with severe pain that would not let up.  As soon as he returned I had him find a nurse to tell her that I needed to pee.   Without checking me again (it had been about 30 minutes, I think) she had me walk down the hallway to the community bathrooms – about 50 meters.   I had to stop every so often because of the contractions, but we kept going.  My husband waited out in the hallway while the nurse let me into a stall before returning to the nurse’s station down the hall.   As soon as I sat down I felt an incredible urge to push, but I didn’t think I knew how to push since I failed that part of my last delivery so I dismissed that notion and thought I just needed to poo.   But it wasn’t long before I realized that this was no bowel movement and that I couldn’t hold back any longer.  I frantically pounded on the nurse call button on the wall.  The nurse came running and quickly assessing the situation, she told me to hold on and not push and ran off (to find a wheel chair?).  Although I tried to hold it in, my body gave way and I felt an enormous release.  It all happened so quickly I was not aware that I had given birth until I looked down and saw my baby between my legs.  My initial reaction was, “oh no – I have to put it back!  This is not how it was supposed to happen!  I need a do-over!”

In my shock I began to scream and a flurry of activity ensued.   Someone cut the umbilical cord and whisked my new daughter off to be assessed.   After the brief whirlwind of people and activity, I was left sitting there with my feet in a pool of blood with only a cleaning woman to keep me company.    My husband heard my screams but didn’t recognize them as coming from me.  He saw our baby being whisked past him in the hallway, but didn’t know it belonged to him.   I passed out.   Later (soon, I suppose), they wheeled me into the delivery room to deliver the placenta and to stitch me up as I had quite a bit of tearing.  I held my baby for three hours there in the delivery room, so sad to see the bruised little face, but so happy to have my child safe and there with me.

Twenty three months later I had my do over,  in the same delivery room, even the same  chair I was in with my two babies.   This time, I was still a bit traumatized from the memory of the last time, and more than a little paranoid that I would not make it to the hospital in time as we had moved 45 minutes away.  The hospital staff too was understandably nervous and certainly did not wish to have a repeat scenario.   I was admitted to the hospital six days before my due date with false labor.  They kept me overnight and started the pitocin IV the next morning at around 10 am.  As with the first time, I knew when the contractions were going to hit because of being able to see the drip, but this time I was not allowed to labor in bed or walk around.  I was propped up on the delivery table for the duration, although I was exempt from having my feet in the stirrups until time to push.

After six hours of steady contractions I finally reached the point of feeling like they were accomplishing something, but by then I was near exhaustion and had trouble breathing.  I started to feel first my fingers, then my hands and arms go numb.  Then I had the same sensation in my feet, and I started to black out.  I couldn’t lift my arms or legs, and it was difficult to speak and to let my situation be known to the medical staff. Finally I was able to communicate my distress to my husband who then told the doctor.  My blood pressure dipped very low.  It was a huge relief to me when they strapped an oxygen mask over my face and I could concentrate on breathing pure air – or at least that is what I visualized.   After regaining sensation in my appendages and being able to breathe again, I was given the go ahead to push.  This time I passed with flying colors and my baby was born – big and healthy.    I had done it.

I’m sure that each of my experiences could have been different if circumstances were altered, but these were my experiences and the introduction of my children into the world.  I had to pass through them.  The immediate bonding and intensity of connection were the same for me with all three of my babies after they were born.  I spent countless hours staring at them, often reduced to tears as I marveled at the wonder of them as well as by the process of their birth.    I still do now, all these years later.