I consider birth stories enormously important, but where, when and how to tell them can be challenging. Here is Anna’s birth story – 7 years later, just as I told her other siblings’ stories 7 years after the fact. It’s a good thing I have journal entries to help me remember!
This Is the Story of Anna’s Birth
Johnny and Lily were both born exactly two hours after getting an epidural, and I went into Anna’s delivery feeling like that was the way to go.
There was a lot going on around Anna’s birth. Mike was in the middle of applying for his current job. He actually flew out to give a job talk when Anna was 12 days old.
I had spent the last trimester of my pregnancy dealing with an infection that would not go away. Antibiotics left me exhausted, and I was dealing with my usual pregnancy phenomenon of weeks of ineffective preterm labor.
The Beauty of Support During Pregnancy and Birth
But I was surrounded by an amazing group of friends that really stepped up, both in the weeks leading up to and after Anna’s birth. A friend from church arranged for a group of teenage girls to come babysit my kids so that I could get some rest. The same friend set up a series of dinners that people brought. My older sister who lived in town helped out with my kids several time, and my parents and youngest sister flew in and helped out some more.
So I went into Anna’s delivery feeling very supported.
Dealing With Birth Plan Challenges
I got to the hospital around 5am after a night of walking the house. I was my usual 7cm dilated (4 for 4 babies arriving at hospital maternity wards).
After my miserable experience delivering Lily I had changed insurance so that I could guarantee delivering Anna with a different set of caregivers – at a different hospital.
My plan was: get an epidural, wait a couple of hours, and have my baby.
The midwife on duty insisted that we walk the hospital halls for a couple of hours. Given that I’d walked the house all night I highly doubted that would help, but it’s the midwife’s hospital and the midwife’s rules.
So I walked the halls until 7. Nothing changed. The midwife said I was “too calm for an epidural” and suggested that I try a bath instead.
We tried bathing and walking and changing positions for another hour. Still no change.
I was declared, yet again, “too calm for an epidural”. If you know someone who stays calm easily, this is a great example of why 1) being calm is a personality trait more than anything else and 2) sometimes calmness can be a bad thing.
At 9am the midwife went off duty. The new one came in and introduced herself.
I repeated my request for an epidural and she said, “sure.”
Half an hour later, the anesthesiologist arrived and gave me my epidural.
Two hours later, Anna was born.
I was annoyed at not being heard, but relieved to have a healthy baby.
Childbirth and Judgement
The next day the first delivery midwife dropped by for a visit. I thought she was just being friendly. She was actually angry with me for getting an epidural. She kept telling me that I was doing fine, and that I never should have gotten an epidural.
I remember staring at her, wondering what she hoped to accomplish. I wondered what she would be saying to me if my birth had turned out to be one of the very few where an epidural does create lasting complications.
Thoughts On Anna’s Birth
I’m grateful to have four heathy children. I had a positive, empowering birth experience with my first child.
With my three other children children, I am left wondering.
- Why don’t we listen to women in labor?
- Why do we treat women in labor unkindly?
- How is it that we feel that it is okay to judge a woman for a choice that is condoned by hospitals and doctors all over the world?
- How can we shame a woman for choosing pain control for birth when we expect pain control for simple tooth fillings?
I know that delivering babies is a challenging job, and that it comes with plenty of risks. But kindness and true respect goes a long ways.
The Power of Friends and Family
Despite my frustration over elements of how Anna’s birth, friends and family were incredible, both before and after she was born. Their help and support softened the impact of my own health issues going in. Their support helped me listen calmly to the midwife who felt so strongly that I made a poor delivery choice.
Any difficult delivery experience are also incredibly softened by the gift of a child.
How Did This Delivery Compare to the Others?
I have four children, and each child entered the world in very much their own way. Here are my other children’s stories:
I’m so grateful to have all four of my amazing children.
What was your birth experience like?
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