Today, I think I would like to share with you the stories of the births of my children. There are a few reasons for wanting to do so. First, I look back on their births and realize that I wasn’t as informed as I could have and should have been for my sons, and myself. Secondly, these children are each pretty spectacular miracles. I was told I would never carry a pregnancy to term, if indeed I could get pregnant at all. I’ve had two miscarriages that reinforced that idea.
With each child I had gestational diabetes. My pregnancies with my oldest son and my daughter both required me to use insulin. My second son was conceived within a year of a miscarriage. All three were considered to be high risk. Two of my deliveries were via induction. With two of my deliveries I opted to use a pain reducer known as Nubain, which really doesn’t take away much if the intensity of labor pains. It merely takes the edge off the peak of the contraction pains. It lasts for two hours at best, and did not impede me from fully participating in the pushing process. With all three of my children, pitocin was used despite the fact that during my first delivery labor began on it’s own.
I am sharing this with you for multiple reasons. The first being that I want to encourage all mothers to feel empowered and to research everything you can about your pregnancy. Don’t just take what these hospitals are forcing you to believe is standard, normal, and correct as the be all and end all. You have rights, and you have the right to decline a good bit of what they may try to talk you into. I wish I had known what I know now about pitocin, inductions, and my own ability to endure.
My first and third pregnancies ended in miscarriages at around 8 weeks.
My second pregnancy was perhaps one of the fastest pregnancies a woman could ask for. Again, I still had periods, all the way through the first and partially through the second trimester. I didn’t suspect a thing, despite the shape my body was taking. I wasn’t gaining any significant weight. I don’t keep a full length mirror in the house, so I honestly couldn’t see any real changes in the shape of my body. I was a bit extra sleepy, but nothing terribly unusual and I had no morning sickness. When I finally suspected something was up, I was 20 weeks into my pregnancy. I took three home tests out of shere disbelief, and then scheduled a fourth with my doctor. Her nurse laughed at me. I found out I was pregnant, and having a beautiful boy all in the same week. Fastest pregnancy, ever. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes shortly after. There was never a discussion of induction of labor. The doctors wanted me to go to term.
During my 38th week, I slipped on some wet ice and fell, bouncing on the sidewalk belly first. I was fine, but earned a night’s stay in the labor and delivery ward, just in case. Things were fine as far as they could tell, so they sent me home the following day. Again, my doctor’s ideal outcome was that I would carry to term. Two days later, my water broke at about 8:45 am. I was already at the hospital between appointments. Excitedly, I rushed to the check in desk, and explained what had just happened, and was taken right up to Labor and Delivery. There was so much excitement about this pregnancy. I spent much of the morning wandering the maternity floor. At some point during the contractions it was decided that I “wasn’t progressing fast enough.” They started a pitocin drip. I wish that I knew then what I know now about the true meaning of “progressing fast enough.” I delivered my son at 7:20pm that evening. All was not well. My son spent 5 days in the NICU, where a few other issues were discovered and I learned that his early arrival had quite likely saved his life. At the time though, my mind plagued itself with all sorts of accusations of things I must have done wrong. I never left that hospital until he was released. I help him, rocked him, and fed him sitting in the NICU beside his incubator as often as possible. Through tears, I would cuddle him and sing softly to him. Sammy’s song is “You Are My Sunshine.” I got to bring him home on New Years Day. He’s a healthy, happy, 7 year old now, who never ceased to take my breath away.
My third pregnancy ended in miscarriage as I mentioned previously. It happened within two weeks of a positive pregnancy test result. Something was off, and an emotional call in to the OB/GYN got me right in to an ultrasound and an exam that resulted in the conclusion that it was likely that I was losing the pregnancy. They’ll tell you this early in the pregnancy that you will likely not notice the fetal tissue when it passes from your body, that it’s simply too small at this point to be recognizable. They are lying to you. You know exactly what it is, and it’s crushing. I was sent home and told to rest. Twenty four hours after seeing the doctor, I was at home, alone with my beautiful 18 month old son, having a miscarriage. I should never have been alone. It was painful. It was messy. I was light headed and weak from blood loss, but too stubborn in my misery to ask for help. I remember picking up my son and by sheer force of motherly will carrying him to bed without dropping him, or collapsing.
My son, my glorious little son was the unwitting little hero during the day after it all happened. His laughter and silly, sweet antics to garner smiles from me throughout that next day kept me sane, helped me to ground, and pulled me from heartbreak into a place where I could heal and say goodbye to the child that wasn’t meant to be.
My fourth pregnancy started out a little scary, as the same symptoms that led to miscarriage seemed to be reoccurring. This time the OB/GYN I saw listened to my previous experience retold and with a gentle smile gave me a nod and swept me off to an ultrasound. I can not express what I felt as I watched that screen. She turned the screen so I could see and said, “Do you see that?” There on the screen, I saw the tiniest flutter of a heartbeat. Instant tears, and relief. All was well. My developing little bundle of mischief was going to be fine.
I had gestational diabetes with this pregnancy as well, though this time I was able to manage it with my diet. My doctor was happy for me to go to full term and even go a week over without intervention. That was the plan. I was happy with that. The little boy developing inside me had other ideas. At 40 weeks and a day, I went in for a check up and non-stress test. There was no movement, no fluxuation in fetal heart rate for about an hour. I was sent in for an ultrasound, still no movement. They used a fetal stimulator designed to wake sleepy babies so they’ll move around during the ultrasound. Still no movement. For nearly another 45 minutes, there was no movement inside my womb. I was sent up to Labor and Delivery immediately for an emergency induction. I had to call a friend to go pick up my husband (who was my fiance at the time), and son, then proceeded to make the remaining “Holy crap!” phone calls.
It was scary because there could really be something wrong. My mother came to the hospital and picked up my son. I was eternally grateful for my soul sister, Kirsta for coming to the hospital, to my friend Deborah for graciously, and expeditiously delivering my guys to the hospital for me.
Pitocin was started at around 7:30pm. The background music in the delivery room was a huge variety of rock with random acts of Larry the Cable Guy’s stand up. Somewhere around 11:30pm the first truly painful contractions started. My water had broken on its own an hour or two before that. Just before midnight the first pushing contraction happened, not realizing what was happening, I resisted my body’s demand to push. They administered a shot of nubain, which releaved the edge of two contractions. I remember looking at my husband and telling him that I didn’t think they gave me enough. The next contraction was a good hard urge to push. Again, I resisted, going so far as to declare that it was too soon, it couldn’t be time yet, there weren’t any medical personnel in the room at all. Yeah, I am that thick sometimes. My husband’s eyes sort of popped out of his head. A nurse walked into the room in time for the next contraction, I didn’t resist. “I have to push…right…now.” She got into position just in time. Push. “Was that the head?”
“Yes, it was.”
Another contraction, “Okay, here he comes.” Push. Contraction. Push. She really got there just in time. My second son emerged into the world just that quickly at 12:30am. He was gray, and no sound came from his little voice. The nurses rush him to the warming table, as I shot up from my recovering position demanding to know what was wrong with my son. A second later, his angry little cries filled my eyes with tears of relief and utter joy. He was fine. He was really hungry, and he was glorious. His birth was definitely telling of the little feisty person that he is becoming each and every day.
My third child was my 40th birthday present from the Universe. I took the test the day before I turned 40. Now by this time, out of sheer curiosity I had begun doing some research on birth and pregnancy. I had watched a documentary called, The Business of Being Born. It was a huge eye opener for me. I had decided that for this last pregnancy, I wanted a midwife, and I wanted to have a water birth. Due to my previous history of gestational diabetes, and the fact that I’m a woman of the plus sized variety, my midwife decided to have me undergo the blood sugar tests early. At twelve weeks, I was confirmed to have gestational diabetes. After a week of removing nearly all carbs from my diet, I was put on insulin because I could not maintain a fasting morning blood sugar level below 95. During my previous pregnancies the fasting morning blood sugar level was considered normal when kept below 100. I was informed at this point that I would not be allowed to have a water birth because I was a high risk pregnancy due to the insulin being required to manage my gestational diabetes. No further explanation was really ever offered. I haven’t been able to find any further explanations in my searches for answers. My midwife also explained that her partners wanted her to drop me as a client due to the high risk nature of my pregnancy. At this point, I should explain that I was not seeing her in a private practice environment, but as one of the care options offered through the local Mayo Healthcare System where I live. We did eventually come to a compromise in which I would alternate between visits with her, and visiting an OB/GYN, whom was my previous care provider. I agreed. The standard policy at this time was to induce deliveries of diabetic mothers between 38 and 39 weeks. Apparently, somewhere between having my son who was three at the time and this pregnancy they have decided that suddenly at 39 weeks, babies just up and die if they are being carried by diabetic mothers. They pushed for induction early in the pregnancy. I was ready for it this time. I refused. They, and by they I do mean my midwife as well, really pushed for induction. There’s a rise in fetal mortality rates at 39 weeks with gestational diabetes. To that, I called bullshit. In the end, I agreed to compromise. I would carry to term. On my due date, I would permit myself to have an induced delivery if I hadn’t gone into labor naturally. I had to continually refuse scheduled induction throughout my pregnancy.
At 39 weeks, I went in for a check up and non-stress test, and it was discovered that something was beginning to sort of happen. Something was attempting to poke out of my cervix, and there was real concern that it might be a bit of the umbilical chord. My midwife had the OB/GYN on hand come check to help her to determine whether or not I would be having an emergency c-section. Thank the gods she did, because after a second exam and a trip to ultrasound it was determined that it wasn’t the umbilical chord, but an earlobe. Relief, sheer relief. The non-stress test however was only slightly more active than the last one I had with my son. Slow reactivity. Now combine that with the gestional diabetes, and my midwife decided at that point that we needed to induce that day. Thank the gods for my OB/GYN. She looked at the NST tape and sent me home. Induction would go as I had agreed, or so I thought.
On my due date, I called in early in the morning as instructed. I was nervous, excited, and ready to have a baby. No beds were ready, I had to call back every two hours to see if a bed was available. Every two hours the same, results. I was told at one point that it would be soon, as one woman was nearly through her delivery. My response was to try and find the humor in the chaos by suggesting that the nurse I was speaking to go into the room and gently whisper something I remembered from Bill Cosby’s retelling of his wife’s “natural child birth experience.” “Push ’em out, shove ’em out, waaaaay out!” The nurse laughed and promised to offer the same for me when it was my turn. She then told me she’d have my midwife call when a bed was ready. Hours passed. My phone did not ring. Finally, I called again and was told that I was not going to be induced that day. I was also told that my midwife was suppose to have called me by this point and explained that we would try again the next morning. I was upset, very upset.
The next morning, bright and early I got up once more to call to see if a bed was ready. To my relief, they had one. When I arrived, I was whisked off only to be rerouted to the water birth room as I had requested to option of laboring in the water. Everyone there was absolutely wonderful, for the most part. My OB/GYN made sure I was allowed to eat if I wanted all the way up until labor set in. They started a pitocin drip at about 9:30 in the morning, increasing it as the day went on until I was receiving the full dosage. My doctor came in at one point to see what I would want for pain reduction. I smiled, and declined any. She quirked a brow and asked if I was sure. I said yes. She smiled with a nod and said, “Good for you.”
At this point, I should mention that my youngest son also had a special song that I would sing to him. It’s called “The Ocean Lullaby.” You can find it on the “Circle Round and Sing” CD, which is a CD of chants and songs for families growing up in a pagan household. It goes something like this:
I’m the body of the ocean,
the roar of the sea.
I can swim with the dolphins,
and they sing to me.
As I roll on the waves,
and I wash through the deep,
As I go to sleep.
When they came in to break my water, I suddenly became a living incarnation of that song. I was literally the body of the ocean, surprising the nurses with the need for an entire bed and wardrobe change. Maybe I should not have sang that song so much while pregnant.
As labor really set in and contractions began to intensify, I withdrew into myself quite a bit. I concentrated on my breath, concentrated on the fact that I was not going to give birth to this child with the assistance of any pain reducers. I concentrated on drawing in upon my strength and quietly with my inner voice, I was calling upon the Great Mother to lend me her strength and perseverance, channeling Her energy to help me through this process. As my labor progressed, a new midwife who I hadn’t met yet came into the room. At this point they were really watching me quite closely. She introduced herself though I don’t remember her name, and took a seat upon a stool close to my bed. She was gentle, patient, welcoming to my family, and was everything you could hope for in a midwife. She sat visiting with my family and I, observing the progression of my contractions, encouraging me through them, though at this point I was mostly ignoring everyone in the room as I focused on drawing upon my inner strength, internally drawing upon the strength of the Great Mother to guide me through each contraction. I did however notice that each time I opened my eyes, there was someone new in the room. A neonatal pediatrician entered and introduced himself, congratulated my husband and I on our impending arrival, and explained that he was there to give this new little one extra support in case it was needed due to my having gestational diabetes. The delivery cart was rolled in, and several nurses also entered the room. When the time came, the midwife was amazing.
There was a point in which I doubted for a few moments in my ability to get those last super important pushes, I was getting really tired. I was so close. My child’s head had crowned, and I in my urgency to deliver declared that I was certain she was stuck, and why was her head so big. The midwife gently encouraged me once more. I could do this, my baby was almost out. Just two more big pushes. One last time, I drew back into myself and with all that I had left, I pushed, and pushed again. My daughter was gently placed directly upon me, umbilical chord still attached. She was the most amazing little person. The midwife then offered the honor of cutting the chord to my mother, and then my husband who both declined. She then smiled at my daughter and I, and asked if I would like to do the honors, I accepted. That alone was a very surreal experience. My daughter was healthy but a bit jaundiced, which is common in babies who are born from diabetic mothers. She was also bigger than either of my boys. I was instantly in love with her, and have been ever since.
I share this extra long post with you so that you may perhaps draw from my experiences should the need ever arise. There are things that I would have changed if I had been better informed at the time. The most important things I would say to anyone expecting a child would be, don’t let anyone bully you into something you don’t want, especially your doctor/midwife. Stand your ground, take a bit of time to not only read through the information they offer you at your visits, but also do some research on your own. Look into not only what the medical community offers, but also what other mom’s are experiencing, at what the alternative and more natural options have to offer, ask tons of questions. If you don’t like the answer, do your homework and make sure that the answer you’re given is truly the best for your situation rather than this sort of herding cattle method that seems to be the way of main stream medical industry. Birthing a child is a very powerful experience, no matter how it happens for you, so don’t be afraid to demand the best experience you could have for yourself and your baby. There are a lot of things I could add, but for now thank you for taking the time to read about my experiences. Blessed Be.