MotherGather

Real Baby and Birth Stories from Real Women

Shannon’s Birth Story

This was my first pregnancy. My birth story isn’t idyllic, but it’s a story I love. During an early appointment, my midwife made a comment that stuck with me: “Some births seem so straightforward and beautiful and the woman feels disappointed; other births are downright violent and the woman is still so happy. I think the difference is when a woman feels that she is informed and empowered through it all.”

I didn’t have a birth plan – I knew what things I wanted and didn’t want, but it wasn’t elaborate. I wanted vaginal, unmedicated, at the hospital with a return home ASAP. I actually went into the labour very content with the idea that every one experiences birth differently and so I didn’t try to prepare, but instead actively protected myself from other people’s insights.

I went into labour on a Friday night. My midwives came close to 11, and since I was 4 cm they stayed with us, but by 4 a.m. it seemed that things were slowing down. They gave me a shot of Gravol and told me to rest up for the morning. By 6 o’clock Saturday evening my contractions were staying very regular, but still weren’t strong enough (although “not strong enough” contractions sure aren’t very comfortable).

A phone conversation with my midwives came down to this: 1) I had to eat something now; 2) either we were going to get labour going or I was going to have to go into the hospital for stronger pain medication so that I could sleep. I opted for take-out pasta for dinner, and castor oil for dessert.

Less than 10 minutes after taking the castor oil (it hadn’t had its desired effect on my bowels yet) I found out what “strong enough” contractions felt like. My daughter, in the womb, also had a hand beside her head and the result was a horrible feeling like someone was sawing my pubic bone from the inside. My birth plan was to labour at home and then go to the hospital for transition and delivery, but this new sensation, after a day of one type of contractions, was frightening and I just wanted to get to the hospital right away.

We met our midwives there. I hadn’t progressed much more – I was now 5 or 6 cm. It was about 11 on Saturday night. I laboured in the hospital room with lots of support and counter pressure on my back to combat the intense back labour. At one point during a contraction I had to yell for my midwife to move her foot because the contraction was making me pee.

My husband was there as well and he was an unbelievable support. My midwife commented to him afterwards that it’s her experience that if the partner is willing to watch their loved one experience the intensity of birth without medication, then it’s much easier on the person giving birth. This is a man who won’t let me carry groceries, even when I’m not pregnant, and gets faint at the sight of blood. Because he was so strong and calm and encouraging, it reflected back to me how natural and normal and OK everything that I was experiencing was. If he had been anxious or scared, I may not have felt as in control as I did.

At some point in the wee hours, the midwives broke my water in an effort to move things along. This brought on stronger contractions, but I also had a premature urge to push. This is when your body starts pushing with each contraction and you try to fight it back. It was a lot of work.

By 5 a.m., I was starting to get exhausted and


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