Hi my name is Grace Jackson and this is my birth story for my two boys. I was eighteen years old and a senior in high school when I became pregnant with my first son Lane. Since I was so young all of this was new to me and I read everything I could get my hands on. Through my reading I became interested in natural childbirth simply because it just made the most since physically on how to birth a baby. I was turned off the idea, however, when I expressed a desire to push in the squat position to my mom, a retired labor and delivery nurse of 15 years. She told me things are not done that way, everyone gets an epidural and is not able to leave the bed or feel their legs enough to do that. Since she was my only birth story or birth influence I had, I did exactly as she said. My membranes were stripped at 39 weeks and at 39 weeks 4 days the induction was set.
Upon arrival to the hospital at 8AM I was set up to be continuously monitored and told not to get out of bed, I was 4cm and having early labor contractions. They started me on a low dose of pitocin and after about two hours they started asking me when I wanted the epidural. I expressed that I really was not in any pain and did not feel I needed it and their reply was “why would you wait until you are hurting to get it? Take care of it before the pain comes.” So again I assumed they knew best and agreed to the epidural. The anesthesiologist went through the epidural space and hit the spinal nerve instead so I was given a spinal which will numb you for about two hours before you need another dose. Soon after I got the spinal the doctor broke my water and by 2:45 had added the internal monitor that screws into the top of the baby’s head. An hour later I was fully dilated and ready to push. I pushed for thirty minutes and am so glad the spinal ran out by that time because I do not know if I would have been able to push as effectively with it.
Once was son was born he was placed on my chest for a second then taken to the warmer for the newborn tests. He was 7lbs 12oz, 21in long–a perfectly healthy boy.
I was then told that since I received a spinal there is a 5% chance I would have the spinal head aches but they would not last longer that two weeks and if you drink lots of caffeine it would help it go away faster. Well I was in the less than 5% of people and it did not start till the day I came home from the hospital. I could not be in any sort of light or if my head was off the pillow it felt like someone was pounding my head with a hammer. I was told I could go back to the hospital for a blood patch that would stop the headaches. Well at 18 years old I was still on my parents insurance but was left to pay the remainder of my bill which was already over $2000–I was not going to go back for a blood patch to add to the bill. I knew I could stick it out for two weeks. Well two weeks turned into three and I had already gone that long I just knew it would be any day, then when the fourth week came and we were out visiting family I could not handle it. I told my now-husband (boyfriend at the time) we needed to go back to the hospital for the blood patch. So I was admitted and given an epidural all over again. To apply the patch they take blood out of your arm–I am not afraid of needles but I have never seen a needle so fat before in my life! They took a crazy amount of blood out of my arm and put it into my back and the next day my head ache was finally gone and I was able to care for my baby.
Most people would hear that story and say “wow her labor was so smooth and fast she must have loved that!” Yes it was great and my son was just as healthy as he could be. For me, the experience of giving birth and becoming a mother was the best time of my life. I couldn’t wait to have another baby but I knew then the next time I would do things differently. I was not quite sure what it was I wanted different, though. It took a few years for me to process everything but I finally knew what bothered me–I had no voice in my birth! The nurse, doctor and my mother already had decided for me what type of labor I would have and what steps those included. I was uninformed on what a natural/normal birth would look like. Plus, I was told it was not even an option when I had a natural curiosity all on my own about what one would look like. I did not feel empowered or in control of my birth, and in fact it felt as if my birth was just happening to me and I was just along for the ride.
So three and a half years later we became pregnant with our second baby. I had done a lot of research and soul searching. We took a “natural birthing class” the hospital offered. It was there I found out that I was able to wear my own clothes, not have to be hooked up to IV fluids, I could have intermittent monitoring so I was able to walk around and use the shower. I was so excited I could not wait for the day to come! It took a few arguments with my mom for me to convince her I did not need to be induced the day I turned 39 weeks and that the baby would come when he is ready. Well as it turned out he was ready the day I turned 39 weeks! My husband and I had just sat down for our dinner date when contractions started coming on strong at ten minutes apart. We started timing them at 6pm and by 7pm they were even more intense and about 5 minutes apart. We were close to the hospital but I wanted my bag and birth ball assuming it would be a long night so we drove all the way home, and by the time we reached home they were 2 minutes apart very intense and I felt I had to poop. So we got back in the car, I am thankful for the breathing techniques I learned and having my husband’s hand to hold because laboring in the car is no fun. My water broke when we were 20 minutes away from the hospital and the urge to push got even stronger. When we got to the hospital I hurried in before I had another contraction. Seemed like forever before the lady at the desk let us back. As soon as I got to the room I had to argue with the nurse to let me wear my own clothes. She did not like it, but she let me. Once I lied on the bed I had to push so they called the emergency room doctor to catch the baby. They gave me an IV and hooked me up to the monitors all during the only three pushes it took for him to be born. Then all that commotion was over and it felt as if time stood still for my baby and I. He was here and we did it together all on our own–no drugs forcing anything. Again, just a second with the baby on my chest before he was taken to the warmer for newborn procedures and I was given a routine bag of pitocin I was not bleeding heavily they just do it as standard which is fine for those who have epidurals but very uncomfortable if you don’t.
Some people who hear that story think it sounds scary and would not want that. And no, that is not how I had hoped and imagined that birth going either. However, its my story and how my body chose to handle labor and I would much rather it that way than to be induced with drugs, stuck in bed, and take a chance that me and baby wouldn’t respond well to drugs that cause your body to act unnaturally in some cases. I felt empowered at his birth because even as fast as things were moving, I still felt in control and more mentally aware than I have ever been.
My second son’s birth also taught me a lot. I learned that in birth certain things are important; you need to be educated about your body and the fundamentals of labor and birth. Also, to be informed, we need to share our birth stories. We won’t agree with everyone’s view but there is a lot to learn from other women about hospitals and how obstetricians behave on delivery day–some are wonderful and some will say things to scare you into interventions so you must be educated so you are able to feel at peace about any decisions made on the day. I am now a doula in the area and 99% of the moms who hire me are pregnant with their second or third baby. They now know how important it is to have the continuous support that a nurse or obstetrician simply are not able to offer. It is especially needed in a natural birth.
Be sure you feel supported, by your Doctor or midwife most importantly since they call the shots on the big day but also by your partner. Its hard to stand your ground when things get tough without loving support. A doula can by providing emotional, educational, and physical support and knows you and your birth goals and will do all she can to make it happen.
Lastly, an open mind is important since every woman and pregnancy is different. Things may not go as planned and its important that you are able to accept that.
I hope you all enjoyed my story, I hope my story reflects my passion for women to have a chance at the type of birth they want–it can be a life changing experience.