I was definitely interested in having a natural delivery and I actually wanted a home birth, but our insurance didn’t cover that or even a midwife, so both Joshua and Jacob were born in the hospital. I did not like the lack of control I had in the hospital. The nurses made the decisions for me and it didn’t matter that I had a birth plan.
With Joshua I went into labor all on my own. When we first got to the hospital, they put me in the bed and I was not allowed to leave after that. Nothing that I wanted to do was allowed to do. I wanted to have a bath, which was there, but they kept me in the bed. I said I want to get up and they said no. They also turned these big bright lights on right in my face and there was a lot of noise. I wanted my son to come into the world with a not so bright, not so noisy atmosphere. I think if it had been one of my later deliveries, I would have just done it anyway, but I didn’t know any better. It was my first and I was naive.
I ended up with an epidural because I was in so much pain. It worked really well. The nurse in charge did not like how floppy my legs were and thought the epidural was too high, but I said, “I can tell when I am having contractions and I can even tell when I feel like I needed to push” and the nurse said, “No, I don’t think you can,” which really made me mad. So she turned off my epidural. Completely off. So I went from feeling almost nothing to feeling everything right at the end. And that made my mom who is a nurse really angry. It delayed the delivery because I was out of my head in pain. So they cranked it back up and then I pushed for 45 minutes and he came out.
With the second delivery, Jacob, they had to break my water at 7 cm and within 5 minutes I felt the urge to push. My nurses the second time were really awesome. I loved that delivery. The nurse checked me and said I was at 7. Then all of the sudden before she even left the room, my mom looked at me and said, “Are you ok?” She said my eyes got really big because I felt like I needed to push, like I was having a bowl movement. And she said, “Are you pushing?” and I said, “I’m trying NOT to push” and there was just no control…Jacob delivered. The nurse said, “That can’t be, you are only at 7.” I said, “Oh, no!” My husband looked and he saw the baby’s head! The doctor ran down the hall to make it there. I didn’t even really push—maybe just 2 or 3 times—and he came right out. So that delivery was really easy, but that time the epidural did not take. It took just for a part of the labor and it wore off gradually by delivery and I thought “Wow, I can handle that…it hurt, but I can handle it.”
By the third, I knew the midwife service was now available through our health insurance, but in the state of Virginia they wouldn’t cover a home delivery. I decided to deliver in a birthing center, but we didn’t have one in Virginia so we had to go to Maryland. Because of how fast I went from 7 to delivery with Jacob, they considered Maria’s delivery potentially problematic and they wanted me to come in at the first sign of labor. So when I had Maria we got to the birthing center at 3 cm. The midwife said we could make things go a little faster by breaking my water. So she broke my water and Maria was born within 35 minutes. That was more painful than anything because I went from 3 to completely delivered within 45 minutes and it happened so fast that my in-laws hadn’t even gotten to their house with the boys before we called and said she was here. So I really liked that midwife, she listened to everything I said and did anything for me that she could. The thing I learned from that is: don’t let them break your water at 3 cm. It was like getting a shot of Pitocin.
When Alison came along, we had birthing center services in Virginia. I wrote a very detailed birth plan. It wasn’t so much “this is what you will do” as “this is what you will NOT do.” I didn’t want cheerleading. I didn’t want bright lights. I wanted to labor and deliver on my hands and knees if I could. Alison was delivered by flashlight on my hands and knees. I got to catch her and she was the least painful delivery of the four. They didn’t break my water until I was complete and ready to go, and she just came right out.
The thing I tell any of my friends or anyone about to deliver for the first time is to make sure you have a husband or partner or someone who will advocate for you because you are in so much pain you’ll do whatever anybody tells you. I wish that I had a friend in the room with me for the first one that could have encouraged me to stick with my plan of a natural childbirth. My mother thought I was crazy, so she was not an advocate for me and my husband was just as naïve as I was. All he wanted was to make the pain go away, so he wasn’t really intent on coaching me. He was desperate. He wasn’t capable of making any advocacy decisions for me when I was in pain. He was just beside himself and would have done anything to make the pain go away. So I would definitely say get a girlfriend/advocate in there with you, or your mother or husband if they are of like-mind. That is the best advice I can give.