Welcome to the Share Your Story event: Childbirth – Your Stories
This post was written as part of the Share Your Story event hosted by Kids in the House. Our contributors have shared their stories, struggles, and wisdom about the unforgettable yet unpredictable event that is childbirth.
If you have been following me for a while, you know that this is the first time I have participated in an event like this. That said, I have wanted to write about my birth stories of my four boys for ages but never have. When this opportunity came to me it was the nudge I needed and I couldn’t resist. Plus, now you will know about how my four boys came into this world which is a great way to start knowing them before I officially introduce you to them in my book! That and well, unbeknowst to me, each birth story actually reflects one of the core lessons needed to help me stop yelling: Expected the Unexpected.
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During my Orange Rhino Challenge to not yell at my 4 boys for 365 days straight, I discovered that being fully open about my challenges with yelling not only helped me to feel more normal and less alone, but also helped others to feel the same. I share my Childbirth stories below to do the same. I have never been able to share some of these feelings because they were (and are) frowned upon. When I shared them, I was told to be fully grateful and positive for what I did have: healthy babies. And I was. And I am. But I also had other feelings that are okay to feel and necessary to share so that I can be healthy. Bottled up feelings don’t do anyone good!!
For as long as I can remember, mostly to the fault of cheesy romance movies like Father of the Bride 2, I had high hopes that I would go into labor naturally. I pictured that I would just be going about my life someday, somewhere, and my water would break. I would call my husband all excited, he would come home from work or stop doing whatever it was he was doing and we would start tracking contractions together on the new stopwatch I was instructed to buy. Maybe we would even frantically run around trying to find my overnight bag and every last item we were told to bring to the hospital (warm socks, colorful pillowcase, a special object to focus on during delivery.) And when it was time, we would rush to the hospital together saying, “Oh my gosh! Can you believe this? It’s happening!!!” Yep, I am totally a hopeless romantic type and nope none of above ever happened.
It didn’t happen with my first pregnancy, or my second, or my third, or my fourth for that matter. And each time my idealized scenario didn’t happen, even though I knew the likelihood was that it wouldn’t and that I was lucky to be pregnant and to have a healthy baby, I still I found myself more disappointed than I would have expected.
My First Childbirth: Well Overdue Baby
I was induced at 42 weeks because my body was nowhere near delivering. Like nowhere at all. Even though I started having contractions en route to the hospital the night before my scheduled induction, the doctor still insisted on an induction because she was concerned that I wouldn’t progress far enough. I was massively disappointed; a planned birth felt so anti-climatic. There was no anticipation just, “okay, check in at 7 and the meds will start the next morning.” Where is the fun and excitement in that?
Even though I was “supposed” to be all cheerful at the anticipation of my first child, and a majority of the time I was, during the last week of pregnancy, I actually found myself quite jealous of all my friends who experienced the spontaneous joy of a natural delivery, and on the last day I felt quite sad that I would be missing out on a ritual that so many women experience. I knew I was about to gain something incredible and yet I couldn’t deny the immense sense of loss I felt. To this day, eight years later, I still have that pang of loss every once and a while when I hear an exciting birth story closer to what I imagined for myself.
My Second Childbirth: Preeclampsia Precautions
I was induced at 40 weeks because my blood pressure skyrocketed and my doctor had medical concerns. You see, that morning my new babysitter texted me and quit because of health reasons (read: I don’t want to take care of two kids under two.) My first son was just 19 months old and we had been living in our new town for just a few months and had no real friends. She was to be my on-call childcare 24/7 starting that day since my parents lived six hours away. Needless to say, of course my heart rate went through the roof from stress and panic…and went even higher when I was ordered to the hospital for an emergency induction and instructed to find immediate childcare for my toddler.
I showed up at the hospital in tears, my toddler in tow, and called all my “new” barely acquaintances to see if they could come hang with my older son until my husband could arrive. Not exactly how I anticipated separating from my toddler before he became not my only son, but my one of two sons. Not exactly how I anticipated, or wanted, my second delivery to go either. I am crying now at the loss of that moment; I had expectations of a sweet, prolonged, “I love you so much” goodbye. Instead he was basically whisked away from me as I was rushed to the heart monitors. I cried as I walked away from my son, disappointed, sad and angry that our goodbye blew and that another not naturally induced labor awaited.
My Third Childbirth: Safe Delivery
Come my third pregnancy, I hit 41 weeks and did start having painful contractions every three to four minutes – but they did nothing and my doctors began to worry that they would suddenly kick in and my third son would just suddenly come out as fast as my first two. With my first pregnancies, my body didn’t respond at all to the induction and then I would scream, discover that I went from 3 cm to 9 cm in 20 minutes, be instructed by my doctor to not laugh, sneeze, move, squeeze until everything was in place, and then I would push twice and pop! Out came my son. No joke. Even though those pregnancies were induced and this one could be natural, I lived 20 minutes from the hospital and had two children to make childcare arrangements for. None of us wanted to take the risk that my sons would deliver their brother, so an induction was scheduled.
This induction was tough as I knowingly planned something that would disappoint me. But by this time I was accustomed to the feelings of loss and disappointment and focused on the more exciting aspect of a planned induction: I got to pick the his birthday this time and being a math nerd, I picked an “almost” palindrome of 09/22/09. That and well this time, I got to say goodbye to my two older sons on my terms, as I wished, as I expected.
My Fourth Childbirth: Breeched Baby
I still held the secret wish and expectation that my fourth and last labor would be as I imagined. But, despite all my praying and pleading and hoping, at 37 weeks my son still remained breached and unless he moved, a C-section would be necessary. After experiencing and fully enjoying three vaginal deliveries (there is just something so amazing about pushing your child into this world,) the idea of a C-section devastated me beyond words. I told my husband I refused to let that happen. Period.
So I tried all the tricks in the book to get him to move. The ear phones against the belly, the sleeping on one side, the this, the that. None of it worked. What did work though? Driving to the hospital for a scheduled “flip” at 37 weeks. No joke, en route, I felt an immense pain. He had flipped on his own! It was flippin’-fantastic!
That said, at my 40-week appointment it was clear that even though he had flipped, his head wasn’t 100% down and there was a small chance that he could get to a position that would make naturally delivery extremely hard given the size of his gargantuan head. So we chose another induction because at that point, that felt less of a disappointment than a C-section. Way less. And it was. By the fourth go around, the induction felt like a blessing, a gift, the best option in the world to me compared to the alternatives. Maybe the fourth induction felt much more okay because of the circumstances.
Or maybe I accepted it because after five years of parenting I had finally started to embrace the very important parenting lesson being repeatedly taught to me with every induction: things with kids simply do not go as planned. Expect the unexpected and be pleasantly surprised (or be woefully disappointed and so frustrated that you find yourself yelling more than you like!)
Or maybe it felt okay because the previous childbirths had hammered home a very important point that I got to (get to) live each and every day. A lot of dreams, and hopes, and expectations, and not just about naturally induced labors, didn’t get met during my pregnancy and childbirth journeys. But one did. The most important one.
I became a mom.
I. Became. A. Mom.
Each time one of my sons was born and I heard his cry, a cry that immediately connected me to him in a way that I just can not begin to explain, and then I held him in my arms and found myself falling in love faster than I knew possible, the sadness, disappointment, loss and jealously I felt intensely for the last few days, melted away. It no longer mattered to me how my son came into my life, because he did. And I was a mom. A mom who had dreamed and imagined how much love she would feel when her child was born; a mom who felt love in a way that she never, ever could have expected.
- Two Peas in a Pod: A Double Miracle – Rachael at Three Boys and Mom shares how the blessing of an unexpected twin pregnancy saved a woman’s life.
- Childbirth: the Ache of Love – Sasha at MomLife Now describes how one mom discovered a miraculous beauty she knew not existed.
- Tax Day 2007 – Cheryl at The Pump Station & Nursery looks back on how an easy pregnancy turned out to be a taxing birth experience.
- Going with the Flow – Bridget at Bridget Bertrand shares how her OB helped to put her on the right course in regards to birth plans, the playlist, and even the recipe to make the day her daughter came into the world.
- My Not-So Natural Birth Story – Rachel at Mommy Greenest shares a lot of questions with questions with pregnant and new parents through her work, but this time describes what it was like for her, giving birth for the first time – but definitely not the last – time.
- The (Not So) Natural Birth Story – Britt at My Life and Kids reflects on how a mom’s life-threatening delivery helped mold her into the mother she was meant to be.
- Giving Birth: When the Unexpected Happens – Elle at This is Mommyhood shares advice for when your baby has an unexpected stay in the NICU.
- A New Look at the “Perfect” Birth Story – Melissa at Fill My Cup shares how a crazy delivery gave one mom a new perspective on the ‘perfect birth.’
- Induction Induced Feelings of Loss – The Orange Rhino shares how a planned induction brought unplanned feelings of jealousy, sadness, disappointment and loss.
- Our Beautiful Birth Story – Lindsay at The Fully Caffeinated Mama reflects on how it wasn’t the feeling of intense pain caused by the epidural wearing off that she remembers, but rather the beautiful baby on her chest for the first time.
- Jack’s Arrival – Samantha at The Peanuts Gang thought she would have a scheduled c-section, but it turned out that having Jack was QUICK and sooner than expected!
- Remembering to Breathe – Suzy at Kids in the House explains how with little fanfare, the completely wrong music, and a very distracted doctor, her son Leo was born.