No “one way” to be a mom
Today I’m delighted to have the always effervescent and entertaining Ana Hahn of Time Flies When You’re Having Babies fame occupying this space while I continue to “recover” (HAHAHAHA) with my four little darlings. Who are being preeeeetty good today so I can’t complain, but I also can’t type “recovery” without employing sarcasm right now.
Ana is the lovely wife of Mike and mom to 4 little people herself (actually, our numbers are almost perfectly aligned for arranged marriages, so I’ll just put that out there…) and hails from the land of the Irish and the eternal winters. Actually she hails further back from the Ohio River Valley where we did some college time together at good old FUS, though I missed my golden opportunity to personally befriend her then because I was too old and too grad student-y. C’est la vie. At least we have the internet to bind us together now.
When I was pregnant with my first I was unsure how to go about preparing for the labor and delivery part of birth. As one of 6 girls in a family of 8 children and the 4th to marry and have kids, I had a lot of other experiences to look at and learn from, and those other experiences served to both scare the heck out of me and help me to form my own opinions with regards to my own pending birth.
I say that they scared me because by the time I married my husband, I had already heard horror stories from both ends of the spectrum of birthing- from the heavily medicated birth and c-sections to the all natural, totally non-medicated birth experience. My sisters who had gotten epidurals had bad reactions to them which caused them to throw up during birth, which sounded awful, but then my sister who did all of her births naturally talked about the level of pain in childbirth in such a way that I was picturing war veterans getting their limbs blown off and it still wasn’t really rivaling her descriptions of the pain she felt.
So how would I do it? Both ways were coming up short in terms of giving me much peace. I ended up signing myself and my husband up for a Bradley birthing class and reading the book “Husband Coached Child Birth” and came out on the “all natural non-medicated” side of things.
I birthed my first born baby girl successfully without any medication and in a large birthing tub, it was pretty much as natural as it could get, except for the fact that it was in a hospital. I had a midwife who advocated for me to have no IV and to be left alone and not asked about receiving an epidural or any other medication. She stayed by my side for the entire 2 hours of pushing and helped in a huge way in order for things to go as smoothly as possible. The pain truly did exceed any of what I could have dreamed up and my screaming got so loud that nurses were coming in from down the hall and asking me to quiet down. Goodbye Dignity!
I felt pretty amazing after the natural birth, something akin to Xena the Warrior Princess, but while the recovery was a cinch, I definitely came out a little traumatized by the whole thing. Yes, I was very proud of myself for doing it non-medicated, but I could not imagine ever doing that again. However, I had been so thoroughly schooled in the all natural Bradley birthing method (and the evil that is medication in a birth setting) that this was pretty much the way I was resigned to doing it for the rest of our births for subsequent children, terrified or not.
But then 18 months later our second baby had different plans for us. Daughter number 2 was as breech as breech could be and after weeks of trying every natural “way to flip a breech baby” and even after attempting an external cephalic version (when they try to flip the baby from the outside of your belly) it became clear that a c-section was inevitable.
Next to myself or my baby dying in child birth, the idea of a c-section was the most terrifying thing I could have thought of. I cried rivers of highly emotional, overly hormonal pregnant tears but eventually I had to accept it- it was the only way to ensure that this baby would come into the world as safely as possible. The doctors advising me were looking out for my baby’s health and my health first and foremost and this was the safest way to go about birthing this baby, even though it was not what I had in mind and certainly not what my “all-natural-or-nothing” mindset had anticipated. We went forward with the c-section and it all went off without a hitch. I had no abnormal side effects from the spinal block and other than the longer recovery from the surgery, it was fine and I had another healthy baby girl.
Cue pregnancy number 3 and I was finally completely indifferent to the way I would birth my next baby. All I really knew is that I preferred to birth this one naturally (meaning, no c-section) so as to not have to recover from another major abdominal surgery while caring for 3 kids 3 and under.
Whether the birth was medicated or natural did not matter one bit as long as the baby came out healthy and had a healthy, happy mama to care for them. I had so many drugs coursing through my veins for that second birth that all of my judgmental tendencies instilled in me in the Bradley class were out the window. I was able to be with a doctor who was very supportive of Vaginal Birth After Cesarian (VBAC) and very much fine with me having an epidural if I decided I wanted one. Whenever my mind went back to the first all natural birthing experience, my anxiety levels went through the roof, so I was veering more and more towards the epidural route.
Maybe it was the fact that I was chasing toddlers around until the end of the pregnancy, or maybe it was the 2 weeks of intense early labor that I went through with baby #3, but by the time my water broke I could not fathom pushing the baby out with no medication. She was very much “head-down” and we went forward with the vaginal delivery, but this time with an epidural, and everything went swimmingly. I think I pushed 3 whole times before little Lucy made her grand entrance and I felt nothing but some “pressure” through the whole thing. And the best part? Yet another healthy baby girl!
At the outset of preparing for labor and delivery, I never would have imagined that I would get to experience so many different ways of birthing babies, I figured that I would chose a way and that would be it. But the health and well being of the baby became priority number one in my newly maternal heart and I learned that there is no one-way to give birth, as long as you are focused on what is best for baby and mom, you’re doing just fine.
*I have since been blessed with a small male who made it safely into the world through another epidural birth, if God decides to bless us even more, who knows what I’ll chose!
I run the gamut of experiences as well — at home, in the car, medicated in the hospital, and the last one a c-section. I figured I was pretty much at peace with whatever labor as long as the outcome was good — so I was surprised how upset I was about the c-section. The doctor turned the baby head down twice but he would not stay. I know it was medically necessary, I know I am blessed to have a healthy baby and mom — but here in my seventh pregnancy, I still feel a bit worried about my body not “working right”. But my OB is very supportive of a VBAC and that’s my hope, though always, VBAC or c-section, I will give thanks to God for a healthy baby and mom 🙂
Wow! That is an intensely crazy birth-giving variety, way to go, mama!!
It was so hard to feel like my body was somehow not working right and there was so much comparison for me to other moms, “why didn’t this breech baby thing happen to them?”, etc.
But seriously, you are a a hero for doing what you’re doing!!
Thank you – right back at you! It is a sacrifice of the body to have multiple babies but I believe we are blessed and rewarded 🙂
My first was an emergency C-Section due to fetal distress, but I have often felt it was a premature section and that the monitors were just slipping off his head, or I could have birthed him had I been able to move around and change positions, etc… Or, I have always felt a lot of probably unnecessary guilt about it. And, it was fairly traumatic.
When we got pregnant again (5 years later), I was determined to VBAC. Then we found out we were having twins. And, I was still determined to try to VBAC, but the bigger twin ended up being breech, so 2nd C-Section it was. I am trying not to, but I can’t help but feel like my body failed. I have three wonderful healthy babies, but why couldn’t I just do it naturally? And, now that I have had two sections, have this awful feeling that I will never get the chance to have a natural child birth and I feel like I lost something special. Stupid mom-guilt.
Amanda, I felt the same way after my first C-section. we tried for a regular birth, but it was just not going to happen after 18 plus hours in labor- plus my doctor had warned me it might end up being a C-section, so I wasn’t completely taken by surprise. However, I did have that failure feeling of not being able to “give” birth and do my part… we now have four kids (all C-sections), but I know people who have had both emergency sections, and scheduled ones and have also gone back to have VBACs, so don’t lose heart. And anyhow, that feeling of failure/disappointment is not to be bothered with- for me it boiled down to feeling like I hadn’t had the entire “mom giving birth” experience, which is really, really, foolish!
Thanks, Caroline! I really appreciate that. If we can manage to avoid pregnancy for a safe period of time, perhaps I can get an OB onboard with a VBA2C. I know that it can be done. What I REALLY need to get my head around is that it is totally OK if it doesn’t work out that way.
Amanda, I have VBAC’d twice now after 2 c sections. You can TOTALLY do it!!! Get a referral to the right doctor and I think it will make all the difference. Are you in CO?
I’m so sorry for how traumatic your experience was, Amanda, and for all the feelings of doing something wrong, mom guilt is seriously the worst!
But you totally aren’t doing anything wrong, you are sacrificing yourself to give life to your little ones!
A VBAC would be great, but you are so right, it is totally OK if you don’t end up VBACing, you are doing what is best for your sweet babies!!
Thanks for this Ana! My first was a quick all-natural and he made his arrival before we could get a room, but number 2 was over 41 weeks and had the cord wrapped twice therefore was in distress and csection it was. Number three is 11 weeks right now but docs are already question what method I want. It’s just good to remember in both our experiences And as I look to the future the BEST outcome is a healthy mom and healthy baby, period!
Prayers for this next pregnancy, Rachel!
My first was a c-section for the same reason, and I was upset for the same reason, too. 🙂 I had taken a Bradley Method class and was hell-bent. Everything went fine but I hated the recovery! My second was also breech but she turned and I had a VBAC. Then another VBAC with my third. I definitely preferred the VBACs to the c-section!
The recovery from a vaginal birth is definitely preferable, that is great that you were able to VBAC!!
Wow I totally needed this! I have wanted a natural birth both of mine. First was an emergency c section, second was pitocin and an epidural after hours of having broken waters but not contractions. I’m 42 weeks pregnant with baby #3 and have been looking forward to a more “natural birth” for so long. I don’t know it thay will happen. An induction is scheduled for when I’m past 42 weeks. I’ve been feeling defeated and that something is wrong with my body. Great read! Thank you!
Oh Kathleen, I will pray for you!! There is nothing wrong with you, your body is doing the most beautiful, natural thing by giving life to new little humans, and you are sacrificing yourself and your own body and comforts and desires to make sure they get here safely.
Again, I will pray for this upcoming delivery!!
I’ve been blessed to have three natural, non- medicated labors. I believe what helped me was staying home as long as possible and then once I was at the hospital, to stay out of the bed. Bradley method was a huge help. I only knew Bradley breathing for baby 3 and found it be significantly better for my relaxation. It has been helpful for me to insist on laboring in whatever position feels best according to me, not medical staff. Each time I feel more confident in my abilities to do what God has designed me to do. But no matter what our experiences, healthy mom and baby is the goal! God bless all you mommies on here and the precious babes you bring forth into the world!
And way to go, Mama!
I’ve had 2 c-sections. My 2 year old son was breech and my 6 month old son was born via emergency c-section following a failed VBAC attempt that resulted in partial uterine rupture. Not an experience I want to relive any time soon. I hate the shame and sadness I feel about my c-sections. On the one hand, I’m so thankful that they got me in that operating room before anything more serious happened to my son or me, but at the same time, I still struggle with what happened. It’s weird because the c-sections were obviously done for the sake of my children and have left more lasting scars on me than natural birth would have, yet sometimes I feel “less-than” mothers who have had successful vaginal deliveries. My doctor said any future births would be via c-section at 37 weeks but that he thinks I would be safe for us to get pregnant again after another year or so. I know it will be hard to overcome the fear though. It’s weird because I’m so fortunate to have my wonderful little boys but the topic of birth is just so fraught for me. Sorry for the ramble, as you can tell I’m still processing my son’s birth 🙂
I am so sorry that there is any feeling in you that you are “less than” any other mother– though I felt the same way after my c-section (and even after my first epidural birth feeling like I wasn’t as “awesome” as the all-natural moms). Birth is the most intense and hard thing to do as a woman, and the most AMAZING things to do, no matter how you do it!!
I am so glad that everything was ok after your scare, and I hope and pray that you are able to come out feeling peaceful about any future births, I will definitely pray for you. And know that you are not only not “less than” any other mama, you are amazing and you are doing an amazing, beautiful thing giving life to these little ones!
Thanks for sharing, Ana. With Baby #1 set to arrive in February, I have been pushing all thoughts of labor out of my mind, hoping to avoid thinking through those decisions for as long as possible. I’m sure my anxiety will be through the roof when the big day rolls around.