by Jaclyn Levy
Stories about how a woman becomes a mother are nothing short of epic. In honor of Ashley Gilday’s pregnancy with her first child, I wanted to share a few inspiring birth stories from my friends, since nothing prepared me more for the birth of my second baby than hearing other mom’s real-life birth stories. I ended up having a VBAC for my second child, which is a vaginal birth after cesarean. Every woman’s birthing story is different and beautiful in it’s own way.
If you are expecting for the first time, these four, diverse and inspiring birth stories will provide encouragement and hope. If you are a seasoned mom, share in the camaraderie and strength of women just like you. If you experienced a traumatic birth and are fearful of the future, keep reading to know that each birth experience is different and you are not alone.
Birth #1: Drug-free home birth with midwife
Baby: Male, 7 lbs 9 oz., 21.25 inches
In Attendance: Midwife, midwife Assistant, husband, mother-in-law
Birth Date: Dec 10th, 2013
Laura Marshall, Columbia SC
My main reasons for having our second child at home with a midwife is because there are routine hospital birthing protocols that our family needed to turn down and I did not want to be in the middle of labor discussing our particular needs to nurses and doctors at the hospital. Our midwife, Christine, had 15 years of birthing experience and always answered my questions thoroughly. She was involved from the beginning and knew exactly what my family needed.
Many things prepared me for our second birthing experience including the book, “Ina Mays Guide to Childbirth”. I highly recommend it. I also participated in natural home birth online communities which empowered me to feel comfortable when it came time to deliver. I had Symphysis Pubis Disorder with our second child, so the exercises proposed by the Bio-Mechanical Scientist, Katy Bowman, were indescribably helpful, along with a wonderful pregnancy and postnatal chiropractor.
If you are considering a midwife assisted home birth, my best advice is to read, listen, ask, watch, and then read some more. Fill yourself with as much information as possible about laboring and delivering at home. The more knowledge you can absorb, the more normal this new and exciting journey will be for you and your family; and of course, always have a backup plan!
Birth #2: Super fast, drug-free hospital birth
Baby: Female, 8 lbs 7 oz., 20 inches
In attendance: Husband, 7 nurses, ER Doctor
Date: September 11th, 2013
Kelly Huels Blaszczyk, Bolingbrook IL
At each of my final OB appointments there was no progression with dilation or effacement (thinning of the uterus), which is necessary prior to giving birth. Consequently, I was scheduled for an induction to occur on 9/11/13 at 7:00 am. At dinner the night prior to my scheduled induction, I started having labor pains that were exactly the same as the prodromal contractions I had been having for the past two weeks. The pain was intense and I couldn’t sleep.
After hours of sitting on the couch watching TV and squeezing a stress ball to work through the contractions, I woke my husband to take me to the hospital. Once we arrived, they checked my cervix and it was not even at 1 cm and was still not effaced. Had I not been scheduled for an induction, the hospital would have sent me home.
The intensity of the contractions kept getting worse, but they were still irregular. As my husband and I walked the hospital halls, I started getting cold sweats and told him that I didn’t think I could give birth. I felt extremely tired- both physically and mentally. Soon after, my water broke.
I went back to the birthing room where they checked my cervix. Finally, I was fully dilated and effaced! They called the doctor from my OB group, but could not get a hold of him; so all available nurses rushed into my room. The ER doctor arrived as my daughter was crowning. After 3 big pushes, she was out. When I saw my baby girl I felt relieved my labor was over and happy that she arrived strong and healthy.
My birthing advice to expectant mothers would be to listen to your body. Textbook labor doesn’t happen for everyone, so don’t be afraid to go to the hospital if you feel like you need to. They are expecting you.
Birth #3: Traditional birth in hospital with pain relief
Baby: Female, 5 lbs 14 oz., 19.75 inches
In attendance: Husband, mom, dad, OB
Birth date: February 19th, 2010
Beth Harkness, Joliet IL
The night before I delivered I was extremely uncomfortable and so ready to not be pregnant any longer. My best friend suggested having sex as a means to naturally induce labor and I laughed. But my husband and I decided it wouldn’t hurt to try. By 8:30 the next morning I noticed a small vaginal leak that didn’t go away and decided to call my OB. She said to head to the hospital. I was certain I was going to have my baby by late afternoon.
Shortly after arriving at the hospital I was hooked up to the necessary monitors for normal labor and delivery, but they couldn’t get the fetal heart monitor to work; so they had to insert a lead into the baby’s scalp. After that, I was restricted to the birthing bed only- no walking around, no yoga ball, nothing. This was not a part of my plan!
At 5 pm I received my first dose of Stadol (pain medication) and I was able to sleep for about 3 hours with little to no pain. After that wore off, I was dilated at around 4 cm. Only 4 freaking cm in 12 hours of labor! I was mad, discouraged, upset, and exhausted. By 9 pm I was really beginning to think a c-section would have been okay. I prayed to God that I would have strength to persevere through the rest of my labor and delivery. Soon after 10pm I felt like I needed to push. After just 14 minutes of pushing, I was a mommy to a beautiful baby girl. The pain I had been feeling completely vanished and I was in awe of the miracle that my husband Dan and I created.
My advice to future moms is to go into labor with an open mind as things do not always turn out as you envision them. Also, know that you are not allowed to eat while laboring at the hospital. I wish that I had known that the hospital wouldn’t allow me to eat while in labor! There were only ice chips! My husband also highly recommends the “Pregnancy for Dads” book for expectant fathers.
Birth #4: Emergency c-section with all interventions possible
Baby: Female, 7 lbs 6 oz., 19 inches
In attendance: Husband, mother-in-law, father in law, aunt
Birth date: September 2nd, 2012
Amanda Raymond, Lisle IL
After 2 hours of laboring at home, we arrived at the hospital around 5:30 am. However, I still wasn’t dilated enough to be admitted for delivery. By 7 am I was dilated and given an epidural because I was in a lot of pain and hooting like an owl. At 8 am I was already at 6 cm , so they thought it was going to be a quick birth. Turns out God had other plans.
Once in the delivery room, they broke my water and noticed meconium (fetal feces), which is not healthy for the baby. My epidural wore off by 9:30 am so they gave me a booster and pitocin to speed up the contractions. It worked for a bit, but then the pitocin stopped working. Again, I started hooting like an owl because the pain was so intense.
The nurses told me to breathe deeply, but for me that evolved into a hooting owl having an orgasm. At 10 am I was at 8 cm but then stopped dilating even with the additional pitocin. By 2 pm I felt like I was going to die from the pain. By 2:15 pm I had spiked a 102° fever and the doctor sent me to have an emergency c-section.
They put more medication into my epidural line to numb me prior to surgery, but the drugs weren’t working. I could still feel the pain. Even after administering even more pain relievers, I could STILL feel the pain, so they upped my medication again. A few minutes later they started cutting my abdomen. I felt the scalpel go in – and not just the pressure, but the actual pain of them slicing through my skin. I screamed and they immediately sedated me and escorted my husband to the waiting room. That was the worst – not being able to see our daughter when she was first born.
Sylvia was kept in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), so I only got to see photos of her once I was coherent. After a few hours, they wheeled my bed to see her there. I couldn’t believe how much hair she had. That’s all I could focus on – was her hair and also the tube they had going into her nose and the little IV on her hand- I cried. I didn’t want her to have to be in the NICU.
I visited her for about 45 minutes, then I had to go to my room. I wasn’t able to see her for another 24 hours because we were both being monitored and on IV antibiotics. It was awful. After another 24 more hours we were finally able to take her into my room.
The pain from labor and the anxiety of constantly thinking “what could I have done differently to make this better?” all vanished as soon as I nursed my baby girl for the first time the next day. She took the terrible memories of my birthing experience away and immediately replaced them with far better ones- memories that will last a lifetime. Today, I am pregnant again and instead of being terribly afraid of going through a traumatic birthing experience again, I am actually excited.