My Birth Stories

It seemed a fitting way to start this blog by sharing my own birth stories.  In this way, you will learn my personal history with birthing, which certainly has impacted my philosophy on the subject.

Now, mind you, my first birth was 35 years ago!  You may say that birth has really changed in those 35 years.  You’d be right. Some changes have been good.  Some changes have been not so good.  And some things have not changed at all.

My first birth

With my first labor,  my contractions were irregular, and not really painful. I wasn’t sure I was in labor, but the contractions were persistent. After 12 hours of laboring at home I went to the hospital.  It was difficult to walk from the parking lot into the hospital because I was shaking so badly. Labor had become systemic! I was four centimeters.  I remember my nurse telling another nurse, “this one will go fast”!

You always remember your labor nurse. This one was about 104 years old, starched white uniform and cap, and continually offering me drugs. I had decided long before this day that I was not interested in a medicated birth, but despite my refusals, she kept pushing me to take the drugs. Back then, all that was available was a shot of Demerol intramuscularly. This is a narcotic, it goes into your bloodstream, and to the baby, resulting in groggy mom and groggy baby. And, by the way, everyone got a shave and an enema. The only advantage to the enema is that they had to let you get up to the toilet (which is a great place to labor, by the way)!

Back in 1977, you labored in one room, delivered in another, recovered in yet another, then spent the remainder of your postpartum stay in a “ward”, where there were two to four women to a room. After six hours of laboring, I was completely dilated and was moved to the delivery suite, which felt much like an OR–cold, stark, white.

My legs were strapped into stirrups and I was flat on my back. I remember thinking how awkward and inefficient it felt to push while on my back. My baby was occiput posterior (OP). This means that the back of his head was against the back of my body. We also call it “sunny side up”. It’s not the optimum fetal position for birthing. After about 30 minutes of pushing, the doctor pulled out the forceps and cut a womping episiotomy (more on this later). He rotated my baby, and pulled him out. At the time, I was convinced he was going for my tonsils.

Ravi was 8 pounds and 15 ounces. He had a couple of forceps marks on his outer eyebrows. I saw him for a moment, then they wisked him away to the nursery, where he spent his first two hours of life away from me.

I had wanted to deliver at home with a midwife, but my husband was leery about that. After Ravi was born, I thought, “thank God I was in the hospital”. Because he was OP and had meconium (baby poop in the amniotic fluid), I concluded that it was safer for him to be born in the hospital under the hands of a skilled obstetrician. I made a correct observation, but drew the wrong conclusion. Research suggests that, for a healthy woman with and uncomplicated pregnancy, it is safer to birth at home (more on that later).

Ravi is more than okay. He is a grown man with a wife and four children, and a brilliant career as a neurosurgeon. But, I feel gypped that I was not allowed to push instinctively and missed those precious first couple of hours with my son.

My second birth

Vijay’s birth was completely different. He was born in the hospital, but everyone was relaxed and patient. I labored, delivered, and recovered all in the same room. He was also OP, but  my doctor was content to wait for him to rotate. My labor nurse (I will always remember her fondly) laid a hand on my belly and prayed for my baby to turn! After an hour of pushing, and a little manual encouragement from my doctor, he turned and came right out!

The doctor delivered him onto my belly and I will never forget how Vijay looked up at me and reached for my face. Although everyone, at the time, told me that it was just reflex, it is now known that this is a purposeful phenomenon that we see in the first hour of life (see Your Amazing Newborn in my book list).

His dad gave him his first bath in the delivery room. In those days (1980) the Leboyer Method was very popular, and he encouraged this practice. (Check out his book on my book list).

Vijay never left my side. In fact, he slept on my chest all night long, nursing intermittently. Although I love all my children, I have a special bond with Vijay that, I believe, began with his gentle birth.

My third birth

My third labor began early in the morning. Contractions were irregular and tolerable. But, they never quit. I finally called my doctor, and he told me to come to his office. My husband came home from work, we dropped our other two off at a friend’s home, and headed for town. We lived in coastal California at the time, and although it was only 11 miles to town, we had to travel over a mountain grade to get there. At around the top of the mountain, I felt my baby was coming. I FREAKED OUT! When we got to the doctor’s office, I was 8 centimeters dilated. My doctor told us to go straight to the hospital and he’d meet us there.

That was 2:00 pm. At 6:00 pm, I was still pregnant. After breaking my water and starting pitocin, I finally progressed to complete and delivered my third son, Ramesh, at 8:30 pm. Guess what? He was also OP. If he hadn’t been, I might have had him on top of that mountain grade!

But, that’s not the only thing that held him back. Our psyches are powerful! My fear (the “freaking out” part), literally stopped my labor. I was fortunate to have a patient doctor. Most others would have cut me at around 5 pm. Check out the book, Birthing From Within, by Pam England, to learn more about the power of our thoughts related to our births.

My fourth “birth”:

My story would not be complete without telling you how my daughter, Charissa, came into our lives.

I first dreamt about her when I was seventeen years old. I met a little brown girl who called me “Momma”. Because I was so drawn to her, I called her “Charisma” (we modified it a bit to work with the last name).  When I met and married my first husband, who was from South India, I figured I was going to give birth to her. Well, after three boys, I decided to start a different search for her!

Charissa was born in South India in 1985. Abandoned in the hospital by her birth mother, she was taken into guardianship by her paternal grandparents, who lived in South India at the time. She came to us when she was 6 months old.

The wait for adoption is ever so much more “uncomfortable” than pregnancy. The uncertainty, the helplessness. But, finally, she arrived, after an unbelievable amount of paperwork.

I will always remember the feeling when she was placed in my arms for the first time. Although I’m tempted to call it “instant motherhood”, it’s really not–I had been waiting for this moment for 6 months…it’s not unlike waiting for the birth of your biological child for several months. I had started a bond with her from the moment I saw her pictures…that’s MY baby!

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Virginia Childres
    Jul 01, 2012 @ 22:17:10

    Wow. It was so fun to read your birth stories since I was there for the first! Your story with Ravi was almost exactly like mine with Rebecca and I don’t remember that. Anyway, I love your blog and I pray blessings on this new endeavor to minister to women.

    Reply

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