First off, thank you EVERYONE who responded! I have loved reading your stories and getting a peek into that incredibly important time in your lives. Each one is so different and unique. Thank you for sharing your regrets, what you wish you had known and what you are so glad you did do.
Pam England wrote in Birthing from Within in her philosophy and principles of her birth classes:
Parents deserve support for any birth option which might be right for them (whether it be drugs, technology, home birth, or bottle-feeding)
I feel like this is the best approach to birthing. As you can see from reading these excerpts, what for one woman was a must not do was what another woman never regretted.
Here's a few excerpts from those stories:
(this birth story can be found in full in the comments of Mama 2 Mama)
On the way there my husband and I kept a video journal of everything that was happening. What time of day it was what emotions we were experiencing and we did it as if we were talking to our son (hoping that one day he'll watch this video himself). [...]
I woke up once while [my husband] was at work with a “stomach ache”. I remember thinking, maybe Taco Time wasn’t such a good idea. When [my husband] got home around 3am I was awake asking for cereal. This was pretty common, so [my husband] got my cereal, kissed me good night and hopped in the shower. After working a 10+ hour shift he was tired and couldn’t wait to get a good nights either. He hadn't been in bed more than 5 minutes when my “stomach ache” was getting worse. I told him not to worry about it, I was sure it was just dinner. “I’ll just go out to the couch so you can sleep.”
In between contractions [my husband] had so much nervous energy he was vacuuming. Baby had to come home to a clean house, right??
We loaded into the car and off we went... That 30 min car ride was the longest car ride of my life! There is nothing worse than having to sit confined by a seat belt when we are having a contraction. I remember thinking I wanted to climb the side of the door to try and get away from the pain. That’s when I changed my view on “it’s not that bad”.
When we finally arrived at the hospital we had to drive all the way to the top of the parking garage and [my husband] was leisurely looking for a spot. I think this is the one time I really considered killing him!
Once we got back to the bed I naturally wanted to stand, well more a stand and lean, but not lay down! Every time the nurse came back to the room she would ask me to lay down, you can imagine what I wanted to tell her. Finally the nurse checked me and said with a bit of surprise “if you want an epidural I suggest you do it soon, your at a 6 cm." I remember feeling so much relief; I can get my pain meds and not feel guilty. Our original birth plan was to try and wait until I was a 6 to get the epidural.
Finally the time came to push and everyone, but my mom and [my husband] left the room. My nurse Mary was great. She explained everything before we did it and was very confident and reassuring. I pushed for a total of 35 minutes before my baby made his debue. I’m such an efficient pusher the nurse had to yell for me to stop and frantically run for a doctor to “catch” the baby.
The feeling of holding your child for the first time is an unexplainable amazing feeling. I physically felt a warm wave cover from me from head to toe the first time I had my baby in my arms. It was almost as though I could feel Gods grace on us. For the first time you know the meaning of love at first sight.
Since my baby was born early in the day on a Sunday we had people in and out all day. My poor husband couldn’t wait to get some sleep, but I was too enamored with my baby to take my eyes off him. I literally sat in bed with him cuddled in my gown all night and just watched him sleep. To this day that night is still one of my most treasured memories.
All in all I had amazing births with both my babies. Looking back I wouldn’t change a thing and am glad I did what was right for [my husband] and I. Birth is such a special and personal time. Do what works for you!"
And lastly, here is an excerpt from what my mom wrote about my birth:
"I LOVED BEING PREGNANT! I felt beautiful and somehow holy because I had been chosen to carry life. My due date was July 2, 1984 and because I had never been on time for anything before in my life I choose to plan a bonfire party at the beach the night of June 30.
The day of the beach party June 30, I had noticed a little lower back pain but assumed it was due to all the packing and lifting I was doing for the party. So I ignored it.
We had a great time roasting marshmallows and singing John Denver songs with David at the beach along with about 20 or so of our closest friends and family, minus Ammah of course who was boycotting this lunacy.
4:00 am – HELLO! Okay – what is this? Not exactly pain but a really weird dull ache in my lower back that comes and goes – hmmm. I try to doze … no go… I just can’t get comfortable; I toss and turn and finally get up around 6:30am. Whatever this is on July 1 – it’s getting worse…. Can’t be labor … can it? We decide it’s not real labor and David goes to work.
Around 11:00 am I head over to Mom’s (soon to be Ammah’s) house because she is only 10 minutes from St. Joseph’s hospital rather than a thirty minute drive from our house in Westminster. Okay now I’m sure it’s getting worse but the waves only come every ten minutes or so. They feel pretty intense and my whole body tenses up when they hit. It seems they peek and then a few seconds later they peak again but that can’t be right --- it’s just too early.
Finally around 9:00pm we call the hospital because they are finally five to seven minutes apart and they tell us even though the contractions are not 3-5 minutes a part to come in and get checked. We had an HMO which means we got whatever doctor wasn’t on the golf course that day – which also meant I mostly likely would not know the doctor who would be delivering our precious bundle of joy or putting his hand up my woohoo!
David and I were ANYTHING BUT CALM. We jumped in the car to go to the hospital because the contractions are coming fast and furious by now and we think the baby is going to be born any second. Okay – we panic – I truly think I’m going to give birth in the car and David is so scattered he gets lost. The hospital is literally only minutes away and just off the freeway but it takes us about 30 minutes! We must have looked like a bad cartoon!
We finally get to the hospital and enter through the ER where I am half afraid of being sent home and half afraid of what is to come; bottom line – I’m afraid and I tense up every time a contraction hits because it feel like a vise grip being unwound inside me that is slowly cutting me in two and just when I think it’s over it raises to a new height of pain.
Just like my Lamaze Birth class instructed me to do I walk in with my “LIST OF PREFERENCES.” This list apparently really ticks off the Charge Nurse because the old Battleax literally puts me in a room hooks me up to an IV and a baby monitor and leaves me there to pant and breath. David chases her down for ice chips and to please come check me.
Sometime in the middle of the night I am in such pain and am beyond exhausted because I am experiencing double and triple contractions without making much progress. The nurse does not ask permission but rather gives me a shot of Demerol in my hip – DURING A CONTRACTION! The witch could have given it to me through my IV but like I said she was pretty ticked off over our little list of requests. I LOVE DEMEROL- Demerol is my friend! Within seconds I became the happiest woman on the planet.
WHAM! The Demerol wears off and we’re back to double and triple peak contractions. David has not left my side for a second to eat, sleep or go to the bathroom – the man is a saint!
Around this time the Dr. starts coming in about every hour to half hour to tell me it won’t be long. I get a little hopeful and of course David completely believes him.
Around 5:00 am, July 2, I start to get out of bed and David asks where I’m going. I tell him I’ve decided to come back tomorrow and have the baby and that I’d like to go home now and get some sleep. He tells me I can’t and I start to cry and beg. He begins to describe how it’s going to be to see the baby and how good I’ve done and it can’t be too long and we’re going to hold our little sweet pea very, very soon. I say okay and decide to stay.
Two hours ( 7:00 am), I am experiencing an exhaustion that is completely beyond my comprehension when the Dr. comes in for what seems like the 1000th time to tell me it won’t be long- that’s when I remember grabbing his lab coat by the lapels and telling him in my most possessed voice to “Cut me – YOU CUT ME NOW!” He wretches my hands from his coat, smiles and slips out the door – COWARD!
I’m wheeled into delivery where Brume Hilda the nurse from hell comes in and tells me to push. I have absolutely NO URGE to push - but I am afraid of Brume Hilda so I begin pushing. I never remember my water breaking and I don’t remember any kind of overwhelming uncontrollable urge to push like I did with Jeremy. I just did what I was told.
8:30 am – I’m still pushing – ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Blood vessels are popping in my arms, chest and face. My arms are shaking and at this point I am pretty much delirious. Now I know the nurse told me to start pushing too early which caused by cervix to bruise and swell. At some point a nurse without warning reaches up inside me and manually dilates me with her hand to bring me to ten. That was THE MOST PAINFUL EXPERIENCE IN MY LIFE!
The joy is life-changing! David cuts her cord and they lay her on my chest and I barely have the strength in my arms to hold her. But she is mine and she is beautiful and she is crying so she must be healthy!! David is beaming a smile ear to ear!
(after a lot of post-birth complications on my end--sorry mom--I was finally able to go home after 3 days)
Finally, when you were 3 days old we brought you home from the hospital and laid you in your hand-made (by Ammah) white eyelet and yellow satin ribbon bassinet on July 5. The next day on July 6 we had a huge surprise birthday party for your Dad that I had pre-organized and so your life began with a party ---- celebrating YOU and your DAD!!!
You were the best pain in the butt I’ve ever had! "
Thank you all again SO MUCH for sharing these stories! If you still would like to share I would love to hear it! And don't worry, I've heard enough horror stories that you don't have to worry about scaring me ;-)
Finally, I wanted to acknowledge my mom for being such a wonderful, supportive, funny, understanding and wise friend not only my whole life but especially during my pregnancy. Love you, Mom!