Note from the BirthBuddy:
I loved this awesome Mama's point of view on birth, and am so thrilled she chose to share! I hope you all enjoy reading it, as much as I enjoyed being present, and may we all gain a better understanding of what "normal birth" means!
One of the big things about birth that no one tells you is that the birthing process starts when you discover you’re pregnant. In that moment, you’ve decided that you’re ready to make the important decisions for this little bundle living inside you. That affects how you eat, sleep, behave and plan your following weeks and months.
When I found out I was pregnant, I already had an idea of the life I wanted for my little one. I wanted all natural, sunshine and rainbows, and to have natural synchronization with my body. Give me water birth, aromatherapy, hypnotherapy, hydrotherapy and pressure points. I was ready for anything. Birth would be a cinch, and mine would be natural, on time and photographed. No matter what. My birth teacher was an ultra- natural enthusiast, to the point where an epidural was short of being mocked, furthering the stigma that births that involved medical interventions are less than, and the women giving birth were less than, and weaker.
Then my due date came and went. A week passed, each day lasting about a year. I had an induction scheduled for the weekend. I was 41 weeks + 1 day overdue, and my body was refusing to dilate, and it was “highly unlikely” that I would. 5 am, Friday morning, I woke up with consistent pains every 15 minutes. I was in denial, but I timed them anyway. Every 10 minutes. Every 5. These barely hurt, but maybe we should head to the hospital. I wasn’t dilated, but was given the option of being induced on that day instead, or try to labor at home - “highly unlikely”. I chose to labor at my in-laws, and spent the rest of the day prepping for Shabbat, cleaning, cooking schnitzels and taking occasional private breaks with my husband to breathe through the contractions, which were getting less and less bearable.
We went to the hospital after around 13 hours of laboring, 5 minutes into Shabbat, with my (amazing) doula in tow. At this point, I don’t remember much except for highlights. Realizing there was no way the birth would be photographed (petty, I know, but I really wanted pictures). Being checked and told I was 6/7 cm. Sitting on a medicine ball, and learning how to predict when a strong contraction was coming on, and watching it show up on the charts. Being put in what was essentially a natural birthing room turned storage closet to labor for another hour. Moving to a delivery room and breaking all of my rock solid rules and asking for an epidural, a choice I knew I needed to make if I was going to get this baby out safely and calmly. I needed to breathe, I needed to sleep. I needed to regain some awareness of what was happening to me.
I woke up 8 hours later, 10 cm dilated and ready to push. Because of the epidural, my pushing was ineffective, and after 3 hours (it felt like 15 minutes) of pushing, they brought in a vacuum. Vacuum is a scary word when used in relation to your baby. So is hematoma, swelling, and all the other side effects that come with a vacuum assisted birth. I had to make another choice for my baby’s safety, and pushed with the vacuum and delivered my beautiful daughter.
She’s 7.5 months now, vibrant, dancing, and with the physical and mental development of someone several months older. Despite the medication, despite the vacuum, she’s thriving. Proving there’s no one right way to give birth, and no one right way to parent. Proving that the best thing you can do for your baby is be the best parent you can.
P.S. Shouts out to Deena Devorah for being an amazing doula, and for going with the ebb and flow of my chaotic birth with such grace.
P.S.S. Shouts out to Sharon from Kentucky, who was an expert from Johns Hopkins, temporarily assisting in Beilinson, and who was the most amazing anaesthesiologist ever!