As a mother in the time of Internet and social networking, I see a lot of articles and tweets about peoples' views on everything from childbirth, to breast feeding, to parenting strategies. Even women who aren't mothers yet are posting their ideas. I know that these topics are often polarizing and I whole-heartedly believe everyone is entitled to their own opinions. However, it is important that we mommies or mommies-to-be remember that what is right for one of us may not be right for the next. I have definitely felt mommy-guilt before after reading some articles. Truth is, I feel the pressure to have natural childbirth in the future, I feel guilty that I only breast fed Abbey for four months (more on that another day), I wish I could have kept going when we tried cloth diapers. But here's the deal: Abbey is now a healthy and happy three year old and she continues to grow everyday. Isn't that my main concern? God has blessed me exponentially with a healthy little girl, and I have to think that He was with me through all of my decision making.
I have decided to share my birth story because I think it's an important step in owning the decisions I've made. So, here goes.
Abbey was born on her due date on November 18, 2011. Somewhere in the middle of October I started having contractions while I was at work at a local day care. I left work, went to Rusty's work and together he and I sat in the break room and timed contractions. They started coming pretty strong at about 5-8 minutes apart. We called the doctor and she wanted us to go ahead and go to the hospital. We ran home and packed a few things but we were no where near prepared. Our families both live hours away so we made phone calls and people were on their way. The nurses were in communication with my OB but she never came to the hospital that night. After being hooked up to a saline drip my contractions slowed and the nurses sent me home. My family was about an hour and a half down the road, and turned around and went home. I continued to have contractions for the next few weeks and was told to get lots of rest.
For the next couple of appointments, my doc examined dilation (I was already at a 3) and "measured" baby by pushing on my tummy (I'm sure it's a bit more technical than that, put that's basically what she did). Baby was measuring around 6 pounds. Because our family all had to travel a minimum of five hours to be there, and because I NEEDED my Momma in the delivery room with me, we scheduled to be induced on the due date.
On November 17, 2008 (also my sweet brother's birthday) my Mom came up to be with me during the whole process. My in-laws had been there for a couple of days so I had a lot of help and support which was a huge blessing. I was scheduled to be at the hospital at 5 am and needless to say, I didn't get much sleep that night. So the time came and my husband, my mom, and I headed to the hospital bright and early. I was hooked up to an IV to start receiving Pitocin to induce labor. I remember feeling relaxed and comfortable. I had wonderful nurses who were very attentive and checked on me frequently. I felt like I was the only patient they had that day. I had opted to have an epidural and the anesthesiologists came in around noon to put the spinal catheter in. It took a while and the doctor kept telling me, "You have such a small back!" Not really what I wanted to hear while they continually poked me, trying to find a space. I remember the process of having the epidural being quite uncomfortable but once I was able to lay on my back and push my button that "refilled" my dose, I was comfortable and relaxed again. The next few hours are a blur of visitors, and laughing and excitement. I remember feeling the urge to push and telling a nurse so my doctor came in to check my dilation and told me it was time. She had me "labor down" for 30 minutes--a process that involves not actively pushing but letting your body push the baby into the birth canal on its own. I started actively pushing at 7:00 pm. Even having the epidural I felt quite a bit of pressure, and I felt very comfortable being able to push well. I had an amazing cheering team: the nurses were encouraging, my mother was soothing, and I even caught my sweet husband "pushing" with me. My beautiful girl was born at 7:50 pm. The nurses put her on my chest immediately and that precious girl looked right at me and grabbed my finger. It was the most amazing and emotional moment of my life. I felt very present. The nurses weighed Abbey and I still remember the shock the room felt when they said, "8 pounds, 15 ounces". The doctor even requested that they weigh her again. This time she came in at a solid 9 pounds. Rusty took Abbey out to meet people and the nurses prepared to get me into a wheel chair so I could move to my room. That's where things go fuzzy. As I was sitting up to get into the wheel chair, I got really light-headed and sick to my stomach. My mom said I turned green and I passed out. I came to, got into the wheelchair, and moved to my new bed. Meanwhile, Abbey was having her bath and getting snuggled by her Daddy. The doctor was concerned with how much blood I had lost and they were talking transfusion. I was monitored for the next while (time all blurs together) and my levels ended up going up so I didn't have to have the transfusion after all. That night, Abbey slept in our room for a couple of hours at a time and the nurses would bring her in to nurse. I felt much better the next day. My mom told me I would feel like I had been hit by a bus, and that's accurate, but at least I had much more clarity than I had the night before. I was so grateful to the nurses through our stay. Most of them were very helpful in helping Abbey and me get the hang of breast feeding and teaching me great techniques that I would use when we took our girl home.
So, do I regret my hospital birth? Absolutely not. If we hadn't induced when we did, Abbey would have gained more weight and I probably would not have been able to deliver her vaginally. I was thankful for my epidural and in the end, I think it calmed me down and helped me to stay focused and relaxed. If I had been stressed, it would have stressed Abbey. Also, we were not prepared for how big Abbey was. If I hadn't been in the hospital, with transfusions available immediately, it scares me to think what could have happened if I had needed one. However, are there things I would want to do differently with the next kid? Absolutely! I think I was meant to go into labor at that October date, I think my body was ready and I think Abbey was big enough at that point to deliver safely. Knowing what I know now, I'm more equipped to be an advocate in my own childbirth. I'll request more ultra sounds to check the weight and I would chose to induce again if the baby got too big to deliver vaginally.
With allllll this said, this is my story. Your story may be different. Let's all be respectful of each other's choices, let's educate ourselves so we can make the best decisions for ourselves and our babies, and let's hug our babies tight and be grateful that they are in our lives--no matter how they got here.