***Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 16 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.***
~My subject is “In honor of labor day, share your child(ren)’s birth story”. It was submitted by http://themomisodes.com/
Four children. I have birthed four children. Bigger sized families are back on the rise in America, no thanks to the influence of reality TV families like the Gosslin’s and the Duggar’s; pre-scandalous mutiny, of course. By comparison, my family of six is only in the average range, which is more than just fine with me. Not one of them was planned for, but each one of them was desired long before they were ever conceived. Each of them has their own story of arrival as unique as the very personalities which emanate from the variable combinations of my DNA mixed with my husband’s. Having birthed four babies has given me a chance to experience a few different scenarios, as well, and from it, I have taken away respect for the individual birth choices of mother’s across the board. There’s no one right way to give birth. As long as the health and safety of the mother and baby is the foremost priority throughout the birthing process we have no right to judge.
My first pregnancy came merely a month after my twenty-first birthday. I knew all about taking care of babies. I was aware of the responsibility raising a child entails. I had been educated in the science of childbirth, having aced my human anatomy and physiology course to get into the nursing program at my college. I was completely and utterly oblivious to the gravity of the real experience to come. It didn’t happen like the perfect case scenarios pushed into the forefront of every bit of knowledge I tried to inform myself with. Watching endless marathons of A Baby Story episodes still didn’t prepare me for the actuality of giving birth.
Everything I planned followed the crowd. Everything which happened went way astray. My water never broke. Induction was finally scheduled at forty-one weeks and three days. Somehow I gained eighty pounds trying to follow the prenatal diet in the What To Expect When You’re Expecting book. My epidural only numbed me from mid-thigh down, no matter how much more of the meds they pumped in. During the pushing, my baby’s head got stuck in the birth canal, requiring me to choose between an emergency C-section under general anesthesia because of the epidural failure or the use of forceps after snipping me open a little wider without the epidural working to numb me. I chose the forceps, hoping it wouldn’t be as bad as it sounded, because the thought of my uterus being cut open seemed even worse. After my son finally made his very difficult appearance, we discovered a nerve had somehow been nicked during the epidural placing, which was causing the entire pathway to misfire plus some of my spinal fluid to drip out. This locked up my right leg, making it impossible bend completely, causing sharp electrical impulses to surge down the nerve from my spine to my toes. Come to find out, I have an extra vertebrate in my spine, which inhibited the placement of the epidural properly. After a blood patch and three months of physical therapy to regain full movement again, I could finally sit down in a chair without one leg propped up and rock my baby for the first time.
When I became pregnant with my second baby, I knew an epidural was out of the question. Since this one and it’s older brother were sharing the same due date, exactly one year later, my body still remembered every last bit of the whole hee-hoo-bear down-shit myself-ring of fire-look down there’s some hair-push my insides out-omg I fucking did it!-shebang. This time I could mentally prepare myself for battle. There were plans with back-up plans for the back-up plans, everything unexpected would be met head on. True to my firstborn, this one didn’t want to come out willingly. At forty-one weeks, my OB said it’s time to schedule an induction and offered me to let the kids share the same birthday. As cool as it sounded, I knew it would as equally traumatizing since the voice was mine and not mother nature’s. Forty-eight hours passed my son’s first birthday, I was hooked up to Pitocin and getting the show on the road. I was dilated to 6cm when I went in. Within two hours of intense Spades playing, I was at 8cm. Watched a rerun episode of Gilmore Girls then zoned out to a playlist I had made just for the event during some of the more intense contractions. Forty minutes into it, I was ready to push. Two big pushes and the nurse really freaked out, telling me not to move an inch or take a breath until she could get my doctor into the room. He barely had his gown cover and gloves on when my second born son literally fell into his arms, as I stifled an urge to clear my dry, parched throat.
Four and a half years later, we were pregnant again. The timing was rough, because we were under a lot of stress in our lives. The weight of the turmoil I carried wore me down along with the constant morning sickness which did not end at the three month mark as promised. I tried hard to take care of my health, but the pregnancy was affected. The baby was diagnosed with SGA, small for gestational age, due to a slightly thinner umbilical cord slowing the flow of nutrients. I had to undergo fetal stress tests and heart rate monitoring three times a week plus biweekly ultrasounds until my thirty-fourth week when they became weekly. At thirty-six weeks, the doctors decided the baby would do better out than in and scheduled me for an induction with Neonatal Pediatricians on-call for immediate assessment, nine days later. My labor was hard because the fear I felt for the well-being of my child constantly replaying in the back of my head kept me from being able to relax and let my body work it’s magic as it did the last time. I tried so hard to put up a brave face for my husband, and when he walked away to get some fresh air, I caved and asked for some Demerol. I didn’t want to fail him by being pain relief, when I was really failing nobody but my own insecurities. The panic I was in was only raising the baby’s heartbeat, causing it to not tolerate labor well, threatening a C-Section. The medicine calmed my nerves, allowing me to labor through to deliver a very healthy, and come to find out just naturally petite, baby girl by dinnertime. I was now a mom of three.
For awhile my life went a little off course with the diagnosis of a chronic disease which affects my spine. We were taking measures with the Depo Provera shot to prevent pregnancy because I was on strong narcotic medications. Fate decided to work against us, instead. By the time we even discovered the pregnancy, it was too late for me to detox off the medications to prevent any dependency to be developed by the fetus, there was a 65% chance of miscarriage/preterm birth. My baby had to be monitored just as closely as my daughter had been, which made me a wreck. My job in the hospital had been in the Labor, Post Partum, and NICU units. There were quite a few babies which were detoxing from dependency to pain meds as well as those from hard drugs, too, and it was the most heart-wrenching sight for me. The thought of my own baby having to go through all of that killed me inside, making me feel such tremendous guilt for bringing it into this world. Of course, this was the baby who would start labor naturally by breaking my water in the middle of the night. This time, everything happened super intensely. When I asked for pain meds just before it was time to push, the doctor put in an order for Demerol that he gave me without telling the nurse who was ordering my home meds thinking I was asking for those pain meds. The meds crossed the placenta while I was pushing an hour later, and the baby’s system was overloaded, causing respiratory distress. When I delivered my second baby girl, my fourth born child, she was purple and coding, and whisked away from me, out of sight into the NICU before I ever saw her face. The whole experience is still a blur to me, almost four years later. This girl is my beam of sunshine in life, because she beat all the odds stacked against her the moment she was born. Barely two weeks in the NICU recovering, she came home to me on Thanksgiving Day, giving a very special meaning to an already grateful and appreciative celebratory holiday.
My experiences with childbirth were all so very different from one another and made me realize the search for the perfect labor is completely futile. It doesn’t matter whether you use a doctor or a midwife, you birth at home or in the hospital, whether you use any meds, have an epidural, or nothing at all. In the end, a child is born. A life has been given to you to raise as a productive and well-mannered member of society one day, the way the life made its entrance will long be forgotten by everyone, but mom. We don’t need to judge others, force them to think there’s only one acceptable plan to follow to join the ranks of the motherhood club, because we were already indoctrinated on the day we conceived our children so the journey thereof makes no difference. All which does matter is if you labored with love.
***Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:
Baking In A Tornado