In June of 2014, I shared my birth story with my Boholistic Mom readers. My post called Modern Childbirth: My Story detailed my story of pregnancy and labor for my child. Writing out my story was both healing for me and liberating. I wasn’t hiding the pain, the fear, and the disappointment anymore.
Now, two years later, I need to write a new story. Did you know that you can actually rewrite your own birth story? We can’t undo the past, but we have the power to change how we viewed what happened. By God’s grace, our minds are capable of looking at our birth in a new way.
Today, I’m going to write my story from the view of a doula. If I were a doula, what would I have been telling myself during this pregnancy and childbirth? How would I have been encouraging myself? How would I have been keeping myself informed and empowered? How can I now take back my birth in light of all that I now know about childbirth?
Rewriting My Birth
Join me as I rewrite my birth.
Preggo me: “Childbirth is pretty straightforward. You do the deed, you grow a big belly, and you have a baby 9 months later. I know childbirth is painful, but women have been having babies forever, how could it go wrong?”
Doula me: “While we hope that every pregnancy will go as planned and be as easy as possible, every birth is unique. Each delivery is a new experience.”
Preggo me: “Oh my word! My water broke while I was going to the bathroom! I don’t know what to do! I was supposed to go into work and my husband is away at a class. It’s early in the morning and I haven’t eaten breakfast yet, but I’m going to call my friend to pick me up to go to the hospital. I think I need to get there as soon as possible!”
Doula me: “We are at the hospital now and I know you didn’t get a chance to eat breakfast. I want to warn you in advance that you will likely be very hungry later. That’s okay. We can work through this. Even though your water broke early, your body is made to have this baby. Many women have had their water break early and have still had a normal labor.”
Preggo me: “The hospital staff let me delay starting the Pitocin until closer to when my husband is arriving on a plane, but it’s 5 o’clock in the evening now and they want me to take it. My labor hasn’t started on it’s own.”
Doula me: “You can choose to accept the Pitocin if you feel that your labor isn’t progressing. If we had this to do all over again, I would suggest some great positions to encourage labor.”
Preggo me: “They started the Pitocin at 5 p.m. and I started labor around 7, then my husband arrived. I am so glad that I had my friends there to support me while I waited for him. Now I am beginning to have contractions, but I don’t know what is going to happen next. I am scared.”
Doula me: “Let me explain what is going to happen over the next few hours so you know what to expect. Right now, we’ve moved past Prodomal Labor into Early Labor. This is when your cervix begins to ripen and dilate to 3-4 centimeters. You’ll be in this stage for two thirds of your labor. Your contractions will be growing longer, stronger, and more regular. Since you had Pitocin, you may have different contractions. Even though this can be a challenge, I know we can get through this.
After Early Labor, you will move into Active Labor. During Active Labor, your contractions will be about 3 minutes apart and last for a minute or more. With Pitocin, they will probably be over a minute long. This is something we can prepare for mentally and emotionally. You will reach 8 centimeters during Active Labor and it can last anywhere from 2 to 6 hours.
The next phase is Transition. Fortunately, this is a short portion of labor, but contractions will be intense during this time. We will focus on getting through one contraction at a time and focus on our breathing.
Once you are fully dilated, your body will move into the Birth stage and pushing. Your baby will move down through the pelvis into the birth canal. Most women will naturally have an urge to push when ready. If we experience a delay, we will just change positions and keep going. You will have your baby during this stage!
Finally, we have one more stage after delivery. The recovery stage is when your baby’s cord will be cut and you can decide when you would like it to be cut. Then you can have skin-to-skin time. Your body needs to recover from labor during this time and your body will expel the placenta. You may choose to breastfeed at this point.”
Preggo me: “I was determined to have my birth without an epidural. It’s 3 a.m. in the morning and my contractions are off the charts. They are not rhythmic or regular. I just had a contraction that lasted 5 minutes with no break. This isn’t normal! I need the anesthesiologist to come back now and give me an epidural.”
Doula me: “We may be in your transition stage, if not, then the Pitocin may be leading to intense contractions. Regardless of what you decide, we can still have a fantastic birth. Sometimes our plans have to change a bit during labor. You can also request that the staff turn down the Pitocin being administered.”
Preggo me: “It is 8 in the morning and the doctor just said I was fully dilated. I’m exhausted. All I’ve had is water all night long. The staff keeps telling me to push, but I don’t feel an urge to push. The nurses are being very forceful. They are telling me that I’m not pushing.”
Doula me: “In the beginning of this I told you that even though you missed that last meal that we can still get through this. I want you to give your best. Let’s tune out everything else and I’m going to talk you through each push. You are strong!”
Preggo me: “The doctor decided to turn off my epidural so that I could feel enough to push. I’ve been pushing for an hour and a half. I feel all of the pain. It’s intense! I just want it to stop! I am completely out of energy. The doctor is saying that my only option is a C-section. He said that “pushing wasn’t working.” I feel terrible! Can’t all mother’s feel the need the push? What’s wrong with me?”
Doula me: “Okay, I want you to focus on me. I know it’s hard. Even in this pain, you are still in control. You have more energy than you think. There is nothing wrong with you. Complications can happen in labor. The doctor said he didn’t know what position the baby is currently in. Since you have had an epidural, you cannot change birthing positions in order to change the position of the baby. The doctor is suggesting a C-section. Your baby is not in duress. You can continue to labor or you can have a c-section. What is your choice?”
Preggo me: “As soon as I told them that I’d have a C-section, they all left me and they forgot to turn back on the epidural. I’m in pain and they are more concerned about surgery than they are about me, their patient. They finally came back and turned the epidural back on and now they are giving me morphine. They moved me to the sterilized surgery room and I’m strapped down and I’m cold and I’m shaking. I’m so scared.”
Doula me: “I’m sorry that they left you while you were in pain. I know you were not expecting a cesarean and this wasn’t your plan. The medicine isn’t pleasant and neither is how you are positioned. I know you are scared. You are going to be okay and in a few moments you are going to have your sweet baby. Your husband and I aren’t going anywhere. You are not alone.”
Redeeming My Birth Story
The first time I wrote my story, it was raw and the pain was tangible. Today, I wrote the words that I would have told myself had I been attending my own birth. Words I desperately needed to hear then, but that I can hear now. Now, I can redeem my birth by educating others and healing my experience through covering my birth in God’s grace.
Before I had written that I had a child, but no beautiful birth. I am rewriting this story and I am deciding that it was beautiful. It was not what I wanted nor was it what I expected, but God will receive the glory. He can use my story and my birth to grow me and others. God knew that I would grow from that experience and that I would be able to reach out to others. This is beautiful.
I do suggest that every mother invest in a doula and, if possible, a midwife too. Their support is priceless. The words my doula-self told me would have changed the way I viewed my birth over the last seven years. I do not believe that any mother should have to go through birth without a woman to give her undivided attention and to assist her husband in participating in the birth experience.
Thank you for reading my rewritten birth story.
THE Boholistic Mom
Resources for Birth
- With Midwives Women have fewer cesareans and more VBACS – VBAC.com
- VBAC.com – About Vaginal Birth’s After C-section
- A Doula Can Reduce Your Odds for a Cesarean – VBAC.com