I first became pregnant at sixteen years old in 1989. I didn't know much and I didn't research much. I was an average student in school. I did attend the birthing classes provided through my hospital, which were Lamaze. Those classes consisted of three sessions. My stepmother was to be my birthing coach. I somehow knew, instinctually, that I would not want her to do the back massage. Sure enough, I experienced some back labor. She offered and the doctor even encouraged her to rub my back. He even reached for my back at one point and I nearly bit his head off, "Do NOT touch my back!"
I hadn't informed my stepmother until I was in labor that I intended to breastfeed. I should have known then that I was destined to be a hippie! With no research or any information, I just knew that breastfeeding was the right and natural option. She was a bit annoyed at the time, but I think that was due to the last minute notice. My first child was born in May of 1990 while I was seventeen. I gave healthy, natural birth to an 8 lb, 10 oz baby girl. I was only in labor for five hours! I awoke around 5:00 am as my stepmother poured her coffee and my water broke. She was born just after 10:00 am. I did accede to a shot of Demerol, but it was so late in the game that she was born before it had any effect.
I was given an episiotomy and then proceeded to tear. A lot. The doctor told me that I "tore the muscle you use to stop pooping." That would be the most difficult part of my recovery!
Eight years went by before I got pregnant again. In the interim, I got married. We had been married for five years before this surprise pregnancy. No longer in school, I was an avid researcher of anything that interested me. I read several books and decided I definitely wanted to attend Bradley Method childbirth classes. My husband, while not supportive of the pregnancy in general, was very supportive with our childbirth classes.
This time around, I came prepared with a Birth Plan. I wanted to avoid as many interventions as possible. The only thing I couldn't wriggle / argue out of the hospital was the Vitamin K shot. I gave birth in an Indian hospital and being state funded, they were required (or so I was told). To this day, that Vitamin K shot was the only shot my daughter has ever received.
But back to that birth, I awoke very early in the morning to labor pains. I did all the textbook things to make sure it was real labor (ate, drank, changed position, tried to sleep). As my husband's alarm went off, I told him "its time." He said he knew (that it was time to go to work). "No, honey, it's time." So bright and early Monday morning we were headed to the hospital, two towns over.
I don't think that the staff there was familiar with Bradley students. I had my husband, mother, and daughter (whom my mother had adopted) all in the room with me. All of my support knew that if I dropped my head back, eyes closed, regardless of conversation - silence was in order. We would pick things right back up once contractions passed. I did amazingly well relaxing through contractions! The staff did NOT think I was ready to birth because I was so calm and relaxed. Come to think of it, I may have skipped the transition phase in both of those labors!
I was rushed to the delivery room. My water was broken, though I would have liked to attempt birthing without that assistance. One big, hard push... One big, hard yell... Staff and husband reminded me that yelling pushes the wrong direction. One more big, hard push and Tyler was born with her hand on the side of her face. She came out so fast that her entire head was bruised purple! That speed also meant that I tore, though not as badly as last time.
The student doctor could not stop the bleeding to determine the damage (so he could repair it). He called in an older, more experienced, doctor. This doctor didn't know I hadn't been numbed yet and was quite rough with me. I then felt every "numbing" injection and every single stitch! All the while, the lactation consultant (or nurse, I don't recall) was manhandling my breast, trying to get our breastfeeding started. Tyler nursed for half an hour in the delivery room!
Another healthy, natural birth. This time to an 8 lb, 9 oz baby girl. Again, about five hours of labor. This time, with no drugs at all!
Another 10 years later, I'd divorced and fallen in love with someone new. We had our own surprise pregnancy. (For those keeping track, I was now 35 years old.) I knew I wanted to use the Bradley Method again. I wanted a refresher course and for my new coach to get the training as well.
We wrote our Birth Plan. (It is a class assignment anyway.) Our doctor supported and even requested the document. We went over it in advance. I learned, however, that many nurses see them as "failure plans." I found this very upsetting!
I went into labor late at night this time around and hadn't had much sleep the night before, either. This would turn out to be my longest labor yet (three times longer than the others!). In hindsight, the reasons were glaringly obvious. We were both so tired, though, that we just could not think straight. Sasha had turned to face the wrong direction. I was refusing to try more than two labor positions. After many hours and even having my water broken, our new nurse finally caught that I was having back labor.
No, she didn't try to rub my back. Instead, she insisted I get onto all fours. I didn't think it was possible with the hep-lock in the back of my hand. She arranged the bed perfectly, though. I was hooked up to an external monitor and as soon as I got into this position, we literally heard Sasha swoosh around and I was ready to push! I later told this nurse that she was my hero, regardless of my dislike for her bedside manner.
I don't recall how many pushes, but it wasn't a lot. My doctor was there and all of the staff encouraged me not to push too hard. I held back. Thanks to this (and probably her size), I didn't tear at all! Oh if only I'd had this doctor the first time around! I did suffer minor abrasion, but no actual tears. No repair necessary! Bradley Method served me well, but that was my longest, hardest labor ever! We were able to skip ALL shots with Sasha, but she did get lots of heel pricks for testing.
Between my Gestational Diabetes, the doctor's encouragement to induce (as naturally as possible), and my readiness to just stop being pregnant, my membranes were swept on two occasions. The second resulted in early labor, which is what the doctor wanted. He had said he was concerned with her getting too big, especially since I had a history of large babies. I gave another natural, healthy birth to a 7 lb 8 oz baby girl about one week early (based on my EDD). If I had it to do over again, I would not (and will not) opt for induction, however "natural" it may seem. Sasha obviously was not over-sized.
These three births were by three different women. No, not literally. But consider: at 17, 25, and 35 years old, we are very different people. I feel like these have been three entirely separate lifetimes. It is as though I were reincarnated between each pregnancy.
Now, for the first time ever, I am pregnant on purpose. Even though it has been a relatively short time since my last birth, there are definitely details I intend to change on our Birth Plan. I'm only 13 weeks pregnant, so I still have plenty of time to change my mind back and forth on details. I think, though, that this time around I will do a lotus birth, at least for a while. I'm also interested in possibly ingesting my placenta. At 38 years old, I could use all the help I can get!
How have your births differed from one another?