I was 38 weeks pregnant and a near 2 day drive down to Austin, Texas from Idaho had left my hands and feet swollen to elephantiasis degree. My belly circumference was smaller than my first pregnancy. I give the blame to a side effect of too much stress. Throughout my entire pregnancy I thought we would welcome an 8 pound baby. As my first born was near those ounces.
Tight tensions began a week or so after we arrived and unpacked for my husband’s summer job. These lasted several days and one evening they began to become more increasingly noticeable. I never experienced this with my first baby, I had back labor for a good 11 hours and I knew what was happening. I expected the same body bending pain. Only to hash it out on my hands and knees again. With these annoying here and there squeezes I didn’t know if I was flexing my abs or my baby was flexing his.
But, to luck and to my surprise, no back aches or pain arrived.
The squeezing sensations around my abdomen were coming 2-4 minutes apart. I thought it was a fluke and even dared the thought, that no way I was having labor without pain. And, just you wait, the pain came and it brought in its extended relatives.
We decided to take the drive into the city to get checked out. My mother is a nurse, and boy did she ever suggest I go to the hospital every day to make sure the baby and I were doing okay. Medically focused individuals do not like natural birth, because they do not understand it. They also see the complications to giving birth without proper medications or pain relief. Which is all fine and good. I knew that we were okay and all in good health.
I was still able to walk around, carrying my head and body just fine. My 2 year old son was nervous about the elevators so we climbed the 3 flights of stairs to admissions. They admitted me after being checked at a 4cm. In my head finally being admitted, meant they were allowing me to deliver now, they felt it was an event about to happen. It was almost midnight by the time I get to my own birthing room.
While adjusting in the room and getting an IV put in, the annoying tightness came again and again. More frequent. I almost had the smallest inkling of jealous for my first 11 hour back labor. At least things were happening, I thought, at least that was motivating.
The nurse I had was very unfamiliar with the craft of nursing. She called several times to another nurse for assistance, to this nurse I am always indebted. This nurse who had other patients and duties to attend too, stood by my side. Encouraging my strength and confidence to continue, when doubt and despair had filled my heart and removed my hope.
The pain became unmanageable and even the concentration of affirmations was dwindling quickly. Focusing on the positive became irrelevant, because I didn’t see any options.
My sweet two year old toddler laid on the pullout bed sleeping. Until the yelling from my mouth started and he awoke startled and sat quietly, watching in awe. Waiting for his little brother to be born.
My husband rubbed my back as I maneuvered every position possible. He held my hand through contractions 1-500, A-Z. He is a wonderful labor partner. I could not ask for a better man to go through these experience with me.
Quiet still moments began, and I rested my head against the hospital bedframe. I am awoken again from the baby inside, insisting on coming out. I feel an urge to push and I am torn from my peaceful seconds of slumber. I say he is coming. Nurses run frantic to go get the doctor who runs back just in time.
There was a problem.
The doctor reminded me not to push. My yet to be born child was stuck in my left hip bone. Pain grew and willpower evaded me. The doctor corrected the position of the baby’s body and he came out wailing. Alive and well. They commented on never having a woman labor and deliver a baby that quickly. They placed him on my chest and immediately a waterfall of tears begin to flow without control. I cry out loud to everybody in the room.
“I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”
Everyone in the room looking around at one another in confusion. I thought I had killed my newborn baby. Even hearing the cries, they were not enough to convince me. I opened my eyes to his face blue and purple. Bruised from the birth, but unharmed and fully healthy. It was 6:29 a.m. on May 09th. He weighed 6lbs 8 oz.
It was only a short 6 hours and the beautiful oasis of ecstasy wasn’t on the menu, or even a possible endorphin rush. No, I received no highness of birth. This birth in fact was an emotionally traumatic.
The enlightenment I received after giving birth to my 2nd son, was a humbling one. No matter how much you prepare, no matter how much strength or belief you have in your body. Sometimes things do not go according to your birth plan. Sometimes you are faced with challenges, you did not imagine to prepare for. Weakness is a good emotion to feel before, during, and after giving birth. You are literally giving your body over to the forces of nature and hoping things go accurately.
After several months of his birth, he was diagnosed with Torticollis and Plagiocephaly; twisted neck muscles on his left side and flatness of the head on the right side. Physical disabilities, which probably were pushed further during the birth. He is almost a year old now and has been going to physical therapy every week since that awareness. He has cleared most of the symptoms, and thankfully, gratefully he is blessed to not have these cause life-long struggles.
The most powerful lesson I learned about giving birth from my 2 boys, is that it delivers you to a new sense of self-respect and empowerment. It is a long journey to be born a mother.
~ Stephanie’s story