I remember the very first time I thought about 'giving' birth to a child. I was a 15 year old girl (barely a freshman) sitting in the hallway of my new high school with my friend and her older cousin. She was recounting her friend's birth story who graduated just last year. My mouth dropped and all I could remember from the story were 2 things: 1. vagina tearing and 2. pooping in room with your doctor, nurses and husband watching. Who knew that happened? Certainly not me. On that day, I made up my mind that drugs was the ONLY way to get through child birth.
Fast forward about twelve years later to 2008. I married my high school sweetheart, and we were pregnant just after two years from saying I DO. At 27 years old, I didn't do anything without researching books and the internet for everything and anything about pregnancy and babies. I needed to know what was going to happen to my body every step of the way from pregnancy to birth. I started with learning about the women in my family. My mom told me that she had me after 19 hours of labor and an epidural gone wrong made her back hurt more than the contractions. My aunt had her baby girl at home by accident! She didn't know she was in labor. How was I going to get through child birth? Was the epidural still my answer.
As I continued to research and read more books, I decided that the best way for me was to try a natural child birth. No, drugs was not my answer now. This was a huge decision for me because I cringe at the thought of any pain. I'm scared of bees because they could sting and cause pain. I told a few co-workers and friends about my plan, and I knew they didn't think I would be able to do it. I decided to take Bradley classes because I thought it was the best option for a natural child birth. My husband was very supportive of my decision and we started our 12 week class. I had a ton of information in my head, but I decided to go ahead and also read "Birthing From Within."
Some people still didn't understand why I wanted to go this route. It was simple to me - I trusted my body. In the beginning of my pregnancy, I had twins. Two little heart beats showed up on the sonogram, but one of the babies had only 90 bpm (beats per minute). The nurse/midwife informed me that this was really low and it was nature's call now. In next few weeks I was back in the hospital and they couldn't find the other heart beat. After some heart ache and time, I went into the ER because I had these weird pains in my abdominal. They were unsure about the pains but they found a mass that seemed to be growing along side my surviving baby (who was completely healthy). I saw a specialist and she told me the other mass was the demised twin B. The two babies were sharing another umbilical cord to each other and the live twin A was pumping blood to twin B and tissue was growing because of the blood - official name for it is Arcardic Twining Syndrome. 1 in every 30,000 twin pregnancies are diagnosed with this "problem".
There were only two options for me according to my doctor. One, have an experimental surgery to cut off the connection with a laser. Second, have an abortion. The specialist told me that this pregnancy was not healthy and hinted that abortion was best for me. I could start over again were her exact words. At that moment, all I could think of was my healthy, bouncing off the walls during my last sonogram session 16 week old baby. It took me less than a minute to decide that I wanted the surgery. Then I was off to another specialist who was going to perform my surgery three weeks later. And the most amazing thing happened during my appointment. He told me that the blood flow had significantly reduced and the problem was fixing itself. I knew that the problem wasn't fixing itself - my body was fixing the problem.
If I didn't have a high risk pregnancy, I probably would have looked into home birth, birthing centers, midwives, etc. I had my baby at 35 weeks from an induction by pitocin (PIT). I yelled and screamed through the pain. No, drugs was not on my birth plan. After 6 long hours of hard pain by PIT, I was ready to push out my baby girl. My L&D nurse was holding my right hand and my doula was holding my left hand. I could see my husband in the corner of my eye. (He was kicked out the room twice by my nurse because he was getting paler and paler.) At 6:03pm, she was born.
I never knew what it meant to be a woman until I gave birth. I pushed to give my baby life when everyone doubted she could be here. I loved my baby when I couldn't even see her face. This experience taught me that I am tougher than nails. I can trust my instincts. I can trust my body. And of course - I don't need drugs to give birth.
Birth is a Journey: Does it have to be life changing?
One woman might have to climb on an overfilled boat, risking her life and nearly dying as she escapes over the ocean to come to this land. This experience could certainly be life altering. It may very well color the rest of her life, positively or negatively. (I overcame this amazing struggle and here I am triumphant! OR Holy crap, that was SO hard I don’t know if I can go on! By the way, neither response is “right”. No one would judge the woman with the 2nd response.)
One woman may buy an airplane ticket, sit on a comfortable 747 and fly to America with a nice smooth flight and landing. She is happy to be in America. Those welcoming her are glad she is here safe and sound. She may only travel by plane 2-4 times in her life, so it is pretty memorable. But the journey itself probably wouldn’t be life changing; it would simply be a journey.
One woman may learn to fly an ultra-light plane to lead a flock of geese into America teaching them to migrate. This experience could certainly be empowering and life altering.