Don’t you just love a good birth story? Okay, maybe the guys aren’t exactly enamored, but for women, especially moms and grandmas, birth stories are our “war stories.” No matter how many babies you have, no matter the similarities in the births, each and every birth is unique and miraculous. Starting with the pregnancy itself, of course. Having had five births of my own, I can attest to this first hand.
I remember being pregnant with our first child, many years ago (we won’t age her or me any more than necessary). Well-meaning friends and family would often ask me, “Aren’t you excited??” and my first thought was always, “About what?” Never having been pregnant, I simply could not wrap my mind around the fact that what was happening to my body would actually produce a real, live human being! It still astounds me. How amazing is God’s plan for procreation!
Even though all my births took place more than 23 years ago, from the very first one I knew I wanted “natural,” – whatever in the world that was at the time. My husband and I took the requisite childbirth classes, at a local hospital, and somehow I connected with an amazing midwife and her assistant.
The amazing mid-wife
Harriet was the epitome of motherliness and perfect for her role in each of the four births she participated in directly or indirectly. Our fifth child was born in Southern California, so unfortunately Harriet was not a part of that one. However, about eight years ago, Harriet, nearing retirement, agreed to take on our son and daughter-in-law’s birth, one of her very last ones. That was incredibly special, even though she didn’t actually make it in time for the birth, which took place at our home – another fascinating birth story in itself.
Our first child was to be born before the completion of a local birth home, so the nearby hospital functioned as a surrogate birth home, though not very well. Unfortunately, my water broke early on in the labor and at that time, it was protocol to make sure the baby was delivered within twenty-four hours of this event. Thus, I ended up in the hospital strapped to a terribly uncomfortable fetal monitor, not allowed to leave my bed, and put on Pitocin within a few hours as my labor really was not “progressing” according to their timetable.
If it weren’t for Harriet unhooking the monitor and monitoring me herself manually, and allowing me up to use the bathroom on the sly (sorry – can’t do bedpans!), I would have been even more miserable.
That first labor came within five minutes of ending up as a C-Section. Whether it’s true today or not, at that point in time, if you were on Pitocin, the hospital policy was no food or drink, just ice chips. My husband enjoyed all the healthy snacks we’d packed for what was supposed to be a special first birth experience.
Wouldn’t you know, though, that our main OB nurse had to have been a former Army nurse – no breaking the rules for this gal, and she was not the most compassionate soul, either, to put it mildly. All business, bustling in and out.
Harriet and I were both relieved when her shift ended and a much more sympathetic nurse took her place. Harriet took a big risk to help me in any way she could during that seemingly eternal labor, including at least one trip to the bathroom – oh what bliss! Funny how you take something so mundane for granted!
Harriet to the rescue
Naturally, having been awake and in drug-induced labor for more than twenty-four hours, I was exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. To our dismay, the same strict nurse showed up bright and early the next day, apparently not too pleased I was still there and undelivered. The decision was reluctantly made to prep me for a C-Section but give me one last chance to try to deliver vaginally.
Harriet came to the rescue again. Lying on the table I’d been placed on to prep for the C-Section, the Army nurse was on one side of me, Harriet on the other. Clearly at the end of her patience with me, the nurse chided me with, “Let’s just stop this fooling around and get this done.”
I was livid. Once more Harriet went to bat for me when she looked the nurse in the eye and calmly but firmly told her where to get off, in no uncertain terms. I’ve often wondered since then if the nurse had a suspicion that getting me riled up might just provide the fortitude to push through, or she was really that insensitive. I’ve always tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. . .
A baby is born. . .
Regardless, it worked, and our firstborn made her appearance within twenty minutes of that episode. Even then, Harriet fought for us and made sure our daughter was able to room with us, even though hospital policy was that she be in isolation since my water had broken prior to that somehow magical twenty-four hour time period. Harriet’s very sound reasoning was that our baby would be less exposed to infection if left with me, so she won – again.
One last humorous hospital experience (we have to focus on the funny things): My husband has what many assume is an Asian last name, though in fact his heritage is German. They had taken our baby away to clean her up and once I was in a room, behind a dividing curtain, I heard a nurse bustling in with the baby. As she rounds the curtain, she stops short and exclaims, “Oh! You’re not Chinese!” I’m not sure what it was about the blond, blue-eyed baby in her arms made her think either one of us was Chinese!
If I were to give any advice based on that first birth to any expectant parents these days it would be this: find yourself an amazing midwife! You will NOT regret it!
Have you had a wonderful mid-wife or nurse come to your rescue? Share your story in the comments below!