Reflections on my First Birth and Preparing for a Second

 

Welcome to the June 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Embracing Your Birth Experience

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about at least one part of their birth experience that they can hold up and cherish.

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When I think back on my first birth I remember a combination of excitement, anxiety and a whole bunch of holy cow this is not what I thought it was going to be like! I had prepared for birth by talking to my mom, my mother-in-law and my friends, reading books and websites, attending one Bradley Method class (before dropping out), and attending a one-day hospital class. I went into my labor armed with a variety of techniques and plans for coping with labor and a great support system, as well as an OB group that I trusted to do what was best for me and my baby. And so when labor began, I felt ready.

What I didn’t realize was that my labor would progress slowly — very slowly. After being checked at the OB’s office and sent home, and then deciding it must be time and heading to the hospital only to be sent home yet again, I realized just how long and hard labor could be. I did what I could to cope with contractions: in and out of the bath tub and shower, Bradley positions, counting and breathing techniques that I had learned in the hospital class, walking, resting and watching TV, fueling myself with food and water, rocking in a chair, and impromptu Lamaze breathing lessons from my mom and mother-in-law. I could cope with the pain, what I was having a hard time coping with was the exhaustion.

By the time I was finally admitted to the hospital, I had been laboring for over 24 hours. I felt spent. I tried and tried for more hours to continue to labor naturally, try the ideas that the wonderful labor and delivery nurse suggested, and just keep going. It was hard, and I have never done anything so physically demanding in my life. When I finally made the decision to get an epidural, it was an educated decision. I knew I had done everything within my power to avoid medical pain management, and I knew the risks. At about 32 hours into my labor, I got the epidural and I felt no regrets. My husband, mom and mother-in-law joked that they now felt like they could relax, too, since they had been there with me since the beginning. Almost immediately, all four of us fell asleep. I slept deeply and for hours, with the occasional check in from my OB or L&D nurses.

When I was rested and ready, we decided to let the epidural wear off. After only one hour of pushing, but a full 41 1/2 hours after my labor began, my great big 9lb. 8oz. baby boy was born. I immediately forgot the intensity of labor and my exhaustion when I met my baby, but in looking back on the experience I feel like I was amazingly strong. I was never the athletic type, though I liked playing sports. I wasn’t ever the star of any team, but I was definitely a star that day.

I found strength that I didn’t know I had, and that has been true of my entire parenting experience. I will do whatever it takes, physically, mentally, emotionally, to take care of my child and our family. When I think I’ve used everything I have, I take a break, a deep breath, a step back or ask for help, and I’m amazed by my own strength in doing what has to be done.

Now that I am four months pregnant with my second child, I think about what kind of experience I would like to have the second time around. I’m staying with my OB, who is awesome and wonderful and amazing herself. I’m staying with a hospital birth, because I adored my L&D nurses and I was in the place that I felt most comfortable. I’m hoping to add to my pain management techniques, because it never hurts to learn more and be more prepared. I would love to have a natural birth, and I believe that I can do it. I would also love to have a quick labor and a 7 lb baby, but I’m okay if that doesn’t happen, too.

The difference going into a second labor is that this time around I know I can do it. I know it may be long and hard and that the baby may be bigger than average, but that I can do it. I’ve already done it once, after all, and so I hope that my anxiety level will be less and my confidence will be higher. I learned that I can endure more than I ever thought I could, and that I am a much stronger woman than I ever thought I was.

 

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon June 12 with all the carnival links.)

 

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36 Comments

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36 Responses to Reflections on my First Birth and Preparing for a Second

  1. Pingback: Carnival: Embracing Your Birth Experience. | the other baby blog

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  5. I really appreciated your story. I’m glad you felt empowered and at peace with the way things went the first time, even if they weren’t as you’d planned. My first labor was really loooong, with a big baby, and my second was quick and relatively simple, with a relatively average-size baby. So you might have that same experience!

    I felt the same way about not being an athlete yet reaching into some sort of physical prowess that had been untapped before. We birthing types must be more the long-distance, marathoner sorts, huh?

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  13. Absolutely you can do it!! As much as I wanted to avoid another long, hard labor, I felt the same way – I’d made it through one marathon labor, and I could do it again. You can too :)

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  24. Second labors can’t help but be easier. Because the first time, you wonder if you can do it. The second time, no matter what else happens, you KNOW you can, because you have!

    Of course, my first labor was unpleasant to say the least, and I spent all of my second thinking, “It’s going to get much worse than this, I just know it … still waiting for the ‘real’ tough labor to start … aaaaany minute now ….” and then it was over. 3 hours and not that bad at any point, really. The uterus knows what it’s doing so much better the second time, and the pelvis is in a better shape too.

    Hoping for a smooth and empowering second birth for you!

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  28. “…I was definitely a star that day.”

    LOVE IT. I think that in an ideal world every mom would feel that way. :)

  29. I love the perspective that you’ve taken that you need to do whatever it is you need to get through all of this! Taking a step back, and resting, is such a good approach to a lot of stuff in life and if need be in birth as well. Just remember, every birth is different, but you’ve learned and experienced that you have the strength to get through no matter what happens.

  30. Life is chain of learning experiences. We take something from each experience. I am glad that you have found peace in your first birth, even though it wasn’t what you expected and hope that you also have peace during your second.

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  32. Get out of my head. :) This is my first birth exactly. When I finally had an epidural, my husband actually said he felt like he had one as well. We were all exhausted, but, we had great support and we ended up finally delivering albeit 65 hours after the journey began. I’m very curious to hear how your second time around will be. Keep me posted. (Mine was much shorter if that’s any help, but both were equally wondrous.)

  33. Alinka @ Baby Web

    After your first paragraph, I thought to myself: “this is me”. When you say: “I have never done anything so physically demanding in my life” I’m starting to get a little scared! I think you were a star not only that day but every day of your parenting life! :) I learnt at my prenatal classes that the body has memory, so it should be easier the second time around :)

  34. Oh, almost forgot, all the best for your second pregnancy mama!!!

  35. What a great story and reflection! I was lucky enough to have a fairly easy birth the first time, so I’m hoping the second time around will be as good.

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