The Birth Interview Project consists of 17 simple questions designed to help mothers process their birth story & share it with others. All mothers are invited to take part in this project. Born out of Joy’s desire to help women discover, process and express the feelings surrounding their birth experiences, The Birth Interview Project strives to offer a platform for mothers and readers alike to share and be heard, to search and to discover, to identify and to heal, and to exhort and remember. The views and opinions expressed here are unique to each woman who takes part in the Birth Interview Project and may not always reflect the values of the blog author.
Destiny and I first got to know each other after she became engaged to my buddy, Jonathan. She was pure Texas (and still is) and Jonathan is pure Belgium. You can learn all about their life together in Belgium by visiting Destiny’s blog: BELGEXAN. Destiny is a prolific writer and shares her heart, always, with honesty, beauty and humor.
Destiny may not know this, but it was while she blogged in GREAT detail about her pregnancy and birth with her first baby, her daughter, Lyric, that I learned pregnant women have something disgusting called a mucus plugs and get this, it falls out! I also discovered the horror of … postpartum bleeding (WHAT!). Yeah, back in the day, when I was young and newly married and hadn’t given a single thought to birthing babies, Destiny’s blog posts about her pregnancy and birth rocked my world. She left no stone uncovered, and when I became pregnant with my daughter, she was one of the VERY first friends I wrote to from Israel (where we lived and worked as volunteer workers) to tell.
I have a tender place in my heart for Destiny’s natural birth experience. It did not go as planned. In fact, it went horribly (she won’t mind my saying so). I have struggled with guilt over the idea that perhaps I sold Destiny on the idea of some euphoric, natural birth experience. She swears to me and I quote, “You did not sell me at all! This was what I wanted to do ever since I almost did it with Shiloh. After I had him this was my big regret–not giving myself the shot to push myself to my limits. Now I have and I didn’t like it.” I’ve started to realize through Destiny’s birth, and maybe you will too, that an un-medicated birth isn’t for every mother out there.
I have come to learn that what is most important are happy moms who love their birth experiences, and happy babies who get to snuggle up with their momma immediately after birth. Drugs or not, hospital, birth center or home, it doesn’t matter to me any more. I simply want Moms to have the birth that they want to have while supported and cared for by birth professionals.
Without further ado, I give you Destiny’s interview. I think you’ll enjoy it. Please feel free to respond and or voice your questions to Destiny in the comments.
(Destiny’s complete birth story can be read on her blog, here. I highly recommend that you take the time to read her whole story to give you a sense of her journey.)
Please give a brief description of yourself, and what number baby/birth you’re sharing with us:
I’m a 28-year-old full-time mom and missionary in Belgium. I have a dashing European husband Jonathan, a 4-year-old daughter, Lyric and two sons, Shiloh (almost 3), and Valor (8 months). I’ve decided to share my last birth with you although my other two were pretty awesome too, just with less screaming.
What was your due date, and what was your baby’s birth date?
I was due March 30th and Valor was born April 7th.
What was Valor’s weight and length?
6 pounds 11 ounces and 19 1/2 inches long.
Please give a synopsis of your birth:
I was a week late and woke up with bloody show. I had an appointment with the midwife that morning to get monitored and they almost induced me right then because his heart rate was low and he was very non-reactive. My doctor intervened and I was given another 24 hours as long as I did the “kicks per hour” routine.
I decided tonight was his night as I was having contractions and bloody show, so I pumped for 15 minutes and went into labor. Sounds so simple right? :) I labored at home for a while and then headed to the hospital when the contractions were no longer fun. Belgium is very pro-natural labor so the birthing rooms have tubs and labor swings hanging from the ceiling and you can labor and deliver in any position you want.
Sidenote before continuing: my water had broken at some point in the last week. I have no idea when, as it was obviously a slow leak.
So back to the hospital, I have my portable monitor on walking around the room and going through the waves of contractions, the nurse starts getting concerned because of his heart rate. Thus starts the scary part where they had me in in every position trying to bring his heart rate up, brought in a sonogram in the middle of labor to make sure he had enough oxygen, then finally had to manually hold an internal monitor on his head (it was either that or a c-section).
Oh and no I didn’t have an epidural. I started involuntarily pushing around 6cm which sent me into transition. For the next hour I completely and totally lost my mind. The pain and worry about the baby was beyond overwhelming and I was screaming and kicking nurses and biting (yes, literally). All the while I had some nurse’s hand up my vagina because Valor’s heart rate was DANGEROUSLY low and the pain was beyond description unbearable.
I forgot everything I had learned and hit fight or flight and I was trying to fight and flight at the same time. I kept randomly involuntarily pushing (totally the strangest feeling in the world when your body just starts pushing) and after one really big one the doctor tells me I can just start pushing as I was ready.
At this point I refuse to open my legs. They finally force me to open my legs and in one enormous push that brought significant tearing, out comes the head with the cord tightly wrapped around his neck a few times. But he was here! All 6 pound 11 ounces of him (he definitely looked like he had not been doing very well in the womb the last week – very skinny, no baby fat -even though he was a week late- and bad color).
It took 15 minutes till my body decided to birth the placenta and even that hurt terribly. I don’t remember having an oxytocin release, although it was amazing the moment that placenta came out and the pain finally stopped. I was at the hospital for about 4 hours, so it was a relatively quick birth (about 5 hours from when the contractions started getting really strong).
What did you do to prepare for your labor and birth? Did it help?
I read like a first year law student. I studied and quoted self empowering lines and had meetings with my birth team and read hand outs and books and blogs and talked with my internet Doula, Joy. I watched so many birthing videos and attended an online natural birthing class. I think it would have helped if Val would’t have been in fetal distress. All my “methods” went out the window as I couldn’t do anything but lie there.
What did you like about your birth experience, if anything?
Ummm … I really liked my baby :) and the nurse(s) and doctor was amazing to try to keep me as comfortable as possible and they did everything they could to avoid a cesarean. Through most of the labor, even when they were doing all these things to monitor the baby, they kept the lights down really low and whispered and would wait till a contraction passed to touch or move me. They were still really nice to me in transition, even when I was screaming at them to stop touching me and trying to kick one of the nurses in the face. They never got irritated, although the doctor did get in my face and tell me that I HAD to open my legs to push the baby out. :)
What did you not like about your birth experience, if anything?
It was traumatic and scary and so beyond painful. I know it was just a difficult circumstance with Valor being in fetal distress and that is very serious and I am grateful that they took it so seriously. This sounds morbid, but I think another few days and he would have been a stillborn. He was very non-reactive, I had barely any fluid due to my water breaking and me not knowing – don’t ask me how I didn’t notice. I’ve had 2 other babies and my water broke with them so I know what it’s like – but because of that, I had to lay down with someone manually holding a monitor on his head for the last hour and a half of my labor (including transition). The pain became unbearable and I was scared for my baby.
What surprised you about your contractions/labor?
Oh, I was fully anticipating the pain, but I wasn’t anticipating not being able to work through the contractions in any other way but on my back with a lady’s hand in my who-ha.
In reflection, would you do anything differently, either before the birth, during or after?
No, I think my situation happened how it had to happen. The only other way would have been a c-section and I’m grateful I didn’t have to go through that recovery.
What do you remember the most about your birth?
How scared I was and how much pain I was in.
How was your birth experience different than what you imagined it to be like?
I imagined a peaceful room, low lights, soft music and a water birth. I knew it was going to be painful, but I imagined swaying with my contractions and trying different positions, etc. Basically how the first half of my labor was, but then when Valor took a turn for the worse I didn’t adjust in my head and I just lost my mind. The moment a contraction ended I got scared of the next one. I can’t put it any other way than I lost.my.ever.loving.mind.
What were your immediate emotions about yourself and or your birth experience after the birth?
I was embarrassed and I also wasn’t proud of myself for what I did. I lost it and even though I never asked for an epidural (never said the words – because I knew in my heart I wanted a natural labor) I screamed and doubted myself. I know it was only really bad during that hour of transition, but it was bad. Real bad. I didn’t feel like I deserved to be in the “natural birth” club.
How would you describe your recovery?
It was great despite the fact that they only give you Ibuprofen for pain and I had a bunch of stitches from ripping. But overall, my recovery was awesome. I was on my feet WAY faster than the other two births (where I had epidurals). I also had WAY less swelling since I didn’t have an IV. That was a huge difference and I felt much better because of it.
How has your perspective of your birth experience with Valor changed in the last 8 months since the first week of having him?
I’m proud of myself now. I realize that even though it wasn’t my “perfect birth” scenario, these were the cards that I was dealt and I reacted to them the way I reacted to them. I’ve also come to realize that most women would have probably lost it as well in the same circumstance. That I wasn’t weak, that I went in and labored and delivered a beautiful baby boy and I did it the way that I had intended to do it, med free.
Did you learn anything about yourself through this experience?
That when I feel like I’m being torn a part from the inside, I don’t cope very well. Oh and I like to bite things when in pain.
Would you recommend having a natural childbirth or medicated childbirth to other women?
Oh gosh, don’t ask me this question. I don’t know. I think it would depend on the person talking to me.
Any further thoughts, comments or advice you would like to share?
Sorry this isn’t very pro-natural birth, but it’s real for me. I always hear of women who had traumatic hospital births due to being forced to have unnecessary interventions, but once they had a natural labor they had an empowering peaceful birth. Mine was the exact opposite. I had peaceful amazing labor and deliveries with the births of my other two children and I had an epidural with those. Each birth made me want to birth again. Now after going through natural labor? No thank you. I would want to get an epidural at 2cm and hope to never have to feel a contraction again!
I’m grateful I did it. I wouldn’t change that experience as it was something I wanted to go through, but I don’t know if I would do it again now that I’ve already done it. I liked my epidural deliveries much more. Although this one does have a lot more drama when I get to tell birth stories. :)