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 reflect the values of the blog author.
(Editor’s note: stay tuned for Rachel’s next birth interview, a homebirth!)
Please give a brief description of yourself, and what number baby/birth you’re sharing with us.
My name is Rachel & I’m married to my high school sweetheart, we have two beautiful little girls that I stay home with & we hope to have more children in the future. This is the story of my first baby & first birth.
What was your due date, and what was your baby’s birth date?
My due dates were May 5th & April 28th & our little girl arrived on April 25th.
What was your baby’s weight and length?
Annelyse Jean was 7 pounds 4.5 ounces & 18.5 inches long.
Please give a brief, one paragraph synopsis of your birth.
My water broke to begin labor a bit after 10:30pm on a Friday night & contractions started right away & were very intense but irregular, sometimes doubling up on each other. We drove from my aunt’s house to our apartment across town (passing the birthing center on the way) & labored at home in the shower for about an hour waiting for the doula. Headed into the birthing center & labored in the jet shower, on the toilet, on the birthing ball, all the while my fiance (now husband) provided counter pressure for my back labor like the doula showed him during the contractions, between them I passed out into his arms. The CNM showed up & checked my progress, determined I was a 9, stretched me to a 10 & said I could push. I was forced to push on my back while crying to my fiance & shaking my head no, I was trying to lean forward but they just told me to grab my knees & push. I wanted to squat but couldn’t get up & couldn’t vocalize what I wanted. I moaned & grunted & pushed through the ring of fire, my baby was posterior (reason for back labor) & got stuck at the shoulders trying to spin on her way out. They told me to stop pushing but at that point it was impossible, she came out & tore me some front & back. 2:14am They placed her on my belly & announced it was a girl. My fiance cut the cord, the CNM started to stitch me up, the nurse stabbed me with pitocin even though my daughter had already latched (& she never told me what was in the shot until it was already injected).
What did you do to prepare for your labor and birth? Did it help?
I read books, articles online, asked everyone I knew who had a baby about their birth, & came to each appointment with a notepad of questions.
What did you like about your birth experience, if anything?
I loved that I did it unmedicated, that my husband was my rock, that my doula was awesome & knew what to say for me at certain times (she was the one who asked for the birthing ball, she also asked if I could birth in the shower but they said no), & that I had a beautiful baby girl & a fast fairly easy birth.
What did you not like about your birth experience, if anything?
I hated having to push on my back, I hated that the nurse had never seen an unmedicated birth before, I hated the management of the 3rd stage, I hated that a nurse later lied to me & said I wasn’t allowed to leave.
What surprised you about your contractions/labor?
I was told my water wouldn’t break to start labor after I asked several nurses & the CNM about it, I’m glad I asked my doula or I would have had no clue. I was also surprised I never felt contractions anywhere but my back, & that even without medication I passed out between contractions (& I thought something was going wrong). I was also shocked about the heavily managed 3rd stage, not something I was warned about.
In reflection, would you do anything differently, either before the birth, during or after?
I would have stayed home. Or at least been more determined to push in a position I wanted, & not have the 3rd stage managed.
What do you remember the most about your birth?
Yelling at my doula for offering to me to touch the head (I just want it out!), the beautiful peach fuzz blonde hair on my new little girl, & the tears of joy in my husbands eyes.
How was your birth experience different from what you imagined it to be?
I thought the contractions would feel differently (maybe they are without back labor, I have yet to find out), & I thought it would have been a lot longer (but I’m glad it wasn’t!)
What were your immediate emotions about yourself and or your birth experience after the birth?
I was thrilled that everything went so quickly & smooth & that I was able to handle it without medication. I was on the birth “high.”
How would you describe your recovery?
Recovery was awful. Walking hurt, urinating hurt until about 8 weeks, we tried for intercourse after the go ahead at week six & it hurt, so we ended up waiting until 9 weeks. Those stitches (the first ones I’ve ever had in my life) stung & hurt for quite a while.
How has your perspective of your birth experience with your daughter changed in the last 2.5 years since the first week of having her?
My perspective on Annelyse’s birth experience in the 2.5 years since having her have changed because I have now learned some of the things that were unnecessary, possibly even counterproductive, that even though I was going for as natural as possible & using the birthing center & a CNM they still had plenty of things that could be more natural.
Did you learn anything about yourself through this experience?
I learned I am fully capable of birthing a baby unmedicated & quickly.
Would you recommend having a natural childbirth or medicated childbirth to other women?
Most definitely, I think it has been the best thing I’ve done in my life.
Any further thoughts, comments or advice you would like to share?
Speak up for what you want, don’t be bullied. & when family or friends try to be helpful & say “Oh you’ll want the epidural” just smile & nod & then do what YOU want for YOUR birth & YOUR baby!
- The Birth Interview Project | Beth’s 3rd Birth Center Waterbirth (thejoyofthis.com)
- The Birth Interview Project | Meredith’s Birth Center Birth (thejoyofthis.com)
- Valerie’s VBAC | An Israeli Birth Story (thejoyofthis.com)