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.
I nudged my mom to take part in this interview, and she agreed. How cool is that! Studies reveal that, as mothers, we NEVER forget the emotions surrounding our birth stories – even 34 years later. In this interview my mom shares the story of my birth, her third, and last baby.
I want to say, it’s my mom who I give credit to for allowing me to view childbirth as normal and natural. I grew up knowing the word midwife and how to properly say “midwifery” thanks to my mom. I also grew up not being afraid of labor and birth because, as my mom would always say, “Contractions are just a lot of pressure.”
I have to add, that it was a blessing that when I chose to birth outside of a hospital with a midwife during my first pregnancy that I not only had my husband’s support, but my parents complete support, too. My mom was present in the room helping me labor through both of my births.
Please give a brief description of yourself, and what number baby/birth you’re sharing with us.
The Birth Interview Project has been so beautiful – reading all the precious birth stories of you dear young women! Joy asked me to write my birth story and so I will tell you about Joy’s birth. I was 29 years old – 1977 and we were living in Jacksonville, Florida. Joy was our third baby and her Daddy was in the Navy and overseas when she was born, but arrived home a few days after she was born.
What was your due date, and what was your baby’s birth date?
Joy was due July 22nd and she was born on August 7th.
What was your baby’s weight and length?
Joy weighed 10lbs 1oz and was 21.5 in long.
What did you do to prepare for your labor and birth? Did it help?
In the 1970’s, natural /non-medicated births were just being discussed and with our first baby, I wanted to do “natural” as much as I could. The “back to basics” theme of the 70’s had an impact on us all – Mother Earth News, hippy movement, etc. Gene and I took a Lamaze course at our hospital and I read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding which was the extent of my preparation. The classes educated me out of my fear of the unknown. Gene and I took another class to prepare for Alysa’s birth but I did not take any further classes in preparation with Joy’s birth.
Please give a brief, one paragraph synopsis of your birth.
I was two weeks over due and just hoping I would not have to be induced as I had with my second baby who was three weeks over. I went into mild labor in the afternoon and went to the hospital after laboring at home for a couple of hours. Got to the hospital about 5 PM and after all the prep, if I remember correctly, about 4 or 5cm dilated. Hospital protocol required an IV line to be put in and my doctor took forever to get it in. I was laboring and breathing thru contractions while he poked me. He then broke my water and contractions took off from there. I went from 6cm to the need to push after three contractions. I had to be moved to the delivery room in a rush with an RN yelling at me not to push and I yelled back at her “I am not pushing!” Joy was delivered after a few more contractions. I probably labored 4 hours in total. Joy was my first labor delivery without pitocin – yea!
What did you like about your birth experience, if anything?
I delivered a healthy beautiful baby girl without drugs and I was totally aware of everything. I was tired but felt wonderful afterwards.
What did you not like about your birth experience, if anything?
It was postpartum – I was waiting to go to my hospital room asleep on a gurney. Without giving me any warning, the RN began to “massage” my uterus. She so shocked and startled me it took me some time to calm down after that experience. I don’t think she liked her job very much.
What surprised you about your contractions/labor?
Joy stayed up high in the birth canal until almost the end of the labor and then came so fast. This was case with my other babies too. The result was lovely round heads.
In reflection, would you do anything differently, either before the birth, during or after?
No, I think Joy’s birth was the easiest and went really well overall. I had a good (Family Practitioner) doctor that was a family friend, a Christian who really looked after me and Joy.
What do you remember the most about your birth?
I believe it was the urge to push that was so exceptional – so uncontrollable –“ready or not here she comes!”
How was your birth experience different from what you imagined it to be?
Overall, much faster than I thought – comparing it to my other babies deliveries.
What were your immediate emotions about yourself and or your birth experience after the birth?
Happy, grateful to God that I got thru it all and delivered a healthy baby!
How would you describe your recovery?
In those days, I had three days in the hospital before going home. I did not have an episiotomy or any tearing so I recovered very quickly and had good strength.
How has your perspective of your birth experience with Joy changed in the last 34 years since the first week of having her?
So, Joy is now a mother of two beautiful babies and my perspective will always be one of awe and thanksgiving to God – for giving me not only Joy, but our son, Bryan and daughter, Alysa. Childbearing undoubtedly changed my life.
Did you learn anything about yourself through this experience?
It is not about me any longer – you learn to live your life for someone else, for your family and their destiny.
Would you recommend having a natural childbirth or medicated childbirth to other women?
It is now 2011, so much is available to you to educate yourself and make the decision best for you and your baby. If I were birthing babies today? You betcha I would be at home or a birthing center with my hubby and committed women around me to support me thru it all.
Any further thoughts, comments or advice you would like to share?
The Lamaze class we took in 1973 put a hook in me that I never did shake off. I thought in those days I would try to become a midwife and searched out ways to do it, but discovered it would not be my path. So when Joy shared her heart for becoming a doula and more after the birth of Zoe, I was amazed and grateful that she was running the path I had thought to run.
I like the chorus to the 1971 Helen Reddy song:
Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to
I can do anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman