V. >> Ever since I watched “The Business of Being Born” two years ago, I’ve dreamed of having my own personal perfect drug-free birth, complete with the trans-like state and the tears. Therefore, when I got pregnant last year, I decided that, although I couldn’t hire a midwife, I would go ahead and get a doula to help me out with my daughter’s birth.
If you don’t know what a doula is, she is like your own personal pain management guru, who can give you prenatal courses and is there at the birth to help support you and find ways to manage pain without resorting to drugs or medical procedures. My doula was fantastic. I had the opportunity of getting to know her personally over the course of my pregnancy. She was there to inform me about the ABC’s of pregnancy and labour. She was there to listen to me when I needed to vent about the different struggles I was facing. She was there to answer questions that my boyfriend might have about the process I was going through.
She was also there to help me develop my birth plan. I really appreciated how she was highly realistic about what might happen with my birth plan. She encouraged me to remain flexible in my expectations, and to be willing to re-evaluate my plan if ever something were to happen during the labour that might endanger my child and I. So, I wrote my perfect plan, completely okay with having to deal with things as they came along. However, I did sincerely hope that I could avoid IV’s, constant foetal monitoring, epidurals, too frequent checking of my dilation, etc….
Although I expected to have to let go of certain of my wishes, I never expected that my birth plan would never really serve any function whatsoever! I never expected that my water would suddenly break without having had contractions and without having dilated at all. I never expected there to be meconium (baby poop) in the fluid.
All of this meant that I needed to get my ass over to the hospital ASAP. Once there, they decided that I needed to stay and that they needed to induce my labour. I heard that dreaded word… Pitocin… And I cringed.
I cringed because I REAAAAAALLY was hoping that I could go through my labour without having to get an epidural. And I knew that trying to give birth with Pitocin and without an epidural was a gargantuan feat – a feat that I was completely terrified of having to go through.
At that moment, I didn’t have an answer. I had no idea what to do. Despite the meconium, my child was showing all signs that she was doing absolutely fine. Her heart rate was very stable, she was moving normally, and my contractions had started picking up and were regular. On one hand, I was wondering if there was any need to get induced. I felt that everything was okay, that my baby was fine. But on the other hand, I didn’t want to take the chance, just so that I didn’t suffer as much as I wanted.
Thank goodness for the excellent staff at the hospital, and my boyfriend. We all worked together in order to find safe solutions to increase my comfort, and make sure that my child would be fine.
The nurses tried to stay true to my birth plan, and I will always remember and appreciate that. Unfortunately, all of it had to be thrown out of the window. After 20 hours of labour, still epidural-free but delirious of pain, I BEGGED for the epidural… 45 minutes prior, they had checked me and I was only at 3cm. Now, I felt like my head was going to pop off my neck from the pain, and since they didn’t want to check me again, I could only imagine going through this amount of pain for another 10 hours, and I couldn’t do it.
Can you imagine that, by the time they put in the epidural, it was the time to push? That I never even got to feel the pain relief and went through a 10-minute pushing session in pain? Yup. I’m not pissed that the epidural didn’t work. I’m just pissed that they didn’t want to check me to see how far along I was before administering a useless epidural.
In the end, the moments I remember the most fondly are the moments in which I was in the most pain (am I a masochist?? Maybe. But I do laugh when remembering the yoga chants that I was screaming at the top of my lungs while enduring 2 minute long contractions). What I was most scared of turned out to be what made this process unique for me.
So even though I wasn’t able to have the birth I had wished for, that I had pictured in my head, what matters most is that I felt safe, my baby was healthy, and that we are able to be together now to live “happily ever after”.
And hey, you never know… Perhaps I’ll be able to go through that picture-perfect birth next time around ;).
If you had a birth plan, how closely did you stick to it?
R. says: I had a birth plan, too, which we stuck to say… 70% (I was administered Pitocin and opted for an epidural – which were totally not part of the plan but very necessary, however I had access to and used the whirlpool and fitness ball in my L&D room). I didn’t have a doula but gave birth in a very natural-labor-friendly hospital. I used a template similar to this one and personalized it with a thank you note at the very beginning. Take the time to learn about your perineum, alternative pain management and what services your hospital provides before setting it in stone. And ask your doctor to sign the final copy that you’ll bring with you to the hospital since chances are high that he or she won’t be the one delivering your baby. You should have the first draft of your birth plan ready for your 30 week appointment.