No one described to me what giving birth would be like.
Many of my friends who have children explained it as something intense but something our bodies are made to do. They described childbirth with empowering, intense, beautiful, hard, and painful words.
My mom described giving birth as an intense process that she didn’t enjoy.
Since giving birth twice, I don’t hold back on the details if someone asks for them.
It may not help them feel any more prepared. Still, I hope my experiences let other women and birthing people know that it may not always be the spiritual, candle-filled, or intimate partner experience we imagine for ourselves. We deserve to know all backgrounds on the spectrum of giving birth, and my words are only two of those birthing stories.
My words to describe childbirth are intense and painful. Do I want more kids? Yes. Do I feel any more prepared to handle the birthing process? No.
I consider myself a “tough” individual and rarely complain about much except how overwhelmed I feel when the house is constantly a mess. Before my first birth, I felt mentally and physically ready to bring a baby into the world. I remember feeling more nervous about enduring that same process again the second time around.
After my first delivery, I experienced some pretty significant birth trauma validated when I met my fantastic midwife team pregnant with my son, James. I never really considered it birth trauma until that point, and I would be remiss not to acknowledge that my first experience shapes how I view labor and delivery today.
My second pregnancy was more difficult than my first because I had usual nausea and vomiting, experienced intense symphysis pubic dysfunction, and a lovely low-lying placenta kept me from my regular activities. However, this was all quite manageable, and I recognize that many other women and birthing people deal with far more significant challenges and risks.
Like my first labour, my water never broke. I experienced two “peeing” sensations while playing cards with my partner and in-laws but nothing more. At around 10 pm, I felt my first contraction and knew things were starting to happen. My first birth was ~12 hours, so I expected the same this time around. And like the last time, I started vomiting and having diarrhea after contractions about an hour in. No one ever told me this could happen during labour and how it makes it hard to keep any fluid, let alone food, down. I ate nothing and barely drank water long after James arrived. I often think about what social media/ influencers pack in their hospital bag for labour and delivery and how little attention goes into what we pack for the mother. I fell into this category the first time around.
The midwife came around 2:00 am as I was labouring at home until I would need to go to the hospital to deliver. After my last delivery, I wanted to be at a hospital to deliver if anything happened.
I have re-read the midwife’s notes a few times from that morning I gave birth to James and find myself laughing because it accurately depicts how I felt through it all. In short, I was doing fine until I wasn’t. The notes read something like this:
2:00 am- coping great
2:45 am- sitting on the ball, coping great
3:48 am- leave for the hospital
4:05- arrive at the hospital
4:17- onward… no mention of how I am doing
Thankfully, we only lived five minutes from the hospital for this pregnancy and not the hour-long commute that I had with Nora. When I was pregnant with her, and we finally made it to the hospital, they wouldn’t admit me when I got there. I had to labour in my friend’s basement until it was “go time.” That’s another story.
The rest of the notes from James’ birth are more medical, but I was essentially in a lot of pain (insert explicit words). The delivery was fast, with only five minutes of pushing. The other midwife didn’t make it in time, the emergency doctor was frantically paged, and we barely got me on the bed to deliver as the force of him trying to get out was unavoidable. What I was concerned about was delivering my placenta, as this is where everything went wrong almost two years before. Four minutes later, the placenta looked healthy and intact, and I held a beautiful baby boy at 5:12 am. We went home at 9:30 am that morning.
Six weeks later, when you think you’re recovering well, I developed endomitritis. All I will say is your midwife (or healthcare provider) has an emergency pager for a reason. Please use the emergency pager if you think something is wrong. Despite knowing in my gut something was off, I did not use it and casually called to speak to someone a day or two later. Thank goodness for home visits and a quick working (incredible) midwife who got me some strong antibiotics, and we narrowly avoided the hospital (during another wave of Covid19). My experience with childbirth makes me awe my body and anybody that gives birth. It makes me realize how intense the whole process is and how desperately we need to be supporting women and birthing people with energy and nutrition repletion post-delivery. We literally grow an organ and a human and expel both in less than a year and rarely discuss the impacts this has on the long-term health of mothers. I have felt those effects.
That’s the reason Stonehouse Nutrition exists.
Happy 1st Birthday James. And happy anniversary to me kicking ass as a mom.