My eldest daughter turned 7 yesterday. And this is the first time I am writing out her birth story. I don’t know why I never did it before. Maybe because there was a lot to process at the time. And looking back now I can see it through the eyes of the mom I was then, the mom I am now, and with my doula eyes.
I remember sitting in the office towards the end of my pregnancy. At that hospital you were “required” to see every OB and midwife so that you will have met the person who is on call when you go into labor. None of the staff attempted to form a relationship with me. It was very clinical and cold. I had researched everything I could find about birth and so when my OB asked, “what is your plan for dealing with the pain of labor and birth?” I was confident in my response!
“I am planning a natural birth.”
Her response still makes me angry to this day, “Well… don’t be a hero.” As if that was why I had made that choice. She didn’t ask me why I made the choice, what steps I had taken to prepare for that choice, just assumed that I wanted to show off how strong I am.
I had a history with this particular OB. She was the one who broke the news to me that my first baby, my son, had died in my womb. Again, she was very clinical. She was the doctor who said she would give me and my husband a few minutes alone to process the loss and after only 5 minutes returned with, “OH! You’re still not dressed yet!” I apologized to her… and got dressed so that she could go over next steps with me. She told me that my options were to be scheduled for a DNC or to bleed to death in the ER. How I wish I had known how to advocate for myself back then. I wish I didn’t feel the need to apologize to her for her callousness. I wish that I had known what questions to ask.
She was also the OB who performed my DNC that I chose without informed consent. I never saw her even once. She didn’t come to talk to me before or after the surgery. I never got the chance to ask any questions about the process of removing my son’s body from my womb. I didn’t know I had rights to his remains. My son was thrown in the trash. I went through all stages of grief in the weeks and years that followed, even after both of my daughters were born safely and healthy.
“Don’t be a hero.” How simple those words must have seemed to her. And yet the baggage I carried from them was heavy.
I was firm in my plans and hopes to labor naturally. Not because I wanted to prove something to anyone, but because I felt like it was the best path for me and my baby. So I set about learning all that I could!
But truth be told there is a lot to learn, and despite reading every blog, watching every video, and reading every book I could get my hands on there was still holes in my knowledge. And truth be told most of what I learned flew out of my brain once active labor set in. My team wasn’t trained on what I would need to work through labor naturally. And even if they had read every book and watched every video too they wouldn’t have the wisdom and experience of a doula. Unfortunately a doula wasn’t an option for me due to financial reasons mostly but also I didn’t know any doulas or how to find one at the time.
And that’s why at 3 am on a Thursday morning 7 years ago I started down a path that was going to be long. Thankfully my loved ones that walked down that path with me were supportive and knew how important natural labor was to me and they supported me for hours on end without wavering in their dedication to me. They never once gave up on me or my desires for my birth. They never complained about being tired, sore, or stiff, even though I know they were all of those things and more!
I didn’t need be the hero for my birth because my mother, mother-in-love, and husband were the heroes. They were there holding me up when I couldn’t anymore, and I will forever be grateful for them <3
Continue the story with part 2 here!