Editor’s Note: At TodaysMama, we believe that every mother has the right to choose her birth experiences and that every experience is different. One experience we’d like to forego is the tradition of only sharing birthing horror stories…because, really, how is that helpful? We’ll continue to share stories of homebirth, hospital birth and the occasional I-meant-to-have-a-hospital-birth-but-I had-my-baby-at-home-but-it-worked-out story.
-Erin Oltmanns, Managing Editor
From Shannon Breuner Nelson:
From the moment I saw those two lines on my pregnancy test, I was terrified to give birth.
It was fairly easy to ignore my anxiety during the first trimester. I was so busy alternating between being exhausted and queasy, that even though it was a nagging little thought in the back of my mind, mostly I could block it out just trying to make it through those first twelve weeks.
The second trimester, it became a little harder to ignore. We found out that we were having a girl, and while I was thrilled at the thought of becoming a mother, I was worried about what to expect and her looming entrance into the world.
At one of my check-ups at the end of the second trimester, the nurse handed me a packet for registering at the hospital, and I just about broke out into a cold sweat then and there. Time was running out, and there was no ignoring that the end was near.
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My obstetrician talked to me about a birthing class that she promised would cover all of the basics and encouraged my husband and I to go. I told her that I would sign us up but made her promise that it wasn’t a class with a video, which I was confident would send me into a complete nervous spiral.
About fifteen minutes into class, out came the VCR and the video, and while my first urge was to bolt for the door, I tried to lower my panic levels and watch the sneak preview of a birth that was in my very near future. I bravely sat and watched the demonstration on screen of an epidural, and I felt a tug on my arm from my husband. Dressed in a white button down from work, his face was just about the same color as his shirt, and he said he had to go out and get some air. The epidural video had pushed him over the edge, and I knew between the two of us, we were in trouble.
The last month came, and I started my weekly visits to the doctor. As soon as my due date came, something switched in my head, and all of a sudden, I was very ready for her to come out, even if it meant I had to face my fear. But my due date came and went, and an appointment to schedule an induction was made.
I worked until my due date, and that very first Monday I was home alone waiting to go into labor, my nervous anxiety took over. I made bread. I vacuumed the whole house. I went out to lunch and put red chili pepper flakes all over my pizza. I walked the dogs twice the length that I normally do and nothing happened. But around seven that night, I started to feel a little queasy. I won’t go into too much detail here, but while some bodies do some sort of pre-labor cleanse, my body went into a frenetic spring cleaning that went well beyond a cleanse. After a long two hours, I called my doctor, and the on-call doctor called me back and told me that it wasn’t labor, just the stomach flu. I put down the phone and burst into tears, because I knew that wasn’t what it was. I was sick most of the night, and around 4am I started having some pretty serious cramping, but probably since I boycotted those birthing classes, I didn’t pick up very quickly on the fact that I was having contractions. That burst of water about an hour later clued me in, and we were on our way to the hospital, contractions less than three minutes apart.
Something happened to me and the fear I had once felt when I was in the hospital. I had been so afraid for so many months about what to expect and the unknown, and once I got to that final stop on my journey, I felt so relaxed. That epidural I opted for might have helped a little bit! I was surrounded by people who knew what they were doing, and my husband and I were about to meet our daughter. All of my fear melted away, and it happened just in time.
Those nurses were incredible, and pushing was not easy. I was so exhausted from being sick the night before and it took everything in me. But about an hour and a half later, I had experienced what I had been so fearful of, and our daughter had arrived.
Fourteen months have gone by, and we laugh every day with the blonde haired toddler running around our house. I think back to her birthday often to burn it into my memory, because it’s something that I always want to be able to picture, and I never want to forget. This is one of the first pictures that my husband took of her, and he caught the lights from all of the hospital machines in the perfect spot, but as I look at this picture and see the beams of light shining down on my beautiful baby and her expression of wonder, to me she looks like an angel, heaven sent, and I would do it all over again in an instant.