I love reading birth stories, especially when the author is able to really describe the process in unflinching, funny-only-in-retrospect detail. I love in Waiting for Birdy when Catherine says she “made a creepy didgeridoo sound for 16 hours straight, said ‘Kill me’, then barfed into a trash can.” I love the written choo-choo pantings of laboring women, the geysering bodily fluids, and best of all—of course—the slimy, squalling, heartbreaking result to the whole ordeal.

I have a much harder time reading about the bravery involved with so-called natural births (as though any viable entrance into this world should be described as unnatural). The powerful, indescribable wonder of a drug-free birth, the gift the mother is giving her baby by choosing to be so very strong. The floored wonder of her partner, standing nearby marveling at this pinnacle of human achievement.

It’s not that I don’t understand this. I fully acknowledge the superwoman qualities of someone who endures hours of the most challenging physical situation of her entire life and refusing the intervention that could make it less painful. I am awed by women who have the birthing experience they wanted, that they read about and prepared for and engineered to conform to their preferences.

I understand it and I can empathize with it, but it hurts, a little. I thought I would have that moment of turning to my husband and saying, it’s time. The escalation of it all, the trip to the hospital, the scariness and elation and pain and everything else. Instead, it was a routine visit followed by hours of being drugged and sick and miserable and eventually a surgery and I felt as far from brave as it’s possible for a person to feel.

I guess I will always wonder, was it absolutely necessary for me to be put on the magnesium with Riley? Were they erring too far on the side of being conservative, wasn’t there something else they could do to deal with the blood pressure situation? I felt perfectly fine when I walked in the door, and next thing I knew I was hooked to an IV and gripped by the effects of the medication.

The second thing I wonder about: after the hours of Cervidil with no effect, and the progression of feeling worse and worse with the magnesium, they gave me a choice of Pitocin or trying to rest overnight and having a C-section in the morning. I asked a nurse to be as honest with me as she could, did she think the Pitocin would work in time? They wanted to do the C-section in the morning anyway, because of my blood pressure. She paused, and shook her head. She said it was doubtful. I thought about dealing with the Pitocin-triggered pain all night long, on top of the unrelenting nausea and aching head and trembling, exhausted muscles the magnesium was causing, only to need the surgery anyway. I chose to try and rest.

Maybe I should have tried the goddamned Pitocin, you know? Maybe there would have been a different outcome. Maybe if I had done that, both my babies would have been born without use of a scalpel and a drape.

I don’t have bad feelings about either of my C-sections. They weren’t terrible, they were fine. I saw my babies right away and held them moments later. I recovered with no problems. It was fine.

But. It doesn’t feel brave. It doesn’t feel like that magical spiritual I-am-woman-hear-me-roar experience I now have such a hard time hearing about. I’m torn between thinking, well, that’s great for you, but not everyone gets the birth they thought they were going to have, and my babies came into this world perfect in every way and you know what, we’re ALL brave . . . and I wish I could have had that. I should have tried harder.

Still, still. It’s not too difficult to regain perspective.

89024228_fedd7d69a8
August 31, 2005

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February 2, 2008

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Ash
Ash
14 years ago

Me + 2 kids = one home to hospital birth transfer with epi; one birth, no meds at home.

I felt like a failure over the hospital transfer. My kid wound up subject to interventions that were unnecessary; that I didn’t know how to opt out of. I still have fantasies of ripping that OB limb from limb. I still cry.

Birth at home, yes super-woman filled crazy birth high. Better high than any drug I ever took (and I took plenty in my youth) and yes, different than what I experienced giving birth with an epi to my son. The hormones, the adrenalin – it is a different kettle of fish.

You are no less brave. (I for one would shit myself in the face of major surgery). You are no less hero mama. Nobody is sharing their high to put you down. (At least, they shouldn’t be).

We dismiss other women with “a healthy baby is all that matters” etc. Forgetting that the birth process, a woman’s birth experience will forever be with her and will have an impact on her relationship with her babies, her children.

The variety of womens birth experiences are something that only continue to divide us, in a sickeningly effective way. We cannot listen anymore, just to listen, just to absorb, just to appreciate. We hold everything up to ourselves, to our experiences and spit out what doesn’t fit. And after browsing over the comments left above mine, cut the shit out of other women who have done it differently.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. We are our own worst enemies and it’s pretty fucking sad.

Beth
Beth
14 years ago

i LOVED my epidural, which i got as soon as possible, because I don’t like pain, which I already knew going into the whole thing, so I didn’t see the point in “toughing” it out. i also allowed my dr. to go ahead a start a pitocin drip to “move things along”. the baby was born pretty quickly, and without much pain at all. i thought it was great but I did NOT get my “natural” birth gold medal. i DID get a cute little baby girl, though.

Sarah
14 years ago

P.S. I had magnesium with my daughter too, while on bedrest, and omg that stuff is evil. If she had been big enough to come out at that point and someone had offered me a way to make the drug be DONE I would have let them do a damn UNMEDICATED c-section just to end the torture. So I think you endured enough misery to qualify for your bravery badge!

Swiggy
14 years ago

I felt the same way your post conveys when I read that other post this morning.

I had my first child the “normal” way, with the aid of an epidural. In fact labor was only 30 minutes. So, I thought for sure I’d be able to have my second the “normal” way without an epidural. Boy, was I ever wrong. Probably more like deluded.

When I arrived at the hospital to have my second, my contractions were 3 minutes apart. However, once I was checked by the nurses I was informed that I wasn’t actually in labor (????). They were going to send me home, but then decided to check baby’s heartrate. That got me a first class ticket to stay until I had the baby, just so long I as I didn’t get out of bed and was attached to a pitocin drip for 24 hours.

After 24 hours of misery, I was still only dilated 4cm so someone broke my water, which is when the decision was made to do a c-section. The doc saw meconium in the fluid and said the baby had to come out right then. Since I was only 4cm, there was no chance of laboring any further. I got my epidural and c-section. My baby got a 6 day stay in the NICU, and 11 weeks on supplemental oxygen because of the inhaled meconium. I got to see him for a second when he left the operating room, but didn’t get to hold him for over 7 hours.

Am I glad he’s alive and healthy today? Absolutely. Do I wish things had gone differently? I think about it every single night when I’m putting him to bed.

Trust me, I know exactly how you feel.

scantee
scantee
14 years ago

Births are the new weddings for the upper-middle class. Where once the main obsession was crafting the perfect wedding, complete with the right food, dress, guest list, now we obsess about the perfect birth day, no pain relief, better if you are at home, and of course without the dreaded c-section. It seems that a lot of women think they deserve a “perfect day” for their labors.

But life just doesn’t work that way. Sometimes it rains on the day of your outdoor wedding or you step in a pile of dogshit on your way to the chapel and sometimes you get an epidural or a c-section. It sucks, and we should work to provide a number of safe birthing options for women, but in the end natural childbirth has nothing to do with bravery.

I had an induced labor with a failed epidural that ended with a vaginal delivery. Even though I had these interventions I don’t regret one second of that day as it was the day my son was born, the best day of my life. No one can take that away from me or one up my experience just because they went pain med free.

justmouse (or Chaosmomm..whatever)

seriously? without trying to be rude or anything…stfu. the birth part is not about bravery, or any of that shit. having children, raising them, loving them even when things are hard, and making conscious decisions to Do The Right Thing even when it would be easier not to, being THERE for them, and all the other million little things you do EVERY DAY (i know you do, cuz i read about it every day)….THAT’S bravery. THAT’S what being a mom is. so i managed to shove a slimey ball of ectoplasmic goo out of hoo-hoo. i didn’t have a choice. there was no time to even ASK me if i wanted drugs. does it make me BRAVE?? no! i was TERRIFIED! it really fucking HURT, yanno?? it was messy and painful, and gross, and exhausting. it doesn’t make me brave though. and to be really really honest with you? i hardly remember it, i was so exhausted and scared! i was so exhausted that when they asked me if i wanted to hold my new baby, this miracle i had been waiting 9 months for, i said NO!

don’t every downplay your bravery. you made it through your teens. you made it through not one but TWO pregnancies. you quit drinking(!!!). you got fit and healthy. you are writing a BOOK. you are incredibly brave and a HUGE inspiration to me. and to your children. think about this..as your kids grow up, do you really think they will ever look at you and NOT see you as brave? nope. they won’t.

*hugs to you*

-R-
-R-
14 years ago

I love how Dylan is looking at you in that picture.

scantee
scantee
14 years ago

Also, my mom had totally natural births and she was a shit parent. So, there’s that.

Sara
14 years ago

I had a lot of guilt and feelings of failure after my daughter was born. If only I had exercised more and been in better shape, maybe I wouldn’t have been so tired. If only I had not been so afraid of blowing an anuerysm in my brain then I might have pushed like I needed to. If only I didn’t totally panic and think I was going to DIE because my epidural wore off. If only I had had a doula there to tell me what the hell I was supposed to do. All of these what ifs bother me still. The end result was my daughter being sucked out of me with a vacuum and having a cone head that pointed harshly to the left for several days. Every time I looked at that little head the first few weeks I felt horrible and gulity and like I had failed her.

Here’s the thing though – no matter what we did or didn’t do, we grew a human being from the size of a poppy seed into a full blown wriggling human. Our bodies supported and nourished and protected them for months. One way or another we got them into the world and they are happy and healthy.

The “normal” birth does not exist. We try to live up to some ideal of a wonderful perfect delivery that is largely unattainable.

I always say my next delivery I’ll do A,B, and C different, but truth is whatever happens will happen. WHat matters is the wonderful, beautiful amazing life we have at the end!

Jeanne Pierce
Jeanne Pierce
14 years ago

I too have had two c-sections. The first was because of pre-eclamsia. She came 5 weeks early and weighed 3 1/2 pounds. There was a knot in the umbilical cord and the poor little thing was starving. I took her home at 3 1/2 pounds. If I had had her naturally she would have died due to that knot. I chose to have a second c-section with my son born at term weighing 6 pounds 8 ounces. He also had a knot in his umbilical cord it just hadn’t sinched down as much as hers. It probably would have during a natural child birth. I regret neither of my c-sections and have no longing for what might of been. In my case it might have been two dead children and perhaps me as well due to eclampsia.

My cousins wife got eclampsia and had seizures while giving birth. In her case there was no warning sign of high blood pressure or protein in the urine. She was in one hospital the baby in another and my poor cousin torn as to where he should be. She survivied as did the child. She has had three more children with no problems. I also have a neighbor whose mother died of eclampsia at his birth. It was during the great depression. He was put in an orphanage until his father came back for him at around age 10. I guess I am just grateful for medical interventions that gave me my life and my two beautiful children.

I also really didn’t have any preconceived plans on what my birth would be like. I think that helped me not be disappointed as some of your are. I am not much of a planner, more go with the flow. I was waiting and seeing about druges etc. I was always open to a c-section. It runs in my family to not dilate very well and end up in a c-section. Doesn’t make us less women or mothers.

I also was one of the lucky ones that was not bothered by the magnesium! I was mostly driven nuts that they wouldn’t bring me my baby because they thought the magnesium would make it so I couldn’t take care of her! My husband had to have a few talks with some nurses. She was also in the intermediate ICU so they would only let her out for 15-30 minutes or so. They were worried about her staying warm enough. I couldn’t wait to get rid of the IV’s so I could go to her in the nursery.

I know some of you will still beat yourself up over what might of, should have been. I wish you wouldn’t. Enjoy what you have and remember women did and do die in childbirth. I do hope time will help you all come to terms with it. We are all brave!

Ash
Ash
14 years ago

I don’t think it has anything to do with how we love them. Love for babies is grand, no matter what. Adopt them from Ethiopia, birth them with a dolphin, whatever.

But I don’t see how your first in-this-world experience with your child can’t effect your relationship with your kid (in whatever way). It’s a pretty big part of the journey. But that’s just me.

Mrs Soup
14 years ago

I was blessed enough to have an unmedicated vaginal birth like I was hoping for. 5.5 hours total from first real contraction to baby.

BUT I was prepared that it might not happen. I say blessed, not because I had planned/researched/practiced some magic spell that allowed it to work. My baby was in the right spots, moved where she needed to be and came out how she was suppose to.

Every birth is different. Those that crow about how they were able to have a natural birth need to realize how lucky they were. If someone has a C-section? There is a good chance they would have been dead otherwise.

You gave birth to a little human. However they came into the world is brave enough. As a loving parent, you are brave and wonderful and amazing.

Don’t forget that.

Sarah
14 years ago

I can’t believe I’m leaving a third comment but I just LOVED what Lisa said: “We get pregnant to have a BABY, not a birthing experience.” We are seriously losing sight of this lately. Not to discount that it is an important day, a beautiful day, but my gosh, the way we put it on a pedestal… It’s kind of the equivalent of feeling like a failure because you tripped going down the aisle on your wedding day or something. Did it make you “less of a bride”? And then other people bragging to you about how everything went so perfectly at THEIR wedding, and it’s all because they weren’t afraid and they trusted their instincts and just let nature take its course!

Angie
14 years ago

I gave birth vaginally (with drugs though, by god) the first time. I tore VERY badly, which didn’t heal correctly, which so far has required two subsequent surgeries involving my ASSHOLE. Things are still not repaired, so I will need another surgery. there is a new normal to my body, and I’m not talking about extra weight around the middle. I too hear all of this natural childbirth stuff, and it actually just pisses me the hell off. Apparently, I failed in some manner because my baby ripped me. If I’d done things “correctly” I would have fairly danced out of the delivery room and not needed any drugs postpartum, either. But, in reality, I wish that I’d just had a c-section rather than rippage. My c-section recovery was a piece of cake in comparison.

And, really, I think it is awesome that SOME women have bodies where they can give birth naturally with easy recoveries, etc. But, do they have to try to convince everyone else to do it, too?

hannah
14 years ago

I think it’s hard, with childbirth, because so much of it is often outside our control. I had a pretty medicalized (induction+epidural) birth the first time around, but because it was very much what I wanted and expected (mostly painless, with a doctor I trusted) I didn’t think twice about it.

I had my second, though, via a very precipitous (1.5 hours total- he was born fifteen minutes after I got to the hospital), drug free labor. Which, you know, is for most women I know the ideal- quick and easy and woo hoo for doing it drug free. But it was so fast, and so not how I expected it, and so scary– I nearly had the baby in the car. I didn’t process how shell shocked I was from it until taking my son to his pediatrician’s- the office is right by the hospital and I have minor, panicky flashbacks on making that drive. (I am very grateful I didn’t give birth at home, which was also a distinct possibility, or I’d freak out every time I went to the living room I’m sure.)

I mean, I do not think about it that much, but it clearly stuck with me, somewhere, that the birth didn’t go as I’d envisioned, and that’s stuck in my psyche in a weird way. So if it’s any comfort, you could still have those feelings even if you had the “natural” birth.

marta
marta
14 years ago

I agree with the comments above about how we can’t seem to just listen to each other and appreciate the myriad of experiences. How it becomes my struggle vs your struggle and there is sadly no room for everyone to be brave in their different ways. Dooce went through a horrible ordeal after the birth of her first child and I can see why she clung desperately to a different way of doing things, anything, the second time around. She was lugging some serious baggage and maybe she went a little loopy the second time but, hot damn, in her shoes I might have too. The real tragedy is that her great second experience is seen as a critique of all our other experiences.
Linda, I live in the same area you do and I consider myself lucky to have birthed in the epicenter of crunchy-granola-mom central because I got to make a lot of choices my friends in other areas did not. The flip side of that is we’re surrounded by a lot more crunchy-granola-moms and that can be harshly judgmental when we don’t end up on the crunchy path.

Amelia
Amelia
14 years ago

I think it is brave to have a c-section. If I were faced with that reality, I would not have been able to rest the night before due to the anxiety. How can you think that recovering (twice!!!) from major abdominal surgery is anything BUT superwoman-ish? I admire you, even if I did do it “naturally” and without drugs. You know what, though? Mine went so fast that they couldn’t even get an IV in, and putting myself and baby at risk due to precipitate labor isn’t so great either.

Also, you can always say that you KNOW you didn’t poop on the delivery table.

Beth in SF
14 years ago

My kiddo’s heartbeat kept going really low while I was in labor, and I *almost* had to have a C-section. As in, they rushed me into the OR, started prepping my belly, got my husband in the scrubs, the whole deal. Then the heartbeat started to go back up and they ended up not doing it. But, that was easily the scariest part of my labor. I didn’t want a C-section, but when all was said and done, I wouldn’t have been so scared of it. Everything turned out fine, but it’s all for the safety of the baby.

Fi
Fi
14 years ago

Blimey.

I really think that you are physically a very strong person (err.. running? KILLS ME) and could definitely cope with childbirth if medical professionals weren’t watching over you and trying to make sure that your babies arrived safely. And that’s their job, so who are you going to blame? Yourself for trusting health care professionals? Or the professionals for doing their best to protect you and your babies?

It matters that babies arrive safely.

I had a baby without drugs – that’s pretty much the norm in the UK (and definitely at the hospital I gave birth in) and I have had a hard time reading Dooce’s birth-story-entries without cringing a little bit and wanting to say “so?” to them. It’s not really a big deal, is it? It’s just normal. I find it very weird indeed that it’s such a talking point to go through natural childbirth as if it’s really out of the ordinary…. Most people I know with babies didn’t have CS or drugs (other than gas&air) to get them through it, and I don’t really hear people congratulating them for it!

Anyway. I haven’t got much of a point to my comment, just wanted to say – don’t be silly. You have two amazing beautiful babies and nobody cares by what means they came out. xo

trena
14 years ago

I’ve only given birth once thus far and I was one of those that wanted to do it natural and then gave in at 7cm and begged for an epidural. For me, wanting to do it naturally simply came down to an issue of control. The previous two years before I was pregnant, I had suffered because of the incompetence of a nurse practioner (hello medical malpractice) and the resulting inability of anyone to pick it up and wanted as little intervention as possible only because I was so worried about the possibility of the medical community screwing up (with regards to me and my body) again.

Despite having to break down and have the epidural (which, in retropect, made the entire process bearable and almost pleasant), I can say that my birth experience came very close to being ‘perfect’. Perfect is a different thing for everyone. Seriously though, unless you have always wanted to feel like you’re pushing out the largest poop EVER at timed intervals (easily one of the MOST frustrating feelings EVER), you didn’t miss out. Be proud that your body was able to help create and then carry (all by itself) two amazing little boys.

Haitian American Family of Three

Well, I am a mama through adoption and sometimes when I read or hear about birth stories I feel a deep sadness that I did not birth my child. I think the other posters have it right though, in the end we all get to be mamas to our kids and that’s what matters.

Blabbermouse
14 years ago

Never had a c-section but I still think I can relate to what you’re feeling.

I went epidural-less (with pitocin to speed up contractions, doctor’s orders) on my second child, and there was absolutely NOTHING mystical, brave, heroic, awe-inspiring, or dignified about it.

I was RIDICULOUS. Screaming and swearing and carrying on as if Satan himself were driving an 18-wheeler out of my ass.

I didn’t feel like a brave super mama then, and I don’t feel like one now. To this day I wonder what would have happened if I’d refused the pitocin and labored “NATURALLY”.

It’s 2009. Unless you’re popping a squat alone in a field, natural is only a matter of degrees. So I think it’s not the heroism involved in “having a baby exit your ya-ya” that matters so much to women, but rather something deeper. Subconsciously maybe we’re asking ourselves “if I had lived in another time, before drugs and c-sections and hospital births, would I have been one of the ones who survived? And would my baby?” I wonder if anyone who doesn’t have the most natural of natural births has that little niggling fear that makes them feel they aren’t “one of the surviving fittest.”

But this is 2009. And our job is to do what women before us have done, which is to make choices in the best interest of our health and our babies’ health. I’m so glad we live in a world with more choices and medical options. And more healthy babies and mothers.

You rock, Linda. With a 17-month old, getting out of bed in the morning is an act of heroism!

Keep writing and making me think, ladies. It’s an interesting conversation.

Marie Green
14 years ago

I’ve had 2 long labors, pushed for HOURS on end during both, and ended up with 2 csections. The first time I had a ton of anger about it. The only “medical reason” that I had a section was because “my time was up”. I still had energy, the babies (twins) were doing fine, I was doing fine. I felt like they yanked the rug out from under me.

The next time, I was already a childbirth educator and doula, so I *KNEW* how to have a baby. =) Haaaaaaaaaaa! Anyway, after 28 hours of labor and pushing I was begging for surgery. They said yes. However, I suffered some maaaaaajoooooor ass complications from that surgery (and went on to have 4 more surgeries in the first 2 months of her life- GRAHHHHHHHH!).

I may as well admit it: I’m jealous as hell of people that can give birth vaginally, with or without medication. I’d love to hold my baby right after birth, to not be so effing sick to my stomach for their first 12 hours of life.

Also, I do have to admit, while I will take to the streets to defend ANY woman’s birth experience NO MATTER HOW THEY DO IT, there *is* something a bit magical (really, that’s the best word to describe it) about being a doula for those “natural” birth. Which makes me even more jealous.

Finally, one of my main hesitations about having a 4th child is the fear of another surgery-gone-bad.

Rachel
14 years ago

I have felt the same way you describe many, many times. It’s been almost a decade since my last c-section (of three) and I still get wistful sometimes wishing that I could have had that roaring-womanhood rite of passage at least once. Instead, I’ve never even had to breathe through a contraction, and all three of my children’s birthdays were written on the calendar before they arrived, scheduled between the doctor’s day off and a national holiday, or carefully placed after one of my husband’s work trips.

It’s certainly not the most important aspect of motherhood, it’s not even close, it’s not even in the top hundred important things, but that doesn’t mean that it’s nothing.

Melissa D.
Melissa D.
14 years ago

Sorry if I’m repeating something from above but I think you were very brave. Choosing surgery is not easy and quite frankly scares the shit out of me. I understand how you think about what could have been but think about it this way..Your babies made it out safe and sound. And they are damn cute! Not everyone can say that!!! Haha! Kidding.

justmouse (or Chaosmomm..whatever)

just an aside to Haitian American Family of Three: i was adopted at birth, and while i know my mum has always felt a little bit “cheated” that she didn’t give birth to her children, i can honestly say i have never ever resented her for it, nor do i think i could feel any closer to her if she actually HAD given birth to me. our children know instinctively what we have to sit and stew over – we are their MOMS and they LOVE us. :)

Sonia
Sonia
14 years ago

I had a dream pregnancy and a nightmare delivery. I had an epidural, and DOG BLESS whomever invented that stuff!!! My son’s special needs are very likely to have been caused by his birth, which was vaginal and should not have been. His brain was compressed and bruised, among a few other complications. I envy folks who had/have C-sections because of my own experience. Let me assure you, however, if faced with a planned c-section I would be very scared. But I was very scared about the vag delivery too!

My sister delivered her baby in a birth center, completely without meds or doctor intervention. The entire time I was watching her delivery, all I could think was “Good for her, she’s having the exact birth experience she wanted. But that shit is NOT FOR ME!!!!” LOL! ;)

The only thing that really bothers me about birth stories, is that some women are SO self righteous about their way being the only RIGHT way. Whatever works for each individual mother/child/family, is the *right* way, I say.

AndreAnna
14 years ago

Though I “gave birth” to my children, I don’t consider them any more mine than say, my husband, who did not grow nor birth our them.

A parent is not made by squirting a baby through a birth canal.

A parent is made by loving, raising, nurturing a child – no matter how they entered the world – and making their light shine brightly in a world often so dark.

Rock on. I couldn’t have said it better.

Hilary
14 years ago

Listen, I had two babies without drugs and I feel very much the same way you do. I didn’t feel brave when I was screaming my head off begging for drugs (it was too late), pleading with someone, anyone to make the horrible pain go away. I think about the people who have an epidural and are able to enjoy the calm magic of childbirth, and feel a bit sad I was so distracted by the pain. We have a video of my daughter’s birth and I can’t bring myself to watch it. It was that horrifying and raw. I feel the same combination of awe and jealousy/anger when I hear about people who found wonder and power in childbirth. So, we did what we had to do, and the minute we saw our babies it all melted away. I’m glad you wrote this, though. It’s brave and true.

Katherine
14 years ago

I’ve always been amazed at the guilt women have about the birth of their children. It doesn’t matter if the birth was C-section, epidural, or “natural,” every women I’ve ever talked to feels like they could have done something differently, something better. I’ve struggled with my own guilt that I didn’t do things like my mother did.

I feel lucky that I have two amazingly beautiful, healthy, smart boys that I don’t think of the guilt.

But you are writing about something I think will resonate with every mother who reads it.

Restless Mama
14 years ago

All I can say is I totally feel you. Though I was able to deliver my son vaginally I still didn’t feel brave because I was doing it on my back with the help of epidural.

Magnesium is a bitch I tell you.

You are incredibly brave.

Christy
Christy
14 years ago

Every birth is different. There is no right way to do it. Like someone else said, bravery is choosing to do it again. I have three kids, and with each one I was slightly more terrified about having to push a whole person out of me :) And, sometimes, with a vaginal delivery the scalpel still makes an appearance.

Lauren
14 years ago

Well, I think your title says it all. I love hearing birth stories, but it is sad when the story has a whiff of superiority about it. I dislike the term “natural” too, I prefer “unmedicated.” Less implied criticism.
There’s so little that is under your control during the whole process, really the only thing you can control is how you react to events.
In my little PEPS group of 9 women, we covered the whole spectrum: 5 C-sections (one emergency, two stalled labors, two planned) and 4 vaginal births (two with meds, two without). Each situation required its own type of bravery. I would have had a hard time with a planned C-section, I hate needles and IVs. Luckily for me, I got one of the unmedicated vaginal births, and it really was luck. Jacob was positioned well, I have some good birthin’ hips, I had great support, and labor progressed smoothly. Anyhoo, I’ll stop rambling now and sum up thusly: you rock, and your kidlets are wonderfully adorable.

Kim
Kim
14 years ago

I had an intervention-free birth (much prefer that term to natural) with my son and you know what? I feel no bravery. I am not roaring. I totally thought I would. I wanted a ‘natural’ birth and read so many birth stories which sounded so triumphant and empowering and I clung to them as some sort of motivation to go through with it. My birthin’ can best be summed up as: It was hard and gross, but now we have Dexter! It wasn’t beautiful, or empowering, or inspiring.

I’ve never felt brave or strong or like I’m any different a person because of it. Once the pushing phase was underway, honestly, there was no bravery involved. It was mere survival. I was DYING for someone to suggest forceps or suction, because I was going to say, “Yes! That! Do it! Get this thing outta me!” But no one did and the only reason I went on was because there was no way to stop it. No, I wasn’t brave at all.

I’m very glad I gave birth the way I did because I feel like it made things easier for Dex at the start of his life. For myself, though, eh… whatever.

Lauren
14 years ago

I did really roar at the end, funnily enough. Big primal scream while pushing. I scared the shit out of a poor mama-to-be checking in for an induction.

jumbles
jumbles
14 years ago

Laziza really hit it on the head, to me. I don’t see why someone else’s experience should diminish your own. Your babies turned out beautiful and healthy and that is more than an adequate justification (if you feel you need one). Of course there will always be judgmental ass-hats on both sides of any issue, but nobody can make you feel bad unless you let them.

Heidi
Heidi
14 years ago

Oh HOLLY HELL! I am just now realizing that I have to do this all a 3rd time! For the record, not that my opinion really matters, but I think that women who have C-sections and then choose to do it all over again KNOWING what that will intail, are MUCH braver then I will ever be. I felt my second come out, and it was the worst pain I have ever encountered. I could not imagine having my stomach gashed opened, my child pulled from my body, and then stappled and sewed closed! No thank you!!! I think that no matter how your children come into this world, you are “giving birth”. Kutos to you for choosing to do it all over again!!!
Ohh Kutos. you remember those?? That sounds damn good right now!

Jessica
Jessica
14 years ago

When I got pregnant, I told my OB that I’d had a past traumatic pelvic injury (broke that sucker in three places) and was really concerned about delivering vaginally. But she thought we should give it the old college try.

My third trimester was so painful that I had to go to twice-weekly physical therapy, and we induced at 39 weeks because I could barely walk.

After 12 hours of labor and two hours of pushing, the little fella was stuck right at the base of my pelvis and couldn’t get through. So I looked at my doctor and mimed a pair of scissors.

Anyway, even though he came out through the tummy, my baby is perfect in every way, except for when he kicks me in the c-section scar.

P.S. I ate nothing but cake while I was pregnant so I probably suck anyway.

P.P.S. My experience birthing my son was perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Kristy
14 years ago

You have a right to feel the things you feel. We all do.

To gain perspective think of all the very brave women in this world who will never know any birth experience. That’s perspective.

jessica
jessica
14 years ago

your body made, carried and then produced two heathy, happy, ADORABLE kids. you are woman, roar.

jumbles
jumbles
14 years ago

sorry one more thought– I think what’s more interesting than comparing dick size re: natural childbirth (ok, granted that doesn’t quite make sense) is to try to figure out why the hell the US is freakin 44th in infant mortality in the world (that’s lowest, of course, not highest). Best health care in the world my ass.

I guess it’s sort of typically American that we all fixate on our individual experience, rather that the collective one. Hope that gives some good perspective, rather than adds to your guilt.

marta
marta
14 years ago

In my Bradley class we had six couples. Sixteen weeks of motherfucking crunchy granola childbirth classes, all designed to get the partner involved, the mother empowered, and to gently shove down our throats the glory of unmedicated childbirth. Three c-sections, which puts it well ABOVE the national average. I laugh and laugh and laugh at that fact. (In retrospect, a good class, but really. Sixteen weeks. Agh.)

Melissa D.
Melissa D.
14 years ago

Okay – I just read some of the comments and want to say that you have a fine group of readers! A lot of love, understanding and intelligence. How refreshing!

Mimi
14 years ago

Thank you for writing this. I’ve had so many people look at me with pity because I had to have three c-sections to deliver my children. I don’t want to be pitied. I am HAPPY about those c-sections, and about my resulting beautiful kids. And whatever that Ash said above about how your birth experience will impact your relationship with your kids forever… I’m sorry. But that is just a weird thing to say and not true at all.

melinda
melinda
14 years ago

i had by no choice, but to give birth naturally. NO CHOICE. waited too long to go to the hospital. apparently i have a high tolerance for pain (who knew) and the stages of labor were 1/2 of what they were supposed to be. lucky that we got there when we did or i would have had him in the car. i would have paid for a c-section. i used to joke with the ob about how to finagle one. all i can say, 7 1/2 years later, there is no laminated card i carry, a tattoo on my forehead or a badge or courage that got pinned to my chest about the whole “ooh and ahh” of natural childbirth. we live in a world with amazing medical wonders, embrace it. he was healthy and beautiful, with all his pieces and parts, who gives a fuck how he entered the world…

Sue
Sue
14 years ago

Dude, I seriously had a natural chilbirth with my 3rd kid, because she came too damn fast for them to give me the epidural. Let me tell you, it sucked ASS. I was not superwoman, it hurt and I cried and cursed my husband out and I believe my head spun around a time or two. It did not make me a better mom and it did not make me feel like I had done something better than I did with the first two babies I gave birth to. No matter what the circumstance behind the birth, all of us women are either brave or stupid to keep wanting more and more of these little creatures. Also in my book, c-section babies are way prettier, they don’t get all distorted on their way out.

Leigh
14 years ago

F$%^ that. I have never ever questioned my decisions. I do not feel that I could or should have done anything differently. I had a vaginal birth and the drugs did not come fast enough. Literally, my bp was dropping and I was going into shock from the pain when I was dilated 3 (3!!) cm. The epidural and pitocin saved my life.

I am very very sure that I (and possibly my wonderful son) would have died 100 years ago. I’ve never spent a moment wondering if it would have been better for him or for me to have done it differently.

As I see it, our primary responsibility is to stay alive and healthy for our newborns: whatever that entails.

Cookie
14 years ago

My births were not exactly what I expected them to be. Not that there was anything I could have done. The drugs were a given both times, I don’t regret that, but I do wish there had been less intervention, but again I can’t regret that.

My first-born got the cord wrapped around his neck on the way out; and thus the delivery was aided by forceps in the hurry to get him out and breathing. My second-born was supposed by a scheduled induction, which turned into a c-section due to the fact that every time I had a contraction he lost oxygen. Turns out the cord had a knot in it, which could have been much more serious had I not been monitored when the contractions started. Both are fine, thanks to medical intervention.

It’s just hard not to feel like I failed as women. That I was weak for taking drugs. Weak for scheduling an induction. Even if it turned out to be the best thing for the health of my babies. Does that even make sense?

Jen
Jen
14 years ago

I’ve read your blog for awhile now, but have never commented before that I recall.

Ok, so I am not a mother yet, and have therefore never given birth in any way. So please feel free to tell me to shut up because, hey. What do I know?

You ARE brave. You carried 2 humans inside of you! You forced yourself to become a healthier person for them when you hadn’t even met them yet! To me, being a mother is the bravest of all things…and the birthing part while wholly impressive is but a small piece of the puzzle. As a mother, you are brave and strong every day…whether you feel that way or not.