One thing that Beth and I both think is very important in pregnancy is making it your own. Whether you’re a marathoner who proudly takes your bump on 5 mile runs every day or you’re stuck on bed-rest your entire pregnancy, embrace it and do what you feel is best for you and your baby. This goes for labor as well. I am a strong advocate for a woman’s freedom to choose her own delivery. Nine times out of ten it won’t go the way we plan it anyway. Know that you are strong and wonderful and, in the end, you get one of the greatest gifts.
My First Labor
I was in my early twenties when I got pregnant with my first daughter. My husband and I had only been married a little over a year when we found out we were having her. Needless to say, neither of us knew much about pregnancy or labor.
While I was pregnant I did not feel that I had a high pain tolerance, and the fear of delivering a baby put me in a state of worry throughout my pregnancy. I halfheartedly told myself that I would go as long as I could naturally, but really I knew I wouldn’t be able to go very long without an epidural. When I went into labor, the hospital kept sending me home because I wasn’t dilating fast enough. The snarky nurse kept saying, “Oh. Very much the same. Very much the same,” every time she checked me. Hours later and still having the “Very Much the Same” ringing in my head, I began to feel the urge to push. We went back to the hospital, and I was fully dilated! After 18 long hours of laboring at home, the first thing to come out of my mouth was “am I too late for an epidural?” I received my anticipated epidural and shortly after, we happily welcomed our Leni into the world. I received beautiful memories about my first delivery, but I often caught myself thinking, “I wonder if I could’ve done it.”
My Second Labor
Jump to a few years later to my second pregnancy. I was a few years older and had already gone through it all once, so (as many second time moms think) I was totally a pro. Only every pregnancy is different and this was no exception. Despite the differences, I definitely felt much more confident this time. I did a lot more research on my own and had a group of doctors who listened to me and encouraged me to listen to my body.
Through the years after Leni was born, I had a shift in how I thought about birth and decided to use a birthing center, which gave me no choice but to be confident in a natural labor. There was no turning back. This time around I felt myself more excited about the challenge than afraid of the experience. When labor began, I calmly laid in bed timing contractions. The quiet was nice in those first few hours. It was like the baby and I had a special secret; we were the only ones who knew what was to come. I went to my doctor later that morning, and they suggested that I walk, walk some more, and finish with walking; so walk we did! I was checked into the birthing center and thirty minutes later we said hello to our Rosie.
I’m so glad that I have two different laboring experiences. The greater significance, however, is that these birthing stories gave me two wonderful daughters; that’s what I value the most. I hope you feel encouraged to listen to yourself and say, “I can do this.” No matter what labor looks like for you, you get your baby in the end.