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Positive Birth Stories are here to revolutionize the way we look at birth (and change the world 🙂 )! Fear and stress associated to birth are one of the main reason why women don’t manage to achieve a joyful birth experience. And it doesn’t have to be that way! You can read more about Positive Birth Stories here. Or head to my birth story: How I had a natural and pain free birth thanks to hypnobirthing.
If you’d like to share your own birth story, I’d love to hear from you! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jen’s Birth Story
Before becoming pregnant with my first baby, my husband and I carefully considered the timing as to when our baby should be born. We were living in Texas, USA on a military assignment and knew that an important training school in Florida would be our next duty station.
It was our hope that the birth of our son would happen before we moved, so family could be nearby. When we announced that I was pregnant, the timing seemed just right and everything would happen according to our plan.
A short time later, we found out that my husband would be starting his training much earlier than anticipated – and we would need to arrive in Florida 3 weeks before my due date.
Staying behind in Texas was never a question for me. I knew that I wanted my husband to support me through labor and welcome our first baby into the world.
Due to the uncertainty and upheaval of moving, I began to doubt whether I’d be able to fulfill my dream of having a natural and drug-free childbirth. I wasn’t sure how I’d have the time to prepare mentally with all the stress of moving and getting settled happening so close to the time my son would be born.
Plus, my doctor in Texas wasn’t particularly supportive of natural childbirth. When I told her that I’d like to have my baby naturally, she replied with, “Are you trying to be some kind of hero or something?” As a young, soon-to-be-mom, I stammered through my reply that I believed in the power of positive psychology, having been a psychology major in college and that if all went well, I’d like to try to have a drug-free labor and childbirth.
Arriving in Florida
While I wasn’t too sad to leave that doctor behind, I was also concerned about finding and meeting our new doctor in Florida. Because of the way military medical systems work, I had to wait until we arrived in Florida to be assigned to a new doctor.
When I waddled into the military hospital at 37-weeks pregnant in Florida, I was quickly assigned to a midwifery clinic and was scheduled to meet my new midwife in only a few days.
While I would never recommend moving home so late in a pregnancy, I quickly realized this was an incredible blessing for me because my new midwife was in complete support of my desire to have a natural and drug-free labor and childbirth!
The 40-week appointment
The next few weeks literally flew by as we quickly set up house in Florida, learned our way around town, went to prenatal checkups, and prepared our home for the arrival of our son.
At my 40-week appointment, everything seemed to proceed as expected, but after having my initial check from the technician, I was told I’d be having an additional ultrasound before I met with the midwife.
During this time, I got up to use the restroom for the second time and started to feel a bit unusual. I didn’t feel poorly exactly – but I began to feel strange in my own body – as if something wasn’t quite normal.
After having the ultrasound, we met with our midwife, during which time she told us that our son’s abdomen was only measuring in the 17th percentile. This indicated that my placenta was no longer giving him the nutrition he needed and that we needed to consider induction as soon as possible.
This happened to be two days before Thanksgiving – and my midwife would be going out of town for the holiday, and my husband would begin his training the following Monday.
With those events looming large, we decided to induce that very day!
The mysterious breaking of my water
With our decision to induce, my midwife checked me and we were all shocked when she announced that my water had already broken.
This was completely mystifying to me – I’d never felt a rush of fluid of any sort at all. Taking another urine sample revealed that I did indeed have amniotic fluid leaking out.
While I couldn’t identify when my water broke, I was thankful to know that my body was already making preparations to give birth to my son, who needed to be born and receive the nourishment he needed.
After checking in at the hospital, I fully expected labor to quickly move into full swing.
But, after four hours of playing cards, watching television, and reading Harry Potter aloud to each other NOTHING was happening.
At this time, my midwife recommended pitocin to help speed up the process and get my contractions going.
While I was aware that pitocin can increase the severity of contractions, I wanted to get my son out of my body so I could start nursing him and giving him sustenance as soon as possible. The urge to care for him was overwhelming and nearly supernatural for me – I’d never felt so incredibly connected to another person as I did to my son at that time.
As contractions intensified, I clung to my ideal of having a natural childbirth – even though I’d already needed drugs to move it along.
Using deep breathing techniques, meditation, and positive affirmations, I felt empowered and in control of the process, which was incredible because so much of what had transpired with our move, finding a new doctor, and the timing of my son’s birth were all so very much out of my control.
Around 8pm contractions began to hit their peak and transition began. As the pain increased, I asked my husband if we could talk to the midwife about getting an epidural. But as we’d already planned, he encouraged me to wait only 30 more minutes before I made the request for an epidural.
With his support, deep breathing, and using my mental processes, I made it through the next 30 minutes of intense, regular contractions at the peak of transition.
When the midwife arrived the next time, she checked me and told me that my bag of waters was in the way – apparently it had only had a small rupture the whole time. She broke my water and I finally did feel the rush of fluid I’d heard and read about from others.
Almost immediately after she broke my water completely, it was time to start pushing. While I’d been laboring almost entirely on a medicine ball, I wanted to climb into the hospital bed to push. This wasn’t something I expected myself to do, but it felt right to me in the moment.
As I pushed through the contractions for the next hour, I worked as hard as I could. I felt strong and in tune with my body. My husband and midwife were incredible strengths to me.
A few small moments
But just before my son’s head begin to crown, I had a small moment of doubt and fear creep in. On the next contraction, my strength failed me, and I couldn’t push. Instead, I asked my midwife for a moment to rest, pray, and collect myself.
Thankful for my midwife’s compassion, my husband leaned over me and offered a simple prayer. That short moment of rest and repose was all I needed.
Just a few moments later, I felt my son’s head crown and with 6 more pushes, he was born.
As he was placed on my chest, the first thing I said was, “How’s his abdomen?,” wondering if he was malnourished as the ultrasound indicated. Miraculously, the midwife leaned over and whispered that his his body was perfectly proportioned all along and the scans must have been inaccurate.
Holding my son for the first time, I was overwhelmed to see his brilliant blue eyes staring so intensely into mine, and the joy and responsibility of being a mother coursed through my mind and heart.
Many moments later
It has been over fifteen years since my son was born, and if there’s anything I’ve learned about being a mother, it’s that motherhood – just like my first birth experience – is defined in small moments.
Just as most of my best-laid plans didn’t come to fruition, it’s also true that our motherhood journeys won’t necessarily go according to our plan either. But I truly believe that we are given the power to change and adapt when we need it.
Secondly, we can use our setbacks to propel us even farther forward. When I learned that my placenta was failing to nourish my son (even though the scan was erroneous), I felt that I was failing. But it was this setback that gave me the strong, overwhelming urge to get him to where he needed to be to receive the nourishment he needed. Without this sense of urgency, I’m not sure I’d have been so focused.
Next, just as I had that moment of doubt and fear during labor, I think it’s also true that all mothers have doubts about our abilities to mother our children. But when we have the right people around us to encourage us along our motherhood journey, we become so much stronger and are better able to continue along our way.
Also, taking time to rest and regroup in motherhood is not only okay – it is necessary. Thankfully my midwife gave me that moment of repose right when I needed it. But I had to speak up and ask for it. If there is a message I hope other moms will remember from my story, it’s this: needing help doesn’t make you a bad mom. Instead, asking for help gives you the power to be a better mom in the long run.
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Jen Bradley has had four more children since the birth of her first son more than fifteen years ago. She now writes about the power of small moments in motherhood and teaches other moms how to find joy and simplify motherhood on her website, www.jenbradleymoms.com.