Single Mother, Unassisted Birth
When I was pregnant with my first child, I thought the hospital birthing experience was going to be so beautiful. But when I went into labor, I entered the hospital hurting badly and crying. The nurse said they might send me home which made me cry even more because I thought it couldn’t hurt much more than that. I wanted to have the baby now. A short time later they said I should stay. I refused drugs until the nurse said, “This is your last chance for Demerol.” Since I had no clue to the possible pain yet to come, I accepted.
I made the doctor aware on many occasions that I did not want an episiotomy but was given one anyway. The doctor offered me a bar to stand and hold on to. I accepted because I was feeling comfortable with the staff but then a nurse walked in that I had never seen before. She was eating from a bag of chips and yelling “Push!” Twice, the staff and I turned and glared at her. The safe feelings that I had were gone and I felt naked and uncomfortable. I was very pleased that my husband, baby and I shared a hospital room together.
I wanted to have my second child at home but my husband would not agree to it and I had my worst childbirth experience. I had read one of Sheila Kitzinger’s books during my pregnancy and learned a lot. The doctor had tried to get me to induce labor on his 9 to 5 schedule at each prenatal visit. I declined and my water broke at midnight. At the hospital I lay with my legs spread wide apart. A nurse looked at me in disgust and told me to put my legs together. I put them together until she walked out a few seconds later and opened them again. Several nurses were having fits because my three-year-old was there to see her sister being born. They said things to try to have her removed but I insisted she stay and the doctor okayed it.
The nurses offered me drugs but I declined. I looked at the contractions on the fetal monitor which were very high and made a comment to a nurse. She told me those were the mom’s in the next room (that I heard many screams of pain from) who was on Pitocin. A nurse insisted she give me some shot in the hip that she said was like Tylenol. I accepted but I felt the entire birth and it felt good and right. The doctor arrived just in time to catch my daughter. He was angry to have been up so early. He did not give me my baby and I still tear up thinking of that. I wanted to hold her. The nurses seemed surprised that I had a quiet birth but had nothing nice to say. I asked the doctor if he could go home and sleep and he sharply stated that he couldn’t as he had to go to work. My baby had to sleep in the nursery and my husband and I saw a nurse hurriedly throwing blankets on babies which were slapping them in the face. When she saw us she smiled and closed the blinds. I couldn’t wait to get my baby and get the hell out of there.
The doctor was very kind to me at my next visit but it makes no difference to me. I don’t like him. I did very much like that my daughter Jacey, three at the time, did see her little sister, Tessa, being born. She said, “There’s the head!” She giggled and said, “Oh, she is cute and adorable!” This line came from one of her Sesame Street books and the nasty nurses loved it. She doesn’t remember watching and I’m sad that I didn’t have it videotaped, but knowing it happened and we were together is very special to us.
My third pregnancy was after my divorce. My daughter’s father did not want to be a part of her life. I had no insurance and decided I would have her at home. My sister had her baby at a hospital that helps the poor. She told me that the nurses were herding the moms like cattle. She said the doctor was mad because their labors were not progressing as quickly as he liked so he entered a room full of moms and demanded they rub their nipples in the hopes of furthering them along. She told me that a bloody sheet fell off of one mom and a nurse picked it up and put it over her. After my nephew was born, the doctor put him on a cart, told a nurse that he was blue and left the room. I went right to the bookstore and bought Unassisted Childbirth and another Sheila Kitzinger book.
I saw a doctor for a few prenatal visits and paid cash for a sonogram. He advised me not have my baby at home. Some coworkers put their noses in my business and had some not so nice things to say about me but I felt very confident. A friend talked me into letting her be there and introduced me to a midwife. The midwife told us that my friend might have to put her hand in me to get the umbilical cord. I did not agree. My friend was becoming too nervous in my last month and I was afraid that she would call 911 and blow my homebirth plans so I decided I would give birth alone.
The day I was due, I spent the whole day shopping and was worn out and extremely tired. I went to wash a load of clothes before going to bed and had a painful contraction. I brushed it off as Braxton Hicks. My older daughters were ten days overdue and I thought this baby would be “late” also. I went to bed and the pains continued. I kept having to urinate and it was driving me crazy because I was exhausted after a long day and wanted to sleep. I was to the point of crying for sleep, not pain. At each bathroom trip I saw no sign of birth. After many trips, I looked with a mirror and was shocked to see my baby’s head crowning. Suddenly I was wide awake and excited. I took two extra-strength Tylenol.
My bed was already prepared for birth. I grabbed my kit with scissors, alcohol, etc., and dove into my bed just in time for the large contractions. I planned on giving birth in a squatting position but was more comfortable on my hands and knees. I noticed my cat watching from a corner and suddenly wondered if he would freak out but he didn’t. My daughter, Shae, slid out right under my face. I talked to her and either called my friend or cut the cord next. It was around four in the morning. After my friend arrived, I went to the bathroom and waited for the placenta. My friend sat with Shae and more friends came over. They took Shae downstairs and I laid down since I hadn’t slept all night. I was too excited to sleep! I was listening to my friends talk about me and went downstairs to join them. They gave Shae her first bath while I sat on some ice.
I did take Shae to see the doctor and received no congratulations. He didn’t even look at her. Like my other daughters, she was jaundiced and had her feet poked. She cried and I cried. Why I was stupid and put her through that, I don’t know. I listen to other people more than my gut sometimes.
Shae is almost four-years-old now and we sleep together on the bed she was born on. I like telling older people about her birth. Many of them were born at home but don’t talk about it because most people are afraid of homebirth. I’m glad that sharing my story with them makes them feel happy.
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