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Four

My first daughter was born the day the first shuttle blew up.  And she was birthed at a naval hospital, and so for them, a military baby being born on a day that the shuttle had blown was pretty amazing.  And there was no attention given to the babies because of all the national headlines.  So that was a little different, and then seeing her birthday in history books in January.  And I was only 19 when she was born, and absolutely knew nothing.  No birthing classes, nothing, I didn't even know the words the doctors were using.  And you never had the same doctor; it was a training hospital for the military.  She was premature, I had been having labor pains, but what I thought was false labor.  We kept going to the hospital and they would send you home, and going to the hospital and send you home.  But it was the middle of the winter in Washington DC, in a bad snow storm.  And we lived two hours from the hospital, so they said, "You know what, you are going into labor, but we just don't know when you're going to have this baby, so we're going to keep you," and I ended up staying there for three days.  They admitted me to the maternity ward, where all those people already had their babies, and I didn't realize that what I was feeling was actually labor pains, to me it wasn't that bad.  I was expecting just the worst, and it was the third day and my husband had to go home and take a shower, and he said, "I will be right back".  They gave me dinner, I will never forget the meatloaf and the potatoes and the peas they fed me because I hadn't eaten in three days since that enema was coming.  And they said that you're not getting ready to have this baby, so might as well have dinner.  And I remember eating and I was lonely and I went to the window to watch him drive away in snow storm.  And stood up and my water broke.  And I didn't know what to do!  So I had this awful, old, old mean military nurse come in and she yelled at me, "Why didn't you tell me you were having contractions!"  And I'm like, "I've been here for three days with contractions!"  It didn't change, nothing had changed; my body had just decided that my waters were supposed to break.  So of course there are no cell phones at this point, they had to call and leave a message on my husband's answering machine at home, he drove two hours there and two hours back.  I had taken some pain medicine, but the vomiting was horrible, just hours and hours of violent vomiting, they couldn't get it under control.  I finally gave into an epidural, I had no idea what an epidural was; they just said it will help the pain.  And they thought I was throwing up because of the pain.  And fourteen hours of that kind of stuff, and I don't remember the pushing at all because, with the epidural, I was pretty out of it.  I just remember at the point she was born, the absolute chills set in and the convulsing of the cold.  At eight pounds four and a half ounces she was early, couple weeks early, so that was incredible.  I guess the most incredible story of my second one was that I didn't even know I was having him, I mean I knew I was pregnant but I was in labor at the same military hospital as the first one, and they wanted to check to see how far I was dilated.  I was expecting to feel as horrible as I did with the first one, I was expecting the vomiting and the convulsions and all that.  And at that point I was comfortable, in fact when I was pregnant with the second one I was so scared because I didn't want to have to go through what I had the first time.  They were 18 months and one day different, and he was definitely planned, I was just thinking about, "Oh gosh, am I going to have to do this again?"  My husband was watching football on T.V., I was reading the comics and the doctor came into check me.  And he looked to my husband and asked, "Are you going to be around for the birth?" and he said, "Well of course I am!"  And he said, "Well you better hurry up and get scrubs, the full scrubs on, and go to the delivery room because the heads coming out".  And I'm like, "What are you talking about there's a head coming out?!"  And all of a sudden, all psychological, I was in pain.  If he hadn't told me that I probably would have gone through the whole process feeling no pain.  They (mothers) were all coming up to me in labor and delivery and asking, "Well, how big do you think your baby's going to be?" and I thought maybe seven or eight pounds.  And he was close to 11, and I had him natural, without any drugs or anything.  I did have an episiotomy, but that was when they were mandatory.  It was standard operating procedure.  Being the largest child and only my second child, it was the easiest birth.  It was really incredible.  I had just psyched myself out so much; that just shows the power of your mindset.  And I think that once someone goes through a natural birth, they see that it's doable, it's easier to accept the next one that way.  And the third one was just a text book.  I went into a doctor's appointment a few days before I was due and she said, "You know, you are getting ready to have this baby, why don't we just get this started, so why don't we schedule an induction?  Can you be at the hospital at five in the morning since we are doing others at that time?" and I was like, "Sure!"  I think she was going on vacation or something (laughing).  This one was the only civilian hospital baby I had, and my mother was a nurse at that hospital at that time.  So I'm like, "Okay schedule an induction, no big deal".  She was like, "This might get you started".  Well, by midnight I was in there on my own in full labor.  My joke to everyone is schedule an induction and you'll go straight into labor.  She was born at eight in the morning, no episiotomy.  I walked out of that hospital within 12 hours after giving birth and I felt like I hadn't had a baby, because the hardest part about having a child had been the episiotomy and the feeling of it.   As a new mother, and especially when you already have a baby at home, having to deal with the pain of healing was so different.  There was none of that healing pain without the episiotomy.  And here I was now 23 but I was on my third child, and the doctor said, "I think she'll just work her way out".  I had a great OBGYN, a female doctor and she was wonderful.  It was just text book, I pushed maybe 20 or 30 minutes, but I did have an epidural with the last one.  But my anesthesiologist wasn't real heavy with it.  It got real close, seven or eight centimeters, and I was begging for more.  And they were like, "We'll come back in a few minutes," knowing that I was getting ready to push.  And I was not happy about that, but it worked out for the best.  They were all over eight pounds, they were all very healthy.  Most of them were on time, if not just a little early; I was just your typical young mother.  I didn't do special exercising; I did have gestational diabetes, which is probably why they were all so big.  Which was hard on me, but they were all healthy and none of them have diabetes now or anything.  It was an incredible experience to have had my own children and to now be watching my own child give birth as a support person.  I called my mother as soon as my grandchild was born and apologized to her that I had robbed my mother of being there at the birth of my children, because it was the most wonderful experience.  It's hard for me to explain.  He (husband) explains it as when she (granddaughter) was born he felt this incredible sense of responsibility, not burden, but responsibility as a grandfather that he had never felt before.  It was such an overwhelming sense that he's got to go to work, he's got to get things done.  And I was thinking, "Oh my gosh, I just want to take care of my daughter.  I just want her to experience the best of being a mom".  I didn't want her to worry about not being married, just being twenty, leaving college for a while, not being able to support herself and the baby.  She knows that she relies on us, but she's a great mother.  Just because women are young doesn't mean that they can't be great mothers.  And her experience with the midwives was just great for a young mother, with a midwife who understood from the first visit that this was not a planned pregnancy.  She worked with my daughter, and told her that most pregnancies within or outside of marriage are not planned, so really you're not so different from everybody else.  This is a normal thing, it's just that you're unwed and you're 19.  But I watched her grow up into this woman; it's just incredible to watch the transformation from being my child to being a mother.  The midwife program is just an incredible program, really would fit for a lot of different scenarios, especially with a young mother who had no idea what she was getting into, and it ended up being a great experience.  It was just a fascinating experience to be on the other end of it and the emotional piece of it is just completely different than being a mother.