Writing a Birth Story
Birth stories are common to find online these days, usually written by a Mom who has recently had a baby and wants to share her experience with the world. It can be very healing and therapeutic for some women to write out their birth story, from start to finish, about their personal experience with pregnancy, labor, delivery, and maybe even a little about their recovery. If a birth has been traumatic for any reason, sometimes it might take awhile for Mom to feel comfortable writing it down, or she might decide to keep it private. Birth stories can be written for the world to read, as a letter to the child, or in an attempt to educate someone else through Mom’s own experiences.
Whatever the reason, consider writing out your own. Even if it was a year or two ago! Get started simply with what I like to call a “brain purge.” Just start writing- don’t think about grammar, spelling, or even whether or not your thoughts are coherent. The goal is to get it all out and on to paper, and sometimes purging is the easiest way to get started. You might be surprised at what you write!
A client shared her birth story with me and offered to let me share it here on my blog, it’s sort of a birth story and testimonial all wound up in one! Thanks for sharing with it with me, A.!
My pregnancy was tough from the beginning. I was in bed for months and ended up on IV fluids 4 months in. My first labor was 13 1/2 hours long. Had I not been in the care of a midwife I would have ended up with a c-section. The major thing that help things progress to a point was the midwife’s assistant/ doula. The other major help was fluids. I didn’t think I needed a doula because I had my husband there. Boy was I wrong.
So when I found out I was expecting my second baby, I knew a doula would be on the top of my list of things I needed for delivery. I began my search early and was discouraged by what a lot of doulas charge. In one of my many google searches I came across Stephanie’s website. I was intrigued, but felt she would be more than I could afford. I book marked her page and moved on. It took awhile for me to revisit the doula thing again. My husband had mentioned wanting our 4 year old to be a part of his sister’s birth. I told him unless we could find a way to afford a doula, I didn’t see that happening. So once I was given the go ahead to start looking for real, I went back to Stephanie’s site. I read through it again and secretly knew she would be on the top of my list. Still hesitant about cost, I keep looking. Then I stumbled onto doulamatch.net. And what do you know? Stephanie was listed. I couldn’t wait much longer to make a decision and so took a leap of faith that this doula would be my doula.
We were in a difficult living situation at the time and had a lot “stuff” we were dealing with. We told Stephanie what we were looking for and what we needed. This was going to be my last pregnancy and birth and I was going to make sure it was going to go the way I wanted it. After our first meeting, my husband declared that she was our doula. He was right. I wanted a birth photographer, but cost was a major issue. Placenta encapsulation piqued my interest and most importantly we needed someone to help out with my 4 year old. I felt like we were throwing everything at Stephanie just to see what she would do and to my amazement she went above and beyond anything I could have hoped for. She found us a photographer who was offering her services at rock bottom prices. She found an auction for placenta encapsulation starting at $50, but most importantly, she found a wonderful doula-in-training who generously agreed to give her time at no charge to help with our son. I was floored by everything Stephanie had done for us and I hadn’t even gone into labor yet. I emailed, for what seemed like, day and night throwing the impossible at her and each time she came back it was like, “Ok done. What else you got?”
On labor day… It’s about 2am and I am finally comfortable enough to try to get some sleep. I lay down and about 30 minutes later I’m back up needing to pee every few minutes. I have a few pains but have been in early labor since 36 1/2 weeks and so think nothing of it. 3am rolls around and I’m getting a little uncomfortable, still peeing frequently and just can’t get settled. Pains start to get stronger but they are pretty random. 4am approaches and things are slowly heating up. I decide to start timing them and they are about 30 to 45 seconds long about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes apart. I keep telling myself this isn’t it because last time I called everyone it was just early labor and lasted 18 hours then stopped. However, as the pains started getting stronger through the 4 o’clock hour I was hoping this was not just false labor. Around 5:30am I decide to start calling everyone involved in this marathon event. Around 5:45am I notify my husband, who just wants to know if my water broke. I go back to the bedroom and back onto my birth ball. Can’t stand that anymore so end up on the floor. The overhead fan is blowing hard, I’m shivering and can’t manage to crawl the few feet to my bed. I finally take a deep breath and pull myself off the floor. I’m in bed still shivering and my husband comes in. He lay with me for a minute, tells me he is going to take a shower and leaves. I am stuck on my side in bed and start to have hip and back pain. My first labor was all in my back and Stephanie had discussed things she could do to help with that pain. It’s about 6:20am and I call to ask her to come to the house. I was very vocal during this labor, shouting pretty loudly, all while trying to keep my voice low and deep. Yeah, that wasn’t working out so well.
I had this incredible urge to push, but it had only been about 2 hours of consistent pains that there was no way it was time. I tried she hard to resist the urge to push, shouting “no pushing!” every time I did. I was shouting for Stephanie, because it was taking FOREVER for her to arrive. I kept thinking, “I can just go to the hospital and get an epidural and the pain will be gone!” Then I’d think “No, I’d have to still and fill out intake forms, wait for a room, wait to get hooked up to monitors and IVs, and then wait for the epidural. Screw that!” Stephanie finally arrived and I was so relieved to see her. I knew now the pain would stop because she was her with her magic rebozo. Yes, I honestly thought that. She helped my find my center and bring my voice down low. I told her of all the pressure and the incredible urge to push and she told me it wasn’t time to push and that I would bruise my cervix if I did. I knew this but just couldn’t stop. My husband got me to the toilet where Stephanie and I sat through a few contractions. It was nearing 8am and with the 30 minute drive to the birth center, we need to get moving. I did not want to move. Stephanie reminded me that a home birth was not what I wanted. I set everything up the way I wanted it and we need to make it to the birth center. I was dreading having to sit in the car for 30 minutes. My husband got me off the toilet and dragged me to the car. The last thing Stephanie told me before we drove off was, “If you need to push, pant instead. We don’t want to be on the 5 o’clock news: Baby delivered on the side of the road!”
We got on the road and were praying there would be no traffic. The pressure was unbearable and the panting only helped half way through each pain. My son is in his car seat telling me to be patient, it’ll be ok. My husband keeps demanding I pant when he notices me pushing. My water breaks shortly after the toll road and I know we still have a good 15 minutes to go. Stephanie calls because my husband is trying to signal to her that my water broke. I hear him telling her “No, we’ll get her there.” We pull up to the 4 story medical building around 8:30am. The car doors are locked and I just cannot be bothered to unlock them. Stephanie is at my window. The doors unlock and I throw my legs onto the pavement. “I can feel her head!” I shout as my husband throws my arms around his neck and starts “dragging” me over to the elevator. I hear people chatter around me. “Is she having a baby? She needs to go to the hospital!” We reach the elevator and I notice our doula-in-training there. Elevator finally comes, we shuffle in, and wait to reach the 4th floor. My husband’s back is tired so he flips around, grabs my hands, leads them around the front of his waist and continues dragging me down the hallway as my feet shuffle to keep up. “Ring of fire! Ring of fire!” I shout as we are half down the hallway. I stop pushing at this point. We reach the door. My eyes are closed. I have no idea how I made it into the birthing room. I open my eyes and I’m there. I rip off my shorts, feel for my baby’s head just to make sure she is truly right there, and jump on the bed on all fours. I hear commotion about the photographer not going to make it in time, search for the camera, and suddenly Stephanie is by my side guiding me through the rest of my marathon. I managed 4 pushes through the ring of fire. Before I knew it my perfect little girl was here at 8:42am. After she was born, Stephanie helped me get her to latch. We were trying all kinds of positions and at first I didn’t think baby girl and I could figure it out. My son had latched on right away. Baby girl on the other hand was not too keen on the idea of nursing. I got her to nurse a little and then Stephanie helped me get cleaned up. I think Stephanie stayed about 2 hours after baby girl was born. We did what we needed to do and were home when about baby girl was 6 hours old.
I emailed Stephanie after the first day about a few things and she promptly responded. We set a date to meet again at 3 weeks postpartum. Before we met again I was telling my birth story to someone and they asked me if a doula had even been worth it since my labor was so fast. Without hesitation I told that person that she was worth it to me. I would have given Stephanie triple what her fee was if I could have afforded to do so. Her service was invaluable to our family. At our postpartum visit we discussed my feelings about the birth. I told her I was happy with the way things went. She seemed surprised but glad I felt that way.
During our second prenatal visit I told Stephanie I was always my husband’s external hard drive and how it was hard to let everything go during labor. Stephanie said she was here to be my external hard drive so I could let it all go and not worry about. And she truly was just that and more.
My little girls is 13 weeks today and I can honestly say I have no regrets about my final journey bringing this little soul into the world.