When we got to the hospital my husband went to sign on the dotted line and the nurse assigned to be with me until the baby came took me to what would be my labor room.
My nurse was very nice. She had actually heard of my husband, so I thought that was a good sign. She had me slip into my hospital gown, and then empty my bladder. I don’t really remember the order of things after that. I was prepped and given an enema. Then came the needle person to put the IV in. I remember thinking why did all these things have to be done to me? My grandmother’s birthed 18 babies between the two of them, all at home, and they never had to go through any of the prepping I was experiencing. Once the IV was in and the blood pressure cuff was put on, I was pretty much bound to the bed. When my nurse ruptured the membrane (there was no waiting to see how labor progressed, membrane rupture was just part of the routine), I asked, “Why does my water have to be broken? Won’t that just happen on its own?” My nice nurse said, “It will help labor go faster”. I remember thinking, “well that can’t be a bad thing.” So the water was broken and instantly the labor took on a whole new dimension.
It never occurred to me that I could be walking around, sitting up, squatting (no birthing tubs 31 years ago). I was told I would have to lay down. It’s difficult to hold things together laying flat on your back when you’re trying to do things naturally. My husband and I tried to breathe through the contractions but they were very strong and very fast. Unfortunately, I had not done my homework after getting pregnant. I had been conditioned to believe and trust anything a doctor said and so I did. I followed his protocol, never thinking there could be a better way.
Around 1:00 p.m. (not sure about the time) the need for something to ease the pain became overwhelming. Since I was no fan of needles there was absolutely no way I was going to have an epidural or to have anything put into my spine. I was adamant about that before ever going into labor, thanks to those childbirth classes. I assumed (because I had been told), Demerol was a good alternative and that’s what we went with.
Demerol worked perfectly, between contractions. I slept like a baby. It did nothing while I was actually having the contractions except dull my senses. The pain was still just as intense and I couldn’t move. I laid on my back through my entire labor and wasn’t even hooked up to a fetal monitor (they weren’t being used in the good old days). When it came time to push, I was too doped up to push effectively; my precious baby was reaping the benefits of my decision and I didn’t even realize it. I always felt because of the decisions I made that day, her arrival was probably prolonged.
After pushing for what seemed like forever, the decision was made to use forceps. That of course terrified me (even in my brain fog from demerol) because forceps were used at my birth. My mother contracted a life threatening infection from the use of forceps “Childbirth Fever” and I had a life threatening concussion. Then there was my episiotomy (just another part of the routine), all the way to my rectum. The doctor stopped cutting but I just kept tearing. I assumed that had to be done to get the forceps in. Fortunately my beautiful baby daughter was crowning so the forceps didn’t have to go far. Then it happened. Everyone was so excited in the delivery room, “It’s a girl! It’s a girl!” in my drug-induced state I was excited as I could be and then I saw her. She was purple. I thought she was dying. I didn’t get to hold her. She was whisked away.
In between naps (the drugs) I kept asking if she was O.K. I kept being reassured that she was just fine but it was several hours before I saw my baby.
At the time (31 years ago), I thought that was how birthing should be. I thought that was “normal”. When I saw my baby girl, she was absolutely beautiful. I couldn’t imagine that she came from me. I couldn’t stop looking at her and except for some bruising from the forceps she was absolutely perfect.
My husband was so supportive of me and so thrilled to be the father of this little girl. I owe him a huge debt of gratitude for encouraging me to breast feed. I had never been in the presence of anyone who nursed and I wasn’t at all sure that was the thing to do but he nudged me lovingly so I committed to six weeks and those weeks turned into months. That decision changed my life. That decision bonded me to that precious little life. It gave me confidence and purpose .
I look back 31 years and I get teary thinking how I could have better educated myself and when I get down and low from thinking about it, I’m reminded of the gift I was given and the joy that little girl brought to our family. She made us better. I can’t imagine never having had her in my life. Today I look at the adult that little girl has become and I’m overwhelmed with gratitude, love and pride. She is a beautiful, brilliant, wonderful daughter. She’s making a difference in the lives of many women. Women just like that young mother 31 years ago who just need someone to lead the way. What could be better than that?