Exactly on my due dates, maybe a day before? (I was born at 12:33am the day I was due)
- Did labor come naturally or were you induced?
Naturally. Water broke at home after Mexican food and a hot bath (with pregnancy #1, me) Naturally. I started getting contractions at home which quickly progressed to less than 4 mins a part. I rushed to the hospital with your grandparents and they broke my water which really sped up the contractions (with pregnancy #2, my brother) Induced. They convinced me to schedule your sister’s birth around the Thanksgiving holiday which sounded like a great idea. To this day, I feel like it was a mistake to be induced— that she just wasn’t ready yet (with pregnancy #3, my sister) - How long was each phase of labor?
Early labor: 1-2 hours, Active labor: 1-2 hours, Pushing: 10 minutes! (worth noting that with each of my mom’s births, she progressed SO QUICKLY that none of the nursing staff nor doctor were present at the time she needed to start pushing. She basically went from 0-10 cm in 4-6 hours shocking everyone in the hospital (this is how it was for all 3 births, with exception of my sister’s induction which included an unsuccessful 12 hours of Pitocin drip— but then once it finally took, progressed quickly) - Did you use any pain medication?
No. I don’t even think it crossed my mind. (Here I asked if anyone even asked if she wanted an epidural— I mean, she had kids in the late 80s and early 90s!) I remember suffering through the pain of contractions silently which is probably why no one asked if I needed help, and also why they were surprised I was progressing as quickly as I was. - What do you remember about the pain?
That it was bad but tolerable. A nurse told me to focus on one thing and to imagine my cervix opening with each contraction. Once I had the mental image, things got much easier. The worst part was when I was crowning— it felt like I was on fire. (My mom had no idea that this was actually referred to now as “the ring of fire!” — and she never tore. Sorry if TMI, Mom!) All in all, my mom is apparently a birthing wonder who should have had like 20 kids. Come to think of it, this is probably why her mother, my grandma did have literally a dozen children. These women practically popped out children during their lunch breaks.
I’ve read that much of your labor experience can be hereditary which makes a great deal of sense when it comes to specific complications (size of pelvis, threshold for pain, etc) which is why I wanted to know in the first place. But while listening to my mother’s miraculous stories, with my eyeballs wide and jaw slacked, I knew I should temper my excitement. I am built nothing like my mother and grandmother (and aunts, who apparently had the same ease). I take after the sturdy Serbian women on my dad’s side of the family more than the petite, Irish kin on my mother’s side. While that may sound like an even better position to be in, I can’t imagine a more perfect labor story than what these tiny Irish ladies are pedaling.
At any rate, hearing these stories has been enlightening. I can’t believe I knew so little about my mother’s birth stories. I’d never asked about the details of how I came into the world myself, aside from the bit about her having Mexican food first, which I’ve proudly recited over the years. It was incredible to hear her recount the details of possibly the most important days of her life, and as she talked I got the sense that no one else had ever asked for these stories either. It’s true that my generation is one of information overload. With the stories and books and blogs available to me and my pregnant cohort these days, it only seems fitting to find out about my own family’s stories.
I’m also taking away a lot of gratitude for becoming a new mother in 2014. I so grateful to live in a time where births and child-rearing are “going back to basics” and have a focus on biology and nature. When I was born, hospital protocol was not to toss the baby onto the mother’s bare chest for “skin to skin” contact. It was to perform a battery of tests on a cold, sterile table first. There was no waiting to cut the umbilical cord until it stopped pulsing. Unless you had a home birth or went to a birthing center, people didn’t have much say in their labors nor births. A birth plan? What is that?
My mother claims that for her, labor and delivery was pure instinct. That she had never talked to anyone about what labor would be like, hadn’t read many books about what to expect, and really had no idea how easy she ended up having it. For her, ignorance was bliss. I hope that despite all of my knowledge (which yes, can be a burden!), I’m still able to enjoy even half the easy experience my mother and her mother did with child birth.
Time will tell… and don’t worry, so will I! Good, bad, ugly!