Every Labor Is Different... Fact or Fiction?by Jenny Taylor
I am a mother of three children. When they tell you no child is the same… well, I can vouch no child labor is the same either! I have had three completely different experiences with my three children.
May I start off by saying, you can forget that birth plan you worked so hard on. If you ask a group of mothers how many actually followed their birthing plan, I bet only one or two hands will go up. We cannot predict the unpredictable. We don’t know when these lovely babies are going to arrive. How they are going to arrive? For me, I just had a list of the options I could choose if the situation presented itself like a water birth or epidural if needed. I wasn’t against any extra help in the slightest.
Let’s start with my first baby that kept us waiting as long as possible to meet him. We will call him Buba. Now, Buba was a smooth pregnancy. I had no complications other than really taking the “eating for two” seriously. He was my first baby and I was going to make sure he was fed to be a strong boy. Little did I know that you’re not actually supposed to eat for two. There was a whole lot of weight I didn’t have to shed if I had known otherwise. His due date came and went.
If you have been pregnant or are pregnant now and nearing your due date, you will relate to the following. “No, I haven’t had him yet!” nor “do I have twins in here” and “yes, I am still here, round and pregnant!” These will be a few of the constant things that hormonally flew out of my mouth as I went over my due date.
Another week went by and probably more vulgar than hormonal phrases came out of my mouth, once again.
Another second week went by and I was desperate, uncomfortable, and begging for an alternative to get things moving. I was supposed to be induced on Monday morning. Little did I know that Buba had other plans.
I woke up to find my stomach was cramping severely. I felt nauseous, pain and screamed for my husband to wake up. I heard a warm bath soothes the pain and that “these things’ take time. I called the hospital to speak to the midwife before we just jumped in the car. She said to take some medicine and sit in a warm bath.
It was that moment I hung up the phone, the bath turned red. I knew I needed to get to the hospital now. I felt like pushing and knew my husband was in no state to deliver our first baby at home. My husband was more worried about brushing his teeth, to be honest. Silly men! I crawled to the car and sat on my knees, holding on the chair for dear life. We ran a few red lights. Oops. We illegally parked in the emergency exit. Oops.
I was wheeled in the maternity ward, on my knees in a wheelchair. No one can sit with a baby’s head pushing out their pelvis, believe me! I was told to lay down on the bed and they would check how many centimeters I was dilated.
Turns out, my waters broke and the Buba’s head popped out at this moment. I pushed three times and there he was screaming for me to hold him and a warm blanket.
I felt powerful at that moment. I always thought I would want the epidural and gas and air and that it would take days like my sister. I was amazed at what my body just did and how great I felt for it. Don’t worry, fast baby births come with stitches that make you waddle like a penguin for days after. I think it’s our karma for having them so fast where others can take days.
Buba was born!
Roll on, a year later, you think I would have learned. I was pregnant again.
This time, Buba’s little sister, Missy Moo, decided she wouldn’t make Mommy, Daddy and her big brother wait for her arrival. She decided she would come at lightning speed and burst into our lives suddenly.
It was a month to my due date and I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of my best friend’s baby girl. She had gone into labor that day. I went to bed thinking when I wake up I will be seeing my best friend’s baby girl for the first time. Little did I know it would be my baby girl I was seeing for the first time too!
Missy Moo had other plans like her brother, she needed to keep everyone on their toes. I woke up at 1am to find that her head was “almost there”. If you have given birth, you know what I mean. “You know” when it’s there even if you have never had a baby before and it’s your first. I screamed once again, for my husband to get his sorry butt out of bed and forget brushing his teeth this time, this baby was coming quick. Our neighbor had to come to sit with Buba as he was still fast asleep and we have no family near us. Luckily there was a brand new natural birthing center down the street as the hospital I had Buba in was 30 minutes away and we wouldn’t have made it.
I burst into the natural birthing center somewhat like my daughter was about to do too. I got to the hallway and knew I had to push. The midwives rushing me into a side room and I leaned on a dresser and they were there ready to catch her. Since I was standing, this amazing thing called gravity, assisted me. Who would have thought? Missy Moo slid out of me, right into the midwife’s hands, just 38 minutes from waking to holding her.
Missy Moo was born!
I would like to say I really thought I was getting the epidural this time or perhaps try that amazing gas and air, or the water birth that everyone raves about. But my first two labors, as expected came unexpectedly and I didn’t get to experience any of these.
Fast forward a lot of years later, running after two toddlers together and a whole lot of fun, the universe decided it shock us all with a third, surprise pregnancy. I was 35 years old and Buba and Missy Moo were 5 and 7 years old. We were past the baby stages and all the baby paraphernalia was gone.
Round three, here we come! Whilst my first two labors were super quick, Buba came two weeks late yet only 45 minutes from the time I woke up laying on my back, and Missy Moo came a month early but beating her brother, and was born in just 38 minutes with me standing up. I had this rather high hopes that my third wanted to outdo his siblings.
Nope, when they say each pregnancy usually gets faster. They ARE WRONG! Who are “they” anyway?
Baby number three, Owie decided he would come two weeks before his due date while we were swimming at our gym on one of the hottest days in May on record. It was mid-afternoon, my husband was sipping a beer poolside (don’t judge, the man’s about to have a third child at age of 40 years old) and the older two were swimming like fish while I waded my puffy non-recognizable feet in the cool water.
I had no warning this time. I wasn’t waking up 8 centimetres dilated like I had with the first two. The only warning I got was a hot, warm liquid running down my leg as I was speaking to a friend from the gym next to us. I didn’t want to draw any attention so I elbowed my husband that we needed to go, RIGHT NOW! You know that grind your teeth and smile but growl at the same time, kind of hint. For once in his life, he got what I meant and rushed over to our older kids to get them out of the pool. By this time, my dress was soaking in blood.
I waddled to the locker room thinking I will go to the bathroom and just check as I still wasn’t getting any pain or cramping. OH, THERE IT IS!!!! That horrific, stabbing, twist your guts and pull your inside out, PAIN! There was no question now. It was time!
No idea how long it took my husband to dry off and dress our older two but we have really steep stairs at our gym from the pool to the reception. It felt like climbing Mount Everest, not that I have, but I imagined in that moment of despair it was similar. We were heading for the natural birthing center I had Missy Moo at thinking this surely would be faster than the first two.
The pain came and went. I was told these are called contractions. Something I didn’t really experience with the other two having had them so fast, theirs was just a constant pushing pain. This was intense pain and then subsided. So the midwives started to fill up the bath for a water birth.
You see, I had time to actually think while giving birth this time. I said, can we try a water birth?
My water birth was nothing like I thought it would be. So many, SO MANY, people rave about it. For me, I felt it slowed everything down. I was used to babies practically running out of me. Sitting in a hot bath, when it was nearing 90 degrees, in a hospital room that didn’t have A/C was torture. I would never do it again, the water birth part not the actual birth part. I am a glutton for punishment and love giving birth.
Don’t forget I have my two older children now sitting poolside to my water birth as my mother-in-law lives 30 minutes away. A whole different kind of poolside for them to experience. Holding in my yelps, screams and pain and smashing my forehead on the side of the birthing pool was the only way I knew not to scare my kids more than they already were.
It was then I heard her voice!
“Granny is here!” My kids squealed with delight and ran from the room. I finally could relax. I asked, “can I push now?” The midwife, later to find out was my neighbor’s mother, came to my rescue. I pushed just once this time and a blue, slimy, curled up gorgeous baby boy came swimming towards me. No one caught him, pulled him out, or touched him. I scooped him up in a huddle and I held on for dear life. The midwives reached in to get him breathing and I watched as his blue skin slowly paled pink. He gave one little squeak before snuggling back into me. I had been the first one to touch and hold him and it was an indescribable feeling. It took me an hour and forty-five minutes to meet my third and last little baby.
Baby Owie was born.
Not that I don’t love all my children equally and unconditionally but for the first time in my motherhood, I didn’t feel the power and amazement that my body gave birth like I did the first two times. I cried. I felt emotional, I felt humbled. I never thought I would ever have a third child, something I have always wanted. It was in that moment, all my dreams came true as cliché as that sounds.
So you see, three babies, same mother. Some come late. Some come early. Some come unexpectedly fast and some take their time to arrive. Whatever way they arrive, even if it’s through the sunroof, it’s not how they got here that matters, it’s when they are here, in our arms and a part of our lives forever that matters most.
P.S. I think making a birth planning is just a task doctors give us pregnant women to make us not freak the hell out about pushing a baby out through our vagina. But that’s just my opinion. Remember to expect the unexpected.