Today we are traveling back in time! What was it like to have a natural hospital birth almost 24 years ago? Today you will find out! This is the story of the birth of one of our doulas, Lillie. Trina previously shared with us her first birth experience– a long a difficult induction. Her second birth was a completely different experience! Strength, determination, and a husband in two casts having just had foot surgery- this story has it all!
The Birth of Lillian Foley
By: Trina Flynn
As I reflect on my 2nd pregnancy, I obviously went into it having been through it once before. I do not recall going into it this time having any additional information about pregnancy and childbirth from books, classes, etc. There was not the wealth of information that is available now through the internet so personal experience was what I was equipped with. There were things that I thought, and felt with this pregnancy that were different from my first pregnancy. Probably the first difference that I recall with the second baby was that I felt happy and grateful upon learning that I had conceived so quickly. The feelings of shock and probably fear were what I initially felt when I found out that I was pregnant the first time. My changing body, fatigue, the realization that there would be hard work ahead, would not come as surprises this time, but I would expect them to be normal experiences of pregnancy. Obviously I hoped that this pregnancy and the development of the baby would be healthy and without complication but, I was not as anxious about those things as I had been with the first pregnancy. I dreamed a lot with both pregnancies and I noticed that with my first pregnancy, my dreams reflected anxiety about having a healthy baby and with this pregnancy my dreams were primarily about my ability to handle having two children. I often had dreams that I would be going about my business with Leah, our first child, and then suddenly remember that there was an infant that I had forgotten somewhere or had not fed. Wow!
We did prepare to bring a baby home, but knowing how “over prepared” that we probably were the first go around, I was more relaxed this time. I focused more on making sure that there was a solid plan for 3 year old Leah when it was time to have the baby. Pat, my husband, had surgery on both feet right around the due date so he would be home with me to help with a newborn and a busy 3 year old. Both feet, bandaged up, in boots….
I had a different OB this time. He did not seem concerned at all when my due date came and went, and went, and went. At 10 days over, Pat and I went out to eat. I had barbeque. That evening, it seemed like something was going on. I debated if what I was feeling was labor or the barbeque. I obsessively watched out for the mucous plug. People always made such a big deal over that and I expected it to be my clear sign (I had not gone into labor on my on with our first child). Timing contractions….it sounds so easy on paper, but in real life…I don’t know. So we decided to go to the hospital in the early evening. I drove. Remember Pat’s feet? We got to the hospital, I parked, Pat hobbled in with his 2 boots, I walked in. They monitored me for about an hour and I didn’t progress so they decided to send me home. I really thought that I was in labor, but they knew best so I drove us back home. I felt kind of embarrassed that I had jumped the gun. Wasn’t I supposed to know my own body? I was a woman and I was made to have babies, right? Pat and I watched television, and I got more and more uncomfortable, but since I wasn’t in labor I decided to go lie down. I writhed, I got up, I lay back down, I sat on the toilet…no plug, I leaned forward, I leaned back, I got back in bed, I called for Pat and had him rub my back, I had him dig his fists into my back….finally I told him that if I wasn’t having a baby then something was really wrong with me and we should go back to the hospital. This time, I couldn’t drive and he couldn’t drive either. We called my mother to drive us and my younger brother stayed at our house with Leah who was asleep. I guess Pat called the hospital to tell them we were coming back because they met us in the parking lot with 2 wheelchairs! (remember they had seen the pregnant woman with the husband who was in 2 boots earlier in the evening) What a clown show! They got me to a room pretty quickly and gave me a gown to put on. I went into the bathroom to change, walked out, I got up on the bed and at that exact moment my water broke. The nurse asked if I needed to push and I said that I was pushing! For a moment, I really panicked because I remembered how long the whole process took with Leah, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get an epidural if I wanted one. It was obvious that I was panicking because a nurse got right in my face and said, “Look at me, look at me”! I did, and I don’t remember what else she said, but I think that I felt what a lost sheep must feel when the sheep dog finds it and herds it back to safety. Everything that happened after that was absolutely incredible. I tell people that I pushed the baby out in 4 pushes, but it must have been more than that. I don’t know. Time seemed to suspend, my body felt like a giant machine in a factory where someone pushes a button, turns it on, and it starts doing what is was supposed to do. Everything seemed to be in high definition, I was hyper-aware of everything and at the same time was laser-beamed focused on what my body was doing. Everything that I could hear was absolutely crystal clear. At some point, my father had arrived and was in the room behind a curtain, I could hear him turning the pages of a magazine. I was aware of where everyone and everything was in the room and I was simultaneously in a tunnel of complete focus with each urge to push. I could feel my body involuntarily build power like a wave in the ocean and then the wave would break and the push came. It is odd that all of this seemed to happen so fast, but I was able to be in it and observe it at the same time. I was aware of the force and intensity of the contraction, then the push, and I was also aware that it was without what I considered to be painful. I was then, and am still aware that I did not make any of that happen with one intention of my own. It was completely my body taking over and I knew it. I could not and do not take an ounce of credit for being tough, planning ahead, and making any of that happen. If I could, I would, because it was awesome and I would be really proud of myself for what I had accomplished.
The next thing that I remember was seeing Lillie. She was a fat, round, pink, screaming baby girl with a big mouth, full lips, and it looked like she was going to have strawberry blond, curly hair. I just laughed. We reveled in the moment for a while, and then I guess that they took her to do all the things they do with newborns. My doctor suddenly came into focus. He was standing maybe a foot from the end of the bed and it looked like he was holding the end of what appeared to be a curly, thick jump rope. I wondered where the other end of it was and at the same time realized that it led to me. I had forgotten about the umbilical cord and placenta. I never even remember dealing with that with the first baby. It was a bit of a shock and fright because I felt so relaxed and triumphant that the baby was out and I didn’t want to have to do anything else. It was a little uncomfortable pushing the out the placenta, it was interesting and not really painful. (As I write this I am just remembering that my mother, who had given birth to 5 children, really wanted to see the placenta, she did, and she said that she thought it was beautiful.)
I loved the experience. It was so different from my first birth, and I was so blessed to get to be a part of a second miracle.