A Healing Birth

June 13, 2019

A Full Heart


It’s hard for me to share one birth story without looking back to another. So much of my last birth, just four short weeks ago, was based on complications after the birth of my first daughter, back in 2017. The delivery of baby number one, which took place in London, set the tone for my latest journey. I was now considered a high-risk mother. With that label came anxiety and stress, a high-risk doctor, and a whole lot of unknown! I found myself back in the world of private healthcare, in New York City, hoping for the best, but always fearing repeat complications that I had worked so hard to move past, both mentally and physically. But, this is a story of hope. This is a story of how each birth is truly different and truly remarkable. Since my stories are so intertwined emotionally for me, I’ve written about them as a comparison through each stage of labor below. 


Early into Active Labor


I think my body is just meant for long latent laboring. While everyone said the second birth would be shorter (and it was) I still got to enjoy a long early labor period of inconsistent contractions and multiple trips to the hospital.


With my first pregnancy, I dealt with 50 hours of very strong contractions that refused to progress into an active labor and delivery. During this time I made multiple hospital trips due to the potential of ruptured membranes (no one was ever really sure if I had sprung a leak), and was even fully admitted into a delivery room at one point, only to be sent home once again. 


This time was not much different. Contractions started Wednesday evening, the day my sister arrived. I think I was so worried about my preferred childcare getting into town, that once she flew into New York, my body was able to just let go. That night, when the contractions were 3-5 minutes apart, we headed to the hospital, only to be told to go home and relax, it wasn’t time. We spent Thursday being cuddle bugs at home, enjoying our final days together as a family of three. Later that night, while watching Den of Thieves, and thinking my new baby might be an adrenaline junkie, contractions ramped up once again to 2-3 minutes apart. We headed back to the hospital with our bags, only to learn I still hadn’t progressed enough to be admitted. Back home for another rough night of sleep, but thankful that my toddler had no idea of our two late-night trips to the hospital. 


Friday morning we were advised to stop in my doctor’s office and make a plan. There, he informed me that I was over 5cm dilated and that things would get going rather quickly, but I should take a tablespoon of castor oil to really get a running start! He was the first medical professional I’ve ever heard recommend the stuff, but I think it worked! My Ayurvedic aesthetician swore by it, but my previous midwives advised against it, so I was genuinely surprised to hear the suggestion from my high-risk doctor. I took the oil at 11:30am, put my daughter down for a nap, and by 2:00pm, with strong contractions, we were headed for the hospital, once again, but this time to stay…


Our Last Picture as a Family of Three


Active, Transition, and Second Stage Labor


The Beginning


With my first child, this was the time where it was clear to the follow up doctor that I needed to be induced. After those 50 hours of excruciating back labor, multiple sweeps, and a manual rupturing of membranes, I gave in to Pitocin and had an epidural put in at the same time.  After trying a pethidine injection and gas & air (which only made me sick), I immediately felt sweet relief!  I could not feel another contraction after the epidural and had to watch the monitor just to see if I was going through one. My body was fatigued and kept waiting, and waited another eight hours, but then I was finally ready to push. I backed off the epidural button, and painfully pushed for the maximum allowance of two hours. As doctors rushed in and threatened medical intervention, my midwife and I locked eyes, worked together, and my daughter, 7lbs, 7oz, 9 days late, was born. But that’s when the complications would begin… 


While that first scenario went completely against my au naturel birth plan, and was much longer than ideal, baby number two was a whole different story. When I arrived into the waiting room, things started to become very real. I heard the receptionist call to the back for someone to look at the “very uncomfortable” woman up front. After about 30 minutes someone took me in back, and after learning I was over 5cm that morning, and this was not my first baby, people began to scramble. They got me into a room immediately and I was offered an epidural (for the first of probably a dozen times). I refused (and had to continue to do so) because I was determined. After every drug offered was used with my first child, these contractions felt more manageable and I felt more physically and mentally in control this time around. Two hours later, often regretting my decision, and getting sick multiple times during the pain, my second daughter was born without any medication at 4:31pm, 5 days early. It was a fierce, fast, and unbelievably painful experience. I felt every aspect of what I can only describe as my body being torn open from all four corners of the room while pushing out an 8lb, 3 oz baby…



Third Stage Labor and Postpartum


My body just needed to collapse after the long labor and delivery of my first child. Once she came out, I was falling asleep, and barely remember signing my name on the paperwork giving doctors permission to wheel me into theatres (my first experience was in England, here it would have been referred to as the OR) and perform a manual removal of the placenta—which was necessary after being given a shot, breastfeeding, and waiting an hour for my body to do its thing, none of which worked. They told me the procedure would take ten minutes and took me away from my husband and new daughter. I was positioned facing a wall clock as a doctor inserted his arm and scooped the placenta out from my uterine wall with his hand. I knew something went wrong, but it was unclear until later, as I watched the clock hands go from ten minutes, to an hour, and then two hours of being pumped full of more drugs, vomiting, falling in and out of consciousness, and trying to remember my new daughter’s face, as the doctor’s hands continued to feel around up inside my body. I was scared watching so much time go by, surrounded by more and more medical staff. My husband was also scared, being left alone with a new baby for those two, unexplained hours. I later learned that as the placenta was removed, I hemorrhaged, losing two liters, or 40% of my body’s blood. They internally massaged my uterus to stimulate it to contract, and when that failed, they filled my body with a uterine balloon, simulating pregnancy. Instead of the private room we booked, I spent the night under close observation, filled with a large balloon, vaginal packs, and a catheter, while hooked up to additional meds and electronic compression stockings. I was uncomfortable, exhausted, barely able to hold my newborn, and confused. Happy to be alive, obviously, but confused. I returned home with a lot to process, a ghostly shade of white due to blood loss, and a regimen of shots and supplements. This situation put me in a high-risk category for future deliveries, and left me with extreme anxiety leading up to the delivery of baby number two…



On Friday, three weeks ago, while I watched my just-born, second daughter get cleaned up in one corner of the room, I just waited. This was the moment everything was leading up to for me. Would my placenta come out? As the doctor massaged my abdomen and tugged, I just waited full of hope. And then I saw it. The placenta I never had a chance to deliver the first time around. No gush of blood, just a bizarre looking organ. This meant I could hold my new daughter, enjoy that first skin-to-skin contact everyone raved about, spend time as a family, leave the hospital feeling pretty darn refreshed, and recognize my own body in the mirror. Pumped full of drugs the first time, I have yet to even take a Motrin, even with ten stitches, it all could be worse! I really didn’t understand how good I could both emotionally and physically feel following childbirth. The joy and relief I felt and still feel is really beyond words. I feel whole again. It’s like watching Beyoncé’s Lemonade film, but setting it to childbirth! I was healed. I am now weightless. Except for those two demanding children that need me constantly…


A New Experience


My Two Greatest Gifts


So, that is my comparison birth story, and, as I said earlier, for those that have experienced a less-than-ideal situation, let this give you hope for a brighter delivery in the future. 




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1 Comment

  • Reply Labor & Delivery Around the Pond - Mom Uptown May 28, 2020 at 7:33 am

    […] comparison will focus on healthcare differences and specifics. See my previous Motherhood post, “A Healing Birth,” for more intimate and emotional […]

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