1. When and where did you give birth?
March 2009, Oro Valley, AZ.
2. When did you decide who (if anyone) would care for you during your pregnancy and birth, and why?
I'd already done some research before I even got pregnant. I went to my normal OB-GYN to get my IUD out, nodding and promising them I'd call them when I was 6 weeks past my expected period with a positive home test. But at 6 weeks I started calling midwives instead. At first I thought I wanted a CRN, but quickly found out that a) they only operated in birth centers here in AZ; and b) a LM (licensed midwife) tended to be less medical and interventionist to begin with. And that's what I wanted: someone to stand there and catch the baby, and look us over and make sure we were okay. Even though this was my first, I had no doubt whatsoever that, at 5'10", healthy as an ox and with hips to match, I could birth my baby myself. I also liked that the midwife I chose worked alone -- no "birth team." The last thing I wanted were a whole bunch of women in my house while I was trying to give birth.
3. What interventions (if any) did you request during your pregnancy and birth? What interventions did you receive? When did those interventions occur, and how much input did you have in the process?
I requested absolutely the barest minimum of everything. Even tests, except for an ultrasound--because I was not ready to have a severely handicapped baby if it could be avoided. Other than that, I had a blood test, a diabetes screen (two, actually; I flunked the first because the stupid techs didn't tell me I was supposed to fast), and that was about it. No pain meds...I kept thinking I was going to demand them in transition, or something, like all the birth stories said, but it never occurred to me, honestly. I walked through most of my active labor, sat in the tub for more of it, then got out and danced and jiggled around for a while when my midwife got weirded that I was at 7 cm, experiencing all the symptoms of transition (including the desire to push), and still hadn't broken my water. Finally, she let me push anyway, full dilation be damned. (I have my husband to thank for insisting that my urges be followed. I was tentative, especially since the "push" urge felt exactly like the "BM" urge to me, and the midwife didn't tell me any differently. But he stepped in, said, basically, "hey, let her push," and it was the right thing to do. Pushing broke my waters, and the baby soon followed.
The only mildly scary thing was that I couldn't keep any food down. I'd eaten well in the early stages of my labor, and my midwife had told me to get some Gatorade, or something, to keep my ketones down during labor (ketones are what show up when you're burning fat/nutrients for energy and not taking in enough). I didn't like the energy drink, and am not used to drinking such sweet stuff. When I entered my pseudo-transition phase, I spewed it. Then, I did the same with apple juice, iced tea, soup, crackers, and finally even water and ice chips. I chowed a hell of a lot of ice chips during my labor and yet my ketones were still high. My midwife was getting a little leery of letting me continue at home. Again, my husband was my hero. He stashed evidence of a thrown up glass of water, and I used the post-puke feel-good period to eat some soup and convince my midwife that I could do it.
4. Did you feel empowered during your pregnancy and birth? Why or why not?
Yes. Throughout. I didn't really doubt I could do it. I never got to that panicky stage that some women describe where they're begging for pain meds or cesareans or what have you. I think there was a point where I said wanly to my husband, "I don't think I'm doing so well," but that was during my unofficial stage 2, where the contractions had slowed and the midwife wasn't "letting me" push because I wasn't fully dilated. Once I started to push, woo, way reinvigorated and felt good. I think I started at the same place most women start, before I got pregnant: thinking it was going to be really painful, etc. But that changed once I read a lot of more positive birth stories (Ina May, etc.) and saw some good birth videos (TBoBB, etc.). I started to look forward to it, and moreover, it became an intimate thing, just between me, my husband, and my baby.
Also, it rocked having a partner who was not only supportive, but assertive in his support of me and my instincts. And not scared of blood.
5. If you could change the decisions you made during your pregnancy and birth, what would you change and why?
None really. I might try to stay in the water longer and give birth that way. For some reason, my body said "on the floor" and "on my back" when it came time to push. Maybe that was the right thing for me, but I sort of wished for a waterbirth--gentler for the baby. I might try that next time. Also, I should have listened when my body said push and not fought the urge because I wasn't fully dilated.
6. If applicable, how did your birth change the decisions you made during subsequent pregnancies? What would you do again and what would you change?
No subsequent ones yet, so I can't be sure, but like I said above, maybe waterbirth.
7. What did you learn from your experience that you would like to share with other women?
The need to push feels just like a BM! Oh how I wish someone had told me that! I had read some stories where women said that, and almost gave birth in the toilet, etc., but I kept thinking, "I'll be able to tell the difference." I was wrong!
The other thing is, by god, just trust your instincts. I think your body will tell you if something is really wrong. But it can only help if you're listening.
**[Amendment]My daughter was born at 7:45 AM, March 22, Aries/Aquarius/Aries. 7 lbs., 1 oz; 19 inches; head 13 cm. No tears for me, no problems for her. She was a little gray space alien, but rapidly went all pink. She looks just like my husband, and his hands were the first to hold her before he set her on my tummy.