When I was pregnant with my first child I felt the usual feelings most expecting women do : excitement, apprehension, and maybe a little worry about the strength of my body. I have a great respect for the abilities of my body and a strong belief that birth is inherently safe. I also recognize that the medical technology that is available can be a boon when circumstances don’t go exactly as planned. The birth of my first child was an opportunity for technology to save my life.
My water started leaking in the evening and contractions set in pretty regularly right after that. My husband called our midwife to give her a heads up. She suggested that I rest, walk, and take a bath or shower. I tried to nap, but found resting uncomfortable so we started walking up and down the neighborhood. After a while I came inside and hopped in the shower. Warm water feels wonderful during contractions. After a few circuits of this things started getting more intense and we felt it was time to go to the hospital. (I had my second child at home and LOVED IT, but that’s another story).
The car ride was miserable . I don’t recommend taking car rides in labor, as nice as that technology can be the rest of the time. By the time we checked in I was less then cheery, and while I am sure some women appreciate getting a ride in a wheel chai r, I was less than nice to the staff about this “requirement” and kept jumping out of it to have contractions.
Once in my room my body really got down to business, and while it felt like ages to me, things actually sped along quite nicely. After a few hours the midwife and my nurse got the birthing pool ready and I hopped in. Well, laboring women don’t exactly hop, it’s more like heaving themselves. The birth was perfect and my first daughter was born in the water. My husband and I oohed and ahhed and laughed and cried and I believe I said “Let’s do it again!” Soon after, baby and I climbed out of the tub to lay down and that was when things got a little crazy. As I sat on the bed holding the baby , I announced that I was going to pass out, and then promptly had a small seizure. My husband caught the baby as I knocked her off the bed and all my midwife’s emergency medical training kicked into gear. Obviously I don’t remember much, but my husband said it was quite exciting. Well, those weren’t his exact words – I believe he was terrified. I had hemorrhaged and experienced fainting due to blood loss. Thanks to my midwife’s training, supplemental oxygen, and some Pitocin , it wasn’t long before everything was okay and I could start figuring out how to feed the baby. Without the training and equipment available to me, this experience could have had a tragic ending. Thankfully, basic medical technology saved my life.