By WMM Contributor: Silvia Cortes
This is the story of a childbirth educator who has a baby. At a very young age I learned the power of my voice. I learned that when I talked, people listened. I'm cringing at the fact that I sound completely narcissistic and self centered but I assure you that I am not (that much, wink, wink, giggle, giggle). This realization, however, helped me choose the most gratifying work as a Maternal and Child Health Educator at a big medical center. As part of that role, I facilitated childbirth education classes and it was beyond my wildest dreams to stand in front of women who were training for the marathon of their life, the birth of a child. This was before I had my own children so I chose my words with great care. There was no better reward than to run in to the folks who attended my classes saying, " We did it! We had the baby" and then excitedly shared their birth story.
Fast forward to when I was with child, I too searched for the valor to birth a child and push through the pain. I attended births during my training but I needed more! I watched YouTube videos of birth and replayed in my mind all the things I used to say: You can do this! Your body was made for this! The pain has a purpose! I worked up until my due date and planned to pamper myself the first day of my maternity leave with a haircut, mani, pedi, you know...the usual. As I was listing all my to do's for the day, my phone rang. My mom offered to get the phone for me but I got up anyway and as soon as I stood up, splash. My water broke. It was the hospital on the phone to schedule a stress test and when I let them know what happened, they scheduled it anyhow and encouraged me to go in because, strangely, I did not have contractions. Getting to the hospital was embarrassing because I kept leaking and I had no control. My pants were soaked. My dad pushed me in a wheelchair but it was still one of those moments in my life where all I wanted to do was cry and not care what anybody thought. I was admitted to labor and delivery and then nothing really happened so I was given Pitocin to induce the contractions and help get the baby out. The nurse asked me, "do you have a birth plan?" I said, "my plan is to walk out of this hospital with a baby in my hands." I saw the value in a birth plan but I trusted the providers, my husband and myself to make choices as we went along because as my mom said, the baby is going to come out one way or another. I did not instantly tell them I was a retired childbirth educator or bombard them with technical lingo but it did come out later when the nurse was a little puzzled at my confidence in my body and its ability to have a baby.
The labor lasted forever! Breathing was my best coping tool. Not so much because it made the pain go away but it took my mind off of it. Finally, around 7 am I had this uncontrollable urge to push. Of course it was at the time when one provider was ending her shift and the next provider was starting. I heard them call the incoming provider to say, "um...can you hurry? She is feeling pushy" The OB/Gyn showed up and asked, "so should we cancel your 10:45 am stress test?" We both laughed and then he just sat there. I wasn't sure what would happen once he arrived so I asked him, "aren't you going to do anything?" He said, "I'm going to catch a baby". He noticed I was getting tired so he said "reach your hand to touch the baby's head, it is right there!" That gave me hope and the next push took all of my might and my baby was born.
The entire time, my mom was making the crochet hook work just as hard by making an outfit for the baby. We had previously discussed the helpless feeling of watching your daughter go through labor and it is indescribable. She had four children of her own and was well aware of the birthing process. I will treasure that outfit as long as I am alive.
My baby was perfect. My birth was perfect. When my daughter was placed on my chest she was so alert and when I started to talk to her she looked up at me with the biggest eyes in amazement. She latched on to feed for a few minutes and then slept for what seemed like days. Once I recovered some of my sleep and had a chance to reflect, I was so emotional. Although so much can go wrong, I trusted my body, I trusted my providers and everything went right. Of all the stories I live to tell, this is by far my favorite one.