I suppose there are two different types of first-time moms in this world. There are those who prepare for their first delivery experience by reading everything, learning as much as they can about what they are going to be experiencing. Then there are those who decide to just fly by the seat of their pants (or the ugly hospital gown they adorn you in) and learn as they are experiencing it. I was the latter. I am a mom of two (my daughter, Westyn, who is almost 3 and my son, Dallen, who just turned 1) and have had two wildly different labor experiences.
I went into my first delivery completely blind. I knew only what I had heard other women say (most of which was from my sisters who had natural deliveries, #warriors) and reckoned I would “just figure it out” as I experienced it. In hindsight, it was silly of me not to educate myself, but I think out of fear, I didn’t. I didn’t want to know what the heck what going to happen because it scared the hell out of me. So, if you’re a first-time mama, I recommend educating yourself.
With baby number two, I knew how everything worked, and I decided I wanted to be more prepared and educated. I chose to read Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon, (highly recommend for any expectant mamas who would love a natural childbirth) and my birth experience was entirely different in so many wonderful ways.
With my first labor, the contractions ruled me. I was handling them okay until I was dilated to about a 7 or an 8 and then I lost control. I had no idea how to handle the pain. I tensed up, I shook, and it was agonizing. I felt out of touch with myself and so out of control. It was scary and I was begging for an epidural by the time I got one. The epidural was literal magic! At this point, I wondered why anyone would EVER try to have a natural delivery, thinking, this drug is here for a reason and I don’t know why someone wouldn’t use it! I had heard horror stories about epidurals slowing labor down but at that point, I didn’t care. I was just so thankful to be comfortable. Miss Westyn Noel was delivered around an hour after my epidural kicked in. I only pushed for a little over 10 minutes and she was nestled against me in her sweet perfection. While it was odd having no feeling whatsoever in my lower body, I didn’t mind. I sat there and snuggled the precious new life, waiting for life to come back to my legs. When it did, I was sore. Boy, was I sore! I remember walking with my husband to the cafeteria the next morning and I told him he had to slow down because I couldn’t walk that fast, it hurt too bad. I hurt for a couple of weeks but figured that was what everyone felt like after such an experience, not knowing there might be a difference made with having a natural delivery. My memory of her delivery is foggy. I can’t remember details and it was a total blur. A big magical blur.
First Photo with Westyn
Moving on to delivery number two. It was calm, it was controlled, it was magical. In fact, I remained so calm through my contractions that Dallen Joe was almost born in the clinic because I didn’t realize I was as progressed as I was! HA! Dallen’s labor and delivery taught me so much about the power of my own mind. Shifting my perspective from contractions being painful and agonizing, to imagining them as waves working to bring life into this world, made all of the difference. I was in control. My contractions were not. There were a few moments where I questioned my ability to have a natural delivery (that would have been the point when I should have been headed to the hospital but didn’t realize it) but for the most part, I remained in total control. We walked into the clinic sometime after 12:00 PM and Dallen was born at 1:46 PM! It was incredible to be able to listen to my body cue me and allow it to do its thing without someone coaching me when to push. I pushed for less than 10 minutes with this delivery too. I was able to move into a position where I felt most comfortable. At that point, my doctor guided me in literally delivering Dallen into my own hands. Talk about a moment I will never forget. The level of empowerment this experience gave me is incomparable to any other moment in my entire life. I have never felt more powerful. My husband jokes that I acted as if I could have gone and run a marathon after Dallen was born. One of the nurses mentioned that it was one of the most peaceful and incredible deliveries they had ever been a part of! What?! My pain level was literally zero. I didn’t even take a single Tylenol after he was born. I felt like 1 million bucks.
Overall, the biggest differences are in my memories of the experience and recovery afterward. I remember every detail of Dallen’s delivery and very little about Westyn’s. I could barely walk after Westyn was born and I felt perfectly normal after Dallen’s. I also can say that retained more water with my epidural delivery. My face looked more swollen. If a baby #3 is in my future, you can bet that I will be aiming for a natural delivery! I would relive Dallen’s birth over and over again. You would have to pay me big money to redo Westyn’s. Either way, there is no right or wrong. Whatever way brings that sweet baby into this world is all that matters! EVERY woman who gives birth is a superwoman, epidural, natural, or c-section, you’re a POWERFUL and COURAGEOUS human being!
First photo with Dallen
- Kassidy K.