Here’s part 2 in our Birth & Parenting Series. See part 1 (Thoughts from a Mother of Four) here.
This is an interview with a wonderful friend and very busy mother to seven beautiful children, Halyna K. She’s a mother who strove for unmedicated births with all her children, and went sans meds with six of the seven! She shares with us about what her birthing experiences were and encourages women to try to let go of the fear that accompanies birth and flow with the process. Although she’s a self-proclaimed “worry-wort,” talking with her about her amazing strength and ability to not give in to the birth phobia we all experience on some level elevates her to “super-mama” in my book!
1. Tell me a little bit about your beautiful children.
I have 7 children, ranging from 13 years old to 19 months. The order is girl, boy, boy, girl, girl, girl, and boy.
2. When you first started to think about labor & delivery for your babies, how did you envision it going?
Well, I don’t think I had a clear vision with my first. I think I was like any first time mom, you really don’t know how hard it is until it happens. But I did envision everything going “smoothly” and having no complications (which didn’t end up happening).
3. You had your births in different settings: hospital, birth center, water, and I think maybe a home birth in there? What are the pros and cons of each setting?
Well, this will take a long time! 🙂 I had always known I did not want hospital births and I wanted the least amount of intervention as possible. But my first started at a birthing center and ended in the hospital after 30 hours of hard labor with an epidural and pitocin.
My second went just as I wanted with no intervention and everything went great (although my husband missed the birth due to a business trip). I delivered my son in a different hospital than my first. I had a midwife, but this time I had to deliver in the hospital, not a birthing center.
My third was born in Ireland at home with a midwife–that was fantastic! I loved laboring at home, not having to worry about who would watch my kids, then giving birth and being in my own bed! I am not a strict home-birthing kind of woman, I just realized that socialized medicine and lack of delivery rooms was something I did not want to deal with. So home birth was the only option.
When I was having my fourth, I went back to the birthing center I delivered my first, and felt a little more in control of how I wanted things to go. At this point, I had had three different deliveries and took what I liked about all of them and was able to have a nice delivery, with no interventions, but I didn’t have the nerve for a water birth yet. 🙂
With my fifth, I stayed with my midwives but still didn’t go for the water birth. Finally, with my sixth and seventh, I decided that I would try water birth and it was the best decision I made! It definitely took the edge off the pain of contractions, and it was a smooth transition for the baby.
I think how one decides to deliver their baby is so subjective. I realized that every pregnancy/delivery was different and that I had to be ready to have my plans changed at the last minute! The less I stressed out, the better my labor went.
4. What were the biggest fears you had about labor? Who did you talk them through with, if anyone? How did you address those fears?
I’m a bit of a worry-wort. 🙂 My biggest fear about labor was that I wasn’t going to be able to handle the pain. I would tell my husband, midwives, chiropractor that I really felt like I was going to “wimp out” and call for every pain med in the book! They all would tell me that I am a strong woman and that everything would be okay. My husband would also add that God never gives you more than you can handle.
5. Did people tell you horror stories or share their experiences when you wished they wouldn’t?
Yes! It was always when I was almost 9 months and they would tell me about the horrible back labor they had experienced and how they had thought that they would die! That is never good to hear, but especially when you’re about to go through the same thing!
6. Did people offer helpful suggestions for coping with labor pain? Did they give their unsolicited opinion on the option you had chosen?
No, not really. They think I’m super human for going through labor without meds. But I tell them that I’m not the only one who does it, and you can do it too. If you go into labor saying you MIGHT decide on the epidural–chances are you will take it. I never gave myself that option and it was much easier in the end because I wasn’t fighting with myself, asking if I could handle any more pain.
7. How did your care provider prep you for your delivery options?
My midwives were great with telling me my options, but I chose them because I wanted a natural birth, and they try and encourage you to keep strong in that decision throughout labor and delivery.
8. Did you have a birth plan going in, or an idea about what you wanted vis-a-vis medication, intervention, etc?
I wrote a plan for my first delivery because it helped me express what I would want during labor, especially the fact that I liked being told that I can do this A LOT during my labor. 🙂 And as I said before, I had decided that I would not have any meds, so it wouldn’t have to be discussed during labor.
9. What surprised you about the birth process? What was less difficult and what was more difficult than you had imagined?
I am a very private person when it comes to my body. So having all the exams done and being poked and prodded during labor was really difficult for me. After having 7, I’ve gotten used to it. 🙂 But I still say no to all exams, tests and “checks” during pregnancy and delivery. It’s difficult for me not to be worried about every little thing that changes in my body during pregnancy. I worry if it’s something normal or abnormal, if the baby is okay, is she/he moving enough, did I lie on my back too long, am I drinking enough water . . . . So I guess I’m a bit of a worry-wart! 🙂
10. How did your husband play a supportive role in your labor? Did you have a doula or other support person present?
My husband is great! He knows me better than anyone, and knows what, how and when to tell me what I need to hear. He did miss the birth of baby #2, so I had my sister help me which was the next best thing! But in general, I don’t like having anyone in the room who isn’t absolutely necessary.
11. Were there any particular palliative measures that your husband or other support person did that you loved?
Honestly, I can’t remember! I think the best thing for me is knowing I’m not alone and that it will be over soon!
12. What are your first feelings when the baby is in your arms? Did it vary from child to child?
It’s always exciting finding out if it’s a boy or a girl! Then there’s a sigh of relief that it’s finally over, then I say that I will NEVER do this again!!! 🙂
13. What, if anything, would you do or want differently with future children’s births?
I don’t think there’s anything I would do differently. And the reason being that all my births have been different in little ways and I just have to be ready that things will not go as planned. So be prepared for anything and everything! 🙂