Every mom has a labor story. I was just spending some time on the toilet, and I remembered (some time ago) a friend of mine telling me that all I had to do to get my baby out of my uterus was to pretend that I was having a bowel movement. This took me back to the day I gave birth.
It was a Friday evening. I was nine months pregnant. I passed out on the couch, as usual, waiting for my boyfriend to come home from his evening shift at work. He arrived at 1:30am and as he gave me a kiss on the forehead I felt a gush of liquid shoot out of me. I promptly removed every article of clothing below my waist. The liquid kept on coming, flowing onto the hardwood floor of my Park Slope apartment.
“Oh my G-d! Oh my G-d! Oh my G-d! I’m in labor! I’m not ready for this!” I exclaimed.
It was true. I wasn’t ready because my due date was June 1st and it was only May 3rd. My boyfriend responded with an alarmingly detached
“Why is this happening now? I have to call my job and find out about FMLA benefits, blah blah blah June 1st, blah blah blah!”
He finished his diatribe with: “Are you sure that was your water?”
“Yes! Yes of course it was my water! We have to go to the hospital now!”
First I called my doctor.
“Hi Dr. W!” I said frantically” “I’m in labor!”
“That’s wonderful!” She replied. She advised me to head to the hospital.
Then I called my Doula. A Doula is someone who provides emotional support to pregnant women throughout the labor process. When my Doula answered the phone, I was so wound up I could barely contain myself. She tried desperately to calm me down.
“Sarah, are you sure that was your water?”
Why didn’t she believe me? My boyfriend and my Doula were doubting me, but I was certain I was on my way to pushing out a child.
“No! It’s my water I’m telling you!” I replied.
“Alright. Well, call me from the hospital and keep me posted.” said my unconvinced Doula.
My parents arrived at my apartment when I was mid-conversation with the Doula. I shoved some belongings into a bag and we drove off to the hospital.
It was 3:30am. When we arrived at the hospital I was put directly into one of the labor rooms. A resident came in to examine me. After several uncomfortable minutes he determined that my water was not broken.
“Then what is it?” I asked him incredulously.
“Sometimes, during pregnancy,” he began –“Like he would know”-I thought to myself “women become incontinent.”
“So you’re saying that I peed on myself?” I asked
“Yes.” He replied.
“No, that’s not possible!” I retorted.
Me? Pee on myself? Who did he think I was? Some sort of barbarian? Shortly afterward I was discharged from the hospital with some mesh underwear and a package of generic maxi-pads. I lay in my bed that evening trying desperately to go to sleep, but the liquid kept on coming. The next day it continued to leak. I knew something wasn’t right. It seemed illogical that after 28 years of perfectly normal bathroom habits, that I would suddenly have no control over my bladder. Something wasn’t right. I trusted my instincts and called my doctor’s office. The doctor on call answered. I described my persistent leaky behavior.
“It sounds like your water broke. You had better come to the hospital and get it checked out. If it did, I’ll deliver you.”
Finally, somebody believed me! So back to the hospital I went. It turned out my water was broken the entire time. I had not (as the resident had diagnosed previously) peed on myself. This meant my water had been broken for over 36 hours!
Because it was broken for so long, my labor had to be induced with Pitocin – a synthetic hormone that brings on labor. 20 hours later I gave birth (vaginally) to my son.
This labor experience taught me many lessons. The most important one was to trust my intuition. The moment my water broke I knew what it was. But the medical staff at the hospital convinced me otherwise. Pregnant women are all too often conned into believing whatever the doctors at the hospital are telling them. The rate of C-Sections in the United States is alarming. I believe the reason for this is that doctors convince their patients that a C-Section is necessary, when this is not always the case.
Don’t get me wrong, there are situations where the baby and/or is in danger and a C-Section is necessary. But then again, there are situations where a mother could have a vaginal birth and the doctor prescribes a C-Section. It could be that the labor process is taking “too long” and the doctor has other plans.
Labor is a lengthy process. It can take 15, 24, even 36 hours for a baby to be born. But many doctors are more concerned with scheduling their next vacation and less concerned with letting labor occur naturally.
The truth is if you are pregnant, it is important that you advocate for yourself. Educate yourself on the process of labor. Don’t take for granted what the doctor is telling you. And most importantly, if you feel that something isn’t right that means it probably isn’t. Take it from me, who did not pee on myself.