You Never Know….It Happens.
My first birth was my fastest and easiest birth. My second one was my longest- albeit only eight hours. But I know that sometimes we bank on things being easier and shorter with each birth. My first baby was also my largest- I know that the rule is each baby gets bigger- but my third baby was almost a full pound smaller than the first. So exceptions happen. I was ten days postdates with each of my babies. It is difficult when one baby comes early and then the next one is postdates for moms. It is a happy moment when the second birth is shorter than the first one. But when birth unfolds unlike you expect it can flip you upside down. But it happens.
Recently I was with a mom giving birth to her fourth baby. She told me it was her hardest and most painful birth. Why? This baby was her largest. This time she had three other children to distract her from her preparation. She as older this time. Her uterus is more pendulous with each birth and this causes the baby to not align as easily. This time she was more impatient about the birth and did not sleep well and overworked herself trying to make this labor happen. It happens.
One of my doulas was with a mom for her first very gentle natural birth. She was asked back to support the mom in her second. For reasons outside of the mom’s control, she had a cesarean with her second. Often times we expect second births to go so much easier. Certainly a cesarean would not be needed for a healthy mom and baby. I too have had a mom who had three babies and it was the third that ended up being born by cesarean. I had been with her for her second and invited back for the third. But a different doula had been with her for the third when she went early while I was still out of town. It had been a very different birth from her previous ones. The birth was out of her control. Both moms felt supported and resolved that the outcomes were what was needed. It happens.
Last month I supported a mom who had a frantic first precipitous labor. It had been a whirlwind birth upon arriving to the hospital two and a half weeks before her due date. She felt traumatized from the experience although it was all natural. She had felt completely out of control. This time she was so scared of that happening she actually entertained the idea of an induction to control her labor. She was constantly fearful her first labor would repeat itself. She begged for an exam around that same time frame- 2.5 weeks early, to determine if anything was happening. And within a couple of days of that exam her water broke with no labor beginning. She ended up with an augmentation to her labor since labor did not begin on it’s own. Her labor was fourteen hours long and she had medication she had avoided with the fast first one. It happens.
I supported a mom in all three of her labors. She had beautiful natural unmedicated births with her first and second although the last bit of cervix always seemed to take much longer to dissolve away. With the third baby she had a lip of cervix and was so afraid it was going to take a long time, decided on an epidural at 9.5cm dilation. I could not convince her otherwise since the doctor told her it could take a while still. The moment the epidural was being placed she needed to push. She laid down immediately and had her baby. It happens.
I was the doula for a mom in her first labor. It was a Pitocin induction. She sat on the birth ball and swayed and moaned through the whole event and did it without any pain medication. She was so proud of herself. The midwife told them with their second she was sure it would go so much easier the second time around. This convinced her husband and he decided he could be her sole support this time. She called me after the second birth to tell me how sad she was that without the support of a doula, she had gotten the epidural that she did not want although no Pitocin was involved this time. She had been afraid. It happens.
I heard this week from a doula client who had been referred to me from a past client, that the friend who referred her to me was also due with her third. I had been the doula for the first two. She had a natural water birth with both of her daughters with wonderful midwives. Both labors had unfold gently and the second one although slow at getting established had a speedy ending. I was sad she had not contacted me for this birth. She has chosen a different location for this birth- one closer to home. It is one where if you want a water birth you must bring in your own tub and it is contingent on only one particular midwife being available (something we have yet to have happen with our clients). She told my client, her friend, that she felt this birth was going to happen so quickly she did not need a doula. So her team has completely changed this time. Ironically the same folks who say second births usually are shorter, also say that the third birth is the wildcard- never knowing how it will unfold. I pray she is not thrown a wildcard and it unfolds gently for her. It happens.
Sometimes the combination of the team makes a huge difference. Sometime the preparation makes a huge difference. Sometimes baggage you have taken from your previous births do not really come up in labor. Sometimes your labor is going to unfold beautifully and you need nothing else to really make a difference. You never know. What I do know is that each birth is unpredictable and unknown. Prepare for that unknown. Unpack baggage that may creep in. Have your support team for the just in case. It happens.