I often call women in labor WARRIORS. I was thinking about this month and the births I attended and the type of warriors I witnessed.
One of my recent moms had to prepare for her upcoming fourth child – her third VBAC with her husband and her two oldest children being across the ocean for most of the last weeks as she cared for only her youngest. She was without a car and had to be dependant on several good friends to help her. She comes to this country to birth since the mortality rate is high in her homeland. It takes a brave woman to leave her home and family to travel and have to do most of her preparation by herself. She is a strong and resilient woman. Her baby was posterior the few days leading up to her labor. I instructed her on things to try to get the baby to turn and she worked to do so. In labor she was a warrior with a mission. She had prepared for the outcome she desired and her work paid off. She gave birth gently once again- her third VBAC. I call her the determined warrior.
I had a mom who had a very long prodromal labor with her first baby. The baby had presented posterior in labor and the mom had not really paid a lot of attention to that with this first pregnancy. She had been preparing for her dissertation for her doctorate and had not taken time for classes. Her labor was long and arduous. She ended up with a vaginal birth but not unmedicated as she had originally hoped. And the epidural had caused quite a lot of complications as well. This time around she took the Aligned and Ready class and really was determined to not have a posterior baby. This time around I nicknamed her the stealth warrior. She had gotten in the tub for her first labor but got overheated and did not like it. This time she planned to labor in the tub but not necessarily birth in the tub. At one point in her labor she did look at us and tell us she was going to need medication but we all knew she was very close to getting in the tub. Once in the tub she did not feel the need to ask again about medication. She labored silently except to remind us when it was time to give her some back pressure. This baby was lined up great but her short waisted stature caused her to like the pressure. Soon I realized she was involuntarily and silently pushing. She did such a fabulous job and when she emerged from the tub and got in the bed her baby just slid out into her husband’s hands so gently. Her labor was so quiet- the kind that can sneak up on everyone in the room. She is my stealth warrior.
The next mom’s story was similar to the previous one, but it started with days and days of prodromal labor from a posterior baby. She worked for days and finally arrived in labor to the hospital to find that several hours later- and even fully dilated, this baby resisted being born vaginally after four hours of pushing. She had resisted getting the epidural until the determination that she was headed to the OR to have her son. This next pregnancy she chose a different doula and a different path. Although she had taken good classes the first time- this time her focus was on lining the baby up perfectly. She took the Dancing for Birth class and also the Aligned and Ready workshop and worked on it diligently. Her labor was an on and off again one with contractions for days again. She would tell you that the contractions were more annoying than really painful. She had begun to ignore them often realizing they would go away. But on this day she worked up until two hours of the birth. She was still unsure if this was the real deal. But she got her husband to fill up their tub and she got in it and things took off. I received a call and you could hear her actively working in the background. I suggested it was time to head to the hospital. I dressed and headed there as well. This birth turned into a rapid one as she entered the hospital and within twenty minutes was holding her second son. When I entered the room just after the birth I found the couple giddy with excitement on how different this birth had been from the first one. I had been on the phone several times with her the previous weeks, reassuring her that it would be different. She worked really hard for this outcome. I call her the resilient, speedy ending warrior!
My last mom I want to share about worked against the odds. Finding a care provider that will give a mom the chance to have a vaginal birth after two previous cesareans is difficult at best. This mom was unable to take classes to prepare for this birth. Her husband traveled and she had two small children at home. She found time to read but other than her own preparation she was unable to do more. This did show up in her labor. She had fears coming in that she had not addressed fully. In her previous births her babies had not handled the augmentation to her labor and it had been traumatic for both of them. This fear of that happening again caused them to rush into the hospital prematurely. At one point she looked at me in the dark of her room and told me her pain was where her scar was across her abdomen. She was afraid of the uterine rupture that others talked about, She shared it almost in a hushed whisper with my arm wrapped around her as we sat on the bed. I reminded her that is where most women feel contractions. I reassured her that the monitor would let us know if her uterus was not managing to keep her baby safe. I understood that she needed to be at the hospital to hear her baby’s heartbeat to reassure her that this baby was okay. This couple had to be brave through the fears of the past births. She got some medication to help her sleep since she was too early in the process to be considered in active labor. I knew she would be able to battle through her fear but not if it was compounded by fatigue. So in a dark room the couple slept for three hours to awaken to active strong contractions. She had begun the day before with a mostly closed cervix but woke to her journey of labor almost at the end. She told me when the midwife told her she was already seven centimeters dilated she was shocked and thought she was unsure she could finish the plan she had hoped for. But her body kicked into high gear and she birthed within twenty four minutes of that exam. She told me she could not have prepared for this last part of labor. I told her if she were to get on a roller coaster and ask them to not lock or strap her into the seat, she may have been able to prepare! This was my warrior that won her battle of fear by fire! It takes great courage to even attempt a VBA2C! I call her fire warrior!
I stand amazed at these warriors that I was able to be witness to. They are indeed warrior women! Battle takes preparation. Every woman will prepare differently than the next. Some will have the difficulty of a previous labor to unpack and use to help them prepare for the next birth. What type of warrior do you want to be?