April 27, 2012

Defining Moments - Shannah

Throughout this series, I have noticed a common theme among many of the moms we've featured. The more they gave birth, the more clear they became about the experience they wanted to have, and the more assertive they were about achieving it.

That is how Shannah, mother of five's story goes. Her first birth was traumatic, and she knew immediately if she ever had more children, she wanted things to be different.

What were your plans for the delivery of your first child? What did an "ideal" birth look like for you? 
I think with the birth of my first child I didn't really have a plan for delivery because I was so young. At the time my biggest concern was pain management and fear of the unknown.

What factors influenced the decisions you made concerning your delivery? 
Pain was the biggest influence on the decisions I made concerning my delivery of my first child.

Tell me a bit about your actual birth experience... 
My birth experience with my first child was pretty traumatic. I felt alone in a room full of people. The nurses treated me like a child and there were comments made about me being a teenage mother. I was in  hard labor for 24 hours and was not able to have an epidural for the first 17 hours. I wasn't managing the pain very well and the nurses told me that I was overreacting. Maybe I was, but thinking back now I was also feeling very out of control of my own body. 

When I began feeling the urge to push I called for a nurse and asked her to check me and was told that I was only 7cm when she last checked me and there was no way I was ready to push and she refused to check me again. My daughter was born 10 minutes later, her head was completely out before a doctor got in the room and she had the cord wrapped around her neck three times.

How did that experience shape any future births/birth plans you may have had? 
That experience left me fearful of having more children and determined to be more assertive about having a say in my delivery.

Have you ever felt judged for the way you gave birth? 
I have. With my last three children I made the choice to not be connected to an IV and to hold out as long as I was able before having an epidural so that I might have more freedom to move around as opposed to being stuck in a bed for my entire labor. I have had nurses question why I would choose to be in pain when an epidural would make labor "easier." 

My pregnancies were all high risk and my last child was born five weeks premature, but her delivery was by far the best experience I have had despite my fear of having her so early. The hospital had changed the way they did things and I was allowed to labor with minimal interventions and the delivery itself was very low stress.

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us, Shannah!

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