Three women – three births

We asked three women about their experience on giving birth to their first child. Although each story is very different, they all three still have something in common.

Lena S. – “Frankie was a big boy, and he got stuck in the birth canal. The worst thing for me was that I couldn’t push.”

The best thing about the first delivery? You don’t know what to expect. The worst thing about it? You don’t know what to expect. My first pregnancy was a fantastic journey, except that I had gained way too much weight. I had a demanding job and was traveling around until the last week, but there wasn’t even a glimpse of anything negative (except for me being huge). When the last week arrived, my lifestyle hadn’t changed yet: I took long walks, went to social events, and had high expectations. I gave birth to our first son, 6 and a half years ago, and it’s funny that I can’t remember any details. It’s not because it was a bad memory, I guess it’s just because in the meantime we have made so many new memories.
On the final day, I felt a bit different; there was some pressure in my womb, which alarmed me and made me think that something was happening. The hospital where I decided to give birth was just across the street from our apartment. My husband and I took a relaxing walk that evening and ended up there, at about 10 pm on Saturday. Soon after, the contractions came, and they started to be closer than I expected (and the staff too, apparently), so I was quickly put on a delivery table. The pain of the contractions was surprising to me! I have never in my life, and I was 30 years old back then, felt such pain in that part of my body! My menstruation was always so painless and almost went unnoticed; I was only craving an unreasonable amount of sweets, and now this? I was shocked! They gave me some painkillers; but if you ask me, those painkillers only stopped me from articulating the pain, the pain level was the same.
My husband was close to me all the time, but his sweet words of adoration and encouragement didn’t help. I was quiet, but I guess my facial expressions were telling a different story. The contractions lasted for 6 hours. Frankie was a big boy (not surprising, my pregnancy weight obviously “helped”) and he got stuck in the birth canal. The worst thing for me was that I couldn’t push, because he would suffocate. By 7 am, it was evident that he couldn’t get out by himself: he got tired, the CT machine showed that his heart rate fell dramatically. The decision for an emergency C-section required me to sign some papers (I just gave them the medieval initial: X – the best I could at that stage). The last thing I remember was counting: I fell asleep after saying “four.” At 8:15, they brought him to me to breastfeed for the first time. That was the moment when I realized what people were saying, that you love someone so much that your stomach hurts. It’s just such a big love that the body reacts. That’s how I explain it.
Was it a dramatic experience for me? Well, eighteen months later, I came back to give birth to our second baby boy. The moment you see the face of this little person who occupied your womb, it takes away all the pain you went through. That’s how I see it.

MARIA L. – “As I was falling asleep, I was looking at the lights and thinking, maybe this is the last thing I see.”

I was 36 when I gave birth. It took us a long time to get there, and there was a time when I worried if I would ever be able to have children. But here I was, finally pregnant with a seemingly healthy baby. My pregnancy was a constant worry for me; I had a lot of anxiety that something would go wrong. Like many couples, we had waited until the 20-week scan, until we finally felt safe enough to tell the big news and start looking forward to this baby. I did have some minor difficulties with the placenta during the pregnancy, but apart from that, I felt quite well. The nausea lasted only the first trimester, and the feeling of carrying a new life was incredibly fulfilling.
During the pregnancy, I was constantly hesitant between choosing if I should have a C-section or natural birth. Due to my age and specific indication, the doctor allowed me to decide. Both options have pros and cons, of course. About 2 – 3 weeks before my due date, I chose a planned C-Section. The doctor scheduled the procedure for 39+0, which was a Saturday, around noon.
One advantage of a planned delivery is that you know when and how it will happen, or at least that’s what I thought. Friday evening, I packed all my bags for the hospital, had dinner with my husband and mother and went to sleep, thinking: tomorrow is the big day. I woke up at around 1 am and felt that the bed was wet. I wasn’t sure what happened, but when I stood up, I realized that my water broke. I woke up everybody and we quickly got dressed and drove to the hospital. It was about 2 am when I called my doctor, and he picked up! The calmness of having it all planned out was gone, and I was completely stressed out, worrying again, that something would go wrong.
The doctor was amazing, while the nurse was checking me, he had called the whole team together, and they were ready for the operation. As the procedure came earlier than planned, I could not have it done under epidural but had to have full anesthesia. Mom stayed in the waiting room. I kissed my husband; it was time to go. He was going to watch it all happen. I remember sitting on the operation table and feeling completely helpless. Somewhere in the back of my head was a statistic that 2-3 women die per year in my country, during a C-section. As I was falling asleep, I was looking at the lights and thinking, maybe this is the last thing I see. I was at peace; the baby would be fine.
While I was sleeping, my husband was watching it all behind the glass. He told me later that nothing could have prepared him for what he saw. “It was scary.” When I woke up, I was still in the operating room. I immediately burst into tears, releasing all the pressure. Before they moved me to intensive care, they showed me, my beautiful tiny baby girl. It was the most beautiful feeling I had ever had. I asked, in tears, if she was ok.
Probably the hardest part of a C-section is the recovery and the fact that you can’t be with your baby the first day. I spent several hours sleeping. Then they brought me my daughter for the first time. I was looking at this little creature. It was out of this world. I wanted to be with her as soon as possible.
About 14 hours after the operation, the nurse said that I could try to stand up and have a shower. If I can do it, I could move to the section with all the newborn babies and be with my daughter. My motivation was strong; I can do it! I will never forget that feeling when I was “standing” in the shower. My legs just collapsed from the pain. I have never felt such pain before, I was shaking, helpless. Through all the pain, I made it into the section with the newborns that night, to finally be with my baby girl.
The birth was the most painful experience of my life so far, with the most beautiful outcome. A few days later, one forgets all the pain. I remember that when we brought her home, my husband said: “We have such a beautiful baby, we should have another one.”

VITA F. – “There was only one thing I made up my mind to go for if needed – an epidural injection.”

I read a few articles about labor during my second trimester and quickly decided to stop researching and just leave things in the hands of my doctor, who I trust. There was only one thing I made up my mind to go for if needed – an epidural injection. My baby decided to come out three weeks earlier than the scheduled date. My doctor was unfortunately on vacation, my husband and I still hadn’t chosen a name, and half of the baby stuff I ordered online was still in transit. Well, life doesn’t wait.
My water broke a day after my baby shower. It was around 4 am, and I didn’t feel any pain until noon that day. My husband visited me in the hospital and brought me some lunch. It all started after he left. They call it “Messengers,” which were quickly followed by contractions. The most pain-relieving place for me was a shower corner with hot water. My thoughts after six hours were, “how much worse could this get because it is already almost unbearable.” There was a small issue with my cervix which after 4 hours still wasn’t dilating. A young nurse worked with me to get things moving, coached me, and motivated me to go through the pain that didn’t seem to lead anywhere. After some time, I also got some intravenous medication and finally started dilating. They moved me to the delivery room after 8 pm. My husband joined me right after. Although I still wasn’t sure about his attendance a few days before, I can’t imagine going through it all without him.
As I mentioned, my doctor was, unfortunately away. He gave me a number, before he left, to a different doctor who he trusted to cover for him “just in case”. We called the other doctor, he came around 10 pm, got the sense of what was going on, and told us he would be checking in on me every two hours. That already freaked me out because I thought it would all be done in two-three hours, and I wondered how long a person could handle so much pain. Well, time flies and Mother Nature must have figured this out. Anyway, that was the last time I saw the doctor that day because he had some health problems which got worse and he had to leave.
We stayed in the hands of a nurse. I must say, she seemed experienced, she was a bit tough and bossy, but I guess you have to be in this environment where women are screaming, and men are trying to help but have no idea what to do. The contractions got worse, and so did the pain. To follow the nurse’s instructions, who said that moving is the best for the quick delivery; my husband started to play all kinds of fun, romantic, silly and old-fashioned, rock songs that we both knew. We tried to sing and dance to the rhythm. The first place was a shower, but after some time, even the hot water didn’t help to soothe the pain. Then we moved to the room, and I was dancing, aka slowly shifting my feet forward across the room, softly rocking my hips and crushing his hands in mine for hours. I was thankful for his encouragement and good mood that he was passing onto me.
My only requirement for giving birth was an epidural treatment if I really needed a break. That time came, the nurse asked another doctor, and she agreed. The nurse insisted on some additional monitoring before they could administer the epidural, and another hour later came back and said it’s too late for it. I didn’t have enough strength to be mean or angry. I was still upset and insisted on anything she could provide to give me a bit of ease so that I could keep up. I got some intravenous drugs that felt like I had had ten shots in a bar. It didn’t reduce the pain much but it sort of knocked me out, which was better than nothing I guess.
A bit later I was finally dilated enough to give a few hard pushes (I’m sure I would have had more strength for this if I had received the treatment I asked for), but nevertheless, after a while, my cute little baby girl came out, and it was all over. The first time they placed her on my chest was unforgettable. She was beautiful, alive, and forever bonded with me – with us.
Pushing out the placenta took me some time, and there were several stitches after but nothing dramatic. I was even afraid of the damage, but recovery went quite well and pretty quickly.
The day my daughter was born, I pushed my limits to a place I never thought I could but one week later, when my husband asked me, I said I would do it all again.