I have to admit that I was extremely self-conscious when I went into active labor with my first daughter. Although I knew that the nurses assisting me had most likely seen so many bare breasts, butts, and vaginas that they could care less how mine looked, that didn’t quell the feelings of embarrassment building up inside me when I realized she would be accompanying me to the restroom. Labor as an introvert is kind of a nightmare, which is why we need midwifes and doulas in the delivery room more than extroverts.
My first go-around at childbirth was overwhelming and nightmarish. As an introvert, being the center of attention is our worst nightmare. Luckily, my first nurse was very sweet and patient, but her shift ended during my never-ending labor. When she left I was stuck with a nurse who was either having an off day or lacked a bedside manner. Unlike my first nurse, who took her time to explain what was happening to the baby, or would reassure me that everyone craps themselves during labor, the second nurse talked down to me and would sigh loudly when I would complain about being uncomfortable. I was intimidated and didn’t know how to speak up for myself. Thank god my husband stood up for me during labor. I regret not speaking up more during labor and allowing the medical team to make decisions that I wasn’t completely on board with, like having an emergency c-section. But I was too scared to speak up.
Delivering my second daughter was a completely different experience because I was lucky enough to have a nurse-midwife with me during my delivery. This time around I was very vocal upon check-in that my last birthing experience was somewhat traumatic (emergency c-section, faulty epidural, unsympathetic nurse, the use of forceps) on so many levels so I was nervous going into this second one. The nurse-midwife on call that day reassured me that this time would be different — then she said I was a perfect candidate for a a vaginal birth after caesarian section, or a VBAC, instead of a c-section.
So now I had a male medical student staring into my vagina with a nurse, my midwife and the doctor.
That wonderful woman not only helped calm my anxiety-racked mind about all the things that could go wrong this time around but she also gave me the confidence boost to try a VBAC. And she made me feel like superwoman. “She’s going for a VBAC,” she told her nurses as they prepared a room for me. Those sweet nurses congratulated me for going for it. I felt likeI had just won a contest or something.
My nurse-midwife checked in on me several times throughout her swift and really took the time to reassure me that I could do it. She offered that dose of support whenever I started to question myself. She knew that the last time around my daughter refused to turn and would not budge, which is why I believed I was not able to deliver her naturally. So every round of pushing that ended without a crying baby exiting my body left me doubting my abilities. She and the nurse never told me my daughter was turned, or that I couldn’t do it. She was such a calming presence.
I can honestly say that having a nurse-midwife was the best thing that could have happened to me.
When the doctor would check in on how far along I was in labor, my nurse-midwife would give her report and say "it's not time yet but she’s getting there." Not once did she tell the doctor it might be time to increase the Pitocin or consider a c-section. She knew that was not what I wanted and she was my voice. I mean, I was so comfortable under her care that when it finally came time to deliver my daughter and the doctor asked if I’d mind her shadowing physician to assist her, I said "Sure." So now I had a male medical student staring into my vagina with a nurse, my midwife and the doctor. I’m sure there were others in the room but for once I didn’t care. All I focused on was my midwife and the doctor. And I did it!
The support didn’t end after delivery either — my nurse-midwife congratulated me on my VBAC and so did the nurses who pushed me down the hall to my room.
I can honestly say that having a nurse-midwife was the best thing that could have happened to me. I’m positive her support, constant reassurance and patience helped make my last delivery a good experience. Plus she was really listening to my concerns because she never once told me that my daughter was turned as she knew that it would have knocked down my confidence. Childbirth is scary and intimidating, especially for an introvert. Having an extra person in the room for support can make all the difference.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.