I have two children and two birth experiences which were probably as different as birth experiences can get. With my son, Tyler, I was completely unprepared even though I had attended the free birth classes given at the hospital and read What to Expect When You Are Expecting. I was 27 years old and working as credit counselor for a non-profit agency. Tyler was due on Wednesday and I was planning to work through that week because first babies are always late. At least that was what everyone told me. Well, early Monday morning I went into labor and woke my husband up about 5 am to take me to the hospital. We arrived at the hospital and checked into the L&D room. I was able to get my epidural right away so it wasn't painful. After about five hours of easy labor it was time to push. That's when things got crazy. Tyler's heartbeat starting dropping and the nurses gave me oxygen and made me lay on my side (which is pretty hard to do when you've had an epidural). I couldn't see anything over the oxygen mask and got really concerned when I heard my doctor tell the nurse to get the Neonatal doctor right away. Alarms were going off and nobody was telling me anything! To make things worse my epidural wore off on one side on my body. My doctor said it was too late for a c-section so he told me I needed to have a vacuum extraction. My husband I agreed and Tyler was born (or maybe I should say ripped out of me) at almost 1 pm. He fine and the doctor said he really couldn't explain what had made his heart rate drop like that. I was in a lot of pain (4th degree tears to the perimeum) for a few weeks and suffered from mild post partum depression for about six weeks.
My experience with my daughter, Olivia, five years later was wonderful. My water broke on a Sunday afternoon and we went to hospital that evening. Because I was not having any contractions yet, the nurse administered the Pitocin to speed things up. I was the only patient in L&D that night, so I had the full attention of my doctor and nurse. Things were very quiet and Olivia was born at 12:37 on Monday morning after about 45 minutes of pushing. I felt great the day she was born and was disappointed that I had to stay the mandatory 24 hours. I was discharged on Tuesday and went home and cooked dinner for the family and resumed my normal life, only with a new baby along.
I feel my experiences were so different for several reasons. First, I was much more prepared with Olivia. I had gone through it before, but I was also teaching prenatal development and birth as part of my child development and teen parenting classes. I was much more knowledgeable about the entire process and the possible complications. Therefore, I was much more relaxed the second time. When I had my son, my doctor had 2 other patients in labor and all the delivery rooms were full that day. They were in and out all day and were very rushed. It was noisy and because he was born in the daytime, there were many visitors in and out of the delivery room. With our daughter is was just my husband and I, the nurse, and the doctor. As for the postpartum depression, I think the fact that I was more prepared and the delivery went so well contributed to the fact that I didn't have it the second time.
Giving birth and being a mother is the most amazing experience in the world. Sometimes I look at my children and can't believe that these two amazing humans are mine.
I think the birth process plays a role in child development. The experience of the mother and her feelings after birth will affect the way she mothers her child. Post-partum depression can manifest in many ways and may be harmful to the baby. I know that I was probably a better mother to my newborn daughter than to my newborn son simply because I was better educated and the birth process went so well.
Olivia- 1 month; Tyler- 5 years