What Shocked Me About My Labor: The Never-Ending Pushing Feeling of Failure


October 31, 2011

I had plenty of time to settle in at the hospital, and was able to get my epidural put in quickly and smoothly.  Not long after, however, it stopped working on one side of my body…hideous contractions on the right, lovely, relaxing spa day on the left.  Eventually the anesthesiologist showed up and tried again, but it never worked quite as well as it had at the start.

Then came the pushing.  When it seemed time to deliver my firstborn, the nurses told me to push, and I tried my best, but it seemed I just wasn’t doing it right.  I’d push and push as hard as I could for as long as I could.  They’d keep telling me my baby was almost there, but when he didn’t arrive they would stop me and leave the room.  Eventually they would return and tell me once again that it was time, and I’d push and I’d push and nothing would happen and then they’d leave.  This process happened countless times, without explanation.

Your baby is coming. Push. Push. 

I am.  I’m pushing.

We’ll be right back.

Almost there. Push!!

I’m pushing.  I’m pushing.

Back in a few.

I didn’t understand what was happening, or why they kept telling me we were so close and then nothing would happen.  This went on for hours. Four hours of pushing, thinking my baby would be here any minute and then nothing.

I was becoming more and more exhausted and beginning to feel like I was already failing at motherhood.  What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I do this? Why is it that everyone else could deliver their child and no matter what I did I couldn’t get it done?  Why did they keep saying it was time but then he didn’t come?  Why were they leaving?  They never offered a word of comfort or explanation to help me understand what was happening.  They just kept saying my baby was almost there, but he never was.

Eventually, the obstetrician showed up and delivered my new baby boy via forceps.  By that time, I was completely spent.  Delirious.  I can hardly remember them handing him to me for the first time.

I don’t look back in anger, but I do feel a sense of frustration that I was so confused and disappointed in myself during a time that I thought would be filled with joy.  I wish the communication had been better so that I could have had a better understanding of what was happening to me during the delivery and wouldn’t have felt as though I was at fault somehow.

I did learn from that experience, though, and during the birth of my daughter I asked more questions and felt more free to speak up if I was confused or concerned.  I explained what happened with my first birth, and the nurses were very supportive. I’m thankful to have sailed through the second one without a problem.  And since my water broke with my sweet girl, too, I still didn’t have to do math.

Childbirth is such an incredible moment, and I’d love to know what went through your mind when you held your baby for the first time? By replying, you will be entered to win an exclusive Million Moms Challenge Gift Pack, which includes an iPad2, a custom-made Million Moms Challenge pendant and a $50 donation in your name to Global Giving.

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Million Moms Challenge. The opinions and text are all mine. Contest runs October 17 to November 13, 2011. A random winner will be announced by November 15, 2011.

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