Childbirth Essays

I need feeback on adding/deleting details. Sentence structure, fluidity. grammar/punctuation.
identify thesis and making sure ending fits.

It was two thirty in the afternoon on a gorgeous sunny, fall, Tuesday. My favorite day of the week. I received a long awaited phone call from Tacoma General hospital. A nice young lady with a soft voice let me know that there was an open room available and to come as soon as I could to be prepped for induction. I was two weeks overdue in my pregnancy. After hanging up the phone, I just stood in one place as my mind went blank. I then had a rush of excitement and angst. I was about to give birth, and it was going to happen within the next twenty four hours, whether I was prepared or not.

I first ran down stairs to find my mom and let her know the good news. I mumbled "Mom, they have a room opened and we have to go NOW!" so fast, she had to yell my name and told me to calm down and start my sentence over. "We don't need to go right away, Anna." she said. "I have to take a shower and get my over night bag ready." "What about you, are you ready? Do you have extra clothes?, What about the baby bag? Are you going to take a shower or go in the pajamas that you have been wearing for the last two days?" I ran up the stairs and into my room to grab as much belongings as I could and stuff it into a over night bag. I was anxious to finally meet the little baby that had been growing in my body for the last nine months. I was jumping up and down from all the excitement and joyous feelings rushing through my plump, expanded, overindulged body.

An hour later I was ready to go. I did a lot of double checking to make sure I had everything. I checked the car seat to make sure it was in place and all pieces were in contact. I tightened the seat belt fives times. I popped the trunk twice to make sure all bags were in. I plopped into the passenger seat, strapped in and took a deep breath. This would be the last time I leave my house alone. I will be guaranteed to return with a little bundle of joy in my arms.

My mother and I arrive at the hospital forty five minutes later. We drive around the block twice, there is no parking available anyway near the entrance. We drive around once more and finally see a spot about to be opened. Before we even pull in, I have my seatbelt off and my hand on the car door ready to open it. As soon as she pulls into the spot, I jump out of the car and walk briskly to the door. My mother yells "Anna, what about all of your stuff!" I stop mid step, turn and walk back to the car.

Together, my mother and I enter the left wing of the hospital. We pass through two sets of sliding glass doors. My heart is pounding and I feel a little dizzy as we approach the counter. My mother speaks for me and asks directions of where we need to go to get admitted. The receptionist points down the hall and tells us to enter through the third door on the right. As we are walking down the hallway, I am being stared at by all the passersby's. There is a janitor strolling along on the left side of the hallway with his yellow bucket and drenched mop. The smell of sanitized, clean mopped floors and pristine white washed walls makes me nauseas.

I sit down inside of the little room that we entered. I am handed a clip board and was told to read, sign and date the stack of papers. As I am finishing I have a nurse approach me to take my blood pressure and vitals. She then tells me to take a seat out in the hallway, I am looking down and to my right is a little old lady with a wheel chair. She comes up to me and says "get in, we are going to your room" I told her that I was ok to walk and that I didn't need a wheel chair. She snarled at me and said "you better take the chance now while you have it." So I obliged and sat down. I was taken to the fourteenth floor, room 201.

The room was beautiful. There was a bed in in the middle of the room on the right side. The bathroom was in the back right corner. Five feet to the left of the bathroom was a huge oval bay window, overlooking all of Tacoma. It was so clean you could see your reflection in it perfectly. The sun was setting and it cast the most beautiful sunset into the room. Golden rays of light shine through the window and painted the walls yellow. It was breathtaking.

I lay my stuff down and plopped onto the bed to check the cushiness of the mattress. I found the remote and started to pushed buttons and raised the head of the bed up and down. I was like a kid exploring a whole new world of technology. The same remote also controlled the TV. I kept the TV. on for background noise and distraction from all the crazy thoughts that were wondering about in my head.

I wanted my pregnancy to be very private. I had my midwife and my mom with me. I had a great friend named Victoria too. She was there to take pictures and video of my sons birth. The hospital was to far away for anyone to come visit, and that was just fine with me.

When I get nervous I start to fidget and crack jokes a lot. I try to laugh as much as possible so I do not overwhelm myself and start to cry. With this said, the nurse came in. She had told me to get undressed and to put the robe on. She handed me a pair of cotton netted panties and a pad too. I had made a joke that I was here to give birth not be stuck in granny panties. Victoria took a picture of me modeling the underwear. The nurse laughed.

I lay in the bed as the nurse checked my vitals, blood pressure and temperature. She said she needed to get and IV started. That's when I freaked! I hate needles, and the feeling of it poking your skin and piercing the vein in your hand. I started to cry and told her I did not want an IV. As a general rule in my mind, when you are in the hospital staying overnight I always thought you needed an IV hooked up. I was wrong. After calming me down, the nurse handed me a 44oz. cup and told me I needed to fully drink one of those an hour. I was relieved and totally abided to it, no way in heck did I want that needle in my hand. The nurse wrapped a monitor around my belly to check on the baby's heart rate. He was doing just fine.

I was dilated two centimeters but was not in labor and had no sign of contractions. The nurse told me that I needed to open up more. She sent me on a walk around the fourteenth floor. I was prancing around the hallways and stopping to do a little boogie shakes here and there. I was waving at all the nurses. There was a group of couples that were getting a tour of the floor. I did a little dance for them too. They all looked at me as if I was crazy. When giving birth everyone expects the worst pain ever and the mother to be not mobile at all. I was feeling ecstatic. I felt I could dance around the world.

At 5 p.m. the nurse came back into my room to check to see if I had dilated any more. I was up to a four this time. She said the doctor would be in soon and to wait patiently. I fiddled with my thumbs and watched the news on the TV. I was hungry and asked to get room service. They brought me some dry chicken and rice pilaf, with a side of orange juice. Though disgusted with it, I devoured the food within minutes.

Finally after three hours of patiently waiting, the doctor came in. She was a very quiet middle aged Asian lady, with kind eyes and delicate hands. She made me lay down and scoot to the edge of the bed. She asked if I was ready to have my water popped and to begin labor. I said "Lets get this show on the road!" The doctor inserted a plastic stick and popped the bag of fluid inside of me. It came rushing out and soaked the sheets of the bed. I was embarrassed, but the doctor reassured me that it was ok. I felt exposed and unaware of what was going to come next.

Ten minutes after my water had been popped, I had a rush of excruciating pain contract through my upper abdomen and in through my lower pelvis. The doctor said I had started to labor and contractions were going to become strong. The wave of pain came every four minutes. It happened so fast that I could not catch a breath in between. No longer did I feel like I had control over my body. It took the nurse, my mother, and my midwife to ease me up off the bed and into the bathtub. The bath tub was equipped with water jets on all sides and was a standard tub. I lay my lower back on one jet as it soothed the horrible pain retracting through my body.

The contractions now were every two minutes. I was in the bathtub maybe twenty minutes. The nurse checked and I had dilated to seven centimeters. She explained to me that the bathtub was not big enough to give birth in and that I needed to get out and move to another room. They had a big bath tub filled up for me, so that I may labor an under water birth.

It took three ladies' full body strength to lift me up and out of the bathtub. I could only walk a few steps. I was inadequate to make it to the other room. As a contraction came on and paralyzed me from my belly down to my thighs I landed on the bed on my hands and knees. I cried out in pain as I felt the baby push through my pelvis. I thought he was going to fall out right then and there. The contraction passed and I was able turn over on my back in the bed.

The contractions were now every thirty seconds. I was not able to take a deep breath and started to panic. My body took over and my mind went blank. I could hear nothing. The voices of my mother, nurse, midwife and doctor floated in the air and dissipated. All I could do was scream in agony. I just wanted it to stop.

The doctor let me know that it would be in a matter of minutes before the baby was to be brought in this world and take his first breath. She placed a mirror between my legs so I could see what was going on. My mother propped me up with her arms and held me tight. She soother me as much as she could. The doctor told me on the next contraction that I needed to push through my bottom and hold it for a count of ten.

As the wave of heat, pain and sweat enveloped my body, I took a deep breath and pushed. One, two, three, four,... "please make it stop!!!" I screamed. As I tried to push, my contraction ceased and I would have to wait for another one to come on. On the second push I could see my sons head crown at the opening of my vagina. It made me want to push more, but the contraction stopped. His head had sunken back in to my body. Three times in a row this happened.

Finally, on the fourth push I felt a release of pressure. My sons head had come out. The doctor had told me to push lightly. As she helped ease him out of my body, she turned his shoulders to help him make way through the rest of the birthing canal.

The doctor reached up and lay my son upon my chest. The most intense, beautiful, serene moment of my life. This perfectly pink little wrinkly body lay dependant in my loving arms. I just brought another human being into this world. All I could say was "Oh my GOD!"

After all the commotion subsided and everything was under control. I look back and think of all the wonderful things I learned in the three hours of laboring a child into this world. It takes patience, and understanding. I had to be vulnerable and trusting with strangers. My body took over and did what it needed as it lacked in mind. It was the most intimate moment of my life. I would do it all over again.

Hyphens: It was two-thirty in the afternoon on a gorgeous sunny, fall, Tuesday. My favorite day of the week. I received a long-awaited phone call from Tacoma General hospital.

She was a very quiet, middle-a ged Asian lady, with kind eyes...

Okay, I figured out what the story is missing. You know, every movie or novel or TV show... everything you enjoy involves some TENSION and then resolution. Your story is well-written, and I know YOU had tension that day, but the reader does not feel any tension while reading the story.

What can you say at the start of this to make the reader worry about how it is going to end? Can you start it with a misleading, somber tone? Can you tell something about a complication to the pregnancy? Anything to make it a story with a conflict and a resolution.

You could achieve this even by mentioning, in the first paragraph, that you are going to tell a secret about childbirth, about the serenity that immediately follows the pain. You need to connect the beginning to the end, and add some tension... some conflict. For excitement!

By Rachel Walden | April 22, 2009

Obstetrician/gynecologist Lauren Plante has a remarkable essay in the International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics in which she condemns the rising cesarean rate and compares current U.S. childbirth practices to the industrial revolution.

Critical of the drive to standardize and medicalize obstetrics, a phenomenon that is reducing choices within hospital settings for childbearing women, she writes:

…despite the implied promise of safety if all the rules are followed — ID bracelets, intravenous lines, electronic fetal monitoring — labor may follow an unpredictable path. The definition of  ‘normal’ becomes ever narrower, and toleration of deviance ever lower. The final stage of this philosophy takes the process of birth away from the woman entirely and turns it into a surgical procedure performed by the doctor. Childbirth becomes a manufactured experience, shorn of any real risk or real power, one in which the woman is so far alienated from the capabilities of her body that she is only a package on an operating table for a professional to open.

Plante notes that while the “choice” may be available to have a “maternal request” cesarean (something that does not appear to happen in demonstrably high numbers), this does not equate to increased real choice or autonomy for women.

In the US, we have heard arguments that women are entitled to autonomy in making their birth choices, and that therefore it is ethical to perform cesarean for no reason other than maternal request. Curiously, this vaunted autonomy stops at the door of the labor room. Women are implicitly allowed, or encouraged, to make only those choices which increase the power of the physician and which decrease their own.

Plante explores some possible reasons for the narrowing of women’s choices.

The drive toward fewer delivery options appears at first glance to be supported by upper-middle-class women, who have the least number of social and economic obstacles to autonomy.  In fact, cynical staff at hospitals delivering large numbers of well-insured upper-middle- class women often refer to their institutions as baby factories: these are the places in which cesarean rates are highest. It is, after all, a paradox: women with higher incomes, higher levels of education, and commercial insurance have higher rates of cesarean delivery. If cesarean is a response to any perceived risk, why would women at statistically lower risk of a poor outcome have higher cesarean delivery rates? New Jersey has the highest cesarean rate among states, but no lower levels of maternal or perinatal mortality. What it does have, however, is the highest median household income.

Plante notes that a “new normal” has been created:

…seduced by the promise of pain-free, risk-free childbirth, women and their doctors are driving the cesarean rate ever higher. Rates approaching—or exceeding– fifty percent are now seen in some hospitals. This is the normalization of deviance. This is the new normal.

She describes what a full spectrum of childbirth choices entails:

Women can give birth at home unaided; at home with family or with trained assistance; in a birth center, either freestanding or hospital-based; in the hospital delivery room with trained assistance; or in the operating room where they are acted upon.

Then she remarks:

The American College of  Obstetricians and Gynecologists calumniates not only women who want a home birth but anyone who advocates leaving that option open. Once in the hospital, women who might like to exercise their right to self-determination by choosing vaginal birth after cesarean, or vaginal breech delivery, will have a hard time of it. Is it not the opposite of autonomy to support only those choices which increase the woman’s reliance upon the physician?

Plante includes a sober look at the challenges we face as we try to restore choices in childbirth:

The paradox is this: women wish to be treated as individuals, and assert for themselves a wish to exert control, yet in the commodification and industrialization of childbirth they are so much more likely to be treated as units of production. I know of one large community hospital revamping their labor floor and planning for a 50% cesarean delivery rate: and just as we learned in the 1989 movie, Field of Dreams, if you build it, they will come. The staffing and scheduling patterns for a 50% cesarean rate, as well as administration plans for hospital length of stay, can’t be turned on a dime. Hospital administrations like predictability, in patient patterns, patient care pathways, and everything else. If we normalize this industrialized approach to childbirth, we are likely to be stuck in it for a very long time indeed—and we can’t look to the medical profession to correct it.

Her conclusion is shared by those of us at Our Bodies Ourselves:

We must clearly understand that real autonomy does not mean cesarean on request, but instead a spectrum of birth options that honor women’s authentic choices. Real autonomy also means, to borrow a sentiment from Gandhi, that women should bring forth the change they wish to see in the world.

The full article is available online (for a fee).

Plante, an ob/gyn at the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Thomas Jefferson University, has written a number of other articles supportive of choice in childbirth.

For more information on how to preserve women’s choices in childbirth, see the OBOS statement Choices in Childbirth, now signed by more than 400 clinicians and educators in the maternal and child health field.

Citation: Plante, L. Mommy, What Did You Do in the Industrial Revolution? Meditations on the Rising Cesarean Rate. The International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics. 2009 Spring;2(1):140-147.

CategoriesAbortion & Reproductive Rights, Pregnancy & Childbirth

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