So I wasn't actually there for most of them, but I've heard some great birth stories in my time. I'll start with the one I'm most familiar with, my own.
Mom had a great pregnancy. She was chopping firewood the week before she went into labor. She contracted poison ivy in the dead of winter making rubbings of gravestones in Pennsylvania just a few months before I was born. She had planned me. She made appointments with Dad to conceive me. Apparently, I was transverse through most of the pregnancy. I was manually manipulated to be head down and about halfway home I'd flip around to where I was comfy again.
When Mom was admitted to Mary Hitchcock, the nurse told her that she'd never deliver me vaginally. 46 hours later, the head of obstetrics and the head of anesthesiology attended my "emergency" c-section. Since my grandmother couldn't get there for her, my mother had a picture of her young mother holding her in a plastic bag under her pillow through the surgery.
The cord was wrapped around my neck 3 times. Even if Mom's pelvis had spread enough, I would have choked myself. I spent about a week in the NICU.
As a nurse, my mom was the focus of attention in the maternity ward. The baby nurses (what she calls newbies) were using her like a guinea pig. The tried every breast pump they could find on her. After a while, Mom asked what they were doing with all the milk they'd pumped. One of the baby nurses told her, very sheepishly, that they were giving it to the preemies. They hadn't told her or the other mothers for fear that someone would object. It was just that they tolerated it so much better and they thrived on it. Mom offered to nurse them, but it was felt that that was a bit too much. Mom didn't object to pumping after that.
My mom's best friend had three kids and all I remember about the stories is that they were all gushers. She ruined rugs when her water broke. Not helpful in the birthing story area, but darned amusing.
My grandmother had my mother in Philadelphia, I think. She was in the hospital overnight. She was heavily medicated, but not before learning about baseball. Apparently, Gram was alone in the maternity ward and a young attending physician was tasked with sitting with her. The Phillies were playing and they listened to the game on his little radio and he taught her about baseball. She never became a fan of "good" teams; but she took me to my first professional ball game. We watched a lot of baseball together. If her team made it to the World Series, she would hide in the closet and peek her head out for updates periodically.
I'm not sure why, but she never taught my mother about baseball. She taught me.
Her mother, my great-grandmother had no idea she was having a baby. She was in her forties and had been married since she was a young woman. She assumed she was going through "the change". She was a heavy-set woman and assumed a few things about her diet and her indigestion, but eventually called over her sister. Her sister called over the next door neighbor lady, a midwife. The consensus was that she was in enough pain that they should call the doctor. Apparently, he was in the house less than five minutes before exclaiming, "There are three women in this house and not one of you recognizes a woman in labor!?!"
My grandmother was born that night and she was so small that she fit in her father's overcoat pocket. She was yellow. A young cousin was allowed to name her, and she did, after her French china doll: Beatrice.
Since they had not prepared for her and they didn't expect her to survive, she was put in a well padded drawer on the open oven door to keep her warm and the doctor said he'd be back in the morning to pronounce her.
He walked in the door the next morning and was greeted with a screaming infant. She'd made it (and she never shut-up again. And we wouldn't have wanted it any other way.). He told my great-grandmother that she'd better feed her or she really wouldn't survive.
My best friend and birth coach for Alex had two children before I had Alex. The first, she was in labor for 4 hours - start to finish. The second only took 2. She said something about peeled grapes that I don't think I will ever fully understand. For someone who experienced such short and complication free deliveries, she was an amazing birth coach for me.
Alex's birth was long, protracted, and not something I would like to repeat. It could have been much worse, granted, but it could have been better.
Contractions started on Thursday evening. They were finally about 3 minutes apart by 3pm on Saturday. I went into the hospital and was told that I was fully effaced, but only 2cm dilated. At 6pm, my doctor ordered Pitocin. At midnight, he told a nurse to restart my Pitocin and she told him that she would - right after I got a good night's sleep. I was only at 4cm. He came to see me in the morning while I was having breakfast. He complained that I was still not back on the Pitocin and only at 5cm. The nurse (different one) told him that she would restart it after I'd finished breakfast. Some time in the pain haze that was Sunday, the doctor ruptured my membranes. There was meconium in the fluid. At about noon, I was given Stadol to alleviate the pain of the contractions. By 6pm, I was taken off of both medications. It was just me and my contractions.
I was very happy pushing in a squatting position, but eventually I was manhandled onto my back. A nurse had my left leg and she directed Alex's father to take my right. She told him to pull - he couldn't hurt me. I felt a coldness on my perineum and my baby was born at 9pm. She didn't cry.
I asked the doctor what he was still doing between my legs, which were now in stirrups. He was closing the episiotomy I had expressly asked him not to give me.
I was foggy and hazy for a while, but when she was finally handed to me at 10pm I was in good spirits. I had delivered Alex naked. When the pediatrician was on his way out I asked him if, since he had seen me naked, could I call him Elliot, he replied that I could, just for that night and left. My little girl was perfect in every way.
I have spoken to a few midwives about Alex's delivery and the consensus seems to be that the episiotomy was probably needed, but someone should have said something to me. The Pitocin probably could have been avoided, and if the Pitocin hadn't been administered there likely wouldn't have been a need for the Stadol. We all agreed that the nurses were wonderful for letting me rest and eat.
I have discussed Alex's birth with my midwife and we are in agreement that we will try for a less medicated birth. We have also agreed that if anything medical needs to happen, I will get talked to before it happens. I'm not just going to be a vessel; I will be part of the delivery team this time. And I will nurse within the first hour. Everything is going to be perfect. I've seen it!