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Susan’s View – What My Episode Didn’t Show

Posted on 28 February 2011 by Birth of a Mom

It was a somewhat surreal experience to watch one of my life’s most important moments play out on television.  When Steve and I decided to participate in One Born Every Minute, our single motivation was to have more natural childbirth represented on television.  With the vast majority of today’s moms and moms-to-be choosing to use anesthesia for childbirth, there aren’t a lot of depictions of unmedicated childbirth out there, and we wanted to give women a glimpse of what it was like.  For better or for worse, we succeeded.  The crew captured all of the moans, the guided breathing and the 8-hour shower that helped get us through, and a good helping of tension and drama too.  They captured that wonderful, celebratory moment when Liza told me I’d reached 10 cm.  But it didn’t capture everything, and I’d love to share some of the things that were missed, that I think were some of the most important moments in the 24-hour ordeal.

They didn’t show the first four hours of labor, which Steve and I spent walking the halls of the maternity floor with our doula, joking and telling stories, passing the time and enjoying each others’ company.  There was a short stair on the floor that she showed me, where I did lunges that intensified each contraction. They encouraged me to lean in with each contraction, and they placed their hands on my back, rubbing and squeezing out each early contraction.

They didn’t capture the kindness and patience of our nurses.  We had four nurses over the span of the labor, and each worked with us differently.  For the most part, we felt like we were allowed the space we needed to labor in a way we had planned, and the time we wanted when making decisions that diverged from that plan.  They read and honored the requests in our birth plan, never offered pain medications, and were very respectful and kind.

They didn’t show the moment that our doula, Jenn, rescued me from hyperventilating.  I was so deep inside a contraction that I didn’t realize how quickly my breathing was accelerating.  I heard her gentle voice say “Susan, open your eyes,” and I obeyed, and she helped me breathe down to a more moderate pace.

They didn’t show the hundreds of ‘thank you’s and ‘I love you’s that were traded between Steve and me over the span.  I don’t think I’ve ever loved my husband so much as I did in the hours before Eleanor’s birth.  He was my rock, and my advocate, and his steadfastness was surprising to even me.

They didn’t show the moments later in labor when I was at my most vulnerable, crumpled by the pain and saying “I don’t think I can do this,” to which Steve’s reply was, “You are doing it. You are doing it.”

They didn’t capture the moment when our last nurse, Tovey, asked for a word to sum up the experience.  Steve said ‘miracle’ and I said ‘love.’

In all, we are still very happy that we participated in the show.  The producers and crew were wonderful to work with, and it leant even more excitement to a very exciting time in our family’s life.  I’ve heard from lots of folks that said that we were inspiring, and others who thought we were crazy, and I’ve participated in a lot of lively conversations that the show spurred.

Eleanor is now three and a half months old, and is a happy, easy child. In some ways, her birth feels a million years away, and in other ways, it’s as if it was just yesterday.  It has occurred to me that some day, she may want children of her own and will be faced with similar decisions. My hope for her, as for other moms and moms-to-be, is that they find themselves in an environment as loving, encouraging and respectful as I did.

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4 Responses to “Susan’s View – What My Episode Didn’t Show”

  1. TEDDI says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I saw your story on TV and was a little put off by how they depicted the nurses in reaction to you going natural. We also went natural on pitocin and I know it’s no walk in the park! I felt they actually made the end look easier then it probably was for you. Great job mama and thank you for sharing.

  2. CRISTIN says:

    I would love to interview you for our website! I applaud you for your courage in doing a natural childbirth on tv. Please email me at

  3. KATIE says:

    I was so glad to see a natural childbirth on this show…as a nurse even said 95% of deliveries are done with an epidural. I was utterly disappointed in the show with their depiction and editing of a natural childbirth. As you stated, there were a lot of things left out….how unfortunate it is for those pregnant mothers out there trying to decide what is best for them (to medicate or not) and this is what they have to educate themselves with. I applaud your efforts to stay true to your belief and end goal.

    This is a personal story for myself being that I have two children of my own who were delivered at Riverside. I chose an epidural with my first and decided to deliver naturally with my second. My OB’s office didn’t allow us to work with a doula but was promised that the nursing staff at Riverside would help me through the contractions with techniquest, etc. Fortunately, I made it to 8cm (and was so proud) — unfortuantely, I chose an epidural at that point because I needed the help and guidance of the staff that wasn’t there.

    Aside from my story, I thank you for being that beacon of light to other mothers. Thank you!

  4. great to hear your ideas, very inspiring story from other mommies.

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