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.