This Wasn't at All What I Expected
15 years ago, I was brand new nurse and soon to be brand new mother. I had selected an OB/GYN and hospital that belonged to our preferred provider network. I liked him a lot, attended childbirth classes offered by the health system, and planned to have an unmedicated birth - except my labor started in the evening, and he wasn't on call. The physician, whom I never met that night, ordered high dose protocol Pitocin from his call room, relayed to the nurse that "my contractions weren't frequent enough" by just looking at a monitor tracing. Two hours later I was begging for an epidural, and I felt like it wasn't at all what I had expected. Before the nurse started the Pitocin, I asked her to check my cervix. I was 4cm she said. I was completely dilated 3 hours later, pushed for another 2 hours with a dense epidural, and was given an episiotomy, which hurt for weeks after. When the time came for the birth of my second child only a year a half later, I had been working as a labor and delivery nurse for almost a year, in a community hospital where the birth culture was very different. My nurse mentor told me "a good nurse is worth 10 milligrams of morphine." She was right; I learned that there was a better way to have a baby. So when my labor started with my second child, I stayed at home for a good part of my labor, said "no" to Pitocin when I was stuck at 9cm for over an hour and instead walked around, squatted, and worked the last bit of cervix away. My contractions were the standard time apart that the on-call OB/GYN said wasn't enough, and when I was admitted to the hospital, I was completely dialated 3 hours later (the same period of time as my first birth - and this time without Pitocin). After 5 years of working with women in this low-tech, high touch setting, I decided to become a midwife. And I make a point to never order anything from the call room.