I have a homework assignment for all you would-like-to-be (or soon-to-be) moms out there. I want you to interview your mom. I want you to become familiar with your personal birth history and your birth heritage. Not only can you learn something about your mom and yourself and have a lovely bonding afternoon, but you may also gain insight into some of the (potential) struggles in your own fertility and baby journey.
My mom is an incredible woman. Her name is Lori and she has 4 children. I sat down in front of the computer to have a FaceTime chat with her and my dad to fill in the gaps of what I already knew about her birth experiences. (& yes she knows I am sharing these details with you.)
I am the first of 4 children over an eight year time frame. There are three girls and then a boy.
My parents “made it” their goal of three months without any hormonal contraceptives before “trying” (and succeeding) to get pregnant. Besides 6 months of nausea, the pregnancy was pleasantly uneventful and lasted a full 42 weeks. My mom was induced and given an epidural (which she said she found pretty scary because she had heard a few horror stories). She responded quickly to the ptocin and labour lasted 8 hours from the start of the drip. Baby (me) was healthy. The one surprise for my mom is that the blond/bald baby that she expected came out covered in dark fur from her eyebrows to her tail bone. My fair-haired mother was not expecting a little fur baby and claims she would not have known I was hers if she was not awake for the whole thing.
Baby number 2 (#2) and I are less than 2 years apart (thanks to the effectiveness of triphasic oral contraceptive). Another nauseous but smooth sailing pregnancy lasting 42 weeks. On ultra sound, baby #2 was very relaxed and an early thumb sucker. Her water broke just in time to avoid another induction and labour last 4 hours before another healthy baby girl was born.
Baby number 3 (#3) waved hello on ultra sounds and followed a similar pregnancy journey. She was originally scheduled for a c-section due to breech positioning, but #3 eventually flipped, was induced at 42 weeks and came out smiling after 2 hours of active labour. Here the story shifts a bit, as the placenta did not detach completely and my mom lost a fair bit of blood. Stubbornly, she declined a blood transfusion and took giant iron pills and recovered well.
I can remember the birth of baby number 4. I was 8 years old and I had told everyone that it would be another girl because mom and dad only knew the recipe for girls and my mom has 4 girls in her family. My mom was induced after 43 weeks (for real) and after only 1 hour of active labour, gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. The placenta did not detach again and there was a fair bit of blood loss this time around as well. I remember being at the hospital and finding out that it was a boy and running out of the room crying because I was so embarrassed I had told everyone it was girl. So silly! (I will have to tell you the story of my brother Joe another day, as he is a reason why I do the work that I do now.) This pregnancy was a bit more of an emotional roller coaster as my parents were told at 11 weeks that the baby had stopped growing and died, then a later ultra sound noted a dark mass on the baby’s head. In the end, everything was normal, but you can imagine the stress! Another interesting note on this pregnancy is that whenever my mother wore silver, it would immediately turn black.
There were a lot of similarities and trends to each of my mom’s birth experiences. There was nausea and vomiting. My mom was sick. My dad said he was always surprised that she enjoyed being pregnant because she was sick all the time. The nausea lasted about 6 months for the girls and 8 months for my brother Joe. My siblings and I all went FULL term. The girls all went a full 42 weeks and Joe snuck into his 43rd week gestation. Yikes! Not surprising with such “well-done” babies, we were fairly large. All of my mom’s babies were over 9 pounds. (The scarier part about that for me is that my mother-in-law’s three children were all over 9 pounds as well…. here we go big babies!). Birth times got shorter with each one. We were all healthy and given whatever interventions were recommended at the time (eye drops, vitamin K shots, early vaccine, etc.). My mom actually had the same medical doctor for all 4 births as well – an abrupt, but skilled and respected Egyptian MD that my parents knew fairly well. She did not experience any post-natal mood disorders or struggles with breastfeeding.
My mom had no fertility issues or miscarriages. I do feel blessed to have such a healthy birth heritage. None of my siblings have had children yet, so I don’t have any more data that this. My expectations are set that I will someday have large baby gorillas for children. (Did I mention that my husband was born with a dark, curly afro??).