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Birth Interview: My Mothers Memories

I have been comfortable with birth for a long time. From a young age I watched A Baby Story on TLC and when our health class had to watch videos of real births I was honestly excited. I have known forever that I have wanted to become a mother (at some point in my life) and be able to experience the pain and the miracle of having a child. When my friends squeam at the thought of long hours laboring and the horrific screams and cries we have seen in movies and on television, I think of the beauty of birth, of the amazing-ness that one body can produce another. However, I cannot say I have been open about learning about all births. For some reason I have always had the strongest aversion to learning about my own birth. Even when my mother would show me pictures of herself, pregnant with me I would divert my eyes. I dont know if it is the idea that I was once some small, helpless creature or the image of my mother in that strong yet vulnerable state that created this repugnance, but when this interview was assigned I knew what I had to do: I had to interview my mom. Every mothers story is special and unique in their own ways my mothers is in that after struggling to get pregnant with me and struggling to get pregnant after my birth, my parents eventually decided to turn to adoption and foster care. As a result I am the only biological child of the five McGraw kids. I know that my mother loves each of her children the same despite genetics, and any possible pains of childbirth that may have bonded the two of us tighter were mimicked through the struggle and emotional pain that went into adopting my siblings. But what was this, literally, once in a lifetime experience of pregnancy, labor, and birth like for my mother; I was about to find out.

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Because of a long struggle to get pregnant my parents knew about my existence from a very early time and right away were able to start both the medical and physical and emotional preparations to get ready for a baby. My mother did not really change her diet or her behaviors throughout her pregnancy. She didnt drink or smoke and she took her prenatal vitamins. And while McDonalds Breakfast Burrito commercials made her nauseous, but she never actually threw-up. The rest of the pregnancy was pretty uncomplicated. My parents decided against any sort of fetal genetic testing. My father is deaf and they decided that even if I was born with some sort of disability they were willing to take that added responsibility on. My parents did decide that once I was born I would have an ABR brain scan hearing test done while I was still in the hospital. While it is common practice for all babies to receive that testing today, when I was born it was only done if asked. With my father being deaf, for somewhat unknown reasons, I exhibited the risk factors to go ahead with the testing. These risk factors increased after I was born and the doctor noticed a skin tag on my ear, a sign of possible hearing loss. The only other complication that occurred through my mothers pregnancy was towards the end of the nine months she had to have a rhoGAM shot since her blood type is B- and the possibility of my blood type being incompatible with her type was quite high. My own birth was the result of a C-section that is all I knew going into this interview, remembering the scar that will forever grace my mothers abdomen. My mother told me that at about eight months along, whenever she would recline or lean back two bumps would appear in her belly she thought the doctors were wrong and that there were actually two babies instead of one. However, when she went to the doctor he gave her two possible scenarios, one, it is a really big baby, or two, the baby is breech. After an ultrasound to confirm,

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it was learned that I was transverse breech and that a C-section would need to be scheduled on the due date. The story my mother loves to tell is that I was actually due on her birthday, February 22nd, however now with this option of scheduling that day of my birth she picked a new day, she wanted me to be able to have my own special day, my own birthday. Because of the schedule and lack of surprise in the actual birth, my parent were glad that they had decided not to find out my sex so that they still had at least one surprise awaiting them on February 19th. On that day, almost 22 years ago, my parents headed to Akron City Hospital, now Summa, in Akron, Ohio. My mother says that everything seemed perfectly routine. She at first was shocked when they had an ultrasound machine out when she arrived at the hospital to ensure that I hadnt moved from my breech position and when they told her that if I had moved she would have been sent home to wait out labor; she was already prepared for the surgery! Luckily (I guess) I was a stubborn baby and had not moved. My mother had a spinal to numb her during the surgery and everything went according to the plan. Unlike with many other Csections, when a baby is transverse breech the mothers abdomen cannot be opened with the more commonly seen horizontal cut, but rather a long vertical cut below the belly button. A scar I was somewhat fascinated with as a child. Despite the surgery going according to plan, apparently the operating table had some sort of malfunction and the surgery began later than expected. To my grandparents in the waiting room this caused fear and uncertainty as to what was going on and wondering if there were any issues, but half an hour past the scheduled time I was here and all was well.

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Because it was the nineties, my father was allowed in the operating room with my mother and did so without hesitance. Out of curiosity I asked my mother, if she had had a vaginal delivery who would she have wanted in the room with her? She responded that while my father would obviously be there, and my grandmother would obviously be there, the person she wanted most in the delivery room would have been my grandfather. She told me that she wanted him to be able to experience seeing a baby being born since at the time when his five children were born- in the 1950s and 60s- he wasnt allowed to be there and experience that. After the C-section my mother stayed in the hospital for three days and now 22 years later she believes that the C-section was the only way to go. She attributes her ability to bounce back through recovery and the ease she had losing her baby weight to her feelings on the matter. She is most disappointed from her birth experience because she never go to have the surprise of going into labor suddenly and unknowingly. While she and my father had created a birth plan and had attended childbirth classes throughout the pregnancy, it ended up being all for naught. I will say that my mothers own views on her seemingly easy pregnancy affected both my interest and my opinions regarding birth as a young child. Now after learning more about the different types of birth and the many, many factors involved in birth plans I see Csections as only a last chance type option, and in my mothers case it was, but what if it had been elective. Would my views of my mother change? Of myself? Birth and how you are born really do affect the rest of your life and that is why I am happy that I finally had this conversation with my mother. Overcoming infertility not once but twice in your life is difficult but my mother did it without sweat on her brow. Her love of children and her connection to family was so strong, and is so strong that it never mattered how the child was born, or if the

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child was even hers; she loves unconditionally. Now I feel that we do share more of a bond, now that I know about my birth. While I wish I could have hit more of the topics we covered in class regarding change in diet or the decision of an epidural or Pitocin, I feel like we hit on several major themes. The first, the issue of C-sections, second the role of fathers in the birthing room, and third the difference between biological and adopted children. It is okay that we didnt talk about everything covered in class because that is not my mothers birth story; my mothers story is unique just like every mothers story. And one day when motherhood comes my way, I know that she will be there with me through my own choices, obstacles, and joy she will be with me to create my own story.