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Tristan's Birth - 1982 (con't)

Read part 1 here.

Look, no gloves! Is that the most amazing thing to imagine?

Me holding my baby boy. Tristan Ian was 9 pounds 4 ounces and 23 inches long. Born October 20, 1982.

Notice my fat nose and puffy eyes. Classic PIH/Pre-eclampsia signs. Can you see my fingernails? Eek! They were at least an inch and a half long!

I had a roomate, only one, which was unusual at the time in that area. I got special treatment because my former husband and his mom worked at the hospital. I was also given loads of peanut butter cookies every day. (When is help not help?)

Tristan, a week old. We were visiting my Nana who was in a nursing home. Nana was my great-grandmother, Tristan's great-great-grandmother.

But, look what I am wearing! And I am breastfeeding. How did I think I was going to nurse in this tight dress? I didn't think about it and ended up nursing him on the toilet with my dress all pulled up and tucked under my neck.

It was also extremely painful to sit or stand because of the episiotomy. I wasn't pain-free until about 7 weeks postpartum and still feel the scar decades later.

Aren't my glasses the best? They are the size of dinner plates! How 1980's! And my "wings." laughing I still wear bangle bracelets. Have always loved them.

Well, there's a quick trip through the History of Childbirth from one woman's experience. Interesting, eh?

If it weren't for Tristan's birth... and then my Unassisted Birth of Meghann 19 months later... I would never have known I was supposed to be a midwife. Still in the dark after Tristan's birth, I thought it was so wonderful I wrote a thank-you letter to the doctor, nurses and president of the hospital! Can you imagine? After a mediolateral episiotomy! shaking head


Do you have a story from the early 80's or before? Do you have a blog? Tell your stories!

Reader Comments (12)

My first birth was 1993 so I don't qualify. I can share my mothers story though, as I remember it.

1970, suburban US hospital near large city. My brother was due at the end of Sept by LMP. EDC came and went, Oct came...and went. An x-ray was taken and reported that fetus wasn't as far along as thought by LMP. Mom admitted for induction around Halloween. 16 hours of pitocin and not one contraction. Sent home. SROM the following week. Ran errands then went to the hospital. Moms clothes were sent down to my father in a paper bag. She was shaved, enema'd and put on a stretcher in a room with other laboring women and left alone. When they came to check on her later she was pushing. She was taken to delivery room, spinal administered (automatic, everyone got them), glasses taken away. My brother was born, she couldn't see him because she can't see anything without her glasses. He was in distress and removed immediately to nursery. She was wheeled past the nursery flat on her back and he was pointed out to her at the back of the nursery. All she could see was the top of his head. He was later transferred to another hospital where he died at less than a day old from meconium aspiration pneumonia secondary to postmaturity syndrome. Mom spent the next few days in a room with three other women and their healthy newborns. He was her first child.

April 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

How horrid. But I know many stories like this... sad, sad. I am so sorry for your mama. It would be very different today. The whole thing.

Say what you might about post-dates being normal; this is a perfect example that *sometimes* babies don't start labor and "intervention" is necessary. Not often, for sure. But, when it saves a baby, it is worth all the pain and change in birth plans.

April 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

My first birth was in 1985 when I was 17. They had a brand new LDRP room that I couldn't use because it was my first baby. So, my birth went just like yours except for the pitocin...they broke my water instead. I was taking too long! Demerol, episiotomy that I can still feel 23 years later, "Don't touch the sterile field!" (I wanted to pull up my legs), Oh, and "By the way, could a few students observe the birth?". I swear there were 15 strangers in that little, freezing room. After meconium aspiration and a little help to get started, my 8 lb baby was just fine. Yes, I loved the warmer though! I am in school to be a Nurse Midwife and have attended homebirths in the past. It's a wonder how we get from the 1980's birth experience to be homebirth midwives!

April 14, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterquiltncatch

anony..wow, that is horrible, 'm so sorry for your mother.

NM thank you for the inspiration for todays blog post! I will be blogging about some of my family's birth history today :D

I was also born in October '82. My mother had very similar glasses to yours! (She still has them too, in her dresser, they're hilarious!)

Thank you for sharing the birth of your son!

April 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJari

My oldest daughter was born in 1981. Her birth was almost exactly what you described except without the preecampsia. I had
a large RML episiotomy for a 6#14ounce baby! The scar is still visible and is at least 2 inches long! There are 2 things I especially remember. I was laying on the delivery table in excrutiating(sp?)pain. I was given a pudendal block and I saw the needle the doctor was going to use! It was so long and scary looking (at least 6 inches long)! I now know that a guide id used to get the needle where it needs to go and only the tip is stuck into the body. At the time I thought that the entire needle would be stuck into me! It was so, so scary! The other thing I so vividly remember was that the door to delivery room was left open. There, outside the door was the housekeeper mopping the floor! I remember thinking, here I am about to have a baby, something that should be sacred and she is out there mopping! It was routine and uneventful for the hospital workers! So incredibly sad! But, like you, I didn't know that it didn't have to be that way!

April 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

You can imagine how my mom felt when I got to 42+ weeks with my first.

April 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

My brother was born in 1981 a month early because my step mom was diabetic (bad from childhod too). I didn't get to see him at the hospital because they didn't allow kids in. He was "taken" at 36 weeks by c-section and was very small, maybe 5 pounds. My step mom truly had trouble breast feeding maybe with diabetes, maybe with the early baby. She tried, but he kept loosing weight. The doctor had her give him formula. He didn't grow on it either, they kept trying different ones. My step mom said she'd go get goat's milk and the doctor said, "no." She went ahead and gave him goats milk, and my brother began to thrive. She went back and the doctor said, "see, this time the formula we tried worked." She replied, "yes, but it's not formula, it's goat's milk." In your face docs who don't listen to the mama!


April 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Wow, what a sad story, anonymous!I am so sorry about the loss of the brother you never knew and

NGM, you are so hilarious with the glasses, etc but seriously, in 1982, that whole look was smokin' hot : ) I too remember wanting to THANK my OB's after my first birth. Its like theres this gratitude for the baby and the doctors major interventions seem like you got rescued or were in a danger-scene...my words arent coming out right but I really do understand. I have given huge tips to people who cut my hair super ugly--maybe there is a name for this syndrome?

Well, anyhow,your birth story sounds exactly like my Mom's. Thank you for the perspective. This is where the split can occur, I think--either a "Screw this, homebirth is the way to go" OR picturing all of that BS that "they" did to birthing women in the hospitals back then somehow occuring in your living room and feeling that that cant possibly be safe!
I think that for us women who have such trouble getting our own parents/in-laws to come around about homebirth to really remember what it si that they consider "Birth" to be about, it makes more sense when they flip out--especially when they have spent the past 30 years not thinking about their own birth experiences.

April 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHousefairy

My first birth was in 1982, as well, I was 16 years old, a hospital birth, in rural Jamaica. The district midwife couldn't take me because of my age, but I saw her for prenatal.

So, I got there Friday evening, because it was clear I was going into labor but we didn't have a car and not enough money for a taxi so we (my baby’s dad and I) took public transportation to the nearest hospital which was a good 35 miles away. I was barely contracting, but dilated a good 4 cm so they admitted me, which meant going to the labor ward and being prepped. Baby Daddy was told to go home and come back after the baby was born.

There was another young mama who was being admitted at the same time, she was my age, 16, but she was obviously father along in labor than I was. We were taken to the labor ward, where there were 8 beds, 4 along one wall, 4 along the other, facing each other. No curtains. The nurse told us to put on our nightgowns, make our beds with the sheets we brought from home, and drop our panties.
In front of everyone.
We were shaved, given the infamous Jamaican Enema (high, hot, and a hell of a lot), the baby was listened to (and that was the only time they listened to my baby) and pretty much left to our own devices.
Oh, I have to mention, the first thing I saw when I entered the labor ward was this tiny little woman of Indian descent, being held down by three nurses while the doctor manually removed her placenta. She was SCREAMING from pain. I thought ooooohhhhh SHIIIIIT!
A nurse explained to me later that her placenta was stuck and that it usually came out on its own quite fine. Whew!

I saw 6 babies born before mine. The girl who came in when I did birthed shortly after. When the midwife put the pan with the placenta on the floor under the bed, some big fat rats came out and started gnawing on it.

One lady was having her 3rd baby. She stood up and asked me to get her a bed pan because she needed to “doo-doo”. I got it for her, and when she lifted her nightgown, I could see the baby’s head crowning. Yikes! The baby was born into the bed pan while I ran up and down the halls looking for someone to help. (She probably got the best birth out of all of us, in retrospect!)
The midwife and nurses were not very nice to us, either. We were told to shut up; some were slapped hard when they made noises, or called the midwife before they were ready to deliver. The men’s surgical ward was directly across from the labor ward, and if we made too much noise, we were threatened with having the windows opened so the men could watch us give birth.

So, by early morning, I was contracting pretty strong. I was alone by this time; everyone had had their babies and gone over to the maternity ward. I started pushing, and I think I was pretty lucky that someone was nearby when I did. I sure as hell wasn’t calling anyone!

I got a huge episiotomy, the baby was put in a cot, and I was sent to go shower. The water was off, so I did the best I could with a bucket. Then I was sent upstairs to the theater to get sutured on the third floor. But the elevator was broken, so I had to walk. They didn’t have any anesthetic, either, so I was sutured without it, two male porters holding me down on the table while the doctor sewed me up.

Finally, I was sent over to the maternity ward, and lay in bed with my baby. Just as I was falling asleep, the Baby’s Dad came in to see if I had the baby yet.

We didn’t have the money to pay the hospital, so we snuck out about 4 hours after the baby was born. He had borrowed money for the taxi ride home, but the taxi would not go up our dirt road, so I ended up walking up the hill to our house.

At least my postpartum was nice! My mother and sisters in law did everything for me for the first few weeks after the birth. I just lay in bed, and nursed, and ate.

That was my 1982 birth!

April 14, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermamarose

As part of a CBE class I took, we were supposed to talk to our grandmothers about their births. Turns out my mom's mom's first labor and delivery went wonderfully with the use of hypnosis! This was in the late 1950's in NY state. She told me how her doc tested her during a prenatal appointment by guiding her through a "grocery shopping" hypnosis. Since she lowered her hand more when he handed her a "heavy item" than when he handed her a "light item" (there were no real items, it was all part of the hypnosis) he concluded that she would be a good candidate for hypnosis during labor! My grandmother said it ended up working wonderfully for her. Her only complaint was that someone was playing loud music in the hall or in another room during her labor, but she yelled for somebody to turn it down so she could concentrate, and they did!

Unfortunately, my grandparents left New York after that and her other 3 babies (including my mom) were born with a different doctor who didn't offer hypnosis as an option. She received the standard general anesthesia.

April 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterktliz

I'm curious - I got a mediolateral episiotomy with my instrumental delivery six months ago, and I was told that this was preferable to a median one (less likely to tear into the sphincter). Is this wrong?

April 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTamsyn

1982 A planned C-section if the breech baby didn't flip in labor. The regular OB was gone for two weeks at a medical conference, the only time per year he didn't deliver all of his own patients. The anesthesiologist and surgery team were called in and ready. The mother was 4 centimeters dilated. Just then police rush in with a guy shot in the neck. No problem the surgery will be quick, but the bullet turns out to be buck shot so the guy had lots of little pieces in his neck not two or there big ones. A second surgery team is called in, the on call OB is bitching about being dragged in during the middle of the night because the regular OB waited to see if the baby would turn in labor. Moms having back labor the OB keeps asking mom if she can "feel" pressure from the a light pinch of tongs. It doesn't hurt but she can feel the pressure. OB keeps adding more fluid to the spinal. OB gets a funny look on his face. Anesthesiologist reams OB. Dad points out mom isn't breathing right since everything below her arm pits is numb including her diaphram. Dad also keeps mom balance up right so she won't asperate while she throws up. The anesthesiologist puts mom on oxygen and calms her down by telling her "it's for the baby". Its not. Baby is born by Ceserian. Mom can't hold it because her arms are to droopy from the epidural. Baby face is full of gunk and it's taken off to be suctioned. Baby is 6lb a few ounces.

1984 Next time, same situation, breech baby who doesn't turn, C-section, epidural ect. Except this time it's the regular OB and mom isn't OD on the epidural.

This is my birth story and my brothers.

April 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

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