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Jill Hartsock-Speaking the Language of Birth
Sarah Blight: Hi, I’m Sarah Blight with Your Baby Booty interviews, where we learn from moms, dads and experts who have figured some things out about having kids, so that you can make better decisions faster as you become a parent. So, do you speak the language of birth? I mean do you? I don’t know. I know that I probably didn’t when I was having a kid, and today we’re talking with Jill, who’s the mother of three little precious kiddos, a 7 year old as of tomorrow, a 4 and a half year old and a 2 year old, and she realized in the middle of labor that she didn’t know what the heck was going on, she did not speak the language of birth. And she was lost, she was lost in translation or in transition, I’m not sure, but she was lost.
So today we’re going to find out more about how having three diff—very different births led to this kind of startling realization that there is a language of birth, and that you actually can learn it before going into labors, that you’re kind of down with what’s going on while you’re in labor. So Jill thanks so much for joining us tonight.
Jill Hartsock: Yeah girl!
Sarah Blight: Alright, so, I’ve never ever heard of this before, and I feel like I’m a reasonably educated person about, you know, when it comes to birth stuff—at least I am now. So tell us what is the language of birth? What does that mean?
Jill Hartsock: Oh, girl, I think it’s a lot to do with just understanding what your body’s going through, especially the first time when it’s like, something your body’s never done before, and kind of culminating all this stuff you’ve read or you’ve talked about with your OB, or just stuff you watched, or even when you’ve gone to the birthing classes. All of that just comes together and then, it’s not just the head knowledge, it’s like physical knowledge, and it’s just all is in sync. And I think for me, with my number 1 birth, with Nolan, it did not happen, I was off somehow. Like, you know, when you’re talking on the phone, that there is like that delayed sound, especially when you talk to people overseas, that’s exactly how I felt. I felt like I was off a couple of seconds, and the OB was like trying to like guide me on what she thought is appropriate timing, and I was just completely off, like just that off- sync thing. And I was realizing, we’re not in sync, we’re not understanding each other’s language, it’s not quite happening, so…
Sarah Blight: So, it’s not—by not being in sync, did you feel—did that kind of make you feel fearful, or how did that make you feel?
Jill Hartsock: In a way, I mean, it felt… like I was out of control, like I just—I was going on my head knowledge, but I was also going on my body knowledge and my body—what my body was doing, so that was a really odd thing to be in the middle of, to try to like balance both of those entities. And just—the main thing is to get that baby out of there, you know, so I was just really, like, sweating it, you know? Trying to make sure he’s going to get out there safely and follow the directions of the OB, but going along with what I kind of felt was my own instincts.
Sarah Blight: Okay. So let’s go back to – you have three kids, let’s go back for a second to—can you give us like a synopsis of each of your children’s birth? Just a really short picture of each of your—the birth experiences you had with each of your babies.
Jill Hartsock: Okay. So, Nola is number one, and I was 28 when he arrived, and he just was clockwork, kind of book- text book. Um, gosh, do you want to know all those details, like…
Sarah Blight: Well, you know, what did you have—were you at a hospital, were you at home, was it a quick labor…
Jill Hartsock: [Laughter] I was in a hospital, and, you know, I labored for like 6 hours with them, and he was the one that—it just kind of the light bulb went off as I was literally pushing, and it just wasn’t happening, and I would [0:04:13][switch?] harder…
Sarah Blight: Did you have an epidural? Were you going au natural—okay.
Jill Hartsock: I had an epidural, thank you very much for asking, and I though, you know, I can do this, I’m a pretty high pain tolerance, but I can get through these tough, challenging kind of physical things. And so he just was not coming out, like for whatever reason, and so that was where I was realizing, maybe I’m not speaking the language because I’m not pushing at the right time or on the right count, but I just couldn’t get like my breathing and the pushing and all that in sync. So they finally had to use the vacuum to get him out, and I think they probably would have moved to a c-section if the vacuum didn’t work that first time, that one and only time.
So he came out, everything was great, and then the other piece that kind of clicked for me was the after, you know, the same—the night, during that night afterwards with the nurses and stuff, and I was like, “Did everybody else have to go through this? Did everybody else have to crack the ice and, you know, put it in your underwear”, whatever, all that kind of crazy stuff, and I was just feeling kind of on an island, like wondering if other girls had gone through the same thing cause I thought I had asked the kind of questions that my girlfriends that have gone before me, and I obviously hadn’t, so, it was definitely…
Sarah Blight: So when you see a picture of, you know, the new mom on Facebook, you know, your friend just had her baby and the baby’s in the chest and it’s the cute picture of the mom and the baby. You know, what you don’t see is—I think what you’re saying, which is the moments afterwards where your vagina is totally swollen, you’ve given birth, you basically pushed, you know, you pushed a human being through your pelvis, and out a very small opening, what is normally small, and you are, you know, having your body—has had some trauma associated, even though it’s a natural process that everyone goes through who’s pregnant and ha a vaginal birth, you know, your vajayjay, your vagina has, you know—there are things that are happening down there that nobody talks about, is that what you’re referring to?
Jill Hartsock: Exactly!
Sarah Blight: And you’re wondering, am I the only one who’s ever had to break the icepack and stick it in my granny panties to cool things down, down there.
Jill Hartsock: Totally, and like, just getting the whole, you know, cycle back on board and like normalizing—it’s just crazy, how I think, like some of the nurses get a little bit jaded, and they forget, like, “Oh, this is like a virgin mom”, and, you know, we’ve got to like have these pow-wows with our girlfriends who’ve gone before us to just give us the dish.
Sarah Blight: Right.
Jill Hartsock: And so [0:05:56][Inaudible] it’s been kind of my mission ever since then, to talk to my friends that I’m relatively close to or really close, to just say, “Listen, this is the real deal, let me just tell you exactly what it’s going to be like”. So it—that’s been helpful. So with Zoren, my number two, he seriously flew out, like, thank goodness we arrived in time at the hospital, because he would’ve been delivered on the side of the road, seriously. And it’s so funny because it’s so telling of their personalities.
Sarah Blight: Yeah…
Jill Hartsock: No [0:07:28][Inaudible] and this is real follower, text book kid, since the fig heart, you know, obedient, all that good stuff. And then Zoren, on the other hand, is the little rebel, has a little temper, you know, just a fiery one, and he shot out, he just, he was gone—so the thing with Zoren is, once I got there, um, I mean I had—I don’t know, I’ve forgotten about everything from [0:07:55][Inaudible] one and all the pain and all that kind of stuff, and so I must have just a huge pain tolerance, because I just look like, waving around at home, finally we, you know, decide to get into the hospital, I get there, they check me, triage, and they’re like, “You’re 8 cm dilated” and I was like, “Oh my gosh!” cause it took 6 hours to get that far with Nolan. So, long story short, they basically say [0:08:23][Phonetic] kind of girl.
And I was like, “Not prepared mentally”. I was like, “Oh my gosh! I’m going to die! I can’t do this” like, I’m not prepared, and I was thinking, “Goodbye Ryan”, like I was not going to be able to make it through, like I wasn’t going to be able to [0:08:36][Phonetic] of like, thousands of years of women who’d done forever natural, so he came out just fine, and actually to my surprise, it was amazing. I mean like, I didn’t tear, I didn’t have stitches, I was shocked. And then I got up and walked like around and, you know, it was just unbelievable compared to my whole first birth experience. And then, you know, like before he literally shot out, I really was the one in control. Like I—I could feel all the rhythm and I just—it just clicked. And I was like telling, you know, all the medical staff, like okay, I’m getting ready to push. So then they would kind of tell me, like slow down or go forward or don’t, you know—just all the little details about the pushing, which I didn’t even get to those details delivering number one, because it was just trying to push at the right time, whenever. So, delivery number two with Zoren was definitely – it was very natural, in all sense of the word. Delivery number three was miss Charlotte, and she is also a very true reflection of her, you know, delivery as far as her personality now, and that cracks me up. But she—I did decide to go natural with her before she was ever born, and I just prepared myself based on first natural delivery, which was kid number two, and she—once I got to the hospital, it took like six hours for the labor thing to happen.
But I had a fabulous midwife there, she was just wonderful and had a lot of experience and everything and she was just part of my practice that I’ve had with the other two boys, and then, um we just—we got through it. It was the most amount of pain, because she took a long time to get out, but it worked. It happened, and again I couldn’t believe I didn’t tear and—so I don’t know, I just—my body just worked well with it the second and third times of delivery. And now Charlotte is very similar, taking her time, you know, having stubborn in a sense, a little independent woman, and it was pretty much reflective of the actual delivery. So, it [0:10:53][Phonetic]
Sarah Blight: That is so interesting. So what do you think you could have done differently with your first pregnancy or you first labor and delivery?
Jill Hartsock: I think, if I would have really considered all my options more, I think if I would have really had somebody who recently went through labor naturally, I think I would have probably tried that route right off that. But because it was my first, I think I was just really scared. I was scared to do it, so I wanted to have a little bit of the edge off or something like that, and lot of the people I was talking to, their experience, you know, epidurals were the way to go. I think my experience, though, for whatever reason, I just couldn’t get that sinking down with the language of my body and my head knowledge, and that is where it just tripped me up, you know, I just didn’t feel like it was the best situation.
Sarah Blight: So because you had an epidural, and because, you know—usually when you have an epidural, you’re, you know, you’re numb from like the waist down, sometimes even further up than that down, um, and you can’t feel what’s going on in your body. Do you think that was part of the inhibitor? Because somebody else was kind of conducting your orchestra from the outside, but you really needed to be the one, kind of being able to call the shots according to what you felt your body was doing, is that kind of where you feel like the disconnect maybe was for you?
Jill Hartsock: I do, I definitely do, and I’d know if it—you know, that’s what [0:12:26][Phonetic] of the process, but um, but it just definitely speaking to me, like, it causes to have a delayed reaction at least. So it quickly [0:12:36][Phonetic] after all.
Sarah Blight: So, you said in the pre-interview, you didn’t—you just mentioned it now, just—you alluded to the fact that your body and your mind just were not in sync. They weren’t working together, so could you give an example of where you really felt that that was true, like specifically in your labor with your first son?
Jill Hartsock: Probably just that—the time when they said, “Okay, you’re ready to push” you know, and they’re touching you and they came back and they we’re like, “You’re ready to push” and I seriously thought I was going to push for like one or two times. I didn’t think I’d be pushing for like thirty to forty-five minutes. And um, it just was one of those things where you have a certain expectation and then totally turns out differently. So, when I started to push, I definitely was trying to listen to their directions, but it just didn’t turn out that way.
I just—my body was not actually going through the stuff that they were saying, so like, when I was suddenly in contraction, I was trying to figure out, you know, what is the exact time that I like actually breathe or actually push down or bear down, so that was the beginning of it and it kind of lasted for like forty-five minutes, that I just felt like completely off kilter. And thank goodness, we got him out of there, but it was just, it was just like—looking back, I’m like, “Oh, it’s just not any joyful part of it”. Everything, before, the pregnancy, everything after would turn out great. It was great, but it was just the most [0:14:12][Inaudible] 5 minutes, I’m like, this stinks, I am not feeling the language, I’m not speaking the language, you know?
Sarah Blight: So, why do you think it is important to have the body and the mind working together?
Jill Hartsock: Because you’re the one that’s delivering this baby, and so I think that you need to feel like you have control and you’re understanding what your body is doing. And then, being able to communicate to those doctors and the team, and be able to say, “Alright, I’m feeling this. I feel like I need to bear down, I feel like it’s coming” and just that back and forth communication where they know, okay, so slow down, don’t push so hard, you know, those kinds of things back to me, it just brings more of that evident flow.
Sarah Blight: So, it sounds like what you’re saying is that, you know, the—while the medical staff, the doctors and the nurses have this amazing medical knowledge that is very useful and helpful, you are the one who knows what’s going on in your body. You’ve been carrying this baby for practically a year, you know, it almost—practically ten months. You know your body better than they do because you live in it everyday. So you can add something to the conversation, but somehow maybe when you were left out of the conversation and the experience, there’s a piece missing, is that what you would—would you agree with that? Is that kind of what you’re saying…
Jill Hartsock: I think so. I think that we tend to think that because we’re not, like—if I’m not a doctor myself, then I am not an expert or I, you know, just don’t know enough, but really, we do. I mean, it is our body, and I think it’s important that we kind of feel empowered to speak up and share what’s going on and communicate as much as we can, and just to be confident in that [0:16:02][Phonetic], just to communicate this is what’s going on, so that they can better communicate back to us what they know in their medical expertise, and just go from there. And I think that’s where that language starts to happen, I think that’s where we actually get the dialoguing, as far as the language of birthing.
Sarah Blight: So what’s the- it’s a dialogue, and a dialogue takes two people. It’s not a monologue, which is I think a really important distinction, that women can be empowered and should feel empowered to be partners with their medical provider, whether it’s a midwife or a doctor, the nurses, to be partnership in bringing this baby into the world, because it takes two people, really, who have their own expertise. You’re the master of your body, you know your body and you’ve been with this baby for a long time, they know the medical stuff and they can read, you know, certain medical things that they need to do.
Jill Hartsock: Right.
Sarah Blight: Is that, yeah.
Jill Hartsock: It’s just [0:17:00][Inaudible] calm and staying calm and looking back with delivery one for me, I wish I would have just spoken up more, and even more so—cause I kind of thought I was speaking up more, but I really thing I needed to push it up a notch, and I wish I would have, you know, said it does feel like it’s working or I don’t feel like it’s in sync, using some key words that help them understand like, I don’t have the evident flow here with mine, with what you’re telling me, and what my body’s actually [0:17:29][Inaudible]
Sarah Blight: Right.
Jill Hartsock: So I think just [0:17:31][Phonetic] bold enough, polite enough, confident enough to just say what’s going on with what your body’s actually doing, as well as what they’re telling you to do, you’ve read, what you know about in your head now, [0:17:44][Inaudible]
Sarah Blight: Right. I think that’s huge, because I think especially when you give birth in a hospital, like I know for me, I – until I delivered my son, I had actually never been a patient in a hospital. I have never sat in a hospital bed, I mean, thank God, but I’d never had that experience, and so I think it’s really intimidating when you kind of go in their world, of this medical world, that you just really feel like nothing that I say is really intelligent. It’s—I’m not adding anything to the conversation…
[Music plays while talking]
But it’s actually the opposite, right?
Jill Hartsock: I think so, I think no matter how educated you could go from the medical jargon, or if you are just communicating what makes sense to you, I think you need to do it. I think you need to tell them, the more you tell them, I think the better off they’re going to be able to tell you then what to do based on that. So, whatever kind of delivery that you’re going through, I definitely think that communication, um, just saying what your body’s doing, just saying what your head is thinking, sharing that back and forth with your OB or your midwife or whatever, I think that’s—that’s [0:18:53][Phonetic]
Sarah Blight: Okay, so you said for your birth number two, you were planning on having an epidural, and then he shot out like a rocket, so there was no time for any of that [0:19:04][Phonetic] because [0:19:06][Phonetic] whether or not the anesthesiologist was on the floor or not, so, how were you able to kind of pull it together? It sounds like when you tell the story, that was a really positive experience and kind of after the shock wore off, but how did you pull it together and kind of get your mind and body in sync? Or was it kind of already there because you’d already had an experience, or…
Jill Hartsock: [0:19:28][Inaudible] like when you’re standing by a pool and someone pushes you in, and you’re just like, I’m in, I have no other choice but to swim or whatever, get out of here, so it was just like that, I’m like, sitting there, thinking what was [0:19:41][Phonetic], I’m not going to make it through this, and all of a sudden the contractions have sinked in, and it was like, knocked over kind of contractions, so I’m like, “Whoa!” and I just started, I just let all of my inhibitions go, and I just like, “I gotta push!” you know what I – I just started yelling [0:19:59][Phonetic], whoever was in the scene, and it was—and I don’t know if that’s because I had done this once before…
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…or what, I don’t know, I was older? Maybe I just didn’t care as much, but just not being so politey, you know, with just all your politeness, but also just that idea of, I don’t have a choice, this thing is killing me, you know? And I got to get it out, what do I do? So, have bluster but rushing into her was there. Just [0:20:31][Phonetic], you know, fully with choice. I mean obviously, she had a good point, but she literally caught him. I mean, it was not—she just [0:20:38][Phonetic] caught him, and uh, it was quite—yeah, quite the experience, which is good on my end, and it had to push me one, without that girl but it was the most surprising, gratifying experience I’ve ever had, and I was like, “I did it!” I can’t believe I just delivered natural. That’s awesome!”
Sarah Blight: So it sounds to me like, it came so fast and so furiously that you almost had no choice but to kind of give in to the whole—to what your body wanted when it wanted it, and it’s almost like you—it sounds like you kind of stepped out of the way and just let your body take over, and it just kind of all worked together. Yeah, that’s really cool.
Jill Hartsock: Yup, it is. I just listened to my body and I just then shouted out what was going on down there, and that’s what worked.
Sarah Blight: Okay, so what changed with your third birth, because it obviously wasn’t as quick as number two, but you went, you know, without—you know unmedicated, au natural, so what—like how did that all come together for you? Was—because it wasn’t so fast and furious, was it harder to get in sync or were there specific things you did to really prepare yourself beforehand, or did you rely on more of your past experience?
Jill Hartsock: That’s a great question, because I just kind of went into it knowing I could do it, and I feel like that simple, mental state of mind was a huge change for me. Um, really credit my midwife for just setting the stage, you know, set the atmosphere, and I feel like the two of us just had a good rapport anyways, that we just really worked back and forth, and it was—you know, like more steady, slow and steady kind of situation, but because of what I knew from the past two births, I felt, okay, you’ll get through this. It’s going to [0:22:38][Phonetic] own thing, but I—you know, we could do this.
Sarah Blight: So did you have the same midwife for all three births? Or did you change your care?
Jill Hartsock: Same practice, but the first one, um, was just a regular doctor, is a co- owner of the practice, and then the second one, it was supposed to be a midwife, but she didn’t get in time, so that’s why repression, in turn, and said [0:23:05][Phonetic]
Sarah Blight: [Laughter] Next.
Jill Hartsock: And with Charlotte, number 3, it was midwife. She just had [0:23:14][Phonetic] young [0:23:14][Phonetic], nice. So that worked out.
Sarah Blight: Okay, cool.
Jill Hartsock: Yeah.
Sarah Blight: Okay, so, let’s go back to number 1 for a second, because I’m sure people want to know, you didn’t speak the language but what did you do to prepare? What exactly did you and your husband do to get ready to give birth for number 1?
Jill Hartsock: Well, we were trying to read the books, but I never really finished them, to be honest, so I’m always reading the cliff note versions from a [0:23:42][Inaudible] friends, so I didn’t have to [0:23:46][Phonetic] a couple of people, got a lot of score—[0:23:49][Inaudible] stories, I remember, and then just listened to some doctors at every single appointment, and then we took the 12 week course, or however [0:23:59][Phonetic] the long term course, not the [024:02][Phonetic], but not the one day course. So we just did that, and just kind of thought, everybody’s been giving birth for thousands of years, which we can’t [0:24:14][Phonetic].
Sarah Blight: Which is true, which is totally true. But, a lot of people don’t really realize that they also, you know, could feel intimidated once they kind of step inside the hospital doors, you know. It’s easy to feel not intimidated when you’re in a class or whatever, just kind of with other people. It’s kind of a different story, I think, when you are on your own in a hospital and it’s…
Jill Hartsock: Right.
Sarah Blight: …you. So who did you have with you for birth support through your deliveries? With the first one, [0:24:43][Phonetic]. The second one was just the [0:24:47][Phonetic] and my mom, and then on the third one, is a [0:24:54][Phonetic] room full of people [0:24:53][Inaudible] people. But a bunch of friends as I was laboring, and then they stopped [0:24:58][Phonetic] midnight, and then Charlotte didn’t come about like 2 am, and it was my mom, my sister and my friend, Katie and Pam. So, it definitely felt more comfortable, like after the 1st one, of letting people in, you know, and be part of it.
Sarah Blight: So, if there is somebody watching right now who is planning to have an epidural and really things that’s the best for them and their baby, um, is it possible for them to kind of feel—to be in sync in their mind and body or do you feel like they can speak the language of birth also, or is this just something really that’s only going to happen if you’re unmedicated and doing this au natural?
Jill Hartsock: That’s a good question, I have talked to some girls who [0:25:46][Inaudible] just learned by, that epidurals [0:25:48][Phonetic] things for me. Um, I need—ask them specifically, though, if they really felt in sync speaking the language of birth, but um, everybody I talked to has gone natural, just hands down have said, felt control, had felt like they were going to call the shots and then kind of just want [0:26:11][Phonetic] with their OB or midwife or whoever it was, so I guess [0:26:16][Phonetic] an advantage to not medicate this baby. You could truly feel that, back and forth with that contraction, what’s—getting that kid out, you know.
Sarah Blight: Uh-hum. And know—know when you’re ready to push and know yourself and not having machines tell you when they think you should be according to a graph.
Jill Hartsock: Right.
Sarah Blight: Yeah.
Jill Hartsock: Right, that’s where you kind of are just winging a little bit.
Sarah Blight: Yeah, yeah, that definitely. Okay, so, we have to wrap up the interview, but before we go, I would like for people to be able to walk away from this interview with real steps, real things that they can do. So, pregnant couples sitting here watching, they’re not exactly sure, maybe, what kind of birth they’re going to have. What do they do to learn the language of birth? What are some—the first three things they need to go out and do right now to learn the language of birth?
Jill Hartsock: I think, a lot of [0:27:13][Phonetic] with asking of a variety of people through fun before come get their real deal story, the down and dirty, all [0:27:22][Phonetic] details. Um, [0:27:24][Phonetic] the ice pack in your granny panties.
Sarah Blight: Okay.
Jill Hartsock: Fact that they—to know that we’re getting granny panties, and what—whatever it is that there’s steps [0:27:35][Phonetic] of going through the birthing process. Upon a [0:27:38][Phonetic], did they tell any [0:27:31][Inaudible] if that – it was the [0:27:43][Phonetic] right now, or any tricks that they want to [0:27:46][Inaudible] along the way from birthing, nurse, or the anesthesiologist. Just talk and talk, ask a lot of questions, and then re- [0:27:47][Phonetic] and go into those classes are really huge, but then, I think just stay confident in yourself and your body and communicate. Just communicate over and over to your OB or your midwife, whoever is delivering you.
Sarah Blight: Awesome, those are great advice. So just to recap, the language of birth involves doing a lot of listening, a lot of question- asking, a lot of reading, just getting a wide variety of people who are in your life or who know people who know people who know people, doesn’t matter. People who have given birth to babies, to give their stories, tell their stories, tell what they wish they would have known, watching amazing interviews like this, where you spill the beans on the language of birth and knowing that you actually have a voice, and that is a really, really valuable one, and if you leave your voice at the door when you get into the hospital, you’re missing a—you know, a huge crucial part of the experience that will be a lot less satisfying for you and a lot less helpful to the doctors as well, so. Thank you so much, Jill, for sharing.
If you guys have any questions, comments, nag remarks, any suggestions at all, icepacks and granny panties, please leave us a comment below this video and we will respond, we promise. Um, thanks Jill for being with us tonight and we’ll see you next time!
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