A reader writes:
Just to add to the chorus of mothers not believing the birth story: when I was pregnant, I remember my obstetrician telling me she might have to duck out of my scheduled appointment at any time because one of her patients who was pregnant with her third child was in labor, and that third babies “just sort of fall out.” Labor with each child is progressively shorter, statistically. Especially after the water breaks. I can only imagine how fast the labor is for fifth babies and that Palin must have been warned of this. In a high risk pregnancy, there’s simply no way a logical person would get on an airplane to fly cross-country under those circumstances.
When my amniotic fluid starting leaking prematurely in my first pregnancy, there was no ambiguity from my doctor - I was to get the hospital immediately if not sooner.
Let go of the Trig Palin issue; it makes you look like a loon. I have two children. When I was pregnant with my first, I gained almost no weight until the end of the 7th month. I went to a conference in Arizona at the end of my 6th month and people didn't know I was pregnant until I told them.
My doctor was unconcerned by my lack of weight gain, and attributed it to the fact that I was running 5 miles a day up. He told me to continue running. I was eating plenty of calories and the baby grew normally. Palin is a runner and that can account for her low weight gain. I gained a little more weight with the second one, but I quit running sooner -- at the end of the 6th month, rather than at the end of the 7th.
I had a 14-15 year old friend in high school who hid a pregnancy by gaining only 14 pounds and wearing big sweatshirts. Her mother was an RN and didn't know my friend was pregnant until she went into labor. (Boy, was her mom embarrassed!) The baby weighed almost 8 pounds and was full term. My friend managed this entirely through exercise.
I had very little pain with either delivery, and labored through both without medication or epidural. My first labor took 28 hours. My second labor took 26 hours. At the beginning of both labors, I could feel contractions, which included mild discomfort. I suppose you could describe them as "labor pains," even if they weren't very painful. At no point in either of my labors did I feel the need to scream or shout or cross my legs. In fact, I sat quietly and played cards and read until I ws more than 12 hours in labor the first time and more than 20 hours into labor the second time. Again, I think I had a good handle on my pain and enduring it without a lot of fuss because I was a distance runner. If you can run, you labor without too much fuss. I think flying back to Alaska was reckless, but it wasn't impossible.
This issue is a non-issue. Her lack of weight gain isn't that abnormal. Her lack of pain isn't that abnormal. Her long labor isn't that abnormal. They're all within the scope of my personal experience with pregnancy.
But this was her fifth child and in previous pregnancies, she was huge. She is not a large woman, and her previous pregnancies showed. She had also had two previous miscarriages, which would, one imagines, make one a little sensitive to winging it with pregnancies and labor. Another:
I've enjoyed your Palin coverage from the beginning. However, I feel I have to come forward and tell you that, if she's telling the truth, her birth experience is not that unusual. I'm the mother of four grown children. In two of those pregnancies the amniotic fluid began leaking well in advance of the start of active labor. Before my first child was born, I leaked for over a month - the docs felt it was best to let the pregnancy continue, and put me on bed rest. In the second case, the amniotic fluid leaked for a day and a half with no labor, until the doctor decided to induce labor. So it's perfectly possible to leak amniotic fluid for quite a while without going into labor, and judging by what my doctors told me, it's not particularly unusual.