Mason's Birth - First child. Cesarean section after FTP/"CPD" induction. With lots of pictures.
Pressure - OB pressured mother into induction. Resulted in cesarean.
Logans' Birth - This story is one of unbelievable negligence and cruelty. Women deserve better than this. Our children deserve better.
Talena’s Birth – The Best and Worst Day of My Life - Story of yet another cesarean due to failed induction for being "overdue"...
A CBAC Story - Hospital VBAC attempt of second child. Impatient staff resulted in cesarean section.
Inanna's Birthday - First child. Cesarean due to breech presentation.
Michael's Birth - Cesarean delivery of 1st child.
Lily's Birth - First child. Induction turned emergency cesarean.
A Lamentation of Birth - First child. Admitted to hospital after SROM, followed by typical hospital interventions which resulted in cesarean section. With lots of pictures.
Joshua's Story - Birth of second child. Planned homebirth becomes hospital birth after going post-dates. Cesarean section with inadequet anesthesia.
My Story - First child. Cesarean section due to "arrest of descent"
Alana's Story - First child. Cesarean for failed induction.
untitled - First child. Cesarean section for breech presentation.
Noah's Birth Story - First child. Induction turns into emergency cesarean under general anesthesia and NICU stay for baby. With Pictures.
Brennan's Birth - First child. SROM results in pitocin, uterine rupture and cesarean section.
I Didn't Know - First time mother, induced for "post dates", resulting in cesarean section.
Rhonda's Story - First child. Induced for pre- E, lead to cesarean section.
Ruth’s, Jai and Sophia’s Birth story - One mother's story of the cesarean births of her children, and what she has learned from them.
Glade's Birth - A mother's story of an external cephalic version turned labor turned emergency cesarean at 37 weeks.
Noah's Story - Cesarean for FTP induction.
Fighting Back - One mother's story of fighting for her and her baby's rights after a horrible hospital birth experience.
Franky's Birth - First child. Cesarean section for "fetal distress".
Liam's birth: a life-changing journey - A planned homebirth with a hospital transfer that ended is a cascade of interventions--ultimately a cesarean section.
Danielle's Birth Stories - One mother's powerful story of the cesarean births of both her sons--one an unnecessary cesarean after an induction, the other a CBAC after her son was found to be stuck in the birth canal, unable to descend.
The Birth of Anjali Grace - Induction turned cesarean with anesthesia awareness.
Wyatt's Birth - Birth of second child. Cesarean for breech presentation.
Nicol's Story - One woman's story through 4 cesarean sections, laprascopic surgeries, and a tubal reversal.
Pushed to the Limit. Betrayed by my Body - One mother's journey through the births of her 4 children, all born by cesarean section.
Emma Leigh's Birth - An emergency cesarean due to placental abruption
It was December 2006. My husband and I were expecting our first child, a boy named Mason Alexander. My EDD was December 28th. We were both over the moon and so anxious to meet our baby boy. I was excited about labor starting, timing contractions and eventually exclaiming to my husband, Jason, "This is it!" Jason would grab the bag, and we would race to the hospital. I would daydream about that special day, wondering how and when it would all come to fruition.
I started having lots of Braxton Hicks contractions everyday from about 35 weeks on. Towards the end, they would get strong enough where it would keep me up at night. I was so sure they were dilating me--at least I hoped they were. I was experiencing the typical third trimester blahs; I was so done with being pregnant, and ready to become a mother.
I went to my 39 week appointment, and my doctor told me I was about a fingertip dilated. I was upset. I felt my body would never go into labor on its own. My doctor spoke to me about induction. She told me at her practice, if you reached 41 weeks, they would routinely schedule an induction. I really wanted to go into labor on my own, but I also saw a light at the end of the tunnel.
I hastily agreed to an induction for January 3rd, 2007. My doctor told me I was #2 on the list for that day, and to call the hospital at 6 AM that morning to see if they had any open beds yet.
I left the doctors that day excited and scared. I knew I would have my little boy in my arms in a few days.
Unfortunately and with much regret, I didn't bother to research the risks to inductions. I mostly asked advice on message boards and only read about the procedures. I assumed I would go in and have my baby vaginally, like all my sisters. I just knew I was going to have an uncomplicated birth--a cesarean never even crossed my mind.
I spent the rest of that week reading birth stories, preparing our home for our son and obsessing over my irregular contractions. I wanted to go into natural, spontaneous labor so badly, I remember admitting to myself that I would feel like my body had failed me if I did end up being induced.
As it turned out, January 3rd rolled around and I was still pregnant. I called the hospital at 6:30 that morning. The nurse who answered told me they had no rooms available at that time, and I gave them my number to call me back when they were ready for us.
Jason and I spent the rest of that morning restless, excited and agitated. I called my sister, Angel, and told her I would call her when I was on my way to the hospital. She was the only person in my family that could "make it" to the birth.
At last, around 12:30 PM, the hospital called us, and told us to be there at 1:30 PM. We arrived, and were told we had to wait a few minutes in the waiting room, because the room was still being cleaned. We ended up waiting for about 30 minutes or so, it was the longest wait of our lives.
Finally a nurse came in and told us they were ready for us. My heart must have skipped a few beats.
We were led to the room, and I changed into the lovely hospital gown, was strapped to the EFM and given an I.V. Jason was just sitting on a chair beside me, watching T.V. We didn't say much, but we were constantly glancing at each other; this was really it.
I was extremely nervous and I had barely eaten that day, so I was very jittery and shakey. Somehow the subject of food came up, and the nurse asked why I was so hungry. I told her I was told to eat a light breakfast, and I did, but very early in the morning. Then I was too anxious to eat anything else, and was given the impression by my OB not to eat right before the induction. Now I was starving.
So, is a famished woman about to embark on the most physically demanding and exhausting experience of her life offered some food--even a light snack?
Nope. Hospital policy is the typical menu of ice chips and italian ice.
The pitocin was administered, and the nurse told me it was at a very low dose; 2 miU/min, and told me it would be upped about 2 miU/min every 30 minutes or so until a nice contraction pattern was started. The nurse was very friendly and chatty. She helped me feel a little more relaxed.
At around 3:00, my doctor showed up to check my dilation and break my water. She seemed like she didn't want to be there, and this was all so "routine". I was still 1 cm. It was painful when she tried to break my water, she barely nicked me, only a small trickle came out. She suggested to wait and see if the rest would break on it's own, and if not, she would come by later to do it along with another vaginal exam.
I remember that I felt something "wrong" after my doctor punctured the amniotic sac. It just didn't feel right to try to break it. Why not leave it alone? It just felt wrong to mess with the pregnancy, and it just wasn't time yet for my son to be born.
But I went on with it, regardless.
I didn't feel much at first, just some mild cramping. The nurse suggested I get up and sit in the rocking chair for a while. It felt nice to be up and moving around, though it was a pain to drag the IV with me. It made moving very difficult.
I don't remember how long I was in the chair for, but it wasn't very long, when the nurse had me get up and go to the bathroom. I was in the bathroom for a few moments, enjoying the solitude. It felt good to be alone, away from the obnoxiously loud EFM and free from its' fetal monitoring strips.
But soon enough, the nurse was knocking on the door, and I was told I had to move to the bed. I reluctantly obeyed.
The contractions were still bearable when Angel arrived at around 5:30 PM. At this point, I was starving, I was only eating my "allowed" sustenance of italian ice and ice chips. Angel went to the cafeteria for food, and brought me back some Lifesavers. Jason had left to eat, too.
Around this time, my contractions became very painful. I felt a lot of pain and pressure in my lower back. I had no idea at the time that I was actually experiencing back labor because my son was posterior. I complained about my back to the nurse, and she didn't even say anything about maybe having a posterior baby. She was too busy reading the read out strip from the EFM and chatting with Angel, a nursing student, about nursing school. It really bugged me. My contractions were extremely painful, and I wanted total silence. I was so annoyed with them I wanted to scream,"SHUT UP!" But I did not say anything.
My "labor" is a fuzzy memory. Jason would come over to me periodically, and hold my hand, feed me ice chips, or talk to me. But when I was having a contraction, I would push his hand away, or say,"Don't touch me". The pain was making me so agitated and scared me, I wanted to run from it.
When a contraction hit, I couldn't stop moving, I was so fidgety (I found out later this is quite common in mothers with back labor). As soon as one ended, I was dreading the other, and when one was starting, I would say,"Oh no" . At one point, I actually remember envisioning myself getting smacked on the head with a frying pan, and getting knocked unconscious. It hurt so bad, I really wanted to be knocked out. The thought of getting hit over the head with a frying pan sounded welcoming--I just wanted it to end.
I remember wanting to get on my knees, and rest my upper body on the back of the hospital bed. This position seemed it would feel right to me. For some reason, I didn't do it. I was afraid to move, so I stayed on my back. I think this was a big mistake on my part.
The nurse made me get up and go to the bathroom. I dreaded getting up, no one helped me, not even Jason. I waddled to the bathroom, dragging my IV. Sitting on the toilet felt good too. It relieved some of the pressure on my bottom. Again, I stayed in a little too long for the nurses' liking. I guess she was worried having me on pitocin and off the EFM, though I was glad to be away from that machine. So, back in bed I went, and the fetal monitoring strips were fastened once again.
At around 7:00 PM, I begged for an epidural. I felt bad for "giving in", but I also thought I was still going to get a vaginal birth, so that made me feel better about my decision.
At around 7:30, my doctor came back for a vaginal exam, and to again attempt to break my water. I still hadn't gotten the epi at his point. She checked me, I was 4 cm dilated. I felt relieved, I was actually progressing. She then attempted to break my water, which was extremely painful. I was yelling,"Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!" and squirming around in bed. "Sorry", she said. Then I felt a huge, warm gush. What an odd sensation that was.
My doctor left. There was a shift change in the nurses. The new one was a lot younger and seemed to be in a bad mood. I kept asking the nurse, "Is the epi guy here yet?" She seemed annoyed by my persistant whining.
It seemed an eternity before the anesthesiologist walked in with his rolling tray of goodies. Jason was forced to sit down and not move, for liablity purposes. Angel had to leave the room.
I sat up and the nurse made me lean forward on a pillow, and into her. I didn't want her to be the one to hold me while I was getting a needle in my spine; I wanted Jason to hold me. The pillow wasn't supporting me right, it was too soft, and the nurse wouldn't let me rest on her. She barely held my shoulders with her hands. This annoyed me, as I had to sit there through contractions, awkward and off balance due to my pregnant belly, straining trying to keep in that position, and trying not to move. The nurse kept telling me,"No, lean this way," she would try to position me correctly. The anesthesiologist had to ask me a ton of questions before he could give me the epi. I was getting agitated. It seemed like there were a million questions.
During the procedure, the contractions were so bad, I could do nothing but sit through them, amniotic fluid gushing to the floor in buckets with each contraction. This experience seemed so humiliating, but I didn't even care at the time. When it was all done, I felt like a million bucks. I felt relaxed and human again. Jason was allowed to move again. He asked me how I felt. "Great", I said,"Why wouldn't you want this?"
Soon after I had received the epi, Mason's heart rate was dipping with contractions. The nurse comes in, and tells me I need a little oxygen because he was showing some distress. I was freaked out. I was put on oxygen.
I kept looking over at the monitor, staring at my little boy's heart rate. Whenever it started to dip, I was petrified. "Where are the nurses??" I would ask Jason,"Don't they see this on the monitor in the nurses station?" Jason was getting agitated with me, he said I was making him nervous too, everything was okay, and I needed to calm down.
I started to feel some pain even through my epidural, a lot of it was in my bottom, and lower back. I kept pushing the dose button until it would beep, but that still didn't seem to do anything. I remember hoping the pressure in my bottom was due to being fully dilated. I told my nurse; she blew it off.
At about 11:00 PM, my doctor came back and checked me. I was still 4 cm, and completely, utterly devastated. My doctor went on to explain I was not progressing, that Mason was most likely too big for my pelvis (noted as CPD in my medical records), and I would need a cesarean section. After she spoke those words, it was like time stood still. I had never even thought about the possibility of a cesarean. The thought of surgery scared me to death. I just remember staring at her, wide eyed, and saying ,"Okay".
Jason went into the bathroom and changed into his scrubs. When he came out, I remember thinking how handsome he looked. I was joking with Angel and Jason, I guess I was a little relieved at the time that it would soon be over, but I was also in shock. Angel was ushered to the waiting room. I was upset about that; I had wanted her to see Mason as he was born.
I felt very ashamed as I was wheeled down the halls, and by the nurses' station. I couldn't look any of them in the eye. I felt really embarrassed, even silly. I was totally numb, I felt like a beached whale; like a cow going in for the slaughter. They knew why I was going to the OR. I was going because I failed as a woman. I was taking the same walk many other poor victims of the knife had taken- the Walk of Shame. I just kept looking up at the ceiling, thinking of how weird it was to be wheeled around. I felt stupid and helpless.
I remember going through the big, white double doors that had huge red lettering on them. I don't recall exactly what it said, something along the lines of,"Operating Room, Sterile, Restricted Area, Entrance prohibited". Such a lovely sight to see. Such a warm, welcoming place to give "birth".
I was wheeled in the OR. The room was very bright. I couldn't believe I was actually in the OR. I never had been anywhere near one ever in my life, never mind actually being the one about to be operated on. It all seemed so surreal and foreign to me.
A few people rolled me onto the table. It felt so odd being out of control of my own body. I felt like an invalid; totally helpless.
The Anesthesiologist, whome I will refer to as "A", was very kind and began trying to make light of the situation. I did not listen to him though, I was too scared and felt alone. Jason was somewhere waiting to be let in. I knew it wasn't his fault, but I couldn't help feel betrayed and abandoned by him.
All of a sudden, my legs felt as if they were on fire. I was scared, "My legs feel like they are on fire," I said. "Yes. That's the epidural," A said. I felt stupid again.
Right about this time, I felt a cold sensation on my belly. I guess that was the sterilizing solution. They must have shaved me around that time too. Though it was my body, I had no idea what was being done to it.
I remember looking up at the lights, they were very bright. I felt exposed.
My doctor then said,"Dr. V wants to be here, too." I felt a glimmer of hope. In my drug induced stupor, I actually thought the sweet, motherly Dr. V would rescue me from the inevitable. "STOP!", she'd say, "She doesn't need to be sectioned!" Then rush to me, "It's okay, dear". She seemed so sweet at the few pre-natal visits with her. She seemed so caring and motherly, like I could tell her anything. That was a fantasy, she didn't care about me and probably didn't even remember me. I was just another nameless, faceless patient. My child an obstacle to end a hard day of work. I never saw her. She was hiding behind the blue sterile sheet the whole time. I never remember her speaking a word to me, or even about what was going on in the room. They were too busy gossiping about patients.
At one point I asked them, "When he's out, do you hold him up over the sheet so I can see him?" "No", they said. I felt stupid again. I remembered seeing that on all the birth shows on T.V though.
I guess I wasn't worthy of seeing my own son right after he was ripped from me.
They began pinching my belly, and brushing a cold solution over it. They kept asking if I could feel the cold sensations and pinching. I kept saying "yes". I could feel only the left side of my abdomen. A kept pumping me full of drugs, the doctors kept pinching my belly, "Can you feel this?" "Did you feel that?".
I was terrified they would start cutting even though I could still feel my left side. I had heard too many horror stories about women whose doctors started cutting even though they were not completely numb. The doctor wouldn't listen to their cries, "It's not pain, it's pressure you are feeling!"
Finally, they numbed me up completely from my toes all the way up to my neck. It felt like I wasn't really there; like I didn't exist. I couldn't feel myself breathing. I started to shake uncontrollably.
Suddenly, Jason was there to my right, I didn't see him walk in-or I just don't remember. They didn't tell me when they would start, I just remember both doctors chatting away as if I wasn't even there. It was as if I was a corpse, I might as well have been, and they were performing an autopsy on me, totally desensitized to the process. I was laying there paralyzed, scared, and about to give "birth" to my son, and they acted like it was just another day at the office, chatting as if on a lunch break.
I suddenly felt my lower body moving around, I knew then that they had indeed started. There was no turning back at that point. This was how my pregnancy was going to end; it was really here.
I looked up at Jason, he's just a blue blur in my memeory. I don't think we spoke to each other. We were both in our own worlds.
It seemed like seconds had passed when I heard, "It's a boy!" and " Looks like a blondie!"
I couldn't feel or see anything. I remember trying to see Mason to my left as they washed him and checked his Apgars. I couldn't see any part of him, the fucking blue sheet was in my way.
I asked Jason if he could move part of the sheet aside so I could see, he said he was told he couldn't "touch anything that was blue". I felt beyond anxious and frustrated. I wanted to jump up, run over to Mason and grab him from those strangers' hands; but instead I was strapped to a table, cut open, numb and raped.
Mason let out a low, drugged cry. "Is he okay?" I asked Jason. "Yes", he said. We looked at eachother.
As I looked at him, I tried to reach down into the depths of my being to find some sort of happiness. I was physically and mentally numb. I was supposed to be crying with happiness, he was too.; but we were not. All I could muster up was one tear.
Was he really laying over there? Was that him really crying? Detached.
Then, I heard the sucking sounds. It threw me violently back into reality that my insides were exposed. I hoped they knew what they were doing, it was my body, my one and only body. I wondered what it looked like in there. They were suctioning out the blood and tissue from the surgery and the thought nauseated me. More chatter as they sewed me up.
I never saw them leave, I don't remember a congratulations. They had more women to cut open.
Jason got up and walked over to Mason to hold him and take pictures. I felt so helpless and jealous. I wanted to hold him so badly, but I couldn't even move my fingers.
They shoved Masons' face next to mine for a second, my eyes barely had time to focus and they whisked him away. I hadn't seen a thing. That was the last I "saw" of him for at least 2 hours. My son was born, yet I did not meet him. The whole staff met him before I did.
On the table as I was being put back together, I was shaking uncontrollably. I was terrified. No one explained to me that shaking was a normal reaction to the anesthesia.
I suddenly became extremely sleepy. My eyelids became very heavy, and everything was fading to black. I became very paniked and tried to fight it. I don't know if it was the surgery and a long, hard day, or if A pumped me up with more drugs. I remember thinking that if I fell asleep, I would stop breathing and die. I would die in "childbirth" and never know my son; he would never know me. "I feel sleepy", I told A. "That's okay," he said, " Go to sleep." I kept fighting it, though. I didn't trust him.
I have no idea when Jason left. I was wheeled into a different room, which I later came to find out was the recovery room. I had no idea why I was there, no body told me what was going on. I had no idea where Mason was, and I was too out of it to ask or to care. Angel was sitting to my right, we chatted a little. I wonder if I even made sense. I don't remember what we talked about, and I was still shaking uncontrollably.
I felt very cold, so I asked for a blanket, "No. Shaking is normal" . I wanted water, "No". I was starving, "No". I felt neglected and invisible.
I looked down at my belly protruding from underneath the sheet. It was a lot smaller, and empty. I couldn't believe he was really not inside of me anymore.
Jason came into the recovery room. He said to me ,"He is beautiful, babe". He had a huge smile on his face. I felt so opposite of that. I was dying inside. He and Angel went to go see him again. I cried as they left the room, "I want to see him too!"
Words cannot describe the frustration: I just gave birth to my son! I WANT TO SEE HIM! GIVE HIM TO ME!
Then I was left alone, again. I had no idea I was in that room for a few hours, until Jason told me months later. I had fallen asleep. Those were the precious first hours of my son's life, and I wasn't in them. I can never get those hours back.
When I finally did see Mason in postpartum, just over 3 hours later, I felt detached. Jason picked up the camcorder, and filmed a nurse handing Mason to me--I.V still stuck in my vein, looking swollen and itching badly. It's hard to watch this now. I am holding him awkwardly, and the nurse takes my hand and moves it to the "correct" spot. My face looks like I am searching for something, and as I watch this today, I cringe because I know I was searching to feel something. It was like a nurse had handed me a random baby from the nursery. I didn't feel any joy, and it kills me that those were my first feelings. I just wanted to go to sleep.
The nurse told me Mason was hungry and I attempted to breastfeed. Jason stopped filming by this time, so I have no memory of this. I remember I felt very self conscious, and overwhelmed. After he ate, the nurse came back to take him to the nursery again. I am hurt to admit, I was glad they took him.
That first night was awful. Drifting in and out of consciousness, waking up drenched in sweat, cold and shivering.
At one time, I woke and I felt horrible pain in my abdomen. I realized my percocet had worn off. I buzzed the nurses station for more pain meds. It took about 10 minutes for the nurse to arrive, but it seemed like forever.
I was given 600 milligrams of Mortrin, and 2 percocets. I fell back asleep, exhausted and trying to recover from major abdominal surgery, only to be awakened by a nurse to have my vitals checked.
Soon after, Mason was brought to me to feed. Everytime I heard the door open, and that little plastic bassinett with wheels roll over the floor; I felt sick and paniked. I dreaded feeding my son. I felt I couldn't do it right. I didn't think I was a good mother.
The first time I had to get up and walk was awful. My catheter was taken out, and I had two nurses help me to the bathroom. The pain in my belly was awful. It felt like I was being ripped apart. Even trying to sit on the toilet was hard. Both nurses stayed and helped me pee into a container, I guess they had to see if I was well hydrated. I was amazed at how hard it was to sit down and stand back up. It was so painful, I basically had to fall onto the toilet, and getting up was a task in and of itself.
Breastfeeding was hard at first. Mason wasn't latching properly, and I had a very painful blister on my right breast. One of the lactation consultants gave me Lansinoh cream for the nipple, and told me to use a nipple shield until the blister healed.
I blissfully used the nipple shield, it really helped him latch on, and feed better. It also made the dreaded night feedings easier. I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders about breastfeeding, until one of the nurses who handed Mason to me to breastfeed, noticed I was putting the shield on. "Why are you using that?" She asked me. Her tone wasn't pleasant, she was a very rude nurse. She was the only nurse whose name I remembered, Barbara. I immediately felt like a child shamed for getting caught doing something wrong. "I have a blister on my nipple, one of the lactation consultants told me to." She then said,"Well, you shouldn't use it very long, he may get dependant on it." She handed Mason to me, and watched me closely as I put him to my breast, as if making sure I was doing it "right". I felt self conscious and embarrassed. I guess I had done it "right", so she left.
A few days after Mason's birth, one of the pediatricians came by and told Jason and I that Mason was a little jaundiced. She told us he only had a slight case, but would keep him under the lights for a while. She also said that he had lost a few ounces, and suggested I start supplementing with formula. They basically pushed it on me. I felt horrible--my body was failing my son. She said that if he didn't gain enough before we were to leave the hospital, and his jaundice was still there, he would have to stay. I started crying, it was too much. What were we doing wrong???
The next day, the head nurse lactation cunsultant came into our room. She had told me the pediatrician that had spoken to me earlier, wanted her to see me. I guess the doctor felt bad for making me cry. The LC was so kind. She explained everything to me, like how normal it was for a baby to loose a few ounces after birth. She made me feel so much better. She looked at my blistered nipple, and told me it was getting better, she also told me my milk had come in. "It did?!" I was so happy. I looked down to see it dripping from my breast. I was relieved. I couldn't believe it had finally come in! After she left, I felt so much better, but also angry at the doctor who scared me half to death for no reason.
Mason would room in during the day. I felt on cloud nine when the three of us were togther, that is until Mason was hungry. Jason would say,"He's hungry". And I would just feel so anxious and full of dread, and I didn't know why. I just wanted to avoid it, so I would suggest Jason feed him some formula instead. And he would. I feel so guilty about this now.
I did not take a shower until the third day at the hospital. It made me feel more human. I remember stepping out of the shower, and over to the mirror. I got the first good look at my incision, still stapled shut. I ran my finger along the cold, metal staples. I couldn't believe I was touching my own body. Was that really me? Was that my belly? It looked so ugly, and it scared me. I wondered what was going on in my body--was it healing properly? Would I have any complications? Would I always have a huge, ugly scar? My body would never be the same, it would always be wounded.
There was one moment during out stay in the hospital that I will never forget. It involved the horrid nurse, Barbara. Angel was visiting that day, she was sitting down holding Mason, and Jason was helping me pump a little milk out for Mason, when in storms Barbara. "What are you doing??!" She shreiked. We were shocked. "Pumping a little milk", I said, embarrassed and humiliated. "Well, the baby is the best pump!" She replied. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I was very angry, and told her she did not have to barge in the room like that, and that I was only pumping a liitle milk, from my breasts. I get so angry when I think of this now, I wish I would have said more. They were my breasts, he was my child--it was none of her business.
I didn't get many visitors during our stay. Angel was the only one. She always is. I don't think it would have bothered me if I had a better birth experience. I know how my family is; anything a few miles away is too far and too much of a hassle-- even for my beautiful boy. It made Masons' "birth" seem uneventful, not important and I felt so lonely.
Once home, I missed the hospital. I missed being served meals, I missed at least being able to get some sleep. Depression had started to set in. The cesarean really started to bother me. I didn't feel much for Mason then, either. I didn't feel anything-- I felt numb.
Jason would take Mason, and I would try to sleep, but I couldn't. I would lay there in the bedroom, in the dark, wide awake. I was so anxious, and I felt claustrophobic, though I didn't know why. I felt like something was missing, and at the time, I didn't know what. It took me a while to realize my body was mourning the death of my child. I never went into labor on my own, there were never the hormonal changes that needed to take place. My pregnancy was suddenly gone. It was as if my body didn't understand my baby was right there with me.
After a few days, I finally broke down to Jason, and cried. I told him I hated the cesarean and that I felt like a bad mother. He was my rock during those difficult times. I am so lucky to have him.
Not a day goes by that I don't think about the cesarean at least once. I regret so much. I hate the fact that I was so ignorant about the realities of hospital birth. I feel angry about how I was treated. I was ignored, belittled and humiliated. I feel so guilty because I just couldn't wait for Mason to come when he was ready, so I eagerly agreed to an induction, and without even researching the risks. I feel bad for Mason. I wish I could have been there for him in the first moments of his life, instead he lay underneath the bright lights in the nursery, alone. He should have been in my arms.
Next time, I will be the first to touch my baby, and I will see and feel them enter this world. I am a woman. I am stronger than I know. I will not be cut again.
- Michele De Mont
In the beginning, I was determined to have a natural birth. However, I lost confidence in having say in what they did to me after my OB/GYN pressured me into letting them induce my labor. She wanted to do it on day three after the due date, and I insisted on waiting two weeks. I was able to negotiate that we should at least wait ‘til day 10 since being overdue seemed to be normal in my family; my two siblings and I were 3-12 days late. I was told that my baby was “deteriorating” and “dying inside of me.” Would I ever be able to forgive myself if I had a stillbirth and I could have done something about it, namely allowed the induction? The doctor said she wouldn’t forgive herself.
What she meant, is that she wouldn’t forgive herself for getting into a potential malpractice lawsuit. This was one of those many doctors who chooses to avoid lawsuits as opposed to listening to the wishes of her patients. I asked what the chances of a stillbirth were. She replied that the chances were very, very slim. It was implied that the non-stress test that could be carried out to make sure the baby was okay was not worth it. So, looking at that week’s calendar, she scheduled my induction to begin Sunday night, so that by Monday there would be a baby, and she’d have one less delivery for the week.
Every day during those tedious ten days before the induction, I waited to go into natural labor to avoid the procedure. Of course I didn’t. By late afternoon Monday, I had been in hard, hormone-induced labor all day. When the doctor came to check on me around 5:30pm, she explained that since the baby hadn’t moved down, I was only three cm dilated and the baby seemed very large, “there is a 0 % chance he is coming out vaginally.” “The incision will be under the bikini line!” As if this mattered to me. Between contractions and scared with little energy left, my husband and I quickly decided to allow the c-section. In the O.R. the doctors were joking around about my doctor performing only c-sections that week. One patient was already convinced to do it.
The reason I wrote this, is that I don’t want other women to feel powerless over their deliveries. I could have sought a second opinion, changed my doctor (even on the last days) and stood up to this financially-frightened doctor. There is an article in the mainstream magazine, Babytalk, May edition 2005, about forced c-sections. According to the piece, pregnant women seem to have fewer rights than unborn babies. Looking back, I wasn’t as irrational as I was led to feel during pregnancy.
Everyone's been asking me "what happened", so i decided to write out the whole (or most of....) story.....and instead of a "Birth Story", it turned into a rant......
As most of you know, I'd been going into and out of labour for about 6 days- my midwife was checking me daily and couldn't understand why I wasn't in full blown labour!! (I was 3-4 cm and 100% effaced- there was litterally almost nothing holding him in!!). Tuesday night (the 19th) the contractions were strong and regular at 8 min apart. I spent the night walking and sleeping until almost 6am- they were 6 mins apart and I called my midwife to come over. then the contractions slowed down to every 10 minutes again- I was SO frustrated!!! I went to the bathroom right before my midwife arrived and saw blood - not 'show'....enough blood to soak the botton of my panties.
As soon as my midwife arrive i showed her and she wasn't pleased, she checked baby and his heart rate was decellerating during contractions- once even dropping to about 65!! we talked and decided that it was time to transport to the hospital for an assessment there. (I knew right then that it was going to end up as a c/s......)
My birth story begins with a dream. I always knew I would be good at having babies. It was the only thing I was ever certain of in my entire life. I would have a wonderful pregnancy, I would start to feel contractions, and breathe through the pain (I still believe that birth does not have to be painful). When the time was right my husband would take me to the hospital and I would calmly labor with no pain medication until it was time to push. I believed my body would tell me what to do and I would intuitively follow. I dreamt of that beautiful moment when my child, warm and gooey, would be pulled up onto my bare stomach. I would hold him or her tight (I never cared which) and begin breastfeeding immediately. Only after nursing would my child be taken away to be cleaned, dressed and whatever else they did to newborns in hospitals.
I took a lot for granted back then.
I found out I was pregnant 2 months before my 22nd birthday. By Christmas everyone knew. Kenny and I had been together less than 6 months, but we had been friends for almost 3 years. We knew we wanted to get married and have a family; we just weren’t planning on starting so soon. He was so scared he just wanted it to not be true at first. The morning after I took the test though, he got down on his knees and hugged and kissed my belly before I left for work. I knew in that moment that everything would work out for us.
With the exception of three straight weeks of “morning sickness” (nauseous from my first bite of food in the morning until bed), and near constant heartburn, my pregnancy was uneventful. I gained a lot more weight than I wanted, but my OB was the kind who didn’t think you could gain too much. My “due date” was set for August 7, but by mid-June I was done. It was hot, I was huge, and I wanted the baby out. At one point I even called my mother and told her I hated her because she had never been this pregnant in the summer.
August finally came and I started my maternity leave. I was working on the logic that as my mother’s first child I had been two weeks early, so maybe my first would be early too. I also was sick of riding crowded, un-air conditioned buses to work every day. I couldn’t have been more wrong. August 7th came and went with not even a single contraction. On the 8th I went in for a non-stress test because my OB likes to have them done once a patient has passed that magical EDD. My little one slept through the test, so I went in for a second one later that week. At my regular weekly appointment, my OB said that he prefers to induce at 41 weeks, so we made an appointment for the following week.
On the morning of August 16th, my mother picked Kenny, his mother and I up and along with my sister we headed to the hospital. We got to Labor and Delivery and I signed some papers, I don’t even remember what they were. I changed into a lovely hospital johnny and got in bed. There I would stay for most of the next 30 hours. The nurse hooked up the fetal monitor and did an internal. I don’t believe I was dilated at all, starting from nothing. If I had known then what I know now, I would have walked right back out, my baby just wasn’t ready yet.
It took two nurses five tries to get an IV into my left hand, which was bruised for a week afterward. Then the waiting began. The day passed uneventfully. Contractions started almost immediately thanks to the wonders of Pitocin. My water broke around 10am; I barely noticed, just a small pop during a contraction. I didn’t even realize that that’s what had happened until the nurse went to do another internal and the bed was wet. The soon-to-be grandmothers chatted and accompanied each other on cigarette breaks while Kenny sat anxiously next to the bed, trying to keep me comfortable, but not able to do much around all the things connected to me. I think having both our mothers there made us both self-conscious and hindered a lot of the process.
I was told to roll over occasionally and not stay in one position for too long. The problem with that was every time I lay on my left side, the baby’s heart rate dropped. She just did not like being in that position, so I ended up on my back 95% of the time. As the contractions strengthened I started using my own pain management techniques. First I pulled out a Tarot card that I had used in a spell to ease the pain of childbirth. I got a couple funny looks considering that I have the Vampire Tarot, not the most comforting of images to most people, but it helped. When that stopped doing the trick I started toning. As the pain increased, my pitch got higher and higher. I was later told the sound was so annoying Kenny wanted to slap me.
Around 6pm my mother left to bring my sister home. By that time I was beginning to lose control. I could feel myself going somewhere else with each contraction, someplace I didn’t like being, someplace not within myself (or maybe someplace too deep within myself). Kenny had been practically begging me to get the epidural for a couple hours at this point. He hated seeing me in so much pain. I finally asked for it, something I never thought I would do. When my mother came back I was relaxed and numb from the ribs down, only dilated to 2cm, a blood pressure cuff tightening around my arm every ten minutes and a catheter you-know-where. She took one look at me smiling and said “You got the epidural.” I just nodded, already a little loopy.
I managed to sleep a bit through the night. Everyone with me was freezing but I wouldn’t let them turn off the air conditioning because I was sweating. They had all dressed for the summer weather outside, not thinking I would keep the room at winter-like temperatures. At some point a nurse came in and gently told me to put on an oxygen mask, the baby wasn’t handling things as well as they would have liked. My mother woke up and almost had a heart attack when she saw it. I explained what was going on and she kissed my forehead and went back to sleep.
At 8am the shift changed again and a very peppy nurse named Stephanie came on. Kenny and I are not morning people, not even now with a toddler and we complained it was too early to have that much energy. Stephanie checked me and I was happy to learn that through the night I had dilated to about 6cm. I thought things would get going now for sure and I would have my little girl soon enough. By noon, though, I had only dilated another 2cm, and had developed a fever. My OB came in, checked things out and had the Pitocin shut off so myself and the baby could rest. He also gave me something to slow the contractions, but at this point my water had been broken for over 24 hours and I know now that I was doomed for the section. Everything slowed down, though the contractions did continue without the help of the Pitocin.
This is the point when things get really hazy. Kenny was told not to leave the room because we could have a baby very soon, and nurses were in and out checking things but not telling us anything. I tried to ignore the monitor, but I could see my baby’s heart rate dropping with each contraction and staying low. My OB came in again, looked at the printout (I really hate that damn tape now) and said something to the effect of “I think we need to do a c-section now.” I looked him dead in the eye and without my voice wavering or shedding a tear performed the most selfless act of my life. I said “Whatever’s best for the baby” and gave up all hope of the beautiful, natural delivery I had envisioned for so long.
Before I could even comprehend what was going on, the room was filled with nurses. I remember Kenny being told to put on scrubs, and then I was lifted from the bed to a stretcher, not very gently I might add. I was rolled down the hall to the OR with Kenny nowhere in sight. Next I was lifted onto the operating table (again, not very gently) and my arms were strapped down as a curtain was put up so I couldn’t see my stomach. I remember asking anyone who would listen “Where’s Kenny?” exactly four times. I never got an answer.
I remember people talking in the room, but I don’t remember much of what was said. I know the incision was made at 1409, and then I felt the most horrific pulling sensations in my stomach as the OB worked to pull her out. I know she was lodged in there pretty tightly as the nurses had commented more than once on feeling her hair and my bag of water was barely dripping. I screamed for the first time through the whole labor and felt as if I would vomit, but there was nothing in my stomach because I hadn’t eaten in almost two days. As the pulling continued, the OB said something that made my heart stop, “we have meconium.” I remember thinking “where did that come from?” because everything had been clear up to that point. After what felt like an eternity of torture I suddenly felt very light and I knew my baby had entered the world. It was 2:16 pm. I later found out she was 7lbs, 15oz and 21 ½ inches long. I heard her cry and with her first wail I
finally allowed myself to do the same. I didn’t stop for most of the next 14 hours. Her father still wasn’t in the room.
I don’t remember if Kenny came in or the nurse showed me Talena first. She was completely swaddled, a hat on her head. All I could see was her face; I didn’t even know until later that she had black hair. I have never wanted to reach out and touch someone so badly in my entire life and not being able to hold her only made me cry more. I kissed her over and over until they took her away. Now I was aware of Kenny standing at my head, but at this point I was so full of drugs I couldn’t keep my eyes open and passed out.
When I woke up next I was back in the Labor room and I’m not even sure what time it was. I know it was before 8pm because Stephanie was still on. She told us she was working Special Care the next day and would personally take care of Talena. I think Kenny and my mother were in the room, but my memory is so off from all the drugs that that could have been much later. At some point my mother gave me a Polaroid she had taken of my baby girl. My poor Talena was hooked up to monitors and an IV and her head was under a plastic bubble giving her oxygen. She was crying and was so hungry that I was told she kept licking the plastic. Kenny told me she immediately responded to his voice.
Through that first night, when I should have been holding, nursing and bonding with my new baby I was in and out of consciousness. Every time I woke up I looked at that picture and cried. I should have been with my little girl, but I just shut down. I had been through so much, physically and emotionally, that I just couldn’t handle any more. Around 4 am a nurse woke me up and asked if I wanted to try nursing. I was so out of it still I could hardly understand what she was saying. I woke Kenny up (he had been with me all night under the logic that the nurses were taking care of Talena and he didn’t want me to wake up alone and not know what was going on) and they helped me, slowly, into a wheelchair.
We went to the special maternity elevator and went to the Special Care nursery. Talena was still hooked up to the monitors and IV, but the bubble was gone. I don’t remember much about that first meeting. The nurse carefully handed her to me, being careful of all the wires. She had been crying all night and her throat was hoarse, but I don’t think she made a single sound the whole time I was there. I tried nursing, but she was too upset and tired to latch on. I’m pretty sure I cried as I gave her formula from a little glass bottle. I felt as if the last thing that would make this experience livable had just been taken away from me.
A few hours later we went back to the Nursery to talk to the pediatrician and try nursing again. Apparently Talena had a small hole in her left lung, which is what was causing her breathing problems. I don’t remember the exact term for it but we were told it’s fairly common in adults and usually heals on its own. After another unsuccessful breastfeeding attempt with help from the lactation consultant I was moved to the maternity floor to a double room with no roommate, a convenience the hospital tries to give all c-section patients. Through the rest of the day we had a slew of visitors, mostly friends whom Kenny escorted one by one to the nursery to meet our daughter.
On Friday Kenny left to take care of some things and take a shower (he refused to do so at the hospital). When he came back early in the afternoon we went to the Nursery and were told Talena was being moved and could stay with us. The hole in her lung was still there but was healing and they felt it would be gone by Sunday when we would be leaving. The next couple days were a whirl of trying to breastfeed and pump, all the while having visitors in and out and being given pain medication regularly. My milk still hadn’t come in, though I had been leaking colostrum since I was about 7 months pregnant. As hard as I tried to relax, I just couldn’t. I’ve always hated hospitals and was wishing I had done more research on my other options. I felt like I had failed my baby girl and had failed as a woman. I didn’t tell anyone this, but I cried every time I was alone.
By Sunday when we were discharged we had both had enough of hospital food and beds. I was so grateful that Kenny had stayed with me through all this. Talena was taken for one last x-ray which determined that just as predicted, her lung had healed itself. We were finally able to leave around 1 pm and headed home after a stop at the pharmacy for the painkillers I never took. I think that may have been the worst car ride of my life, every bump in the road, every start and every stop hurt my incision.
That night was one of the hardest of my life. A neighbor had brought over some formula that her sister hadn’t used and we had some bottles, but I was determined to feed my child the way nature had intended. After several unsuccessful hours Talena and I were both so upset that I knew it wasn’t going to work. She was so hungry that she just couldn’t latch at all. I gave in. I was happy to have the formula, but devastated that my milk hadn’t come in and I couldn’t provide for my little girl. She slept in our bed that night, cuddled between mommy and daddy, her belly full of formula. My milk came in the next morning, soaking through the nursing pads in my sleep, but it wasn’t until Thursday, when she was 8 days old, that we would finally get the hang of nursing. That first time was a magical moment I will never forget.
When Talena was only 6 weeks old I had to go back to work. I tried to pump but my job is very hectic and there is no real chance to schedule breaks in. I gave up after a week. I knew I had a mild case of PPD and tried going to a counselor, but that only lasted a couple sessions. When a friend had a baby in January I was a wreck. It was so easy for her (not that I wanted it to be hard, especially since she had lost the baby’s father when she was 5 months pregnant), I cried for a week, mourning what I had lost. I hated myself for it, but tried to embrace the jealousy so I could work through it. I got very little sympathy and was told to “get over it” by many people. No one understood what I was going through.
For almost 18 months I felt like a terrible person because I couldn’t be happy that I had a beautiful, healthy baby girl and a wonderfully loving fiancé. I felt selfish and immature because I would cry at the drop of a hat. The worst part was the reminders at work. I run a one-hour photo lab and see birth photos several times a week. Whether vaginal or c-section (and I can usually tell the difference even if I don’t see an operating table) I almost always tear up. I had pretty much resigned myself to never experiencing my dream of a natural delivery when a woman came into the store to print birth announcements. All the data was there: date, time, height, weight, and the fact that her daughter had been born at home. We got to talking and I mentioned that I would love to have a homebirth but couldn’t because I had had a c-section. She told me that her older son had been a cesarean and gave me the name of the midwife who had attended her daughter’s
Suddenly I was a woman possessed, reading everything I could get my hands on about this thing known as VBAC. This led me to finding ICAN. I had finally found a group of women who were as upset and angry about their scars as I was; women who would never tell me I was being selfish or immature, or that I should be happy I had a healthy baby; women who know how amazing the female body really is and truly understand that the system, not our bodies, is broken. I am now confident that I will never be cut again, unless I know there is no other way.
I decided to stay at home as long as possible for the birth of my second child before leaving to the hospital. It was obligatory for me to deliver in the hospital because of a Florida law requiring all attempted vaginal births after cesarean (VBACs) take place in a hospital with a ready OB and anestesiologist. My cervix was checked several times to monitor progress, and we decided that when I was about seven cm dilated we would go to the hospital.
Labor began one night and lasted until 3 AM when Rauno woke up and I had to calm him. After hours of regular contractions and a lost mucus plug, I simply stalled. Rauno went to his grandmother’s after that night. The next night I labored until 7:30 in the morning. The third night contractions began at 6 PM and continued harder and harder. I moved around, got in the bathtub and “ooooooh”ed through contractions. I started sounding like a dying cow. Around 5 AM, I was found to be at 8 cm. We left for the hospital.
We arrived at 6 AM. On the trip from the parking lot to the building, I stopped at a bench to deal with another contraction. Inside the hospital I answered questions and we quickly got into a room. My midwife was there. I had been told about waterproof telemetry that could monitor me while in the birthing tub. I was told it was in another room. I could not use it. I kept taking off the fetal monitors since they are bothersome to a laboring woman, to say the least. I was told that I may have misunderstood, but that since this is a VBAC I had to be monitored constantly. Earlier in pregnancy I had been told by one of the other midwives not to worry, I could have monitoring every 20 minutes, and according to my midwife, I could use the tub, thanks to the new equipment. Big, big lies that had uplifted my disappointment to having to deliver at a hospital. Two hours after I got there my midwife went off call.
To my horror the midwife I least trusted would be caring for me for the rest of the labor. My heart immediately sank. She had given me negative vibes from the beginning and my midwife somewhat blew me off when I told her about it. Tough shit if I end up with her as my attending midwife. She checked me and said I was seven cm dilated. People check differently. I continued. At 11 AM, there was no progress, and she mentioned a c-section. I began to bargain. We’d talk again about it at 1 PM, if there wasn’t progress. At 12:30, the nurse tried to help me. As she checked me, she asked if she could stretch my cervix a little to help open it up. I agreed immediately despite the pain. Anything to “progress by 1 PM.” Well, when the midwife returned, she said the baby’s head was molding to fit through, which was good and a sign of progress. My cervix, however, was swelling! This was made out to be this massive problem. It was not progress but a regression and meant that I needed a c-section. This was my worst nightmare come true.
I went to the bathroom, where I, once again, disrobed myself of their oppressive monitors. I was angry that now they would gut me and I had gone through all these days of labor. I wish I had had the energy to fight. I wish I had told them to fuck off and leave me alone. Nobody wanted to listen to this dying cow. They wanted it to be over. I wish I had been able to lock myself in their bathroom. I wish I had been able to escape.
I tried to get a clear explanation from the doula, but what I got was “hey, this is what they want.” I could not fight. I knew I had weeks of recovery ahead of me and years of bitterness and resentment. My doula was kind enough to stay until after the operation so that I would have someone there while my husband and baby had to leave.
People would tell me that I should be happy that I have a healthy daughter; what more could I want? Please see http://www.birthtruth.org/grateful.htm to read an essay on being “Grateful.” The system that coerced me to have two c-sections is disgusting. Doctors scared shitless of getting sued, telling you there’s only a 1 % chance of this and that, but it’s too much to risk. The chances of uterine rupture are more like .4 - .7 % for a VBAC. (The numbers were highly inflated because docs were/are inducing VBACs causing uterine hyperstimulation and thus more uterine ruptures.) The chances of dying during a cesarean are 2-4 times the chances of dying during vaginal birth.
Let’s quit normalizing cesareans.
My first pregnancy was planned, it was wanted, it was divine. We knew we were pregnant the second it happened. My husband, bless his heart, got all the numbers for the local midwife offices. We researched, we read, we talked, we planned. He researched doulas, we interviewed and hired one. (He truly is amazing my man.) It is coming fast now, the memory of my amazing man white and distant in an operating room. "You can hold my hand" I tell him, he is stunned, disconnected, neither of us want to be there. Ellen (my doula) hears me and takes my hand. This is not how it was meant to be.
I know now, looking back that I fought a tremendous fight in a world darkened by the Term Breech Trial, I know now how important it is to interview your care providers carefully, I know now the importance of trusting myself. But I also know that I was cut, and I will never know for sure if I could have birthed that baby vaginally. I do know that she did not get to choose her birthday. I do know that she wonders why she was not born at home like her sister.
My c-section store started long before my actual birth. It started when I was a little girl. It started when I first began to believe my body was broken. I always wanted to birth naturally. Maybe the sexual abuse I suffered was the driving force, maybe it gave me a desire to prove that I was whole. As I grew I was labeled "earth mother", "mother hen". Mothering became part of how I identified myself. Perhaps it was because I was mothering my own mother, broken from her own childhood and births. I swore I would never be induced. I READ everything, even the c-section chapters (but I knew I wouldn't need one, of course). I had a midwife, I was educated... I was still broken.
I have read mothers say how they were angry at their babies for being breech, frustrated, sad. For me, it just seemed right, me walking with my hand resting on the top of her little head as it pushed into my rib cage. We tried everything to turn her. I was in chiropractic care before I was every pregnant, pulsitilla, moxibustion, ECV, breech tilts etc.
All the while I watched my relationship with my care provider dissolve. She was panicked, useless. She didn't trust birth... she didn't trust me..
It is amazing how numb I get thinking about her (my midwife) as though the anger is still denied me. As though if I let it come out it would consume me. Funny how I can hate myself for staying in her care, though I began to dislike and distrust her, but how I have yet to send a letter calling her on the lies she told me. Five years later I have yet to address the lack of support I received from her and her partners. Not once did she come up with the name of a chiro who knew webster, or an acupuncturist or anybody, she would promise these things, but always forget. Did she give me a diagram of how to do a breech tilt? Did she ever tell me the importance of knees below hips? NO... I had to figure that all out on my own. How I was sent like a lamb to the slaughter, how little she empathized with my fear, stress and pain.. And the OB she sent me too. That cold womyn, to come in after I waited in her office for hours, to write me off, belittle me, debase me and book a date for my c-section with such arrogance. "It would be irresponsible and inconsiderate to my staff for you to go into labour and put them in an emergent situation." I fired her ass. I wish I had done it myself and not left it up to the midwifery office.
Alas... what I know now.
But I felt somewhere deep inside me I could deliver this baby... I could see myself doing it. I could see the birth in the basement of my home a water birth. Later, when those visions disappeared I could see myself birthing, a breech baby, but birthing in hospital. In the end I gave up, because the unsupportive voices around me were so loud I could not hear my heart, I could not hear my baby who had so much to teach me, so much to offer me. Instead I gave into the voices telling me I was broken. "You need to get on board with the doctors," my FIL said...
BUT I FOUGHT MAN. I fought so hard, I stayed up at night writing e-mails. I got lovely supportive e-mails from midwives and midwifery students in England. I called family doctors all over Ontario, I called surgeons, I found someone who was prepared to wait. Yet my midwife's partner was mad... I cancelled my c-section and she "had to deal with it." She booked an appointment for me with the doctor I had found in a city an hour away. But the midwife did not call me back to tell me, she just went home. I spent a long night at forty weeks plus a day, with a breech baby thinking I had no care. Believing that with my broken body that if I went into labour I would die. I hate those voices... I hate them.
And I went to that doctor. And we talked. And in the end I chose a c-section, because she could not guarantee to be on rotation when I came in birthing. That at this late date she would not come in just for me (something has always told me that the midwife said something to her, that she might have attended me otherwise). It is all so wrong.
So I came to the hospital and waited, and waited, a womyn with twins came in, there were emergencies. We walked around the grounds, and talked and told stories. I finally went in and got an IV. It took several tries. I still have the scar of where it finally went in. The whole time I was praying my baby would turn, that my section would get cancelled. That this wasn't going to happen. I went to the numb place that had gotten me through so much trauma in my life. I went alone to get the spinal. I was wearing the evil hospital gown. I laughed a hollow, scared sound. My heart was cold. I remember that bright light over my head. I remember her first cry, exactly as I expected, one little scream and then awareness and calmness. I remember feeling so alone, so separate from everybody. I could not even feel my husband there, in many ways he wasn't.
They took her over to the warming table, and all I could see was her little foot. I craned my head so I could keep watching that little foot. my neck ached from the way I was holding my head, my head started to throb from the effort... but I needed to see that little foot. They brought her to me... we sang to her and then she left with my husband. I lie there staring at the ceiling, that big light, while they stitched me up. I was cold, so cold. so numb. I laughed when I saw my legs... that same empty laugh... they were not in the place they remembered being. Everything was so wrong.
In recovery we latched her on. I (accidentally) pulled out the IV that had taken so long to put in. Blood spurted everywhere. I still remember the nurse saying "OH Michelle." She was so beautiful. I held her all the way to my room, and a nurse came in and cleaned my up, gave me new pads. I was so so cold and my blood pressure was low. They kept putting warm blankets on me. "It's time for her bath" said the chipper nurse. I tried to fight. I can remember my doula whispering in my ear "She doesn't need a bath." All the fight had gone out of me. I can still remember the broken "Okay...." as the nurse took her out of my arms. She SCREAMED... all the way to the bath. Geoff came in (He had gone to call people... he felt so far away... I felt so alone, I wished he had not left). He said , "Where's the baby." Ellen said "Follow the scream." He went to get her, but when he got back, he brought a tightly wrapped, exhausted from screaming, baby burrito. So much for working on breast feeding. My first few hours stolen.
The next day I was yellow. Literally. I looked like death warmed over. My Parents and Geoff's parents came to visit. The first words out of my FIL's mouth when he saw me were "I told you that you would be okay." I hated him when he said that. Couldn't he see I was completely shattered? What is wrong with these people????
They took a picture of me, holding my beautiful girl, with my dead face and my yellow skin... and they forwarded it to everyone, all our friends. They sent out the "birth announcement" another thing stolen. I hated them... hated them for being more comfortable with me birthing in the hospital and being cut open than a beautiful home birth, hated them for being so happy about "their grand-daughter" but not caring about me.
But I loved my baby, I held her and smelled her and breast fed her, until the stupid nurses said she was losing weight... feed her more. That is where our breast feeding problems began.
I escaped from the hospital early, from the horrible night nurse and the awful noise and went home. We struggled with breastfeeding, and finally sobbing I asked Geoff to hold me and pretend that she had been born right there in our bed. That we never went to the hospital. I sobbed and begged him to tell me that is what happened. I went took a bath with my baby and she latched on beautifully.
I look back and often feel at peace with my birth. I had to get to a point when planning my VBAC to say, if I need another c-section I will survive, but I will not need one. But I wonder too... if it is just that numbness. I know that my first birth brought me to very important places, that I learned so much. But could I have learned it fighting to vaginally birth a breech baby, rather than with a c-section? Who knows?
I know that there was HUGE emotional cost to be denied a true choice. That I choose not to birth a breech baby with a panicked poorly trained doctor. I choose what I saw as the lesser of two evils. But it really wasn't much of a choice. The cost to me was a validation that my body didn't work, couldn't work. So I spent 5 years wondering if I could be any kind of good mother, if I was totally broken. I just started getting over that. What a huge price for us and our children to pay... mothers that are scared to mother. I couldn't trust my intuition with my oldest daughter... so much fear.
I am healing, but what a price. I beg for my daughter's forgiveness.
- Michelle Webb
The room was cold, but I did not notice. All I really noticed by that time
was my husband's eyes. We were about to meet our first baby. I was excited
and scared; we had waited so long for this moment. I just remember looking
into his eyes and feeling so connected to him and trying to ease his fear at
the same time. I asked, "Have you started yet?" "Oh, the head is already
out," responds Dr. M, who seems to be answering from several feet away even
though he is standing at my pelvis. A few seconds later I see my boy's head
propped over the curtain, so round and wrinkly and covered with blood too.
His eyes were wide open even though the room was so bright and he was not
crying, but it was clear that he was OK. I saw him then for a couple seconds
and then he disappeared. The wait to hear his cry was tough, but it finally
came and Kenneth and I laughed with delight that we had our baby and he was
just fine. A short time later my boy, who was now clean and bundled was
presented to me on the left side of my head and the strap was removed from
my left arm. I stroked his face with my hand and kissed his face too. I said
something to him, like "I love you" or "you are so beautiful," but I cannot
remember for sure. By this time, some of the drugs were affecting my state
of mind and my memory. Whoever was holding my new baby went away with him
and soon my husband and most of the surgical team were gone as well. I did
not know what to expect as I thought I would be having a normal birth. My
surgery was over and just the Anesthesiologist and one nurse stayed behind.
As soon as they tried to move me I threw up the apple juice that I had been
allowed to drink several hours earlier and then was scolded for eating
during labor. At the time, being reprimanded for something that I was not
even guilty of did not affect me, I was focused on getting back to my room,
my husband and my new baby. I was wheeled to a recovery room and left with a
nurse who I had never met. The nurse stayed up past my head and I never saw
him. I only know he was a guy because he talked to me some and had a very
masculine voice. I was told that I would have to be able to move my legs
before I could go back to my room so I spent my time willing movement into
my legs and feet. I felt like I was going to throw up again so I asked for
some cold water. The nurse said that he had to make sure that I was not
going to throw up any more before he could give me any water. He added that
I would have to be able to drink water and hold it down before I could
return to my room. I felt lucky that I had not told him why I wanted the
water. I threw up moments later and immediately swallowed it because I did
not want that to keep me from being with my baby. I did this a few times and
I don't think the nurse ever noticed. Eventually, I was allowed some water
and that made the vomiting stop. Kenneth came into the room; he had left our
new baby with my mom. He looked so concerned for me, but I just wanted to
hear all about our baby, I missed him so much already. Kenneth showed me two
Polaroids one with him and Michael and one with him, my mom and Michael. I
was just dying to hold my baby by that time, but I still had no feeling in
my legs and could not even wiggle my toes. I asked Kenneth to go be with our
boy as he needed him more than I did. Secretly, I wanted him to stay with
me, I felt so desperate. I do not know how long I was in recovery, I think I
was reunited with my family about 2 hours after the birth. I remember how
excited I was, I could move my legs now (barely) and was being wheeled back
to the maternity ward, back to my family. My very last memory is watching
the double doors to the maternity ward open and my stretcher being wheeled
through them. I remember the pure joy and anticipation. After everything to
get here I was going to meet the child we worked for years to bring to our
family. That is it - that is all I remember. I do not remember meeting him
at all, the rest of the day is completely blacked out from the cocktail of
post-surgery drugs running through my system. I don't remember nursing him
for the first time or even how I felt after holding him. I must have cried
with joy. I am sure I told him how much I loved him and how long we waited
for him, at least I hope I did. I hope I comforted and nurtured him the way
he needed, but really I think he spent a lot of his first day in a plastic
isolet. My husband and I had been awake for three days straight and I was
recovering from surgery on top of a two-day failed induction. I imagine we
were too tired to give our son what he needed on his first day earth side,
but really I don't know because I can't remember. Truthfully, I think more
than anything, I just wish I could remember meeting my first born baby.
My name is Jasmine, I am a 21 year old woman from Minnesota, USA, and this is the lamentation of my first birth.
I will start this story with the last prenatal visit to our Obstetrician, Tuesday, December 6. The check up goes well as it usually does, the doctor said that I was dilated to 2cm and 50% effaced and he also said that if I make it to 3cm by the next prenatal visit he wants us to talk about a labor induction, because he was going to Russia for some medical mission thing on my estimated due date, which was three weeks from then. I can not believe this today, but, my husband and I agreed that this would be in our best interest ("We really love this doc and want Him to deliver our baby…" - A direct quote from my journal). Ok, we'll see you next Tuesday.
Tuesday December 13, 1am, I am HUNGRY, I get up, make chips with cheese, eat them, drink a few glasses of water and go back to sleep… an hour later I wake to a small pop sound (mostly in my head?) and a feeling like maybe I am peeing myself, was it the 60 ounces of water I just drank?? I am 2 weeks from my est. due date, no way that is my "water", oh my, it IS MY WATER! "Babe, I think my water just broke." I say, after slapping my husband's shoulder, he responds with a "Mmurffel", "Honey, my water just BROKE!" I say louder, with more shaking this time. What I said finally registered in his head, and he said, "What?! Oh. OK, do I call the hospital now?" "I guess so, yeah, that is your job right?" The hospital says to "…take some time to get ready, and then come in as soon as you can." After laying down some towels, I get out of bed with a LOT of fluid gushing out; I sit on the toilet to let it run out while my husband goes to start the car, because it is very cold outside. The "water" just keeps on coming. I get up and try to put on a pad and some panties, but I soak through both in an instant, so, I roll up a bath towel and throw on makeup and make sure my husband has all the bags for the hospital that I had packed a month ago. I try the pad thing again, and it works better this time. I note to myself that I am not having any contractions yet, but we head out the door anyway ( I am really kicking myself for that, why couldn't we have stayed at home and watched the winter sun rise through our open living room window, or just stayed in bed cuddling/sleeping and watching cartoons?). I am having no pain at all at this time, just exhilaration. We stop at the gas station on the way to the hospital to get a sandwich and some yogurt, because I know that they won't let me eat at the hospital, and my mom did this same thing when she had me. The sandwich makes me kind of sick so I only eat half of it, I eat the entire yogurt. I am so nervous, but mostly, extremely thrilled we are finally going to have our dream baby, our dream birth! Or, so I thought…
By the time we get to the hospital at 3am, I have soaked my pants through; I am tremendously embarrassed about this and I walk behind my husband all the way up to the "Birth Place" at the hospital. We check in and they have me change into a "gown" (is that a joke?), put in an I.V. hook up "just in case", put me in bed in the "Birthing Suite", strap on an external monitor and "check" me, I was "only 3cm", they are so good at making you feel like a failure. They tell me to rest now, but, I can't, so I just sit/lay there, watching the monitor and hearing it's incessant beeping as my husband sleeps in the "great leather lounge chair" provided for the partner's comfort. I try to watch TV, but it doesn't work. They didn't tell me not to move, but they did not say that I could. I didn't ask. Every time I even shifted in the bed, the monitor would get messed up and it was really loud, so I was afraid to move. I know I am not supposed to eat, but I sneak a yummy granola bar, I even hide this from my husband.
At about 7:30am they call the Doctor, start me on Pitocin since my labor can not be longer than 24 hours, and put in an internal monitor (because my "Doctor prefers them"), but not before a few more "checks". I am now basically immobile; I got up to go to the bathroom two times, it hurt a lot with all that crap stuck in me and afterwards, I felt like it was all falling out, and the nurse assures me that it is really stuck in there while she has her hand stuck so far inside me that I am sure she is trying to steal my gold tooth, as she reached in she said, "I know this is uncomfortable sweetie…" Soon after this the contractions are getting very strong; the monitor shows different (this really ticks me off and I swear a lot).
About four hours, eight rises in the dosage of "Pit" and twice that many cervical checks later, I am in some real and true "discomfort" (read: PAIN!). My dad is on his way to visit and bring my husband some "provisions" (yummy McDonald's cheeseburgers that I am not allowed to eat). I then remember our "Childbirth Preparation Class", the instructor said not to bring food in to labor and delivery because it is really distressing to all the hungry mothers in labor to have to smell said food that they can't have… My dad hid the burgers in the pockets of his big "Preditor" coat. A few minutes later, I remember another gem of knowledge we received at the class, the doctor who gave a speech told us that, as first time mothers, our bodies don't know how to birth, and we really don't know how it will react to childbirth, so why not get the pain medication the first time and then see how we feel about pain medication for next time. Right then, I gave in to the nurse's second offer for "a little something" to make me "more comfortable" (why not, I can't eat). I feel high, really drugged up, and I worry how my baby feels, they told me that in early labor like this, it is really quite safe to have this, the baby won't come out drugged or anything. (I still wonder what this "quite safe" drug may have done to my baby.) This dazed state lasts for a few hours; I joke with my husband and my dad about how I look like a robot with all the wires and tubes coming out of me, something right out of the sci-fi books my husband and I read, I don't laugh about this anymore now. Soon, I start to really feel the pain of these contractions artificially amplified by the "Pit" that is raised every half hour, right along with the pleasure of yet another stranger's hand shoved violently and painfully in to my vagina to "just check" how I am doing; and with the anxiety that goes along with those horrors, I am now officially petrified of this thing they call childbirth. "When you are dilated a little more you may have an epidural…" I make it to 6cm dilation before I break down and say "okay" to the epidural, which was at about 2pm. It takes over an hour for them to get started with it, a lot of tests and paper signing, by that time, I had a change of heart, but it was too late, I was hunched over and they were putting what I now consider the last nail in the coffin. It takes what seems like forever to start working, it finally does and I have a catheter inserted and I resent the fact that someone has to pee for me.
The epidural works for about 45 minutes, and then the "bolster" runs out, here comes the pain, roaring through me with every contraction, cervical check (it feels like one every 5 minutes), and the catheter that some nurse (I am not sure who, she never looked at my face) stuck in and then had to do it 2 more times in a row. My husband told me that she grimaced the first time and he thinks that she did it wrong and tried again after asking someone for help, I don't know for sure, all I know is, it hurt so bad I screamed (at least I think I did) and arched my back, I felt like I was going to throw up and pass out from the pain; the contractions, I could handle, it was all the other stuff that got me. The pain pulses through every cell in my body, it is horrifying, the most awful physical pain I have ever had in my whole life. I tell the nurse anesthetist, and he asks me to rate my pain level from 1 to 10, when I say "10", he says, actually says, "You don't look like you are at a 10." I start to cry at this point, I don't even know what to say. The crying makes my pain worse, and on top of that, I am violently and uncontrollably shaking, needless to say, I feel like I would rather die then be here like this. He says, "Okay, if you say so, I'll give you another bolster…" It doesn't do a thing for the pain, but it makes me shake more.
At this point I decide that this is pretty much all I can take, I say that if one more person comes in the room and sticks their hand in me I will shoot them. This is about the time when the Doctor comes in to check on me, and despite my dad telling him that he may be shot, he checks me, says that I am at 8cm, 95% effaced, and the baby is at a -2 station, the same place I was told he was for almost the whole labor (my medical records state that he never went below a 0 station though, wierd). The baby's heart rate is about 180, and it would drop with the contractions and pop right back up to 180. The Doctor says something about non-reassuring heart tones, and tells me that an emergency cesarean is necessary to have a healthy baby. All I can think about is my pain and my little baby boy who is in distress, I want it to be over. I'm relieved that they are going to end it. I am so terrified, it hurts so badly. I thought it was the best for the baby, and I was willing to go through anything for my baby to be safe and healthy.
Everything moved so fast, all the "prep" was done at one time. They put an oxygen mask on me and then I was poked and prodded by at least 3 people from all directions at once, while being told to lie on my side as this position is better for the baby's flow of oxygen. (I recently obtained the medical records and it says in there that when they turned me on my side and put on the oxygen mask, the decelerations in my baby's heart rate stopped, and he was ok, but they did the cesarean because of non-reassuring heart tones anyway. This makes me very angry.) I scream with the excruciating pain of the catheter, blood draw and contraction all at once. They make me get up on to a rolling table, saying, "I know this is uncomfortable…" and I think to myself, "when am I allowed to be in pain, not just uncomfortable, in their minds??" They said that they were not sure if my husband could come in with me; was that ever an awful thing to hear. I am rolled out into the hallway not sure if I will see him again, inside, I was screaming, I think on the outside I was trying to smile, for my husband to know that I was not afraid and that everything would be okay. What a liar I am. When I get to the OR it is very cold and piercingly bright, but what I remember the most is gray, when I think back to this moment now, all I see and feel is gray. To the credit of the student doctor, she said one thing that I remember fondly today, and that was that I looked "hot" in my ponytail, I know this was a lie, but, it was a good lie.
I had to sit up on the table to get my spinal, which was excruciating "...I know this is not pleasent, honey...". Then, I was laid back down, my legs were strapped down, and then my arms were. I felt like I was being crucified, I asked why they had to strap my arms down, and they said it was for my own good, I did not understand this at the time, nor do I today. They next put up this immense blue paper sheet, I remember reading about this thing in the very brief description of a cesarean in "What to Expect…", but I thought that they were supposed to lower it for the actual birth so I could see my baby… As they get done erecting the great blue wall, I feel panic set in. I can't feel myself breathing. Apparently, the spinal went too high, up to my diaphragm and lungs. I say that I can't breathe, the nurse anesthetist tells me that I am fine (But I am NOT fine), that my oxygen levels are just great. All I could feel was the air going in to my mouth and stopping there like there was a trailer park on my chest. I just knew for a fact that I was going to suffocate to death right there in a hospital, full of staff people who will do nothing to help. My husband and newborn will have to be all alone and then who will nurse the baby? He can't have formula! I tell myself that reasonably speaking it has been a long enough time that if I were really not breathing, I would be dead. So, I chant to myself, in--out--in--out, this is the only way I can be sure that I am really breathing, because I just don't trust that jerk nurse anesthetist guy.
At last, they let my husband in. I can tell he is petrified, he looked like a kicked puppy. I tell him that I can't feel myself breathing, and I ask him to help me by saying in--out--in--out, and he does this too slow for my liking, I feel a rage at this and ignore him for the rest of the "birth" and I go it alone, so to speak. Even though I know it is unreasonable, I am still mad at him for this, how dare he not be there for me as I am being crucified.
I remember thinking during the operation, I am not sure what about to this day, I wish I had written it down while I was at the hospital. I know that I was completely turned inward though. I also distinctly remember being able to see the whole thing happening in the reflection of their face shields, I stopped looking after the first layer was cut. I wish I had watched the whole thing.
Soon, I notice that I feel hollowed out, and when I look to my left, I see these tiny little feet sticking out from inside one of those massive blue sheets, and this huge crowd of medical people surrounding them, and I remember thinking, he's born, they got him out... I then feel this great sadness, and at the time I think I am sad about my pregency being over, but that wasn't it, I was sad that they stole my baby from me. They stole him out of me, and did not even say that he was here. I felt so incredibly empty, and that feeling has not gone away yet, I am unsure that it ever will... I realize suddenly that the baby hasn't cried this entire time, and I haven't "breathed" either. They must have finally said that he is out, because, my husband is excitedly telling me that he has hair, which is something we had wondered about throughout the pregnancy, I tell him I don't care, I want to hear him cry out to me...Then I hear it, this great big cry, and it is the single most beautiful thing I have ever heard, I take that sound in and then I can suddenly I can feel my lungs again. I take a breath for real at last.
I start to feel nauseous and they give my husband a tiny liver shaped dish to catch the sick in, while injecting something into my I.V. I no longer feel sick. They give the baby to my husband to show him to me, he is so little, pink and beautiful. All of the sudden I feel so tired that I can not even think straight and for some reason, I did not want to see this baby who I could not touch. They ask if they can bring the baby out to see my mom, dad, sister and best friend who are all in the waiting room, and I think this is a good idea, because my husband wants to stay with me while they put me back together, and the baby needs loving arms that are not otherwise occupied, plus, I am now so tired I feel like I will pass out at any moment. So, he goes.
About a half an hour passes and I am wheeled into the "birth suite" for recovery. I see everyone all around the baby and we wave at each other. My husband is moving back and forth from me to baby, who is across the room. After they check my vitals they tell me that my boy weighs 6lbs 11oz, and they finally give him to me. I get him to latch on to my breast easily, and it feels great, not the agony that I was told it would be. Everyone says goodbye and goes home, so that we can rest. My baby stares at me with his swollen, shiny pink face, he is truly beautiful. I feel so tired and so awake at the same time. I feel all my adoration for him come at once right there as we stare at each other. How could I've been so disinterested in him in the OR? He is astonishing.
We are all moved to postpartum room after a while, we will be there for the duration of our stay at our hospital. A few months prior to this, I had read a pregnancy book called "The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy" and that book said that you should take advantage of the nursery at the hospital while you can, so that you can rest, and I thought that was a really good point,so, off went my baby to the nursery. I really missed him but I felt like a total idiot for not resting while I could, so I avoided asking for him. So when the nurse brought him to breastfeed and bond, I was so happy to see him, and from then on he was with me the entire night.
The morning after the operation, I was supposed to take a shower, this was a daunting task for someone who has been in bed and not eaten for over 30 hours, in labor for 17 of those hours and was literally cut in half. So, the first step was sitting up, which was easy enough with the hospital bed, push of a button and I was slowly sat up. Then, I had to scoot to the edge of the bed, this is really painful even though the nurse helps me. Next, it is time to stand up, I tried to, and it was exceptionally painful and in fact, impossible, so I just kind of hunched over and shuffled, clinging to the nurses arm and the counter top for support, I could not even lift my own feet.
As we come to the bathroom, I realize that I have to step over the edge of the bath tub and this makes me extremely nervous. I did eventually make it in to the shower, but not without severe pain and a lot of effort because my muscles did not work well. The nurse showed me where the shampoo/soap dispenser and towels are, turned on the water for me, and she left me all alone. I was so scared to be alone. I was thinking, "What if I fall??, What if I can't get out??". My husband was off somewhere, getting something to eat, I don't remember for sure. I turn the water on full blast, all the way hot, it feels so good as it hits my sore back, I just stood there for what seemed like an hour, then I turned around and washed the rest of me. I try to sit down because I feel queasy, but it hurts so much I can not make it to the seat, then I am angry because I'm in extra pain for nothing, and I swear a lot. My husband got back just in time to help me get out and get dressed, and I needed that help, and that bothered me.
The next day, I finally got to eat. It was meatloaf, in fact it was the best nasty hospital meatloaf that I have ever had, but, eating "real food" came with a price, I was told that I had to have a "movement". I finally figured out what they were talking about as they were leading me to the bathroom. I sat there for maybe 30 seconds, and boy, was there ever movement, until then I did not even know that they had given me laxatives. I have never done (or heard of) anything like it, it was all over in the toilet. I still feel bad for whoever had to clean that.
On the third day, we got to go home. The ride home was surreal, nothing really felt different, but there was this great change looming over us, I could feel something coming; I just did not know what. The weather was beautiful, the snow that had fallen throughout the stay at the hospital, which was the first real snow we'd gotten all year, was shiny and gleaming and it was warm and sunny, a great day to be out driving. I felt so great on that ride home, a new mother. The sun and fresh clean winter air felt great on my face in comparison with the stale, sterile, sickly air in the hospital, and those pasty florescent lights. There was real electricity on that ride home. I was happy to finally get to be a family without any outside interference.
My husband had taken a week off of work to be home with me and the baby, so by the time we got home, he had three days left to be off, plus the weekend, and those five days went pretty good for having a newborn as first time parents goes, but once he left to go back to work, in came the "baby blues". It started on December 21, which was coincidently the day I wrote about my birth experience in my journal. I had such trouble breastfeeding that I had to give the baby pumped breast milk so that he would eat, then my pump was not getting any milk out, and I felt frustrated and like such a failure. All I did all day long was cry with my baby on the other side of the room either sleeping or crying. I couldn't eat and I was not allowed to walk down stairs, so I could not even leave my 3rd floor apartment. I wanted to run away and hide forever in Duluth and become a folk singer. Even today as I type this, I am shaking and typing so fast, just to get through writing this part is almost too much.
Every time I moved I was painfully reminded of how much you use your abdominal muscles in your everyday life. My back pain from the epidural and the spinal was nearly unbearable, and I also had an extremely sore, swollen and bruised vagina from all of the forceful cervical checks that I was forced to endure; I remember thinking that is was so weird that even though I did not deliver vaginally I had such pain there, I only recently realized that it must have been the hundreds of cervical checks done by what seemed like a dozen different people. I thought, "How could anyone ever do this?" I knew that I would never do it again, I wrote that in my journal. I also warned myself to remember the inconsolable crying, by both my baby and I, the "no baths" rule (my body was in so much pain, I was dying for a long hot relaxing bath, they told me "no" because the risk of infection), the pain and exhaustion, and foremost, the all encompassing fear that came with the "baby blues". It was the most miserable time in my life; I had this great, superlove for my son, but I just could not be the happy, hot mama I knew I could be.
On December 23, my mother in law came to help out and she, the baby, and I went to the emergency room to talk to a doctor about my feelings, and also to see my lactation consultant, who I still consider a lifesaver. When I got there I had to talk with a nurse out front before I could go in to see a doctor, boy was this guy an ass. He asked me a few questions about how I was feeling, and asked how nursing was going, I told him that the baby absolutely would not eat, and so I pumped milk and my husband gave it to him, and he actually said, "Well, that is why he won't nurse, you know." I was crushed; it IS my fault after all! How could I have done this to him, my precious little son! Later, the doc listened while I cried to him and told him about everything that has happened, and he asked if I wanted to try some anti-depressants. I thought we should try milder treatments before messing with those, so we decided that I would feel a lot better if I could get some sleep, as I was not sleeping very much, he prescribed a "baby safe" (I made sure to ask) antihistamine which had drowsiness as a side affect, then we decided that I should have help and company at home for awhile, and my twelve year old sister was off school for Christmas vacation, so I would have her come and stay for the rest of the month, then I was to call and we would see how I felt after a week. I talked to the lactation consultant after this, and she gave me my very first nipple shield and showed me how to use it, and the baby got right on and nursed like a champ once again, I felt so good about that.
I took half a pill every night before bed and I could sleep, and wake to feed the baby when he got up, and then fall right back to sleep, something that was impossible before, the pills lasted for about a month, and I never got a refill on them, as I had trained my body to sleep like a mom by then. My sister came and was actually a godsend, it was great to have someone to talk to that can talk back, and just knowing that she was there if I needed help was a great thing. We were able to go out to the mall and things like that, but I would have to sit down every hour or so to rest or else I would get faint and nauseous. I used the nipple shield for the next three or four months without difficulty, and once and a while I would try nursing without the shield, after a lot of tries and determination to get him to nurse naturally, he finally would go though an entire feeding without the help of the shield, and it was exhilarating.
It has been about 9 months now, and, I have only just begun to learn how this birth has effected my life. I just recently got all my medical records from the hospital and I have learned a lot that I never knew. One thing that I learned was that I was labeled "High Risk" by my OB, because I have strong religious beliefs about blood's sacredness to God, and will not accept blood transfusions or other blood products. I really resent that label of "High Risk" and am especially perturbed that I was never aware of this "High Risk" stamp on my records.
These days, I am learning more and more about what birth really should be like, I love being a mother, but I increasingly resent the way I became a mother. There was no love, there was only gray; and so, I am ready to try again, but this time as an educated, willful woman, not the birth fearing and doctor revering girl that I was. I will not let fear dictate my decisions any longer. I learned to trust in birth, and trust in my body's ability to not only carry and grow my children, but to also birth them. I just know that I will have a better birth.
As for my future, I want to help other women in any way I can so that they can have the informed birth that they deserve. I am determined to teach other women to not doubt in their ability and strength, and to at least point them in the direction of the information they need, rather than the biology of birth and instructions on how to be a good compliant patent that I was fed during my pregnancy. I want to continue writing so that I can help in a more active way.
I am thankful for my tramatic birth, because without that experience I may have never learned all I have learned, nor would I have had this passion to help other women. I used to have such hateful feelings towards most other women, now I have feelings of compassion and loving-kindness, and I am truly grateful for that. My hope is that someday soon all women learn to trust in their bodies, in birth, and in each other. We need to help and trust in each other as women, because, if we don't, who will??
Thank you so much for reading my story, I would love for you to contact me.
- Jasmine Rae Ojala
My second pregnancy was wonderful... so much easier than my first and I felt great! I measured big but since my husband and I were both big babies ourselves, we weren't worried. We planned a homebirth with a CNM.
On Tuesday, June 29, 2004, my midwife called me and said that she needed me to go in for a BPP no later than Wednesday. I would be 42 weeks on Thursday and she didn't want me to risk out of her care for the homebirth. She had already stripped my membranes three times and I had tried castor oil once. I decided to take the castor oil again and (again) it gave me tons of contractions but nothing serious. After several hours they would start to fizzle out.
Wednesday morning I went to the OB's office to get the BPP. I sat through the appt and listened to how I would kill my baby if I wasn't induced immediately, etc. They refused to do the BPP in the office (even though they have a radiology dept across the hall) so they sent me to L&D. They wanted me admitted right away. I could tell I was being punished for planning a homebirth even though I was seeing a CNM.
I left the appt in tears and called my MW. We talked for awhile and she said that there is just some reason that I was not meant to have this homebirth. She suggested I go into L&D and she would meet me there. I agreed and Jason took me home to pack. It was a very hard decision but I knew it was the right one at that time. We got to L&D and they admitted me right away. I was having contractions every 4 minutes lasting almost 60 seconds. I assume they were caused by the castor oil. We waited 5 hours for the BPP!!!! I was contracting the whole time but only 3cm and 60% effaced. I knew that they would want to augment my labor since it was getting late in the evening and I was tired from 2 days of contractions. They ended up refusing to augment labor when they saw his heart decels, saying it would only make it worse.
After the BPP we talked to the nurse who said the Dr would come up to discuss results. All she would say is that she had never seen a case like mine and something about a large baby. The Dr came in and told me that the baby was estimated to weigh 12lbs, 9 oz. They told me that I could not birth a baby that size vaginally without extensive damage to myself and possibly hurting the baby, too. I knew late term ultrasounds were very inaccurate so I assumed the baby would be around 9 lbs. I was just sitting there bawling. I told them it wasn't supposed to happen this way... I'm supposed to have a homebirth! I couldn't believe what was happening but I was scared to leave. I knew if I went home my MW could not attend my birth. After watching the baby's heart dip after each contraction, I couldn't take the risk of an unassisted birth. I feared that augmenting labor would only lead to an emergency c-section anyway.
The midwife and Jason and I discussed the options and we all agreed that I would get the c-section. If I signed out AMA they told me my insurance would not cover the hospital visit. Matthew was still at the hospital in his jammies because we had nobody to watch him. The MW stayed with him in the L&D room while they took me into the OR. It all happened so fast. They did my spinal and started right away. I was numb up to the middle of my rib cage but when they touched my lungs it really hurt. I could feel everything up above that point. The pulling wasn’t bad at all, but I could clearly feel it when anything touched my lungs. The anesthesiologist apologized and said that the spinal just missed that nerve. He offered to knock me out and I refused. I thought I'd have a 9 pound baby and be so angry that I had an unnecessary c-section. Well when they held Joshua up and I saw his size I thought I had made the right decision. That boy was HUGE!!!!! He had a very tight nuchal cord. Every time I contracted, the cord was getting compressed a little because of his size and position.
He was born at 11:12 pm on June 30. He was 11 lbs, 1.1 oz and 22 inches long. I stayed at the hospital until Saturday. I had a very high fever and some complications due to a uterine infection. It was hard recovering from surgery with Matthew climbing all over me!
After Joshua's birth I questioned the necessity of the surgery and obtained my medical records. I wondered what would happen when I had another baby.....
I was induced and was in labor for 15 and a half hours with my daughter. I only got dialated to 4cm. I was induced at 5am on november 19th of 2005 and my daughter lucy was delivered by c-section at 8:30pm that night. I felt like a failure. i too did not get to see my daughter for two hours. i got a small glimpse of a newborn wrapped up in blankets right after she was delivered but that was it for two hours. everyone in my family got to see lucy through the nursury window before i did. it was an awful feeling. my doc explained to me that i have narrow hips and my daughters head wouldnt fit through. which sounds like a reason enough but you see my body had gone into labor two times before i was induced and they stopped it both times because my doc felt it was too early for her to be born. i went into labor at 34 weeks...she was small i had no regrets about them stopping the contractions at this stage. but my preeclampsia had worsened by 36 weeks and my body once again sent me into strong labor contractions every 2 minutes and i had already dialted 2cm by the time i got to the hospital. i thought this was it. she was big enough to survive on her own and small enough to fit through my narrow hips. They stopped it again. thinking back at this makes me very angry about my c-section because she didnt have to born that way my body had it all planned out. my doc felt otherwise. now i am a little over 9 weeks pregnant with my second child. i have a new doc this time but she too says i must have a c-section with this child also. i really dont want to. during my pregancy i plan on doing as much research as possible on my other options. i realize there may not be other options but i want to know as much as possible.im hoping not to have such a bad experience with this child like i did with my daughter and the dreaded recovery process of a c-sec.
My precious little Noah was born January 22, 2007. I wanted...no, needed, to tell my story. I need to let it out to others who understand.
Brennan 7lbs 12oz October 31st 2007 9:16pm
This is the story of how my son made his way into the world. It all started on Tuesday October 30th I was at 37 weeks 4 days. I woke up at around 3am to change position in bed. I recall feeling somewhat wet down there but decided to ignore it as I was still half asleep. By 6am I got up for the day and noticed that I still seemed to be quite wet down there and every time I stood up I would notice a small trickle. I was a little concerned but chalked it up to be checked at my Doctor's appointment the day before especially since I was seeing some mucous material also. As the day progressed I thought that this wet problem was clearing up. Around 2:15 that afternoon I decided to lay in bed and try to take a nap. I settled in and not too long after I got comfortable I felt a gush…no pop like some people describe...just a gush. I knew what it was though. I got up right away and ran to the bathroom. Of course I was soaked and it just kept gushing out. I found a pad (not so easy after 9 months of no AF!) and some new underwear and pants found the phone and called my mother and father. "Um I think my water just broke." My parents drove right over to take me to the hospital meanwhile I was running around trying to make sure I had everything I needed and trying not to leave a wet trail…lol. I called my husband Will, my sister and a friend. I wasn't having any contractions. I had been having some mild cramping which is normal in late pregnancy so I knew we didn't really need to hurry to get to the hospital but we were all anxious anyways.
When we got to the hospital Will was already there and waiting. We went up to the labor and delivery ward and were told to wait. Hum sounds like fun eh? What was the point of pre-registering at the hospital if I had to do it all over again? They finally took me back to a case room where a resident performed the nitrazine test to see for certain that my membranes had ruptured this test came back positive. They hooked me up to the monitor and we could see that I was having mild contractions every 3-4 minutes most of which I couldn't feel. Baby was doing fine. I was dialated only to 2cm which was .5 more than the day before at the doctor's appointment. They contacted the Doctor on call in my practice and it was him that decided I should be admitted and then if labor did not begin on it's own I would be induced the next morning. So off I went to the 3rd floor still gushing and using those lovely post partum pads and mesh undies. By 10ish I told Will that he might as well go home and get some sleep. I was in a ward and he wasn't allowed to stay with me in the room. He could have slept in the waiting room but I thought he would be more comfortable at home. I didn't anticipate anything happening that night. I was having mild AF like cramps and nothing more. I promised to call of course if he was needed.
So I had a very very rough night. I was "cramping" every 5-10 minutes and the pains were gradually getting more and more painful. They gave me some T3's but nothing really cut through the pain. So needless to say I didn't get one wink of sleep all night. The next morning I called Will at around 5 am and told him to get his but back to the hospital. I was feeling pretty crappy and I though he needed to share that with me…lol.
By 10 am they had space for me back upstairs in labour and delivery….back to the case room I went. They hooked me up to the monitors again for a while. At this point I was having more intense contractions and the back pain was starting to get unbearable. As soon as I knew that there would be an induction all thought of a natural med free childbirth went out the window. I was already in a lot of pain plus no sleep, I didn't want to be more uncomfortable, tired and in labor. The nurse attempted to put my IV line in for the Oxytocin. She tried two times with two fails. They had to call the anesthesiologist to do it. They ended up putting it right in the left side of my left wrist….very uncomfortable. After that was done they moved me to the actual delivery room where I started to feel the effects of the Oxytocin right away. The nurse checked me and I was at 4-5 cm already so she said I could go ahead with the epidural. The epidural went in and for a while it felt great then after not too long…early afternoon I was starting to feel pain again. At first it was all in my left hip but eventually it was all over my lower left side. I was pretty much in agony when the head anesthiologist for the floor came in to check on me he decided to give me a top up. A large dose all at once. That did the trick and I was pain free again. But only for a short time. Around 1pm I was check and was almost fully dialted, there was only a small lip left of the cervix. So we decided to try some pushing. I did see my doctor around this time and he was pleased with the progress. So we did some pushing and even though I couldn't feel a thing, I couldn't even feel my legs the nurse was enthusiastic and was happy with the way I was pushing. By 3 pm my nurse's shift was over and a second nurse came on duty.
This new nurse was briefed as too what was going on. As soon as the first nurse left she turned to me and said. We are going to take a break for a while. I want you feeling something before you start too push again. I was a little leery of this, but she is supposed to be the person who knows what to do. So she turned OFF my epidural and UPPED the oxytocin. Well it didn't take long for me to start feeling contractions again and boy were they ever hard and right on top of each other. Not to mention that HORRIBLE back pain was back and that was constant. I was starting to lose control when that nurse left for her dinner break. A nice younger nurse came in to cover and I absolutely lost it. I was bawling so hard. I was in so much back pain plus these contractions coming over and over and over. I cried to the nurse "why did I get an epidural if I wanted to be in this much
pain?????" So she got the anesthesiologist back who noted my epidural had been turned off. He was my savior. He actually bereted the second nurse for turning it off. Especially since I was in such obvious agony. He turned it back up for my and gave me a little extra. I was much happier. Anyways I was back to not feeling my lower half and back to concentrating on pushing. My contractions had started to space out so the Oxytocin was upped. The contractions never got really regular again but I was still pushing when ever I felt pressure or the machine said I was contracting. Everybody could see the head descending upon the push but it would go right back up again.
The nurse kept telling me to push hard right into my bottom. I WAS pushing as hard as I could. It was very discouraging to not make any progress. The nurse called the Doctor back the final time around 7pm. When he had been there at 5pm he expected that I was only a few pushes away…wrongo! He came back to find my pretty much at the same spot as 2 hours prior. Between him and the nurse they finally decided that baby was facing right occiput transverse. So instead of head down facing the floor his face was more to the left side. The doctor discussed options with us. But really he only gave us the c-section option. He said turning with forceps he wouldn't do because of potential risk to baby and vacuum was really only used to pull and not turn.
By this time I was ready to just have the baby out safe and sound and agreed to the section. I felt slightly jipped…especially since having gone through all that labor but the baby would get here soon and that was all that mattered.
I had a short wait as the OR was being used. So I had a little rest. Although I was feeling some pain as the epidural was wearing off again. They took me back to the OR (my first ever surgery) set me up topped up the epidural again. The doctor came in and began. I was actually still feeling pain as he cut in so I was given a shot of something through my IV. Well that shot pretty much put me out. The next thing I remember was looking to my left, seeing double, and seeing Will with a baby over at the warmer. He came over to me and said he was going with the baby and that he would see me in recovery. It took me a few minutes to gather myself. I was very confused. I could see the doctors and they were sewing me up. I started to shiver with the chill of the room. The doctors finally finished and they cleaned me up and moved me to the recovery room. I stayed there for an hour at which time I got to meet my son for the first time. Then he was taken to the nursery to be cleaned up and to stay the night.
I was transferred to my post partum room after 11pm. Most of this I don't remember, but I do remember telling Will to go home and to update the family. I was very exhausted and drugged. I remember waking a couple times in the night wondering about my baby and when I would get to see him again. Finally at about 5 am the nurse came into check on my and I was awake. She asked if I wanted her to bring the baby. Of course I said yes and she brought him in. We finally were able to have some bonding time.
My doctor came to visit me that morning. He told me that I had done nothing wrong. Baby was just in the wrong position. He told me that when they had examined my uterus after the baby was born they discovered that I had ruptured. So it is really a good thing we went with the section so the doctor could repair the damage. I will never be allowed to labor again should we decide to have another child. The hospital stay was not fun. I was on liquid diet for the most part, I couldn't pee on my own for the most part and had to wear a catheter for an extra day. The incision site was sore and I had to use these ugly suppository pain killers blah!!!
I wanted to breastfeed however Baby was given formula in the hospital due to low blood sugar and he was also very very tired from the drugs passed through me. I had a lot of issues with breast feeding. The baby became very jaundiced and had to be readmitted to the hospital after our discharge to go under the lights. I did work with a specialist in regards to breastfeeding and we determined that I wasn't making sufficient milk and would have to supplement. We couldn't be sure if this was due to my PCOS or our bad start or both.
I do believe that my c-section was needed we did push for approximately 5 hours with no progress. That is much long than normal. I also had the rupture. However I do think that there were certain events leading up to it that could have been changed and maybe it could have been avoided.
I feel very bitter about how the birth turned out. I hate that I didn't get to see my son being born or hear his first cry's. We don't even have pictures. Nothing can replace those lost memories.
This is the only picture of us the night my Baby was born. And, in fact, the only time I saw him and held him.
I wanted a child even before I was married, everyone said I was too young, I didn’t know what I wanted but deep down I did and still believe my son is that missing piece to my life, I was 17 going into my senior year of high school, married to the love of my life. I was not the average high school teenager; I was trying to have a baby when everyone was trying to avoid the miracle I wanted so terribly. Tears dripped every month when I got my period and every time the test screamed not pregnant I felt like I was a failure as women, not being able to conceive.
October came and I just hoped I was going to get pregnant…November 12 my period did not come, I couldn’t wait I took the test 3 days later and it read pregnant , I couldn’t believe my wish came true, I was going to be a mother. I went to every doctor appointment with my husband he didn’t miss one appointment, we were so exited. I did not care deep down if it was a boy or a girl I was just happy I was pregnant, but everyone said it was a girl I gave in and hoped for a girl and when we had the sonogram I cried when they told us “it’s a boy” I was so used to calling him a she J soon after I was ever it.
My due date was august 9th and that came and still no progress, I guess my little one was not yet ready to met his mommy nor the world, I knew had to be induced but never did I think I was going in for a cesarean section. I once believed a cesarean section was the easy way out to giving birth, avoiding all the pain a woman goes through to become a mother. I was naïve. I was wrong, the pain of not being able to see your child after giving birth (if you want to call it that) it scars you, I felt a pull, I heard him cry but I couldn’t see over the blue wall. Why was I separated from my boy? Why can’t I hold him? Why is he crying? Let me hold him!!! Why can’t I move? I want him in my arms! Give me my son! Please! Don’t tell me to wait!! My husband lets go of my hand to go get him, to hold him. He shows me my son, he looks so beautiful. I got my baby in my arms it didn't take them long, maybe 30 min. I had him for a few minutes I feed him I kissed him I was shaking so much, then they had to take him to do test… my husband went home to take a shower and change I was taken to a room on another floor because the rooms were full, I was ok with that until they told me I could not see my baby because they could not take him out of the floor I should have been in… I was mad, alone, shaking and hungry.
I was in labor for 30 hours no food no nothing just ice but I was just thinking okay I'll have the baby then I can eat but no I had the baby by cesarean section, I couldn’t eat still stuck on fucking ice, finally I’m thinking I’m getting some food but it’s a soup well water flavored as soup it was water what the fuck is this shit I could only drink no food, fine but give me my baby!!! Still no baby, they told me I could go to the nursery to see him so I did I couldn’t even move but I got on the wheelchair and visited my son.
I didn’t feel anything I didn’t feel so bad about not giving natural birth until my stupid ignorant brother-in-law that said ha you couldn’t handle giving birth to him, it’s not the same, you don’t feel anything the way you had him just talking shit I don’t even remember what he said exactly but after he opened his mouth I felt like I had to explain myself to the world that is not my fault, and I think it’s because I once was that ignorant person thinking it was the easy way out I even once said it would be nice just to get it over with by cesarean section. I feel guilty, like I could have prevented it even though the doctor said he could have never came out naturally.
I had always been fascinated by birth. I considered pain a small sacrifice for a job well done and the reward—a baby. I found comfort in birth as an experience that bonded me with women, my child and as a family—not something I wanted to avoid—but a powerful experience that I just had to have! I intuitively knew there must be benefits in nature, for both myself and the baby. I personally am wary of medications and medical interventions and their ability to cause harm and thus I chose to avoid a medical birth. The lack of open discussion and information made the journey confusing and fearful, yet still appealing. I spent a lot of time, in fact years, preparing myself with yoga, swimming, walking, sunshine, and a good diet of organic food. I knew that I could do it and handle the pain, I never doubted myself. I had expectations of being supported and of having a compassionate doctor. I assumed that the natural process would be the first port of call.
Well, things don’t always work out in the way we imagine. Two children later my life, like many others daily was shattered by the experience of birth.
My son was born by c-section, without labor, under general anesthetic. Then he was kept from me for 24 hours in the nursery—not for a medical reason, but because it was hospital policy. I spent the night pressing the buzzer and asking for my baby. I felt as if I had been knocked over the head and had something ripped from me. When I finally first saw my son I looked at him and fell back in the bed thinking, “I need to go home and come back and do this again.”
His birth was an out-of-body experience; my brain couldn’t relate the baby to the event. My response to my child shocked me. I thought, “What kind of mother are you?” I dragged myself up, with a huge painful gash across my abdomen, and began a struggle of bonding and mothering under the exhaustion of an awful depression and post-operative recovery. This mood clung to me for three years.
I was angry at so many people but mostly women – my mum, the doctor. I was angry with midwives for not being more widely available and for not doing a better job of letting us know the better option. I was very angry with my birth educator - 12 out of 13 in her class had a c section she did not prepare us for what I now know is the most common way to birth in urban India = a c section without labor. For 30 years birth education has been available to women and in that time c section rates and medical interventions have risen – I was mad! I felt conned. I had read spiritual midwifery and active birth both books written in the 60s and thus I expected that this movement had had some impact on birthing practices as it was such an old movement, now I know it has barely made a dent. It did not occur to me to ask if my child would go into a nursery I did not imagine that this would still be a practice. How could women have let it get so bad and why didn’t anyone warn me? I felt failed by so many mostly I felt I had failed myself and my child. My only good memory of this birth was the lovely haldi paste (turmeric) which was put across my wound. One simple natural element the smell, cooling and soothing really lifted my spirits.
Breast feeding was painful and excruciating I bled, I had puss – but I refused to give in, I had lost the birth I couldn’t loose the precious experience of feeding. I showed my bruised and bleeding nipples to pediatricians and obstetricians – no one could help me – I pressed on. I thought breast feeding was natural. Years later a La Leche League Leader explained to me that it wasn’t a natural birth thus feeding could not happen naturally. My breasts were engorged from the IV fluids and the drugs my baby had been exposed to had caused thrush in his month and he was kept form me in the most important hours of establishing feeding - it was an impossible start and doctors are not trained in lactation. However we finally got it and he fed for six months only from mummy and then went into his second year – he self weaned! He needed to feed and be close to me he was as traumatized if not more than I was. He cried a lot, he had colic, he was very demanding, angry and hyper and he slept badly for years.
My process of healing has been a need to understand the truth and to ask questions. I now know that what was presented to me as an emergency was not a true emergency. My doctor had asked me to go for a sonography when I was three days past my due date. Today I know that being overdue is not an indication for sonography—gestation is 38 to 42 weeks. I was in a perfectly normal state.
During the sonography, I was told that the cord was tight around the baby’s neck. The doctor described it as a noose. I now know that as many as 50% of babies are born with the cord around the neck and rarely does it result in a problem. A cord around the neck is not an indication of an emergency, when the baby is experiencing no evident distress. The risk of cord complication is minimal because the cord stretches and no one knows how it will respond in labor and, in any event, the sonography really can’t tell.
The decision should have been to allow natural onset of labor, with intermittent monitoring for fetal heart distress. I could have safely gone home and waited for labor. My doctor made me feel terrified. I was told that my baby would die as I slept that night. My husband supported her, and I had nowhere else to turn. I was confused by conflicting information and horror stories and I was fed up, the stress was killing me I needed it to be over —a feeling experienced by many women at term. This time is the most vulnerable in our lives. I was easily manipulated.
I submitted and was taken directly for surgery. On that day I gave away my power and I still suffer for it I always will.
For my second child, I again tried for a natural birth, this time a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). My doctor supported me in this decision. Considering the increased medical complications for women who have multiple abdominal surgeries—or cesareans—VBAC is highly recommended. The success rate for VBAC is around 85% and can be even higher. The success rate is directly affected by the commitment of the birth attendants. VBAC can proceed like any other birth, only medications to induce labour and epidurals should be avoided.
On my due date my doctor waved her hand over my body and declared that I had a lazy uterus and that my prior c-section scar was paper thin and there was scar tenderness, I explained that I was not feeling scar tenderness. She said that since the head had not yet engaged, I should come the following morning. Again I was facing a questionable diagnosis. Firstly, the head rarely engages in a second pregnancy until the onset of labor and is not even worth mentioning on the due date. Secondly, simply looking at the scar is not a diagnosis—no doctor is capable of determining the ability of the scar to endure labor without labor. The real issue was that it was simply my estimated due date. I decided to stay away from my doctor and let labor come when it was ready. My mother was ten days past her estimated due date with all her three children, and all were born perfectly normally and naturally!
My doctor started sending text messages to my husband and to me informing us that I had to come into the hospital immediately. She said that the blood supply to the baby and the uterine fluid levels were diminished, and as the baby gets bigger so does the head, which would make birth more difficult. This does happen, is gradual, and not so marked as to cause alarm on the estimated due date, additionally there is not one medical text book that supports this - postdates is beyond 42 weeks, two weeks past the estimated due date, only 5% of babies are born on this date.
Interestingly, the doctor wasn’t presenting any evidence of these problems occurring or asking to examine me and to do a biophysical profile the usual. I was under so much stress and confused by conflicting information. In the space of five days I had two non stress tests to check the baby’s heart rate and two more sonograms to check umbilical cord blood supply and uterine fluid. (I had already had three in this pregnancy; this would make a total of five.) All was well; fluid and blood supply were perfectly normal and baby was happily waiting for when it was ready to be born.
On my seventh day past the due date, I finally went to meet my doctor. I was asked to lie flat on my back for a fetal heart rate test of the baby—alarm bells went off on the machine. I was prepped and rushed to surgery. No one spoke to me or even touched me. Cold antiseptic was rubbed over my back and went into my bum and stung terribly. A urine catheter was inserted (removal of the catheter about two days later would be the most painful thing I personally have ever had to endure). Then the painful epidural needle was inserted into my spinal cord and I felt the flush of chemicals through my body; then I went numb. I was aware of about eight people in the room and of the fact that I was now completely naked with my legs spread apart in the most humiliating fashion. I closed my eyes and said, “I’m going to vomit.”
I felt more medication surge through me to stop the vomiting. I kept asking, “Is the baby all right? What’s happened?”
I was told that I was overdue and thus needed a c-section. This did not make sense to me.
As I had been given an epidural, I heard my baby girl cry when she was pulled and tugged from me and I saw her soon after she was cleaned up. They took her away - god knows what they do to babies in that time or what they were doing to me but I felt like someone was punching me from the inside of my vagina up to my ribs and it went on forever. Finally I was out and I saw my daughter again she roomed in with me and we started breastfeeding after an hour. This helped a lot!
I now know that again I was not in a true emergency state. The test was performed incorrectly: A woman made to lie flat on her back at term goes into tachycardia due to pressure on the vena cava vessel at the base of the spine. When I was lying flat on my back I felt as if I were dying. Some women vomit or faint when made to do this. When I sat up or lay on my side, I felt perfectly fine. I was also left alone this machine is highly faulty and needs to be closely watched by a person trained to manage the machine. Additionally the test has a 50% false positive rate and in the event of any indication of trouble it must be accompanied by a manual assessment, no one gave me a manual exam.
The NST/ CTG had shown that my baby’s heart rate had fluctuated (this was when alarm bells went off), but it then recovered. The situation was actually perfectly normal for an anxious woman who was probably dehydrated and on the verge of labor and was lying flat on her back. No effort was made to determine the cause or to rectify the situation by other means. Normally one would ask the women to change position, hydrate her, ask her to go to the bathroom and try some relaxation and then again check. What a simple diagnosis: MACHINERY = ALARM BELLS = SURGERY!
On the second day after the surgical delivery (I personally can’t call a c sections birth – birth is an ignition of a life force of essential hormones and opiates a c sections delivery or extraction contains none of the elements of birth) I went to a scary dark place what I now know was a drug induced psychosis and post operative stress. I could not move, I could not lift my little finger the exhaustion was all consuming, I felt the room go black and the sun was actually shinning and I felt that I was sinking through the bed. I was so scared that I talked myself into not going into depression this time I wanted to be a happy mum and so I pulled myself out of it - looked into the pink face of my daughter and mothered her well. I suffered abdominal pain for months, numb feet and a lower back ache from the epidural. I could not stand straight and taking care of two children in a post operative state was horrific. I really wanted to enjoy mothering this time and I chose to enjoy mothering - I was on a high for about six months. However after six months when I could no longer ignore the niggling feeling that some thing is just not right with the birth business that old tired and depressed feeling returned and I new I had to do something
My births were about the doctor’s needs and not mine. Medical equipment was misused and the language of fear to convince me to do what suited them. I had no idea that so many sharks and dinosaurs were in the birth business. We so want to believe we are in the right hands.
The birth of my children felt like violence.
Everything turned around for me when I met a midwife. She was not what I expected at all – this seemed just like the kind of person I would have liked to have my baby with. I certainly didn’t have a great image of midwives in my head. I most certainly do now. She started to educate me when no one else had.
Birth has been an experience of great loss, the intensity of which, I will always feel from time to time. At times I really cry it’s a deep feeling of a primal loss – birth is something as a women I need to feel. The fact that I didn’t get to experience any of it—the labor, or the birth—makes it very hard for me. Bringing forth life was what I was born to do, what makes me uniquely woman. My body feels corrupted with an unsightly bulging scar I have to look at every day. Doing the things I love is not the same. I feel scared and hurt. When I go for yoga or dance, a time when I dig deep spiritually, I feel an emptiness, unhealthiness and deep sadness I don’t get joy from these things any more. I don’t feel whole, as if there is something amiss with my woman ness. Giving birth should have been the greatest day of my life and an experience I should be able to draw deeply from, throughout my lifetime, and it is lost. I worry and mourn for what my children lost in their birth process and how they suffered in the first crucial minutes, hours and days. I am acutely aware that these moments have shaped them in ways that I find hard to see and I am sorry that they had to deal with me as I dealt with my experience.
Why did I end up in this situation? - I know that things in my story seem stupid as if I was easily fooled. In fact, my son was born on April fools day and I have cried into my pillow with this exact thought “WHAT A FOOL!” What can I say; using our baby’s lives is a very powerful manipulation if not the greatest. Lack of true birthing knowledge, and a lack of understanding of what’s wrong in the system and a complete lack of alternatives makes us easy targets. Women who birth naturally be it at home, in a birth center or in a hospital have an inner strength a strong unwavering conviction and faith in birth and in themselves, they also have a support system even if just one person and they also tend not to talk with others or divulge their birth choices with those who don’t share their belief. Through luck or some information they also find practitioners be it a doctor or a midwife who share their belief, I did not have this. There is also a self love that protects them from the knives. I also felt that the 5 star hospitals with the famous doctor was the safe and wise choice. I ask are we here to impress the neighbors and line the pockets of others or are we here for ours and our children’s and our families well being? We think that all the money and time we spend in preparation will empower us and provide the information we need, and yet mostly we don’t get the birth we could have. Today, educated savvy women are being subjected to surgical birth more than at any other time in History. Why do we remain so prone to violence? Why do we deny our power? The rampant use of surgical birth is a systematic use of violence upon women and a destruction of woman’s power. Can we send our daughters into the same?
What have I learnt: feminism is needed and relevant.
From the guru Dr Odent I learnt that Humans have a propensity towards fear and violence and not faith and love. As long as we disturb our babies invitro and in the precious first moments, hours, days and foundation years of life - the first love, maternal love will continue to be disturbed and all other loves difficult to follow - brother, country, nature, sexual. For those of us whose birthing love hormones and opiates were taken from us do we really know the true chemical feeling of love and do our children truly recognize it?
Unethical practices cause women to be over prescribed to get pregnant, stay pregnant and birth to the detriment of the mother and child. Doctors meet with drug companies almost daily - they are bombarded with the pharma companies’ stats about how many women and babies are dropping like flies from certain ailments or are seriously maimed and then they offer the fix in the form of a pill and finally give a grand prize to the doctor who prescribes so many pills. No one sits in front of the docs daily with the stats about how birth works and what natural methods help to make it work and we can not offer them a holiday if they do it naturally! In fact attending a quota of natural births is not even a pre requisite to get licensed its not part of the education.
Question everything - we are manipulated by marketing and fear is their tool! The world is a corporate monster these days and ethics are hard to find.
I try to be compassionate about the pressures doctors are under and I know some good ones these days but the majority I find unethical, afraid and outdated. Mostly I feel like I got screwed by the OB lobby and the pharmaceutical corporate monster that manipulates us with their marketing. I am happy I am no longer a fool I am wiser and I hope that wisdom can go down the generations – I named my daughter Sohpia (wisdom) Mary Ellen (after her great grandmothers one died in child birth in a hospital).
Women still don’t feel comfortable or capable of voicing their concerns or complaints, thinking it is impossible, too hard or not within their rights to challenge or question a doctor or any other staff members. Additionally, many women feel and are told that as long as the baby is healthy, the way they were treated is justified. Pregnant women say to me, “Why would anyone do anything medical to me if it wasn’t necessary?” We only need to see the statistics and to listen to the stories. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that no community should have a cesarean rate higher than 15%. In India, preliminary studies show it at 50% and possibly as high as 80% in some private hospitals.
In trying to unravel the truth behind my birth story, I discovered that many people around the world, including in the WHO, are trying to educate the public and promote natural childbirth.
I ask what may some solutions be – Firstly the provision of options and real education. In a world where c sections and hysterectomies are the number one surgeries perhaps a part of reproductive health education for women pre child rearing years should be about how to navigate a system which is still abusing women and a market which wants to earn form our uteruses.
I am personally taking the second doctor to the consumer courts for lack of due care and abrupt decision - making in carrying out childbirth leading to Emergency Cesarean Section, instead of a VBAC birth as for which I was a suitable candidate. My Complaint also addresses the important medical issue of the rampant use of cesarean section surgery by doctors all over India, to the detriment of the health of the mother and newborn child.
In talking with women in Mumbai, a few of us decided to establish Birth India. We met to discuss our birth stories; some shared traumatic experiences and others beautiful ones. However we were mostly concerned with the alarming numbers of cesareans occurring around us and the effects on mothers, babies and families.
India’s women are ready to stop this cycle of abuse and become empowered, to feel their birth completely, and to give themselves and their babies all the benefits of the natural process.
Birth India believes that how a woman is treated in birth is important to her and her baby, because how she feels directly impacts her ability to mother well.
Where do I even begin. There is so much to tell. Sadness. Sadness is what clouds my mind when I think of the pregnancy, birth and months after. I should have been on medicine to ease it. Fear. Fear of letting people know how embarrassed I was for even being pregnant. Fear gripped me. Fear of losing my brand new marriage, of lost respect from everyone, of letting others know that my marriage was falling apart. Fear of one more stretch mark, one more disfigurement. Anger. Anger at my husband for being such an ass to me. Anger at his selfishness and lack of understanding and empathy. Mostly sadness though. Every feeling I had turned to sadness. I put up a good front to everyone outside of my husband, and sometimes even to him. The isolation was unbearable. Tears. They fell everyday about the same things over and over again. The constant fatigue kept me at home. Too tired to go anywhere for very long, I resigned myself to staying home and watching the same commercials over and over again. My diet was very poor. Rarely a fresh fruit or veggie. Very little liquid. I wanted pregnancy to be over with. I wanted to do everything I could to end it. In the end though, it wasn’t me who broke the cycle, it was my doctor.On July 11, 2007 at approximately 2:30 pm, while at a routine doctors appointment, my doctor broke my water and then left the room, Unbeknownst to me. I stood up to get dressed and a small mixture of blood and amniotic fluid exited my body. I was instantly filled with excitement. Finally, my suffering will be over! My husband informed the doctor. We called family members to tell them of the wonderful news. After a test to check the fluid type, I was wheeled over to the hospital to start my pitocin drip. I told my husband to go to work because I knew we were going to be there for a while. Heck, I wasn’t even dilated 1cm when my water broke. He went, and when he came back, sure enough, I was still there, but with my epidural in place. I knew how bad period cramps were, and since I knew I wasn’t allowed to get out of bed to move around and ease the pain in a natural way, I wanted to numb it before it even started. We were there all night with little progress. Visitors came and went. I made it to 4cm and stayed there for 16 hours. “Failure to progress, you‘ll be needing a cesarean.” I jumped at the opportunity. I had been there for 25 hours in the same bed without food or water, I was hungry, bored, unable to move and ready. Or so I thought.
A mega-boost of meds were shot into my epidural line and everything goes fuzzy after that. (This is the part in my story where my tears start to fall now, in the retelling.) As I was wheeled out of the L&D room into the OR, I lost control of my body completely. I began shivering and shaking uncontrollably. I couldn’t calm myself. I remember hearing people yelling, “MORE WARM BLANKETS! MORE WARM BLANKETS” The blankets were warm and heavy, but I still had no control. The shivering and shaking continued and again, “MORE WARM BLANKETS!” Everything was a blur for an amount of time that I cannot say. I have no idea. Someone in the room asked me if I knew what was about to happen. I answered, “You’re about to cut that baby out of my belly!” I wanted so badly to answer, but I couldn’t even remember what the name of the surgery was. I threw out anything that could be considered a sufficient answer. Then, I remember looking up at the anesthesiologist as he tried to calm me. The blue sheet over me and my arms strapped down. Pinch, pinch, pinch. “Do you feel that?” “Yes, I can feel it, I can feel it.”
“He’s cutting you now. You’re ok, you’re ok.” I didn’t feel pain, but I was aware. It felt like someone had drawn a string across my belly and it was excruciatingly terrifying. I was so terrified of feeling something painful that I couldn’t focus on the beauty and wonder of something so perfect about to enter the world. It was a good thing my arms were strapped down. I could not have laid still. It’s just not natural. Being sliced open while awake is not something I want to experience EVER again.
As I lay strapped there, I tried to only focus on the anesthesiologist. I suspect he had seen several poor souls strapped down and terrified before me. He was wonderful at keeping my panic from consuming me. I remember a battery of questions from him, although I cannot remember if it happened before or during. “Do you want this medicine? do you want that medicine? and this other one? That other one?” “Yes, yes, yes, yes to everything, I don’t want to feel anything.” “Do you want to breastfeed?” “YES!”
I don’t remember the first cry he made, or the Hinder song my husband says was playing in the background the day our son was born, 3 ½ weeks before his due date. I remember being told to look over and see our son, seeing him, a tear starting to run down my cheek and then waking up in a recovery room. The tear didn’t even make it all the way down before I was out. The glance at my son didn’t even last a whole second. There was no touching him. No kissing him. No talking to him. No I love you. No bonding. NOTHING.
And then there was pain. Instead of enjoying the life I should have gotten to meet, I was greeted with a nurse pushing at my freshly sliced uterus, abdominal muscles, thick layer of fat, and skin. “That HURTS! I’m going to throw up! I’m going to throw up!” The puke bowl was held up to the side of my face, I gag, but nothing comes out. It couldn’t, I hadn’t eaten in at least 25 hours. If I were able to vomit, it would have ran down the side of my face. This repeats at least three more times. Honestly I cannot remember. The nurse is just doing her job, but I felt like a victim in the movie hostel. I felt no compassion, just torture. Still tied down and in more pain than could be expressed. I turned my head back and forth over and over and over again trying to get up. Surely it was knotting my hair, but I had lost control myself. I was in too much pain, and too out of conciousness at the same time to stop. Whomever was “attending” me scolded. “You need to stop that, you’ll make yourself sick.” I couldn’t stop. I needed my arms and they were still tied down. I wanted my baby, but I couldn’t get to him. I wanted to leave that room. I wanted the pain to end. And then I don’t remember anymore until I am in my postpartum room waiting on my baby to arrive.
The suffering still continues, but I thank God, it is to a much lesser degree. This scar will be with me forever, a dual constant reminder of the beauty of my child and the mutilation of myself.
This mother also writes in her blog, Diary of a Scarred Mama, which chronicles her journey in healing.
I have been trying to get this written down for the past three years. It has been impossible to do with out becoming hysterical. The law suits are all settled now and I have been in therapy for three years...my Psyc. has been asking me to get it on paper so I finally did... It's most likely a bit disjointed...but I'm a bit disjointed about the whole thing anyway...for what it's worth, here it is:
I went into labor at about 3 in the afternoon, called the MW & doula...told me to call again when contractions were 3-5 minutes apart. Things were moving quickly and I called and they came at around 5:30pm.
I started feeling the incredible urge to push at about 9 pm. MW thought this was way too soon and asked if she could do a VE. I agreed. I was only 6 cm. We figured the babe was posterior and she told my not to push. (if you have ever been though this, then you know, not pushing when you HAVE to is like trying not breath!!) well the pushing contractions and fighting them went on till 7:30 the next morning. MW asked to do another check...I was swollen down to 5 cm. They suggested that we transfer for some Pit, maybe some oral pain relief and take things from there.
We got to the hospital and lied that my water just broke a few hours ago. (it had been about 48 hours and there was some mec)
They started pushing for a section right away. I kept refusing. The told me I couldn't have Pit with out an epidural. I refused. They insisted on constant monitoring...I refused. The called a judge...threatened a court order...so we allowed monitoring. They were not getting "good enough readings" so they insisted on internal monitoring (I am a sexual abuse survivor...they knew this...the abuse was perpetrated by a doctor...they knew this as well. I completely freak out when strangers mess with my private parts...this was almost the entire reason for me wanting a HB to start with) So they decided that I was the perfect candidate to try out some new internal monitor that they had never used before. They couldn't get it inserted, they couldn't get it to work...they kept having to take it out and reinsert it... I was screaming at the top of my lungs that they were raping me. (at this point DH says I sort of went catatonic, I stopped responding to anyone...I completely shut down. DH says this went on for almost 45 minutes. Finally they decided it was working right, even though they were only getting sporadic readings. They then decided that this meant that DD was in distress. (there was absolutely no proof of this, My HB MW even checked my with her doppler and everything with the baby was fine) They started in on the section again and got the judge back on the phone. I was pretty aware at this point and spoke to him myself. He told me that it was out of my hands and he was willing to sign a court order. He also warned me that if he had to do that, then CPS would be called and I would not get to even see my DD "if she lived". We finally agreed to the section.
Right after DD was born, they kidnapped her to NICU. She was fine, no problems breathing...strong heart rate...perfectly fine. It was just their way of punishing me for attempting a HB. DH was with her the entire time. He didn't allow any vit. K. No eye goo, no Hep B, no PKU...nothing...they were REALLLLYYYY pissed!!! We were high on the radar. As soon as I got feeling back in my legs, and they took out that awful catheter, I went down to NICU. They wouldn’t let me hold her, let alone breastfeed. They had her on "nothing by mouth" a glucose IV and prophylactic ABX...all without consent. DH refused to sign and they got a court order for it. We tried to leave and set off every alarm in the hospital. Hospital security showed up as did the police since we were "stealing" our own baby.
We called our lawyer. He got us an emergency hearing the next morning. We both showed up in court (mind you, it had been less than 24 hours since they butchered me to remove my baby) and with her and my medical records (which DH stole from my room and NICU), the judge released her to our custody.
When we got back to the hospital to get her (we left my MIL with her while we went to court - there was no way we were leaving her alone with them) they were not in the NICU. We were told they had taken her down to radiology with my MIL. (DD had only 1 kidney, we knew this long before her birth) They decided that they would run a kidney reflux (VCUG) test while we were gone...My MIL objected, but they told her she had no authority (she did, we had left temporary medical proxy with her...gotta love my lawyer) We ran down to radiology only to find out that they couldn't run the test with out parental consent because it requires a separate consent for the radioactive dye they put in through the catheter. I had also never consented to my DD being catheterized. They were on their way to get a court order for that part when we gave them the custody papers from the court (our judge trumped their judge) and they had to release her to us. I took them till almost midnight to get all the AMA paperwork and authorization to remove the umbilical line (that was put in with out our consent by court order)
We came home finally. I physically recovered for the most part, it took us 4 months to finally establish a BF relationship. Lots of heartache and tears over that. We had to use donated BM. I pumped, used every supplement known to man and almost had to starve her till she agreed to take the breast (this was all done with the services of a post partum doula who is a lactation specialist. She lived with us for 3 weeks).
We sued...We sued, the hospital, the hospitals CNMs, the OB who cut me open, the Head of the NICU. Hospital security, the local police department....There were more individuals....I can't even remember who at this point.
Basically the result was...As long as I consented to dropping the felony rape charge against the CNM with the internal monitor (which I did as long as she lost her privileges at the hospital, which she did...she is also up for medical review of her license as we speak thanks to my charges) they would agree to an undisclosed financial settlement, Full financial responsibility for Payment for my continuing therapy, Full financial responsibility for the lactation doula, Full financial responsibility for Payment for any future emotional damage to my DD. Besides all hospital fees being "forgiven"
My DD is now 3. We finally reached this settlement over the winter. My DD's future will be financially secure. I don't think I'll ever feel secure again.
I guess the moral of this story is that no matter how prepared you are…no matter how much you are ready for combat (if you know and do not want the hospital routine)…the second you step foot in the hospital, you loose every one of your civil rights and are completely at their mercy. You will have absolutely no control over your body, birth or baby and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.
My husband and I woke up on Tuesday, September 16, 2008 completely unaware of what the next 24 hours would hold for us. We had breakfast, took showers, ran errands. We decided to go to iKea to make some last minute baby's room/house purchases and then go to my in-laws for dinner. We got to iKea and walked around. After about 30 minutes I started having what I thought were Braxton Hicks contractions (I knew what they felt like because I'd been having them for 2 months). Then I started feeling kind of tired and my back felt achy with every contraction. I told Ryan we should probably finish up and leave because I wasn't feeling well. We paid for our things and got in the car. I told Ry I wanted to just head for home because I felt really achy and I just wanted to get in bed and lay down. This was around 6:30 pm. On the drive home, the contractions got stronger and more painful and my back hurt with every contraction. I began timing my contractions.
Fast forward to 10:30 pm. My contractions weren't really regular, they were every three minutes, then every seven, then every five, etc. Ryan told me to call my doctor and describe my symptoms. I called and she told me it sounded like I was in early labor. She said to go to the hospital when my water broke or when the contractions became regular and really painful. At around 12:30 I told Ry that my contractions and back pain were becoming really uncomfortable. The only thing that seemed to alleviate the pressure in my back was going pee. Maybe it was just the position on the toilet. (In hindsight, a birthing ball would have worked miracles.) I wanted to wait a little longer though because we'd had a false alarm and been sent home three weeks earlier. Ryan was concerned and said we should go in just in case and, if nothing else, make sure the baby was okay.
We grabbed our bags and headed to the hospital. The last time we made the trip I cried my eyes out because I didn't want to leave our dogs. This time around I barely kissed them good-bye because I was so uncomfortable. We got to the hospital and checked in. I was fully prepared to get checked out and get sent home. When the doctor said I was dilated to 5 cm I almost fell out of the hospital bed! The nurse said, ''You're having a baby today!'' Ry and I just looked at each other in excitement. Wow, we thought, our son's birthday is gonna be today, September 17. Ryan then made phone calls to our families to let them know that today was the day.
The nurse came in again and tried to start an IV. She blew out that vein. 45 minutes later and a total of 5 failed attempts on my left arm, I had had enough and decided to maybe try to give birth with no pain medication at all. She told me that even if I wanted to attempt a natural birth, she'd still have to start an IV. She had to stop in between each attempt to allow me to breath through contractions. A different nurse came in and tried to start an IV on my right arm. She had two failed attempts. They decided to give me a break and move me from the triage to my delivery room. Meanwhile I began to hyperventilate because I have a ridiculous fear of needles. A third nurse came in and tried two more times on my right arm (this brings the count to four on that arm, eight total tries). I started crying and shaking uncontrollably. I was practically hysterical. Ryan told me look into his eyes and focus not on the needle or the nurse (who kept rolling her eyes and seemed irritated) but on our son. I made him distract me by telling me how much he thought our son would weigh, how tall he'd be, what color hair and eyes he'd have.
The nurse FINALLY got the IV started. Then the anesthesiologist came in to do the epidural. He allowed Ryan to stay in the room with me while he did it. I jumped when he stuck the needle in. He gave me no warning. He had to do it again. I started hyperventilating again and he asked Ry to leave. After a few minutes the epidural catheter was in and relief came once the medication went through my lower body. Sometime around 7 am, my doctor came in and broke my water. Because I had Polyhydramnios (excessive amniotic fluid) there was a huge gush and then water everywhere! My doctor said Franky should have been surrounded by about 5 cm of amniotic fluid at that point. An ultrasound showed he was surrounded by about 23 cm. About an hour later the numbness on the left side of my body wore off and I could feel everything. The anesthesiologist came in and gave me another dose of meds through the epidural catheter. It didn't work. A different anesthesiologist came in, removed the epidural catheter and put a new one in. I hyperventilated again. They gave me an oxygen mask and started giving me pitocin through the IV.
After 2 hours, I was still at 5 cm and my doctor said the baby's heart rate dropped to dangerously low numbers every time I had a contraction. She said it was in the best interest of the baby to stop the Pitocin and do a c-section right away. I started crying because I felt like a failure as a woman. I really wanted to deliver vaginally. My c-section got bumped twice because there were two women ahead of me whose situations were worse than mine. Before they took me to the operating room my doctor checked me. I was dilated to 7 cm. She said the baby's heart rate had become steady since stopping the Pitocin, so if I wanted to labor on my own for a while I could. She said that when they started the Pitocin again the baby would probably show signs of distress again and that she still recommended the c-section. I told her to do what was best for my baby.
The prepared me for the c-section and rolled me into the OR. I hyperventilated again. A nurse gave me morphine to get me to calm down. Although I was numb from the waist down, I was shaking so bad that my belly was shaking. My doctor, who is very precise and no nonsense, took only 25 minutes from the time she cut me open to the time she sewed me up. I heard my son's cries and started crying. It was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. Then I heard my doctor say, ''Oh my gosh, he's a monstrosity!'' My husband said, ''baby he's huge!'' Then a nurse said, ''He's 10 lbs 8 oz and 23 inches long!'' I couldn't believe it. It was an eternity before they finally brought him to me. I looked at him and everyone and everything else melted away. It was just the two of us. I was then taken to a room to recover for an hour. A nurse gave Franky his first bath and then let me hold him. (Well, Ryan held him close to me. I didn't actually hold him.) I cried and kissed him. He was the most beautiful and most perfect baby I had ever seen. My doctor came in to admire the 10 1/2 lb baby again. She said, ''Sweetheart, there is no way you could have delivered him vaginally without doing major damage.'' That made me feel better about the c-section.
Birth is what many women say it is: a life-changing experience, a journey beyond all expectations… As an important part of a women’s life, it truly reveals what we are capable of, our inner strengths, our most hidden fears and our capacity for resilience. Liam’s journey from my womb to our outside world was a powerful experience for both of us: it took us through moment of grace and moments of fear. Today, as we gaze into each other’s eyes, we find solace and peace and I truly understand what moms had told me about falling so totally in love with one’s baby. As an ethologist, I had observed animals defend their young fiercely and now I can relate to all those mammals and their maternal instincts. Much of becoming a mother has to do with embracing one’s inner animal.
So many of the birth stories we hear are about fear and pain. Although labour and birth are very intense, I feel we should tell their stories as tales of empowerment and discovery of inner strength. I wanted to share my story because it took me through many things, but despite the hardships, I don’t consider it a “horror” story. I consider it as an experience I needed to live to better understand and respect myself.
I had the joy of having a wonderful pregnancy, no morning sickness and a sense of being energized by the transformations within me. I trusted my body to know what had to be done and it did wonderfully throughout the nine months. I only had to endure a bit of swelling in my feet and legs at the very end, probably due to the unholy heat in Vancouver… My husband and I had planned a homebirth, a waterbirth. I wanted to bring this new soul into our world in a gentle and intimate manner. I had done much reading, from Michel Odent’s work on respectful and gentle birthing to Ina May Gaskin’s famous Spiritual Midwifery. I had chosen a group of midwives for my care and a wonderful doula to be our guides in this essential moment. I watched many movies of gentle home births, including Orgasmic Birth and felt compelled. I felt so confident I would give birth at home that I didn’t even pack an “emergency” hospital bag. Instead, I stocked up all the items needed for the home birth, spending countless hours on the Mamma Goddess site to pick out what I needed. I had read all the research and trusted that a home birth would mean less intervention and a beautiful experience for both me and the baby. In retrospect, I focused a lot on the “techniques” of giving birth and less on empowering myself and preparing myself to fight back if necessary. Little did I know that my birth would turn out very different from what I had dreamt of, expected and prepared…
Contractions, or “rushes” as I prefer to call them, started slowly on a Monday. I continued with my day to day routines, even finding time to take a hike in Lynn Canyon with my family. On Wednesday night, I started feeling things picking up and by 2:30 in the morning, I knew the real thing was starting. My husband and I managed to grab a few hours of sleep before calling my midwife and my doula around 6:30. By then, I had entered a whole new realm. Before, I thought I would have the time and energy to prepare everything for the birth, set out the supplies and cleanse the room with a sage smudge. How wrong I was… Instead, I found myself focused entirely on what was happening inside of me, leaving my husband and my mom to run around the house looking for all the supplies.
As the rushes became stronger, my mind shifted to an altered state. I’m not sure whether it was my hypno-birthing preparation, or the yoga breathing but I was solely focused on what was happening within my body, embracing each rush as it came and giving in to it. I used chairs and the toilet a lot! (Not very glamorous but very effective!) Sitting backwards and leaning on the back of the chair and the toilet helped a lot with dealing with the strong energy going through my whole body. I switched to the shower at some point and found myself on all fours, letting the warm water bring warmth and relaxation. By then both my doula, the wonderful Kim and Kelly, my extraordinary midwife, had arrived. They let me work through the rushes without intervening, which was wonderful. I was naked and felt like an animal, reconnecting with my wild side.
My mom and my husband set up the birthing pool and managed to provide the midwife with all the supplies we had prepared beforehand. Soft music was playing: orca sounds and relaxing cello and harp. I made it to the pool and from there on I was definitely in another world. I did not notice anything that was happening around me. Being in the birthing pool was wonderful; I totally relaxed into the moment and let my body do its hard work. I cannot say the process was painful, it felt more like an intense workout. My support team provided a relaxed and calm environment and we let the events slowly unfold. My husband was very close to me and helped me through each of my contractions. We walked together, rocked together, he spent many hours wiping my brow with a cold washcloth or adding warm water to the pool. I am grateful to have such a wonderful man as my partner and as my son’s dad… I managed to dilate almost fully and everything felt just right, this was the most natural process I had ever experienced. Fleeting thoughts passed through my mind as I worried for my dad and sister, stuck in their room and waiting for the baby to be born, no one had had breakfast or lunch and I felt a bit bad for them. At the same time, as I toiled through birth, I would sometimes stop and think “will I be able to push?” before diving right back in.
At some point in the afternoon, Kelly asked me to get up in the pool to monitor Liam’s heartbeat, as she had been doing regularly since the early hours of the morning. She could not pick up anything and asked me to get out of the pool and back on my bed so she could assess both of us better. A sense of panic started to reach my brain. Was my little one in danger? Things went very fast then. Kelly got me on oxygen to help the baby, his heartbeat had slowed down drastically and she was worried the cord might have gotten pinched at some point. Following the emergency procedure, she called the hospital to keep them informed and tell them to be prepared for us just in case and called the ambulance. I fell out of my hypnotic state and the internal exams proved to be quite painful then. Panic washed on all of us. My dad became quite restless waiting for the ambulance… I was grateful to hear that Liam’s heartbeat was going back up slowly but very disappointed to hear Kelly tell me that we still had to go to the hospital as a precautionary measure to monitor his heart more closely. I barely had time to put on a robe and we were off in the paramedics’ truck. I have to say the paramedics were very gentle and kind and did not strap me down. Kelly rode in the ambulance with me while my husband, my doula and my mom rushed to gather some essentials for the hospital and followed us. I started feeling powerless.
We reached the hospital. I was assessed once more and a monitoring device was attached to my belly. By then, the panic and probably the disappointment of having left the comfort of my home led my labour to slow down a fair bit. I was given an IV to keep me hydrated. I just hated being strapped to all the electronics and having to wear one of those horrible hospital gowns… I hated all the invasive exams I had to go through. I truly felt like my power to give birth was taken away from me…
It was time for me to push Liam out now and we both set out to do just that. I wasn’t yet fully dilated but was instructed to start pushing. I did not feel right, my body wasn’t ready, nor was I. The OB-GYN and my midwife suggested putting me on Pitocin to get my labour going again and help me push more efficiently. I did not want the Pitocin. I should have fought against it, but gave in. The Pitocin made the rushes more intense and also more painful. By then I started understanding why so many women want the epidural… I resisted asking for any pain relief. I wanted this birth to be as natural as possible, despite the hospital setting, the IV and the Pitocin. I pushed for close to three hours. We tried different positions. I have to say the hospital bed did not help! It seems like the Pitocin made the rushes erratic and too intense to deal with. I finally managed to ask to be unhooked from the monitoring and allowed to move about. Once more, my most efficient pushing happened on the toilet, in a position that was not supine. I managed to get Liam down a fair bit but somehow in the process he got stuck. Was my pelvis too narrow for him? By then I was getting very tired from the effort and from the pain. Another OB-GYN came to assess me and started talking about the different options, including forceps, with all the risks implied for both Liam and me. I knew for sure I did not want the forceps. I was close to crying then and very close to hitting people! The OB-GYN suggested the possibility of the C-section. I started feeling very helpless and very inadequate. Why wasn’t I able to push this baby out when we both had such a nice labour at home? Did Liam feel how much I resented being in the hospital? The OB-GYN was kind enough to explain how the procedure would go and the risks and benefits entailed. Liam was probably getting tired and I was getting very exhausted from the long hours of pushing. It was probably safer for both of us to go with the C-section. They were worried Liam would go into fetal distress. A strong contraction came in at that moment and I started yelling at the medical team to go ahead and get it over with. I am grateful to all of them for remaining very calm and suggesting I wait for the contraction to be over to discuss it before rushing to any decision. My husband, my mom and I were allowed a few minutes to discuss it. By then I felt helpless and very disappointed with myself. Was I not strong enough to give birth to this little one? My doula attempted to tell me that I was allowed to get mad, probably implying that I should get mad, reclaim my power and give birth the way I felt like. My mom, midwife and husband all reassured me that I had done my very best and that it would be safer for both of us to go with the surgery. I gave in, once more. I let my power be taken away from me.
The medical team told me to stop pushing, which was very hard with the contractions still coming in very strong and my brain having switched back to full awareness of the pain. If I could have hit someone I would have! Stop pushing? What a joke! I asked for the laughing gas. The Nitrous Oxide did not make me laugh but made me sleepy enough for me to recover a bit from the pain and the exhaustion. I think my brain just decided to switch me off to avoid the emotions running too high… I had to wait close to an hour for the OR to be available and for the anesthesiologist to come and prep me for the surgery. He was also very kind to explain everything and to crack a few jokes to keep my spirits up. I was strapped down on the table, hooked up to another set of devices and given a spinal anesthesia. The anesthesiologist added a bit of morphine to send me to another world. I was still very much awake and aware. Finally, they let my husband in and proceeded with the surgery. Within minutes Liam was out of my belly and handed over to my husband, crying his lungs out. Sylvain was able to come and show me my little one very quickly while I was being stitched up. I felt like crying my eyes out: my little one was so perfect and beautiful! He was born in his water bag, as my waters never broke. Somehow, that made me feel better. He was cushioned throughout the process and born in water, protected. I could not touch him, crucified on the table but I drank him up with my eyes, amazed at his scrunched little face, at all his perfect features, snuggly covered in a blanket.
After I was wheeled out to the recovery room and my baby handed to me for some skin to skin contact and his first breastfeeding. It was very emotional for both of us. We had been robbed of our first moments together and could not take our gaze off each other. I spent most of that first night in the hospital holding Liam very close to me.
I was lucky to recover very quickly from the surgery. Within the next day I could get up and walk around my room and was able to return home within 3 days. Breastfeeding was a long and difficult battle for both of us but we made it. I do not regret hanging in there to give him that very special present.
I still go through ups and downs, regretting some decisions and regretting I did not stand up for myself and fight back the hospital system. I did not need to be confined to that bed; I most certainly did not need to be hooked on the monitor for so long, I did not need to have so many invasive exams, did not need to feel so violated. My body was working fine without the Pitocin and I should have insisted my wishes to be respected. Nevertheless, my baby is healthy and beautiful; I feel so much joy and love when I look at him. My husband promised us that he would set up the birthing pool again and put both of us in it, to grieve the missing moments of this birth.
I do hope that if we have other children, I will be able to have a natural birth, hopefully in a home setting again. I do not regret for one moment having attempted a home birth, I really saw the difference between those very intimate, special moments laboring at home and the panic and pain I felt at the hospital. Don’t get me wrong, hospital births are usually fine when well prepared and interventions DO save lives every day. I just believe they are sometimes and often unnecessary and not used to the best interest of the mama and the baby. Birth is naturally slow, it does not obey rules of on-the-clock medical teams, it goes at its own pace. I just wish women were allowed to follow that pace, different for each one of them, and be respected if it sometimes takes a bit longer…
I am grateful though for the very professional attitude of my midwife and for the unbelievable support provided by my doula, my husband and my mom. I don’t think I would have made it so far without them.
Below is the list of things I would have done differently in retrospect. I don’t want to linger on regrets but wish to use these as teachings for my next birth.
Would haves, could haves, and should haves
Birth is a journey, a teaching, a way to discover what is hidden in each of us. For me it was a journey to learn and understand who I really am and to discover that I had strength far beyond what I thought. I am a strong and resilient woman! Yeah! My son is showing signs that he will be a headstrong and steadfast person. He is a little warrior. He also had a precocious smile, which I take for a sign of his great resilience. We both came out stronger and our bond is precious and beautiful. I am grateful for this experience and grateful for all the love I am blessed with every day.
I will start with the pregnancy of my first child, Camden. When I got pregnant, I was not all that educated about natural birth in general. I had worked as a doula, but through a crappy agency which I separated from rather quickly. So when I found out I was pregnant, I figured seeing a female Obstetrician would be like seeing a midwife. WRONG!!!!!!! But, I was pleased with my provider for the most part. I was considered a “high risk” patient because of surgery which I had on my cervix in my teen years, so of course like so many other women, I blindly followed what my Doctor told me, because of course, Doctors are never wrong…. right?
As my pregnancy went on I started seeing another female Obstetrician in this practice I proceeded to dub “The Wicked Witch” she was mean, old, cold, and simply rushes me without ever answering any of my questions or concerns. Then it seemed as though, every time I would schedule an appointment with MY OB/GYN I would always end up seeing this other Doctor. It was driving me crazy! Same went for if I had to call the “on call” for the evening, something felt wrong or something was off, and this same Doctor would always insist I went to L&D and be checked. By the time my son was finally born, I am sure they were all glad they wouldn’t be seeing me again!
Then in early November, our family was struck by a tragedy. My husband’s brother died suddenly at the age of 23, which sent our whole family into a tail spin, this was 4 weeks before my due date. From that time on, I proceeded to get sick daily, sometimes several times a day, I started losing weight despite eating like I regularly did before. At my last visit at 39 weeks and change, the Wicked Witch expressed concern that I was losing weight (15 pounds by this point) and that we should go ahead and schedule an induction before it has an impact on my son. Of course like any mother would, I freaked out and agreed. I didn’t want to have something happen to him, and in a way, I was happy because I was uncomfortable like EVERY pregnant woman was in the end.
I went in that Tuesday to get induced. It was December 11th 2007, and we showed up at 6:00am, and they escorted us up to my L&D room, and looking back on it, I wish I knew what I was getting myself into.
My L&D Nurse came in for my little questionnaire/intake and when I said I did not have a desire for an epidural, she and the Wicked Witch OB laughed at me, and told me I would change my mind shortly. From then it just proceeded to get worse! By 9:30 I was hooked up to pitocin, which in my opinion is PURE EVIL! Like they had said, after 2 hours of pitocin, 3cm dialated, I was begging for an epidural. I got the epidural but it didn’t seem to do much for me. The OB came back around at noon time, checked me and said I made no progress. I was still at 3cm, -1 station, 80% effaced. Which was a total blow to me because I was hurting and I thought I would have progresses SOME! She told me she was going to go have lunch, see a couple patients and she would be back around 2pm. My husband and my mother went to get something to eat, I tried to rest a little bit, and eventually she came back. At 2pm, there was again no progress. And this is when she said, well, I am going to come back at 3, and if there is no progress then we are going to have to book an OR. I knew then my worst nightmare was coming true. This cascade of interventions was directing me straight to a cesarean section. From the start of my pregnancy, when I was told about placenta previa (which corrected itself) via ultrasound, I cried at the thought of a cesarean.
She came back at 3pm, and there was no progress, or at least that is what she told me, and they started preping me for surgery. The OR was cold, and bright, and without my husband, it would have been even more terrifying. In the back of my head I was happy I was about to meet my son, but I was scared to death.
He was born at 4:37pm screaming, 7pounds and 7oz. Which then one of the OB/GYN’s commented, someone of my size (petite frame and short stature) would have never been able to birth that baby. Ya ok! My mother, my size, gave birth to an over 10 pound baby, HER FIRST CHILD!
My recovery sucked, and during that time, I reached out to ICAN and learned there was no chapter in my area. So, I started one.
In September 2008, we learned we were expecting our second child, and even before I got pregnant, I knew I never wanted to go through another cesarean, nor would I willingly go through it.
My pregnancy was uneventful, NOT HIGH RISK, attended by amazing Midwives, and so much different from my first.
On May 16th, I was doing a baby fair at our local hospital for our ICAN chapter, talking with mothers all day, giving out information, and around noon time, I started to feel… off. Something just wasn’t right. Thankfully for me, my Chiropractor was at the booth right next to me at the baby fair so I made my way to him and got adjusted. Once I got adjusted it all clicked. I was going into labor at a baby fair. Were we in a movie?
Next thing you know, the women doing the booth with me said I looked white as a ghost, like I was ready to pass out, so they made me have some water, and eat candy. Lovely combo, but it helped! I wrapped up the fair and headed home. I called my doula and let her know what was going on, but I wasn’t certain I was in labor yet.
I laid down when I got home and tried to take a nap, but I couldn’t get any rest at all. My contractions kept getting closer and stronger. It seemed as though my labor was progressing fast, and I wasn’t sure what real natural labor was like because of my induction the first time around. I called my doula back up and she decided to head on over, and off to the bath tub I went to relax and try to work through the contractions. Back labor, all the pain was in my back, and later on I found out my little guy was posterior. By the time my doula got to my house, and things really started to rock n roll, it was around 8pm. I watched the season finale of Brothers & Sisters which I had DVR’ed, listened to music, and spent a ton of time on the birth ball. Hours seemed like minutes, and next thing I knew it was midnight and I called my midwife. I told her I had been laboring for a while, and things were getting more intense, contractions were about 90 seconds apart, and we still had a 45 minute drive to the hospital I picked, which was one of the most VBAC friendly in the area. So around 12:30am we headed off to the hospital in a 3 car caravan. Myself laying in my doula’s backseat trying to sleep in torrential rain on the highway. My best friend in her car, and my husband in our car. We arrived at the hospital between 1 and 1:30am.
We got all checked in, and my midwife greeted us, and gave me a little check. I was 2-3cm which made all of our jaws drop. My labor was so intense we all swore I would be further along! I decided to get on my hands and knees with the birth ball for a while, then take a shower, I thought about getting in the tub, but it was nearing 4-5am and we all wanted sleep. I couldn’t rest for the life of me.
At this point I asked for an epidural so I could sleep. I knew no matter how much I planned that I would not have one, things change when you are in the actual situation.
I got the epidural around 6am.
I was able to sleep until at 8, when my midwife came back and checked me again 3cm at most. What was going on?? Why was I not dialating? What was wrong with my body? Contractions started to slow, then get back to being a minute apart, then slow, then get quicker. Something was just not right, and on top of it all, I am sure the epidural was not helping either.
Around noon time my midwife popped back in and checked my cervix one last time.
Still 3cm and now my cervix was starting to swell, and we were having complications.
I was devastated, my VBAC was crashing and burning in front of my eyes.
My body was defective, I could not birth my baby, my own plan had blown up in my face.
My epidural to sleep, selfishly kicked me right in the ass!
My Midwife consulted the on call OB/GYN who came in to talk to me, along with the Resident who was on call. They were both amazingly warm, friendly, and comforting, and at that point I knew that a cesarean would be how my son was born. But I was not as bothered by it this time around, because after nearly 26 hours of labor, something was wrong, seriously wrong. My mothers intuition turned on and my son was in trouble.
At 1:59pm Benjamin Emil Elwood was born, bruised and looked like he had been through a war! When they opened me up, he was jammed behind my pelvic bone, which his forehead was pressed up against it all that time. He wasn’t coming down, his head wasn’t applying pressure to my cervix for it to dialate. At that moment I knew I made the right choice consenting to the cesarean. I knew in the long term, it helped my son, and that was simply the way he needed to be born. During the days after my midwife would come see me every morning, sit, chat, and just helped me get through it all. I still today, cannot write about this without crying because the scars from his birth are still fresh. Nearing 6 months old, the pain of the failure is not any lighter. It seems like it was yesterday.
The story I tell is a story of a completely unnecessary cesarean section with my first child, and a life saving cesarean with my second.
The story I tell is a story of pain, and hurt, and betrayal by the one person I trusted the most, my Doctor.
The story I tell is a story of hope for other mothers to learn and become educated from my words.
The story I tell is the story of my sons, the loves of my life, and the ones who have made me the mom, advocate, and woman I am today.
All in all, I am now the North East Regional Coordinator for ICAN, a chapter leader, and the head of a maternity care campaign in my state of Connecticut. My experiences, my children, and my battle has made me become so active that I have been honored to support other women who have been where I have, and I have helped others to prevent unnecessary cesareans.
I love what I do.
I love the birth community.
I love ICAN.
I love being a Birth Activist!
My name is Nicol. I am 34 years old and I have had 4 c-sections. Here is my journey as I remember....
At the age of 18 I became pregnant with my first child, a boy. I was so excited and just couldn't wait for his arrival. My pregnancy went along without any problems or complications. Then 2 weeks before he was due, at a routine visit, my doctor told me if I didn't go in labor by my due date it, he would do induce me. Sure, ok fine. Sounds great. So 2 weeks come and still no baby, on my due date I was scheduled to be induced. Get to the hospital and they prep me and give me castor oil to drink...oh how yummy...NOT. Then shortly after the nurse comes in with this juice jug filled with warm soapy water. She says she is giving me an enema. WHAT!!! And pulls out this hose and a funnel. I am like what the heck did she just do. She dumps this juice jug filled with the warm soapy water and tells me to squeeze my butt cheeks together for as long as I could, and then go to the bathroom. I ran, not walked to the bathroom. But whatever this was suppose to do, didn't work. It only made me poop out soapy water. Next she says she taking me to go have a hot bath to help bring on labor. So, I was being induced with castor oil, a soapy enema and a hot bath. All this gave me, was a stomach ache, a sore butt and raised blood pressure...
Hours go by, and nothing. Now being in a old fashion country hospital was one of the worst mistakes of my life. I lay in the COLD, too bright of a room, with hard rough sheets and all I get are braxstons hicks contractions...no biggy. My doctor comes in at about 8:30pm and says they have waited enough time and labor wasn't going to start and they needed to do a c-section. Within a matter of 10 minutes I was on the table and they had me sliced open. This was my first pregnancy and what I thought was going to be a normal birth, became the time when I regret becoming pregnant in a way. After my c-section I felt butchered, violated and didn't even feel like a mother. I felt like a host to this being, and I had shared no part in bringing him into this world. I couldn't bond with him the weeks following, and even had a hard time nursing him right after. I did not like this feeling of my baby being ripped from my body. I was left with this unsightly reminder for the rest of my life. But yes, as I keep getting told, at least the baby is ok.
I went on and had 2 more children after this, 2 girls. They were delivered via repeat c-section at the same hospital. I was never even given a chance to VBAC, no one mentioned it. Because I had 3 c-sections the doctor had always told me after 3 c-sectons that's it. I ended up getting my tubes tied in Jan.2000 during my 3rd c-section.
A few years go by and I still didn't feel our family was complete. I did so much research about tubal reversal and stuff. As time went on, it became a lil more heard of on-line. I saw a doctor and they did a laprascope to see what kind of tubal ligation I had. Again more holes poked in my body. When I got my results back, not only did I find out I was a good candidate for the reversal. I also found out the doctor who original tied my tubes did not cut any length, nor were they clamped or tied or anything. They were just snipped and free floated.
After a few months of getting the laprascope, I made the appointment to do the reversal. I had the surgery and things went so perfect, except yet ANOTHER scar. Within a matter of 4 months, I got pregnant. I could not believe it, it took me months to accept it cause things all happened so fast. When I first saw my baby on the ultrasound screen, I knew I wanted to at least try for a VBAC. I told this to my new doctor. It never really got discussed much, then towards the end I was told another c-section and he would have to come earlier then when I had the other kids because having a 4th c-section puts me at a higher risk of rupture. I told him I knew the risk and wanted to wait at least 38 weeks. So my date was set...
On Feb.18 2009 I had my miracle baby boy via c-section. I was elated, but yet disappointed with everything. This new doctor decided to cut me another way. I am so scarred up on the outside its not funny. But the worst part, I am even more scarred on the inside. I will never know the feeling of giving birth naturally. I will never be able to grab my baby right after he comes out of me. I will never have that feeling of overwhelming joy that mothers get right when they give birth. This is what I am left with today. 4 c-section scars, 3 up and down, and 1 bikini cut. 2 laprascope holes, 1 long tubal reversal scar. Is this one of the joys of motherhood...
When I was pregnant for the first time, right through most of the pregnancy I had planned on delivering at the hospital with an epidural; that was the plan. I didn’t need to be a hero. There was no need to suffer.
At some point I started leaning toward a homebirth. I think initially the idea of being in my own home with my own things was my motivation. Then I had to wrap my head around the idea of a drug-free birth. That part was a bit more difficult but somewhere along the way I started to trust my body; trust that Mother Nature knew what she was doing and just somehow knew that I could do it. By the end of my pregnancy I felt so confident in my body and my baby.
My water broke two weeks before my due date; labour started several hours later. The midwife arrived, labour progressed. Everything was as it should be, my body doing its job. All I wanted to do was sleep. How about the shower? Well okay, in the shower for a while but I wanted to sleep. All I wanted was to sleep. This is my body coping with labour. I’m listening to my body, it knows what to do. I want to sleep. In between contractions I fell into what felt like the deepest sleep, only to be awakened a few minutes later for a contraction, then back to sleep.
I started feeling the urge to push and I could feel the excitement in the room. The midwife was letting the second midwife know what was going on, equipment was being brought out, I could hear my midwife quietly give her student instructions; we all thought baby’s arrival was imminent. The midwife checked me one last time.
Three to four centimetres. Silence. What? Three to four centimetres. Don’t push. What? Don’t push. How do you stop? It’s like trying not to sneeze, your body takes over and your body does it anyway. Okay, I’ll try not to push. Back in the shower, downstairs, hands and knees, don’t push (push); I protested it all but did it because my midwife wanted me to; don’t push (push). Sleep, when can I go back to sleep? When can I go lie down? Don’t push (push). How about a bath? I am reluctant, I go in the bath anyway; don’t push; I’m trying not to push (push).
In the bathtub I am sleeping between contractions; I feel only slightly aware of what is going on around me, trying not to push (push). I am dreading that urge, dreading each contraction not because of the pain, because of the urge. A contraction, don’t push, I’m trying so hard (push). I’m fighting my body, don’t, don’t, breathe, blow out birthday candles, my body takes over (push…gush). My husband called the midwife, all of a sudden there was a sense of urgency. There was blood, more than there should have been. Hurry, get dressed; get the car; call the hospital tell them we’re on our way. Don’t push (push). The blood has stopped but everyone is scared.
At the hospital my midwife consults with the OB. There has been no more blood, the baby is fine. At this point it has been 16 hours of active labour, still three to four centimetres. I had an epidural, contractions continued; I never progressed further. Eventually, I was given pitocin. The baby didn’t tolerate it. After 26 hours of active labour I had a cesarean.
I read and read; books, websites, whatever I could get my hands on; anything to do with natural birth, VBAC and c-section prevention. The next time was going to be different.
When I found out I was pregnant with my second I found a doula, midwife, naturopath and chiropractor to support me. My husband was behind me 100%. We planned a HBAC and we did everything right. We did everything we possibly could during the pregnancy to ensure proper positioning and to get my body ready for labour.
Labour started, things progressed. I was upright, on hands and knees, up and down the stairs sideways, in the birth pool, in the shower, on the birthing stool, standing swaying; I did it all. I wanted to sleep so desperately, and I did sleep at times but I was so determined for this labour to be different. I was fine, baby was fine.
The sun was coming up and I started feeling the urge to push. I heard someone say we’d see the baby by morning. The midwife was getting ready. Labour continued, time passed, the urge to push got stronger. The midwife checked me. Four centimetres. What? Four centimetres. But wait, this was supposed to be different. I did everything right. Don’t push. What? Don’t push. No, no, no, not again.
We’re not going to the hospital. We all know what will happen if we go to the hospital; don’t push (push). More moving around, every position possible, chiropractic, homeopathic remedies, and acupuncture; don’t push (push). Another midwife came to consult. Hours passed, blurred conversations; don’t push (push). I’m fine, baby’s fine. Don’t push (push).
Forty hours of active labour. Four centimetres dilated; don’t push (push). Every contraction is a battle with my body; don’t push (push). Why is my body doing this? This isn’t right, it’s not the way. My body is NOT doing was it is supposed to do. Why has my body betrayed me?
We finally go to the hospital and I get an epidural. Maybe if I don’t push, the swelling in my cervix will go down and I will dilate. Maybe if I just get some sleep. Then the decelerations started. Deep decelerations that were not quick to recover.
The OB is paged and comes in. No introductions, no pleasantries. “We have to get this baby out. Now.” Can we talk about it? “You talk about it; I’m going to get the OR ready.” I look around at my team, I can see the devastation in their faces, I can see their pity, I know they are worried about me. It’s okay. I’m okay.
I am rushed down the hall on a bed. I sign the consent lying on my back on the operating table. The baby is born, a boy, I get a kiss then he is gone. I tell, no, I insist that my husband goes with the baby. They go to the special care nursery as a precaution because the baby seemed to be working hard to breathe.
After observation, formula and eye gel which made my baby’s eyes swell, my husband brings my baby to me. I still hadn’t slept; I was awake in my room waiting. In they came, the baby was immediately in my arms and he nursed like a champ right away. The next day I have no memory of holding my baby for the first time. I have no memory of nursing my baby for the first time. I feel completely robbed.
When we leave the hospital I can’t stop crying. We’re on our way home in the car and I can’t stop crying. It’s NOT okay. I am NOT okay.
With my third pregnancy we’re not sure what to do. We’ve tried it all. I am convinced that if I get an epidural early – as soon as I get the premature urge to push – that my cervix won’t swell and I’ll dilate and have a VBA2C. But then…no hospital in the city of Toronto will agree to let me labour after two cesareans. What? It’s my body. It’s my baby. Still, nobody will agree.
It was a very stressful pregnancy, I have my midwife and the same team as before but otherwise nobody will support my VBA2C. I cried a lot. I tried to figure out my best chances of a sucessful vaginal birth. I finally changed OBs in my third trimester; she and my midwife shared care. The OB doesn’t agree with me but is nice, calm and respectful and most importantly she knows she can’t make me do anything. My OB discussed my case with the other 17 OBs at the hospital. She and one other OB think I should be able to decide if I labour or not. Nice.
I went into labour on Christmas Eve. I had a shower and cried and cried. Thank you baby for starting labour before my scheduled c-section on my due date (which I didn’t plan on showing up for, agreeing to book it was strategic. It made it easier for my OB to answer to her superiors if I had a c-section booked even though we both knew that I’d go into labour before, just like my other pregnancies). This is the day my baby was meant to be born.
Labour was much the same. It wasn’t long before I started to feel that urge. “Do you feel pushy?” my husband asks. “No!” I answer a little too quickly and a little too loudly. They knew. We all knew. My body was betraying me again.
We went to the hospital; we called on the way to tell them we were coming. It was Christmas Eve. I would learn later that I was the only woman in the hospital in labour on Christmas Eve. We arrive at the hospital and I am offered a wheelchair. No, I want to walk. We get off the elevators and step on to the L & D floor. A nurse walking down the hall took one look at me and said, “We’re going to section you right away.” Umm, no you’re not.
Another nurse met us down the hall and led me into triage. I said to her, “I know you all think I’m here for a c-section but I’m not.” She says, “Okay, I’ll get the OB and then you won’t have to explain things twice.” I’m shocked. The OB is not my OB, his name is Dr. B. I explain my wishes: I know the risks (I cite VBAC and VBA2C statistics off the top of my head) I have the premature urge to push, I want an epidural and I want to labour for a few hours to see if there is any progress. Dr. B listens patiently. He calmly explains the risks (and also explains that even though I know the risks he still has to explain them to me). He says “okay”. Pause. What? We’re all shocked. I realize that Dr. B is the only other OB that thinks I should be able to decide whether or not I should be ‘allowed’ to labour and I realize that someone is watching over me that day.
The hospital respected my wishes and the OB discussed everything with me, my husband and my midwife. After labouring for several hours and seeing no progress I was satisfied. I really had tried everything and all my “what ifs” were answered. The OB agreed to all my wishes before I signed the consent for the c-section.
In the operating room my husband, my midwife and my doula were with me. When the baby was born he was lifted up above the curtain. The room was silent and I got to announce the gender. I don’t know why this was so important to me, but it was, and it was a moment I will never forget as long as I live. “It’s a boy” I said.
My husband did skin-to-skin with the baby in the OR. The baby tried to latch on to my husband. There was no eye gel, no formula and we were never separated. The baby latched on in the recovery room and nursed contently. I remembered everything the next day. I felt okay. I felt at peace.
An addition to the original post: My fourth and last pregnancy was a scheduled c-section. When my OB asked me to choose my baby’s birthday I refused. I told him to choose. I hated that my baby wasn’t going to be born on the day she was meant to be. My OB chose October 24. It wasn’t until I got home from my OB appointment that I realized the significance of that date. My children were all born on a ‘four’. December 14, March 4, December 24. Somehow it was easier for me to accept the chosen date of October 24. Maybe she was meant to be born on that day after all….
I was so excited when I found out I was pregnant with my 1st baby in 2006. I decided to go for a natural birth with nurse-midwives. I first met Nicole Lamb and Tracy Gibson at the Pocatello Womens Health Clinic and was so confident we would be well taken care of.
In October 2006 I was 6 months along when I began having pain in my right side that radiated around my lower abdomen. I was told this was due to my "round ligament" stretching and this can cause pain. I was told to take frequent warm baths to ease the muscle cramps. I did this and on Halloween while getting ready for trick or treating I began hurting so severely I was sure I was in labor.
I went to the Emergency room and was hooked up to a fetal monitor and given IV fluids. The pain eased slightly and I was told once again that this could be my "round ligament". Over the month on November at each appt I inf. the midwives I was still in pain, but was told it was the muscle. Even though I knew they were thinking I was probably an exaggerating 1st time mother, they appeased me and sent me for an ultrasound. I kept telling them and my family, "if I'm not in labor something is seriously wrong." but I felt like noone was listening.
The ultrasound technicians did not find anything out of the ordinary and the last weeks of november and first few days of december became a circle of similar events with me going to the er for severe pain, getting an ultrasound, and walking out still in the same pain. At one point the doctor in the er even gave me medication to "stop" my labor because I was 2 cm dilated, but this made my hands and feet numb and made me ligthheaded. I found out later that this was a respiratory medication that is commonly used for copd and that has never been approved by the fda for use in pregnancy! I also informed my midwives and dr.s at the er that I was experiencing brown fluid leakage, but this was pushed aside.
On Dec 5th I was in severe pain so bad that I could not walk myself to the restroom. My husband and mother literally had to carry me there. I noticed an increase in the fluid leakage, but everytime I called my midwife I was told to "take it easy, get into a warm bath and wait for my appt at 10:00am the next day and they would examine me, and if i felt it was bad i could go to the er." So I cried and screamed and curled up in a ball on the sofa until about 3am when the pain became unbearable. I called the Tracy Gibson who happened to be the midwife on-call. She sounded extremely frustrated at my contacting her again, and informed me in a very short tone of voice, "I JUST GOT DONE WITH A DIFFICULT DELIVERY, GO TO BED AND WE'LL SEE YOU IN THE MORNING!" I of course hung up and bawled harder than I ever remember crying. I knew in my heart this was a matter of life and death, but I felt since I was a 1st time mother I needed to appear strong and felt I would be reprimanded by this midwife if I went into the ER. I also knew I wouldn't be able to take it again if the hospital staff sent me home in such pain yet again.
I cried until about 8:30am when my husband used a wheelchair to get me into their office. Midwife Nicole Lamb took one look at my pail face and immediately stopped what she was doing and wheeled me to the hospital next door herself. They proceeded to hook me up to an iv and brought an ultrasound machine into the traige room. I mentioned that I had to use the restroom and got help onto the toilet. I then proceeded to pass out and my husband had to wipe me and my husband and the nurses were able to see the brown fluid leakage.
They somehow got me back on the bed (which I don't remember) and did the ultrasound. The tech was going over my abdomen again and again saying, "I don't see anything" when Dr. Kim Cox walked in and looked at the screen. He pointed to an area on the screen and told the tech, "No, do you see this fluid on the outside of the uterus here? That's not supposed to be there. I'm not sure exactly whats going on but we need to get this baby out NOW." I remember shaking and feeling so weak, and I remember how unnatural it felt to not even be able to focus enough to pray for my unborn baby. When they asked me if i could stand and move to a different bed, I said I could, but when I stood I collapsed and my husband and the nurses had to put me on the gurney.
I was wheeled into the O.R. and told to lean over so they could get the spinal in. The anesthesiologist tech tried about 6 times to get the spinal placed, and meanwhile the nurses assisting kept pushing on my shoulders getting me to hunch further. This caused such excrutiating pain that at one point I screamed at the top of my lungs. They kept telling me it was ok but they didn't realize I wasn't screaming b/c of the needle, that was a cakewalk, I was screaming because they continued to put pressure on my abdomen and I felt like my womb was a burning ball of gasoline that had been lit with a blowtorch. After the last round of trying to get the spinal in, the head anesthesiologist was called in. He immediately told me, "if I can't get it in we're going to put you under." He was able to get it in after the nurses had been pushing down on my shoulders to get me into the horrid position, but I did have a small sense of comfort knowing that the midwife, nicole had stayed with me.
As soon as the spinal was in place my baby's heart rate began dropping and when I was layed down on the table I passed out. I came to and was being asked if i could feel anything? I told them no, and then throughout the process of the procedure I was blacking out and only remember bits and pieces. I remember there was a male nurse sitting at the head of my bed and was so sweet. He was telling me I was going to be fine. I looked to my left and saw another nurse changing the blood collection container. I asked the nice male nurse if the full container was my blood, and he informed me, "Yes but you're going to be just fine". I then blacked out again and when I came to they were telling me to "get ready!" a few seconds later I felt a tug and heard a blissful cry! they lowered the blue tarp in front of me enough that I could see my beautiful baby, and when they took her I told the nurse at my head I felt like I was going to be sick. He held the little bowl while I vomited and passed out at the same time.
I remember waking up by being wheeled into recovery where I was to stay for an hour for monitoring. The wonderful older nurse there asked me about my baby and asked what her name would be. I told her, and then mentioned I was cold and I was shaking all over. She told me it was normal from the spinal, and covered me with several warm blankets. I was in the middle of talking to her when I passed out again and when I came to I was being wheeled into the room I was to be in with my baby. All I wanted to do was hold my baby, but a few hours after being with her, Tracy Gibson walked in. She did NOT apologize for the way she talked to me that morning, but felt it her place to come see my baby!? I was outraged and couldn't express enough how much I wanted her to leave.
After the ordeal, I found out that my baby and I had suffered from placenta abruption and the reason for the passing out was because I had experienced a 40%+ blood loss; all of this blood volume had pooled in my abdomen. The brown fluid leakage had actually been old blood that had been collecting in my abdomen.
About a week or so later when my baby (EmmaLeigh) and I were safe at home, my mother told me what the doctor had told her and I fell apart. He had told her when they were done with surgery, "Your daughter and grand daughter are so lucky to be here. I have done many surgeries involving placenta abruption, but I have NEVER in my career seen an abruption this bad where the mother and baby both lived. When she began seeing the leakage is usually when the fetus has died. I am positive if you all would have waited another day, or even a few more hours, one if not both would not have pulled through."
I thank God everyday that my baby is here and that I am blessed to be her mother. I would recommend that if you are going to see a midwife, I would definitely do research as well as be as prepeard as you can for anything that COULD happen. This reverts back to the old but true saying, "better safe than sorry". Midwife Nicole stuck with me the rest of that day and made sure I knew she was there for me, which she did not have to do. But as for Tracy, I would not let her touch my dogs puppies let alone give birth to a live baby.
I truly would not wish this situation on ANYONE. I feel cheated still to this day, 3 years later. I have since had another baby who was a Scheduled csection b/c I didn't know I had a choice. My husband and I are considering having our final addition, and if that day does come, I will definitely be going for a vbac. The second csection was so much better and I did not have ANY of the complications I had with my 1st baby. I thank God for my children and again, I hope NOONE ever has to experience the trauma I went through.
Thank you for giving us a site to share these stories. I still cry when I think of almost losing my beautiful baby girl.