I’ve looked everywhere on my computer for a copy of my birth story. It would be interesting to reread my thoughts on my birthing experience and see how differently I feel now. For a while I was pretty positive about my child’s cesarean birth even though I went into L&D at the hospital with every expectation of delivering vaginally with no intervention. With time and anticipation of future births, I began to feel less certain about my experiences . . .
Every pregnant woman in the 9th month feels like she’s on the brink of spontaneous delivery. Friends say “it looks like the baby has dropped” or “are you getting excited/nervous” or “are you sure you don’t want an epidural” or “natural childbirth is nuts” and all sorts of (ahem) helpful things. These comments do nothing to soothe the first-time mother – well, not one built like me anyway. I’d go in to see my CNM and was disappointed that my DD wasn’t dropping or engaging into my pelvis and that my cervix was still high, tight, and closed.
Christmas came and I had a townfull of family. My due date came and went – siblings had to return home. The last group activity was a bet on when I’d have the baby.
Wednesday morning I had my regular appointment. My CNM confirmed that the baby was still high and that my cervix looked like it wasn’t interested in letting a baby out any time soon. I had only just passed my due date, so I was frustrated (because I wanted to meet my baby) but not concerned. After lunch with the extended family, my husband and I decided to go home and rest . . . ALONE. We were tired. I spent most of the afternoon on the couch dozing and watching movies. My husband spent most of the afternoon gaming on-line.
I started to feel sick later that day. It might have been as early as 6:30pm or as late as 8:30pm when I started getting sick. I was vomiting and having diarrhea, and since that was all happening at the same time, I was having a hard time NOT passing out! I know some women get sick when they are laboring, but I was NOT in labor when this started. I definitely had caught some sort of really nasty mean bug. So I was shuttling very frequently between the bed and the toilet and the bathroom floor, carrying the trashcan (aka barf can) with me everywhere.
My poor husband. He was such a trooper and took really good care of me.
At some point (fairly early on in the “process”, I think) I started contracting. They weren’t particularly regular, I recall. They weren’t particularly bothersome (because I was too busy being sick). But I was really getting dehydrated and couldn’t keep anything down. My husband called our midwife in the late evening (maybe around 10pm?) and told her what was going on. Of course she didn’t suspect that I was in labor because she had just seen me earlier that day. He called her back a couple of hours later to tell her that he was taking me to the hospital. We were both worried about the dehydration, and he was convinced that I was in labor.
So he started getting ready to go to the hospital. My bag was mostly packed, but he was scurrying about doing things for a while, and asked me to get up and ready to go. I remember wondering how in the world I was supposed to get from the bed to the door to the car (not a long path, at all). I was sure I was going to get sick in the car. I dawdled. I think we finally got out of the house around 1:30am on Thursday.
We arrive. I need a wheelchair – can’t even conceive of walking. The lady at the desk is taking her sweet time. My husband comes back in from parking the car, and soon we’re in the elevator on our way to the maternity ward. The maternity ward knew I was coming. They weren’t particularly concerned. I imagine my midwife told them that there was NO WAY I was in labor and that I would likely need to be treated for dehydration.
Things went from tortoise to hare mode as soon as the nurse did an exam. I was 9cm dilated! Quick, move her into a proper L&D room. Quick, call her midwife. Our CNM arrived looking a bit harried and sheepish. She thought things looked great, and that it was time to get the party started. Wahoo!
She told us that the sickness caused my amniotic sac to dilate my cervix to that size. She thought that breaking my water would cause my daughter to slide into place. I should have known better. I trusted that a CNM wasn’t like a doctor. Artificial rupture (AROM) wasn’t really intervention. She was trying to speed things along . . . for me.
Well, my daughter didn’t budge after AROM. It did make my contractions incredibly strong, nearly intolerable, actually. I don’t feel like I ever got a break from the contractions. And then it was time to push. So I pushed. I pushed for 2 hours and my daughter didn’t budge.
Time to call in the OB. So, I had to stop pushing – resist that overwhelming need to birth my baby. I think I requested an IV at this time in case I would need a cesarean section. Boy do I regret that now, the reason being that I was communicating to them that a cesarean was an acceptable means to achieve a certain outcome. I should have known better. The OB arrived an hour later. She was confident that she could get the baby out vaginally. We tried for another hour. Nothing.
The OB and the CNM consult outside. The OB returns and asks me if I’m ready for a c-section. OF COURSE! Make it stop hurting so bad! Get me my baby!! I don’t really fault the OB – maybe I should, I don’t know. I had only met her once before, so she didn’t know how strongly I felt about avoiding a c-section. When she arrived at the hospital I was already prepping for intervention. My child was stuck. I hadn’t been laboring in different positions since I was weak from being sick and felt inhibited to try different positions while having diarrhea all over the place. My daughter wasn’t going to move, so the OB “had” to perform a section on me.
The means don’t always justify the end. Remember that. You may be ok today with a cesarean, but it can really complicate things down the road if and when you get pregnant again. Do your research. Your OB, CNM, CPM, DEM, etc. should earn your trust not demand it. You should ask lots of questions.
Hindsight isn’t always 20-20, especially not when you’re talking about the human body. But here is my list of “what went wrong”:
- Sickness necessitated my hospital visit, but I think that had I hired a doula, perhaps I wouldn’t have needed to go to the hospital for being sick. Just delaying my admit might have made a difference.
- AROM. Don’t let people mess with your membranes. They will burst on their own and don’t need any help from anyone. There was an expected outcome with breaking my water. That outcome was never achieved.
- Not changing positions. I labored on my left side which is supposed to be the most productive position. It hurt like hell. Laboring sitting up felt better to me, but the baby evidently didn’t like it. Don’t let inhibitions or pride keep you from doing what is necessary to achieve your goals.
- Giving up when there was no sign of distress. I was exhausted and sick but still found the strength to push and push and push. I broke a ton of blood vessels in my eyes. But women are designed to withstand the stress of labor. The baby wasn’t in distress – stuck – but not distressed. I should have kept going.
- Requesting the IV. By requesting the IV, I was letting everyone around me know that it was ok to intervene.
Stick to your guns. If you have strong feelings about your impending birthing experience – and you SHOULD have strong feelings about it – then you need to communicate them to your caregivers. You (and your partner, if applicable) need to stick to it – not that I’m recommending that you refuse intervention when it is very clearly medically indicated. Have confidence that your birth philosophy is valid. Have confidence that your body is designed to birth a child. Remember that your caregiver is providing you with a service. Research research research. Question everything!