There is no polite way to discuss this. It comes directly from my soul. I don’t mean to offend or whine, but it is bound to happen. The fact is that I still feel sorry for myself. I still feel jipped. I still feel like my babies died because providers refused to help me. I know that I can’t change the past and that rolling around in yesterday’s pain will not help tomorrow’s healing. I know that I’m fortunate to have my daughter. I know that people have been through much worse than I. None of that helps. And now I sit here still trying to process my sister-in-law’s interventive vaginal birth. Yes, interventive. Yes, vaginal. No, not natural. No, not normal (in my personal definition of normal birth).
My sister-in-law had cesarean written across her from the start. She was subjected to a full genetic screening of which she and her spouse were not fully informed. The result was a pregnancy shadowed by the fear of a child with fragile X syndrome. They’ve been faced with the choice of abortion (not that they considered it), amniocentesis (they thankfully declined), and several ultrasounds. And along the way my sister-in-law began to fear childbirth. It didn’t sound like the typical scared stuff that you expect; she sounded AFRAID. I tried to console her in my way and bolster her confidence without devaluing her feelings.
Next thing you know it she’s due. They’re already talking about induction. The decision was made to induce her a week after her due date. I did e-mail her and my brother-in-law and remind them that babies should be given a due MONTH, not a johny-on-the-spot due date, and that it was inappropriate to push her towards induction at least before 42 weeks. I knew I’d lose that one.
At 41 weeks she was induced in the hospital. Dilation was slow, and understandably she began to get frustrated and concerned. She was told that she should be dilating at a rate of 1cm per hour. What an awful thing to tell a woman who’s not progressing – that her labor isn’t normal or on schedule. They broke her water; they upped her pitocin. They did all of the things that can cascade into a cesarean.
Only, she didn’t end up with a cesarean. Her pelvis wasn’t declared inadequate. Her baby wasn’t pronounced too big. How in the heck did she avoid the knife? All the signs were there pointing towards a cesarean delivery and yet she didn’t get cut.
Her experience has caused me to ask myself some tough questions. Did you want her to get cut? Did the fact that she had all of these interventions and still have a vaginal birth take the wind out of your arguments against interventive birth? Does her success reflect on me somehow and my failures? Did she deserve a vaginal birth and I didn’t? Or am I just “mad” because she deserved to get cut (having agreed to so many interventions) whereas I didn’t deserve to get cut because I had educated myself and planned for a natural birth.
Two weeks have passed since my sister-in-law had her baby. I am thrilled for her and my brother-in-law. I can’t wait to meet my new niece. But the ghosts are still rattling my cage. I am not stirred by her experience. Rather, I am shaken.