My Birth Story

I found out in April of 2009 that my first baby would be due November 14th.  What a great day to be born- I like the number 14, so I had a good feeling about this.  Through all the joy and excitement, my mind kept wandering back to one very important tidbit. How am I going to get through the miracle of giving birth?  I am generally a confident, ambitious person... but I just couldn't see myself being able to do this. I'm 5'2 and 120 pounds.  I don't have those childbearing hips that are required to make this thing work.   

Being the anxiety ridden person that I am, I started researching immediately.  I talked to people who had children and their advice was all the same:  get the epidural as soon as you possibly can.  But this was not what I wanted.  I didn't care so much about the all-natural aspect of it, as much as the big scary needle being stuck in my spine part.  I was so sure that I'd be in that 1% of people who become paralyzed.  I'd probably get stuck with that horse needle right in the middle of a contraction and force her to poke me in the wrong spot.

As I continued to do some online research, I was finding that you either do it naturally with no meds or you get the epidural.  I was pretty shocked that there weren't other options.  There is this one medication called stadol, but you have to get it super early on (before contractions become intense and before you're 4cm) and it does, in fact, get through to the baby, unlike the epidural.  That was not what I wanted, either.

I continued talking to people about it, and found out that one of my co-workers was pregnant at the same time as me.  She recommended a birth class that she had signed up for, called "The Bradley Method."  She explained that you learn to....
  • manage the pain through meditation techniques instead of drugs
  • use movement during labor to your advantage (as opposed to being strapped down to a hospital bed)
  • stay hydrated, eat well, exercise during pregnancy
  • work with your body, not against it to make labor more efficient
  • deal with stress and increase self awareness
  • prepare and learn, with your husband as your birth coach
  • avoid labor by induction (pitocin) and let the body go into labor on its own
  • They have a 93% success rate for people who took the course across the country
This was it!  I knew immediately that this was what I wanted.  I took the class as early as possible (and was naturally the least pregnant person in the class by 2 months).  I couldn't believe the confidence I was gaining.  By the end, I really thought I might be able to do this.  But I think this was my problem.  I never gave myself the credit I deserved.  I knew I could get through the contractions, but I was still having trouble envisioning myself doing the actual pushing.  I tried not to think about that part, and just keep my eyes on the prize (the soon to be baby boy or girl that would enter our lives). 

When my due date came and went, I reiterated my birth plan to my doctors (it was a practice)- please allow 41 and 1/2 weeks before inducing.  I learned in Bradley that a full term is anywhere between 38-42 weeks, but lawsuits in hospitals have become so prevalent, they try to induce you soon after the due date to avoid anything potentially dangerous happening.  By 42 weeks, the health risks become much higher.  I understand that, which is why I said to induce at 41 and 1/2 weeks. 

So as I was warned, Holy Cross is pretty quick to jump in and induce.  But I didn't want to change doctors in the middle of my pregnancy.  Big mistake.  Don't ever be afraid to move on to someone else if you feel that your doctor isn't on the same page as you.  You're not going to hurt their feelings, you're only going to hurt your own when you find out that your doctor is forcing you to do things you don't want to do.

I convinced her to wait until the 23rd- 9 days later (a little less than I was hoping for, but I'll take it).  But when I went in for a routine check up and fetal stress test on Friday, November 20th, my doctor was concerned that there weren't enough bumps of activity in the heart rate.  She just didn't feel comfortable sending me home, so she asked me to go pack my bag and head to the hospital to be induced.

From that point on, I may has well have put my birth plan through the paper shredder.  I cried the whole way home, knowing that it is close to impossible to achieve a natural birth with pitocin.  It's like amping up your already painful contractions with 50 cc's of lightning bolts.  But Matt helped me get it together.  We mentally prepared ourselves for what might lie ahead and decided we would try to still be in control of our birth plan as much as possible. 

After arriving at the hospital, what do you know, the baby's heart rate was fine but "we'd really prefer that you not leave now that you're registered, etc. and the doctor had an initial concern."  At this point, Matt and I had mentally and emotionally committed to being there anyway, so we agreed to stay.  I told them that it was important to me to try a prostaglandin before being shot up with pitocin, which they agreed to.  At this point, I was almost 1 cm.

Well, I swear I remember every little detail my Bradley teacher taught us except for this one... they decided to use the prostaglandin called "Cytotec" which, is the really bad one that hits a lot of women hard and could potentially cause physical damage to the uterus. Luckily, I didn't seem to be too badly affected by it.

About 5 hours later, I started having contractions.  How exciting!  They were about 10 minutes apart for a while and then they started getting really incredibly (and un-naturally) strong and really close together.  Sometimes, they were only about 2 or 3 minutes apart.  This went on for 18 hours until the doctor came back.  That's right.  I'm not exaggerating for the sake of the story.  But I welcomed the intensity- this meant I was making progress.

I couldn't wait for the doctor to give me the internal and tell me I was 6 or 7 cm.  She checked me, which I might add was equally as painful as a contraction, and informed me that I was, drum roll please....... 1 cm.  I had made NO progress.  All that pain and all that work for nothing.  I was devastated.  I insisted on trying a few more hours.

She came back and checked me later that afternoon and I was almost 2 cm (about 5 hours later.)  This was getting to be agonizing.  Around dinner time (this is now 24 hours from when the contractions started), they strongly suggested that I get the epidural so that I would have the energy to labor through the night.  I agreed that there was no way I could continue at this rate and be able to push and do what I needed to do. 

I absolutely hated the feeling of my legs becoming 2 huge tree trunks that I couldn't feel or move.  It was too weird.  They decided to crank in the pitocin at this point to really get things going.  I was all for it.  I was instructed to get as much sleep as I could and they would check me the next morning.

12 hours later, I was at 3 cm and my cervix was reversing- instead of getting softer, it was getting hard and swollen at this point.  Now for the moment I had been dreading... My doctor recommended a C-section.  I waited for her to leave the room and give us a little time and then proceeded to cry for about 20 minutes.  Poor Matt didn't know what to do to help me.  We were both pretty devastated but Matt knew he needed to put on a strong face and help me through the situation.

For the c-section, the numbness moves all the way up into your chest, so it becomes hard to breath.  I have to admit, though, that I was relieved to see an end point in my near future.  It was nice to know that I would finally see this baby in an hour.

I was so drugged up and out of it that by the time they pulled the baby out, I couldn't really open my eyes to see him.  The wonderful surprise of the baby's gender that I had insisted would be the most amazing moment of my life and refused to find out ahead of time- was completely null and void at this point.  I don't even know if they told me it was a boy; I just heard "Here he is," and responded "Give him to Matt," because I was shaking so badly from the anesthesia, I would have dropped him.  I couldn't wait to hold him but I was practically convulsing for over an hour, and literally couldn't hold him without Matt's help.

Even when the time came, my mind was still not really there.  I felt so strange, and not like myself, I wasn't sure if I was dreaming- from drugs, not happiness.  I will never be able to fully explain that foggy state of consciousness, but I know that I never want to experience it ever again.  I don't even remember the first time he latched on to eat- that special bonding experience is completely wiped clean from my memory.

Despite a horrible birth experience, we are loving every minute with little Niall and I learned a valuable lesson- get to know your doctor.  I mean really get to know them- what they're about, what they believe, learn about their experiences, talk to them about your concerns.  Get to know them as a friend, someone you really trust.  This is the person who will be handling the little miracle inside your belly.  There's nothing wrong with being picky about who you choose.

I have already begun doing some research on V-BAC (vaginal birth after cesarian) for my next little one and will most likely try to at least labor in a birthing tub at Shady Grove hospital with a midwife.  The midwives there work closely with the doctors, who are able to intervene medically if anything goes wrong.

The most important thing I learned was that you can't force the body to do something it's not ready to do, even if you are a doctor!

My favorite quote from the doctor before agreeing to c-section: "You did everything you possibly could; it's not your fault that you have a dysfunctional uterus."   Well thanks doc.


Brendan's Birth Story

You can read about my experience with Brendan here, but it's sadly similar to my first :(

12 comments:

  1. It always makes me sad to hear about birth experiences like this. I'm so sorry. I'm glad that you are moving forward and know how to be prepared for a future pregnancy and birth.
    And that doc is wrong...there is NOTHING wrong with your uterus.
    Thanks for your honesty.

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  2. Oh my god. This is so sad! That quote from the doctor is just horrendous. My first days with Nate were also far from ideal. I have found that slowly the pain is ebbing away (oh, but it's there). I think only time can heal wounds like that. Luckily we have all these amazing moments and "niallstones" to help us move on :)

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  3. Ooooh wow! What a story!
    It reminds me of part of my 3rd baby and part of my 4th baby. I had an emergency c-sect. for my 3rd & I agree with everything you said... it brings back memories for me. I was shaking soo bad & my memory is also sooo bad coming out of it. The pictures really show it too - how out of it I was. I was determined to do a vbac next. And I did. My 4th one sounds like part of your story too. I was having 2-3 min. apart contractions for 22 friggin hours!! Had to have an epi :( They wanted to do another C-sect. But I made it. Crazy stuff!!
    I wish you the best for next time. I want a water birth realllllly bad. But I think I am done :( Maybe I can live my dream through you haha.

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  4. Hey there, thanks for stopping by. Wow, that was quite a birthing experience - congrats on being so strong through such a challenging time. I can't believe what the doc said, that is so disappointing and crazy! Nice blog:)

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  5. I'm a new follower. You had me hooked by your birthing story! I'm 21, and plan to start having children in about 5 years. I am an inch shorter than you, 5 foot 1, and weight about 110, so I am also scared about the birthing experience. But I'm sure I will be able to make it through it just like you did. Thanks for sharing and I will continue to read your blog!

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  6. Wow- that's quite a story!! I have the same problem- I am also 5'2" and not really build to birth babies. All 3 of mine got "stuck" and I had to have to epidural to help my body relax. Hopefully things will go more your way with the next one! It's great that you already know what you want and can learn from your first experience with Niall.

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  7. PS- Niall and Kate are only a week apart! She's the 16th :)

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  8. you weren't kidding! our birth stories are eerily similar, i was remembering so much that i had blocked out of my memory reading through yours! i felt like they tricked me into induction. obviously i could have said no, but like you said once you're there they're like, "well, this is more important than you think..." i can't believe the doctor said that to you, i know she (he?) was joking but when a woman is about to have a c-section and it's not their decision, you should at least be a little sensitive to the fact that they might not be super happy about it. pitocin is a mean, evil drug and i totally agree with you that the contractions they create have to be worse than the ones your body creates naturally. henry had a two inch circle knob on his little bald head for the longest time where he had been trying to fit through a 3cm opening! i used to rub it over and over and think how crazy/bizarre inducing women into labor is.

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  9. I just read your birth story over at Spearmint Baby. I had a very similar experience recently. I started out wanting a natural birth and it ended up being everything but and then i had to have a c-section in the end. I think i would've been more upset but it turns out my pelvis is just to narrow to naturally birth a baby. So in the end I'm okay with what happened, it wasn't ideal, but I love my little guy and I am so glad he is finally here. :) Although I am NOT a fan of induction after all I went through. I think the body should just be able to do it's thing on it's own! (despite that the doctors say)

    I just posted my birth story on my blog if you are interested. :)

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  10. Hi Kerry!!!
    I feel like I haunt talked to you in forever! Which actually, I haven't.... but I am now!!! I can't wait to see you guys!!!! I don't know when i will... but I can't wait!!!
    See ya soon!
    love,
    Mairéad

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  11. Eek! You and I have very similar birth stories. I'm glad you got to look into a VBAC for your second one. I looked into the VBAC as well for my second baby but it was not to be. Oh well. I do have to say that the second c-section was easier to recover from than the first.

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  12. 1% of people do not get paralyzed from epidurals.

    I think you need to be more laid back about remembering this experience. A birth plan is just a plan--you really cannot control how it goes. I'm sorry that you had a bad experience, but I have also heard many stories of women who waited too long for induction and lost their baby. I don't think that doctors do inductions and C-sections for fun.

    I am reminded of my cousin--the power went out during her wedding and she was distraught and wailing and talking about how it was the end of her life. It's funny how people lose perspective on what matters. A few weeks later, my entire wedding was canceled because my mom was diagnosed with cancer immediately before.

    It's not about the stinking wedding; it's about the marriage. It's not the first special bonding moment that's important. It's your lifetime with the baby. Whether or not you agreed with what the doctors did, you had a healthy child; other people would give an arm and a leg for that. Really, what does the rest matter?

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