Let’s start out with me admitting I made several mistakes. I had in my head a grand ideal of the perfect natural, 100% non-medical, birth. Our bodes were created by God to grow babies and to give birth; pregnancy and birth are not, in typical form, a medical event. I must have said this a million times. I still believe it. God made me to carry babies, to birth them and to feed them. However my pregnancy in 2005 gave enough indication that things were not typical and thus the birth might not be. I turned a blind eye to them holding hard to that fact “birth is natural and normal and God ordained; it will be ok” after all Mary did this, Elizabeth did this; women have done this for millions of years.
I started out at a CNM (certified nurse mid-wife) office that was in conjunction with a doctor’s office. I had a couple of bad encounters with one of the CNM’s (who dressed like a 20 year old out clubbing and talked like a cheerleader and had NO maternal / birthing feelings to her at all). Also by week 15 I got the feeling things were non-typical with my pregnancy but that no one was really putting forth any effort to talk to me about it; just sign off on the appointments and move things along.
At week 19 to 20 I made the switch from the CNM office to an independent CNM; in practice by herself as opposed to connection to an OB’s office. She had back up OBs, or course (one of them was the great doctor that I birthed with for my 2007 birth), but she did not have partners. The birth was still planned to be at the hospital; though I think this CNM does do home births that was not anything we were interested in, nor do I think the pregnancy would have qualified. Making this switch was a mistake; and I am sure it had detrimental effects of the birth in Nov 2005. I spent the rest of the pregnancy with the growing feeling the CNM did not like me, we never bonded. I had, and have since, talked to many moms that birthed with her and the stories are amazing, even with troubled pregnancies and difficult and emergency births. With them, she was engaged, emotionally here, part of the process; they have great memories, even a mom that ended up with an emergency birth and a baby in NICU. I will not go on, but I always felt I was a disappointment to her or an inconvenience.
From the start of the pregnancy I was small, the baby was small. I measured “behind” the entire pregnancy and actually had our first US at week 15 not 20 because of it (this is even at the CNM practice we started with). I am tall, and have a long torso, like my mom, who never looked that big pregnant either, so for a long time this “not looking very big” did not bother me. I have a lot of room to hide a baby. By the end of my pregnancy I was measuring 4 to 6 weeks behind and everyone but me was concerned. Maybe I should have been more worried, I wasn’t. Not till the final few weeks. I also did not gain as much weight as typical; again I did not worry while everyone else did, and again maybe I should have. We had a number of ultrasounds due to the slow growth and weight gain. I was very very sick for most of the pregnancy and that DID bother me, but no one professional seemed to think it out of the ordinary. As they say “if I knew then what I know now…”
On a Thursday in week 38, we had an US that showed the baby had not grown significantly since week 34 (and at the end of a pregnancy the baby should basically just be gaining weight and plumping up; up to .5 pound a week even). The US that week also showed the baby was becoming asymmetrical (the head was growing and the body was not). By this point we had consulted with a high risk pregnancy specialist (to review the US) and the decision was made to have a final US on Monday and if the baby still did not show significant grown to schedule an induction for Monday over night. We realized that this was a formality and that there would be an induction Monday night; there was simply no way the baby was going to suddenly grow significantly in a few days. Induction had been discussed several times in the last couple of months of the pregnancy. We were not really happy about it, but I think we were expecting it. I was really anxious and already feeling like a failure for all the pregnancy issues and I saw my natural birth slipping away.
I also already felt at odds with the CNM and felt like she disliked me. A couple of times during the pregnancy she accused me of lying to her (and Hubby) about what I was eating, and about being sick. She accused me of intentionally making myself sick (throwing up); to “stay thin” she accused me of intentionally harming / risking my unborn child. She accused me of lying to her and hubby about it. I had a really bad feeling about her the end of the pregnancy, but I was stuck. This upset me at the time, purely as a venerable emotional pregnant momma-to-be. Now looking back, it really ignites a righteous rage. I was very very sick that entire pregnancy. I had “morning sickness” 24/7 for over 5 months, I was physically sick for months; I spent many a day lying on the bathroom floor. I lost weight, I failed to gain weight. Any food made me feel like I had food poisoning; the entire 8.5 months. There was something wrong. The baby was not growing, I was sick – but rather than look for a real medical reason, the CNM just wrote it off as me and accused me of trying to harm my child. With the “20/20 sight” of 5 years, and all the issues Big Brother has I have to wonder how much of Big Brother TODAY is the result of that pregnancy (he was in distress on some lever at the end, he stopped growing and was asymmetrical, even if he was just a small baby neither of those two “facts” is healthy and both indicate a heath concern). I really feel the CNM failed us; not just by be being unpleasant and setting me up for a ruined birth experience and physical scars from that (in addition to the emotional scars) but I feel she failed us with regard to the health of our child; not just in the womb but to this day and realistically for the rest of his life. Maybe there was nothing that could have been done differently, I accept that, but had she addressed the issues as MEDICAL and not just “in my head” or “intentional” on my part we’d have the reassurance that at least we did all we could. The fact that she should have taken these issues as a possible health concern becomes more obvious after the birth given the condition of the unhealthy placenta.
Thursday night after the Ultrasound I had an acupuncture appt, I had another one of Friday. Thursday I had – looking back – the start of labor. At the time I thought is was just more and more BH contractions. They were getting stronger, yes, but I though “that must be more practice”. Ah the first time mom; so sweet and naive. I was so anxious for labor to start; but at the same time I kept telling myself “this can’t be it”. Friday morning I had a number of contractions, looking back they were more than BH, at the time I thought they were BH.
Friday night after work Hubby and a couple of his buddies brought a load of stuff from the storage unit. Friday night my water broke at 8:40 pm. I had been – since 4 pm – having a lot of BH with a lot of kicks from that baby (duh labor was starting); once the water broke they got faster and harder. Really fast and really hard. The “first contractions” did not at all match all my reading nor our birth class. Now, I have to admit I was scared. I had not been afraid of labor before this. I had bee nervous, and excited but never really scared of labor. Now I was scared, this hurt a lot more than I had expected, and nothing I had read about, learned about, put my faith of a natural birth in, seemed to help at all.
We made all the necessary calls (midwife, doula, and family). My dearest hubby went to cut the protective plastic off the sofa and chair that we had just gotten out of storage that day and to set up a living room; the assumption was my dad was going to want to be able to sit on a sofa and watch TV. Since we built our house, and got pregnant on sub-floor and with no kitchen; at the time of birth we still had very little out of storage and even less unpacked.
Contractions were never more than 7 minutes apart, and often 3 or 4 minutes apart for like 45 or more minutes at a time. From the very start of labor (I recorded it at 8:40 pm when my water broke, really it started before that but I did not recognize it) straight though the night. I kept hubby up, though he kept trying to sleep. I kept thinking “hey what about the starting easy and getting harder, starting slow and getting faster thing?” I went back to my notes and my many many books and labor charts and so on and felt so lost. I felt like I was in transition (hard, fast labor, sick to my stomach, shaking etc) but labor has “just started”. Nothing was going like I had read about (and read about it a lot I had) or like I expected. I was really scared from the very start; I felt very out of control, a feeling I did not expect. Hubby tired to sleep; I kept returning to my notes and my books; my bookmarks and highlighting. I showered, I sat in the tub, I walked. Nothing helped.
Then, Saturday morning everything stopped. 8 am, contractions just stopped. Our Doula, Angi came out to the house – and she and I walked a lot, I showered and put my hair in a braid and ate. A bad sign, in general, is that I did not want to talk to our CNM on the phone at any point in the labor and made Hubby do it.
We were with a CNM so there was less of a time table about the water being broken, but it was still an issue. 24 hours is the magic number, and while I did not anticipate being pushed to a C-section at the 24 hour mark, there was still a ticking clock to think about. Our CNM wanted us at the hospital at noon when there had been no contractions for 4 hours, and we were past 16 hours of the water being broken. We got there, got checked in and still no labor.
They immediately start Pit (one of the mistakes I made was allowing this, I should have asked for an hour or even 2 to adjust to the hospital setting and “get my feet under me”). The nurse that was TRYING to start the IV was worthless, and I felt like a pincushion. My mom had called and was in the parking lot, I almost told the nurse to leave me along and wait for mom to do it. Since I was immediately on an IV of Pit I was attached to a BP monitor, a contraction monitor and a heart monitor for the baby; in addition to the IV. I stated out with an external “belt style” monitor for contractions, but it was not working and it HURT – so at some point relatively early on (I can’t really remember when) I was talked into a internal contraction monitor. The sensor was placed between the baby’s head and the cervix. I also had an IV of anti-botics. I should have refused that, but I honestly felt almost like everything was going to fast and I couldn’t really think fast enough to keep up. I had trusted that having a CNM I would be saved from the need to be on guard against my own HCP; after all that is why I chose to go with a CNM and not an OB; I was wrong. I should not have assumed she was on my side as much as I did – even at the birth I still trusted that while I knew she did not like me I did not distrust her like a routine OB. I should have.
The most disturbing fact, after laboring all night, hard labor, when we arrived at the hospital at noon, 16 hours after my water broke, I was only dilated to a 2. I can not express how defeated I felt, and I think Hubby felt.
So we labored. The CNM did her best to stay out of the room and make it very clear she was phoning this one in, just trying to get done. Angi tired to find ways to make me comfortable, to keep me moving, but it was practically impossible. I was in more pain, looking back, in early labor in 2005 and for the duration of labor in 2005 than I ever was in 2007 (even transition and even pushing). I could not get on top of the pain, none of my techniques helped at all. Not only did I feel like a failure but I was sure everyone in the room thought I was one too. The room had so much stuff and generally a couple of nurses. I had so many leads and wires on me too, it was a massive mess. Labor hurt a lot; the Pit made it hurt even more than it had all night. Again, in retrospect, something was not right. I labored in 2007 with Pit again and never had nearly the pain that I had 2005. I have to think something was just wrong in 2005, with the pregnancy, with the birth.
I was scared, I was confused, and I was tired and worn out. I attempted to address that with our CNM, but she basically blew me off with “yep labor is hard, can’t stop now”. Looking back I really do not understand why she did not suggest or offer a one-time-shot on fentanyl (sublimaze) http://www.medicinenet.com/fentanyl-injection/article.htm like I ended up using in 2007. Why didn’t she suggest or offer a one-dose of any valium type medication so I could relax, or get my feet under me, or “get a grip”. I felt she allowed the birth to spiral out of control, knowingly and did not make any real effort to counter it.
Around 4 pm or so – not sure of the time, without glasses I could not see the clock – we had a tornado warning. One had touched down a number of miles north. Yes, the 2nd week in November. So we had to labor in the hall. Me, the bed, the big machine I was attached to and my IV and everyone in the hallway. I was the only mom in active labor (everyone had to go into the halls) so they took me to the enclosed hall outside the C-section sugary area – down the hall from my room. We got to labor in the hall for 45 minutes. People, other nurses, kept walking by. I remember 2 nurses actually asking if I was full term or not? Uh why else on I am Pit and stuck here in labor? I was confined to bed, unable to move around at all, and lots of people kept walking by. The funny part of that, my father was out in the parking lot, walking the lot and the hospital grounds. He doesn’t like hospitals at all and birth less. The security guard made him come in; so he ended up standing behind the head of my bed, staring at the wall; checking his watch and asking my mom when this baby was going to arrive. Believe it or not that is one of my best memories of labor.
I labored like that till 6 pm; at 6 pm I was only dilated to a 3. Remember at this point my water had been broken for 22 hours; and I had been in active labor all but 4 hours of it. Fast, hard labor with contractions never more than 5 to 7 minutes apart. The CNM strongly suggested an Epidural. I was defeated. I had failed. I learned later she had approached Hubby about it an hour earlier and he had, true to our birth plan and birth class, asked for another hour.
I got the Epidural at about 6 pm. There is one nurse in that hospital, which is very lucky I do not and did not know her name and that is a good good thing, I would have been writing a letter of complaint not only to the head nurse but to the hospital administration. She is also luck I was physical tied down with all the monitors and IVs and so on. When it came time to sign the consent for the Epidural she asked Hubby to do is and ACTAULLY SAID “I don’t feel she is in her right mind or able to understand this [consent]”. She actually said that, I was so mad. I did not want the Epidural, it was the 2nd to the last defeat (a C-section would have been the final defeat possible) possible in the lost natural birth I had spend years expecting.
The lights were turned off, I was told to sleep. Hubby went to eat. I laid there and worried and stressed. I might have dozed – by 7 pm I had been up 38 hours in a row and in labor for 23 of them – I do not remember. I had my hand on my tummy, tears in my eyes. I just wanted my baby. I just wanted to hold my little one. I was so sacred something was wrong. By this point I was overwhelmed with fear my baby would be taken to NICU; either because of a real need or due to some thing happening in the birth to harm the child. I just wanted my baby. I felt totally defeated. Looking back I am still so disappointed. I know many moms that birthed with the CNM and they have such glowing stories. Even one that had an early emergency birth and her baby was in NICU for a long time, had a supportive and caring birth.
At 11 pm I was finally dilated to a 10 and the epidural was turned off so I could push. I asked about ‘rebound pain’ and was told, literally “it is gonna hurt worse, yes, but there is not another options”. I pushed and pushed and pushed. I was unable to move the baby; all my pushing was ineffective. Now having birthed in 2007 and knowing what effective pushing is, knowing what birth is supposed to be, the experience in 2005 is even more glaringly wrong.
I pushed in several positions; to no avail. I did not have the upper arm / body strength for some, and I felt off balance and silly on the birth stool (though that could be because it was on the bed, not the floor; the CNM pushed us to take the Bradley Birth class but then certainly wanted everything for her comfort in the actual birth, counter to that class). At one point I over heard the CNM say to someone “this just is not gonna work, she can’t do it”. I am not sure who she was talking to, not hubby. I was pushing you’d think she have been with me; not talking about me. Also if she had a concern, don’t you think she should have addressed it to me or my husband?
I no longer remember all the details, but she brought in her back up OBGYN, one of them anyway. Dr Newland. She made the suggestion of the vacuum; he said he’d rather try the forceps. He sat with while I pushed 3 or 4 rounds, then told us the baby was not moving at all and it really didn’t matter if I pushed all night nothing was going to change. I am admit total and complete exhaustion at this point (Midnight maybe 28 hours after my water broke? 12+ hours on Pit?). So Dr Newland explained to hubby that he was going to try a forceps delivery if that failed we’d have to have a c-section. The Epidural was turned back on and way up. I could not feel any of my body below my breast.
A screen was up so I was unable to see the birth. I ended up with a 4th dress tear and too many stitches to count. Nevertheless I FINALLY had my baby boy. The OB asked Hubby if he wanted to cut the cord, Hubby agreed as started around the bed, the doctor then cut the cord himself filling me with panic that there was an emergency and that I was about to see my baby rushed out of the room. Finally, though, I got to hold my baby. Tiny little thing that he was. I was holding him and our doula announced his gender. He was laying on my breasts, and I let him slip back towards my feet and I thought I dropped him as I had no sensation below my chest. When the placenta was delivered; it was less than ½ the size it should have been and was also mid-shaped and “old” (that is it appeared older than it should have if I was well past my EDD).
A little over 5 pounds, he went home at 5 pounds. He was so so tired; it was so hard to wake him to nurse. Poor little guy, I felt bad for him at the time, I feel bad for him even more so looking back in my memory. I had been up 44 hours and was so tired; I just wanted to be left to hold my baby. Hospital staff, at the mid point is there shift, did not seem to understand this at all. They wanted to bathe the baby and do this and that, we pushed off everything but the immediate care of me till ‘tomorrow’ after we got some rest.
We had our first boy; and a long road ahead of us to get nursing down, but we had a healthy happy tiny little boy.