I finally had the nerve to sit down and watch The Business of Being Born. I hesitated for a long time. Honestly I was scared of hearing that everything I did was wrong. I’m such a self-contious mother. I try so hard to ALWAYS make the right choices for Nevie. I haven’t yet excepted that it’s okay to make a mistake. I was relieved to find this documentary encouraging. I related to everything they talked about. I was so happy to see that I was not the only one who felt the way I did after my birthing experience.
So here’s my birthing story:
Before I was pregnant I had already decided on going completely natural for the birth of my babies. My mom did it, so I thought that I should be able to also. When we conceived I started doing lots of research on natural births. I had decided on a water birth. I read so many positive articles and books on the subject. So we took a water birth class, which was required to be allowed to deliver that way at our hospital. After the class we felt really great about our decision.
Well the big day came on August 4, 2008. It began at 5:30 am with contractions about ten minutes apart. Soon they became five minutes apart. At that time we contacted (or should I say tried) to contact my midwife. We had one number to call that was supposed to notify the midwife of my impeding delivery. After almost an hour and a half of trying to get in touch with her (apparently she wasn’t given the message) we finally got in touch and she told us to head to the hospital. I took a shower and shaved my legs ( I wasn’t about to have hairy legs on my delivery day!). The contractions hurt like mad, but I was handling it. The ten minute trip to the hospital seemed to take forever. The contractions were getting much harder and longer. I just wanted to get out of the damn car. So, we arrived at the hospital and the walk to the maternity ward took about ten minutes. Little did we know, the maternity ward is located on the BACK of the hospital with no outside accessibility (apparently to keep people from stealing babies… go figure).
I was offered a wheelchair twice, but my pride got in the way and I was determined to walk the whole way. My contractions didn’t hurt quite as bad while I was walking, so I figured if I kept moving I’d be better off anyway. We got there and they hooked me up to monitors for about fifteen minutes, to ensure I was truly in labor. At about that time my midwife showed up and checked my progress. I was 5 cm and in active labor. Well apparently Nevaeh wasn’t moving as much as they’d like, so they made me guzzle down some ginger ale and sit on the monitors a while longer. The contractions were agony while I laid there unable to move around. Finally they got what they were looking for from the monitors and I made my way to my room.
After about six hours of labor I couldn’t take the back pain any longer. I didn’t feel a single contraction in my abdomen. Every contraction was directly across my lower back. At that point I threw my idea of a natural birth right out of that tinted window of my labor room. The contractions were coming less than a minute apart and I couldn’t take it. My nurse put an IV for fluids in my arm. I was starting to bloat like a whale (although I felt like one before the fluids). About 30 minutes later an anesthesiologist came strolling in. We talked about baseball (don’t ask-I know nothing about it). He placed the large needle in my spine (painful, but not nearly as bad as the contractions). After about 3 minutes I felt no pain at all. I was on cloud nine.
I had lots of visitor come in to see me. It was nice to be able to socialize while my body was preparing to birth a baby. Amazing how that happens.
A little while later my nurse came in with a pouch in her hand. She says, “I’m giving you pitocin because your contractions have slowed down”. She hooked me up before I could even say I didn’t want it. To be honest, at that point, I didn’t care what they did to me. Maybe it was the epidural or maybe it was my sheer excitement of seeing my baby soon. I don’t know. Regardless, I wasn’t even consulted about it. They just hooked me up like it was nothing.
About an hour later they noticed I had a fever and the baby’s heart rate was increasing. They gave me oxygen and penicillin. They checked me again and I was 10 cm and ready to push. I pushed with the nurse by my side for about fifteen minutes. Then my midwife came rushing in telling me we had to get this baby out soon or I was going to have to be taken to surgery. Thirty minutes later I pushed my little girl out. I never felt pain, only a little pressure as she came out. I’ll admit, I didn’t mind not feeling the “ring of fire” that I heard so much about.
They immediately took the baby behind a curtain to suction and be sure she was okay. I didn’t even get to see her until about five minutes later. After about ten minutes of introducing her to the family they immediately took her away to record her measurements and bathe her. After about thirty minutes a nurse came to inform me that the baby had an infection and would be given an IV port in her hand so they could administer antibiotic. It wasn’t for another hour that I got to just sit and hold my baby. I felt so disconnected from her. I knew she was my baby, but I felt like I was missing that immediate love I heard so much about. I also wasn’t able to nurse her immediately like I had hoped. They took her away so quickly that it was over an hour before I could begin that so very important bonding time.
So this is what I think happened:
1. I was given an epidural (by my choice) and I contracted an infection. The epidural slowed my labor, which was already progressing well on it’s own.
2. I was given pitocin (not my choice).
3. The combination of the infection and the intense contractions brought on by the pitocin put my baby in distress.
4. After being on the IVs for so long I had ballooned from all the fluids, as did my baby (who was born 9lbs 3oz, and 4 days later dropped to 8 lbs 4 oz, once the fluids were out of her body).
5. Because of the size of my baby and the BACK ONLY position I wasn’t allowed to move from, I had to get an episiotomy or else I would have suffered a terrible rip.
What I wished had happened:
1. I had hoped my midwife would be more involved throughout the whole process. I saw her about 4 times total. It really didn’t seem any different than having a regular doctor. She did a great job delivering me, but didn’t offer much else aside from that.
2. I needed a calming and encouraging medical-oriented coach. Brad was a great coach, but he also didn’t want to see his wife in pain. So when I asked for the epidural he didn’t argue. I really needed a calming influence that wasn’t emotionally involved to help me through the pain.
3. I wish that I was allowed to have as many people in the room as I wanted.
4. I wish I never got the epidural. At the time I would have married that cold tube of fluid flowing into my spine, but I didn’t know just how much it would affect everything.
5. I wish that I was able to breast feed my baby immediately and get to experience that immediate bonding that comes when a baby is handed directly to her mother.
6. I wish that Brad didn’t have to tell me what was going on when I delivered my baby, after the fact. Things went on that I wasn’t even aware of because I was so out of it, though I didn’t think so at the time.
All of this said (kuddos to those that have been able to read thus far), I plan to have a home birth next go round. I want the person delivering my baby to be by my side the entire time. I don’t want to feel pressured into having any meds. I want to be able to hold my baby immediately after giving birth. I want to conquer this task that my body was built for. I felt traumatized after Nevaeh’s birth. I felt like I had gone through a whirlwind and I wasn’t in Kansas anymore (thank you, limb numbing drugs).
The way a mother gives birth should be by her choice and not what’s convenient for the hospital staff.
I’m thankful that our daughter is perfect and healthy in every way. I pray that with our next child, God-willing, I will have the strength to follow through with my plan. I want what’s best for my baby and myself. I know that giving birth the way God designed me to is just that, the best.