*A Beautiful Birth* ~Birth #4~
A Beautiful Birth #4
~This mother chose to remain anonymous due to some poor guidance which led to an unexpected delivery~
We were having our first baby and had planned a homebirth with a great midwife. Everything had been perfect with the pregnancy, I felt great. I did yoga several times a week. I ate right. And the time was getting close! I was so excited.
It all started Easter Sunday morning when I woke up to a little trickle of fluid. I got up to go to the bathroom and saw that it was clear. There wasn’t much, but I began to get excited. I was only 35 weeks, but it seemed like labor was coming soon. I began to have contractions on and off, sometimes as close as 7 minutes apart, and then they would space out again. My midwife came to check me that afternoon. The baby’s heart sounded great, but she put me on bedrest in the hope that labor would wait a few more days.
The next morning I had some bloody show and the on-and-off contractions and fluid continued. By Wednesday, we began to wonder if the baby had enough fluid left. I had decreased in size and weight, so we did an ultrasound and there was still plenty of fluid. Although I soaked at least a pad an hour, my water didn’t seem to be broken. We had a couple nights of close contractions, but as the sun would come up the contractions would stop.
Friday we did another ultrasound and the midwife checked the fluid’s PH to see if it truly was amniotic fluid, since I still was not in labor. It tested negative, so she went ahead and checked for dilation (nothing!), and said, “Sex might get things started.”
The whole next week this continued, contractions and leaking. Sometimes I would feel pressure on my cervix with the contractions, sometimes I wouldn’t. By Friday of the second week we were exhausted. We went for acupuncture to try to start labor. I was 37 weeks at this point, and we were ready to try anything. I literally couldn’t keep my pants dry, but my water didn’t seem to be broken and I wasn’t dilating. Almost 30 hours after the acupuncture I began having contractions that felt different. They were harder and much closer together. Sunday night April 10th we went to bed early, thinking this might be it. At 3 AM I woke up with contractions 4 minutes apart that I couldn’t talk through. I was shivering like crazy and felt feverish, but I wasn’t sure if it was fever or just excitement. I got in the bath to see if that would calm the contractions down. It didn’t, and 45 minutes later we were on the phone with the midwife again. My temp had skyrocketed to 102.9 and we were scared now. We had just had a huge snowstorm, and had no reason to think we could even get to the hospital. There really was no choice, so we got ready.
My husband went outside to clear the 3 feet of snow away from the car and I gathered together a few things and got dressed. Somehow we got out of our apartment parking lot and onto the main road that was a solid block of ice. In his hurry, my husband didn’t grab any gloves before clearing off the car, and his hands were so frozen that he almost couldn’t keep from yelling for the first half of the 20 minute drive. My contractions were 3 minutes apart by now, but somehow I ignored most of them. On the way there, I vividly remember seeing what was almost a vision of me having a c-section. I didn’t even know what that would look like, and don’t remember having seen it anywhere, but it was a very accurate picture. I shook that off, but the possibility was in the back of my mind.
When we arrived at the hospital they were somewhat shocked that I had walked calmly in after seeing how hard my contractions were. I was much more afraid of the hospital and them than the contractions! After an hour on the monitor, the doctor on call came in and said, “I’m really concerned about the pattern I’m seeing here. Both of your heart rates are very high because of the fever (baby’s was 180-200), and the baby’s heart is decelerating after each contraction. That is a bad sign, and probably means the baby is in distress. We may need to do a c-section.” She then checked me and found that I was only 3 cm and 80% effaced. “If you were 8 cm, we might have time to wait for a normal delivery, but things the way they are, we need to do the c-section to make sure the baby’s okay.”
The next 30 minutes are a blur. The midwife couldn’t get out of her driveway, but confirmed over the phone that we better do the c-section. I remember being very calm and feeling very at peace with the need to do the surgery. I could tell something was really wrong. I don’t think I even cried at the time. I remember them shaving me roughly and putting in the catheter before the epidural (really, was that necessary?), and that the epidural really hurt going in. As soon as I went numb my water broke with a gush, and it was clear. Then my husband was there and there was pressure and a tiny cry that brought tears to our eyes. “It’s a girl!” My husband went to see her then was told “go check on your wife” because they were trying, unsuccessfully at first, to put an IV into the baby’s hand. She was 6 pounds, 2 1/2 ounces, but I don’t remember hearing her apgars. Soon they carried her over to me for a moment and then took her to the NICU.
They wheeled me to NICU, where baby was under a warmer, and had an oxygen tube, an IV, and other wires to monitor everything. They opened the sides of both of our beds so I could “hold” her for about 30 seconds. Then I was wheeled to “recovery” where I proceeded to fall apart. I couldn’t stop shaking, my legs wouldn’t move, my husband was gone, my baby was gone, I still had a high fever. I was going into shock so they gave me meds in my IV and I don’t remember much after that.
When I woke up I started asking about my baby, but it took forever for them to tell me I could go see the baby as soon as I could get out of bed and into a wheelchair. I did that very quickly, I guess, but it was still 6 hours before I got to see my baby.
My baby had a hard time nursing. They set up screens around us in the NICU so I could try and try to get her to latch on. She just didn’t get it for three days. She maybe got a few drops each time. Then I would go back to my room without her, and hook up to a horrible, painful hospital pump to hopefully force my milk to come in anyway. (Still not convinced that was necessary, but it sure did hurt. I was a little whiney about this whole process.) When my milk came in the third day, it clicked for her and she’s done great ever since.
They tested the placenta and the baby for infection. Here’s the miracle: the placenta had it, baby did not. We were both on antibiotics for 3 days…first time I’ve been on one in like 10 years.
All that aside, our experience in the hospital really wasn’t horrible. Nobody gave us the third degree for being a “failed” homebirth. One of our nurses was British, and had been a midwife in Great Britain. She was a God-send. The food was decent. The nurses were all kind and gentle. They brought in a bed for my husband to stay in the room with me. My family and several of our friends came to see us every day. Baby was released from NICU the last day of our stay and was able to spend the last night in my room finally. Our doctors were professional and cheerful when we talked with them.
Before we left the hospital they had to pull out the staples from my incision. They brought in a student nurse to do this and asked if it was ok if she did it. Figuring they had to learn somehow, I agreed. She pinched me several times with the pliers, and I yelled because of the pain. Her supervisor took over after that. Coming home was tough. The pain meds made the baby sleep too much so I tried to do without as much as I could, sometimes having complete breakdowns because of the pain. I got a bladder and a yeast infection from the catheter and antibiotics. (Thank goodness for my naturopathic doctor who helped me treat it without more antibiotics!) I was rather depressed-I was stranded at home because I couldn’t drive for two weeks, and kind of felt like I went to sleep pregnant, and then suddenly had this baby I was supposed to take care of. It took several days for me to stop thinking, “oh, that would be nice to have when I go into labor…oh wait.”
I was left with a deep desire to try again, hoping for the birth experience I had planned for. I think that led to us getting pregnant again only 8 months later. And I did get my homebirth that time, a perfect VBAC. Now we have three beautiful children, and the last two were homebirths. My scar almost feels like a badge of honor at this point, 5 years later. My c-section was necessary for my health and the health of my baby. There are no formulas. You can do everything right and sometimes it just doesn’t work anyway. I learned humility through this experience, and I don’t really regret having been through it even though it was incredibly hard. If something happens and you have to have a c-section, it’s okay to be disappointed and sad about it, even for a very long time. Eventually it will feel better, though you may always cry when you think about it. I still do sometimes.
Thank you everyone for enjoying this birth with me! Please feel free to comment & please email me if you would like to share yours as well.
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