In honor of Cesarean Awareness Month 2010, we will be filling the blogosphere with stories from real women (and their families) who know first-hand the consequences of a 32% cesarean rate. Each day we will post at least one birth story submitted by these women. Prepare to be moved (hint: grab a box of Kleenex)!
Fenna (11/22/2006) – I was induced 6 days past my EDD because the doctor told me I had to be. There was no medical reason, but she led me to believe I didn’t have a choice although my records list it as “elective”. It took 24 hours on cytotec before my water broke and I went into labor. I wanted a natural birth and labored for 13 hours on pitocin before requesting an epidural. I was at 7 cm. and was likely entering transition – no one told me that. As soon as I got the epidural, Fenna’s heart rate started to drop with each contraction. After about 30 minutes of this, the doctor suggested I have a c-section. She made it sound like my baby was dying, but it was nearly an hour from the time I signed to consent to the time I was taken to the OR. No one ever checked my dilation after I agreed to the c-section. To this day I wonder if I could have pushed. After she was born, they let me look at her for a second then said she had to be taken to the nursery. I didn’t see her for over 2 hours after she was born. It was the day before Thanksgiving (I believe this is also an underlying reason for my c-section) and the nursery was understaffed. I laid in recovery, alone (my husband went with the baby at my request), balling, begging the nurse to call the nursery to find out what was wrong with my baby that was taking so long. She wouldn’t. She just kept telling me that this was standard and I’d get her back when they were done with her. It was horrible. I suffered PPD for nearly 2 years after her birth and was told recently that I also likely had PTSD.
Tesla (11/23/2009) – I was determined to make Tesla’s birth better. I researched everything I possibly could about VBACs, c-sections, and hospital interventions. I read voraciously. I did everything I SHOULD have done when I was pregnant the first time. My friends and husband started calling me the “birth nazi”. Around 7 mos along, I decided to have a homebirth. I thought it was my best chance to VBAC. It took another 6 weeks to find a midwife who would help me since I was a primary VBAC (problem with Iowa homebirth laws…). I also found a wonderful doula who had had a c-section and 3 homebirths herself. I went into spontaneous labor at 4 in the morning two weeks after my EDD. I had an awesome labor at home and was at 8 cm. by 2 p.m. Unfortunately, I never progressed any farther. After an 11 minute contraction at 7:30 p.m., my midwife, doula, and I all agreed to transfer to the hospital. I got an epidural around 9:00 p.m. at the suggestion of my midwife (thinking that maybe relaxing a little would help me to finish dilating), and the baby’s heart rate started to drop just like it did with my first birth. I refused a c-section at that time as I didn’t feel her heartrate was dangerously low. I asked that my dilation be checked every half hour for awhile. It never changed. At 5:00 the next morning, after 25 hours of labor, my second daughter was born via repeat c-section. It was discovered on the operating table that I had nearly ruptured at my scar, which was why I stopped dilating. I had a 6 cm. window that took 2.5 hours to repair. Despite all that, this birth WAS better. I demanded the things I knew were possible – I went into spontaneous labor when my baby was ready to be born, I gave her the best possible chance for a vaginal birth, she stayed in the room with me through the entire surgery and followed me to recovery, my arms were left unrestrained so I could touch her, my doula was in the OR with me and my husband taking pictures (I have no photos of my first daughter’s birth), and I asked questions during my surgery so I knew what was going on.
I have been told that I will likely only be able to have one more child, that it will be a c-section at 39 weeks, and I will probably have a hysterectomy at that time as well. I believe to this day that my first c-section was completely preventable. My body couldn’t handle the combination of induction drugs, epidural, and lack of knowledgeable support. No one told me how much those interventions increase the rate of c-sections and I wasn’t educated enough to advocate for myself. I trusted my doctor to do what was best for my birth and she failed me. My second birth was a c-section only because my first was. My Tesla was so far engaged in my pelvis that she had to be pushed back into my uterus to be delivered. If I hadn’t nearly ruptured, I would have had a homebirth without any problem. Still, the experience taught me that I’m not broken – something I had felt for 3 years. My body knows how to birth even if it will never get the opportunity.