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CAM Birth Story #13: Regina’s Births

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)!

We tried for almost a year to conceive my firstborn. I know that’s small potatoes to other women who’ve waited many years and tried many treatments. But it was still a tough time for us. I have always known I wanted to be a mother, and it wasn’t happening fast enough. I had actually given up hope and decided what ever happens happens. Then Bam! Sweet sticky bean was there. I tried to continue my co-op job which had me living 2 hours away from Edgar and commuting back on the weekends. But I was not prepared for the emotions of pregnancy. I came home and laid around enjoying the rest and relaxation of no obligations. I took all the classes on breastfeeding, natural birth, baby care, etc and watched all the birth shows on cable over and over.

But one big thing: my son was breech. And this wasn’t discovered until 36 weeks when he started turning transverse several times a day. The nurse midwives had determined him to be vertex by external exam at every visit before 36 weeks, but were wrong :/ We tried a version, but he had already dropped into my pelvis and we couldn’t get him turned. I really wish the version worked, because it hurt. I felt like I had been kicked repeatedly in my belly. I couldn’t see any bruising but I felt like my belly should have been black and blue. It would have been worth it, though, had they been successful. I begged to try a breech birth, but they refused, saying no doctors had ever seen a breech birth and were inexperienced. I just conceded and said OK. I was kind of happy because it meant I could go ahead and see my baby and not have to wait until I went into labor.

The Cesarean was fast. I was brave, but kind of sad because I was going to miss out on the big experience of birth. I was ok with the spinal, the little screen, and the oxygen mask. What I wasn’t prepared for was the excruciating shoulder pain. The doctor didn’t even mention the chance that air in my abdomen would cause sharp stabbing pains in my shoulder during surgery. I kept trying to tell someone I was hurting, but they just ignored me. Then I started panicking because I was strapped down to the table and no one was listening to me. My husband said, “He’s here, he’s beautiful!” I screamed, “I DON’T CARE , SOMETHING’S WRONG!” I seriously thought I was having a stroke or a heart attack. And then the anesthesiologist finally told me why I was hurting and gave me some Demerol or something. It took effect immediately and I was able to hear my son screaming as they did their work on him. I just busted out crying because it was an awful birth. I heard my precious baby screaming for me, but I had my arms strapped down and my guts hanging out. I cried and cried. My husband said, he’s OK, you’re OK, everything’s OK. But it wasn’t.

They whisked a bundled up baby past me (as least I think that’s what it was), then they wheeled me into recovery. Two hours later, they brought my son to me. I didn’t know how to behave. The strong desire to hold him had diminished. Was this really my baby? How do I know? I didn’t see him come out. I struggled with the reality of being a mother for several months. The transition from pregnant to mother was not in my memory; I was pregnant, then I was holding this baby. Did I dream it? Did I forget it? Did the drugs make me that loopy? I wasn’t sure it really even happened.

Fast forward to my daughter. I had to try several doctors before I found one willing to let me attempt a VBAC. I was determined not to have another horrible experience. I told them that if I had to have an emergency C/S, to put me under because I couldn’t handle being awake while they were cutting on me. I wanted to do everything natural, but the nurses and doctor’s pushed and pushed me to have every intervention. I entered the hospital knowing they would and was resolved to fight them. But they know how to manipulate a woman in her weakest point. My husband was no help, really. He just wanted to hurry up and go home, so he was like, “come on, this will help us speed up.” I did have my waters ruptured, but no pitocin. I was holding strong to no epidural until transition when the contractions became concentrated around my C/S scar. I panicked and when they were trying to assure me that my uterus wasn’t ruptured I somehow got talked into an epidural (probably by my husband, I don’t really remember). Funny thing though, it only worked on one side of my body. Well, after the epi took (partial) effect, there was only 30 minutes of pushing until my sweet baby girl was born just perfect and precious. They put her straight onto my belly and I was able to see her big beautiful eyes and hear her first gurgles and cries. These images are imprinted on my memory just like it happened yesterday. We spent a glowing 20-30 minutes together before they took her away for their processing. *happy sigh*

My next pregnancy was full of hope for an even better birth. This time, my husband would be on my team and we’d go all out with relaxing music and aromatherapy, the whole crunchy-granola hippy thing.

I went in for a routine sonogram and then she said, “there’s two of them in there.”  A lot of thoughts could have gone through my head. Elation, shock, surprise? I did feel those later, but at that moment, I felt like my heart fell out on the floor and the sonogram lady stomped on it. The only thing going through my mind was “They are going to make me have a C/S.” The sonographer kept asking if I was okay, because I was so quiet and on the verge of tears the whole time. My hopes dashed, my desires destroyed, I was terrified of going through another surgery.

My OB considered letting me have a trial labor, but ultimately refused citing the chance for Acute TTTS since my twins were Mono-Di (they shared a placenta). I begged and pleaded. I brought my own research to her office. She listened and understood my displeasure with C/S, but did not relent and assured me that any other doctor in Mississippi would say the same thing.

I resigned myself to accept the surgery. However, it was hard. I began contracting and was progressing well. Both babies were head down and I almost wished they would just come, so I could avoid surgery by technicality. I went into it a little more prepared, but also a little bit more scared. I understood the gravity of the procedure and the seriousness of the surgery better this time. I wrote good-bye letters to my other two children, and my husband and to the babies in my womb, because I knew the risks of dying from surgery complications. I made sure my arms were not strapped down and that I was able to see and touch my babies as soon as possible after their birth. I asked my husband take the gory pictures of their arrival, because I needed the evidence that it really happened.

When they gave me the spinal and laid me down on the table, the anesthesiologist had to calm me down because he said my heart rate was near 190. I was not ready for another horrible birth. It was just about the same, but I didn’t panic when they shoulder pain came, I just asked for the good-stuff and tried to concentrate on their cries. I tried to let the sound imprint on my memory since I would have so little visual or touch memories. I made it to the recovery room before breakiing down in tears. It was not a repeat of my first horrible experience, but it was still so cold, sterile, and unnatural. Plus, Where were my babies? Why do they take them away for so long? Whose babies are they anyway? I was very blessed that my twins were good weight and healthy enough to come home with me, but I still think I could have delivered them safely.

I have 4 happy healthy children whom I love dearly and I have bonded very closely with each one. But one of many reasons that I am not “done” with having children is the desire to have a truly natural birth!

Originally posted on My Joyful Journey

3 Comments

  1. Renee says:

    Although I’ve never had a cesarean, I feel like I understand what you feel. I have 5 children. The first four were inductions/vacuum/intrathecal/epidural/etc. Full of interventions. I had an emptiness inside me b/c I wanted a truly NATURAL birth. Jan. 30, 2010 I finally had a completely natural homebirth. No IV’s. No EFM. No vaginal exams. No taking my baby from me.

    I am satisfied. I hope you will be too.

  2. Susan Peterson says:

    I had my C section in 1973, for premature ruptured membranes, failed induction. Actually, I had a high leak on my due date, but the induction didn’t work, so that’s what they called it. That was back when nurses had to mix up IV’s themselves. I heard two nurses arguing in the hall about how to do it. I am pretty sure that the one who won the argument was wrong by a factor of 10, but they didn’t listen to me. I had weak, piddly contractions all night, and then they decided to do a section, because of the “risk of infection.” I wanted to leave the hospital, and if I could have figured a way to sneak out of there, I would have. I was sure I was being cut because of an obstetrical fad. I had to wait a couple of hours for them to get AB negative blood from a nearby city, as they had none in the hospital.

    When that baby was 8 months old I was pregnant again. I did not want a C section. None of the doctors in my small city would do a VBAC-that abbreviation hadn’t even been invented yet. But the La Leche League leader told me about a doctor in a nearby city who might do it. I had to beg rides every month to go see him, as we did not have a car. Well, I had my VBAC, but it was a midforceps rotation delivery. The next baby I went to the same doctor, and it was a spontaneously completed vaginal delivery, but it sure didn’t go the way I wanted it to, and I wound up on my back with my feet up in stirrups, angry at the doctor. I can tell this all in MUCH greater detail if anyone wants me to, as much detail as if these births occurred a few years ago rather than 30!

    What I thought would interest Regina, is something that happened at one of my post partum visits for the 3rd child. I saw my doctors partner rather than my usual doctor for some reason. He told me he had just been to an OB conference on the west coast. He said, “They are saying that they want to deliver all breech babies by C section. I don’t understand this. I have delivered hundreds of breech babies, and all of them were just fine. They aren’t even going to teach obstetricians how to deliver a breech babies. No one will know how. What’s the point of being an obstetrician, if you can’t deliver the difficult ones? We are just going to be surgeons, now, I guess. ”

    I finally had my homebirth with my fourth baby. I found a sympathetic family practitioner, whose wife had their babies at home. He couldn’t come, but he agreed to back me up for a birth with a friend.. This was her first birth on her own, but she had been to about 30 births, some with an old GP who was doing births at home as if it were still 1920, and some with midwives. My doctor wound up being on the phone with her when the baby was born. It was so easy that it completely converted my husband, who up to then really hadn’t believed that a baby could get out of me without a doctor doing things.

    I had all the rest of my nine children at home also, some with what were then called “lay midwives” and some just on our own, with the GP as back up. He would come afterward, examine me and the baby, take the cord blood we had saved, and go get my rho gam shot.
    For the last birth we had moved away from him, and I finally got a nurse midwife,( but one who had worked as a lay midwife before that) whose back up doctor said, if she has had seven VBACS I think her uterus has proved itself.

    Have you read the stories of the Farm midwives, where they delivered breeches and twins on the farm?
    And I guess you know that women have vaginal deliveries after two C sections also. So don’t give up hope! There were several years in there where I didn’t have sexual fantasies, I had birth fantasies! I wished to be snowed in during an enormous blizzard so that it was impossible to go to a hospital and I would just have to have my baby without interference!

    Susan Peterson

  3. Jennifer says:

    Susan
    I can relate to your last statement about birth fantasies. actually, i never really thought of them as such until i read your words. i’ve been having them since my son’s surgical birth 5 1/2 months ago.
    Regina and Susan thank you for sharing your stories.
    *Jennifer*