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Erin’s Cesarean

Erin sent in this birth story to share. Would you like to have yours posted here? Send it to: blog@ican-online.org. If you are looking for more birth stories, click here.

I had a perfect pregnancy.  I had no heartburn, no hemorrhoids, no morning sickness, no back pain, nothing. I sailed through pregnancy with such ease and happiness I thought my labor would be the same way. I chose an OB with a midwife in her office, thinking that would be the best because I knew I wanted a natural birth. I did what what i thought was the right thing and I took my hospital “birthing class.”  My husband and I laughed through the whole thing, and felt we gained nothing from it but I thought I was doing all I could to prepare myself for my perfect natural birth.

When I was 34 weeks along the midwife started checking me at my prenatal appointments and each visit she would say “Nope, nothing.” Each visit I left the office feeling a little disappointed that nothing was going on, but I didn’t worry too much. When I was 35 weeks she palpated my stomach and told me I had a big baby coming. I thought nothing of it even though she sent me for an ultrasound to estimate the size.  The ultrasound technician told me these ultrasounds could be either a pound small or a pound heavy. They told me he was 8 lb 12 oz.  I still thought nothing of it, I am not a size 0 by any means and I felt in my head my body was made to birth this baby and I was going to be fine. I wasn’t scared at all.

When my due date passed and I still wasn’t effaced or dilated the OB ordered a non stress test.  She was worried because I had gained 9 lbs in one week and I was swelling.  Never once did she do a blood test to test my liver and my blood pressure had remained a constant 120/60.  The non stress test  came back fine (reactive) but she told me this baby had to come out because he was big and I was retaining fluid.

I got induced April 8, 2009.  At 6:30 am they put Cytotec in me.  They used one dose of it and it didn’t work. I was still 0% effaced and 0cm dilated. They started the Pitocin.  I had heard so many stories about Pitocin and when they hooked the IV up was when I got scared.  Each time they upped the Pitocin, they asked me “can you feel pain yet?”  almost as if they were waiting for me to say “YES!”  I told the nurses that I didn’t want an epidural and each time I said that the nurse replied ” In a little while you will screaming for one. I usually give new moms to about a 3.”  The nurse must have asked me 3 more times if I wanted an epidural and each time I told her no.

They continued to up the Pitocin and still I felt nothing.  The doctor on call decided I wasn’t moving along fast enough so he broke my water.  When he broke my water, nothing came out. The young doctor looked around and said “where is the fluid?”  I was getting more and more nervous….The contractions became worse but still tolerable.  My worst complaint was that I was starving and pretty tired. I hadn’t eaten since 6pm the previous night and it must have been about 7:30 because I remember Jeopardy was on.  After Jeopardy was over the nurses walked in with the anesthesia cart and said “Your epidural is here.”  At that point I was so tired and exhausted and it was right there, I caved in and said ok.

I didn’t really feel the epidural being put in but I remember thinking, I thought it would take the pain away more than this.  I kept telling everyone that the epidural wasn’t working.  I could still feel the contractions, which were coming right after another with no break in between because the Pitocin was now maxed out. The nurse kept telling me she could tell I was getting pain relief by the look on my face.  I was getting mad because i knew what i was feeling and it was EVERYTHING.  Another nurse said to me “honey imagine what it would be like without the epidural.”

At about midnight the doctor came in and told the baby was big and wasn’t moving and I could be in labor for days.  After 18 hours I had only dilated to a 3 and this wasn’t fast enough for him I guess. I asked him if it was his wife what he would do and he told me he would tell her to have a c-section. I had never wanted a c-section and somewhere in the back of my mind I had anticipated this happening.  A week before I had told my mom, “I know I’m going to labor for 24 hours and then they are going to call a c-section”  and I had turned out to be right, except I had only been in labor for 18 hours……

So in my moment of weakness, my tired, hot, beaten body told my brain “yes, have a c-section, it will all be over with” and I did. As they were wheeling me to the operating room i told them I could feel the medication going down my spine and it was cold.  They finally realized that the epidural hadn’t’ been working this whole time. They had told my husband Krystopher to go scrub up and they would come get him when I was ready.  Since the epidural hadn’t worked they decided to do a spinal block.  It seemed like it took forever for them to stick all those needles in my spine.  When they were done the doctor asked if I could move my feet and legs, and I could.  They had me lay down and poked me with toothpicks and asked which leg and if i could feel it.  I could.  The anesthesiologist was standing behind me and when he found out I wasn’t numb he said, “Shit, we are going to have to knock her out.”  I looked at him and said “Shit what!?!? Why did you say shit?”  The doc told one of the nurses to get the intubation cart and I busted out crying. I did not want a tube down my throat and I did not want to be knocked out and I was scared.  They tied me down to the table as I sobbed and bawled, “I never thought it would be like this.” I kept saying over and over.  No one had gone to tell Krystopher what was going on.  Little did I know he was in a panic too.  The doc told me to stop crying and just breathe as he he put the mask over my face.  That was the last thing I remember before I was cut open.

When i woke up i was in excruciating pain…..They couldn’t give me any pain medication until I woke up from the anesthesia.  My son was born at 1:11 am april 9, 2009 and the first time I held him was 5am.  I had missed his birth and so had his father.  Bonding was hard. Breastfeeding was harder. No one ever tells you how hard it is. It took me a long time not to be angry about my birth, not to feel like a failure and not to be mad at myself for giving in, for letting all the interventions that I did NOT want happen.  People tell you “be happy, you have a healthy son”  but who is to say that there are no long term effects on his health? and what about my health?  My body looked like an alien being the first weeks after surgery.  I hated it….I couldn’t birth a baby and now here I was with these awful stretch marks and this scar that was a reminder of that traumatic event.

Its now a year later and I still am haunted by the memories of that experience but I am also more knowledgeable. I know what happened to me has happened to so many other women and that it was totally unnecessary. I know I can have the birth I want and I know that I can stand up for what I want. I plan on having more children, not in a hospital if possible. I know my c-section was unnecessary because my son wasn’t ready to come out. If he would have been able to progress as he wanted, I think wholeheartedly I could have birthed him naturally, even though he was 10 lbs.

3 Comments

  1. Lauren says:

    ((((hugs)))) Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Erin. You’re right- there are so many things about the experience & the healing that we just aren’t told about. Thank you for being brave enough to speak up. I believe in your ability to birth normally too!

  2. Leslie says:

    Erin, your birth story sounds so much like mine, general anesthesia and all. I’m so sorry that you went through that. Big hugs to you. Hang in there.

  3. Cat says:

    Erin, thank you for your story. I haven’t been able to write mine down yet, even though it still runs through my mind so frequently. I was forced into a c-section after 48 hours in labor and the spinal block made it so that I couldn’t feel myself breath and I really thought I was suffocating and I begged for my husband because I essentially wanted to see him before I died and they still left him outside and didn’t let him come in until long after my son was born and they wouldn’t show me the baby, even though he was perfect, until I was leaving recovery several hours later. I don’t think labor and delivery people realize the traumatic and critical imprints they leave on others, physically and emotionally for the rest of their life.