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Carmen’s CBAC Story

Thank you for providing me the opportunity to share my story. I’ve never actually written it out and I’m hoping this will help me today as I’m feeling especially down.

In 2009 I was pregnant with my first daughter, I was uneducated and ignorant about birth.  I trusted my doctors without question and didn’t even think about the possibility of a c/s because “why would I have a c/s?”  (stupid, I know)  After an induction, and one medical intervention leading to another, my daughter was showing “fetal distress” and I ended up with a c/s.

For a long while, I fooled myself into believing it was “necessary” and “emergency c/s” (mind you, after the c/s decision was made, it was a good 45min-1hr before I was wheeled into the OR; so NOT an emergency).  The recovery was fairly standard and life went on.  When I became pregnant again just 7 months later, I knew that I wanted a VBAC and discussed it with my OB (yes, the same one: I was still in denial) she said everything I wanted to hear.   This time around, I prepared better, I read and researched VBACs and continued to see my old OB, but as the pregnancy progressed I became more anxious and started to question my OB’s sincerity.  I found my local ICAN chapter at 32 weeks and went to my first meeting.  It was a real eye opener.  Immediately, I changed OB’s and went to the recommended VBAC Dr.  I hired a doula and went to a chiropractor to help with positioning.  The baby moved around a lot!  She was always head down but would move from one side of my belly to the other side constantly.

On Tues., Nov. 23rd, @ 41weeks and 1 day, at 9pm my water burst in a gush.  I was ecstatic!!! I thought, this was it.  ”Holy crap, I’m going to have a baby, I’m doing this!” We called the doula to let her know and she said the contractions usually start within an hour or two.  We waited…..but nothing really happened.  The hours passed and my contractions started but were very irregular and not that painful.  At some point, they got to 5min apart and were more uncomfortable. I took a hot shower and they stopped!  The doula suggested I get some sleep as it was apparently going to be some time.  I tried, but I was too anxious.  I slept on and off but, it certainly wasn’t restful.  The “contractions” continued to come and go and remained irregular.  The only thing that gave me continuous contractions that were noticeable was nipple stimulation, (we did it a lot, but my nipples could only take so much), we tried hip circles, curb walking, the stairs and some other things I can’t remember right now but they didn’t really pick up.  At this point, my water had been broken for 16hrs, my mother who had traveled to Virginia to help care for our oldest daughter was unfortunately very nervous and not at all helpful.  She kept saying I needed to get to the hospital, this was dangerous, blah, blah, blah.  I tried reasoning with her and explaining that my body would continue to produce amniotic fluid, that there the dry baby thing is a myth, but she wasn’t listening.  She constantly kept coming into our bedroom and it was just very annoying.  It was not peaceful and not at all what I needed.  After some time, my husband and I decided to go to the hospital, because home was not going to work.  It was a Wednesday and my rock star VBAC Dr, was on the schedule on Wednesdays. Everything would be perfect! The timing couldn’t be better.  We left to the hospital, with my breast pump in hand (to help with nipple stimulation!)  As soon as we arrive, I lie (of course) and tell them my water had been broken for about an hour (in reality it was closer to 18-19hrs).  I asked for my OB and was told he was off since it was Wed before Thanksgiving!  I didn’t know the Dr on call, but I prepared myself for battle.

I was quickly placed in a room and met with the OB on call.  I gave her my birth plan.  I would accept a heplock, but didn’t want anything else and only intermittent monitoring.  She agreed and even decided not to do a vaginal check as I “looked too happy”.  They were great and pretty much left us alone, with only 20min monitoring every hour.  We walked around the hospital, used the birthing ball, did all sorts of things to get things moving along.  Around midnight, I even took some castor oil.  Eventually, the contractions picked up. I felt the rushes that I had read about, I felt them!  I was there, I was in the moment, I was doing it.  They continued for some time, but were not very close together.  Then, I began to have some back pain that seemed to go from mild to severe in a split second. The pain was unbelievable.  It was as if my back was splitting in half. Clearly, she was malpositioned.  My husband and doula provided comfort and support.  This went on for hours.  Hands and knees with hot compress on my back was the most comfortable.  We tried different things to help the baby get into the right position.  The contractions stalled again.  It was about 5am now, the OB came in to suggest a very low dose of pit, to try and help things along.  I asked to be checked.  I needed to know how much progress I had made.  2cm and -3 station!  Really?!  I asked for some Benadryl so I could sleep a little and then begin the pitocin.

Shift change and it’s now 8:30am, when they start the pitocin.  Contractions became more regular (obviously) and much more intense.  I now have a new OB, a real doozy of all that is wrong with OB care these days.  She walks in to greet us with scrubs in hand for my husband and begins to discuss c/s options!  Hello, we just met!  My husband, immediately stops her and tells her we are not discussing c/s at this time.  I continue to “labor” through noon and the pain is too much.  I ask for them to shut off the pitocin and hope that my labor will continue on it’s own.  Not really….I continue to have some contractions about 5-7 min apart and it’s still all back labor and according to the monitors not that intense; I differ!  It was awful. I’m exhausted, I’m in indescribable pain.  I was losing my focus and control, I feel myself giving up.  At each contraction, I just wanted to jump out of my body; the back pain was too intense.  It has been about 40hrs, since my water had broken. I ask to be checked again.  Surely, I had made some progress and that would renew my strength.  3cm and still -3 station.  My heart sinks and I let my VBAC slip away.  We ask to be left alone.  I’m in a lot of pain.  I can’t think clearly and I need time. My husband and I talk.  I tell him, I’m giving up.  I’m tired.  I’m heartbroken but I just can’t imagine continuing this any longer.

We call the Dr. back in and she proceeds with the c/s spiel, I ask the Dr. what her c/s rate is.  She says it’s less than 1% which really made no sense, but before I could question her on that, she tells me “This baby is just not going to come out. Your hips are too small” Yes, she really said that.  I was exhausted, I was defeated, but I was NOT going to let HER tell me I was BROKEN!  I asked her: “How can you say that?  I’m a woman.  This is what I was made to do!”  She scoffed: “Oh, yeah that’s right” Can you believe it?  She scoffed at me?!  Where is her compassion?  Why is she in this profession?!  I was furious.  I told her: “How dare you say that to me?! Do you have any children?” She answered no.  Then you have absolutely no idea what it’s like for me, to have to come to this decision.  To want so badly to actually birth my child, to try for something so hard.  I have labored for days and having it end like this is heart wrenching and you stand there and basically tell me something is wrong with me?!”  She apologized, but it was really too late.

At about 2:00pm, I was taken to the OR.  I would like to say, the story ends here, but it doesn’t.  I’m wheeled into the OR get all prepped and my husband is called in.  I specifically told her before I went into the OR, that I wanted to be talked through the entire procedure – she agreed.  I’m laying there, waiting for what felt like forever and there was a lot of silence.  I ask the nurse anesthetist if she’s “in” yet, and she says no.  I ask the Dr if all is ok., she says all is good still working her way into my uterus.  There continues to be more silence and whispering.  I keep asking what’s taking so long and she finally mentions something about trying to get through scar tissue.  We wait some more. This whole time, I’m strapped to a bed, being tugged and pulled on.  Awful.  Finally, she leans over the blue curtain and tells us, she needs to call in for back-up because there is so much scar tissue that things are obscure.  I hear her, but it doesn’t really sink in or make much sense. I’m scared.  The other Dr comes in to assist.  After some time, they very matter of factly tell me I have so much scar tissue (from 1st c/s) that they can’t get into the uterus.  My uterus, bladder and abdominal muscle are all webbed together with scar tissue.  They have to perform a “classical” incision.  I didn’t think my heart could break any further; but it did.  I cried, I begged and I pleaded but was told there were no other options.  They said they’ve tried all they could, but couldn’t even tell my bladder from my uterus.  Amélie Grace was finally born, on Thanksgiving day (11/25/10), at 2:54pm, my very own butterball turkey.  :)  So, here I am.  Not only did I have a CBAC, but I have a Special Scar CBAC.  Never in a million years, would I have imagined this.  I didn’t even know about scar tissue problems.  Apparently, it’s just the way my body healed.

My SS baby is 11mo old today!  I have good days, and I have bad days but the what if’s never seem to go away.  If only I would’ve tried longer, if only I would’ve hired a more experienced doula, if only I’d gone to a hotel instead of the hospital…if only, if only, if only.  :(  I hope one day, I can stop feeling like I gave up and accept that I really did try my hardest.  I constantly tell myself that everything happens for a reason, but some days that’s just not enough.

Thank you for reading.

6 Comments

  1. Ami says:

    ((())) First, I have to applaud you for standing up to that “know-it-all” doctor for saying what she did to you. It is horrendous that they say the things they do, and I think that, too often patients “allow” them to. Good for you for not letting that happen. I wish there were words that would take away the heartbreak you’ve experienced. I’ve spent a lot of time myself in the world of “what if” and “if only.” It’s such a hard place to be… I hope the day of accepting that you did try your hardest comes soon for you.

  2. Katy says:

    I was so moved by your story! I’m so proud that you stood up for yourself and communicated what your birth experience meant to you in the face of that doctor’s inconsiderate words. You must have been so strong to find those words after laboring so long, after going through so much.

    I’ll be thinking of you this Thanksgiving and hoping you’re coming closer and closer to a peaceful place.

  3. Carmen says:

    Thank you.

  4. Jessica says:

    I’m sorry to hear you didn’t have the birth you wanted :(

    For my first, I had her in the hospital with forceps. For my second he was a home birth, completely natural and I loved it. For my third I wanted a home birth again.

    In the last week before I went into labor he ended up going breech and no one knew. When my water broke and he started to come out his two feet popped out. Midwives have to let an OB take over when they’re footling breech. So off I went to the hospital for an emergency c-section. Because of the way he was presented I needed an inverted T incision. He had the cord wrapped around his neck once and ended up pooping all over me and the doctor when they took him out. I had 12 bags of antibiotics. I was completely alone to have him with the midwife and put out under general anesthetic. My other two were with my Mother and my husband was in basic training.

    For a long time after I faced the facts that chances are good I will have to have another c-section unless I can find a friendly OB that is on my side (not likely where I live). I grieved the fact that I would likely never get to have a vaginal birth. I was upset and heartbroken I didn’t have the birth I wanted. Today I am ok with all my choices and what happened to me although I am still sad at times. In the end I had a healthy baby with no complications so for that I’m grateful.

    I’m sorry the OB was such a scum bag. Mine was a little distant but very knowledgeable and answered all my questions. I hope you’re ok and that everything goes the way you like if you have another.

  5. Sarah says:

    Oh Carmen, thank you for sharing your story. I am crying as I finish reading the journey of your birth, I am appalled at how that last OB treated you, I am amazed at your strength to answer her in such a way and I am empowered to still dream about my own VBAcC one day.
    Blessings, Sarah

  6. Katie says:

    just wanted to add a couple of links for any mamas who have “special scars”, there is an amazing support group and non-profit dedicated to us! the website is http://www.specialscars.org and the link to our facebook support group is here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/394689410782/?notif_t=group_activity
    we also have a fan page for providers, doulas, and advocates who want to learn more! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Special-Scars-Special-Women/267106676661425
    thank you for allowing me to post,
    Katie Perez, VBA3C after inverted T mama