Lucille Catherine graced us with her presence on July 21, 2011 at 2:11pm. It was easily the most beautiful moment of my life, but at the same time, the most heartbreaking. When I look back at her birth, I remember it initially as a time of joy and love and then the trauma and resentment creeps back in and washes over me.
The entire process began on July 18 when I went in to my OB’s office for my 40 week appointment. Everything was going smoothly until my examination to check for dilation. When my OB checked me, I felt a blinding, searing pain that I still remember to this day. I assumed it was because my daughter had dropped and the pain was normal. Subconsciously, I remember thinking “I really hope Dr. A didn’t rupture my membranes” because I had specifically pointed out to him repeatedly that I wanted the most natural birth I possibly could have. As the appointment went on, I felt extremely uneasy but I couldn’t pinpoint why. Then, at the end of the appointment, Dr. A looked at my husband and said, “Looks like we’ll have a baby here this week. Be at the hospital at 1am for induction.”, then he walked out without saying a word to me or asking if we were okay with that. As we walked out, I looked at my chart; I saw a code (“mem rup” @ 40) that I later learned meant Dr. A had ruptured my membranes, hoping to kickstart my labor. That was my first red flag that my labor would not turn out liked I’d hoped.
My husband and I went home, he was excited and I was feeling uneasy and anxious. I laid down to rest and try to assuage my fears, but that did not work. I even tried to convince my husband that something did not feel right about being induced but he had invested full belief in Dr. A, something I cannot fault him for; he was a first time father and had absolutely no idea what to expect. Soon it was time for us to go to our hospital for induction and to calm myself, I said a quick prayer and got ready.
We got to the hospital at 1am and began the induction process. After the IV was administered and signed all of the necessary paperwork, I was given a quarter of a cytotec pill. Once again, my birth plan had been ignored. I quickly looked up cytotec and its side effects on pregnant women and become very uncomfortable with using it as an induction medication. I asked Dr. A if what I’d read on the internet was true and he said, “Don’t listen to the wackos on the internet. If I didn’t think it was safe, I wouldn’t have allowed my wife to use it with both of our children.” The cytotec was administered every 8-12 hours with one quarter pill bringing on very intense but manageable menstrual-like cramps.
After I was given an entire cytotec pill, the nurses started to run pitocin, even though I specifically said no. I was told that it was needed to jumpstart my labor and that “it’s not as bad as you make it out to be”….that nurse was lying. After about 6 hours of pitocin, I had not dilated at all so the next choice given to me was either a cesarean right then or a foley catheter. Obviously, I chose the foley catheter. I was told that once the catheter was in place, that I’d have 12 hours for the catheter to work, meaning I’d dilate to 4 cm and the catheter would fall out, or I’d have to have a cesarean. Once the catheter was inserted, I felt immense pressure and pain like I’ve never felt before. My body was telling me to stand up and move around to help manage the pain so I asked the nurses to help me stand up. My nurse said, “I’m sorry, sweetie, but you can’t get out of bed. It makes monitoring the baby hard on us and you wouldn’t want the baby to be in danger because you wanted to walk around, do you? Why don’t we get you some Stadol to ease your pain?” Not wanting to harm my child, I agreed to the Stadol. The pain relief lasted about 15 minutes and then came back with a vengeance. I tried everything I could remember from my research to naturally relieve the pain, but nothing worked. When one nurse came in and suggested the epidural to relieve the pain, I agreed. She told me it would relax me and my labor could go faster with the epidural. Once I got the epidural, I was able to rest for about 4 hours. Best sleep of my life!
1 pm rolled around and it was time to remove the catheter. Before Dr. A. came in, I reached down to feel if the catheter had fallen out. I felt nothing and my heart sank. But, I put on a brave face and acted like nothing was wrong, all the while hoping I’d dilate in a matter of seconds and I’d be able to deliver vaginally. Dr. A. came in about 20 minutes later and discovered that the catheter had not worked and I would have to have the surgery. Dr. A. made his speech, “You did all you could Ellen and now it’s time to be realistic—we have to get Lucy out.”
I had about 20 minutes to digest that I wasn’t having the birth I’d planned before they came in to prep me for surgery. As I was being rolled into surgery, I began to have a slight panic attack and to help calm me down, they strapped my hands to the gurney and gave me some medicine in an IV. The surgery lasted about 30 minutes and then I heard the sweetest sound: a meow/cry. I looked at my husband who had this hilariously terrified expression on his face and I asked, “Was that her? Do you think she’s cute? She sounded cute.”
I never thought the first time I’d see my daughter that my hands would be restrained and I’d have maybe 2 seconds to see her before she was whisked away for observation. Her birth was a sterile, cold moment that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. I’d always pictured her birth to be a loving, calm moment for the three of us to bond. Instead, I got “Give her a quick kiss, mama, she’s gotta get oxygen.” And then she was gone. I did not see her again for about 30 minutes, which seemed to last forever. When they brought her in, I was fortunate to able to breastfeed for about 45 minutes and those moments are ones I cherish. I looked at her and wished her a happy birthday and the look of recognition on her face made up for everything that had happened to get her here.