I am so grateful I found this thread. Thank you for starting it. I have been sitting alone with all these same thoughts. The anger, the what-iffing, and it's been so so hard. I thought I was alone.
I'm going to post my story here. It wasn't as scary as some. But it still sucked. I also have to say that I haven't had the really horrible MW experiences some of you have had. HB Midwives aren't all perfect or angelic. Like doctors, some are great, others aren't worthy of their professional titles. I'm relieved to say that my midwives were wonderful, and even followed up with me after the birth at home for a two hour "emotional processing" session where we got to ask questions, cry, and share our feelings. ALL families deserve that. I'm sickened to hear of those of you who were abandoned by your care providers after difficult births. That's utterly unacceptable.
Anyway, here's my story. I'm so grateful there's a place to share it...
I have always been suspicious of mainstream medicine. Whether it’s right or wrong, I don’t trust doctors. Period. When I was in my teens, I lived at home alone with my mother, who was borderline psychotic. She was always convinced I was sick, and took me to doctors constnatly, until she could find one who would agree with her that I was ill. When I was 14, she found a doctor (after seeind 4) that would agree that me not having regular periods yet was "bad." I was held down on a table and given a pelvic exam that I sobbed all the way through and bled from after ward. So, yeah. I hate doctors.
When I found out I was pregnant, I planned a homebirth because it seemed right up my alley. My husband had seen TBOBB and was 100% behind me. I found a highly regarded homebirth midwife. I ate everything she said to eat, took every supplement and vitamin I was advised to take, saw a chiropractor regularly, did yoga, exercised diligently, got massages, talked to my baby, the works. I chose Hypnobabies as my birthing “method” and followed the study plan like I was going for a PhD. I read every book Ina May Gaskin has written. I watched The Business of Being Born at least five times. I read back issues of Midwifery Today. I was fully and totally commited.
I was also reading a lot about how negative thinking influences birth. I read quite a few things that told me that if I allowed people to “scare” me with stories of their csection births or hospital births, that I would experience more pain in childbirth. This is something straight out of Hypnobabies. The idea is that you shield yourself from negative birth images/stories, and that will facilitate your own birth being painless and serene. Letting in the very idea that you might have a problem and need to go to the hospital leads you there, at least, that’s how I interpreted it. I read a lot about the rising c-section epidemic, and how a woman must trust her body to birth her baby, and that it’s mostly unnecessary interventions that lead to c-sections. I remember hearing a yoga instructor say, “Here are some positions you can use in birth to avoid c-sections.” Honestly, I began to feel that avoiding a c-section was totally within my control. All I had to do was do everything right, prenatally, and I would be fine.
Ten days past my due date, my water broke. After about 70 hours of labor, I had to go to the hospital. We tried everything at home- castor oil, running up steps while having a contraction, nipple stimulation, making out with my husband, all of it. By the end of 70 hours, contractions were still not that close together (the closest they got ever was 5 min), but they were long. My midwife clocked one that lasted for four minutes. Hypnobabies didn’t work for me for whatever reason. The pain was intense and I was exhausted. Finally, my birth team (a midwife, her two apprentices, a doula, and my husband) and I had the transfer conversation. I was crying and I felt like a failure. I felt delirious from not sleeping for that long. But my midwife told me we had crossed the line from pain with a purpose to just plain cruelty. There were no more tricks up her sleeve to get baby out. We had to go.
I ended up with a c-section at the hospital. They tried to give me an epidural to relax me enough for the baby to perhaps turn (the theory was that his head was turned to the side). That didn’t work. They gave me pitocin. My baby’s heartrate plummeted. So, then, they recommended a c-section. My midwives agreed this was a case were one was needed. I acquiesced- what else could be done?
I was wheeled into the OR shaking and sobbing. I remember that everyone at the hospital seemed so rough and frustrated with me, in contrast to my midwives who touched me gently and respected my family. They wouldn’t let me bathe when I got to the hospital even though I had been in labor for nearly three days and was sweaty and tired. My doula filled the bathtub and a nurse burst into the bathroom (without knocking) and said “get out of there NOW.” Why? The anesthesiologist was on his way for the epidural and the nurse was panicked that he would have to wait even five minutes on me while I washed my armpits. They tried to cut my clothes off when they wheeled me into the OR because they couldn’t figure out how to pull a nursing tank off me over my head. My husband stopped them. They weren’t going to let my doula into the OR, because there wasn’t enough “room,” which would mean my husband would leave me alone in there to go with our son after he was pulled out of me (because they wouldn’t put him on my chest). One of our midwife apprentices pointed out that two students were going to stand in the OR to observe and that one of them should leave so my doula could be there. At one point I remember the OB on call saying, "Why is she saying she's tired? She hasn't even been in real labor." My MW informed him with not a little anger that a woman does not get to 8cm dilation without being in labor, and that it was important to honor my "work."
My son was born quickly, and was beautiful. I was euphoric after the surgery. I felt really high. I told myself the birth didn't matter, that I was okay with it. But I wasn't.
But within days I fell into the cloud of PPD. I loved my child and was grateful that he was incredibly robust. But I felt like I had been put through a trash compactor and spit out on the side of a highway. Physically I felt awful and emotionally I was crushed. In my mind, I failed at birth. I was convinced I’d scarred my son for life by not birthing him gently into a pool of warm water at home. I had birthed with violence. I constantly wondered what I had done wrong. Should I have gone to yoga twice a week instead of once a week? Did I sleep in the wrong position? Did I not believe hard enough that I could birth at home?
My father was upset when we planned a HB. He said we would end up in the hospital with a c-section. And now he was going to get to say "toldja so." (thank god he didn't actually say that to us). What was worse, I had birthed the way my mother did. Surgically, in the hospital, and a part of me had decided that if I birthed differently than her, if I started out my child's life totally differently, I could be sure that I wouldn't be the mother she was to me (a whole other can of worms and big fear of mine). I felt like I had already failed at motherhood right from the get go.
Whether it's right or wrong, I now deeply resent the NCB literature. When I hear other women talk about their homebirths, I feel jealous and resentful. I went from wanting to have more than one child to vowing never to have another baby, because I am convinced that I just can’t birth. I considered studying midwifery after my pregnancy, but now, I can’t stand to even pass a copy of Midwifery Today at our local food co-op. And I feel angry that other women get to have this sacred beautiful rite while I felt like I got hit by a bus and left for dead. I am angry, yes, but at what, I don’t know. I’m not even that mad at the hospital staff. They acted like any hospital would- that’s why I tried to avoid them in the first place.
And to wrap up this ridiculously long post, I'll say this. If one more person says "at least your baby is healthy," I will SCREAM. Yes I see that's something to be grateful for, but it doesn't make my disappointment about the way he got here disappear.