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Fearing another failure

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hi Ladies...I just joined...


My son was born 11/6/11. It was an attempted home birth, and my husband and I were unassisted. I monitored my own prenatal care, along with one formal checkup and two ultrasounds. The pregnancy was textbook perfect except for being "overdue" at 42 weeks, but my water finally ruptured just after midnight at 42+1. My labor stalled through the next day, but contractions were constant over the next 24 hours. I couldn't feel the baby's head descending, I was barely awake, and the force of each contraction made my whole body ache. I was scared for my baby's safety and knew it was time to go to the hospital.


Once we got there, we had to endure grilling about prenatal records and scolding about attempting a home birth. I ended up in the cycle I'd wanted to avoid all along: epidural for the pain, pitocin to speed up contractions, c-section because of decelerating heart rate. I'd dilated to 5 cm, and even with pitocin, I was still 5 cm 12 hours later. After four days of labor, I physically crashed during surgery. They sent my son to the nursery for evaluations, and I didn't get to hold him for nearly an hour. I still HATE that part the most.


Two days later, they detected a heart murmur and my son was transferred to the children's hospital for a heart ultrasound. I know it's irrational, but I felt like I was being punished by the "medical machine" for going against their ways. As it turned out, my son needed surgery. I was apart from him for two days (an unimaginable horror), but managed to get discharged and hobble my way to his bedside in time to see him into surgery.


Today he's about to turn 10 months. He is healthy, beautiful and a delight every day in every way. I am unexpectedly pregnant again - 16 weeks - and I'm finding myself obsessed and fearful. I wasn't scared to conceive again even as I was with my son in the NICU, but now I'm terrified. I'm scared to birth at home, but I'm scared to birth in a hospital. I'm scared to give birth vaginally, but I'm more scared to have another cesarean. I feel like I HAVE to VBAC for my sanity and the health of future babies we might have, but the pressure to succeed and the possibility of failure is driving me a little batty.


Just trying to breathe and have faith in my body once again...

post #2 of 10

Hi Sara,


I understand what you are feeling and what you went through with your first birthing situation. I am not currently pregnant again but I anticipate having similar feelings when I do become pregnant again.


My husband and I had our first child 5 weeks ago @ 42 weeks. Long story short we had a perfect pregnancy, planned a home birth with our midwife but ended up transferring to the hospital and had a healthy baby boy via, unplanned c section. We went through the gamete, had a horrible experience in triage (it was like they thought we were gypsy home birthers), then ended up with epidural to get some rest/pain, pitocin then section...all of which we were avoiding.


My husband and I wanted a natural birth and we both were always interested in home birth. When we found out we were pregnant we saw an OB/GYN that was highly recommended....I'm not sure why because we didn't have a warm and fuzzy experience our first visit. We continued to see the OB until week 20 to have the U/S. Everything was textbook perfect so we decide it was time to interview midwives that would attend home births.


I interviewed a few midwives over the phone and my husband and I had an in person interview with a midwife that was also a registered nurse, had a birthing center, has been doing home births for 20 years and took our insurance. We were looking for a more holistic approach but were comfortable with her clinical background, just in case something went a miss....boy was that a mistake (I will explain).


My hubby and I took the 12 week Bradley Mother natural birthing class and meet some wonderful like minded people in the natural/home birthing community. Our Bradley teacher was also a midwife and I was really taken by her expertise and approach to birthing. I was really close to transferring my care to her but her family moved farther away and she too became pregnant and reduced her client load (I should have asked her for a reccomendation to another midwife). Around week 35 I started to get the feeling that my midwife and I were not meshing...I wasn't getting the warm and nurturing feeling I imagined and that I got from our Bradley teacher. Also, all along she said her hospital transfer rate was 12%....I was OK with that until I found out from her on line forum that her transfer rate for 1st time moms was 40%...that's a huge difference. It makes me think she does not have faith in her first time moms. I almost asked our Bradly teacher for a recommendation but since we were so far along I decided to stay. That was a mistake...ALWAYS trust you instinct...especially your pregnant instinct.


I labored at home for 2 days before transferring to the hospital, it was a heavy 12 hour labor, then things tapered off for the next day until the next evening, we then labored heavy for another 12 hours. We didn't ask our midwife to come until the second night...she came to the house around 2am the second night of labor. When she arrived it seemed like she was just waiting for the baby to pop out. Was not nurturing or helpful with the the back labor. My husband and I were exhausted at that point and it would have been nice if she was supportive with suggesting different postures to relieve the back labor but instead around 5am she suggested we transfer to the hospital. We prolonged that for an hour then decided to go to get an IV in case I was dehydrated...an IV would help with my energy.


By time we got to the hospital  at 7am hubby and I were emotionally drained and exhausted. Our midwife came but I asked her to leave around 1PM, at that time my mom was there. After the crappy service in triage the other hospital staff was really accommodating. We had a lot of questions and took a lot of time making decisions. I asked for a c section from the beginning because I had a feeling it would end up that way anyway and didn't want to go thought or put my baby through all the other interventions. The docs nicely suggested we try vaginally and I'm glad they did but in the end we had epidural, pitocin, I became dilated to 10cm, we pushed and pushed but baby was not descending. We ended up with a section.


Our little guy tolerated everything like a champ! His heart rate was very consistent. It was a concern when we broke my water of the meconium but it ended up not being an issue. After pushing I would have liked to rest for awhile and wait for my contractions to increase again but I became fevered so that was the final call for the section.


The surgery went well and baby is perfect...I should be happy, right?


Instead I was a complete emotional wreak for the first 2 weeks...I still get weepy from time to time. We had a hard time breastfeeding and that too bums me out.


When I do become pregnant again I will interview several more midwifes. Midwifes that specialize in VBACS and will come to my home. I will also want my midwife to be OK with me birthing vaginally if my next one is breech (just in case)...I know of women personally who had successful breech homebriths.


I suggest you do the same. You should be able to give your home birth another go, you deserve to birth your next one on your terms and the way you dream about. Maybe if you have a midwife present you wont be scared to give it a try at home. The worst that could happen is you transfer to the hospital and perhaps have another section but at least you tried. And it might be comforting to have a skilled midwife to help you and your hubby. Also, check out local home birth circles and meetings to attend.


I still think I could have birthed at home...with a little more support and perhaps another day to get baby in better position but that's not the way it turned out. Our first ones came into this world exactly the way they were supposed to, even if it was different than what we had in mind. This is the biggest lesson I've learned through my experience. It doesn't matter how much you plan, some things are out of your control. Please PM me if you want to talk. I wish you another beautiful pregnancy and the birth of your dreams:)

post #3 of 10

For me, the best thing I did for my VBAC was to try to let go of the outcome as much as possible, to try to be present every step of the way rather than focussed on the outcome.  


I did manage a VBAC, but the midwives were skating the line of their comfort zone.  (I had my VBAC at a hospital.)  At one point, they were consulting the doctors and I just had to let go.  This was not because of a long labor, but because dd2 was faring so badly.  Those last 2 weeks her movements were pretty sparse, her heartbeat just normal.  I just had to let go.  In the end, the VBAC was successful (and 8 fully-scrubbed doctors came in in a flash.  Everything in the room was so calm.  DD didn't breathe for what seemed like forever.  Finally, she did.  I wanted her to stay with me, they wanted her in NICU, and after I heard her breathe so awfully, I let her go with dh, but she was back in less than an hour, still with wobbly breathing but OK.  She nursed like a champ--yikes!)


My first birth was also a product of medical intervention gone predictably awry.  It can be so frustrating.  But don't be afraid of the outcome.  Focus on the process, one step at a time.  

post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thank you for reaching out to me and sharing your story, too, Jlynn611. It sounds like we had a very similar experience, and certainly I feel your pain. Five weeks is still a pretty fresh wound. I'm not surprised at all how you're feeling. I was still very sad 5 weeks post, especially because of my son's surgery. I remember I turned on Joel Osteen, and relaying the story of a woman undergoing heart surgery, he explained how the surgeon had done everything to get her heart going again, but without success. Not until the doctor leaned in and told her she needed to tell her heart to start beating again did it actually start beating. It really resonated and reminded me to give myself permission to let go and be happy with my baby.


After finding some peace the first time, it's tough feeling this way all of a sudden. Like you, I tried to use a midwife, but didn't have the warm, comfortable feeling. Adding billing issues, lack of insurance, no funds to pay the midwife out of pocket, and that's mainly why we ended up unassisted. I also feel like my baby could have been born at home if I'd had a little more support and more energy to labor. Then again, if he was born at home, we might not have gotten him to a pediatrician in time to discover his condition, and we could have lost him. Some things are meant to be.


We also did Bradley, but my husband didn't understand how to do much more than time contractions. He had no coverage for his job and actually had to leave me for a while when I was in active labor. I'm sure that fear of birthing alone contributed to a stalled and prolonged labor. I still feel like birth is a normal function, and obstetricians and hospitals are only needed when there are complications. I'm glad for them during those times, but I just hate that our medical records say, "The baby and his mother had no prenatal care." I feel like shouting, "YES we did! I cared for us every SINGLE moment of every SINGLE day!" I ate right, monitored my blood pressure, his heart rate, his growth, and even paid for lab tests for urine and blood. Wanting a natural, homebirth doesn't make me (or any of us!) a poor, uneducated heathen.


This time I found a wonderful midwife, but regulations won't let her attend me without 18 months between births after a section. I'll be just under 16 months and feel incredibly defeated. I sent a letter of appeal to the council, but haven't heard back. At my prenatal yesterday, the OB asked me if I was having a scheduled section despite having made it clear at my last appointment that I want a VBAC. I have a feeling they will jump to another c-section at the first sign of any labor outside of textbook perfect, and I guess that's why I'm so nervous. I know my chances of VBAC are much higher with a midwife, and I feel like that opportunity is lost to me. It's an entirely new pregnancy and new set of circumstances, but I'm still suffering because of the c-section with the first.


***I forgot to add: I can't believe how your midwife behaved! That she was only with you for 3 hours before trying to send you to the hospital?? That's outrageous to me. I'm so sorry she didn't give you the support you needed, deserved, and trusted her to provide. I have enormous faith in midwives over obgyns, and I'm so disappointed for you that this was your experience!

Edited by SaraM1979 - 9/5/12 at 6:33pm
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the encouragement, SweetSilver. It's good to hear of successful VBACs, even those that are less than perfect. How long was your VBAC labor? And how long did you labor at home before going in to the hospital?


I feel like I want to labor at home as long as I can to increase my chances of success, but I'm nervous about something happening before we get there. I'd still love to have that peaceful home birthing experience I wanted all along, but I don't know if I dare. I had every confidence in my body's ability the first time around. My grandmother, who I take after being 5 feet tall, gave birth to 10 average sized babies at home in the 1940's. I thought sure I could do it before, but now I feel like the cesarean has damaged my body, made me less than "whole" and more prone to medical complications.

post #6 of 10

Hi Sara,


I'm glad you found us here. Your story is incredible, and I am so grateful you shared it. You have been through so much. I think you are amazing, fierce woman.


I haven't had any experience with a birth after cesarean, but I do know what it's like to plan a homebirth and end up in the hospital. I recently joined a group on Facebook called Homebirth Cesarean. It's a group of women who've all had planned HBs but who, for one reason or another, ended up in the OR. I've found that group incredibly healing and full of wisdom. If you would like, search Facebook for the group and join us. There are quite a few women there who've gone through another pregnancy close on the heels of the first birth, and I know they would gladly share their experience with you.


Whatever you choose, you are a warrior woman and you deserve to feel proud of all you gave, all you sacrificed to get that child here.

post #7 of 10

Oh and another thing on the practical advice front. You mentioned feeling like you would like to labor at home as long as possible. If a midwife cannot attend you, I'm wondering about a Montrice? Might be a good option for you, allowing you to stay at home longer. 


Here is a quick rundown of what a montrice does:


Montrice definition: a non-medical attendant with assessment, clinical skills; serving the expectant or new mother during the childbearing year.  Skills include observing vital signs on mother, fetal heart tones on baby, vaginal exams for progress of labor, newborn assessment and care (postpartum doula skills), breastfeeding help, and prenatal education. These skills are performed during prenatal and postpartum visits; as well as, during labor at home. The monitrice does not perform these tasks at the hospital, birthing center, or when the midwife has come to your home unless the caregiver consents.


Basically, a montrice could help monitor your labor and support you like a doula would, helping you determine when you might wish to go to the hospital. Just an idea. 

post #8 of 10
Originally Posted by SaraM1979 View Post

Thank you for the encouragement, SweetSilver. It's good to hear of successful VBACs, even those that are less than perfect. How long was your VBAC labor? And how long did you labor at home before going in to the hospital?


It was a very short labor.  We planned a hospital VBAC, as I didn't really research what midwives took our insurance, etc.  Pretty much what got me into the C-section first time around (Yeesh!  Sometimes my headstrong nature gets me in deep doodoo.)  The hospital I went to has a staff of midwives for labor.  Instead of nurses and the doc coming in for the last bit, the midwives stayed with me nearly the whole time.  It was so much more calm than the first time around (silly me chose a hospital birth for dd1--what did I just say about being headstrong?)


Total labor was 9 hours (compared to, what? over 2 days of labor for dd1?).  I pretty much went to the hospital because that what was planned and because I was not at home and contractions were coming on *really* fast.  I was at MIL's and while dh was getting the car ready, I was getting my dd's breakfast on and MIL was looking at me and saying something like, "Getting strong, huh?" and I just wanted to punch her for looking at me.  Oh, dear, get me outta here!


So, nothing happened during labor that was VBAC-related.  DD2 was not doing well, but as far as I know that had nothing to do with it.


Sorry I can't be more helpful for a home VBAC, beyond what I just said.

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

LOL SweetSilver. I know what you mean about headstrong. That's why I'm sitting here fighting that hospital experience even though I did learn the value in it after birthing a child who required surgery...This time we're doing fetal/maternal ultrasounds to check for congenital conditions, so I will feel safer at home if those scans show no abnormalities.


I was just trying to compare your first and second labors, hoping to encourage myself that YES, there is every reason to believe this labor will be much shorter and more tolerable than the first one. Another long, stalled labor leading to a second section is probably my main fear at this point. :-)


I can't imagine going into labor with the in-laws around! I didn't even tell my parents I was in labor until just before we went to the hospital on the 4th day. I knew they'd want to come over and couldn't stand the thought of their busy, nervous energy around me during labor!

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much, Partaria. I read your story when I discovered this group, and of course I really identified with your home birth transfer experience. I respect your pain and bravery, as well. Some mothers are comfortable with - and even desire - the medical aspects of pregnancy/birth. For those of us  yearning for that natural, peaceful experience, it's extremely difficult riding the pendulum so far to the other side. It's tough to admit my body's failure. I've always been a quick healer, very healthy, and hadn't needed a doctor in over a decade before I gave birth. I just keep thinking, what would I have done 200, 300 years ago if there was no hospital to run to? Would I have made it? Would he have made it? It still haunts me. There's nothing easy about birth no matter how it happens, but cesarean is so far from normal, it feels wrong to me. I wonder how often a deer or a rabbit has to undergo a c-section, and feel so inferior. On the flip side, I try to remind myself that nature simply isn't perfect. While modern medicine has its areas of fallibility, it is also responsible for saving lives, and that can be a beautiful thing if I choose to see it...


I've never heard of a Montrice. I'll have to look it up. I do want to monitor the baby's heart rate and keep him/her safe, but I think the stress of laboring too long in a non-home environment would be enough to stall labor again. I do want to avoid this, since hospital regulations don't take stalled labor very lightly and often use it as a reason to section... :-/


And thank you so much for the Facebook recommendation. I will definitely look that up. I was actually looking for FB support groups the other day and had no luck, so I do appreciate it!

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