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bad birth experience- need advice and support (long)

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I am writing this to get it off of my chest and hopefully to find support from those of you online becauseunfortunately I am not getting it from those around me.

My water broke at 7:10 am and I phoned the hospital- they said to eat and shower and then come in. I woke my partner and my family and we headed into the hospital at about 9:30. The doctor on call (not my ob-gyn that I had been seeing- it was his weekend off) did a very painful internal exam and laughed at me when I said I wanted a natural birth with no epidural. He said he would see me later that night or early the next morning and left. The nurse started an IV "just in case" and hooked me up to the fetal monitors, which restricted me to the bed. I was doing fine (in my mind) and the contractions were beginning to pick up. At noon, the nurse came in and told me they were going to give me something to speed things up. They started a drip and the next thing I knew I was in excruciating pain and I was bleeding profusely. At about 12:30 another nurse came in, saw how fast the drip was running, and turned it way down- she was horrified at how fast the other nurse had it running at. I had no break between contractions and no time at one level of pain- it just kept getting worse and worse. The staff began pushing for an epidural but I still said no but I would try the gas instead. The first time I started to breathe it in it made me feel extremely nauseous and sick so I removed the mask from my face and started to moan and scream with the pain again. The nurses got mad at me and started yelling at me about breathing and one forcibly held the gas mask against my nose and mouth while I was retching, and yelled at me to breathe deeper. The doctor came back and did another internal exam which made me scream and said that I was seven centimeters but that it would be a long time yet before I delivered. He told me that if I wanted an epidural I had to have one now, that if I didn't have one right now he would refuse one later if I changed my mind. So at ten after three I asked for the epidural. They gave me a special concoction because I have quite a few allergies, and it ended up temporarily paralyzing me completely from the neck down. The epidural was put in at about 3:18 pm and they did an internal exam right after and I was 9 and one half centimeters dilated so the prepared to take me into labour and delivery. If I would have known that it was only going to be 20 minutes more until I delivered, I never would have had the epidural- I was under the impression that it was going to be many more hours. They typed me for a blood transfusion because I was now hemorrhaging and then the baby's blood pressure kept dropping. So they took me to the delivery room and my partner and three nurses transferred me to the other bed and put my legs up in the stirrups. The nurses were yelling about not waiting for the pediatrician and that they needed to get this baby out now because they kept losing his heartbeat. I was starting to get really scared about my baby because of this. The doctor came in, got between my legs, and then the fun really started. He did an episiotomy which was over 3 inches long (the cut went into my inner thigh). He then took these two instruments which looked like shoehorns and split me apart. I pushed once for about three seconds and he told me to stop and he used forceps to remove the baby. They took my son over to the incubator without letting me see him and I didn't get to hold him for about 5 minutes. The doctor began stitching, which he failed to finish properly- he left a gap on the outer edge of the episiotomy which failed to close properly and I ended up dropping a stitch and getting an infection there.

I was taken back to recovery without my baby, the nurses kept him and bathed him and did their thing with him- I finally got him about 2 hours after I delivered him, and was able to breastfeed.

The maternity ward was better, but there were still problems- I wanted to co sleep and the nurses would come in, take my son to do their checks, and then put him back in the basket thing, saying I shouldn't have him in bed with me. I also ended up having about 4 blocked ducts in each breast but when I complained about the pain to the lactation consultant, she told me I had a bad latch and would not listen to me at all.

After all this I was more than happy to go home, until I dropped the stitch and went to see my family doctor (my ob-gyn was too busy to see me until the following week). She put me on antibiotics because she said I also had an infection in the episiotomy site. These antibiotics made me extremely weak and they made the baby projectile vomit. But I kept taking them because I was scared about the infection and was told that they were fine to take while breastfeeding. I saw my ob-gyn a few days later and he said that I NEVER should have been on those antibiotics- he called the other doctor stupid, and he took out some of my stitches because I was in a lot of pain and they were too tight and pulling my skin really badly. After that I was finally able to start healing, though it took along time.

My son is now eight months old and I talk about this all the time and about how next time I will have a home birth. I never want to see a doctor again, let alone give birth in a hospital. Nobody supports this mindset though, especially my mom and my partner. They keep saying”what if you run into complications again, you need to be in the hospital". I want more children so badly, but I am so worried about the labour and delivery that at times I feel like I wouldn't be able to handle it again and that I should just stick to my one son. My feelings toward my partner have gone downhill dramatically- I feel like I can't rely on him or trust him- he pretty much sat and watched my go through this and did nothing, he didn't even hold my hand or talk to me during contractions. Yet after I had the epidural he did help the nurses out, so he gets mad when I try to talk about him being unsupportive during the labour. He brags to everyone how wonderful he did during the labour, how I couldn't have done it without him. He also dismisses me and gets annoyed when I talk about the labour and delivery; he feels that I should be over it by now. We are also not having sex because penetration is very painful, and I am not interested at all. After so many months of everybody in the free world touching me and staring at me down there, I pretty much tune out the second he touches me in the genital area. I really don't show him any affection at all now, because for awhile every time I would hug him or kiss him he would want more and then we would both end up being frustrated. We used to be so close and so much in love, and now it seems like at times we can barely stand each other. I don't know what is going to happen to us as a couple and us as a family.

If anyone out there can give me any advice I would greatly appreciate it- I feel so lost.
post #2 of 20
I am so, so sorry you had such a terrible birth experience. First, know that you can take as long as you need to process this experience as you need too. I had a pretty nasty time w/ds's birth and 17 months later, I still mourn it.

again. I read Ina May's "Guide to Childbirth" and it's helped me immensely. I also read the birth stories here that have a "positive" sound to them. I do this to remind myself that the next time I give birth it will be on my terms.

And fyi, I had to sit dh down and tell him how I felt about ds's birth and how that was still affecting me in clear, direct, small sentences so that he could grasp that while the physical healing was done, the emotional was far from over. One conversation that told him how serious I was went something like, "I feel like a failure as a mother, a woman, a person. You only get to give your child one birth and I gave him a horrible start. Nevermind the doctors who were forcing "treatments" on me. Nevermind the midwife that didn't stand up for us. This is how I feel and it is my right to feel this way. What I need for you to do right now is listen to me, respect my right to feel this way and work with me towards acceptance and closure."

Feel free to pm me if you want to talk more.
post #3 of 20
Mama, the only "complications" you had were the ones forced on you by the hospital's stupid procedures and the asinine actions of the stupid doctors and nurses.

I know it's really hard when people around you don't understand - we're all so brainwashed to believe that birth is painful and dangerous, and that as long as mom and baby live through the experience it's all good. Wrong!

One book that I think is really helpful for healing from a traumatic delivery is Birthing From Within.

I also think it sounds as if counselling with a sympathetic and knowledgeable counsellor might be really helpful for you and your dh. My dh as well just doesn't get how much I feel let down by his failure to protect me from certain interventions and we've had huge fights about it, especially now that I'm pregnant again and insisting on a homebirth but he's scared of how "dangerous" homebirth is. We're seeing a marriage therapist for this and other reasons and it's so helpful to have a safe space to talk about this where he has to listen and there's a third party to facilitate our discussions.

I hope you can find your way through this. I think Mothering.com is a great place to work through these types of issues; there are so many stories here of women with traumatic birth stories who went on to have healing and empowering births with later children. I hope you can find the help and support you need!
post #4 of 20
Your story made me cry. It is so upsetting that these things happen in modern society.

It sounds like you have some Post traumatic Stress Disorder. It is , in fact, very common in women who have gone trough births like yours.

I would try to find a good counsellor whom you can tell your story to and who will help you work through it. When you have gotten over that part of the stress, I would then recomend some sort of marriage counselling to address what your dh esperienced and what you experienced and to reconcile the differexdnces, and to give you an opportunity to forgive him as well as to give him the opportunity do be a better advocate next time (if you are planning more children.)

Then I would take the time to write a letter to that doctor and one to the hospital board or to his highter ups. there is not excuse for the behavior displayed. It is truely sickening.

I had a relatively easy birth, well, it was really long but it was intervention free and I didn't tear at all, yet sex still hurt terribly for the first 10 months and isn't the same even today. That is something that takes time, I think.

I hope you are able to rise above this, but you have been violated, and it is not something you can forget about overnight.
post #5 of 20

I am so sorry this happened
I went through much the same with my first. I never had a chance to stand up for myself and didn't have anyone there to stand up for me (my parents were there, but were a wreck over seeing their 'baby' in so much pain *sigh*)

7 years later I was pg with my second babe. And let me tell you--it brought back a lot of fears. But this time I KNEW what I wanted and I DEMANDED it.
I flat out told EVERYONE and ANYONE that was involved in my prenatal care that if they came near me with pitocin, I would deck them.
I also told them that I REFUSED to be strapped in bed with a fetal monitor unless the baby was in distress.

I went to midwives instead of OB/GYNs. I hired a doula. I wrote out a birthplan and made sure my dh knew the reasons behind the things I wrote--so they weren't just my choices, but things we both understood.

Although, even with that, dh was pretty freaked out and just a warm body in the room My midwives, while better than an sOB, convinced me that next time I want a homebirth (they were a group practice through a hospital...) My doula was my savior

This second birth was so healing. It still wasn't perfect, but it was made me realize that I didn't fail with ds1--the medical community failed me.

I don't mean to go on, but I wanted you to hear that future births can be so much better.
You might find it healing too, to find a midwife to take on your ob/gyn needs at this point. Mine really helped me to understand that my feelings and fears were valid. That I had been violated. That things like that do happen all the time in the hospitals. And, most importantly, that it never EVER had to happen to me again.

post #6 of 20
Oh, giant, giant (((((hugs))))) to you, mama. I am so sorry for what happened to you -- it was not right, and it was not fair.

My first was an induction, and although the story is different, there were many similarities. I was left with a 4th degree tear, a baby who went into septic shock 24-hours after birth, and no faith in my body's birthing ability.

I agree about Pam England's book, Birthing From WIthin -- it was the greatest source of empowerment I had to process and work through my traumatic birth experience. I started reading it as soon as I got pregnant with my second baby, because I was immediately unhappy, thinking my next birth experience would be like my first.

I agree with finding a counselor to talk to. It is hard to tell if one would be helpful or like-minded; I would imagine if you call your local La Leche League Leader, she might know of a counselor who has experience in this area.

You need support -- how is your support system? Do you have good friends around you who mother like you mother? You need to find some if you don't. Attend LLL meetings, moms' groups, baby-play groups. Go the storytime at the library, etc. Find outside support and work your way in to your family slowly. Sometimes it helpes to be gentle with those you are closest with -- especially your dear partner. Blame won't help any way around. Just try to be honest, simple, and sincere when explaining your feelings. Feelings don't have to make sense -- heck, what would life be if they made sense? Be loving and thoughtful, and try to show instead of tell in many areas of your life. Make a special point of helping out dp and let him know you love and care for him -- I konw you are a tired mama, and the last thing you want to do is take care of an adult (baby? Sometimes it feels that way!), but try to do things for him daily, try to serve him a bit, and it will remind you that you do love him, and he will feel that, and I am sure reciprocate.

I was amazed that after my second baby's birth I suddenly did not have that open, raw pain anymore from the first bad experience. I never dreamed or intended that Isaac's birth would do that, but it did. My second baby's birth truly did heal my first baby's bad experience.

Another thing that helped me was this: They took my first baby away from me to do all the "necessary" newborn things. I did not realize that at the time, but I probably waited a good 10-15 minutes for him. Once I watched his birth video with him, and I just cried to think (and see!) him away from me; I asked him, while watching the video, if I could holkd him, and I did. He was about three years old, and probably confused, but he sat on my lap while we watched, and I just cried, so sad that I had not known or asked or been treated with the kindness to have had that happen after his birth.

This could still be related to post partum depression, so don't forget that it can happen up to a year or more after a baby is born. Hopefully writing it down helped a little bit. I want a homebirth for my next baby, but I would also be happy with a hospital birth where I knew the policies and the staff KNEW what I would accept and what I wouldn't.

((((hugs)))) again.

post #7 of 20
I AM SO SORRY you went through this. I am amazed this crap still happens and as far as I'm concerned episiotomies are the female circumcision of the western world. It's like society has to figure out some way to rip a woman's sexuality and sexual sense of self away from her.

Next time use a midwife. I have always said that a bad midwife is better than a good OB.

to you mpd
post #8 of 20
Some of the other writers here have suggested that the complications may have been caused by the interventions (such as the pitocin running at too high a rate). You may want to educate yourself, and your partner, as much as possible about the interventions and what they may have caused. Read, talk to other people, go to the Midwifery Today website, etc. and learn as much as you can about normal birth. It does sound like you need some answers and healing.

BTW, it is not uncommon for men to respond as your partner did during the labor, just for what it's worth. The role of the father at the birth is a common topic among childbirth educators, midwives and nurses! Some believe it helps, others that they don't even belong there because it's like having two patients, and not all of them know intuitively how to best help the woman. So don't be too hard on him about that, although I do think you both could benefit from good counseling with him for dealing with your current issues! Many relationships change dramatically after the birth of a child, and good counselling can sometimes help with the transition to your new roles as parents and partners.

I, too, would agree that you read Pam England's book. She also has a website, www.Birthingfromwithin.com. If you like her style and believe she would be compatible with your style, you may want to consider her as your counselor. I met her at a workshop last year, and she was an amazing therapist. Her website may have the info, fees, etc. My sister saw her for awhile after her traumatic birth, and I myself benefitted greatly from her workshop. In fact, it was a year ago, and I still feel that it was tremendously healing in helping me to move on from a traumatic event in my life.

Good luck with this.
post #9 of 20
Looks like you have some great advice here! I would definitely seek some sort of counseling. What happened to you was WRONG! The books suggested are a wonderful start. Birth stories like these make me so angry and sad. I am so sorry! You can overcome this, and your husband needs to be the one to help you pick up those peices. The pain during sex is normal after such trauma. He needs to know what happened to you and your baby is now affecting you emotionally and physically.
post #10 of 20
Oh Mamma, your story brought tears to my eyes. No-one should have to go through that ordeal. You need to write it down as a formal letter of complaint. Every detail. Every emotion. No holds barred. Then, if you feel like it, edit it and send it to the medical review board or whichever organization holds drs accountable.

Forgive your partner for being scared and clueless. Maybe doing a Bradley class next time to prepare you to work together as a team towards a natural birth. And, hire a doula to fight for your rights.

I am so sorry.
post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 
to all of you who replied-

I thank you so much for your support and advice. I have been trying and will continue to try working through this, it helps to know that I am allowed to feel the way I do and to not just have my feelings marginalized. I am thankful that even after all of this, my baby and I are very bonded to each other, I have heard accounts of women being ambivalent to their babies after events like this. But I hate the fact that even though I breastfeed, cosleep, never let my babe "cry it out" (which is a completely ridiculous notion), that I won't be able to sit with him on his birthday and tell him a beatiful story of how he made his way into this world. I've always wanted to do that, but I won't be able to now (he doesn't need to hear any of the story and feel any guilt).

I pray that no one else ever has to go through what I did (and then have people tell them how lucky they are to only have been in hard labour for a couple of hours) and I pray that if I have the courage to do it again, it will be much different.

Thank you all for listening.
post #12 of 20
Dear MPD,

no, you will never be able to tell him how he slid out of your body painlessly and easily.

But, after time has passed and you have healed, you will be able to tell him how the angels were singing and the stars danced when he made his journey into the world; how when you held him in your arms you counted all his fingers and toes; how you could spend hours just looking at him in amazement, how his eyes looked just like his dad's, and how you had never known that a precious bundle weighing seven pounds could bring so much love into the world.

You will do what mothers have always done - you will protect him from the pain of life, and show him the beauty.

And someday, when you have healed, and he has brothers and sisters, you will tell him that you loved him so much, that you couldn't wait to have more children.
post #13 of 20
mpd~ I just want to give you giant hugs! I know there's not much I can add that all these wise mamas haven't already written, but I want to repeat a few things. One, I think it's great that you're here. A lot of women have had experiences similar to yours (so you'll know you're not alone) and a lot of women have had the peaceful, wonderful births we all dream about (so you'll know next time that it CAN happen that way).

All I can echo from these posts is that next time, harness that powerful mama-lion in you and demand the birth you want (as much as anyone can control or demand her body's own process). I know you must have some very real, very strong fears about the hospital setting for your next baby, but if you feel uncomfortable with homebirth (because of complications, etc.) there are some alternatives to the hospital experience you had. Are there other hospitals in the area? Other OBGYN practices where ALL the doctors (in case yours would be on vacation) share a common philosophy of support and natural birthing? More than anything, a detailed birth plan (approved and talked over with your OBGYN), on paper, is something you can point to when doctors/nurses are being uncooperative or pushy. Oh, and actually, even more than that-- find a local midwife or doula you truly, truly trust with your birth, and make sure she's with you every step of the way next time. If you have deep fears of your husband not standing up for you in medical situations, it may help to have a new presence (a doula)...a woman that is educated on birth, knows the medical process, can talk to the doctors/nurses, but is there 100% to protect you, guide you, and keep you safe and comfortable.

I'm sorry your husband isn't understanding you. It's so hard for men to understand the lasting emotional scars from births or pregnancies or miscarriages. It may be best to get some counseling.

And it's true, you won't be able to give your child a glowing report on his birth, but you'll have every other glowing detail of the nine months you spent carrying him and dreaming about him, the first moments you heard him after he was born, and the first time you held him. And when he asks about his birth, you can tell him the truth, that it was rough--but that it was WORTH it to have him. (And when he and his partner have children someday, think of the advocate you'll be--you can make sure your grandbabies come into the world peacefully with a protected, educated mommy and daddy.) This experience will only make you a stronger.

Hugs and encouragment, mama. You're a strong woman, and no matter what, you should be proud of yourself. YOU brought your baby into the world.
post #14 of 20
Hi Melanie,
what a terrible experience and a terrible indictment of hospital "birth". I had to transfer from my planned HB and ended up with PTSD so I have a little understanding of some of what you're describing.

I will PM you some other thoughts too. I have written some pamphlets which I'm happy to share with you. They're on traumatic birth and they're useful for partners too.

(((((((Melanie))))))) vent early, and vent often! It will save your life!

post #15 of 20
we're all so brainwashed to believe that birth is painful and dangerous, and that as long as mom and baby live through the experience it's all good. Wrong!

I have to agree with the posts above me. The complications appear to be from the interventions you received.

I think "Birthing From Within" would be of great help to you.

I also recommend doing a lot of reading- technical "possible complications and their frequency" and "different responses to birth "complications"/ how to handle birth obstacles naturally, as well as birth stories to help reprogram how you see birth.
post #16 of 20
Oh my gosh, reading your story was like reading my own. My first birth was in the hospital and they felt they needed to subject me to everything under the sun even though I was committed to a "normal" "natural" birth. My OB was out of town. I was forced on my back with the IV and EFM, was told if I didn't get an epidural my baby could die because I am stressing so much. Damn right I was stressing! They wouldn't let me out of bed, even to go pee, she put a catheter in me before I even got the epidural because it was "too much work" to help me out of bed. I couldn't feel a thing after the epi, couldn't push him out and got the wonderful episiotomy and vacuum extraction.

I homebirthed my next son much to my mother's dismay, "but you had so many complications last time!" They don't see that the hospital atmosphere WAS the complication. URGH! The homebirth was so healing. As soon as I found a midwife to attend my homebirth I was filled with a calm like I had never experienced. My homebirth was textbook smooth sailing and gave me back what the first experience took away.

I agree with the others, read those books they suggested, I read them and it made me feel really empowered. I relive that first birth over and over in my head, what they did to me was so wrong from start to finish, I have no forgiveness in my heart for any of them yet but at least I have healed in knowing that it wasn't my failure and I am not out of line for feeling bullied and coerced. I was raped as a young teen and I am not kidding when I say the violation feels worse than my rape. I will never be able to go back and find these people who were at that hospital birth, I wish I could tell them how I feel about the whole situation. I wrote a letter to the hospital but never heard back so I doubt they even read it. I am still working out my feelings regarding that time in my life but the homebirth did everything for me.

My husband was no help. He didn't know how to speak up against them and at the time we were young and well, the nurses are the experts, right? ( I am a nurse so I'm not cutting on nurses LOL!) When they said I needed something I believed them. Now if I ever have to go to the hospital again I am taking a doula with me, someone who can speak up on my behalf (I still don't think my DH would be strong enough to question them).
post #17 of 20
So sorry to hear of your robbed birth experience. Everything I was thinking was already expressed by all the other mama's. I support you as well. Keep doing what feels right to you.
Much love,
post #18 of 20

Moving response

I cried when I read your response. It is beautiful.

Originally Posted by nurnur4evr

But, after time has passed and you have healed, you will be able to tell him how the angels were singing and the stars danced when he made his journey into the world; how when you held him in your arms you counted all his fingers and toes; how you could spend hours just looking at him in amazement, how his eyes looked just like his dad's, and how you had never known that a precious bundle weighing seven pounds could bring so much love into the world.

You will do what mothers have always done - you will protect him from the pain of life, and show him the beauty.

And someday, when you have healed, and he has brothers and sisters, you will tell him that you loved him so much, that you couldn't wait to have more children.
post #19 of 20
Gosh I wish there was a way to do it all over! Sounds like you really got pushed around by everyone. I would advocate for a home birth next time - I have done it for all my kids and I would never do it any other way!! The midwives can and will listen to your baby's heart tones and know if there is a situation that needs hospital care. Midwives have much more success with healthy moms than hospitals because a midwife would never decide to speed things up fo rno reason, like your nurse did, which probably caused all the complications.
Anyways, I just wanted to give a little advice about your feelings for your partner, etc. No one wants to have sex after the birth of a baby, so that's totally normal. You need to tell your partner straight up how you feel and ask for help getting through it. My partner and I have a rule, that even though I am too tired for sex still, we must kiss passionately at least once every day! It works wonders. And at sometime when things are feeling good between you, just get really clear: it hurts my feelings when you say THIS, try saying THIS instead. Call it PPD, post-traumatic stress, whatever, your partner needs to understand that you won't always be this way but you really need help righ tnow that only he can offer. Keep us posted!
post #20 of 20
I am so sorry you went through this. I had a similar experience with my son. I am still just not able to talk about it. I was able for a while but now everytime i try to i have panic attacks. It is good that you are able to talk and vent about it. Luckily i didn't have a horrible cut or tear. So i didn't have to deal with any kind of physical healing. I don't know how i would have handled it if i had of.
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