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struggling to accept birth

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I'm still struggling with how my birth went. It was a planned homebirth that ended in a hospital transfer, complete with pitocin and an epidural. I understand the reasons why I couldn't labor at home. I think I had mentally prepared myself for dealing with painful contractions, and it was so disappointing when I gave birth without any pain. Although this was my longest labor, it didn't seem like labor at all. I could have easily knitted a sweater or read a book because it wasn't difficult at all. Some people might think that is perfect, but I really wanted the pain that goes with a natural labor. The reason why I consented to an epidural was because of the pitocin. I had a labor with a previous baby where I was given pitocin and had no pain relief, and that was truly awful. But now I'm wondering if maybe I got the epidural too soon. Maybe it would have been helpful for me to at least be in pain! In hindsight I can see that I gave up on having the birth I imagined as soon as I stepped into the hospital, and just let the nurses do whatever they wanted, and let the Dr. do what she wanted also, which included pulling my placenta out (what's the big deal about pulling it out? why couldn't they just let me give birth to the placenta on my own terms? I don't get why they need to be in such a hurry with the placenta....).
I got my latest issue of Mothering magazine in the mail a few days ago, and there's an article in there about how you can ensure that your homebirth stays at home. I have not been able to bring myself to read the article yet. I start to cry at the mere thought. Then again I've talked this through with dh many times already, and we both agree that the midwives made the right decision with me.
Every time a person (even strangers) ask me about where I gave birth, I tell them that I planned a homebirth that ended in a hospital. It is really important to me to let people know that I wanted to have my baby at home. But I think I need to stop saying that. Maybe just give the name of the hospital and not say anything else.
I've had 4 babies, and in hindsight I've found the easiest birth experience I've had was my third. It was the second birth that was so awful and traumatizing to me with the pitocin and the no pain relief, that I decided with my third that I wanted a heavily medicated birth so that there would be no pain. I went to the hospital as soon as my water broke, and had them give me an epidural before I even had any contractions. I knew beforehand that this would set me up for many interventions, and it did. But I was okay with that, because I was expecting it.
Well, there's nothing I can do about it now. And nothing I could have done before the birth. I did everything I could to have my baby at home. Dh likes to remind me that the most important part is to have a healthy baby at the end. Obviously that it very important. But that doesn't change the fact that I'm still feeling very sad about how the birth went. Although, I should add that the hospital staff were friendly and helpful, and pretty much left us alone, which was nice.
Any tips on how I can get over this?
post #2 of 19
I don't know if I have any tips.

But, I have been thinking about my own birth lately. Even though initially I had very little disappointment- I was just very proud of myself that I made it through an induction without pain medication (I'm not trying to rub this in your face or something so please don't think that)- I have been having a hard time accepting the induction lately.

You see, I agreed to be induced for high blood pressure and protein in my urine. Well by the time I checked in for my induction my blood pressure was fine and by the time we got my labs back (3 hours into the induction) the labs had found NO PROTEIN in my urine. I brushed it off at the time not wanting to deal with it but now weeks later I feel a little upset about it. Even though I still had my "natural" birth I really missed out on the labor I wanted and I am pretty sure I endured much more pain then I would have otherwise, with less coping strategies (due to the pitocin and being tied to the I.V. and monitor).

I also remember asking for an epidural and I feel like it taints my natural birth. Like I tell people my birth story and they seem to think "Well you had a natural birth but you really wanted the drugs." That makes me sad.
post #3 of 19
My first birth was a planned hospital birth with a midwife. I was set on doing it unmedicated, then came the "failure to progress", then the Pit, then the epi because the pit made it so much worse. I felt awful for months about the way things went, it was nothing like I had planned. And I know what you mean about wanting to feel the pain of the birth. I felt that I had missed out on that by having the epi with her- like I was very disconnected from my body.

My only advice is that it's OK to feel bad about the birth not going the way you want. It's true that the most important thing is a healthy baby and mom, but the birth experience is also important- you carry the memory with you forever! MDC is a good place to talk about your feelings because people understand what you are going through. In real life a lot of people I talked to thought I was nuts for not wanting an epi in the first place, KWIM?

I hope you are healing more and more everyday!
post #4 of 19
Sorry I had to go attend to baby.

Anyway- I have just been trying to think it over as many times as I need to and tell myself "live and learn". There is nothing I can do now to change what happened. All I can do is to know better for next time (ask for lab results before agreeing to an induction) and share my story with others who want to hear it- so that they might be able to better plan their own births.
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by JennaW View Post
Sorry I had to go attend to baby.

Anyway- I have just been trying to think it over as many times as I need to and tell myself "live and learn". There is nothing I can do now to change what happened. All I can do is to know better for next time (ask for lab results before agreeing to an induction) and share my story with others who want to hear it- so that they might be able to better plan their own births.
I appreciate your thoughts, Jenna. And no, I don't feel you rubbed it in my face with not getting meds to help you through an induced labor. Like I said, I have done that with my second child, only the drugs never kicked in (not sure if that's the same thing, although it amounts to the same thing - unimaginable pain, at least for me, I actually lost consciousness during that labor from the pain).
I understand your feelings about your induction. It's too bad that we so often have to wait until after the birth experience to attain clarity. Yes, you can make a better decision with your next baby, should a similar situation arise.
I will not have anymore children. Even if I were to have another baby, I don't think there's anything I could have done that would have changed how my birth progresses.
My water always breaks first, before baby seems ready to be born (I have huge amounts of amniotic fluid, so I'm thinking the pressure of all that fluid makes my water break before baby engages in the pelvis, although I always birth either at 37 weeks or after, so they're always full-term). With baby not engaged in pelvis, my labor doesn't really get going on its own. So, there's the risk of infection, and also the risk of cord prolapse. Dh and I agree that even if I would have been allowed to labor at home (I suppose by "allow" I mean not listening to my midwife's advice), I would have likely been in labor for days, and presumably been exhausted at some point.
Gah, must run. Baby needs attention. Yes, talking it through again and again (and again!) does help some.
Oh, and this is very foolish of me, but throughout the pregnancy I sort of looked forward to getting a onesie for Zoe that had one of those "born at home" slogans on it....
post #6 of 19
I don't know if I could offer tips necssarily but I do want to let you know that you aren't alone.

Maybe in some ways we all struggle with this to some degree (whether consciously or not). It's hard not to approach birth without expectations or hopes (no matter how hard we try to go into it with the realisation that we can't control the process or know ahead of time what will happen). We are working toward those moments for at least 9 months, if not longer, and we know how transformative they can be. It's ok to feel disappointed and let down. And no, that doesn't take away from the fact that you are glad to have a healthy baby. Granted that IS the most important thing, but it doesn't mean that other issues - like mama's experience - aren't important too.

I too transfered to the hospital with my first birth (retained placenta) and it took me a very long time to process that. I ignored my feelings for ages because the transfer had been medically necessary, I was glad that my son and I were both safe and healthy and we'd had a very good hospital experience overall. But as a result, we didn't get the bonding experience I'd hoped for. It wasn't until we discussed our previous birth experience in my prenatal class for this baby that I really got a chance to mourn that loss because I kept denying my feelings for so long.

As for wanting to feel the pain of childbirth, I would agree that it's totally valid to want that. I would assume that the pain of childbirth, and in particular of pushing, probably helps to psychologically process the loss of your pregnancy and the transition into separateness for you and baby.

Furthermore, natural childbirth without pain meds has become a status symbol (and rightfully so, it is a great accomplishment) that by extension can make those who don't labour that way feel inferior. Remember that pain medications do serve a purpose, there are times when they are needed and a woman who uses them isn't a failure. I would argue that knowing what your body needs and responding is a success, not a limitation.

I've only given birth twice and I've been very lucky overall with my experiences so maybe I'm not the best person to offer this advice.

IME, just allowing yourself to feel those feelings is a big step in the right direction. Finding someone who will validate your feelings can really help because the people who don't understand probably won't ever be convinced and may just leave you feeling like you have to defend yourself. Maybe let yourself have a good cry. But be kind to yourself - you did a great job bringing your baby into the world. You faced fears related to past traumatic experiences and that's a huge job in and of itself.
post #7 of 19
We cross posted. Just wanted to add that I see from your second post that it wasn't just the lack of pain, but also the loss of your homebirth that you're struggling with. I know how you feel. A big reason I was able to accept my hospital transfer was because my ds was born at home and we transfered afterwards.

This time I feel the sadness of not having a waterbirth because we didn't get the pool filled in time. I may not have anymore children so I too can't erase that disappointment by waiting for next time. That's hard and I'd say in both cases it relates to the fact that in general people tend to regret things they didn't do more than those they did. There's a woman who is a birth pioneer in the UK (I wish I could remember her name) who has worked so hard to reform maternity care and who said in her 70's or 80's that the biggest thing she regretted in her life was never having had a homebirth.

I don't really know how to get over those kind of regrets and disappointments. I'm not very good at it myself. I can offer though. Again, you're not alone.
post #8 of 19
Mama, can I suggest you repost this in our new "Healing Birth Trauma" forum?
post #9 of 19
so sorry mama. i had pit and an epi too, and the epi didn't work! the pain was so bad i remember wishing over and over again that someone would just shoot me in the head then cut her out of me. i will never, ever forget the pain, it was what i imagine severe/lethal electrocution must feel like and i just wanted to die. i lost track of the day, the time, the room, it was like i'd lost my mind. it'd taken 5 goes to get the 1st epi in so they refused moving it, and it meant i couldn't get any morphine, which i vaguely recall screaming and begging for.

i wish wish wish that my epi had worked, and when they put a spinal block in after 18 hours of labor for an emergency c section, i asked the anesthetist to kiss me, right in front of dh! the bliss, not to be in such complete agony, was overwhelming and, i should be ashamed to admit, my favorite part of the birth. meeting my daughter for the first time was, of course, incredible, but to be out of that pain finally was like being transported to heaven. just thinking about that pain now is making my eyes tear up.

everytime i catch myself feeling bad about having the least natural birth EVAR rather than the med-free hb i'd planned in my 1st tri, i cuddle my dd. just gaze at her and cuddle her and remind myself that the birth was such a miniscule part of me getting to have this wonderful unexpected new person in my life and for the rest of my life. my pg and birth has put me off ever having another child, but i am so so happy to know this little girl and that has really helped the healing begin. i still find it difficult to refer to it as her "birth" and can't say that i gave birth, as to me, i didn't. that's what i need to grieve. might even open a thread in the new forum!
post #10 of 19
Originally Posted by njbeachgirl View Post
My first birth was a planned hospital birth with a midwife. I was set on doing it unmedicated, then came the "failure to progress", then the Pit, then the epi because the pit made it so much worse. I felt awful for months about the way things went, it was nothing like I had planned. And I know what you mean about wanting to feel the pain of the birth. I felt that I had missed out on that by having the epi with her- like I was very disconnected from my body.
I could have written that. In fact, I'm glad I don't have to because I don't have the time or clarity, but that pretty much was my first experience....mw assisted birth in the Alternative Birthing Center of a hospital. Except I had an unsupportive midwife come on duty midway through my labor, and she ended up recommending that I transfer upstairs. She kept saying it was so I could keep my vaginal birth, suggesting that I could stay there if I wanted but....(I'd probably be too tired and THEN I'd have a c-section, blah blah blah.)

The thing is, after we consented, I sat in a wheelchair waiting for transfer and I know labor continued. I wish wish wish I'd thought to ask to be checked one last time before leaving the ABC, because I basically was in transition very soon after getting upstairs and hooked up to pitocin (and yes, ultimately to the epidural.)

My greatest grief was the disconnect at the time of birth. I asked for a mirror and that's what I focused on during the pushing phase, but I never felt that urge to push (most people have the epidural wearing off a bit by then so they may feel the pushing, but I had just gotten it and I was NUMB!) and everyone in the room except me and my husband was watching the monitor to see when I was contracting, and telling me when to push.

I am a survivor of childhood abuse, and feeling numb, "instructed," and "done-to" was not the best of feelings for me to have during birth. I grieved it for a long time, but most especially in the weeks immediately following the birth. (The other thing was that our separation was much longer than they said/promised it would be. I had her for more than an hour after the birth, but when I went to my room they took her to the nursery. We knew it was policy for babies born in LDR to go to the nursery, unlike the ABC where you weren't separated unless someone was unstable. But we had been assured that if we did transfer, that Dad could accompany the baby to the nursery for all procedures. Well, he went along but they were having renovations and it was a small room with one aisle and they told him fathers couldn't go inside right then. So he ended up telling me that and then going home to get a little sleep. I asked the nurse who was helping me with the peri bottle and ice-pack pads, and she assured me that the baby would be out of the nursery and with me in fifteen minutes, so I dimmed my lights and let myself doze, knowing I would wake up when they brought my baby. This nurse had been so nice, I really trusted her. I woke up two hours later, no baby. I immediately paged her, and she brought the baby, telling me that because of the congestion/amniotic fluid, her breathing had been so noisy they hadn't wanted to "frighten the new mom." Well, I knew that, but the doctor who came in to assess her right after the birth said nothing was better for that than being skin to skin with mom, and it wasn't their right to decide what would be too upsetting for me, when I'd asked and they'd promised.)

So that's what happened, and those were the things I grieved. I took care of my baby during those weeks at home, but I thought about those things, and felt the need to be handled gently & sympathetically in regard to them, and I would keep processing and crying. It was hard for my husband (in part because he felt guilty....I agreed to transfer upstairs mostly because he confided that he didn't think he could make it, physically, through many more hours down in the ABC...I guess he believed the midwife's suggestion that we'd just keep laboring and laboring with no progress, even though I'd been making slow progress all along. We'd already labored at home for a day and he'd been up through two nights, plus all day that day, and I must have been in the self-doubt period near transition because his comments persuaded me. The other thing he felt guilty about was the nursery thing...I guess he could have insisted further, beyond saying "We were told I could stay with the baby", he could have prevented them from taking her in there without him. After all, she was OUR baby. But we weren't there yet, consciously. He went home because it was so late and we lived close and it was his best chance at getting some sleep before coming back to be with us in the morning, and he could call family in the morning from home, but I think he felt guilty about that because I didn't get the baby when I should have and obviously I was upset. I think he felt he wasn't there to support & advocate for me, so when I went on hurting about it for weeks, it was hard for him. Plus, he wanted to solve my problems, and I just was processing them over and over.)

I had the book (out of print) by Penelope Leach called "The First Six Months: Getting Together With Your Baby," which is a very beautiful and sensitive book (I bought it used.) I'd read the section on "if the mother was very shocked or disappointed about the birth, she may need to heal from that experience before she can connect..." blah blah blah. I'd read it aloud in the car and just cry. I'd read it at home and think YES. I know my partner felt uncomfortable for the reasons I mentioned, but he hung in there.

In many ways, the news that this pregnancy was a twin pregnancy was so upsetting/disappointing because I wanted to make different choices that would make things so much more right this time around, and I felt some of those choices going away with the news that it was a multiple pregnancy.

Originally Posted by Snugglebugsmom View Post
Oh, and this is very foolish of me, but throughout the pregnancy I sort of looked forward to getting a onesie for Zoe that had one of those "born at home" slogans on it....
I just wanted to say this is not foolish; it went straight to my heart. This is a loss you are grieving. I feel sad for you. Big hugs to you.
post #11 of 19
I don't have any words of wisdom, other than maybe... y'all did great with what you were experiencing at the time. Grieve the birth you wanted to have (or those aspects of it that were lost), but remember to be kind to yourselves too. Labor is such a difficult time to think clearly, and you all did the best you could for yourselves and your babies based on what was going on at the time. And guilt is such a waste of time and energy.
post #12 of 19
I know how you feel. I had a c section at 32 weeks due to high blood pressure. My due date was originally july 14th but had him may 20. I was very depressed about for a while and am only now getting able to not feel so much sadness when I think about it or even lurk in here. Its hard when you want one thing and do another and regret it every day. I am for sure planning a home birth for the next time and taking much better care of myself. It helps to just talk about it or write it down. I did a lot of writing and it was cathartic. I hope everything gets better and I feel your pain.
post #13 of 19
I can understand your sense of loss at not achieving the birth you had planned and idealized for this time around. I am sensing that you might be disappointed in yourself for not getting the birth you'd planned for.

Mama, it's not your fault- sometimes things just don't go as we'd like, no matter how much we plan. And you don't need to offer an explanation or apology to strangers about your birth, which I'm guessing is why you feel bad after telling them you'd planned on a homebirth but then needed to transfer. I think that might seem to you like you failed, and that's why you want to explain. You don't have to justify yourself or your birthing experience. You did what was best for yourself and your baby, and that's the best that any mama can.

I'd just tell them the name of the hospital and leave it at that if it were me. (Some people might be tempted to "I told you so" if you tell them you were planning a hb but had to transfer to a hospital. I'm sure I know some folks who'd do that- so I have just toughened my skin. Maybe that doesn't feel right to you, but do what makes you happy.)

You have no obligation to those people, tell them what you're comfortable telling them.

I felt pretty bad for weeks after my birth, because I was hoping/planning a very peaceful, blissful, calm experience. I didn't get that. I progressed really fast, was in horrible pain, (this was my first natural birth, I had my first two deliveries in the hospital) and then had to push her out so fast I tore badly because her cord was prolapsed. My birth was nothing like I pictured it- with one very important exception. I had a beautify, healthy, baby girl to hold at the end. And that is what truly matters.

I hope you can find peace with your birth experience, even though it wasn't what you'd hoped for.

Much love and healing to you, mama.
post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Lorelei.
I know what you mean about the "I told you so" reaction some people might have.
All this "talking" about expectations versus reality is helping me a ton!
Must go, cranky baby.....
post #15 of 19
I'm glad you're starting to feel a bit better after getting this off your chest.
It does stink when you spend 8-9 months 'planning' and then nothing really turns out how you'd envisioned it.
post #16 of 19
Oh, this sounds so familiar. I felt the same way when I got the most recent Mothering issue. I glanced at that home birth article, saw that it was their third child, they had a boy and a girl, and the 2yo girl had curly hair just like my 2yo DD and I just about lost it. I put it down and haven't picked it back up again. Most of the time, I just cope by ignoring what happened to us this year. But it's definitely a grieving process. No question about it.
post #17 of 19
I know.
post #18 of 19
Hey, things happen - it's not your fault. (I mean, if you're thinking "if only..." or "what if..." type thoughts). I'm really sorry that it didn't go the way you wanted; but keep telling your story to others. Maybe in doing so, you'll help someone else anticipate what happened to you as a possible problem and they can avoid it in their home birth. In the meantime, try and focus on the positive fact that you and the baby are ok.
post #19 of 19
Solace for Mothers is a resource for mamas who are trying to process the emotions left over from their births. There people understand the disappointment, sadness and sometimes anger that comes from stressful things that have happened during labor and birth. Some of the mamas there have experienced lasting trauma from their experiences (I'm one of them). I found that when I was dealing with all the emotions of my experience that I really needed to find people who understood my experience without treating me like I was crazy or stupid. Most of my friends didn't get where I felt hurt and disappointed from my experience. It wasn't until I found other moms who had similar experiences that I was finally able to accept and move on. I went to a therapist for a while who specialized in trauma and that was helpful for me. Each person processes the negative emotions from their birth differently, but there are lots of resources and options available. The mamas at Solace have been putting together lists, guides and suggestions for what has helped them, and of course having a community of compassionate peers has been very strengthening for people. I'm sorry that there were things about your birth that have hurt you, its entirely too common. I wish you peace and comfort and that you are able to find what you need.
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