It has been two and half months since the birth of my baby, and I am only just now able to talk about it. I'm sorry this is so long.
My pregnancy was a very stressful time. I was very newly married and I was not any where close to being ready to be a mom. We were broke. My little brother had just committed suicide, and the commander of the Air Force base we lived on told us we couldn't have a home birth on base so we had to find somewhere else to do it. We moved off base into our first house on my due date.
Because my midwife was a state licensed midwife, she had a lot of bureaucratic hoops that needed jumping through. I had to get the base commanders permission to home birth on base (which he didn't give as I stated. Had we not had to ask him, he would have never known) I had to visit the regular Dr. twice, (at least under normal circumstances). And the first doctor we saw pretty much threw us out of the hospital because we told her weren't comfortable with me getting an ultrasound while my baby was but 7 weeks old simply for routine purposes. (I wanted to avoid as much ultrasound exposure as possible because there is some question about it's safety, so I had the midwife use a feta-scope instead of her Doppler every time to hear the heart.) So anyway, I had take the gestational diabetes test at the doctor's which I failed at first and had to come back to do the three hour. I was very angry about that because I hated subjecting my baby to that much glucose and having them take so much blood.
I had to get written of by them as a "low risk" pregnancy otherwise my midwife would not legally attend my birth. (of course, she would have anyway, under the table. just more expensive without insurance covering her.) It had actually been quite a struggle to get a doctor to write me off as a low risk pregnancy in the first place, the doctor we saw said my baby was looking too big, and she didn't feel comfortable saying I could birth it at home, so we had to drive a couple hours away to a different doctor that midwife recommended and he had no problems signing his name. So in the end we had seen a total of 3 different doctors, when we never even had wanted to see ONE in the first place.
I also had to see my midwife every month at least, and let me tell you I was VERY sick of having my urine and weight scrutinized all the time! I also had to attend her childbirth classes on top of it all. I wanted to do the Hypnobabies program, so I bought it, but I was so exhausted from all the other stuff she had me doing that I really didn't have the motivation to practice much at all.
I went overdue 2 weeks and 2 days I believe it was, so for many days before the birth, I had been taking black and blue cohash tincture AND homeopathic pearls every couple hours. After my midwife's "three day induction plan", I did not have my baby. Over time I had choked down 2 bottles of castor oil and a bottle of castoria. Eventually I was 2 weeks, 1 day over due. Every day I was overdue (including my birth day and our first wedding anniversary) was utter hell on earth. I had gained 42 lbs, and looked and felt horrible. Each day felt like an eternity and I felt so much pressure to just have the baby already because so many people were waiting and I was so worried the midwife wasn't going to be able to legally attend my birth. I was wrestling with the idea of doing it unattended, because I told myself I would rather birth my baby alone than ever step foot in a hospital. Birthing at the hospital was out of the question for me. Those days before the labor were very emotional for me. I remember sobbing a lot and just asking God WHY this had to be happening to me. I feared for the life of the next person to say "Didja have the baby yet?" As if I would keep it a secret! Luckily, after a while, they just stopped asking. We lived a thousand miles away from our friends and family, and I was stuck in a new house with no furniture, phone or internet hooked up yet, and to top things off my midwife was openly worried about the large size my baby was turning out to be.. I was scared out of my mind, but still optimistic about my abilities as a woman to get this baby out of me without drugs or even a midwife if I had to. No one besides my husband supported the idea of me having a home birth. I was eager to share just how great home birth could be.
Eventually my midwife resorted to some codename "Mexican herbs" which she told me tended to make contractions "a bit stronger than normal" but would no doubt induce labor. They did start my labor the next day, as I was on a bumpy car ride. The contractions came out of nowhere. My husband was talking to me in the car and I was in too much pain to respond. for long periods of time I would just be sitting there taking the pain, unable to do anything but lay there grasping at the seat in the car. We had been heading home from visiting the midwife's . My midwife had told us to spend the whole day walking, so that's what we were going to do. When I got home, I knew I would not be spending the day walking. I got on the toilet, and did NOT want to get off. But I forced myself off because I knew I was having the baby and needed to get myself over to the midwifes place, where we had decided to have the baby since we just moved and weren't unpacked in our own home yet.
Contractions felt like really strong menstrual cramps, and for me, menstrual cramps are really just overblown diarrhea cramps, and that's what I was experiencing. My midwife left me in her examining room while she and another midwife went and did their own thing in the other room. She had brought in an extra midwife to help, and one of her apprentices was also present. Weeks earlier I had expressed that I wanted privacy during the labor as much as possible, so I think they were trying to honor that by keeping their distance.
I would go from sitting on the toilet to laying in bed with my husband. When I tried listening to hypnobabies during the labor, it did not help. I was in too much pain to even listen to what she was saying and the compulsion to go sit on the toilet made me rip off my headphones and run. I remember disliking the fact that I was not in my own home for this. I felt very alone and unsupported, however the contractions were not giving me a long enough break to communicate anything besides a couple breathless words. I was totally at the mercy of my husband and my midwife.
The contractions were so much more painful than I was expecting, I could not believe it. I just wanted to get into the bathtub, and it was not long before my midwife thought I was ready to get in. Things were moving along very fast. The water felt SO good. But there was one problem.. we were using her over-sized bathtub as a birth pool, and unfortunately, it was not very deep at all. maybe one foot deep. I kept asking them to make the water warmer and they would run back and forth with pots of hot water. I wanted it deeper, but they could not make it deeper. I had to stay on my back if I wanted to stay submerged at all. The midwife was not expecting this problem because she was so used to using her birthing pool at her clients houses. I had a mantra going where I would repeat the same thing over and over really fast, the same medium pitched tone, and breathe with each one.. so it was like "AH!*quick breath* "AH!*quick breath* over and over. sometimes it changed to ow instead of ah. sometimes I managed to say "this hurts so bad" It was horrible, over whelming, and nothing anyone could do could help me. They told me to breathe slower and deeper and I did not want to,even though I knew better. My quick breathing felt good to me.
I was being way more loud and vocal than I had ever wanted or planned on being... I was squeezing my husband and I remember hearing him whine about how hard I was squeezing him, and thinking about how could he whine when Im going through this living hell? How could he? There were times when I got relief by trying to break his fingers off, or trying to pull his skin off of him, or something like that, I just remember it was nice to focus on breaking something, instead of my pain. I didn't want to hurt him necessarily, I just wanted to hurt something. I wasn't mad at him for "doing this to me" like you hear said so much on TV. I didn't want to be one of THOSE women so I still managed to say "please" and "thank you" when applicable. For the most part I couldn't manage to speak and had to push him around to where I wanted him to hold me or not hold me. He wanted to hold my hand and I didn't want my hand held, I wanted to pull down on something, put force on something, but I did not want to be comforted by him. It felt like everything was all wrong. I was sobbing because of the pain and the helplessness I felt.
The midwifes were in the other room or just sitting there watching me. I guess I was making too much noise for them to say anything, but I really felt abandoned by them. I even managed to tell her I needed emotional support.. I remember thinking "there's gotta be some reason she's here, she's gotta have some purpose, so I'll see if she knows the right words to say.. and she didn't. she really didn't help. she stayed calm, but everyone was far too quiet. She suggested hands and knees and although I tried it shortly, it brought me completely out of the water. she suggested I float on my belly, but the water was too shallow to float and I only ended up squishing my belly on the bottom and that was not going to work. She eventually said that everything was normal, except the amount of pain I was going through. To me that only meant one thing: I was being extremely wimpy and pathetic. that if any other woman were doing this, things would be fine. that I was making an embarrassment out of myself.
I had dilated to 9 centimeters in 4 hours.
I guess a tiny part of some "lip" was keeping his head stuck. She broke my water for me to see if that would help. They wanted me to squat, and push, and It was too painful for me to do either. I remember telling my midwife I couldn't do this, it hurt too much, I asked to go to the hospital, not seriously at first, at first I was joking, but after things got to that point, I was serious. She didn't fight me, she said I could if I wanted to. Apparently if I had just been able to push harder or squat longer, I could have gotten that baby out. but the PAIN was so terrible, so mind blowing, I needed something to take it away.
It was either find some relief, or I would find a way to kill myself. So I did the unthinkable. I gave up. I agreed to going to the hospital and they threw some clothes on me and I somehow made it out to the car. It felt like it took them forever to get stuff together and actually start driving to the hospital. then the drive there took forever. all the while I knew this baby was just waiting on me to push, to be born., I could feel his head in position, and I could not stop yelling when contractions came. when I finally got to the hospital, there was no one there to get me, the hospital was dark and empty, and we were left to get on an elevator, I was forced to hobble down hallways, making a scene, as we looked for where to go. I was so embarrassed and there was nothing I could do about it. when they finally got me into a room and threw a gown on me, I was just asking how long it was going to take before they could give something, anything at all.. I remember trying to be nice and polite and I remember being shocked at how cold and angry the nurses seemed to be, as if I was just a bother to them, a failure and a freak for trying homebirth in the first place, and for coming to them in the middle of the night when they didn't even know who I was or have any of my information. I remember the burly nurse coldly saying "we have a HUNDRED things to do before we can even BEGIN to help you."
But then again, there was a reason I wanted to avoid hospitals in the first place.
Time seemed to stand still as I sat and took each contraction that came while they were asking questions and we were waiting for the people to drive to the hospital from their homes like the anesthesiologist and such. The contractions were a hell that I could not escape from. I was trapped and it was all I had to keep my mind from going insane. The nurse said she did not believe in her heart that I would be able to deliver the baby. I told her if I could just get the pain relief I would be able to push it out.
I felt ashamed, weak, embarrassed, like a failure, a bother, and a freak. but all I could do was scream. Nothing they did to me, any of the iv, the numbing shots , the epidural, hurt compared to what I was feeling, I was willing to go through ANYTHING just to get some relief. Even a c- section. It was no longer about keeping my baby drug-free, it was about me getting out of a situation I felt trapped in. They had given me a calming drug to help calm me down so the contractions might be easier to take, which just made it hard to keep my eyes open. But I would have taken heroine if they had offered it to me. When it was finally time for the epidural, I had to somehow move to the edge of the bed, and curl over my baby, while the nurse held my head down, and I had to go against everything I had to stick my back out so she could feel my spine and figure out where she wanted to damage me with the needle. Even after she gave me my first dose I still had to suffer through like five contractions before it started to kick in. and it mostly just kicked in in my legs. they left us alone for a while and my midwife kept an eye on me, kept checking me to see if I was making any progress, and then told me she thought they were most likely going to c-section me, and so I was asking her questions about that and trying to prepare myself for that reality.
For a while before they gave me the pitocin I was able to just sit there and push when my midwife and husband told me I was having a contraction, and so I would tense up my stomach muscles and just try pushing. Things are blurry at this point but at some point I believe they gave me pitocin to stimulate contractions and they put my legs in stirrups and every time a contraction came I was coached to push with all my might while pulling back on my thighs and putting my chin to my chest. I was surprised to find out the epidural did not take my pain away. It was STILL unbearable. I remember asking if there was any more they could do. I was so disappointed I wasn't getting a break.. I kept saying "I thought this was supposed to take my pain away" and they said it couldn't take all the pain away. The doctor eventually came and reassured us there was plenty of room to birth the baby and that he was not going to do an episiotomy or c-section me. I continued to push when they told me to even though it was the worst pain in my life and it was never ending. I kept thinking "the head must be ready to come out" but it never was.
Only after an eternity did they get serious and have everyone come in the room and really coached me and told me I doing great that I was able to get the head out. I remember feeling the ring of fire, when the head crowns, and it was terrible. I remember just pushing with all of my might because I had the motivation of knowing I was getting somewhere at last. I remember the body just flying out easily in maybe the same push or at least the push after, and I remember just saying "oh my god I can't believe I did it", as I saw them cut the cord and hand the baby off to a bunch of people to quickly suction him, weigh him, and clean him off. I remember the placenta came out without any effort, and being so relieved that it didn't hurt at all. I remember looking over at my baby and he looked at me, and I felt so sorry that he was over there with them being coldly treated, it broke my heart that I could not be holding him and protecting him from them. but I was just so relieved to actually be done with the labor, that it was okay enough that we were both alive.
I remember telling them to take pictures. I remember not wanting to be in the pictures. I remember the midwife saying I should try to look happy. and I remember trying to fake a smile for the camera. My face was swollen from all the pushing and I was exhausted. .I remember saying that "I would not wish that pain on the worst person in the world, not even Hitler." I felt like I had been robbed of all the goodness in my life.. because everything I had hoped and worked for and spent so many hours worrying about and crying about.. had been in vain because I ended up in the hospital with more pain than I could have ever imagined and I went against all my previous beliefs about having an un-medicated birth.
Aedan Bret was born at 4:18 on a monday morning, June 8th 2009. after 12 hours of labor. His middle name is in honor of my brother Bret, whom I mentioned earlier that passed away. Aedan was 9 lbs, 11 ounces and 21 and half inches long. I suffered a third degree tear. I was surprised at how it was still incredibly painful afterward, I suppose from the pitocin stimulating more contractions. I could not even enjoy holding my baby, I had to continue my mantra of pain for a while. My husband told me he was surprised at how bloody birth was, and was so proud of me for doing what I did, telling me he could never do it.
Everyone told me I did a good job but I felt like a failure for making such a scene and transferring simply because I couldn't take the pain. I blamed myself for the failure, because I knew I hadn't eaten nearly healthy enough during the pregnancy and probably gave myself gestational diabetes causing the large baby. I was so disappointed because I had really wanted to post a positive birth story. So many people were waiting to see how my "crazy homebirth idea" worked out, and I was left with nothing positive to tell them about the experience. Instead of sharing a happy story, helping to spread the good word about homebirthing, It was all I could do not to start sobbing every time I thought about my birthing experience. Afterward, I felt very unsupported. After the baby was out, it was like everyone just expected me to be okay. Everyone forgot about the trauma I suffered, except me. I have a new respect for any women that push out babies now. I can not believe how little attention and respect people pay to mothers who have just given birth. As if it's nothing. Just because it happens every day does not mean it isn't the worst thing possible to experience. At least, that's how it was for me. 3 months later, my body is a wreck, I'm never going to be normal where I tore ever again, and I still have pain in my spine from the epidural.
However, I am thankful everyone survived. I know I should stop whining because there are less lucky individuals out there than me. I was left with a beautiful son, who is now my world and I love him more than I could have ever thought possible. But as for forgetting the pain as soon as I held him in my arms? Definitely not. I'm traumatized and scared to ever get pregnant again. I have no idea what I would do.. there doesn't seem to be any good alternatives.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, It was difficult for me to write but I think it will help me in the long run to talk about it. Please be gentle in your comments.
for those that read this, do you think I would have an easier time the next time around? Does birth get easier? Is it because I had a large baby, and if so am I likely to have just as large of a baby next time? Is it because the "mexican herbs" made the contractions so intense and close together that I couldn't take it? or am I just as hopelessly pathetic as I feel?
here's a montage.. it skips the labor since no one was taking pictures for that..http://www.onetruemedia.com/shared?p...edium=text_url