I hope it's okay for me to post this here. This is the story of my "failed" natural childbirth and a little about the regret and resentment that I feel toward it. I have a lot of birth guilt. At any rate, I wanted to share my story and I'm hoping maybe others who have been in the same situation can offer some words of wisdom about overcoming these feelings.
Here goes: (The birth story is REALLY long and taken from our blog)
DH and I welcomed our amazing little boy into the world on Monday (39 weeks and 4 days). He was born at 11:47 a.m., weighing 7lbs10oz and measuring in at 19.5 inches long. He is completely perfect in every way, and I’m not just saying that as a biased new mother. Every doctor and nurse has agreed that not only is he cute and angelic, he’s perfectly healthy—a proud parent couldn’t ask for more. I’ve never felt the level of happiness that I’ve felt since bringing him into the world.
It wasn’t all blessed out happiness, though. There was a labor involved in birthing this little angel. And what a labor it was. We hoped for a completely natural childbirth, free of drugs and most interventions. The purpose behind this was because we believe that women are built to give birth and that provided everything goes according to plan, there isn’t really a need for medical intervention. We took Bradley classes to learn relaxation techniques, but also to learn as much as we could about the birthing process so we could be prepared for whatever came our way. Our mission with the classes was ultimately successful, and I would highly recommend the Bradley method to everyone, even those who don’t desire to have a drug-free birth.
We didn’t get our drug-free birth, but we had an excellent experience regardless, and I truly believe that the preparation we received through our Bradley classes allowed us to remain confident and make good decisions throughout the process.
Everything started about 4:45 a.m. on Sunday morning. I got up to pee for probably the third time that night. I climbed back in bed, wrestled with my pillows and caught my breath to fall back to sleep when I felt a subtle “pop” and then a little trickle of what felt like urine. I had a fleeting moment where I thought my water might have broken, but shrugged it out of my mind, because 1) this was too early, and I was sure this baby was going to linger at least a week past my due date and 2) so few women actually have labor start with their water breaking. (I think the stat is like 80 percent of women have their water broken by the doctor in the hospital after they are already in labor) It wasn’t until I shifted position and felt more of what felt like urine that I reconsidered. I just peed! Surely I wasn’t leaking urine. If it’s not urine, what is it? Could this be my water breaking? No way. Not possible. Bravely, and surprisingly nimbly, I leapt out of bed and made my way to the bathroom, where it became very evident that it was indeed NOT pee. I think I mumbled something like “uh-oh,” which woke DH up. He asked if I was okay and I replied, “well, I’m fine, but we’re going to have a baby.” He asked if I was having my bloody show and I responded that no, it was even more definite than that; my water had broken. In a flash, DH was in the bathroom and we were both just staring at each other completely stunned. It was definitely NOT supposed to happen this way.
I think deep down we both knew that this was an omen of the difficulties that we were about to face. Given that my water had broken, and I wasn’t feeling contractions, this wasn’t exactly the best sign. We called the doctor, and, knowing our birth plan and the fact that I was GBS-negative, they agreed that I could stay home and labor on my own and just requested that I call back later in the morning if nothing was happening.
I climbed back in bed, but totally unable to sleep (hello!! I’m going to meet my baby soon!) we tried to relax and see if we could wrap our minds around what was happening. It was at that time that I realized that I was actually having contractions, they were just pretty mild, and I had been passing them off as the Braxton Hicks contractions that I’d been having regularly for weeks. In fact, it was then that I realized that I had probably started having contractions the night before when we were at a Michael Franti and Spearhead charity concert that my work was sponsoring. After several hours of being at the show, I started to get really uncomfortable, but thought it was because I had been standing for so long. I told DH I needed to find somewhere to sit, but we wound up leaving because it was getting late anyway. I had to stop twice on the walk back to the parking garage because I had a Braxton Hicks contraction that was so strong that it made it hard to walk. Plus, I was also having a lot of round ligament pain, and the combination of the two was pretty uncomfortable. Turns out, that’s exactly what real contractions feel like for me. Go figure.
Around 7:00, we called our birth instructor to get her take on what was happening. She encouraged me to get out and walk and also to call the doctor and ask if we could start on some castor oil to get things moving (pun completely intended). The doctor vetoed the castor oil, but was strongly in favor of walking, so we put on tennis shoes and hit the pavement. We walked, and walked, and walked, and walked. A pretty wicked storm rolled through, but we walked through each break in the weather. By noon, we had walked several miles and my contractions were starting to look a little more consistent.
We called the doctor again and relayed everything that was happening. They suggested that we think about coming in because we were approaching the 12-hour mark, and they wanted to make sure everything was okay with the babe. We agreed to labor for a few more hours and then we’d head to the hospital. The weather got bad again, so DH and I played some Wii bowling, and alternated doing sets of stair climbing while the other person was bowling. DH beat me, but in my defense, I was a little distracted! I bounced on the birthball while we played Wii wakeboarding. Finally, I decided that the contractions were getting a little more noticeable and that I should probably get in the shower and think about leaving. The shower felt goooooooood. But, it also seemed to jumpstart the contractions, and once I got out, I was surprised to feel how much more intense they had gotten. I dried my hair pausing every five minutes or so to blow the hairdryer on my belly while a contraction rolled through.
By 4:30, we were ready to head nervously to the hospital. I used a heated rice sock in the car to ease the back pain I was having with each contraction, and took deep breaths and tried to relax every muscle in my body while they were happening. When we got to the hospital around 5:00, I refused to wheelchair that they offered me three times. It felt so much better to walk. And we headed to labor and delivery.
In labor and delivery they hooked me up to the fetal monitors and we watched our little man’s heartbeat and my contractions, which was pretty cool. He was tolerating everything very well, but my contractions had gone from being fairly consistent at every 4-5 minutes lasting about 40-60 seconds each, to being all over the map. I knew it was because I was scared. I was finally at the hospital, and everything was becoming very real, and suddenly I regretted our decision to come in. I wanted nothing more than to be at home, laboring with just DH. An internal exam revealed that I was only 3cm dilated, 70 percent effaced and the baby was at a -3 station. For the record, this is not a lot of progress; especially not a lot of progress considering that my water had broken 12 hours earlier and I was having contractions. Another not so good sign.
I opted for the Hep-lock, and several hours in triage, several IV sticks and two blown veins later, I was finally escorted to a birthing room. We walked the halls and rocked on the birthball for another hour or so, and finally the doctor came in to check my progress. And… nothing. I was still stuck at 3cm. It was time to start talking about interventions. After lots of tears on my part, and lots of negotiations on DH’s part, we came to the agreement that they would give me two more hours to try to get my contractions more regular, and after that, we needed to start Pitocin. We walked for a while, we rocked more on the birthball. With each contraction I tried my best to relax into the contraction and let it do its job. But with each contraction, we were getting closer and closer to that two hour alarm and I was getting more and more stressed that we weren’t going to be able to make it happen. Thinking the shower might relax me, we tried that. In between contractions I would jog in place in the shower and then stop everything and relax completely when a contraction would start. Even after all this work, the contractions still varied from 3-5 minutes and 30-90 seconds in length. Not the regular contractions the doctor wanted.
At 10:00 we started the pitocin at a level of 2, with the understanding that we would increase it by two increments every 45 minutes until my contractions were consistently three minutes apart. With the Pitocin IV in place, I was pretty limited with what I could do for pain relief. The shower was out, as was walking the halls. I could sit on the ball, and I could pace a five foot swath in front of the IV pole, but that was about it. I chose to sit the bed all the way upright and drop the bottom portion of the bed, so I was essentially sitting in a chair with my legs bent. This seemed to be the most comfortable way to tolerate the contractions that were getting stronger and stronger each time they happened. By 2:00 a.m. on Monday, my contractions were 2-3minutes apart and lasting about a minute each, and I was in a significant amount of discomfort. I had taken to making a low moaning sound through each contraction, because breathing was no longer cutting it for me. I also developed a lovely case of labor shakes, that made relaxing pretty difficult. My body would not stop convulsing when all I wanted it to do was relax through the contraction. I recall the nurse coming in numerous times over those couple hours, and I remember hearing her talk to DH, but I have no idea what was happening. The pain was so intense that I felt like I was slipping into unconsciousness between contractions. The doctor came back in to tell me that I had gotten to the point that she wanted me at, and that they weren’t going to bump the Pitocin up any more, and that they would just let me labor until I felt the urge to push. They wouldn’t do another internal exam because they were still worried about infection, which was frustrating, but I appreciated their concern for the baby. I asked the doctor how long she thought it would be, and she replied, “hard to say, but most likely another 8-10 hours.”
My heart sank. I looked at DH with tears in my eyes and shook my head. There was no way I could handle these contractions for another eight hours and still have energy left to push the baby out. I had been in labor for 22 hours, and was only working on about four hours of sleep prior to that. My body wasn’t going to be able to maintain this pace and then have the oomph left to push. Looking back, I was just glad that I summoned up the strength to even tell them I wasn’t going to make it.
The nurse and DH talked over different pain management options. I was open to IV meds, but concerned that they may transfer through to the baby, and that they may not offer me enough relief to sleep, which was what I really needed to do. The only option left was the epidural. Cue more tears from me. I felt like this was everything I didn’t want.
The doctor left us alone for a few minutes to talk it over. DH and I weighed all the pros and cons, and when it came down to it, we knew that we needed to go with the epidural. I was exhausted, and while I was making it through the contractions, I was more worried about my energy level. My tank felt empty. DH assured me that I was doing an amazing job, and that if I needed the epidural, it was in no way a failure, but instead making the best decision given the situation we were faced with.
The epidural was a piece of cake. The worst part was that it took a couple of minutes to do it, and I had two contractions during the process. To my shock, the epidural took, but still left me with complete use of my legs. I felt as though God had answered every prayer and I was on cloud nine. My biggest fear with the epidural was that I would be completely numb and confined to the bed on my back, which I really didn’t want and knew wasn’t good for the baby. I was beyond thankful that I could still move my legs and support weight on them. I could even still feel contractions, but the pain was mostly gone. Perhaps someone else might have considered this to be a failed epidural, but I was ecstatic!
From 2:30 until about 7:00 we slept. I woke up occasionally with contractions, but wasn’t in any significant pain. At 7:00 the doctor checked me, said I was about 8.5cm dilated and completely effaced except for a little lip on the right side of my cervix. I had been sleeping on my left side, so she recommend I switch to my right, relax for a short while and that I’d probably be ready to push in about 30 minutes. (!!!)
The doctors change shifts at 7:30, and there were several other women in labor at the same time, so things got hectic, and it wasn’t until 9:30 before someone came back in to check on me and discovered that I was 10cm, fully effaced and the baby was at a +3 station. No wonder I was feeling the incredible pressure I was! The epidural had taken the edge off enough that I wasn’t dying to push, but I was feeling a LOT of pressure and knew that I was close. The nurse paged the doctor, and by 10:00, I started pushing.
With the first couple of pushes the doctor noticed that the baby was posterior. Another roadblock. While it is possible to push a baby out that is facing the wrong way, it is significantly harder to do. I started to panic that we were headed down the road to a c-section and that everything was out of my control.
The doctor and nurse reassured us that not only could I push the baby out facing the wrong way, but that there was still a possibility he could turn. At this point, it was incredibly fortunate that I had control of my legs, because we were able to try many different positions for pushing in an attempt to get him to turn. I pushed sitting up, I pushed reclined, I pushed on my hands and knees, rocking in between contractions, I pushed on my side. THey brought a mirror so I could watch my progress. I asked for them to turn the epidural off so I could feel more of the pressure (that sure got some crazy looks!), which they did and it helped considerably. He was making progress, but it was slow going. I still felt strong and energized, but there was a lingering worry in the back of my head that I might not be able to get him out.
About the time the doubt was starting to overtake me, the doctor said she felt like she might be able to turn him manually. With the next contraction, I pushed as the doctor reached in and turned my baby into the right position. What a weird feeling! I felt him shift inside me and settle into position. She also pushed his little hand back in past his head. The stinker was trying to come out hand first.
Once he was in position, my pushes brought him down very quickly, and within a handful of contractions, he was ready to make his entrance.
The most amazing part of the delivery was that DH got to help deliver him. Once his head was out, the doctor delivered the first shoulder and then DH helped catch his body as he slid out and then placed him on my chest. Those last couple of pushes were so intense with the pressure that I was feeling. I closed my eyes and relied on DH’s coaching and play-by-play to know that I was close and that it was only a matter of moments. I pushed with everything I had, and when I opened my eyes, all I saw was DH staring at the baby and then putting him on my chest with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. I looked down at this amazing little being on my chest and just stared in disbelief. Two little eyes were staring back at me, looking about as shocked as I’m sure I did. I was completely speechless.
And the bliss washed over me. Never in my life has everything felt so perfect and right.
Sadly, here I am eight months postpartum, and I’m still struggling with my delivery. I’m so, so thankful that my son is here safely, and ultimately that is all that matters, but I cannot help but mourn the loss of the birth I wanted, planned for and worked so hard for. Since then, I’ve met two others who have had “failed” Bradley births, and both have said that they wouldn’t try for a natural childbirth again. I undoubtedly would. At this point, I’m just afraid that I have so much self-doubt that I’d have another “failed” experience. It’s frustrating to have such a wonderful, powerful event clouded by nagging resentment.
Well, it is what it is. Many, many, MANY women have one birth experience that didn't go the way they wanted, and go on to have more positive ones. I think you have a pretty good attitude toward it! Birth is unpredictable and you birthed a healthy guy.
I think it's great that you shared your birth story. Thank you! It still made me tear up. There's nothing int he world like seeing your baby for the first time, is there?
Mama to twoboys (4 years old and 16 months old ) and wife to the best hubby on earth .
Oh mama, please know that you did EVERYTHING you could! My guess is that the water breaking happened before babe was in a good position, and then, without that cushion, he couldn't easily turn. Hence, the long labor, slow dilation and posterior birth. You didn't do anything wrong! You dealt GREAT with the circumstances you were given! I wish I could take away your guilt because it does no good and I think you were wise and informed at every step. It also sounds like you had some great hospital staff working with you.
I think your birth story is beautiful. I definitely agree with a PP that you can very well go on to have a completely positive one next time. Thanks for posting your story :)
"I pushed with everything I had, and when I opened my eyes, all I saw was DH staring at the baby and then putting him on my chest with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. I looked down at this amazing little being on my chest and just stared in disbelief. Two little eyes were staring back at me, looking about as shocked as I’m sure I did. I was completely speechless.
And the bliss washed over me. Never in my life has everything felt so perfect and right."
This is a lovely denouement to your birth. As a doula, I can assure you that you made good decisions all the way through and that you were blessed to have an awesome support team who helped you roll with the labor, giving you and baby the chance to stay strong, have a vaginal delivery and a peaceful birth, even though it had many elements that were not in your ideal birth scenario. For processing, I would recommend talking about/telling your story, as you are doing here, talking it through with your Bradley teacher (even 8 months postpartum), and working on consciously reframing so that you think about all the things you did right as opposed to things that didn't go as perfectly as you had envisioned, and think about the feeling you had once you got to meet your baby. Read lots of other birth stories, and you will realize that things often don't go as planned, and one of the challenges of birth is responding to what is happening as it unfolds, both in terms of events and in terms of working with our emotions and our own psychology.
You also write, "We hoped for a completely natural childbirth, free of drugs and most interventions. The purpose behind this was because we believe that women are built to give birth and that provided everything goes according to plan, there isn’t really a need for medical intervention." You did give birth, and things didn't go according to plan. You had a posterior baby with a nuchal hand, both of which make for a long, slow, painful labor. Your doc. was able to turn the baby (and VERY importantly, move that hand), and I would wager that this was made significantly easier for you and for her because you had an epidural (which also sounds like it was pretty ideal from start to finish, if one must have one placed). What a blessing, because nuchal hands and elbows sticking out at odd angles can do a lot of damage to mom's lady bits on the way out. As a midwife at one birth I attended said, "When baby comes out waving at you, it's not such a good thing." So, again, reframing the birth and thinking about everything that went right can help you come to a place of peace with it not being your ideal birth, but maybe coming to look it as the ideal birth for what was presented to you in terms of baby's position, your fatigue level, risks of infection, and being in a hospital setting.
Also, re: "This is the story of my "failed" natural childbirth and a little about the regret and resentment that I feel toward it. I have a lot of birth guilt." Do you feel you failed baby, yourself, your husband? I think women put so much pressure on themselves to have a "perfect birth," and that's too much pressure for an event over which you are a participant, but not necessarily in full control of. Looking back, do you see obvious things you wish you could have done differently? We do the best we can with the information and resources we have at the time. And guilt is a very useless emotion (BTDT), but it's a mother's constant companion, isn't it? You didn't do anything wrong. Love yourself, love your body, love your baby. This birth was not a failure. You are not a failure.
Oh mama, you did such a great job! I was a Bradley student with DS1 and had a long, slow, unproductive labor and pit w/ a posterior baby but unlike you didn't have the foresight and clarity to ask for an epidural. Looking back, I SO wish I had because I would have been able to get some much needed rest and push the baby out instead of ending up with a severely distressed baby and a csection. I have come to understand that epidurals certainly have their time and place and I think you made very wise use of the options available to you.
I hope that you can heal from your disappointment and come to know that you did an amazing thing for your baby!
Alison: BFing, BWing, ERFing mama to KidA (12/25/07) and KidO (6/26/10)
It really sounds like you made great decisions given the circumstances! With my second (now 10 months), I ended up having to be induced (which meant hospital vs birth center) because my water broke but no labor. I was even given close to 30 hours to establish labor, but still nothing, even though I was 40+3! While the actual labor and delivery part went okay, the rest of my time in the hospital was not good at all (they kept taking my baby away and I wasn't prepared and confident enough to say "no"). What has helped me a lot is to think about if/when I do it again, what would I do differently? I don't mean a dwelling-on-the-past sort of thing, but rather allowing myself to be sad that it wasn't how I wanted it to be, and then researching how (if at all) I could make it better in the future. For me, some things I would not do differently, and some I would, but at least I feel more confident because I can identify what I did well in spite of the circumstances and if a similar circumstance happened again I would know what to do to make it even better.
Thank you all so much for your responses! It brought tears to my eyes to read your words of encouragement.
kdhfly - It's interesting to hear your story, because I've often wondered if things would have gone differently had I had a birth center birth vs. a hospital birth. I heard from one other person who had a story similar to ours, and she had the same result - the birth center wouldn't keep her because she could not establish regular contractions and her water had already broken. So, I guess either way, it was inevitable that I would have wound up in the hospital with pitocin no matter where we started. I'm sorry to hear that your post-birth experience wasn't ideal. The hospital I was at was fantastic as far as my wishes post-birth were concerned. The only time baby left me was to go to the nursery to get his bath, etc. several hours after he was born (but DH went with him and bathed him), and the next morning when he had to get an ultrasound done for a sacral dimple, which turned out to be nothing.
Birdie B. - I'm sorry you have similar feelings of disappointment. I have to remember what I would tell others who feel disappointed with their births and apply it to myself. We both did an amazing job, right?!
Friday13th - Oh wow. I really do think that epidural saved me from a c-section. That and the doctor turning the baby. I pushed with every ounce of my being to get that baby out, and there was NO WAY I could have done it had I not slept for those couple hours. But, when you're in the moment, rolling with those intense contractions, it's really hard to think clearly enough to ask for help, isn't it?
kcparker - Your thoughts mean a lot to me, since I'm sure you've seen a great number and variety of births. I should talk more to my Bradley teacher about it, because in particular, I feel like I let her down. I had a lot of anxiety going into labor, and she was so amazing to encourage me that I was strong enough to birth my son. I wish I could explain to her that without what she taught me, I'm pretty sure my birth would have ended up a complete chaotic disaster. I have no doubt that it would have ended in a c-section, but, even worse, I probably would have been terrified and totally out of control.
That's really interesting about the nuchal hand. I didn't know that it could cause so much damage. I did have pretty extensive tearing, including a sulcus tear, which I assumed was from the doctor turning the baby, but perhaps not.
As for looking back at the birth, the things I wish I could have done differently, are things that I probably wouldn't have been able to change. I would have liked not to have my water break so early. I would have liked not to have needed pitocin. I would have liked to dilate faster. I would have liked to have toughed it out. I would have liked to have been more mobile and maybe the baby wouldn't have been posterior. But, most of those things weren't within my control, and the things that were, only happened as a result of the parts I couldn't control. So you bring up a good point.
homemademom - Thank you! And yes, the guilt IS a useless emotion. I wish it would just go away! Thank you for your words of encouragement.
TheMommy - It's good to hear that next time (should there be a next time!) that things can go differently. There truly is nothing like seeing your baby for the first time. I just wish I could know what he thought seeing me for the first time!
Thanks again ladies. I feel like talking about it with people who understand will really help my healing process. Your words mean a lot to me.
Bless you, mama! You were dealt a rough birth, with prom, posterior baby and nuchal arm! What a lot to deal with on your very first go. You made excellent decisions, throughout. I just want to encourage you that you CAN try again for a natural birth, if you want to. Nuchal arms and PROMs are rather rare events and unlikely to repeat (and you can up your Vit. C intake to try to prevent a repeat prelabor rupture). I've had several difficult births, all learning events, followed by several quick, easy labors. One of mine was very similar to yours, in which I NEEDED that epidural to rest, after having pushed for 5 hours. Exhaustion in labor is very real and can have very real consequences if it is not taken seriously. Mine was just a bolus shot, as I was complete, but dealing with a very swollen lip and large baby, so when it wore off, I squatted and birthed my baby. Not the birth I wanted, but we made it through and indeed learned the value of a well-timed epidural. But the following labor was a quick 3 hour, 3 push, miracle. Don't be afraid of labor. You've made it through a very difficult one, know that you can do anything!
Mom to eight!! Our twin girls arrived 3-3-2011.
The next time you are preparing for labor you will have this experience and you will have learned from it! Great job, and congratulations!
You listened to your body and knew what you needed. You needed rest - not only for you but for your baby. Knowing what you need, and asking for it - that is a strong, powerful, beautiful mama.
My daughter was also posterior. My wife was labouring at home. Our baby didn't decend at 10 cm, she was still at plus 1. My wife knew she wanted to move to the hospital to get in a bigger tub and have access to pain medication if needed. We went :) Then even after a lot of time at 10 cm in the hospital, the baby was still at plus 1. Then she knew she needed pain medication in order to get some rest. Then she knew it was right to have a c-section when the baby really wasn't desending after all the efforts of our midwives and doctor and 8 hours of being at 10cm.
She also wanted a "natural" birth at home. We both did. But I can't tell you how proud of her I am that she listened to her body and told us all what she needed. This is what natural is all about - listening to your body, using your inner wisdom to lead the way. Even in all that fear and disapointment, you made excellent choices for you and your fam.
You did so great mama. We are all proud of you.
Oh mama what a beautiful birth story! You did what your body needed you to do. Better to get a epi and rest than be too tired and have needed a c-sec right?
I had a natural birth for my first and went in thinking I would do the same with my second. Then I got stuck at 7 cent. for over 8 hours. I was tired and think the pain was too much for me to relax and get to 10 so I went for the epi. I got lucky like you and could still feel it just took the edge off. I felt decent of the head stretching the whole thing. But in a matter of 15 min from getting it was complete. I don't regret the epi and you should not either. We listened to our bodies and knew our limits.
In the big scheme of life how our precious babies came into this world doesn't matter. You did a great job and should feel proud of yourself!!!
~Katie~ married to J, mom to DD- A 13 yrs ,DS- L 7yrs , and my little nursling DD2- R 5yrs.
I think that your birth sounds wonderful! My husband and I took a Bradley class also, and I'm due with my first baby in two weeks. You can only do so much as far as educating yourself on relaxation techniques, and normal labor, and your right to make decisions in the hospital. SO much of birth is just going to be individual and unpredictable and a surprise. You went as far as you could go without any interventions at all, and then when the situation warranted them, you used them to your advantage without letting them take over! I think that you handled your labor very well, and made really good, sane choices about accepting medical help when you needed it.
Please be proud of all the great ways you coped and handled labor and used the hospitals resources to your advantage! I can totally sympathize with disappointment over 'failing' a 100% natural birth, because I have spent a lot of time thinking about how I will feel if I end up needing interventions. But I would be super pleased and proud of myself if I were in your shoes and had handled a difficult labor as well as you did. :)
Please don't beat yourself up! You did the best you could with the situation. Birth is one of those forces that we cannot control nor predict and we have to be ready to change our course based on how things are going. Sounds like you were well prepared with the Bradley classes and knew how to make informed choices. That's a key component to parenting as well. I felt like the unexpected things that came up in my births helped prepare me for understanding that sometimes we have to change course and think about the end result. And your end result was awesome!!! You pushed out your baby, your dh caught him and you were able to fall in love with your little guy right away. You made all the right choices, try not to let that guilt get to you because you were dealing with circumstances that were beyond your control but you made the best choices when it came time to make decisions.
I just wanted to say congratulations, that was an amazing birth story. I don't think you "failed" at having a Bradley Birth at all. As a matter of fact, your education about childbirth allowed you to successfully vaginally birth despite a long labor, early rupture of membranes and slow progress. I think many, many women in less supportive birthing environments, or with less knowledge about childbirth would have ended up with a c-section in your situation. You used your epidural in a smart way, you held off as long as possible, used it to get some much needed rest, and turned it down in order to feel your contractions and push your baby out at the end. Amazing! If that were how epidural's were used routinely, I think we would see less problems from them. Birth experience does matter, and you have a right to feel however you feel about how this went, but I hope you can give yourself a bit of a break and realize just how strong you were.
I had a very similar birth experience with my first except I was GBS+. I've since heard that approximately 10% of labors begin with the waters breaking so rather than viewing it as rare and wrong, I've heard it referred to as a "variation on normal" (by a homebirth midwife). I had to go into the hospital to get antibiotics. I was pushed to get pit so my labor would get going. I dealt with the pit contractions as best as I could for as long as I could and got an epidural as well. I had a vaginal birth, a healthy son and, yes, regret and disappointment about the birth experience. I'm not sure where I am in regards to my first birth experience since I now have another experience to process. I guess I'm a bit more at peace with it now.