After suffering from pretty bad ptsd after a horrible hospital birth experience two years ago i gave birth to dd in march and it was a totally wonderful unassisted birth. I feel the need to share some of ds' story so i'll put that one first, followed by the healing recent unassisted birth of dd.
Warning: ds' birth may be a trigger for some
Birth #1: The horrible, awful, violating experience of giving birth in a hospital
I was planning on having a natural home waterbirth but after 26 hours of labouring at home with bad contractions and excruciatingly slow progress i made the terrible mistake of going to the hospital. After arriving at the hospital my midwife became bossier and meaner as time progressed due to her impatience at my slow progress. She strongly urged me to get pitocin and an epidural and i didn't want to appear difficult, plus i was high from Fentanyl, so i agreed. The pitocin did not help at all and progress remained excruciatingly slow, which i later learned was due to undiagnosed OP baby that my mw missed (not surprised). Soon I was diagnosed with "failure to progress" (total bs "diagnosis") and the pressure to get the CS started. First the pressure to get a CS was mild, a soft suggestion that i might prefer the option, gently urging me to consider that i could have ds in my arms in less than an hour. Then, as the hours passed and i continued to progress slowly the mw upped hte pressure, telling me everything that could go wrong if an emergency cs was needed and wasnt' performed. I was genuinely confused because i didn't know i had been diagnosed FTP and couldn't understand why i was being pressured into a CS since nothing was wrong objectively (they admitted this over and over), i couldn't wrap my head around why a major surgery was preferable to waiting it out. So i kept refusing the CS. At some point i was fully dilated and my mw was flabbergasted, which made me sad because i thought about all the women who had followed her advice after being told they would never dilate fully and had unnecessary CS's. Anyway, i was then told it was time to push, and i tried to push very hard but nothing happened. Then mw was noticeably angry with me because it had been over 30 hours since it started and she clearly wasn't used to waiting this long. She told me i would never be able to push baby out because i had gone too long without food and my body lacked the energy. They forced me to go a total of two days with very little food that was eaten when i was still at home (a piece of toast and a couple crakers). I was begging for food and crying for food as i was starving but no one would help me (again this was about their liability, i did a freedom of information act request and obtained statistics showing that the general probabilty of me receiving a GA was less than 1%, meaning that the chances of me asphyxiating was even less than that since the correlation between food consumption and asphxiation while under GA is weak at best). Then there was a shift change, and the horrible beast of a nurse came on and her and mw proceeded to tag team me in a brutal campaign of abuse that lasted for an hour before my son was finally delivered via forceps. It was a horrible awful birth that gave me ptsd that lasted for months. What made it so much worse was that nothing that they did - nothing - was necessary or even helpful. After hte birth i was so sick - i vomitted every day for 10 days and couldn't eat anything. I ended up being treated for dehydration in ER 10 days after ds' birth. My milk was late coming in and ds cried all the time. Looking back and knowing what i know now, after having a normal birth free from violence, i am certain that ds' difficulties, his constant crying, inability to be put down for even a minute, were due to the trauma that he experienced as a result of the drugs and adrenalin and general circumstances surrounding his birth. It took us months to heal and even now it affects me and i wonder how it affects him. My relationship with my husband also suffered and it took several sessions with a professional marriage therapist to work through the issues that were caused by being assaulted and abused at a hospital. I knew birth didn't have to be like that.
Birth #2 - unassisted (very lucky accident) and beautiful
I woke up shortly after going to bed at 1.30 am on March 3 with my mind racing. I tried to go back to sleep but i was too wound up. At about 2.30 am i felt my first wave. It was pretty mild so i thought nothing of it, probably more false labour. I was no longer surprised to be past my due date and expected the pregnancy to make it to 41 weeks or maybe longer. But the waves continued, weak but regular, every twenty minutes. At about 5.30 i woke my husband and told him i thought this was the real deal, he didn't seem convinced and i decided to try to sleep it off. I went back to bed and actually fell asleep, waking every 20 minutes to ride through a new wave. Finally my son woke me up at 7am to start the day, and the waves continued. Even though i wasn't 100% sure I told dh that this was it and asked him to call his parents to come pick up ds. We ate breakfast and about an hour and a half later, at 9.30, the inlaws picked up ds while i hid upstairs after giving dh strict instructions not to let anyone in as i was in no mood to socialize. After ds left the waves got stronger and closer together and when they were about 10 minutes apart i asked dh to start filling the birth tub. The cabin we were staying at had a really small hot water tank so dh had about 4 pots boiling on the stove for the next two hours as we filled the pool. I stayed on the birthing ball and listened to my hypnobabies soundtrack (which i found very helpful) and closed my eyes and relaxed through the waves. Finally at about 11.30 i jumped in the pool, just as the waves were getting closer together and more intense. I called my doula at about 10 am and she finally arrived just after 12 noon, and by then the waves were about 5 minutes apart. i had decided that i didn't want any vaginal exams and i didn't want a mw present until the end as i didn't want to be directed in any fashion and wanted to let nature take it's course. I wanted a mw to be there for the actual birth but not for me but only to check the baby out once she emerged. I joked with my friends that ideally the mw would enter the room right as baby's head entered the world. Soon after my doula arrived the waves went to 4 minutes apart and i asked her to call the midwives. I then kept labouring and at about 1.30 pm the waves went to every two minutes, which lasted for only 5 waves, then there was just one constant wave, which was very painful. During that wave i tried to run away but there was nowhere to go as i was in the tub. I told myself "don't fight it" as i wanted to go with the process, not against it, and i surrendered to the pain. Suddently tehre was a huge heave as my whole stomach contracted and i was very surprised. Then I went up against hte edge of the pool and made some weird noises that i can't even explain except to say that they were loud. I just waited there like that and didnt' do anything. There was another tremedously powerful contraction, which felt almost similar to throwing up (except it was down) and suddenly i felt something inside my birth canal that felt like it was pulling my bottom up out of the pool. There was another heave like that and i could feel something moving through my birth canal and scraping along the bottom of my vagina. I really wanted to push so i did a bit and it felt great. My doula and dh were saying "don't push" because the mw wasn't there and although i could tell they were afraid i really didn't care at all how they felt and i just continued to allow my body to do what it was doing. My body did about two more heaves and by then i was high as a kite on natural adrenalin, which was the best high ever. Suddenly my doula was saying "pick up the baby, pick up the baby" and i was like "where??" and darted my eyes around in front of my looking for the baby, who i didn't even know had fully emerged, and my doula said there, and pointed to the bottom of the pool behind me where there was a little person all wrapped in a white looking bag. I put my hands in the water and fished her out super fast. She still had the sack perfectly around her face and my doula removed it as i was a bit freaked out by it. Dh in the interim was still pacing back and forth from the pool to the door, waiting for the mw, totally incredulous with what had just happened. The baby and i cuddled in teh pool for the next 7 minutes until the mw arrived, in total bliss. The mw came in and was shocked that the baby was born but was relieved that everything seemed good. We then moved to the bed we had set up and just laid around for a bit and i cut the cord. I then felt the urge to deliver the placenta as i remembered that the birth isn't over until the placenta is out, and i got up on my knees and it came out with a couple pushes, very easily. We went home the next day and dd was so awesome, she almost never cried, she just seemed so happy and relaxed compared with ds. I was also happy and relaxed and not constantly waking up with horrible flashbacks. It was a truly amazing experience. Now when she's difficult and i find myself getting irritated i just look at her and remember how awesome the birth dance was that we did together and it melts away some of the frustration. After she was born i couldnt' imagine not doing it again and for the next couple days i wanted to have more children just so i could experience giving birth again, thankfully the hormones have declined and i've since come to my senses and will stick to the original plan of not having more kids.
It's a crime that modern medicine is taking these experiences from mothers and babies and perverting birth into this horrible fearful violent experience. After having two births, one the typical interventionist hospital birth and one natural unassisted birth i definitely believe that homebirth is awesome.
Birth is not scary, it is awesome!
thanks for sharing both stories. sounds like a lot of bullying at the hospital. i am so glad to read your healing water birth. way to go warrior mama!! congratulations!
Jese Mom to Elaina (April 2007) & Macy (June 2010). #3 m/c at 10 weeks (July 2013), #4 m/c at 9 weeks (october 2013). Expecting again! Due October 22/2014.