The birth of Ailsa Mae - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 11-16-2006, 04:39 PM - Thread Starter
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The birth of Ailsa Mae

I was having the most normal pregnancy ever, and loving every moment of it. The baby and I were enveloped in a cocoon of joy.

We live in a town with no hospital. Our options were a big city hospital 30 minutes away (in no traffic), or small city hospital nestled in the mountains about 40 minutes away. We chose the smaller hospital as we had heard great stories of births there. We found our doctor by simply calling the clinic and asking which doctors were taking new patients. There was a female one so we chose her. In retrospect I wish we had met other doctors, and asked more questions, not that it would have affected what actually happened any, but she turned out to be very creepy, and unwilling to accept many of our natural birthing wishes in the end.

Our appointments went smoothly. She would do the usual measurements and say all was ok. Baby was breech at the 19 week ultrasound but nothing to worry about as it’s common to turn after that. She talked about a c-section on that very first appointment
(first red flag). At about 35 weeks she started to seriously talk about planning a c-section before labour began (freaking me out!) as the baby didn’t seem to be turning. I went to my naturopath and started homeopatics (we had already been trying a variety of things, but got serious at this point). The baby moved all over, but did not flip.
On week 36 we had another ultrasound to confirm presentation. I felt the baby had dropped. We knew that no doctor or midwife in our area would deliver a breech vaginally – “against policy”. I still wasn’t worried, we were wrapped in our cocoon.

On week 37 baby was still breech so we decided to try an external version to get her turned around. This was my first day of maternity leave, and I was so looking forward to having a little time off to rest and prepare. I went from the doctor’s clinic to the hospital in the city for the version. It was an hour and half drive, and I met my husband there.
The doctor at the hospital explained the procedure, risks, etc., but made us wait as I had just eaten (I was pregnant, remember!) and they wanted a certain number of hours of no eating in case they had to do an emergency c-section.

As soon as DH went downstairs to find something to eat the dr came back, ready for the procedure. I told them they couldn’t do anything until dh was back so they paged him. They brought in an ultrasound machine and confirmed one last time that baby was indeed breech and then he started trying to manipulate her around. Imagine someone grabbing your baby from outside your belly and trying to turn it around. It still amazes me that this works! I was imagining myself in tree pose breathing calmly, trying to relax my muscles. Suddenly the dr. flung his hands in the air there was a tense silence. Eventually he said “This is why I have grey hair”. The baby’s heart rate had plummeted as he got her halfway around. It went up to normal again, but we all agreed that it would be a good idea to stop trying to turn her. My plan was to go back to the naturopath and try some more of her tricks.
The dr. wanted me to stay in the hospital a little while longer to monitor the baby’s heartrate as he was really worried about her.
Everyone asks if the version hurt. It did, but, as a pregnant woman, you are prepared for some hurting. I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again in order to avoid a c-section. It wasn’t that bad at all, especially compared to the alternative.

PART II

We waited for what seemed like hours with the monitoring equipment on. DH had learned which monitor to watch for the baby’s heartrate and kept an eye on it. It looked great, and we were impatient to get home as it was getting late. My back was really starting to hurt (I have a bad back, and sitting aggravates it) and I hadn’t eaten in a really long time so was getting grumpy. I told the nurse I needed to get up and walk around and she got me a hot water bottle for my back instead. Shortly thereafter she came back to look at the monitors and asked if I was feeling any contractions. I told her no, that the baby was moving around lots though. She told me her machines said I had been having contractions every 2 minutes for a while now. News to me. I guess I thought the contractions were just the baby moving. We called our labour support person (L) and she got ready to come to the hospital. She got our hospital bags from our house to bring in with her (next time I will leave them in the car from week thirtysomething on).
It seemed like I was going to be there a while longer to wait for the “contractions” to go away and I was getting grumpy so agreed to IV fluids to get my blood sugar levels up. The dr. came in after a while and checked and I was dilated – I can’t remember how much, but a bit anyway. I had been feeling dilated for weeks. After a couple more hours it was decided that I really was in labour and would be having this baby that night. Hospital policy was for no vaginal breech births but our dr. said he would do it if we wanted to and would sign papers saying we were acting against policy and that he had advised us not to do it. My natural instinct was to birth the baby naturally. Dh talked to our naturopath (I couldn’t reach the phone from the bed and they would run in and give me heck every time I sat up) and we eventually headed downstairs to check me in to the hospital. It was after midnight, so hard to call anyone else (though I wish we had, to get more information). Only sil knew that we were in the hospital.

This is the hard part of the story. We deliberated for hours, finding out that our doctor was only on–shift until 8am, and the next one would definitely NOT allow it. There are many reasons we chose a c-section. Dr. was very worried about the baby (cord around the neck or something) because her heartrate had dipped so low during the version so I knew we would be hooked up to monitors the whole time. The dr. was telling us about some study we hadn’t heard of and didn’t have the resources to look up or ask about, and the risks of all sorts of things. Honestly, I can’t remember the details anymore, but we felt lost because we weren’t “experts”. I wish we had made some more calls even though it was really late. Then there was the fact that I wasn’t “really” in labour. Yes, the machine said I was having contractions but I could barely feel them even after several hours. I just didn’t feel like my body was on-board with the whole have-the-baby-before-8am thing. I knew we would end up with a c-section anyway. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life. I’m so thankful to have such a great partner to go through this with. I don’t regret the decision we made at all – it was the best decision for us at the time, I just wish there had been options I liked better.
L. arrived just as we were signing the c-section paperwork. I wish she had been there for the decision part, though she was not helping with the decision on the phone. She didn’t want to influence our decision, so didn’t give advice, but we wanted, needed, more information, support, someone to discuss options with.

After the paperwork was done we had to wait another hour or 2 as there was an emergency c-section that came up. We spent the time discussing names. We had picked out a girl’s name months before but were stumped on a boy’s name. We never came up with anything but it helped to pass the time and keep us from getting nervous.

Finally it was time and they wheeled me into the room. As they got me prepped I could hear the nurse tell the dr. that I was “squeamish”. I will always remember that. I am not squeamish, I just don’t like the conventional medical system, with it’s sterile impersonal hospitals, drugs, procedures and experts. My mom said once when I was a child that hospitals are where you go to die. I will always remember that.

Part III
In the OR I get an epidural etc. the dr. comes in and starts to cut. I feel pulling and there she is. 4:18am. Born. But I didn’t give birth. Strange. Surreal.

I focused on breathing deeply to keep calm. DH held my hand the whole time partly because he knew how hard this was for me and partly because he didn’t want to look at his wife’s insides and pass out. The dr. held our baby girl up above the curtain that separated me from everything else going on so we could get our first glimpse of baby. What I remember was the shock of brilliant white hair. And then she was whisked away to get poked, prodded, and checked over. We could hear the nurses exclaim that they’d “never seen that before!”. She was a stunning baby with jet black hair and a huge shock of white in the front. I knew it was possible she would have that (it runs in dh’s family), but never expected it (we had lots of visits from curious nurses throughout our stay in the hospital). Dh stayed right at my head and I needed him there more than ever. I was sobbing silently – overwhelmed at the climax of the pregnancy, barely holding together. Finally they brought the baby over and dh held her close to my head. Ailsa Mae. I couldn’t see her, she was so close, and I just wanted this part to be over so I could be with my baby. The dr’s joked that there’s the 4am c-section for tonight. Ha ha. Not funny.

Here is a picture from the recovery room. I am already looking drugged and overwhelmed, but what a perfectly beautiful baby. http://www3.telus.net/chardock/famhospitalpic.jpg

This is where it starts to get a little fuzzy. No, literally, fuzzy. I don’t remember much as the drugs were really starting to work. They took us into a recovery room and baby wanted to eat. As soon as they had her latched on I started to throw up. So they put her on the other side and I threw up again. I consented to gravol in my IV and have no recollection of anything for a long time after that. I think they were worried about me splitting the stitches when I threw up. The next time baby was hungry I wouldn’t feed her – still only half there due to the drugs. I refused to sit up. Dh fed her formula from a cup. Just once, though. I remember DH phoning my dad at 6am and dad being annoyed at such an early phone call until he heard why we were calling. Family started to come and I made efforts to be sociable even though I was feeling very overwhelmed and still rather fuzzy from the drugs. I couldn’t sit up very high as I would get super dizzy. I would put the bed up in small increments, letting my head stop spinning between movements. After being up all night and staying at the hospital the whole day I sent Dh home. He had been trying to nap in the chair beside my bed but it was covered in vinyl and he kept sliding off of it. I felt alone with my new baby in an uncomfortable place. I was lost.

Dh went home and typed a crazy email to everyone we knew, and installed the carseat in the truck. I don’t know how much sleep he got. He’d left the lights on in the parking lot when we first arrived at the hospital so had to get a boost before going home. His sister escorted him because he was so tired and we were worried about him driving. He swears that ‘next time’(!) he will leave the camper on the truck and drive that to the hospital so he has somewhere to sleep if he has to. The hospital staff were not very understanding. It was disappointing, as the hospital we had planned to be in had a cot for the dad to sleep in. They also supplied diapers and clothes, and this one didn’t. That would have been useful to know earlier on.

On day 2 I got a shower which made me feel more human, and someone found a steamed soy milk which made the day. Dd was having trouble latching, and I had to call a nurse every time she needed to eat because I couldn’t get out of bed to grab her. It seems like a dream now.

By the 3rd morning I could get out of the bed to get my baby when she needed to eat, and they sent us home. Finally at home we nested for the next week, letting the answering machine take all the calls, and not accepting visitors. We all needed to recover. It took a long time for life to feel normal again. Dd was colicky, and I was not coping well, asking jokingly if we could give the baby back to that doctor that gave her to us. I felt numb. I felt raw. Slowly things turned around and life as a family evolved into the joy it is now. I can honestly say I am happier than I have ever been before.

There are things I have forgotten to include in this story, like how I saw a vision of my baby sitting cross-legged meditating in my womb, and then she was sitting just like that for our second ultrasound. She was a watcher (still is), she would be very still when I was practicing yoga, and the move about when I lay down at the end.

I forgot to mention nurse Gillian, who I swear I remember from university. She was so kind, gentle and happy. I would wait for her to come on shift, and light up my day.

I am ever so grateful for the support of our naturopath before, during, and especially after the birth. She is kind and gentle. I am grateful for dh being there every step of the way. I don’t know how you could do it alone.

I have found strength in the fact that I consented to the surgery even though I really didn’t want it. I didn’t “give birth” to my baby, but I gave her birth. My first instinct was to run away. My body felt strong and prepared for birth, it took much more of me to give in to the surgery.

Many people think that I was disappointed to have had surgery because I had some idealistic perfect birth pictured in my head. That’s not it at all, I just wanted to give my body the chance to do what it was created to do. We are so capable, and the medical system takes that power away (at least that’s the way it feels, and I don’t know how to take it back.). For our next birth I plan to find midwives who will support, but not take over my birth, and I will pray that we have the information and clear-headedness to make good decisions. If nothing else, I will certainly be more well-informed. Probably less in a cocoon, my baby and I, which will be sad.

I didn’t write this story because it’s interesting, or different. I needed to write it to wipe the slate clean so I can start again on the journey to birth a new baby. (We’re still waiting and praying for the new baby so don’t get excited yet!)

Canadian mama to A (C/S May 2004) and R (induced VBAC Dec 2007) expecting #3 in July.  Currently obsessing over permaculture, photography and beekeeping.

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#2 of 6 Old 11-16-2006, 11:39 PM
 
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I want to thank you for sharing your story with us. I'm so frustrated for you that circumstances were what they were. What a tough decision to have to make. I'm glad everything ended up good in the end though. I hope that next time you can have the birth of your dreams!
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#3 of 6 Old 11-17-2006, 01:59 PM - Thread Starter
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thanks, cfiddlinmama! I think it is important to share your story whatever it is. (Almost) No birth goes as "planned", and they're not always fairytale endings.

I'm a birth story junky at the moment (TTC will do that to you!) and was feeling guilty about reading everyone's story and not posting mine.

You know, it was in a way a good thing the doc gave us the choice of a vag. birth because if he had imposed it on us I would have been a lot more upset about it.

The choice was such an intuitive thing, I just **knew** we wouldn't be able to deliver vaginally under those circumstances. I still don't believe a c/s is completely necessary for breech births.

Next time I will have to fight for the "birth of my dreams" as I will be attempting a VBAC. I'm really not looking forward to that part of it.

g.

Canadian mama to A (C/S May 2004) and R (induced VBAC Dec 2007) expecting #3 in July.  Currently obsessing over permaculture, photography and beekeeping.

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#4 of 6 Old 11-25-2006, 09:45 PM
 
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Originally Posted by g&a View Post
thanks, cfiddlinmama! I think it is important to share your story whatever it is. (Almost) No birth goes as "planned", and they're not always fairytale endings.

Next time I will have to fight for the "birth of my dreams" as I will be attempting a VBAC. I'm really not looking forward to that part of it.

g.
I agree, and it's great that you told your story. It sounds like you were really in touch with your body and what you wanted and what would be best for the baby, given the circumstances. I'm sorry you had to make such important decisions so quickly and under stress. Your post birth babymoon sounds lovely- probably just what you needed!

I certainly hope you don't have to fight for the birth you want, and can find a supportive midwife who has faith in your body to vbac!

Your daughter's hair sounds so pretty and unusual- did it stay like that?
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#5 of 6 Old 11-26-2006, 02:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for your kind words, itsy. I have my fingers crossed that I can find some people who think like me when it is time to do this again. And if not, I'm up for a fight.

Yes, she still has the white streak. The rest of her hair has turned light brown in the sun, and her bangs cover most of the white at the moment. Now that her skin has some color some other pretty amazing birth marks have appeared. They're perfectly symmetrical left to right. She's the first female in the family to have the markings - women have only carried the gene before. It's called piebaldism, if anyone's interested.

g.

Canadian mama to A (C/S May 2004) and R (induced VBAC Dec 2007) expecting #3 in July.  Currently obsessing over permaculture, photography and beekeeping.

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#6 of 6 Old 11-27-2006, 12:53 PM
 
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Thank you for your kind words, itsy. I have my fingers crossed that I can find some people who think like me when it is time to do this again. And if not, I'm up for a fight.

Yes, she still has the white streak. The rest of her hair has turned light brown in the sun, and her bangs cover most of the white at the moment. Now that her skin has some color some other pretty amazing birth marks have appeared. They're perfectly symmetrical left to right. She's the first female in the family to have the markings - women have only carried the gene before. It's called piebaldism, if anyone's interested.

g.
I looked up piebaldism, and that is so interesting! I'm sure she is meant for great things
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