for anyone interested
Jacob’s Story- The beginning
My first pregnancy didn’t go very well. Much like many first time moms I read What To Expect When You’re Expecting and felt like I knew it all. My husband was on deployment, and we had just moved so I knew no one. I spent most of my time in bed watching television and eating. In my 6th month I suddenly put on 10lbs in a week. My weight continued to spiral up and I developed pre-ecclampsia. It wasn’t diagnosed until I went into labor at 37 weeks. At that point I had put on over 65lbs.
I was fortunate enough that my husband came home two weeks before I went into labor. We finished putting together the crib and got a small vacation away. At 37 weeks to the day I went into labor around 1AM. Things started out normally enough, nice easy regular contractions. We called labor and delivery and they told me to get a shower, eat something and call back when the contractions were about 5 minutes apart. So I showered, which was wonderful, and I got a bowl of cereal. The contractions had picked up some so we called back and they told us to come in. Once we were at the hospital they checked me and I was only dilated to 2cm. They were going to send me home but my urine had protein in it and they decided to admit me. All of a sudden I was hooked up to IV’s and stuck in bed. It took them 11 tries to get the IV in (seems to be a problem with that hospital, took them 15 tries at a later date when I had my gall bladder removed). I was put on magnesium sulfate for my blood pressure and given a catheter, which was excruciatingly painful. I was in agony stuck on my back in bed with all these things hooked up to me. The nurses were rude and barely acknowledged me; my birth plan had been completely ignored. I asked for an epidural and was told it would “slow my labor”. I only found out later that the magnesium is often used to stop labor and the epidurals can lower blood pressure so I may as well have been given one so I could rest. My water broke about eight hours into my labor and I was dilated to 5cm. The contractions instantly became unbearable, lying in bed felt like the worst place to be and I only wanted to get up but was denied because of all the monitors and tubes. The nurse came in and gave me a shot of stadol without telling me what it was or even asking. When I started to freak out when I asked what they had given me (I had stated from the beginning I wanted no narcotics because of the potential harm to the baby) they said it was because I was “making too much noise” and they couldn’t have that. Almost immediately the baby’s heart rate dropped to 30 beats per minute from 140. They rushed me into the operating room and hooked me up to an ultrasound machine and screwed an internal monitor to my son’s head. That still makes me cry today to think they put a screw in my child’s head. I was finally given my epidural, but the anesthesiologist was horribly rude to me, telling me I had “too much extra padding” for him to get it in right. The same man told a friend of mine the same thing. The epidural only worked on one side and I had to be given a spinal as well. They had me sign forms consenting to a cesarean section. I began having trouble breathing and stopped breathing all together momentarily. The spinal had been done too high and froze my lungs. I threw up. I don’t know how they got in under control, next all I remember is being shaved, then cutting and tugging and pressure as they pulled out my son. They didn’t even show him to me. My husband had been allowed in the room at some point and got to go see our son. He wrapped him up and brought him to me for a few short seconds then they left the room to give him his first bath. I was then stitched up and wheeled to a recovery room. I remember getting the worst shakes, they kept asking me if I was cold and put a warm blanket on me. Later I learned the shakes are a common side effect of all the drugs. No one there told me that.
I slept a long time after that. My husband says it was nearly a full day before I got to see my son. He was brought to me and I tried to breastfeed. It was hard because of the tubes and incision and the gown had to be pulled all the way down to free my breast. My son was very groggy from all the drugs but he managed to latch on and nurse. The nurse told me to pinch him so he’d cry and open his mouth wide enough to latch on. I was appalled. The next day I was transferred to another room that I had to share with another woman. She’d had a vaginal delivery and was walking around like nothing had happened. I was so angry! I could barely stand without feeling faint. If I used the bathroom I passed clots the size of baseballs. I was finally able to shower, I had to use a chair because I couldn’t stand. I remember dropping my soap and not being able to pick it up and I just cried. A nurse came in to check my uterus and pressed on it so violently, getting frustrated because she said it wasn’t a normal shape and she was having a hard time finding it. Any time I called for help picking up my son I was treated rudely, like they thought I was just lazy. I could barely lift him; I had no strength after the surgery. We had our son circumcised, I almost immediately regretted it; he came back shrieking. Whoever said babies don’t feel pain has never had a baby. I later learned that babies have died from hemorrhage and infections from unnecessary circumcisions. I realize that it’s my job as a parent to learn all of this but what happened to the job of a doctor to give their patients a right to informed consent? After twelve or more years of medical school you expect these people to have more knowledge and to share it with you but they don’t.
After four days in the hospital we came home. It took me weeks to start feeling normal again. For the first two weeks I slept on the recliner because I couldn’t lie flat in bed without pain. I found a Boppy pillow very useful for nursing, as I couldn’t put my sons weight on my stomach.
After such a disheartening birth I had decided for a long time that I didn’t want any more children. I felt violated like I had been raped. When my son got to be around 20 months old I started wanting another baby and was depressed because I felt like my only option was another c-section. Even my husband had said it would be easier because I wouldn’t have to go into labor again. I told people all I really wanted was to run off into the woods and come back out with a baby. I didn’t want anyone to touch me or poke me or come near me while I was in labor. I wanted the only people to touch my baby to do so with nothing but love. No monitors, no screws in my baby’s head. Someone sent me a website, http://pages.ivillage.com/coatlicue/
detailing the birth of a baby named Grey Forest Walt. This woman gave birth with midwives on top of a mountain out under the sun. I was amazed! I didn’t know people did this kind of thing. I knew some women had homebirths but I had always thought you’d be crazy to want it. I followed the links to her more recent birth, at home, unassisted and finally knew THIS is what I wanted. I did more research on unassisted birth. I came across Laura Shanley’s website, http://www.unassistedchildbirth.com/
and emailed it to my husband (who was again on deployment). At first he was surprised that I was thinking of another child. He didn’t think an unassisted birth would be safe and asked me for some proof that the baby or I wouldn’t die. Well, I couldn’t prove that, mother and baby can die anywhere, even in the hospital but I was able to find statistic after statistic that repeat cesarean was unnecessary, that I was more likely to die in a car crash than having a baby. If I don’t have a driving instructor in my back seat when I drive to the mall why should I have a surgeon there when I birth my baby? I also found some good statistics at http://www.unhinderedliving.com/stats.html
. After looking over the info hubby agreed we’d start trying for a baby when he got home. I spent the rest of his deployment researching birth at a rate of near obsession. I had dreams about this pudgy baby boy; I just couldn’t wait to meet him. My husband got home the end of May and by the end of July we found out we were expecting. I had originally planned to have an unassisted pregnancy as well but I met a nice homebirth midwife and decided to get a few prenatals. It made my husband feel a bit better to get a professional opinion and it wound up being helpful for paperwork reasons later. I joined several UC and natural birthing groups on yahoo and ‘met’ many wonderful women who offered up a great support network via phone, email, and even in person. My pregnancy progressed wonderfully. I was active, ate well, and felt wonderful. I had far less morning sickness than with my first son. We moved to South Carolina from Virginia at the end of my pregnancy. I hurt my back and we decided to get a hot tub to help my backache. What a wonderful thing to have for a pregnant woman! It took so much pressure off to be able to float in the warm water. This is where we wound up having our unassisted homebirth.
At 5:20am on March 28th 2004 I woke up because I just couldn’t get comfortable. I used the bathroom and tried to get back to bed but couldn’t get comfy, so I got up and got online for a while. I started feeling regular contractions about 15 minutes apart. I told my husband and said he could go back to sleep to which he replied “yeah, right”. He ran to the store and picked up some milk and a few other things since he wouldn’t get the chance later. I sat on my birth ball and sniffed a lavender aromatherapy pillow I had. I began to pace around the house, as contractions got stronger and closer together. I tried to eat but felt a little queasy so I drank some Gatorade instead. I’d made up some of my own laborade ice cubes and sucked on those. I took a shower and when the hot water died on me all too soon I decided to get into the hot tub. The contractions picked up stronger and faster once in the tub and I started feeling pushy but after 20 minutes of pushing and it just not feeling right I decided to get out of the tub. I put some chux pads down on my bed and lay on my left side for a while as I’d read that was supposed to slow things down but it didn’t help much. I also started having some back labor at that point and needed my husband to provide lots of counter pressure on my lower back to help. I sat on the birth ball, showered again, and moved around a lot but the contractions started coming right on top of each other so I got back in the tub. We sat in there a long time with my husband pressing on my back. I don’t think I could have gotten through it without the water and his help. My son helped some cheering me on and held my hand on occasion. He mostly stayed inside watching movies. I used lots of vocalizing and breathing techniques to help as well. Around 2PM I started feeling pushy again and this time it felt SO good to push. I could tell I had hit transition because i started feeling like I couldn’t do it and burst into tears for what seemed like no real reason. I was tired and wanted desperately to just sit and put my knees together but I could feel his head right in my pelvis and it just hurt to lean back. If I had one thing to do differently I would have taken prenatal yoga to stretch and strengthen my thigh muscles, I think it would have helped immensely!! After I started pushing I stayed on all fours with my husband pressing my lower back with each contraction. Boy were his arms tired the next day!! I eventually started to feel the head descend with each push. The contractions still hurt as they rose but when I pushed with them it just felt amazing! My husband really coached me on and let me know he could feel the baby descending. At one point he accidentally poked the head and I felt my son move inside me it was so strange! I hadn’t experienced any of this in my first labor. When the head began to emerge my husband said he felt something squishy and I reached down and felt something soft and pulsing and momentarily thought it was the cord. I tried not to panic and looking back on it I knew deep down nothing was wrong but I had my husband call 911 just in case. (In retrospect even if it had been the cord, if it were still pulsing then it was still moving oxygen to the baby anyhow!) As he called I got up in a half squat, one knee up one kneeling, and I started to push like crazy knowing if the cord was there I had to get him out NOW. As he started to emerge more I realized it was just where the bones in the head fold up during delivery and nothing was wrong. I still pushed like crazy since my husband was still on the phone and he gave the dispatcher the play by play as if it were a baseball game; “The head is crowning, wait its out, wait there’s the body! Its out the baby is crying and fine!!” I felt the head pop out and the body shot out into the water after on the next contraction. He was born posterior-face up! I pulled him up out of the water and cried “I did it we have a baby!” the 911 dispatcher asked, “So, is it a boy or a girl?” we hadn’t even thought to look yet!! We looked and told him it was a boy, he congratulated us asked if we still needed them and we said no, thanks so much and got off the phone. We went inside to warm up the baby. (I imagine at this point I might have shocked some neighbors as I’d just given birth naked on my porch but no one has said anything yet!). The cord was very short and I had to waddle with him at my belly button level. It couldn’t have been much more than a foot long. My husband laid him on the bed and covered him with warm towels from the dryer. He was taking a long time for his limbs to pink up so we suctioned him a little and worked on warming him up. I couldn’t nurse with the cord so short so we waited for it to stop pulsing and turn white and we cut it. I had wanted to wait for the placenta initially but it just was too awkward to care for him. I took some angelica tincture to help ease the placenta and my husband dried off the baby and got him dressed. I tried to squat over a bowl to deliver the placenta but I was SO tired I just couldn’t do it. A few more contractions came on so I knew it would probably come out soon. I went and sat on the toilet and nursed my newborn son; the placenta fell out a few minutes later. I scooped it out and put it in the bowl I’d originally planned to use, passed my son to my husband and got in the shower to clean up. Even with all that hard fast pushing I only had a tiny tear that I didn’t even notice till about a week later after it all but had healed up. My husband weighed the baby while I was showering; he weighed 8lbs 6oz. My first son had been 6lbs 11oz; it always amazes me how VBAC babies are so much bigger!!
We’ve been doing great since. He is now 11 days old and growing like a weed! I’m so grateful to have had my unassisted VBAC!!!