The best part first- Rosemary Sunshine has been every bit the blessing anyone could want in a baby. She was nearly 3 weeks late and weighed 9lb2oz. She was 20 in long. At her 2 week appt she was already 10lb due to her incredible knack for nursing. Her first week home she was sleeping 5 hours and last night she pulled 10 hrs. I'm not scheduling her per se, she just likes to eat a lot during the day and sleep a lot at night!
I wanted to try for a vba4c. My other c/s were avoidable and I knew that if this were a c/s I wouldn't be able to have any more children. We faced such opposition to our plans, mostly from people unqualified to give an educated opinion. So many times I thought I'd just throw in the towel and submit to another surgery but my dh said he thought we should take it one step at a time and not just go with cs because it was the easy way out (not so much easy as familiar). We had church leaders concerned we didn't know what we were getting into because of conversations with the well intentioned church goers who were fearful but couldn't talk directly to us about it, family that was rather silent on the issue (but dissapproving) and my dh's coworker who recommended he just take me to the hospital (there is something humiliating about having men discuss my broken uterus issues- but I digress). The concerned people who came to me and really wanted to support me even against their own opinions were truly a blessing to me. I'll always remember how much love that took. My mom was one of the most surprising. She was distraught that I would even consider vbac (she was a victim of the once a c always a c 20 yrs ago). She went so far as to call my inlaws to try and see what they knew (I think she was looking for support for her position). When she couldn't reach them she decided to research the internet to find evidence to prove me wrong. She called later to say that she was now angry about her rcs and was completely supportive of me. She even paid for the most incredible hotel room for labor!
I had prelabor for about a week before real labor began. The prelabor did a lot to prepare my body for labor. I had dialated 3-4 cm and was almost completely effaced. I didn't mind the prelabor, I was so glad that something was happening and that I could feel the contractions working in my body. I was hoping that my body wasn't broken. I thought I was in labor on a Monday and even called my friend to come and get the kids because I was sure it had to be the right time. My cntx petered out and I had to go get the kids. The next day I called a midwife, who had seen me once prenatally and another time as a nutritional counsellor, to see if she might have any pointers or whether she thought I wouldn't be able to do it. She told me that I'm probably jinxing my labor because I'm so nervious about a rupture and complications. She said I needed to let go of my apprehensions and just let my body work. I was mad, I thought she was giving me the brush off. So I called a friend of mine who had previous experience working with a midwife and she told me the same thing. I guess it is the power of a second person- I believed what they were telling me then. My friend also sent me a link about a birth story. My contractions started again about an hour later. They continued through the night and by the next morning I knew something was different and I was sure I was in true labor. I phoned dh who was working 2 hours away and told him to be prepared that I might call him to come home later as I was in labor.
I still relish the feeling of being in labor that morning. What a glorious anticipation I had! My baby was going to come to me sometime in the next few days, hours? I had a thought I was going to have a girl (though no confirmation) and I just beamed at the prospect of finding out. I think that was the last time I felt truly joyous. When the contractions started getting harder I became impatient to wrap up some lose ends. I called dh to come home and went out to take the kids to deliver their paper route. Even with the intensity of the contractions I just embraced each one as a gift God was giving to me for the birth of my baby. When my dh came home, I still enjoyed ctx but had to think more of why. He finished the paper route and I finished packing. Everyone came home and once again we called my friend to come get the other kids. My daughters were to be there with us.
I hadn't bothered to discuss my plan with my ob. I only felt it was necessary to go to the doc 3 times and the topic never came up. When I first found out I was pregnant I had called Kaiser's member liason to find out what my options would be. She then called me back after talking with the legal department and in so many words told me I'd have to go with the ob's recommendation. That was enough for me, they quickly became my back up plan. I had spent years doing research on birth and labor, all aspects of delivery and of course I exhausted the research on vbac. I believe in birth and it is ingrained in me that birth works. My only reservation was that my body had been tampered with and so it may not work now. I sought out all I could in regards to the what ifs after a rupture and felt sufficiently prepared that should something happen I would know how to minimize a bad outcome. I had taken excellent care of myself during pregnancy, having researched anything I thought of and a few things I didn't. I got to the bottom of my own issues and resolved them too. Though I only went to the ob 3 times (I found their protocol to be substandard), I did see a midwife once in the 8th month for some end of pregnancy advice that was priceless.
Our plan was to labor at a hotel (it was 5 min from the hospital) and only go there when I felt I needed to. I was sure everything would be fine if I didn't rupture and I didn't even feel I needed anyone there beyond my hubby and daughters. I so trusted (and still do) the birth process that I felt confident that going to the hospital was just an idea in the back of my mind. The midwife I had talked to had inspired such courage. She mentioned I may want to pack a few recieving blankets in addition to the things I told her I had packed in case I didn't make it to the hospital. She said she didn't normally recommend uc but thought I might do fine. That was just the relief I needed. I didn't like anything about the hospital- down to the smell of the antiseptic- but I felt obligated to go for the birth. Dh was fine not going (though he did prefer to transfer at the last minute for the birth). So we had my rupture indicators (bp monitor, doppler) and lots of hope and quite a collection of people praying for us.
My labor progressed steadily til I got to about 6 cm. I felt the ctx and still loved them though they cost me a lot of work. We were watching the republican convention and with every ctx all that came to mind was the name McCain. I had to shut it off so I could get that out of my head. The tub there was amazing! I love square tubs and this one even had perfectly angled slants at the head and foot and was very deep. It was as though they picked it for that very purpose! Hubby scrubbed every cm of that tub (I'm sort of picky about hotel baths), and I spent time in and out all night long. I really had the time of my life- I was so happy my body was working. DH was exactly the type of coach I needed- he even helped with Ina May's low pitched moaning. It really was soothing!
I started to get a little ansy when the ctx got closer and I wanted to get on the bed. I was working on my hands and knees and dh was given counter pressure on my hips. We both heard something pop and my water broke. I got worried because the water was light green. My experienced friend talked us through shades of merconium. I didn't feel any urgency or problems so we kept at the labor. I started to get ctx very close together and they were quite painful. I wanted to get back in the bath. I sat and labored a little but something seemed off. I only wanted to stand but I couldn't quite catch my labor again, it had changed. I noticed that I was passing lots of dk green merconium with each ctx and that they were excruciating, way worse than the labor had been a moment before. I had to tighten my whole body to even deal with the pain. Even my fingertips and toes were sore with muscle pain for 3 days after. I thought I needed labor support so dh again called my friend with mw experience. She had offered to be there as a doula only (and not a mw) and I was sure I needed her. I think she sensed something was wrong and asked dh about the situation. As they talked I started bleeding with the ctx and decided I wanted to go to the hospital- something was wrong. I was in constant pain and could in no way cope at all. After talking with her he decided the same thing so we packed up and got to the hospital. Hindsight we wouldn't have packed our things (it only took a few min anyway) but we were so afraid someone would know what we had been doing there.
At this point I was begging God to make it stop. The pain was uncomparable and though it lessened slightly between ctx, it never subsided completely. I didn't care if I did have a rcs, I felt like I was about to die. In my previous labor attempts the pain had never gotten to that degree, even with the pitocin. I cried out to God and He heard me and answered my pleading, though He didn't take away the pain. Had He taken away the pain I would have never gone to the hospital. The ideal labor and birth image was obviously by this time gone. My poor girls were there to wonder if that was what birth was about, why did women think this was a good idea! Once in the car I was at liberty to truly vocalize my pain and I think they were rather alarmed though they won't admit it. I hope I haven't scarred them for life. They still say they want babies some day- we'll see if they do!
At the hospital I experienced the same things that reminded me why I hate hospitals. The security person said I was at the wrong entrance and was going to make me climb back into the car (15 pass van) to go around to the right place. Bless him for changing his mind and wheeling me back to the right place while dh and girls parked the car. The degree of pain I was in still makes me suck in a deep breath. I am truly traumatized by it. When I got to the ob floor they started their normal protocols. I had heard the baby's heart rate in the hotel and I was glad to hear it was so strong still. My heart and mind were quiet and peaceful even through this whole time. My first moment of panic came when the anesthesiologist came in to assess what type of anesthesia. I begged him for a general but he wouldn't listen. I'd had a handful of grapes an hour before so I guess that was a big hesitation. At this point the pain was excruciating even between the ctxs and there was no way I could be still for any type of epidural or spinal. He was determined to decide that. He yelled at me to be still and stop writhing so he could assess whether he could do a spinal. I told him I couldn't but he seemed to think I was exaggerating the pain or just being a wimp. I tried to buck up and bit my thumb so I could try to do as he asked. He told me to take my thumb out of my mouth (was I 3?). I asked him how much time he needed for a spinal and almost cried when he said 5 min, I told him there was no way. He started to go through a list of possible complications of anesthesia. He was rather irritated when I asked him if he could talk faster. I only had a few seconds when the pain was not mind numbing and I didn't hear what he said anyway. When I started writhing again apparently he had assessed enough and he said "knock her out". That was the last thing I heard until I woke up.
I am angry about the way they treated me in that room before I went under. I was doing everything I could to cooperate but the pain (now I know what they mean by rupture pain) could not be dealt with. I had one nurse (?) criticizing me for rolling on my side to grab a bar at the top of the bed- she kept talking about blowing candles (not even sure who that would help in labor anyway) and was only not rebuking me when she was demonstrating the candle routine (oh brother!). They thought I would fall out of the bed. The other nurse yelled at me to quit pushing saying that I was not going to push out a baby on the operating table. Did she realize I came to THEM for HELP? I yelled back, "NO KIDDING! I'm not trying to! I'm trying to work with you!" Apparently I wasn't very convincing.
The whole exchange made me rather nervous that they were wasting time on stupid things. I knew I needed a cs in 17-47 min for an optimal outcome. I had the nerve to tell them I didn't want my tubes tied, to please not staple but suture the outside skin as I react to the staples and to please give me a double layer of stiching on my uterus as I was afraid of placenta acreta in a subsequent pregnancy. I'm glad no one told me what they thought about those requests. I'm sure they thought I was nutso. The resident who was going to assist started reading me the consent to surgery page. I interrupted her and said I knew everything on the paper and could I just sign. She said she would have to read it to me anyway. There were several points of irony- this was just another one. The ONE time I actually did have what I feel truly was informed consent, the docs had to go through their routine. What about the previous cs where I didn't want the cs and they sort of skimmed the info (maybe not but it sure seems like it)? I wonder if I had acted if I didn't want the cs if they would have moved faster to make it happen (it seemed to work especially well with cs #2). I don't trust docs after 11 years of having to fight them during pregnancy and childbirth to take care of me for me and this was just another example of why not.
My hubby is very patient and very humble. He hated the position we were now in. He said during the surgery the doctor chewed him out quite a bit. I told him it made me feel better to know that- maybe the surgery wasn't quite as serious as the doc made it seem, otherwise maybe she wouldn't have had time to chew him out! He said it was rather serious and the doc couldn't believe it when she cut open my stomach and saw my baby's bottom instead of my uterus. Hindsight moment- we should have had a last minute u/s to be certain of position. She was breech but I didn't know. She must have flipped either just before labor or during labor. My friend reminded me that I was concerned about breech positioning a few days prior so maybe I already knew she was breech. I also would have told the doc of my intentions to avoid a c/s, they thought I was getting care elsewhere. Maybe they should have at least had a heads up. I feel badly that I caused such a panic. I know how helpless they must have felt trying to make a positive outcome out of a terrible situation. I feel the same way about my 4 previous c/s. I felt I should apologize for putting them in that emotional state. My mom said something that comforted me in regards to their duress- she said had it been anyone off the street with a rupture they still would have to cope with it, it's their job. It was a perfect plan B, they just didn't know about the crucial role they would play. Still, I don't like feeling at the mercy of the powers that be- I can't blame them for feeling the same way.
I don't remember waking up and I don't remember anyone telling me I'd had a girl. Somehow I always knew I did. Apparently I'd been awake about an hour or so before I remember anything. Dh was rather abashed about the situation so he didn't object to the eye goup, vit K shot etc as we had meant to before we had complications. He was just grateful. The first thing I remember was being uncomfortable that the doc was giving me a piece of her mind in front of my dad. Then I remember telling her I was so thankful for her work and that everything turned out well. Her first comment that I remember was something about how she didn't understand why people had to do that-meaning why do women feel they need to take such a risk on a vbamc. I told her that I never felt that I could trust docs and that I felt my previous obstetric care left a lot to be desired. She thought I was talking about Kaiser and couldn't get beyond that. I don't remember much of that conversation, I'm glad because now I can't play it back in my mind. I tried later to piece what she said together with the resident but I still have a lot of gaps. I do remember she said I shouldn't get pregnant again because of the condition of the scar tissue and all I could get an image of was something called a crazy quilt which is made by piecing together all sorts of odd shapes and sizes of material. I imagine that's the condition of my uterus. During the stay every med person mentioned my ruptured uterus and I'm a little confused about why they say it that way- didn't they fix it? I have the thought that I have a little gap in my uterine wall.
I didn't realize it but to go against standard operating procedure has some frightening consequences. I felt rather defensive of my decisions all the while feeling rather grateful. I felt I had to explain myself to everyone who walked in my room. I couldn't wait to get back to my safe corner and to MDC where I wasn't a freak. For the first 24 hours they wanted me to bag my daughter's urine. For the life of me I can't remember why they told me, I only remember that it was not on the up and up. Each person gave a different reason- finally saying that they didn't have my prenatal blood tests from Kaiser and they needed to know if I was HIV positive so they could protect the rest of the babies in the nursery. It was a HUGE load of crap! I was coming off of the general and going onto morphine so it was too hard to process whether I wanted this or not. I finally consented because they said the tape on the bag came off extremely easily. BIG LIE!!! As I became more lucid I asked more questions. I couldn't stand that bag being on her genitals. She'd already had so much trauma to that area because of being stuck in my incision and pushed that she was rather swollen and bruised. As time wore on I noticed everywhere except under the bag was looking more normal. I finally pitched a fit and come what may I decided to take it off and it wasn't going back on. I didn't mind giving them the merconium but enough was enough. Even though I soaked the bandage with oil it still took skin with it when it came off! I found out later that was standard protocol for someone with "sketchy prenatal history" who comes in with a major complication. The sweet NP who courageously told me the truth said that a lot of times they see those problems with drug addicted women. She said she prefers to deal upfrontly. Had they told me their suspicions I would have consented even to a blood test.
A huge blessing in the whole thing was that they had 12 babies born the day before so they didn't have anywhere to put me. I was tucked in an observation room back in a corner to recuperate. The girl in recovery beside me got there after I did and was moved to a room before me- a slight I recognize as going against the flow retribution. I didn't care. My baby was in my arms. In the observation room I was free from protocol. Had anything gone wrong with my recovery they could have been blamed for not checking on me but the poor nurse had all she could do to pop her head in once in awhile. I was free. My mom had brought me real chicken broth and I felt great enough to drink some. It was about 6 hours post op. By the time they got me into a room I was eating solids and wanting to get up to use the bathroom. The next nurse was so sweet. I told her my goals and she told me the very second I could fulfill them. I really wanted to go home but the doc said at least 24 hrs. I could have left but I was ok staying, I wanted to be sure I was ok after the trauma. Beyond having the nurse who'd had 2 c/s with no pain meds 30 yrs prior so she thought I was a wimp for insisting on mine, it was rather dull until before discharge. They did send the care manager to see me. She was questioning why I'd made the choices I did. I wanted to tell her off but instead I put on my best- why wouldn't I?- attitude and gave her more info than she wanted. I really only cared to cooperate because I was afraid they would take my baby from me for some dumb reason. I was paranoid now after the drug testing). I was a little annoyed at dh for the tmi he gave them when he woke up out of a dead sleep to explain our details. Oh well.
How am I now? I've never had such an easy recovery (being ultra picky about every nutritional thing for 9 mos paid off here!). Physically I'm ok though I have developed a strange lump that is painful and growing but the doc says is normal scar tissue and fascia pain (Why do I keep going back?). Emotionally I'm not doing well. I have stopped crying when my baby makes sad faces in her sleep. For the longest time I would weep and whisper my apologies to her so my hubby wouldn't know. I feel so sad that she had to be put through the surgery (which was easy on her) and the rest of the protocol (which wasn't so easy). I feel so alone. I don't feel like a failure though it has been hard for me to ponder why some women can give birth so easily and I can't. I recently watched a you tube of a woman in labor singing Ps 23 through 2 ctx and I just wept. That's what I wanted and I won't ever be able to. I long to be in labor again and wish I could give birth outside on a mountaintop. I'm terrified of becoming pregnant again. I don't want a hysterectomy (apparently the doc couldn't even give me one because of the condition of my uterus and scar tissue) or any of the other problems insinuated or otherwise stated by the doc. Every time my lump hurts me it's all I can do not to curse all docs. I was blessed by the doc who helped me this time when I really needed it but it is the other c/s that led up to this that I'm so unraveled about. I'd never been bitter or angry about them before but now I am. I'm devastated that I'll never again be able to feel that special bond of a baby growing or the secret of feeling a baby move with no one else knowing. I feel robbed of the option of more children. My heart is broken for the things I've lost though at the same time I realize this isn't what life is about. My whole world doesn't revolve around birth so I can move forward. I just am very saddened by the chain of events and I admit I do feel some trauma from it. I have long wanted to pursue a midwife career but now I wonder if I'd be qualified after the decision I made had such deep repercussions. I still completely support and encourage vbac, though now I look at it a little differently. I sure would like to start a vbac section of the hospital though not in the way any doc or hospital would ever agree with! Imagine being able to labor as I did, just down the hall from a safety net in case of problems! A subdivision of the hospital without the protocol. In my dreams. I often feel that the things that are easy for others are so difficult for me but I don't want to keep that to myself, I want to share the difficulties in hopes that my suffering will allow someone else to avoid my trials. I had a better day today though it still wasn't good. I don't even like to admit I have issues. I feel as though I'm expected to move on though the trauma is still so fresh. I resent the vbac girl at church who glibly said "oh well, how far did you dialate" when she asked about the birth. Hopefully she did not mean the way she came across, especially since I know how she behaved at her hbac. With each successful vbac story I read I am so happy for the parties involved though I also wonder why it has eluded me. I am having to learn how to be content in all things- maybe this brings me closer to that goal.
I apologize for how long this is, it has taken several hours to write. I am so relieved to get it out, and I'm a little aprehensive to send it to cyberspace. I'll have to really face it then. I do feel better now too. Thanks for reading. Lots of love.
FWIW, I also cling to my time in labor with DS before I was wheeled back for the c-section. It felt normal and natural.
Wife to J, SAHM to W (03/06) at 32w4d, C (10/08) , and H (02/11)
Momma to DD (12/04) and DS (11/09) .
I survived 16 mos! Ask me about breastfeeding a baby with posterior tongue tie, high palate, and weak oral motor skills- whew!
thank you so much for writing all that out. I think you are strong and amazing and will get thru all these emotions you are feeling. I am just so glad that you and your precious baby are safe. since I first read posts by you I really really wanted you to have the vba4c you were hoping for... so so very much, but in the end all that matters is that you two are okay. Honestly, your story has given me a lot to think about as we TTC#5.
mom to 3 lovely kids
Oh sweet mama! Thank you for sharing your story, you are very brave and intuitive and have followed your heart in every step of your journey, and that is so very important. And you are alive and will feel more and more alive and healed as time passes. And your sweet baby daughter is alive and will be a happy baby, as she has such a cool mama, who is able to follow her heart. Yes, they were mad at you at the hospital and afraid to do things wrong in the delivery of your baby, as you learn to understand them deeper you will see that they just can't think outside of their own boundaries and that was the best they can do (not that they did the "right thing" and they certainly did not understand the urgency of your pain). I wish I could give you a big hug.
Try as well as you can to connect with your little baby, give her the joy she searches for and it will heal you too. You can heal each other as this birth was yours and hers as well. She will always have the same story as you.
1. You had a HUGE emphasis on safety in your planning for your baby's birth. I hope you know that. You knew it was safe for you to labor close to the hospital, but not inside. You knew when it was time to get to the hospital, and you knew that your Cesarean had to be done quickly. It is not your fault that the personnel at the hospital did not take you seriously. And don't think that ruptures are always caught quickly and taken seriously at hospitals- I have heard several stories where moms with ruptures were pooh-poohed and bad things happened. Even if you had labored the entire time at the hospital, it might not have improved your eventual outcome. Please believe me. You knew something was wrong and you tried to convey that! Doctors, nurses, etc should take seriously the intuition of a 4 time mama! It disgusts me that it is not standard practice to do so. You did your best to keep yourself and your baby safe, and I hope you can accept that in time.
2. You advocated for the best care for yourself and your baby. What a great example you have set for all your children.
3. If you do want more children, there is always a way. There are many paths to parenthood that you can explore when the time is right.
I wish you a speedy and healthy healing both emotionally and physically!
Mom of three - (2.5 yrs, 7yrs, and 11yrs). Birthing Doula, editor, and wife to my soulmate. I've had a c/s, hospital VBAC, UC and not yet decided what I'll do about this next little one
Eager for a VBAC some time around April 10, 2010!
Happily married, busy mom to a houseful :-)
Expecting again early Oct 2014!
You are her saving grace. Kiss that baby once for me.
Kelli, Upstate NY mama, dh FarmBoy, raising 6:, his, mine, and ours.
I hope that you have found healing in all these years that have passed. Please be encouraged that your story is a blessing and encouragement to me. ((Hugs))