My most brutal birth was my most studied for and well prepared-for birth. Home waterbirth, herbs, most of labor alone, a midwife everyone swooned for.
There is indeed an element of chance. I resent it when people say, "Oh, if you have just done ___ or ___ like I did." There is no guarantee.
Boy, traumatic births can really floor you - I didn't process through my first one until a year and a half later (and that's b/c I had birth #2 at that time). They were night and day but I kept thinking that I had missed some magical key to ease the first time - like everyone else got this "difficult but awesome labor" and I got "heck on a stick labor" and um, not right!
I was in transition for 14 hours, it sucked. We transfered for an epidural. I will say the ability to labor as long as I did at home kept me from a cesarean. The ability to labor with an epidural at the hospital kept me from a cesarean too. At that point I realized why there are epidurals. Sometimes you need one.
When my 10 min. of transition hit the second birth I said "ahhhhhhh, this feels like labor #1 did for all of those hours - I WASN'T a wuss!!!". It was healing. As was the book Birthing From Within. I had to give myself permission to feel all the feelings I had before I had that second baby. And even to this day I say, "I can do 38 hours or less for sure" b/c I did it. I don't want another impossibly hard labor... but at least I know I can do it.
Give yourself time, it will get better.
IME, it will pass. This time around, I had no meds, gave birth in the tub, and it was as sublime as could be. I never thought I would say this, but my second's birth was easy and joyous.
But give yourself time. You experienced suffering and you need time to process and grieve that and to deal with the fear that comes with it. You'll know when it's right to have another baby.
The pain from my first labor was traumatizing. I worked through my paralyzing fear of it the next time by doing hypnosis using the HypnoBabies program and by scripting my anxieties with the book "Feelings Buried Alive Never Die". Bach flower therapies helped, too. I also read the book "Back Labor No More" to help prepare on a practical level in the case of another back labor scenario.
My second labor was completely pain-free until I got to transition-- way different than the first time. The whole thing was relatively short and easy. I would DEFINITELY use HypnoBabies again.
I was going to say something like this too. I got over the 1st one with Hypnobirthing and various natural birth books. I spent every sunday in Starbucks doing the fear exercises in 'birthing from within' and jotting notes in my journal. Then 40 mins every night doing hypBirth. I was bound and determined to never have to experience the first birth again, I just knew there had to be another way.
If you think it might help you, I wouldn't mind sending a copy of my journal as i worked through the grief and process of the 1st birth during my 2nd pregnancy. It really gave me a lot of fodder to heal with.
: I understand the value of preparation, but I also had thoroughly prepared for my horrendously painful birth.
However, 3 years later, I still have occasional panic attacks over it, partially because I didn't process it and deal with it. I'm doing that now. I should have done it 2 years ago.
Hugs, mama. You have a lot of people who have been where you are.
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I had difficult births, too. But I do have to add in, that just because you get an epidural/intrathecal or drugs, does not mean it's going to be better. My intrathecal caused me severe chronic pain where I was basically handicapped for a long time.
AP Mom to 5
I'm not sure that this birth was an abnormally painful one. But I can now recognize that there were a few things that threw me off.
Some details for people who don't know me - this was my second birth. I had an epidural for my first, who was born before I found MDC. Both of my births were in the hospital, first with OB, second with CNM and doula. The labor was only about 4 hours. We had already decided not to have more children during this pregnancy, so it isn't just because of the birth. But I don't want fear of pain to be the reason for no more children.
The things that threw me off are: my water breaking with no labor for 16 hours despite nipple stim, walking, bath, rest, chores. Of all the things I had researched, I hadn't educated myself about this situation, so I went to the hospital for pitocin. We were planning a hospital birth anyway, so I thought, OK, this is just a little wrinkle in plans. I had wanted to labor at home for most of the labor.
But after my water broke, DH completely freaked and tried to bully me into going to the hospital immediately. He was very mean to me and I got angry. Definitely not the mood that will start labor. DH did not want to permit me to listen to my own body.
At the hospital, I actually handled the whole pitocin labor really well IMO. It HURT, but I was staying on top of it, vocalizing, holding my doula's hands, relaxing, listening to music.
I pushed buck naked while hanging over the squat bar. Now I know I wasn't quite in the right position. I was too upright, I should have leaned forward more. It felt like the baby was trying to rip out of my butt. If I had leaned forward, gravity would have angled him more towards the birth canal. At the time I didn't realize the positional thing. All I could think of was the searing pain of the baby trying to rip out of my butt. I needed and wanted someone to apply strong counter pressure against my butt, but I was beyond the ability to speak. I reached down to my crotch myself, but I couldn't reach the back of my butt. My midwife thought I was trying to touch the baby's head, and encouraged me to do so. So I felt the top of his just-about-to-crown head.
I noticed that there was a strange woman in the room. It took me a few moments to realize it was the baby nurse. I thought to myself, 'I wish I knew her name at least.'
At some point, while I was hanging naked from the squat bar and screaming, a strange man opened my room door and I could hear him talking in the doorway. I couldn't see because the curtain was pulled, but it was still disturbing and invaded my privacy. I knew the whole floor could hear me screaming. I didn't really care who heard me birthing, but the thought crossed my mind. Another thought that crossed my mind was that maybe it was a father-to-be from another room that wanted me to be quiet. Later I would find out that it was a doctor talking to one of the nurses in my room.
My left leg got all tingley from squatting so the midwife and the nurse made me lay down on my back. This is when the baby went into distress I think, but at the time, I had no idea there was anything wrong.
Once on my back, everyone was screaming at me to push and the midwife and nurse were trying to force me to grab my legs behind the knees, trying to force my legs way up and apart in the classic lithotomy position birth. I was fighting them on everything, yelling, "NO!" and screaming. I intended to birth on my own time, in peace. I was irritated that everyone seemed to have forgotten the birth plan. I can't remember if I actually got into that position or if I left my feet on the bed.
Ever since I began pushing, the midwife had been doing 'perineal massage'. Basically, it's fingers stretching my vagina apart, and I hated it. Once I got to my back she really increased the force of this. It HURT!!! I wanted her to stop so bad, but I was beyond speaking. I finally figured out how to scream, "STOP IT!!!!" But she said that she had to. So I just screamed in anger and had to push with the oncoming contraction.
Then the baby was being born, and everyone was all "PUSH, PUSH, PUSH!!!" And I'm thinking, "Shut up, people!" But I just had to keep pushing, even when I wasn't contracting. Finally the head was out, and I thought, "Thank God, I get a break!" But everyone was still yelling to push and the midwife told me to push, so I had to keep pushing without a break and the shoulders came out and it was sooooo painful, and I think that's when I tore down my old scar.
The midwife said, "Reach down, and pick up your baby," so I did. I blindly grabbed him around his chest and pulled him up and the rest of his body was born, and I was surprised because I thought he was already out. He came out screaming and was just fine. I plopped him on my belly and opened my eyes to see his beautiful new eyes looking at me. Everyone pretty much left us alone then. I dried him off and rubbed him and wiped the fluids from his nose and mouth with the towel, and he continued to cry.
So that was the end of the horror. Baby and I stayed naked together for an hour, he breastfed. The nurses weren't allowed to touch him, since we opted out of all newborn procedures, even suctioning.
Now I know that after the head popped out, the knot in the cord around his neck was visible, so that's why the midwife made me push so hard right away with no break.
The thing that hurt emotionally was how during the birth everyone was pushing me around. I fully intended to birth listening to my own body, and I wasn't allowed to. Now I understand why, the baby being in distress and needing to be born quickly. But at the time, I just felt disrespected. I KNEW I could listen to my own body, but they didn't let me.
This is too long, I'll stop now.
ETA: Also I ended up with a bruised tailbone and a sore throat.
I, too, get angry when people say "Well, if you'd prepared better..." Man, I went into that birth with the most excited, positive, calm attitude. It was just a sucky labor. Half the time other people's descriptions of labor make me want to die laughing. (Are you serious?? It hurt worse to get your CAVITY FILLED???
However, we are both looking forward to labor #2. But really, it was a long time before I felt ready.
grateful mother to DD, 1/04, and DS, 2/08
Even with demerol and then an epidural (after three days on pitocin), it was excruciating. I vomited repeatedly from the pain, they had to manually force my cervix open b/c the pitocin alone wasn't doing it and they broke my water.
My 2nd birth was very painful as well and I agree with those who are floored by the comments from moms who say it didn't hurt. I had another mom tell me that she's had worse bowel movements. She either has some seriously painful bathroom experiences or labors that are nothing like mine!
However, I did find my natural birth to be much better despite still being in enough pain that I was throwing up yet again. It was at least empowering that my body could do this without so many interventions.
I think that, ultimately, what makes the experience traumatic vs. empowing is whether you had specific expectations for the birth that didn't come to fruition. With my older dd, I expected to be able to birth without all of those interventions and I was traumatized and guilty that I didn't. With my second one, the only thing I expected/wanted was to get through it without meds and and episiotomy (I had one of those with dd#1, too.). That, at least, worked out and so I didn't feel let down or traumatized afterwards.
Heck, I would have taken a hit of crack if someone had offered it to me during transition!
I actually asked for some weed, and I have never smoked in my life but i know that my friends have always told me how it made everything less bad so I figured that weed was natural right? lol.. of course I didnt get it but after over days of active labor anything seemed like a good idea and since I was at home there was no epidural for me. Thankfully when I asked for said toke I was in transition so she was born shortly after that.
trottin', pole dancing, Norway and Sweden lovin' , ,WOHM Kiddos born 12/11/06 and 08/09/08
with #3 EDD:01/2013 So in love with my sweet Swede and my bonus-son 10/25/98
My thinking is this: eliminate all the things that can make labor unmanegable. After that you have to take what you get. Cause I 'do' everything right and still have had hellish labors. I have beat myself up. But not anymore. I know it can happen.
I'm sorry it wasn't the birth you envisioned. I hope you can find peace and heal.
In my experience, the first time, I felt many of the same frustrations.... so much I wanted to say, but didn't. I had a hard time realizing how much I neglected my own instincts- how I let others control the situation that I should have ultimatly controlled. And that was hard to work through and my greatest fear the second time was that I would do that again
I was able to negotiate a few things for the second birth based on that, but I missed a lot too. For example, the first birth my son had only been placed on my abdomen and tried to breastcrawl up-- and then taken, and that was something that always haunts me. What I hadn't been told was that the cord was too short for him to reach my chest and I should have demanded that he stay with me and bfeed before going off. So this time I told my midwife and doula that if there was any reason that my baby was not brought up to chest they needed to communicate to me- for I kenw I would be very sensitive and tense at that point.
Well, that wasn't an issue this time, but there were other times that I felt a little more communication would have been nice... because I'm the type of person that WANTS to know and be prepared-- not be surprised. I guess my point is, even though I anticipated I would need certain things, I still missed many things that I should have clarified to my midwife/doula. And for you, you ended up with a situation that you needed more than they were able to anticipate.
I had to have a nst because Rebecca was late and going to the hospital for that, like I had for Joshua really freaked me out. Maybe a little of that was going on, Im sure you knew you didn't want the pitocin and there's probably always some doubt as to whether or not things are necessary
I also know that though my labor was fairly mild, my fears from birth #1 started to creep in.
It was hard to feel like I was indeed handling things well, pushing effectively, etc, even though my midwife and doula were telling me so. So much just crept in a bit from birth #1 that I wasnt' truly able to trust/believe/relax. I do feel like I felt much more comfortable and had a good relatonship with my doula that I would have been able to confide something in her-- if needed, but I still think she could have 'checked in' with me a little more-- especially since I had told her that I was reserved about expressing my real needs the first time. But maybe if things had been going differently she would have-- after all I thought I had hours to go, but midwife and doula probably 'knew' it would take me far less time-- and even though they were saying that, I didn't really get that they meant minutes.
I'm not getting the feeling from your post that you felt supported. Obviously, you were not able to express your feelings and needs that you voiced in your 2nd post. I had to learn a bit about myself and my needs after #1's birth to realize that I have a hard time asking for help, for example-- and I still have a lot to learn.
I know I read your birth plan and it was well done for setting the boundaries and needs, and it sounds like some things didn't happen-- whether it was from lack of experience, lack of respect, or a genuine sense of concern that led to everything being thrown out the window and rushed...
It still not fair because YOU should have been kept aware of what was happening and why they were demanding etc. At least that is what it feels liek from this side of it-- and those things would have helped you. Maybe it still would have been just as painful, but your response may have been different.
I'm not sure how the birth professionals might feel, but my wish is that most are able to bridge this type of challenge a little better and recognize the fear that their client is having or that she is not expressing her needs.
I wish you had been allowed to trust your body and do things how you needed to-- I'll be bold and wonder if the conflicts with this, coupled with the pain that you experienced are connected together. I knwo you mentioned that your husband bullied you a little, and yet, I know in my experience since I'm the one that actually gives consent for the choices, its hard to work that conflict out. I made the choice in the end, and sometimes that's a bitter pill to swallow.
You took on a lot that made it hard to have the birth you wanted (hospital environment, pitociin, etc). I guess what I'm having a hard time expressing, is it actually the fact that you experienced this much pain that is hard to deal with, or the fact that you were not able to embrace the pain htat you had better? Well, probably a bit of both, maybe.
Sorry, kiddos need me, I hope that made some sense.
Dh, Joshua Rebeccaand . for Laura
(And I know women can have traumatic pain, or a painful traumatic experience, without pitocin, in a fully respectful atmosphere, but it's much less likely. Not that that makes it any easier to deal with when it does happen.)
I'm so glad you're working through this.
Part of me really fears feeling pain. Another part of me knows I could actually birth again. The first part doesn't like that.
I can totally understand how you don't want to experience pain like that anymore. I had a normal birth, baby was in a great position, not too heavy (6 lbs, 2 oz!), stuff like that. Transition was pretty fast, the whole labor itself was only 7 1/2 hours! Not knowing what the pain will be like is a big one for me, if I can steel myself, I can handle it better. I was SO glad I did this at home, I can't imagine how awful it would have been at the hospital.
If I accidentally got pregnant again (hopefully NO more 'accidents'!), I wouldn't really be afraid of the pain, even though it was horrendous. I would know what to expect and try to find an alternative way to deal with it, like with hypnobabies, or some other herbs. I'm so glad I took RRL tea! At least the pain was shorter than it could have been. Worst lingering pain I have is from where I tore..but it was my own fault, sticking my fingers there trying to desperately get the baby out....