I thought that since I'll be 12 weeks on Wednesday it was about time to come out of lurker-hood and introduce myself to you knowledgeable ladies (and feel somewhat less stalker-ish, lol!).
* I apologize for the length of this. I even almost deleted DS's "birth story", but I think it is something that I need to emotionally purge my system of. So if you make it to the end kudos to you! *
I have always wanted a UC... well ever since the deplorable treatment of my grandmother in her final days elevated my feelings toward hospitals from dislike to phobic levels. However, I didn't know anyone actually had UCs and that it was just a wistful dream on my part and so I always figured I would probably use a midwife. When I became pregnant with DS1, however, I had to settle for a hospital birth. I say had because at that point the thought of anything but a fully medicated hospital birth sent DH into a downward spiral of outright panic. (At this point he was still in the "weaned by 6 months and never sleeps anywhere but a crib" camp). As my hospital-phobic tendencies tended to also color any doctor experiences I picked an OB that reminded me of an old family friend - he wasn't a great OB and wasn't particularly supportive of any of my natural birth (well, as natural as a hospital birth can get) desires - but his physical and vocal resemblance to someone I trusted was the only thing that helped me overcome my anxiety/fears and actually walk into the Dr's office when I finally "started" pre-natal care at 20 weeks.
That pregnancy ended with the birth of DS at 37+5 after a 21 hours of induced labor. I had the beginnings of Pre-E (I think caused by mild dehydration - water was making me queasy at this point and so I didn't drink) and my OB was scheduled to be gone hiking with his sons for the following week. He, of course, recommended induction and as soon as my DH heard that I knew I'd have to do that or else I'd have to endure the rest of my pregnancy trying to calm his panic over my health and that of the baby's, and so I took it. The first part of labor wasn't bad. I handled the contractions well even though I was tired (hadn't really slept in several days) and enjoyed watching a movie and meditating there in the hospital, trying to keep the fears and extreme anxiety (caused by the fact that I was in a hospital) under control. Labor started at 4 pm and my OB broke my water (against my wishes) at 6pm, but by 10 pm the contractions were getting really intense with hardly any break at all in between them. However, upon being checked (oh, how uncomfortable in so many ways!!) I was only dilated to a 4. A bit disappointed (and annoyed because the nice, elderly, grandmother-y type nurse that I had been checking up on/laboring with me up to this point had left and the next nurse (the next 2 in fact) were horribly abrupt and rude) I requested a birth ball, which was wonderful! I could feel my pelvis relaxing and the contractions actually working. The new nurse, however, did not like this and after several yelling matches my birth ball was taken away, I was re-hooked up to all the machines that the other nurse had released me from (all of my pre-e stuff had vanished once I was hydrated) and forced to remain in the bed in a semi-reclined position while they upped my pictocin because I was going "too slowly". Whereas the first nurse had at least let me have small sips of water I was now refused any food or drink and my poor DH just followed all medical instructions (sigh).
Everything went down hill from there. At midnight, exhausted, and with all the calm I'd managed to hold on to crumbling around me and with no break between contractions, I gave in and let them give me an epidural (even thought I knew it wouldn't work - pain meds/blockers never do for me) just so my DH would stop hovering/talking to me and hopefully I could just sleep for a few seconds. By 9am the next morning I was hysterical (and still only dilated to a 6). I was starving, thirsty, unable to labor in the positions that I knew my body wanted, exhausted, and scared. My OB was getting more and more frustrated that I wouldn't just have this baby so he could go hiking and I was in a great deal of pain from the catheter they had to put in when I'd had the epidural, even though I could feel ever inch of my body. The contractions had slowed (thankfully... I finally got a nice nurse at 6am and she had discovered that my pictocin had been turned up so high that I had been having contractions so close together that were practically one big contraction!). At 10 I informed the nurse that I wanted a C-section. At this point I just wanted baby and I out of that horrible place. My doctor was sleeping and I was told that the earliest a c-section could happen was 1:30.
I was torn with relief and guilt - relief that I had a time frame, a ending a point and guilt because a c-section was (short of death - mine or the baby's) was the worst thing I could imagine. I remember praying with every fiber of my being at 11 that a miracle happen and that this baby get here as naturally as possible, and God answered my prayers. At noon the nurse checked me and I was only dilated to a 6.5. At 12:25 I turned to my DH and said "I'm feeling the urge to push!", so he went and told the nurse, who didn't believe him. I told him I was pushing, end of story. Dutifully he went and told the nurse who came back in and checked. In 25 minutes I had gone from a 6.5 to fully dilated and pushing.
At 1:15 my impatient OB "pulled" my DS out with forceps, giving a 3rd degree (?) tear, cut the cord and handed him off the nurse. I didn't get to hold him, and saw him for about 5 seconds before they took him to the other side of the room to clean him up, suction him etc... but I could hear him, and his little cries of protest at the bright light and prodding hands gave me something beautiful to focus on so I didn't lean over and sock my OB in the face (it was a very tempting option). After I was all stitched up I got to hold DS for about a minute for they took him away to the NICU because he had a little cough and they wanted to put him under oxygen for a little bit. I was promised that he would be back in my arms within and hour and half, tops. So I sent DH off to see DS safely there and then home to shower/change/eat, called my mom, and drank about a gallon each of orange juice and water. Despite promises and explicit instructions it was 5:30 pm before my son was brought back to me. He'd been in the NICU for 30 minutes and then taken to the nursery. Despite my asking for him the nurses had kept him from me because I "needed my rest". I spent the rest of my hospital stay guarding my baby because every moment I drifted off, or went to the bathroom, a nurse would appear and try to wheel him off to the nursery! Despite the pretty severe tear I had very little pp pain and never needed to take any pain meds.
I left the hospital vowing that the only way I'd give birth in a hospital again was if it was absolutely 110% life-or-death.
When DH (who has thankfully become a bit more crunchy since DS was born) and I started trying for #2 I started looking into midwives in the area. There were a few that I could see myself tolerating, and even liking a little, but I still didn't feel at ease with it. I didn't see the point of paying out $3000 just to have a someone come and stand in a corner or another room while I labored and birthed at home. I didn't want anyone there with me, I wanted the peace of being by myself, of listening to my body without interference. So one day last spring I googled "unassisted birth" of out desperation and this forum headed the finds. Oh, that was one of the best days of my life! I almost cried. There were women out there who wanted what I wanted and who did it - successfully! I slowly began to approach the idea with DH (who was already resigned to the idea of a midwife by this point) and by the time we conceived #2 he was willing to support my choice to UP and UC. He's not very enthusiastic and I know he wishes I would just pick a different OB and go the hospital route again, because that is what he is comfortable wish. But, he knows just how hard being in a hospital was on me, mentally and emotionally, and he realizes that a hospital birth is not the best thing for *me*, so he is willing to support me in this.
So, here I am, officially, reveling in your birth stories, your questions, and soaking up your collective wisdom!
I'm not telling my family of my birth plan, just that we are planning a homebirth, because my mother is almost as bad as DH was when it comes to hospital vs. home. I'm only planning on telling my best (girl)friend because I know that even if she thinks I'm absolutely insane she won't tell me or show me but she'll be a steadfast rock of support the entire way and I'd love for her to be a the birth to be my support and to help keep any panic-y feelings on the part of DH under control.
So far this pregnancy has been very easy - morning sickness has been practically nonexistant and the first trimester exhaustion has been manageable. I attribute a lot of this to the fact that I don't have the stress of "eventually having to go to a Dr" hanging over my head. I'm relaxed, happy, and at peace with the knowledge that I never have to leave my safe zone.
Thanks for reading this epically long post, lol!