It's been 8 1/2 months since my daughter's birth. In hindsight, I really truly believe I could have made it better, and I think that's what keeps eating me up inside, making it hard for me to come to terms with it and just let go. I don't know if I want to let go even. I'm so angry and bitter about it. This is the first time I'm telling the story to more than a select few because I feel like I'm ready to finally.
I had initially intended on a homebirth. By the time I found a midwife who was able to do it, she was already booked when I was due. So I stuck to the midwife I had already been seeing. With her, I would have to deliver in the birthing center at the hospital closeby. But at about 7 months in, she told me she would be on call during that time because it would be a busy week for her. Basically, she said she may not be able to be there. She asked if this was okay with me. I could have been honest and said no, but I didn't see the point in that. It was too late to find another midwife with everyone booked at least 7 months in advance anyway. So I told her it was okay...so long as I got my natural waterbirth. She said the doctor who worked with her would be there and that she would get me through it. I wasn't 100% comforted, but I didn't worry about it.
I received my breast pump in the mail, and I was more than a little nervous about breastfeeding because I was a first time mother. I literally had no idea what I was going to do about anything. I didn't read much at all about breastfeeding. The only thing I did read was about natural forms of induction because I was determined not to end up taking pitocin, cytotec, or any other drug they intended to hurl at me. I knew that pumping could also be used for induction and it's not recommended before the due date for that reason. I had 2 days to go, and I was so nervous about making enough milk, I decided I had to start pumping. That was my first mistake.
I pumped every 3 hours for about 15 minutes. By that night, I was in pain. It was a constant pain. No throbbing, pulsing, nothing like that. I was very tired and the pain was a little overwhelming. I wondered if my endometriosis had anything to do with it. Keep in mind, I also have a bad back and had a fall in my second trimester which only made it worse. So as the weight piled on--and I gained about 60 pounds--it became hard to do anything. Bending was a very major problem. I remember I would bend my knees only so I could avoid putting any strain on my back.
So I decided to just sleep without pumping and hope I didn't make a huge mess of things...maybe I'd feel better in the morning. I very briefly awoke when my husband came home, but only long enough to see him entering the room. I knew I was still in a lot of pain, and I passed out again. I must have slept for a total of 12 hours. I finally got up, still in pain, because I really didn't feel like sleeping anymore.
Well, then my water broke, but I didn't really know that was what was happening. When my midwife discussed what I should do once things started going, she told me the water may break first, but that's rare. So she never really said what to do in that situation. It wasn't gushing like I had thought it would. We never discussed what it may feel like. I just doubted I suddenly became incontinent. I didn't know if I should worry or not. I know that once it does break, infection becomes a worry. I was taking megadoses of vitamin C already, so I honestly wasn't worried about that, but at the same time, I was so unprepared.
I tried to call my midwife, but she never gave an emergency number. When I called her office, she hadn't come in yet... This was 3 hours after my water broke. I asked the secretary if there was anyone else there qualified enough to tell me what I should do. I guess she asked another midwife or the doctor--if she was there. I have no idea where the order was coming from, but she told me to go to the hospital right away. I didn't want to. My midwife had said not to go to the hospital till contractions were 4 minutes apart and I wasn't even having any...but my water broke already and every site I could find made it seem like it was the equivalent of a national emergency. I reluctantly woke my husband and we went to the hospital.
I knew a car ride could set things back, but I don't know if that was what was at play or the fact that I didn't continue pumping. Either way, by the time we got there, the pain was completely gone, water was still trickling, and stupid me, I hadn't been drinking any water to replace it. In fact, I hadn't drunk anything, period. I was too busy worrying and googling. My second mistake.
As the hours passed, I began to realize my third mistake. When we were leaving, I considered packing the breast pump. I didn't because I thought it would all fall into place naturally. And it may have, but it just never got to that point because they refused to let it. The first nurse was very nice. When she was asking me questions, one that came up was what supplements/drugs I was taking. When I said I was taking vitamin C megadoses, she told me not to tell anyone else that. I began to realize what I was going to be dealing with and began to feel a little depressed. I tried not to think about it.
I wanted as little medical intervention as possible, but they had me hooked up to monitors the moment I arrived. I understand checking now and then if there's a problem, but I do not agree with constantly keeping a doppler strapped on. As hours flew by, this distressed me more and more. I chose to suffer silently, but opted to walk as much as possible because it meant the doppler would be off. They forced me back into bed every 15-30 minutes to monitor for a while. I wish I had said something now. I'm usually more outspoken when something goes against my wishes/feelings. I don't know why I became a mouse. It's so unlike me.
The doctor working that night came in to see me. She never did a waterbirth...how comforting. It was my first time, so I didn't need it to be hers too. She suggested I take cytotec or pitocin. I said no, I would wait because it just had to happen naturally. I don't think she smiled for the rest of the night.
The nice nurse left, and an older one took her place. She wasn't horrible, but not great either. She encouraged more walking--which I didn't mind--and made me use the ball. It did nothing for me. I wished I had my breast pump, but our car was being ridiculously stupid at such a crucial time. It got us there and then wouldn't start up again. I tried to manually stimulate my nipples. I felt weak contractions from that, but the moment I stopped, they stopped too. Argh... I couldn't keep doing it all night long. And this nurse was determined to make them strong. It's not like I wasn't doing all that she told me to. They just weren't working for me. My thoughts on this were that I simply forced the issue before it was time. The only thing I could have done from then on was probably to keep doing what I did in the first place to bring on the contractions. In hindsight, I should have just packed the pump. They wouldn't even offer me one, and when I talked about nipple stimulation and contractions, they looked at me like they were stoned. So I shut up about that too.
The next day came, and with it another nurse. But by the time I woke up, her shift was almost over. I was beginning to feel weird about constantly changing nurses. I don't think most people change underwear that frequently. Well...then came the nurse of my nightmares. She came to tell me I was being moved because someone else was in labor and needed the room. I obviously wasn't going to be giving birth anytime soon. I let that slide though I wanted to smack her. And okay, so I was giving up my room with the birthing tub...when would I get another? No one said.
Well, they put me in a room in the regular maternity ward. They stuck a doppler on me and only came in when I pushed the button for a nurse. I kept taking my vitamin C every few hours... Then the doctor who works with my midwife came in. I felt relieved to see her at that point...until she started trying to push cytotec. I began to feel despair. I realized this was all I was going to get out of them--drug pushing. I knew all the reasons I shouldn't take cytotec. I also knew doctors were good at saying, '...but the chances of that are rare and we use the drug in 99% of our pregnancies here and never had a problem,' and making you believe it. I was not going to fall for it. They left the room.
My husband was aggravated by this point. He had gotten maybe 6 hours of sleep in the past 30 or so hours and a lot of it was in 15 minute naps. He's 100% mainstream, believes in doctors, drugs, and everything else the average person probably believes in. I realize he was tired and sleepy, but he ended up taking out his frustration on me because he didn't understand why I wouldn't just take the damn drug and get it over with. Obviously, my goal was simply to make him suffer and it was working. I should have been just giddy I suppose.
The bed they had me on was so tall, I had to tiptoe just to sit on it. And as big as I was, it took me a couple minutes to slide my butt into the middle of it. Apparently, it couldn't be lowered and it was the only available bed. My back was being tortured by all of this. Every time I had to go to the bathroom, it was an ordeal.
The nurse had a fine attitude herself. She came in only to bark at me to walk, saying I'd never go into labor if I didn't. I doubt that's an actual fact, and I was getting enough exercise doing acrobatics to get on and off the bed. I still wanted to smack her. We walked as much as I could stand for the next hour.
The doctor came back. She tried again with the cytotec. I guess it was lucky for her that my husband was being such a wet noodle. That was the only reason I gave in. I had gotten them to admit I could remain without intervention for up to 4 days and I intended to go that long if I had to. But he had spent half of his days off work in the hospital--which he dislikes. He did catch up on some sleep, but he was still upset about wasting his days off. He didn't mean 'wasting' per se, but you know how that goes. Doesn't really matter what he intended to say because my feelings were already hurt. My only worry was our child and his only worry was how he was spending his free time. I could have smacked him too, but I was feeling depressed and powerless by then.
I silently cried as I reluctantly swallowed the 1/4 pill, then lay down with my head turned away from him. As time passed with no noticeable contractions, I tried to forget the cytotec. Just before the second dosage, my mother called to tell me very desperately not to take the cytotec. I told her it was too late. She said, 'Then don't take anymore!' She told me about all the horror stories she was reading. She even told me about my cousin's aunt--technically not related--who was just going in for what should have been a normal birth which turned into her womb rupturing. I was already aware of all of these issues, and I told her that. This led to me talking about it with my husband. I told him why I took it, and he told me not to do it for him if it's not what I really want. I told him, 'Well, it's what you really want.' He then told me he didn't want me to do anything I didn't want to. All I got out of that was, 'Deep down I do want you to do it, but I'm trying to be nice now to make up for being a jerk earlier.' I may have misread him, but considering my state of mind, that was all I heard. I took the next 1/4 pill, and as the nurse left the room, he told me I shouldn't have. It was too late for conflicting feelings. I really didn't know what he wanted anymore. I know what I wanted, but the time for that was gone. They did say I could still have a waterbirth, but what they didn't tell me was they hadn't been trying to get me back into a room in the birthing center.
They started giving me the most enormous dose of antibiotics I think I've ever had--and I practically grew up on those. I didn't want antibiotics. That's what the vitamin C was for. When I signed the hospital forms, I noticed that they said nothing could be given without my consent. No one asked me whether or not I wanted it, or at least accepted it. But I didn't even have it in me to fight that, so I let it be and continued to take my vitamin C in hopes it would protect me from everything. Not likely, but I needed something to grasp onto at that point.
Precisely 30 minutes after the second dose of cytotec, I had the most violent, involuntary spasm in my life. I was just starting to eat something when my body flung forward. I was in severe pain and my body was shaking like a leaf. I couldn't even stop it. My husband called for a nurse. They had me roll onto my side and I held on to the bed railing for dear life as my body continued to spasm uncontrollably. On a scale of 1-10, they called those contractions a 9 1/2. They were coming every minute and lasted about 1/2 a minute. I tried to rush to the bathroom between contractions, but even going as fast as I could, I had 3 before I could get back to the bed. I couldn't walk when they came. I could barely even stand. It was almost impossible to function at all. This went on for 2 1/2 hours until I was so tired, I felt like I was going to at least pass out, and at worst, die. Through all of this, I was so worried about my baby. I think the worry alone could have killed me.
Then the doctor came in to check my cervix. Every time they had checked me before, it had hurt so much. I was worried that now it would hurt even more. But while I was trying to scream, 'No!' I was busy spasming again and I don't think my scream was even audible. The pain from her checking me made my back arch high off the bed. She happily announced that I was coming along nicely... I began to feel really violated at this point. She asked if there was anything I needed, but I could barely even talk anymore. I was so tired that my voice was almost gone. And then I was spasming again. By this point, I lost control of my bodily functions... I don't want to have to describe all of that. I hope you get the picture. I was never so humiliated in my life, but more than anything, I was extremely distressed that this is what I was putting my baby through. If only...so many things. This was the point when she said they would go find a room with a birthing tub for me. WHAT??? NOW??? I knew they were so full of women in labor, they were trying to get the births over quickly so they could move them to other wards, so I knew there was no hope of me getting my waterbirth anymore.
I finally conveyed to my husband to call the doctor and get a C section right away. I wasn't going to put her through more of this than she had already been through. I felt like such a failure and she wasn't even born yet! Ugh! I don't think I ever hated myself so much as I did just then.
The doctor came, smiling from ear to ear. If I only had the energy to wipe that smile off her face... I wanted to toss them all out the window, honestly. I told her between spasms and many breaths that I wanted a C section a.s.a.p. Her smile was gone. She said they don't like to do C sections unless necessary because the risk is too high. RISK??? You want to talk about risks now?!? GRR...
But I was dying, or I felt like I was. I was so weak. I don't think I've ever been weaker in my life. I wanted to get some sleep, but I couldn't because the contractions were still as fierce as ever and the breaks were so short. At this point, I felt like my only option was an epidural. I asked the doctor for it. It took another 1 1/2 hours to get this done. Then I was finally able to get some sleep. But I was still worried about my baby. I just couldn't stay awake any longer.
Well, at some point they wanted to check my cervix again, and they said they lost my baby's heartbeat for some reason or the other. I can't even remember, but it made no sense to me. So they wanted to put a doppler inside now. Again, I let it slide. I could have made a scene for so many things and I didn't and I wish I knew what the heck was wrong with me. I was so annoyed by it all the same.
The time finally came, and I was relieved to get her out of my drugged body. Of course, then I still worried about breastfeeding after all these drugs. The anxiety just never ends with me. I had worked hard with my kegel exercises throughout the last trimester, so I was well prepared, and pushing took 3 minutes.
I was relieved, but not really happy. I didn't honestly know what to feel. And then I saw the nurse give her the vitamin K shot and antibiotics in the eyes, and I thought...what happened to my permission, yet again? I realize it's routine, but the form specifically states they need my permission regardless. I was beginning to get irritable again.
The only thing that saved me from losing my mind was putting my baby to the breast for the first time. I think it made me a little sane when everything was so terribly out of whack.
I'm ashamed to say I've considered having another baby to 'right the wrong' so to speak, but I know deep down that's completely and utterly illogical. It's just a stupid notion, and nothing can change what happened. And it's not enough to just say 's*** happens' or 'sometimes things don't turn out the way we want it to.' This wasn't like missing a cab or accidentally dropping your plate. This was the first real event in her life, and it shouldn't have been treated like a disease. It should have been special. I know that nothing I do now can make it as special as it should have been, and that makes me sad.
I think this is why I've decided I need to become a midwife, and I want to offer homebirths. I want to be for other women what someone couldn't be for me. I want to give someone else the opportunity I didn't have so they don't have to live with the pain I feel now.
Sorry that was so long-winded. It was a lot to get out and it really couldn't easily be summarized.