My Traumatic Birth - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 04-10-2009, 08:45 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm just now coming to terms with the traumatic birth of my first child. I didn't even realize that it was traumatic until I started really thinking about it.

This is C and P'd from my birth story on live journal (bold are my comments thinking about this today).

I was feeling crampy all day on Thanksgiving, and that night I started getting contractions but they were so wimpy I figured it was just more Braxton Hicks. I even made a post about how much it sucks to be late, if anyone remembers that one. Heh.

I went to bed around 10 or so and was rudely awoken by a wicked contraction at 11. Then I got another one ten minutes later. I figured this COULDN'T be more BH. I went to the bathroom and saw bloody show. I mentioned to my husband I thought I may be in labor. I decided to take a bath, figuring that would help with the pain...I remember sitting in the tub and thinking it had been awhile since I'd felt a contraction "maybe I'm not in labor..." I said. Two seconds later, another contraction hit. They kept coming every ten minutes, then every 8 min, then 9, and finally, by 12:30 they were five minutes apart...and not stopping.

My husband convinced me to call L&D, I was sure I could wait another half hour at least, but he was sure I was going to pop the kid out any second I think, LOL! So anyhow, I called and they told me to come on down. I arrived around 1:30 am and they checked me, I was only about a cm and a half dialated 70% effaced. They put me on a monitor for awhile, and told me to go walk around for half an hour.

Half an hour later I came back and they put me back on a monitor. They checked me and there was no cervical change. The nurse (a man) says to me, "well, you're 'having contractions' but you're not in labor." I just glared at him and was like "you've got to be kidding me!" They sent in a midwife who evaluated the whole thing and decided to let me stay "for observation" since the baby's heart rate was not accelerating. The baby never had accelerations to their satisfaction, and I never got off that monitor. The nurse also forced me to lay on my back and told me that the baby "didn't like it" when I would try to sit up, which made the pain so much worse during contractions. I really preferred to be upright. They put me on an IV, saying I was probably dehydrated. Once they did that the contractions got stronger but spaced out (the nurse said they would stop --HA!--) and the baby's heart rate was fine. By this point I was pretty miserable.

The midwife came back to check me at Kaiser, you get whoever is on call at the moment, so this was not a person I knew or was familiar with, and there was STILL NO CHANGE. I now believe that as soon as I set foot in the hospital my labor stalled due to the fact that I was so terrified of birth I was ready to cry, in fact, as I recall, I did cry! Just after she checked me I started to gush blood (sorry, tmi). She asks me, "have you ever had surgery on your cervix?" I said no. Then she says, "you know what, I'm just going to break your water." I was silently thanking god, but I was also freaked out becuase I knew, after they do that, it's the point of no return. She breaks my water and then announces, "there's blood in the water." There was not blood in my amniotic fluid, she'd just broken my water at 1.5 cm dilated, thus irritating my sensitive tends-to-bleed-in-labor cervix. I have since been told by other midwives that it is not weird or uncommon for your cervix to bleed in labor. This woman put the fear of God into me for nothing. By this point my contraction was even worse, and I was really really freaking out, totally crying and had completely lost it. I was kicking myself for not having hired a doula!

The midwife also said to me, "You need to get it together" I felt really violated and demeaned by her. Also, before I was given any pain relief, I remember having these horrific contractions that would make me feel like I had to pee, and they acted like it was this horrible thing for me to get out of bed and go. Breaking the water at the point they did locked her into a posterior position, with her head turned slightly and her hand by her face. It's quite likely I'd have had a much much better and less painful labor had I labored naturally with a midwife who knew what they were doing. I was very upset to realize this after the fact.

I asked for pain relief, and they gave me Fentanyl. It totally worked, I felt a whole lot better, and could barely feel my contractions. I think it did make me a little loopy though. An hour after they gave me the shot, it was starting to wear off and I got this MASSIVE contraction. I was feeling a lot of pressure, and hollered to my husband "CALL THE NURSE! CALL THE NURSE!" Roger, always the calm one (bless his heart) says "don't worry honey, it's just a contraction, you'll be ok." The contraction ended and I gritted through my teeth, "get. the. nurse. now."

The nurse checks me and I was suddenly 4-5 cm, fully effaced, and the baby's head was at +1, almost +2 station (guess that would explain the pressure). LOL when Jane decided to get a move on, she meant business. The rest is a bit of a blur. I said I wanted an epidural right away (esp since everything was going so fast). I received the epidural, which was absolutely no big deal. I had been so worried about getting one, but it was painless and actually pretty fast. The only thing was, and somehow, no one ever told me this, it didn't take away all the pain. I, uh, didn't know that can happen. It numbed the contractions, but my vaginal area wasn't so numb. I did feel the cathader, which was more annoying than painful, and the pressure never really went away, even after they put more medicine in the epidural. I remember moaning in pain when the contractions would hit, especially towards the end of the birth. It hurt so, so, so bad for her to be sitting like that the entire labor on my not fully dilated cervix.

They gave me some pitocin because the epi slowed things down a bit. I made sure the dose was low, that stuff is scary. Apparently, I responded very well to it, because the next thing I know, I'm in transistion. I was shaking, sweating and throwing up. It seemed like I hit 8 cm, then 10 in a flash. I was feeling the urge to push, but still had a small bit of cervix left. The nurse actually put her hands in my vagina and "moved" the lip of cervix over the baby's head as I pushed. This was very painful I finally was allowed to push, and I pushed pushed pushed pushed. It hurt really, really bad. I had no idea So many women had said pushing was a relief, but it was miserable for me.

But by that point I was pretty relieved it was all going to be over soon, and I was dying to meet my baby. However, I had started running a fever and was feeling exhausted at this point (I think it was around 11 am or so...this all took the entire night). I pushed for an hour an a half, moving the head down almost to crowning. I just couldn't push enough to get the baby all the way out, and my fever had gone up to 100.4. By this point the baby was having decels. The nurse said, "you know, I don't think you can do this without a little help." I had guessed that about a half hour earlier. I felt so out of control at that point. The nurse was a nice person, but she was also very bootcampish and forceful about making me push. I felt like she didn't listen to me.

A doctor came in and told me all about vacuum deliveries, the risks and such. I already knew about it, and I wanted it done. At that point I was pretty wiped out. I was also a little scared, especially when the nurse said, "there's now only two ways this baby is coming out, you know what that means right?" I knew she was talking c section, and yeah, I didn't want that! I think her saying that gave me the extra incentive to get Jane out. All of a sudden there were about a zillion doctors in the room, and they got everything ready for the delivery. They got out the vacuum, and she was out in two contractions. It was the most awesome moment of my life.

It turned out that the baby's head was maul-positioned, facing upwards and to the side instead of sunny side down. She also had her hand up by her face. She was coming out all sideways! So that is why I couldn't push her out myself. Well yeah, the bad positioning, PROM, exhaustion, being stuck on a monitor on my back, the epidural...all of this contributed. I was thisclose to a c/s.

Anyhow, the baby had a fever too, so they whisked her off to the Intensive Care Nusery. They thought she may have an infection, and they put her on antibiotics for two days, until they were sure she was fine. I remember thinking it seemed silly to be so worried about her mild fever when *I* had a fever myself from the epidural. It seemed logical to me that she'd have one too. I only was able to hold her for a few minutes before they took her. Seeing her in the NICU was also traumatic. She was hooked up to so many monitors and IVs. I also had a hard time dealing with the NICU staff. They made breastfeeding hard, forced me to supplement, it went on and on. Now that I've had more experience under my belt I could probably stand up to doctors and nurses better, but at the time I just kind of rolled over and let them make all the decisions. The fever came down after a few hours, as mine did too.

I had a second degree tear, which still hurts actually That tear was VERY painful, I could barely walk for days. It was weeks before I felt normal again, and also had a hard of a time learning to breastfeed Gee, I wonder why? Maybe it was my exhausted, traumatized child who was probably still feeling the effects of the epi and narcotics, and who was taken away from me immediately after birth, causing problems with bonding. My flat nipples made latching on near impossible, I had to go with using nipple shields, which I had so wanted to avoid. But, at least she is getting BM. I'll probably be able to wean off them eventually. I did wean her off the shields, but it took 12 weeks and at least 6 LC visitsThey also kept Jane in the ICN (NICU) for four days.


There was never anything wrong with my baby. Cultures revealed no infection. They put her on abx anyway though, as a precaution, and insisted she needed formula (my milk had not yet come in yet, she was less than 48 hours old) to "flush out the antibiotics". I felt stupid for supplementing later on, when my milk came in just hours after we had supplemented. She never needed that formula. We could have waited. Also, she was on an IV constantly! Doesn't that "flush out antibiotics"? I was breastfeeding her, and colustrum is supposed to be enough in those early days. Then later when she had mild/moderate jaundice, they acted like that was a huge deal too even though her levels were never even close to the danger zone. Not to mention, a nurse once supplemented with formula despite the bottles of breastmilk I had in the fridge. She didn't even bother coming to get me. I come back with my engorged breasts, and there my baby is, passed out for the next several hours. When I questioned the nurse about what she had done, she went on to tell me that formula is just fine because she formula fed her kids and they are both doctors now.

It's interesting to me to read my positive take on it at the time. I think I was just so happy to have my baby born and turn out to be healthy that I just sort of sugarcoated the rest in my mind. I also really didn't have the knowledge I do now. I read mainstream pregnancy magazines, What To Expect When You're Expecting, ect. I didn't know any better. I thought natural birth was stupid at the time. It never even dawned on me that natural birth could be better, even more enjoyable! My own mother told me her natural birth with me was horrific and she wished she had gotten the drugs.

I know that what's done is done and I can't change my births from the past, all I can do is move into the future and have a better birth this time around. I have much less fear surrounding birth. I am ready to have an experience where I don't feel powerless the entire time, where it's on my terms, in my house.

I do still sometimes wish that Jane's birth hadn't been so traumatic, I wish the hospital had handled it better. PROM in a first time mom who's only 1.5 cm and just 2 days past her due date? Who does this?!?! And just the way I was I was this idiot who needed to 'get it together' and fall in line with what they wanted. I think it was Ina May who mentioned that hospitals treat people like machines, and people have feelings. Feelings effect birth.
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#2 of 5 Old 04-11-2009, 01:12 AM
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Hugs Talula Fairie. It's good to see you are working through this stuff right now so you can be prepared for a better headspace for your next birth.

I'm sorry to hear that you had such a bad experience the first time, you were in so much pain and had such insensitive, interventive careproviders. Such a hard way to begin motherhood. Then with your baby in NICU, bfing problems... grieving what happened is totally normal.

For this next birth: there's a wonderful book called When Survivors Give Birth by Penny Simkin. It's written for women with a history of sexual abuse and also traumatic birth. There are some good exercises in there for setting up your boundaries, clarifying your triggers, and asking for what you need.

You mentioned regret over not having a doula last time. Are you planning to get a doula this time? How do you like your current HCP? Do you have an OB or MW now?

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#3 of 5 Old 04-11-2009, 01:24 AM - Thread Starter
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That sounds like a great book to read, thanks for the suggestion.

This time I am giving birth with a midwife, actually there are two in the practice and I love them both. They're not interventive at all, they're excellent at what they do and will even do breech homebirth and they do VBACs (not that I'm a VBAC, just saying). One of my friends is also flying out to support me, rub my back, and all that. I was thinking of maybe getting a doula too?

It was a difficult way to begin motherhood, I'm glad it's over! I'm also glad I did get through it and nursed Jane until she weaned at 15 months just before I gave birth to her sister (I wanted to nurse her longer and was sad she weaned so soon).

It was hard having babies back to back like that...but my kids are older now and it's a lot easier than it was. I'm wondering how the transition to three is going to be.
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#4 of 5 Old 04-11-2009, 01:35 AM
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I think a doula would not be a bad idea. I mean, I'm great and all, but she'll have a much better idea of what needs to happen then I do. I'm mostly going to be the cheerleading section.

Like that Bill Cosby skit- "PUSH him out, SHOVE him out, WAAAAY OUT! *clap* PUSH him out, SHOVE him out, WAAAAY OUT!" *clap*


*hugs* I have plans to get that book- if you want I'll loan it to you.

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#5 of 5 Old 04-13-2009, 09:36 PM
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I'm so sorry you and Jane had such a tough birth, especially knowing what you know now. All I can think of is to send you : for a blissful birth this time while you recover from the first

Heather, mama to Harriet, Crispin, in with Tom and 2
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