Sion's attempted HB - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 04-14-2009, 04:07 PM - Thread Starter
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cross posted in birth stories

It's been 3 weeks and already the details are getting fuzzy, but I didn't think I had it in me emotionally to write out his birth story before now. The whole thing was really traumatic. My times are really vague, I don't remember details and didn't look at the clock much.

I had been having contractions off and on and losing my mucous plug since about 41 weeks. I knew he was a really big baby and I was anxious to have him come, as I'm on the small side at 5'2 and very narrow hips. I had a lot of acupuncture and Webster technique at the end because my ligaments weren't stretching well and I felt really tight in the pelvis. My midwife and I planned to try castor oil by 41 weeks 6 days if I wasn't in labor yet.

On 41 weeks and 4 days (Friday March 20th), I woke up to contractions at 5:30 AM. These were more intense then what I had been experiencing. I timed them and they were pretty much every 5-7 minutes from then on. I tried to keep sleeping, eventually we got up and went food shopping at the park slope coop. When I walked in I was kind of in labor zone and not paying attention, and didn't notice that the woman checking me in was my midwife! Ha. The woman helping her was also commenting on my labor, and I didn't realize until we left that she was my former midwife, who I had went to for well woman care before my pregnancy (she was out of town the month before my birth, which is why I had to find another midwife). I thought that maybe seeing my 2 midwives was a good omen for my labor.

All day Friday I labored around the neighborhood and alternated with naps. Contractions picked up a lot towards the night, and I was up all night with them coming every 4-5 minutes. I let Jon sleep for some of the night and stayed in the living room. The next morning I felt like I was moving into active labor. Contractions had to be worked through now in a much different way. We called our doula over in the morning, and it was great seeing her walk in the door. I knew her for years-- when I started working as a doula 9 years ago we were each other's back-ups. I always knew there's no one else I would have wanted at my labor! We called my birth photographer, another old friend, and told her things were picking up but I felt like it wasn't happening immediatly so she could keep working that day.

Saturday is kind of a blur. Contractions stayed close together and strong throughout the whole day. I couldn't eat or sleep anymore. Our photographer called in the afternoon to say our friend was also in labor, who she was also supposed to photograph! She thought we may be further along so she headed over to our house.

I sort of remember asking to call the midwife to come over sometime Saturday evening. I asked her to check me, I think, and I was a 6 maybe? I was so relieved that I wasn't 2 or 3.

Thoughtout Saturday night into Sunday early morning I felt like I was in transition. Contractions came harder and harder and closer together. This is what I expected transition to feel like. At 3:30 AM I was checked again and my bag of waters was bulging into my vagina and I was 8cms. The baby's head was still very high, so we decided to break my water. After being in labor for almost 48 hours at this point he had not descended and I thought breaking the water could bring his head down and get me past those last 2 cms.

We broke my water and there was SO much! Much more than I had ever seen at another birth. His head stayed high right after, and I closed back to 5 cms. During a contraction my midwife brought his head down and I opened to 7cms again pretty soon after that.

Now here is where labor took a horrible turn for the worse. It all felt normal up until this point.

Not long after my water was broken I started having a very, very strong urge to push. I wasn't sure what it was and went with it for a few contractions and pushed into the pain. It didn't feel good to push, but it felt awful not to push. After doing this for awhile I asked to be checked because I was feeling pain in my cervix area. I was still at 7 cms, but stretchy.

Things just went downhill from here. For the next 15 hours I had an incredible urge to push, knife stabbing pain in my tailbone, and a swollen 7 cms cervix. Every contraction had me on the floor with my butt in the air and face on the ground panting outloud but screaming mantras inside my head. It hurt so, so much not to push. Every once inwhile we'd try pushing again, and it just kept swelling up my cervix. My midwife got evening primrose oil and used it to stretch my cervix during contractions while I pushed-- which was just an excrutiating amount of pain. We were trying to stretch my cervix over the baby's head since my body so obviously wanted to push him out but my cervix wouldn't let him through. I also felt like the bones of my pelvis were not allowing him to come.

Despite that, I was 100% confident in my homebirth and never once thought I should transfer during that time. The pain was like nothing I have ever imagined or seen in another labor. My partner said it looked like I was a POW being tortured for state secrets. I kept repeating "for sion" in my head as my mantra... similar to when Aragorn says "for frodo" at the end of return of the king.

During those 15 hours we tried everything. Squats, lunges, holding my belly up and in during contractions. The birth tub, showers, counter pressure, dancing, chest to the floor for 45 minutes.. we even called in an acupunturist Sunday afternoon, and that really helped with pain but it did not help the baby budge. We thought he was probably OP.

Around dinnertime Sunday I was so, so worn out. I had not had anything to eat hardly in 3 days, nor slept, and was having these awful pushing/swollen contractions coming every 2-3 minutes for hours on end. I didn't know what to do with the contractions mentally-- my stomach was heaving and convulsing with every contraction to push, but my cervix was on fire and I felt like I'd tear through it if I pushed. My pelvis felt like it was going to crack fromt he pressure of his head. I couldn't push but I wanted my cervix to open. How do you hold in pushing but still send down opening energy? To keep from pushing I had to be pulling my energy back in and up, but to open I needed down and out. It was so confusing.

Throughout the afternoon I had entered a place mentally that I can only describe as half dead and half alive. I didn't feel like I was fully part of the world anymore and I felt like I was slipping away. I was giving this labor everything I had, and NOTHING was moving the baby. The last time we did the pushing with my midwife's hands in me stretching my cervix torture thing I looked up at her when it was over and she had tears in her eyes and told me I was still the same dilation. I held onto my partner and cried my heart out. I couldn't believe this was happening. I was a doula and had attended so many wonderful homebirths and my whole life had no doubt in my ability to push my baby out, big or not. I didn't think my body would grow a baby too big to push out. I thought that if you let labor happen naturally your chances are so high that things will happen in the right way. But here I was, completely void of energy and life force.

I got into the birth tub again and told my contractions to go away for a few minutes so I could think. I felt with all my heart that my baby was stuck, and that 60 hours of everything I could do was not enough. I had the intuition very clearly that if I stayed home something awful would happen, severe shoulder dystocia, severe bleeding from an overworked uterus, or just giving in to the sinking into death wave that kept washing over me.

I made the call to transfer. It was such a hard choice. I didn't want to transfer to escape the pain whatsoever-- I knew the tradeoff was so much more precious, missing out on bringing my baby out myself and pulling him up my body and seeing him and feeling him in all his glory. I hated having to make that choice. I hated giving up on that moment. But I just knew that something was very wrong and he would not come out alive and healthy at home.

Once the decision was made to transfer, I told my contractions to stop for good. They listened to me. I had only a few contractions between that moment and when my body went numb from the spinal. That's how I know I wasn't fighting labor all along-- I had welcomed and allowed the contractions to come, no matter how much they hurt.

We packed up quickly and my midwife drove us and our doula to her backup hospital. We did an ultrasound of the baby and he wasn't OP, just very big and stuck. I had wanted to try epidural/pitocin while sleeping through the night to see if he would come, but my midwife explained to me that he actually was ina perfect position and he was clearly stuck-- if all we had done over 60 hours didn't bring him down, laying on my back numb would not bring him down. I consented to a c-section.

Most birth stories seem to skip here to the baby coming, but I want to write more about the c-section. I felt everything about the process so acutely (and I don't mean physically) because it was so unlike everything I had imagined birth to be like.

I first argued with the staff that I would not get a catheder under after the spinal was administered. Then I walked myself into the OR and insisited we wait until I got a contraction and it was over before we started the spinal. Having a contraction sitting alone on the operating table with all the doctors and nurses buzzing around saying "just breathe" was so surreal and sad. I missed my partner and midwife and doula. It was the only contraction I had alone.

They put in the spinal, which pinched but didn't hurt, then layed me down. I felt them put in the catheder which was so weird to feel people parting and manipulating my labia in this weird numb way. They prepped me and my partner and midwife were allowed to come in.

The surgury itself felt like a lot of intense tugging. My right arm was in a lot of pain from the blood pressure cuff that was too tight. After awhile my midwife said they were getting closer to getting the baby out. All of the sudden, I felt lighter. I'll never forget that feeling. I had so intensely wanted to feel my baby slide out of my vagina, instead I felt him lifted off my belly. On some level I was grateful for even that feeling, I knew and felt the moment he was born.

We heard him cry and Jon and I started crying. I loved the sound of his voice. It was so painful not to see and touch him. After about 2 minutes Jon was able to go over and see him. Sion was screaming and when Jon talked to him and gave him his finger to hold he quieted down. He was 9 lbs, 4 oz.

We had talked a lot before the birth about our voices being the only thing he would hear at first. We didn't want our midwife or anyone else talking, we wanted that moment to ourselves to introduce ourselves to him and tell him we're his parents. Jon was so upset to go over to Sion and hear the nurse talking to him. It sounds so insignificant, but it was heartbreaking to us that someone else got to experience *our* moment we had longed for, for 9 months.

Jon got to stay with him for 5-10 minutes while they measured him and all that. We asked for him not to be bathed, thank goodness. They cleaned him up and wrapped him up and put the gross eye goop in we didn't want to do. By then they were stitching me up and I still hadn't seen him and they wanted to take him to recovery with Jon. He had to argue to bring him over to see me.

I had such mixed feelings. I was so, so in love with this tiny little perfect face. I couldn't imagine him being more beautiful. Jon and I were crying so hard looking at him and I tried to kiss him and be near his little face while I was bound to the table. At the same time, I was so sad that I missed out on seeing him as he looked coming out of me. I didn't get to see him bloody and wet from my body. He didn't get to feel my skin when he came out. Here he was, presented like a little package. I wanted *him* not some gift with a ribbon the top of his hat. I had so looked forward to the physical sensation of him sliding up my body and wriggling on my breast in the water. I felt like the 10-15 minutes I missed with him were an insurmountable eternity. How could he know I was his mama, and how could I really know he was my baby.

Jon and the baby went off to recovery and I got stiched up. By the time I got to recovery they were telling me his blood sugar dropped too far and he would need a bottle of formula or to go to the NICU for IV fluids. NO WAY would I let THIS be ruined too! I tried to nurse him but couldn't with all of the blood pressure cuffs on my fingers and IVs and everything else keeping us from really touching each other.

We got up to my room shortly after with the repeated blood sticks and threats still in the air. I had 30 minutes to get his blood sugar to a safe place. Jon's parents were there and wanted to see him and I was happy they were there but SO eager to nurse him. I let him be held for half that time and then took him back and told him he HAD to learn how to nurse right now, there was no choice in the matter.

My good little boy latched on and sucked like his life depended on it and his blood sugars doubled.

We got a private room because I needed Jon after all this. We slept and nursed off and on all night and in the morning Sion watched the sunrise over the city in Jon's arms.

By about 10 o'clock we got a phone call from our landlord that the celing in the apartment below us was able to fall down from water damage. Our birth tub had leaked. here's my thread on that.

So.... I know that homebirth is not for every birth. I know that what makes homebirth safe is following a mother's intuition and a midwife's expertise to know when to transfer. I KNOW that, but I don't like it. My homebirth was traumatic physically, but my c-section was traumatic emotionally. I'm still having PTSD symptoms over the whole thing. My baby is beautiful and wonderful and perfectly healthy and needed help coming out. Intellectually, I know that's ok, but my heart is just so sad over everything. I lost faith my my body and myself and I don't ever want to be at another birth as a doula. I don't even like reading about homebirths anymore. I'm bitter. I wanted this so, so badly... it was one of my life goals. I love my boy so much, but this is going to really take some time to let go. I don't want to be pregnant again, I could never decide whether I would want another homebirth.

Pictures of my birth are in my signature-- click "Mommy." More pictures of Sion are under his name.
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#2 of 14 Old 04-14-2009, 04:16 PM
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Thank you for sharing this. You did an amazing job from beginning to end.

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#3 of 14 Old 04-14-2009, 05:29 PM
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Yes you did--an amazing, powerful, loving beautiful job. Please give yourself that, to help you through all the pain and doubt.
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#4 of 14 Old 04-14-2009, 05:35 PM
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I commented on your thread in your DDC a few weeks ago. I'm so sorry for the loss of your peaceful homebirth. I know that feeling all too well.

Sion is beautiful as are your pictures.

Maggie, blissfully married mama of 5 little ladies on my own little path. homeschool.gif gd.gifRainbow.gif
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#5 of 14 Old 04-14-2009, 05:58 PM
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Wow! What a powerful, moving, amazing story!

You did an AMAZING job, mama!! Much love to you for your healing through this... know that you did the best, BEST things for your little man.
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#6 of 14 Old 04-14-2009, 06:59 PM
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Oh, mama I'm sorry for the loss of your gentle birth and those first few magical minutes with your baby. We missed out on those things too, and it really hurts. But you are his mama and he is your baby, regardless.

Originally Posted by Altair View Post
Jon and I were crying so hard looking at him and I tried to kiss him and be near his little face while I was bound to the table.
This bit made me cry - it reminded me of the scene with Aslan and the children on the Stone Table (if you read the Chronicles of Narnia - you're a LOTR fan, so you might well have!).

I hope that both you and Sion can find healing in each other :

Lisa - mama to Eleanor Rose 01/08 and Saoirse Lily 09/10
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#7 of 14 Old 04-14-2009, 09:02 PM
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Wow. Thank you for sharing your experience. You described it so poignantly I teared up a couple of times. I'm so sorry that Sion's birth was so painful for you, both physically and emotionally and that it didn't live up to your hopes and dreams. I am completely in awe of your strength and am amazed at how you persevered through it all for so long!! I hope you'll find some peace as you continue to process this. Your pictures are beautiful by the way.
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#8 of 14 Old 04-19-2009, 05:28 PM
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Welcome Sion! Mama, I am so sorry for your struggles.

I also had a similar experience. I labored through an entire weekend and wound up with a transfer, an epidural and terrible ripping. I hurt for a long time and I had some depression and anxiety afterward interfering with my full enjoyment of my bebe.

But it does get better! Every day! Better and better!

If it doesn't, get some extra support. But just try to focus on what you have - your amazing Sion. The little baby time flies by. My LO is almost 10 months old and I am still processing her birth.

Around 6 months I started to feel like I could give it another go. I know my body can do a homebirth. I just had some crazy challenges the first time around (cord around neck and stuckness, too...)

Trust yourself. You are amazing. 60 hours of home labor!!! and you were beautiful as your pictures documented. Blessings!

Mama to DD luxlove.gif born June 2008 and Wife to my dear Magyar foreign exchange husband. Expecting again in September!joy.gif 
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#9 of 14 Old 04-20-2009, 12:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you everyone.

I think it will take at least 6 months to a year to process. I was tyring to explain it to my partner last night-- I have been wanting a homebirth my whole life... maybe the way some other women might dream of a fairy tale wedding, or how my partner dreams of winning an oscar. So what if on that day something happened and you still got the end result, but you completely missed out on the experience. Your wedding got ruined by everyone fighting and you had to go t city hall to get a piece of paper, or you got your oscar but you tripped on the way up and everyone laughed at you and that's all that was remembered. You still got married, or got the award, but you missed the experience.

This was an experience I've waited my whole life to have. Not just having a baby, but giving birth. I've dreamed so many times about what that final moment of crowning would feel like. All the build up of those 60 hours, your body is gearing up for something... like when you're about to have an orgasm. And it's warm and intimate and just so physical and even sensual despite the pain. Just so.... lived. And then it's stopped, dead in it's tracks, and you're in the most anonymous and sterile environment and everything is white and metal and cold and sharp. And it's completed by numbing and cutting. No matter how much it hurt I wanted to feel the conclusion of the creshendo of feelings building up. It's such an emotional and physical let down. I think hormonally processes just stopped. And then not being able to see him as he was born I never got to conenct the dots between all the adrenaline and hormones and pheremones and physical sensations which would make him MINE.

I feel like I'm spending every minute making up for lost time and not letting him go. I'm so afraid of returning to work in 4 more weeks and how horribly depressing that will be... right at 2 months when things should be getting easier with nursing, I'll have to be pumping.. which feels like the same equivalent non-intimate modern medical substitute to the real thing. Having a baby is just such a natural process and there's too many people who don't realize the damage we do to ourselves when we mess with that process.
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#10 of 14 Old 04-21-2009, 12:04 AM
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Oh honey! i completely understand. I did not have the hopes for a HB, but definitely a natural one. I got scared, went to the hospital and got the c-section as well. My son is almost 19 months and I am just now getting to the point of dealing with it.

I had to be readmitted 5 days post op and was separated for 5 days because I was in early cardiac failure with pneumonia and septasemia. I was on so many drugs that I had to pump and dump for a month while my son got formula. It was awful. But, the point of telling you this is that I had a picture of my son with me and I looked at it while pumping. I also tried to remember that I would be able to eventually give him that gift when he could nurse again. Yes, it is mechanical, but in some way, even while working, it helped me feel connected to him.

I remember when they brought my son to me all wrapped up so that I could only see his face. I thought that when I would see him for the first time, I would know exactly who he was. I looked at him and wondered, his that really him? Is that really my baby? And I looked at my husband knowing he was there the whole time and that is the only reason I trusted it. It is a horrible feeling. I know with some animals, that they will reject a baby if it is interfered with (we had a baby goat for that reason). So know that what you are feeling is normal (yeah, I know, how does that help?).

If I could reach through this computer, I would give you the biggest hug. You have articulated what I have been feeling so well.

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#11 of 14 Old 04-21-2009, 08:40 PM
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I am in awe of your story. You did an absolutely amazing job... with your strength and with your mother's intuition. I know how it feels to have your birth not go as you imagined. I also had a c/s with my daughter. She's 18 months and it still does hurt. I did have some PPD and it took a while for me eto feel bonded to her.

But I can tell you today, for sure, I am her mama and I think we've gotten over the hard start we had. I still don't understand everything about my labor and experience, but Im working on it. It is hard for me too bc I am an L&D nurse and realy wanted to be a CNM. I feel like I don't know if I can do that anymore. (CNM) It hurts me to be in a beautiful delivery bc I don't understand why. But, it also reaffirms to me to trust again, to open my heart up, and to realize that every birth is different, and that it is still the way babies where meant to come into the world.

I hope you can heal with time. You will be an even more amazing doula having experienced this.
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#12 of 14 Old 04-23-2009, 12:34 AM
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Oh mama. I feel like I could have written parts of your post. Hugs. I too, had a dream of having a home birth since I was sixteen years old. It was also a life goal of mine, to have a beautiful,peaceful, calm birth. A birth where I would feel strong and empowered and incredible, in awe of my body. I too used to be a doula, and I was also a midwifery student. I wanted to become a LM/CPM one day. I labored at home for several days, most of which went very well. Until I got to nine centimeters. I had a similiar experience in that I pushed for hours and couldn't get my baby to budge. My midwives tried manual dialation. My cervix swelled. We transferrred, and I ended up in the OR with a c section. Short story. While the cesarean went smoothly physically, and recovery was fairly easy as well, emotionally it was very, very hard for me. I had the utmost faith in my body to birth. I had looked forward to giving birth, I wanted to feel it all. I wasn't afraid, I knew my body was made to birth. I wanted to feel that moment of crowning and of my baby sliding out of my body, I wanted to hold my wet, slippery babe, and be the first to lay eyes on him. Instead I felt much more removed from the process than that. I was devestated, shocked, depressed and grief stricken. It has gotten better with work and time, but it still hurts. Mostly when I hear of other's positive birth experiences or I see a pregnant mama and I wonder if she will get the birth I so wanted. It was a rude awakening to have my birth end like that, because I thought that if I made all the right choices, and trusted my body I would have a beautiful birth. But it's not that simple. I do hope to have a home vbac someday, but I still need to finish grieving this experience first. I don't know if I can return to birth work as a doula or go on to become a midwife, right now it still hurts too much, but I hope to one day be healed enough to maybe do so. Hugs and healing to you, I know to well what it feels like.

Maria, wife to DH, mama to DS 09/2007, #2 12/2010 and hoping for a
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#13 of 14 Old 04-30-2009, 06:04 PM
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When I first read your story in our DDC, I was struck by how hard you tried, how long your labor was, and I was heartbroken thinking of how you transferred and ended up in the OR. I thought, there's no way I could have made it thru this without being really traumatized. And then I saw your post here a little later.

I wanted you to know how much I want to reach out to you, to send you healing and love. Many of the things you described hit me very hard, especially when you likened your planning of the birth to planning a wedding.
Please glance at my story of my daughter's birth and you might see a similarity in the first paragraph. I didn't know anyone else felt that way.

Your son is so beautiful, and I am so glad you have him. You truly are a warrior, mama. You fought to the end for your baby, and made a decision for his well-being that was MUCH harder than enduring labor. I am proud of you, and I hope that someday I will have as much courage.
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#14 of 14 Old 06-11-2009, 03:49 PM
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What a beautifully written and incredibly powerful birth story. I'm so sorry for your trauma and pain and so happy for your beautiful son!

I know I'm awfully late in commenting, but I just came to this forum 15 days after my daughter's birth, which was also a HB transfer. While my circumstances were very different (water broke and after 2 days I was showing some early signs of infection with absolutely no regular contractions), I completely related to your retelling of the emotion, regret and sadness. Especially about him hearing the nurse's voice first. For us, it was that the doctor immediately cut and clamped the cord -- before she was even put on me -- and we had planned for our oldest son to have that honor.

I hope that this summer brings some relief from your experience. Update us if you can.
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