Everyone tells me I should be happy that my birth was so easy and I am fortunate that I didn't need drugs or interventions, but besides those things, nothing went as I wanted (I didn't get delayed cord clamping either, but that's another story, which was truly out of my control) and really, the reason I wanted to avoid drugs and interventions in the first place was to reduce the risk of tearing.
I also hired a doula and chose for my delivery a doctor who prided herself on low tearing rates and we talked about what could be done to prevent tearing (hot compresses, massage, etc.). However, the doctor said that the biggest factor would be to control the rate of delivery in order to give my body a chance to stretch and accommodate the baby.
So when I was finally admitted to the hospital at 8 cm dilated (after being turned away twice for not being far enough along) I thought that they would call my doctor in right away. The delivery nurse seemed really nice and assured me that she could deliver my baby if the doctor didn't get there in time. But then she started coaching me to push, and I knew it was all wrong. I said that I was afraid of tearing and that I wanted to slow down and wait for my body to stretch. She said that most first time mothers tear and not to worry because it wasn't so bad and it would heal. This attitude terrified me and I said I wanted my doctor there. She said that my doctor was only 5 minutes away so she would have plenty of time to get there once she was called. Again, I panicked to know that the doctor hadn't even been called yet, but the nurse said that the doctors only like to be there to catch the baby. They couldn't be bothered with the pushing stage. This whole time, the nurse was coaching me to push as hard as I could, holding my breath, bearing down, and pushing through the pain. I asked if I could get into a better position, gravity-wise, and I was allowed to sit up a little more (but by this time, the baby's head made sitting up uncomfortable), but then she said I really needed to get the baby out right away and we didn't have time to wait around any more. At some point near the end, she did call the doctor, who arrived 3 minutes too late. My doctor was less than impressed with the amount of tearing and commented that my baby must have shot out like a rocket. The nurse just shrugged and said, "Not really."
While I got to have the baby laid across my chest, I was unable to breastfeed for an hour and a half as I was stitched up. Despite local anesthetic, i could feel the pain. My doctor said it was just a sensitive area. I'm pretty sure one of the stitches is in my clitoral hood. My doctor said that she is unsure of whether there is enough blood left in that tissue to survive, but if not, it will just shrivel and fall off. There was tearing on both sides of my vagina into my labia. I thought, based on her description, that my perineum was not torn, but I felt it for the first time tonight, and there are stitches in it. I have been scared to look at or touch anything in that region and the more I think about it, the more upset I get.
My husband has said that it is not fair to blame my doula for what happened,
and he said he suspected that there was a reason that they were making me push so hard--a reason that they didn't want to worry me about. So I finally called her last night to see if she had any insight into what happened. She said that certainly, at the end, the baby's heart rate had dropped, and that is why I was told I had to deliver right away. She admitted she wasn't sure why the nurse had made me push so hard so early and that she assumed there was something that the nurse was seeing on the monitor that she wasn't, but in retrospect, she should have asked. Maybe if I hadn't been instructed to push so hard so early, the baby would not have gone into distress in the end.
Of course I know I might have torn even if circumstances had been ideal. It just bothers me that things were so far out of my control in the end, and I am scared that things will not heal. I seriously keep having flashbacks to this event, and then I am left in tears, thinking about the pain, fearing the future, and wondering whether it was even necessary or whether it could have been avoided.
I am unable to talk about my birth experience because of this.
Now mom to a boy born January 2010.
Cautiously expecting Dec 2014!
12/08 (6 weeks),
1/13 (11 weeks), &
12/13 (9.5 weeks)