Sorry this is so long. I feel like anytime I've tried to talk to anyone IRL about it they've brushed me off like I'm being silly and it's been four months of thinking about it now. I'm still feeling upset, but not sure if I'm ready to call it trauma. I'm feeling pretty anxious about this being my first post here, and I really just need to vent. Sorry if this sounds dramatic or if it's too long, I just need to get the whole story off my chest and then maybe I'll feel better.
I always wanted a home birth. I just knew it was the right choice for me. Unfortunately, midwifery care where I live is in high demand, and despite calling every practise in the city, I didn't get a midwife.
My GP referred me to a low-risk maternity clinic. I went ahead planning for a natural hospital birth. Along the way, I confirmed the things that were most important to me with every new doctor I saw. They all confirmed it wouldn't be a problem: delayed cord clamping, immediate skin to skin, no eye drops, no coached pushing, trying different positions, etc. There is only one tub at the hospital I would be delivering at, and it's usually reserved for midwife patients, but they agreed to try to get it for me if it was available.
I have a close family history of diabetes (uncle with type 1, two grandparents with type 2) and I'm a little overweight (size 16 pre-pregnancy), so I asked for extra GD screening.
At about 28 weeks, I started getting itchy. I assumed it was dry skin or hormones, but no lotion or cream helped. It got worse, to the point it was keeping me up at night. I googled my symptoms, and called the clinic. They got me in for a blood test within days, and yes, I had cholestasis. I read some research and did some reading, and decided to go along with the standard of care for ICP. Regular ultrasounds, NSTs and early induction. Ultrasounds labelled the baby Large for Gestational Age, but I brushed that off. The high risk OB transferred me back to the maternity clinic, I was happy about that.
I went in for my induction at 37 weeks and 1 day. We took it nice and easy, and started with a Folley catheter. After 12 hours with the catheter in, I was dilated to 2 cm and "mostly" effaced. They broke my water and started antibiotics for GBS. There was meconium in the water, great. Common for ICP pregnancies though. I was having regular but painless contractions (continuous monitoring because of ICP), every 3.5 minutes after that. 2 hours later, the nurse estimated 3, maybe 3.5 cm (but wrote down 3.5). I asked to get up and walk around, but they couldn't find the wireless telemetry box for my monitor. I agreed to rest for a bit while they looked for it. I threw up repeatedly, and didn't feel better until they started ****. About an hour and a half later, the doctor checked me and said 3.5 maybe 4. Wrote down 3.5. I was still feeling fine, but the telemetry box still hadn't shown up, so I decided to take a nap. The nurse (not mine, relief nurse for my nurse's break) agreed that we would put off talking about pitocin for another hour.
I slept for just about two hours, and woke up to find I had been put on pitocin while I was asleep! My nurse showed me where the relief nurse had written down that I had agreed to start pitocin? DH had fallen asleep too. I was going to complain, but the first contraction after I woke up blindsided me, totally taking my breath away. It felt nothing like the contractions before pit had, before it had been like strong cramps and now I felt like I was being hit by a truck. I asked for gas then, and it helped a lot and I was even able to sleep between contractions for a while.
Not sure how much longer it was, but they checked me and said I was 4.5 cm. At this point I had been labouring in bed for hours because the cords on my monitors were barely long enough for me to get out of bed, and it was driving me crazy. I asked to walk around and what do you know? Still no telemetry box. At this point they bring in a bunch of people to look for it, and they check all the other rooms and can't find it. They kept telling me how that had never happened before. I was relieved when my Mom arrived, her presence made me feel better for a few minutes.
I was feeling shaky and emotional and I couldn't even keep down apple juice. I noticed that the pitocin dose had been turned up, several times judging from how much higher it was. I was 5 cm at this point, 6 or so hours after my water had been broken. Still no telemetry box, and the nurse insisted that no, I couldn't take off the monitors now that I was on pitocin. I felt defeated, and I asked for the first dose of fentanyl and immediately felt better. I went for several hours like that, rolling from one side to the other, using the gas for most of the contractions and asking for a dose of fentanyl every so often.
I finally got sick of lying in bed and said I needed to go to the bathroom. The nurse insisted I had to be checked by the doctor first because she "doesn't want me pushing on the toilet". Doctor said I was only 6 cm, and shook her head disapprovingly. I got up and paced in the washroom for 20 minutes, and the pain felt a lot better.
As soon as I returned to the bed the pain got unbearable. The contractions were coming seconds apart and I just couldn't take it. I was nearly hysterical I asked the nurse if the pitocin could be turned down, she said "we don't do that". In tears, feeling weak and like I failed, I asked for the epidural.
It only took a few minutes, but by the time the anesthesiologist got there, the few seconds between the contractions were gone. It hurt to hold the position leaning over. I've never taken freezing well, and it seemed to wear off before he was done because it HURT. I was crying and shaking. Then it didn't feel any better. No reduction of pain, no decreased sensation. It must have been pathetic, I remember looking up at the anesthesiologist and asking him to help me. What does he do? He suggests they turn down the pitocin. They did.
I unplugged the monitor and started walking around, and I think I told the nurse to "bite me" when she told me I "wasn't allowed". Seriously only a few minutes of this and there's a break between contractions again and suddenly I'm feeling like pushing. I didn't want to all out push but I was pushing lightly at the end of each contraction. The nurse tells me there's "no way" I'm fulling dilated, but she calls the doctor anyways.
The doctor comes in and checks me, and immediately starts gowning up and tells the nurse to call the NICU team. They turn on those really bright lights and break down the bed. I tried to argue, but suddenly my son's heart rate slowed. Decels. I'd been on pitocin for hours and I knew what decels could mean, and I did not want to have come this far just to have a section, so I started pushing. Three contractions later, my beautiful boy was born, not breathing. It took a good five minutes before I heard him cry. He hadn't aspirated meconium, but the fentanyl made him lazy. They gave him to me skin to skin for a few minutes (after giving him the eye drops), and then I gave him to DH so that the doctor could stitch my tears.
I had one she described as "almost" grade three down my perineum, and a pretty deep one up through my labia, barely missing my clitoris. Stitching that labial tear was the most painful thing I have ever experienced. Ever. At first I tried to let her stitch it without freezing, I couldn't bear that. The needles to freeze it hurt too, and then mostly wore off before it was done. They weighed my son while she stitched me, 8 lbs 12 oz! When the stitching was done, I took him back and he latched right away, and when he was done nursing they took us to postpartum.
When we got there, we had half an hour to cuddle and then I don't even remember why but they said they had to test his blood sugar. I let them do it, and they never took him out of our room. It was low. Really low. I nursed him again, they retested. Still low. I agreed to give him an ounce of formula, and then they tested again. Even lower, dangerously so. They took him to the NICU. I went to see him about half an hour after they took him, and my 8 lb 12 oz baby looked so out of place.
It took two days before he had a chem strip within the normal range. It was eight days before he could come home. I wasn't getting much milk when I pumped, so he was getting a lot of formula. On the third day he was in the NICU, his nurse looked up my records. It turned out, I had failed my second GD test (the two hour tolerance test) and NO ONE had ever told me. Not a mention of it, no diet, nothing.
All in all, I got a healthy baby with no major complications. I'm a little proud I didn't end up with a c-section. But I still feel really sad about his birth, like it didn't go the way I wanted to at all. And that labial tear still hurts. I only just had my "6 week" check up because it hurt so bad when the doctor checked the stitches at my 2 week. The doctor said it healed fine, and it shouldn't be causing me any pain. I haven't even been able to entertain the thought of sex. My son will be 4 months in two days.
I want another baby, but I'm terrified to give birth again. I've even thought of asking for an elective cesarean if I have another baby. I just don't know anymore. Also, due to something else I am NOT going to discuss publicly at this point, if we don't conceive again in the next year or so we might never have another biological child, which just makes it more stressful. I really want another baby but I'm too scared.
Sorry this was so ridiculously long, thanks to anyone who actually reads it.
I've never had cholestasis of pregnancy - but I know the itch as I had a blocked bile duct once and the build up of bile caused insane itching in my hands and feet. It sounds as though it was terrible. Yes you have a healthy baby and be thankful for that - but having a healthy baby and having a traumatic birth experience are two very different things and they can both exist.
I just had an elective cesarean for the birth of my son. It was a good experience for me. I found the birth of my daughter traumatic.
There are risks regardless of the birth choices made. You need to decide which risks you are comfortable with and which ones you are not willing to bear. You also need to put that information into a personal context. When you are looking at the information available, bear in mind whether or not the risks cited are for all cesareans (emergent and elective combined) or are for elective cesareans only. Also bear in mind the risks of attempting a vaginal delivery (including the risk of needing a cesarean). Also, if you are planning on just one more child, it is something to take into consideration as many of the risks of cesarean apply to future pregnancies and if you were planning on surgical sterilization after this next child it can be combined with the cesarean and as such would not involve a separate procedure (or the risks associated with a separate procedure). Have a frank discussion with your doctor about what risks you are concerned about and how they might apply to your personal situation to help you make the best choice for you in your personal situation. At the end of the day the choice is yours, and the only person you need to be accountable for your choice is yourself, your child and your family.
oh my goodness that is horrible. those doctors and nurses sound awful-! to hook you up to pitocin withuoth your clear approval and then to disregard your feelings and needs and be so mean to you- yuck! I am so sorry you had to have that horrible experience. It is good you are sharing and no need what so ever to apologize. I am sending you deep compassion for a truly difficult and hard experience that you had. I hope your body heals up so well and that you can find ways to process and heal your trauma. coming here is a good start as you will see you are not alone! that helps a little. I wish you strength and healing and I really read your story and feel how intense of a trauma and pain that was for you. may you find blessings and peace from this point forward.
I'm sorry that your birth experience was not what you had planned. Have you talked with a counselor? If not, I would highly recommend finding a counselor who you can talk with one-on-one to help process these emotions.
I would have been depressed about all of that too. I have a lot of birth trauma that I've never posted here, but I do understand how much it can shake you up to have people treat you like that during your birthing experience. And when you combine that with postpartum hormones and 24/7 infant care, you can really feel down for a while. It's totally normal to feel the way you do. Those nurses treated you very poorly. If I were you I'd write a long letter (just copy and past what you wrote here) to the nursing supervisor to let her know what's going on in her department.
I also had one of those nasty labial tears, but my doctor must be a saint or something because I don't remember it being that painful when she stitched it up. Maybe it's because it's been 9 years and I don't remember, or maybe it's the injections she gave me to numb the area. I remember screaming once or twice, but she numbed me up immediately and then it was fine. You really should not have had to feel all that stitching.
The only thing I can really say to reassure you is that over time, it really will matter less and less to you that your son's birth was so traumatic. You'll always remember it of course, and they'll probably always be twinges of grief and sadness over it (I still do), but the acute grief you feel really does subside with time. You'll be chasing him around the house before you know it, and then he'll be starting school. They grow up so darn fast.
I wouldn't worry so much about your next birth. I've had three and they were all different. The next one may be smooth sailing!!
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