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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I started a thread in the new preemie/NICU forum about processing a difficult or traumatic birth experience. I heard from some mamas that didn't have a preemie that they'd like to see a thread like this elsewhere, so I thought this might be a good place to start one. It isn't my intention that anyone question someone's choices in this thread, many people recovering from this type of birth experience are devasted and can't handle those types of questions or judgement without breaking down. I think that if women want to talk about their traumatic births, what helps, what doesn't help, their feelings, whether they feel you ever "get over it" and how long it takes, etc., there needs to be a place. Feel free to link to your birth story. I'll come back and talk about my experience when I have two hands to type with (nak).

Trying to clarify. I started this thread with the idea in mind that peoiple could talk about theie traumatic birth experiences here without judgement. That other mamas who have had similar experiences can help support each other, especially newly PP moms who are just beginning to think about it. But also that even if you're a year PP or 20 years PP and you still have unresolved issues about your child's birth you could discuss it here and get support.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm not really looking for anything, I just wanted to give people a place to talk about it if they wanted to. People could help support each other through the process of grieving the birth they wanted, things like that. I mean, my dd is 19 months old, and I still have some really intense feelings about her birth. I have had some PPD and I think that her birth experience and the NICU stay really contributed to that.
 

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I think this is a good idea. I want to talk about my birth, but I feel like I am no longer "allowed" in the natural birth/homebirth communities I used to visit since my homebirth ended in transfer and c-section (because of the baby, not me). I have been hesitant to post anything because I don't feel like being armchair quarterbacked about what we should have done when. It's so ironic because I thought I was doing everything right to prevent a c-section with a doula and hands off midwives. And in a way, that worked, and labor was a breeze. I never counted on having a real complication with the baby be a possibility, and I feel like it was my fault. I am still working on my birth story since it's been so hard to think about the birth (it took me a month to think about it without crying), but I'll post it when I'm done.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I know what you mean about not wanting to post your birth story.
I have never written the birth story of my first daughter because I have always felt that I wouldn't be able to post it here without being flamed or questioned 3 ways from Sunday. Her birth was actually far better than my second, but it still would be considered far from ideal by most people here. My second birth was traumatic and full of interventions and it hurts my heart when people start asking why I did this or that. I planned a hospital birth, but I was supposed to do a peaceful hypnobirth and instead got this crazy preemie birth with lots of complications. It is hard to heal from.
 

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Thank you for starting this...I got really frustrated once on the VBAC board because I just couldn't understand why someone who never had a cesarean would come over and judge or flame someone who was obviously going through a rough processing period. These judgements and flames are not helpful to a lot of people and in fact cause much more grief, shame, anger, depression, etc. It really is too bad that some people believe that it is their right to "inform" other mothers of their wrong choices in birth leading to the birth trauma. I guess other people feel good about themselves when they shame another human being. I know I feel awful when I hurt another person and never intend to do it.

I have found that it takes a long time to process- still almost 10 months later I have a lot of anger from a necessary cesarean. I find that it is better to stay away from those people and those posters who do not understand the unpredictability of childbirth and do not understand that the women on mothering for the most part wanted and did whatever they could to have natural childbirth. I find though that most of the truly insensitive people say things that are more about their own agendas than your experience. There are many who truly believe that no cesarean is ever justified and everything would work out fine if "you just had a homebirth". This is simply not true of course.
 

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I just wanted to say, I like the idea of this thread. I have read comments here before from traumatized women shortly after their births when they come to process the experience, and I have cringed when they got replies like "well, this is why women need to educate themselves". Women blame themselves enough for a traumatic birth without being blamed by others as well. It would be nice to have a safe place to go to process without getting comments that unintentionally harm. Don't know if this thread could serve that purpose, but I will be watching it to see how it goes...
 

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I have not had a traumatic birth experience, but wanted to post in support of mamas who have. I am horrified to hear that there are people who would flame you.
The way I look at it, even if you do everything "right," you don't ultimately have control over the birth cards you are dealt.
 

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This is a great idea for a thread! As much as I love MDC, my biggest frustration is how harsh and judgemental some people are. I believe that we should be supporting each other first and foremost. Often I think assumptions and judgements are made without any consideration of class and privilege. Like the comment about women needing to educate themselves. What gets overlooked is the many women who do not have the luxury of owning a computer to research on the internet or having the free time to hit a library, let alone access to adequate healthcare. Sorry, I don't mean to rant. So do you want us to share our stories here? I think it would be great if we could!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I kind of want people to do whatever they feel comfortable doing! Share your story, parts of your story, vent about your feelings, discuss how you're healing....whatever you want that doesn't involve bashing someone else (unless it was your OB or midwife or someone who made your birth experience worse, ykwim?)
 

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It's funny, but after Sebastian was born, I felt like whenever I talked about the details of his birth, the people listening were more traumatized than I was. I got a lot of "That's so hard!" and "Oh honey!"s. But he's five weeks old now, and I'm finding myself flashing back to certain moments of his birth and wanting to cry. Maybe it's just all sinking in now.

There are three things that really bother me. The first is that he was in pain. There were medical procedures he needed that hurt him, both during his hospitalization after birth and 10 days later when he was rehospitalized, and I know they were necessary, but I just hate that some of his first experiences were painful.

The second is that I didn't see him for two hours after he was born, while they worked on me. I missed that time and I can never get it back. So many hands were lifting him up when he was born that I only saw flashes of skin, a little dark tuft of hair sticking up. They whisked him away so fast. And I'm grateful, because he needed immediate care to be stabilized. But I still mourn those two hours.

The third is some of the comments that I got. There's this attitude from some people that the medical procedures we consented to were unnecessary and therefore we caused him unnecessary trauma and pain. They can't believe I agreed to not breastfeed him for the first 24 hours, even though it broke my heart. They can't believe I later consented to supplementing with formula for 2 days when I was too stressed to get much colostrum through pumping, even considering that I could never produce the liquid volume they needed to replace the fluid in his IV as he was switched over to oral intake. But they can only say those things knowing in hindsight that he came out fine. We didn't know that at the time. We had no way of predicting whether or not he would have organ failure after birth, or that the high fever he came down with at 10 days was only a virus and not meningitis or late onset GBS. We only knew that by having the tests and precautionary treatments done and I just couldn't face waiting without precautions when the risks were so high. It wasn't like choosing to home-treat a bad diaper rash. We were looking at oxygen deprivation to the brain, organ failure, long term brain damage, or death, if there really was anything wrong. I really feel that with stakes like that, waiting would have been the height of irresponsibility, regardless of how "crunchy" we are.

So I guess my brain was on a little holiday once things turned out ok, and now the reaction is setting in. I'll post my birth story in a separate post -- it's pretty long.
 

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[Very long -- I just wrote this stream-of-consciousness style, no editing, no second thoughts. I hope it's legible.]

I woke up Monday morning around 7am feeling some mild cramping, very low in my uterus, just like I did with Qualia. Since I was 41 weeks that day, I had a non-stress test at the hospital just to check Sebastian's level of activity and amniotic fluid. Most pointless NST ever. *lol* I went in and let them know that I thought I was starting labor, and called RJ to ask him to start calling our "support team" -- Heather and our doula, Cristina. The NST went fine, and sure enough, it registered regular contractions while I was hooked up to the monitors. I agreed to let the resident check my cervix and I was fully effaced and 4-5 cm dilated already. This led to some surprise and consternation on the hospital staff's part when I said that was great and I was heading home for a while. They weren't sure they would "let" me, but I spoke with the doctor, made it clear it wasn't a case of them letting me do anything since it's my body, and I would labor better at home, and off I went with his blessing. (I almost made it home in between contractions, too, except I managed to hit every single red light on the way.) I was feeling pretty Mighty Woman at that point for having been able to advocate for myself without RJ or Cristina there to help me.

At home I spent the minutes between contractions doing some laundry and cleaning, checking to make sure we had everything packed for the hospital, rocking on the birthing ball, and listening to the mix RJ made for me, which was a perfect balance of calming and energizing music. Heather came over and helped Qualia settle in to the day, and RJ went over to the hospital to get the birth tub set up. I rocked out to the contractions for a while, feeling very positive and on top of things, doing my breathing and changing positions. Cristina got there and suggested I make some energy food while I had a chance, so I made some scrambled eggs and ate as much as I could stand (I hate eating when I'm not actually hungry). After a while I called RJ at the hospital and suggested he just stay there and we'd meet him there. Cristina and I loaded up her car and headed over.

When we got there I let them know I wanted to get in the tub as soon as possible, so they did a quick monitor and blood draw and off I went. I went into labor on the one day that both my resident and the overseeing doctor who specializes in water births were unavailable, so I ran into some resistance with actually birthing in the tub. I was trying really hard to be friendly to the nurses and doctors because you don't want them pissed off at you in that kind of situation(!) but I also didn't want to get pushed into doing things someone else's way. This was quite likely my last birth, and I wasn't going to compromise just because someone wasn't comfortable with my birthing choices. If it became medically necessary, sure, but that's a whole different ball of wax. That was a little stressful, but I was still feeling really positive and "high" from laboring at home, so I just went ahead and did my thing and figured they couldn't force me to get out of the tub.

We set up the music and some soft lights in the bathroom and RJ and I got in the tub. The warm water felt so amazing. The contractions still hurt, but my belly and arms and legs were buoyed by the water. I think that made a huge difference in my endurance levels, both in terms of pain management and sheer energy. The contractions got intense pretty quickly and I hit transition. It felt like I was there forever. The contractions just didn't let up. (Cristina later let me know I was having contractions 3 minutes long with about half a minute in between at one point.) I changed position from squatting to leaning forward on RJ's shoulders and back again, with Cristina giving me Recharge and ice water in between and putting cold cloths on my forehead and neck. They both kept up a litany of encouragement and praise all the way through.
I started feeling a shuddering need to push at the end of the contractions, and it got stronger and more overwhelming very quickly. Somewhere in there our backup resident came in and stayed (he'd been in periodically to check on me but otherwise left us alone, which was lovely). He felt my bag of waters bulging and Sebastian's head behind them. Maybe 5-6 contractions from the end, the bag finally broke with a pop in the water. I reached down and felt Sebastian's head and something didn't feel right. Even though I knew it wasn't possible with the waters just breaking, I asked the doctor to check and make sure there wasn't a cord prolapse. He checked and said it was the forebag. It was so thick that it felt like cord over Sebastian's head.

That brief spurt of panic gave me an extra burst of energy and I just wanted to see my baby. I tried to stay with the contractions and bring his head down as fast as possible. I pushed so hard my nose bled. He finally crowned after what felt like an eternity (I later found out I only pushed for half an hour), and suddenly everything went to chaos. His head got stuck at the widest point and I just couldn't push him out. I told the doctor he was stuck and the doctor started feeling around his head. That really hurt and after a minute I think I started yelling at him to stop. He was actually past Sebastian's head, inside me, and had realized that Sebastian's shoulder was caught on my pelvic bone. I think it was RJ who told Cristina to run out and get help. Suddenly this swarm of people were in the bathroom and I was lifted up by RJ and several nurses, legs pulled back as far as possible, and a new doctor was yelling at me to push whether or not I was having a contraction. I didn't know what was going on and no one was saying, but I knew something had gone wrong and I pushed as hard as I possibly could while the doctor pulled, and Sebastian was born. As he was lifted in the air, I saw that his cord had broken. At the time, I thought it broke when they pulled him out, but later we found out it had ruptured inside me, which was the cause of the emergency.

Most of the swarm rushed out, taking my baby with them. I caught of glimpse of dark hair and heard the babble of orders as they gave him oxygen and worked on him. There was blood everywhere -- in the tub, on the floor. I don't remember how I got out of the tub and onto the bed, but pretty quickly they were taking Sebastian to the special care nursery and RJ was going with them. I was so glad RJ was there with him, but I just wanted to hold my baby.

They reassured me about a million times that Sebastian was breathing and everything was under control. They started to work on getting my placenta out, which was complicated because the cord was inside me and the forebag of waters was so thick it threatened to increase my bleeding where it was attached. A shot of pitocin and some very painful contractions later, I birthed the placenta and a lot of blood clots. I got a few stitches that took forever to put in because of the layering, but surprisingly, I actually tore less than I did with my 7 pound 12 ounce no-hands-involved-inside-me daughter. We decided to go with stitches even though it was a small 2nd-degree tear just to help know where any additional bleeding was coming from.

I was frantic to see Sebastian. About two hours later, a new doctor came in and sat down to explain what was going on before I went to the nursery. Sebastian had had an abnormally short cord -- less than 12 inches long -- that tore while he was coming down the birth canal. (This is probably partial cause for the shoulder dystocia as well, because the cord was too short to let him rotate properly.) Because it and he were still inside me, we both bled out. This was more of a problem for him than me, obviously. He came out blue and floppy from oxygen deprivation. His heartrate had gone up to 200 and his blood pressure had dropped, so they needed to stabilize him quickly. He got an IV of fluid, which they then switched to a glucose solution, and he was wired to monitors to check his respiration, oxygen levels, and pulse rate. There were so many wires on my tiny baby. They told me I couldn't nurse him yet because of the IV and needing to closely monitor his fluid intake. The oxygen deprivation to his organs might have affected his intestines, which could lead to part of them necrotizing. It was a small risk, but real enough that I reluctantly agreed not to nurse him yet. That was so heartbreaking.

Over the next two days RJ and I did as much skin-to-skin as possible. By Tuesday night I had gotten a nurse to agree that since he was doing so well, and I was failing so miserably at pumping, I could put him to breast. They were weaning him off the IV and replacing it with fluid by mouth, hence the needing to monitor the intake amount. But I had gone from pumping 1 cc of colostrum to only pumping 1/4 cc, just a few drops really, over the course of that first day. Being separated and so stressed just wasn't letting me pump successfully. It felt so good to finally pick my baby up and nurse him the way I was meant to. Those were the first happy tears since his birth. They called me every two hours that night to come nurse him. I've never been so happy to be so tired.

By 4am Wednesday he hadn't had any crises and had progressed much farther and faster than any of the nurses or doctors expected, and they removed the last line, his IV. Baby unplugged! By Wednesday afternoon, the doctor was ready to sign off on his discharge, a full day earlier than expected. Because Qualia hasn't had chicken pox or the vaccine, she hadn't been allowed in the nursery or even much on the floor, so she'd only seen him once through the nursery window. RJ brought her up when I was allowed to bring Sebastian back to our room and she got to meet her baby brother for the first time. She gave him kisses and my heart just melted.

We came home Wednesday evening and have been doing wonderfully ever since. We're sleep deprived as all hell, but that's par for the course. Qualia's adjusting to having a new baby in the house, and pretty quickly given that she's also been up late and up early for five days straight, which would challenge a toddler on the best of days. RJ's doing the work of 10 men in caring for Qualia and keeping the house running while I'm in bed with Sebastian. I'm still shaky on my feet if I'm up too long but I'm healing up fast. And Sebastian is just perfect. He's sleeping well, nursing well, and just doing his baby thing. I'm feeling very lucky, very grateful, for this boy of ours.
 

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Sarah,

What a powerful birth story! I am expecting my baby any day now, and it really helps to read about the wide variety of experiences that women have. How heartbreaking to be seperated from your son right after birthing him...I am so glad that he is okay now! I am so sorry if others have questioned your choices--you did what seemed to be best for your child, and apparently, you made good choices (he's okay now!) I hope that you have established the breastfeeding relationship that you obviously wanted, and that your family continues to do well. Sounds like your dh has been a great support for you--now that's a real man!
 

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I love the idea of this thread. I am willing to bet it will become a powerful one, which may help to heal and change people.
Coming away from your birth with positive reflections is soooo important. For too many women, the lasting effects of a negative birth experience may never be resolved. Having people to turn to for support, stories to share, and building a network to heal your grief in a healthy way is so beneficial to let go of those things we cannot change, and to find the tools and strength to move forward when we are ready.
I honestly believe that a large group of mamas would benefit directly from a subforum being opened under the "Birth Stories" forum for those who need to process their traumatic/negative births and find some healing in the support there.
Perhaps we can ask the moderators to open such a subforum.
I hope you can all find peace with your birth experiences and that your hearts heal in time.
Wishing you all only positive birthing vibes for the future...
 

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Thank you for starting this thread. I wanted very much to post when I saw the preemie thread, but though DS was born at 36 weeks, he didn't have the problems many preemies have and didn't have to stay in the NICU (he was even cleared to go home the same day!) so I feel really weird thinking of him as a preemie and wasn't sure if other moms would think I was butting in where I don't belong. I've never been able to write out a full birth story - unlike others, I don't feel as if I might be flamed, but I DO feel that there were many things I could have done differently and I just can't deal with the pain and guilt.

I had planned a homebirth with a midwife and was transferred to OB care when my BP went haywire. When massive amounts of protein showed up in a 24-hr urine sample after almost 2 weeks on bedrest, I let the induction begin, in the one hospital in this city that I would have avoided like the plague if I'd had a choice in the matter. DS wasn't breathing immediately after birth, but nobody told me this until later. All I knew at the time was that his cord was around his neck so they "had to" clamp and cut immediately - before he was even out. There went the delayed cord clamping we planned. Despite this, DS was cleared to go home that day, but my OB wanted to keep me for observation because of my BP.

By the time I was discharged, DS had developed severe jaundice so they wouldn't let him go home. Here I was, still swollen and not supposed to be out of bed, with no bed, stuck in a back room of the newborn nursery after 3 days of almost no sleep (the hospital "allowed" rooming-in, but they looked at us like we had two heads when we asked them about it - we were the first they'd ever had ask! - and we had to sign a form stating that an adult would be awake with DS at all times, so DH and I took shifts all night staying awake with DS because we were afraid they'd take him from us if we were both asleep.) I was only allowed to nurse for 20 min every 3 hours, since he was supposed to be under the bili lights as much as possible. DS was tongue-tied so nursing was horrible, and 20 min wasn't nearly enough time to fill him up (once we got home a typical nursing session was 90 minutes before we got his tongue clipped.) Nobody seemed to understand or care that DS was still hungry and he would SCREAM and scream and there wasn't anything I could do to help him. I cried so much that week -- I never knew I could cry so much. I still have flashbacks that hurt intensely and I now have PPD. The therapist I was seeing for a while for PPD even suggested I might be dealing with PTSD, though she wasn't any help for either diagnosis.

Anyway I'm really glad to see this thread. I hope someday I'll be able to write out the whole birth story, at least for myself and for DS. Maybe having the support of other mommas who have been in similar situations will help me to process the whole thing eventually.

ETA - one of the things I have seen on other threads (including the preemie thread I think) was that many mommas are told that it doesn't matter what they've gone through, since both mom and baby are ok now. DH told me this - for him all that mattered was that both DS and I were here and safe. The night before I was supposed to tell my therapist the story of my birth, I broke down into hysterics, and DH honestly couldn't understand why I was so upset. Even after I explained it to him, he just didn't get it. I think he still doesn't get it. My sister, who actually went through a similar birth, also doesn't get it - but she had a very medicalized pregnancy and her birth wasn't traumatic for her because it's what she expected. I'm not sure what I'm trying to say, except that I wish more people would accept that some of us do need to grieve over what we've lost, or "the birth that wasn't" as much as the loss of anything else we're allowed to grieve for.
 

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Hugs for all the mamas who have shared their painful birth stories here with us. I hope it gets better for each one of you.
 

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This is a great thread to start. I still have horrible feelings about my daughter's birth nearly seven years ago - and I have gone through two more since then. I have trouble talking about it, and quite honestly, compared to many others, it's not nearly as bad. But I had planned for that birth for nearly seven years - and I feel like the birth I had planned for was taken away from me and ended up hurting my daughter in the process because I put my trust in people that I shouldn't have. It's still painful to really talk about. I hate that attitude of, "Well, isn't the important thing a healthy baby?" Well, who can say duh? But a healthy baby isn't the only important thing. The birthing process is important, too. I'm too tired right now to write very coherently, but maybe I'll have the courage to talk about dd1's birth at some point.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I have a little time to add my stories. My first birth wasn't traumatic, but she was early, and I was scared. I now know that if I had a doula, I probably could have gone drug free, but I didn't, and my mom (a CNM) was supposed to be there for the birth bust wasn't because she was on vacation 1,000's of miles away. My husband had a really hard time with coping with me in pain and wasn't able to disagree with me when I asked for an epidural. I carry a lot of guilt and pain over having had the epidural, and really wanted my second birth to be a natural birth with Hypnobabies. I tried really hard to prepare, and felt that it was my chance to have a "do-over" from my first. My last chance, btw, since we don't plan on having any more children. I think the trauma of my second birth was greatly increased by my guilt, and my knowledge that this would be my last birth experience ever.

Here's a link:
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...ighlight=Hazel
 
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