Monday, October 6, 2008

First Birth Story

At first I did not feel like I had a traumatic birth. I did not think I was disappointed over having a planned homebirth turn into a c-section. However I have never taken the time to write down and analyze this experience. I am 5 months pregnant with my second child and I have been reading a vast array of natural childbirth books. Some may say that too much reading = too much thinking = overanalyzing and feeling bad. However I feel that reading and preparing is the only thing that I can do to prevent another c-section. My fear of another C-section is so great I am certain I was traumatized by my first birth experience. Hopefully writing it out will be cathartic. So here it goes the story of my son's birth.

I was 10 days overdue which I now know is quite normal but did not at the time. I was feeling very anxious for the baby to come. My mother and grandmother were in town and were likely going to miss the birth since they planned on leaving the next day. I don't remember the exact sequence of events leading up to that day so this may be a little off. I will have to crosscheck with my husband. I was trying everything to make this baby come and my midwife must have seen how much I wanted it to happen so she also tried to help naturally. I went for long walks, ate spicy food, used evening primrose oil, drank verbena oil tea, acupuncture, and finally a labour concoction that included castor oil. The day I drank the castor oil concoction I had some mild cramps but nothing notable. That evening around 11pm I felt a light gush when I sat on the toilet that I thought was my water breaking. My mom happened to be up and I told her I was having contractions and that my water had broke. I tried to go sleep but I couldn't. My husband went to sleep so he could be prepared for the next day. In retrospect these natural induction methods could have pushed my body before it was ready. Maybe if I had waited things would have turned out differently.

I contracted mildly all night and used the ball and my hammock to deal with contractions I felt 'in the zone' and this was probably the best part of labour in hindsight. We called our midwife that morning and she came and checked me and I was only 1cm and not effaced yet. This was disappointing as I thought with a whole night I would have made some progress. She left at this point. I tried to lie on the couch with a hot water bottle. I tried leaning on the couch and my husband to cope with the now really strong contractions. Nothing helped. Then I started vomiting and could not stop. I was having diarrhea at the same time. It was awful. We called the midwife again as I thought with all the vomiting maybe I would have some progress and this would be encouraging plus the contractions were really strong. She checked me and I was still 1 cm. This was very discouraging. She made me some water with some homeopathic tablets which unfortunately I just couldn't drink. She left suggesting we get some rest.

I tried to lay down with my husband and breath and doze between contractions. Every time I got a contraction lying down I felt like I had a knife stabbing me in the ribs and I would jump out of the bed. I must have tried this for 1/2 hr. This probably made me more anxious as I have a hard time relaxing and get very irritable when I try to sleep and find it impossible. Also knowing now that baby was stuck and very likely pressing against my ribs and pelvis causing this pain makes me understand why lying down was a bad position.

I suddenly felt this warm forceful gush and I pushed my husband back and rolled out of the bed. I was worried I had lost control of my bowels. My real waters had broken. Last time had only been a leak. This time they were bright green. I am a nurse and I knew immediately that this meant trouble because the baby had passed meconium inside. I got in the shower and my husband called the midwife to tell her what happened. She came and checked the baby with the doppler and the heart rate was fine. I said "this means we have to go to the hospital right?" She said "yes but it's up to you when". I decided to go right away as I thought I would go crazy waiting to go and thought maybe if I got some IV gravol and pain medication I might be able to stop vomiting and sleep.

The car ride was awful and we parked in the emergency exit. We went to an examining room and I got changed into a gown. My midwife put an IV in and while I have performed this procedure on people myself I never realized that it is truly very painful. My husband had to go move the car and get my admission papers. I had registered before but this had gotten lost. I was strapped to the monitor on the bed and we debated over whether or not I should have morphine. I decided to try it and the gravol. My mom and aunt and grandma had arrived at that point but left after the injection as I need to sleep. Soon after she injected the morphine there was a heartrate drop on the monitor. I remember saying "was that the baby?" and the midwife going to check the monitor. I think there was a nurse in there as well. She didn't really answer and they inserted an internal fetal monitor. I do not remember being asked permission for this but there was an urgency in the room and I don't think I would have argued. The internal monitor was showing that the baby was distressed as well. My midwife went to consult an obgyn who came in and checked me. I was terrified at this point so even if I had made any progress I think I would have gone in reverse before he had checked me. He said the baby's station was very high and it appeared the baby was going 'up' not 'down'. He said " I think we need to get this baby out". I agreed and within minutes was being prepped for a c-section. Within minutes I had become the patient I did not want to be.

About 3 other nurses entered the room, I was shaved, a catheter was inserted, and oxygen was applied to my face. My poor husband entered at this point. He looked petrified. I had never in our 5 years together seen him scared. I told him the baby was having trouble and I needed a c-section. We had discussed this possibility so he knew to go with the baby not to worry about me. He phoned my mom, grandma and aunt to let them know what was happening. I remember the anesthesiologist asking me some questions and explaining the spinal. My husband was ushered off to get dressed.

I was wheeled into the OR and given the spinal. This afforded me instant relief from the almost constant contractions I had been experiencing. My husband sat near my head. I remember feeling everything in a numb kind of way. My midwife was also in the OR. I remember hearing my baby cry and crying myself. The obgyn told me it was a boy and that the cord was around the neck 3 times and he was lodged on my pelvis and could not breath. The pediatrician entered late and anounced the baby would have to go to the NICU as he had aspirated meconium. My midwife later told me she disagreed and that the suctioning all came out clear. This really angers me still to this day. I feel his admission to the NICU was unnecessary and caused a cascade of interventions he did not need.

I was recovered by my midwife and this was actually scarier than the surgery for me. I kept thinking what if I never regain feeling in my legs? What if I am paralyzed? I also think I was feeling empty because I did not have my baby. My husband and a nurse came in while I was recovering and told me my son was having a low blood sugar and did I want him to have a bottle or be gavaged (fed through a tube in the nose). I refused the bottle not wanting anything to impede breastfeeding. When I could feel my feet I was wheeled to the NICU in my bed and my son was laid on my chest. I don't remember much of this and probably had some leftover drugs in my system. Then I was taken back to my room and transferred into a bed in a 4 bed room. I was alone in the room at that point. My husband went home to change, shower and get us some food and some things I wanted but had forgotten.

A nurse came from the NICU to tell me that the baby needed to be fed. I told her I didn't know if I could get up by myself. The ward nurses would not come get me up to bring me to my baby so he got more formula. When they made rounds I was in tears and asked for a pump which they brought me a couple hours later. My husband came and I was crying. I made my way to the bathroom with his help and then found a wheelchair to go see my baby. He was kept in the NICU for almost 2 days because of low blood sugars which in hindsight I am sure were due to the fact that I could not nurse on demand as I was not there every time he woke or cried and they only came to get me every 4 hrs. The breastfeeding advice was different from every nurse and very confusing. My midwife was helpful but she only stopped in twice a day.

I finally got to take my son back to my room. He wouldn't eat though since it had been about 4.5 hrs and he was now tired from not eating. I asked a friend who was on duty to bring me a syringe and a tube and I supplemented him with my finger some colostrum I had pumped. I then got him on the breast when he picked up speed. During this the lactation consultant entered. She blew a gasket when she saw me supplementing. Probably because she thought the nurses had not consulted her. However the way she handled the situation was atrocious. She was very condescending. I guess she was told I was nurse after she left the room because she came back and apologized. We were discharged at my request soon after that. I was in a lot of pain after I was not allowed any more toradol. I am allergic to codiene so I could not have T#3. So I was taking plain tylenol and ibuprofen and this was not adequate. I doubled up on the doses but I need to go home.

It was a rough night but my milk came in the next day and all was much better after that. The rest is another story.

I am planning another homebirth but this time I have found a wonderful resource: MDC. There is a great list which I am accumulating an arsenal of resources for my birth from. I have a pool and a kit for filling it with hot water. I will have rescue remedy on hand and arnica tablets. I will have labouraide for rehydration. Most of all I plan on being patient. I will let nature take its course.

Perhaps the biggest difference this time is me and my attitude. I have changed as a person. My lifestyle is healthier and I am more confident in my abilities as a woman and a mother. My family lives more naturally and I am more knowledgeable about alternative therapies. I know I did not fail the first time and I am determined that my first birth not determine the path or outcome of my subsequent ones.

Edited to Add: I did not post this right away now that my daughter is 9 weeks old I am adding this to my blog. I had another c-section for a different cord complication. I will post her birth story here later. I'm still proud of the research I did and although I will not try for another homebirth (too disappointing), I will attempt a vba2c when we have another child. I have realized the universe has it's own plans in spite of mine. My c-sections have taught me a lot and although my greatest fear came true I am healed.

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