Still struggling emotionally with my birth experience

Last March, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy; however, like many, I did not have the birth experience that I intended. I wanted a natural childbirth with little intervention or few drugs. I still struggle with my birth experience emotionally, especially when I thought I was well educated on the topic of birth and knew about the high rates of c-sections. I thought I was doing a good thing by choosing a Certified Nurse Midwife to be my provider. However, she works out of a clinic with doctors, and I wonder how much she truly is a midwife. Here is how my birth happened.

 

I went in for a checkup the day before my due date. My midwife had ordered an ultrasound because she thought I was going to have a large baby. Well, according to the ultrasound, the baby was measuring only at 6 or 7 lbs, pretty average size. My amniotic fluid level was at a 7, which is within the normal range of 5 to 12. However, my midwife thought 7 was too low, and she wanted to induce me. She did a test to see if I was leaking amniotic fluid, but I wasn't. She left the room to consult with an OB/GYN in the office. My midwife came in and said that the doctor agreed I should be induced. I was miserable being pregnant and anxious to have the baby, so I went along with their decision. I should have said no.

 

I went to the hosptial around 11:00 a.m. and was given pitocin around noon. I was ony dilated to one, I think. Later that night, the midwife and same OB/GYN came in and stripped my membranes (painful!) and broke my water. I think I had dilated to three by the end of the night. Instead of walking around being more active in my labor, my midwife and the nurses encouraged me to rest because it was going to be a long night. Really? I'm supposed to sleep through these contractions? Again, I should have said no.

 

The contractions from the pit became so painful that I couldn't stand them any longer, so at 2:30 a.m., I got an epidural, going against my birth plan again. I struggled to rest because the epidural monitor kept beeping for no apparent reason. When I woke up early in the morning, I was checked...still at three. I was beginning to fear the worst. The midwife and doctor came in and told me that I would need a c-section. Apparently in the middle of the night, the nurse had to turn off the pitocin because my baby's heart rate had dropped. I was devastated. I wanted to say no, but it was too late.

 

At 10:04 a.m. on March 19th, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy. I feel strange using the phrase "gave birth" because being cut open having my child ripped from my body doesn't feel like giving birth. Maybe next time I will have the courage to say no.

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Hi Heather.  I had a beautiful, healthy son in August via c-section.  I am still really struggling with my experience too.  I had planned a birth center birth assisted by CNMs.  My experience with the midwives was great throughout my prenatal care.  However, a couple of days before my EDD my amniotic fluid rose above the *normal* range.  Then I was administered the 1 hour gestational diabetes test, which I failed.  (I had passed it at 28 weeks).  Before I could be given the 3 hour test to confirm or rule out GD I went into labor.  I was presumed to have GD and, since my son was showing large on u/s, the backup OB said the standard of care required a c-section, without even a trial of labor, due to the *risk* of shoulder dystocia. 

I am struggling with how to get some meaning out of my experience.  I am also struggling with a lack of validation and support for my feelings in my community. The online community is one of the few places I can go with these feelings because in my peer group c-sections are extremely common, even preferable.  I don't have many people around me who place any value on the birth experience.  I also have very limited options for any future births, unless I choose to travel out of town to birth.  There is only one OB in town who does VBACs.  If she isn't on call, you don't get a VBAC.  So all of this weighs on me. 

Thanks everyone, for sharing on here.  It helps to know there are other people who feel this way.

Hannah, I'm sorry to hear about your experience. It sounds like things happened quickly at the end, not giving you much time to think about or research your options. Looking back, I felt that way too, and I feel a little taken advantage of. It's good that you're reaching out, and I'm glad there is a community we can reach out to. I hope that if you do have more children that you have the option of a VBAC. I was thinking about my birth again the other day and remembering how impersonal it was. My arms were strapped down to a table, and I wasn't able to hold my son in my arms until after my forty-five minute recovery. My husband was very emotional about the fact that I wasn't able to be with our son right away. Hopefully we won't have to endure this trauma with future children.

 

All the best to you, Hannah.

Dear Heather, 

  I am so incredibly sorry to hear how this MEDwife treated you.  She is clearly not a MIDwife in my eyes.  It seems as though so many different things that she suggested caused you to end up with a c-sec.

  As you know, the end of pregnancy is really uncomfortable and all we want is to hold our sweet baby.  Suggesting induction or any other invasive procedures should not be done unless there is a medical reason for it. (a real medical reason, not like your medwife did)  I have never had this happen but I do think that talking about it is your first step to healing.  Perhaps writing a letter to this "caregiver" and telling her why you are unhappy about how things were handled.

  Giant hugs to you and I hope you can make peace with that at some point.  Hug that baby of yours and be well.

I share similar feelings and a similar experience as well, to you. I came into the hosipital around 1030am and had dilated 4 1/2 cm. The ob/gyn broke my water immediately and gave me pitocin to "speed" up the labor. By 6pm I was "only " dilated 6 1/2 cm and was told by the Dr. that I had to have a C-Section. I fought for about an hr but after having everyone of my family members convince me it was the right thing to do, since the Dr. said it was a must, I gave in. I am still bitter , ashamed and feel robbed of a moment that was supposed to be amazing & wonderful. My daughter was born healthy via c-sect & is now almost 4 yrs old. I still regret what happened but am thankful my daughter never had any complications or health issues. I completely understand what you went through and can only say you live and you learn. We both did the best we could and fought as much as we could. I plan on having a HBAC next time around so that I am more in control though lol. Take Care & God bBess!

Dear Heather,

 

Be gentle and loving with yourself and your decision.  I recently wrote a blog post on emotionally-empowered childbirth, the same recommendations can benefit you to deal with your emotions.  Please contact me if you have any questions.

 

Be well.

Hang in there!  Everything happens for a reason, and in time I  hope you will find peace with the way things unfolded.  I know that's easier said than done, but I think you did the best you could in that situation.  It might help to find a natural momma support group/s or just some mommas who have experienced natural child birth in your area.  I found that that really helped me after my traumatic first birth, especially when I became pregnant with my second.  Being around moms who had achieved positive, natural births gave me the courage and belief that I could do it too!!  Plus, it was good to know which OBs and Midwives they used, so I'd have options that were more in line with natural birth.  That way there'd be no last minute "curve balls" like you experienced with your care providers who encouraged induction.

I strongly suggest taking Bradley classes or some type of non hospital affiliated classes to help bolster your confidence when/if you decide to have a second.  That's also a great place to find other supportive couples/mommas, as well as your instructor.  Find a doula.  You can go to DONA International to find ones in your area.  When some doulas are working on their certification they do three births pro bono in that process, so if money is an obstacle find a doula who is working towards her certification.  She'll be your advocate.    

For me it was also helpful to read Suzanne Arm's book, Immaculate Deception.  It was the first time I read about birth trauma.  That might be a helpful read, if you haven't already read it.

 For me personally I don't think I fully got over the trauma of my first birth until my second birth, which was a beautiful hospital birth.  I did a lot of work to set the odds in my favor.  ...found the right midwives with the right back up OBs at the right hospital, and I found a doula.  We also took birth classes, and I read more books than I can remember.  

I hope some of this helps.  I just wanted to share with you what worked for me in the hopes that you too will achieve that birth you picture!!           

Congratulations on your new baby! I can relate to your story. It is very similar to when I had twins. Made some mistakes, should have have said 'no' as well, and ended up with a c-section for no apparent reason that I can see now looking back. I am still healing and it has been almost 3 years so give it time and enjoy your precious baby!
I know how you feel.  And people want to act like it shouldn't have such traumatic affects on a women but it certainly does.  My daughter is 15months and I still cry when I think about our birth experience and how it could have been so much different.  I also have pictures that I can't stand to look at of the damage caused by the suction the doc. used inappropriately.  The birth experience is very important and has long lasting affects on those who go through it.  I will most likely share my story on here as well because I surely have some healing to do still. <3  Thank you for sharing.

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