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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Dear Heather,

     I am saddened to hear of your difficult experience. You did the best that you could--your providers made choices. At the time you were not in a good position to contradict them. The birth of my first baby was somewhat along the lines of your experience. Journaling your experience can help. And this site is a good place to express your feelings. And then enjoy your baby boy. 

     I hope you will find times and places to speak up about your experience. As more women speak up, it is more likely that change will take place. Some certified nurse midwives are educated in the hospital under the direction of obstetricians and practice like obstetricians. It is important that women understand the differences among midwives.

      Wishing you increasing resolution of your experience, and joy as you care for baby!

Thank you for your words of encouragement, Carol. I do find comfort in knowing that I am not alone in my experience. I was also upset about the whole birth experience because I think it greatly affected my ability to breastfeed. I tried for seven weeks, but I just didn't produce enough, so my son ended up being formula fed. He has been a joy, and I love him to pieces, but I just my birth would have been different. If we do have another child, I am definitely going to find a provider who will do a VBAC or possibly an HBAC. The hospital that my current provider works for does not allow VBACs at all, but there are other options.

 

Take care!

i do agree that just b/c someone is a midwife sadly doesn't mean that they will still be what our idea of a midwife is. a lot of them do work with dr.'s and have started to think more medically like a dr. you should still be selective of your midwife if you really want a natural birth with them on your side...hopefully your next birth experience will be better :)

I am sorry to hear about your birth experience. 

I had a simular situation with the birth of my first daughter in 2008.  I cryed for two weeks straight.  Eventually it got easier to think about but now, almost three years later, I am pregnant with my second and I am having alot of anxiety about this birth.  Lastnight I cryed myself to sleep thinking about it. 

I am glad your baby was healthy, and I hope that you next birth is what you want it to be.

Heather, i am so sorry that you had such a painful experience.  As an aspiring midwife, it affects me on a personal level.  Please do not blame yourself for your battle with breast feeding.  My first baby was born at home with a wonderful and loving midwife.  I had a beautiful birth experience and everything went "right," but my son still would not nurse.  He never did - i tried for 4 months every day and continued to try from time to time until he was 8 months old and sprouted a few teeth.  I understand the emotion and exhaustion involved in that battle alone!!  Looking back, i wish i had not been so hard on myself.

Unfortunately for you and others like you, we live in a country where there is a great deal of fear surrounding birth.  The first midwife i encountered was a cnm who worked in a large medical center with a number of obstetricians.  She truly had good intentions, but the way she was trained and her exposure to birth made it difficult for her to trust anything about it.  Fortunately for me fate intervened and i met a cpm who i fell in love with and who helped me to birth my son without any help from anyone else.  There is no doubt in my mind i would have been in  your boat otherwise.  I hope that time will heal your emotional wounds and that when the time comes for you to have another baby, you will find a care provider who cares about you as much as the "percieved" danger involved.  If you are not comfortable having a home birth, you might want to consider hiring a doula and finding a dr who is supportive of natural birth.  

I have encountered many women who share your story.  If you don't know about it, there is a great website called the unneccesarian ( theunnecesarean.com ) that might help you deal with some of the issues you still have surrounding your son's birth.

 

 

yes the unnecesarean its a great site!!
Im so sorry for your birth trauma. Its not fair that woman in this country or woman in obstetric care have to be powerless in their births. I hope with your next child you find a nice homebirth midwife and find empowerment in a homebirth after cesarean, I know you can do it!!

I am sorry you did not get the birth you wanted.  I have experienced 3 different kinds of birth.  1 "emergency" c-section, a successful VBAC with an epi, and a completely medication FREE birth.  But let me tell you, I had to fight hard for my latest birth.  I had done my research, brought in the most current sections from the ACOG on VBAC's, had the doctor on call tell me that she was going to physically hold me down if I didn't go along with her, my poor husband didn't know what to do, I continued to refuse interventions that they were telling me I NEEDED, and at one point kicked EVERYONE out of the L/D room just so I could labor alone for a while. Thankfully when I eventually went in to give birth I had a WONDERFUL doctor on call. 

Just stay strong and know that you will get the birth you want, you just need to hold strong.  I don't know if the pain of not getting your birth will get better, I'm still struggling with guilt from my c-section when I was 17, but it was out of my control and there was a beautiful baby as the end result.

 

This is so hard to read.  I have heard many, many stories like this from women all over the US, and it makes me want to stand in front of hospitals and waves signs, or shout from the rooftops that women don't have to go through birth trauma!  Why are we still enduring these types of "birth rapes" when the majority of us are intelligent women who have access to information?  I send books and DVDs to any woman who asks me (and honestly, to some friends who don't ask), and most of them are grateful.  One decided I was giving her quack info :), and didn't read or watch anything, and went to the hospital.  She almost lost her life.  I cried.  

 

Heather, you can still have wonderful births in the future!  Yes, you have to say no, and be strong, but you will.  Mothers who have been through what you have are much better at putting their foot down.  Let us all know when you are pregnant again, and we'll all encourage you and do what we can to help you get the birth experience you deserve!

You are quite right, it really amounts to a rape-like situation. Sadly, this kind of abuse is so normal it is accepted as kind of unavoidable by most. Since, after all, childbirth is so dangerous that these brutal measures simply need to be taken in order to save the mother's life! Let's hope that we all can work towards changing this view of childbirth. I guess like with sexual abuse that used to be a taboo it is just crucial that we talk about it, with the doctor, with our care givers, with friends and family: make it public and demand our rights. The typical behavior for victims is to feel guilty and diffusely ashamed. And they know people don't want to hear this kind of story, it makes them uncomfortable. But licking our wounds in a dark corner will not help in bringing about changes.

This story is so, so similar to my experience. I can completely empathize and my heart truly goes out to you. The only difference between the two of us is that I was able to dialate to 9½ cm and as soon as they discovered that, my midwife gave me the option of pushing for only an hour. If nothing changed, I would be forced to a c-section. At that point I had already labored 30+ hours and gave in. I shouldn't have. 

 

I'm fearful this time around (I'm currently 31 weeks) that things won't go my way again. I did switch doctors (pro-VBAC) and will be delivering at a pro-VBAC hospital, but I'm still very skeptical. I must admit I was very educated on wanting a natural birth and stated it very clearly to my first doctor/midwives and they pretty much smirked at me. After it was all said and done, I felt like they had won. Like they were pointing fingers at me and laughing because they "knew" I couldn't do it. I felt very cheated.

 

One thing I realized that I was lacking was a strong support system during labor. Don't get me wrong, my husband was wonderful, but he couldn't stand to see me in pain and only wanted my agony to end. I wanted him to stay strong and stick up for my needs. I'm glad they offer doula's at the hospital, although I'm thinking I should have hired one. Because I didn't know what to expect the first time around, I'm hoping this time I can be more assertive with my needs instead of listening to doctor/nurses recommendations, especially if they don't feel right to me.

 

I pray that you get through this emotional battle. I've been trying to revisit that day in my head so I can prepare what my actions will be if it were to happen again. I also know there are many women out there who have had successful VBAC's and you can too! Best of luck to you and enjoy that wonderful son of yours!

http://aaronandlyndsey.blogspot.com/2011/01/sages-birth-story.html?...

 

This is the inspiring birth story of a lady I know - though I don't know her well, I know her midwife a little better.

And this woman ended up giving birth on her own in her kitchen before her midwife got there! What an empowered woman to be comfortable enough with just her family for support (although she plans to have her midwife come earlier on next time).

I share this only because I think women need to hear more stories like this.

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