Friday, September 19, 2008

Birth Trauma

For those of you who have been blessed by motherhood you are well aware of how it changes you. how the process of pregnancy, labor and delivery, and those first few weeks mold you, and stick with you forever. Whether good or bad, the birth experience is truly an experience that you will carry for the rest of your lives.
Unfortunately, for some of us, pregnancy, and labor and delivery were not smooth sailing. It wasn't like you see in the pictures, mother's huffing and puffing, and pushing out a nice clean bundle of joy. Being pregnant once again and planning a home birth is making me face trauma that I experienced in my past pregnancies and deliveries. Trauma which i have tried hard to bury deep within me. I find it emerging and making me anxious and scared of what's to come.
When I became pregnant with my son, I was single. The pregnancy progressed relatively well. I had an irritable uterus and was on terbutaline for much of my pregnancy. Around 26 weeks I got very sick with some form of a virus that just didn't want to budge. I was put on tetracycline. I got better, but unfortunately Caden's growth began to slow. He was slowly slipping further and further behind in growth. By the time I was 31 weeks he was 4 weeks behind in growth and diagnosed with IUGR (Inter uterine growth retardation). I was seeing a perinatologist as well as my regular OB. I had appts. 3 times a week. Then began the talk about having a cesarean and taking him early. I fought them long and hard. He passed all the NST's with flying colors, aside from being behind in growth he was healthy and reactive. Each week I fought for just one more week. We made it to 39 weeks. Another issue was he was still flipping from breech to vertex. The doctor decided when he flipped to vertex at 39 weeks we would induce. Unfortunately, my body wasn't ready.

I checked into the hospital the afternoon of January 28, 2003. They placed cervadil to soften my cervix and hope for things to progress. After 12 hours they began pitocin. The pitocin continued until I was fully dilated 3 days later on January 31, 2003. I was exhausted, he was stuck. My water was broken before he was engaged and he was wedged in weird. I couldn't push him out. From here it begins a nightmare. I was rushed for a cesarean, the epidural didn't take, but the OB couldn't wait., I grit my teeth and took the pain. I felt EVERY cut. I felt like I was going to pass out or throw up. When he was born he looked like he had a tumor on his head. The head neonatologist commented "this is NOT normal molding". I do not remember seeing him after the birth, but there is a picture of him up towards my face, so I must have. He was whisked away to the NICU where they would then tell my mom that they were not sure if he would make or what was wrong with him.

I remember waking up in recovery asking where my baby was and wanting to see him. they quickly knocked me back out. I was then taken into a postpartum room with another young girl who had her baby rooming in. there were other rooms available down the hall which were private but due to staffing they didn't want to walk down the hall. It hurt so bad to watch her with her baby and know that mine was in the NICU, and not knowing how he was going to do. they refused to let me visit. They did bring in pictures which did not even look like a normal baby. The following morning he was brought to me. His poor face looked like he had been in a fight. The care I received while there for the remainder of the time was less than sub-par. This experience forever haunts me. I just remember feeling so lost, so powerless, so invaded.

When I became pregnant with my daughter I knew that there had to be a better way. I began researching vaginal birth after cesarean, and even began researching home birth. I was newly married and I knew my husband wouldn't go for a home birth so I resigned myself to another hospital birth but decided this time would be better. I prepared my body with evening primrose oil, and red raspberry leaf tea. I had a supportive midwife through Kaiser that seemed to really care. I decided I would labor at home for as long as possible. To my surprise at at 37 weeks 5 days I had a cervical check at the doctors, I was 5 cm. and hadn't had a whole lot of contractions. I sent Sean to work, and went shopping with my mom for last minute items. i began feeling a lot of back pain, it wasn't excruciating, but i did notice it would come in waves. YAY, contractions. I labored most the day upright, and walking through stores. We made our way back to our house that afternoon. I finally had to concentrate on contractions and got into a warm bath. I was so excited, I wasn't in pain, but it was intense. Sean came home from work and I was feeling like I was in transition so we headed to the hospital. Unfortunately, everything stopped once we got to the hospital. They checked me and I was a stretchy 7, but I was not contracting at all. they sent me walking for 30 minutes and still nothing. they wanted to break my water (which in hindsight we should have tried), I was so upset about my previous birth and I just know that the artificial rupture of membranes caused the ultimate cesarean that I refused to have my water broken. So they started pitocin. I was also afraid of pitocin induced contractions so I went for an epidural. The epidural made my blood pressure drop and I almost passed out. This led to other interventions. The night nurse was really rude, took away my call light, yelled at my mom, had my husband sleeping on the floor, turned out my lights when i didn't want her to, didn't empty my catheter (which has led to permanent bladder damage), and didn't up the pitocin all night, until the morning where she upped it to where it SHOULD have been had she done it slowly. For those who know about VBAC's you know inductions with pitocin are not the best panning and upping slowly is the ONLY way it should be done if it is. We got a new nurse the following morning and we had the administrators of the hospital in our room talking to us as I was in heavy labor.the epidueral began wearing off towards the end of labor. My water was broken the following morning and things progressed relatively quickly. I was ready to push around 11:30-noon but chose not to and my nurses and midwife were ok with this. I changed positions, and breathed my baby down. I felt ready to push around 4 and she was born at 4:32 vaginally. SUCCESS. I was still left feeling violated, and abused. Although it was slightly healing.

When my I became pregnant with my third I was set on a home birth, although my husband still was not. The whole pregnancy I felt completely off and I ended up delivering prematurely at 27 weeks and 2 days by cesarean. It was very traumatic and we are still processing the details 2 1/2 year later. (her story and pictures are the bulk of this blog so far)

Now that I am pregnant once again with my 4th, I am facing these fears and replaying the details of all my birth experiences over and over in my mind. I find myself getting anxious and wondering if I can do it. Can I really have a normal birth, will I really be able to have another vaginal birth, Is it possible to be treated with respect? I have found a wonderful home birth midwife, but I know I will need to work through these feelings. Hopefully as the pregnancy progresses I can process these birth traumas and reach a peaceful place before embarking on what will hopefully be a healing birth experience.


Brooke said...

Things will go good with this one! Just stay positive!

sammi said...

I totally understand your feelings. I have not had the best birth experiences as well but keep in mind each is different. I hope and pray that you do get the birth experience that you so deserve. My second and third we both horrible experiences and did not go at all as I had planned. With my last I knew I had no choice but to have a c-section but I still choice how things went. And it went exactly how I wanted. So hugs and good thoughts for you!

The Kinker Family said...

I think this will be the best one yet. I wish you could have your home birth like you want but even if you can't, this one will go smoothly.

by the way, i tagged you in my blog. :)