As of today, I have two children. I will eventually be sharing both birth stories with you and I will be of course starting with Gabe, because he’s the oldest. My birth experiences are VASTLY different from one another. I live by many mottos, but one that fits my life the most is
Everything happens for a reason.
Period. Easy as that. If we go through a rough situation, but refuse to grow through it, we are doing ourselves a disservice. Gabe’s birth was traumatic for me. It was not at all what I had envisioned, planned, or wanted. I figured had two choices, either I can spend the rest of my life mourning over the birth experience I lost, or I can learn from it and help other moms around me avoid the mistakes I made. So here it is, the story of Gabe:
I wanted to have an unmedicated birth. My mom had given birth to four babies with no epidural, it couldn’t be THAT bad. I had envisioned a birth were I would just show up to the hospital and the nurses and the doctor would be welcoming and supportive and just show me everything I needed to do to have the birth that I had hoped for. Boy was I wrong! I went into labor knowing NOTHING about having a baby. I didn’t even own one book about the subject. Oh wait, I think I watched a couple baby shows on TLC. That’s how much faith I had in the medical system, I was willing to run a marathon without an ounce of training thinking that I had hired a whole team of personal trainers to run with me.
Fairly early in my pregnancy, I was chatting with my doctor about who would deliver Gabe if she didn’t end up being the doctor ‘on call’ that day. She was the only female OB in the practice with two male partners. I had expressed to her my concern about having a male doctor and told her that I really preferred to be seen by females (nothing at all against male doctors, by the way, it is just a personal preference). She told me that she was willing to induce me a week early to ensure that she would be the one there when I went into labor. Wow, I felt lucky! I couldn’t believe that she was ‘willing’ to do that for me! I of course consented because I felt like I was getting the royal treatment. Elective induction was scheduled.
Fast forward to week 36. I show up to my appointment all swollen and waddling (the new norm). The nurse takes my blood pressure, its 138/100 she expresses some concern over it but I continue with my normal 2.5 minute chat with the doctor. After our visit, she has the nurse come back in and check my bp again, this time its 170/90. The doctor wasn’t pleased with the results, so I got sent to a tiny closet (literately a closet, it was full of medicine samples and had one chair in it) to do a non-stress test. I was hooked up to a fetal monitor and I would push a button every time I felt Gabe move. The nurse would periodically come in and check my bp. After what felt like an eternity in the closet, I was told that I needed to go to the hospital for further monitoring.
I drove myself across the street to the hospital and checked myself in. At this point I hadn’t called the hubby yet, I really did think I would be going home soon. Once I got checked in, I was promptly connected to a machine again that monitored Gabe’s heart rate. I also became pretty good friends with the blood pressure cuff that would automatically come on every fifteen minutes. After watching Oprah interview the family of the ‘Balloon Boy’ and the beginning of the 5:00 news, the nurse visited me again. It was her job to keep the baby monitor in the right spot so they can monitor the heart rate. She couldn’t find it. I turned on my left side, nothing. I turned on my right side, nothing. I sat on my head (ok maybe I didn’t). She left to call the doctor and came back with the news that we are going to start the induction now. Soon after she got back, she looked for Gabe’s heart rate again and found it! Phew! Then she said something that resonated with me that I won’t forget, she said “I bet that if we monitored every baby like this, we’d run into this a lot”. Babies move, babies hide. Sometimes babies are stubborn and they don’t want their pulse taken. Hubby was called. Unnecessary induction was started.
I have people disagree with whether or not the decision to start labor that evening was necessary. I was not induced that night because of my blood pressure, I was induced because the baby’s heart rate was ‘unfavorable’. All of this was happening on a Monday, I found out soon after the induction started that the doctor was planning on keeping me on bed rest in the hospital until Thursday and start the induction then. Its possible that if I was allowed to rest, by blood pressure would have stabilized on its own and I would have went home. At 36 weeks, every day that a baby is in the womb is essential for development.
Anywho, the induction had begun. I started with Magnesium Sulfate and Pitocin. Mag requires a couple things, it requires complete bedrest and constant blood monitoring. I left the hospital with black and blue hands from all of the blood they took. Since I was on complete bedrest, I couldn’t get up and go to the bathroom which means I got a catheter. Oh boy THAT was a whole lot of fun. So I’m finally settled in for the night and things were going great. I don’t actually remember a lot about how I felt that night so evidentially my contractions were manageable. What I do remember, though, is that I didn’t sleep well. Remember my friend the blood pressure cuff? Well it went off (quite loudly actually) every 15 minutes the ENTIRE night. Ugh.
By the next morning I was definitely feeling the contractions. I figured I would just ‘hee hee who who’ through them and I’d be good to go. WRONG! Obviously, quite obviously at this point I am realizing that I am no way prepared for what is happening to my body so I start getting scared. I had continuous fetal monitoring so we were able to see when each contraction was coming. All that did for me was allow me to tense up in anticipation of them, which does absolutely no good. It took only one suggestion from a nurse to have an epidural and I was a willing participant. Birth ‘plan’ is out the window
The job of the mag is to lower blood pressure, the job of the Pitocin is to artificially stimulate contractions, the job of the epidural is to relax your body and alleviate pain. So two relaxants and a stimulant were being injected into my body (remember every drug we get baby also gets). It didn’t take long for the two relaxants to work so well that my blood pressure plummeted. The induction was promptly halted. I don’t remember if they turned off the mag also, but I don’t believe so. I do know that they turned off the Pitocin, temporarily. My body needed a minute to catch up. It didn’t take long for my blood pressure to get back on track and Pitocin was turned back on.
Ok we are back on track, lets get this show on the road! Oh wait, nope, my blood pressure went into the toilet AGAIN. Pitocin was turned off, again. By the time the induction started again, my epidural had ran out of medicine and they had to call the anesthesiologist back in for a refill. Now the drugs are set, my blood pressure is good, and we are good to go.
3:30 pm SHOW TIME! I was fully dilated! I went to a birthing class, I know how to do this. All I have to do is push while hubby counts to ten, take another breath and do it again….right? So that’s what we did. The dr gave us the ok to start pushing so I took a deep breath in, pushed while Jairus counted to ten, let out my breath, took another breath in and did it again. This continued on for 3 hours with no break. NO BREAK! I think mentally I checkout out for two of those hours, maybe it was from the lack of oxygen, I don’t know. But I remember looking back up at the clock and it was 7:15 pm. I was still pushing and I had no baby. I was tired, hubby was tired, and the doctor was tired of waiting. She came back in and told me that I needed to have this baby, and if I wasn’t going to start pushing correctly, that we were going to have to have a C-section.
How the heck did I know if I was pushing correctly? I was numb from the waist down! My legs were completely useless, you could have cut them off and I wouldn’t have felt a thing. I was determined to avoid having surgery that day, so I pushed, harder. I didn’t know there was such a thing but I did it. Finally Gabe was crowning! They asked me if I wanted to watch in a mirror, they said it would make the pushes more effective if I could see what they were doing…um heck no. *shudder*
The doctor came back in and watched me push for a couple of times. She said that every time I stopped pushing, Gabe would go back inside. Seriously? That’s a giant waste of time. So she brought out a couple of her tools. Tool one is a little pair of scissors. She said that she was going to just make a small cut to ‘give the baby more room’. I consented and she cut. OUCH!!! I felt that! (found out a little later that she had forgotten to give me the local anesthetic). Next was the vacuum. Dr said that it was just going to hold the baby in place so that he didn’t recede when I stopped pushing. Sounds like a deal to me! I consented.
7:41 pm Gabriel James was born!!! He came out ‘sunny side up’. I will never forget what the doctor said. She said “oh he’s face up? I didn’t realize that. That explains a lot”. Ugh
I had several emotions floating through my body that night. They included exhaustion and defeat. It was late, I was tired and I wanted to be left alone with my husband and my baby. I knew that I had a family member in the waiting room waiting to hear the news, but I asked Jairus to go out and talk to her. I knew she, of all people, would understand the toll that birth takes on a person’s body and my need to be left alone. When he came back, I knew something was wrong but he didn’t say much of anything. Then the phone calls and texts came in.
Apparently I had a waiting room FULL of people. I spent the entire evening either 1. crying, 2. on the phone having someone yell at me (I was even told that I was being selfish for not wanting visitors that night), or 3. both. I was beside myself. What was supposed to be one of the happiest days of my life, ended up being my worst nightmare.
You know what, though? That day taught me a lot about myself. After that day I started researching birth and learning what it means to take control of my own situation. I have learned that I can say no to a doctor and that their opinion is just that, an opinion. I have learned that my husband and my kids are my priority and that if someone disagrees with a choice that I make, they don’t have the right to make me feel inferior. Most of all, I no longer fear birth. Birth is normal, birth is natural, and birth is beautiful.
Thanks for reading! What did you think? I’d love to hear from you!