This birth story is so beautifully written that you can feel the mother's every emotion. I love it and I am so grateful that she shared it with us. It is descriptive of so many things going on in obstetrics today- the struggle to VBAC, the decision to birth at home, the disappointment when that doesn't happen, and the treatment of women by their care providers and how deeply it impacts them.
But lastly, and most importantly, it shows what a splendid experience it is to simply hold a healthy baby in your arms.
I know of nothing else that is so brief an experience but which has such a lasting impact on our lives.
And that is why I love birth.
|From katelyndemidow.com, one of our amazingly talented readers. Gosh I love her pictures.|
Poeia's Birth Story, a home birth transfer and successful hospital VBAC
I had envisioned laboring in the night and my children waking up to their new baby, and all of us lying in bed together, happily ever after. Oh yes, underneath the twinkling lights of Christmas no less. I had cleaned and rearranged my bedroom, gathered my supplies and my darling, obliging husband practiced raising and lowering the tub. That was at 37 weeks, my expected time of delivery based on previous pregnancies. And we waited. The longer we waited, the worse it got.
There was a tension in my home I couldn't explain. I would contract for hours, lying awake praying for it not to happen, progressing till it eventually fizzled out in my sleep. I was inexplicably frightened. I was exhausted. I was in tears when I next visited with my midwife. I must make mention that my toddler had also been teething and screaming at me for a week and I was coming down with a cold. I was not a happy pregnant woman, who was a week past her perceived time of delivery. I don't typically do pregnancy well.
It has been a major struggle to fight my depression and lethargy and extreme emotions while pregnant; and venturing into something new like home birth with a fearful husband who was just barely coming along for the ride did not help matters any. I was at the very end of my pregnant rope. My midwife saw my defeated and emotive display of tears and risked me out of home birth at 38 weeks. I can't speak for her, and I'll never agree with her decision or understand why she made it, so to say I was devastated would be an understatement.
My world was crushed. I was terrified. I felt abandoned. I felt betrayed. I felt confused. I was fighting for life, tumbling in a huge wave of reality and emotion unable to determine which way was up, with a certain death drawing near. A couple days of weeping and soul searching later, my beautiful husband took me in his arms and gently reminded me that it was babies I told him I wanted when we met, and it's a baby I'm going to have.
I had to get beyond my fear of that hospital and my last traumatic, violent birth just 20 months before, as well as my new determination to just stay pregnant forever and allow myself to labor. One afternoon 3 days after my risk-out, that possible middle-of-the-night childcare had been sorted, my husband was on his way home, and one of my new friends from Birth Circle was going to be working the night shift at L&D. Life was in order, it was now safe to labor; and so it began.
I called my midwife, Trinlie, who had offered to come be with me at the birth, about 9pm to tell her I thought this was the real deal and these weren't going anywhere. I had been in touch with A, my "quasi-doula" as she coined, to let her know what was going on. I had cleaned the baby's room and vacuumed the first floor and really wanted to get started on the kitchen floors, but I knew at that moment I should save my energy especially since I had awaken early that morning at 4am.
Afraid that once again my contractions were fading away, I relaxed on the chaise with my friends from Scrubs (thank you, Netflix) and timed them for about an hour. They were definitely progressing, and once I saw the numbers I had decided to try and get some rest. I drifted off about 12:30am and woke to strong contractions at 1:20, just less than an hour after I last looked at the time. That hardly qualifies as a nap, let alone sleep. Oh, these were making me moan. Strong and steady. I needed to wake Jesse and start making my phone calls.
I have a history of precipitous labor, my last being only 2 hours, so I was advised to not try and labor at home. Oh, this sucks, this hurts. I'm supposed to fill up my birth tub and climb inside. I'm not supposed to have to figure out what to wear and climb into the car in the middle of a January night. All night long I'm unsettled because I'm not where I had prepared to be, I'm not where I'm supposed to be. It's all wrong. It's like a bad trip.
My husband and I met A in the parking lot, and my midwife and my friend J, her apprentice, met me a few minutes later in my room. And, as I had hopefully anticipated, E was working and she was my nurse. I made it. I walked from ER down to L&D and did all those preliminary things. "Can I get in the tub?" I refrained. I had to wait for the doctor. (I should pause here to mention that I live in a small town, we have one OB practice with 3 doctors and one hospital. The chief of obstetrics at this hospital is one of those doctors, and he has some personal vendetta with home birth. And guess who was on-call that night? Trinlie had gone to their office on Monday to inform them that I had been risked out of home birth and due to come in to L&D at any time to VBAC. It was now early Wednesday morning about 2 or 3am.)
Dr G walked through the door without acknowledging my husband, my team or myself. I immediately asked for the tub and he immediately informed me that we needed to have a chat. He proceeded to scold me for choosing to home birth as a VBAC, citing my misinformation and the "1% risk of uterine rupture". I know that it's .03-.07% because I have spent the last 8/9 months doing nothing but research in the birthing community, but I say "ok". He does a cervical check that I asked him not to, but he "needed" to asses my progress, so I said "ok". After he shoves his hand inside of me as if I were livestock and twisted it around back and forth (that is some agonizing pain, my friends), he tells me no tub because I'm a VBAC, and they need to constantly be monitoring me. By this point, I'm in a good amount of pain and dilating quickly. That birthing tub was my only prepared form of pain management, the water and weightlessness was going to make my pain bearable. Now what?
The next few hours are more of a blur. There is a place inside of myself to which I retreated in order to handle that pain I thought I could not bear. The pressure was incredible. I kept asking for help because it was all the vocabulary I could muster. I needed to know how to deal with the pain, but I couldn't verbalize it, so I didn't get any help. But my faithful husband Jesse stayed by my side the entire time, and pressed hard on my back for hours. I needed a strong, constant pressure that only he could provide and he never faltered. That says a lot about the man I married; the man who thought he'd be of no use to me in labor, that he hadn't the capacity of a birth partner.
At one point the doctor said, "get the hook". I woke up and said "what? hook? no!". And all the women said "it's ok", so, once again defeated, I laid down as my water was broken artificially. I was so tired, so tired. I hadn't the strength to use my arms or legs or even hold myself up. They continued to painfully check my cervix, even though I asked for them not to. And when I was at 10, they told me I could start pushing at any time.
Though I never felt the urge, I practiced a push or two. Next thing I know I'm being cheered and encouraged and I'm pushing ineffectively. I pushed with all my might for an hour and a half, most of that time with the doctor between my legs, his face scowling and smirking and telling me what a terrible job I was doing. I tried everything I could, but I couldn't even hold myself up anymore. I had then been awake for more than 24 hours. He threatened me with a C-section or pitocin. C-section?? Pitocin??
You don't pit a VBAC because of the uterine rupture risk. Nice, doc, I see you've been misinformed about the risks of unnaturally augmenting labor in a VBAC, or don't you care? Then he returned again and said he wouldn't use pitocin because my contractions were strong enough I just wasn't trying, and when I would start to actually try, I would then give up. So he gave me two new inconceivable choices: C-section or vacuum.
He knew as HBAC transfer, I didn't want a C-section. He was manipulating me to get what he wanted, and he wanted to get out of there. He asked what my reservations were against the vacuum, and I cried that it would hurt the baby. And that's when he spit out the 1% risk of brain hemorrhage as if it were not worth concern. Yes, I caught that. 1% in your favor is no big deal, doc, I see. But I think I got more "it's ok", and I allowed it. Somewhere in there the doctor said "or we could just do this for the next 5 hours and not get anywhere. Your choice."
It's a very hard place to be, trying your best to push against the pain when you haven't the strength to hold your head, all the while being discouraged and abused. I'm thinking 'what's wrong with me' 'I can't do it', and I'm actually saying aloud, "what am I doing wrong?". I know now that I was pushing before it was time, she wasn't ready. And because of that, both of our experiences were tarnished. I believed in leaving the body and baby to determine the time and place, however that's not how it was playing out in the hospital. I wanted to try one more thing: turning around and pushing on my knees. He said "you can try, but it's not going to work" as he walked out of the room.
To my dismay, he used the vacuum. She started coming at that point, and my pushing was effective. The pain was terrible, but it didn't matter because she was coming. It was a good, terrible pain. It was an effective, terrible pain. It was a productive, terrible pain. When moments before I thought the only alternative to the pain was death, it was now clear that the real alternative was life. New life was being born and finally coming earthside.... new life that I was birthing. I welcomed the ring of fire. I started screaming "I did it!" with relief and exhilaration (and expletive) before she was even finished with her descent. Then she was born.
It was then I noticed the other people in the room. I saw my midwife look on at my new baby and myself with a purity that could only be described as childlike wonder. Her eyes were filled with tears and love. It was a defining moment for me. I knew at the core of my being, that it was she who should have been bringing this new precious life. Her passion for midwifery was about love and babies and birthing. That doctor was unnecessary and hurtful, as was the environment, and the monitoring that led to the interventions. That is not how birth should be done. My baby should have been born in a safe, loving environment into the arms of those who already loved her for the powerful, although tiny, being that she already was. Instead, she was completely disregarded as a little human being by the doctor who was between my legs. He wouldn't give her to me immediately as I requested, and when he finally did, he lifted her by her head, her poor little head that had experienced all the trauma of the vacuum he pushed upon us.
But there she finally was, on my chest and all ours'. Nobody would take her again. It kept occurring to me that I never had to give her back. My husband and I had once again created a little piece of our love for the whole world to know. And I was high. We did it! Through all the adversity and agony, Jesse and I did it; we were once more complete with another baby girl. And she was beautiful.
Poeia Soleil was born at 7:46am and 7.9 lbs. She was born with no drugs in her system, via vaginal birth after cesarean. Six and a half hours of active labor including push time, and just in time for the "good doctor" to get to work.