Sunday, May 05, 2013

Nathan's birth story

I've written so many different versions of this, but I think enough time has finally passed that I can write one that isn't four pages long full of frustration!  Whew!  As always, you might not want to read this post if details about labor aren't your thing.

Nathan is the first baby where I have gone into labor (sort of) on my own.  When I went in for my 40-week appointment, my midwife was very concerned about how swollen my bad ankle was, and told me that I needed to have the baby ASAP.  Since this had been the reason for induction for my last few babies, I wasn't surprised to hear her assessment.  She did a membrane sweep and told me to come back the next day if I didn't have the baby that night.  I went home, timed contractions until midnight, and then got up at 7 to go in and see her again.  As I was getting ready to go, there was enough bleeding that I knew the baby would be born that day.  I called my mom with an update and she started packing up to travel to our house.

My midwife did another membrane sweep and told me she'd see me at the hospital at some point that day.  I went home with even more contractions and asked Neil to stay home from work until my mom arrived, since I wasn't sure how quickly things would progress.  Neil & I took the boys out and we walked a few miles trying to get my contractions to fall into a consistent pattern.  After a few hours, he left for work just before my mom arrived.  My mom & I spent the afternoon timing contractions.  I was feeling pretty good all day--I remember at one point I was reading Little House in the Big Woods to the kids while I was knitting (still timing contractions) and thinking, wow, natural labor is soooo much better!  My midwife called halfway through the day to check in on me and we planned to meet at the hospital around 6 that night to break my water, if it hadn't already broken.

When my contractions were about 5 minutes apart, I started to get a little worried.  I knew that was the point where we needed to go to the hospital, but they were still pressure without pain.  I called in and was told to just go ahead and come in, so we left for the hospital around 4:30 and walked around the parking lot for awhile.  Then the fun started.

When I was first admitted, Nathan was not moving well, so I spent a reaaaallly long time on the monitor guzzling more orange juice than I ever want to see again.  My contractions slowed to about 7-11 minutes apart at this stage, and I was worried about the baby & discouraged that things seemed to not be progressing.  After a couple of hours of constant monitoring, my midwife broke my water (at this point I was 4 cm dilated) and I started walking the halls.  Sadly, I only got to walk for about half an hour before they put me back in bed on the monitors.  When they finally--finally!--let me back up, we started walking again and suddenly the contractions changed.  They were every 10 minutes and then bam!--out of nowhere, I was hit by contractions every 2 minutes that were the most painful I could remember having in all of my labors.  I literally could not get back to our room, and Neil had to half-carry me there.  I've never screamed with any of my babies, but on the third of the awful contractions, I broke that little no-screaming record.  I honestly can't describe how horrendous these were.  I started shaking like mad and I couldn't concentrate or focus on anything.  In the minute between contractions, I thought that maybe I was in transition and that I should have my midwife check me.  I also realized that based on my previous labors, I had about an hour of dilation for each centimeter up to 7, and then about half an hour after that until it would be time to push. I also decided that I had nothing to prove to anyone anymore and that if I was not very dilated and I'd have time to get an epidural AND have it kick in, I wanted one if I still had hours to go.

So.  I asked my midwife to check me and I was at a 4.5.  This was so discouraging, and I immediately told her I wanted an epidural.  The pain was so intense that I could not focus on anything, and I knew I had a long way to go.  I also knew that if I waited any longer that the epidural would never catch up with my labor.

This is where things started to spiral downwards.  She was very antagonistic about the epidural and we were arguing about it, which was so not what I wanted to be doing right then (I won't go into details, but I vividly remember every remark she made).  At this point, another nurse came in and said they needed to check my vitals, so they made me get back in bed AGAIN and took my blood pressure, and then this is where it really got fun.  My blood pressure had nosedived at some point--I remember one nurse yelling something about "64 and dropping" and I spent the rest of labor in bed, shaking so hard that the midwife was holding me down so I wouldn't fall off.  They started running fluids and wired me up to a few more monitoring things and  I was still having these horrendous ripping contractions, and everyone kept yelling at me to hold still and not move with the contractions.  The anesthesiologist eventually came in after half an hour or so, and I felt like I was barely conscious at that point.  I couldn't clearly hear what anyone was saying except for Neil, who was consistently advocating on my behalf when the medical team was making decisions without asking us.  Everyone else was a blur.  I couldn't talk either and that was absolutely terrifying.  My midwife checked me as the anesthesiologist got there and I was at a 7.  I knew that the epidural would be pointless at this stage and I tried to say that I didn't want it but I couldn't talk, and I was shaking so hard that I couldn't move my hands or do anything to signal.   And the contractions were just about right on top of each other.

As soon as the epidural was in, Neil asked my midwife to check me again.  She said that I would not have progressed, and Neil told her that she needed to check, because I typically went very fast at this point.  He kept pressing her until she finally agreed, and I was at a 9.  He gave it another 2 contractions and then asked her to check me again.  Again, she refused, and again, he pressed her, and when she finally did, she looked up at Neil sort of blankly and started yelling for the nurses.  My blood pressure dropped again, and so I had a couple of people trying to do something about that and the rest of the nurses were over getting everything ready for the baby.  I was so relieved that it was finally time to push and let the contractions do something that was visibly useful.

And then things got fun again.  Nathan's head came out after two pushes, but then he started rotating and did a full circle.  The midwife couldn't get a grip on his shoulders to deliver him, since he kept moving away (I'll let you imagine how fun that was without any working anesthesia).  As scary as my labor was, this part was even worse.  I could see the midwife's face and I could tell that she was getting increasingly worried.  One of the nurses just started screaming at me to push as hard as I could, which was really stressful.  I sort of blurred out again during this point so I'm not sure what finally happened, but Neil said the delivery was pretty bad.  All I know is that it was much more painful than in the past and I was sure that I was going to need extensive stitching, but fortunately I didn't need any in the end.  I also immediately started apologizing to the midwife for asking for the epidural, and she got sort of frustrated by this and told me that I didn't need to apologize to her, but the way she had acted during the delivery made this the only thing my mind could focus on right then.

I think this is the first baby where I didn't cry from joy when they put him into my arms--Nathan was not crying or moving and I was really scared that something was wrong with him.  His temperature was very low and my blood pressure was still dropping, so we ended up staying in the recovery room for about 3 hours while they worked to stabilize both of us.  Again, I don't remember much of this except that it seemed like they piled every warm blanket possible on us to bring up his temperature and weigh me down enough to control the shaking.  My back and stomach were also hurting a LOT--I didn't sleep much that night--because the labor had been so violent (it was 70 minutes from the time when the crazy contractions started until he was in my arms) and the anesthesiologist had also hit a blood vessel while trying to put in the epidural.  He told me that my back would hurt a lot as a result, and man oh man, he was not kidding.

I've been debating as to whether this was my hardest labor, and I'm not sure.  It was definitely a very difficult delivery after a very difficult pregnancy.  And labor itself was absolutely terrifying.  I felt very out of control and the delivery environment was really intense, loud, and confrontational.  It was very different than I expected it would be with a midwife--the OB that I saw for my previous two deliveries was much more respectful of what I wanted and much more lenient in terms of letting me be monitored while moving around, etc.

This is also the first time where I have cringed away from the thought of doing this all over again.  With all my previous babies, I have had no problem thinking about the next baby even while I'm still in the hospital (case in point: the first night I spent with Isaac in the hospital, I had the most distinct impression I've ever had in my life that there was another baby ready & waiting to join our family).  This pregnancy took such a toll on me that I suppose it's only fitting that the labor did too!

But.  My physical recovery seems to be going well.  I learned a lesson from my recovery with Luke and took things more slowly (I did start running again when he was five days old, but I started much more gently and limited my mileage).  I've been resting a lot more, frankly, because I've needed it much more (thank heavens that my mom is here and fielding everything for me).  It definitely makes me feel older.  I think the hardest thing for me so far is that I've felt very emotional about the state that my body is in.  I usually don't worry much about my body image because running keeps me fit & strong, but right now every time I look in the mirror I just feel so much self-loathing.  My conscious mind tells me that I just had a baby nine days ago, but my emotions tell me a completely different story, and I start crying when I look at my reflection.  I also feel like my emotional state is getting worse--yesterday I woke up and just lay in bed for an hour crying because I didn't want to get up and deal with everything going on outside my bedroom door. Fun stuff.  


Kayli said...

So sorry for your awful labor! Prayers and best wishes for you!! Hopefully after a little more time ahs gone by, everything (emotions and all) will feel better.

Jolena said...

Oh honey, I'm so sorry! You're right to describe that as an awful labor. What a rough go of it! I'll keep you in my prayers that you'll recover fast both physically and emotionally. It sounds like you have at least a touch of post partum depression, and that always makes things way more rough. You can do this. Hang in there and keep giving yourself the time to heal. The last thing you need to do is beat yourself up for how you're feeling. There's already enough going on without making yourself feel worse about it. So cuddle that baby and your husband and the other wee ones and let the time go by that will help make this a distant memory and know that better things are coming. Sending love your way!!!

Taryn said...

Wow! I have read your blog for a while, but have never commented ( I hope you don’t mind), but I have to tell you I am SO sorry you had such a horrific experience! What happened to you is wrong. I can tell you that without ANY reservation.

I am appalled at your midwife! I have used midwives for all of my babies because I preferred their holistic approach to pregnancy and birth and the idea that they would support me on the journey as I trusted my body and intuition. I imagine this is more what you were going for when you decided to go with a midwife, but instead you got a demeaning, disrespectful, terrifying, painful, out-of-control, traumatizing experience...AND you felt like you needed to apologize for it! I am speechless, and can tell you that you are not responsible for ANYTHING in this birth, and certainly nothing you should feel apologetic about! You were failed by your caregivers, particularly your disgraceful midwife. I am SO sorry that happened to you! The one thing I was glad to hear was that your husband worked as a persistent advocate in your behalf; I just wish it wasn't a battle for even him!

I know postpartum depression is a real issue to keep on the radar, but what you are sharing here sounds like you are (at least in part) grieving this whole experience. You had so many things happen that were out of your control that made this birth something you'd never have planned for, or even imagined. Now your mind, body, heart and soul have to process this new, incredibly unexpected story. I just can't say enough how unjust this is. You deserved better. Your baby deserved better.

Try to give yourself room to heal from this experience. You at very least deserve that! We talk a whole lot about the physical pain of bearing a child, but very little is said about the anguish that many women experience regarding the details of what happened surrounding the birth. You are doing things right. (I know it’s a real trick with a newborn, and older children who constantly need you to pay attention to anything personally). I just so wish you were not laden with this great burden at a time when you should be able to feel peace and joy about the process of bringing your beautiful boy into the world. Big hugs and sending prayers your way!

Melanie said...

Agreed to the comments above- this is definitely an experience to work through and grieve about. You know the most important things (he's safe, you're safe, you're not pregnant anymore!) are intact but this time is not a fun one either. Take the days slow and be kind to yourself.

Still, can't wait to meet the little cutie!

Bryce Moore said...

Blarg. So sorry things went so poorly for you, and so happy to hear you're feeling better. What an ordeal!

Brittanie said...

Holy Moly!

I had a similar experience when Will was born and I used a midwife. Luckily, I had a great nurse that was fighting for me and my wishes but it was still a very hostile environment. I learned that any doctor/midwife comes with their ideas and opinions. We had hoped a midwife would be more about honoring our wishes but it was not to be.

The minute I decided to get an epidural, my midwife turned on me. She made me feel horrible and the environment was very hostile. It is amazing what a difference it makes in the birthing experience.

Having a baby always seems to be traumatic for our family in some regard and this last time we moved twice before the baby was three weeks old. It hit me hard emotionally and took more time to recover than ever before. Give yourself time and try not to be hard on yourself.

Your baby is adorable and I hope you are able to recover quickly enough to really enjoy some of the newborn moments.

Jamie, Amanda, and Kids said...

So sorry that you had such an awful experience! It's hard enough to be in that much pain and trying to concentrate to get through it, but to have your midwife be so horrid is unacceptable. I'm so sorry that happened. We had a horrible midwife for Ethan's birth; it really made a huge difference in my labor and recovery. I hope you can get the peace you desire to resolve the frustration, anger and hurt from this experience. It took me a while to get over things with Ethan's birth (I think there will always be some residual frustration there), but with time and a professional complaint letter and an emotional rant letter (that may or may not have been sent accidentally), I was able to let some of it go.
Your baby is so cute and you are amazing. I am always struck by the strength of your testimony from your comments and lessons at church. Hope you continue to feel better!

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