I shared Joshua’s birth story with y’all and got such a great response. I have been putting off telling the story of my first two births for some time now, and finally had a reason to do it. Gabrielle over at Birth Beyond Bias asked for stories of traumatic births and I decided it was finally time to write everything down. She featured my story on her blog, and I would really love to share it here as well! I hope you will go over to Birth Beyond Bias and read more…she has some wonderful information and great stories!
With my first baby, I wanted a natural birth. I knew nothing about modern birth in America, only that I felt strongly that God created women to birth babies, and that if women had been doing this for thousands of years without medication, then so could I. I was met with opposition from my OB, who gave me all the typical excuses as to why natural birth was not a good idea. Some of the things he told me were:
- the baby will be too big
- it’s your first pregnancy, you could go so fast that you have the baby on the side of the road if you go into labor on your own
- if you want to avoid a C-section, we really need to induce early because he’s going to be over 10 pounds (I had been adamantly against having a C-section, and I feel like this was a huge play on my emotions, even though now I know that inducing gives me a 1 in 3 chance of having a C-section)
- induction is perfectly safe, I induce 95% of my patients (his response to me asking about the risks associated with pitocin; also, I should have noticed that red flag when he said he induces 95% of his patients, but I didn’t know any better).
Despite my protests and tears in his office, my doctor kept pushing for an induction, and my husband finally said to me, “He’s the doctor, he knows best, let’s just get the induction.” I was crushed, and then I talked myself into believing that everything he had said was true and this was necessary. The day of the birth I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything, except to chew on ice chips. I had an epidural and an IV, and was numb from the waist down and absolutely miserable. The fetal heart monitor alarm kept going off and the nurses came rushing in to readjust it. I asked them to just leave it off after about the 5th or 6th time and they said they weren’t allowed to, that constant monitoring was necessary, and that if my baby didn’t stop moving around then they would have to put an internal fetal heart monitor on him…which they did. The OB broke my waters at around 8-9 cm and left. I needed to push, and luckily the nurse was really nice and allowed me to push and assured me if the doctor didn’t return that she was able to deliver the baby. He did make it, he cut me, the baby was born, and then taken away shortly thereafter. He went to the NICU. I didn’t get to breastfeed. They kept giving him formula in the nursery, wouldn’t allow him to stay in my room, would finally bring him to be breastfed but would come back 15 minutes later to take him back to the nursery. My episiotomy became infected so badly that they had to give me a local anesthetic and drain the pus. I screamed, literally, the entire time they did it. To this day it is the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. Oh, and the 10 pound baby? He was 8 pounds 5 ounces. Yep.
My second baby’s birth went much like the first. Even with a different doctor, I got similar reasons to induce, including a baby over 10 pounds. The OB wore me down so much that I finally begrudgingly agreed when he said at one of my last appointments, “You’re not getting any more dilated and you seem pretty miserable. You’re ready to be done with being pregnant, so I’m scheduling an induction for Tuesday.” Note, I was dilated to a 2 and 50% effaced at 38 weeks at this time. Same basic story as the first (except for the fetal heart monitor), but when the doctor broke my water and left I needed to push immediately, and the nurses literally yelled at me to stop. They wouldn’t allow me to push until the doctor came back, which seemed to be about 20 more minutes. When he got there I pushed and the head came out. When he was stitching up my tear, I cried out in pain and told him I could feel everything. He said there was no way I could possibly feel that with an epidural. I begged him to stop and he wouldn’t. I continued to scream and he continued to stitch. He finally said, “I’m almost done anyway” as if to say to me, “stop complaining, I’ve just got one more stitch.” On top of that, the stitch job was not done well and intimacy with my husband was painful for me after that. Jacob was 9 pounds 8 ounces.
I asked Rebecca what guided her to heal and recover from these births. I asked how she found the strength to overcome the trauma of her first two births and what words of hope she has for others. Here are her words of hope:
I started looking into natural lifestyle choices after my firstborn was diagnosed with autism. As I learned more about natural birth, I recognized the tactics that many people experienced as the same tactics that were used with me. Then I became angry. I felt cheated, manipulated, lied to, coerced, talked down to, like I was not smart enough to know what was best for me. Because that’s how it seemed…he’s the doctor, he knows what’s best. They didn’t respect me enough to listen to what I wanted, or to give me all the information I was seeking so that I could make an informed decision. I felt the loss of what could have been, especially because I had specifically asked for natural births. I also realized that many of the problems that we experienced shortly after birth and during the postpartum period were due to the interventions I had during childbirth and the routine interventions they did to the baby right after birth. The bonding and breastfeeding didn’t happen at all. I wasn’t allowed to have my baby in the room with me. They kept giving him formula even though I repeatedly said I wanted to breastfeed. Now that I know what I know, it makes me angry that the practitioners in hospitals would do this to women. Having my third baby naturally (and unassisted) validated to me that I was not broken, that I could do this, that I was created and designed to do this. It was vindication. All the backlash I got while I was pregnant was very negative and disheartening. They thought I was crazy to even WANT an out of hospital birth, and to do it with no pain medications. I felt like I had proven everyone wrong (not that we ever have anything to prove, but I must admit it felt good!). This birth was healing for me. I finally could forgive myself for what I didn’t know and what I did or didn’t do. I was ignorant back then, and I didn’t know any better. But I still feel like my doctors DID know better, and I must admit I still lay some blame on them for being so misleading and pushing their agenda instead of doing what was best for me and my babies. Don’t forget, we hire them, they work for us. Somehow many doctors have forgotten this, and they treat us like we are supposed to do whatever they say. Not so. What I want every woman to know is that you have a choice. You are entitled to the care you want. If you aren’t receiving it, go get a second opinion. Fire your doctor or midwife and go to one who will respect you and work with you to meet your goals. Educate yourself, and take personal responsibility for your health. Don’t rely on a doctor to tell you the way things are, go in there armed with knowledge so that you are able to discern if he or she is giving you sound advice. And if you hear any of the tell-tale signs that he or she is not practicing evidence-based birth, run as fast as you can!