Christopher’s Birth, by Suzie

Sep 13, 2012 by     Comments Off    Posted under: Birth Stories

My first birth ended up being via C-section. I made changes in my life.

I had been attending aerobics classes for 3 years when I found I was pregnant again. I found midwives who were knowledgeable and would support me in my bid for a VBAC. I hired a doula. Learning all I could about what was going on and what I wanted was encouraged.

This second pregnancy was not without its complications. I developed gestational diabetes and pregnancy-induced hypertension. According to the standard of care in my community, my midwives had to co-manage my pregnancy with a physician. These complications were mild compared to the first pregnancy as they were managed earlier and competently.

I had visions of birthing in the comfort of my own new-to-me home. So, when my midwife told me that due to the gestational diabetes I had to birth in a hospital, I felt betrayed. I cried hard. It broke my midwife, Janine’s’ heart to see it, but she and my husband stayed with me until I got used to the idea.

I still had to stand up for what I wanted in terms of labor and delivery. Again, the physician tried to scare me into going for a planned C-section. At almost every one of our appointments, he said, “Let’s just have a C-section and be done with this.” Or, “This is a huge baby. Its shoulders could get hung up and he’ll look like this.” (Striking a Quasimodo pose). He continued, “If the baby gets stuck, we’ll have to push it back up and do a C-section anyway.” My support team was especially appalled with this last statement.

After each visit with the doctor, I called either my midwives or my doula to talk to them about what happened at the visit. Each time, they bolstered my courage and commitment to a VBAC. Each time I railed against the insensitive SOB who we had to entrust me to.

But with the support from my midwives, Janine and Darlene and Kim my doula, and the gumption to stand up for what I wanted, I made it clear that a C-section would be a last resort. Every visit.

Because of the baby’s size we did several ultrasounds to see how it was doing. It became apparent that the amniotic fluid was decreasing. I went on partial bed rest. Two hours in the morning and two in the afternoon. Joey, my four year old, tried hard to understand what was going on. He was great. In the morning I would lie down on the sofa and read or watch him play. In the afternoon, we usually laid down on the “jumping bed” downstairs. He would watch a movie. I snuggled in next to him and napped. Sometimes he would nap too.

Then the last week, due to the hypertension, I was on complete bed rest. Joe, my husband started his leave of absence from work that day. I read Nancy Drew books, one each day. My new friend, Barb, a nurse, came by with her daughter, Emily, to check in on me and play with Joey. Our good friends, Joan and Garett, would stop by soon after Barb and take the “afternoon shift”.

We induced labor at 37-1/2 weeks due to “compromised amniotic fluid levels,” but I was determined to labor and birth vaginally.

The plan was to go to the hospital for prostaglandin Thursday morning, leave for six hours, get a second dose and leave again. I would then check in at the hospital six hours after that, have Cervadil inserted into my vagina and stay for overnight observation. If necessary, I would start pitocin Friday morning.

The night before, I spent time bathing, praying to the Goddess and reading my Affirmation Cards that Kim had given me. I relaxed as best as I could and called upon the Virgin Mary to give me the strength to get through this birth. I was scared, no doubt about it. But I was also confident that my support team would be there when I needed them.

I went to the hospital for prostaglandin gel Thursday, thinking I was starting a two-day regime. But no, with one dose of gel I started labor. Months earlier, Kim had made plans to go out of state the next day so her back-up doula had come to the hospital to meet me. We all expected she would be with me as this was going to be a two-day process. Well, the back-up doula was soon put through her paces before we knew each other’s names. I don’t know if I would have been able to make it without her those first couple of hours. I was moved to a labor room and my journey began. Kim arrived soon after.

This labor wasn’t “Bradley-ideal.” I got fed up with the soft inspirational music early on. And if there had been candles lit, I would have used them to the detriment of all. But I did move freely about, use a portable external fetal monitor and drank and ate as I wanted, (which wasn’t much).

I don’t consider my labor to have been horrible. For both pregnancies, whenever I visualized my labor, I saw myself coping well with the contractions, not how painful they were. I had back labor and Kim spent 10 hours applying counter-pressure. A tub with warm, almost hot, water soothed me. The nurse on hand marveled at the numerous positions we used to cope with contractions. I knew I just had to keep moving. I squatted, walked, “slow danced,” sat on the toilet, got in the tub, go out of the tub, got on all fours on the bed, used the squat bar, on my back, on my side, and the ever-popular “Erickson maneuver”. I groaned a lot. Whenever my voice entered a high range, Kim suggested I keep in lower. That helped more than I knew.

Early on, the nurse tried to draw blood, “just in case we need to do a C-section.” Kim diplomatically asked her if she was aware of my desires, a C-section being the last resort. The nurse reiterated the “just in case” reasoning. I roared, “We’ll deal with it when the time comes!” Laboring women needn’t concern themselves with diplomacy.

Kim and my midwife Darlene, helped me through the rough spots. “Just take it one contraction at a time.” “Every woman who has birthed before you, is with you now. Feel their power.” “Go ahead. That’s the head you’re touching.”

I had been pushing for a little while. The nurse and Darlene, who transitioned to the role of doula were concerned that I had a cervical lip. I wasn’t fully dilated. But I had to push.

Then, the doctor, who had been pressuring me to have a c-section, came in. He sat out of the way, but still in my field of vision. I wanted to demand that he be removed, but I knew that that wasn’t an option. I chose to ignore him and refocus my energy on birthing this baby.

At one point, the doctor walked out of the room and Darlene followed. I found out a couple of weeks later what transpired. The doctor figured that since the baby was hung up on my pelvis, we weren’t going to make any more progress. He gave us 15 minutes before we were to discuss a C-section. Darlene held up her index finger and told him, “I have one more trick up my sleeve.”

She consulted with Kim and they agreed that the “Erickson maneuver” was called for. This was developed by its’ namesake who is a midwife in the community. Kim and Darlene had successfully used this with many previous clients.

My husband sat on an armless chair, his legs apart. I sat on his thighs, facing him with my butt slung between his legs. My hands were over his shoulders held by Kim. This position opens the pelvis up more. I pushed two or three more times. They were asking for a “hold your breath for 5 counts,” I gave them 8, at least. The baby’s head un-snagged and dropped into the birth canal.

“Let’s get you over to the bed between contractions.” They were hoping to get me to move about 10 feet in that space of time. But I had another contraction and had to stop halfway. Finally I made it to the bed and the pushing really began in earnest.

I don’t remember feeling contractions after that. At one point I wonder if they stopped altogether and I was pushing on my timetable. I put on my glasses, asked for the mirror to be adjusted and felt the head.

At 9:26 pm, Christopher was born. He needed to be resuscitated, but after a few minutes he was crying on his own. He was taken to the ICU and one hour later I saw him, four-and-a-half hours later, I was able to try breastfeeding and two days later he slept with/on me and three days later, we went home.

I have never felt as empowered by an event as I did with the VBAC birth of my second son. We all learned lessons in believing in oneself. I learned powerful lessons in committing to a goal and following the path wherever it goes, to achieve that goal. I learned that taking responsibility for my health care means educating myself and asking questions of those who have greater knowledge then I. I refused to let myself be intimidated and I surrounded myself with labor support who believed as whole-heartedly as I did that I could do it.

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