Tuesday, December 7, 2010

On my C-Section Birth Story and Lessons Learned

Since I posted my daughter's birth story, I figured I should post my son's for comparison. Be forewarned, it is a not really as "feel good" as my daughter's.

I am really only posting this because the biggest argument I hear for not VBACing is that they are scared. Scared that they will have a repeat of their first birth. They would rather the devil they know then gamble on a better experience.

And it really is a gamble. But you can stack the odds in your favor in a variety of ways. About 80% of women who attempt a VBAC are successful. In my case it was definitely worth the gamble.

Without further ado, my son's birth story:

Just as a background, my pregnancy was complicated by PIH and polyhydramnios (an over abundance of amniotic fluid) which required us to see a perinatologist and had me on bed rest starting my 29th week. At my 36-week peri appt. my blood pressure was up again and the doctor upped my dose of bp meds and started in on the warnings about placental abruption. He told me he was going to recommend to my OB that we induce at 38 weeks. My OB, however, decided he was “done with me being pregnant” and convinced me to schedule an induction at exactly 36 weeks 5 days.

My induction started with an over night administering of cervadil to ripen my cervix. As soon as they hooked me up the monitor showed I was contracting every 5-7 minutes. The nurse checked me and said I was high, soft, and closed, so there had been no change from my doctor’s appt. earlier that week. I had never been in a hospital before so this was a new experience for me. I tried, but I did not sleep more then 2 hours that night with all the nurses checking in and the weird bed.

At 5 am the next morning pitocin was started and I started contracting regularly, they got painful around 9. They checked me at 12 and there was pretty much no progress. By 3 my contractions were very painful, and together with no sleep and no food for about 24 hours I had a mini breakdown. Without sleep I just didn’t have the ability to deal with pain very well. My nurse during the day was very nice and understanding and told me she recommended neumorphine to help take the edge off and make me sleepy enough to possibly take a nap. I took her up on the offer and was able to get about 2 hours of rest, but not actual sleep. When I was checked again around 6 and still had made very minimal progress, not even a one yet despite over 12 hours of painful contractions 2 minutes apart. The decision was made by my doctor to stop the pit and start up again in the morning after I had an Ambien induced slumber and another round of cervadil. I was so disappointed because I had had it in my head that my baby would be born that day. The emotional toll of the day of “labor” with no result was really really tough. My poor husband did a really good job trying to manage my crying jags, but he was frustrated as well.

So the next morning we start the pit again at 5 am. Around 10 a resident came in to check me and told me he thought that if I didn’t progress they would send me home and I would have to do all of this over again. He told me he saw no need for a c-section since my baby was not in distress and I was holding my own blood pressure wise. This put me over the edge again in a crying fit as I thought about having another 2 day induction.

Then around 12 they checked me and told me I was a 2 and that the baby was starting to come down. Around this time the midwife from my OB’s practice came and broke my water. Due to the large amount of fluid I had, I gushed quite a bit. Let me just say, that at this point I was felling very good about my chances for a vaginal birth. I had been on quite an emotional roller coaster and this was a higher point. My midwife said that they would let me go for 24 hours before they would force a c-section. This helped me mentally because I could see and end point. I knew within 24 hours my baby would be born.

Here is where things start getting really crappy. I was assigned a really crappy nurse. She straight line cathed me because I had lost all urges to pee, and then informed me she was going to check my progress. Her fingers were really short and stubby. She proceeded to give me the WORST cervix check that I had ever had. I seriously felt like she was stabbing me and would not stop. When I started crying she told me “Gee your too sensitive” which might have been a joke, but at the time I did not see it that way. Then she said to “quit peeing on her” (it was actually more amniotic fluid). Again, maybe a joke? Still not funny. The worst part of the exam is that she told me I was still a 2. This meant I had made pretty much no progress in 5 hours despite increasingly painful contractions.

They turned up my pit and my contractions got even worse. I was bawling through some, but I refused any pain meds cause I had it in my head to wait til I was a 4, plus I knew to get meds I would have to go through another cervical exam from nurse Stubby Fingers. Finally around 8 pm the contractions got too bad and I requested neumorphine. This time the nurse tried to give me the exam but I cried so hard that she went and got another nurse to do it. This new nurse checked me and told me I was up to a 3 or 4. My midwife was there around the same time and agreed. My midwife was still very positive about my ability to deliver vaginally and gave me a lot of encouragement.

Fast forward to 20 minutes later and I am feeling very loopy and dizzy from the neumorphine. My nurse comes in and says my OB just got off the phone and he said to just give me an epidural now if I was in pain. So I agree to one and in waddles a little old plump anesthesiologist. She makes my husband and mom leave the room and gets me set up on the side of the bed. As she is getting the needle in she and nurse Stubby are talking about the women in the next room who will be getting a c-section. Apparently she will be getting an epi after me.

As soon as the epidural is in I start having horrible shakes, which they told me is sometimes a reaction to the meds in the epidural. So now I was groggy and dizzy from the neumorphine and uncontrollably shaking from the epidural. At this point my OB shows up and checks me and declares me “back” at a 2. He says that I am done with labor and going in for the c-section after the woman in the room next door. He said it would be in about 2 hours. Surprise! 5 minutes later I am being wheeled into the OR since I already have my epi and the woman next door does not. On my way out the door nurse Stubby asks why I am crying. I can’s answer between the crying and the shaking so someone clues her in that I am scared.

The OR is kind of a blur to me, I remember I had cried so much I couldn’t breathe through my nose and they kept trying to give me oxygen. My blood pressure dropped way down and the anesthesiologist started messing around me doing something. My husband was right by my head the whole time, but he couldn’t hold my hand very well cause I was all strapped down to the table because of the shaking. The whole time I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

At exactly 10 pm on Friday the 13th my baby was born. He was perfect and scored an 8/9 on his apgars. He was quickly checked over by the neonatologists that were on standby in the O.R. and deemed just fine. His dad joined him at the baby table as I got stitched up. They brought the baby over to me, and I kissed him, but I was having a problem focusing and staying awake. The anesthesiologist told me she was going to give me “something” that would put me to sleep for a little while and that I would wake up in the recovery room.

Next thing I know, there I am in recovery room, but still shaking uncontrollably. They bring the baby to nurse, but the shaking is a bit prohibitive. We try though. My husband is pretty sure I was in medical shock at this point because my blood pressure was super low and I continued shaking for a good 3 hours after the c-section.

Now with nearly 5 years perspective behind me, I can tell you a couple morals of this story.

The first is never tell a women who had a traumatic labor (and yes I consider my labor traumatic) "At least your baby was healthy."

Of course I wanted a healthy baby. Of course I am very grateful I got one.

I once read an essay by Gretchen Humphries of Birth Matters (google her if you want to read some controversial birth stuff) that stated, "The truth is a woman can be absolutely grateful and full of passionate mother love for her child and be enraged by how that child came into the world."

Saying at least you have a healthy baby dismisses all trauma or pain a woman might feel over a birth. Of course she is grateful for her baby. That does not diminish the violation or hurt she might feel.

The second lesson of this little tale is to be savvy when picking an OB. Not all are created equal. I have a strong feeling I would have my midwife I had with my daughter vs. the midwife/OB I had with my son my pregnancy and birth would have been drastically different. My son's OB was all about the scare tactics.

The third lesson is have a doula. When you are in labor as a first time mom you probably have your mom and your husband with you. In my case this was not the best choice. Your mom and husband (probably in your case and for sure in my case :P) love you. They don't want to see you in pain. Labor naturally causes pain. You need an objective and supportive person with you who can remind you of your choices and wishes, support you if you need to fight with your nurses/ OB, and independently encourage you without feeling overly emotionally attached. I would totally recommend a doula to anyone giving birth.

I don't really have a stopping point for this post. Some of the lessons I have taken from this are bigger picture lessons. I could probably go on for another 3 pages.

So I will just stop here since my kids are ready for snack time.

We are having apples and peanut butter. And maybe a couple chocolate covered animal cookies.


  1. That's such a sad birth story. I wish his birth had been better for you.

  2. That does sound like a very traumatic experience, I'm going on to read your other story now.

  3. what an insensitive airhead Anonymous! How can you say the birth wasn't traumatic? She had interventions up the wazoo. Nurse Stubby Fingers birth raped her! That is trauma in and of itself. I am crying, i am so upset!