My 1st VBAC (traumatic – to me – birth)
This was written shortly after my VBAC in 2008. It was not a good experience for me. If you still want to read it, go ahead but be warned it was not pleasant. You might prefer to read about my 2nd VBAC, which was much much better.
I’m not sure that my birth story is as traumatic as some… no one almost died, there was no medical crisis, etc. I just had a really lousy experience that doesn’t seem to want to leave me.
I will try to start closer to the beginning. I was midway into my pregnancy when I began reading some not-so-mainstream books about pregnancy/birth. I started thinking that I was not so pleased with my OB office’s approach to things. I’m a person, not a textbook, and I should be treated so. No woman is the same, likewise no pregnancy or woman’s body is the same.
But, I digress.
Yeah, great, I achieved the VBAC I wanted so badly. Yay-rah. The problem is the whole thing has played hell with my mind.
Without going into too much detail, it was more-or-less a textbook birth. The problem with that? I didn’t want a textbook birth. I wanted honesty and integrity, which I feel lacked severely.
It all started April 8 (2008). I relented and came in to the OB office for yet another non-stress test. Everything was great. Then they decided to use the ultrasound to check the fluid level. The doctor rated the level at a two, which she thought was very low for 41.5 weeks. I don’t think it was that unusual because I am still convinced – based on my period dates – that I was really 43.5 weeks, but doc’s don’t want to think that a woman could be non-textbook so they refuse to believe it.
After much concern about the lack of fluid, a cesarean was scheduled for the next morning. I was devastated because I did not want another cesarean. My daughter’s birth was taken totally out of my hands because I had to have a planned cesarean, due to medical issues. I did not want another repeat. I wanted a birth that I was in charge of and involved in. A cesarean would not be the birth I wanted and needed.
Sometime after midnight I started having contractions about every hour. They increased to two in an hour and at 5:00 a.m. I phoned the OB. She told me to come in at the scheduled time and she would tell them to check me and see if I was in labour. She also informed me that if I was, I would not be going home, rather I would be stuck there in hospital until I delivered. That did not make me happy.
I went upstairs and proceeded to get ready. When my husband got up shortly after, I told him what was going on. I also told him what the doctor said about not leaving the hospital. All I wanted him to do was to tell me that since I was already in labour, to not worry about it, that we would stay home and wait it out. He did not. He told me later that he did not even remember my telling him that I was in labour. I think he was just so absorbed in what he was going through at the time. I did not realize at the time, but he was upset as well. He did me a large injustice by not expressing his feelings or thoughts because I really feel that, had I known how he was feeling about the situation, I might have been a little more assertive at the hospital.
When we arrived, it was determined that I was in labour. Typical of women in labour arriving at the hospital, my labour stalled. Once I ran out the doctor’s stopwatch on how long I should be in labour, they came at me again with pitocin. Pitocin, the same evil stuff that I had stressed I wanted nothing to do with was about to be plunged into my veins.
After being assured that I was going to be given “just a little” pitocin to gear up labour a bit and then it would be backed off, I relented. It sounded logical, sort of. No, that’s a lie because the way the nurse explained it to me made no sense but since I felt like the only one in the room that didn’t understand her, I thought something was wrong with me and that I should just be a good girl and take it. No one said to me, “Hey, that’s that stuff you said you’d run away from the hospital if they tried to give you, remember?” Because that was what I really needed. I needed to know that it was okay for me to say “Hell no.”
I cannot help but blame my husband a lot. Logically, I know (because he told me later) that he really thought I knew what I was doing when I made the decision and was not about to second-guess me if that was what I wanted.
Eventually – I’ve been told it was several hours later – I begged for an epidural because I could not stand the pain any longer. The pitocin made me feel as though I was on fire. It got to the point that I could no longer pinpoint an exact location of the burning because it was all-consuming. I began to alternate wishing I could die, and becoming totally convinced that I was going to.
I guess everyone in the room was greatly relieved when I got the epidural; according to my husband, the moment it started, the tension in the room dissipated. I don’t recall this but apparently I had been fighting with the nurse, and my eldest sister (present in the room also) was doing some of the same. Odd, because I don’t remember this. I’m not sure if I was just so distracted or if I just chose not to remember it.
I remember bits and pieces, really. I remember crying and pleading with my husband to take me home. I am pretty sure I remember that I also pleaded with him to take the shit (pitocin) out of my arm.
When I insisted that the nurse turn it off, she agreed but made it clear she would have to phone the doctor. Upon her return, she informed me that the OB had stated that if I did not have the pitocin turned back on, then in two hours when she came in, I would be having a cesarean. I felt defeated.
Shortly after, I was informed it was time to push. I found myself flat on my back with my legs in the air – exactly the position I did not want to be in – to birth the baby.
I wanted to kick the doctor every time she barked orders at me to not make noise. Hello??? How am I not supposed to grunt or make some sort of noise when I’m trying to push a baby out of me. I think that, had the nurse and my husband not been acting as stirrups, I just might have kicked her. It’s about all I could think of doing at the time. It was hard to focus on anything else.
Anyway, I just wish the whole thing would stop playing through my head. I get to relive it pretty much every night, sometimes multiple times a night.
Last night we went to supper with my husband’s family for his brother’s birthday. There were way too many people for my taste. Eight adults and four children. I wanted to run away. I’ve never been good in large groups, but this time it was even more torturous for me.
When the conversation turned to the birth, it was all I could do to maintain composure. I wanted to either run away or scream about how nothing went right. I tried to act normal but it was the biggest struggle for me.
Later I said something to my husband about it. I asked him if, in future, he could maybe try to change the subject because I didn’t want to think about it. I told him that I relive it every night, sometimes multiple times a night, and didn’t want an extra reliving of it. I thought sure I heard him say “good grief” under his breath.
I shouldn’t have said anything to him about it.
It’s just that I keep replaying the birth – or aspects of it – in my head nearly every night. Sometimes during the day, but it’s mostly at night. I just can’t stop it once it starts.
At this point, I was sure that, if I did decide to have another baby, I was sure that I would avoid OBs and hospitals like the plague. I did not return for my post-partum check. I went to our family doc instead.
I also just wish I didn’t feel so horrified at the whole thing. I know the end result is a baby, although sometimes I felt as though I was just going through the motions. I occasionally felt a twinge of caring for him, but it seemed like those twinges were few and far between and would remain that way for a few months.
I can honestly say that I have been raped and felt less violated than I did when that OB got through with me.
Fortunately, I have healed a great deal from his birth. I love Elias more than anything and there is no difference between any of my children. I am very fortunate in that I am much better now and I know many women do not heal so well from a traumatic birth.