A birth interrupted
Written four weeks ago:
I debated long and hard about how to write this post. I found some words, scratched those, formed others. I thought about my blog friends, my few readers. What they’d say. How they’d compare this to their own experience. Most of all, I debated long and hard about whether to write at all. The last week has been both the most fulfilling and disappointing of my life. Accordingly, my words are dichotomous, my feelings fragmented, my thoughts fuzzy. My daughter was born a week ago.
There’s no running away from it. I detailed in black and white right here, what I thought about birth, how I hoped my child’s would be, what I believed, how I worked towards it and the vision that carried me through my pregnancy.
I decided to write both ways. First, the way, I GoTB react to it. React to most setbacks in life. Harshly, disdainfully, resignedly.
Labor started on Monday morning. It felt like cramps but when I went to the doc, she felt my tummy and said “you’re having contractions.” Yayy! This is what I had wanted – a natural start without any induction. Once again she said I was going to have a good size baby 8.5-9 lb! I laughed it off. You just have to see my 5 ft, 3 frame to know how impossible that sounded. Regardless, I was determined. I had learned size was not anything to fear in labor. My mother-in-law pushed a 10 lb baby out without drugs. That baby is married to me now. So my mom and I carried on with our morning – her a bit tentatively, me cheerfully. I took her to the MET. Of course it was closed for the Monday. At this point, the contractions were getting a little harder to manage so we took a cab home. I told her I was taking a nap and started breathing and managing my contractions the Bradley way. I counted breaths, I stayed hydrated and I timed my contractions. I walked, I climbed stairs, all in an effort to bring the baby down. At 3 pm my water broke and I asked my husband to come home. There was some meconium in my water but it didn’t upset me too much. I called the nurse – she asked me to come in but I told her I wanted to labor at home a bit longer. She seemed concerned – contractions were now 5 mins apart so said ok- just 2 more hours. Almost exactly 2 hours later we left for the hospital. I was in it intensely now. I was in the zone. I took my electrolyte drinks, ate and left. At the hospital I stayed calm through admission but threw up promptly as we got to our room. We refused IV but got hooked to the fetal monitor. At this point I could no longer talk but stayed focused only on my husband. He counted breaths through contractions with me – he was my rock, everything I could ask for. We were going on about the 15th hour of labor now, about 6-7 of those active and intense. I started getting back pain and suspected that the baby was posterior i.e. sunny side up. I couldn’t believe it – all the prenatal yoga, watching my posture – even at 36 weeks she was anterior in her ultrasound. What happened?? The doctor came in and confirmed – yes, baby was posterior. Now I was about 8-9 cms but had some work to do . Baby had to turn and descend.
Contractions were coming in every 30 seconds, which basically meant on top of each other with no break and were 80 to 90 seconds long. I looked at my husband, defeated and begged for pain medication. He looked me in the eye and asked me to tell him if I really did. No he wasn’t being hard on me. I had drilled it into him not to take my pleas at face value and to help me get past self doubt. But I was sure. I took the epidural in tears, ashamed at my lack of strength. The night was spent on all fours trying to turn the baby. In the wee hours of the morning the doctor came back. I was still at 9 cms. An hour later, no change.
Then I heard the words I hadn’t prepared for. Not once in the nine months leading up to this moment. She said the baby was not descending and I had to have a c-section. My mind blurred. Surely, this couldn’t be happening to me. Not after everything I had visualized, what I’d planned. The dim realization that a birth could not be planned occurred much later. We asked for my OB – she was at home. We were just asking her for her second opinion. Instead to our surprise she said she was coming in. On seeing her I burst into a fresh set of tears. She said how surprised she was to see me still laboring. She was so sure I would have had the baby by now. You and me both, sister.
But she concurred with the advice – c-sec was the way to go. She felt the baby was too big to fit down through me. And so I was cut open and my baby girl was delivered to me. I was numb with drugs and couldn’t even hold my arms out to hold her. Yes she is my joy and makes every day of the nine months and 30 years of life prior worth it. But it doesn’t change my birth experience from being traumatic. It doesn’t make me stop feeling like a failure. I join the ranks of hundreds of such women, and still I am alone in my grief. I mourn this privately lest someone take it as ingratitude for a healthy child. To those who chide me I have no words. All I can say is you don’t know. You don’t know what it is to come so close to birthing the baby you’ve carried for nine months only to have her delivered to you like a package. You don’t know how excluded I feel from my own baby’s birth. You don’t know how it feels to know that what’s most natural turned out to be the most impossible.
Coming soon: the post I should be writing.