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A birth interrupted

November 12, 2009

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.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. November 12, 2009 7:21 am

    Thanks for sharing. Must have been hard. Hey, no one’s judging you or pretending to know how it feels. We judge ourselves as successes or failures by our own standards. Just don’t be hard on yourself. There’s so much to do in the days ahead, you need to be confident!

    Congratulations again, and all the best!

  2. November 12, 2009 5:38 pm

    C-section (and VBAC) mom and doula here, stumbled across this post. I’m so sorry that things don’t go the way you had planned. I know there isn’t much I can say that will help right now either, but I thought if you hadn’t already you might investigate the ICAN email list or discussion boards. You will find moms that understand there.

    (((HUGS))) to you.

  3. November 12, 2009 10:44 pm

    Congratulations on the baby girl !

    “You don’t know how excluded I feel from my own baby’s birth.” – resonated so much to the feelings I had when I delivered my baby via C-sec.

  4. November 16, 2009 8:49 pm

    congratulations once again…i know exactly how you feel – i had the same issues with my first born but he did eventually come out naturally albeit with the help of forceps. c-sec was the next possible option if the forceps didnt work and i dont think i will pray as hard as i did that day when my OB told me that. just like you, i could not fathom going through a C.
    take care…as ana said, please dont be hard on yourself- its all about the little one going forward-enjoy her and i am sure you will be the best mom you can be!

  5. November 17, 2009 9:28 am

    OMG. All the questions that I wanted to ask, the answers I wanted. Hugs. Will you ever forgive me for just not coming out of my corner?

  6. November 18, 2009 2:18 pm

    Been there and I’ll tell you this: it’ll stop mattering so much. When your daughter sits up and crawls and runs, the pain of it will fade, I promise you.

    Or, of course you can do it a second time. My friend Mona just had a VBAC so I’m finally convinced those things work! 🙂

  7. babiesanon permalink
    November 19, 2009 10:29 am

    I hear you sister – and it happened to me twice. Second time it did’nt matter so much. Enjoy your baby girl and hear this – you’re not a failure !

  8. girlonthebridge permalink*
    November 21, 2009 8:35 pm

    Sukanya, Anamika – thanks for the wishes! Am glad to see you were hanging around and didn’t give up on this space.

    NM: forgiven although I didn’t doubt for a second that you were watching the space or thinking of me.

    CA: Thanks for the wishes and sorry about your experience. i can relate, enough said 😦

    Sue, Poppy – welcome 🙂 Does it get better because of time or because of the baby? For me, I don’t feel the birth experience and the baby are mutually exclusive i.e. healthy baby doesn’t make up for a c-sec. Of course I am grateful for her but in my mind I don’t know for sure that she was in danger or the c-sec was absolutely necessary. Which is where the grief comes from.

    Heidi – thanks for stopping by and we need to talk! In retrospect I could have done nothing differently, except for everything! What I mean is I should’ve picked a hospital and doc who were natural birth friendly and gotten myself a doula. None of which I did so I was unprepared (though I thought I was prepared) for any complications. My experience has made me afraid of pregnancy, labor and birth and VBAC doesn’t give me hope, it gives me the shivers!

    • November 21, 2009 9:53 pm

      You are welcome to email me anytime. heidi sylvester 5 @msn .com

      Talking about it helps.

    • November 27, 2009 7:08 pm

      It gets better because of the baby, of course. We all wanted natural births and the damn C sec was pretty traumatic for various reasons but my son is 3 years old now and, seen in perspective, I no longer care how he was born (apart from when my scars itch in the winter). To me it’s sufficient that he is here. Most days I’m too run off my legs to care either way!

    • babiesanon permalink
      November 30, 2009 9:28 am

      To be honest I still haven’t completely gotten over the first birth – if that had been normal, then the second could have been normal too. I can’t read of a normal birth story without a pang.
      But, with time the memories do fade away – yes even when you are as intensely involved with natural birth as you seem to have been.

  9. November 25, 2009 12:22 am

    GoTB, you are not a failure! The mother-to-be is just one factor in an equation with so many variables that we cannot control during labor. I feel sad to read this post only because I see your pain, but thank god for the technology and the C-section and the hospital and the doctor, right? You did everything you could right down to working hard until the very last minute. Hats off to you, lady!


  1. A birth as it should be « Girl on the Bridge
  2. Birth as it is supposed to be « banalities of my life

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