Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Almost 4 years later...

Because I need to write my birth story, it's going to be hard to write without talking about my daughter's birth.  Her birth (and I did not give birth to her, she was extracted from my body) changed me forever.  Here is how I recall it....

As with any VBAC birth story, this birth was ONLY the way it was because of my first "birth" story.  Since I'm not really sure I've ever written my first birth story, I'll share the short version of it.  I was induced at 39 weeks & 4 days with pre-eclampsia.  My blood pressure had been creeping up.  The weekend before my induction, I had a really bad headache.  I knew the time was coming.  I must also say during my pregnancy I was very unhealthy.  I had a very stressful job (I was a manager of a busy busy nursing unit).  I worked long hours.  I took little time for myself.  I ate what I wanted, when I wanted.  My doctor did discuss my diet with me, but I thought it was because she was concerned about my weight.  I thought she wanted me to limit my weight gain.  So, I really ignored her advice (eat a high protein diet, nothing to drink except black coffee, unsweetened tea, milk, or water).  I didn't exercise, except for the few prenatal yoga classes I took starting at about 32 weeks.  According to my Bishop's score (I was 4 cm, 90% effaced, and minus 1 station), I had a favorable cervix.  I should have had a "successful" induction.  After discussing the plan with my doctor, we would use cytotec to induce.  I know, I know.  However, this was 4 years ago.  The plan was for me to have 1 or 2 doses of cytotec and then labor on my own.  Our plan was to not have to start pitocin.  After my appointment, with my headache, high blood pressure, and protein in my urine, we were sent home to get our things.  My husband & I went to eat some lunch then headed to the hospital.  My mom was there before we were.  We were all very excited!

At about 1:30pm, the first dose of cytotec was placed.  I started contracting about every 5 minutes.  My contractions were not painful at all.  My doctor (and I) decided to break my water.  Almost immediately the contractions became unbearable.  Unfortunately, at the same time, I was placed on magnesium sulfate for my pre-eclampsia.  I was stuck in bed.  This was not in my plan.  However, I moved a lot.  I was constantly rolling from side-to-side.  And, my cervix was changing.  Then, the pain became unbearable.  I first had a dose of Nubain.  After about 3 hours, I was begging for my epidural.  I think I was about 7 cm dilated and it was about 11 pm.  The epidural was instant relief.  My family & my husband's family came in to visit (they had been there the entire time).  We really thought I'd have a baby soon.

But, with the epidural my movement stopped.  When my movement stopped, my contractions stopped.  My cervix stopped changing.  At some point in the night, pitocin was started.  Eventually, I was completely dilated, but with no urge to push.  I think this was around 8 am.  But, I pushed.  I pushed in hands & knees, using the squatting bar, and on my back.  I pushed with all my might.  I pushed for 2 and a half hours.  I did not move my daughter at all after 2 and a half hours.  I was exhausted.  I begged for a vacuum (she was too high...never got past 0 station).  Finally, my doctor said it was up to me, but she didn't think I'd move her any more.  She said I could go ahead & push for another hour or so, but I probably wouldn't get her any lower than where she was.  At this point, I decided a c-section was what would be best.  But, before we went to the OR, my doctor told me I would VBAC with my next baby.  I didn't believe her.  I didn't believe there would EVER be another baby.

My c-section was awful.  While I did not feel pain, I had post-partum hemorrhage.  I lost a lot of blood.  That's what happens when you have magnesium, an epidural, pitocin, and you've pushed for 2.5 hours.  Throughout my post-partum stay (over the next four days), I would receive Hespan (a starch that is supposed to thicken your blood...I think) and 4 units of blood.  My hematocrit and hemoglobin dropped to dangerously low levels.  It took me 48 hours to even get out of bed.  I could not care for my daughter. I could not breastfeed.  I couldn't use the bathroom by myself.  I needed so much help.

As my doctor was discharging me, she told me again that I would VBAC with my next baby.  Yeah, right.  There won't be a next baby, is all I could think.  She told me used 2 layers of sutures, just because she knew I'd want to VBAC.

I went home feeling awful.  We had such a hard time caring for our precious daughter.  I was having a horrible time breastfeeding (never really got that under control until she was about 2 months old).  Then, I got depressed, really depressed.  Not so much as in how some people have depression, but I was depressed about my birth.  I knew very soon that I was not happy with my birth experience.  I felt like I missed out on something, something very important, something very valuable.

At this point, I started searching for a c-section support group.  I googled "c-section support group" and that's how I found ICAN.  Of course, there wasn't an ICAN chapter nearby, but I found support immediately.  This was a group of women who completely understood how I felt.  They got it.  I loved my daughter with all my heart and soul (although bonding was difficult), but I did not love the way she was brought into this world.  I think it's very similar to having a horrible wedding day, but still loving your spouse.  Just because the day doesn't go as planned, doesn't mean you don't love the outcome.

Slowly, I realized I would VBAC my next baby.  Then, I started an ICAN chapter in my area.  I became educated and empowered.  I learned more about birth, c-sections, and VBAC during the next few years than some learn in their whole life.  I was dedicated to having better birth outcomes.

I still do not feel completely healed from my c-section.  I am sad beyond belief that I missed out on such an important time in my daughter's life.  I am sad that I was not the relaxed parent that I am now.  I really feel like I missed out on so much just because of my c-section.