I’m going to attempt to write down my birth experience with August. Not just the BIRTH itself, but all the pieces of the puzzle that led to the birth. This will include the prenatal care I received, my lack of (or what I consider now to be…) knowledge on pregnancy, the type of diet I ate, the feelings I can recall from that time, the actual birth, the postpartum period and the insane amount of things I felt and learned well after August was born. This a post of slight regret, but mostly about growth.
I found out I was pregnant early September of 2010. This was a surprise, but still a pretty great thing to happen. I called the OB I had been to up until that point in my life, scheduled an appointment (because that’s what you do) and just carried on with my life. Other than going to the bookstore to purchase “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” I didn’t really do anything else to prepare myself. The OB confirmed my pregnancy and I was sent home.
I then had to move from Michigan to Kentucky, which obviously required a prenatal care change. Shortly before I moved Josiah sent me and email from a dear friend of his that was a doula, with a list of things like what a pregnant persons diet should look like, some books with valuable information… Being the receptive person I was I think I said something like, “What the hell is a doula and why does this information even matter to me?” I did zero looking into any of that information, and just went to an OB practice that was recommended to me- they delivered at a hospital that had a great NICU.
Josiah and I ended up meeting with the doula, she was kind, warm, an obvious close friend to Josiah-they had the kind of friendship where you could see the history melt out of them when they spoke. I trusted her, 100% already. She reminded me I could interview OB’s- What? I could…interview them, any one I wanted to? Like ask questions the same way I am asked questions when looking for a job? That seemed like a lot of work. I didn’t understand why the OB I had already decided on wasn’t completely suitable, after all-they all have to have some sort of base learning to BE able to offer me care and deliver my child, right?
After meeting up with the doula a couple more times, I had decided that a natural birth made the most sense. Somehow she was able to convince me that going “drug free” actually made the most sense for this situation. I brought this to one of the OB’s attention, let her know my plan of attack…This was to the one OB in the practice that I found I really connected with the most, after a few visits with different ones, this was the one I tried to make my appointments with going forward. She thought the ideas I mentioned were fine and really didn’t have much to say on the topic.
Around 32 weeks one of the docs was doing a cervical check (Side note, I realize my memories could be slightly hazy here… could I really have been receiving a cervical check at 32 weeks? That seems early, to me…Why does this happen so early…?) and she mentioned “I think I’m feeling feet, he should be head down already, lets do an ultra sound to check!” Okay, that seems like a good idea. Yup, confirmed and labeled: Breech Presentation. The first thing she said was, “if he doesn’t turn around then you’ll just get a c-section.” Oh…that seemed to have escalated quickly… Had she not read anything in my “file”? Were my wishes for a natural labor and birth even written in there? Maybe she had read it and didn’t even care, maybe she had read it and thought my wishes didn’t fully matter because she’s the doctor and I’m just a patient. I guess this was the moment I realized I wasn’t really receiving ‘prenatal care’. I was receiving check ups. There was no care being offered to me…And there never was going to be. (Why was there nothing else to DO to help him turn around? Why was major surgery the first and only answer?)
I called my doula practically sobbing and she suggested a website called spinning babies, with lots of suggestions on how to get a baby to flip. She suggested a chiropractor. Along with all her other help…Things I SHOULD be eating, good kinds of simple exercise that would truly prep me for labor…the emotional pieces I was unable to process, she helped fill in the gaps where Josiah couldn’t really help. (Where Josiah didn’t really know HOW to help…) I did some of the websites suggestions, I never called a chiropractor and never really changed my diet whatsoever.
Let me give you a quick run down of the food I ate daily: granola bars, at least one large mcdonalds coke, some form of fast food, crackers, deli-type sandwiches, a frozen lunch, some other meal out at a restaurant…ice cream. We didn’t cook-ever. Granola bars and frozen dinners were my idea of eating well. I’m pointing this out because at no point in my prenatal care did any of the five OB’s I saw question my diet. (And I’d like to remind you the Doula had before I even met her.)
In the 37th week of pregnancy he was still breech and I was offered to have a procedure done called an external version…which is basically where the OB would try to make the baby turn around from the outside with her hands. This could kick start labor, he could spin and we could go home or not work at all. My choice was to have that procedure done (on May 12th, in my 38th week) because it was that or schedule my c-section right then. I figure we should at least give it a try… The 11th was my last day of work, and the morning of the 12th we headed to the hospital (bags packed, incase labor would start). The OB that did the procedure was one I hadn’t met, because I was told “She has the best hands, the best record for flipping babies out of all of us”- that seemed like the best odds! The physical attempt to make him turn around was not, as you may have guessed, comfortable. She tried a few times and he just “would not budge”. That was that. We scheduled a c-section on our way out for five days later, may 17th, on a Tuesday afternoon.
I knew I felt slightly defeated, but had completely accepted what was to come. I knew I wasn’t happy with the decision, I knew I felt uncomfortable and so incredibly nervous… but soon my baby would be here- and it was nice to know exactly when.
The day of the 17th we arrived (early) at the hospital and just waited for a while. I remember thinking “this is the last time I’ll have to wear these maternity clothes!”
I remember checking into whatever the next step of the hospital game is, where we wait some more- but this time I’m in a gown that actually makes me feel like a whale. A nurse comes in and has me sign a bunch of paper work, talks us up a bit…we wait more. She comes back and informs me she has to shave me, which makes sense- I just wish ANYONE had informed me of this. I wouldn’t have cared to take care of that business myself, instead of a stranger with a 10 cent bic. We wait more. We are informed there is an emergency CS that needs to roll in before I do, she’s sitting across the waiting area from us…Not sure why the whole thing didn’t look more emergent. (It doesn’t matter…It’s just one more thing that made this hospital experience weird and not very warm.)
I eventually get rolled away without Josiah, which was heartbreaking. I’m not sure if knowing that he wouldn’t be with me initially would have helped, or if this was like a rip the bandaid situation and that’s for the best- but this was really, really hard.
The OR was white and bright. I had a cd to listen to, so I gave it to the nurse. She put it in the cd player and it started playing right away. This helped slightly. (This mix wasn’t full of enya and breath deep music…It was music that made me happy and was somewhat calm- There wasn’t any led zeppelin on this mix.)
I then needed to get the epidural/spinal, turns out I was more nervous for this than I knew, so the nurse ended up holding me very tight in what was basically a bear hug, while the whole thing was put in. I couldn’t feel the bottom half of body anymore- Okay.
This was strange… I think this when I started uncontrollably sobbing. Luckily this is the same time Josiah was allowed to enter the room. I felt bad for him… I knew he wanted to be helpful but had know idea how to be, and I had no idea how to feel better. Our baby would be here soon… Our baby would be here soon.
The OB that performed the surgery was the same one that couldn’t get our kiddo to turn around, so I had seen her once before today. I really start to lose the order of events here, and I don’t remember much. There are a few things I can recall after Josiah later on reminded me: I remember feeling absolutely freezing, the anesthesiologist asked if I planned on breastfeeding, “yes” and he commented that the babies first meal would be a milk shake. I remember feeling REALLY ITCHY. August was born at some point throughout all of this, at 4:50pm (song sung blue by neil diamond was playing) and he was adorable and tiny and screaming.
I very clearly remember Josiah and I looking at each other and him being SO TORN on where to be, the obvious choice was to be with August, “Go!” I demanded.
I don’t remember how anything else played out here… We have a picture of all three of us, Josiah holding August, I must have still been being put back together.
We ended up back in the waiting room- purgatory of hospitals? I don’t know what this was..a recovery room? I talked to my dad briefly on the phone (bad idea) and I think my mother in law and doula came in to see us. I think I breast fed for the first time here, I remember that being pretty strange, but impressive.
At some point we were wheeled up to our room for the next three days. Josiah informed me later that I was the one carrying August? I don’t remember this AT ALL-which makes me think I shouldn’t have been holding him…
That night was blurry in some ways but so clear in other ways. He was here, he was adorable, he nursed like a champ, he smelled AMAZING. I was awake most of the night holding him. (Also watching all HGTV…) Constantly being reminded by the constant nurse visits where his bed was if I was tired.
Lets fast forward, (because the hospital stay was not very comfortable- and other than the actual pleasantness of the nurses- it was a hell hole…I hurt, I was uncomfortable, I couldn’t go to the bathroom properly- it was not ideal.)
The post postpartum period was lazy. We didn’t do much of anything at all, I couldn’t do much of anything. I think I stayed in bed for almost 4 weeks before really moving around the house. It wasn’t until this time, and a little further down the road too, that all the red flags of my prenatal care started really waving in my head.
I have A LOT of questions, but none of them really matter anymore. It is what it is. Just because it is was it is does not mean it needs to happen again, it does not mean it should be common practice to barely receive prenatal care. Actual CARE. To have someone that ACTUALLY CARES WHAT happens to you as a patient, a pregnant person with another human inside of you- Yes, you care what happens to that tiny human, and yes you’d basically do whatever you’re told to make sure THAT tiny human is safe. Every pregnant person is still a person with a brain that is most likely capable of making decisions of their own…So why are we just pushed through the broken system like that care is even an acceptable standard? Why was I told I was “doing great, and you look good!” when I obviously hadn’t prepared properly, had no idea how imperative it was to REALLY prepare yourself?
Remember the slight regret I mentioned? I am thrilled I have a child here, period. He really is happy and healthy- and he always has been…The regret comes because I wish I knew what I am slightly aware of now. I wish at any point I told myself “your body is MEANT TO BIRTH” “your body IS NOT BROKEN”. The thing is, I do know now. I am capable of telling myself those things daily. I learned a lot, Josiah learned a lot, I think there’s something to be said about that. I do not want to say “everything happens for a reason” because I was in control of my body, the care I received and I did not own the situation like I could have. Nine months is not a long time, read everything, watch anything (besides tv and any hollywood movies) and talk to people that are truly capable of caring for a pregnant woman, not just the surgeon.
If I had to say the things I would do differently, the actions that were totally attainable at the time…I can’t imaging changing my diet would have been something I could have done quickly. I do think about if I had just interviewed, and most likely switched care providers at all, what would have happened. Our doula could only convince me so much- it’s not a doulas job to change my mind and make me do something, she offered me all the information she could. A care provider is someone YOU hire, someone you pay for to offer you the care you deserve while pregnant. Our doula, in the nicest way, really warned us about all the things that would likely happen with the practice I stayed in and we just didn’t listen hard enough. Or maybe our instincts were so skewed because of what WE THINK pregnancy labor and delivery should look like, that we just didn’t think what I was experiencing was really that wrong.
It seemed nearly impossible at the time to seek out all the information I would have had to figure out everything on my own, I only had one person in my corner…All it took for me was ONE person to help guide me down a path to prenatal CARE (eventually)… I look back and attempt not to dwell on ALL THE WHAT IFS, but it is hard… Yes, my baby is here and he’s healthy- but NO, that IS NOT all that matters. BIRTH MATTERS, it will always matter. It needs to be treated like more people actually care and it actually matters.