Zen’s birth story is not as dramatic as Shammy’s but it’s still special so I want to document it.
The c-section was scheduled for Tuesday July 17th. I was hoping to go into labor on my own before then but aside from some false alarms I walked into the hospital at 6am with no contractions. While in the process of getting prepped for surgery the contractions started to come to the point of the doctor seeing them on the monitor when he walked in to say hi and said “we won’t let those go on much longer”. By the time I was being prepped for anesthesia I was entering active labor with contractions 90 seconds apart that forced the anesthesiologist to work around them.
The anesthesiologist had trouble getting the spinal block in place because my belly was in the way of me leaning forward enough to allow my back to stick out so instead I had to endure through contractions AND the anesthesiologist moving the needle around my back, sometimes the needle would leave the numbed area while trying to find the space to inject which was very painful, it felt like an eternity before they finally found the spot and things started to move again. Ahh, the relief…
While we waited for them to bring my husband in I started to feel dizzy and about to pass out, it turns out that my blood pressure was dropping very fast. They injected something in my IV to bring it back up but I could see the worry in the anesthesiologists eyes as it wasn’t working fast enough and I feared that they would just knock me out completely and hubby wouldn’t be able to be there. Thankfully my blood pressure started to recover at the last minute and they were able to proceed.
This experience was vastly different than my first c-section. The first time it was an emergency and everything moved super fast. This time nobody was rushing and it felt like it took a very long time. I noticed that last time they were in such a rush to get baby out that they started before the anesthesia had fully taken effect. This time I was nice and numb and barely felt a thing. Because it was taking so long it was too easy for my mind to run away in anxiety so I forced my husband to talk to me and distract me during the whole time so when Baby Zen was being pulled out we were talking about what Shammy was probably having for breakfast with grandma. This meant that I didn’t get to listen to the Dr’s conversation which may have been a good thing as with Shammy I had the pleasure of listening to the Dr curse in Spanish because he didn’t know I spoke the language.
The doctor was not used to having to announce the gender and forgot so the nurse had to remember that we were waiting to find out if it was a boy or a girl. I was surprised that they didn’t let my husband cut the cord like last time or be there while they wiped and wrapped the baby, we both got to meet him at the same time. He looked so much like his brother!
In hindsight, it’s a good thing that I followed my gut and didn’t ask them to delay cord clamping. It turns out that Zen has his father’s blood type which is incompatible with mine and delaying on the cord would have allowed our bloods to mix more which would have not been good, more on that in a future post.
Daddy and baby went off to the nursery for weighing and other basics while I was being closed up. During that time the anesthesiologist says “listen! they’re playing that for your baby” as I heard the lullaby playing in the background which can be heard throughout most of the hospital every time a baby is born ::waterworks::.
Once again the closing part felt like it took forever and it turns out that it did because I had a lot of scar tissue from my first c-section and massive blood loss. I also learned that the doctor made a huge mess and the OR looked like a crime scene with a huge pool of blood on the floor, I’m sure that the custodial staff was thrilled, just a funny detail to tell Zen a few years from now.
This time I made it back to the recovery room before daddy and baby but the nurses were nice enough to keep me informed on the delay. My placenta made it to the room before they did. Yes, I was able to get my placenta! The OB had made it seem like mission impossible when I asked prenatally and I had braced myself for a war over it but it was as simple as telling the admitting nurse that I wanted to take it and signing a form, no resistance.
Since I had some “spare” time I got to update my Facebook status announcing the birth before daddy did, straight out of surgery. A few minutes later Zen and daddy arrived and I got to enjoy much relaxing skin to skin time with my new son.
I didn’t think that I would be blogging again before baby but here I am sitting a day before my scheduled c-section and have a lot in my mind.
I hang around the crunchy mama community in my area, it’s just my type of people because we have so much in common, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, baby wearing, etc. It’s not surprising that the bulk of them are homebirthers as well. Now that word has been spreading about my birth plans, I have been feeling a lot of judgment over the fact that I’m having a scheduled c-section. I can see it being hard to understand why someone as crunchy as me would be planning something like this, if I was an outsider I would be shocked too. A lot of the judgment has been indirect, nothing being said to my face but getting the look and tone that I know all too well and the things that I hear from 3rd parties confirm that it’s there.
I don’t really blame them for judging as I understand where they are coming from, the sad thing about it is that I guess I feel misunderstood because the vast majority of them don’t know WHY I’m stuck with a scheduled c-section. Anybody that has been reading this blog since my first pregnancy knows how I feel about convenience c-sections with no medical reason but not everybody has read my blog, specially going that far back in time.
Most of them don’t know the circumstances that led to my first c-section as I don’t feel like constantly telling that story. Most of them don’t understand why a homebirth VBAC is not a viable option for us, specially with the providers in this area. None of them know that an unassisted birth is not a viable option in my case. Almost none of them know that the scar tissue in my cervix greatly reduces my odds of a successful VBAC making the effort of driving 1+ hour south or North to a hospital and doctor that would let me have a “trial of labor” is almost not worth the hassle and extra expense.
They also don’t understand that since my odds of having a successful VBAC are less than 50% I would also be setting myself up for a worse round of PPD/PTSD if I ended up with a repeat emergency section.
I did my research, I learned the risks. It was a very hard decision early in my pregnancy, I started planning a VBAC but the more I researched the available options the more I got discouraged. I know many people that have had successful VBACs, some as recently as a few weeks ago but they don’t have the same risk factors that I do.
I admit that I’m scared but I would be even more scared of attempting a vaginal birth. The fact that a Facebook friend recently attempted a VBAC at a hospital and her uterus ruptured thus depriving her baby of oxygen in the couple of minutes it took the doctor to perform the c-section and now she is burying her baby this week, it just breaks my heart and messes with my mind. I know that the odds of that happening to me are very slim but they’re still there and her experience is too recent in my memory so it would sabotage me mentally.
I don’t expect everyone to understand, but since most people will just jump to conclusions without giving me a chance to explain why I had to get this out of my chest.
If all goes well by this time tomorrow I’ll be holding my new baby. I’m ready but I’m also anxious and excited, no need to ask me if I am. I am also nervous but that’s normal. I probably won’t sleep tonight.
… Apparently the giant contraction from hell took even more out of him than it did of me. That’s when I noticed that the midwife got all serious and down to business and next thing I knew I was being setup in the couch and being told “your baby needs to be born right now!” and being told to push.
The challenge with pushing is that they tell you to make it as if you’re having a bowel movement, but my problem is that for many years I had made a habit of not pushing that way so I had no idea how to go about it as I had been counting on getting the natural urge to push but baby was still too high up for that to kick in.
I knew that things were getting tense as Sandra was on the phone with 911 while I was trying to figure out how the hell I push down into my perineum instead of my stomach. I had no trouble breathing but I did feel compelled to say “I think I need oxygen” and it was already on it’s way to me. I knew that the oxygen was for baby and not for me and that things would start to stabilize after that.
After a few minutes in come bursting in a crew of EMT’s as I’m completely naked and spread and in mid-push, I had no sense of modesty and I didn’t care. I was just glad for someone to take over as I didn’t care for the midwife getting on top of my belly and pushing down.
I’m quickly loaded up into a stretcher and hooked up to all sorts of stuff and taken out into the ambulance, it was a surreal experience, almost like something out of a TV drama scene but I felt more calm than I had been for a while, I wasn’t worried and knew that baby would be safe.
The midwife was riding with me in the back and my husband was forced to ride in front of the ambulance. That part sucked as this man had been sticking by me for so long and here we are in the middle of a tense moment and he is pushed into the background. I was too busy to really miss him but I sure would have preferred his close presence.
Riding in an ambulance strapped on your back while having contractions was something I didn’t want for that is a horrible position to manage the pain in, add to that the fact that it was a bumpy ride to the hospital and the trip felt like it took an hour even though I knew that it was only a few minutes since they had the sirens on and didn’t stop at any traffic lights.
We made it into the hospital where I’m wheeled straight up to L & D and hooked up to monitors, a doctor comes in and hooks up an internal monitor so I can now hear what baby’s heartbeat is up to. They have me in there ready to push for a while and in the meantime I notice that his heartbeat is perfect until I get a contraction and drops even further if I push during that contraction. I’m sitting here wondering why nobody else is noticing that pattern and it makes me not want to put as much effort into pushing.
As it is I wasn’t feeling the pushing to be that effective even though I could feel the baby’s head at the top of the canal it wasn’t low enough and the position of his head was not going to make matters easier for a decent specially from the position that they forced me to be in. I was not allowed to sit up or move because of the monitors so baby would have to work against gravity and there was no time for that.
I decided to follow my instinct and not push during contractions, when they saw a contraction in the monitor and told me to push I faked it.
My contractions had been spreading out so there were less opportunities to push and I just wanted to either be allowed to sit up to have gravity help baby along or stop wasting time. The next time I had to push the doctor was there to witness the decelerations in the baby’s heartbeat and I saw by the look in his face that I was right to not feel like pushing. That is when he stopped everything and immediately confirmed what I already knew and explained that an emergency c-section would be best since my water had been broken for so long and therefore we were running against the clock and couldn’t wait for baby to drop on his own. At this point I must add that the midwife told the hospital that my water had broken at 4:30pm the previous day instead of the actual 9am, this is another thing that she had asked us to “back her up” on.
At this point I knew that it was coming and had time to prepare myself for it so I didn’t experience the trauma that I would have otherwise expected, by the time it was said I had already come to peace with it and my mothering instinct had already told me what to do.
After that it didn’t take very long to get prepared and transported to the operating room, my biggest anxiety was about the anesthesia and not the surgery itself. It must be the part about holding still while a giant needle went into my spine and being afraid that a contraction would hit and make me move, I had a very good supportive nurse that got me through the process quickly.
Daddy Fox was brought in and sat by my head after I was numbed and strapped and the doctor wasted no time going in, within seconds I heard a delightful cry of an angel and I hear my husband saying “he’s out!” (we still didn’t know the gender at that point). We then asked through the curtain “what is it?”. When we heard “it’s a boy!” THAT’s when I really started crying and I looked at my husband and said “we got our Shammy!”
We had been calling this baby Shammy all throughout pregnancy and even though we never had any ultrasounds to check the gender we always used “he/him” when talking about the baby so I wasn’t surprised to hear that it’s a boy.
Within seconds they took daddy away from me to be with baby and daddy got to talk to him and touch him while they did their usual newborn stuff (wipe, weigh, measure, prick, etc). I am glad that at least daddy still got to cut the cord. After what felt like an eternity they brought me a bundled angel to meet and touch and I was instantly in love.
Baby and daddy were ready to go to the room but I wasn’t so I had to lie and wait while they went off to show Shammy more of this new world he had just come out to. Annoyingly I had to sit in the OR longer than I wanted because the doctor dropped the needle driver on the floor and they had to wait for a new one to be delivered which took way too long when all you want to do is hold your baby.
I first found out about this when the surgeon starts cussing in Spanish because he didn’t know that I was understanding every word. So I got to lay there open for what felt like an eternity while my baby was being wheeled away, at least I got the consolation that he was with daddy and even though I lost a decent amount of blood they were eventually able to close me up and I joined Shammy about 30 mins later.
I was still under anesthesia and my body temperature had dropped below normal so instead of being able to have baby skin to skin with me they had to pile me up with special warming blankets and I got to watch my baby squirm around in the warmer next to me. I was sad that they wouldn’t put him on my chest under the blankets so that we would both be warm.
After a while I was able to finally hold him despite still being mostly paralyzed in bed but he wasn’t interested in breastfeeding right away as he was too overstimulated from all of the recent action.
A few hours later when he was more relaxed I offered my breast and he latched on like a pro that had been doing it all his life. I immediately understood what all of the breastfeeding mothers had said about the hormonal feeling that you get and I must agree with them. It was quite the amazing natural high that is repeated at every session.
A lot of people suddenly feel sorry for me because my birth didn’t go according to plan and I got my “biggest fear”come true, do not despair. I do not feel cheated, disempowered or let down by my experience because I know that I did everything in my power to avoid it and the gods simply had other plans. Even in my moments of greatest tension my logical brain never failed me and when it came down to the wire my logical side and mother’s instinct were in agreement as to what was best given the circumstances.
This experience is what I CHOOSE to make of it and I choose to cherish the lessons and joy of the journey than get hung up on little details over something that I knew from the beginning would not be under my control.
I am still glad for the 28 hours of labor that allowed me to experience the process as it should be, to connect to that primal side of myself (even though that side did step out on break several times throughout) and most of all knowing that the hormones that baby and I enjoyed during that time of natural labor served to pave the way to prepare us for the birth experience in a way that no hospital could have duplicated.
I am blessed to have the birth support team that I had as they were truly invaluable to my experience. My husband’s love and dedication was present constantly from the beginning and he rarely left my side. Our doula was amazing and I wouldn’t have been able to get through the final contractions before transition without the constant coaching of our midwife, I do feel betrayed by our midwife due to her illegal actions that were dangerous and the fact that after she left the hospital shortly after Shammy was born she disappeared on us and didn’t visit or call until sending an e-mail days later.
I honestly don’t feel like a failure, because I let go all my attachment to it being about ME when I found out I was pregnant. This was a journey of trust, surrender and humility and when I got to see me my baby for the first time I couldn’t have cared less about how he got here as all I cared about was that he was finally here.
So don’t worry about me, just worry about the moms that feel that have no choice or make the choice that is not right for them.
Coming soon (sometime), the post-partum recovery report…
I woke up on Thursday morning at 41 weeks feeling normal and pregnant but somehow knowing that today was going to be an action packed day. After being up for a while I went to lie down for a little bit of rest while my husband cooked us breakfast (foxwiches) and decided to have a conversation with Baby Fox about when and how he (I always called him a “he” even before the gender was announced at birth) wanted to be born.
We were communicating about how he didn’t want to be induced at the hospital with Pitocin and that it would be best if he gave my body a signal to get started on its own sometime over the next week. Less than a minute later while still lying down I felt an odd cramp and I thought “this feels productive” then I felt and heard a small pop and even though my bladder felt fine I felt the urge to get up and hurry to the bathroom, as soon as I waddled across and cleared the carpeted area and entered the bathroom tile I feel this gush and trickle coming down my legs.
My first instinct was “oh great, I peed myself” but I didn’t feel like my bladder was releasing so I did a kegel squeeze and noticed that it did nothing to stop or slow down the flow and that the liquid was completely clear, I went to the bathroom and was able to compare the difference and knew without doubt that no, I hadn’t peed myself and that I would be meeting my baby soon. It was 9am.
I waddled to the kitchen and informed my husband that he shouldn’t plan on work and proceeded to call the midwife for a heads up.
Labor started very gradually over the next couple of hours, first with some mild/ non-painful contractions that most of the time I wouldn’t notice except that they would squeeze out more amniotic fluid and that would let me know that my belly was tight. It was a funny and frustrating thing because I was leaking EVERYWHERE and had to be careful not to slip on my own pools of amniotic fluid.
While I was in the nursery getting something to show Daddy Fox I got my first strong contraction that made me gush so much liquid that I just stood there laughing watching it stream down my legs and make a pool at my feet, there was no point in trying to contain it with pads, it would soak right through.
The midwife came by in the early afternoon to check on things and make sure that baby’s heartbeat was fine. By then I was having painful contractions but they were still in the early labor stage, manageable and with a decent break in between. She left to take care of business while waiting for my call to let her know that things had picked up, I really didn’t think that we would call her until that evening but my body had other plans…
Within minutes of her leaving contractions intensified and were becoming more painful and closer together, after almost an hour of contractions being 3-4 minutes apart and 1-1.5 minutes long I asked hubby to give our doula a call and to notify our midwife soon after. I remember being told that she texted saying to get the tub filled, I remember thinking “isn’t it early for that?” but then I had to go inside myself to manage the contractions and the surroundings would blur regularly.
After this stage things become hazy and blurry for me, I know that the midwife arrived at some point but by the time I noticed she was busy setting up and her assistant had arrived without me noticing.
I had entered the first stage of active labor and things were picking up in intensity, I was very proud of myself at how good I was handling things until then, I would go inward at every contractions and vocalize, sometimes almost chant to get through them, it was tiring but very doable provided that I took it a contraction at a time and didn’t think about how much I may have left.
After a while the pain was taking its toll and I asked if it would be a good time to go in the pool, the midwife agreed as long as it didn’t slow things down by spacing contractions out. I got in and it was a GREAT help, the warmth was so relaxing that it allowed my body to tense less during contractions which made for one less thing to focus on doing during a contraction. The only gripe was that the water level was not high enough to fully cover my belly and it felt like torture to go through a contraction without having someone pouring warm water over the belly during it.
As the day turned into night I lost more and more connection to the outside world and would go into “labor land” in between contractions thanks to the complex mix of hormones swirling through my body.
It was difficult to stay nourished and hydrated as I threw up fairly regularly as a result of some of the stronger contractions. Sometime late at night things were getting so intense that my focus was starting to falter and it was getting harder to get through the contractions, I was getting tired and only having a 2 minute break in between to try to nap quickly and recharge. But things had started to slow down as well so at the suggestion of the midwife we tried a couple of approaches such as nipple stimulation and acupressure while in the shower to get the contractions to pick up pace again. Sometime around 1am the midwife gave me a tincture of some herbs to pick things up.
After being in the shower for what felt like an eternity not much was happening but the water felt delicious during contractions. At some point I noticed an emotional shift where for the first time in the whole process I started to doubt myself and cry in frustration of being so tired, it was hard to open up and be vulnerable about my feelings when having an audience but I credit the fact that I trusted them all so much to be part of this process with me that I could do so.
I was displaying the signs of entering transition yet my body was stalling, I had made it to 7 centimeters but was still working on bringing the baby down to have his head pressure on the cervix to move things along. Sometime in the wee hours I had lost enough of my grip that I decided to call Eileen, the EFT practitioner that I had worked with my during pregnancy. I felt bad calling her at 4am or whatever time it is that I dialed her but I needed to refocus quickly as I was starting to have a mini panic attack during the stronger contractions as they were coming in double waves with the second peak being way stronger than the first one and I could no longer breathe properly through them.
I worked with Eileen on the phone crying about how I felt stuck and that there was something holding my body back, we talked for a while with me having to put down the phone every time that I had a contraction, it was helpful at first but at one point I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t focus on listening to her, tapping and dealing with what was going on at the time so I just hung up.
After another period of blurriness, Sandra (midwife’s assistant) put on her drill sergeant hat and coached me out of my shell of despair into doing some uncomfortable techniques to bring baby down. So here I am less than an hour before sunrise naked in our backyard with me walking like a sumo wrestler and stomping on the grass to have the rocking and moving help baby move lower.
By sunrise the next day I was back in the tub and gradually able to take emotional control of the situation, it still wasn’t easy but I was freaking out less, the exhaustion was the biggest thing taking its toll since I was having such a near impossible time eating and sleeping. At least baby was making his way down….
By then the back labor was my biggest challenge, I would yell for someone to put pressure on my back during a contraction as I didn’t know how in the world I could get through it otherwise. The sunrise turned into full fledged morning and I was starting to crumble again, one expects the emotional signs of transition (seriously enjoying the idea of a hospital) with your body doing the last bit of opening needed but my body was not communicating with my emotions and hormones. I had been stuck at 7 centimeters for hours which was discouraging but being able to feel with my baby’s hair with my own fingers gave me the motivation to give it another 1 1/2 hours before I cried for help again.
My husband took a short nap since things had been going on for so long, I tried to let him as long as I could until I just had to ask for him.
After that hour and a half, my water had been broken for more than 24 hours and I was exhausted. The midwife was getting worried and impatient and after talking on the phone with two other midwives she approached me and my husband with a proposal. She said that the other midwives had used this trick with success and it was to inject a small amount of Pitocin to get things kickstarted again and finish dilating. It would be 1/10 of the dose normally given at the hospital, she said that we would have to “back her up”. We knew that this was illegal and she wasn’t allowed to use Pitocin in this way but we were also exhausted and trusted her judgement so we let her do it.
Shortly after getting out of the pool she gave me the shot and I labored in the birthing stool for a couple of contractions when I suddenly felt this wave of helplessness come over me, I felt sick and I declared that I HAD to go to the bathroom NOW! As I stood up to try to walk I was suddenly hit with a contraction that immediately peaked without warning and when that peak faded, another one came, and then another one, and then another one and… it felt like it went on for an eternity as if my body got stuck in that loop like a broken record of peaks with no break in between. The pain was so unbearable that it took 2 people to hold me up as I just couldn’t move and would have ended up on the floor otherwise.
I counted 7 peaks on what will forever be known as the giant contraction from hell, I don’t know how long it took for it to be complete as it was an eternity to me but when I was done I had dilated from 7 to 10 centimeters in that one giant contraction.
That is when everything changed, baby Fox’s heartbeat had been monitored regularly throughout the whole labor, including during contractions and he was making it all look like a walk in the park, labor was not affecting him at all… until now.