The Catalyst

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I love my son more than I could ever imagine.  I loved him from the moment I knew he was in my belly and I love him more each day.  I do not love his birth story.  But it is mine.  It has shaped me from that day, in ways I could not have foreseen.

 

Birth Story- Andreas

I was married for 3 short months before becoming pregnant.  I was working long hours at a stressful job. I wished that I had more time for rest, exercise and preparing healthier foods. However, I thoroughly enjoyed my pregnancy experience, and was grateful I was able to forego some of the more negative symptoms that many women have.

I knew that I wanted a midwife from the start, and I knew I wanted a natural, unmedicated birth.   I saw a wonderful CNM whom I was very happy to have as my care provider.  However, I did not know much about the politics of things, as far as CNMs working at practices with OB/GYNs.

We discovered baby was in breech position at about 36 weeks, whereupon the OBs in the office immediately began suggesting I schedule my C-section.

I knew that babies could turn at any time during pregnancy, and even into labor.  I fully intended to give my baby every opportunity to turn, as well as gain all of the many benefits to me and baby by naturally going into labor.

I did everything my midwife suggested.  Everything I read online.  I saw a chiropractor every other day.  I took a homeopathic remedy.  I did moxibustion.  I crawled around on my hands and knees and did cat/cow positions.  I lay on my back with the lower half of my body elevated on an ironing board.  I played music and positioned the ear buds where I wanted baby’s head to go.  I talked to baby.  I visualized him turning.  I put frozen peas where his head was.  I put a flashlight where I wanted his head to go.  I went to the pool and did handstands in the water.  I prayed.

It was 5 days past my estimated due date when, at an appointment with my midwife, one of the OBs came and told me that I was showing signs of pre-eclampsia and for the safety of me and my baby, we needed to have a C-section.   Tonight.  Tomorrow at the very latest.

My baby’s in danger?  Let’s do it tonight.  My baby’s safety comes first.  It was scheduled.  9 pm.

My husband and I went to lunch.  I was devastated at my dreams of my natural birth being dashed, but I tried to focus on the fact that I was doing what I needed to in order to protect my baby, and also focus on the excitement of being able to meet my baby and hold him in my arms that very night!

I had barely slept the night before.  Sleeping is pretty scarce toward the end of a pregnancy.  My husband and I drove the 45 minutes home to try to get a nap, but I didn’t get much rest.  I enjoyed the drive.  It was a rare cloudy and rainy day in Arizona.  My favorite kind of weather.

James and I arrived at the hospital and were shown to my room.   It wasn’t long before nurses were coming to prepare everything.  I was told that I was going to be given an IV and starting on some numbing medications, to prepare for the spinal block.  I was also told I was going to be given a catheter.  Shortly thereafter a nurse came to give me the catheter.  Before my IV was given.  I said that I wanted my IV first so I didn’t have to feel the catheter being put in.  She seemed a little annoyed but said that we could do that.  I was shocked:  How is this not just standard procedure?

It was time to go into the OR, to get my spinal block.  They told us James could not go in for that.  He needed to stay out and get his scrubs on and wait until they were ready for the C-section.  I was terrified.  I entered the large, cold and metallic OR with its lights and surgical equipment.  I wanted my husband with me and I felt so very alone that I cried, hunched over as the needle was inserted into my spine.

When it was time, I laid on the operating table, my husband at my side.  I was paralyzed from the waist down.  I felt helpless.  Scared.  All I physically felt was pulling and tugging, tugging and pulling.  The baby was out.  I couldn’t see him.  They took him to the other side of the room, where they did their APGAR tests and cleaned him up a bit and wrapped him in a blanket.  After a few minutes he was brought to the head of the operating table, wrapped up so I was unable to see his perfect little body.  I longed to hold my sweet baby but was unable.  They took him away and, as our previous agreement, my husband followed, never to let the baby out of his sight.  I was alone again.  I was freezing.  The kind anesthesiologist got me a warm blanket and stayed by my side.  I was greatly appreciative of the OB for taking the time to carefully give me double sutures, so as to allow me to heal as best as possible and ensure a safer VBAC in the future, but the minutes seemed a lifetime when I just wanted my baby.

45 minutes later I was holding my 8 lb. 14 oz. son in my arms.

At expressing my sorrows over the loss of my dreams for the birth of my child, I was met with comments from others that “all that really matters is that the baby is healthy.”  I felt silenced and shamed in my grief.  I was grateful for my healthy boy, but was it selfish to feel saddened by what I lost?

Months later, I could no longer ignore the gnawing feeling that everything wasn’t as it had seemed, and I requested my medical records from the hospital.  What I read confirmed my fears.  Reason for C-section:  breech presentation, suspected macrosomia (large baby) for elective C-section.

That word- elective- cuts me to the core.

I was lied to.  I was lied to in order for me to consent to a procedure that I would not otherwise have consented to.  I was assaulted.  I was robbed of going into labor naturally and reaping all of those benefits for me and my son.  I was robbed at my chance at the natural, vaginal birth I so wanted.  I was treated as an object.  I was treated as though my wants and desires for myself and my baby had no importance.  I was treated as though my motherhood meant nothing.  I was forever scarred, physically and emotionally.

 

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It is time we— as women, mothers, sisters, friends—take a stand against this ongoing abuse in our system.  Every day in hospitals around our country, women are being lied to, they are being bullied, they are being told they aren’t allowed to, and they are being abused.  This injustice against women and mothers has gone on far too long.  We must take back control of our bodies.  We must reclaim our births.

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