Birth Stories

Coming to terms with a difficult birth, long

Before my son was born, I had a lot of ideas on how I thought it would go, and felt prepared for how it might go.

NOTHING went as I expected.

I was having contractions for two or more hours at a time for days before my water broke. When it did break, there hadn't been any contractions in over 24 hours. It was 2 am, and I was only 1 cm dilated. Rather than let the staff start petosin right away or start marching the halls to get contractions started, in my exaustion I asked to sleep a few hours and start at 6 am. This is the point where all my regretful "what-if's"begin.

Come 6 am, I was still only 1 cm and not contracting, so the doctor ordered petosin. Shortly after I agreed to having a balloon inserted to help me dilate and eface. This was a very painful choice that I regretted immediately and for hours to follow. I was told it would fall out once I reached 5 cm, but hours later, I was in a lot of pain from the device and the nurse was reluctant to call the doctor for an exam to see how I was progressing because the progress had been so slow thus far. Only when I finally snapped, sobbing, did she get the doctor, and we discovered I was 6 cm and the device had got hung up and was unable to fall out naturally as intended.

After sixteen hours of laboring on my feet and on a birthing ball, after the balloon and the nurse not listening, I asked for staydol to take the edge off. That was a total load of crap. I had been told it took the edge off the pain for an hour so you could rest. All it did was knock me out between contractions, causing me to become disoriented and upset. My family found it funny at first how I would fall asleep in the middle of a sentance or question and wake up where I left off when the next contraction hit.

I asked for an epidural. I had not wanted to, but I had never promised myself I would never do it either. Finally I could rest as the pain eased. I thought to myself at that point, "I wanted to labor in the jetted tub. I wanted to walk and do this naturally. But without any natural contactions or dilation happening, I couldn't. I hate it, but I couldn't. My body betrayed me, after a week of good practice contractions, a healthy pregnancy, now in the time I need my body to cooperate it suddenly does nothing it was made to do. I can forgive myself all that, though. I just want to have a vaginal birth and a healthy baby. I want to see my baby lifted onto my chest and to hold him in my arms."

Then everything went wrong.

About a half hour, maybe an hour after the epidural, during which the anesthesiologist looked at me like I was complaining too much for a woman 8 cm dilated after 17 hours in labor, I suddenly felt cold. Laying in my hospital bed with my husband, parents, sister, cousins and in-laws all around, I began to ask for blankets, even for my husband's coat when there were no more blankets in the room to be had. My mother and husband were the first to say this was wrong. I called for the nurse and she took my temperature.

18 hours into my labor, I had spiked a fever of 102 and suddenly an alarm went off. The baby's heart rate was climbing dangerous. I was not fully coherent anymore. I was not able to understand what was being said around me until the delivery doctor on call leaned over me. "Hannah," she said, "You're sick. The baby needs to come out now to be safe."

"Do the c-section." I said. I knew. I couldn't understand anything but what she had just told me, but I knew what had to be done. It was the one thing I had prayed not to have to do. Contractions or petosin, pain or epidural, natural or medicated, but please, merciful God, not a c-section. I had been afraid of what the recovery would be like on top of having a new born to care for. I didn't want to perminantly change my body through surgery unless there was no other option. And there was no other option.

I remember being embarrassed as the nurses lifted me onto the oporating table because I was so weak with fever and numb from the epidural I could barely help turn myself as they needed. Then my husband was there, crying. I didn't know why, so I asked. "The nurse said," he choked, stopped, "The baby's heartrate is so high. If they don't get him out now his heart might give out. He might die."

I laid back, I held his hand. I asked no questions and tried to focus when I was asked questions. I was so foggy, so cold. but I did the best I could to stay with it, to help the doctors when they needed me to say something. I remember having to concentrate on the light above me, almost counting the tiny hexagons in the glass of the bulb to stay awake. I don't know if it was the drugs or the fever, but I had to fight and to pray not to fall asleep before I heard that first cry.

There it was. I sobbed. He breathed deep. My son was crying, a wet, desperate, frightened, angry sound. They showed him over the curtain, and he was wet and desperate and frightened and angry, but he was alive and vibrant and fighting. I told my husband to go to him while he was cleaned up. He returned a moment later, or maybe it was several minutes, I couldn't tell. "He's beautiful, Hannah, and healthy! You did so good, baby! You're beautiful."

A nurse brought my son over once he was bundled up. "Touch him!" She urged. But I was weak, and my whole body was numb from anesthesia. I was suddenly scared when I told her this, but she brought him in close and I kissed his soft little cheek.

My husband went with him to the NICU after that. I went in and out of wakefulness until I was taken back to my room.

After 4 days in the hospital, my own OB/GYN visited me and told me, very frankly, that my infection was a special kind of rare, and I was a special kind of lucky. I had recieved the Strep B shot, but had gotten Strep strain G during the long labor. The infection had crossed over through the placenta and I had blood poisoning. It took two weeks of anibiotics to clear, and I retained so much fluid my feet were club-like for nearly a week. My DH, LO and I had to move in with my parents for 5 weeks before I was functioning close to normally.

Despite a difficult recovery and a slow start to my milk coming in, my son and I were thriving before too long. Now he is a happy, healthy three month old who is eager to do all his big firsts just as quickly as his devolopement allows. I want to get past my disappointments in how this birth went and just move on, enjoying my baby without looking back. But it's been hard. I think ahead to the future when we hope to have another LO in a few years and I'm scared. I'll have to go to a bigger hospital and to a new OB/GYN because mine doesn't do v-backs, and I really, really want to do that rather than another c-section.

I didn't realize it until I was pregnant, but I want to have a vaginal birth badly. Without it, I feel incomplete somehow, like part of the joy of childbirth is missing for me. Of course this is just me, this is the feeling I have in my body. But now that everything is different physically, from breast-feeding boobs to the c-section scar and abs not stretching quite like they did, to wondering when or if my personal bits will ever behave the same again, I feel like if I had been in control of the birth at all I wouldn't feel so helplessly out of control of my post-baby body sometimes.

I hope that in time I get over this feeling and I can just consider this knowledge I can put toward my next pregnancy and birth. But if anyone out there has ever felt this way about their birth experience, I'd like to hear from you. Is it normal to feel jealous of moms who I haven't heard complain about the circumstances of their birth experiences? Not that I'm not happy for them, I just wish I could look back without so many mixed feelings.

Re: Coming to terms with a difficult birth, long

  • I am so very sorry for what happened.

    There are some things you can do to try to feel better.  1) consider looking into groups like ICAN.

    2) If you need help with breastfeeding or just want to meet other moms, look into local La Leche League meetings.

    3) Post this on the Natural Birth board, they are a wonderful group of women and I know they'll have some advice for a VBAC.

    Take care :)

  • Yep, this made me cry. So glad you and baby are doing well!
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  • Thank you for your suggestions. I will look into ICAN and a breast feeding group. I admitt I've been afraid to do so, or even to post here for fear of getting a bunch of "You should just be thankful you're baby's healthy, quit being so dramatic" responses. I feel guilty, like I'll be seen as just complaining, and the guilt brings on shame on top of the feeling of helplessness and disappointment.

    I heard the term "birth rape" for the first time while I was pregnant, but I do NOT feel this applies to me, because so much of what happened was necessary or no one's fault. I can't blame the doctors, nurses, or myself for my body not contracting or efacing without help, though it still makes me angry that it screwed everything about my birth plan up. The ballon and the staydol might have worked differently in someone else, so how was anyone to know how it would work for me? And the infection was a total crap shoot. There was nothing that anyone did to cause it, it's a chance that occurs during a long labor.

    So no one took anything away from me in this birth. Yet that's exactly how it feels, like something important was stolen from me. Sometimes when we're talking to our son, my husband "replies" for the LO. Just today we took him to the doctor with a stuffy head and fever and my husband, pretending to speak for our son says, "I don't feel so good, guys. I haven't felt this warm since I was pulled out of mommy." Oh God, I nearly cried. My stomach knotted. It's not funny, I told him, and it's not. That's not how I wanted him to come into the world, and that's not how I wanted my child to be seperated from my womb. I reminded me of the line from Macbeth, "I was from my mother's womb untimely ripped." That's how it feels to me, like he was torn away from me, even though there was no way I could have labored him into the world safely anymore. It's just hard to come to terms with. His little head was even cone shaped at birth because he was already decending. Another hour and maybe I could have been pushing. I was so ready to bring him into the world, and I never got the chance. He's here, but I feel like I failed him, like this was a gift I could have given both of us, that we'd have been stronger and closer and more complete for having a vaginal beginning.

    I know that's just what feels right for me in my mind, and I don't want anyone to think I have a poor opinion of c-sections or mothers who have or choose them. I just know how much a vaginal birth represented to me, meant to me. It wasn't worth risking my son's life to have it though. I have no regrets about making the choice I did under the circumstances I faced. I only regret the circumstances, the things I couldn't control.

    Thank you for listening. I've needed to talk about all this for a long time. And thank you for not judging me. I needed that too.

  • I can't even believe I forgot to mention this earlier, but have you heard of birth circles?  It's a meeting (my local one is monthly) where women share their birth stories.  Nursing babies welcome :)  It'd be another place to share your story and maybe experience some healing.

    I found my local one through our childbirth class.

    You did the best you could with what you had.  And yes, he's here now and he's healthy and that's important.  But birth is important too and if you do get crap from people for your grief, ignore them.  Easier said than done, I know, but consider it practice for all the unsolicited advice and misc crap you'll get from people on your parenting journey.

    One last thing...not to scare you, but if you keep feeling sad for a long time, keep an eye out for symptoms of PPD.  You're allowed to be sad and you're allowed to grieve, but PPD is a lot worse than that.  I'm not saying that you will automatically get it because you had a rough birth experience, but it's something to have your husband/family/friends watch out for.

    Take care  :)

  • I am so sorry for such a traumatic experience, but congratulations on a healthy baby boy!! 


    ALLI & ERIK - 12.12.10
    Stella - 7.7.11 | Ian - 8.6.14 | Isaac- 7.20.18
    #4 due 4.22.23

  • imageemarshall0113:
    Yep, this made me cry. So glad you and baby are doing well!

    This. Tears in my eyes.
    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
  • This story made me cry as well. After an unseccessful induction with my daughter followed by an emergency csection I too felt it wasn't how it was supposed to be. When I got pregnant again with my son it was very important to me that I share a vaginsal birth with my husband. It was something I wanted us to experience together. Luckily my wish came true. A year and a half later I had my successful VBAC with my son.
  • I felt the same after my first son was born. I felt cheated of the birth experience I thought I should've had. It took me a long time to get to a place I could think of it without crying. My second son was an attempted vbac. He ended up being an emergency c as well. I thought at the time I would be so devastated if it happened again but I had prepared better this time. I took a Hypnobirthing course to ensure that whatever the events of the birth I felt in control and able to make my decisions free from a drug induced haze. The first time I had a similar experience as you but with pethadin which put me to sleep between contractions so that it just felt like one long contraction that never ended. Awful! Second I found a great dr who supported my wishes. Third due to the Hypnobirthing when the news that a c was necessary came I stayed calm and was able to enjoy the experience of my son entering the world. I was knocked out the first time round so missed my first son being born and his first few hours. I truly believe that my first c could've been avoided if I had been calmer and had a better dr. He scared me so much that I started to panic this increasing my sons heart rate too which made me more scared, spiralling the problem out of control. If I had been calmer I'm sure I wouldn't have distressed my son so much and it wouldn't have resulted in the drs simply not having enough time to give me a spinal which resulted in my general. I am now pregnant again and not in a good area for vbacs. BUT I am going to try! If it doesn't happen it doesn't buy I don't think I'll feel so down about it this time. The level of control was so important for me and I gained that by learning how to stay calm. Congratulations on your bundle of joy, cherish every moment, they grow so quick x
  •  You did it, really - you experienced the pain of labor, you worked hard for your baby. He is very lucky to have you. Good luck working through this, you sound like a strong woman.
  • You had a HORRIBLE experience. There is no denying that. I had an induction go wrong ( not to your extent) but my epidural failed during full blown labor. He wouldn't progress after trying for hours, they gave me a spinal for the c section, it went "too high" and I had to be intubated. So I didn't get to see LO born. I woke up groggy, couldnt stay awake for two days, was swollen with fluid. i hated it. I wasn't mad, I just felt defeated. I even thought to myself "is this really my kid because i didnt see him born!" For months I couldn't  put my finger on why I felt so "out of sorts" about it. After my great experience with my second baby I truly believe it was baby blues. And you sound like you have it worse than I did. It might not seem that simple, but after the second birth where i DID NOT feel the blues at all, i know the difference.

    The second time around I opted for the RCS. I know you want a natural birth but I have to admit that after my traumatic first delivery, I needed the planned, calm, surgery. It was AMAZING. I  was completely emotionally fulfilled seeing her and hearing her first cry. I was rested, didn't feel drugged at all, and I was so excited.

    Yes, a VBAC may happen for you, and I hope it does. I think if you find yourself in natural labor you should absolutely give it a go. But if you find yourself faced with induction again I would think long and hard, and know that an RCS can be okay. I don't regret it one bit, and the second time around was NOTHING like the first one. I just want to encourage you if the day comes and you are faced with a c section instead of a vbac. It may not make you feel this way the second time. I promise. As for right now, acknowledge those hormones! It's almost like an out of body experience, like a dark cloud is hanging over you. It gets better. Your body recovers. You won't always feel like this.

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