Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Day That I Threw Away My Birth Plan

I know that I need to write this all out in order to really process it all, mostly because that is just how I operate. I know that I still haven't dealt with everything that happened and that it isn't something that I will "get over" any time soon.

There is a part of me that will probably always hold a grudge. I know that.

I know that it probably isn't the healthiest thing in the world to stay bitter about how it all played out, but I also know that my role as a doula and as an advocate for women, for maternal/child health, for patient autonomy in general means that I have to hang on to that bitterness just a little bit so that I will tell this story.

I had a c-section that I probably didn't need to have.

That I'm almost certain that I didn't need to have.

That I received confirmation about the fact that it was indeed probably unnecessary.

Of course, I don't possess a crystal ball or the ability to travel through time. I don't know with any degree of certainty what would have happened if I had been permitted to deliver my son vaginally. I can't say that there wouldn't have been complications that might have necessitated surgery anyway. I can't.

Even if I could, that whole not having the ability to time travel thing gets in the way. I can't go back in time and do things differently.

I'm here, on this side of it all, with a scar cut across my abdomen that itches whenever I think about it.

There are plenty of people who have tried to convince me to focus on the positives. You know, the fact that I'm healthy and the baby is healthy and that's all that matters.

It is the most important thing, but it's not the only thing.

Unfortunately, though, we live in a society where medicine functions this way. We are supposed to celebrate the fact that we made it out alive and willingly overlook all the shitty things that happened in the intervening period.

It's bullshit.

When did we allow our standards about one of the biggest events in life to drop so low that we only look for survival as a marker of success, anyway?

Birth isn't supposed to be like this. It doesn't need to be like this.

And as a mother who had this experience taken from me, I get to be pissed.

It wasn't just me that it was all taken from, either.

My older kids were all supposed to be there with me when the baby was born. They weren't even allowed to see him for three days.

I don't honestly know how my husband feels about everything that happened because I haven't asked. I've been so preoccupied with trying to keep my emotions under control about it all that I haven't asked him. I think he saw the surgery as a shitty, but necessary evil, not because of actual necessity, but because of the situation.

That situation? The baby was breech.

He wouldn't turn. We tried everything. I tried everything. Then the fluid levels started to drop and he engaged in my pelvis and there was no chance he was going to budge. I ended up in labor a couple of days after the attempted version failed.

Before we left for the hospital, I held back tears and told my husband to throw away the birth plan that I had tucked into my bag. We wouldn't be needing it, and I didn't want to see it again.

Ever.

I had to have a c-section.

I was too early for a scheduled c-section, so I had no choice but to wait until I was in active labor for them to decide it was time.

Naturally that meant that I went into labor on a Sunday night. When no one wanted to come to the hospital.

After 5 hours of contractions, hooked up to the monitors the entire time (because I needed to "prove" I was in labor), stuck in bed, I waited.

By the time the doctor on call finally decided that I was indeed in labor and that the contractions weren't magically going to disappear, it was the middle of the night. By the time I was wheeled into the OR, I was probably 6 or 7 cm.  Given my history, I would have been pushing within a few more contractions.

I wasn't allowed.

The practice I was a patient of sections all breeches.

Even the patients like me. I have had four prior vaginal deliveries, all easy and without birth complications. I pushed twice every time, even with my first, and even with the baby that weighed 8 pounds. No birth trauma, no episiotomies, no tears, no assistance required with the births.

I have what's considered a "roomy" pelvis. I give birth without pain medications. I have easy labors.

I am pretty much the ideal candidate for a vaginal breech delivery.

Which I knew.

It didn't matter.

Having the obgyn confirm the fact that I would have been an ideal patient for a vaginal delivery the following day, as I was laying in a hospital bed in complete agony after surgery...rubbing salt in a very raw wound.

Yes, she actually said that to me.

Doctors section breeches because of liability issues. They do it out of habit or fear or whatever. As a result, fewer and fewer of them are experienced doing vaginal deliveries of breech babies. The less experience, the riskier it becomes.

It's basically a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If we make vaginal birth more dangerous, we can justify doing the surgeries, and so we have.

Regardless of the fact that a vaginal breech delivery with a well trained attendant is still safer than a c-section.

Regardless of the fact that a c-section is major abdominal surgery that carries a ton of risks with it.

Regardless of the fact that there are all kinds of other reasons for the baby to be delivered vaginally.

Regardless of what the mother wants.

I never once doubted my body's ability to birth my child.

It didn't matter.

Yes, he is here. Yes, he is healthy. Yes, I am alive.

That's not enough and no one will ever convince me that it is.

~~~~~~~~~~~

If anyone out there wants to lecture me, please don't bother. This is my experience, these are my emotions, this is my life, and it is not a judgment about anything that anyone else has ever experienced. As a doula, I honor the experiences of all women and I ask the same courtesy to be extended to me now. 

3 comments:

  1. "Emergency" c-sections are hard. I had one with Zany-my second- because they were not sure of my due date. (My cycles were 60+ days at a time

    I spent all night on pitocin because I was exhausted and they said he was in the ball park due date wise-even though he hadn't dropped. At 7 in the morning my water broke and out came his cord. So.. c-section it was.

    I do feel like I missed something. Like a piece of bonding he and I should have experienced isn't there like my other two. (I had Girly VBAC just fine) I get it. Grieve sweetie and feel all the warm gentle hugs.

    *itches c section scar*

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  2. No lectures. Only sympathy. Also, this. What you said above: "We are supposed to celebrate the fact that we made it out alive and willingly overlook all the shitty things that happened in the intervening period.

    It's bullshit."

    That can apply to SO MANY FUCKING THINGS and is so true. Hang in there.

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  3. I knew something bad had to have happened based on your tone in the last couple posts. I hoped it wasn't this, because I knew how possible it is to birth a beech baby vaginally.

    I am so so sorry that was taken from you - stolen. There are no words that can heal that pain and the knowing it didn't have to be the case. I honestly can't imagine all the anger, frustration, and disappointment your feeling, all I knew is that it's deep. And it's profound.

    This experience is such a common experience in today's medicalized society, especially when it comes to pregnancy and birth. Women aren't listened to, their bodies aren't honoured, their choices and awareness aren't trusted. It's such a messed up system, yet us women get trapped in it sometimes in times where we don't or honestly can't fight for ourselves, our lives, and the lives of others.

    I truly hate this happened to you, but I do send you positive wishes and warm Mama hugs! Also, cry scream yell or whatever you need to do.

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