It’s been a long time friends! Thank you for being so patient and sticking with me. A loyal reader is really a writers/bloggers dream. So, thank you! Many have asked, when are you going to post and why aren't you posting. The answer is: I’m going to post right now and pregnancy -- it's not for the faint of mind. Ha!
You might already know this, but I recently had a baby girl! She’s perfect in every sense of the word. We adore her and still can’t believe she’s ours. In such a short time, she has captured our hearts in the most beautiful way. We named her Ada Rochelle Dunphy. She was born at 8 lbs 2 oz and 22 inches. Today, she is 2 months young.
So, my sister, before I had Ada, gave me a blanket with the scripture Isiah 66:9 on it.
“In the same way I will not cause pain
without allowing something new to be born,” says the Lord.
“If I cause you the pain,
I will not stop you from giving birth to your new nation,” says your God.”
I am encouraged by this scripture because of what my journey was like to have Ada. No one could have prepared me for the depression my experience brought on after having my baby. I was so ready to love her and be a happily tired mother. I still got my beautiful girl, but it came with a lot of sadness too. It reminds me that God can birth life out of both physical or mental pain. And believe me you, I had so much physical and emotional pain.
I’ve talked about this story to really anyone willing to listen. In a way, speaking on it is a way to mourn the loss of a birth plan that was silenced in the most impersonal way.
Like many woman, I sent in a written birth plan to my doctor. In short, I explained that I wanted to have a natural birth - no epidural, no C-section unless it was life or death. In a way, I wanted to have a biblical birth.
My doctor reviewed the birth plan and obliged. We even went over the birth plan together during one of my appointments. My due date of March 23rd came and went; before I knew it I was 10 days overdue. In retrospect, I felt great. I could have carried my baby to 42 weeks (the latest point a physician will let you) and been okay with it. But, my doctor had early on advised against this. She wanted to induce me if the baby didn’t come naturally by the Tuesday of April 2nd. I voiced tremendous concern in doing this, but I made the choice to acquiesce to her request reluctantly.
The induction started off odd and ended horrifically. It started off with a drug that would help soften my cervix. Luckily, I was able to progress, on my own, 6 cm with this drug. I was elated. I figured, if I was able to get this far, perhaps there was no need for the doctor to break my water or administer Pitocin. Then, I was given Ambien to sleep. The team informed me that the Ambien would allow me to get rest, so I wouldn’t be tired when it was time to push. But, the Ambien never put me to sleep. In fact, it made me so disoriented and unable to focus on breathing through my contractions. By the way, my contraction were moving along naturally and very quickly.
The Ambien deterred my focus so much I couldn’t even keep my eyes open. I knew that until the medication wore off, I would continue to feel gassed by my progressing contractions. The nurses noticed how disoriented I was and suggested repeatedly that I have an epidural. Towards the latter end of my 6th centimeter, they left the equipment for the epidural in my room on the off chance I changed my mind. They rationalized, rather patronizingly, that the nurses did this “as a backwards way of warding off the necessity for it.” Ultimately, I caved in and got the epidural.
Then, my doctor walked in my room. She looked visibly exhausted and truly seemed to not want to be there. I was hurt. How could the culmination of the time we spent together (10 months) boil down to a blaze attitude. My thought was confirmed when she sat on the edge of my bed and started to speak. Before even greeting me or doing any physical exams to me, she complained to me she was exhausted. Mind you, I was in labor at this point for 12 hours. She begged me to move my process along. She explained she had already done two c-sections. She then suggested that I have a c-section. I was shocked at her insensitivity. Not only was it not on my plan, but it was not medically necessary. The plea for a c-section continued. At this point I was 7cm.
Before she left, she broke my water and slowly started to administer the Pitocin. This medical call was odd because my body had already done so much progressing, in a little amount of time, on its own without help. From there, things moved very slow. In fact, I didn’t progress another centimeter for another 4 hours. When my doctor came in, she insisted - yet again, that if I didn’t progress one centimeter in two hours, she would give me a c-section. It was a lot of pressure for something I had no control over. I prayed and kept moving as much as possible to dilate as much as possible. It worked. My body was able to progress the required 1 cm. I truly thought it would be the last mention of a C-section, but it was not.
When my doctor came back in, despite having progressed, she mentioned the need of C-section again. As I looked at the baby monitor, I noticed she was thriving and happy. So, I declined again.
After mentioning to the staff for hours that my epidural was not working; they finally decided to do something about it. I explained to them I was still able to move my full left side of my body. That’s when I learned that the epidural was not administered correctly. Apparently it was administered crooked. Even after correction, it continued not to work. By the time I made is to 10 centimeters, my doctor was not around because she was doing her third c-section that night. The nurse on duty took me through my first round of pushes.
As I pushed, I noticed that my baby’s heart rate began to decelerate. The midwife I had with me in the room informed me that this can happen for a baby as they go through the birth canal. It is nothing to be concerned about as long as the doctor is doing what they need to get the baby out. Most doctors suggest to rotate the pregnant women’s body (left to right in fetal position) to get the baby’s heart rate to recover. This worked for me. I will say after six rounds of pushing three times, Ada’s heart rate was still decelerating. Again, no reason for concern as long as the physician is staying on top of recovering the baby’s heart rate by rotating the patient's body.
I pushed twice before my doctor decided to use the vacuum. The third time it slipped off of my baby’s head and cause my blood to splatter all over the staff. Witnessing this was so scary, but I knew if I panicked that she would push the C-section again. By my fourth push, my doctor told me, yet again, she would like to do a C-section only this time she rationalized it was because her heart was decelerating. To add insult to injury, the nurse told me, "If I were you, I would do it because the last woman took too long and it ended very badly." I look back on her comment right now and I think about how emotionally manipulating both the doctor and the nurse was to get me to get a c-section. It really felt like a "turn-them-and-burn-them attitude" . In any regards, after 22 hours in labor, I was exhausted from trying to defend myself. I conceded to her request tired of having to refuse.
She rushed me into the OR with such an urgency I thought their was something else wrong… I thought maybe the cord wrapped around her neck. I say this because her heart rate had already recovered, so why the rush. I later found out that the urgency is a measure they take every time when the doctor decides to administer a C-section. Not only is this decision scary for the mother, but given the circumstances; it’s very unnecessary.
When I got into the OR and my doctor started to cut, the anesthesia had not kicked in completely. While I was not completely able to feel everything, I can say that the pain of the cut made me gasp and scream loudly in pain. I thought for sure I would pass out from pain, it was so severe. The worst part is I had to remain still as they pulled not only the baby out, but also the placenta. In fact, the pain was so inextricable, I had a panic attack. I literally couldn’t breath. The anesthesiologist noticed this and told me if I couldn't settle he would have to put me under. With every minute, my heart beat climbed beating so hard it felt like it was the only thing I could hear. On top of all this, I was still feeling the pain. I conceded to him putting me under. As a result of this, I don’t remember anything up until I got into my postpartum room. I missed every moment most mothers wait 10 moths to experience. I missed the watching my baby inch to the breast. I missed feeling her skin on th surface of my skin for the first time. I missed welcoming my baby. It is a hard to reconcile with the fact that our first meeting was a day later despite being a perfectly healthy mother and having a perfectly healthy baby... Most of all, I had a completely uncomplicated labor outside of what was created by the staff.
I decided to get in contact with customer relations about my horrific birth story, but asked that the representative practice some discretion. I just wanted to understand what happened. I really wanted review the records and understand the need for all of the drama. They informed me that they could get in contact with the head of surgery and she would be able to give me the info. By the time I spoke with the head of surgery, the whole office knew every single detail of my experience.
I was introduced to the head of surgery for the practice. She also was, coincidently, her close colleague (her words). I’ll call her Dr. Smith for the purpose of this letter. Dr. Smith was not only unprofessional, but she wasn’t truthful. I made sure to clearly ask over and over if she had spoken to my doctor. She informed me she had not spoken to my doctor about the incident. I revealed to Dr. Smith that my doctor was in fact aware of me wanting information and even went as far as visiting me in my postpartum room with all the details I had offered to customer relations associate in confidence. Dr. Smith then went back on her statement and said she did tell her. I was flabbergasted that she lied. Additionally, Dr. Smith informed me that my doctor was not trained on the alternative options that would have helped me. In my specific case, my baby was rotated, so I would have needed forceps or an episiotomy. Had I known, I wouldn't have used her. When I shared with my doctor my birth plan, it should have been communicated what she was not trained on these methods. In this way, I could have made the decision to proceed with her or not. When I tried to address her poor bedside manner, she cut me off defensively and told me that she doesn’t have time to address personal comments. The irony is she had no qualms about communicating every detail about my personal experience with her subordinate and the entire office.
That was the last time I saw or spoke to my doctor. There has been zero attempt to give a postpartum check. And so, here we are.
A word to all women considering a vaginal delivery:
Please know that you are strong and you are capable. You made it this far – congratulations! I suspect you’ve been told, if not by a physician then by a well intended friend, that epidurals are great and C-sections are convenient. However, C-sections were created in the case of saving the mom or child’s life and for those who elect it. Not to mention, epidurals only sometimes work. Some doctors won’t tell you that though. Also, I am still feeling the effects of anesthesia 2 months later. My guess is something is wrong, but I will not know for sure till I get checked out. Since I am technically a new patient, it will still be another three weeks till I see someone. Additionally, with an epidural you don’t feel the baby drop. This makes it difficult to discern when it’s time to push when you’re fully dilated. It also makes it easier for doctors to push a C-section because you are already numb. It’s one step out if the way. Lastly, pain medication (narcotics) cuts your milk supply, I learned that the hard way after being prescribed it by my doctor. You won't need such intense pain meds if you have your baby naturally.
Lastly, know that your body has been wonderfully knitted to withstand birth in every single beautiful detail. If you’ve already had a C-section with your first child, consider a VBAC for your second. With child birth, you will feel pain, you will feel discomfort and it will take time to heal. BUT, child birth was created that way AND you can do it! It is all part of the wonderful journey to meet your little one. Save the money on a C-section or the epidural and get a doula if you’re a first time mom. If you need help choosing one, I am happy to recommend an amazing one. Most of all enjoy the process of having a baby; it’s truly an honor.
My take away:
Would it change the way you view your current or past circumstances if you realized that God can use your broken situation (scars and all) to bring you something new? Ask God to give you hope and the sight to see what he is birthing. For me, it was my sweet girl Ada.