All too often we hear birth stories that end with mama in pain. Pain for an experience that wasn’t as beautiful as she hoped and sadness over the loss of choice during her birthing time. Thankfully, many of these mamas go on to have another baby and a birth that helps them heal. Samantha’s story is one of those experiences.
To get the happy ending…I need to start from the beginning.
When I first announced my pregnancy with my son on April 1st, 2010 (yes that was on purpose), I remember one of my former friends telling me I should look into a midwife and giving me a recommendation to one. I told her I was completely uninterested and trusted a doctor more than I would ever trust a midwife. Even so, there was NO way I was capable of a natural birth. I had seen the movies and heard the horror stories. It also didn’t help that my books all talked about the “ring of fire”. How could I possibly survive something like that?
I chose to continue ahead with my plans of an OBGYN office and delivery at a hospital. I ended up disgruntled about my care pretty early on and the doctors never really listened to me or cared about my opinion. By my 6th month, I felt like cattle and that the doctors were only interested in getting me out of their office ASAP. I was so naive and stuck with them…I was too scared to switch to anyone else that far out in my pregnancy. The office visits ended up being the least of my problems.
On November 4, 2010, I woke up with what I thought were just cramps. I sat in the tub for a while and found them to not be anything unmanageable. I was so sure it wasn’t labor. My husband was the one who insisted on taking me to the hospital…when they hooked me up, my contractions were every minute and I was at 3 cm. Despite how little I was dialated, they decided to keep me. They asked me if I wanted the epidural right then and there and I told them to delay it (probably the smartest thing I did). When they moved me in the labor/delivery room, however, it all went downhill. I started getting intense cramping and I thought that if that was how I felt at a 3 then there was no way I could go much longer. The hospital rushed the epidural in and right after I recieved it, the doctor checked me and I was actually at an 8. This was where my disappointment started…if that was how I felt in transition, I knew then I could have done it. The epidural ended up slowing my labor substantially and I spent the next few hours with a mouthy nurse who degraded many of my choices (such as not circumcising, exercising during pregnancy, ect). The doctor had me hold off on pushing for 2 hours because he wanted to get 2 full bags of antibiotics in me for my group B strep. When it came time to push, I couldn’t feel my legs at all…the epidural was turned up way too high and several people had to help me hold up my legs. A family member, who was in the room despite me asking for her not to be, kept yelling at me and telling me I wasn’t pushing right and how I was “giving up”. Four hours of pushing and being berated later, the doctor decided to use vacuum extraction. I had no clue what this was and they didn’t tell me any risks. I blindly just said yes because I was ready for it all to be over. My baby was born a few minutes later with a huge red bruise on his head. The doctor didn’t even give him to me…he gave my son to a nurse who ran to the other side of the room with him and laid him on a heater. The first glimpse I got of my son was through a cell phone picture 10 minutes later. I remember hearing my son cry and crying myself…at the time I thought they were happy tears but looking back I realize how truly upset I was that I didn’t even get to see him. The next few days were a struggle where all my son wanted to do was sleep and it was torture to get him to wake up and latch. I almost ended up giving up on breastfeeding because of it.
I was happy with my birth experience at first and didn’t think anything of it…but then a few weeks later the hurt started to set in. My experience was nothing like I had imagined…as the months went on, I started to find it much too painful to think about the birth and anytime I talked about it, I would find myself crying.
This is where my positive birth story comes in.
When I found out I was pregnant with my second, I knew I wanted things to be different. It was pretty devastating to me that I couldn’t have a home birth or a birth center birth like I had planned because insurance didn’t pay for it. My daughter was a suprise so we didn’t even get a chance to save up for a home birth. I started hearing about Greenville Midwifery Care on the radio and when we found out that our insurance paid for them – we immediately switched from our other care provider. From the very first visit, I actually felt welcomed and they took their time with me. Toward the end of my pregnancy, I carefully drafted a birth plan with the help of my doula. I wanted a water birth and to do this totally natural.
I woke up on September 25, 2013 at about 1:50 am with strong cramping. I knew the moment that I woke up that this was going to be it. I tried taking a bath but the cramps did not stop at all. I woke my husband up and told him to start packing the car for when we need to leave. At that point, I started getting real waves instead of just contractions. I sat down at my computer downstairs and used music to time my contractions. After every 3 minute song, another wave would come. Every time I got a wave, it would last a minute and I was unable to sit through them and found myself standing. They started to get really strong within ten minutes and I told my husband that we needed to GO. I just knew this would be another fast labor.
When we arrived at the hospital, they were only growing more intense by each contraction. I walked into the hospital but every time I had a contraction, I needed to stop. One of those contractions happened in the middle of the road, I ended up kneeling down in the road, trying to ride the wave out. My husband then proceeded to tell me I needed to get out of the road in case a car came…I think he learned his lesson after the shelling out I gave him.
We got into triage and that is when my birth plan started falling apart. My husband had called the answering service for the midwives (because we didn’t have their number) and the operator did not know who the midwives were…so instead of helping us find a number she said she would call them…and never did. The midwife was not at the hospital and had to drive in from Anderson and the birthing pool was not filled up. At that point I was in a lot of pain and my husband was begging them to fill it up…I knew it would take an hour and I didn’t want to wait for that…I ended up going way off of my plan and asking for an epidural.
I felt like an absolute failure as they wheeled me to the OBGYN part of the hospital and not the midwife section that we had toured. All my dreams of a waterbirth were gone and now I was just waiting for the epidural. I just wanted to lay in the hospital bed and let them do whatever to me. My husband wasn’t having it though. He tried to convince me to call off the epidural, tried to fight for me to have a heplock, and kept trying to get me out of the bed. Finally, the doula arrived and she tried to convince me to call off the epidural also. I didn’t want to hear any of it and had given up at that point. Finally, my doula and my husband were able to convince me to at least get out of bed and on the peanut while I waited for the epidural.
As soon as I got on the peanut, my contractions intensified and with each wave I felt myself slipping out of control. The contractions were so close together and eventually it got to the point where I couldn’t even moan through my contractions and all I could do at the top of each wave was scream. My husband and my doula both tried to keep me calm and talk me through each contraction. I knew labor was almost over and that more than likely my epidural would not be coming. After about thirty minutes of me being in agony, I started getting a new sensation.
At first, I thought I just needed to go bathroom. At the top of my contraction, I felt pressure on my bottom. I was about to ask my husband to help me up so I could go but then the pressure went away as the contraction went down. A minute later, I had another contraction and the pressure felt more intense. At this point, my body took over and I said I had to push. The pressure and urge was so intense that I didn’t even wait for the midwife and nurses to come in. I just started pushing while on the peanut ball and I kept repeating, “I’m pushing. I’m pushing.”
The midwife came in and asked me to move to the bed so she could check me. I could not stand at that point and was totally paralyzed from the pressure. My husband and the nurses had to help me to the bed while the midwife checked me. She said the head was “right there”. As soon as she pulled away, my water broke. The pressure was still so intense that I literally could not stop pushing even though they kept telling me to wait and catch a breath. I felt the ring of fire after a few second and heard my husband saying he saw a lot of hair. Finally I felt her pulled out. The nurse next to me pulled down my hospital gown and my daughter was placed on my bare chest.
The moments that followed were so surreal and like they were out of a dream. I got to see my daughter full on before anyone else did. I got to hold her without anyone whisking her away. I told the midwife to not cut her cord yet and she told me she wasn’t going to. I tried to breastfeed her right away but she was still coughing up mucus and didn’t want to eat. After a while, the nurses actually ASKED me if they could have her for a minute to weigh her and check her vitals. Just being asked made all the difference in the world…I felt like I was willingly letting them see her instead of having my baby ripped away from me and taken across the room. They listened to my after birth plans of no eye drops and not cleaning her off. After five minutes, they handed my daughter back to me and then everyone left the room and my husband and I got an hour alone in the quiet to bond with our daughter.
Nothing can change what happened with my son and my first birth…but I can honestly say my second birth, despite not going according to plan, truly healed me and made me feel better about everything. Natural birth was not easy and I almost gave up…I am so glad I was given a speedy birth and two amazing support people that showed me how my body is capable of anything. After I was wheeled into the mother and baby unit, I felt so accomplished for what my body had just done. I feel silly for ever doubting myself.