Tuesday, March 15, 2011
River's (Super Sad) Birth Story
I went into labor around 8pm March 13th at 34 weeks and 5 days. Since I’ve been planning my UC for months now, and I knew that the quadruplets would likely come early, it wasn’t really a big deal. I lost my mucous plug and the contractions started in earnest. Around midnight, bright red blood started gushing from my hoo-ha, and my husband was getting nervous. He wanted to call EMS, but I refused to allow it -- I know that blood loss during labor is just a variant of normal. In fact, I suspected that it might be that placenta previa my fired MFMs were so worried about, but since I had done my research, I knew that it wasn’t really a problem. Giving birth naturally involves knowledge of my own body and surrender to it. To that end, I felt it was important for me to trust my body. I would never let fear dictate my choices. Besides, I fear birthing in the hospital much more than anything that could happen to me at home -- hospitals are not the best place for so-called "high risk" cases like mine. Just by virtue of being labeled as high risk, the hospital procedures that women are pressured into going along with increase their risk of unnecessary interventions and complications.
I was breathing through my contractions, dealing well with the pain and sopping up the blood with a beach towel when we heard a knock on the door. You can imagine my surprise and horror to discover that it was two EMTs. My husband had called them on the sly. I was absolutely furious. How DARE he call 911 and invite the mayhem that medical care, and all the trappings (literally!) it brings, into our little family. The paramedics were sympathetic at first, but once they realized that I had no intention of joining them in the ambulance and going to the hospital, they coldly and manipulatively pulled the dead baby card. Of course, my husband bought it hook, line, and sinker. In spite of the betrayal, I felt the need to calm the fears of my rattled husband, so I agreed to go to the hospital *just* to be checked out. But I knew in my heart of hearts that it was the beginning of the end of my perfect birth experience.
See, from an organized western medicine view, placenta previa is this huge problem, but from a traditional, indigenous perspective, when the birth is kept calm, as the placenta detaches, it is given time to seal off, and the mother (within her reptilian brain and working with her baby) brings the babe down in a timely fashion, and the placenta follows. Something that hospital's "optimum care" cannot fathom--there is just not enough drama. So I knew that as soon as I entered those hospital doors -- the doors of the ambulance, even -- that my calm birth and the chance that my babies had to experience the wonder of my vagina was gone.
Of course, the first thing they wanted to do when I arrived at the hospital was listen to the babies heart rates. The very thing I had originally chosen a UC to avoid. I reluctantly gave in, knowing that this was going to be the first in a long cascade of interventions pushed on me. Of course, the nurse said that there were “late decelerations,” and immediately called the OB. Who again played the “fetal distress” and “dead baby” cards simultaneously. Even with my husband begging me and the doctor’s coercion I was ready to stand firm and refuse the extraction. And then the doctor said something about a court order.
The sobbing from my husband and the spectre of court involvement was just too much for my bruised psyche, and I muttered, “Fine.” It wasn’t consent so much as it was giving up, and I regret it SO MUCH. Why couldn’t I have been stronger?? I failed utterly, and I will never be able to forgive myself. They shoved a needle in my spine and gave me the numbing poison that is a spinal. I was sobbing as they cut into me. The first baby came out, and I just didn’t have the strength to scream, “STOP!” as they rubbed the last of my blood off of her. The nurses gave her a first APGAR of 4, but she perked right up and started breathing and getting a little color into her. And I WEPT as I realized just how unnecessary this ces...(I can’t even bear to type it all the way out) extraction was. She was FINE! The others were fine as well. But then they were held hostage in the NICU overnight for goddess knows what reason. They are here in the room with me now, but I can hardly bear to look at them, knowing that I will have to apologize to them for the way I failed them, every day for the rest of their lives.
And now life must go on, though I don’t know how. I will be forced forgive my husband for his ultimate betrayal so that he can help me to get pregnant again. Because the only way that I will ever be able to recover from this trauma is to have a healing VBAC. One day, I just KNOW that, when I experience a real, NORMAL, birth, I will be able to be a real woman and a real mother. It’s just too bad that I had that ability ripped from me by scalpel with this one.