Taking the Scenic Route

Friday September 23, 2005

23rd September 2005

Friday September 23, 2005

posted in Uncategorized |

Doing some thinking about the birth. 

(*warning*  rather graphic at times)  Very long post written over several days.

Brief History

Before I get to labor, a quick history.  We started trying to conceive in 1995.  I was totally infertile for 2 years.  In 1997, I finally got pregnant.  Between 1997-2001 I went through 7 miscarriages, 1 was a blighted ovum at 14 weeks (missed miscarriage…should have miscarried nearly a month before, but my body didn’t do it so I had to have a D & C), the other 6 were of unknown reason and happened between 6 and 12 weeks.  Finally conceived Zane.  I was so sure I would miscarry him that when my insurance that would cover IVF kicked in, I called to find out how soon after a miscarriage I could start IVF treatments.  It wasn’t until the baby reached the age of possible viability that I started realizing that I might actually have a baby out of this. Hence, it was a very short pregnancy for me.  So, Zane was my 8th pregnancy, I lost my 9th pregnancy to another blighted ovum (except this one I was able to process without intervention), and am now pregnant with my 10th.  To sum up, my body has a history of not being able to handle pregnancy well.


Birth Story – the nitty gritty, not the ‘magic of childbirth’

With Zane, I went into labor naturally, labored for a day or two (not heavy labor, and light enough that I was in denial through much of it because I thought labor was supposed to hurt a lot more) before my water broke.  Once my water broke around 8-9am on the 26th, my contractions were much more intense, regular, and closer together.  I labored naturally for around 16-20 hours after I was in the hospital (this could be off…I have very little concept of time normally, even less so in labor…I am just guessing from some other landmarks).  At some point after I had no progress, they added pitocin, which made labor horrendously painful.  The baby never dropped into my pelvis.  I never got past 3 cm (and the drs. said it was only at a 2 after the nurse reported it at 3) and never moved down in station.  I used every technique I learned in birthing classes…changing positions, squatting, labor ball, relaxation techniques, breathing, walking, ect before consenting to epidural.  Nothing was working and the dr. wanted to see if an epidural would help me relax and show progress since I was hitting the time limit for  ”time since water breaking until I need to deliver”  (strep B positive, so I was laboring with an IV, which sucked.  I needed to deliver within 24 hours of my water breaking) I labored for while more with an epi, but then the baby started showing distress and I was getting near the 24 hour mark.  I had made zero progress with the epi.  I knew something was wrong.  Everything felt wrong.  I consented to a c-section. 

The second I consented to the operation, they slammed up the bars on the side of the gurney and RAN down the hall to the OR.  It was more intense than anything I had ever seen on tv, and I was a major ER (nbc show) & ER reality shows (TLC/DiscoveryTV) fan.  Anybody moving was moving fast, there was no casualness.  They pushed in the medicine hard enough I could feel it burn, and had me open within a minute or two of getting into the room.  They had a VERY difficult time getting him out.  I ended up with 2 people standing on the gurney and the drs. in charge standing on the ground trying to get him out.  They used forceps (or something like them) to finally get him out.  He wasn’t breathing.  His first apgar was 2 and my first glance of him was seeing him a gray/purple color and limp as they rushed him to the resuscitation table.  FINALLY they started getting him breathing and his heart beating.  Zach followed him to the nursery.  After he left, my blood pressure dropped into the teens and I was fighting desperately to hold on to consciousness.  I knew that if I ‘let go’ I wasn’t coming back again.  For the second time, the room was dead silent as they worked to stop the bleeding.  I was kept in recovery for a while because they couldn’t get me stable enough to leave for a while. 


The first days

I only remember maybe 10 minutes worth of glimpses from the entire hospital stay (Dec 26-31st).  I don’t remember the security alarms going off repeatedly and a bunch of people running into the room to make sure everything was ok.  (although my mom remembers)   I don’t remember seeing either his, or my doctors and only vaguely remember the nurses. (and that is mroe from pictures than anything).  I vaguely remember my best friend helping me nurse, and teaching Zach how to help.  (more realistically, she nursed him using my body…I had almost zero feeling and was too out of it to hold him independently.  thank goodness I had a friend that was as passionate about nursing as I was who stepped in to help make sure it happened in those early days.  It was a gift bigger than I could have ever appreciated at the time).  I remember being afraid, in pain, but my mom and Zach always being there with me which meant the world to me.  I don’t remember eating, but I remember mom telling me to keep drinking water. lol.  Even after I went home, I really don’t remember much of the first weeks at all. I remember living in the recliner in the living room, being helped up to go pee, having problems eating, my mom pushing the water so I would make milk (thank you mom), and having stacks of milk soaked nursing pads all over the place. I know that Zane lived in my lap, although I only remember glances of it.  

I am glad we took so many pictures, so I can see it.  It helped me teach my brain that this was my child, because I was having a difficult time bonding.  I was so sick.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I also had gall bladder problems that progressed to a life threatening emergency at 5 weeks postpartum.

I love my son.  I am glad he made it here safely.  I do not EVER want to go through that again.  Labor was horrible, painful, and non-productive.  My body did not do what it was supposed to do, what I trusted it to do.  I utterly failed.  My body failed me.  I almost lost my child.  It was traumatic in a way I can’t describe. 


General musings about my journey so far

So, my first birth did not go well.  I hadn’t yet discovered the “natural living community” with it’s support of normal births, but I had read “Birthing from Within” and “Birth without violence” amongst a large stack of books on natural birth.  I took classes also.  I was completely geared up for a natural birth and was hesitant to have any interventions.  I only consented to interventions after it was obvious my body wasn’t figuring this thing out very well.  I came out of the birth feeling like an utter failure.  It affected bonding and my self esteem.  I can look back and recognize that I should have been diagnosed with PPD well into his second year.  I still cry most of the times I think about his birth.  I am trying to heal, and it is getting better, but with the impending birth I am being forced to face those fears and anxieties.  Like labor, I think the only way out of this, is through it.  So, I need to talk about this and finish what should have been dealt with, emotionally, after the birth.  I should have acknowledged my feelings then, but they were just too big and scary at the time, so I will make the time now.

Some of the other things that make a successful VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) seem unlikely 

  1. my first birth is obviously something I do not want to repeat.  I think I am more afraid of attempting and failing again than I am of just surrendering to a c-section.  I think another failed vaginal birth would just break me utterly.
  2. I was only a bit over 4lbs at my birth.  My pelvis is smaller than average and shaped so that it is very narrow, my uterus is angled oddly, although neither of these is as dramatic as some of the DSS defects, they aren’t normal either.  I have had multiple surgeries in my pelvis, from a bladder surgery when I was 4 (and had a bladder the size of a newborn…they couldn’t even catherise me because I was so tiny) to 3 or 4 endo surgeries which left me with a lot of scarring and adhesions.  I have also had to have nerves cut in my pelvis as a last resort pain reduction so I could live a normal life again (endo pain was so bad I was unable to walk for a week or two every month).  So, it is possible that I don’t have the ‘wiring’ to make everything work correctly anymore. 
  3. Despite the fact I was only 4 lbs and a few ounces (3 maybe?), my birth would have ended in a c-section if it happened today.  My mom was in labor with me for a week.  (yes, a solid week.  my younger brother was 2 weeks).  Despite my small size, I was still a high forceps delivery (something that is avoided today) because my mom had problems getting me through her pelvis.  This does not bode well for me.  My paternal grandma did deliver several very large babies vaginally, but was left incontinent for the rest of her life because of it.  One of those big babies also died within a week or two of birth.   My dh was about the same size as Zane (maybe a few ounces bigger) and my MIL almost died during his delivery.  So, there is a family history of possible large babies (including some in the 13-15lb range) and very difficult/life threatening deliveries.  (I know my MILs labor has nothing to do with mine, but the baby size is relevant since it is dh, the father).  So, family history is not on my side.
  4. Labors in my family are talked about in terms of days and weeks instead of minutes and hours.  I can not imagine even a midwife (which I am not sure are even legal in this state) would allow a labor to go on that long, and a Doctor certainly wouldn’t.  In theory, I could wait a lot longer before going to the hospital, but I am not sure I am in good enough shape to handle the stress of that long of a labor.  I am not exactly the picture of health here. 
  5. I just read about a condition that really matches the symptoms of both my mom and I.  In some people, the lower uterus doesn’t stretch properly.  Some of the signs of this are showing early, carrying high, looking much more pregnant than you are (sound familiar mom?), and baby having a difficult time descending, (I was 4 lbs and a high forceps delivery, my ds never even came close to dropping in my pelvis).  It is a genetic thing.  I also have a good reason to suspect that we might share something like this…endo and a propensity for heavy scarring.  Scars don’t stretch well, and I know that even though I had endo everywhere in my abdominal area, it was very heavily concentrated on my lower uterus and cul-de-sac (lower pelvis, textbook placement if you spend a lot of time standing).  Women with this condition are often told they have a very small pelvis.  I fit every single thing there.  hmmm.  I should ask my dr. about this.

Some positives of a scheduled c-section

  1. They can check on the status of my endo, adhesions, and scarring immediately following delivery since I am already opened up.  (I asked about this to confirm this was possible)
  2. They would also be able to clean up the sloppy, rushed job and weird scaring from my first c-section.  At least it would be possible that they could make it feel a little less weird all the time. 
  3. The surgery would be performed by somebody that has done several of my surgeries.  He is very skilled and stays up to date on surgical techniques, including dealing with scarring and adhesions.  He is also very attentive post-op and takes me at my word when I tell him something isn’t right.
  4. Planning it would mean that I would know what to expect.  With a VBAC it would be up in the air until the baby came out, one way or another.  Planning it means I could deal with some of the emotional aspects before and maybe have some peace at the birth.  A failed VBAC would mean that I would be dealing with a whole bunch of really negative feelings immediately following birth AGAIN, while I am trying to heal. 
  5. As much as I hate abdominal surgery, I am actually somewhat accustomed to recovering from it.  I have been through it about 7 times already.  With a scheduled c, at least I won’t have the exhaustion of laboring for a few days and then surgery.  Unless there is a complication, it really can’t be worse than that.  I was so flippin’ tired after the labor + surgery last time it was insane.
  6. I guess I could get all mainstream and say “it would be more convenient to choose the birthdate” (or something along those lines), but I actually hate that aspect of it.  I feel weird deciding when a  person should come into the world.  It just seems wrong.  Besides, babies aren’t supposed to be convenient.  lol.  It is, however, easier for my parents because my mom could schedule time off (she works at my SIL’s store) and it would be less of a burden on my brother and SIL to cover the shifts since they will have some warning.  (small business, so one employee needing time off is an issue). 

And now the big conflict…the birth I really want

Dark room, meditative music, pool of warm water, Zach & I with a support person.  no meds, no interference from the outside, no talking.  Me inside my head.  The baby resting on my chest immediately following birth, cord attached until it stops pulsating.  wiping off the baby but not using soap immediately…just massaging in the amniotic fluid and wiping off the excess for the time being.  No eye goop, no shots, no blood tests for the first few hours at least.  (the shots, not for a long, long time…giving a newborn a hep B shot is just idiotic!)  lots of skin to skin contact.  Being able to walk around within a few hours after birth and a shorter recovery time would be such a blessing too.

Besides my rather romantic idea of what a birth should be like, there is that sense of connection to women since time began.  Being in labor and giving birth is something that never changes (if in it’s natural state) since humans have been here.  It is a universal connection that crosses time & culture.  It is described by so many women as an empowering and life-changing experience…and I want that. 

That is the birth I want, but my heart knows it won’t happen that way.  I have tried to psych myself into believing it could happen, but my heart knows.  I just don’t want to accept it.  A part of me feels like accepting it will be a failure.  I wish I could make myself trust my body to do this, but no amount of  trying to fool myself is going to work.  I know what I have to do, I just don’t want to.  I want the dream.  Even though I know it is better for the baby (sans complications of course), if I am really honest with myself, I realize that I want it for me more than the baby.  That is the part that makes me stop in my tracks and wonder what the hell am I thinking.  This is not the time to be selfish.  (not that a natural birth is selfish at ALL, it just would be for me in this set of circumstances)



This is the 4th day I have worked on this post.  I have done a lot of thinking in that time.  When I started I was in tears thinking about a c-section.  Now I am more at peace with the idea.  Maybe it isn’t my path to have a natural birth, but to have a surgical birth and take control of that instead.  To take the situation and make it the most peaceful and empowering birth I am able to.  At least I need to open my mind to the possibility that a c-section birth can be as meaningful and beautiful as a normal birth. 

This entry was posted on Friday, September 23rd, 2005 at 5:15 AM and is filed under Uncategorized. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

There are currently 13 responses to “Friday September 23, 2005”

  1. 1 On September 25th, 2005, zoesmummy said:

    Hi mama – I didn’t want to read and not reply. It sounds to me like you have put a lot of thought and consideration into what you’d like for your birth. These decisions are so not easy, but from what you’ve said – it sounds like you know what you have to do.

    As someone who had a natural delivery the first time, and will need a cesarean next time (way long story, way too graphic – let’s just say I had a 4th degree tear, and things aren’t happy down there), I too struggle with that versus the idea of the birth I want.

    Hugs, Melissa

  2. 2 On September 25th, 2005, Jessemommy said:

    Your post was honest and beautiful, Jen. If still choosing a c/s, perhaps look into letting yourself labor naturally before haivng the operation so that the baby will have the benefits of having gone through labor (helps to squeeze some of the liquid/mucous out of his lungs) at least that way he does get to chose his birthday.   He or she lol. IT’s not selfish to want a natural birth for your own sake, and your body has been through enough as it is. Remember that even women with small pelvises still have cartiliage that stretches to let a baby through. If long labors run in your family, I’m not surprised  your first was long. Some babies dont’ drop until the last second either. Even given your whole history, I believe 100% in a VBAC for you (provided your left alone with no pit for example), but I support you 100% no matter where your heart leads you.

  3. 3 On September 25th, 2005, feebeeglee said:

    great post. I’m with Jesse – I hope you can labor naturally for a while even if it’s inconvenient. Like you said, babies are sposed to be inconvenient!

    And btw, midwifery in Kansas is 100% legal, yes. see Legal Status of Direct-Entry Midwives in Kansas.

  4. 4 On September 25th, 2005, zac_zac said:

    Without a lot of time to put down my full thoughts on this, I’ll sum up. There is something much more important in life than how one gives birth. Being a parent is much more important. The child needs a parent more than it needs a birth story. In order to be a parent, one must be alive. A good parent is a live parent. I know that sounds almost comical. After the last birth experience in hospital hell, and understanding the reasons behind the chaos and near-death experiences, it is understandable that I would prefer not to experience it again.

    Regarding “labor naturally for a while even if it’s inconvenient”: Unless the babe has made it midway through the pelvis, laboring will most likely not help in disburdening the child of fluid in its lungs. In our grasp of the factors that led to everlasting pelvic station of 2001, there remains great doubt that this babe will be much different. With that, if she would labor naturally, I anticipate a similar butt-kicking birthing experience as last time. Which returns full-circle to what I initially said. It is more important to be alive to parent the child, than to have a fantastic birth story.

    Of course, I also don’t believe in astrology, eating my placenta (because I don’t have one), or in the value of going to prom. :D

  5. 5 On September 26th, 2005, bionicsquirrel said:

    Well, as much as I like Zac, and as much as I respect his view as the loving husband and father who watched his wife go through such an ordeal, I have to say that I too am in agreeance with jesse.  As one who had a terrible birth experience that was contrary to everything I had imagined and ended up leaving me exhausted, suffering for over a year with ppd and dealing with post traumatic stress disorder (as I think you are too, Jennifer) I still believe that you can have that beautiful birth you long for.  I also believe in the power of persuasion and think that your original doctor, as well as the plethora of horror stories that have been passed on and perpetuated through your two families is playing a huge role in your mental/emotional confidence to birth.  I don’t know how else to say all that.  I like you a lot, and I have so much confidence in you.  Your body did not fail.  Instead, I think you should think more along the lines of, “The arbitrary time limits put on your body and the fear held in your heart of laboring too long, failed your body.”  You can turn that around, I know you can.

  6. 6 On September 26th, 2005, feebeeglee said:

    To clarify – the benefits for laboring prior to a planned c-section (in other words, not a ‘trial of labor’ but a c-section planned as the method of delivery) are more for the fetus and its hormone levels than for the benefit to the lungs by having the fluid compressed out of them. One knows that the baby is ready to be born for certain, that it didn’t need a few more days or a week inside to cook, when labor begins spontaneously. I will try to find the articles I have on that – they were bookmarked several browsers ago and I can’t get them at present.

    I also think that (perhaps even more than Jen!) Zach is suffering from PTSD. I can’t imagine watching someone you love go through that and not be traumatically affected in a very deep and lasting way, and then to know that the same exact cause of the last trauma is present again, well. You have my sympathies and I respect the subdued roar of protection I can hear rumbling underneath your words above.

    gil awake now, will try to write more later.

  7. 7 On September 26th, 2005, zac_zac said:

    You are correct about my PTSD from that experience. When someone you love almost dies (bp in the teens), then you don’t want to experience that again. There’s no reason for it. I remember telling the empty air, “well, I guess we won’t be having any more children, ’cause I don’t want to risk losing my wife. She is more important than additional children”. Well, here we are. Another child on the way. This time armed with knowledge of how things can go differently up the branches of birthing. It would be so very nice if someone could lend Jennifer an easy pelvis to pop out the child effortlessly the-old-fashion-way. I cannot agree that taking risks for a dream birth experience outweighs anything else. It’s not like Jennifer is opting for an unnesessary 1st-child birth. Everyone can remain righteous in their own opinions, just as I will. Trauma in the ER should remain a TV show. I’ve listened, learned, figured, asked, dealt with, and concluded. Though, my conclusions are usually flexible, and not B&W. “Roar of Protection” is right.

    Oh, I also don’t fish, watch sports, eat at Mc, or read porn. I’m not a McDaddy or a Sports Buddy. Let’s talk empathy.

  8. 8 On September 26th, 2005, zac_zac said:

    “…unnesessary 1st-child birth.” LOL that was meant to be “unnesessary 1st-child birth C-Section”. To clarify, I am not angry about the responses (though I do come off edgy, don’t I?). I’m merely expressing how I feel about it, just as all you are. :D Still flexible. Still going to question my own and others’ opinions.

  9. 9 On September 26th, 2005, onlyzombiecat said:

    It would be really hard to give up on your beautiful dream birth. I didn’t have a dream birth experience either  but nowhere near as bad as what you went through. Considering your history and family experiences I can totally understand your decision.

    {{{{{{{{{{{{{many hugs  and best wishes to you}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

  10. 10 On September 26th, 2005, feebeeglee said:

    Actually you come off angry at me – but maybe I’m just personalizing. I’d like to note that I’m just about the only commenter here who’s not rooting for VBAC, at all, and I never have been, and I expect I might be the only one (other than family of course) who has even spoken to Jennifer in person about all of this several times beginning several years ago. So don’t be so quick to lump me in with the general Intarweb Well-Wisher-Crunchy-Mama-Society, Dear Friend’s Hubby.

    Ahem. She said, huffily.

    Just feeling a bit (inappropriately) attacked. All better now.

  11. 11 On September 26th, 2005, zac_zac said:

    fee, I should have segregated the comments out. I’m sorry. I was agreeing with you about my PTSD and “Roar of Protection”. I understand you aren’t a hardliner opinionator, but a realist with ideas to share. I questioned about the hormone triggers also. It seems that everyone has a different answer regarding it. I can’t seem to find a definitive answer anywhere, and that is also frustrating.

    So, if anyone can point me to a definitive resource regarding the hormonal triggers of birth, I then could put that to rest. Does the mother’s hormone trigger the baby, or does the baby’s hormone’s trigger the birth, or is it a genetic clock in either/both that triggers the new hormones to give birth? ack! I really don’t know.

  12. 12 On September 26th, 2005, LynnE73 said:

    “I was so sure I would miscarry him that when my insurance that would cover IVF kicked in, I called to find out how soon after a miscarriage I could start IVF treatments.”

    “That is the birth I want, but my heart knows it won’t happen that way. I have tried to psych myself into believing it could happen, but my heart knows. I just don’t want to accept it.”

    Huh! Seems like you’ve been wrong before Mama! ;) That being said, with dh having the stance/opinion that he has it doesn’t sound like either one of you believe in you this time. You know I recently had a VBAC with Nancy Wainer Cohen who wrote “The Silent Knife.” You know it wasn’t a perfect birth for the baby. If I could do it all over again I don’t know what the heck I would do, I would have my baby in the safest way possible. It’s too bad we can’t know ahead of time exactly how a birth will go.

  13. 13 On September 26th, 2005, Melissatulip said:

    Seems to me you can’t go wrong if you’re truly listening to your heart. 

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