Friday, September 16, 2011

Mackenna's Birth

~Mackenna Marie Ballew~
August 11, 2009
5:32 pm
8 pounds 5 ounces
20.5 inches

I switched to another OB who was very supportive of my plans to have a VBAC.  My pregnancy went very smoothly and my VBAC was in sight. At 39 weeks, we rented our house out and moved in with my parents. Dustin was pretty busy working, we already had renters scheduled to move in and we had a lot of stuff to get moved so I ran around packing and moving as much as I could. I figured the worst thing that could happen from me lifting (relatively) heavy boxes would be going into labor and at 39 weeks that is a welcomed event. I did go into labor but not until 40 weeks 1 day. I woke up to my water breaking at 2 am. I labored at home for 8 hours then decided to head to the hospital. I lied and told them my water broke at 9 so that I’d be “allowed” more time to labor. I was checked in triage and again in my room. They confirmed I was in labor and I was already at 4 cm (I was excited because it was farther then I got with my son). The nurses also “let” me labor in the shower which helped tremendously with the back labor (again) but started getting worried when they could keep the baby’s heart rate on the monitor. They adjusted it and adjusted it and had me move around but they couldn’t keep her heart rate on there consistently so they decided it was time to call my doc.

He came in and checked me and said he could definitely feel the baby but it wasn’t her head. He brought in an ultrasound and confirmed that baby had flipped frank breech. (Looking back I could almost pinpoint the moment that she flipped while I was moving things, but it just never occurred to me that the pressure from lifting stuff would cause a baby to flip.)  I couldn’t even look at the screen because I knew she was going to be breech and I knew that meant I was going to have another c/section (my doc and hospital don’t do breech births). I fell into Dustin’s arms and sobbed. My VBAC was so close and it had slipped right through my fingers. They took me to the OR and did not allow Dustin in the room while they did the spinal. I was still crying from the news that I had to have a section and then the guy doing my spinal missed and I could feel the blood running down my back. And then he missed again and more blood, I was sobbing asking them to please let Dustin in the room. I was seriously afraid they were going to injure me. He finally got my spinal in properly and they let Dustin into the room and I calmed down. Again I laid numb, waiting to get to see and hold my baby. Again, I had my baby taken out of my body. Again, I wasn’t there for the bath, weight, footprints, or to nurse or even have skin to skin contact with my child.

My recovery from this surgery was much faster and easier. I think in part because the nerves were already destroyed in that area and in part because I had a 17 month old that needed me to still be his mommy. Nursing also went a lot more smoothly and I didn’t suffer from PPD. I attribute all of that to going into labor naturally when my body and my baby were ready.  I was again disappointed but not like the first time. I felt like I was given the chance to have a natural birth and at the time I did not know that a frank breech baby could be delivered vaginally so I felt like this c/section was warranted. I did feel frustration and guilt about my actions being the reason she flipped but other than that I just felt resolved to try again with our next baby.

Jackson's Birth

~Jackson Thomas Ballew~
February 28, 2008
7:50 am
7 pounds 15 ounces
19.5 inches

07.07.07. Two pink lines. Exciting. Terrifying. Amazing. I already knew I wanted a natural birth. I created a birth plan that specifically laid out what I did and did not want as part of my birth. I took hypnobirthing classes to prepare for a drug free labor. I used an OB that everyone told me was the best in town. My pregnancy progressed very smoothly. Until I was 30 weeks along and my blood pressure readings started going up and they stayed up until I was 36 weeks when my OB told me I was pre-eclamptic and scheduled an induction at 38 weeks. Every fiber of my being told me not to do it and I asked if we could put it off a little longer, if there was anything I could do to lower my blood pressure, if there were ANY other options. She insisted that I was pre-eclamptic and that postponing the induction was dangerous for me and my baby and so I complied. The morning of the induction I woke up and asked Dustin “What if I just don’t go in? What will they do?” He had also been scared into thinking that the baby was in danger and convinced me that it was best to just go forward with the induction.  When I set foot in that hospital, my natural birth plans ended then and there.

They took my blood pressure when I got there and it was completely normal (thank you acupuncture) so I refused to proceed with the induction until I spoke to my OB. At this point I still believed that she had my (and my baby’s) best interest in mind. Three hours later she came and spoke with me and told me that at any moment my blood pressure could spike and I would be risking my baby’s life. And so it began. I labored without pain meds on pitocin for 42 hours (with nothing but back labor) and for about an hour had what seemed like a continuous contraction (later I learned it was my uterus hyper stimulated) but when I told the nurses about it they told me that they could turn the pit off but it would just stall my labor. My records say "Patient requested that the pitocin be turned off" with nothing about the hyper stimulation. I had my water broken and at least 10 of the most painful cervical checks ever (so bad that 10 weeks post partum when I had intercourse for the first time again, I was still swollen and bruised and it was ridiculously painful).  All this and I never dilated past 3 cm.  I refused the epidural several times because my hypnosis was working wonderfully but the nurses and my OB insisted that I was not dilating because I was not relaxing and that the epidural would help. I finally gave in due to sheer exhaustion and 6 hours after the epidural I was still at 3 cm and my water had been broken for 2 days now so I was told I had to have a cesearan. I was wheeled into the OR where my son was taken out of my body while I laid numb, swollen and crying. And while I was waiting to be sewn up my OB decided to use me as a learning tool for some intern that was in the OR and she moved my uterus all around and proceeded to point out my organs and ovaries and other insides. Nevermind the obviously distraught mama who was waiting to hold her baby for the first time. I wasn’t the first person (second or third, even) to hold my baby.  I could barely see him when Dustin held him near my head while they sewed me up. I didn’t get to see him weighed or bathed or put him to my breast. It would be almost 2 hours before I finally had him in my arms.

He came out extremely swollen and bruised with a misshapen head since he was being pressed against an almost closed cervix. We had a hard time nursing, I suffered from PPD for about 2 months (I am very lucky and grateful that it was not longer), and I was filled with anger, disappointment, frustration, sadness and guilt toward his birth. I loved and adored my little man but hated my birth experience. No one seemed to understand and, like so many other c-section mamas, I was told “at least you have a healthy baby.” Probably the most dismissive and hurtful thing that people can say because it completely invalidates what I was feeling and says that my experience doesn’t matter. It assumes that I had a choice between my baby's safety/health or having a section but that was not the case. *MY* section was not an emergency, my section was not necessary and my section was not wanted. I understand that the surgery has it’s place and can be life-saving, but mine was not so comments like that did not make me feel better. They made me feel more alone, more wrong for feeling what I felt. I tried to push past the anger by planning a VBAC for our next baby but over the years I learned more details about my birth that the anger and resentment just grew. I found out that I never had any protein in my urine or edema or any other signs or symptoms of pre-eclampsia aside from the elevated pressure readings. I also learned that those readings were just at the high end of normal. I learned that blood pressures for people over 200 pounds (which I definitely was at 30 weeks) are supposed to be taken with a large cuff to prevent false high readings. I learned that my OB was scheduled for vacation the week of my due date. I learned that her c-section rate was one of the highest in town.  I learned that she diagnosed me with CPD in my records instead of saying that it was a failed induction. I learned and I learned and I learned and I used it all to fuel my passion for taking back my birth.  When my son was 8 months old I saw those two beautiful lines again and my journey to VBAC began.