Sunday, June 23, 2013


So, recently I went through a trauma.  I'm pretty sure it can be categorized as a trauma because I cry about it every day, and have for 4 weeks.  It was the birth of my daughter, Adelaide.

Adelaide is a beautiful little girl.  She's really healthy and very sweet.  However, her entrance into this world was not.  In fact, I'm haunted by it.

During pregnancy I was super encouraged by the stories that I heard from mothers.  Stories about feeling a really strong connection to their offspring-an indescribable love.  Stories about euphoria after pushing for hours.  These stories told me that labor was going to be hard, but would leave me with the notion that healing would be fast because I'd be so distracted by the beauty of my little one and in awe of her creation and entrance into our world.

None of those things happened to me.  In fact, it was awful.

Now, I don't want to sound overly dramatic.  And my intention is not to scare people who have not had children.  My only purpose in writing this is to help myself heal and to educate women.  I fear, that like me, other women may be confused about the realities of childbearing.

You're probably thinking, "let's hear the story already!" Ok.  Here goes.

I went into the hospital, 13 days overdue.  I felt like I had been pregnant forever, however I was surprisingly not that uncomfortable.  I had heard of women with incredible waddles.  I did not have that.  In fact, just a couple days prior, I went shopping, and a women commented how big I was, but how I was able to walk with such ease.  That should have been a clue to me, that my baby was not in position.  But, being that it is my only child, I really didn't feel confident about anything.

Anyway, I'm at the hospital, with an appointment to be induced.  After 41 weeks of pregnancy, healthcare providers fear that the placenta will start to break down and be unable to nourish the baby.  After 42 weeks, there is a fear that the baby will start to have a growth spurt and a natural delivery will become too problematic.  At 13 days over due, I am 41 weeks and 6 days.

To begin induction, I was administerd Petocin.  Petocin is a hormone that begins contractions.  Real contractions.  Hard contractions.  They hurt.

Now, I had a doula with me, and she is also a massage therapist, and for the first day, her services were brilliant.  But, after 24 hours, I was still having contractions, but hadn't dilated a single centimeter more, and had nothing but back labor.  For those of you who don't know, back labor indicates that the baby is not in a great position.  The other thing about back labor is that it is far more uncomfortable that contractions in the abdominal region.  For years, my period cramps were conditioning me to be able to take the pain of labor.  Nothing prepared me for back labor.

My doula was able to really help with the pain in the beginning hours, but after a while, my back felt bruised.  It hurt to be touched.  In fact, it hurt to sit.  Back labor is both in the lower back and buttocks region.  I tried to labor in a tub, I tried to labor in a bed, I tried to labor on a birthing ball, but I was wearing down.  At this point, my discomfort was so high that I did something I never thought I would...I asked for drugs.

I had planned to have a natural labor, but I was so, so tired.  I took morphine.  I liked it.  I slept.

Then, after waking up, I asked for more.  I took more morphine.  I liked it.

I'm now at 48 hours of labor, and this is where it starts to become somewhat of a blur.  I know that at some point my water was broken for me to get me dialated more.  I know that at some point I got an epidural because the continuance of morphine was not a good idea.  I know that at some point I swelled so bad that blisters started to appear, and talk of pulmonary edema became concerning.  I know that I was on oxygen.  I know that my kidneys shut down and I was holding onto more fluid than what was safe.  I know that I had my membranes stripped again.  I know that my uterus stopped contracting at 9cm.  I know that I felt an urge to push, but that it wasn't time.  I know that my heart rate and blood pressure were unsafe, but I can't remember in what order these things happened.

I do remember the look on the nurses faces when they looked at my monitors.  I do remember how often medical professionals were in my room.  I do remember seeing the look of my mom and sister as they massaged me and wiped the sweat off of me, and attempted to fix my hair.  I remember the look of concern on my dad's face.  I was unable to get up, and unable to see myself in any mirror.  But from the way I felt and the way their faces looked, I know the sight was concerning.

It was after 68 hours of labor, than an OB came to talk to me about a c-section.  At this point, I was so tired and was so ready to move forward that I agreed.

Now, a c-secion was really something that I never truly considered.  I always assumed, I'd have a normal delivery that would end in an indescribable love for my child and a total euphoria, after labor and pushing.  I knew nothing about the procedure nor the recovery.

C-sections are scary.  Being wheeled into the OR is scary.  Having many medical professionals running around, trying to work within a certain amount of time is scary.  Being awake for surgery is scary.  Being an inactive participant in the birth of a child is scary.

No one told me that the anesthesia would make me vomit.  No one told me that the anesthesia would make me shiver uncontrollably.  No one told me that C-sections are an aggressive procedure that would leave my abdomen bruised.  No one told me that I'd feel an uncomfortable amount of pressure, although I could feel no pain.  No one told me that my baby might have to be pushed back up the birth canal in order to get her out through an incision.  No one told me that I wouldn't be able to feel my abdomen for months, maybe even years afterword, as the nerves re-fuse back together.

I lost a lot of blood during surgery.  I know at one point, a blood transfusion was considered.  I also got a uterine infection and had a temperature of 103 degrees.  I was sick.  These details add to the trauma but the real kicker is that when Adelaide was born, I was relieved to hear her cry because she was out, but then I was angry.  So angry.  More angry then I have ever been in my life.

I was angry about my birthing experience.  I was angry that I didn't have that euphoria.  Angry that I labored so long for nothing.  Angry, angry, angry.

I yelled at a doctor.  I yelled at a nurse.  I hated my post op nurse for no apparent reason.  I was just so angry at the world.

I thought my family looked concerned before I entered surgery.  Nothing compares to their faces when they saw me after surgery.  I must have looked horrible.  I distinctly remember, my dad seeing me for the first time.  He was holding Adelaide, but when he looked at me, he put Adelaide down and said, "I'm uncomfortable."  I know that he wasn't uncomfortable with Adelaide, he was totally uncomfortable with the sight of me.  I must have looked really concerning.  My mom stayed at the hospital with me that night.  In fact, she stayed three nights total.  My sister finally told me yesterday, that she'll never forget how I looked.

I couldn't hold Adelaide when she was born because I was too weak.  Thank goodness, for Matt.  He never let her out of his arms.  He comforted her and made her feel loved because I couldn't.

I tried to breastfeed.  Adelaide couldn't latch.  I started to feel less and less like her mother.

For two weeks, I felt less and less like her mother.  Nothing was going well.  Not even when we got home.  I felt like my body fought hers from the moment we started induction.  I was getting sadder and sadder.  Postpartum wellness became a real concern of mine and my healthcare providers.  Not to mention, Adelaide was starting to appear colicky.

My midwives were very concerned.  They called me at home.  They had me come in weekly, and thank God they did.  I got some really good care.

One of the midwives noticed that Adelaide seemed to have an extremely insufficient suckle and recommended a homeopathic cranial specialist.  We found that Adelaide's jaw was not in the correct place, something that is very common amongst babies born cesarean.  We also found out that Adelaide had ribs out of place from having such a rough cesarean birth.  Both of those things got fixed in her third week of life outside of the womb and she began to cry less.  Matt and I no longer thought that we had a colicky baby and started to enjoy her more.

When I got home, I tried breastfeeding, and immediately Adelaide was able to latch.  It was amazing.  Truly amazing.  Our bodies were no longer fighting each other and I was enjoying her more.  I started to feel like her mother and for the first time I cried out of happiness.

I also saw a real professional lactation specialist.  A real professional.  She gave me great advice.  She encouraged me to re-assess my goals.  By this point, I've been so out of the habit of breastfeeding her.  My milk supply is low, and because I'm still healing from major surgery, it may never increase.  The amount of work that I'd have to do to increase it, would be quite disruptive to how Matt and I see as conducive for our lifestyle.  Both the lactation specialist and I know that breast milk is the best thing for my baby, but we also know that lifestyle is important.  She has really encouraged me to continue to formula feed and just have nice experiences with Adelaide at my breast afterword.  She can have breast milk for dessert or just doze off skin to skin.  And with this technique, again, I've started to feel more and more like her mother.  I really enjoy my baby this way, and she enjoys me.

I know that Adelaide knows I'm her mother now, because she follows me with her eyes as I walk and talk about the room.  She calms down with me, like no body else.  She smiles the most with me.  I'm just so happy that we got to this point, however I'm saddened that there was a whole two week period that it wasn't like that.

Still, I often feel incision pain and I'm reminded of her birth.  Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night thinking that it's time to push my baby out; I so badly wanted to do that.  I don't like to look at my scar, and when I get emotional about her birth, the incision hurts more.  I hate my birthing story.  I wanted it to be beautiful.  I feel like I was robbed of what could be a really beautiful story.  I can't wait till the day that I don't cry when I think about it.

Again, I tell my story to help me move on, but also it's important that women know.  It's important that people understand that when Adelaide was born, I wasn't a good mother because I wasn't a healthy person.  I don't need more stress and pressure to breastfeed.  Moms who fail at breastfeeding feel bad enough.  I don't need to feel judged that my child uses a pacifier, I'm just so thankful that she can suck on it now.  I don't need to feel bad that she falls asleep hearing my heartbeat every time she goes down; we're catching up because there were two whole weeks were she didn't have nice experiences with me and I didn't with her.  I need people to shut up.  I need people to understand that I'm doing the best that I can, and that I had a lot of catching up to do before I was of any use to my little Adelaide.  There were two weeks that were extremely tough, and didn't get easier, fast.

I've learned a lot though.  I've learned that I'm not as strong as I thought, but also I'm a lot stronger than I thought.  I learned, on a much deeper level, that medicine can have extreme trade-offs.  I learned that my husband can really stand up and be the most amazing support person, and make tough calls, and stick to his guns.  I learned that I'm no good to anybody if I'm unhealthy.  And, I learned to lean more on others.  

My birthing experience, I'll have to make peace with it eventually.  For the meantime, keep me in your prayers because for now, I'm still haunted by it.

It is what it is.