One of the most important decisions you have to make when you get that positive pregnancy test is choosing your care provider. The relationship you build with your provider can shape your pregnancy and drastically alter your birth. An issue many parents have, is that they aren’t necessarily thinking about BIRTH when they go to their first appointment. They are in pregnancy mode: excited, nervous, anxious, perhaps in shock. Then, halfway through the pregnancy, they start having thoughts of doubt, but feel afraid to make a change in their care plan. I feel like it will be helpful to share my personal birth stories with you, so you can see how different care providers alter the outcome of birth. This can help you decide which providers will be right for you, and will encourage you to be the one who is in control during your journey to the ultimate transformation that is parenthood…
Here is our journey with my first son, Zephyr. In italics, you will experience the moments during my pregnancy and birth that I was stripped of my power and confidence. The moments, no matter how small, that chisled away at my ability to stand on my own two feet and believe in my own power. I hope this helps in some way!
The Pregnancy and Birth of Zephyr
As soon as I knew I was pregnant, I knew I was going to have a natural birth. I hardly use medicine for anything, I consider myself a strong person with “high pain tolerance” (whatever that means), and I have the most supportive partner anyone could ask for. I could do this. People have been birthing babies since the beginning of time, and there is no reason I should need pain management at all. I was so excited, and so ready.
I scheduled my first appointment with my OB/GYN, excitedly telling the secretary I was pregnant with my first baby. Her first words were “how far along are you?” I said “5 weeks” (I peed on a stick 2 days ago.) “Oh, well she won’t even see you until 8 weeks, then we’ll confirm if you really are pregnant.” That stung a little. Surely, my missed period, my exhaustion, my 3 positive pregnancy tests, and my intuition were confirmation enough that my son was with me.
My appointments lasted roughly 1 hr in the waiting room and 5 minutes with the OB each visit. My blood pressure and weight were recorded, and my urine was tested. Looks good! It didn’t really matter how I was feeling because all of the numbers were good. I felt great though, so I didn’t think anything of this lack of actual personal care.
Around 30 weeks or so, I expressed during minute 4 of my 5 minute appointment that my desire was to birth as naturally as possible. I didn’t want an epidural. She rolled her eyes, shifted her expression to one of disbelief, and said, “WHY? Thats like having surgery without anesthesia.” I was shocked by her response, and shut down. I said, I want to see if I can do it, because I was made to do it. She said I could do whatever I wanted, but not to start crying when you get the epidural.
I cried in the car.
At 40 weeks ~2 days, she insisted we schedule our induction. I said I didn’t want to be induced, I would rather wait. She said she wouldn’t let me go past 41 weeks, and hopefully I would go into labor before then. I cried after that appointment, too. My induction was set for 41 weeks. I knew Pitocin induced contractions were far more intense and unmanageable than natural contractions, and my dream of my unmedicated birth was dwindling. I was afraid. I then felt immense pressure to get things started on my own.
Exactly 41 weeks, a day before my induction date, my contractions began! YES! We did it! We got this! I was up all night with steady contractions, which were not too intense yet, so I let Tom sleep. At 10AM when he woke up (we used to sleep until 10 AM!! HA!!) he was helping me get comfortable, and we decided to call the office. Come in at 2, and we’ll check you then. By this time, my contractions were very intense, and about 5-6 minutes apart. The car ride to the office was rough. She checked me, and told me I was 3 cm dilated. What? That is it? I said, “They’re really intense though..” She said, “I know you want to do this without an epidural, so you should go home, and go to the hospital when the contractions are 5 minutes apart.” (At this point in the visit, after the cervical check, my contractions spaced out to 10 minutes, AKA stalled). She said, “you’ve only had one contraction since you’ve been sitting here.”
We decided to go home, and the second we got in the car, my labor resumed, and I was back to the intense contractions I experienced at home. We decided to go to the hospital. This was it!!!
Check in was terrible. Answering questions about my social security number while in labor was just ridiculous, but we managed. I was admitted, and checked again. 4 cm. Progress. Then our whole family came to see us. At the time, I didn’t see this as a bad thing. I love my family. They are supportive and strong, and love me, and I thought that when you have a baby, everyone comes. Everyone was chatting amongst themselves, looking at me, talking to Tom, looking at my monitor, and watching each contraction as I laid motionless in bed, afraid to move. My mom asked if I wanted to get up, but I had all the contraptions strapped to me, IVs placed, and I just didn’t feel like I could.
I told the nurse my contractions were super intense, and asked if there was anything I could do. She said, “Oh honey, this is your first baby, you’re not even close to having this baby. It probably won’t even be before midnight.” It was 3PM. I knew it right then and there that I couldn’t do it. I could not last another 12 hours of this excruciating pain without help. I’m not as strong as I thought. Every half hour my nurse returned, asking me if I wanted the meds yet. I asked for an epidural at 5:30PM. They finally dimmed the lights, drew the shades, and told Tom and I to get some sleep. An hour later, I called the nurse telling her I felt intense pressure, and I thought there was something wrong with my catheter. I asked if she could please check me. “I’ll check you soon, its probably nothing.” 30 minutes later I called again, and insisted she check me. She did, and exclaimed, “Wow! You’re complete, its the baby’s head you’re feeling!” Gee, thanks for the confirmation. I had transitioned from 4cm to 10cm in FOUR hours. It turns out I have very effective contractions from the start.
In came a doctor I had never met before, probably the Hospitalist on staff, but I didn’t care. I pushed violently, and forcefully, with 10 second coaching on my back with my feet in stirrups. The nurse told me I wasn’t pushing right and I needed to hold my breath, despite the fact that the doctor said my pushes were very effective for a “primer” (first time mom.) I looked at Thomas and asked him if the baby was coming, and he assured me that he could see him, and that I was doing amazing, and he believed in me. With that strength, in 20 minutes, my sweet son was born at 8PM. They placed him on my chest for 10 seconds (enough time for me to express how cute he was) before prematurely taking him across the room because he wasn’t crying yet. Thomas followed them. I wondered what was happening and if he was ok. I heard his first cry from afar, and they brought him back to me. I was able to breastfeed in the delivery room when I asked the nurse if she could help me, because I didn’t know what I was doing. He latched beautifully and he nursed for a while. I was so happy. Then our family flooded the room again, and I was brought to tears. Now I know it was because my raging love hormones should have been pouring into my baby, bonding us. Instead, my baby was being passed around the room, to everyone but me.
The next day was circumcision time, and I cried and cried, and didn’t want to go through with the procedure. My intuition was telling me, NO. I hadn’t done research on this. I didn’t know enough. Everyone in the room felt they had an opinion to share, and they were all the same. You have to do it. Its better. Tom didn’t research it either, its just the thing to do. I didn’t want to. I cried more. They took him away, and brought him back over an hour later with a pacifier in his mouth, in shock. After he came back, he wasn’t breastfeeding efficiently anymore and was sleeping a lot. The pediatrician said he better start eating, or he’ll have low blood sugar and will sleep all day.
My OB/GYN never made an appearance during my entire hospital stay.
The days that followed at home were hard. Breastfeeding was off to a rocky start, because he just couldn’t settle down, and his circumcision bandages were stuck to his raw, wounded penis. Of course he couldn’t settle or get comfortable. I ripped his genitals apart. Of course. I think I cried for a week.
To most people, this experience left me with a “healthy baby.” It left me with a wounded, suffering, albeit live baby who couldn’t eat, with a mom who was stripped of her dignity, power, and confidence. I loved my son. I loved him more than I could ever explain in words, and the experience of his birth will forever be a tarnished one. Birth matters. It changes you, and the course of your life. I encourage you to, PLEASE, take your power back. If you feel like you aren’t being heard, or respected, or you experience any of the red flags I gave you today, then CHANGE YOUR PROVIDER. You have no loyalty to them, their feelings will not be hurt, and ultimately they won’t be missing you. It is their job to care for you, but they do not care about you. YOU have to care about YOU. Make your choices a top priority and start with self care, education and empowerment.
In the coming weeks, I will dive deeper into individual topics I touched on but I needed to tell the story that set me on my path to self work, awakening, and birth work.
Thank you for listening to my story,
Peace and Love,
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