It has taken me a long time to come to terms with my birth experience. It wasn’t traumatic, I didn’t have a cesarean or an episiotomy, and my Pie was born healthy and fine, but I didn’t feel well cared for by my midwife. The nurses, anesthesiologist and OB, my mom and my mountain man were all wonderful, but I had expected more care from my primary caregiver.
Talking about it helps me come to terms with it. Seeing the humorous parts and remembering what went really well helps, too.
And although it didn’t go as planned (does it ever?), and although my midwife made me feel alone instead of supported, I had my Pie.
I had been seeing the midwives at Group Health, so instead of having a dedicated midwife I had a team – I saw whoever was available at the appointment time I needed, and I would deliver with whoever was on call at the birthing center the day I went into labor. I’ve never really cared much who my doctors were or if I had to see someone new, but I was a little unhappy with the midwife I ended up with.
I woke up on a Thursday morning after having had contractions all night long with a wet bed. I called the on-call nurse so she could assess whether to send me to the hospital, which she did. Since I had been sleeping between contractions all night I had no idea of the length or frequency of the contraction, or how many I had had. I woke up, breathed through them, and went back to sleep in an effort to stay as rested as possible. We gathered the bag, our birth plan, our birth book and our notes, and headed out.
When we got to the hospital my midwife checked me over and told me I should go home and labor there, even though I was already almost 5cm, having contractions frequently, regularly, and for a minute at a time, and felt like it was time. I decided to stay, since we lived close to 40 minutes away and I didn’t want to get home and then have to turn back around. Once I’m somewhere I like to stay. So I walked. My mountain man walked with me, my mom and sister came, and we got going.
I was able to continue resting, and even sleeping, between contractions. I labored for about 12 hours after waking up that morning, and then it was suddenly time to push. I could feel it. I asked the midwife to check me, and she didn’t want to. She said I would know when it was time. I told her I felt like I had to push, and it was getting worse, so she checked me. I was 10cm and ready to go. I began working with the contractions, pushing as they came and resting between. But at the end of each push there was this insane, excruciating pain on my right side. I have a very high tolerance for pain, but this was bad. I pushed for about 3 hours and was near tears. I told my midwife I didn’t think I could do this un-medicated with that sharp pain at each push. I asked her to see if I was even making any progress. If it hurt but I was making progress I thought I could deal. She didn’t check because “she didn’t want to get in the habit of checking”. I asked for medication, she told me I didn’t need it, and that giving birth hurts. I finally asked her to check me again, and she found that my cervix was “pretty lipped out”.
I don’t really know what that means, except that there was an area of my cervix (on the right side!) that hadn’t completely opened, and I was pushing the Pie against it. It was getting inflamed, making the pain worse and the pushing harder as the cervical inflammation made the birth canal narrower. So my midwife told me not to push any more. I tried. It’s pretty much impossible. After 3 hours of trying not to push, she finally told me I wasn’t getting anywhere (thanks for the support, midwife!) and the inflammation hadn’t subsided, and that I needed an epidural so I could let the inflammation decrease and hopefully the lip would go away. I had asked for something hours before, but my birth plan had said I wanted to go as long as I could without intervention. What I thought was long enough apparently wasn’t good enough for this midwife.
Bitter, bitter bitter.
After getting my epidural, I was able to rest for about 3 hours. Thank you, anesthesiologist! I don’t remember your name, but I love you. Then the nurse woke me up because Pie’s heart rate was dropping a little, and they wanted to get me pushing again. I pushed for three more hours, now with an epidural, and got her head past the cervix, but she just wasn’t coming.
I was talking to my mountain man about this post, and he just told me last night that I wasn’t pushing very well after I had an epidural. I know that it’s pretty typical, and that the inability to push effectively after an epidural is why so many women end up on the OR table. And although I only had a partial block it was still hard to feel like I was pushing as well as before it. Even knowing all this, hearing that I wasn’t doing it well feels like a failure.
After I got my epidural I don’t remember seeing my midwife again until the nurses called her in to take a look at me. My midwife came in, called the OB who was on the ward, and he came in, said hello (to my hoo-ha), got the vacuum and got her out in two pushes. Thank you, OB! I don’t remember your name, but I love you.
I was so relieved to be done, and she was warm and fussing and looking at us. She had a double cone head – a long cone from being in the birth canal all night and then a short cone from the vacuum.
When she came out she was purple, slimy, wiggly, with cone heads. It felt like an eternity before the OB put her to my chest, but I know it was within seconds of her head coming out. She was squawking and searching for a nipple.
She was healthy and pink and perfect. She latched and sucked. She unlatched and found her thumb and closed her eyes. I inspected her as the OB finished working. The placenta came, and he said “wow, that’s a great looking placenta!”
I didn’t know if he was actually impressed.
Maybe he says that to all the girls.
My mountain man took a picture of it.