Thursday, March 28, 2013

A rare-type of birth advocate

Today, we have a guest blogger! So excited for this one! 

I had an unusual birth.  I got two for one. No, not twins and not babies. I got two births for the price of one... 
Daddy holding sweet baby boy
When I found out I was pregnant, I started off going to an OB. It wasn’t that I didn’t like my doctor, it’s just that the more I researched and read (and the more my hormones started to affect my brain cells,) the more I realized what I wanted out of my birth. In my third trimester, I decided to petition my insurance to cover care at a local birthing center where I could have an intervention-free water birth. They agreed and so I began my unexpected journey into the world of natural birth. 
I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I just knew I wanted it bad enough. I would keep my eye on the prize no matter how bad the pain got. 
Then, the big day finally arrived. My labor started at a little before 8 pm on Friday night and I labored well into the morning. I finally felt the urge to push around 10 am. I pushed for a while, but I had a “cervical lip” that was working against me, making it very difficult for my son’s head to descend. He was also in the posterior position and I was experiencing terrible back labor. At that point, my midwife told me to stop pushing and breathe through the urge to push. I did this for several loooooooong and painful hours. I was fully dilated and finally allowed to start pushing again sometime that evening. After several hours of that, I started giving up. (*editor's note: gee, Cat... After almost 24 hours of labor several of which you had to resist your body's natural and very powerful urges THEN you *start* to give up? Gosh. Weak one!! ;))  It gets to the point where you don’t even remember that you’re trying to have a baby. You’re just trying to make it through the next minute. And you do. Those minutes turn into hours and your body just takes over. My mind wasn’t always in control of what my body was doing, but it did what it needed to do. Like a birthing beast. All that work, though, didn’t end in the birth I had envisioned for myself. 
The baby was just not coming. My midwife agreed that I was no longer progressing in my labor and the ambulance was called. I was told that the hospital would most likely give me an epidural and Pitocin to keep things moving, but that I could potentially have another 10 hours of labor ahead of me. I thought I was going to dieSo, these circumstances that were out of my control landed me in an ambulance with a B-line to the hospital. The ambulance couldn’t get there fast enough. Not just for me, but for the EMT’s. They were pleading with me not to have the baby in the ambulance. If I knew where my arm was at the time, I promise you that I would have punched one of them in the face for saying something so incredibly stupid. But, I digress.
After the agonizing ride to the hospital, however, it was determined upon arrival that the baby needed out right away. His heart rate was dropping and I had spiked a fever (which we later found out was due to an infection in my placenta.) The doctor tried to deliver the baby during two more pushes (the most painful because the doctor actually tried to maneuver the baby WITH HIS HANDS). My son was right there, but he just wouldn't budge. There was panic and chaos all around me as they prepped me for an emergency C-Section, but I was completely at peace. I had somehow known hours before that this was coming and I felt that we were both going to be alright. I know now that God was present in those dark moments and He gave me peace in a situation that would have normally sent me into a panic for sure. Fine by me at that point, anyway! I just wanted him out. All I could think about was making the pain stop. And then… it did. Oh, Sweet Jesus, it did. A little [BIG] needle called a Spinal. I didn’t even feel it go in, but all the sudden I was numb from the belly down. That was the sweetest relief I’ve ever felt and you better believe I was thanking Jesus for that little modern miracle.
So, here's where the rubber meets the road.
Cat and Judah in the NICU
Because of the C-Section, I didn’t get to have a rush of Oxytocin (the love hormone that is released after a woman gives birth without medical intervention.) when I met my son, I was laying on an operating table, not sure if I was right side up or upside down. I remember gathering up the strength to be excited to finally meet him. I was happy to see that he was ok and hear his cry as he took his first breath, but truth be told, I was concerned about the vomit that was burning my throat due to all the tugging they were doing on my abdomen. I remember thinking, “I went through all that and now I might die from choking on my own vomit.” Yes, irrational, I know. But I’m telling you, I had no functioning brain left. None. Meeting my son was not the emotional, joyful rush I was anticipating it to be for so many weeks and I remember feeling guilty about that.
And that's where it started. The guilt. 
I had read and watched all these things about what a birth should be. And maybe it is supposed to be like dying a painful death and then opening your eyes to the glories of heaven, but it wasn’t for me. I was just thankful to Jesus he was ok. And I was EXHAUSTED. So incredibly exhausted. 
I thought "That's it. This is going to be the anti-climactic end to my birth journey… How disappointing." 
It was a bond with my son formed in a way that I was not expecting. You see, I didn’t get to hold my son when he was born. I didn’t even get to kiss him because I was too busy puking! Then, my son was taken to the NICU because of his elevated white blood cell count due to the infection that was in my body and I was told I wouldn’t even get to see him for 24 hours because of my fever. So, there went my chance at forming a special bond with him. Everything I had worked so hard for… I had played the moment in my head over and over again… That moment when I would deliver my son with my own two hands and pull him to my chest with a rush of love. None of that happened.
However, God blessed me in a way I was not expecting. 
The next day I felt like I had been hit by a bus. I was in an incredible amount of pain and still exhausted out of my mind. I had spent the evening dozing in and out of consciousness, waking to panic attacks in between. I cried and cried and cried. I didn’t know where I was or what had happened. I didn’t know what day it was or when any of what happened occurred. In fact, I’m pretty sure there were moments I completely forgot that I had a newborn baby. The baby that I had been waiting for for months was in another wing of the hospital. I kept asking for people to tell me what happened. I really thought I had lost my mind. It wasn’t supposed to go this way in my head. I was supposed to have my baby, in the water, and then four hours later walk out of the birth center with my little bundle of joy in tow. As reality set in, it was the worst I’d ever felt physically (aside from actually being in labor) and mentally. That was until they wheeled me across the hospital to the NICU to nurse my son.
The only time during that first week while my son and I were in the hospital that I did not feel any pain was when I was with him. If I was touching him, I was completely pain free. I felt like I could get up and run through the hospital (mind you, I had just had major abdominal surgery and my toes were so swollen, they looked like Jimmy Dean sausage links!) When I was nursing him or holding him in my arms, I felt like I could “tune” into him. That’s the only way I can explain it. I felt like Judah and I were one person. I could feel what he was thinking and what he was needing. It was incredible. I had never heard of anyone experiencing that after a C-Section and I knew it was a special gift from God. Sometimes I wish I could go back to that time just so I can feel that oneness with my son again. However, that kind of experience was meant for a special time and place in both of our lives. I know that he will not remember it, but I will never forget it as long as I live. A brief moment in time that was so beautiful, so powerful, and so spiritual. They were the hardest days of my life, but they were also some of the most wonderful. It made my incredibly crazy and dramatic birth journey worth it. It was a gift that my broken spirit needed and God provided. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Cat feeling energized while nursing Judah! :)
If you’re still reading, I promise you that I’m not here to tell you that I think every woman should try for a natural birth. I used to think "those people" were nuts. 
Then I became one of them. 
The older I get, the more I realize that’s how life usually goes. I’m also not here to tell you to flee from your seemingly “crazy” desire to have a natural birth run to the nearest hospital. I did both, all in one go. For the price of my son Judah, I could have had two children. He’s totally worth it so I’m ok with that.
Here’s what I would like to do though. I’d like to clear up a misconception and bring the two sides together. You know the sides I’m talking about… Whatever side of the fence you fall on, you probably refer to your counter parts as “those people.” There are the people who are part of a group that I identified with in the beginning of my pregnancy. These are the people who cannot fathom going through childbirth anywhere but in a hospital. And if you’re like I was, ready to battle out childbirth with a powerful weapon known as the epidural. I was all about the epidural. No, I take that back. I was all about going through childbirth pain-free The needle in my spine part really freaked me out. You may be a planner and schedule your C-Section. Or perhaps you were advised to have a C-Section by your doctor for a number of reasons and felt it best to follow that advice. These are the women that are ok with all that medicine has to offer.  The thought of giving birth in a hospital doesn't produce images of scenes from a horror movie in their minds. 
 Maybe you like the idea of natural birth, but would prefer to do it in a hospital setting just in case something were to go wrong. All of these are valid because they are part of each individual’s journey to motherhood
And then, there's the other side. The people who I used to think were hippies. I mean, why would you want to go through the pain of child birth when you don’t have to? How primitive. Like having a root canal without so much as that numbing gel they give you before the shot of Novocain. Again, those were my thoughts prior to my own birth journey. I told you-- no bashing either side and I’m sticking to that. Anyway, these people would probably do anything not to have their baby in the hospital. They are more granola and believe that natural childbirth is an empowering experience. And it is. It absolutely is. Having gone through it, I can tell you that I had no idea the kind of pain I was capable of handling. I am the person who normally whines over a paper cut, and I endured twenty-six hours of the most agonizing pain I’ve ever felt in my life [times a thousand!]. I’m actually shocked I didn’t try to run outside and throw myself in front of a bus just to end the pain. 

I've said all that to say this: No matter how you choose to give birth or how you end up giving birth, it is a powerful and unique experience. Child birth is not a formula that will get you the exact same outcome every time (except the baby, hehe!). That’s what I had led myself to believe and I was wrong. I thought I had to do certain things in order to have an amazing birth experience. 
Cat holding Judah in the NICU
The fact that I didn’t even get to hold my son when he was born does not affect our relationship today like I feared that it might. When I walk in the room, he gets a smile on his face that is just oozing with drool and love for me. I don’t think it would be any different no matter what happened on that day eight months ago. In fact, I know that if everything had gone according to MY plan, I wouldn’t have had the life-changing experience that I did. It would have been life changing for sure, but it would have been different. This experience was meant to teach me something and it did. 
So no matter how you end up giving birth, know that you are strong and powerful. You have been blessed with the great responsibility of raising your child. You have been called. You have been ordained. You are the best mom for your baby because you were chosen for him/her. So, trust your instincts. Believe in yourself and do not try to measure another woman’s birth journey by your own. Each journey is unique. Each is powerful. Each is special. Each is a gift. And we’re all just doing the best we can.
That is, afterall, the outcome for us all no matter what birthing path we choose. Sometimes we may end up going down a path that we didn’t choose, but we still end up with the same outcome… the big picture--
A healthy baby and mama. 

Catherine is a mother to one beautiful, happy, silly, bouncy, miraculous, heaven-sent little boy. He was bo
orn 8 (almost 9) months ago and has taken her world by storm. "I try to be a conscious parent, but if it stresses me out, then I just do my best. I cloth diaper because I don’t mind poop or laundry, but I buy baby food because I don’t like to cook. I think I’m a pretty average wife and mom who has been blessed with an extraordinary life."

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing both sides, now I know if my water birth doesn't go as expected, not all is lost.