My name is Lindsay. I live in NH with my husband and our 2 year old daughter. This is my birth story.
Ruby Grace D. was due on November 21, 2010. We chose to see a certified nurse midwife (Katrina) at Women’s Heath Associates. The practice also has two doctors on staff there. We decided that we wanted to have a natural childbirth, and signed up for Bradley Method classes. We took the twelve week class on Tuesday nights from 7-9 pm. We loved our instructor, and also the three other couples in our class. It became a place where I felt totally comfortable. I felt confident in the topics we discussed, and took the classes seriously. I followed the high protein diet, and did the exercises. I was ready. We knew Ruby was on the larger side, because of ultrasounds and also my size. At 36 weeks they estimated that she weighed 7 lbs 9 oz, I still had 4 weeks to go! James and I were convinced that she would be coming early.
As my due date crept closer and closer, I became more and more uncomfortable. I started trying every “natural method” of inducing labor that I could find. I ate spicy food, (uncomfortable amounts, and uncomfortably spicy) bounced on a yoga ball, walked (MILES), ate pineapple, ate Chinese food, sat with a breast pump attached to me for hours (nipple stimulation), had sex, sex and more sex, (it was NOT comfortable) did acupressure and I used essential oils. None of it worked. Then I went for the big guns… chiropractic visits, acupuncture, and the dreaded “sweeping of the membranes.” NOTHING. My due date was on a Sunday and it came and went. That Monday I saw Katrina, I was miserable. I was retaining SO much fluid that my legs and feet were like play dough. I could barely walk! Katrina offered to induce me, but sticking to my natural plan, I declined. I was having anxiety, because Katrina would be out on vacation from Wednesday-Friday of that week. What if I went into labor!? Who would the covering doctor on call be? She informed me that it would not be either Dr. Zarka or Dr. White from her practice. Instead, it would be Dr. Montenaro… a Dr. I had never met, from his own private practice. He only covered once a month. Just my luck.
Katrina scheduled me for a biophysical profile ultrasound on Friday (if I hadn’t had the baby by then) to make sure all was well before the weekend began. Friday came and… no baby. So James and I headed to the imaging center for yet another biophysical profile. The appointment is scheduled for a full hour, (but rarely lasts that long) and they look for four things: fetal movement, extension of a limb, “practice” breathing, and amount of amniotic fluid. Each of the four things counts for 2 points, totaling 8 points for the test. We had had one before, and Ruby did great, 8 points. I was not worried in the least about this test. This time however, we were there for a full hour. I was given juice to drink and asked to move from side to side. It is hard to see anything at this point, because the baby is so big… but I could tell that the ultrasound tech was concerned. Ruby’s heart rate was fine, but she wasn’t very cooperative for the test. The tech had to send the results over to the doctor. I asked if we should wait, but she said we could go home. We got home, heated up some left over Thanksgiving food and had just sat down to eat when my phone rang. It was Dr. Montenaro, and he said that he had received the results of Ruby’s biophysical profile. She had gotten a zero on the test. She didn’t do any of the things that were looked for on the test, and also my amniotic fluid was measuring less than 5 cm. He asked that we go into labor and delivery immediately for fetal monitoring. It was very upsetting. We went in, and I was hooked up.
Ruby was doing fine! The nurses were trying to get a hold of Katrina, but weren’t having any luck. Dr. Montenaro came in to talk. He explained that although Ruby seemed to be doing fine on the EFM, he would like to induce me because there wasn’t any reason for her to stay inside me any more. I was apprehensive, and asked if we could go home and get a good nights rest. Tomorrow Katrina would be there, and we could discuss our options. He said “I wouldn’t recommend that.” When I asked why, his response was, “Because I’d be afraid that when you came back tomorrow… your baby would be dead.” I was horrified. Couldn’t he have worded that any other way? So we moved on to discussing options for inducing me. We decided the most natural was to break my water, and see if my body took over and started contracting on its own. I told Dr. Montenaro that we had written a birth plan, and asked if he would like to review it. He scoffed and said that he had seen it at the nurses station. James pulled out a copy from our bag, and asked if he would like to review it again. He sighed and said, “I guess.” We waited while he started reading over our birth plan. He started to chuckle. Referring to one of the things on our birth plan he said. “#6, Minimal amount of vaginal exams, with consent… Wouldn’t it be rape if you didn’t consent to it?” Greeeat , and this is the guy who’s about to break my water. So the breaking of the water was attempted, but although it was thought that I was 1 cm dilated, my cervix only had a dimple of dilation… it wasn’t dilated all the way through.
Just as our plan failed, our midwife came in! HOORAY! We talked, and decided that I shouldn’t leave, it was best for everyone if Ruby was born. So on to plan #2, let’s try pitocin. Friday night November 26 I started pitocin. I was awoken Saturday morning at 6 am by Katrina and some nurses who told me that Ruby had some heart decelerations, and they wanted to stop the pitocin and monitor us for awhile. By 8 am we were fine, so back on pitocin I went. I was discouraged that we had already had to change so many of our natural plans, but still hopeful that the pitocin would do it’s job, and I could have Ruby pain medicine free. I labored all day Saturday, and honestly, the contractions weren’t that bad. James and I played Yahtzee, watched TV and listened to music. Katrina would come in and check me periodically. I had been told that I was 90% effaced, and 1 cm dilated for over a month. Every time Katrina checked me, it was the same. One time, while checking me, she asked me if it would be ok if the nurse Ellen also checked me so that they could compare notes. Katrina explained that as my cervix had come down some, it seemed that she was feeling a hard band of what she thought was scar tissue. Ellen checked me, and agreed. I had a procedure done on my cervix seven years ago to remove precancerous cells. Apparently that procedure left my cervix with scar tissue on it. Katrina explained that that may be why my cervix wasn’t dilating, but often times the scar tissue just “broke” and rapid dilation occurred. I was upset, but still hopeful. By the end of Saturday evening, I was exhausted and starving. I was getting more and more discouraged each time I was checked and no progress had been made. James did some research and discovered a study that been done with women who had cervical scar tissue like me and “cervical massage”. We talked to Katrina about it, and she agreed to try it out on Sunday morning. Saturday night I was taken off pitocin, ate dinner, and had cervidil (a cervical ripening agent) inserted. I got a good nights sleep, and at 4 am the cervidil was removed. At 5 am the pitocin was restarted, and at 6 am Katrina came in to begin our attempts with “cervical massage”.
Cervical massage is NOT a massage, it does not feel good. It is when your cervix is stabbed, pushed, and pulled it an attempt to break up tough scar tissue so that your cervix will dilate. I had James on one side of me holding my hand, and the nurse Ellen on the other. Katrina was working at my cervix. It. Was. Awful. There was blood, there was pain, there was tears. I just kept telling myself, “it’s for my baby, it’s for my baby.” Throughout the day on Sunday my contractions got intense. They were able to break my water, and I thought… YAY something is working! I never asked for pain medicine. I endured three more “cervical massage” sessions, including a time when Katrina tried inserting a catheter with a balloon into my cervix to inflate the balloon and manually dilate me. I used techniques I learned in Bradley classes to manage the pain. I relaxed in the tub, I bounced on a birthing ball, I walked, we used massage. Hours passed, and each time I was about to be checked I thought, “this is it… I HAVE to be dilated by now.” Nope. Finally at 6 pm Katrina came to me and said that we had come to a crossroad. Something needed to be done to get my baby out (and by something I mean a C-section.). At that moment, I felt like part of me had died, I was overcome with such emotion. Why me? I had done everything right! I had been waiting for this moment for MY ENTIRE LIFE. I had taken the Bradley classes, done the exercises, followed the diet! Everything had been ok my entire pregnancy!
Katrina agreed to wait until 8 pm, but if nothing had changed… you know the rest. 8 pm was really 7, because anesthesiology had a scheduling conflict. I had pretty much given up all hope at 6 pm anyway. My husband and I cried together. He was just as disappointed as I was, except that it wasn’t “his fault”. I walked myself down the hall to the operating room. It was the scariest place I have ever been. It was cold, and way too bright. I literally was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Katrina and nurse Ellen stayed with me the entire time in the OR. Horrid Dr. Montenaro did my surgery. Nick the anesthesiologist was SUPER nice. My husband was there, in his sterile jumpsuit. They played the CD “Native Spirit” in the OR for me. I can’t even listen to that CD anymore, it brings back terrible memories. The first spinal I had didn’t work. Dr. Montenaro was using tweezers to pinch me, asking if I could feel it. I COULD. “Please don’t cut me open, I can feel it.” is what I told him. They tried moving me around to see if the medicine would move in my spine and work, but it didn’t. I had to have another spinal. This time, when I didn’t respond to his pinches, he just started the surgery without warning me.
The spinals had morphine in them to help with the pain later. Having never been on morphine before, I didn’t know what to expect. Honestly, and I’m sorry to be so vulgar… I was fucked up. I felt like I was moving in slow motion. My body, my breathing, my emotions. It was a terrible feeling. My baby was born at 8:39 pm. The magical moment I had been waiting for! But instead of my baby being placed on my chest, tears of joy… a wonderful family moment; I was strapped to an operating table, shivering, watching them carry my baby away from me. The only word I could mutter when I heard her cry for the first time was, “Oh”. OH!? Who says that!?!? My husband cried, he took pictures, he got to hold her. My mommy and baby bonding moment was gone. And as I type this now, I am crying. People said to me over and over and over “Be thankful that you and your baby are ok.” I am. Of course I am. But that wasn’t, and still isn’t a comforting thing to hear. I am sad. I feel gypped. I feel responsible. I feel jealous that my husband got to share those first few precious moments with her while I was hardly coherent, strapped to a bed.
“This wasn’t supposed to happen to me.” That’s what I said over and over before my surgery. My baby is here, and I can’t imagine my life without her. We have had a chance to bond, especially because I am nursing. I love Ruby, I love my husband, I am thankful that we are all healthy. But… it will take me a long long time to come to terms with what happened between November 26 and December 1 2010. The pain after surgery was awful. I couldn’t get out of bed for the first 20 hours Ruby was alive. I was really really sad for the first two weeks. I’m sure some of it was regular postpartum hormone feelings, but I know a lot of my feelings were because of what happened. So that’s my story. I don’t expect anyone to understand exactly how I feel, but I needed to share what happened.