Time To Heal {Traumatic Cesarean Birth After Homebirth Transfer}

by Birth Without Fear on April 21, 2013

“I planned a home birth for my first son and ended up with a very traumatic c-section. I suffered in silence for a long time and it hurt my ability to be the mother I wanted to be, it hurt my relationship with my husband, and I never knew that other women felt the same way. Since then I have done some therapy and found out that I was in fact dealing with PTSD from the birth. I also went through a traumatic birth healing class and have been attending ICAN meetings. I am in a much better place now, maybe not fully myself, and maybe I’m just too changed to ever be that woman again. But my son just celebrated his 2nd birthday and I was able to enjoy the day and feel joy for the fact that I had him, I birthed him even if it didn’t happen the way I had always thought it would. Here is my birth story, that I was not able to write until my son was 18 months old because it was just too painful. I pray that someday I will have an amazing, healing HBAC story to follow it up.” – Allie

I hadn’t slept all night wondering when this baby would ever be born. Midwife came by the house to do an NST that morning and everything was great, for the 2nd week in a row I was still 5cm dilated. I was pretty sure that he wasn’t face down but my midwife assured me he was in a good position. Who is a first time mom to question the professional right? So I tried my best to picture him in a great face down position and forgot about it.

We spent the rest of the day with family because it was Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. Around midnight Paul fell asleep but my mind just wouldn’t shut off yet. Around 2:30am I decided I would get into bed, as soon as I lay down I felt the first contraction. I laid there for a while thinking “Yeah Right there is no way this is really labor”. I downed the glass of water on my nightstand and waited for them to stop. But they didn’t, and man did it hurt. I decided to get up and walk around for a while and I felt great like that, still having contractions but they no longer hurt at all. I tried to wake Paul up and get him to keep me company and time them, but he wasn’t having it. I think he thought I was crazy and not really in labor.

Around 3:30am I thought “If this is the real thing I really should get some sleep,” but every time I tried to lie down, I felt pain, strong pain. So I continued to pace across our family room and listen to my Hypnobabies on my MP3. I was really excited because by this time I knew it was really happening. I think my waves were about 6 minutes apart at this point. I would sit on the couch in between, but when one started I got up and paced again. About 6am I called my dad and told them what was going on, my mom was going to be present at the birth and I wanted her to come sometime soon. Paul also called the midwife around that time too.

As long as I kept up my pacing during waves I really had no pain at all. Paul made me some celery with peanut butter to snack on and a big glass of water.

Once my mom, the midwife, and her assistant got there is when things got a little stronger, I still wouldn’t have even called it uncomfortable though. They knew I hadn’t slept in two days and was tired though. So I didn’t protest when they wanted to prop me up on the couch with a heating pad on my back to see if I could rest. And I did doze a little for a while then. I didn’t know it, but my dad had been hovering around in town and wanted to come see how I was doing, so he came and sat with us for a while. It was really peaceful and quiet. No one was really talking very much, just lounging around our family room; having tea, quilting, and watching me labor with the morning sunlight shining in the windows.

After a while resting like that and having more celery and peanut butter our midwife suggested that I get into the birth tub. I was worried that it might slow my labor down but they thought I was established enough that it wouldn’t. So I sent my dad away since I was going to be partly naked from now on out and I put on my WAY too small swim suit top. Oh the water felt wonderful! The tub had little bubble jets around the bottom and with those on I couldn’t hear anything else and I loved the feeling of the bubbles running up my back. It was really wonderful to be secluded in my own little world. Just Jake and I. I floated in the water and felt him squirming, and I wondered what he would look like.

Every so often the midwife would come check Jakes heart rate, and send me to empty my bladder. Then I went right back to the water. Paul and my mom took turns sitting next to the tub, holding my hands during the pressure waves now because that is what I needed. I will never forget my mom (who has no faith in birth because of her own awful experiences and did not like the idea of having a home birth) – she smiled and said “This is how everyone should have babies!”

Sometime after that I asked Paul to get my chap stick and he ever so slowly made his way across the room, I said “how about today?” I wasn’t really angry or anything but that remark made the midwife decide I must be in transition. I still wasn’t really very uncomfortable so I didn’t believe her, but the contractions were a little stronger and lasting a little longer. I was starting to get whiny during them and moan a little from time to time. It was around 9:30am at this point. The midwife said I could go ahead and push if I wanted to, I was a little worried about pushing if I still had cervix left but she said it wouldn’t hurt anything to try.

(This is the point where looking back I feel like things should have gone differently from here on out. Everything prior to this was exactly how I had always dreamed my labor/delivery would be like. I wish with all of my heart that I had listened to my body and not to someone else… but back to the Birth Story)

So I started half-assed pushing, but I was concerned. I didn’t want to be pushing on a cervix only to have it swell and then be a major road block later. Paul and my mom were holding my hands over the side of the birth tub and giving me drinks of water or Gatorade. I think the midwife could tell my heart really wasn’t in it at this point and asked if I would feel better if she checked me. I said yes, and so for the first time since labor started I had an internal exam. She said there was just a tiny lip of cervix left. So I calmly sat in the water and waited while more pressure waves washed over me. Sometime later she talked me into pushing again, I actually put a small amount of effort into it at this point, but it still was not what my body was telling me to do.

Then I asked her to check me again and see if it was gone. It wasn’t and she offered to hold it back while I pushed past it… .holy crap that was THE MOST pain I felt through the entire process! It was awful and I SCREAMED! But then she said it was completely gone, and there was nothing in Jakes way. So … even though I didn’t have that “pushing urge” that everyone talked about I gave it my all … for the next 4 hours. And NOTHING was happening. I still wasn’t really in pain but I was getting so discouraged at this point that I was weeping while pushing and really whiney in between asking why he wasn’t coming down. We tried position changes: Hands and knees, that felt awful, belly lifting, which was equally awful but I let her do it for a while because I could see how that might be helpful, and facing the back of the toilet with the midwife pushing on my lower back … which just felt strange, because 1, I was on the toilet, and 2 my back didn’t hurt so I wasn’t sure why she kept pushing on it.

I was getting SOOOO tired … is there a word that means more than exhausted? And I still didn’t feel like my body was really telling me to push. But I was starting to feel a slight bit of pressure, maybe if I really use my imagination. I think I just wanted it to be there so bad because that is what everyone kept asking about. Through all of this Jake was still happy and his heart rate was perfect every time she checked it.

They put me back into the birth tub to relax because I was starting to lose it a little at this point, watching the video back I was downright pitiful. They tried to get me to drink a pop hoping that it would give me some energy and gave me another snack. I kept on pushing with zero results. She tried breaking my water, but he was so low that almost nothing came out. I kept pushing and pushing and pushing. Finally the midwife said, let’s go up to your bed and try some good old fashioned maternity ward pushing. I said ok, it actually sounded great because at this point I didn’t know what else to do. So I’m not sure how, but I walked myself upstairs and lay down on my side because that is what felt natural. Paul was spooning me and my mom was standing in the doorway crying. I was still with it enough to tell her to stop the tears. The midwife was at my feet and her assistant – who had not sad more than 2 words to me the entire day, was standing off to the side staring out the window.

So here is when we did the coached pushing, the midwife said I was making a little progress. We tried tying a sheet to the headboard so I could pull on it, and she just kept telling me he is getting a little closer, I kept telling her to help me and show me how far I still had to push him. I fell DEEP asleep as soon as each contraction was over and woke up just as the next one started, but it felt like I slept for 15 or 20 minutes between each one. I wanted soo badly for someone to get my hypnobabies CDs but I didn’t know how to form the words to ask for it. I knew that the midwife’s face was starting to look a little concerned and I heard her say something about his head being a little asynclitic but I didn’t know what that meant at the time. I *knew* in my heart that he was posterior, but I didn’t want to admit it and the midwife kept saying that he wasn’t.

So I kept on pushing. And it got to the point where she could see him and his thick, dark hair. I felt him with my own hand and I knew how close we were. But then after 6 total hours of pushing I just hit a wall and said that I didn’t have anything left to give and that I was so sorry. Especially to Paul I kept telling him I was so, so sorry. I knew he hadn’t been in love with the idea of a home birth but I talked him into it because it is what I wanted and he also went along with it because our insurance is awful and he knew that a hospital bill like that could take forever to pay off. I felt like such a failure for wanting to go to the hospital. I still knew I didn’t want a c section but I thought just maybe if I went to the hospital and got an epidural, I could get a little rest and keep going. So instead of making the 45 minute drive to the hospital where my midwife had a backup we went to the one 2 minutes down the road. Right about then was when my REAL urge to push kicked in … WTH! And I had to make my way downstairs and to the car in the rain and I was having some seriously powerful, and painful contractions at this point. Paul drove me there by himself and I screamed the whole way.

Once there, the lady at the front desk wouldn’t shut up about me getting into a wheel chair … yeah right, there is a head in my crotch lady. I remember the midwife finally had to yell at her that I was walking and we made our way to L&D where the nurse knew my midwife, which made things go better than they probably would have otherwise.

Before I knew it was I in a bed, stripped of my own clothes and into a gown. They asked who I wanted to do my IV and I said I didn’t care. My midwife did it, and I noticed that her hands were shaking pretty badly. That vein blew so a male nurse did another but didn’t tape it down very well and it came out when I had a contraction, so he did another one further up my arm and taped the hell out of it. The midwife did an internal with my consent because they had to have on record if I was complete or not – I was. The next thing I know my dad has magically appeared and is standing at the foot of my bed next to my mom, Paul is on one side, looking scared as hell, and my midwife is on the other side tears in her eyes helping me focus through the contractions.

Then the doctor walked in, this man was a complete stranger to me, he didn’t tell me his name or speak to me, but threw the sheet off of me and gave me the most barbaric internal exam I could have ever imagined in front of my dad. Yes I’m sure my father wanted a front row seat to that. Then stood up and told the anesthesiologist that had just walked in to do a spinal instead of an epidural because we were doing a c section. I said I didn’t want one couldn’t we at least try a vacuum first and he said no we will just go ahead and do the cesarean. That was the point where I gave up; I laid my head down and cried actual tears for the first time the whole day. They started doing the speech about what was going to happen once they took me into the OR but I was having a contraction so I heard none of it. Then they wheeled me away, without even letting me say goodbye to Paul. I dropped the F Bomb because they wouldn’t let me hold onto the bed rails while they were moving me. At no point did anyone at the hospital check on my baby at all, until he was out of my body.

Once in the OR, they had me move myself onto a freezing cold metal table, but the worst part was that they made me sit in plank position on it while they did the spinal, it was excruciating because Jakes head was sooo low. Thank God the anesthesiologist was quick because before I knew it he was done and they laid me down. I was in a daze at this point, I had no focus I felt like I was high, everything was spinning. I was too out of it to be scared. The drapes went up. I felt the put the catheter in and pinch my tummy, they tied my arms down and I felt the cut, not the pain, but I could feel exactly what they were doing. Then finally Paul was there and I remember feeling awful for him. How is an already scared husband supposed to walk into a room to see his wife already gutted like a fish? He was pale and looked terrified; I had never seen him look like that before. Then what seemed like a blink later I heard suctioning across the room and Jakes first gargley cry. I wanted to see him so badly, they didn’t even say your baby is born, or it’s a boy, or anything, no one spoke to me. Then Paul was gone, to be with the baby. I was alone, no idea where my baby was, no clue what was going on with the lower half of my body.

Then Paul came back, with our son swaddled up and the pediatrician over his shoulder. They said he was fine, and they were going to take him to get cleaned up. I wanted to say “No, I want him to stay here, if he is fine there is no reason to take him”, but I could barely breathe, let alone speak. I did manage to squeak out that I couldn’t see him, and Paul held him a little lower but then they were ushered away. So there I was strapped down and all alone and I hear the doc say something about bleeding, I thought great, I’m going to die and everyone is going to say it is because I tried to have my baby at home. They gave me Pitocin, and something else that starts with an H to stop the bleeding, and it must have worked because the nurse standing in the corner with a bag of blood ended up leaving with it. The doctors started talking about what they had been doing on that Memorial Day before they got called in. The Stranger Doc poked his head around the corner and said I did the incision so low you will still be able to wear a bikini…like I give a shit about that and no I can’t, did you not see my stretch marks while you were down there?!? Then he left without another word. They took me to recovery for a little while and someone FINALLY told me that my son was 9lbs 11oz. I pretty much knew he would be close to 9lbs so that wasn’t a shock to me.

I was wheeled to my room and Paul was there, Jake was in the warmer … my first thought was that I was pissed that no one was holding him. But I never said anything. He had Band-Aids all over his feet and I asked why – they had been constantly checking his sugar because he was so big. I was really pissed, I didn’t have GD and I was checked more than once, some babies are just big and healthy. I felt awful that my little boy had been a pin cushion while I wasn’t there to stop it. The nurse swaddled him and handed him to me, I felt so awkward. I was lying down flat and I was still numb so I couldn’t move. I wanted to sit up but I didn’t know how to ask or to do it because I was still so out of it. The nurse asked if I wanted to nurse him first or let the grandparents come see him real quick, he seemed happy so I said whatever and in they came. Just to take a few quick photos and then left so I could feed Jake. I was a little hurt that my midwife didn’t stay to see if we were ok, but I couldn’t worry about that now.

I asked the nurse if they had an LC there and she looked like she had no idea what I was talking about, then she said well the girl that usually does that will be here tomorrow … WOW really that is great… Thank God he latched on like a pro and it didn’t hurt at all and he ate well. My parents stayed with me while Paul went home to get us clothes and things and all they did the whole time was talk about my crazy hippy midwife and how this was all her fault, and I didn’t want to fight so I just nodded my head and said yeah, yeah, I know, but inside it was tearing my heart apart. Paul came back from getting our things and while he was making his bed on the pullout sofa I told him again how sorry I was that we had to come to the hospital, and he said “I knew all day we would end up here”. I was crushed, but didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing at all. He might as well have ripped my heart out, the one person who was supposed to be my rock and my main support and who was supposed to have unwavering faith in me had none.

The next morning the Stranger Doc came back in to push on my stomach and look at my incision, and before he walked out the door he patted my on the knee like a child and said “See how easy this was, next time call me and we will just do it this way” and he walked out of the room. If I thought I could have gotten out of bed I would have murdered him on the spot. He had no clue how hurtful that was to say to someone who so badly wanted a peaceful, natural birth and did not end up with one. I hated him so much that a week later I was seriously tempted to remove my own staples so I didn’t have to see his face again.

The nurses were really kind to me for the most part, but there were a couple that definitely looked down on me for being the “stupid girl that tried to have her baby at home.” Jake had been born for about 35 hours before they would let me try to get out of bed. It was the most horrendous feeling I could have imagined to stand up and feel like your organs are going to fall out of you. And I immediately started shaking all over; the nurse quickly grabbed a chair and sat me down in it. It was like that for the next 3 days every time I got up, I may have made it a little further but not without shaking horribly all over till my teeth chattered.

My midwife did finally call me 3 days after Jake was born, to ask when she could come pick up her tub and other supplies that had been left. I told her to meet Paul at the house and she could get them, we agreed on a time and Paul left me to go meet her. I didn’t know it until we were home a week, but Paul told me that she was late meeting him and he was getting more and more mad by the minute so he put all of her things on the porch and came back to the hospital. When I found out about that I started crying, I felt bad that everyone was so mad at her because I felt like the failure for not being able to birth my baby. It wasn’t until over a year later that I realized some of the things she did weren’t really the best choices and that her skill set wasn’t as high as it needed to be. The next 2 mothers she assisted also transferred to the hospital and had c sections.

We went home and I still could barely move, it was almost 2 weeks before I could stand up straight and I ran a fever for 3 weeks. Stranger Doc said it was because I was breastfeeding – which is a load of crap. I couldn’t do much of anything with Jake because I was in so much pain, my mom moved in and she changed him, dressed him, bathed him, and rocked him. Basically all I could do was breastfeed him when he wanted it. I had not bonded to him at all because I was just in so much pain and was so depressed. I thought he was cute and I liked to sit and look at him, but I didn’t feel like he was mine, or that I was a mother. I never even counted his fingers and toes, which is the first thing that new moms are supposed to do! I felt like even though I went through all of that that I didn’t actually give birth, he was cut out of me so nothing seemed real. I was emotionally numb but so sad at the same time. I didn’t have any real feelings of love for my son until he was 4 weeks and 2 days old. I missed his entire first month of life because I was in a depressed fog. I hardly remember anything from that time. But what I do remember is waking up every night crying with nightmares about the surgery. For the next 9 months I would have these nightmares nearly every night. I couldn’t be intimate with my husband, and our marriage came very close to falling apart all together. I felt like Paul didn’t understand why I was so upset, and had no clue how much I felt like a failure and that every second of the day I was questioning all of my choices from the day Jake was born.

I hate that my husband didn’t have faith in me. I hate that the midwife’s assistant was a doula and NEVER said one encouraging thing to me. I hate that was weak enough to let someone talk me into ignoring what my body was telling me, but even worse than that I hate that Jake was born into a cold, bright room, into the hands of strangers who were didn’t care about him. I hate that I never got to see him covered in birth fluids, I hate that I never got to see the placenta that kept him nourished all of those months inside my belly, I hate that I wasn’t strong enough to push a baby out of my vagina. I hate that everyone knew I was planning a home birth and they still look at me with that “I told you that was crazy” look. I hate that I am terrified to get pregnant again because I don’t want to fail again. I never lacked faith in my body or feared birth until I went through it. I hate that I couldn’t do the ONE thing that my body was made to do. I hate that I feel like I have been a crappy mom to Jake because I feel so sad about his birth.

mother and son

Jake and Mommy on his 2nd Birthday.

family making it through PTSD from birth

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