My story begins when I was just a child. Ever since I can remember, the one thing I wanted to be was a mother. Sure, I had other dreams and aspirations as well – but, while my idea of the perfect career and life was constantly changing, my goal of becoming a mother never once faltered or waned. That dream, however, would come true too soon when I became pregnant at the age of nineteen by a man I’d only been dating for a month. It was bad timing, and there were a lot of struggles – but in my heart I was overwhelmed with happiness. I was growing life! What could possibly be better than that? But, as time wore on, my happiness began to be whittled away by the stress and terror of being a young mom in a new relationship. I spent the majority of my pregnancy alone while my partner worked out of town. I had no vehicle, no friends – I didn’t even have cable TV or the internet to help me pass the time. I was constantly lonely and afraid. And, during the times that my partner was at home, he was cold and aloof – dealing with the stress of the pregnancy in the only way he knew how.
I became bitter; angry. I’d always suffered from anxiety and depression, but now it was out of control. I went days without getting out of bed. I had always wanted to have a baby, but my fairy tale was turning into a nightmare. I felt useless, unwanted, ugly, and broken. Weren’t pregnant women supposed to feel gorgeous and glowing? Weren’t their partners supposed to adore them, support them, and tell them how amazing they were? I felt cheated out of something I had looked forward to since childhood. I was terrified that my child would become tainted in my womb, malformed because of all the fear and hate that I held in my heart.
And then there was the traumatic birth. The only research I had done while I was pregnant included reading a book that my mother gave me and watching reruns of “A Baby Story” on TLC. I had no idea what birth really was – I truly believed that the doctor and nurses had my best interest in mind and would take good care of me. I went into “preterm labor” three times the month before my due date – each time my labor was stopped and I was sent home after one night’s stay in the hospital. Looking back, I am certain that my child and my body knew that we were ready to deliver at that time.
May 14, 2006 – Mother’s Day. My water broke as I was getting ready to go to bed for the night. We immediately went to the hospital, and I was given pitocin to “help things along.” I wasn’t contracting at all, and still didn’t even after they began the pitocin. I slept that night, with my partner and my mom taking shifts watching me. In the morning I was beginning to have some contractions, but nothing regular or painful. Months after my birth, we found out that the hospital had received a “faulty” batch of pitocin at the time of my delivery, so it’s definitely possible that I was given bad drugs.
Later on, sometime early afternoon, my contractions finally started to kick in – but they were far from normal. I would have four or five contractions back to back, and then I would have ten or fifteen minutes of nothing in between. It only took a few hours of this before I became exhausted. I’d previously requested to not have an epidural – but after some “convincing” from the nurses, I finally agreed to have one put in. By the time the anesthesiologist made it to my room, however, I was past the point of being able to have one. At that point, in the middle of a cluster of contractions, the nurses convinced me it’d be best if they gave me a dose of stadol. I don’t remember agreeing, but I must have – because the next thing I knew I was woozy and out of it and I didn’t even know my own name. The next few hours were a blurry haze. I remember being told to push. I remember pushing, and being yelled at to push harder, and crying, and being yelled at, and feeling like I wasn’t good enough or strong enough to have this baby. At one point I looked over at my partner and my mom and begged them to make it stop. Shortly after, consent forms for a C-section were being shoved in my face. I signed them. I just wanted it to be over.
The C-section was probably very normal, as far as sections go. I was terrified of being cut open, but after the spinal took the pain away I was in such a state of relieved bliss (part of this was probably the drugs) that I didn’t mind. My partner stayed by my head while our baby was being delivered – a baby that was so stuck in my pelvis that the doctor was out of breath after tugging and yanking and pushing him out. I remember the doctor saying, “Well, no wonder. This baby is way too big; he never would have come naturally.”
It was late at night, and by the time I went into recovery most of the hospital was shut down. So I lay in a bed, by myself, in near darkness (apparently they didn’t want to turn on more lights than they had to), for over an hour. I remember hearing the doctors and nurses complain about having to come in at 7pm on a Monday to perform an emergency section. I felt like a failure and inconvenience. I ended up shaking more than the nurses were comfortable with, so they gave me a drug to help, which also meant I had to wait longer to see my baby. By the time I got out of recovery, the nurses had convinced my partner and mom that they should go against my wishes to exclusively breastfeed my baby because I was “taking too long to recover” and my baby would “starve” if they didn’t give him formula.
But then I saw my son, and got to hold him for the first time, and suddenly everything else didn’t seem so bad. I was elated and giddy with happiness – I had a son! He was perfect and gorgeous and the most amazing thing I had ever seen. Unfortunately, that feeling of peace and happiness was extremely short lived.
When my mom and partner left for the night, I was left alone with a newborn who didn’t want to latch on because he’d already experienced the easiness of eating from a bottle. He cried, I cried, and we continued on this way for nine months. He was an extremely colicky baby, and I had no idea how to handle it. I remember staring at him and feeling like the worst mother on the face of the planet – because I didn’t know how to make my son stop screaming. He screamed nearly every second he was awake, and every time he screamed I cried. That, along with the PPD that kicked in about a week after he was born, made my life as a new mom worse than any hell I could possibly imagine. I hated myself. I couldn’t bond with my son – and I hated myself even more because of it. And so began my three year stretch of just barely scraping by on a day to day basis.
When my son was three, I made the hard choice to leave my boyfriend and start a new life on my own. I didn’t have a job, a place to stay, and no money – but I knew in my heart that I needed a fresh start. I built myself up from nothing and, with the help of my parents; I succeeded in securing a decent life for me and my son. It wasn’t ideal – but it worked for us. I finally faced my issues with depression and anxiety, and for the first time in forever I felt like I was regaining some control over my life.
Fast forward a couple years – a couple jobs, a couple boyfriends, and a couple stressful situations later. I’d grown remarkably as a person, as a woman, and as a mother. I felt in control and happy. I had a great job and a new boyfriend that I adored. I wasn’t on birth control because my previous partner had a vasectomy, and I was looking into getting an IUD. And then I found out I was pregnant.
Fear. Panic. Denial. Was this really happening to me again? How could I be so reckless and stupid? I was terrified of going through another traumatic pregnancy and birth. Luckily, my boyfriend turned out to be an amazing source of support – he showered me with love and affection from the moment the test came up positive, and every time I panicked and tried to push him away he would stand strong and stay by my side. But I was still scared of everything to come – what if I had another child that I couldn’t bond with? What if I lost everything I’d worked so hard to achieve? I couldn’t stand the thought of going through what I went through with my son, even if everything did turn out okay in the end.
But then, the most amazing thing happened. When I was ten weeks along, I went in with a bit of spotting and had a precautionary ultrasound. What we found was a completely healthy TWIN pregnancy. I was having two babies! I don’t know why, but as soon as I saw my two little angels on that ultrasound screen, everything suddenly clicked into place. I was at peace with myself and this pregnancy. A couple months later we found out that we were having girls, and the joy grew even more. I was having daughters. I felt like everything was finally falling into place. This is what I was MEANT to do – this was the life I was meant to have.
But, slowly, a new type of fear kicked in. The internet is a wonderful thing, but it can be terrifying for a pregnant woman – especially a woman with a “high risk” pregnancy. I read horror stories about TTTS and Vanishing Twin Syndrome. I’d never worried about my son while I was pregnant with him. I didn’t realize how many things could go wrong. So, while I was finally enjoying a joyful pregnancy with a wonderfully supportive partner, I was constantly terrified of something horrible happening. When we found out that our twins were sharing a placenta, the fear got worse. And when I showed signs of my cervix shortening and was put on bed rest at home, the panic truly reached its peak. I spent every waking moment terrified that my water would break and my babies would die, that something beyond my control would come and take my precious girls away.
When I was put on bed rest, a friend of mine who was training to be a doula sent me some information about the effects of bed rest on pregnant mothers. I began to realize that women had been birthing babies since the beginning of time, and that a mother has the ability to know her own body better than any doctor ever could. I did more research – and that’s when I found your blog.
I spent days going through your site. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of babies and birth. It all made so much sense. I read countless stories about beautiful, brave mothers who listened to their own bodies and had wonderful, peaceful births. The new awareness that dawned on me changed me in ways I can’t even begin to explain. For the first time I began to realize how much damage my first pregnancy and birth had done. I began to understand the resentment and guilt that I still carried from it. I began to acknowledge the fear and pain I’d been holding onto since then. I realized that I had spent the last seven years feeling like a failure as a mother, and I saw how that negativity had infected every aspect of my life. And, even more remarkably, I began to forgive and let go. I cried for days. Afterward, I felt like a new person. I felt strong, capable, and informed. I felt peace. I felt joy. I felt the beauty of the lives growing inside of me, and for the first time in my life I felt capable of being the mother my son and girls deserved.
And that’s how I ended up here, 30w2d along with my Mo/Di girls, and confident in my own strength as a woman and a mother. I’ll be having a repeat C-section this pregnancy – the hospital here doesn’t even consider VBAC and pushes for sections with every case of twins. But I’m at peace with it, and I don’t feel forced or taken advantage of in any way. I feel informed, capable, and like I’m choosing the option that’s best for me and my babies – not like I’m a passenger along on a ride that I can’t control. So, even though I’ll never get the dream birth that I’ve always wanted, I know in my heart that the resentment and guilt I felt with my first C-section won’t be an issue this time around. I feel beautiful, strong, and calm. And I feel immensely grateful to you and the wonderful women of BWF for opening my eyes and sparking my healing process. Thank you, you beautiful souls.
The first picture is of me and my son, who is now seven. The next three are me and my girls at fourteen weeks, twenty-eight weeks, and thirty weeks. Hopefully in a couple months I’ll have more pictures and a second, happier birth story to share.