The Best Laid Plans Often Go Astray {I Am Strong}

by mamabearbri on March 12, 2014

“The best laid plans often go astray”. Those words couldn’t be truer when it comes to the pregnancy and birth of my second son, Daxton.

In October of 2012, Matt and I made a huge decision – we were going to move to Texas. Both of our families lived on the west coast, in California and Las Vegas, where we lived at the time. To move to Texas was a huge deal, we would be moving away from family to a state where we knew just a few people. But it was something we both really wanted and we had an opportunity to make it happen.

I am strong, because the following February, we were still making plans to move but hadn’t set a date yet. That’s when we found out we were expecting another baby. Matt and I were both excited and nervous – we wanted another child and the age difference between our first son, Luke and this new baby would be perfect, but moving while pregnant away from our family seemed impossible. However we knew we could do it.

I am strong, because I moved my family from Las Vegas to Texas when I was 20 weeks pregnant. I scoured the internet looking for midwife recommendations. Both Matt and I knew that we wanted this to be a home birth so we wanted the very best to assist us in bringing this baby into the world. I am so thankful that our first midwife interview was with Heather Hilton – I immediately knew I wanted her to be part of our birth team. We interviewed a couple other midwives but we just didn’t have the connection with them like we did with Heather.

I am strong, because I expected to be pregnant around 39 weeks (the time my first son came) so when that date passed and I was growing more uncomfortable by the day, I knew I had to just wait for my baby to come on his own. This was especially frustrating, because we had brought my dad out then my mom out to stay with us for a total of 5 weeks, to give us help while we had a home birth. My mom flew home just before 42 weeks.

I am strong, because when I reached 42 weeks in my pregnancy, I had to meet with an OB/GYN per Texas law to see if he would “let” me continue my pregnancy or would schedule an induction. I am so thankful he agreed to not schedule anything until I was 43 weeks. I knew my baby would come in his own time.

I am strong, because when my water broke on a Friday morning at 42 + 4 weeks, I was ready to have the homebirth I had been visualizing since I found out I was pregnant. My husband and I cleaned the house, dropped my son off at a friend’s house, and waited for labor to begin. I had everything ready – the birth tub was all set up (as it had been for weeks), I had my “labor aid” cooling in the fridge, and my birth ball waiting for contractions to become too intense I would reach for it for support.

Heather came over that evening to see how I was doing. I was having contractions, every 3-5 minutes apart, but they were not intense. I knew it would be a while longer. My birth photographer, Leilani, decided to come over that evening too. She said that with the second child, labor usually progresses much more quickly and she didn’t want to miss a thing. I appreciated all the support, but I really didn’t feel like it was “time” yet. The evening went on, contractions got a little more intense, and finally I felt like they were actually doing something. The most comfortable position for me ended up being on hands and knees.

At some point that night, I moved upstairs to labor. I took a shower, drank a power smoothie, and prepared for a long labor. Heather recommended I get some rest if I could, so I laid down but couldn’t really sleep. My other midwife, Sally, came over during the night so Heather could also get some rest. The sun started to come up and I realized it was a new day, the day my son would be born. I took a bath to relax some more, trying to get my mind completely focused on having this baby. While in the bath, Heather noticed that baby’s heart rate would drop while I was lying on my back, so I had to stay on my side in the tub. The contractions were starting to stall, so Matt and I went on a walk outside to try and get the contractions even stronger. I was tired, and walking was the last thing I wanted to do. (insert

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I am strong, because after 20 hours of laboring, my midwife did a cervical check and let us know that I had not progressed at all, I was still at 4cm, -3 station, as I had been for weeks. My contractions were not doing anything. My baby would not engage and open my cervix up. As soon as she told us this, I knew in my heart what it meant. I cried immediately, combing through the past several weeks in my mind to see what I could have done differently. I couldn’t understand why my body was working against me. Heather called the backup OB, Dr. Hinds, to get his opinion. He confirmed my suspicion – if I hadn’t progressed at all during that good laboring, then there was something going on which would prevent me from having a vaginal birth. He recommended I come in for a c-section.

Heather relayed the conversation to me and Matt and I cried uncontrollably. I remember asking Leilani to stop taking photos – I did not want to remember this feeling ever. We were given the option to continue laboring at home to see what would happen, or even go in to the hospital and get pitocin to see if that would help. But both Matt and I knew – if I hadn’t progressed at this point, even pitocin wouldn’t help me progress.

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I am strong, because even though a hospital birth was the last thing I wanted and c-section wasn’t even in my vocabulary, I bravely made the drive to the hospital to be cut open. It was surreal; I didn’t feel like this was actually happening to me. As I was being treated like a number and not a human upon being checked in, I told Matt, “this is just a bad dream”.

Unfortunately, it was more than a bad dream. This was really happening. Dr. Hinds tried to comfort us, saying I had done a great job and that this was the reason c-sections existed, but nothing anyone could say would make this experience anything but pure hell. I couldn’t do anything but cry. The nurses couldn’t understand it, the anesthesiologist tried to figure out what was going on. I cried all the way to the OR, and as I entered the OR, I cried even harder. This wasn’t the room I was supposed to give birth in. These weren’t the people who were supposed to attend my birth. This was nothing how I visualized for the past 9 months. I got on the operating table, got my spinal and the contractions finally stopped. This was it, there was no going back. I was anxious to meet my son but I knew this experience would haunt me forever.

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I am strong, because before Dr. Hinds started the procedure, I asked him to be sure to double stitch me just in case I wanted to try for a VBAC in the future. Matt and I had already agreed that this would be our last child, but something in me realized I may want another baby in the future so I could have the homebirth I had been dreaming about.

I am strong, because after Dr. Hinds cut me open, he learned that my son was so large and long, and wedged in the wrong way that it would be impossible to get him out without assistance (confirming that a vaginal birth would not have happened for us). As the nurse pushed and pushed on my diaphragm to get him out, Dr. Hinds called for vacuum assistance. Because vacuums are used so rarely, they didn’t have one on hand so he decided to make a vertical t-incision to give him extra room to pull the baby out. As he was stitching me up, he told me that a vaginal birth would never happen for me, that if I were to get pregnant again I would need to have a repeat c-section at 37 weeks because of the type of scar I now have. I couldn’t understand the implications of those words until much later.

I am strong, because my son was covered in so much meconium that the anesthesiologist even commented that he had never seen so much, or so thick. It had been there for a while, as my son’s skin was stained with it. I had to lie on the table without seeing my son for what seemed like forever, they whisked him away to get any meconium out of his stomach and lungs. Finally I heard him cry, several minutes passed before Matt brought him over to my head to see him for the first time. I cried again, but this time I was just so happy to meet my son, Daxton. This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen, but the end result, having my son with me, was the same.

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I am strong, because as the events settled into my brain over the next few days, I went into “denial” about it. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was starting the 5 stages of grief. I was happy my son was here, I was determined not to get postpartum depression again, and I was thankful that he nursed like a champ. I was happy, as happy as my denial would allow me to be. I only had to stay in the hospital for 2 days, we both recovered quickly. I was anxious to get home to my older son and to be in a place where I felt comfortable again. The second stage of grief, in my case bargaining, would come about a week after the birth. So I enjoyed my time with my two sons while the denial was still in full force.

I am strong, because after all the twists and turns, and all our plans completely changing, I have two wonderful sons who I love dearly. But there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about what happened. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I ignore it and push the feelings deep down. I learned a new term during this ordeal, “birth trauma”. It is real and it is painful, and only someone who has experienced it can fully understand what birth trauma is. I know I will be dealing with this trauma for a while, but one day, I hope to get the final stage of grief, “acceptance”.

Daxton, I love you, and I am so thankful that you are part of my life. You are the light that has gotten me through the pain, looking at your face makes me smile and know that in the end, it was all worth it.

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{Photo credit to: Leilani Rogers https://www.facebook.com/leilani.rogers.photographer}

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachel March 13, 2014 at 9:34 am

I had a very similar experience, Mama. Reading your story made me cry, remembering my own 60 hour labor that ended in a c-section. Thank you for sharing your story – it’s so therapeutic to hear other mamas who deal with the same trauma.

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Dana March 13, 2014 at 9:56 am

Birth Trama is real, it is scary and as my husband and I try to get pregnant it is in the forefront of my thoughts again. I thought after 9 years I had reached the 5th stage of acceptence but I dont think I have. I totally understand the feelings you are going through and I commend you for being brave and telling your story.

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Rebecca March 13, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Oh my. It was like I was reading my store. I had to have a c-section with Dr. Hinds too. Nothing I had planned. I have always felt so guilty for not being able to have my daughter the way I would have liked it. I then go pregnant too soon and had to have another c-section for my little boy. That has been one of the hardest things for my to deal with. Thank-you so much for your story. It means so much to me.

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Danni March 13, 2014 at 1:30 pm

your story is so much like mine it is scary. i bawled the entire time i read this. one day I will write my story and be able to look at the pictures of that day but I have not been able to bring myself there yet. so glad you shared your story.

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melanie willis March 14, 2014 at 9:49 pm

u had me in tears. I was I’m denial for 2.5 years after my daughters birth. I went through the other stages quickly wen I got pregnant again and went on to have a healing birth. healing is possible even without another child. u are strong .

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Andrea March 16, 2014 at 10:58 pm

I have tears rolling down my face. I’ve been told I was selfish for grieving my csection – that all that matters is that I had a healthy baby. I too look forward to that acceptance stage. Thank you for sharing your story.

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Cat March 18, 2014 at 12:12 am

My heart breaks for you. You are amazing! Do check out the Special Scars facebook group. Women do VBAC with special scars too, and even if that’s not part of your journey, there is lots of support there. Prayers for your healing.

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Esther March 30, 2014 at 7:51 pm

Thank you for sharing. This is similar to my experience, except I made it to 9.5cm and she wasn’t dropping, was backwards and had a big head/shoulders. I cried through the surgery and am still mourning as it wasn’t what I planned or even thought possible. Everyone says at least you have a healthy baby which I agree but it hurts that my body couldn’t do what a female body is born to do.

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karen April 11, 2014 at 1:33 pm

thank you for sharing your experience. I can totally relate. I had a horrible hospital birth- so many things I didn’t want, and things I feel adversely affected my son. I’ve grieved in bits and still do. so many of us out there that are grieving our birth… at least we have each other.

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amanda May 24, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Thank you for your story. I had a homebirth planned for my son as well until my waters broke at 31weeks 5days. I delivered vaginally and without drugs, but not in the environment I had envisioned, and overwhelmed by fear for my son’s life. Our stay at the NICU has been a rollercoaster of emotions and an experience in being disempowered as a mother. Your story and this blog are helping me through some dark days.

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Holly May 24, 2014 at 5:00 pm

I know how this feels and it takes guts to open up about something so traumatic!
My waters broke at 4.30 on Monday 8th July 2013 and my contractions never really got going. I was 40 weeks +8 days. I had to be induced and 2 pessaries later they advised me to go on the drip to get contractions really going. It worked and the contractions were more regular and stronger, but when checked I had only got to 4cms. After 60 hrs of labour I was exhausted and they decided as my waters had been broken for so long the risk of infection was becoming to high and I was rushed in for a emergency cesarean. It turned out my son was 9lb 1oz and star gazing, which is difficult enough if I’d been able to have a vaginal birth. The trauma of it all caught up with me as 5 weeks before my due date we were given notice by our landlords and moved into our first owned house when our son wax only a month old. I nearly lost all my milk at around 3 months as I started to settle into our new home and it all caught up with me.
As I said, I know how hard it can be and I’m so glad to know I am not alone! :-) xxxx

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Lindsay May 24, 2014 at 9:26 pm

I totally understand how you felt/are feeling. My daughter was a natural birth that turned into an induction and then a c section and my son was a planned vbac in a birth center that ended up a cbac. He is six months old and I haven’t even begun to process my birth trauma because he has had a variety of medical issues and they have taken my focus. Lots of love and support your way. You are not alone. <3

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