Birth Story: Dealing with Complications and Trauma

I have many times heard the term “Birth Matters” and I always viewed as a snarky dig at women who choose medicated hospital births over natural homebirths but after giving birth, I now know what it really means. Whatever your experience was (good or bad) you will never forget it and it is your legacy as a mother; the very moment you were forever changed and because of the monumental experience of bringing forth life. You never forget your birthstory. It is a story of ages yet so unique to you and your baby. Birth matters.
I had the privilege of sitting down with a friend of mine for a very honest, open and candid interview about the birth of her 3rd child, Amelie Grace. It was very humbling and I suggest you grab the tissues now.

I had a unscheduled C-Section with my first child Colin because he appeared to be IUGR (Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) refers to the poor growth of a baby while in the mother’s womb during pregnancy. Specifically, it means the developing baby weighs less than 90% of other babies at the same gestational age). He wasn’t, but regardless I had the C-Section to contend with when I got pregnant with Hank. Hank was a week overdue but was a beautiful, perfect VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarian) at 9 pounds, 8 oz. While pregnant with my 3rd baby Amelie, everything pointed to another healthy, great birth. She wasn’t as big and was vertex. The issue that loomed was that my VBAC supportive OB was not supportive of going over 41 weeks. The Friday before I was 41 weeks on Monday, one OB in the practice was willing to bring me in and do a gentle induction to avoid the looming, guaranteed C-Section. When I arrived, I was already 5 cm (I had been in labor off and on for weeks) I labored for about one hour before reaching 10 cm. There had been a few light heart decelerations prior to this, but they always corrected when I rolled over or moved to a new position. The risk of VBACing is uterine rupture, and one sign of it is fetal heart decels. Amelie’s heart rate decelerated into the 60’s. The OB literally got on the table and recited the risks of a CS to me while the nurse threw scrubs at my husbnad Matt. I continued to push in the OR- My OB did everything she could, really. They had the baby out in minutes. Matt missed the birth. The birth was aggressive and forceful, everything Colin’s birth was not. I felt the OB push her head up so that they could pull her out. When my water broke, there was evidence of meconium, so I was worried about her inhaling meconium, but she was fine. The surgery continued and I overheard the OB mention a urologist and I knew that she had cut my bladder in surgery. When I asked if she had cut my bladder, I felt like I had the tiniest ever voice, but her answer came out of the chaos that indeed she  had. A urologist came and completed a surgery to repair my bladder and I was in surgery for 2 1/2 hours, an hour and a half longer than I was in labor. I had to bring a catheter home with me and use it for 10 days. That was, by far, the worst part. I was badly bruised and this surgical birth was much harder to recover from than Colin’s. After Colin’s birth, I didn’t understand women who felt traumatized post C Section. I was up, walking, so happy after he was born. I kind of get it now, though. Her birth was the very first time in my entire life that I felt truly hurt by another person, victimized almost. It was the first time I felt like I couldn’t rebound immediately, and I felt wounded. That was a horrible feeling. Fortunately, once the catheter was out 10 days post op, it felt like the post natural birth high that I had after Hank- I felt like I could do anything. The discomforts of being post C-Section were minimal at best. I am, unfortunately, likely not having any more children after Amelie’s birth.

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What do you think was the biggest factor in the dramatic difference between your 2 C-sections?

The biggest difference was that Colin’s wasn’t really an emergency, it was just a pretend emergency. Amelie’s was the real deal. The doc truly thought that I could have been rupturing. It’s like she literally ripped Amelie out.
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“Pretend emergency”- OMG LOVE IT. Did you just make that term up?
Yes, ha! Colin’s doctor wanted dinner, so, you know… A section was convenient. Ha!! It’s true, there are few real emergencies.
What was if like for your husband Matt to miss the birth? Was is something he verbalized much about afterwards?

Matt was very upset to miss the birth. He says they forgot him. And they did. When I asked for Matt, they just said they didn’t know. He got in as the anesthesiologist was leaving.

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Why it it unlikely you will not be having more children? 

I won’t be having any more because both the OB and urologist confirmed that I shouldn’t, due to adhesions and a thin uterus. The OB said that I would need to deliver at 37 weeks to avoid rupture. That’s really early and I feel like it’s risky for a potential baby. We are certainly sad about it though.
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Looking back would you have changed your healthcare provider? What has this experience taught you the most?

I’m not really a “looking back” kind of person, but I have reflected on this since. The only thing I think I would change is the doctor, as a more experienced surgeon might not have made this mistake. However, had I had a planned repeat C Section, I would have always regretted not trying for a VBAC. I had chosen my provider and hospital carefully, with inside information from nurses as well as patients. A different choice could have yielded a different complication. Maybe one that was harder to live with. This experience has made me exceptionally thankful for my health. I find it even more important to eat well and take care of my body as well as the bodies of my little people. It was also humbling to be brought to my knees. I don’t think I’ve ever been so wounded that I couldn’t bring myself back out of crisis mode, and I was definitely in a place that I couldn’t recover from. I also don’t ever, ever, ever want to be catheterized for 10 days again!

How did this affect your babymoon?  Well, I remember very little from the first day of Amelies life. However, from the moment I remember her, I have been so crazy in love with Amelie. I was stuck in bed/on the couch for a couple of weeks, so I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed every second of my last baby. I definitely had moments where I was caught up in my own issues, but I think that is common postpartum. Knowing that she is my last made me truly treasure every moment with her

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WOW you said in your story you “had the tiniest ever voice” did that mean you didn’t feel like your voice mattered or your were so scared of the answer you were afraid to ask?

My “tiniest ever voice” was because I had such little energy left. Matt later said that my eyes were almost closed and my speech was slurred. The room was so loudly consumed with busy, bossy voices, mine couldn’t really compete. Matt was our advocate in so many ways, handling details such as declining the vitamin K shot and eye ointment as I was repaired. While I was sad, I didn’t feel fear, or that I didn’t have an advocate. I continued to feel as though my OB was doing everything that she could to provide the best care for me.
How have you dealt with emotional wound of feeling victimized?
After Amelie’s birth, a nurse touched my knee and said unexpectedly, “I’m sorry for what happened to you”, and I surprisingly started to cry. For a while after Amelie’s birth, I would start to cry in the car when I was alone and the distractions had melted away. This behavior is not like me at all! I think the feeling that I actually felt was wounded. I was badly bruised, catheterized for 10 days, experienced horrible bladder spasms, and I was surgically violated. I don’t feel like the OB acted in a way that she shouldn’t have, but that she simply made a mistake that is easy to make. With no one to blame, I was just really sad. However, the bigness of the internet was quick to remind me of some ever so present realities for others, such as death and NICU stays for babies born around the same time. My pink, fat baby was the obvious answer that my wounds were simply a bump in the road. However, as one of my dearest friends told me, it’s okay for you to be so happy that your baby is healthy and for your birth to suck at the same time. A major turning point to me was the day that my catheter came out. Matt and I went to Starbucks, I waited to pee and once I did, I called the OB to let them know that I could “void”, and I don’t remember having any physical pain from the surgery after that point. I am so much better, but I imagine that this wound will linger a bit.
What else would you like to add?

I think I actually wrote you a novella! In retrospect, I believe that Amelie was malpositioned due to the odd location of her cone head. She appeared to be in “military position”- and I’ve had some regrets that I didn’t follow the spinning baby techniques as much as I should have to get her into the very best position for birth.

 For more birth stories click HERE

To learn more about VBACS, click HERE

Check out this site for optimal fetal position techniques! www.spinningbabies.com

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