My friend shared this with me today. It pains me that local “care” providers chose not to respect this woman and her right to birth without intervention. This mother has birthed in a hospital before and had a very positive experience with her son’s birth. However, a few people, days ago, went against her wishes during the birth and in any other setting would be considered assault. Women should not be treated this way. Their births should not be tainted. She told her regular obstetrician afterward, “this was a vaginal c-section. Everything happened sooo fast. One minute I was pregnant and the next I wasn’t. The birth was so weird.”
Please read her story.
Then take a moment to visit ImprovingBirth.Org. Her story and so many women’s stories are why I’m a part of this birth rally and why I am involved in our local birth community. This woman was educated, she knew her rights, she knew how to birth her baby, yet these “care” providers did not treat her with the respect that they demanded from her.
The Birth of Lillian Irene
I have had several days to think about it and reflect, and have decided now is the time to write this birth story. As many of you I am very passionate about natural birth and home birth and believe strongly that the female body is a wonderful, powerful thing capable of miraculous strength. For all of you natural birth and home birth advocates, I’m sure this birth story will not be like many you have read lately.
As many of you know, around 32 weeks, I risked out of the home birth with my midwife (who would become my doula for this birth) due to a gestational diabetes diagnosis. After I cried for about a day, I was fine with it, because my new obstetrician was someone with whom I hit it off immediately, and I trusted him implicitly to honor my wishes to the best of his ability. I was okay with the fact that I would be having this baby in the hospital.
At 38 weeks I started having days where I felt “laborish.” I would be crampy in my legs and back, and take a walk or take a bath, and after a little while it would just go away. There were probably about three days like that. After a morning of that (on Sunday at 38 weeks, 3 days), I couldn’t stand it anymore and had my doula/midwife check me. I was soft as mush, and about 4 cm, 70% effaced. Well, that made me feel good, because I knew things were going on, but as many of you know, you are not in labor just because you are dilated. I was fine with that. The next day nothing happened.
On Tuesday my husband (John) came home from work and said he really wished I gone into labor that day because he had to give a presentation for work that he REALLY was not looking forward to. So I said, “Ok, I’ll take a walk and take a bath and we can see what happens.” We were laying in the bed at 10:00 and I started feeling VERY mild contractions, exactly the same as what I had been feeling the previous days. Nothing to write home about. No reason to time them or freak out or whatever. Just uncomfortable. At 10:30 I got up to use the restroom and heard and felt a pop. I told John I thought my water had broken and to get my phone so I could call my doula and the babysitter. My water broke with George, and contractions didn’t start for an hour, so I thought I had some time. My doula had me stand in the shower to see if I made a puddle and confirmed that my water had broken. She said she’d be right over. I tried the three numbers I had for the babysitter and no answer. At this point contractions were coming fast and strong and I was getting very nervous. John called his dad to see if he could come up from Dalton if we couldn’t reach the babysitter. Thankfully the phone rang and it was Faith, our babysitter’s mother. At this point (about 15 min. had gone by) I could barely talk and I screamed I was in labor and to get Betsy over here. I’m sure she thought 2 things. 1) John will not be winning any husband of the year awards any time soon. WHY is Laura making these calls? (John was frantically running around loading the car and getting our crap together.) and 2) Why did she wait this long to call?
Betsy got there in 5 min. My doula got there 5 minutes later and said to get out, we needed to go right now unless I wanted her to check me. I was in the tub because I couldn’t handle the contractions anymore. I said I didn’t want her to check me. Now I know that she wanted to check me because she would have rather I had the baby at home than on the side of the road or in the parking lot. I WISH I had known that then.
We left out the back door and got in the car. John sped down the interstate. He pulled up in the emergency lane and left the car there. We walked as fast as we could to labor and delivery and had to stop at the nurses station to get assigned a room. At this point I was begging to sit on the toilet because I needed to poop (have a baby) really badly. I could feel a baby head between my legs. Everything was going so slowly and the lights were so bright. They FINALLY walked me back to a room while I was pushing and my doula was telling me to stop. I climbed up on the bed. Now the REAL fun was about to begin.
Someone from hospital administration was standing there with a clipboard in a very unaffected and rude manner asking me for various bits of personal information. “Ma’am, I’m going to need your social security number. (no response, I’m pushing a baby out, and the nurse is behind me HOLDING IT IN, I am screaming at the nurse to get her hands off me and stop doing that. She is telling me “you’re only 9 stop pushing” and I was thinking, Lady, I might have been 9 one second ago, but in case you haven’t noticed, I’M 10 NOW AND THIS BABY IS COMING OUT), Now another “Ma’am I’m going to need your social security number” to which I yell it out as fast as I can to get her to SHUT UP and to which she responds, “Ma’am, I’m going to need that again slower.” At this point the nurses are freaking out saying “Page Dr. whoever you are, 911 right now this baby is coming” Dr. whoever-you-are (a woman) runs in and pulls a big tray of implements over. All kinds of scary looking things. I am on my back begging John to hold me up better. The baby’s head is out. My doula says I think you need to get on hands and knees. I know that would feel good and say “I think I need to get on hands and knees in a begging fashion.” Nurses are holding me. Dr. whoever-you-are says I can not go to hands and knees. She then declares it’s a shoulder dystocia and obviously reaches for a very large scary looking pair of scissors. I scream panicked, “DON’T CUT ME” and my doula screamed “STOP!!” to which she says a bunch of scary stuff about a stuck baby and blah blah blah. (The head is out, she cuts me anyway.) She just didn’t want to wait for the next contraction to deliver the body. I felt so vulnerable and trapped. Lillian was born, and she cut the cord RIGHT AWAY and handed her to the nurse. Then, at the very moment I wanted to look at my baby and see what she looks like, the Dr. started lecturing me on what a shoulder dystocia is and explaining why she did this and blah blah blah and I told her cooly that I know what a shoulder dystocia is and I just want to see my baby and what’s done is done and I don’t care. The dr. turned on her heel and left, and the nasty administrator with the clipboard said, “She is a DOCTOR and she deserves your respect.” and left. All this happened in about 10 minutes. My daughter was born at 11:25. Sure do wish I had let doula/midwife check me when we were home.
After that the nurses were great. They said I didn’t have anything to apologize for and they understood. My obstetrician made it and sewed up my episiotomy.
John took this picture and sent it to my mom. She was scared. After seeing the picture days later I told her he could have taken one of me just like it.
Needless to say I am more passionate than ever about natural and home birth.