Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Hospital Birthing Experience

I knew months before I gave birth that I would want to deliver naturally. I knew I would probably wuss out and scream for an epidural, but I would be happy as long as I know I tried.

My mother had four babies, my little sister she had right at home on our pull out couch!

As the time approached my OBGYN informed me that if I was 2 weeks overdue he would induce me. And that's ALL he said. There was a lack of information on his part and a lack of asking on mine. I didn't think I would have to be induced, so I didn't look into it. I really wish I had.

The night of my induction I had already been having small contractions. The nurse told me that if I hadn't come in I still would have gone into labor that night, or the next morning. I almost left when she said that! But I knew I wouldn't be able to do it on my own. At least, that's what all the doctors and nurses tell you. I had packed a bag of everything I'd need, even soothing music and an exercise ball. I had it all planned out.

The thing was; my doctor had it planned out, too. He planned when I would arrive, when I would birth my baby and when I would leave. If I took to long pushing a nine pound baby out of my vagina, then he would TAKE him out. (C-Section).

Let me just say this: hospitals are not a place of birth or healing. They are a place of sickness and death. I did not want to have my baby in a hospital. It's cold, huge and smells. It's uncomfortable. It's unfamiliar. Hospitals are in it for the MONEY. They have business plans, they have quotas, they have STOCK. They are there to get you in and get you out.

How do they get you in? The OBGYNS who you go to see are on the hospital's payroll. They are paid to get you in. To make sure you think giving birth in a hospital is the only safe option. That you NEED to be there because of all the things that could and might go wrong.

However... Being on a health plan that does not cover birthing centers or midwives gave me no other choice. Looking back, I would have gladly paid the $3k - $4k price of a caring, knowledgeable midwife than suffer through a hospital, which operates as a business.

I put on the hospital nightgown and felt a chill... I felt like something was wrong. People only wear hospital gowns when they're sick or need surgery, right? I sat down on my exercise ball, as I was already feeling contractions, even though they had not started induction.

The nurse came in and told me I couldn't sit on the ball, I had to lay on the bed. I pouted. Rolling my hips on the ball felt nice.

I resigned myself to the bed and she strapped electronics to my belly that monitored my son's heart rate. Then she put an IV in my wrist. (After trying to put it in my thumb joint? WTH?)

Lying there, feeling useless, having things done to me, instead of being in charge of my own birthing process, I twiddled my thumbs in boredom.

Several nurses whom I had never met, or seen were frequenting the inner parts of my cervix.

"Only 3 centimeters." They said to each other. And started the induction.

Where was my doctor? What are you doing? Where are my ANSWERS!?

They put pitocin in my IV and inserted half a pill of prostaglandin in my cervix. What were these drugs? What are the side effects? Why aren't you people explaining things to me or ASKING my permission to do things to me and my baby!?

Questions were racing through my mind as all this happened so fast. But what kind of know-it-all first time mom would question a professional?

Finally my doctor came in. He broke my water and left.

It was all so business-like I wanted to cry! What happened to my beautiful, intimate moments of birth? I felt like I was being robbed of an experience.

And then the contractions started. Long, hard contractions. I barely had time in between them to breathlessly demand an epidural before I passed out. And I am not a sissy! Turns out, being induced causes harder, longer, more painful contractions which, if prolonged can send your baby into distress, which in turn sends you to the operating table for a C-Section.

No wonder women who are sent in for emergency C-Sections are being diagnosed with symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). It's almost like you're a cow, sent to the slaughter house. Just waiting in line for the hospital to cut you, and get you out, so they can fill the empty bed with new cows, needing to be cut.

I begged the nurses to let me up out of that bed. I needed to walk, I needed to move, I wanted my exercise ball! She said since I was induced, they had to constantly monitor my son and that I couldn't move, since it would move the electronics strapped to my belly. I felt like a prisoner. I started to resent everyone and everything. Especially that damn bed.

For those who say I had a choice; I didn't know I did. When a doctor or nurse (a "professional") says "This is what is best for you and your baby", you don't question them. And if you DO you get third degree burns from the scorn. "Don't you WANT to have a healthy baby?" You think the doctor that you trust would tell you what all the options are. What your choices are, their outcomes and their complications. You assume they have you and your baby's best interests in mind, only to realize during the heat of labor that you're just a number on a white board in the hallway.

The epidural kicked in and I fell asleep for 45 minutes. My sleep was interrupted by the most primitive urge to push. I knew I HAD to push. I WANTED to push. I called for the nurse. She checked my cervix again and said I was at 9 centimeters. From 4 to 9 centimeters in 45 minutes! I told her I had to push. She said no. "Hold it."

WHAT!? How can I possibly hold in a baby? I wanted to punch this lady in the face. She wouldn't tell me why I couldn't push. Finally, after speaking to my doctor over the phone, she informed me I could push. Now, I know that lying on your back to push isn't the best way to push out a baby. Avoid Giving Birth on the Back and Follow the Body’s Urges to Push. Doctors make you lay on your back which causes your pelvis to tilt the wrong way, making your uterus have to push that baby uphill while birthing, making it more painful and uncomfortable, also squeezing the baby more than necessary. All this so the DOCTOR is comfortable sitting in his little stool with your vagina in his face, waiting for you to drop a baby in his lap.

I pushed for 2 painful hours as my epidural had worn off. I was glad to be able to feel the urge to push and I felt like I was once again in control. At least somewhat. Making me push while laying down and making me push for ten seconds at a time pushed my son out so hard my perineum tore all the way back to my anus. A third-degree laceration is a tear in the vaginal tissue, perineal skin, and perineal muscles that extends into the anal sphincter (the muscle that surrounds your anus). For weeks to come I suffered horrible constipation and pain when I was eventually able to go.

Because it had taken so long to birth my son, and because the contractions on him were so strong, he had his first bowel movement in me and had inhaled some of it.

So right when he came out, they left me bleeding on the bed and took him away to the other side of the room where they poked and prodded him; sticking hoses down his throat. He still had an apgar score of 9.

My doctor came over, informed my of my third degree perineal tear and started sewing it up. With no anesthetic. I felt every stitch.

I was finally allowed to hold my son in my arms. I resented the nurse who took him away from me and robbed me of being the first person to hold that little human I made and carried for over 9 months. But he was perfect. I cried. He just looked at me. And I looked at him.

I gave him his first breastmilk when we were sent upstairs to a recovery room. Soon, he was taken from me again. The pitocin used in delivery lowered his bilirubin count. He went under the lights for jaundice.

The nurses wanted me to stay in my room while they took him three floors down to be put under the lights. They said I had edema that could worsen if I got out of bed. I couldn't get up to take a shower (I stank like sweat and blood), or pee (I got an infection from the catheter).

But when it was time to feed him (every two hours) I painfully walked down to nurse him, and hold him, then walked back. Even at night. So now I have permanent edema in my left ankle. But it was worth it. He needed that colostrum and I needed him.

When we were able to leave the hospital I couldn't carry him out myself. A nurse had to carry him out. They took him from me so often I would get panic attacks every time someone touched him.

With my recovery came questions.

Why, if I had already been in the first stages of labor had my doctor went through with the induction? Why not send me home until I needed to come to the hospital? It would have been less painful and less traumatic. Because my doctor and the hospital had a schedule to keep. Because without me there to fill a bed, I would have been costing them precious money.

I will NEVER birth in a hospital again. I am grateful that if something goes wrong during birth, a hospital is around the corner.

Now that I know my next birthing experience (who knows when that will be) will be something of my own design, I don't feel like breaking out in a nervous sweat whenever my period is a few days late.