Monday, December 31, 2012

Quinn's beautiful hospital birth

I'm so happy that my friend Regina chose to share her story here! She sent it to me after we were talking about how we both felt misled by "The Business of Being Born":

Before jumping into my second child’s hospital birth story, let me give you some background. Our first child was born at home with a certified professional midwife who, although she was highly recommended, ended up being a big bully and pushed many “natural” interventions on me by playing on my fear of the hospital. I am thankful that my daughter and I are safe despite the midwife’s mismanagement of my labor. That experience with the midwife led me to search out why my experience was so different from others who have homebirths, but then I learned that it wasn’t so different and I realized that there are birth bullies everywhere.

Fast forward to when I became pregnant with my second child. I was so sick at the thought of calling our former midwife for my files that I made my husband do it. I couldn’t bring myself to even talk to her on the phone. We talked to many people during our search for an OB/GYN (which began before we got pregnant, but continued for 12 weeks into it). We finally settled on a doctor who was highly recommended by friends, strangers (on the internet), homebirthers, and hospital birthers. She was from Ghana and didn’t bat an eye when she heard our first birth had been at home, instead she asked why we were choosing to use the hospital this time. She made no judgement of anyone after my story was shared, simply said, “Well, we’re going to make this birth a good one.”

On to the birth story! My labor began early one morning. We were using Hypnobabies for our “birthing method” so I chose to remain still and utterly relaxed in the quiet house. For 5 hours I labored this way, enjoying the quiet, and believing that I was still in the very early stages of labor since my contractions were no worse that strong menstrual cramps. When I finally started timing the contractions, I was surprised to see how regular they were: lasting 1 minute and coming every 5 minutes.

I finally forced myself to get up and start collecting things for our hospital bags and our 2.5-year-old girl’s bag. Within minutes of getting up, the contractions severely intensified and I started feeling sick. My husband woke up in the midst of this and I informed him of what was going on. The lucky man was only aware of my labor for the last quarter of it. ;) Somewhere in the midst of packing, contractions, dealing with my fear of labor, getting our girl up, fed, and off with the child care I lost my center and couldn’t regain full control of myself. There was no where to retreat to hide; I had to keep going forward and I didn’t want to.

After what seemed like an eternity, we finally arrived at the hospital. I had been laboring for 6.5 hours at this point. As the nurses cheerfully checked me in, they tried to comfort me. When I expressed my desire to be left alone, they quieted down and stopped touching me except for necessary things (which is exactly waht I wanted--I can’t stand being touched while in labor). One of those necessary things was an IV for antibiotics since I was GBS+. It took several tries to get the IV in because I was mildly dehydrated from not drinking much over night and because I kept moving during contractions. I was never scolded, but eventually the nurses figured out a way to help me hold still long enough to get the tricky IV in.

Once most of the business was taken care of (I later learned they totally ditched the intake interview and paperwork), they finally checked my dilation. At that point, I learned that--yay!--I was almost 8cm dilated but, sadly, that meant that there wasn’t time to set up the birthing tub. I had been looking forward to a water birth. Guess we should have gotten to the hospital sooner, but I thought I still had hours and hours to go.

As soon as they were done with those checks, I was off that hospital bed as quickly as I could move. They brought me a birthing ball that I draped myself over and rocked and moaned. At some point, they fastened the baby heart monitor onto me and that thing proved to be a pain. The baby did not like staying on the monitor and that made the nurses (and therefore, me) nervous. If there were one thing I could change about the whole birth, it would be the monitor alarm. I understand they need to know the baby’s doing OK (they were just trying to get the baseline at this point so they could switch to intermittent monitoring) but if only they could have turned off the alarm sound I could have focused so much better. The alarm kept going off and it would startle me out of any focus I had been able to find.

Otherwise, the nurses were great. They brought me hot rice packs, took the clock off the wall so that I couldn’t see it, rearranged the room so that I could labor on the floor, and were otherwise very helpful and sweet. Sometime in all this, my OB arrived and sat quietly in a corner doing paperwork and observing. About 40 minutes after arriving at the hospital, I started feeling the urge to push. My OB commented on it and had the birthing stool brought in but didn’t do anything else except encourage me until my water broke.

My water broke with a very loud snap. As the nurses cleaned it up, they realized I was bleeding with it. I was bleeding steadily, though not heavily. They moved me up to the bed to get a better look and after a pushing contraction, they guessed that I must have torn inside the birth canal though they couldn’t tell for sure at that point (this did turn out to be true, thankfully). At this point, the OB requested that I remain on the bed so she could keep a closer eye on the bleeding and asked me to push as hard as I could with each contraction--I believe her words were, “Time to get this baby out!” They allowed me to get comfortable and change positions for pushing, they just wanted me to stay up on the bed for now. Somewhere in a lull between contractions, one of the nurses joked to me that she was sad I was up on the bed now, she had been looking forward to seeing the OB get down on the floor to catch the baby. This lightened the mood, which was helpful.

Within 10 minutes the baby was crowning, and the OB asked if I wanted to catch the baby (I had expressed this desire in my birth plan), I didn’t care at that point and just wailed, “I don’t care; I just want the baby out!” Our baby boy’s head was born with the next contraction and the OB said very calmly, “The umbilical cord is around his neck twice. Not tight but not loose. Don’t push just yet, Regina.” As soon as the cord was unlooped, his body was born and he was handed directly to me.

I was surprised when our son didn’t cry right away. He waved his arms around a bit and kind of mouthed at the air. It seemed strange to me, so I started rubbing him. The nurses started rubbing him as well almost as soon as I had started, so I assume that was the right thing to do. He started crying within a few seconds and everyone left us him alone again.

I kept him on my chest for almost an hour before anyone asked to examine him. Because I was GBS+ and had delivered only an hour after getting the IV started, he needed separate antibiotics and some blood drawn for culturing (I know some people call this ridiculous, but I didn’t want to mess around with GBS). I hated to do it, but they promised to hurry. He was away from me for about 5 minutes and was in my husband’s arms or the bassinet (hospital liability rules) for the whole trip. After he was returned, he was weighed and measured in our room, the hospital bed was exchanged for a queen-sized murphy bed, the much-delayed intake interview was finally conducted (which the nurse giggled through because the questions were ridiculous post-birth), and then we were left alone.

About 5 hours after the baby had been born, I finally called a nurse and asked her when they would wash him (I wanted to feel my baby’s soft hair--it was still matted with blood and mucus or vernix). The nurse said they’d do it in a while. So, 8 hours after birth, he finally had his first bath with both my husband and me in attendance. That night, I snuggled in bed with our finally-clean baby and no one batted an eye when I kept him there with me rather than putting him in the bassinet.

Overall, this was a nice experience. Sure, I don’t like giving birth, but I don’t think it could have gone much better with all the small things that went wrong. This hospital was just a small hospital in a small town but they did a great job taking care of me and my baby. It was like staying at a nice hotel. Oh! And the food? It was delicious! The meals were good-sized and the kitchen delivered extra snacks to the new mothers throughout the day. It was great! I was ready to go home after our 48-hour stay, but it was a nice, restful time there and I would be glad to deliver there again.


Anonymous said...

Now that is a happy mommy. Congratulations!

Kate said...

You are so, so right that there are "birth bullies" everywhere. I have seen doctors, nurses, and yes, home birth midwives be downright abusive toward laboring moms. There is just no excuse and it boils my blood. I'm really sorry that you were not treated the way you deserved for your first birth, and hope that Quinn's birth was healing in many ways! Thanks for sharing!

mandy jones said...

However there's nothing wrong having a natural childbirth,as long there are nurses and doctors around(and as long they don't take control, but to help). Matter of I think that all birthcenters should be required to have OB doctors, but the OB doctors should be there to help not control.

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