I like to have my life planned out, whereas my husband is a more... whatever happens, happens personality. So while I had him trapped in the car I was able to ask him when we could start trying for baby number 2. We both agreed on the summer of 2008. If we conceive quickly, Ella would be 2 and a half when she gets a sibling, and that seems like a good period of time between babies.
I know it's a while away, but I'm so excited that I have my next TTC journey to look forward to, and a positive birth experience to plan for.
I've been thinking a lot lately about my physician, and I think he sort of neglected us in labour and delivery. Don't get me wrong, I know docs usually only show for the pushing part, but I feel like my husband and I had a good relationship with him, and we were left out in the cold with people we didn't know and who didn't know our plans for birth.
I know we could have written a birth plan, but I've watched nurses and doctors scoff at them and basically say, "yeah, right.", so I didn't write one. A doula would have been useful, but where do I find an experienced, trained doula (I would have nothing less) in small-town, rural Canada? I gave birth in a big hospital, but only because I was willing to drive 2 hours to get there, adding in meetings with a doula was just not possible.
So how does this guide my plan for next time?
1. I can't rely on the support of my doc to get me through labour, (duh!)
2. I think I will write a birth plan, regardless of what the staff may think,
3. and if I live in a different area, I will have a doula. If I still live in an area without access to a doula, I will do the best I can to correspond with her via the internet and the telephone and meet with her when it's convenient.
Deciding to write a birth plan last night made me think about pain relief during labour. Short of general anesthesia, I was given a lot of drugs during Ella's labour. The frustrating part is that I was doing great until I got to the hospital. I was watching my husband play football on the playstation 2 and I told him to finish his game before we left. At this point I was 4-5 centimeters dilated and had been having regular contractions for several hours. The car ride to the hospital sucked, but I even checked myself in at the hospital and walked to the labour assessment unit. As long as I could squat and breath through the contractions I felt like I could handle things very well.
The first few minutes I was connected to the external fetal heart monitor created a dramatic change in my experience. I suppose it could have been a coincidence that at the same moment I was forced to bed, was the same moment my pain intensified... but it's unlikely.
I think I view labour leading up to my admission at the hospital as a very positive experience. I remember being uncomfortable, but I also remember being so happy that my body was finally "in labour" and doing it without augmentation or induction. The pain was there, but it was a good pain (if that makes any sense). It was there for a purpose and by agreeing to (or not opposing to) the drugs I feel like I ruined a beautiful birth.
So next time will I get pain relief in the form of medication? Not unless I need a c-section. I can do it without drugs, I know I can. I think water might help me a great deal. I didn't have a chance to think about getting in the tub last time, but next time I will plan for it. Through out my whole life, and certainly through out my entire pregnancy, I loved laying in the warm water. I find it deeply relaxing, and so I certainly think I can carry that into labour and possibly delivery. I also think that having someone there to tell me I can do it naturally will help. For Ella's birth, my husband knew I would rather labour drug-free, but he also knew to not argue with me if I wanted drugs (what a good hubby, ). However, in my point of weakness, a little encouragement could have gone a long way, and next time I'll ask for a little argument from him on the subject.
A lot of women who have had bad experiences with c-sections, harbor resentment within their scar. Their scar represents the removal of their child through, sometimes traumatic, circumstances.
I was never angry about my scar. My belly is so covered in stretch marks that the tiny scar is barely noticeable. It was very thin in the beginning, and over several months post-partum it turned a red color, and is slightly raised. When I pressed on it, it almost felt adhered to the underlying tissue. It was uncomfortable to move it back and forth slightly. I imagined it being adhered to my uterus, and what it would feel like for these bonds to break during a subsequent pregnancy.
Just over the last few days I've noticed the scar seems smoother, and it "slides" freely over the underlying tisse when it's pushed on. It doesn't feel "attached" anymore. I guess my body is just healing, but it made me realize that I did resent my scar... just a little bit.
I went to my breastfeeding/mommy group last night (which I highly recommend to any mom, it's a great place to talk about anything). I was talking with another mom about her c-section, and the group leader told us about her birth. It was her second baby, and she had arrived at the hospital after a quick onset of labour. The desire to push came on very quickly and she described sitting up in bed and her baby crowning with the doctor on a different floor of the hospital. The nurse had her hang onto her baby as she was coming out, while the nurse removed the cord from around her neck. She then lifted her own baby up to her chest and hugged her close.
She told the story with this far-off happy look on her face. It was such a positive experience for her. The birth sounded amazing, and I had trouble sleeping last night because I kept picturing what a beautiful delivery it must have been. To just reach down and help your child into the world. No drugs, no IV, no doctor, just the mom, her nurse and her baby. Wow.
I've asked myself a thousand times before that if I have a beautiful, healthy, wonderful baby girl why her birth should bother me in such a way? Afterall, many women lose their babies in circumstances beyond their control, or their children have various health problems (as a nurse, I've been witness to these experiences, and as a mom I simply can not imagine).
After thinking about this question for the past 5 months, I've come to realize the true reason why, regardless of my healthy baby now, the birth continues to sting. She was not a healthy baby during the last part of labour, and she was not a healthy baby immediately after delivery.
She had to be given narcan to counteract narcotics, she didn't start breathing on her own (she had to be bagged), she had to be suctioned for meconium, her blood sugar dropped, she had a tonne of mucus in her lungs and her first apgar score was only a 4.
The thought of these things breaks my heart. I may feel traumatized and violated by the circumstances surrounding Ella's birth, but I may never have felt this way if she came out pink and screaming.
My beautiful baby was limp, blue and not breathing, and that is a terrible thing to think about.
**This is copied from another place on pregnancy.org, it is something I still think about and wanted to record it here as well...
My husband is very queasy when it comes to the body. I fully expected (and so did he) that he might faint during Ella's birth. His plan was to stay near my head and try not to see anything that might make him want to run. When the time came however, he was really there for me when I needed him. He held my hand, told me I was doing great and he didn't even come close to fainting after seeing some pretty graphic medical procedures.
So by no means would my husband mean to hurt me and I completely saw the innocence in his question when the other day he asked, "in medical jargon would Ella's birth be called a "birth" because it was a c-section?" I stared at him for a few seconds before my eyes welled up and I muttered, "yes..". Since then I've struggled with his question. If my husband... with his university degree and his infinite sensitivity and love can ask such a question, how many other people out there don't consider a c-section a "birth"?
My baby was born and therefore I've always referred to her coming as a birth no matter what opening she came from but it's made me doubt this otherwise simple, basic thought.
Vaginal birth after cesarean doesn't sound so bad to me, but there's something about VBAC that drives me nuts. It becomes a label.
I just want my next birth to be natural and normal... not a VBAC. I know as soon as I walk into that hospital I'm going to have that term stamped on my chart. I might as well get it tattooed on my forehead and save myself the trouble of explaining.
I'm sounding a little harsh and angry about this... but I'm not. I'm not angry, just irritated that no matter how hard I work to achieve a vaginal birth that I can feel good about... it's still going to be associated with a c-section. The staff will see "VBAC" or "previous cesarean" as soon as they look at my chart... I bet it will even be posted on their white board listing the names of women giving birth. It might look like this...
Rebecca (G3P1) - 9cm, 100% effaced, +1 station. VBAC! (added in some great labour progress there... heehee)
I just feel like people will say,
"oh, a VBAC huh... so when will the section start?" or
"hmmm, a VBAC, why didn't she just get a nice planned section?"
It just drives me crazy, hopefully I'll get over it soon.
There are some wonderful women on this board who have had traumatic birth experiences, but I have trouble finding anyone close to me in real life that have had similar experiences. I would love to have a close friend that knew where I was coming from and knew how I felt. i would never wish a stressful or dangerous birth on anyone... but they are so common these days, and it's strange that no one talks about it.
When I ask someone about their child's birth they usually make a comment about the pain, how long it lasted, and how they felt seeing their little one in the end. There may have been circumstances they weren't happy with or that scared them, but very few mention it. Maybe the hurt has faded over time and isn't really remembered, or maybe they think those circumstances are "normal" or to be expected. Maybe birth has been so medicalized that people see something like a c-section as an often inevitable end to pregnancy... or that a blue, drugged baby that needs to be bagged is ok, as long as they're healthy down the road...
I know how much it has helped to write out my feelings, I just think it would further aid in healing to talk about it with someone who understands and is close to me.
I'll never really know if it was the baby's posterior presentation with her fist by her face or the presence of narcotics and pitocin that lead to the c-section. My heart tells me it was the drugs, my brain tells me it was likely a little of "a" and a little of "b".
So this gives me two avenues of attack. I need to focus on a drug-free labour... and then there's the pesky problem of a posterior presentation (ahhhhh... alliteration... ). Research shows that a previous OP presentation, ups the chances that the woman will experience the same thing in subsequent deliveries. Personally, I believe my problem happened when my water broke on it's own at 5cm dilated. Ideally, a woman's water breaks in late labour when the head is very firmly pushed into the pelvis. There's nothing I can do about my water breaking on it's own... but there are exercises that I can do next time to encourage an occiput anterior presentation. Activities on my hands and knees are supposed to help, like scrubbing the floor. Pelvic rocking exercises (again done on all fours) can also encourage proper presentation.
The most important part for me might be positive self-talk. Telling myself that the baby will be in the right position to be born vaginally, and I am doing everything I can to work toward a vaginal delivery. Believing in my body again will be important.