my traumatic birth story
Mom Life

A Traumatic Birth Story: How to Be Prepared

Happy, happy, Monday! It’s time for another contemplative Mom Life Monday post, and this week is taking me out of my comfort zone. Today I will be sharing my birth story. Yep, that’s right! I had a pretty shitty experience; excuse my language, but it’s just the only word that can sum up that 5 days for me.

Did your birth go according to plan?  Did you have a traumatic birth?  What have you done to overcome it?

What would you do differently for your next pregnancy to prepare better? Join the conversation below, let’s chat!

Pregnancy

The latter portion of my pregnancy with Kenna was wrought with serious edema, high blood pressure, borderline zombie-like fatigue, and I was basically carrying around the world’s largest watermelon on top of my pelvis. I was so uncomfortable and I couldn’t sleep.

Once my 40th week arrived, and my blood pressure started to get concerning, my doctor recommended that we induce labor; I didn’t want to do this, especially for my first pregnancy, but it seemed like it was necessary (I was starting to get really dizzy and my vision was getting spotty).

We waited 3 days for a spot to open up at my labor and delivery unit; by Monday night, I was having consistent contractions at bed-time (and they apparently didn’t go away by the time we went in to the hospital the next day).

traumatic birth
traumatic birth

Birth

Induction: Expectations vs Reality

I wasn’t under any illusion that being induced was going to be easy, but I certainly wasn’t prepared for how LONG it was going to take. I could handle the pain, that wasn’t the issue. The problem was that I was progressing at a snail’s pace, and that was basically like being kicked while you are already passed out in a boxing match. It doesn’t make you want to keep going.

Tuesday August 15th

We arrived at the hospital late in the morning, around 9 AM. Monitors were showing that I was already contracting regularly… who knew? I was in a fair amount of pain the night before, but was able to sleep just fine. We decided with my doctor to continue with the induction anyway, and help my body along (which in hindsight probably wasn’t a good idea, since I was feeling okay).

I had Cervodil placed while I was 1cm dilated and 50% effaced. They also inserted an IV port and we waited to be transferred to a real birthing room. Surprisingly that took a little over an hour.

It took the rest of the day to get me contracting normally (the cervodil ended up making my contractions irregular). I ended the day at 2cm and they were slowly starting to give me more and more pitosin. They gave me some meds to help me sleep Tuesday night.

Wednesday August 16th

I woke up and the fun really started. They maxed out my pitosin in the morning, and broke my waters. I started to really feel the contractions now that there wasn’t a nice cushion of fluid around Kenna, and the weight on my cervix was nearly unbearable.

I’ll be honest and say I was trucking along just fine. I was able to put up with the contraction pain, and I wasn’t suffering immensely. The nurses kept asking if I needed pain meds, and I kept telling them I was okay.

They checked me around noon and my heart sank. I was only at 4 cm. The doctor suggested that we do an epidural because he thought maybe I was somehow “too tense” for my contractions to be working effectively.

By late that night, I was still at 4-5 cm. Nothing was working. I couldn’t move because of the epidural (which deceptively was only working on my left side, no matter what we tried), and I was catheterized – fun! 

It was awful; I was laying there doing nothing when my body was telling me to move… walk… bend over… SOMETHING.

I had been stuck at 4 centimeters for more than 5 hours and I had had enough. The doctor suggested we do a c-section, and naturally my husband and I were all for it. We had been monitoring my blood pressure and Kenna’s heart rate the whole time, and everyone was safe and healthy; my birth just wasn’t going anywhere. We didn’t know why, and it was just time for it to be over (I couldn’t do anything to help it along at that point anyway).

A Traumatic Birth Story: How to be Prepared. #birth #trauma #traumatic #momlife #motherhood #birthstory

The Dreaded C-Section

This part is really hard for me to talk about, so bear with me.

Everything was ready and set up for me to go in for my C-section. Before they took me in, the anesthesiologist who placed my epidural came to check on me. At that point I told him that my right side wasn’t numbed at all. (If you recall, I was handling the contractions alright before my epidural, so I didn’t complain too much about this – probably to my detriment).

He looked confused for a second, and asked me if I told the nurses that – I had, and we tried the pillow trick and laying on my side, none of that worked. He though about it for a few seconds, then said “It should be fine.” And with that they started wheeling me to the operating room.

In the OR

I was really nervous, and it was basically the arctic circle in the operating room, no joke. You’re essentially paralyzed and naked – and I was still having contraction pain in my right side, mind you. Luckily, my husband, Jonathan was in there with me after they got me hooked up and draped. By that point I was shivering like there was an earthquake, and I just wanted it to be over.

They asked me if I wanted to be able to see, and the biology degree holder in me really wanted to say “yes”. But then this voice in my head shouted “NO”. It was overwhelming and suddenly I had no urge to see what was happening anymore.

As they did their typical poke test, I couldn’t feel anything. The spinal block was, presumably, working it’s magic. They started the procedure, and everything was going well until they got to the muscle fascia.

Where it Went Wrong

I screamed in pain. My insides were surely being gutted from my body. I felt nothing but piercing and insufferable anguish. I couldn’t talk. All I could manage were tears.

My husband held my hand tighter and tighter as my doctor stopped immediately. He was surprised that I could actually be in pain so he asked how bad it was – that I should only feel some tugging.

I couldn’t speak.

They decided to pause the operation and give me NO3 until I felt better, then they would continue. They repeatedly checked my spinal tap lines, to no avail. “It should be working” the anesthesiologist said several times.

Once I was able to breathe again, they tried one more time. Now I was dizzy, lightheaded, and I barely knew what was going on around me (thanks to the NO3). I didn’t have the energy to intentionally yell this time, it just erupted from my mouth. I was done, I couldn’t handle any more.

My blood pressure started to drop, so they finally decided I couldn’t handle an awake c-section. They quickly put me under, and as I was falling asleep I remember crying and asking the nurse – who was gently stroking my hair – …

“Is Jonathan okay?”

“Is Kenna okay?”

… “Am I okay?”

And I fell asleep before I got an answer to any of those questions.

Kenna was born at 11:07 PM August 16th, 2018

traumatic birth totally worth it

The Worst Part

  • I didn’t get to hear my baby cry for the first time, and I couldn’t be the first to hold her.
  • Our breastfeeding journey didn’t start until 3 hours after Kenna was born.

When I awoke from my c-section, not only was I shivering from the general anesthetic, but I also was in borderline shock from what had happened.

But I toughed it up and tried to forget; I tried to just be happy that my baby was safe, and I was okay.

The Hospital Stay – Recovery

I was in recovery for 3 days, and we went home Saturday. It was impossible to sleep more than 30 minutes in those three days due to general surgery pain and a newborn waking every 2 hours to feed. I actually remember very little about getting discharged from the hospital. The whole conversation with the doctor about discharge instructions I think I blacked out for (thank God they give you that print-out, right?!).

Implications on Postpartum Recovery

Due to my difficult c-section, I basically refused to look at or touch my incision for almost 2 months. I cleaned it from afar, and avoided it like the plague. Whenever I touched it, my heart would get racy and I got dizzy.

It had opened up in the middle and I only went to see the doctor when it started oozing (gross, right?). The kicker? The doctor that did my surgery was the one who I had to see that day. I was an emotional wreck, and I had my newborn with me so I had to just get in there and get it over with.  It was a nightmare.

My incision site didn’t fully heal for 8 months because I just couldn’t take care of it properly.

Don’t wait like I did to have your incision checked out, you’ll regret it!

In Summary

C-sections aren’t a walk in the park. When they go wrong (which is a minuscule percentage), they go seriously wrong. I was lucky in that my daughter and I were both physically fine. I’m dreading my next pregnancy, and praying to God I can give birth naturally (even though it turns out my pelvis isn’t shaped well for a vaginal birth). Otherwise, I’m going to have them knock me out for the whole ordeal.

Keep your plans loose and your mind open. Giving birth isn’t easy, and it won’t go exactly as you plan it. Be prepared for the worst, and pray for the best!

Until next time,

Rachel

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