Eleven years ago this October I started this blog. True…. It’s not super popular… truth be told in terms of “blog lingo”… SEO… numbers… all that… I have no idea what I’m doing. But, I started out ‘cause I was a proud Momma of a boy that turns eleven today! I wasn’t on Facebook and I was dying to share his beautiful smile with my Gramma and the other special people in my life. Since then, I’ve birthed four babies with the blog and shared each one of their amazing birth stories. By the Grace of God, you’ll read another one in just a few weeks.
But this is the Birth story you’ve never read.
I was “young”. Pumped and ready to show my world that I wasn’t crazy. I was going to have a “physician attended homebirth”. And like all first-time mommas, especially first-time natural-birth mommas… I had no idea what I was in for.
I thought birth was something you muscled your way thru. I was tough. I was a workhorse. “I got this.” was my attitude. So… the day before I went into labour I hauled mulch like a man and worked in my garden in the blazing heat for over eight hours getting it ready for a garden tour I had been invited to participate in.
Stupid me. Nowadays, I tell all soon-to-be-labouring Mommas to friggen CHILL!!! Don’t get too much sun… stay hydrated… give your body a break. Eat. Take a huge nap.
They never listen. 🙂
The next day I was sitting at my desk in our office and I felt that familiar cramp. The one I had been waiting for…like a monthly cramp. I knew it was game time. We let things build before we sounded the alarm. I tidied the house, waxed my armpits (true story), washed my hair, got the bed ready and called the doctors office. I was devastated to discover that “Dr. Weirdo” would be attending my birth instead of the doctor I really liked. The sunset, the doula arrived and I was having regular contractions every five minutes.
The nurse scheduled to attend our birth called… from a suburb an hour and a half away. She was clueless about our side of the universe and wanted directions from Joel which annoyed me to no end. Get a map woman! I was hurting. How dare she take him from me to talk on the phone. And we thought, how in the world would she give me the IV I “needed” in time if she was that far away and I was already five minutes apart???
My good friend came over with some bananas and encouragement and she too thought this baby was coming by midnight.
I laboured like that ALL night. 3-5 minutes apart with Dr. Weirdo checking in periodically. Once the nurse arrived it was time for my IV. They had no surgical tape between the two of them and Doc Weirdo says to me (a labouring mother), “Do you have any tape?” I said “no”. An answer he just could NOT accept. Finally, to get it him off our backs Joel said, “I have painters tape.” and so there I was… with an IV attached to my bedroom chandelier (no joke) and my hand wrapped in painters tape.
What’s wrong with this picture? Here we were paying thousands to go with “physician attended home birth” instead of some “no-name” midwife and so far, it was a three-ring circus.
Looking back, I know that even though first-time births can take forever, but my body was probably in full rebellion due to all the stress and drama. Not to mention, Nurse-I–don’t-know-the-Chicago-suburbs showed up in Winnie the Pooh scrubs. I almost punched her. What kind of self-respecting adult woman wears Winnie the Pooh?
Hour after hour of contractions 3-5 minutes apart… the sun rose… and June 6th had begun.
Dr. Weirdo offered to “check me” but felt this would be an ideal time to train nurse Winnie and see if she was up to snuff and so there I was, like a fricken’ human classroom with two people, fingers in my lady parts, trying to compare notes as to how far dilated I was. With all the stress my cervix was probably closing by the second. I begged him NOT to tell me if I had not made any progress since the last humiliating exam. To which he loudly announced “NO change. Still just two or three centimetres.”
I had been in labour for about 15 hours at this point. Joel and I were rocking it.
I was doing my relax-thru-the-contractions bit, we were “slow dancing”…. Everything we had studied. Yet Dr. Weirdo proceeded to pull my Mom and my doula aside and tell them how poorly we were doing and how ill-prepared we were. (Cause we didn’t have breakfast pre-made for him, it turns out).
It was devastating. Here, we were so proud of our teamwork and approach. My doula was appalled by his treatment. The man is lucky I didn’t have a gun under my pillow. I get angry eleven years later.
At one point after lunch, Doc Weirdo went out to his car to make a phone call. Turns out, he wasn’t getting babies heartbeat very strong during the contractions. He came in and announced that they wanted me to come into the office for the strap-on monitor. 45 minutes away. The nightmare progressed.
My contractions were strong and steady still and somehow I can still see myself gathering up whatever I might need, should they transfer me to the hospital. I have no idea how I was able to think coherently. But I remember putting on a skirt and a tank top and strapping in for the long, horrible drive.
My brother drove, trying his best to avoid Chicagoland’s notorious potholes and Joel and the doula sat in the back seat with me. With Nurse Winnie in another seat encouraging me to call on Jesus on the drive. She almost met Jesus face to face. But I knew she was right. It was getting horrible. I needed Jesus. I sure as hell didn’t need her. She needed to go back to the Hundred Acre Wood.
FINALLY, we made it to the doctor’s office.
I was very emotional from the almost 20 some-odd hours of pain. The heartbeat was slower then they wanted, so they said I needed to go to the hospital. Here, this amazing dream I had had of a homebirth was being taken from me. They wanted us to drive INTO CHICAGO and not just Chicago but to the HOOD… we were stunned because there was a hospital RIGHT down the road.
It’s so clear, the memory of me sobbing to the new doctor, (Doc Weirdo had been relieved of his duties), “Why can’t I go down the road?” and the doctor sort of verbally slapping me, “Do you WANT a c-section Cause that’s what they’ll do the moment you walk in the door.
If you want to labour thru this and see what happens, then you’ll need to go to a hospital where we have someone on staff.” (NONE of this had been explained to me in the months before the birth and so it shouldn’t surprise you that this practice has since closed down due to numerous lawsuits.)
If I went into the city, one of their “let nature do its thing” doctors worked there and I could work with him. So drive into the city we did. Into the hood. Into a hospital, I thought I’d NEVER deliver at. The wheelchair, the check in…. it’s all a blur… with memories that fade in and out. I was, at that point, delirious with pain.
We gave the nurse our birth plan and told her to PLEASE not offer me any drugs. She wasn’t impressed.
She said, “You work with us and we’ll work with you.” And they came in repeatedly and offered me relief from my agony, which is just SO not fair to a labouring mother who has already expressed her wishes. I finally snarled at her, “DO NOT ASK ME THAT AGAIN!”
I begged them to keep the lights off. I was losing my mind. Every time they’d come in to check me they’d flip those fluorescent lights on. For a homebody like me, the room, the “gown”, the lighting, the constant interruptions… it was truly a nightmare.
At one point I was desperate for a warm bath. They tried to tell us they didn’t have a tub but we pressed the issue. This was around 2:30 and my doula, Joel and I walked down this long hallway to get to the bathroom with a tub and upon arrival, my water finally broke. I was so excited to get in… the sound of the already running water was just about to soothe my soul… until we saw a dirty Q-tip floating in the tub. “Not a chance. You’re not getting in that water.” Joel said. Devastated, I made my way back to the hospital bed to wait for our much-anticipated doctor to finally arrive.
The next 6 hours are a blur of pain and delirium. Slow baby heartbeat. Steady contractions. But then I remember looking thru my pain-filled haze and seeing a sort of buzz about the room. I saw them prepping and heard voices and I knew the end was close. The doctor instructed Joel to take one leg and either my Mom or Doula to take the other and to cram my knees up to my ears so I could push.
What a joke.
Flat on my back. Pelvis smashed by gravity. Against everything I had learned, read and wanted. Sigh.
Back and forth that little head appeared and disappeared for 45 minutes… they snipped me (another thing I was totally against) and gave me a catheter, thinking that if I could pee that might help him out. I could hear his little heartbeat dipping and dipping. I just kept my eyes locked on the doctor’s eyes. I figured if he wasn’t going to freak out, I wasn’t. A nurse tried to give me an oxygen mask as I pushed and I did flip out screaming for her to get that thing away from my face, I was trying to accomplish something!
And then there he was.
And they took him, and cleaned him off… and wrapped him up before I could hardly glimpse him. He had swallowed the meconium a bit and they wanted to really irrigate him in another room after the initial clearing but thank GOD Joel said no, and they finally gave me my baby.
28 hours of hell. To hold heaven in my arms.
After a bit, in true hospital fashion, they took him away. I didn’t really understand what was happening or I would have never agreed to it. They stitched me up. They gave me an IV ’cause I hadn’t eaten since those bananas some twenty-five hours previous and still, they kept my baby. Little nurses with broken English assured me he was fine. Told me I needed to rest, Like hell I did, I needed my baby.
Finally… after 45 minutes (at least) I ripped the IV out of my arm (don’t I make a terrible patient?) and a nurse made the mistake of getting too close to my bed, I reached out and literally grabbed her arm and growled,
“I am going to haemorrhage my way down the hallway to get my baby unless you bring him to me RIGHT NOW!”
I had him within minutes. They moved us to a recovery room. Joel passed out. They had my baby in that plastic bed thing but I scooped him up and nested him close to me. I couldn’t sleep for all the money in the world. In the middle of the night, two nurses came in to take him away for a hearing test.
“He can hear just fine. Leave us alone.” All we needed was each other and by ten-thirty the next morning I was begging to leave. Trust me, they couldn’t get rid of me fast enough.
It took me YEARS to get over how Dr Weirdo treated us in our own home, how my first birth ended up being NOTHING like I had thought it would be… It took me years to “get over” that he was taken from me right after the birth and then again for those 45 minutes down the mystery hall. I had some major loss issues. It was through an hour of our time together had been stolen from me. Even in writing this story the anger and sadness have popped out again.
I’ll never get over how much I love that boy of mine. My first born. My son.
I’ll never get over that.
Happy Birthday, Beautiful Boy. You are the apple of my eye.
Since my three-ring circus first birth, I have been blessed to have four, fabulous home births. In fact, baby number two was the total opposite and Joel and I did it all by ourselves on Christmas Eve morning. Unassisted. THAT was awesome.
For all, you birth junkies here’s some more homebirth stories for ya…
And we’re praying by the end of the month that I get to write another one.