All of my labor and deliveries have had a part that was intense enough to cause a bit of trauma. Some more than others. I’m trying to process my fourth baby’s birth experience, so I’m reflecting on all four of them. I’ve healed from the first three and now I have to do the same with hers. It will take time, I know.
With my first, it was in the minutes following my water being broken. I began shaking uncontrollably, and had severe hot and cold flashes. My teeth were chatting one minute and the next minute I was sweating profusely. It was the worst part of the whole thing for me. And that includes pushing for two hours! I will never forget how awful it felt. It took a long time to get over that part of her birth.
With my second, the worst moments were when his heart rate was dropping and the nurse was shifting and pushing my belly in an attempt to help. I was terrified that my son was in trouble. Turns out, the cord was around his neck and the Pitocin-induced contractions were too much for him. Thankfully, he was born healthy but it was a scary experience nevertheless. I decided no more Pitocin, AROM, or epidural after that.
The intensity during transition with my third baby was incredible. I mean, it was truly gripping. Everything else about his birth was great but transition scared me. A lot. It was so intense; I have no words. And it changed how I felt about doing it drug-free; I had no fear going into his birth, but afterward? Yeah, labor is kinda scary, lol. And I was more than a little bit nervous about it going into again with my fourth baby.
I went into labor on my due date with her and everything seemed to be going well until the pushing phase. I hadn’t had any interventions except for an IV (I was GBS+ and needed antibiotics), had arrived at the hospital at 6cm dilated and got to 10cm within a few hours of being there. I was handling the pain and even transition very well. But when I pushed…
Wow, I had to stop writing just then and try to process how I feel about it. …it’s…startling how much a certain part of labor/delivery can affect a person emotionally. It’s been just under 12 weeks since I had her and the trauma is still very real.
Because I’d done it three times before, I thought I knew what to expect in all stages of labor and how my body felt through it all. But when I pushed with her, it was not right. Something was WRONG. I didn’t have the ring of fire. It didn’t burn down low. The pain came from somewhere else. My ribs, diaphragm, and chest. The nurse, doctor, and my husband all cheered me on as my body pushed over and over in agony. After every push, I raised my arms up over my head in an attempt to relieve the pain I’d caused my own upper body, and to try to stretch it all back out. I also used my own hands to push her feet/legs down away from my ribs. She would not go down. And no one knew how wrong it felt, or what was happening except me. It hurt SO badly. I felt like I was in prison.
Why didn’t I yell to my obstetrician that something was wrong?! Why did I push like that for an hour and half?!
After 90 minutes, Dr. Moore finally asked if she could break my water because it was taking longer than expected (for a woman who’s already had three babies vaginally) and she couldn’t figure out the baby’s position with the membranes crowning like they were. I agreed and it was then that she found out that Elizabeth was still in the left occiput transverse position. Her whole body was still turned to the side. Her spine was along the left side of my belly, with her head down, facing my right hip. This had been her position since the beginning of the third trimester. She had remained in a fixed state for three whole months and had basically grown into that spot, unable to turn for some reason. While it’s not uncommon for a baby to be this way before the pushing stage, she should have descended by 10cm, and certainly after that much pushing.
But she hadn’t.
We didn’t discuss the options of forceps or vacuum extraction because I was/am adamantly against them. And maybe neither would have worked anyway, I don’t know.
I ended up having a c-section.
And I’m not even bothered about that part! I have no issue with the surgery. What I’m having to heal from is the pushing stage. It traumatized me because it was unexpected after three kids, and because I don’t feel that I responded correctly; I should have been more clear with my doctor that something felt wrong. I guess I responded how I did because the contractions were so intense and all I could think about at the time was getting through the next one. I also kept thinking it was almost over and to just stick with it.
I want to forgive myself, and I know that will come in time.
You can read her full birth story HERE.