Posts Tagged ‘pain management techniques’

Our Attempted Homebirth: Part 2

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

continued from Part 1

Goodbye Homebirth

It was my decision. It was not a state of emergency. The midwife believed in trusting my instinct. If I felt the need to go to the hospital, then we should go. But was it instinct? Was it the delusional state of mind I was in from lack of sleep, a long labor, and feeling emotionally beaten? I needed to hear you CAN do this. You are STRONG. Why did I forget my birth affirmations in that moment?

Buzz hurriedly grabbed the few things he could think of that we might need/want at the hospital. We had not even fathomed going to the hospital; having a hospital bag packed was not part of our birth plan. We got in the car and drove away from our home. With our house shrinking in the distance, so did my confidence.

Goodbye homebirth. Hello hospital.

The Hospital: 36 hours into labor
Upon arriving at the hospital paperwork was thrust upon me. I did my best to complete it while crawling around the lobby floor trying to manage the pain. A wheelchair arrived to take me to the delivery room. “I want to walk…walking helps” Sorry m’am. Hospital rules, you gotta sit. So I sat. Thus begins the loss of control.

The delivery room nurses required me lay down in the bed on my back to they could administer an IV, pitocin, blood pressure monitor, antibiotics for the GBS, and a fetal monitoring device. I was bombarded with questions like an interrogation. However, I was in a poor state of mind to respond to most of these questions. I had lost all sense of time. My memory of the last few days was dulled by the more immediate need to give birth.

Chained to the bed I was stripped of all pain management techniques that had been working for me at home. I couldn’t sway back and forth, I couldn’t rock on my hands and knees, I couldn’t have Buzz poor hot water over my back. In effort to gain some way to alleviate the pain, I kept lying to the nurse that I had to use the bathroom just so I could get up and move. I would hide in the bathroom as long as I could; squatting, moaning, and rocking. This trick did not last long because the head nurse came in and told me I needed to stay in the bed so they could continuously monitor the baby. At that point, I did not know what to do. I just laid there thrashing back and forth in the bed while choking back tears. I felt delusional. HELP ME PLEASE I wanted to scream. But I just laid there: scared, confused, and alone. Funny thing, I wasn’t alone. There were various people in and out of the room, asking me questions, hooking me up to things, manipulating my body. So why did I feel so alone? Buzz, who had been my support while laboring at home, was not with me. Yes he was physically with me, but not emotionally, not spiritually like he had been at home. Our rhythm, our connectedness, our confidence had been destroyed. He was just as terrified as me and looked upon me with helplessness in his eyes. He did not know his role in this strange environment and no one helped him define it. So he was pushed away to the side as a mere observer.

Dysfunctional Labor I heard them say. Dysfunctional Labor they wrote in my medical chart. What does that mean? Why won’t they stop saying that? With every new person that walked into the room they repeated it…Dysfunctional Labor. It echoed in my mind, my heart, and my soul…my body is dysfunctional.

At that point, my spirit was broken. I gave up all hope of the peaceful, natural birth I had desired. I agreed to the epidural. I cried as the words came out of my mouth. I felt like I was saying “I am failure…I am weak…I am powerless”. I felt defeated. I had labored over 40 hours without using medication for pain. I was dilated to 9 centimeters and had been for a couple hours by the time I got the epidural. Just one more little centimeter to go…and I couldn’t do it. Some call it dysfunctional labor.

Push 10, 9, 8, ….Breathe…Repeat
This went on for a total five and a half hours. Pushing and pushing with all my might. With every ounce of my being I pushed. I wanted nothing more than to see our baby, hear our baby cry, hold our baby, and nurse our baby. So I pushed and pushed. At first everyone kept saying “oh you’re so close” “a few more pushes and you’ll meet your baby”…but then a few hours went by. They stopped saying soon and started wondering “what’s wrong?” I felt like I had been running a marathon and could see the finish line ahead, but every time I got close to it, someone would move it a few steps beyond my reach. It was an endless marathon and I was chasing the finish line. Different doctors came in to assist me. People I had never met before. I looked up and counted 16 people in the room.

One doctor came in with a vacuum extractor. I think he asked me my permission first, but I don’t recall. Had I actually been in a position to make a rationale decision, I would have declined this device. Thankfully the hospital had a 3 pop-off policy. If the extractor pops off three times they must discontinue using it. Two of the pop-offs occurred because the bed was jerked during pushing. I naively thought it was somehow part of the ejection technique; jerk the bed while I pushed and they sucked out the baby. But then the doctor starts shouting Who is moving the bed…stop moving the bed! A nurse replied It’s her, it’s her knees. They had told me to push my knees as far back as I could so I obliged which resulted in accidentally hitting the bed controls with my knees…oops!

I could hear the baby’s heartbeat; a sweet, rhythmic, beautiful, and soothing sound. It was strong. I focused on it to give me strength. It helped me feel connected to our baby. But then the heartbeat started to dip, just a little, but enough to cause concern. They put an oxygen mask over my face. I felt suffocated by it. I could not hear with it on my face. I kept trying to push it away. I didn’t understand why they insisted on putting it on my face. It’s not for you…it’s for the baby my midwife explained. Deep breaths she encouraged…she breathed with me and counted in my ear to help me establish a rhythm. She held the oxygen to my face while I pushed, but took it off between pushes so I could hear the baby’s heartbeat.

Hello Sarah, I am Dr. XXXX. You have been pushing for a long time now. I am willing to keep going for a short while longer and then we need to discuss other options. These were the kind, but firm words of the head obstetrician as he entered the room. I knew what he meant by “other options”. They were mentally preparing me for a surgical birth; a Csection. No one would actually say the word aloud to me, but there it lingered in the air as a possibility. My midwife whispered in my ear this is it Sarah…give it all you got…you can do this. I forgot about the 16 people in the room. I forgot about the last 51.5 hours. I will not have a Cesction…I WILL deliver vaginally. For the next half hour the only voice I heard was Dr. XXXX; it was as if he was narrating my birth. His words and his hands guided my baby on its final journey from my womb into the world.

IT’S A BOY!
A final push and the baby emerged. Everyone cheered. They were cheering for us. It was a celebration. They see babies born everyday and yet genuinely cheered at the birth of our son. I needed that. I needed to be surrounded with the sounds of triumph.

I stretched my arms forward to reach for our son. Dr. XXXX tried to pass me our son, but couldn’t. He cord was too short and I could not be reached. Buzz cut the cord and placed our son on my chest for a few seconds. Hi baby. I’m your mommy. You know me. You know my voice. I love you. It’s okay. You are here. We are here. You are okay. He was covered in meconium and the nurses wanted to check him. They took him from me all too quickly. Wait, bring him back…I need to hold him. He needs me to hold him. But I still had a placenta to birth and stitches to receive. Once again feeling powerless I laid there watching nurses handle our baby.

Can we go home now? I asked as Dr. XXXX stitched my episiotomy. This was a genuine question. I wanted nothing more than to spend our babymoon as we intended…in the privacy and comfort of our own home. They laughed at me. You just birthed a baby! they exclaimed. I know, but we planned on being at home I protested. Hospital policy…blah, blah, blah…monitor baby….blah, blah, blah…was their reply. I contemplated checking out Against Medical Advice, but after 52 hours of labor did not have any fight left in me. So we stayed at the hospital for the required 36 hours.

After thoughts: The fourth trimester
At my six week post partum visit to see Dr. XXXX he routinely inquired about birth control. I politely declined stating that we hoped to conceive again soon. He did not know of our struggle with infertility or our desire to have a large family. It dawned on me that he actually knew very little about me beyond what can be found in my medical chart, yet had shared one of the most precious, intimate moments of our lives with us…welcoming our son into this world. His hands were the very first to touch Jeremiah, not daddy’s. Dr. XXXX then asked if we would consider a homebirth for future pregnancies. He asked as Jeremiah laid across my chest while he conducted a routine vaginal exam. Would I consider another homebirth?

A year later I am still trying to answer that question for myself. If we should be so blessed to conceive again, I am convinced that birthing in the hospital will not allow me the birth experience I desire. I fear the spiral of medical interventions that may ensue in a hospital birth. I did not like spending the first hours, days after birth in the hospital. However I do not think I can relive the emotional vulnerability that I experienced in this birth. I could not sustain another attempted homebirth.

-Sarah

PS. This birth story was written during the first year os my son’s life in 2007. I have since had two more sons who were born at home in the water.