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Thursday, January 21, 2016

My birth story

Mason is going to be two years old in two months and I'm still not healed psychologically from his birth. I thought that maybe by sharing our story and experience it will help me accept it and move forward.

I didn't make any birth plan as I always believed it wouldn't happen exactly according to my plan. So to not be disappointed, I thought why not let it happen the way it should be and see from there. I just knew what I didn't want to happen and spoke about it with my OBGYN and tried to make sure they would be on my side. I knew from day one, and even before being pregnant, that I wanted to push my baby out and not have any extreme medical procedure. I've always been into the beauty and magic of birth. I've watched several documentaries, films and tv shows about it and was always mesmerized by it. I think the reason why I was so much into the shows was because I was scared. I've always been petrified by the pain and the question of would I be able to do it?! 

This question haunted me up to the very last moment. When I got pregnant, I wasn't sure at all with what direction and birth I wanted. I was leaning toward a natural one but my husband kept telling me that there was no way I would be able to handle the pain and I kind of believed him and forgot about the option. I was also like a little girl in the middle of it, not being in my own country and speaking my language. All the medical words weren't familiar to me and I was a bit lost... I'm upset at my husband for not supporting me and pushing me to do it the way I wanted at first but he also had no idea what I was getting myself into. Unlike me, he totally refused to watch any kind of birth stories because the first ever birth he wanted to see was the one of his child - which was understandable!

I can't blame anything on him as I should have just been strong enough to stick to my first thought. But I still believe that I was so scared of the pain I probably wouldn't have been able to unless I was surrounded by powerful women who would have supported me and make me believe I could do it.

So we went with the plan of letting nature do it's thing. My mom came to New York to be with me for when I gave birth. I was so big we all thought I would go into labor early so we planed on making my mom come around a couple weeks before my due date. I remember walking with her for 8 hours per day for two weeks straight to try to induce labor. Even though I had a very easy pregnancy the last month was very hard. I was really really big, people were often asking if I was carrying twins, and I was so ready and impatient to meet the little guy. But nothing really worked, my belly was remaining very high and we had no sign of him coming soon.

We also knew that just a few days after my due date my mom would have to leave and I was very upset of the thought of her leaving without even meeting my baby. As we were getting closer to the DD, one night with my husband we decided to change my mom's return ticket flight to make sure she'd be here. As we were looking online I went into labor. My husband always said that at that moment I felt like she would be with me and I just finally let go. I knew right away I was in labor! I had braxton-hicks throughout my pregnancy and those contractions were absolutely not the same. I waited a couple of hours and it was getting closer and closer. I was so scared that my entire body was uncontrollably shaking. My mom made me take a warm shower to make me relax and we quickly decided to go to the hospital. My first "mistake"! Then again I was so scared. I always listened to my mom telling all her amazing birth stories and she always said how easy and rapid it was. She gave birth four times almost on her one with no medication whatsoever and I'm not sure she remembers it very truthfully. As she remembers it, it always took her about 4-5 hours between going into labor and pushing. Like her, I had no problem to conceive and my pregnancy was very easy, so I thought I would give birth as quickly as she did. Well let me tell you, it had nothing to do with hers. I was petrified!

Once we got to the hospital, all of their rooms were taken so I had to stay in a triage room for quite a while. My husband and my mom were taking turns to be with me as only one person was allowed by my side. I stayed 7 hours in that cold bed under very strong lights waiting and waiting to have a room. The pain was pretty bad because I wasn't even comfortable. If I could go back I would ask to walk, I even wish they told me to. I'm sure it would have helped my labor to progress. Finally in the early morning they had a room for me and transferred me there. I was able to see an OBGYN who wasn't the one I knew which made me upset a little, but he was very nice. They asked me if I wanted an epidural as soon as I was in the room. I didn't even have time to really think about it because it was like "you better get it now as the anesthesiologist might be busy after." So I took it without even really thinking if I could wait. I was 3 cm dilated after 9 hours of labor at the time.

The good thing is that I was finally able to sleep a little. The bad thing is that I couldn't sleep for long because the bottom half of my body started to swell so much that we were getting concerned about what was going on. No one seemed to worry besides us so it probably is a reaction to the epidural or something I still have no idea. I just remember the image of my legs being as wide from hip to toe! A few hours went on and I wasn't dilating quick enough so they broke my water. I remember the nurse being shocked by the amount of water I still had that close to my due date. We literally saw my belly shrinking from a third of it's size. It was really impressive! They waited a little bit to see how it helped but I was still at the same stage so they gave me pitocin. It helped, but then after a while I started being in a lot of pain again so they gave me more epidural which slowed down the dilatation again. Then Mason's heartbeat started to get really weak and I was in labor for 23 hours so my doctor told me that I had to get a C-section.

My entire world went down at that time. Everything but that! I always ALWAYS said that I don't care how it happens I just wanted to push him out. I wanted THAT moment when you see your baby come out of your body and hold him right away. It probably sounds weird but instead of dreaming my entire life of getting married I always dreamed about the day I'll get to push my baby. I wasn't prepared and able to question my doctor. When he told us that my son's heart was in distress and that it would probably take me a few hours more to get to 10cm (I was at 9) we just gave up and said whatever. I regret it so so much and should have waited but who takes the risk when your doctor tells you it's best? Now I just wonder if it was best for my son and me, or just for the doctor since it was very late and he didn't want to stay all night...

From then I barely had time to realize what was happening. Everyone started to get very busy around me. It was almost 11pm and dark and they suddenly put me in a very cold and extremely bright room with so many people running around me. I started shaking again without having any control of my body. They cut me very quickly and even though I had no pain I had the most horrible feeling I ever had in my life. I felt like someone was using a very strong vacuum and taking out everthing inside of me. I was screaming and crying and the memory I have of "giving birth" to my son was nothing but HORRIBLE. I'm still traumatized by it and I absolutely hated it. I sometimes still cry thinking about it. I was so in shocked I couldn't even realize he was here. It took about an hour for me to be able to see him and even when I did I was so tired and drained by what just happened that I wasn't even reacting much.

I remember one thing that I'm really not proud of but marked me really strongly. My mom was holding him and asked me if I wanted to try breastfeeding him and I refused. I didn't even want to hold him at that time. But I'm very thankful that she forced me. From the very first moment I had no problem doing it. I was very happy about it. But I didn't have that magical and instant bond my mom always told me about and that I heard about too from many different resources. It was like I got hit by a huge truck and I was mentally and physically totally drained.

A few hours later (it was the middle of the night) they put me in a room and I was able to get just a little bit of sleep. The nurses watched Mason for me as I wasn't able to walk or move at all. My husband and my mom had left me to rest a little and they also weren't allowed to stay with me.

The following day they came back to spend the day with us. We all got to meet and start bonding with Mason but I still wasn't in love with him. It's very weird and hard to admit and feel that but it's the actual truth. I refused any kind of visitation because I really wasn't feeling like seeing anyone. I was very very upset about what just happened to me. My mom helped me a lot and made me walk as much as I could. It was hard but I did it. The night arrived pretty quickly and this time I asked the nurses to leave Mason with me and it's when it happened. I slept in a seated position with Mason naked on my chest. I can't explain it as I'm sure many of you can relate but I just fell in love with him that night. I don't know if it's the same feeling that happens right when you give birth but at least I had that magical moment. From that night I finally felt some relief and knew we were gonna be fine.

 I never liked hospitals - who does? But my experience made me hate it even more. I couldn't handle being there and even though after a C-section you're supposed to stay 4 days I asked to be released. I thought it was gonna be difficult but to my surprise they said if the pediatrician is ok for Mason to leave, then I can leave too. The pediatrician came at 8am and saw that Mason didn't even lose any weight so he was totally healthy and ready to go. Without waiting a second I called my husband and asked him to pick me up and take us home.

30 hours after my C-section I was outside on my way home. My mom pushed me to walk and do things as much as I could and I'm again very glad she did. In 3 days I felt like I could have run a marathon. I took zero medications whatsoever. Once the epidural got out of my bloodstream I just decided to let my body rest from it all.

I'm almost two years past this experience and I'm still very upset. I can go on for hours reliving it in my head and thinking about how I could have avoided it. Many people are telling me it's because I'm petite and that he was 8lbs 11oz and I would have never been able to push him out. To me it's total bullshit and I know in a way I was way to weak and definitely should have planed more ahead for my options. I never researched and realized that I should have been with a midwife and not an OBGYN. In France (where I come from), midwives give birth and C-section rates are very low compared to many many other countries. I can't say for 100% that I could have not had a C-section, but I'm 99% sure that I've been part of the women who just get lost in the process of medication after medication that causes the inevitable weak heartbeat and C-section.

If I have another baby, I would fight like I probably never have in my life to have my dream birth. I'm deeply dreaming I'd be able to have a VBAC and I hope I'd find a good team to surround me and help me in my journey. I don't think I will ever be able to totally accept how things went but it's our story and maybe the way it was supposed to be. I totally respect how everyone chooses and accepts their birth but this was my story and the way I handled it. I can't be upset at myself forever but I will always be sad thinking about it...