Birth & Betrayal

My ears started to ring, and the room got blurry. “Um, I don’t think I’m ok, I can’t hear.” I said through labored breathing.

“You can’t hear? What do feel like?” The doctor asked without concern.

“Like super fucked up,” was all I could get out before I started convulsing.

When I had arrived at the hospital the night before, I was so excited that I would meet my baby in the next 24 hours. The doctor had scheduled me for an induction, because I had one high blood pressure reading. Although clinical guidelines instruct him to wait fifteen minutes and make decisions based on a second reading, he still went off my first reading and scheduled an induction. Let’s be honest inductions are easier for him and his schedule.

I had, had a pretty good relationship with my doctor throughout my pregnancy. My baby and I were very healthy, so visits were quick and easy. I stressed how much I wanted a natural childbirth, and how I felt about C-sections. He gave me this speech about how a woman’s body is made for this and that there is nothing for us to do but facilitate this natural process. He told me, “I will let your body lead.” I felt heard, and supported and at peace. When he scheduled me for an induction, I was hesitant but trusted that he wanted to honor my birth wishes while keeping us safe from possible complications with hypertension.

The induction didn’t work. I just wasn’t dilating and wasn’t feeling any contractions. It had been almost 24 hours since I came to the hospital and my doctor seemed to be getting frustrated. He wasn’t there, as they usually don’t show up until you’re in active labor so he ordered the hospital to break my water. The doctor at the hospital came to follow his orders, and said to the nurse. “I am not breaking this woman’s water, she isn’t dilated barely at all and if I break her water, I am setting her up for a C-section. If he wants to come break her water, he can.” Nothing was directly reported to me but I heard this conversation. Within a half hour, my doctor enters the room. He doesn’t discuss my options; he just breaks my water. He tells me this will start my labor and advises me to get an epidural now. Again, I trust him and follow his lead. I get an epidural even though I’m not feeling hard contractions. With an epidural you get fentanyl and morphine. I was shocked. I’ve been avoiding sushi for 9 months but hard IV drugs are okay? Another few hours go by…..I don’t progress.

My doctor arrives back at the hospital and says, “we’re going to have to do a C-section.” I was devastated. He must be kidding. We had talked about this. This was the one thing I didn’t want. He had assured me this wouldn’t be the case and now he’s nonchalantly delivering this news? I started to cry and my husband asked him to give us the room to think about it. We both knew there was nothing to think about. I had been stripped of my options when he broke my water too soon. It’s unsafe to wait too long after your water is broken for risk of infection. Had he given me some options before he did that, maybe this would have all turned out different, but now I was laying there, with amniotic fluid flowing out me, paralyzed from the waist down having to grieve the birth I thought I had been intentional about advocating for. My doctor had betrayed me.

I’m given more drugs and wheeled into the OR. My husband will have to wait outside while they prep me. I’m naked on a cold metal table with tears running out the sides of my eyes.

Then it happens. The anesthesiologist says they’re pushing more meds into my epidural to numb my whole body for surgery. My ears start ringing and I start to lose vision. I hear him say to nurses that my epidural must have slipped into a vein and to give me amphetamine to counteract. Then my vision becomes super clear, my heart starts to race and I start convulsing. I was shaking so badly they had to hold me down to place ANOTHER epidural so they could give me the numbing meds. They kept telling me to relax while my large pregnant body continued to flail. My body was no longer mine.

Finally, I was numb and laying there, ready for them to just cut the damn baby out.

I had submitted. My husband came in with NO idea about what I had just been through. My body moved on the table as they cut me open and wrestled the baby out. I was not a human, I was piece of meat in a dissection experiment.

“It’s a boy.” The doctor said.

Then worry. Why wasn’t he crying. Then what seemed like forever after, a little cry, followed by a big cry and then we cried. My husband brought him over to me, but I was tired. I was glad he was ok…but I needed to sleep now. As I was wheeled out of the OR, I complained of being itchy, for which they pushed Benadryl into my IV and that put me over the edge. I was out. I was not going to be able to hold my baby, nurse or help my husband for my baby’s first night. Throughout the evening my eyelids would fight to open, to remind myself where I was, that I was supposed to be present and doting on my son, but I could just barely make out my husband holding and softly singing to this precious creation. I am so grateful he was there. I knew we were safe and I could rest.

When my doctor came in the next day, I made some reference to the birth not going as planned and he said, “you just had a C-section.” He was right. 32% of births are C-sections. A number that is rising and used to be 7% in the 60s. For him this was a clean, prepared, safe, procedure that produced a healthy mom and baby. For me it was a nightmare. I wish I had asked more questions. I wish I had advocated better. I wish I knew to refuse the induction or the breaking of my water. I wish I had given birth, rather than having my baby plucked from me. I wish that his birth was the most incredible day of my life, that it was beautiful, rewarding, spiritual, and connected, but it was none of those things.

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