Birth Story: My Post Term Induction
I’ve been wanting to write this post for two years. Rowan just turned two about a month ago, and I can’t believe I haven’t put into words her birth story. Brace yourself… it’s a doozy.
Here’s some backstory for you… Rowan was a big fat surprise for Nick and I. When we conceived her I was getting ready to move to Ireland for a year to get my MFA. (I ended up moving, and returning 3 weeks later for various reasons. An entire week passed before I found out I was pregnant. That’s a whole other crazy story!)
40 Weeks… or so they say…
Because Rowan was a surprise, I wasn’t emotionally in a place where I was really welcoming to the idea of being a mom yet. I just didn’t feel ready. But ready or not, she was coming! Where I was, emotionally, made me a really unpleasant pregnant lady. I just didn’t enjoy being pregnant. (And if you’re pregnant and not enjoying it, I promise that doesn’t mean you won’t love your baby. Your feelings toward pregnancy don’t correlate to your feelings for your baby. Fear not, momma!) By 34 weeks I was totally ready to be done. I started doing anything and everything I could think of to get her out at 37 weeks, when she was full term! (Click here for a list of things to do to encourage labor!) But nothing worked.
I was down to weekly appointments with my OB and every week they would tell me I was 0% effaced and 0cm dilated. And I would sit in my car and cry after each appointment. You see, I had a deep desire to have an unmedicated, natural water birth. And an induction would shatter this vision.
Weeks kept going by, and suddenly I found myself at a whopping 42 weeks pregnant. And some of my worst fears were surfacing. An induction was iminent. I read that every time you get an intervention during labor, your chances of having a c-section go up. And to me, a c-section was the end of the world.
My Post Term Induction Experience
Ok guys. I was 22 at this point, and as much reading as I had done, I knew NOTHING about my rights as a patient. So throughout this post, I’m going to throw in some fun facts for you, to point out what I would have done differently.
So I show up to my scheduled induction time- May 26th at 8pm. They ask me all these questions and I change into this super glamorous hospital gown. They put a hep lock in for IV access. The lady that did this was terrible at her job. After two tries of inserting the IV, there was blood everywhere. You must know, needles absolutely terrify me! They also placed the external fetal monitor. They informed me that I had to remain in bed, which crushed my desire for the ability to move around and change positions to endure labor.
Cervix Ripening Agents
Step two of my induction- after getting all hooked up- was to ripen my cervix. They started me on a cervix ripening drug called Citotek. Fun Fact: Citotek is not FDA approved, and was designed to be a medication for ulcers. If you need a cervix ripening agent, consider a prostaglandin gel, cervidil, or a foley bulb instead. I would advise against Citotek. Citotek is a pill that gets placed behind your cervix, so you have to lay down so it doesn’t fall out. It lasts for four hours. I got four doses of this. This means I was laying down in a bed for 16 hours.
They started the pitocin (Famous induction drug) in my IV after my second dose of citotek, I believe. According to the monitor, I was having contractions, but I couldn’t feel them at this point. They checked my cervix and after 16 hours, I was at about 3cm. Super encouraging, right? yeah… not so much. So they decided to do another intervention to further things along.
Hey, Thanks, Doc…
The doctor decided to break my water while checking my cervix. I was mad about this because my birth plan clearly stated “natural water rupture”. Also, Nick was out getting lunch. So he wasn’t even there. Also, she didn’t ask me or tell me that she was doing this. That, my friends, is ILLEGAL. This also left me feeling more and more discouraged and out of control, and still fearing a c-section. Breaking my water DID speed things along, but it, in combination with the pitocin, inspired extremely painful contractions. And I wasn’t really sure how to cope with them, but I was coping, and I was doing well. When the doctor came back, I was at 6 cm.
The Ultimatum I NEVER Should Have Had
Since I had group B strep (treated with clindamyacin antibiotics through my IV this entire time, administered every 6 hours) I was on a time limit since they broke my water. I believe It is recommended that you deliver 7 hours after your water breaks to reduce the risk of infection. My water had been broken for about three hours at this point, and a doctor comes in and asks me if I want to get the epidural or if I wanted to get prepped for a c-section.
GUYS. WHAT?! I was adamantly against an epidural, and I was progressing fine, but a c-section really seemed like the end of the world. I obviously wanted to go with the lesser of two evils, so I chose to get the epidural.
I just want to take a second right here to say that I think all mothers are strong warriors. I was deeply terrified of a c-section, but I am in no way trying to shame or bash c-section mommas here. I truly believe laying your life down for your child is the bravest thing a mother can do.
Fun fact: It is ILLEGAL for a doctor to give you an ultimatum like this. They cannot force you into doing something you don’t want to.
My Pressured Decision
So I’m seeing all of these red X’s on my birth plan, and as each intervention is happening, I’m feeling more and more discouraged. So they give me the epidural, and I hated it. I really didn’t want it, and it didn’t work. They had to change the medication they fed through it in order for it to work.
With the epidural I was able to rest and a few hours later I was at 10cm ready to push. The doctors set up this table of tools, and about 10 people came into the room. It took 45 minutes of pushing and by 8:51pm on May 27th, my perfect 9 pound 5 ounce girl was born. This was it. This is the moment I was waiting for. All of that misery of labor for this golden hour of skin to skin. That’s supposed to make it worth it, right? Well…
Yeah, well, the nurses weren’t very happy with her coloring, so they took her back to the special care nursery and put her under the oxygen hood. They wanted to monitor her oxygen levels. This means I was denied that golden hour, that special bonding time with my new bundle of joy. I was a sobbing puddle of a mess when they took my new baby away from me. Nick followed them to be with her. My mom came to be with me, because they wouldn’t let me go back there to be with her. Yes, you read that correctly. THEY WOULD NOT LET ME BE WITH MY DAUGHTER. They also didn’t tell me her condition. I had no idea if she was ok- if she was going to live or die.
I knew my daughter needed me, and they wouldn’t let me go be with her until I could walk. Well they gave me this epidural that I didn’t want, so my legs are totally numb. Determined to see my daughter, I get out of bed and immediately fell to the ground. The nurse says we will try again in ten minutes. When she came back I was able to walk enough to go see her. She stayed in the special care nursery for two days. No one could see her. I just sat there in this hard, squeaky chair and held her while she was hooked up to these wires. I didn’t sleep in the hospital bed; in fact I didn’t sleep at all.
My daughter needed me, and I was there.
Violation of a Mother’s Wishes
On day 3 in the hospital, she was able to stay in the postpartum care room with me. They took her away in the night so we could rest. At this time I instructed them no pacifier, and no formula/sugar water. I wanted them to wake me if she was hungry, as we were breastfeeding. They did not honor this request, and they gave her formula. I was INFURIATED, and I felt totally unsupported by the hospital staff when it came to my efforts to breastfeed.
I was under this delusion that the hospital staff had my best interest in mind. Yeah, I was wrong. Because of all of these issues, I had to supplement with formula for her first week or two of life. That made me feel terrible. I already felt like my body failed me because I had to be induced, and those feelings of failure were maximized when I had to supplement my newborn with formula. We were able to eventually ditch the formula and become exclusively breastfed, and I am so thankful for that.
The doctors discharged us after four long days and nights in the hospital, with every emotion possible running through my body. We were going home. Now, due to the epidural (again, the epidural I did not want) I was unable to feel my body’s urge to push. Also, the doctor I got stuck with didn’t guide me through pushing, so I had a TERRIBLE second degree tear up my labia, right next to the delicate lady part that I very much so wanted to keep, if you know what I mean. There was a whole lot of stitches and swelling going on.
As my body healed, I developed granulated tissue where that tear was. It was also really close to my urethra. So every time I urinated, I was peeing onto this granulated tissue. Ok. Let me get real for a second. This was like peeing into an open wound. This was excruciatingly painful. I would dig my nails into my thighs and hold my breath and wince every time I peed. This went on for months. And when I brought it up at my six week check up, they said everything was fine. BUT EVERYTHING WAS FAR FROM FINE. I went back, and they informed me about my granulated tissue. They said they usually burn it off with silver nitrate, but it was too close to parts I wanted to keep to risk damaging that area, so they scheduled an appointment to get it cut off.
Discovering My Strength
Just to give you a timeline, this was August 15th. Rowan was born May 27th. That’s how long I hated peeing, and forget the idea of intimacy with my husband. This was supposed to be a simple in office procedure. They administered several shots of lidocaine to numb the area. This was when I found out lidocaine didn’t work on me. My body just doesn’t respond to lidocaine.
They tried to set up a time in the OR for general anesthesia to get this done. That would mean coming back at a later date, and having to pump and dump my breast milk for a while afterwards. And Guys.. I just was not down for that. Physically and emotionally, I was prepared to get it taken care of that day. I asked if I could just suffer through it and get it cut off with no pain medication, and I DID.
Holy Cow, Guys!
I learned how strong I could be in that moment. If I could imagine what female mutilation would be like, that was it. I remember screaming. I remember Nick blowing air into my face just to keep me breathing. This was way worse than pushing out a 9.5lb baby. I just sat there and cried after the procedure. I was in pain, I was exhausted, and I was in awe of how strong I was for my baby.
My Two Cents About Birth Trauma and Obstetric Violence
If you’re still reading this, thank you. If you can relate to this, bless you.
I fully expected the birth of my first child to be this beautiful, natural moment. I pictured this unmedicated water birth with this golden hour of skin to skin and nursing. 42 weeks of carrying this baby made me think I deserved to have my dream birth.
My Personal Experience
Every little thing was crossed off my birth plan, and then I had that whole granulated tissue fiasco where I had unmediated vaginal surgery. Birth trauma is very real. All of these experiences were really traumatic for me. Intimacy terrified me; especially after months of feeling pain while urinating, and then having a part of my labia cut off. My experience with obstetric violence (referencing the whole water breaking fiasco) made me really distrustful of doctors. I have that issue to this day. Birth trauma and obstetric violence is real, and it happens way more than we think.
Guys… I had a plan. I had a vision for how I wanted this birth to go. And nothing, and I mean NOTHING, went the way I wanted it to go. Mourning the loss of that vision I had for my birthing experience contributed to my trauma issues. Though I believe most of my trauma was due to the reconstructive surgery I had.
Are You Suffering too?
Reflecting on these experiences, I decided to go with a midwife for my second, and my midwife highly suggested I saw a birth trauma specialist before delivering my second. If you’re struggling with birth trauma issues, please know there are professionals that specialize in this. If you need help, get it. It’s worth your happiness.
Looking Back and Moving On
I really tried to change my perspective. I wanted to twist this post-term induction birthing experience into something positive. Getting my amazing daughter out of it should make it great, right? This is something I’m still working on. Part of me thought the only way I could move on from these feelings was if I did it again and had the birthing experience I wanted. So that was my plan. Be sure to read my birth story for my second!