Sunday, October 19, 2014

In which Toddleworth's birth is discussed, and regarding our plan this time around

Bold Sections by Lady Covington


It's four in the morning and Lady Covington is groggily groaning. Lord Covington is drowsing next to her with what used to be a hot rice sock in his hand. In one corner of a room sits a large birthing pool making the air in the room hot and humid, though it's the middle of December. In the other corner of the room , Betsy the midwife rocks in a wooden chair. Everyone is waiting for the first appearance of Toddlesworth. 
 Our plan was to try and have a gentle a birth as possible, keeping trauma to mom and baby as minimal as possible. However, this has been the scene for three consecutive nights at “Covington Manor.”  It's fair to say everyone was well beyond exhausted: particularly Lady Covington, as our Toddlesworth has ever been stubborn. It was into this scenario that our midwife did a final heartbeat check and discovered that for the second time in an hour, our yet to be born baby had a slowing heartbeat. We were in a legitimate emergency situation. And we proceeded to the most dread of locations- the regional hospital.

To describe our collective hospital dread at this point is critical. Lord Covington is always concerned with putting his life in anyone else's hands. For Lady Covington, the hospital issue is more specific and personal.

I was always terrified by the thought of having a baby: it is a pretty scary prospect. In 2010 I watched my niece give birth. She is a young mom and was I think only 16 at the time. However, when she was ready to push, the doctors dismissed her (she had gone to complete dilation very quickly after a bit of a slowdown during labor.) They got there only just in time as she began to push, and the baby was quickly out. I was so impressed with my niece's knowledge of her own body; how she seemed to know better than the doctors when it was time, and how she accomplished such a powerful feat with no pain medication.
Immediately after the birth, they took her baby to a warming cot. It was only across the room, but my niece couldn't see or hold her new baby. She was anxious and uncomfortable and WHY THE HELL COULDN'T THEY HAVE JUST MOVED THE BASSINET TO HER SIDE OF THE ROOM? I felt terrible for her. The pointless exclusion of the mother during this most important moment struck a strong cord with me, and I wanted more than anything to not go through that.


Having been through several surgeries in my young life, I can say with certainty that I do not enjoy them. I have vague memories of them fixing my leg after the car wreck, and I had to have surgeries on both my arm and leg months after the event to remove medical hardware that was doing more harm than good. In addition, I know I am due for at least one total knee replacement in my lifetime.  Unlike Lord Covington, I don't have the luxury of deciding I will avoid hospitals for the rest of my life. When I thought about the events that had transpired during the birth experience of my niece, the possibility of avoiding the hospital entirely with this birth seemed like a no-brainer. I had assumed all my life that I would have an easy time with birthing babies, and I had dearly hoped to embrace this happy life event far away from strangers and sterile white environments. 

I of course wanted to avoid a csection, and I felt there were definitely increased risks of csection involved with having a healthy birth in a hospital setting, and at the same time I felt that if anything were to truly necessitate hospital intervention, it was very likely we could get to the hospital in plenty of time.

And so, when our midwife told us it was best that we head to the hospital, this collection of weariness and wariness swirled around us as we drove there, clutching our birthing plan, (which may as well have been thrown out the window at that point.)  Between the two of us, we had a nightmare scenario fear of a hospital visit.  As it turned out, the reality was pretty close to our fears.

       We waited while the doctor was called.  Meanwhile, we were handed consent paperwork.  The nursing staff seemed put out that we wanted to read the documents rather than just sign them.  The first issue we balked at was the line "we consent to a natural birth OR a C Section."  As a C Section was specifically what we were trying to avoid, we refused to agree to it until we found it absolutely necessary: necessity being determined by the health needs of our yet unborn Lord Toddlesworth.  Even though I knew at this point I was headed towards the dreaded CSection, I still wanted to hear it from the doctor before signing on the dotted line, and I don't think I was being unreasonable. The Doctor eventually came in and confirmed, and that's all I needed before signing.

The next thing we objected to was Erythromycin, an antibiotic to prevent your baby’s eyes from being infected with gonorrhea.  From what we  had read, it sometimes stung newborn's eyes and most definitely blurred vision in those first few moments after birth when strong bonding occurs. When we told them we objected, they sent in a physically larger and more aggressive nurse to attempt to bully us into signing. The issue with this infection is that the babies get infected by gonorrhea positive moms on their way out of the birth canal. As I had only had one sexual partner in the past decade, and had never had an abnormal pap smear, I was and am pretty damn sure I've never had gonorrhea. However, even if I was ragingly gonorrhea positive. WE HAD ALREADY ESTABLISHED THE BABY WAS NOT GOING TO BE COMING OUT THAT WAY. 

We also refused the Vitamin K shot.  With These numbers:
When infants do not receive any Vitamin K at birth, statistics from Europe show that 4.4 to 10.5 infants out of 100,000 will develop late VKDB - thats .00007 %.  The chances of that being an issue are statistically nil.  I believe I also read that any bleeding disorder that occurred can almost always be caught early and fixed. Beyond that, we ok'd the oral vitamin K, I just did not feel an intramuscular injection on a newborn is in anyway justified when there was an alternative.

After confirming with the doctor that we were indeed headed to surgery, my requests were made and almost universally summarily denied. (Can I have Lord C with me? Yes. Can I have my mom with me? No. Can there be a video? No. Can Lord C cut the cord? No. Can I hold the baby right away? No. (Nursery, observation, etc. etc.)) With a heavy heart I realized I was getting almost nothing out of the birth experience that I had hoped for. Many times women who don't get the birth they wanted are told "At least you have a healthy baby!" While I am thrilled with that being the case, it is not enough to ignore that it wasn't a healthy birth experience, and that these types of births can often be traumatizing to the mothers. A healthy baby should be the minimum, and women should be able to advocate for what they want without being judged for it. In a home birth, you are the actor. It is an empowering event where you and your body lead the way. In a hospital birth, especially a CSection, you are the object that is acted upon.

 After waiting a terrifying three hours, wherein they could only *sometimes* find my baby's heartbeat, I was finally moved to surgery. I was given the spinal block, and each arm was strapped down. I started shivering, which only intensified. I think it was normal and expected due to the medicine, but I'm certain much of it was the pure terror of being in this helpless situation and having everything I had hoped for in a birthing scenario being irreparably stripped away from me. I wasn't going to be allowed to see my baby once he was removed, and they were going to take him straight to the nursery, so I kept my eyes pealed on the big silver dome mirror above me.

I couldn't see anything clearly, but I could see when the doctor lifted a sprawling red figure up. He was immediately taken to a station off and to the right, above my shoulder so I couldn't get a look at him there either.  I knew they were suctioning his nose, etc, and cried when we got to hear him cry. Then, they took him away again, to the nursery.  They were supposed to have me out of there in about 20 minutes, but after a while Lord C. followed our baby while I remained in surgery for about an hour. 
I was eventually wheeled to recovery, where I stayed for another hour or more waiting for a chance to hold my baby. Finally, Lord C got to bring him to me. I held him for less than five minutes before they ordered him to take baby back to the nursery. 
I was so physically and emotionally drained, and defeated by the entire situation. My throat tightens just thinking about it. 

I am thankful for the doctor who got out of bed at four in the morning and gave me a surviving baby. I am thankful for the two nice nurses we had contact with after the birth-one in the recovery room and one who tried to help me rig up a supplemental nursing device when I had trouble nursing. Also, I will always hold a special place in my heart filled with hatred for the two nurses that made what should have been a joyous experience into a nightmare. The bully nurse I mentioned above, and the nurse who shamed and threatened me ("If your child doesn't GAIN WEIGHT we will send you home and keep him here") into giving my child formula on day one, which I feel sabotaged my breastfeeding attempts.

This kind of event can lead you to no longer trust your own body. I want more than anything to avoid the prolonged separation with this next birth. Ideally I would still love to have a home birth, but beyond all else I want to do what I can to ensure I don't end up with another emergency Cesarian birth. I do want to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after CSection) and avoid another surgery. The doctor that did my previous C-Section won't even give me a TOLAC (Trial of Labor after Cesarian) to attempt a vaginal birth. For that reason, we are going out of our way, literally, to attempt a birth in a city 1.5 hours from our current city.

We are faced with many questions in the future: Can I find a doula to be my advocate in the hospital in case I end up in the same emotionally exhausted state? Should I be induced around my due date, rather than going over? Should I get pitocin, since my previous contractions never became difficult, and perhaps that would make labor work? What are the chances, with my previous labor being 72 unproductive hours, that we would not make it to our destination 1.5 hours away? If I get turned away or don't progress once we head there, there's no easy 'go home and come back later' where would we stay in this case?

All of these questions can wait, because the ones I'm most interested in will be answered by the end of the week. First and foremost, is our little one healthy? And secondly, will Toddles be getting the little sister he is so insistent upon?


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