Thursday, April 20, 2017

Flint William Nash: His detailed birth story and my mourning a loss

Because I've always wanted to write a novel, here's a brief glimpse of my story to be told:

Chapter 5: The arrival

There were no breaks in contractions. I was told that having no pain relief would help me feel my contractions and know when to push. I didn't want to push. I didn't know when to push. Why had this contraction lasted 20 minutes? 

In my head, I was yelling with all the strength that I had. Being that I was ending 6 hours of pushing and had 3 hours prior of pure yelling, my voice barely carried past my mouth. "I'm going to die. I can't do this. There is nothing left in me. Goodbye. I'm dying. We're both going to die." be continued below.

The birth of Flint:

My son, Flint William Nash, made his way into our world February 24th at 7:36am, but it was a long time coming.

They say that your second labor should be easier, but that was not the case. As you might know, I was suffering from a prolapsed internal hemorrhoid that had me bedridden my last week of pregnancy. My husband had to take off work to take care of Eleni and I. It was miserable. I was three days overdue and sick of it, I couldn't go another day being bedridden, so I called to be induced (gasp! Medicine?!). They scheduled my induction at 8am the next morning (Thursday the 23rd). Not being able to sleep due to pain and anxiousness, I went out to the couch. At 1:27am I woke up with horrible contractions coming every 6-8 minutes. I labored through them until around 6am when I told my husband I had been in labor the past 5 hours. We continued to go about our morning getting ready to be induced in case my contractions stopped (as they had with my prior pregnancy). An hour before we were to be at the hosptial, the hospital called to say they were too busy and I would not be induced that day. I was heartbroken. I tried to remain hopeful that I would continue to progress so induction wouldn't even be needed. Sadly, my contractions slowed down, and though I was getting some back to back, others were up to 20 minutes apart. It was so disheartening. I could see my previous labor happening all over again. I was not ready for three days of inconsistent labor.

At my wits end, I scheduled to have my membranes swept at my doctor's office at 2pm, and ended up having it done at 4pm (my poor doctor was stuck at the hospital with all those ladies giving birth!). My cervix was at a 4cm going on 5cm, and she said they had room to induce me with pitocin right away at the hospital. As we packed up to go "get induced" my contractions started on their own after that, and they were INTENSE. They were back-to-back (and back-to-back, and back-to-back...) immediately upon leaving the doctor's office and we went in to the ER for my "induction". Walking from the car to the ER was horrendous. A lady was pulling out of the parking lot and, upon seeing me suffer, smiled and rolled down her window to shout "Congratulations, and good luck!". I gave her a wince and a thumbs up. We got admitted to OB and I notified them that I was in labor and did not need pitocin, even though I was scheduled to still be induced. My contractions weren't consistent, mostly back-to-back with no break, and then some up to 5-6 minutes apart. But I knew I was dilating and it was the real deal. With Eleni, I wasn't sure. But this pain was so tremendous, there was no doubt in my mind. I didn't even need anyone to check me for me to know I was going to have this baby soon. I did all my labor techniques I knew I wanted to do this time, minus the bath. I had a hot shower earlier that morning when I was laboring and it felt amazing on my back. At the hospital, they suggested saving the bath and shower for when I "really" needed it. So, I waited for the point of "needing" it, and discovered that once you "need" it (transition), you're not going to want to move an inch (if you want the tub, use it between 4-7cm before transition. Also, around 6-7cm get into your birthing position because you seriously will not want to move).  ***Side note: there is no "right" way to labor. Labor is just getting through it, whether you're deep breathing or screaming your brains out****

 I figured I was somewhere around 7cm (they checked me a bit earlier and I was between 6-7) when I tried to bounce on the ball to switch up positions. I slow breathed and rocked back and forth imagining the sound of the ball was a rocking boat and my breath was the wind. It worked for about 30 minutes until I had to drop all the deep breathing to survive by moaning and yelling. I was trying to stay in control and was doing soooo well considering how I labored with Eleni. At this point, I knew I needed to change positions, and though I was hanging on the side of the bed, I had no idea how I was going to get onto it. I waited for a break in my contractions but they weren't coming, so I made a mad dash onto the bed and got on my hands and knees, hanging over the back of the bed. I knew I was far along, because I was dying. I wanted to die. I asked to die. I was in my hospital gown with my whole back body exposed to the world while I was acting like a maniac. And I didn't care. I didn't care that my hemorrhoids were sticking out for the word to see (super fun having one of the nurses be someone I went to school with...). I didn't care that the flab on my butt was shaking with each convulsion. I just knew I was so far along that I could make it at the rate I was going. I was pouring sweat and would shake my head "no" every time they asked if I wanted a cold wet rag for my forehead. I was in no position to want to say yes to anything. Finally they just gave Shea the rag and he started wiping me off and it felt GREAT. I felt like he was my waterboy toweling me off before the last quarter of my game. I got all pumped to birth this baby (though I did not look nor sound pumped; there were multiple parts of my brain at work here).

They checked me and I was 8cm, and I was thrilled but still dying. I couldn't believe I was going to get a labor that lasted under 24 hours! I was so proud of myself, and my body. I knew I could do anything for 24 hours. An hour goes by and the staff got everything out for me to push. Because there were no breaks in contractions they knew I was going to birth any minute. My doctor got her birthing gown on, and everyone was just sitting there waiting. I thought "This is it! They're gonna tell me to push soon! I survived the hardest thing I've ever done!".  Let me just say, you can think one thing but be doing another. While feeling victorious, I was simultaneously yelling out to the staff that I was going to die. And they kept telling me I wasn't. I was getting beaten by these contractions (literally; as if someone had a baseball bat and was swinging into my back and my pelvis at the same time) but knew I just had to be progressing and at 10cm because these were just so insane. Nothing I had experienced before. They checked me again. I was 8cm. I labored back-to-back transition contractions that were causing me to convulse and scream out for AN HOUR with zero progression. Within that time frame I probably had 5 minutes total of no contractions. My doctor then broke my water hoping the pressure of the baby would help me dilate. What seemed to be another hour later (probably more like 30 minutes), I was still at 8cm. That tore my soul apart. I couldn't do it anymore. The hope that I was almost there was all that was getting me through. I quickly thought up random ways to commit suicide. They'd stop me before I could follow through with all the obvious methods, but what if I threw myself hard enough off the bed and knocked my head?

 I probably only made it through another 15-20 minutes or so before I started informing the staff that I was going to die right then and there and to get me an epidural ASAP.  Shea knew that I had wanted to not have it, so he asked me if I was sure over and over and I kept screaming at him. Call me crazy, but I knew something was up and I was only beginning my labor and birth experience. I knew that I wouldn't get the birth that they say people have. Average transition time is 15 min-1 hour, especially if you've already had a child, and it had been way longer than that. Something wasn't right. About 15 min later I was having to hold still through contractions as they tried to get me an epidural. All of the sudden I felt a pang up in my head and down the left of my spine. I announced that I had a huge headache (which distracted me from the pain of contractions), and I could hear the anesthetist become flustered, horrified she had done what they refer to as a "wet tap". She tried to adjust, sending more shooting pains up into my head, and finally announced this wouldn't work and would have to do it again lower. I was horrified. Again I was poked, and about 5 minutes later I started feeling relief, but with a huge spinal headache. I wasn't dilating past 8cm, so we waited another hour before they checked my progress. I was still at 8cm. I felt so justified in my epidural. There's no way I could've pushed going through those contractions for that much longer (for those of you who did it at home or other places, please resist rolling your eyes or thinking "yes there is a way!"). Hours go by, and I finally dilate almost to 10cm. I was technically at 10cm. The doctor was concerned because I had a piece of cervix that was caught on Flint's head, and his heartrate kept dropping SIGNIFICANTLY. We waited another hour or so and still no progress of the cervix moving. She thought maybe I'd need a c-section because his cord was prolapsing. I went through a heck a lot of labor, I was not going to let it end in a c-section (which I regret, oh how I regret not just getting one). There was another doctor on-call, and after my doctor saw I was obviously not thrilled about the idea of a c-section, she asked him to come in to brainstorm. He suggested putting a catheter into my uterus to increase the water and keep the cord from prolapsing. We waited another hour or so and this did not seem to work. They both were suggesting c-section, but because it was still a "suggestion" I was working around any other way to avoid that. She examined me, said the piece of cervix was still there and asked the other doctor if he wanted to check. He said no, but I really wanted a second opinion so he got in there. He goes "oh, I think she can push past that." I lit up and was like "YES. I want to try to push past that". So the pushing began.

The pushing continued. And continued. My doctor said "Well, I know you were concerned about the epidural hindering you from pushing but I don't see that being the case. You're doing great". Heck yes, I was. I felt like I was Olympic lifting with each push. I kept telling myself I'm the greatest pusher of my generation. Look at me push. I'm so strong. My blood vessels in my body were bursting. But still, so little progress with hours and hours of pushing. The on-call doctor said I have the muscles of a nordic skiier somewhere in my down-unders, but in my case that was actually working against me. They had to hand stretch me open during every push. It was showing that I was pushing hard, and they were confused as to why he wasn't descending. They discovered baby Flint was stuck "sunny side up" and my pelvis was just too small for him to make that curve, but since they assumed Flint was going to be a "small" baby and I was trying so hard I could continue to try and push him out and long as his heart could stand it. But his heart rate was constantly dropping and becoming very inconsistent. They wanted to do a c-section yet again but I just wasn't getting on board. They explained to me that it could take me hours more of pushing (past the four I just did) and that he would not be able to make it with that much longer of pushing. Without me jumping on the c-section wagon quite, the on-call doctor suggested for a final try that I turn my epidural off and maybe I could get more in sync with my contractions and know WHEN to push so I had the contractions working with me(at this point my epi was worn off just enough that I felt achy all over and couldn't tell what was a contraction or what was just muscle aches from pushing). I already had amnesia, completely forgetting just how horrible "horrible" was during transition. So I got totally on board with that. I wanted to push my baby out unmedicated in the first place. You know, because people make you think you didn't have a real birth unless you felt the pain of pushing a baby out (BULL****). This sounded great. I saw my OB's eyebrow raise, surprised I would be okay with reverting back to my former state, but birth is weird. You can immediately forget what pain you experienced prior.

Well, as the epi wore off, I still couldn't figure out when I was contracting. And then I remembered....I was having back-to-back contractions before, maybe I'm on one long streak of contractions? Soon the epi was completely faded and I went from being in control to a demonic being. I dont know why on earth I could've forgotten about how bad my contractions were. There was no strength in me to push during that pain. I couldn't do it. They kept saying I'd feel better if I'd push but I could not do it. I was yelling, moaning, saying I was dying, and everyone was doing their version of motivation to get me to move past that. The epi had masked the fact that my body and muscles were seized up from all those hours of pushing, so I couldn't even distinguish contraction pain from any other sort of muscular pain I had created in my body. I felt like I was in a nightmare that was one, long contraction. They told me not to waste any contractions so I fake pushed. I made a little "umph" sound. That was the extent of my effort. Noticing that I wasn't responding to anybody's help and motivation efforts, the anesthetist on call came rushing in and said "I used to be an OB nurse, listen to me" and talked over all the other nurses and doctors in the room. The anesthetist got on me for every noise I made, she said not to waste energy. I wanted to shoot her. THIS IS HOW I WAS SURVIVING. With each grunt, any sort of moan, she told me to stop. I had one doctor stroking my leg to comfort me, the other waiting for me to push Flint down enough so she could get him with the vacuum, and nurses just staring wide-eyed.  I knew that things were getting serious. My doctor was flushed-face with beads of sweat on her forehead. My husband looked terrified.  I told my doctor to get the vacuum because I couldn't do it anymore and I needed help. If I thought there was no help, I wouldn't of even tried to push anymore. I needed to know something was there to help me get my boy out. Flint was too far down to do a c-section. It was up to the vacuum and my wimpy efforts.

I could hear my husband tell me I had to push. I could hear his fear. I could see my doctor's face as she said to push as if my life depended on it. I knew if I gave up that would be it. I pushed with all the little strength I had on every "contraction" (I had no idea when I was contracting so I was just pushing whenever I gathered the strength to do so). I couldn't believe I was able to push at all. She pulled with all her might on that vacuum. It became unattached and she flung back, that's how hard she was pulling. She reattached and kept pulling while I pushed (side note: she was hesistant to use the vacuum, it was not her who suggested it, it was me). Finally the words "one more push!" came, but I didn't want to. It was like holding the most painful poop of your life, you don't want to push it out but at the same time know there will be relief (but mostly I knew my lower half would shred open with that last push and I was not ready to accept that fate). With a deep breath in I gave one last push. I saw his head come out, but then people got frantic. His head was out and I didn't know why they were frantic. His shoulders were stuck, he had pooped a TON of meconium ( got on the walls and all over the nurses) and he wasn't breathing yet. I had to, once again, go outside of my body as I saw my doctor pry and push around to get Flint's shoulders out. I felt nothing as I floated outside of my body and just watched my body get pried open. He came all the way out and they whisked him to the table. These brief moments of fear and frantic seemed to last forever. Really the silence from his head being out to his body coming out was all but five seconds, and then another five seconds before I heard his gasp of air, but they seemed to last an eternity. The relief was instant though. In one second you can be dying (or feel like youre dying) and the next feel a huge hormone rush and elation. My elation was mixed with guilt, however.

My sons's head was a wreck. He had a huge hematoma and deformed head, I didn't know if he was okay. I felt like a failure. Why did I not get the dang c-section?! Look at my son's head! Well, I didn't get it because I knew I would feel like a failure for getting a c-section. There's just so much stigma about birth, I was doomed to feel bad about myself in some way. But I saw my husband's eyes well up with tears of joy and I knew everything would be okay. There's nothing quite as unfair as seeing your husband touch your baby while you're still waiting to deliver a placenta, but I was glad to know he was alright. Once they made sure he was breathing they wiped him off and gave him to me while I was getting stitches. I waited much longer to get handed my baby with my first birth. Unlike my first birth, however, I had an instant connection with my son. I knew what he would mean to me, I had given so much of my body to his little man, and I knew my family was complete with him.

Words were said about my newly deformed downunders as I was being stitched, something about how I might want to "get that taken care of" later and "get that cut off" because there was "nothing to attach it to". You get the idea. Softens the blow to be holding your freshly made child in your arms during the bearing of bad news.

Flint was born basically the same time Eleni was born (16 minute difference). I experienced multiple staff changes with both births (from day to night to weekend shift change). Word got out about my birth and the nurses treated me like a princess throughout my stay. The OB department died down and I was able to have multiple sitz baths in their huge tub in a dark room with LED candlelight and soft music playing. I would loved to have stayed many more days if I didn't have three kids waiting for parents at home.

Mourning loss:

After going to my room at the hospital and going to the bathroom for the first time, I realized what had happened to my body. I was torn open. A doctor on call came to examine me, as my doctor had to leave town an hour after Flint was born, and when she saw what happened she said "Oh you poor thing!". I was in mourning over how I was now going to look. I was in mourning over the fact that I, yet again, did not have the labor and birth people made me expect.

I got news that my cousin, who was in labor simultaneously, had her baby awhile after me, and though it was a long, grueling process, she delivered in three pushes. I looked to my husband and was like "Yay for her, she delivered in three pushes!" but immediately started sobbing. I couldn't stop. I was so strong, people made me believe I could get my babies out in one push. I pushed strong. But somehow this made me feel like a failure. People were shocked to hear how long I pushed for both babies, as if it just didn't make sense because I was so in shape (but let's not forget the doctors said they didn't think he could be pushed out vaginally, so win for me).

I got over that, and went home with my new family member (bedridden with a spinal headache for one week which was MISERABLE). Weeks later I felt more waves of shame. I no longer had a tribe of doctors and nurses to verify just how hard I worked and how impressed they were with me. I instead had other moms who have delivered "naturally" look at me quizzically when they heard I got an epidural for awhile and also was assisted by vacuum. And the joy and triumph I felt from having gone through something so horrendous was gone, and I was back to feeling guilty. I didn't want to share my story with anyone anymore.

Let's be honest, the fact that I wanted a natural labor had nothing to do with the baby, but all about the fact that I wanted to avoid as much judgement as possible. I was made to feel like I was supposed to experience as much pain as possible, and though I experienced more excruciating pain and more hours of pain than many (I submit that it was more than most [my doctor said it was the hardest labor shes seen]) people who have had natural births, I still got the impression that I should feel guilty I had a couple of hours of relief in the middle. So I mourned over what I thought I had loss. But I lost nothing. Nothing was lost. No one should make you feel like you lost something when you don't get the perfect birth. There are not many chances to birth in your lifetime, so the last thing society should make you feel is loss when it doesn't go the way they also make you think it should go. No, I don't feel loss because I didn't have the perfect birth, I only felt loss because of social media. Because of what other women say.

In birth, the only loss should be if your baby did not make it. That is loss. Everything else is a victory. C-section with a baby who made it? Success. Birth by vacuum? Success. Birth in a tub with candles? Success.

I mourn for those who have mourned over thinking they lost something by having emergency c-sections or epidurals, etc. I have been confided in that they feel like less of woman, because of the countless other people who were able to deliver vaginally. If I can feel this guilty

I don't care how much you pile up in stories and evidence of how great natural birth is and can be (I totally believe it is, I felt so strong and powerful after my last birth), please understand that some women only get the experience of bringing life to the world one or two times. And as our hormones go through crazy changes during those times, they should not have the added pressure of feeling shamed or guilty.

To further my thoughts, here is an article called "11 reasons why people need to stop romanticizing childbirth":

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