This is not a happy feel good birth story, but this is the way it happened. I am going to put my birth stories into a 3 part series, where each part tells the story of a different birth. This is the story of my first born–“Little Man.”
I found out I was pregnant early in the morning before I drove to work. I shared the news with my bleary eyed husband and he couldn’t help but smile and laugh as he buried his head into his pillow. We were ecstatic. We shared the news with family, friends, and the multitudes on Facebook. We found a doctor, set up our first appointment, and began dreaming of our baby.
He grew, but very slowly. Our doctor threw out the term “IUGR,” and we began weekly appointments and scans. We measured, and listened, and I began to drink protein shakes. But still our little one was growing slowly. At 37 weeks our doctor told us he didn’t want our baby to be stillborn (YIKES), and so he thought induction was the best option for us. We were first timers at this, and well, why wouldn’t we listen to our doctor? I was scared, but so excited to meet our baby.
1 AM, July 1st, 2015—Little Man, 4lbs 7oz, 18 inches, @ 38 weeks
The induction began and his heart wasn’t coping. They switched me to a different drug, and after 21 hours of pitocin and laboring in bed (because they had to monitor the entire time) his heart rate began to drop. I was terrified and I felt my ideal birth slipping away from me.
The doctor told me to get an epidural because if I didn’t there was a good chance he would have to “put me under” during an emergency C-section. I got the epidural with tears in my eyes praying my baby would be okay. They broke my water, and there was no change. My husband noticed something sticking out of me and asked the nurse what it was. Without our permission they had put in an intrauterine heart rate monitor—which by they way, they SCREW into your babies head. We cried, my husband yelled, and we were told, “It doesn’t hurt.” I couldn’t believe they hadn’t even asked my permission. I remember feeling helpless, confused, and scared. I was in so much pain, and felt in over my head. I just wanted to do what was best for my baby but I didn’t know what that was.
In a rush nurses burst through the door and started talking to each other telling me that we had to go into surgery right away. A nurse checked my cervix (which hurt so badly I immediately started to cry) and said we needed to go immediately. The nurses threw a surgery gown at my husband and put an oxygen mask over my face. I could feel myself beginning to hyperventilate. My doctor came into the room and also checked my cervix and said that everything felt normal, everything was fine. He told the nurse, we didn’t need to go in for surgery. Just like that everyone left and my husband and I were left reeling. My nurse told me to calm down and try to breathe slowly. I couldn’t slow my breathing. I’ve never felt that out of control in my entire life. I took my oxygen mask off and tried to calm down, with tears streaming down my face and clutching to my husband I tried to make sense of what had just happened. I still don’t fully understand what that nurse thought she felt, maybe chord prolapse? The hospital staff did not communicate with us and I still feel the fear of that moment to this day.
At 10pm our doctor said, our Little Man’s heart wouldn’t take labor much longer and his recommendation was a C-section. I signed the waver with a shaky hand while my husband put on his scrubs then they wheeled me in.
I met Little Man for the first time as he was held up close to my face, and my husband said, “It’s a boy.” Tears streamed down my face as Little Man and my husband left the room for my surgery to finish. Little Man was 4lbs 7oz and 18 inches long. He was perfect. He was healthy. He scored a 9/10 on the APGAR. Little Man was not the IUGR baby that our doctor had predicted, but a tiny, perfect, newborn. When I was out of surgery they brought me Little Man and laid him on my chest. The nursing staff encouraged me to try breastfeeding and as I began one of the nurses gave me a nipple shield because they thought he was too small to breastfeed on his own. I cried again at yet another loss, because we weren’t completely skin to skin. This is not how my birth was supposed to be.
Recovery was brutal. I couldn’t even sit up, and all I wanted to do was change his first diaper, walk him around the room, and drink in his newborn scent. But I was heavily drugged, dizzy, sore, and an emotional wreck. I kissed his scab on his head from where the heart rate monitor had been and whispered a million, “I’m sorry’s.”
The doctors came in for tests, pushed me to switch to formula, and then told me he had to go to the NICU for observation because his blood sugar was low. I can’t be sure but I also think they just wanted to get me away from him because I was refusing formula. I grabbed my husband and begged him not to leave Little Man’s side and to make sure he was the only one who could feed Little Man. Up in the NICU the nurses tried to get my husband to leave but he was strong and stood his ground. I am forever grateful for the strength of my husband and the way he battled for us, keeping Little Man safe and never leaving him alone.
Meanwhile I was mourning the separation of my son. He had been right beside my heart for 9 months and now he was floors away from me. My heart ached like it never has before or since. I called in the nurses repeatedly asking to take me upstairs to see Little Man but, I was told “No, try to get some sleep.” IN WHAT WORLD WOULD I BE ABLE TO SLEEP! Then my husband called and said they were trying to kick him out because visiting hours were over. I then dragged myself off of the bed and yelled to the nurses to take me up to see my son. My husband refused to leave without Little Man. I can’t remember how long we were in that limbo but the hospital decided to release Josiah from the NICU (convenient). After 3 days we were finally discharged from the hospital. We couldn’t leave fast enough.
It was the best day because I got to meet my sweet Little Man, but it was the worst, most traumatic day of my life because I was bullied, manipulated, and lied to.
At home, breastfeeding was an uphill battle, but after three months of tears and determination we were able to throw away the nipple shield happy and content with each other.
As I reflect back, I know that my birth experience was a product of our flawed medical system. Even though Josiah was completely healthy (heart rate, blood flow, fluid levels) our doctor was pressured to intervene in a natural process. Josiah was not ready to enter the world and should have been left alone. I wish I could go back and give him those extra 4 weeks in the womb, but time is unyielding.
He is now a tiny, mighty, 5 year old.
Was your birth the way you expected it to be? Drop your comment below!!