Friday, June 12, 2015

The problem with Maternity care; Why don't I have a say?

This was not exactly the way I wanted to announce a new pregnancy but after what happened to me today I am so infuriated that I have to share.  Just some background in case you don't feel like reading my whole blog, I have had 6 full term pregnancies one of which was a stillbirth. My first two were c-sections, I had a stillbirth HBA2C, then 2 hospital VBA2Cs, and then a traumatic bullied third c-section birth. After my last birth I honestly planned to never see a doctor again. Unfortunately that ended up not being the case because I had an ectopic pregnancy and then a dramatic 12 week miscarriage that led to hemorrhaging.

That leads me to now. I found out I was pregnant  a few months ago. I was honestly torn on what to do prenatal and birth-wise. In some ways I felt like I should see a doctor so that if something is complicated I have a relationship with a provider. Transferring to the hospital in labor has not worked out well for me in the past. I have planned a homebirth with my last 4 pregnancies. CPMs cannot attend births in NC legally and CNMs no longer "allow" homebirth VBACs. So that leaves me stuck with a OB if I want to get any kind of prenatal care done..

I contacted several doulas in my area for recommendations on an OB practice that would be empathetic to my past experiences. There is a very small amount of offices here. I did not want to return to the office that did my primary and second c-section. I had a horrible experience with some of the doctors there. I refuse to be seen by the residents at the OB clinic after my last birth experience. So that left me with a limited amount of options. I called one of the offices where an OB practiced independently and was told he was not accepting new patients. The midwives associated with the hospital refused to see me as well, but recommended Glen Meade Ob Gyn and one other option. I looked into both of them and a read some reviews about Glen Meade in which a woman discussed how she felt they were very empathetic to her previous bad experience. I took that as a good sign that maybe they would be an ok fit for me.

I set up an appointment, which apparently was just a confirmation of pregnancy appointment. I was already 10 weeks along by the time I was seen. First let me say that I should have known better after that first visit. My appointment was at 10:15 am. I arrived 15 minutes ahead of time as requested and I was not seen by anyone until 11:15 am. At this point I saw the nurse practitioner of the practice. I explained to her that I have bad anxiety about seeing doctors and that I really need it to be understand and receive empathy for the fact that I have had really bad experiences. I mentioned that my last birth was especially traumatic and I really want to make sure that they would be sensitive to that. Of course she told me they don't do VBAC after more than one section but I knew that was coming. There are no places in my city that actually would even allow a VBA2C even though ACOG supports a trial of labor is appropriate in some cases. Anyway, I honestly in my heart have been on the fence on what my birth plan is for this baby. I told her that in the event of a repeat c-section I really wanted to make sure that my wishes were respected such as skin to skin contact in the OR and that I did not want a c-section scheduled before 40 weeks. I was threatened with being "fired" before I was even an established patient. She said if I didn't agree with their birth plan then they may have to transfer my care to another office. She added that I really had no other options either way because no where else was going to let me VBA3C ( which I never even said that I wanted during the whole conversation with her) and I replied that I knew that and that I honestly wanted to focus first on whether or not I even had a viable pregnancy since my last few were losses. I told her I was not set on anything at that time since I wasn't even sure this was a viable pregnancy yet. My ultrasound showed a baby with a nice heartrate and in the right place so all was well.

I had appointments set for me: nurse visit, first prenatal with the Ob that is listed as their high risk OB, and a maternal fetal medicine doctor appointment. All of these things are very significant to what transpired today when I went for my nurse appointment.  I show up for my appointment which is about 20 minutes away from where I live, they let me sign the papers and gave me my financial agreement. Told me I needed to pay a $300 deposit today which I paid. Then sent me across the street to see the nurse. I get there and she tells me to go back to the main building first because someone had to see me first.

Paula calls me back into a tiny office space and shuts the door. She then proceeds to tell me that she was sorry I drove all the way there but that they would not be able to see me. I was like um why? She said well we looked over your records and we just don't think we would be a good fit for you. So I was like so you are basically firing me and how are you coming to that conclusion when I haven't even talked to anyone. She said well it's because you refused a c-section. I was like what? I never refused anything. I realize now that what she was really referring to was my last three hospital births where I did in fact refuse a c-section. I refused consent for one completely, and refused the recommendations for the other two. After I told her that I never refused to have a c-section she switched it up to me saying I didn't want one done before 40 weeks. 

At this point I am now getting angry because I had not agreed or disagreed to anything yet. I had a conversation with the nurse practioner but made it clear that I was not even focusing on that at this time because I still didn't know if i had a viable pregnancy and wanted to wait until then. I explained this to this Paula lady that my conversation was really so that I could get some empathy over my traumatic experience during my last birth and that I never denied care for anything. I was never even given the chance. She kept trying to talk over me and repeating what she said. I got even more upset and I said that I get treated like crap at the hospital all the time because I choose to homebirth so I finally give in and make an appointment with an OB and you are refusing to give me care. Then she said my favorite part and I quote, "You are considered VERY high risk, and well... we have met our high risk quota." At that point I had to chuckle, and I looked at her and said " So you are telling me that I am extremely high risk but you are refusing to provide me with prenatal care is that correct?" I was about to really act up so I just said forget it I am outta here and walked out.

Here is the problem. I am a paying client that is hiring them to do a job. Because I am paying for the service I should be afforded the right to have some kind of say so over what does or does not happen to my body without fear that the provider will just drop me and leave me without care. If I hire someone to come clean my house I have the right to tell them how I want things cleaned. Why do doctors seem to feel that a patient should have no say so whatsoever in their treatment? Not to mention I was never even allowed to speak with the doctors in the office. And this type of stuff is the EXACT reason I stopped seeing an OB for pregnancy to begin with.

For me I am okay with it. I was prepared for the possibility of staying home anyway. I really just wanted to see them to make sure there were no complications. I am taking this as a sign I don't need them for anything. But this begs the question though, when do women have a right to their own births when using doctors?  No one should have to fight for the right to be actively involved in their own healthcare. And then what happens when you are labelled? I have no doubts I have a big fat red sticker on my medical records that says in big letters NON-COMPLIANT. Does this not lead me into a slippery slope where I will be mistreated by any and every provider based solely on my records? Where are my rights?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Humans and the incessant need to blame someone for death

It has been a while since I have posted on my blog but a recent event has inspired this post. 2 years ago in October  the world was watching as a giraffe at the Greenville SC zoo gave birth to her first calf ( live webcam for the exhibit can be found here: Giraffe Cam .  If you are a birth junkie or even just an animal lover you will get how exciting it is to watch something we would never be able to view otherwise.

Autumn, the mother giraffe, was due to have another baby this month. I was excited to catch it this time since I work overnight shift. Last time I missed the birth completely. Last night August 20th, in the early hours of the morning she went into labor. We saw feet! After a half an hour or so the camera was turned away from the birth. Before it was moved it was apparent the baby was coming out butt first which is unusual for a giraffe birth but not necessarily an emergency. The zoo finally released a statement several hours later that the calf was stillborn, but the mom was okay. (Read article here: Stillborn Giraffe ) Immediately there were people blaming the zoo staff and on hand vets for not doing enough to save the baby.

This was a triggering event for me personally. It was like watching my own stillbirth played out in the animal kingdom right down to the placenta not immediately being delivered (minus the breech part) . Not only the stillbirth part but the reactions of the community afterwards. Why must we as a society always "blame" someone? Don't get me wrong there are times when there is a cause of death by negligence or intentional murder, but I am talking about the times when it was in fact no one's fault. Death happens. In every animal kingdom.

I get it, infant loss is a hard topic to talk about. When we think of babies we think of fresh life and new beginnings. So pregnancy and infant loss is an uncomfortable topic.  Maybe this is what makes people want to blame others? It's not supposed to happen so it must be someone's fault. The reality is that even though it is rare it DOES happen. And it is NOT always at the hands of a careless parent or provider. Sometimes it just is.  Why can't we understand that death is just a stage of life and as unfortunate as it is, sometimes it just happens? 

It's been a while since I was subjected to the cruelty of others regarding my loss but seeing the reactions of some people regarding this animal's stillbirth has been a painful reminder of the cruelty and insensitivity of humans. What ever happened to the days when communities gathered together in support of those mourning rather than banning together to bully?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I'm not sure that I am ok.....

*****Let me preface this by saying the words in purple were written in December of 2013. I just wasn't ready to share my story on this blog at that time, but I also did not want to forget details. Also this is pretty graphic so if you are not okay with that kind of stuff just ignore this post...***

I have just gotten to the point where I wanted to post my experience regarding my most recent pregnancy loss. It has been really hard to deal with both physically and emotionally. I found out in July (I think) that I was pregnant again. I felt a lot better about this one. I knew it wasn't an ectopic and all of my symptoms were normal. Everything seemed to be progressing well and normally. I had reached the 12 week mark and noticed that it seemed like I was spotting which alarmed me a bit since I was so far along.

I went back and forth with my husband on whether or not to go to the ER and get checked. Eventually I agreed to be seen so on September 10th I went to see if everything was ok. I went by myself because the kids were home and it was late. I got an ultrasound and this time I was able to see the abdominal part and there was nothing in the gestational sac. I knew right away that it was over. They continued the exam and did a vaginal ultrasound which I did not see. When the doctor came in I already knew it was over. Again. For the third time this year.  They recommended I get a follow up and the only place I could go at that time for insurance reasons was the clinic that attended my horrible traumatic birth in May of 2012. It seemed to me that my body was already doing what it needed on it's own so I was going to wait until October when we got our health insurance so I could choose somewhere else to go.

For the next few days I spotted which then turned into a light flow. Then on September 14th out of nowhere I started having heavy bleeding. I expected it to happen eventually so I figured that was the beginning of the end for me. The clots and heavy bleeding only last a few hours on that day and then the next day it was like a medium menstrual flow. I thought maybe since there was not a baby there that maybe that was all I needed was that one day of heavy bleeding.

On September 16th i woke up feeling really dizzy but kind of just played it off as nothing. by the middle of the day the bleeding had picked back up and was heavy again with clots. I had to work that day and the heavy bleeding began about an hour before I had to clock in. After working for about 45 minutes I started to get concerned that the flow was too heavy. It was like gushing out even with me just sitting. I went to the bathroom and the toilet filled with blood. At that point I realized that maybe I was bleeding too heavily. I contacted a few of my midwife friends (that I trust) for advice. One said go in one said watch it. I ended up on the toilet for a long time and decided to call my husband (who was also working) to come take me to the hospital.

I think I really realized in the car ride that I was hemorrhaging and was hoping to just make it to the hospital. I started to feel like I couldn't breathe. I am not sure if it was a panic attack (never had one) or a result of me having lost so much blood already.

We arrive at the ER and I can just tell the blood is gushing. I told the receptionist that I was going thru two pads in an hour and that I had already lost a lot of blood. The only fortunate thing was that they didn't leave me in the lobby waiting room. The unfortunate thing is that this experience turned into more of a nightmare after that. Because we had trouble finding a sitter for all 5 kids, we had them with us and they would not allow my husband to come with me to the room.

When I was taken to the room it was not a regular room with a curtain, it was very far from the nurses station and I was all alone. Before the triage nurse left I told her I needed a new pad and to be wheeled to the bathroom. I felt weak from the blood loss so I didn't want to walk for fear of passing out.  Before I could even sit down on the toilet the flow was so forceful it splashed into the toilet. I mentioned this to the nurse who took me back to my room and she seemed to not be concerned at all. I was in the room alone for less than an hour before I needed to change the pad again because I could tell it was full. I buzzed for a nurse and no one came. I waited 10 minutes. I was starting to feel sick. I called for the nurse again. When she arrived I told her I needed to go to the bathroom and change my pad again but I needed a wheelchair.  She came back and did not offer to help me up or even pay me any attention at all. I sat up slowly and waited to make sure I was ok to move. As I walked to the chair I told her it's just gushing out so fast. The minute I sat in the wheelchair I started feeling sick to my stomach, shaking, and my whole body felt like jello. I told her I thought I was going to pass out. She did not move or even look at me she merely asked, " You think you are going to pass out?" I could tell she didn't think I was serious so I braced myself in the wheelchair by sitting far back and resting my head on the back. I told her I was about to pass out and the next thing I know some man is picking me up out of the chair and putting me back in the bed. I was kind of out of it but what I gathered was my blood pressure was 70/30, they tilted the head of my bed down and put an IV in each arm.  All this time and still no one has bothered to look and see just how much blood I was losing.

Once they halfway stabilized me they moved me closer to the nurses station. Because of my history of ectopic pregnancy they wanted to do another ultrasound to be sure it wasn't a tubal pregnancy. For some reason at that point I started coughing uncontrollably. And every time I coughed it felt like blood clots were coming out. By the time the ultrasound tech was done she went to wipe my belly and my whole bed sheet on top was covered in blood. She had to tell them I needed to be cleaned up. When they finally looked my bed was full of very large blood clots. Now they are worried. At that point they gave me cytotec to try and stop the flow. I was also transported to a different hospital (by ambulance) that was more equipped to handle my situation.

Once at the new hospital I received a blood transfusion and some other meds to stop the bleeding. After my first blood transfusion my hemoglobin was still only 7 (normal is 12). I got a second one and  stayed there overnight. The next day they were ready to send me home even though I was not comfortable with that.I still felt really dizzy and also passed a fairly large clot again. My heart was also racing so they changed their minds and kept me one more night

It's been six months since my hospital stay. I am still not okay. It took over 2 months AFTER the hospital stay for my body to finally stop bleeding. My body is still out of whack. It makes me depressed thinking about the fact that my last traumatic birth ( you can read about that one here) was what started this snowball effect.  I am really struggling with this emotionally and spiritually.  I know there is nothing I can do to change it, but the fact that I felt like I lost control of my own birth makes me really struggle hard with the outcome, much more so than the outcome of my stillbirth. At least with that birth I was the one making the decisions.

Some people involved in my last birth would like to say I did make decisions but I am not sure I agree.  Sure, I *wanted* to be denied pain management and forced to push for 13 hours when I wasn't ready. Totally my decision to do that. Totally my decision to even go to the hospital at all. I totally planned a hosptial birth right. That's why I hired a homebirth midwife. My  "in control" of my birth ended there when "my care was transferred" as the midwife liked to call it. 

I don't know maybe one day I will be able to move past it. I am hoping to. I am not enjoying the way I feel physically, spiritually, or mentally. For now I am doing what I can to take care of myself in each of those areas.

Monday, July 15, 2013

It's Ramadan (Loss mentioned)

I really love this time of year. Ramadan is the holy month of fasting for Muslims. It is the month in which the gates of hell are closed and the gates of heaven are open, the month of standing in prayer, the month of purification. Abdul Qadir was born/died during the month of Ramadan in the Gregorian year 2005. I want to explain that because the Islamic calender follows the lunar cycle Ramadan begins roughly 10 days earlier every year. Just wanted to put that out there since it is July and Ramadan but it was October and Ramadan when he died. And I can't begin to say how special it is to have my son born and die during the blessed month of Ramadan 8 years ago.

As I sit here reflecting and reading the Qur'an I came across some verses that I felt the need to share. You see I have always, for as long as my baby has been gone, been the target of cruel comments and hatred over the fact that I lost my baby but blamed no one and had no regrets about his birth. I have seen other loss mothers be ripped to shreds within hours or weeks of losing their precious babies because of the method of birth they chose.

Anyway I ran across this and it brought a lot more peace about the way I feel:

"...Say: 'Even if you had remained in your homes, those for whom death was decreed would certainly have gone forth to the place of their death,' but that Allah might test what is in your breasts; and to purify that which is in your hearts, and Allah is All-Knower of what is in your breasts." - Surah Al-Imran 154

And also this:

"O you who believe! Be not like those who disbelieve (hypocrites) and who say to their brethren when they travel through the Earth or go out to fight: 'If they had stayed with us, they would not have died or been killed,' so that Allah may make it a cause of regret in their hearts. It is Allah that gives life and causes death. And Allah is All-Seer of what you do." - Surah Al-Imran 156

Now I want to mention here that the verses were referring to some of the battles that were fought during the time of the Prophet Muhammad. (peace be upon him) However, the principle here is the same. It reminds me so much of all the people who question my decisions and try to assume that things would have been different if I had done things another way, etc. The principle is the same in that people attempt to make "if" statements with the intention of inciting regret. But Allah is the one who gives life and causes death. No one and nothing else.

One of the pillars of faith in Islam is belief in the divine pre-ordainment, which is mentioned in the first verse I quoted where it states if death is decreed for someone it does not matter where they are, death will reach them. So stop questioning me when I say I know that he would not have lived regardless of how I birthed him. Death was decreed for him while he was in my womb long before labor began. Stop acting like I caused his death because the only One who caused his death was Allah.

I continue to heal and grow. This grief process is not one that ever ends. It is lifelong, but today I feel strong.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ectopic Pregnancy Loss.

November 30, 2012
I guess I should rewind a little back to the beginning of this month. Every since my baby was born I have been very cautious about not getting pregnant, to the point of being extremely stressed out if our timing was too close. Beginning this month however I had an epiphany that I really need to just put my trust in Allah because no matter what we do if we are not meant to conceive a baby then we won't. Allah is in control of everything. And after my last birth I know that I need to put more energy into trusting Allah and less energy into worrying about life and death. Two things out my control. And so that is what I did. I stopped worrying and stressing myself out about it and just let go.

I do fertility charting just because I like to know what my body is doing and when to expect my monthly friend. I had a usual temperature dip at 12 DPO and thought for sure my menses was on the way. At 13 DPO I started spotting and was convinced it was here....only the spotting stopped and I also had a significant temperature rise. Today is 14 DPO. My spotting has pretty much stopped and this morning my temperature was up even higher. I took a test and it came back positive!

And so this journey begins again. I am "due" August 9, 2013 based on when I ovulated. This will be the end of the month of Ramadan and also close to my husband's birthday.

January 14, 2013
Things took an unexpected turn of events. I guess having a blog about birth journeys wouldn't be complete without an ectopic pregnancy huh? I had planned to have an unassisted pregnancy this time and until I knew something was off I did not see anyone. The day I found out I was pregnant I wrote the above and my intention was to go unassisted so that I could tune into my on instincts. Part of this includes knowing when it is time to seek medical attention.

Let me start by saying that from the very beginning I knew this pregnancy was not typical. As stated above I do fertility charting and have for the last 2 (3 if you count this one) pregnancies. My normal pregnancies my temperature shift after ovulation was normal, then I had a dip and 3 days of high temps after this I got a positive pregnancy test. Once I got a positive my post ovulation temperatures stayed high. This time my temperatures were abnormal they were up and down the whole time. I thought I was pregnant but didn't get a positive test as early as usual. Then I started spotting and thought my period was coming because my temperature was also very low.  Then my temperatures went back up and I got a positive test finally.

None of my symptoms were normal for me. I tried to tell myself that every pregnancy is different but deep down I knew something wasn't right. For the next three weeks I spotted. The color was never consistent. I searched Google and asked anyone I knew was well versed in birth, what could cause me to spot for so long. I couldn't ever find a clear answer so I decided to let it be unless my instincts told me otherwise.

On December 22nd the spotting turned into more of a light flow and I was convinced I was miscarrying. I cried. I wasn't prepared for the emotion honestly. I was cramping a little but not much. I prepared myself to have heavy flow and horrible cramps. I was 7 weeks so I knew that it was going to be more intense than a regular period. Only it wasn't. This alarmed me. I also felt dizzy a lot and there was this odd ache in my uterus that I had never had before in any of my other pregnancies. My husband and I discussed things and decided at this point it would be best to see a doctor.

On December 23rd we went to the ER. I explained what was going on. I refused a pelvic exam because in my opinion at that time it was  unnecessary. An ultrasound and blood work would tell me what I needed to know. My HCG quant test came back at 1756 but that was on the low side for how far along I was.  We got an ultrasound and the tech asked me how I knew I was pregnant and I thought that was an odd question.  She also really struggled hard to locate blood flow to my right ovary which has never happened before. She would let us hear the blood flow to the ovaries sound, at one point while she was trying to hear it for my right ovary I thought I heard a fetal heartbeat. ( I have had 6 kids I know how they sound) She told us ahead of time though that if it was baby she would tell us so at the time I thought I was just trying too hard to hear it because I wanted to hear it. Once the doctor came to talk to us about the results he stated there was no evidence of pregnancy in my uterus at all so either I had a complete miscarriage already or they had a concern about ectopic but he mentioned that coupled with a cyst on my left ovary which is always there. Because I have so much anxiety about doctors I decided to just ride it out and accepted that I must have miscarried.

I bled for 10 days light bleeding with mild cramping the majority of those days. Not at all what I expected. Another 2 days of spotting occurred and I had a few bouts of nausea and still felt dizzy so I decided maybe I need to be checked again. I went to the doctor office this time on January 3rd. They did a urine test and it came back positive which I thought was weird but oddly I expected it. They did another HCG and instead of my number decreasing it went up to 1893 and my progesterone was also very low at 2.8. I got another ultrasound that again showed no pregnancy in my uterus but did show a small fluid filled sac. No ectopic was shown on ultrasound however this was a fear because I had all the symptoms otherwise.

I really struggled with the decision on what to do because I do not trust OBs near my reproductive organs. Really. I have massive anxiety about it. I spent several minutes in the office discussing risks benefits and even discussing my distrusts. After talking to some of my midwife friends and my husband I decided to agree to let them do a D and C first at which point they would test the cells to see if they could find fetal cells. If they found some then they would be finished if not then they would proceed to do a diagnostic laproscopic surgery to locate the pregnancy. I pleaded with them to not remove my tube if they could save it. Being sterilized has been one of my biggest fears since my second baby. I am so paranoid about it. So on January 4th we proceeded with the plan. No fetal cells were found in my uterus and an ectopic pregnancy was found in my right tube. I was 8 weeks 6 days.

I am still processing my loss. I still have questions that I hope to get answered at my follow up appointment. And while this did not turn out quite how I envisioned it to be it is still a testament to how much we know about our bodies if we listen. And it also is to show that even though I intended to have an unassisted pregnancy/birth I knew when it was time to seek medical care. That is what unassisted birth is about. It isn't about ignoring danger signs just to have the birth you want, it is about knowing yourself and trusting yourself enough to recognize danger signs and act accordingly.

Monday, October 22, 2012

7 years of this neverending journey in grief

It's been seven years. It feels like it was just yesterday and an eternity all at the same time. I still remember seeing him for the first time. His lifeless body dripping with amniotic fluid and a beautiful blue umbilical cord ; the only thing left connecting us as one physically. That brief moment of euphoria that I had looking up to see that he was a boy. It had not completely hit me in that moment that my baby was gone. I knew something was wrong, of course, but there is *always* that hope that a miracle will occur and your story will be the one where the baby comes back to life from your touch or your voice. That wasn't my story. There was no miraculous recovery. My baby, who had only just got here, was gone.

I don't blog much about the pain. Largely because I don't enjoy reliving it. I would rather focus on the positives that he brought into my life. I think this has made people think that I am "over it" or that everything is okay now. I am at that point where I feel like no one even remembers him. No one cares that I still ache to just smell his perfectly curly hair one more time. Or kiss those wonderfully chubby cheeks. I can't talk about him without feeling like people are tired of hearing about it. I mean there is no change, no birthdays, no milestones met, no kindergarten or 1st grade. It's the same story of death every time.

This year there have been a lot of triggers of my pain. Several people have had losses that were almost identical to mine. It reminded me of things that I do not like to relive over and over. I don't like that feeling of darkness that I felt when I walked into the house where my baby was born , while having to acknowledge that he died there too. I remember the first few weeks I would lay in bed hearing the sounds of a baby crying and then crying myself to sleep. The trigger that the sound of an ambulance had in the middle of the night. The tears, the physical aching in my soul. That feeling when you are in a room full of people and feel completely and totally alone because no one else on earth could possible understand your pain.  It took me back to that place of emptiness. My heart has an empty space filled with sorrow for my little boy that is missing. My life will never be the same without him. There is no way to go back to the life that was before this happened to me. There is no getting over it. There is no end to this road. There is no end to the sadness and pain. There are no words to describe the depth of pain this kind of loss brings. I miss him. I am *missing* him. One of my close friends was pregnant the same year. Her daughter is a few months younger than he would be and she is also my oldest daughters' best friend. I love her, but sometimes it is a painful reminder of what I don't have. My house is full of children; 3 boys and 2 girls. But he is always missing. I am always wondering what he would have been like. Would he be calm and gentle like his older brother? Or a typical rough boy like is younger brother? Would he be athletic or more into books? Would he be funny or serious? So many things I think about daily. There is and will always be a part of me missing. And nothing will ever fill that void. 7 years. He would be in first grade. I hope that I stay on the straight path and that I will be able to meet him at the gates of Paradise and that this time on Earth without will be more than made up for in the eternal gardens of paradise. I love him. I miss him. But to Allah we belong and to Allah we all return.

***If you have not read his birth story you can read it here. Abdul-Qadir 10/22/2005****

Monday, September 10, 2012

Replaying Over and Over Again or How Did I Get Here?

I can't decide what the title of this post should be. It's been nearly 4 months since the traumatic birth of my son and I can't seem to go one day without his birth replaying over and over again in my head. The feeling of imprisonment and lack of control over the situation makes me feel angry and I question myself all the time. How did I get here? How is it, after all that I know, did I end up the woman bullied into another c-section?

There are a few scenes from my birth story that replay over and over and in great detail. A flash of the clocks at a stand still is symbolic of how time felt as though it had stopped for a moment. Those brief few hours I was in labor bliss full of love hormones and at peace, flowing with my baby in harmony. Then the clocks began to spin out of control which, in that moment, seemed odd but now is symbolic of the loss of control I feel about the rest of my birth story.

Another moment flashes through my head when I submitted to the idea of getting an epidural and I was hooked up to an IV for the first time. The panic that overcame me when I began having tectonic contractions suddenly out of the blue. I remember asking why that was happening and having flashbacks of when I was induced with my first. Prior to asking for the epidural I had a flow going: contract and breathe, it only lasts for a minute, sit down relax, repeat. Having a contraction that peaks and then begins to end only to have it peak again several times in 10 minutes was not only painful, it was very tiring. As I think back on it, it almost felt as if they had begun their breakdown of me then.

The image that flashes in my head the most often is the most traumatic part of my labor. While I of course was in labor land in my head, I was very aware of my surroundings. I felt like I was in the middle of a nightmare. I laid strapped to a bed; shackled by the epidural line, fetal monitor, urine cathedar, and IV bag. They were all supposed to be in place to make my birth more comfortable, but instead they were making me feel like a prisoner in a pain torture chamber. I watched as resident OBs came into my room in the shadows and sat watching me under bright lights cry out in pain and agony. It was as if it was a spectator sport. They were watching and waiting. It was a true battle of will and determination. I was determined not to get another c-section and they were determined to give me one. I had been here before twice. Both times I was triumphant. Both those times I was prepared. This time I was not prepared and they were. They watched and waited to see how long I would endure the agonizing pains of labor tied down to a bed before giving up. They broke me. And then they won. I went into the OR crying in defeat. The nurse's attempt at making me feel better by telling me how much of a hero I was for enduring that for 13 hours felt patronizing.

I can't stop replaying this over and over in my head. What happened? Why? I have spent years studying and researching my birth options and even longer getting in tune with what is happening in my body. How did I let this happen to me? I wrote a post while pregnant about ignoring my instincts and as much as I tried to listen to my instincts I still ignored the signs. I should have known at the beginning of my pregnancy to make different plans. It was clear that politics was hot and heavy in my state. I should have chosen a different midwife. One not regulated by a governing body who would have been unaffected by the political storm going on. But I loved my midwife. I had used her before and I looked forward to having someone that I knew and was comfortable with being there. I didn't listen to myself. I didn't watch the warning signs. I didn't embrace the signs when a friend, who is also a midwife, offered to travel and be there for my birth if I needed her at the beginning of my pregnancy. Once again I ignored it all and suffered for it. I kick myself everyday for not listening to my instincts.

This blog was born as a way for me to complete my journey to healing birth. Each birth carried some life lessons in it for me. I am still unsure of what I am supposed to take away from my most recent birth. I am also really conflicted on how I feel about the manner in which things occurred. So much so that I was unable to bring myself to participate in the national rally for change. The rally's purpose was to bring awareness and it touted that it was to inform women that they have options. But do we all really have options? Are we really serving the mothers if we limit the options that she can choose from? I personally signed at least half a dozen consent forms stating that I knew the risks of homebirth and homebirth VBACs and that I accepted the responsibility. I made an informed choice not only of where I wanted to birth but with whom. The system failed me when it decided I was too stupid to make that decision for myself and stripped the option I chose away from me. It isn't called an option when you are forced into choosing those options you didn't want to begin with. I had options, I chose one, and someone else decided for me that it was the "wrong" one and forced me to birth elsewhere and with no preparation. Who is standing up for people like me? Maybe that is my purpose? I don't know. I hope that one day I can be an advocate and really promote some kind of change. For now I am picking up the pieces of my shattered self and slowly gluing it back together.