Sunday, December 11, 2011

"You Chose a birth experience over your baby!" Really???

I see this a lot on anti-homebirth boards and anti- natural childbirth boards. As I am pregnant right now with my sixth baby I am pretty easily agitated and this statement has gotten on my last nerve.

Let me explain a few things about myself personally. My first birth experience from labor to release out of the hospital was a complete and total nightmare. I was mistreated by nurses. I was horribly ill. And my son was also very sick. It was not a good experience for either of us.

My second birth experience was equally as bad if not worse. I was again mistreated by staff. I was ignored when I begged for them to check my daughter's blood type since my son had been so sick. I did everything in my power to avoid a NICU stay and blood transfusion for her ( you know because I care about my kids). I was ignored. Not only did she have to get the procedure done but she got a staph infection as well. Something completely avoidable. So my daughter spent the first 2 weeks of her life pumped with antibiotics. I spent nearly three weeks away from my other child who was still a baby himself.

So yeah by the time I got to the third baby I was dead set on not allowing a repeat of the first two events. Neither of which were good for MY BABIES. I planned a VBA2C not because of just myself but also because of my baby. I wanted to be able to move after birth. I wanted to be in a position to advocate for my baby. I wanted to be able to protect my baby from unnecessary procedures. There were a million reasons why I chose VBA2C other than for myself. I couldn't get my doctor to be supportive so I found someone who would. Yea going through 36 hours of pain without meds was totally all about me. Like getting pain meds the minute you are able is so not about you at all  it's about the baby right? Please spare me the lecture on choosing an experience over my child's well-being. If anything I sacrificed my own comfort to ensure that my baby had what they needed. Yes my third ended in a loss. Yes it was devastating. Yes I wish he was here. Yes it is painfully empty where he should be. But I do not have any regrets about my choices. I was at the birth. I was at every prenatal. I was there and what happened was not predictable by anyone.

My last two babies were planned homebirths in which I transferred for hospital VBA2Cs. Yea I totally chose myself over the baby there too. Being harassed and bullied and having CPS called on me is exactly what I wanted out of the experience. I transferred by choice because I knew it was better to. I was bullied the first time. And probably even worse the second time. So yes I totally thought about myself only as I fought back the pressure for a repeat c-section based solely on "recommendation" not because I actually needed it. This notion is so completely ridiculous. There are plenty of studies that show the baby benefits more from a vaginal birth than it does a c-section birth. There are also a lot of risk factors for the baby or any future babies the more c-sections I have so instead of taking the "easy" way out I chose to do the hard work of labor even if it took 52 hours. Yes I am totally selfish to endure the pains of childbirth so that my baby has a gentle natural entrance into the world.

I am also totally selfish in the sense that I would like to be alive to be there for my children and I know that c-sections have a much higher death rate than vaginal birth. Yup totally selfish for trying to choose the healthiest option for me so my kids aren't motherless.

Stop telling me I am selfish. Stop telling me I don't care about my children. Stop telling me I am choosing a birth experience over the life of my children. And if you want to go there with me then don't be offended when I bring up the stories of all the women who beg to be induced at 39 weeks because they are "tired of being pregnant" or the ones who don't even attempt to have a natural birth because *they* don't want to be in pain.  Your argument is weak. Find a new one because that one is growing old.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Assault in the name of birth: Why are we supposed to be ok with this?

The term "birth rape" has come up several times on internet blogs and message boards over the last few years. Apparently it is quite controversial since a lot of people often associate the word "rape" with sexual assault.  This topic came up on a debate board I used to frequent while I was pregnant with my 5th baby.  The discussion got pretty heated from both sides of the coin.

At the time I couldn't really say that I personally had been a victim of birth rape, however, I could empathize with women who felt that this had happened to them. My argument really was that if this is how a woman felt about her experience then it really isn't anyone's place to even question how she viewed her experience. I wasn't exactly the majority on that debate and many were either offended , mad, angry, well you get the idea.

As I said I never had been a victim of any type of assault in the name of birth ( or at least never felt that way)........until my 5th baby's birth. The next part of this blog is something I wrote on paper about 6 weeks postpartum after the first sexual encounter I had with my husband post pregnancy. It is somewhat raw and disjointed so bear with me on that:

My 5th baby was a planned homebirth VBA2C which transferred for a hospital birth after 30 hours of labor and no progression past 7 cm. My initial birth-story was written fairly soon after her birth and I had not yet processed the entirety of it all at that time.

When the nurse came to check me the last time before I gave birth she found that I was almost fully dilated with a small anterior cervical lip. She suggested that maybe I push through the lip on my next contraction and she would attempt to push the lip out of the way. I have had this done before because I seem to always have a cervical lip left so it wasn't a foreign idea.

Looking back on it now it seems really strange that she never removed her fingers from my vagina. It was pretty awkward at the time for me to sit there with this strangers hand in my vagina for 2-3 minutes. I want to mention that neither one of the times I had a midwife do this did they ever have their hand in there in between my contractions. I was in labor-land though and not really at a point mentally that I would have said anything actually.

A contraction begins and I begin to push as she attempts to push my cervix back and over the baby's head. I have to say that I have never in my life felt such excruciating pain. It literally felt like she was ripping my vagina and my cervix in half. And this was WITH an epidural. I begged her to stop. I asked her 4-5 times to please just stop. My midwife even stood up and said can you please stop and she did not cease.  I had an epidural and could not really move that well to get away from her but I do remember that I tried to scoot myself up further on the bed away from her. I was no longer even pushing. I had stopped the minute the pain began. The more I tried to move away the harder she pushed on my cervix. At the time I never  considered birth rape as a way to describe it. Maybe it was hormones or labor, or just the relief that she finally stopped.

It wasn't until my husband and I were intimate for the first time postpartum that it really hit me how violated I felt by her actions. The first sexual encounter after birth is sometimes a bit uncomfortable.  I had also had a small skid mark so I expected to have a little bit of discomfort the first time. What I wasn't prepared for was that the stinging feeling I had felt to take me back to my birth. My husband and I have always had a very healthy intimate relationship, however after it was over I could not stop associating the sensation I had during the act with the sensation of violation from my birth.

I felt sick to my stomach. I cried. He didn't know that I was crying but I was. Because now I understood how a woman can feel as though she were raped during her birth.I only hope that more awareness can be brought to the this topic of assault in the name of medicine.

This was a very raw account because I wrote this immediately after we were done while he took a shower. At this time I would like to add a few things.For one thing I have had my cervix pushed away before without pain meds and it NEVER hurt like it did this time. I want to say that I really feel as if this nurse did this to me on purpose because I was non-compliant. Meaning I refused all interventions outside of the epidural. If you haven't read the original birth story check it out now:  3rd VBA2C  The conversation that was had with "peter parker" ( the asshole doctor) was had in front of this nurse. She busied herself in the room for the sole reason of listening to what was said. It wasn't until after I gave birth that I really saw signs that she was not happy with me. She was almost angry that my birth was a successful VBA2C. She was very rude to my midwife who was trying to stop them from cutting the cord (as was my husband) and she was just plain mean all the way around. The only joy to be found in the room about my birth was myself, my husband, and my midwife. Everyone else seemed beyond pissed off that I once again gave birth the way I wanted to. Point being it seems that she did that to me as punishment for not being the good little patient and following all the rules.

I also want to just touch on the anatomy here. The organs used for birth are the exact same ones used for sex. For someone to tell me that I am not allowed to feel violated after telling someone to take their hand out of my vagina is just wrong. I told her no! I begged her to stop. She was HURTING me and she did not listen to my or my midwife's request to stop. I was assaulted. I was assaulted to the point of it affecting my sex life with my husband. When is it going to end? Why are women supposed to just put up with this kind of treatment because the person assaulting them has some medical title? Better yet why are we supposed to be silent about it?

Monday, November 28, 2011

I will not apologize!

I am not going to apologize for the way I feel about my own homebirth loss. It was my birth, my body, and my baby. I am a little annoyed at the way certain anti-homebirthers behave towards me in regards to how I have processed my loss. The consensus seems to be that you can only get sympathy if you bash the care provider that attended you, or you say how angry you are that your baby is gone. If you are on the opposite end of the spectrum and accept what happened forgive and move on with your life you are a freak.

I have been criticized, bashed, and blamed for my son's death for years. Let me explain a few things. Number one my instincts were not something I "conveniently" made up as a coping mechanism. I was so sure I wouldn't have a baby in the end that I didn't even buy any baby items until one week before he was born. And even then all I got was one pack of sleepers and one pack of diapers. I was always concerned about him. Always so terrified that one day my midwife would be unable to find his heartbeat. I never thought it would happen in labor. And when labor started I was hopeful the instinct I had the entire time was all in my head and just me being overly worried. Only the reality, that it was in fact my instincts and not unfounded worry, hit me when there were no heart-tones.Did I feel this way about any of my other children including my other planned homebirth babies? No I didn't and all of them are alive, healthy, and well cared for.

I also want to mention here once again that my religion and faith plays a huge role in the way I have embraced my loss. Everything in life that occurs is by the permission of Allah, The Most High. Accepting all that He gives me, the good and the bad, is a part of my faith and I will not apologize for being faithful!

The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “When a person's child dies, Allah the Most High asks His angels, ‘Have you taken out the life of the child of My slave?’* They reply in the affirmative. He then asks, ‘Have you taken the fruit of his heart?’ They reply in the affirmative. Thereupon he asks, ‘What has My slave said?’ They say: ‘He has praised You and said: Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’un (We belong to Allah and to Him we shall be returned).’ Allah says: ‘Build a house for My slave in Jannah (Paradise) and name it Bait-ul-Hamd (the House of Praise).’”


Secondly, I want to address my refusal for prenatal testing. The only things really that I did not have were an ultrasound and the glucose tolerance test. I was still checked for blood pressure, my fundal height was checked, my urine was checked for protein and sugar. I did not want to get an ultrasound because at that time and in that pregnancy I didn't feel there was a need for it. As for the glucose tolerance test, I did a lot of research on that test and felt like it was unreliable,  unnecessary, and not healthy for my body as a whole. I also had no history of gestational diabetes and no history of large babies. I took the GTT with both my older two and passed. Both of them were under 8 lbs. There was no indication that my blood sugar could have been an issue. I would also like to state that one of the reasons the GTT is unreliable is because the results are not reproducible. If you do the test at 25 weeks and then again at 30 weeks the results will not be the same. It is entirely possible for a woman to test negative when they initially do the testing and acquire an intolerance late in pregnancy which is what I believe to be the case with me. My baby was not large the entire pregnancy until the last week. In fact he measured 2 weeks behind the entire time until my last prenatal which was only days before labor began. Do I regret not taking it? Absolutely not. I made an educated choice to forego it and I had no previous risk factors for it.

(for the record: I have had 2 more babies since then and am currently pregnant again. I have and will decline the glucose tolerance test still. The only thing different is that I invested in a blood glucose monitor and monitored my sugar daily and adjusted my diet accordingly. If I have had gestational diabetes again I have kept it well controlled with diet.)

The point? I am not going to apologize for being accountable for my own choices. I am not going to sugarcoat my own grief to make other people comfortable. I had a dream about my son 6 months after he passed away. It was the only dream I remember having of him and he was smiling and laughing and happy. I know he is in a good place and he is safe, therefore I have no reason to hate myself or anyone else. I have peace and if you don't like it stay off my blog and stay off my posts on FaceBook.

“The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.” -Leo F. Buscaglia

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My third VBA2C- another planned homebirth which transferred for a hospital VBA2C

** I wrote this initial birth story last year shortly after the birth. I will be writing another blog with some of the "follow-up" feelings that I have now that I have processed her birth a little bit more.**

October 20th

I had my 39 week appointment this day. I have a history of big babies and problems with blood sugar in the last part of pregnancy so I wanted to be checked for dilation and also to see if she could sweep my membranes. I had been having a lot of prodromal labor and had lost mucous plug for weeks. She checked my cervix and I was 3 cm dilated and 75% effaced. She went ahead and did the membrane sweep and we scheduled my 40 week appointment for Monday.

October 22nd

I had a feeling labor was really close. I didn’t want to really leave the house and I was having a lot of contractions but they were pretty mild and a bit erratic. I also feel like maybe my worry about the other kids getting out of school was keeping the contractions at bay. Not to mention this was my baby Abdul-Qadir’s birth/death date.  Once everyone went to sleep the contractions got a little stronger but they were not close together at all. I finally went to bed between 11:30 pm and 12:00am.

October 23rd

2:30 am—I was awakened by a really strong contraction. I got up and used the bathroom and then I had another one that was just as strong. They felt different so I decided maybe I should time them. I timed them for about an hour and they were about 5-7 minutes apart. I had already gone through this two weekends in a row and the contractions always stopped after a couple of hours. This time though they seemed to be getting more intense. By 4:30 am I was convinced this was real labor and my husband got up and then I called my midwife.  We started setting up the birth tub and filling it with water. I ate some breakfast and waited for my midwife.

6:30 am— My midwife arrived and I was getting more excited realizing this was it! She checked vitals and my cervix to see where we were at. I was 4 cm still 75% effaced but definitely in labor.  I labored for a while the contractions were really intense and ranging from 5-10 minutes apart. They kept fluctuating in the timing. I ate as much as I could and as often as I could stand. I was having a lot of bloody show and I was hopeful this would be a fast labor. Boy was I in for it….

Throughout the day I kept switching between the tub and dry land because progression seemed to be really slow by 5pm or so I was only 6-7 cm. The contractions were really intense though and I was hoping maybe once the sun set and it was darker that would help things move on. My contractions did start coming closer together and I had some hellacious back labor. It was awful.

8:30 pm—I was checked again still no change. Still 7 cm. Ugh I was dying from the back labor so one of my midwives said that she was going to check some of her literature and see if she could get a better vision of baby’s position to see if we could get her on my cervix better. She said she thought maybe the baby was acynclitic or posterior.  So we went to the spinning babies’ site to check some techniques to do while in labor to get baby moved.

Most of what the site suggested I was already doing like changing positions and just constantly moving. One of the tricks though was to get on your hands and knees with your butt in the air and head on the floor. They all suggested I try to get some rest and for at least 3 contractions assume that position. I laid down on my bed and did just that and after the third one I just could not take that anymore and laying down was horrible. I begged to get back in the birth tub because I could relax more in between contractions and I was sooooo tired. I was able to get more rest and the contractions seemed to be laying off of my back a little. The next time her heart rate was checked my Midwife confirmed that she was no longer posterior. YAY!  The incline positioning worked. Since I knew this I continued to lay on my sides in the tub between contractions because I did not want her to go back to posterior. I labored all night long. I can’t recall if I got any more cervical checks that night or not. I was very tired though and my contractions were close enough that I never really could get a decent amount of rest.

October 24th

8:30 am—After laboring all night I thought for sure something would be different. I was checked and still was 7 cm, baby was still high, cervix was only slightly more effaced. I reached one of my first meltdown moments. I was so sad. This was my fifth baby and third vaginal birth. I could not understand what my body was (or was not) doing.  So my birth supporters rallied around of course and reminded me that  I can do this, that I have  done this and to trust my body. That statement for whatever reason brought a wave of emotion over my first VBA2C in which my baby passed away. I started crying and admitted that I was having a hard time getting to that point because I felt like the last time I completely trusted the process I left the experience with a mixture of emotions ranging from triumphant and accomplished to broken hearted and empty handed. I apparently still felt a sense of responsibility for what happened to him. My amazing birth support team though (namely Khadijah) reminded me that things like life and death are out of my control. She reminded me also that my body will do what it is supposed to regardless of what my mind wants.  I was able to pull myself together and labored some more in my husband’s arms. I requested to get back in the tub. I think I labored there for another hour before I came to the conclusion that I was reaching the point of exhaustion and I wasn’t sure if staying home was the best thing at this point. I really needed some rest. I thought to myself that there are two scenarios that could explain my lack of progression, either I was just too tired and my body knew this or there really was something else going on that was keeping me from progressing.  At that moment my midwife came to me and I expressed my feelings to her.  I had been in labor for 33 hours running on about 3 hours or less of sleep. I was exhausted. I made the decision to transfer to the hospital then rather than wait until the situation was emergent. We wrote up a birth plan before we left to make sure that our wishes were granted regarding the baby.

10:30 am—We arrived at the hospital where we had to go to triage and be assessed and fill out paperwork. My midwife transferred with us so she could give them my history and the labor history as well. My contractions were about 5-7 minutes apart still and I was still having a lot of bloody show and tons of pelvic pressure.  I was still 7 cm about 85-90% effaced and baby was -2 station. While sitting in tirage after I had a contraction I felt a trickle down my leg…. Everyone looked at me and asked if my water just broke I said um I dunno it’s never broken on its own lol. I touched what was on my leg and it was oily feeling. They did the ph test and it was positive so my water was broken.

I was asked by the OB what interventions did I want to avoid and she seemed to not have an issue with my desire to VBA2C. I told her no Pitocin. She mentioned that she wanted to do an ultrasound because if the baby was too big they would recommend a c-section. I told her no way no how and my midwife chimed in and said that I am aware of how inaccurate they are for sizing at this stage in pregnancy and I do not need one. I was asked to sign consent for a c-section and I was hesitant to do so and even stated that I don’t mind signing it so long as me signing does not give them the right to wheel me to the OR unnecessarily.  She assured me that was not going to happen that this was only for an emergent c-section.

So we get to our room and I am waiting for the bloodwork to come through and for the first IV bag to go in so that I can get a mild epidural. While in there the same OB comes in again and states that her boss ( she was a resident) is recommending a c-section and goes on and on about the risks etc. I stated that I am well aware of the slight risk of uterine rupture and that I am also aware of the risks associated with a repeat c-section and therefore my decision is still to VBA2C.  She says ok and she will let him know.

I get the epidural and it was definitely mild. To the point that I could easily move my legs and could still feel every contraction and had to breathe through them all. I am glad it was just strong enough to take the edge off but not so strong that I felt zombied out of my birth.

I was ready to get some rest so I slept for a few hours and my contractions spaced out during that time.  I can’t remember if the resident came back again but I know her boss did and he had the same conversation about the recommendation being a c-section and blah blah blah. I told him again I am aware of the risks and have made my decision and I am not changing my mind so long as my baby is happy and I am ok I will ride it out.

I got a few more hours of sleep before the 7 pm shift came on.  My nurse happened to be 38 weeks pregnant and attempting a VBAC herself. This is important because I feel like she may have been one of the reasons my birth went like it did. You know with all of my births I feel that there has always been a reason things went the way they did, even if it went against my ideal scenario or my ideal birth.

My midwife and I felt that it would be best if the nurse was the only one to check my cervix. I liked this for a few reasons. One because there were 3 residents on the floor which meant they are still learning and I wasn’t too trusting of them. Two it was better to stay consistent so that if any change was to occur she would have something to compare. So she went ahead and checked me then. I was still 7 cm but my cervix was almost completely effaced now and baby was -1 station. So there was some progress even if it was slight. As a side note I ate throughout my entire labor. Even in the hospital my birth team brought me food and whenever I got hungry I ate it. I decided to sit upright and labor so baby could be more on my cervix. I labored that way for a few hours and got really tired again.  At that point I just listened to my body and decided I needed to lay back down. After resting for a little while a new resident (jackass) doctor came in the room. He was the senior resident on the floor. As soon as he walked in the room I knew it was going to be some BS. He walked in with a very cocky attitude which immediately turned me off. He has been from that point on referred to as Peter Parker because that is who he looked like.

Ok so the first thing he brings up is that I have had 2 c-sections and there is this risk of uterine rupture. I stated that I am aware of the risks but I have also had 2 successful VBA2Cs with no uterine complications and that alone lowers my personal risk factor. He then went on and on about how there are studies that show that a prolonged labor increases the uterine rupture risk. I stated that was all well and good but my last labor was a 4-day event and my uterus held up just fine thank you. And I also told him that I am also very well aware of the risks of repeat c-sections and so long as me and my baby are ok I will not be consenting to a c-section. Then in the same freaking breath this idiot states that since my labor has stalled out for so long that at this point their recommendation is to begin some Pitocin to increase the strength and intensity of the contractions. My response was um… hello I have two scars on my uterus. Pitocin will most assuredly increase my risk of uterine rupture so I will not consent to that either. I have never had a "textbook" labor and I will not up my risk factor simply because my body is not going fast enough for you.

Needless to say he didn’t exactly like my response so he tried a new tactic. My water was broken so he spoke about the increased risk of infection which I am informed enough to know that it is cervical checks that increase the risk and that I was limiting the number of those. My temperature was normal, the baby was not showing any signs of distress in the least bit. At that point it was a non-issue. He then goes on to suggest that I get an internal fetal monitor so that *he* can better gauge my contractions because he just isn’t sure how strong they are and that this will also give him a better idea if a uterine rupture was to occur. So we just talked about the increased risk of infection from my water being broken and yet you expect me to allow you to put a foreign object in my baby’s head so that there is a direct line from the hospital and its germs straight to my baby?? Um yeah, no thanks. I declined the offer. I stated again I don’t labor according to his textbook and so long as my baby is ok and I feel ok I will continue to labor. ( Not to mention the monitors were showing contractions and heart-rate perfectly. There was absolutely NO need for the internal monitor.)

He again did not like my response. My midwife was not in the room when he first came in so she came back in the middle of the conversation. He again stated that “we like to see you dilate a cm an hour and you have been at 7 cm for several hours now”. I told him for the third time that I am not going to labor according to his rules or his books. I know how my body labors and I have NEVER had a “textbook” labor and refuse to be pushed into interventions based on that alone. His response was well I tell you what if you haven’t made any progress by 5:30 am we will go ahead and do your c-section then. (need to mention here that his shift ended at 7:00 am so that time limit was based solely on that) I said no absolutely not. I am not consenting to a c-section because my body is not following your rules. I am not going to be put on a timeline. And at this point my midwife stepped in and said that I had already had this conversation several times and it is now bordering on harassment. He really took offense to that and said he was not harassing me, but he was in my opinion. He said he just wasn’t clear on when I would consent to a c-section. She and I both said when it’s emergent. I asked to please relay this message to the rest of the staff because I was starting to get really annoyed at having the same conversation over and over again. His boss was the same one on the floor that was there when I got to the hospital. He made one more remark about not knowing what my contractions are doing and my response was every contraction does something. He finally left me alone and I told the nurse (the one trying to VBAC who was there for this entire conversation) that I did not want him anywhere near me when the time of birth came. We never saw him again.

I have to mention here that the manner in which he approached me made me feel like he conversated with the other residents along with his boss (who had already made it clear his recommendation was a c-section) and that he probably made a bet with the other residents that he could convince me to either a-] consent to a c-section or b-] convince me to consent to interventions that are notorious for increasing the need for a c-section, such as Pitocin and internal fetal monitoring. I say this because for each thing he tried to throw at me I threw something back at him and his face resembled that of a chess player who thought they had you and then you took their chess piece.  He came at me with a very car salesmen like approach and I can easily see how a woman not educated or a woman that has any doubts in her ability to birth could fall into the trap which so easily leads to c-sections.

Back to the birth novel though, so I am sure that caused some stalling of labor because I was pretty agitated. My contractions spaced out a bit and I had to take a moment to vent about him being such a jackass.

I labored sitting up for a while again and it was starting to get late I was hoping for some type of change.

October 25th

12:00 am—It was sometime between midnight and 1 am I requested to be checked again to see if there was any change at all. My epidural also seemed to not be very strong as I was feeling a lot of intense pressure. She checked me and I was still 7 cm only now I had a swollen lip of cervix in the front. UGH.  I know that I have this happen because both my last labors I had a cervical lip. I was just so frustrated that no change had been made yet. The baby was perfect on the monitors though and other than being annoyed a little I was fine too so I labored more.

Khadijah and her daughter had to leave so they left and my husband and midwife laid down to get some sleep. The lights were turned down and I was there laboring alone, which honestly I think I needed. I laid on one side for about an hour and a half and the contractions were coming closer together and I was feeling so much pressure in my pelvis and rectal area. I swear it felt like she was coming out of my butt LOL. I switched to the other side and labored there for another hour or so and I had one contraction that made me feel like a mack truck hit my pelvis. I think this may have been when she finally engaged. The pressure was so intense. I woke my husband up around 4 am because I just needed him. I should have known I was in the transitional high stage after I said something really crazy. I remember during one of the contractions I was visualizing people surfing at the beach. Don’t ask I have no idea it was just the picture that was in my head. When the contraction was over though I made the comment “Or maybe we could get her a skateboard”. LMAO I swear I still have no idea and my only explanation was I was delirious from lack of sleep and high on transition hormones LMAO. At this point I remember feeling like being on my side was getting to be too uncomfortable. My husband decided to wake up my midwife and helped me get into an upright position. It was nearing 5:00 am at this point. Sitting up must have made the epidural stop working on one side because I could feel the contractions  more intensely on one half of my uterus. So they got the nurse and she came in and turned the epidural up some and had me lay back down on my side.

At this point my midwife had “the conversation” with me. She really just wanted me to be realistic and asked me how long was I really willing to labor at 7 cm before considering a c-section. I had not been checked yet and really had no intention of being checked at that point. Enter meltdown number two. The thought of another c-section brought me to tears. My midwife apologized profusely and said she didn’t mean to make me cry she just wanted me to think about that as a possibility since we had been at it for so long.  I was really upset and just did not want to go thru another c-section recovery and I knew that if I had a third one I would never have another baby again. And that had me feeling heartbroken because I do want at least one more baby. But it was a real thing that I had to consider.  I had been hoping for a change from 7 cm for 30 hours. I couldn’t get my hopes up that something was different although the pressure was different and I did feel more transitional.

So I made the decision that I would let the nurse check me one more time and that based on her findings I would consider my next step. If there was still no change I would not agree to a c-section before shift change.  I also requested that I not be separated from my baby if I did have one. I also requested that I still get checked once more before wheeling me to the OR.

5:30 am—My husband stepped out of the room for a little while. He was also pretty emotional and did not want me to have a c-section. He actually left the room to go pray that we could do this naturally. While he was gone the nurse checked me. And HOORAY! I was 9 cm with just a slight anterior cervical lip and the baby was at 0 station. She said next contraction she wanted me to push through the lip. I did try and was ok with it because I have done it twice before. My cervix always has a lip. Well let me just that hurt like HELL. That was probably worse than the labor itself. I thought I was going to die and I begged her to just please stop.

So at this point the plan was for me to labor down and see if we could get rid of the rest of that lip of cervix. I had one contraction and my body wanted to push I knew I had the lip though so I changed my breathing to avoid pushing. I allowed myself to bear down a little just enough to ease the feeling. I had two more contractions that were mild. I could tell my body had switched to pushing contractions. I had another contraction in which I felt a strong urge to push but I really did not want my cervix to swell. I mentioned that the urge to push was getting stronger. My midwife told me to bear down a little if it made me feel better.

6:15 am—My husband needed to go make morning prayer and mentioned that he was going to go do that and I told him not to go because I needed to push. The next contraction came and I had to push and did and my midwife was there and said yup baby is coming and the baby begin to crown. My husband went and got the nurse who came in and looked and saw the baby crowning so she called the docs. My next contraction I pushed again and seems like the head must have come out with that one. I am not sure all I remember is the ring of fire and the feeling that I was giving birth out of my butt LOL. I pushed again and She was born at 6:25 am. I had a mild skid mark that didn’t require any stitches. She had passed meconium but was fine all they had to do was suction her out real good. She didn’t need any oxygen or anything. They brought her right over to me and we did skin to skin contact for a good hour and a half before they weighed her. I nursed her for about an hour. She was then weighed and measured.  She was 8 lbs. 11 oz. and 19 in. long.

So a few things I would like to mention about my birth novel.  Every birth that I have had has had some kind of lesson in it along with some type of healing in it. The lesson this time for me was one of patience and also being able to share with other women how powerful we are in birth. Our bodies are amazing things. My body knew that I was tired and this kept my labor stalled out as well and each time I took a nap in the hospital my contractions would space out.  VBAC labors do have a tendency to be a little bit longer as well as be all over the place contraction wise. When we think of our bodies and why this may be it may help to deal better with a stalled out labor. Our body naturally will do what it can to protect an injury. The scar on the uterus is essentially an injury. My body would stall out and dilate slowly as a means to not over extend my uterus, and this is truly what increases the risk of rupture when the uterus gets over extended and is not able to properly recover. I say this for those attempting or who plan to attempt a VBAC in the future. Trust your body. Listen to your body.  Do not let “textbooks” dictate how your labor will go. The only women whose labors are textbook were the ones who inspired the textbook. More often than not your body will do exactly what it needs to do in order to birth your baby. Never be in a rush. Remember slow and steady wins the race.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” – Laotzu

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Infant Loss-- It Isn't Contagious.

"Life asked Death .
Why do people Love me and hate you ?
Death replied Because you are a “Beautiful” Lie.
And I am a “Painful” Truth .

Infant death has always been a taboo topic. Especially if the death occurred inutero. Babies are the next generation of life, babies are pure and new so no one wants to face the harsh reality of infant loss. I have a friend that is like my Muslim "mother" who had a stillborn baby several years ago ( probably before I was even born not sure tho). She wasn't able to hold her baby, see her baby, have pictures of her baby. It was as if the baby never existed. When I lost my baby she shared with me how hard that was. Things really are not much different today. Infant loss makes people uncomfortable. Way moreso than any other type of death. 

I recently dealt with a situation on a facebook page where a woman was extremely upset that I called my stillbirth a successful VBA2C.  She states "But I never understand why you have to always insist that you had 3 successful VBAC's when you really had two." I am not really sure what she wants me to call it to be honest. He came out of my vagina, no uterine rupture, and despite the dystocia I am the one that birthed him. There was no medical assistance and there were no broken bones which is often the case with a shoulder dystocia. My body birthed him. It is not an absolute that the shoulder dystocia was the cause of death especially since heart-tones were lost before the head was born. There is a big possibility the shoulder dystocia was related to the baby already being deceased. Either way it goes there are way too many other factors that could have been involved in the why and how of my son's death.

I don't even think it is a matter of me calling it a successful VBA2C, I honestly think it has a lot more to do with the fact that people do not want to face infant loss, even indirectly. This became more clear when she said this to me "Michelle, that is, unfortunately, the one time that you can question the term born....because he wasn't living." You see mothers of stillborn babies, we aren't supposed to acknowledge those precious lives. This is not a new attitude and it has nothing to do with whether it was a VBA2C birth or not. It has to do with people's inability to address their own fears about life and death. My infant loss isn't going to make you lose your baby. It isn't contagious. Me talking about him and discussing his birth will not magically make the same thing happen to you!

"I carried you in hope,
the long nine months of my term,
remembered that close hour when we made you,
often felt you kick and move
as you slowly grew within me,
wondered what you would look like
when your wet head emerged,
girl or boy, and at what glad moment
I should hear your birth cry,
and I welcoming you
with all you needed of warmth and food;
we had a home waiting for you.

After my strong labourings,
sweat cold on my limbs,
my small cries merging with the summer air,
you came. You did not cry.
You did not breathe.
We had not expected this,
It seems your birth had no meaning
or had you rejected us?
They will say that you did not live,
register you as stillborn

But you lived for me all that time
in the dark chamber of my womb;
and when I think of you now,
perfect in your little death,
I know that for me you were born still;
I shall carry you with me forever,
my child, you were always mine,
you are mine now.

Death and life are the same mysteries."
-Leonard Clark

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Divorce and My First Time as a "Birth Support"

Not too long after the birth of my fourth baby my marriage went from bad to worse. It was riddled with domestic violence, bad vibes, and a total lack of respect. I really wanted to leave him but was unsure I had the ability to since I had 3 kids and no job. Eventually Allah made it easy for me and he ended up arrested again and would be doing a lot of time so it was the perfect chance for me to get away.

I ended up in a shelter for victims of domestic violence for three months while looking for work and a house. While I was there I met a girl that was about 7-8 months pregnant with her first. I was very upfront about my birth experiences with her and since we spent a lot of time together and she was about to have a baby that seemed to always be the topic. Eventually it got to the point where she wanted me at her birth. She wanted me to be there to support her.

She ended up needing to be induced due to high blood pressure so they gave her cervadil overnight and I came to the hospital the next day. I have to say that even though I totally had bad experiences I was beyond shocked at what I saw transpire for this woman. I was not there to be pushy I was there to support her and what she wanted.

They came in and said they wanted to give her cytotec (only they called it misoprostol). Now I was aware of the use of cytotec and what the risks were in comparison to other induction methods from my own research ( , FDA warning label on use of cytotec in pregnant women , , FDA Warning) It has not been FDA approved for use as an induction drug, it has caused fatal uterine ruptures in first time moms, it warns of the possibility of birth defects on the label if taken by pregnant women, etc. She looked at me because she knew I had done a lot of research. I didn't want to be her voice though and I really wanted to see what the doctors said to her when she asked what the risks were. So I told her that she needs to ask them what the risk factors were. When she asked them the response was "It's no riskier than any other induction method." and that was pretty much it. She gave no specific risk factors at all. This is NOT informed consent.

****I am going to take a time out to state that cytotec is NOT like any other induction drug which is what makes it more dangerous. Number one cervadil and pitocin can be removed or turned off if there is over-stimulation of the uterus or if the mother or baby have a negative reaction. Cytotec cannot be taken out. It is a pill that dissolves and is very rapidly absorbed into the body. Once it is in your system that is it. There is no stopping the effects. There have also been no FDA guidelines for OBs to follow regarding induction so there is no way of knowing how much may be too much for one woman's uterus. There are documented cases of death and catastrophic ruptures with the use of Cytotec. When my friend asked her doctor the risks this should have been discussed completely. Instead the doctor avoided the question completely and made it seem like it was no big deal at all. ****

Because the doctor didn't really give her any reason to say no she agreed to take the cytotec. I had to leave for the night but her baby's father was going to keep me informed about what was going on. Overnight she progressed pretty quickly and got to about 8 cm. I went back to the hospital the next day and when I got there they were saying they wanted to now give her pitocin. They told her they were starting her on a low dose and that they would up the dose every so often. My friend was having a lot of pressure and the contractions were pretty intense for her even with an epidural. They then lied to my friend about how high the dosage was that she was getting. They told her it was only half of what she was actually receiving. I was right next to the IV monitor and could see the number of units she was getting and it was more than half of what she was told. WTH???? Why would they lie to her about that?

The next part of her experience infuriates me beyond belief. They checked her cervix and she was 9 cm with a lip. They came in and said "Well I think we have done all we can. I think we should probably go ahead and do a c-section now. I just don't think the baby is coming out." By this time my friend in her vulnerable trusting state said ok.

I was beyond pissed off for her. Number one I have had a lip of cervix left with all 3 of my VBA2Cs ( at the time had only had 2 VBA2Cs) I pushed through the lip both times and had vaginal births. These assholes didn't even give her the CHANCE to push before giving up on her and thus making her give up on herself.  The way maternity care is handled in America right now is truly a travesty and is such a huge disservice to mothers and their babies.

After watching that I knew for sure I did not want to deal with OBs or the hospital when it came to birthing any future children. And honestly after watching that I wasn't sure I would ever be able to handle being a "birth support" for a hospital birth ever again. This did become somewhat of a driving force for me to be more vocal about my own experiences. Surely I wasn't alone in feeling bullied into a c-section, feeling betrayed by someone I should have been able to trust, feeling lied to, and just downright mistreated. I couldn't be the only one.

Mind Really Does Matter

I often spoke on message boards about how much your mental state can affect your birth. I don't think I really fully comprehended how much until after my 4th baby was born. My first homebirth I was not at all afraid of anything really. I had even come to accept the possibility of losing my baby at some point during the pregnancy so I wasn't afraid of death either. I think that alone made my labor really smooth and lengthwise pretty average for a first time laborer. (his labor was about 36 hours long)

Once you go through a traumatic loss like that it changes you in so many ways. I was very conflicted in my feelings of not having fear vs. being scared to death of losing another, trusting birth vs. trusting fear. I wanted to have a peaceful birth I really did. I wanted to stay at home. I wanted many things that didn't happen in the end. What I failed to do was prepare myself mentally for a pregnancy after a loss.

I walked around 5 cm dilated with irregular contractions for weeks. It didn't hit me how scared I was to do this again until the night my midwives were there with castor oil to help get my contractions more established. I had a 4 day on and off again labor because of my own mental hang-ups. My body wanted to labor but my mind didn't. I was able to control my body with my mind. If I got caught up in thoughts of my loss my contractions dwindled. If I got distracted by anything my contractions spaced out. I was 9.5 cm dilated ready to push and was able to completely halt my labor and fall asleep because I was so scared of that aspect of the birth. That is when it all went wrong last time. Feeling my baby move, hearing his heartbeat, none of it was comforting enough for me in that vulnerable state to let go and let my body do what it was trying to do. This is what ultimately led to my hospital transfer because I knew at that point I needed to be mentally checked out of my birth. I had to separate my body from my mind and at the time the only thing I could see capable of doing that was an epidural.

Mind does matter. Your mental state during pregnancy affects  your labor and it affects your birth. It is really important to address fears head on and not try to sweep them under the rug because labor will be the place they most assuredly will rear their heads.  This is part of my reason for doing this blog because I need to work through some of these things I have experienced and prepare myself mentally for my upcoming birth. I don't want fear to be what drives my decisions, rather I want knowledge and faith to be the driving force.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Homebirth VBA2C turned empowering Hospital VBA2C

So I had already written most of this right after his birth, I am going to make a second blog to follow-up on some of the aftermaths and feelings that came up after this birth.

Wednesday May 16th 2007-

I had been in prodromal labor for a while having irregular contractions. I had been dilated to 5 cm since about 39-40 weeks (I was now about 41 weeks). I was getting a bit anxious because of what happened last time. I was willing to try some natural induction methods to jump start my labor. I am really not an advocate of these things but my mental state just couldn’t handle another late baby. So I decided to try the castor oil trick. I took two doses and after the second dose started having some painful contractions. Along with pooping my brains out LOL. That was not fun. Anyway so after about 2 painful ones I called my midwives back over. I have to admit here that my (ex) husband was not there and was not at all involved since our marriage pretty much sucked. I really didn't need the midwives there for the contractions as much as I did the emotional support. I was terrified of going into labor. I was scared to be alone.

The contractions were pretty strong but stayed 10 minutes apart. I stayed up pretty much all night with contractions trying to get them to keep coming. I walked the steps for a while then walked around my room. This went on until about 6 am and then I finally was able to fall asleep for about half an hour. The midwives had spent the night and we all thought something would happen now…

Thursday May 17th 2007-

SO my contractions are still coming 5-7 minutes apart early in the morning and my midwife checked me about 7 am and I was now 6 cm. Once the kids got up though my contractions spaced back out to 10-15 minutes apart. I guess it was too much distraction. My doula came in the afternoon and took the kids to a place to play called monkey Joe’s. I was able to eat and then get a hour or so of sleep. When I woke up I was having contractions again close together but as soon as the kids came in they spaced back out. So at this point the midwives were giving me some homeopathics to try and get labor more established and stop jumping around. We all figured maybe once the kids went to bed that would help. My friend Khadijah came over and stayed the night with the midwives also helping keep me company and support me in labor. They did pick up after the kids went to sleep but only when I was taking homeopathics when they wore off they would space back out again. I was getting frustrated and was crying trying to figure out what in the heck was going on why is my labor doing this. So we all sat down and decided to stop trying to push it. And to just see what happens. I was now a good 7 cm but the baby kept switching from anterior to posterior. So we decided to stop meddling. That I would get some sleep as much as I could between contractions and that the next day I will just listen to my body and see what comes of it. Hence the first lesson I was taught, well re taught lol. You cannot rush the nature of things. I was not in control of anything. I was not responsible for what happened to my last baby and nothing I did would have changed the outcome. Nature is better left untouched.

Friday May 18th 2007-

So for some reason this day just felt like labor day. I woke up around 6 am and there were signs everywhere something was about to happen. It was really weird like I cannot explain it at all. I woke to some pretty intense and painful contractions. I went downstairs where my midwives and Khadijah were sleeping. I got some water and one of the midwives awoke and checked the baby. He was always a happy baby nice heart rate.

When we first moved here the only wildlife around was these frogs and turtles in the pond across from the front of my house. As time went on all of the sudden these ducks just decided our pond was the place to be. Then this same week I saw the first squirrel I have ever seen here fighting with a blue jay lol. Well this morning I looked out of the window and saw a RABBIT. Oh my goodness he was huge and right there.

So the plan this day was for me to get some rest and just let everything go naturally. So I was checked and was 8 cm. I got in the tub thinking maybe contractions would get closer. They actually spaced out again so I got really frustrated and discouraged and that is when I posted on earthy mommies. I was finally able to get rid of the kids. They were going to grandmas for the weekend. So they left around 5 pm. I took a shower and decided to go hang out in my nest and communicate with the baby. I was alone as my (ex)husband left to take them. I hooked up the satellite radio online and started jamming to some reggae. Hoping to have a beat to move my pelvis around to get baby better engaged. This was around 7 pm. The midwives were going to be there by 9 pm and stay the night and pray something happens. Being on the ball and bouncing and rocking with contractions helped get the baby in a better position somewhat.  My midwives got there about 9: 30 and ate their dinner. Then they came up to my room and we were just hanging out like it was a party. It was so much fun really. The my doula came about eleven I think not exactly sure what time it was but it was around then. So we are all just laughing and it is almost like I am not even in labor.

So at this point I decided to get in the tub I was 9 cm and the baby was super low like +1 station but was still floating above my cervix not putting much pressure on it. We opened a window and heard zillions of the bullfrogs from the pond. Everyone decided to get some sleep and my (ex)husband who had been left out of all the girl fun came and gave me company at this point.

So as the morning approached we started discussing whether or not to break my water. I was still 9 cm my contractions were still weird but I was in more pain feeling more transitional . The baby was still not applying good pressure on my cervix so it was thought maybe by breaking the water he would come down some. He was low but not on my cervix good. Plus I had an anterior lip.

May 19th 2007-

So everyone is awake and we are all trying to decided what to do. I was upset and getting scared at this point. All of my anxieties and fears were creeping on me and I was in tears not sure if I should break my water or not. I was scared things would happen like they did last time. I was just plain scared. I finally agreed to let them do it . I cried and cried and cried I was relieved about that aspect but terrified of the rest. I was having pressure but I was tensing up my body because I was so afraid something would go wrong again. I labored for a bout 3 hours like that I was in excruciating pain and I could not let go of this fear that something would go wrong..

So back to the labor. We decided maybe I should push but I was really scared to. The closer it got to push the more worried and fearful I became. I knew I could give birth but my mind was giving me a serious hang-up. I was fighting my body. I sat on the toilet to pee and had to push a few times and she checked me and my cervix was swelling up. I told her at that point I needed to go. I had to go to the hospital and get an epidural so I could separate my mind from my body for a minute. I was fighting my body too much and. I knew that staying home was going to cause more harm than not. Especially since my water was broken. So I got my clothes on and my friend Khadijah and my (ex)husband and we all headed out. That was the worst part ever.

So the hospital was interesting to say the least I told (ex)hubby and Khadijah do NOT let them section me. Do not let them give me a c-section please. I was ready to fight and did. We got to the room and they checked me and said I was 6-7 cm (my MW said this happens a lot to women who transport and is probably good as if had been 10 I wouldn’t have gotten an epi). It took an hour or more to get an epidural. During that hour I was being brought papers to sign. I was brought a consent for a vaginal birth I signed it. She then came back and said whoops I need you to initial this I have added consent to a c-section too. My (ex)husband said she isn’t signing that. I said NO I am NOT signing a consent for a c-section. I am not getting a c-section. I am going to push this baby out of my vagina. I told her IF the need arose I would sign it then. She was about to go into how quick and emergency section may have to happen. I said NO it will take you longer to get me to the OR than it would for you to have me sign that damn paper. I am not signing.(all of this said in between transitional contractions BTW) So she got a clean paper and only had vaginal birth so I said that I consent.

I finally got my epidural and was grateful I could get my head back on right to give birth to my baby. (I hate epidurals by the way and would never get one for any reason other than necessity and in this case for me this birth it was needed.) This was about 1pm or so. So I got some rest and kept hearing this lady in the background who I didn’t like and was the main one who wanted to section me. She claimed my baby had decels when I first came in (he NEVER had a decel ever) but now that I was quiet and I could hear the monitor she said oh baby looks great.

I then proceed to inform every one of the nurses that I do not want my baby to get the eye goo. I do not want my baby to get the vitamin K shot I do not want him getting the hepatitis B. He was not to get any sugar water or any bottles period. Then I went into the fact I wanted to delay cord clamping. This resident doc was from San Lucia and she tried talking me out of that. I said no I KNOW the benefits of delayed cord clamping I have done my research and I do NOT want to clamp the cord. She tried to tell me the complete opposite of what the research says about it and I told her again NO. This is MY baby and I have every right to choose what I want for MY baby. I KNOW the benefits and I am not asking you I am telling you not to cut the cord. So she said she would go and get some papers on it ~rolling my eyes~ She brought back the I want to section you doc ha ha. So she runs down all these lists of dangerous outcomes in order to get me to not stand firm in what I wanted I told her I don’t care about the what ifs. All I want known is that if he comes out crying and fine DO NOT CUT THE CORD. Finally she agreed haha.( she hated me)

So around 6 pm they said that they wanted me to start pushing soon. They all tried to get into all these reasons about what would make me need a c-section. One thing that was said was about the shoulder dystocia baby. He mentioned not knowing what my sugars were like I shook my head and said I did my own prenatal care(couldn't tell them I had a midwife due to the legality issue in my state) and I can tell you exactly what my sugars are and in fact my (ex)husband can go right home and get my booklet to show you what my sugars have been and they have NOT been high. I said this baby is NOT too big. So basically the I wanna section you doctor kept throwing out scary scenarios to, I assume, make me be fearful enough to want a c-section. My (ex)husband said I was like a dog every time she got close to the fence I barked at her.

So I started pushing around 7:40 I pushed three times and she could see his eyebrows so she called for the doc it wouldn’t work so she pressed the emergency button and a flood of people came in ready for the worst . I pushed one more time and he flew out . All those people needed to see that. None of them believed I could do it. The funny nurse made sure I was FINALLY the first to hold my baby. ~tears flowing~ touching my slimy warm baby on my chest was the best feeling in the world. I was crying the whole time. He didn’t cry at first. He had inhaled some fluid so I only held him a minute. Then the cries ~tears again~ I finally got to SEE my baby crying for the first time. My little man was born at 7:48 pm weighing 9 lbs even and 21 inches long.
He was also born in the exact same posterior position that my first baby had been in that was used to justify my c-section. So not only did I birth a posterior baby but he was 2.5 lbs bigger than my c-section baby as well!

I have a few after thoughts about this experience that I will share in my next blog so stay tuned.....

"What?!?!? You want to have another homebirth????" - Pregnancy after Loss

Even given my loss there was never a single doubt in my mind that I would plan another homebirth for any future children. I am sure that to some this may seem crazy but you have to understand the hospital was not a "safe" place for me to birth. I was bullied into an unnecessary c-section the first time, felt tricked into an induction ( which resulted in another section) the second time, and was treated with total hatred when my baby died. This was not a safe haven for me. This was a place where all things bad happened. I couldn't trust them, not with me or my baby's life.

I had a big fear though that no midwife would ever want to come near me because of what happened. I was so scared of not having the option to homebirth it really plagued me. My (ex) husband was not supportive all the way around. Our marriage was not good at all. It was plagued with domestic violence. I found out in September of 2006 that I was pregnant again. I wasn't sure how I felt because I had just lost my baby 11 months before. I also wasn't happy in the marriage and was really unsure if a baby was a good idea.

My midwife from my last birth pointed me in the direction of someone she had grown close to and knew would be a good fit for me. She also had full intentions of being there to support me throughout the pregnancy. I needed her there. I don't know if anyone but her and I understand the kind of relationship we have.

I called the new midwife and I was put to ease about my fears. The main thing we were going to do was keep a close watch on my diet and blood sugar and we both felt if I could keep that under control the birth would be fine. So I invested in a blood sugar monitor and kept my blood sugar controlled with diet.

The entire pregnancy I was a complete and total mess. When you lose a baby at birth it is not the same as a miscarriage. There is no time-frame in the pregnancy where one can feel a little bit of relief. I wasn't going to be able to breath until I held this baby in my arms alive. I really tried not to worry since I didn't have that same feeling of impending doom that I did with Abdul-Qadir. It was harder than I imagined though. I wanted to be strong. I wanted to have faith. I wanted to trust. And I didn't want to be afraid.

I will write my birth story of him in a separate blog, but I want to mention that I learned some more valuable lessons about birth and how connected our minds are to it's progress ( or lack thereof). Stay tuned for my next VBA2C birth story.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Addressing the Issue of Blame and Guilt

Blame and Guilt:

Since my second c-section I have always been a huge advocate for self-empowerment, seeking the truth yourself and not relying on others to give it to you, and advocating for ways to avoid the first c-section. So in a lot of ways when the news spread that my baby died during my homebirth many people (even family members) had this attitude of "see I told you". It was almost as if some of them took a little bit of pleasure in seeing the woman who says "birth is as safe as life gets" on her knees in grief. ** I want to give a shout out here to some of the best women I have ever known in my life who without knowing me for very long were the only people who took time to send me flowers and gifts to let me know they cared. I love all of you at Earthy Mommies.**

Throughout the last 6 years I have been pretty vague about my homebirth loss due to that negativity that I experienced right after.  I cannot tell you how many people didn't hesitate to blame my baby's death on the fact that I had a homebirth and were quite mean about it too. I was still very fresh in my grief and one stage of grief is guilt. This is for every single person that has ever lost a loved one. There is always a moment of "What if I ____?" or " I wish I could have...." This happens regardless of whether you had any direct involvement in that loved ones death..For me it was too much to bear at the time and up until now I have been very quiet about my birth as a means to protect myself .

So for a long time I was afraid to talk about how I felt with most people. It seemed that no one in my real life really wanted to even acknowledge that he existed. I know that no one knew him when he was alive but he lived in me for 10 months. I felt him move. We grew as one together. I had a type of connection with him that no one else could understand, it was like a secret.

Forgiving Yourself:

One of the things I always see people say during homebirth debates on message boards, blogs, and facebook groups, is " I would never be able to forgive myself if something happened."  It infers that if you do forgive yourself then you are the bad guy. You are the mother that chose an experience over the baby. You are the mother who didn't care about her baby. You are the one worthy of bashing. In reality this could not be farther from the truth.

I have always looked at my homebirth loss with positivity. I am saddened that he died. I wish he was here but nothing that I do will bring him back. I chose to forgive myself and embrace his life and death for the beauty that it was. I have often been persecuted for being proud that I gave birth to him, proud that it was a natural childbirth, triumphant that what I had been told about my body was a lie (like I knew it was). I am not sure why people don't understand that you can have more than one emotion about one event. I could chose to dwell on the negative but I felt much more productive and driven to look at the positive. This doesn't mean I love him any less, or that the pain of not having him here is any less significant now than it was then. I loved him. I was heartbroken. But being heartbroken doesn't mean I have to be broken.

Which leads me to this. It is ok to forgive yourself.  It doesn't make you less of a mother. It doesn't mean you loved your baby less than that next woman. It means you loved yourself enough to forgive yourself and not let guilt and blame consume you. And in order for us to properly love our other children we have to first love ourselves.

**Oh and for the record my homebirth loss did not change a single thing about the way I look at birth. I still believe that birth is as safe as life gets.**

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Homebirth Loss: The Hospital Transfer and the Aftermath

*** Disclaimer again:  Before I begin I would like to preface this post with a few things. First off, I have not shared the details of this birth publicly since he was born. This was largely due to the most insensitive and hurtful comments that I have ever seen a person make online regarding my loss without them even knowing the details. Please bear in mind that I lost my son and no one carries that burden of loss more than I do. If you comment with anything that is offensive, mean, or otherwise insensitive it will get deleted. Secondly I am writing this birth story in 3 separate blogs, the pregnancy and labor, the birth, and the hospital trasnfer. I am doing this because 1- there is just too much information to put it all in one post and 2-I want to separate my emotions from those three cycles of this process. The labor was amazingly beautiful, the birth was somewhat scary, and the hospital transfer was nothing short of infuriating.****

Transition from home to the hospital:

My placenta had not detached yet and the paramedics were clueless about what to do.I also had a perennial tear. They had already taken my baby out of the house. I had no idea at that time what was going on. I was still in somewhat of a labor daze. I just really wanted to know the status of the baby. The hospital told them not to wait on the placenta and to just transport me. The hardest part was that they took me and the baby in separate ambulances. My (ex)husband stood between them torn on which one he should ride in. He eventually chose my ambulance.

While in the ambulance they checked my blood sugar I assume because he was pretty big and it came back really high at 296. We got to the hospital and as they took me out of the ambulance they almost flipped me off the gurney totally. I  got into the emergency room and we were met by none other than a doctor at the practice I left.

I also want to mention here that in my state, while it is legal to have a homebirth the only attendant they allow legally is a CNM who is backed up by an OB. At that time there was no such option here where I lived. I knew this going into this relationship with her and was prepared to protect her.

I was bombarded immediately with questions of why and who. At this point I was out of the labor daze and just processed that I did what these doctors said I never could. I gave birth on my own. Something inside of me changed. They asked who did my prenatal care I lied and said no one. They asked me why I did this at home, to which I replied "because one of the doctors at YOUR practice threatened to tie my tubes and refused to *let* me VBA2C. That's why."

I am sitting on the table placenta still attached. I am listening to the doctors going back and forth over whether they should put me under and remove the placenta and as they are talking I get the urge to push and the placenta comes out on it's own. Even that felt triumphant. I was so sick of OBs assumption  that nothing about birth can happen on its own.

I asked over and over and over again what was going on with my baby. My (ex)husband left the room to go find out. And of course this is when the doctor decides to tell me that the baby didn't make it. I had prepared for the idea of losing him my whole pregnancy, but that didn't in anyway numb the pain. I immediately asked for my baby. I wanted to hold him, see him, kiss him.

They had to repair the tear that I had but had to wait because I guess they were putting me to sleep to do so. They thought my tear was worse than it actually was. While waiting for that they brought me my baby. The nurses were anything BUT empathetic. They were downright mean. They weighed him before giving him to me and he weighed 11 lbs. Eleven pounds. I gave birth to an eleven pound baby after being told I couldn't birth a baby almost half that size. More fuel for my fire is all that was.

They had a breathing tube in his mouth which they said we couldn't take off. so I couldn't even see his face in its entirety. They rushed me the entire time. They took pictures which I later found had not been taken with a flash so I couldn't see any of them.

He was given a name while we held him. Abdul-Qadir. Servant of the Most Powerful, Most Able. It was a name that fit the entire process perfectly. He could not have a better name than that. The whole experience was about submitting to the Power of Allah. And none of us have the power to give or take life. It is only Allah only that is in control of our souls.

It was less than thirty minutes before they told me I had to give him back. I was told they had to take him in order to do an autopsy ( which they didn't do until the next day I found out later). I pleaded with them to give me more time. I wasn't ready to let him go. They told me no and assured me that I could see him the next day.

While waiting for the repair we were then interrogated by child protective services. All I could think about is "are you effing serious? This can't wait until tomorrow? I JUST LOST MY BABY!"  They finally left me alone for that day and then it was time for the repair.

I guess my mother arrived at the hospital while I was getting stitched up. She was against the homebirth from the beginning. She never wanted me to do it and we got into many arguments over it while I was pregnant. Apparently while I was not around she told the doctors everything. I was now being interrogated by hospital staff at my bedside. I was just waking up from the anesthesia. I could barely keep my eyes open and everything was blurry. I had the doctor who met us in the ER, both nurses who were mean from the start, and now the coroner all badgering me.

The coroner took my (ex) husband out of the room and the rest of them surrounded me. The OB said my mother told them I had a midwife and I needed to tell them who she was. I could not believe these insensitive assholes were trying to do this to me while I was not even coherent. My response was I am not talking about this. I just wanted to be left alone. This was not anyone's fault.

Not only do I have to deal with CPS but I now have to deal with detectives who initially wanted to charge me with my son's death until they realized I didn't break any laws. It was within my right to birth at home if I wanted to. They pressured me over and over to rat out my midwife. I told them over and over this was not a murder and it wasn't a death that anyone had to be blamed for. I wanted them all to go away.

The coroner was also a head administrator in the hospital and he would not leave me alone. He came to my room often and his big spill was " we just want to prevent this from happening again". My response? You can't prevent death. It happens in the hospital too. He never let up and I got sick of him so I finally said " If you are really that concerned with where a woman and how a woman gives birth then my suggestion is that you stop worrying about homebirth and start right here in this hospital. If I felt like I could have the birth I wanted here I would not have looked for a different option." And with that he said ok that's all I need to know and never bothered me again.

What made this worse was they had me on the postpartum floor and I had to walk around listening to every other woman's babies crying knowing I would never get to hear that from mine. It was like torture.

The next day I begged to see my baby. The answer I got was that I couldn't see him because he was the property of the hospital. What the what? Oh no I am not standing up for that. I told the nurse that I was specifically told that I would be able to see my baby because they took him away from me before I was ready.  I told her I didn't care who she had to talk to but she better go find somebody and bring me my baby. I don't know what she did but she came back with my baby. Out of all the people I dealt with she was definitely the nicest.

Before leaving the hospital I got lectured by the OBs again and of course they recommended I never have another vaginal birth. I pretty much told them I don;t take a whole lot of stock in their opinions. I just birthed a baby twice the size of a baby you same people said I would never be able to birth. Yeah I don't trust you. I do trust Allah and I believe in my body's ability. The main issue I would need to watch for in future pregnancies was blood sugar.

It didn't end there. In fact I wasn't at home for more than a few minutes before CPS was at the door. Really? I just got home and am still trying to come to terms that I will be burying my son soon. Eventually the case was closed and to this day nothing happened to my midwife. Had anything happened to her I would have fought it until I died. Death is just a normal part of life. It will happen to us all. It will happen to our loved ones. There is not always a person to blame. She was not going to take the blame for something she had no control over.It was NOT her fault. And neither was it mine.

My journey doesn't end here. Only this birth. I actually plan to do a blog after this with a few more "after thoughts" about this experience and dealing with the death of a baby. I want to be the voice that so often is not heard when the media blows up a story regarding a homebirth loss.

If you missed the first two parts they can be found here: Part One: The Beginning, and Part Two: The Birth

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Homebirth Loss: The Birth

*** Disclaimer again:  Before I begin I would like to preface this post with a few things. First off, I have not shared the details of this birth publicly since he was born. This was largely due to the most insensitive and hurtful comments that I have ever seen a person make online regarding my loss without them even knowing the details. Please bear in mind that I lost my son and no one carries that burden of loss more than I do. If you comment with anything that is offensive, mean, or otherwise insensitive it will get deleted. Secondly I am writing this birth story in 3 separate blogs, the pregnancy and labor, the birth, and the hospital trasnfer. I am doing this because 1- there is just too much information to put it all in one post and 2-I want to separate my emotions from those three cycles of this process. The labor was amazingly beautiful, the birth was somewhat scary, and the hospital transfer was nothing short of infuriating.****

The Birth:

Here I was the moment I had been waiting for and missed with my first two babies. It was time to push! I remember just thinking how close I was to this being over and how I couldn't wait so that the burden of looming loss would finally go away.

I pretty much followed my instincts in regards to pushing. It felt best to stand in between contractions and push in a squatting position. I actually didn't even know at the time that squatting opens the pelvic inlet 30% more than normal. Instincts are such an amazing thing we have. I was in such a labor daze that I am unaware of exactly how long it took to push. I do know that my cervical lip was still there and that while pushing my midwife pushed it out of the way so that I could get the baby past my cervix.

There was a point in the pushing process that I was shown a mirror and I could see his head. I think the reason they did that is because they wanted me to see that I was so close to birthing. It helped to know that his head was literally right there.

It was not long after that things quickly changed. I recall hearing my midwife tell her assistant to check heart tones in between my contractions. I remember it like it was yesterday very very vividly. There was complete and utter silence. No heartbeat, not even the swooshing of the placenta. That feeling I had the entire pregnancy of a heartbeat not being found was happening. While I prepared for the worst at every prenatal, I never quite imagined that this may occur during my labor.

At this point the mood seemed to completely change. I could hear a lot of hustling behind me and encouragement for me to get the baby born. I remember hearing my midwife say "call them" telling someone to call 911. When I heard that I pushed with every single thing I had in me. I could feel the infamous ring of fire and hoped this meant it was almost over. In reality it had only just begun.

Once his head was born I could not push anymore and he was not moving out. I could tell by the look on my midwife's face that something was really wrong. She gave me a stern yet gentle stare and said " I need you to push. This baby needs to come out now!" Only I had no energy to "purple push" as they call it. I had no contractions and I had no energy left. So there I was with my baby stuck and nothing anyone could do.

It took 30 minutes for the ambulance to arrive. Police and EMT volunteers were there within minutes and NONE of them did anything. Not one single thing. They stood around and stared at me like I was in the circus. Once the ambulance finally arrived they kicked everyone out of the room. They were completely and utterly clueless about what to do. They were on the phone with the hospital asking what to do and while they were looking at each other trying to figure out what they needed to do the urge to push came back really strongly. I said more than once I need to push and my (ex) husband got their attention and with that push the rest of his body was born.

I remember saying how good that felt to be done. I looked up and saw that it was a boy and saw that he was totally lifeless. We asked them not to cut the cord they did it anyway. They never even attempted to resuscitate him AT ALL. No CPR, no oxygen, and I am not even sure they checked for a pulse.  Not only did they do nothing they didn't even let me see him.

I plan to continue the transfer part of this story in the next blog but before I do I want to address a few things about this part of my story.

First I would like to say that there have been many times where people have questioned or assumed that this happened because I was at home and being in the hospital somehow would have changed things. To that I would like to point out a few things:

1- Continuous fetal monitoring does not improve birth outcomes at all.

"Admission electronic fetal monitoring did not decrease neonatal morbidity and mortality compared with intermittent auscultation. Patients in the admission fetal monitoring group were more likely to receive continuous electronic monitoring and fetal blood sampling, but there were no significant differences in the rates of operative deliveries or episiotomy. Institutions not routinely using admission electronic fetal monitoring should not start; those that do may not be benefiting their patients." -

So while yes in the hospital I would have had continuous fetal monitoring, the intermittent monitoring of the baby was sufficient enough to show if there was issues. In my case whatever occurred happened quickly and the outcome would have been NO different in the hospital.

2- The shoulder dystocia.  I have processed my birth in many ways and often over the last 6 years. I know that there will be some that say "well see your pelvis was too narrow". He was very large ( will get into that on the next blog) and I gave birth twice after that vaginally to babies that were 2+ lbs bigger than my c-section baby so, no my pelvis is just fine thank you very much.

Also I am pretty sure that my baby passed away before his head was born. Now Allah only knows for sure when He took his soul but from what little I do know I think he was already gone. Babies must be active participants in the birth process. It is a team effort. Once the head is born the baby usually rotates itself to allow the shoulders to come out. My baby was no longer actively particpating in the birth. I am not sure if the shoulder dystocia I had was due to his size or due to the fact that he was not rotating or moving at all.

Also this is NOT a predictable situation. Shoulder dystocia can happen with babies of ALL sizes. This is not something that anyone could have seen coming ahead of time. And the situation would have been the same in a hospital.

3- This is more about my religion than anything else. One of the pillars of Imaan (faith) is belief in the Divine decree of Allah. In other words what is written to occur in ones life cannot be changed. The pen has dried. Our entire life is written out while in the wombs of our mothers.

" Narrated Abdullah: Allah's Apostle, the true and truly inspired said, "(as regards your creation), every one of you is collected in the womb of his mother for the first forty days, and then he becomes a clot for an other forty days, and then a piece of flesh for an other forty days. Then Allah sends an angel to write four words: He writes his deeds, time of his death, means of his livelihood, and whether he will be wretched or blessed (in religion)....." Sahih Bukhari

So my sons life as short as it may have been,  was already decided upon and written out long before the labor pains began. It didn't matter what I did or where he was born or any of that he was meant to die a sinless person and return to Allah with a pure soul. And for that I am honored and eternally blessed to have been able to be a part of that little life even if it was short.

The transfer to the hospital part of this birth story will be soon coming.....

If you missed it---- Part One: The Beginning, and Part Three: The Aftermath

My Homebirth Loss: The beginning

*** Before I begin I would like to preface this post with a few things. First off, I have not shared the details of this birth publicly since he was born. This was largely due to the most insensitive and hurtful comments that I have ever seen a person make online regarding my loss without them even knowing the details. Please bear in mind that I lost my son and no one carries that burden of loss more than I do. If you comment with anything that is offensive, mean, or otherwise insensitive it will get deleted. Secondly I am writing this birth story in 3 separate blogs, the pregnancy and labor, the birth, and the hospital trasnfer. I am doing this because 1- there is just too much information to put it all in one post and 2-I want to separate my emotions from those three cycles of this process. The labor was amazingly beautiful, the birth was somewhat scary, and the hospital transfer was nothing short of infuriating.****

The Pregnancy:

From the moment I got a positive pregnancy test I knew this was going to be a different experience. I cannot explain it in a way to make anyone understand but I never felt like this baby was meant to stay with me. I made my first appointment with the OB office to confirm pregnancy and get dates ( my period had just returned and was irregular). From the minute I saw him on the ultrasound I had this sinking feeling I would never hear him cry, never see him smile, never hear him laugh. With this heavy on my mind hearing the doctor tell me she wanted to tie my tubes really bothered me. All I could think about is if this baby dies I would never be able to have another one and I would be devastated. She clearly wasn't supportive of my desire to VBA2C either, so when I got home I posted a message on the ICAN-online ( email list asking for help. I needed more options.

The ladies there were very helpful and threw out the idea of a birth center as well as homebirth. I contacted the birth center a few hours from me but was pretty sure they would not take me as a client. I was also given the name of a traveling midwife that was living in my state and told to contact her. After researching more on homebirth and the statistics of homebirth I decided to contact her and just see what happened. I told her my history and my desire to VBA2C and asked her would she be willing to attend my birth. She responded enthusiastically that even though she had retired she felt that fate had brought her and I together. The feeling was mutual especially when I realized the house she purchased to retire in was 2 streets away from me.   Dr. Wayne Dyer says "In  mathematics, two angles that are said to coincide fit together perfectly. The word coincidence does not describe luck or mistakes. It describes that which fits together perfectly." She was perfect for the journey in every way.

What I needed this time was to be able to gestate in peace without all the scary "OMG this is wrong with you!" ideas. I did not want any tests done, no ultrasounds, no nothing. It was important for me to embrace the fact that pregnancy and birth and a humans ability to do this was natural and normal. The only thing that was checked was blood pressure, urine for sugar, heartbeat and fetal growth. My entire journey was nothing but submitting myself to the will of Allah and believing in my ability to birth my baby which for me started with belief that my body could appropriately take care of the growing baby inside of me without unnecessary tests.

This baby was so unlike my older two. There was something about him that was so peaceful and so calm. I worried much of my pregnancy that when my midwife came for check ups that the heartbeat would not be found. The intuition that he wasn't going to stay was just that strong. I remember thinking many times that if he doesn't stay with me I want to at least give birth to him if nothing else. I wanted to have that at least. But every prenatal he had the most beautiful heartbeat ever. He sounded perfect. He was perfect. I never shared my feelings with anyone until the aftermath. Sometimes I feel like it was a Mercy from Allah to prepare me for the loss. I want to make it clear that this feeling I had was there long before I chose to homebirth.

The entire pregnancy my baby measured behind by a couple of weeks. When my "due date" came we had a prenatal and he measured at 38 weeks. I went 2 weeks past my due date and at my 42 week prenatal she measured him and he measured 2 weeks ahead. At this point she stated that I may want to think about doing some natural inductions as the baby was getting big and she wanted me to have the chance to birth.

In many ways I felt a little defeated by that idea. It was extremely important to me to not have any intervention especially an induction. I needed to know that I wasn't broken that my body did know how to labor on it's own. In some ways I think mentally I held on to him. I knew where he was he was alive and I was afraid to let that go. I spent that night thinking and asking Allah to make it possible to avoid any type of interventions. I agreed to allow her to check my cervix in the morning (which was something else I wanted to avoid)and then we would discuss where to go from there. As fate would have it after an excellent nights sleep I woke up on Jummah Friday at Fajr( morning prayer for the non-Muslims reading) October 21st 2005. It was also the last ten days of Ramadan which is a very significant spiritual time for Muslims.


I wasn't actually sure I was really in labor until after a couple of hours of contractions. I cannot express to you the amount of relief I felt that labor started on it's own and that intervention wasn't needed. I called the midwife and let her know and a few hours later she was there. We started to fill the birth tub and I just followed my body's cues. I stood up during contractions and moved my hips back and forth. The contractions were pretty regular at 5 minutes apart. I was surrounded by peace and love. I was able to move the way I wanted. No machines tying me to a bed, no one there that I didn't know or didn't care about me as a person. My midwife was like my family. I loved her, enjoyed her company, and trusted her.

After 12 hours of labor or so the contractions were getting a bit more intense. I decided to take a hot shower because I wanted to be in the water but I did not want to get in the birth tub to early and delay labor progress. The shower was comforting and helped me relax a little. At this point I was sitting on the birthing ball for contractions. Shortly after my midwife wanted to get some rest so she asked if it was alright to check me so that she at least knew where I was. I hesitated a lot about that cervical check because I was labelled a failure to progress in my previous labors. I agreed to the check and knew that it would likely be the only one I got. I was about 5-6 cm baby was really low and my cervix was pretty thin. In a lot of ways I felt triumphant. My body DID work. I went into labor on my own and now I have dilated halfway there all on my own. Trusting in nothing but Allah and the perfection of His creation.

The midwife left and I spent a few hours with my then sister-in-law and my doula. I would kind of hang onto one of them while the other applied pressure to my back. Something about my relationship with my midwife is just indescribable. It wasn't long before I just needed her presence there with me. It wasn't that I felt like birth was soon coming. It was that her presence in my labor was overwhelmingly comforting. I refer to her often as my "birth" mother. The type of love and comfort she gave me was unlike anything I had ever experience during a pregnancy. She wasn't just my midwife, my care provider but she was my friend.

It wasn't too much longer after she arrived that I decided to get into the birthing tub. The warm water was exactly what I needed to make labor more manageable. It was probably early in the morning on October 22nd 2005. I honestly had no idea what time it was because the clock was not in my view. And honestly I think it was better that way. I didn't need to be on a time constraint or feel pressured to hurry up and have a baby.

As I entered the transitional stage of labor I began to feel really emotional. I still had that nagging feeling about the heartbeat not being found and got nervous every time she wanted to check his heart-rate, yet every time it was a beautiful healthy sound. I remember sitting on the side of the tub being overcome with silent tears. I don't even know why I was crying other than transition releases a certain type of hormone that may have caused me to be overcome with emotion. Or maybe it was that I was really doing it. I was laboring on my own. I had started to feel a lot of pelvic pressure. I could tell baby was moving lower. I wasn't broken after all. At that moment with tears streaming down my face my midwife came to me and got eye to eye with tears in her eyes and told me that she knew exactly where I was at and that she was with me 100%.

At some point I began to feel really pushy and I am not sure if it was suggested that I get a cervical check or if I asked for one. Either way I got out of the tub in order for her to listen to the baby and check my cervix. The baby sounded great and I was dilated 9.5 cm. I had a small cervical lip so she suggested I wait before trying to push. I got back in the tub and she came to me and said that she didn't want me to be mad at her and she knew that I did not want any interventions but she thought breaking my bag of waters may help get rid of my cervix faster. I was very hesitant to agree and argued even. In the end she made a valid point that breaking my water at 9.5 cm was not the same thing as my water being broken at 1 cm. I was close to giving birth. This was not going to make me a failure to progress. I finally agreed since by this point I was ready to give birth and knew the cervix needed to be moved away.

So I got back out of the tub, water bag was broken, and heart rate was checked again. Again everything was perfect. Everything was going smoothly. My labor had been smooth sailing consistent and progressive. The baby had been perfect the entire time. I still felt like I couldn't wait to birth him so that the feeling I had carried for 10 months would be laid to rest as an unfounded fear. Eventually I got to the point of "ok I have to push I can't fight this feeling any longer." At that point I got out of the tub in order to give birth. I did not want to be in the water for the birth. I needed to be out of the water instinctually.

The rest of this birth story will be continued in the next blog so stay tuned.....

Part Two: The Birth , and Part Three: The Aftermath