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

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Misdiagnosis, Mistreatment, and Breach of Trust. Is Anyone Listening?

My (ex-)husband was in jail for about 8 months so this gave me a lot of time to myself. I had the internet and spent a lot of time reading information regarding c-sections and VBA2C because I knew there was no way in hell that I would ever subject myself to another "unnecesarean". Doing this reading only fueled my anger even more.

The first thing I want to address is regarding my pain from my second pregnancy which I feel was a misdiagnosis. You see the thing with ultrasounds is that there is a level of inaccuracy that occurs. They can be great tools for certain things but in the same breath there is always the potential of a misdiagnosis. They were looking for a kidney stone but I was diagnosed with an "enlarged" spleen, which in turn sent a panic button with the OBs. Well the funny thing is about a week after I got home from the hospital ( so 3 weeks postpartum) I passed a kidney stone. Yes that's right I DID have a kidney stone. So what happened? Was it really a spleen issue or was it a kidney stone? A follow-up appointment revealed a perfectly normal and perfectly healthy spleen. That just seems so odd to me. Oh and the final diagnosis: We don't know why but if this happened once it will happen again!

I am also still full of anger at the way in which I was treated after both births really, but moreso my daughter's birth because I was alone. This seemed to be an invitation to treat me with complete and total disrespect and disregard. I was left at the mercy of a nurse who clearly didn't want to do her job. She wanted to tell me what to do instead of listen to me about my baby. How in the hell are you going to deny a mother her baby when she is asking for her? How are you going to deny the baby her mother when I am quite sure she needed me? Most babies nurse every 2-4 hours in the beginning. ( for my jaundiced baby she NEEDED to nurse every 2 hours) She "let" me see and nurse my baby 4 hours after the birth which was about 10pm. She came back and said I couldn't keep her in my room because I couldn't walk around yet. Had it not been for the thought of "how will I change her diaper when needed?" I would have never  handed her over. I assumed that if I called the nurse telling her to let me feed my baby she would bring her back.

I did call her about 12:30 am. I guess because she assumed that I must have needed something for myself she showed up. When I told her that I needed to feed my baby because she was already getting yellow and I wanted to avoid a NICU stay she chuckled at me and said "well she is sleeping and you should get some sleep too" and turned around and left. Are you freaking kidding me? This woman just refused to give me my baby? Why? I called every 2 hours for the nurse. She never came back. And I didn't see my baby until 9 am the next morning after shift change was done. That is right folks my newborn baby went 11 hours without a feeding because some asshole nurse wouldn't bring me my baby. ( and my daughter refused bottles of any kind so I know she had nothing the entire night) Great so now not only did she not listen to me about my daughter getting jaundice already and needing the be under lights, she also refused to bring her to me so that I could nurse her which is another crucial component of fighting off jaundice. So now my daughter has to undergo a procedure that quite possibly could have been avoided entirely if someone would have just listened to me. I even mentioned in the OR that someone needed to call the pediatrician and get her a blood test to see if she was B+ or not.

Then I began to think about how they almost did the exact same thing with my son. They took him away from me at 9pm to "do their evaluations" on him, whatever that meant. I never saw him again until the next day. So once again I spent an entire night asking a nurse where my baby was and not getting any answers. The next morning they bring him to me so I can nurse him after having deprived him an entire night's worth of milk. They then tell me he is jaundiced and it's concerning because it is so early and that I can no longer nurse him he has to be under lights 24/7 and I will just have to pump oh and give him formula because you know BM just isn't enough.

My issue was the lack of communication and lack of response to my and my baby's needs. This only makes me have no faith and no trust of medical professionals. You don't take a baby away from it's mother and not give an explanation. You don't ignore a mother's pleas to bring her baby to her. This is just beyond wrong.

So it wasn't just my births and the way they were handled. It was the whole entire experience from the labor until the discharge from the hospital. They don't listen to you, they don't care about you as a person, and they don't respect you. Was this really what I wanted to deal with every time I had a baby????

It wasn't long after my (ex-)husband was released before I found myself pregnant again. This time I was going to be armed with information. I made an appointment with the VBAC-"friendly" doctor in the hopes that I would be given the chance to VBA2C. I wasn't really aware of any other options in my area other than an OB. So at that moment I felt stuck but I had done my research (thanks to ICAN-online) and I knew the risks of VBA2C before ever speaking to her. She essentially told me that she couldn't "let" me do that and that not only was I going to have a 3rd c-section but she was going to tie my tubes while she was in there. Excuse me? What did you just say?  Maybe you didn't hear me. I am not having a c-section I am planning to VBA2C. I ended up removing myself from her care and found a homebirth midwife. ( That's a new blog I will post soon)

The point is once you are not listened to, mistreated, misdiagnosed, and trust is broken there isn't really a way to come back from that. I am not going to deny  that I have no faith or trust in Obstetrics as a whole. While I truly believe there are some OBs that do the right things and support women the way they should be in birth, they unfortunately are the minority.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Failed VBAC and My New Lack of Confidence in the Medical Establishment

My first born was only 3 months old and I think I had only just begun to pick myself up from my surgical birth. I had light spotting but figured my body was just off since I was exclusively breastfeeding.  My  (now ex-) husband was convinced I was pregnant so I took a test to prove him wrong. OMG there was a faint line and I was shaking. I told him to go buy a digital test because I wasn't sure what I was seeing was real. He did and it said "pregnant". I am not going to lie, I was devastated. Our marriage was even worse now that a baby was in the mix and now we are going to add a new one.(Note:  I want to say before I go further that while my initial reaction was not positive I could not be happier than I am right now to have my daughter in my life.)

I had grown to like one particular OB at the office where I was and thought she was pretty pro-VBAC. She had had a vaginal birth and then a c-section so she understood the difference and seemed pretty supportive of my desire to VBAC. They were going to monitor me for pre-eclampsia real closely since that was an issue in my previous pregnancy.

This pregnancy seemed to go a lot smoother than the last one and I had no issues of any kind. Late in  my 7th month, my (ex)husband was arrested on drug charges and assault on an officer charges. I was shocked. I couldn't believe that he would do such a thing and was pretty blind to his bad habits in all honesty. This particular thing had me extremely stressed out because I was not working, had a baby at home already and a baby on the way. How was I supposed to take care of all of us? This stress eventually took it's toll on my body.

At 38 weeks I started having severe pains in my upper left side. I went to L/D and they diagnosed me with a urinary tract infection, gave me a shot of antibiotics and sent me home. I felt better for a day or so and then the pain was so bad I could hardly move. I was admitted to the hospital and given percosets for the pain and waited for an ultrasound which they were using to see if maybe I had a kidney stone. They said they couldn't see one but I may still have one. It's hard to tell 9 months pregnant since organs get pushed around a bit. But they did say my spleen was enlarged. (Now everyone is in panic mode) The pro-VBAC doc came to see me and her  opinion was that I was getting pre-eclampsia and that I should let her induce me because I have a better chance at VBAC with her. ( her words)

I stupidly agreed to the induction partly because I knew she was probably right, she was my only hope for VBAC. I was only 1 cm dilated and her idea of inducing me was to break my water and see what happened and then if nothing happened put me on a low dose of pitocin. I ended up getting an epidural pretty early in my labor because my side was hurting so bad. I just wanted some relief from that alone.

So she was pretty consistent about checking my cervix on the regular, like every 2 hours or so. I dilated to 5 cm baby was low but I started getting a fever. Not only did I start having a fever but my daughter did not like the pitocin at all and when it was on her heart-rate took a while to recover after contractions. Once it was apparent that I had an infection and she was not tolerating labor anymore the decision was made to have an emergency c-section.

Overall the surgery was less uncomfortable than my first time. It also didn't take anywhere near as long to complete. While in there I got a classic "we saved you" line from the doctor when she said "You're uterus is really thin." and " the cord was wrapped around her neck a few times". Congratulations! We saved you and your baby!  I really wasn't sure how I felt about those two comments at the time I just wanted to get to my baby.  She weighed 7 lbs 12 oz. and the pro-VBAC doctor basically told me I just wasn't  "made" to give birth.

I repeatedly requested to see her and hold her while in recovery so that I could nurse her. Especially after they told me she would not take a bottle of sugar water ( why they were giving it to her I have no idea). Well she doesn't want that she wants mommy milk uggggh. It was still a good 4 hours before I was able to see her and so this made it about 10pm. My mother had to go home and so I was there alone.

Now my first baby had ABO incompatibility which caused him to have severe jaundice and anemia. He had to get an exchange blood transfusion twice and spent almost a week in the hospital after he was born. I knew this was something I had to watch for in my new baby girl and was told by my pediatrician's office to request an immediate blood test after the baby was born. The minute I saw her I knew she had it because she was already yellowing in the face and eyes. I asked the nurse to call my pediatrician to request a blood test and bilirubin level. She acted like I was off my rocker and refused to do so. She said they would just watch her and probably check her in the morning.

The thing with this kind of jaundice is the quicker you get them under lights and the more you nurse them the less likely a blood transfusion would be necessary. I was not "allowed" to keep her in my room since I had a c-section and I was alone. I called my nurse two hours after my first feeding with my daughter and told her I want my baby so I can feed her. This woman had the nerve to tell me that she was sleeping and that I should get some sleep too. OMG if I could have gotten out of bed myself I would have. Babies with jaundice are always way more sleepy than a baby without. I repeatedly all night long requested to have my baby brought to me so that I could nurse her. I did not see my baby again until 9 am the next morning. By 10am her bilirubin was finally checked and was I think about 18 or so. At this point they were admitting her into the NICU for an exchange transfusion "just to be safe".

Well she was no where near as sick as my oldest had gotten and was an awesome nurser and peed and pooped and recovered from the jaundice quite well. Only problem? She got a staph infection from the procedure. FANTASTIC. So now I have to leave my almost one year old for another 2 weeks so I can stay in the hospital while my baby girl gets IV antibiotics for a totally preventable problem.

Adding to this I am now processing BOTH c-section births that I never thought I would have. I began to question my first one being necessary because I was dilated the same amount the second time as I "supposedly" was the  first time. Only the second time my vagina was not swollen, I did not have any pressure in my pelvis like the first time, and the c-section took a lot less time to do than the first time. What the heck really happened? Not to mention I am really not buying this whole narrow pelvis  bit. My mother birthed 8+ lb babies, there was no reason I couldn't do it in my mind. Then I thought about the induction and how I had read VBACs really shouldn't even be induced to begin with and wondered if the induction itself caused the "emergent" c-section.

Thus my confidence in the medical community diminished significantly. Why do they never listen to the mother? Why is it that we can never be "right" about something when it comes to either our bodies or our children? This time I wasn't broken. This time I was pissed off.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Coulda, shoulda, woulda......

It's cliche but, man if I knew then what I know now the outcome of my first birth experience would have been so different.

I sometimes think back and felt like I totally lost who I was during that pregnancy and birth. Prior to becoming Muslim, I was the total all-natural, no medicine, no intervention type of girl. I don't know what happened to me other than going from a non-Muslim way of life to a Muslim way of life was a big change. It probably also didn't help that my marriage wasn't exactly peaches and cream. (This plays an important role when it comes to birth).

Some of the things I wish I would have known back then?

1- That my high blood pressure was not pre-eclampsia and quite possibly could have been stress-induced(bad marriage), diet induced( not enough protein too much carbs) and spine related (my neck is out of line causing a nerve to be pinched which raises my blood pressure and causes migraines).

2- That I had the right to refuse an induction, especially since I was already contracting and dilating on my own.

3- That I could have eaten regardless of the "rules". Who the heck does any kind of physically exhausting activity on an empty stomach?

4- That there are ways to help a posterior baby get out of that position prior to labor as well as during labor.

5- That posterior labors are much longer than non-posterior labors.

6- That my body worked, it was not broken.

7-That scare tactics are just that..scare tactics. Just because the doctors state your perfectly healthy baby that has not had a single sign of distress WILL eventually be distressed doesn't make it so.

In all honestly it took a few more births to even remotely appreciate some of these things that I "wish I knew" back then. One thing was for sure I knew that the next time I got pregnant I would without a doubt attempt a VBAC. However, I wasn't prepared to do it so soon after my first one. That's a new blog post tho....

Sunday, October 16, 2011


 The year 2002, I was a new Muslim, new wife to someone I barely knew, and newly pregnant. So many things were new at the time. The only thing I was sure of was that I wanted a natural childbirth. I mean my mom did it so why couldn't I? I was also a huge believer that Allah created us perfectly and that our bodies were made to do this thing called birth.

Initially I wanted a midwife, I didn't even know what they were I just knew someone that used one and it seemed like it was up my alley of "natural". For whatever reason though, I let my sister in law talk me into to going to the OB office that she used for her first baby. I was naive and young and this was my first time so I listened to her and booked my appointment. This may have been a mistake but in the same breath it is what has brought me here where I am and was obviously part of Allah's plan for me.

Like many newly pregnant moms,  I was obsessed with watching all shows birth related on TV. What I noticed was almost all of them ended up with c-sections and there was almost always some kind of panic button hit at some point and then "whew" the doctors "save" the baby. This was all I saw on TV. But I for sure felt like that would never be me. I would not have a c-section. Heck I didn't even want pain meds.

As far as the OB care was concerned, there were some doctors I liked better than others. Some were more personal than others but it always seemed like I spent more time waiting to see them than I did actually conversing with them. But I just thought this was how it was so I just dealt with it.

At around 30 weeks I started having blood pressure issues. The numbers slowly started to creep up to about 130/90. They of course got really concerned about pre-eclampsia and since I had seen this mentioned on TV it got me in the frame of mind of "be afraid". I did a 24 hour urine test I think at about 33 weeks or so and it came back totally normal. Not a single sign of pre-eclampsia. I was immediately labelled as "high risk" however once my blood pressure was up. I was given a stress test on the baby I think about 35 weeks and then also an ultrasound which estimated my baby to be 7 lbs already! So now not only am I high risk but I am going to have a huge baby too.

I did the 24 hour urine test again and some lab work that they said made them want to induce me at 37 weeks. It was my first baby and I was naive and like heck yeah let's have a baby! I was excited to become a mom so in my mind the sooner the better. I was to have one more visit before my induction that was initially scheduled for a Friday.

The night before my appointment I was feeling a lot of contractions and I had already lost my mucous plug the week before. I was so excited I don't think I slept at all. My contractions continued into the morning and I started to wonder was I in labor already??? I got to my appointment and my blood pressure was up so they decided we are not waiting until Friday you are going to the hospital today to be induced now. They wanted to check my cervix before sending me there to see where they needed to start the induction. I was already 50% effaced and 2 cm dilated and baby was at 0 station.

I went straight to the hospital and walked through the parking lot contracting still. I remember starving too. I was soo hungry but they told me I couldn't eat. Once I was checked in and in a room they checked my cervix again and I was already 4 cm in just that little bit of time. I was also having contractions on my own. By all definitions I was already IN labor. However they determined I wasn't in labor "enough" and decided to induce me anyway. So the pitocin was started.

I was so hungry my head hurt but when I told them that they were convinced that I was on the verge of a pre-eclamptic seizure. I was hungry the headache didn't have a single thing to do with my blood pressure. Anyway they wouldn't let me sit upright they wouldn't let me stand up, all I was allowed to do was lay there.

Once the doctor came in to check on me she stated that I was 6 cm and then threw in there that my pelvis was really narrow. She also said the baby was in a posterior position and already began the breakdown of my confidence. At this point I was having 10 minute long contractions with a small 30 second break. I was in agony. With a posterior baby I felt like my back was going to crack in half at any moment. I finally agreed to get some stadol to take the edge off. It did nothing but make me feel high and drunk at the same time. It was an awful feeling. Once it wore off I begged for an epidural and I was told once again that my pelvis was narrow and the baby was probably very large and I may need to think about the possibility of a c-section.

Ugh.... That was the one thing I did not want. I have had major abdominal surgery twice in my life ( appendectomy) and I KNOW what it is like to recover from and I did not want to do that while caring for a new baby. I declined the offer and got some much needed sleep. At about 3-4 am she came and checked me again and said I was still 6 cm. I thought no way. I felt so much pressure that I could not believe that I was only 6. She basically said that she didn't think baby was coming out vaginally because he was big, my pelvis was narrow and I have had no progress. She then said I will end up with a c-section either way and it was up to me whether I wanted to have it now or wait until he goes into distress. None of the people there with me were in my corner. They all thought I should get a c-section. And well of course I don't want to endanger my baby so I agreed to the c-section.

He was born a little after 5 am . The surgery was so uncomfortable. After the baby was taken out I felt like I couldn't breathe. I was crying which wasn't helping me breathe either. I was also alone in the OR with no one around that I knew. It took what seemed like forever for them to stitch me up. I was wheeled to a cold empty recovery room where I was in an extreme amount of pain. I think I was given two shots of morphine while there and then with all the pain they wanted to also push on my uterus. I thought I would die of pain right there. I asked for my mother or my husband and they said neither were allowed to come. So I sat there in pain alone.

I was finally taken up to my room and I still had not held my baby yet. In fact it was 5 hours after he was born before I got a chance to hold and nurse my newborn.My first what the heck moment was when I found out he weighed only 6 lbs 11 oz. He was tiny! A far cry from the huge baby that would never fit BS I was fed. The next what the heck moment was the nurse who checked my incision and lady parts the first time after and asked me "How long did you push? You are awfully swollen." I was kind of pissed off she asked me that and I told her I never even got the chance to push. But now I am wondering why am I swollen down there?

I spent a week in the hospital between me and my infection and my son's ABO incompatibilty issue. I never really had the opportunity to process what had happened while I was there. I really just wanted to get out of there. Once I got back home I remember feeling like this was just a nightmare. What on Earth just occurred? I didn't feel like I gave birth. I emotionally felt like I wanted a retake so I could do this all over again differently. I was depressed. Really depressed. I felt robbed. I felt anger. I felt lied to. I felt like I was broken and the only thing that would fix me was a different birth outcome.

Friday, October 14, 2011

New to blogging

Although I have been one to always write about how I feel, I have never taken the time to start a blog. I am doing this somewhat as a form of therapy as I have a lot of things that I need to resolve to prepare myself to give birth once again.

A little bit about my birthing history, my first baby was born at 37 weeks via c-section after an induction. I was labelled as a failure to progress after less than 24 hours in induced labor. I was told my pelvis was too narrow and my baby would be huge and is probably never going to fit. He was born weighing a whopping 6 lbs 11 oz.

My second baby was an attempt at VBAC(vaginal birth after c-section) which also ended up being an emergency c-section after I got an infection and my daughter began to show signs of distress. I was told once again that my pelvis was just not made to give birth. She weighed 7 lbs 12 oz.

My third baby I was determined to avoid a c-section. From the minute I found out I was pregnant i just knew that this baby wasn't going to stay with me, so when the OB said "Not only am I giving you a third c-section but I am tying your tubes while I am in there"  a wave of terror came over me. I knew I wanted more children. I knew if this baby didn't make it I would be devastated to never be able to have another. So I looked for other options. I found one that seemed to almost fall into my lap perfectly. I chose to have a homebirth VBA2C(vaginal birth after 2 c-sections). While the labor was amazingly beautiful and nothing short of spiritual, my intuition was right. The baby didn't stay with me.  ( I will make a blog just for that later on.) I will say though that he weighed 11 lbs born vaginally. (no that is not a typo)

My 4th baby I planned a homebirth again despite losing my last baby. I knew that I would never get the kind of birth I wanted in a hospital. I apparently didn't do a good job of preparing my mind for labor and the fear of "what if" was so terribly strong that I fought labor every inch of the way. When it was apparent my body wanted to birth and my mind wouldn't let me, I made the decision to transfer for a hospital birth with an epidural. I refused consent for a c-section and fought with everything in me to make sure I was able to have a VBA2C birth. Everything went well and I gave birth via VBA2C to a 9 lb baby boy.

My last baby I again planned another homebirth. I thought that I was over the fear of what ifs and never had any intention of transferring. That is until I stalled out at 7 cm for who knows how long. I was in labor for 33 hours before transferring to the hospital for an epidural due to exhaustion. I labored there another 29 hours before giving birth. I had to once again fight off the pressure to have a repeat c-section. She was born complication free via VBA2C weighing 8 lbs 11 oz.

Which leads me to where I am now, pregnant again. I want a homebirth again. I need to have a peaceful homebirth without the dramatic ending. But I have a lot of things that I need to get out and deal with so that I can get back to that place of trusting birth, trusting myself, and trusting the Creator.