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?