Monday, October 22, 2012

7 years of this neverending journey in grief

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 10, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Controversy and My Infant Loss

I have been really trying to recover from my most recent birth which was without a doubt the most traumatic one I have ever experienced. While in the midst of adjusting to a new life in the house, recovering both mentally and physically from another unnecessary c-section someone from a message board I frequented linked my loss story on Amy Tutuer's blog.  If you don't know who she is, she is an ex-OB who has made it her life's goal to trash any woman who wants to homebirth. In the process of doing so she  posts extremely hurtful and damaging posts about women who have lost babies under the guise of trying to show homebirth as risky. I personally think she has some real mental issues. That is the only thing that can explain how a human being could be so cold and callous about such a sensitive topic. Her followers are almost just as vicious as her when it comes to the degradation of moms that have had out of hospital losses.

I am writing this blog for a few reasons, one I want to clarify some things that were stated about my loss story from some of those lurkers and two I want to explain how damaging this behavior can be to women that are grieving.

Someone left a comment on my blog post about my loss that I didn't approve because I honestly did not have the mental energy to deal with any more negativity. I was fighting postpartum depression hard at that time and the last thing I needed was to be trashed once again over my loss. This is the post that I am referring to:  This was the comment that I didn't approve that I would like to address:
"My placenta had not detached yet and the paramedics were clueless about what to do."

Michelle, look at this statement for a moment. You wished that the paramedics were trained birth attendants. Throughout the rest of your experience, you believed that you could birth perfectly on your own, that Allah's perfection creation meant that nothing could go wrong or that if it did it was pre-ordained, and that your midwife's education and your intuition was as good as was needed. But the paramedics not knowing everything about birth was seen to you as a problem. What was that about for you? Why did you want them to know how to save your child and mend your body? Can you imagine for a moment why most women chose to give birth in a hospital with extremely well-trained people at their side? In other countries, as soon as this is available to them, why women wnat this to increase their baby's chance of survival? It seems that in your subconscious wish to be angry at someone, the paramedics fit the bill (part of the system, not someone you chose). Yet in your statement above you reveal a deep contradiction. Either someone can or cannot be adequately trained in birthing children. Either their training does or does not make a difference in your and your child's health. Which was it?
I do not have the name of the poster anymore but I want to address this. First of all I was taken completely out of context regarding my emotions that related to the aftermath. I had already done enough research to know that the placenta does not always come out immediately following birth so I was never concerned about it. Also just looking in hindsight and using my common sense about how our bodies are it is entirely likely that  my body knew I had a distressed baby and the placenta stayed attached to give said baby more oxygen. I don't have any studies on hand and because I am not trying to preach to other people about their births I don't find it necessary to provide anything else. This is how *I* feel about *my* birth.

Secondly, I did not "wish that the paramedics were trained birth attendants". I had a midwife there already. Clearly this person missed that part of my post where I stated the police made EVERYONE including MY FAMILY leave the room except for the paramedics and my ex-husband. I was also upset at the mere unprofessional-ism of the paramedics and this was without regard to why we called them. It took them over thirty minutes to get to my house. There was an ambulance station less than 5 miles from where I lived. When they arrived they told my family at the door that they GOT LOST. What if one of my children was choking? Or having a seizure? Or if a family member was having a stroke? Thirty minutes to respond to an emergency in an extremely small town on a road right of the main road was not professional AT ALL. This wasn't misplaced anger. Any person in their right mind could see that that is just not acceptable for an emergency crew. The police and a volunteer EMT had no issue getting to my house in less than 10 minutes, however neither of them assisted at all. They stood there and stared and wondered where the ambulance was.

Thirdly I want to address my religious beliefs. Allah is Perfect. Allah's the Best of Planners. Allah knows what I don't. You cannot and will not take that away from me because you don't agree. Belief in the divine per-ordainment is a fundamental belief system for any Muslim. I cannot say I am Muslim and then disbelieve that what is written to occur will occur no matter what I do.  Death is not the end for any of us and we will ALL see death at any age from within the womb to birth to 100 years old and anywhere in between. I always find it interesting that people want to attack me for being at peace with my loss. My religion is the reason why I am at peace. So I guess now the idea is to attack me and my religious belief system. Yes Allah took a son away from me before I was able to spend time with him. But He gave me 3 more sons and 2 daughters that I can love and raise and enjoy their life as long as they or I live. I am not going to be unappreciative of what I have been given by dwelling on what I lost. Because  even my loss was a gain.
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).’”

Lastly I want to address something that affects other loss mothers as well as myself. You don't have to agree with how I deal with my loss. You don't have to like how my loss occurred. But for the love of humanity please stop attacking loss mothers. None of us wanted our babies to die.Don't believe the hype. None of us set out with a goal of having a certain type of birth at the expense of our child's life. Please consider what you are doing by tormenting women who have had very much so wanted babies leave earth too soon. Babies (and people in general) can die at anytime and in any place. I am not advocating for anything other than my own personal birthing rights. My loss did not and will never affect your life at all. If you are scouring the internet looking for your next victim to bash keep in mind that severe depression has the potential to lead  to suicide and your bully tactics against freshly grieving mothers may be what pushes a person over that edge. Stop pretending that you are doing it out of concern. You are not doing it out of concern if your tactics include tormenting loss moms who may or may not have other children they need to be present for. You can't pass off hate for love..

In closing I already know that someone will make a snarky comment about me stating that my recent birth was more traumatic than my loss. I have struggled with that feeling enough these last few months and I do not need or want your input on how crappy I am for feeling that way. The same way you were not present during my homebirth loss is the same way you were not present during my nightmare birth so please do not attempt to psychologically analyze me over the interwebz. I would prefer not to have someone who graduated from Google evaluate me, thanks.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

What licensure and regulation really means for people like me.

(This is my most recent birth story)

I had intentions before the birth of my son to write a post on the disadvantages of regulating birth. In fact I started a post more than once and just never finished it. I will say first that I am not against having a place for midwives to answer to if they give less than optimal care or if there is negligence. The issue I was most concerned about was that this would eventually leave many without alternative options. I really don't care what others feel about anything related to birth, just don't take my rights to choose away from me because as in the words of Bob Marley " My rights is my rights. Just like my life" No one should have the right to tell me who with and where I am allowed to give birth. If I make an informed and educated decision to VBA2C at home, it's my right and I am the one who lives with that choice no matter the outcome. What is already happening is women are losing the right to home-birth with a qualified provider. This means one third of the population of birthing women lose the right to an alternative option after many had already lost the right to VBAC in hospitals  due to bans on VBAC. We are forcing women to choose between an underground midwife (who will let them have the birth they want) or unassisted birth (which carries its own risks) and an unnecessary surgical birth which carries long term risk factors for both mother and future babies. How is this really making birth safer?

I had started this blog to prepare myself for the birth of my 6th baby which was intended to be a homebirth VBA2C with a certified nurse midwife. I had already used her before. In fact I used her for my last birth in October 2010. I knew after my first visit with her that the birth environment had changed and was hot and heavy with politics. In my state, certified professional midwives are trying to get legal which in turn has caused tons of microscopic views on the certified nurse midwives legally attending births at home. It was so hot that she told me that no one thought it was a good idea for her to attend my birth and that they were citing studies about uterine rupture being higher when there is less than two years between births. The only problem with that was this study they were citing was referring to the time between c-section and primary VBAC it was NOT talking about time between VBACs. It was irrelevant to my situation since my last c-section had been 7.5 years earlier and my last three births were VBA2Cs. The study that WAS relevant to me was that my personal rupture rate factor was lower this time than my primary VBA2C. Basically what it boiled down to is that I had to fight for my right to homebirth from the very beginning.

It didn't stop there it was almost every single visit there was a new consent tailored to me for me to sign. There was always something. I was the center of controversy over ONE birth where my baby died unrelated to the birth or the birth place. Everyone wants to focus on that ONE birth instead of looking at the bigger picture that I have had 2 more babies vaginally since my loss and neither were complicated births. It was becoming apparent that decisions were starting to be made based off of fear rather than facts. I was confident that all would be okay though and intended to advocate for our rights as women once my birth was finished.

The week before I was due I saw on a birth group on facebook that a different lady in my state had been dropped by her midwife two days before her due date and merely hours before labor started. She was lucky in that she already had back up care for a hospital birth. This news though sent chills through my spine because it had been one of my biggest fears, that I would lose my right to homebirth and be forced to go to the one place I wanted to avoid, the hospital. I had a prenatal appointment on May 16th and planned to ask what was happening because I knew that only a few CNMs were still attending VBAC homebirths and if this lady just got dropped what will that mean for me.

I got to my appointment and it was the first thing I asked about. It was true. All the CNMs were no longer attending VBAC homebirth. However because I had already had several VBA2Cs my midwife intended to keep me because I already had a proven pelvis and a proven scar. I was a little relieved but everything still felt "dark" I guess was the only way to describe it. I got my membranes swept and found that I was 3-4 cm dilated and 75% effaced. Within minutes of leaving her office I started having some strong contractions. I was anxious to hurry up and have this baby because I knew the political environment was getting really bad and I was tired of being a part of it. My world crashed in on me that night when my midwife called. I knew when I saw her number that it was bad news. My heart sank. Just as I suspected she told me that she would be unable to attend my birth and gave me a couple of options to consider. I was devastated. Everything I had prepared for and looked forward to was gone completely. I probably cried for a few hours over it. My dream of a peaceful homebirth was shattered. I was so upset. I didn't go to sleep until late. I knew labor was close I could feel it and now I have to hurry up and change all of my plans around and my whole mindset. I wasn't prepared for a hospital fight. I was prepared to avoid it. I was prepared for a homebirth. All of my affirmations were tailored for home not the hospital.

The next morning I was up early because I couldn't sleep. I was sick over what the future held for me. I had a bad feeling about it and was really worried that this birth was not going to be anything like what I had envisioned. I called my midwife and was able to get some doula information from her. I knew I needed support because I understood that your surroundings and environment in birth can hinder or help you. This was such a crash test kind of moment because the doula and I had never had a single conversation about what I wanted, she had never met my husband, and I had to do a crash and burn birth plan on the fly. Nothing was organized. I talked to her on the phone for almost an hour and set an appointment for the following day for my husband to meet her and for all of us to go over the birth plan. I packed my hospital bag and sent her my birth plan via email for her to look over so we could edit it the next day as needed.

By this time it was probably close to 6 pm and my husband was cooking dinner. I had been having irregular contractions all day but around this time I began to feel really odd. I started getting kind of shaky so I took my blood sugar to see what it was. It was 79 which wasn't low enough to make me shaky but I figured I should eat something  since it was under 80. I got up and ate a couple of strawberries and some peanut butter. I sat back at my desk had a contraction and when it was finished I sat back in the chair.  I felt a gush of fluid but since the end of pregnancy is full of those moments and my water had never broken on it's own to begin labor I wasn't sure if that was it but figured I should go check. When I stood up I felt more fluid gush and it got my pants wet. I went to the bathroom pulled my pants down and sat on the toilet and the flood waters flowed. I thought it would never stop. There wasn't a question as to whether or not my water had broken. Crap..... I wasn't ready. I was NOT ready. I called my son and told him to get my husband. I told my husband my water just broke and that I needed some clean underwear, pants, and a pad and also to bring me my phone. I called the babysitter, my doula, and my midwife to get my records to take to the hospital. It looked like there was meconium in the water so this freaked me out. This is that first moment where I say I would have stayed home a lot longer if there had not been meconium present.

So here I am, in labor with little to no sleep and have yet to eat dinner but I don't have time to wait and eat because there is meconium and my contractions were already 3-5 minutes apart. My husband also was tired because he had been up early and worked all day.  Neither one of us were ready.

We arrive at the hospital, I am contracting every 3-5 minutes, water is gushing still. I get checked in triage they confirm there is light meconium staining, I am 5 cm dilated, 100% effaced baby is at 0 station and she is unable to push him out of my pelvis. So it's official I am having a baby. I was extremely nervous though because this was not what I had prepared for. I gave my birth plan to them which included things like I do not want to be pressured to augment because my labors are usually long but my body will do what is necessary to birth my baby. I wanted to be able to use the shower for pain management, wanted intermittent fetal monitoring and several other things. We got moved to a room and the work began.

At first I thought I was going to be ok. The OB on call was actually a midwife first and the nurse was great. The first 12 hours of labor I was left alone for the most part ( I got there right at shift change) There was one time when I was asked to be checked to make sure I wasn't close to birth because they had to go do a c-section. I think I was 6-7 cm at that time. Contractions were getting more intense and I was having a lot of pain in my left hip not to mention I was also really tired and out of energy since I had not eaten a good meal or gotten a lot of sleep prior to labor starting. This was one of those kind of labors where laying down or sitting was not an option for me. This took a lot of energy to stand up every 3-5 minutes and work through a contraction for a minute or more each time. I was also starting to feel a lot of pressure with my contractions and I guess I either sounded that way or the way my contractions appeared on the monitor seemed to indicated transition was occurring. The midwife/OB asked to check me because it sounded like I was bearing down. I agreed to let her check me and I was 8 cm. At this point I really wanted to use the water. Here is another "wish I could have" moment. Had I been at home this would have been the time I got into the birth tub which would have had several advantages such as helping to relax me, offering counter-pressure from the water, allowing me to be lighter on my feet so that while being upright during contractions I would not have had to exude as much strength to hold my own body weight. It would have been easier to move just all kinds of things. Unfortunately I didn't have this option. All I had was a shower and at that point I decided I wanted to use it. We got the ok about 12 hours after labor began to use the shower. I got in at about 6:30 am or so had about three or four contractions before they came back into the room asking me to get out. I was like are you serious???? I just got in here. I was told they wanted me on the fetal monitor for at least an hour before they would let me back in. Never-mind the fact that they had a hand held doppler they could have listened to the baby with coupled with the fact that they already had TWELVE hours of me on the fetal monitor. It was bullshit. I got out and it was way too much trouble to get in and out ( with the tube top thing for the monitors having to be taken off and put back on) so the option to use the shower was now out. ( I want to add a note here also that the clocks in the room were going crazy, like horror movie crazy, time would be at a stand still one minute and then the next they would be spinning out of control)

This is the point where my birth plan along with my birth essentially went to hell.  When the 7 am shift came on their entire goal was to get me to consent to a c-section. One of the residents on the floor was the same one I met in triage during my last homebirth transfer. She was also one of the ones who kept pressuring me that time to consent to a c-section. I had asked that I not have a lot of cervical checks since my water was broken. I had just been checked so I found no reason for them to check me again yet they asked to anyway. I was then also told that I stall out at this dilation and that they recommend a c-section. This really pisses me off here because ACOG updated it's recommendation for VBA2C a couple years ago stating if the woman is a good candidate she should be given the option to have a trial of labor. How much better of a candidate can I get having already had 3 VBA2C births????? Again they are stuck on that ONE birth where I had a big baby that was 2 weeks late and uncontrolled gestational diabetes. Completely ignoring the fact that my other vba2cs were not only not 42 weekers but were also much smaller babies.

Anyway, I am starting to get extremely tired of holding my body weight up with every contraction and no other positioning was comfortable. At 9:45 am I made the decision to get an epidural because I knew that there was no way I could finish this birth as tired as I was and as hungry as I was. And the in and out of hospital staff in my room made it nearly impossible to eat anything other than light snacks ( I needed a freaking meal). Up until that point I was not connected to an IV line. I only had a heplock in place. I was connected to an IV line and within a few minutes I started having tectonic contractions. I had like 10 minutes worth of back to back contractions. I have no way of proving this but I am 1000% convinced that someone put a shot of pitocin in my IV. The only time I have EVER had those kinds of contractions was when synthetic oxytocin was put in my system. Because my body labors irregular pitocin makes it go spastic. I was asking what was happening and why was I not getting any breaks from the contractions. ( remember I am tired and have to stand through my contractions) This was completely off the wall and abnormal and came out of no where. It took over an hour for someone to come give me the epidural which I found to be an excessively long time. I finally get the epidural  at 11:00am and of course my contractions slow down and I try to sleep.I know how my body labors and I knew I needed rest so I was trying to get just that.

After an hour or so the resident comes in and again starts pressuring me about augmentation and c-section and says my contractions are not close enough and I refused both. She then kept coming in my room almost every hour saying the same thing. Then she comes and is trying to mess with the fetal monitor. When my epidural was put in place the tube top that holds the monitors in place was left up on my back. The resident went to pull it down and my doula told her it was stuck to my epidural glue and she said "that's ok" and then snatched it down. Within an hour or so all feeling came back in my body. The epidural was not working at all and I was in extreme pain laying in the bed ( remember I said these were the kind of contractions that made lying down or sitting extremely painful). At this point I want to mention that I got my medical records for this birth last week so I will note things marked on my chart from nurses and anesthesiologists.

At 3:52pm anesthesia was called to my room because the epidural was not working at all. My legs were not tingly at all. He comes in looks at the epidural line, puts some kind of medicine in ( benzocaine I think) and then adds more medicine into the epidural bag. He sits down and they force me to lay on my back ( can I just say I was dying from how painful this was) I am supposed to be waiting for the medicine to start working. I kept pleading with them asking when it was supposed to take affect. They said I had to wait 15 minutes.  I wasn't feeling much of a difference. He asked me if I could feel a difference in my legs. I said not really but my right leg felt more tingly than my left. I could still lift my legs though and was still having extreme amounts of pain in my left side. He stood up said he had proven the epidural was in place and that it was working and that his job there was done and he walked out. ( I want to mention here that in my records he stated that I said my leg was heavy and that was not what I said. I was visibly still lifting my legs in the air without a problem and verbally in pain from the contractions when he left the room. He never verified and never came back to make sure it was working. Also he notated on my records that the epidural HAD SLIPPED at least 1-2 cm)

At that point I am asked to lean to my left side for the medicine to go to that side. Only thing is it wasn't doing anything and was causing me an extreme amount of pain. At some point during this, the same resident came back in and told me that my contractions were too irregular and that if I didn't agree to let them augment my labor that I would be removed from labor and delivery. Said to me while I was in the middle of a contraction and clearly in labor.... She left the room and I asked my doula if she had really just threatened to remove me if I didn't comply??? My doula said that is what it sounded like. From this point on I constantly asked why the epidural wasn't working and asked the nurse several times to please tell them to replace it. The nurse I had at that time did not notate on my records anything during her shift so I am not sure if she ever called them or if they ever came to my room again while she was on shift. What I do know is that I requested it every time she came in the room.

At about 5pm she requested to check me because she thought I was more dilated ( in retrospect I think she knew what was coming and was really was trying to help me hurry up and have the baby because she already knew I was in a hostile environment)  she stated I had blood in my urine and that it usually means the baby is lower down and putting more pressure on my urethra. For whatever reason she convinced me to agree. I already was starting to feel like this was getting ugly. She checked me and I was 9 cm with an anterior lip of cervix. I always have an anterior lip at this point in labor and usually just have to wait it out and wait for the urge to push. The baby will usually come down on their own and everything flows pretty fast after that. At this point though I had no urge to push nor did I have the energy. She asked if she could try pushing the lip out of the way so I could push but my contractions were 10 minutes apart ( in retrospect I think this was the transitional part of moving from transition to pushing where your body gives you a break to rest before pushing begins. ) This coached pushing really messed up my flow though. It took me out of the groove I had been in. Anyway I tried to push with her for the two hours she had left on her shift ( the fact that she stayed in my room that long also indicates to me she was well aware of the hostility happening regarding me) I was unable to get him past the lip. However due to me trying to push, now I do have the desire to push. Now it feels better to push than to not push. However I already know the consequences could mean that my cervix will start swelling unless I can labor down and get some rest. When the next shift came on I begged again for them to fix my epidural. They were contacted at 8:10 pm but no one came to my room they gave a verbal order to just add more medicine to the epidural bag. When I saw that is what they were doing I asked why and explained that it is not working I feel everything and I want a working epidural. I was told they had to do this first. I stated that they had already tried that and it isn't working and to please fix my epidural. At this point I am going back and forth between pushing to relieve some pain and fighting the urge to keep my cervix from swelling.

At 9:10 pm anesthesia came to my room ( a different one this time) and again had a syringe of benzocaine and medicine for the epidural bag. I asked why they wouldn't just give me a new epidural and the response I got was that they had to this first. I was in tears saying they had already done that and it didn't work and to please just give me a working epidural.  They refused and told me to wait 15 minutes to see if the medicine worked which it wasn't of course and never did work. 

I am literally all over the bed doing acrobats. Flipping over to my hands and knees, going on my sides. using the squat bar. All of that with a supposed working epidural...... Every time I see the nurse I ask for anesthesia to replace the epidural.

At 11 pm a doctor comes in and checks my cervix and states it is swelling and recommends I have a c-section. Claims my baby is having late decels when in reality they were variabilities not late decels. And it only happened less than 10 times. Either way his heart rate was always well within the red danger lines and was not in distress. I also had no fever or infection going on. So this was a bully move to attempt to get me to consent to a c-section. I told them no but that I wanted someone to give me a new epidural because I knew what I needed was rest and the ability to have more control over my urges to push since my cervix was swollen.

At 12:20 am May 19th yet another doctor has come to my room to "assess me" I asked this doctor to please contact anesthesia so that I can get a working epidural to finish my birth.

At 12:25 am anesthesia was called and again did not come to my room just gave a verbal order for more medicine in my epidural bag. I am getting really pissed off at this point because no one is listening to me when I am telling them it is not working. I have now been pushing /fight the urge to push for 7 hours. All I needed was some rest and to not push for a few hours. I knew the baby would come down on his own if they would just give me what I was asking for.

At 1:00am anesthesia is called again to come to my room only they don't get there until 1:30am and again they do not replace my epidural just kept putting more and more medicine in the line that was doing NOTHING for me. I am in tears feeling like I am in a torture chamber. Trying to understand why I am being refused pain management especially since I know it is possible to get a second one placed. I felt helpless and at the mercy of those doctors who consistently pressured me to consent to augmentation or a repeat c-section. I was so upset and I also had such a hard time finding my voice which was something I had never had trouble with in either of my past births.  It was like I was tongue tied.

At 4:30 am anesthesia is called to my room again. This is the 8th documented time they had been called to my room in 13 hours. EIGHT FUCKING TIMES and not a single time was I offered or given a new epidural. I begged again for a new epidural and again was denied and without any valid reason. Not only would they not replace it they never told me a valid medical reason as to why that was.

At 5:00 am I had had enough. After 13 hours of begging for a new epidural, 13 hours of  trying to fight the urge to push and/or push I couldn't take the pain any longer. I was unable to cope. I had exhausted all measures. I had been running on an empty tank of gas for longer than 13 hours. There was no more reserve left at all. I had no support from my providers to VBA2C and because I was not at all prepared for a hospital birth neither me or my husband or our doula were really truly prepared for the hostile environment we walked into 36 hours earlier.  I finally called "uncle" and said I would have a c-section. I really did not want to augment because I know how pitocin affects me and I was more afraid of a uterine rupture and what that could mean than I was a repeat c-section. I had more of a chance of VBA3Cing in the future with a repeat c-section than I did if my uterus ruptured. So there it was. I had been tortured into submission. They had won.

This part really makes me angry. The anesthesiologist came in and said that since they "knew the epidural was iffy" that they were not going to use it for surgery. Instead they would be giving me a spinal. Are you fucking kidding me??? So you basically knew the whole damn time my epidural wasn't working??? She then takes it out and remarks "well that wasn't in very deep" only confirming what the FIRST FUCKING ANESTHESIOLOGIST notated that my epidural HAD SLIPPED. FUCKING ASSHOLES. 

My worst nightmare come true. I was worried this whole pregnancy that I would lose the right to homebirth with a competent provider. That I would be forced into the hospital to birth and that I would not be as fortunate to have a successful VBA2C as I was the last two times I went into the hospital.

The war against midwives and homebirth has morphed into a war against a woman's right to choose where and with whom she wants to give birth. This isn't right. Nothing about what happened to me was just or fair. Not only did I lose my right to homebirth, I now have increased risk factors not just for birth but for pregnancy if I were to choose to have another baby in the future. Is this what we call making birth safer? How so? 

Taking away options for women that want to VBAC isn't going to stop them from doing it. No one should have the right to tell me what I can or can't do with my reproductive organs. And attempting to regulate something like birth will ended up making women choose more unsafe options rather than safe ones because that will be all they have left. 

When I started this blog I had envisioned a peaceful and healing homebrith of my newest son. This blog has now taken a turn to fight for and advocate for women's rights. This was my LIFE that was affected. And I refuse to stand by and let this be something that happens to other women. Until crunchy moms and creamy moms can come together and realize that we can agree to disagree and still respect each others choices, we will continue to lose our rights and we will be blind to it because we are too busy fighting with each other to see what is really happening. We have to stand together and fight for the overall picture or we all will lose in the end.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Problem with Internet Medical Diagnosis

It has been a while since I blogged. I kind of reached a point of being too busy and too pregnant to write. I am writing this post in response to some of the conversations sparked by the article "The Most Scientific Birth Is Often the Least Technological Birth" that recently made it's way across the web. Now I knew when I began responding in the comments section that my homebirth loss had the potential to be brought into the conversation as a way to make me look like I am crazy. I have found this to be typical of someone when they have no other way to counter your argument besides going below the belt. It has brought up some interesting thoughts though.

First I want to put a few things into perspective here. I had a homebirth loss that I speak extensively about in this blog. For some reason because I have not blamed anyone or the type of birth (i.e. homebirth VBA2C) for his death, this has become an open invitation to the people on the internet to suddenly become doctors, coroners, therapists, and psychologists who have the ability to diagnose things via the internet. It's actually gotten to be quite laughable. If a person goes to yahoo questions and posts a medical question everyone thinks they are a whack for trying to get a medical diagnosis over the web instead of seeing a real live human doctor. Yet because I am not blaming my midwife or the type of birth I had for the death of my baby suddenly it is OK to diagnose not only the cause of my baby's death but my mental state as well. Hypocritical much?

The assumption that homebirth and/or my midwife was terrible being the cause of my baby's death is no different than if I posted a story about a family member complaining of pain in their right abdomen then they die and everyone is *sure* it was due to a ruptured appendix. If you were not present during my pregnancy or birth then how can you be so sure what happened? You have no first hand knowledge, you have nothing but your own misconceptions to go on.

The statement: " Poor woman. She is in denial." is something I have seen several times over the last few years when people hear about my loss. This was the attitude with or without details of his birth and based solely on the fact that I am not blaming anyone. It makes me wonder what it is that these "professional" wanna be psychologists think I am in denial about???? And why is it okay to tell *me* I am in denial because I am not blaming anyone yet those who do blame the entire world for their losses are not in denial? The fact remains that if you were not present at a birth to see how it was ( or wasn't) handled you are not in any position of authority to state what did or didn't go wrong nor are you in a position to diagnose anyone's mental state.

I knew when I started this blog I would be opening myself up to a lot of scrutiny as well as having salt poured into a never healing wound. But I did this because I know that I am not alone. There are other women like me. Other loss moms who are at peace and who are unmoved in how they view birth. Other mothers who may be too afraid to even tell their story because women are so vicious towards each other. We should be embracing every loss mother with loving arms. I have witnessed so many women being completely trashed and battered because of the way they deal with their loss.We are destroying each other with hate instead of building each other up with love.  It's really quite sad.

"United we stand, divided we fall. "-Aesop

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I am NOT a psychic. I am just a (mammalian) Mama with instincts.

Where to begin? Ok Let me just explain first why I am posting this. I recently did an interview with the author of the book "In Search of the Perfect Birth" about my stillbirth and what I felt regarding my care received. You can go see the post here: Getting Qualified Care: Interview With a Stillbirth Mother and follow her because she has a lot of good information and a different perspective on many birth topics. Anyway, I did this interview and she posted it on her Facebook page. I also wrote a blog 2 days ago discussing some of my emotions that I am working through about my birth experiences.

Today on her page someone posted the following: "May I ask a question? If Michelle "knew" that baby was going to die, why didn't she try to prevent it? Just wondering."  I also had the unfortunate pleasure of dealing with another person regarding my recent blog post in regards to the same thing. So I want to point out a few things.......

1- I AM NOT PSYCHIC. While I was pregnant with him I was not 100% for certain that he would die. While pregnant I knew that things were different and I had a strong feeling that he wasn't staying with me. I had a feeling but I HOPED it was wrong. 

2- My decision to homebirth as well as my decisions made during pregnancy WERE influenced by this feeling. Let me explain further because apparently people are just not getting it. The first time I ever felt that he would not be with me long was while I was STILL UNDER THE CARE OF AN OB. I was threatened with permanent sterilization and my wishes to VBA2C were not going to be considered. I left my appointment literally thinking that I would be so devastated if I lost this baby and could never have another one.

This led to me doing a lot of thinking and a lot of praying. One of the things that was important for me was to be able to enjoy every single moment of my pregnancy stress free. I couldn't see myself going to this OB office and fighting them every single visit about my refusal for testing, my refusal for sterilization, and my refusal for a repeat c-section. It was going to be too much. I needed peace. This was also largely why I did not get bent out of shape when I went 2 weeks overdue. I loved every moment I got with him.

3- The other thing that is really pissing me off is the assumption that my midwife was terrible simply because my baby died. My midwife went above and beyond what I expected of her in regards to my care. She gave me exactly what I needed and wanted, which was peace, love, comfort, warmth, and security. I never ever felt that she endangered me or my baby. EVER. I cannot imagine having that birth/loss experience without her.  For some stranger on the internet to diagnose my baby's cause of death is ridiculous. Guess what! YOU WEREN'T THERE!!!!! You have no idea what you are talking about. I WAS THERE. I am pretty sure that makes me more qualified to speak on my birth than anyone else.

4- I knew that me saying his birth was the only one I had no regrets over was going to anger people. So I need to explain again the reason why I have no regrets. It was the ONLY birth that I trusted my instincts. It was the ONLY birth that I did not let anyone or anything around me dictate how it would go. All of my other births I ignored my gut feelings and was hurt in one way or another so YES I have regrets about not listening to my instincts there. If I had listened to and trusted myself every time I would have avoided an unnecessary c-section, an unnecessary induction which led to a failed VBAC and a horrible hospital stay for my daughter, undue stress from CPS, another uncomfortable hospital birth which involved me being violated physically by hospital staff. 

Yeah hindsight is 20/20. There is not a single thing about my loss that I regret. I spent every second of my pregnancy grateful I still had time. I spent every moment of my labor grateful for that time. I remember his birth as beautiful and empowering not traumatic. I am not sure why this angers people so much. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Reflections: The Consequences of Ignoring Your Instincts.

As I sit here pregnant again for the 6th time I am trying to come to terms with some of the things I didn't enjoy about my previous experiences. Now before anyone goes there let me make it clear I love all of my kids. Disliking the manners in which they got here is not the same thing. It's not even close. What do they say? Hindsight is always 20/20.

I made choices and decisions during each pregnancy and birth. I learned something new about myself with each pregnancy and birth. While I am not happy with some of the things that happened I am grateful for the road I have traveled. I have been able to meet some amazing women that I may have never met otherwise. I just want to make mention of that first and foremost. I also want to reiterate the main purpose of this blog, which was for me to have a place to express and deal with things before this birth rather than deal with them in labor.

Baby Boy #1

If you haven't read his birth story you can go here: First born Son (C-section)

My initial instinct when I got pregnant was to hire a midwife. Honestly I wasn't entirely sure what a midwife was or did. All that I knew was they were different and from what little I was exposed to they seemed to be more natural minded which is what I was. My only exposure to them was prior to becoming a Muslim. I met a very pregnant lady who had just moved here and we hung out with the same crowd. I had to give her a ride to see her midwife for a prenatal. The way she talked about it drew me towards that if I were to get pregnant.

I ignored my instinct and fell victim to "peer pressure" if you will. And went with the OB/GYN care. That was my first wrong turn.

I also was approached by a Doula at a natural foods store when I was probably about 5 months pregnant. I had never even heard of them before but she explained what they do. At the time I didn't see the importance. Looking back though I think that if I had a doula it could have made a huge difference. After being pressured for so long and having no one supporting my desire to avoid a c-section it was extremely hard to keep fighting that pressure while in labor. Especially as a first time mom. I think if I had just had one person tell me I could do it that would have been enough.

Baby Girl # 1

If you missed her birth story you can check it out here: First baby girl ( failed VBAC attempt so C-section #2)

My instincts were that I could give birth. I never believed what I had been told during my first birth. I was never convinced. In fact after how horrible my experience was knowing deep down it was probably an unnecessary c-section made me really angry. I was angry at myself and I was extrememly upset that I had no support at all from anyone.

There was never a doubt in my mind that I would be attempting a VBAC with this baby. At this time I was also connected to the internet and was doing a lot more research although I don't think I had found ICAN just yet.

I knew that I had a kidney stone. It felt like a kidney stone. I had other urinary symptoms that came with the pain that had me pretty sure that is what it was. I let them tell me it was something else. It snowballed from there. Once I stopped listening to my body and listened to them I made decisions based on that which led me to a failed VBAC attempt. Once again I felt like my own worst enemy.

Baby Boy # 2
If you have not read his story you can read it here:  Second baby boy (Homebirth VBA2C Birthstory Part 1 of 3 **Stillbirth**)

This may amaze some people and may even make some people angry. Don't worry I have become accustomed to this reaction on how I view this birth. Out of all of my births this is the only one that I have no regrets at all.

Why? You ask. Because it was the only time I followed my instincts completely. You see I initially set up to go to an OB again. I did however know that there was no way I would be having another c-section. At this point I had  more access to information and I felt there was no need for a repeat c-section. BUT,  I also felt very strongly that this baby was not staying with me long. So strongly that when being threatened with permanent sterilization I knew that this was not the place for me.  The only thing that went through my mind ( and at the time I was only 7-8 weeks along) was how crushed I would be if this baby died and then I could never have another.

I followed my instincts. When my path crossed with my midwife I knew in my heart she was the one and homebirth was the way I needed to do this.

His labor by far was the most amazing thing I have ever done. I cherish every single contraction, every single milestone, every single minute I had with him to the end. I knew he wouldn't stay but I did my best to provide a gentle birth for him.

Baby Boy #3

If you missed his birth story go here: Baby boy #3 ( Hospital VBA2C after transfer from homebirth)

I don't think I realized just how much a loss can affect you in your next pregnancy. Especially if it is a late term loss. And  for me a loss at birth. There was no moment of relief like " I made it to 13 weeks! whew" or "I can feel him move". There was no ease for me at all.

I had way too much fear and I let it control me instead of allowing my instincts to play their role. I knew he was fine. I  knew he wasn't too big. I knew I could give birth. I knew he would be born alive and healthy. What affected me was the fear of losing another baby. The fear of the unknown. The fear of what people would say if something bad happened this time.  Fear. Fear. Fear. Fear. There was so much of it that I literally had control over what my body would and would not do. I completely stopped my labor at full dilation because I needed to check out of the birth. The closer I got to pushing the more fear set in and the more I fought to keep him in.

My biggest regret is not addressing a lot of my feelings about my loss before getting pregnant again. While my decision at the time to transfer ( yes it was my decision and even though my midwife begged me not to go for fear I would get a c-section she never stopped me) was instinctual in that I knew what I needed in order to move forward, I am mad that I didn't listen to the instinct that was telling me all was well. Ignoring that one led me to a less than ideal birth situation in which I had to fight to avoid a c-section and had to deal with a bunch of other non-sense as well.

I just want to throw in here that I had found my voice by this birth so I had no problem standing up for myself in the hospital.

Baby Girl #2

So here we are at my most recent birth which you can read about here: Baby girl #2 ( Planned homebirth turned marathon 52 hour labor hospital VBA2C)

Ok so this one is still pretty fresh and I haven't written any of my regrets or grievances about her birth (outside of the birth rape ) thus far.

I ignored my instincts again. I knew the baby would be fine and the birth would be fine. I made a huge mistake though which affected my labor big time.  All throughout my pregnancy some friends of mine wanted to be at my birth. One was at my last birth and in all honesty in that birth I needed a lot of people around me. So initially the idea wasn't crazy or off the wall. 

As I got closer to my due date though I began to get really instinctual. I knew labor would start at night (which it did). And I began to feel like maybe no one needed to be around. I felt that this birth I needed to be alone. I didn't want anyone else around. I made the mistake of not voicing that to anyone. So once word spread that I was in labor they were there. Because these were people I cared about I had a really hard time expressing the need to be alone and asking that they leave. I did not feel comfortable. What did this lead to? A very long and drawn out stall of labor. I was stuck at 7 cm for well over 24 hours. How do I know it was having them there that affected me? Because my labor never progressed until they went home. Once they went home I gave birth 6 hours later.

Another instinct I ignored, knowing that I had progressed and birth was near. I had intended on not having another cervical check. I knew in my soul that my baby had descended and that I was getting closer to birth. Because I ignored that I became a victim of assault in the name of birth.( link above for that story)

Impending Birth of Baby boy #4

So here I am now having gotten all of that out and I am trying to remind myself to follow my instincts. I have been very in tune with my pregnancy this time. I did have an ultrasound due to the fact that I am a c-section mom and I know how serious placenta accreta is. Before getting this ultrasound though I knew this baby was a boy and I knew that I had an anterior placenta. Both things were confirmed at my ultrasound. 

I am writing this to help me remember to follow my instincts not my fears. My instincts have never failed me. My fears have.