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.