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.