So I’m going to take you back to a time in my life where not too many people have been and to be perfectly honest, it’s not really a place I like to dwell. I struggle with lingering too long on certain memories because they are difficult and full of many emotions, but I want to share them with the desire that they may help other women who might be walking similar paths. If you are struggling with the Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression, I pray that my experiences will help you to know that you are not alone and that there is hope.
Before I delve in too deeply here, let me just give a little disclaimer- I am not a medical professional and this post is just me sharing my experiences. It is not meant to be medical or psychiatric advice. If you are experiencing any symptoms that concern you, then please reach out to your doctor, midwife, family, friends- anyone around you and get some help. There are a number of resources online like Postpartum Progress and you can even call hotlines such as 1-800-PPD-MOMS.
My Birth Stories
I am mama to two little boys. One is three years old and one is about 10 months old. My birth experiences were not great. I know- birth is not easy for anyone. I have come to a place where I am at peace with my birth experiences, but they were far from what I wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond thankful that my sons were both born healthy, beautiful boys and so I am grateful that things turned out well. But getting there was not without its complications.
My first was a failed induction during which I labored and labored and he just got stuck at 4.5 centimeters. Due to blood pressure issues I was induced at 40 weeks, per my doctor’s instance. I wish that I had questioned her more about this and fought harder to wait. Maybe it would not have made a difference in the outcome, but I often wonder if my body simply wasn’t ready to give birth. But I was younger then, and through this and other experiences since then I have learned to be more assertive about my medical care. Sometimes you have options, choices that you can make about your medical care and some doctors will present you with all the options. My doctor did not. She just told me that I needed to be induced, so I consented to it. When I later read more and consulted with another doctor in the practice about the situation the other doctor told me that I did not have to be induced, that I could have waited. I wish I had known that before agreeing to the induction. I wish that I could go back and teach my younger self to be more assertive. Whenever a medical professional recommends something, always ask, “Is this the only option? What are my other options?”. I feel that if I had asked those questions I would have been able to wait longer and perhaps my body would have been ready to give birth. But back to the induction…
On Sunday we went into the hospital at 4 pm. They started me on Cytotec, a medicine meant to ripen my cervix and also possibly to dilate it a little. I had to take the medicine every 3 hours. The medicine got me started having some minor contractions, and softened me a little, but after 15 hours it was determined that we should try something else. So then they put Cervidil in me, which was supposed to help ripen the cervix and dilate me. The Cervidil has to stay in for 12 hours. After 12 hours I was checked and no change, so they decided to do another 12 hour round. At this point, my husband insisted that I be allowed to eat, as I had been on a liquid diet since getting to the hospital, and we had to wait 12 hours before anything would happen again. So on Monday night they relented the rules and allowed me to eat a little. After the second round of Cervidil, I was checked and basically I had softened enough to start Pitocin, but I still had not dilated beyond a centimeter. So on Tuesday morning they inserted a Foley bulb into me, which is basically a balloon that would force my cervix to dilate to 4 centimeters, and at the same time they started Pitocin to kick up my contractions. I walked around labor and delivery for a long while. I also bounced on the birthing ball trying to get labor going as much as I could. Finally the Foley bulb fell out, they checked me and I was 4 centimeters. So I kept laboring a little while, then they broke my water. And I felt the most awful, painful contractions. Some time passed and when they checked me again and I was still at 4, they encouraged me to get the epidural so that they could put put in and internal monitor and up the Pitocin as much as possible. At that point I was exhausted and I agreed.
After the epidural I labored a while longer, but they checked me again and I had only progressed to 4.5. After some time and it was the same. At that point the doctor expressed that she felt that the baby was not getting through my pelvis and because of that his head was not putting pressure on my cervix and therefore I was not dilating any further. She told me that I could labor a while longer if I wanted to, but that she felt that we were likely to have to have a c-section and could go ahead and have it then or try to labor more. As much as I did not want it, it did not seem like we were getting anywhere, and so we felt like it was what we needed to do. At this point it was late Tuesday night. My husband and I prayed together, I was prepped and then wheeled down the hall to the OR. I have to say that I was more scared than I have ever been and I hated that he had to wait until they had me all set up to come in.
I lost a lot of blood during labor and the subsequent c-section. I reacted poorly to the anesthesia, vomited quite a bit and lost consciousness shortly after they pulled my son out of me. My first time meeting him was in the recovery room hours later when they had stabilized me. I was still shaking, vomiting, and in and out of it a little, but he was healthy and we made it through.
Between my first and second births my husband and I watched The Business of Being Born and the sequel and it made me want more than ever to VBAC with my second. I had hoped to labor naturally with my first but ended up having pretty much every intervention in the book. I wanted to avoid pain medications and anesthesia since my body did not tolerate them well the first time. In the hopes of achieving a more natural birth we switched to the care of midwives. We waited for our second son long past my due date and I showed zero signs of labor so my midwife and I agreed that it was time to schedule a c-section. It was traumatic for me. Beyond the physical trauma of the surgery there was something about them laying me down on that table again that set off a flood of emotions even before they started cutting me. Once again I lost a lot of blood and had some more complications. And a whole heap of disappointment.
But I had two healthy baby boys. And I thank God for that because things could have turned out much worse. I know that there are many women who struggle with infertility or miscarriage or loss of their babies, so I am filled to the brim with gratitude that things turned out so well for us.
And then we went home…
I’ll be back tomorrow with Part 2 of this series. And Part 3 on Wednesday. I initially wrote all my thoughts out in one post but it was beyond too long, so I’m breaking my experience up into three parts. After my 3 posts I am looking highlight other women’s experiences as well. If you would like to share your story of surviving Postpartum Depression or the Baby Blues, I would love to feature you as a part of my series. Please email me at marymarthamama @ gmail .com if you are interested in being a guest blogger. I’m hoping that this series will help women who may be struggling as they walk through those early days of motherhood.