My pregnancy went nothing like I imagined it would. I thought I knew so much and was so prepared having been a doula and a student midwife for a number of years already. Well, nothing makes you do your research and internalize what complications mean and all the possible solutions - both holistic and medical - like going through it yourself. I'm not going to get into all those details right now, but I feel like putting that out there because I'm going to open up and tell you and the rest of the world that I had a cesarean birth. I originally didn't want to have a c-section. My identity was so totally wrapped up in natural birth and out-of-hospital birth, to be quite honest, that I just had such a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of having to have my baby in a hospital. And having a c-section... well that was obviously something I had to come to terms with and I honestly thank God that I had about 10 weeks to get used to the idea of not having the birth I wanted.
The day Daliya ended up being born, I woke up in the morning and checked my email. The first thing I opened was lab results from Kaiser from my 2nd (or maybe it was my 3rd...) 24 hour urine test to watch for protein in my urine. The amount of protein had gone way up and I was surprised that no one called me right away to have me come in for other lab work. It was Christmas, so I guess no one was checking that day - or maybe it was just overlooked because of having less staff on duty. I called L & D and alerted them to the results that had been automatically sent to me. I was told to come in right away, so I did, and they ran a bunch of other tests. The labs showed that my liver and kidney function were changing, and obviously not for the better.
I wasn't going to go into so many details, but now that I'm writing I feel like it feels right. Daliya was still in a breech position so the doctor wanted to automatically do a c-section. I told her that I wanted her to check me because if I were dilated more than a couple centimeters I wanted them to try an external cephalic version to try to turn her head down so that they could just put me on Pit and I'd still be able to have a vaginal birth. The doctor was so sure that I wouldn't be dilated, even though I told her that I had been in early labor a few nights before and made it stop (I think she might have thought I was a little crazy, but she doesn't know me and know what I know about the physiology of labor). So she humored me and seemed shocked to find that I was 3cm dilated. She got me set up for the version. They gave me a drug to relax my uterus and Daliya's heart rate shot up and stayed up until she was born. It was seriously nerve-wracking.
They tried to turn her 4 times. It didn't work. At the time I didn't know as much as I do now about versions and one of the key factors in it being successful is having a really really full bladder to lift the baby as far out of the pelvis as possible. Sometimes I wonder if things would have been different if I had know that. But I didn't know. And it didn't work. I felt ok with having a cesarean at this point, especially knowing that this particular hospital didn't have any doctors on staff who were comfortable or experienced with breech birth. Even if I was comfortable birthing a breech baby, I wasn't comfortable having a doctor who was uncomfortable with it as my safety net. I was more comfortable having a cesarean.
I think I just mixed up the order of things here a little, but hopefully you're still following. After the doctor on call checked me but before the version (I think I have the order right, but my husband might correct me if it is less of a blur to him) she came into the room with my birth plan, pulled a chair up to sit right next to me, and proceeded to go through every single point on my birth plan with me. It was incredible and I felt so respected. I am literally tearing up right now thinking about it. On a side-note, I always say that the care provider who ends up being at your birth is probably the one who is meant to be there, and for many reasons I do believe this was true for my birth as well - I might get more into that later, but let me get back on track for now.
We talked about my birth plan and what could and what wouldn't happen. And she was straightforward in telling me that after I had my baby, we would be separated for a minimum of 12 hours, but more than likely 24 hours or more, because they were going to put me on Magnesium Sulfate. I just about lost it (inside) at this point and as soon as she left the room I said to Jordan, "Should we leave and go to UCLA? I feel like it would be different there." We talked about it and the fact that my insurance wouldn't cover any treatment there, and I said I still would feel more comfortable there regardless of what was going to happen. I don't remember which one of us suggested calling a friend for advice, but I called a friend of mine and asked her if it would be different there. I remember her response sounding so quick and confident, and she told me the hospital policies would be the same there. I for some reason let her response decide for me that I'd stay where I was. That is the mistake that I feel like I am still healing from. I later found out that the hospital I was at was one of the only (if not THE only) hospital in the area that had that policy. If I had gone to UCLA chances are I would have gotten to spend that first couple of days with my baby. It still hurts so much to think about her being whisked away and being told it was all because of hospital policy, and later that they could have bent their policy but they were short on staff because it was Christmas weekend. They didn't even let me hold her before they took her away. It didn't have to be that way. IT DIDN'T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY. Ugh, it still makes me so mad and sad.
I try to tell myself that there were reasons that I decided to stay at Kaiser... that my instincts must have actually been telling me to stay even though for a long time I blamed myself for not trusting the instinct to go somewhere else for my birth. I have to remind myself how supportive of VBAC's the doctor I ended up with is and how she kept telling me, literally multiple times, with excitement how the incision she did and the fact that I was already dilated meant I would probably have a successful VBAC with my next baby. I honestly wanted to scream each time she said this because I wasn't in the mind space to think about my NEXT baby! I was just trying to deal with everything that came along with THIS baby's birth!
I have to say though, that looking back, I remember so clearly that when we sat down to and looked at my birth plan together I said to her repeatedly, if I could pick just one thing from my birth plan, INCLUDING if I were having a cesarean, that I would ask her to let the cord pulsate and delay clamping for as long as possible, preferallby until it was done pulsating in its own time. Well, guess what, during my c-section, she let the cord pulsate and stop on its own once Daliya was out!!! This is still so exciting to me that I'm getting all teary again. This was so so so important to me, and most doctors would not have waited, ESPECIALLY during a cesarean birth. But she waited. She waited, she told me when it stopped and when she was going to cut it, and she even showed my husband that it was white before she clamped and cut it! Jordan took the most amazing picture of Daliya still attached to the cord and the placenta, the placenta still inside me. It is seriously incredible. Maybe I will post it above. Can I get away with posting a picture that includes my abdomen completely open in surgery? I think I can. :)
Anyway, I guess you can see that even though I still think about the decision to stay where I was as a mistake I'm really moving towards coming to terms with it and working on believing that I was meant to be where I was and that in the long run the birth I had and the things that happened during the process are what needed to happen to give Daliya the best and most healthy entrance into the world.
There is some more to the story, but I think I'm emotionally spent at the moment, so I'm gonna leave it at that. Maybe I should have titled this post my birth story - or maybe I'll do that at a later date when I feel up to going back and filling in all the details including more details about the birth itself.
If you're reading this, please leave me a comment. This is probably the most intimate thing I could have posted on the internet today and I would so love to feel like the people reading it are becoming a community, my community.
Thank you. <3