When I was 16 years old, 2001, I found myself pregnant at no fault but my own. There is a lot to my story, but for now I’m just going to share a small bit. I was given the choice to abort or go to a group home for pregnant girls; I obviously chose the second choice. My knowledge of birth consisted only of a single, hour-long childbirth education class (if you can even call it that) and stories we heard from the other girls. We had very little time with the provider who was chosen for us, and even still we didn’t know what to ask or what was ‘allowed’. Besides nausea at the beginning, heartburn, and the occasional aches and pains, I was having a healthy and uncomplicated pregnancy.
At 35 weeks, I saw my provider because I was convinced I was having contractions. He put me on terbutaline, placed on moderate bedrest, and sent me on my way. I received no information on what I was being given, side effects, or why. The next week, 36 weeks, I returned looking as if I were in active labor. I don’t remember how dilated or effaced I was, but the nurses had me walking the halls to try to kick-start labor. When that wasn’t working quick enough, I was started on a Pitocin drip. This is where it really starts to get blurry. I know it was started in the late evening and I labored all through the night, in bed, on my back. Yep, no moving around. I believe I received the first of several epidurals in the middle of the night. By morning rounds, the on-call OB, an older man, I had never met, came into my room and suggested breaking my water. Sure, I didn’t know any better and no one is going to explain the risks involved.
Once my water was broken, things really started to pick up, but my epidural was not working. I was told by my sister that I received a total of 3 epidurals. They would work for a very short period and then stop. By early afternoon, I faintly remember coming out of my ‘black out’ for a doctor to tell me that my sons heart rate was having decels due to a potential prolapsed cord and that they felt it was best to go in for a cesarean. I was so out of it and had no idea what any of it involved, I just signed the consent. I’m not very religious, but I do distinctly remember the doctor asking if he could pray for me. Sure, why not.
I was slowly wheeled to the OR where I was transferred to an OR table. I remember just laying there, no one talking to me, still in and out of it from the pain and no relief, and then a nurse trips over my IV line. Thanks lady. The anesthesiologist comes into the room and tells me he’s going to administer a spinal, whatever that is. Since I can’t sit up, I’m told to roll to my side. I have no idea how long I sat in that OR before things started, but I remember not seeing anyone in there, although I’m sure there were many. The OB on-call was very nice to me, explaining everything as he went. I remember him telling me my baby had been born and that he was peeing on me. My sister went over to the warmer and then someone was showing me my son (I’m not sure if it was a nurse or my sister). The doctor finished up my surgery and when done, looked me in the eyes to tell me the surgery went wonderfully and that he made the incision nice and low, below the bikini line. I know that wouldn’t matter to many in the grand scheme of things, but this older man was taking the time to reassure a 17 year old girl, and I appreciated him for that.
Instead of being overjoyed looking at my new baby, I just stared at him. “Why am I not crying? They cry in the TV shows? Am I a horrible mother? Why am I not crying? Maybe if I get one tear, they will think I’m a good mother…” Baby and my sister went to the nursery where they proceeded to bath, measure, and examine him. My sister and her husband were the first to hold him. I sat in a recovery room surrounded by drapes, being told I could not leave recovery and see my baby until I could wiggle my toes and feet. I’m not sure how I did since I was so numb, but I did! The nurse looked at me dumbfounded and said, “alright, I guess we can leave”.
Back in my room, they had me on the standard painkillers, but medications hit me hard. The next few days are still a blur to me, but there are some memories that I’ll never forget. I remember the color of the room, the stale grey walls. The bed next to mine empty, with nurses promising they wouldn’t put another patient in my room unless absolutely necessary. I remember being told I needed to get out of bed and move around. They put me in a crappy waiting room style chair, baby in my arms, me still doped up on painkillers, and left the room. I woke up to my baby hanging upside down in my arms, nearly on the floor. I remember the nurse, thinking I was asleep, telling my sister, “You know she’s never going to follow through…” I hated my in-hospital recovery. Out of hospital, I don’t remember being in much pain, but I honestly don’t remember much at all. My sisters house had stairs, but so I just stayed upstairs as much as I could.
I have since had three VBACs without complication. With my first VBAC in 2008, my OB suggested it, “You’re a good candidate to have a VBAC, vaginal birth after cesarean, wanna do it?” Sure, umm ok. I had the same OB with my second VBAC, third birth, but was at a different hospital and I did have to fight a little harder that time due to a nasty OB, even hospital staff didn’t like her (ex: she wanted to break my water at 34w). Finally with my third VBAC, we drove 2 hours north to Flagstaff, AZ to deliver our only girl with staff we trusted.