Brandi and Donald, your Birth Story
Pitocin, epidural, cesarean. Or, how we chose to look at it; Grace upon grace upon grace. Seems odd to consider these interventions as a form of grace, huh? Especially when they were far from wanted. It’s obvious to see things didn’t go as planned. This birth story was a rocky introduction to parenthood for you both, but as far as plans tend to go? Pretty accurate. Newborns do that. Lovingly thwart the many intentions you may have or had. And so, sweet Aiden thought it appropriate to show his mom and dad from the very beginning just how unpredictable life as a parent can be.
What began for you as a 41 week (ugh, 41 weeks!) check up culminated in an immediate induction as little Aiden’s heart rate plummeted with your contractions. Thank the Lord you had a contraction at just the right time. Pitocin ensued, not as a form of unnecessary medical intervention, but as the first of three graces. Labor has begun.
I am astounded at the strength you “supermom” (as Donald ardently referred to you with each contraction) displayed over the course of 14 hours. Let me remind you a little bit about Pitocin. The contractions that follow are not like those brought on by Oxytocin. Pitocin forces your body into labor. It blocks the endorphins that Oxytocin would naturally release to help manage pain. This typically causes much stronger, more painful contractions as many a mom would attest to. To put this further into perspective your Midwife Nicole commented that you labored for the equivalent of 24 hours of natural labor in half the amount of time. You knew you were ready for an epidural when the pain, exhaustion, and stress on Aiden who was still very high and positioned unfavorably at this point became too much to bare. “Up until that point I was feeling really good about labor and Aiden. When the pain got too intense I was starting to transition to more negative thoughts. That’s why in that moment I was pro epidural.” To credit your strength this was not actually a moment’s decision. The request for pain management came up many times but you pushed through. In your brave wisdom you knew when it was time for your body to rest, which this second grace allowed for.
Rest provided renewed strength of mind. This was pivotal in helping to maintain a positive birth experience. The birth of a child is not something a women forgets. Her memories will be deeply woven into her mind. Feelings and moments will be relived. This is where the support a birthing mother receives can make so much of the difference. Enduring the burden of such an intense labor you hadn’t anticipated for in the least bit without a loving and supportive team can leave memories that are painful to live with. As a doula my highest priority is in helping mothers have a beautiful birth experience, that is affirmative of your resilient spirit. Sometimes plans go astray. Sometimes interventions are appropriate and beneficial. If this happens my intention is always for you to be aware of your options so that you can make an informed, but most importantly, a peaceful decision.
You made it to 7cm. This took place over the course of several hours. You were determined and hopeful to make it to nine. Unfortunately with little progress having been made over a very long period, and despite your every effort to fulfill your desire for a vaginal birth, Aiden had other plans. This little ones heart rate was continuing to drop and for the sake of his safety a C-section was needed. The emotions surrounding this decision was everything one would expect. Tearful, scared, disappointed. Grieving was needed and rightfully so. You had a plan that you worked so very hard for and it was developing into the one intervention you hoped to avoid at all costs.
What struck me most about this situation was the deep sense of guilt and shame you immediately burdened yourself with. Apologizing, already bracing yourself for the judgments you expected to receive. This had me beginning to realize the immense pressure that is put on moms to have low to no intervention, natural births. When this is the best option for mom and baby and it’s what is wanted? Absolutely beautiful. When interventions are a necessity for mom and baby’s health; when used appropriately and thoughtfully? Absolutely beautiful. So where does this shame, this feeling of being an utter failure to your husband and baby come from? I’m sad to believe it comes directly from our well-meaning natural birthing culture. Risks are associated with all medical interventions, but why don’t we talk equally about the risks associated with not having an induction? Say when you’re 41 weeks and mom as well as baby are in distress. How about pain management for the sake of a healthy mind that wants to retain as positive a birth experience as she can, having bared so much already? Your Cesarean birth, too often disgraced upon, was performed for the health and safety of a baby unable to drop because it’s cord was wrapped around the body constricting both arms like a straitjacket, continuing up the neck where it was wrapped twice.This grace helped you birth a healthy child, in the best way that was available. Aiden Otha. 9.3 pounds of pure goodness.
Donald wheeled his precious son out to your room. “I can’t wait for you to meet your mommy. She fought so hard for you.” With his every cry daddy reassured him like he did you through all your pain “you’re doing great.” This cascade of interventions was your biggest fear. With an immensely supportive birth team helping to lift you up when you were caving in, we chose to let these fears dissipate and look at the situation differently. Grace upon grace upon grace.