My first contraction hit me. It was 11:30pm on November 12, 2017. I was a week overdue and I had an induction scheduled for 7:30am the next morning. Boom! Next contraction, only 5 minutes apart. They were very hard labor contractions. My husband got our bag ready at the door and woke up our 18 month old daughter. Bam! Another contraction. So much pressure and pain. I was already feeling the need to push. Our son was coming! It was happening so fast I thought. I was so excited to maybe have a quick delivery as opposed to the 36 hour labor I had with our daughter.
My husband loaded our daughter into the car (half asleep), then helped me in. I tried so hard not to scream through each powerful contraction so I didn’t scare my sweet girl. But WOW they were intense! I turned around in my seat trying to “straddle” it facing the backseat. I kept saying, “Mommy is OK. It’s OK”, to my little girl. She was so confused and so tired.
After a quick and painful 15 minute ride to my parents’ house, we dropped her off and headed for the hospital. Contractions getting stronger each time and still 4-5 minutes apart. When we got into the hospital they had me change into a gown and then started strapping me up to all the gadgets. The nurses told me to push if I felt like it. So I did. I was dilated to 8cm and there was no time for an epidural, which didn’t bother me. It was happening so fast I was fine with just pushing hard and getting him out quickly. I was very confident. He was almost here!
I pushed hard for about 40 minutes. He was really moving down! So much progress so fast! I could not wait to meet our boy! But right at the end of the 40 minutes of pushing, he stopped progressing. With every push, NOTHING happened. My contractions were still so fast and strong. Back labor had started, he just wouldn’t move down any farther. He was stuck. We knew at our last appointment that our son was posterior. Meaning, he was in the downward position, but his face was sunny side up. So his face was stuck on my pelvic bone. I just had to try and push him over the “hump”. My midwife said, “This happens a lot with posterior babies, baby is fine, he is just stuck and you have to keep pushing.”
OK, fine. I thought. No problem. I will just keep pushing a little longer and he will start to come down again. I pushed and pushed. Contractions were shooting up my spine. I pushed for about 30 more minutes and my midwife checked to see if he was moving down anymore. Nothing. “The baby is doing great, you just have to keep pushing. I’ve seen babies get stuck for hours, so we could be at this for a while,” she said. She looked at me like this was my first baby. Like she couldn’t believe I was having such a hard time. Never once did she tell me how good I was doing. She just watched me. Other nurses were helping me count through the pain. Dalton held my hand. My mom kept telling me I’m doing great. But not my midwife.
It didn’t feel right. I told my midwife something wasn’t right. I felt like my body was going to shut down. I was pushing as hard as I could but still nothing. The pain was starting to take over. So I didn’t give up. Instead, I got up off the bed and squatted over the side. Pushing, moaning, and screaming for relief. Still nothing. I bent over a birthing ball trying to change positions to help my son. Still no progress. I laid on my side, I stood up on the bed and held onto the bar, thinking gravity would help. He just wouldn’t move. “Baby is still doing good. As long as he is doing good, all we can do is wait.” said one of the nurses. I was starting to hate hearing that. Which seems so selfish and horrible of a mother to think. But it wasn’t that I didn’t care about my baby, I just felt like an animal that people were standing around. Watching and waiting for me to just get it over with already.
I figured a midwife would be kind of impressed that I was trying ALL birthing positions all by myself. But she seemed almost bored. Just watching my naked vulnerable body crawl around the room like some kind of beast. After 3 hours of no medication and NO progress, my mom asked the midwife if there was any way that I could have something to help with the pain. Just something to let me rest and wait to see if he could move down on his own. The words my midwife said to my mother, as I was on the floor on my hands and knees pushing and crying, have echoed in my ears for 10 months now. “It’s just hard when they get this way and refuse to push,” she said. I could not believe my ears. THEY? REFUSE? As shocked and as hurt as I was, I couldn’t speak through the contractions. I had no voice. And it didn’t seem to matter anyway, because she was talking over top of me, not to my face.
The midwife left the room for a moment then came back and told “the room” that they were just going to give me an epidural. The nurses seemed slightly confused as it was not very normal to give someone an epidural when they have been in active labor for over 4 hours and fully dilated. But the midwife said, “we need to”. She said it in a way that made me feel like a stupid crazy animal that NEEDED to be sedated. I just wanted someone to explain to me that I was doing amazing and that maybe an epidural would help him move down alone. But no one did. They sent in an anesthesiologist. She was a very nice older woman, that could barley see even with her glasses on. She told me the usual anesthesiologist was on vacation and that she was filling in. She also said she needed to go get a paper that had the directions on how to hook me up to the epidural. Which didn’t make me feel very good. But again, I couldn’t speak! Contractions were still happening and my son was still stuck in my pelvis. Trying to hold still while a half blind woman puts a needle in your spine while also being in active labor was a nightmare in itself.
I felt like the midwife was disappointed in me because I couldn’t just push my kid out. I HAD to have medication. I felt like a failure. Why couldn’t I just be stronger? Why could I just push harder?
The epidural gave me relief. I still felt each contraction and tried to push a little with each. I was on the epidural for about 45 minutes. The midwife came in to see if he had moved down yet. YES! He was finally on his way again. She told me she wanted me to try pushing again. She said her shift was about to end and another midwife was going to come in, so she wanted me to try one more time. I’m sure she just wanted another baby to be born on her watch… who knows. So I pushed hard for almost another hour and he was FINALLY out. He was 8lbs 12oz. Our son was born, no thanks to me.
Later the midwife said that my birth was “the craziest” birth she’s ever seen. We all laughed including me. Just trying to make light of what happened. It was all over and now we had a beautiful baby boy. But in my mind, it wasn’t funny at all. I felt foolish. I didn’t mean to be crazy. But I just didn’t say anything. It was over and I just needed to move on and enjoy my son. And I loved that baby boy so much. And still do. I never had a “disconnect” with him, and I’m so thankful for that.
My husband posted pictures on Facebook and explained how amazing I did and how wonderful our son was. And I remember reading the post over and over and it would bring tears to my eyes. I did NOT do amazing. I was horrible. I couldn’t even do it by myself no matter how hard I tried. I never did good enough. I had to be “tranquilized” because I was going crazy. I just couldn’t shake all of the feelings.
The next few months I still felt the same. I was totally functional, and no one could even tell that I was still bothered by the thought of my birth. I went about life normal. Loved my son. Loved my daughter. Loved my husband. Life was good it seemed. But my birth was constantly on my mind. I replayed the birth over and over. feeling all the feels again and again. To most people, I’m sure the logical thing to do would be to STOP thinking about it. Stop dwelling on the past, and just be happy with my healthy baby. But it was not that easy. I didn’t want to keep thinking about it, but it wouldn’t go away. I would have weird dreams that left me feeling worthless when I woke up. Why did I keep re-living such a horrible memory? After a while, I started to realize just how unhealthy it was for me to keep obsessing over this tragic event. I did a lot of research online. Desperately trying to find anyone that had maybe experienced the same thing. I found a lot on Postpartum Depression. But that wasn’t what I was feeling. I wasn’t depressed. I just couldn’t stop thinking about my birth constantly. Then I found a couple articles about Postpartum PTSD. That seemed a little too serious for how I was feeling. I never really thought of my birth as “traumatic” until I started reading about many women that have experienced similar situations and could not stop replaying them over and over like I was. I felt so much relief now knowing that I was not alone. There were many women that had experienced MUCH worse than I did, but it didn’t matter. What happened to me was permanently stuck in the front of my brain for some reason. But now I had a name for it.
I slowly began to tell my family members about my feelings and my discoveries online. They were all very supportive and wanted to help. My mom suggested just telling my birth story out loud to any friend or family member that I could. Just to try and give it less power so that I could maybe realize that it was just a story. And it didn’t have to affect me like it was. I followed the advice and it really helped. It’s been 10 months now since my birth, and I’m still triggered every once and a while. Sometimes when I take my kids to the hospital for shots or checkups I get huge waves of fear come over me just because I’m in the same building. Or I’m terrified that I’m going to see that midwife again. But I am much better. And I’m so thankful to God for that. It’s been a long road, and it’s not over yet, but I am healing slowly. I could not have done any of it without my family and my God.