What was and what could be

Last week was my little guy’s first birthday.  I’ve been reflecting on his birth throughout this last year, but especially lately.  Noting what I want to do differently next time while it’s still fresh.

Some people might say that I should be happy because my baby and I came through alive and healthy, but to ignore the rest is to discredit a much larger picture.

My husband and I felt prepared for our son’s birth.  We took a class, read a lot, had a doula lined up and an OB with a low c-section rate. We printed our birth plan, and pre-registered at a baby-friendly hospital.

Then about a month before my due date, our doula fell through.  After searching for another, I decided I’d rather it just be my husband and I instead of adding someone I’d just met to our birth team.

I can’t help wondering what would have been different if I’d had a doula.  My plan had been to labor at home for as long as possible, but when I started throwing up we called the doctor and were instructed to go to the hospital.  My back labor was so intense I couldn’t tell how far apart my contractions were.

In the moment, all we’d known or planned before labor went out the window and we were at the mercy of the hospital.  I wish I’d had a doula to reassure us that what we were experiencing was normal, help us know when it was time to go to the hospital, and advocate for us once we got there.

I now believe I went to the hospital and got an epidural too soon.  I should have protested when they said they were giving me pitocin or when my OB broke my water.

I was on the hospital’s clock.  They had to keep things moving according to their ideas about how my labor should go, rather than letting my baby’s birth take it’s natural course.

After laboring for 21 hours and pushing for 2 my OB told me that my baby should already be here.  It didn’t seem like he would fit through my pelvis and a c-section was suggested.

During my very first prenatal appointment he had told me this was a possibility.  I kept pushing for a while, but made no further progress, so I consented to the c-section.

At the time I felt I was making an informed decision, but looking back I feel I was basically set up to accept a c-section.  That it was pointless to keep trying.  To give up, even though my baby and I were still doing fine.

I heard my son cry the moment he was born, but couldn’t see him.  Couldn’t hold him or nurse him.  My arms were strapped down and he was somewhere behind me, being wiped and measured.

Just after the surgery  I could feel everything.  My incision was on FIRE. It was by far the most pain I’ve ever experienced in my life.

I couldn’t remember the first time I held my son until he was about a month old.  My husband had to fill me in.  I couldn’t remember when I first tried to nurse him either.

That part is still fuzzy, but now I have hazy memories of briefly holding my new baby in the post op room. Having to hand him to a nurse because I was in too much pain and couldn’t stop shaking. Being wheeled by the nurses station, proudly holding my new born, on our way to our recovery room.

While it wasn’t all bad, it also wasn’t the birth experience I’d hoped for.  It’s left me wondering what could have been if interventions hadn’t snowballed.

Next time I will have a doula and I will attempt a VBAC.  I will labor at home for as long as possible before heading to the hospital and I will refuse an epidural, pitocin, or breaking of my water, unless absolutely necessary.  I want to labor in different positions, with different coping mechanisms and have a natural birth.

I believe all this is possible, but if it should end in another c-section I wont have these nagging doubts about what could have been.