Note: I really enjoyed reading birth stories while I was pregnant, so I wanted to share mine. I also hope sharing my story will help soothe the fears of some other mommas.
I am a researcher. Before I tackle any challenge, I like to read a lot and learn as much as I can before diving in. I think this is mostly due to my need to feel in control, although I don’t consider myself a control freak. I just like to be prepared, and becoming a mom was no different. I read all the books, I watched all the movies.
So, when I got pregnant the first month we didn’t-not-try, I wasn’t too freaked out. There was definitely an “Oh shit” moment, but I didn’t feel overwhelmed. I knew I wanted a homebirth if it was safe for me to do so. I even already had my birth center picked out.
I was prepared, remember?
And, then, the glucose test.
What I wasn’t prepared for was to fail my glucose screening at 29 weeks. It honestly never crossed my mind. I eat pretty well, I wasn’t overweight, it didn’t run in my family (I didn’t think).
And yet, there it was. Failed. But surely I would pass the 3-hour test, right?
Nope, failed it, too. Even though I drank water and walked between sticks. (I know there is a lot of talk about ‘tricking’ the test, but I figured if I really had it no amount of walking was going to change it, and if I was just borderline maybe it would help.)
There went my home birth.
I didn’t realize how attached I had become to the idea of my home birth. We had a massive master bedroom, and I had already dreamed of giving birth in a pool and crawling into our (plastic lined) bed with my new baby and my husband.
We would cuddle and cry and it would be beautiful. My baby would enter into the world calm, knowing she was loved. It would be an incredible bonding moment between my husband and I.
In the state of Florida, having gestational diabetes immediately risks you out of a homebirth or midwife only birth. I had to go to a doctor.
Going to a doctor terrified me. In most cases, I believe doctors tend to look at the numbers and make decisions based on stats versus what is the best in each individual situation. They also have to CTA (cover their asses) to protect themselves against malpractice suits. I understand why, but becoming just another number terrified me.
I don’t know why it never occurred to me that I would risk out. I was prepared, damn it.
Hormonal and very pregnant, I am not ashamed to admit I cried. I cried almost a full day. Then I felt guilty for crying worried about the stress I was putting the baby through. I grieved that the scene I had built in my head would never happen. (I didn’t even realize how attached I was to that scene. I was doing my best to “Have no expectations”)
But, there it was. I was going to have my baby in a hospital.
To The Doctor
I took the recommendation of my midwife and went to see Dr. Adams at Full Circle Women’s Care. I went in prepared to battle. I was terrified I was going to have to fight tooth and nail to have a natural, unmedicated birth. They were probably going to cut me and I surely I was going to have to fight for immediate skin to skin and delayed cord cutting.
Luckily, it didn’t turn out that way. All of the things I thought I would have to fight them on were standard practice.
Carol, my midwife (I still got a midwife!) was kind and understanding. The entire practice is very pro-breastfeeding (but not overly aggressive), the doctor has a very low C-section rate, and they never push to induce for convenience.
Over the next few weeks, I became more and more at ease. A hospital birth wasn’t ideal, but it was possible to have a natural birth and I felt like my doctor and midwives supported the birth I wanted.
Towards the end of my pregnancy, I was going to a high-risk OB once a week and also seeing Dr. Adams once a week.
Turns out, baby girl was big. Bigger than the high-risk OB liked. He told me straight up “If you were my patient, you would be getting a c-section.” Which was one of my worst fears.
But, I trusted my doctor. She knew a big baby alone wasn’t a reason to have a c-section. Unfortunately, she also thought a c-section would likely result in the best outcome for me and baby.
I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Based on increased risk due to gestational diabetes, my doctor wasn’t comfortable letting me go past 40 weeks. So, I already knew induction was a possibility. But they were willing to try non-medical induction methods first.
But, because of both the size of the baby and the size of her head versus the size of her shoulders, my doctor wasn’t willing to induce me. I found out two days before my due date that I would likely have a c-section.
I was devastated. Again.
I had tried to mentally prepare myself for a c-section because I didn’t want to be blindsided the same way I was when I lost my home birth.
I went to bed that night terribly upset. There wasn’t anything I could do, and I did actually trust the doctor had my best interests in mind. She wasn’t forcing me to have a c-section, but she did think that was the best option.
I had trouble sleeping that night. I finally managed to fall asleep around 2 am. In addition to being upset, baby was rocking and rolling, which made it hard to sleep. She’d never done that before, but I assumed she was just running out of room.
I woke up at 4 am with contractions, which had happened a few times before. I gave it a bit of time. I mean, really, what were the chances I would go into labor the one day between my doctor appointment and my scheduled c-section?
Apparently pretty good.
I laid in bed for a few minutes and the pain got worse, so I got up to go to the bathroom. I figured I would wait to see if they kept getting worse before I bothered my husband.
After just a few minutes it was pretty obvious to me I was in labor. (I always thought the advice “Oh, you will know when you are in labor!” was sort of useless. But it was true, at least for me!)
I walked back to the bedroom and shook my husband awake.
“Remember how I was supposed to have a c-section tomorrow? I am in labor now. Good times.”
He got up and used an app on his phone to track how far apart the contractions were. I knew plenty of women labor for hours, so I wasn’t in a real rush. Plus, my doctor had said if I went into labor she would let me labor if I wanted. When I pushed her for her thoughts, she did say she thought it was likely I would end up with a c-section regardless. (I really liked that she didn’t push me.)
After about an hour, it was obvious the contractions weren’t going to stop. They were already 5 minutes apart and very strong. I started feeling nauseous, which I knew could be a sign of transition. Since the contractiosn were so close already, we decided to call the after hours line.
“What do you want to do?”
“Let’s just do the damn c-section.”
“Okay, head to the hospital and I will meet you there.”
Just like that, all my biggest fears came true. I was in the hosptial laboring on my back, hooked up to a monitor while I waited for the surgery team to get ready. I couldn’t move around as much as I wanted, and I end up with a c-section. I do remember there was an episode of House on the television in the room, which I found both amusing and distracting.
And you know what?
It was still beautiful. Not in a “Well, these are the cards I was dealt, so I’ll just learn to love it.” My birth was amazing. The doctor was kind and gentle, she had them set up the bed to let me watch her come out of my belly. The nurses held my hand when I cried while sitting on the table waiting for the spinal tap. The nurses after were kind and helpful. I felt cared for and not rushed.
Walking into to the operating room was the scariest part. It was bigger than I expected, and cold. And I was alone because John wasn’t allowed in until I had the spinal tap. I was crying, and I was already having trouble breathing through my nose because I had just caught a terrible cold a few days prior.
Did I mention I have never had any surgery, ever? I have never had stitches and I still have all my wisdom teeth.
The nurse held my hand and even held a cloth so I could blow my nose. Everyone was so kind. I didn’t feel like a number or just another patient.
The contractions kept coming hard and fast, and I kept wishing the anesthesiologist would get there. He finally did, and it was such a freaking relief. The spinal tap was an odd sensation. I could feel my feet were there, but I couldn’t make them move. It was almost like they were asleep, just without the tingling feeling.
I expected to feel scared during the surgery but I wasn’t. The lack of sleep and pain from laboring sort of zapped any anxiety out of me. They pulled her out, and I yelled across the room “No drops in her eyes!” because even though I had told the pediatrician already I figured he would forget.
My birth wasn’t at all what I expected, but it was beautiful. A small part of me is sad I will never get my homebirth. (I will most likely have gestational diabetes again if we have another.) But I am not sad about my birth. It was an amazing experience.
Today, my little chunker is 5 months old and just started sleeping through the night. (We will see how long that lasts!) Pic for cuteness:
Look at that face!