A Series of Unfortunate Surprises…
TMI warning ahead!
I had a “birth plan”. I thought I was prepared, because in my Aspie mind, that is what I do.
I prepare for anything and everything so that I’m not unable to cope when something different happens. I wanted no meds, to go into labor naturally, no catheter, and for my husband to be present but not watching from the “business end”. I was like, “go me! I can deal with this!”. *cue my hysterical laughter now* Hahaha!!
Two weeks before my due date, I randomly developed pre-eclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure). This was the first surprise, since I was in my twenties, a healthy weight, ate well and exercised, and had never had hypertension in my life.
Then surprise, the due date came and went and I hadn’t gone into labor…so the Doc said I had better be induced since high B.P. could endanger me and the baby.
Surprise #3: I was at the hospital in the evening, being induced, expecting to be able to handle the pain–since so many other moms can. I wanted to avoid an epidural, but the Pitocin-laced contractions were unbearable FAST, so that sucker went in ASAP. And so did a catheter, which stung like hell even with the epidural. The Pitocin had to be turned up until labor progressed super-fast, then my water broke just minutes before the doc got there.
Someone told my husband to “grab a leg”, and then shocker #5, there he was holding my numb leg up right at the fun end of delivery. Which I honestly couldn’t have cared less about at the time since Surprise #6 was that the EPIDURAL DIDN’T @$%!! WORK on the entire vaginal area. So I was basically unable to feel my contractions properly or move my lower half, but still in mind-numbing pain which eventually made me vomit. Fan.Tastic.
I have no idea how long it took, but finally, out popped a brunette head, and the surprise of the rest of my little daughter wriggling out in just seconds, while someone cried “She’s here!”. Never had I felt such relief, exhaustion and happiness simultaneously. That was no surprise. She was amazing–healthy and strong and beautiful.
But there were some dark days ahead. Struggles with breastfeeding, pain, Post-Partum Depression and horrible anxiety, continued hypertension, insomnia (even though I was completely exhausted), being unable bond with my baby due to the PPD, and the inevitable abrupt crash of all the hormones that had made me actually feel “normal” during pregnancy. More explanation will come in later posts.
Which leads me to part two:
I’m not saying my birth experience was even out of the norm, and that there aren’t other moms who have had it much worse, or even lost their babies. I realize what a blessing it is to have had no actual emergencies.
I’m just saying that I couldn’t handle it. You can have PTSD-style flashbacks long after birth–another surprise that I wasn’t expecting. It was traumatizing to me, and I only fully realized this almost 6 weeks after the fact. I realized how mortified I was to have everything on full display for hours under bright lights, while I lost all control of my emotions from the pain and cussed and screamed probably loud enough to hear in the next department. How frustrated I was that I couldn’t naturally go into labor, delivering without the use of drugs. How angry I was that I was frightened into using IV antibiotics that were 99% unnecessary, and that my epidural was completely ineffective. How horrified I was at the indescribable, traumatizing pain of being forced to push something way too large out of the most sensitive part of my body–and that I tore down AND sideways, and it still hurts sometimes. How much it hurt, for days, to have a catheter shoved back in because I was completely unable to urinate afterwards. And mainly how disappointed I was with my body for essentially denying me the birth I had “planned” for. It just…struck me out of the blue, at 4AM. I needed to mourn the loss of what could have been a relatively mellow, natural birth but was instead the most terrible pain and horrible recovery I’ve ever experienced.
I don’t want to scare any pregnant ladies reading this. Birth is a very individual thing and some women experience actual bliss during delivery! I doubt even if I had another child, that it would be that bad again.
But let it be known that with something as monumental and complex as childbirth, anything can happen. So, the lesson I learned:
- Plans will have to change a little or a LOT more often than not, and you need to be prepared for that possibility to happen to you–so that if it DOES, you are less anxious about it.
If your plans do work out–I’m happy for you. And may more births be non-traumatic!
Also, check out this article. This lady deserves credit for getting her story out there: My Non-Traumatic Birth Was Traumatic To Me