Peter’s Birth

Third pregnancy, third baby, 2 days overdue. I was preparing for a home delivery with lay midwives. 6 weeks before my due date, my husband announced he was in love with a friend and was probably going to leave us (and this was to be my “serene” pregnancy, since we’d moved during each of the previously two.) The next day, a midwife determined the baby was breech, and by their protocols no longer a candidate for home delivery. I was crushed. I read and attended birthing classes. I elevated my hips every time I was hungry (to ensure an empty stomach) in case the baby might have been able to turn when floating up out of the pelvic cavity. I had a massage, followed by an attempted in-office (no drugs) external version by the Dr. who had delivered my firstborn, also a breech. My midwives were also present to learn the procedure. Everyone long ignored my repeated suggestion that we elevate my hips. His touch was painful and the version was not successful. After every “request” to turn over, I would stroke & reassure the baby within that it was all right and fine any way it needed to be.

Labor again proceeded gradually over several days at a leisurely pace, allowing me to sleep well each evening. The day before the birth, a midwife came over to check me internally to learn more about breech presentation. She estimated me at 3 cm. dilation. Rushes again stopped for me to sleep, then picked up again. I went to the hospital only when I needed to breathe with concentration, to be there “in time” for whatever x-rays or ultra sounds that might be required of me, always hopeful of the possibility of the baby’s turning and my going home for birth, after all.

When I arrived at our local teaching hospital, labor temporarily stopped, as before. A nurse tried to prevent our entering with a small cooler of snacks for my estranged husband/coach, but she was snatched away by others. Many folks came in and respectively discussed requests I had written for no interventions. I had no doubt I could safely birth this baby, as his brother & sister came out fine. I felt prepared and ready. When contractions slowed down, I walked around. I was examined upon arrival and the first (intern?) assessed me at 3 cm. Two seconds later, someone else checked and pronounced me 5 cm. Someone put in an IV, and blood from my arm spurted and spiraled into the air as they tried to catch it for tests. People argued and berated one another outside the door, but we tried to make a nest of peaceful solitude in the labor room, nevertheless.

My waters broke spontaneously during a blood pressure check by a friendly nurse, I was so excited, she smiled & smiled as I asked her to confirm the waters were clear. Every time a Dr. came into the room, labor would stop. One Dr. came in to check and pronounced me fully dilated & effaced, but baby was still very high (at zero?) I asked where baby would need to go and he told me (station 4?) While he was checking, the baby obligingly shuddered and shifted all the way down! “You only need to tell me what’s needed,” I assured the astonished man. It was soon apparent I was to have a son. When my body proceeded to push in spit of my blowing as instructed, we were made to move to a delivery room because he was breech.

(This was a summer of extraordinary swarms of flies, causing jokes about birthing at home while brushing flies aside.) In the delivery room, the hand grips were broken and useless. I was put into the lithotomy position with out having to have my wrists restrained. (There on the light over my head was a big, fat fly! No one else seemed to understand that I thought it was funny.) There was great tension in the room. The attending physician stood by my side, the resident sat on the stool. Things seemed to me to be progressing very well. I concentrated on following instructions, especially about waiting, so I wouldn’t pop him out so quickly as I had his sister. I was told to “hold it!” and I did.

My husband leaned close to me and said, “They’re going to put you under.” I asked, “Why? Everything’s going so well!” I looked in the mirror and noticed that my son’s whole body was already out and thought, “They’re worried about the head!” So I promptly “gave them” the head. (four hours after arriving in the hospital.)

Next thing I knew, a masked anesthesiologist was very upset, kicking carts out of his way. He was scolding nurses to take my glasses, that “We could be having a patient fatality here!” Someone noticed my alarm and warned him to behave. My husband later told me he saw the anesthesiologist inject something into my IV, before he could do any more, my husband tapped him and showed him that the baby was already out.

The anesthesiologist was trying to put a mask over my face.
“I don’t want to go to sleep, LOOK, he’s out! I kept pointing.”
“This is oxygen,” he tried to reassure me, “you’ll be taking a little minute nap.”
“I DON’T WANT to go to sleep, LOOK, he’s already out!”
“It’s already in your IV.”
“Will it hurt the baby?”
“”No. It will be completely metabolized in 8 minutes.”

I saw them cutting the cord, and thought I then said, “Now for the placenta.” They were swabbing my uterus (SOP) as they reassured me, that had already happened and I had just come to.

I overheard the attending physician and the resident talking in the corner. Apparently the attending had felt my tightened abdominal muscles when I’d been asked to “Hold it.” and worried my uterus was hardening in some dangerous way. NO ONE asked me to relax. NO ONE except my husband even spoke with me about what was happening until putting that mask over me. Later, baby & I were soaked because the IV pulled out of the needle in my arm. Then I realized the IV could have been interrupted and fervently wished I had just PULLED it out myself instead of receiving unnecessary drugs.

Needless to say, I missed the wonderful rush of joy and special connecting time right after birth. I struggled to be ever more aware, I refused to let us be separated. They made us put the baby in the cot to move to a postpartum room, so his dad kept a hand on him as we were wheeled along. All other procedures were done in my room, and I again signed myself out Against Medical Advice. Our pediatrician discharged our new son, Peter (7″ 12 oz., 21″, 37 cm head) because he’d been examined by a pediatric resident in the delivery room. My husband wondered if I should go home soon after anesthesia. I assured him that if he wouldn’t take me, I would take a taxi, because I WAS GOING HOME! We left at 11:30 p.m., four hours after his birth.

This was a bittersweet time. The birth was wonderful amidst wounding treatment. My husband did leave us. My family who came to help were not sufficiently helpful and I determined to take care of myself. The kids were great, though not unscathed by their father’s departure. La Leche League was the ONLY place I found support to be WITH my family. I later met and fell in love with a man who dated baby & me as a nursing couple. He and I have been on one long date for the last 17 years. It has been very healing to share my story with you. My feelings are still very strong. I hope it helps others.