PCOS + Arrest of labor + Cesarean Delivery | A Birth Story of Central IL | Brittney Hogue - Birth Photographer
It was 3AM on June 23rd, 2017.
I was smoothing my shirt to take one last photo at 41 weeks and 5 days before heading off to the hospital for an induction. I felt a twinge of failure for not having naturally induced labor by any means before the induction. I had spent several weeks trying every single suggestion to bring on labor. Walking a mile a day, in the summer, over 40 weeks pregnant was no fun. But no worries, because I felt a little more hopeful. Of course, going in so far along to be induced, I'm sure to have her right away. Grandma planned to come at 9AM. "No! Come sooner! I don't want you to miss her! I know she'll come fast!" I confidently said the night before.
This was my miracle baby.
I was given a 1% chance of natural conception. She was our surprise we naturally conceived. We went to the hospital and I was filled with anticipation.
The warm summer, early morning air reminded me of the adventures my husband and I had been on while traveling as a young married couple. This felt like the biggest adventure and I was so excited to meet our daughter.
Right away, I made sure to point out the 6 copies of our birth plan that included delayed cord cutting, immediate skin to skin, no bath, breastfed only. I emphasized and so looked forward to "The Golden Hour". I imagined what it would be like to hold my sloppy little one in my arms, greeting her, and allowing her to feel safe in this bright and cold room.
They started the pitocin right away at 5AM. I thought it would be immediate labor, but no- it was low and slow. "I'm actually doing this!" I thought. I prayed for our safety as we went through this journey together. It wasn't all too painful. I was dilated to a 2 with 70-80% effacement when I came in to the hospital. Around 9AM, because I wasn't progressing as much as they'd like, they put a water filled balloon in me to dilate me to a 4.
At 10:30, the nurse came in to take the balloon out to check my dilation. "You're at a 4". "Okay, can I go pee?" I said, as the labor pains beckoned me to the bathroom. She helped me out of bed, and the minute my feet touched the floor, my water broke. All over. I slipped and slid. "Wow," I thought, "is that what that feels like? So cool! I'm really going to do this! She'll be here soon!" Without bringing me to the bathroom, the nurse told me to get back in bed. I really had to pee. She said she'd be back in a minute to go to the bathroom, that she needed to clean this up. I was thrilled. It wasn't disgusting to me, it was miraculous!
I'M DOING IT!
I'm actually doing this! I felt a wave a confidence. I'm going to do this, like a pro! My husband and sister were there, helping me through the waves of contractions. I'd bounce on the ball and go to sit on the toilet. I was playing solitaire on my phone in between contractions. Chatting it up. I felt so empowered! I kept thinking, "I'M DOING THIS! I'VE GOT THIS!"
Around 2PM, I called the nurse to ask her to check my dilation and told her it was getting a bit harder with the contractions being closer together. She checked. I was at a 5. A 5 ?! Would I be able to handle a 6? A 7? An 8, 9, 10 ?
"Can I have the pain med you were talking about?"
"Sure," she said, "but you can only have two doses."
It was short lasting and I decided to continue to labor without the second dose. "Can you check me again?" 5. I was still at a 5.
"When is she coming?" I thought, "it has to be soon".
I finally opted for the second dose.
The nurse came in after stepping out for a while and said, "We have an anesthesiologist here to do an epidural instead. If you don't want it now, it might be too late later. Now is a good time as he has other patients to see".
"Oh, okay. I can't have the second dose?"
"Your doctor didn't clear it"
"Okay, I'll take the epidural".
It was only the three of us. Myself, the nurse, and the anesthesiologist. I asked if I could hold her hand- I was scared, nervous. She held my hand.
Done. He was finished, no hiccups.
The next several hours, I felt almost nothing. I didn't feel when my contractions were off the charts. As they became more intense and closer together, I felt a sort of stabbing pain in my lower uterus.
12 AM, June 24, 2017.
Things began to look bleak. Not progressing. Not progressing. You're only at a 6. Talk of a potential c-section began to float around the medical staff. They said we can either do it now or later, but we can't go too much longer. My husband and I decided we'd wait it out a bit longer. 1:45 AM. My family is crowded in the labor room. An alarm starts to go off. Everyone perks up to the sound, a nurse rushes in.
Her heart rate is dropping with each contraction. "No!" I thought, "but they told me they can feel her head, they can feel her hair. Is she okay? Is she hurting?" She was stuck at a -1 and not descending further. A few doctors and nurses came in.
"We're going to have to do C-section, okay? We need your consent".
They held out a sheet of paper.
Consent? Did I really even have a choice?
The paper outlined how I acknowledge that I could lose my life and that they would not be accountable for any loss of life. My life. My own life. My baby's life. Not responsible? Are they going to take care of us to the fullest? My mind went into a motherly duty mode. This is my life, but my baby's life is worth more to me than my own.
I prayed and prayed, never ceasing, "please let us be safe. Please, I'm scared, please take care of us," I begged God.
I looked at my husband as I was wheeled out of the room and down the hall. I saw each light as it passed- slow motion. This goes against everything I wanted. What did I do wrong? I feel so violated. I feel like I'm subjecting myself to something I don't want to do. I have no other choice. They lifted my body onto the cold, hard operating table. The anesthesiologist, a different man this time, tried to comfort me. As the medicine pumped through my veins, I shook and shook. I couldn't control my body. Was it anxiety? Was I cold? "It's the medication," he told me.
The OB began, announcing everything she was going to do. She took a sharp pair of scissors and poked my stomach.
"Do you feel that?"
"What does it feel like?"
"Like you're poking me with something sharp"
"She shouldn't feel that," she told the anesthesiologist.
He made adjustments. She poked again, "what do you feel?"
"A dull sensation, like you poked me with a finger"
"Good, let's get started"
I heard the whizzing of the blade and felt, without pain, my stomach being cut open. I had completely, mentally submitted. Given up. I kept telling myself it would be over soon. I kept praying. I felt my body shake side to side as they tried to pry open my contracted pelvis. They gave up and cut through my abdomen muscles. My husband had joined my side. He held my hand tightly, "it's going to be okay, I'm here".
I heard a gurgling, then a cry.
She was safe! My baby was here safe! My husband went from me to the baby. We talked about it the night before and I said that if she and I had to be separated, I wanted him to go with her. My attention on what was still going on with the surgery was non-existent.
They brought her over to me, wrapped. As I could see her face, I saw her lips rooting like crazy for a boob. I wanted to feed her.
"Hi, Rosalynn! I'm your mom! It's okay honey, I'm here" I said, unable to see her face as she was tilted upward. The anesthesiologist took a picture. One or two of the medical staff told my husband and baby to leave the room.
I wanted to see her. She was crying as she left the room. My poor baby. She's never been away from me before. Does she feel abandoned? I can't comfort her. I can't feed her. Does she know why I'm not there?
This made me feel like a failure as a mother, hearing her scream and cry as they wheeled her out of the room and down the hall. My poor baby was torn from me and taken from me. She's crying for me and I can't come.
The doctors and medical staff gossiped about other doctors as they stitched me up. "How much LONGER?" I thought. My OB came to my side, "Okay, we're all done. For your next pregnancy, C-section at 39 weeks, kay?"
"Next pregnancy?" My mind wasn't even there.
They wheeled me into the recovery room. 3:15 AM. "When can I see my baby?" The nurse, with my vital screen turned to her, but away from me, said, "it'll be a while".
"Is there an estimate?"
I watched the clock. Exhausted from being awake so long. Exhausted from the many hours of labor. Drained from the emotional turmoil of worrying about the operation and our safety. The clock. Every moment, every minute.
3:50AM. The nurse got a call or page of sorts, "Hello?" I could hear the muffled sound of a nurse, "can baby come down from nursery?" "Not yet," she said. I heard some sort of gentle protest, but acceptance.
After she hung up, I asked again, "when will I get to see my baby? I want to see my baby. She's hungry, I could see that she was hungry". "Not yet, we still have to wait a while".
What were we waiting for? I'm not going to sleep for anything until I see my baby.
4:15AM. Another call, "When can baby come down from nursery? She needs to eat, she's put down for exclusive breastfeeding". "Fine, fine, bring her down".
4:35AM- my husband walks in with our crying daughter. She's exhausted. She's hungry. "My baby! Come here, are you hungry?" I called weakly. "You're so white, Kaite," my husband said in a shocked voice.
I fed my daughter for the first time. She eagerly ate and settled. "She cried the entire time, nonstop," my husband told me. 2 hours... It broke my heart.
I felt I had let my daughter down.
I didn't want to be separated from her again. I'm not sure when I was wheeled out of the room or what happened next, because I was a mama who finally got to hold my baby. Who finally was able to protect and feed my baby.
My plan was disregarded. I completely put all my trust in the medical staff when I walked through the doors. I still wonder if it was well placed. What if I had let her come in her own time? Everything looked great on ultrasound. All was well. Did I trust the medical staff more than my own ability as a mother to give birth? My mistake was my mentality. Believing I wasn't able to handle it on my own. Not having the confidence to carry through like a medical professional could.
The birth haunted me.
It fed my postpartum depression and anxiety. The 'failure' of my body, the poor treatment by a nurse after we had settled into the maternity ward, the recovery itself from the C-section, the not being there for my screaming newborn the first few hours of her life. I ordered my birth notes and all from the hospital to see what happened. I needed it to heal. A contracted pelvis. My pelvis and abdominal muscles contracted so tightly, it was funneling her into the birth canal. It made sense now why they had to cut through. I'll still always wonder, where did I do wrong? What could I have done differently?
The awful birth experience was more than made up for by my sweet, happy, sleep-through-the-night-at-7-weeks baby. Always smiling, always happy.
-Kaitlynd, Peoria IL
Your birth won’t always go the way you planned, the way you dreamed, the way you hoped. It is my hope that sharing Kaitlynd’s story lets other women with similar experiences feel validated in the truth they experienced. You are not a failure. You are allowed to forgive yourself for the guilt you carry. It is okay to feel that pain and also absolve yourself. When I asked Kaitlynd if there is anything she would want to tell her younger, more pregnant self, she had this to say: