However, since I had already toyed wistfully with the idea in my head, I was intrigued with the idea that natural births are better than hospital births and doctors and hospitals are the equivalent of the Big Bad Wolf and I went home and looked around on The Unnecesarean and Banned From Baby Showers websites. I was shocked to find so many statistics and the underhanded methods of physicians. The things that they will say to coerce a woman into a cesarean and the way that they will take cruel control in the name of ‘health’ shocked me. I showed the site to my husband and we went to meet my new doctor fully prepared with a few questions about his personal cesarean rates and a list of my expectations for my birth.
I told him my doctor the only way that I would have a cesarean is if my baby was in serious and immediate risk of death. Period. He quoted a cesarean rate much lower than the one that you gave us and explained that many cesareans rates quoted from their clinic included the cesareans for women who have already had cesareans in the past. He completely agreed that I should not have to undergo surgery unless the situation called for it loud and clear. We left feeling more confident and happily attended our ritzy high-end doctor’s appointments for the next several weeks, until…
I went in for a regular appointment at 35 weeks and the doctor checked to see if I had begun to dilate yet. To both of our surprise, baby girl had moved from the head-down to the butt-down position near the end of my pregnancy! This had happened with my son at 38 weeks as well, and my previous doctor had simply done a little sliding motion across my belly and he went right back into place quickly and almost painlessly. She then sent me next door to the hospital to be monitored for an hour and sent me home.
Dr. Ritzy informed me that this is a very difficult and risky procedure and I would need to go to the hospital in Arlington in a week to have baby moved if she hadn’t already done so on her own. So we went into the hospital a week later and found that our baby had not yet moved. They put me on a bed, prepped me for surgery for ‘just in case’ and gave me a drug in the IV to relax my uterus and make moving the baby easier. I thought that this was quite a bit of hoopla just so that the doctor could gently run his hand over my belly as my previous doctor had done for me, but I let him have his way and waited for the magic. What happened next was not magical, at all. He dug his hands into my belly and wrenched the baby to the side. It hurt more than anything I can describe to you, more than anything I have ever felt. They kept telling me to breathe, but I just couldn’t. Over and over he wrenched at my belly until I thought I might die. Just before his last try, he asked me if he should just stop and schedule my cesarean. I gasped out ‘no’ and he did it again. He failed. He moved her, but she was still not in the head down position and he didn’t dare try anymore. He informed me that he would schedule me for a cesarean in a week. I asked why we needed to do this- what if the baby moves herself? He told me that if the baby moved we wouldn’t need a cesarean. He would simply induce me and I would have they baby vaginally as I wished- YAY… wait. Why wouldn’t we just wait until I went into labor myself? That would give the baby more time to move and grow and become ready for the outside world, right? 37 weeks is not premature, but it is still early. Then he started with the lines that I read about on your site: ‘The baby is getting too big’, ‘You’re tired, it’s time’, ‘For your safety and the baby’s’… He went on and on over my protests and then walked out of the room. The nurse came in a couple minutes later to inform me that the doctor had scheduled me for the next week and had ordered me off of my Valtrex (I have genital herpes. Taking Valtrex in the end of my pregnancy ensures that I won’t break out and require a cesarean). I told her that I needed to take it. What if the baby moved? She walked out and came back to tell me that the doctor said I could continue taking the Valtrex.
We left the hospital devastated. I cried the whole way back to Mansfield and spent about an hour-and-a-half in despair, trying to accept what had happened to my pregnancy. I couldn’t though. I kept on thinking about your site and I slowly became angry. I spent the rest of the day trying to find a clinic that would take me in the end of my pregnancy. I found one and made an appointment for the day that my doctor had scheduled my cesarean. They did ultrasounds and monitored the baby immediately. Not only was she head-down already, but she was NOT too big at all. She was perfect.
You would think that this would be the happy ending, right? No. I went into labor at forty weeks and went to the hospital. My doctor was not on call. I spent the day being bombarded by all these different nurses and doctors that I had never met. Some were nice, some were pissy to be at work and it showed. When shift change came, I was assigned my last nurse. She came in from time to time to ‘check’ me but basically just kind of left us alone, which is what we wanted.
Less than two minutes after she left, I had another contraction and felt the baby move into my birth canal. I almost jumped, it was such a surprise. I told my husband and had another contraction that sent the baby even lower. I sent my husband out to find the nurse. She told him that there was no way because she had just checked me and sent him back to the room alone. The next 25 minutes were so beyond painful that, again, I am unable to describe it. The act of fighting my urge to push only made my labor more painful and I was so scared. My husband went so far as to tell me to just push. I didn’t though. Who would catch the baby? (silly me) I wish I had. When the anesthesiologist came in I told her that I needed to push now and she immediately got my nurse. My nurse came in scolding me. She scolded me again when she checked me and was unable to find my cervix because the baby's head was in the way. "Girl! I just checked you!" and then she put my legs in the stirrups, turned on the bright light, and told me to push. Half-way through my first push, her head crowned, but was blocked by the hand of my nurse. Half-way through that wonderful, relieving push I was ordered to stop and my baby’s exit was blocked. The nurse then paged the doctor and made us wait in that position for the doctor to arrive. When I asked if this was safe for my baby, the nurse scolded me again and told me that it was her job to worry, not mine. My baby was born with her cord wrapped around her neck and a slight case of jaundice.
Thankfully, they allowed me to nurse her for an hour before they whisked her off to a room where, contrary to the information in their brochure, my husband was not allowed to follow. Privacy and all that. Just as my husband was not allowed to tape or take pictures of our daughter’s birth.
If not for our chance meeting at Walmart that day, I may have let that first doctor cut me open. I may have fallen for his lines. My daughter was born 8lb 3oz, smaller than my son who was 8lb 8oz so his whole ‘baby too big’ line was a complete lie. I wish I had not gone to the hospital at all. Now I am pregnant again and I am facing a dilemma that I am sure many women face. I can’t afford a midwife or a birth center. My husband is unemployed and I am a stay-at-home mom. I get nauseous and anxious when I take my kids to their doctor’s appointments. I feel like I will be coerced into some sort of treatment that I don’t want for them. My last birth experience seems to have turned me into a bit of a mouse with doctors and I often take my husband to their appointments for support and a little bit of muscle.
I am working on a list of my birth expectations, complete with arguments for why it should be that way in case I come across any resistance. I get pretty busy with the kids and school so I haven't finished and I don't want to go to my first appointment unprepared. Also, it's always so busy there and I'm not even sure that the doctor will have time to listen to me.
I have put her in touch with a fabulous Certified Professional Midwife that lives in her area since recieving this email. I don't want to be a loud-mouth (well maybe I do), but I believe that change begins with each one of us. We must speak up for ourselves and for each other. Fathers need to know how to advocate for their wives and their babies. Spread the good news of natural and normal birth, my friends. Support the care providers -- in and out of the hospitals -- that provide Mother-Friendly maternity care. Don't be afraid to speak out against the ones who are not. If the demand is great, the change will be great!
Send good thoughts this mama's way come September, that she'll have an empowering birth experinece, feeling loved and supported along her journey.