Baby A’s Debut
Baby A’s Arrival
Mama: Debbie F.
Type of Birth: Cesarean
Birth Location: Hospital
Primary Care: Midwife
I had been planning on a home birth my entire life.
I planned on a lot of things my entire life, but most of them changed as I got older. Once my husband and I started trying to have a baby, my desire for a home birth only intensified.
I didn’t want to give birth in a hospital for one simple reason: hospitals stress me out and I didn’t want my child born into a stressful environment. I’m not sure when my aversion to hospitals began, I have only been in them a handful of times, and only as a visitor, but each time my heart rate quickened and I couldn’t wait to get out.
My pregnancy progressed without any complications through the first 39 weeks.
At 39 weeks, my blood pressure started to rise which concerned my midwife. She had me start taking frequent readings at home and texting her the results. One night, I had texted her that I had a high reading and that even after multiple tries, I couldn’t bring it down.
Even as I sent the message I was in no way concerned– I felt absolutely fine. So imagine my shock when she called me right back and told me that she thought I should go into the hospital for observation. The second she said “hospital,” I felt my heart drop to the pit of my stomach. I felt like I’d been punched.
She continued to speak to me, trying to calm me down and explain the situation, but really, everything after that sentence sounded like the Peanuts teacher was speaking to me.
I was in shock; my pounding heart was echoing in my ears and tears were streaming down my face. I lost all sense of composure and I was just panicking. That one moment is what defined the rest of the my daughter’s arrival, which to this day, almost two years later, I refuse to call her “birth.” I never regained my composure.
Before heading to the hospital, I met my midwife at the birth center where I’d been receiving my prenatal care. She checked my blood pressure again, still high, but lower than my readings. She also did an internal exam. Everything was still intact with no dilation or effacement. Well, there was some, but very little and I had been at that stage since my appointment the prior week. There had been no progression.
She still wanted me to go in. At this point it was just to “check.” I don’t remember exactly what it was she wanted to check, I thought she had checked me there. But I went.
The hospital, unlike the birth center, was just a cold place of waiting— at least that’s what it felt like to me. It took at least an hour to even be seen, without a single other person in the waiting room.
But I had already “checked in,” giving all my information and even already naming my baby. The baby whose sex I didn’t even know yet. It was the middle of the night and I was placed in the care of a wretched nurse who berated me for “even thinking I could have a baby outside of a hospital.”
She proceeded to belittle all of my questions and comments. I requested another nurse, I was told there were none available.
However, she did tell me that everything looked absolutely fine and the “stupid midwife” had sent me in for no reason. I could go home. I finally felt a glimmer of hope. She had walked out of the room, leaving me alone, naked under a gown for another 30 or so minutes.
Just a quiet, dingy room with nothing to keep me occupied but the demons in my head. But I was told and I was convinced that I was going home. She finally returned only to tell me “nevermind, the doctor wants to admit you.”
I demanded answers and protested as much as I could, but they kept insisting (they, being the nurses, my husband and my parents) that I stay.
My parents, visiting from out of town in hopes of meeting the baby, were giddy with excitement at the prospect of actually getting to do so. And my husband, who was never 100% comfortable with me giving birth at home, was very concerned that the doctor was concerned and pleaded with me to just listen to them.
And so I surrendered.
They were concerned about the baby’s heart rate and wanted to keep an eye on it while inducing me to get things started since there were absolutely no signs of me going into labor any time soon.
After Cervidil, Pitocin, 16 hours of excruciating pain (which I don’t attribute to “contractions” but to my body fighting the process), I had not progressed in the least. To say there was even “marginal” progress would be an overstatement.
They decided to break my water to see if that helped and that’s when they saw “pea soup” (as my midwife called it). My daughter had pooped, and they worried about her inhaling it, or meconium aspiration.
The doctor gave me an hour to see if the breaking of the water kick started labor, and if it didn’t I was told I would be undergoing a cesarean.
At this point, my husband begged me to get an epidural. I had been crying, screaming and writhing from the pain. They kept coming into my room asking me what was wrong. Were they serious??? Then they told me to keep it down. I could have killed them.
I ended up getting the epidural, after which I don’t remember much.
I remember that the pain did subside. I remember being freezing, even under several blankets. I remember them telling me they couldn’t wait anymore. I do remember the doctor himself being very sweet and kind. He apologized that things had not gone as planned and explained he had done everything within his power to give me a vaginal birth but it just wasn’t in the cards.
They wheeled me into the operating room and prepped me. I struggled to keep my eyes open. I was in and out of consciousness. I remember hearing her first cry. I couldn’t see her. I couldn’t comfort her, and clearly no one else could either because she just screamed and screamed as they processed her.
My husband kept telling me how beautiful she was. I know that they finally brought her to where I could see her, while I was still strapped down, but I honestly don’t remember seeing her for the first time. That image is not in my memory.
I remember I kissed her and I remember her cries and that’s it.
They took her and I passed out. I was in the recovery room alone for who knows how long. When I woke up, there was a much perkier nurse who was checking my dressings and putting me in this huge padded pair of underwear. She told me they would be my new best friend— and she was right. I requested some extra when I went home.
She told me they were preparing my room and that we’d stop by the nursery to see my baby on the way to try to nurse, and that she would join me in the room soon after.
When I first saw my daughter, I didn’t feel any connection. I thought she was beautiful and sweet, but I didn’t feel like she was mine.
Even now, almost two years later, I feel most days as if I’m her nanny. I love her, I am responsible for her, but there is a disconnection between the baby I felt inside of me and the baby I see in front of me.
I wait for the day that I’ll feel that “moment.” I don’t know what it’ll feel like, I don’t even know that I’ll ever feel it, I just have to hope that someday it will all click for us.
I hope that I’ll be able to think back and remember what I hope are only repressed memories, and not lost ones. I hope that I can think back on her birth as the joyous occasion it should have been and not one of pain and anger.
We spent the next few days in our room getting to know one another— the first sweet days where all babies do is eat and sleep. And she spent most of that time sleeping on my chest. I can still feel the weight of her, that I do remember. After three full days, we were released and we came home to start our lives together.