This morning I read this blog http://omgdgms.com/2009/11/10/chop-shop/ and instantly, I was transported back to my first birth. The induction I "had" to have, the utter lack of informed consent, the complications that I now realize are incredibly common during inductions, the interventions I know I should have refused, the monitoring I should have asked for before agreeing to be induced at all. I hadn't read my birth story in a long time; I much prefer the more positive version I choose to think of to the written version I never finished. Because what happened in reality was not what my birth was supposed to have been- a few lines from my birth story:
Labor! I thought.
and both of them came into the labor room-- this was after I had said I didn't want anyone in the room except my husband and my mom
when I got back to the room we had to start pitocin
I had to be hooked up to monitors all the time
then the downward spiral began
I was stuck in bed, I couldn't do anything for myself
I was tired and scared and frustrated and hurting, and I felt alone
I found myself thinking, "Good lord, could you just keep everybody the fuck out of here???"
she and the nurses kept asking me why I was crying. I couldn't tell them
I asked for the (epidural) consent form and after going to the bathroom one last time I signed it
now I started puking my guts out too. God, it was horrible.
Oh, how I hated it.
We had internal monitors, IV antibiotics, constant checks, catheter... Pretty near every possible intervention. And still, I was no closer to giving birth.
That's where I stopped writing. After I got the epidural I was no longer in pain and I stopped vomiting, but the rest of my labor complications continued. The hours continued to pass and I have to give some credit to my OB- I asked for a c-section long before she agreed it was time to perform one, and Vince was born just before 3 a.m. so I certainly can't say it was a matter of convenience for anyone. But the induction, the labor, were so awful... I felt like I'd been completely abandonded and my wishes didn't matter at all, to anyone. At one point I locked myself in the bathroom, I just wanted to escape it all, have the chance to labor and birth my baby in peace. But I didn't get that chance.
It has been so long since my son was born that I am caught off guard when I realize how emotional I still am about it. I used to feel like a failure but I don't any more. Now I just feel sad, both for the woman I was and for every other woman who has to go through an experience like mine. When did it become okay for birth to be like this? How did we go from twilight sleep and preventative forceps deliveries to this? Is inducing and medicating and offering technology instead of comfort really the answer to a better, safer birth? We've traded one illusion of control for another, and we've convinced ourselves that we are somehow to blame when it fails. The technology is infallable, our bodies are what's broken. We failed to dilate, our babies didn't tolerate labor, we developed infection. It's not because we weren't ready for labor or pitocin-induced contractions are harder on babies or artificial rupture of membranes combined with multiple internal exams increases infection risk. No. Because those things are controllable, we are the wild cards, we are the ones who failed.
Like I said, I no longer feel like a failure. I know I am capable of giving birth, I know my faith in the process was not misplaced. I just wish I could go back in time and sit next to that woman who was me, reach out to her, hold her hand, tell her that she had options. Tell her it is okay to ask questions and even say no. And then, later, I wish I could just put my arms around her, hold her, let her cry out her perceived failures, and tell her that at some point in the future those feelings would fade, and she might even find ways to use her experiences to help other women avoid going through the same thing. I can't go back, though, and my heart aches when I remember how much it hurt to have my first birth be such a testament to the failures of modern obstetrics. It still hurts, even 7 years later.