If you just made it here, might I recommend starting with part 1 of CJ’s birth story? If you’ve already read that, let’s pick up where we left off…
I’ve always been a bit crunchy, dabbling in homemade granola here, raising some hens there, you know how it goes, so I had imagined having a lovely, unmedicated birth. I didn’t want unnecessary medical interventions or pain medication. I spent a lot of my pregnancy reading up on unmedicated births and preparing myself to deal with the pain.
So, Wednesday night, we drove back up to the hospital with contractions every three minutes lasting one minute each. Or roughly that. I’m one of the lucky ones who gets coupled contractions, or contractions that peak, start to diminish, peak again, and then finish diminishing.
I was admitted shortly after 6pm to one of the larger birthing rooms. The L&D nurse confirmed that I was still at about 6.5cm dilated, then promptly hooked me up to the monitors and checked my blood pressure. This was not quite the unmedicated, intervention-free birth I had in mind – I wanted to walk through my contractions and relax, not be strapped to the bed.
The monitors showed what I already knew: my labor was slowing (again) and my blood pressure was reading high. I nearly refused the blood draw this time, and still wish I had. The on-call OB, whom we’ll call Captain Intervention, called for another pre-eclampsia test since my blood pressure was high (stress will do that, and I was already starting to stress out), so the blood was drawn. I didn’t end up with another bruise to show for it, but I was still not tracking well towards my dream natural, unmedicated childbirth (NUCB from here on out).
From then on, it became a battle to try to do things my way. Captain Intervention came by to offer me pitocin, which I declined. He then offered to break my water, which I declined. He then pushed the issue, saying, “Well, the way I see it is you can dip your toes in the water or you can jump right in. You can have that baby today.”
Oh, how desperately I wanted to have that baby. To finally get to meet her, to see her, and to snuggle her. I still told him no, and asked him not to push the issue any further.
So, he proceeded to explain how they break the water and it’s “just a little pop to get things moving.” I told him to leave. I had no interest in being convenient for him or being subject to his timeline and ending up in the OR with a cesarean that I didn’t need because I wasn’t progressing as quickly as he liked.
To add to my stress, I was told it was hospital policy to have an IV line placed, but not hooked up, just in case. The nurse promised me that I would have full range of movement with the line, and then proceeded to place it in my wrist.
The pain was excruciating. I immediately sobbed. The line had been placed very poorly, where it was rubbing a nerve and made it impossible to move any part of my arm without screaming pain. I demanded the line be removed just as my husband did, and absolutely refused another try.
Over the course of the night, my contractions slowed and eventually stopped. My blood pressure would settle when we were left alone, and spike when someone came in to “check on us.” The hospital became the exact opposite of everything I’d ever dreamed having a baby would be.
I spent the next few hours thinking and unable to sleep. I started listening to my body and my baby, as I sat and cried to my little girl, “I’m scared, too, and I don’t want to be here either. I don’t blame you for not wanting to come out for the scary man.” I felt that I had tried to rush her too much, and that I would now be doing everything on her schedule. I loved her too much to push her anymore. My husband held me as I sobbed, apologizing to him and to our baby.
He and I both knew we had to leave the hospital. He began to look into homebirth and unassisted childbirth while I gathered and packed our things.
At 3 am Thursday morning, I called in the nurse, and told her I was leaving.
Medical personnel get this fantastically satisfying deer-in-the-headlights look when a laboring woman at 6.5cm dilated tells them she’s not staying in the hospital.
Luckily, the nurse was a very nice gal and had treated me with respect the whole time I was there. She went to get Captain Intervention for me, so I could leave.
When Captain Intervention arrived, he was “very concerned.” I was offered pitocin or a broken amniotic sac a few additional times, and had to decline repeatedly and uncompromisingly. Captain Intervention was displeased, and I’m sure I hurt his ego.
He told me, “I don’t recommend this and you are at a high risk of maternal and fetal death.”
I told him to bring me the paperwork to sign, and that I was leaving, and that was that. I had nothing further to discuss. A threat of death was an extreme exaggeration for a healthy woman who had had a healthy pregnancy and had no other risk factors for anything to go awry.
And so we left the hospital, against medical advice, after declining any additional tests, screenings, or cervical checks. I had had my fill of modern medicine for the week.
(As an aside, I am so thankful for modern medicine and everything it provides to those who need it. Unfortunately, I had a poor experience, with all kinds of unnecessary business, and am very thankful that I had the balls to leave when I did and do what I knew in my heart was right for me and my baby.)
Interestingly enough, about 5 minutes after leaving the hospital, my light contractions returned and started to come every 20 minutes after that. It was too late, however, the damage had been done. CJ had crawled back up into my ribs, and the “dropped” belly I have in the photo above was no more.
We finally arrived home around 4am on Thursday morning and went back to bed to try and get some rest.
To be continued… Read part 3 here!