Empowering unplanned cesarean birth.

January 26, 2015

One of my lovely, previous clients was kind enough to share her birth story with me.

Here is Cheryl’s story

As I laid on the bed flat on back with my legs in the air, pushing with everything I had in me I started to acknowledge that something wasn’t right. I had been feeling that way for a while but didn’t want to admit it to my birth support team. In between contractions I sat up and asked my midwife how long we were going to do this. I could see the concern in her face and she said that neither of us were in distress so we could go as long as I wanted. I had crossed the threshold from pain to suffering an hour earlier and I didn’t want to wait until one of us was in distress to make any moves. I said the words I never ever thought would cross my lips, “I want to go to the hospital.” I told her that something just didn’t feel right. I wasn’t feeling my baby coming down and instead when I pushed I felt a tug in my pelvis.


My labor had been hard to get started and I had been having contractions since my due date 2 weeks earlier. But a chiropractic adjustment got things going and by the time we got to the birth center I thought my son would be here soon. Things were pretty easy, I was having no trouble managing the pain of labor and I was chatty and laughing with my birth support team. I even had my doula playing pop music and bounced along on the birth ball. I could tell I was transitioning and asked to get in the tub. I started feeling the urge to push while I was in the tub, so we all went with it. Everything was going how I hoped and I could feel the excitement in the room that we would have a baby soon. Then the energy started to fade. I don’t remember exactly what happened but my midwife decided to check me, she said I wasn’t fully dilated.


They had me stop pushing and start doing squats and lunges for a few hours. I was miserable, it is pretty impossible to not push when every contraction is bringing the undeniable urge to do so. Everyone thought I could use some rest and I laid in semi-prone position to try to get the baby in a better position over my cervix.  I still wasn’t supposed to be pushing and there was no way I was going to get rest so I told the midwife I still had the urge and I just couldn’t wait anymore. I was up again and my water eventually broke, it seemed baby was just stuck and so we began a series of positions meant to get him over the pubic bone and through my cervix, my midwife had her hand inside trying to help the baby through with every urge. It went on like this for and couple more hours. I just could not do it anymore.


As I sat in the shower and tried to manage the pain while we waited for the ambulance my partner poked his head in and made meaningful eye contact with me. “They’re probably going to try to convince you to do a c-section.” He knew from months of conversations and our first son’s birth that a cesarean was one of my biggest fears. I looked him square in the face, “I’m going to ask them to give me one.” He hugged me and scurried off to pack the rest of our stuff.


Once we got to the hospital they checked me, saw that I was complete, and urged me to get an epidural so I could try for vaginal delivery. “Trust me, I’m the biggest advocate for vaginal birth, but something is not right and you need to get this baby out of me, I want a c-section.”


Immediately after the surgery a tech was talking with my partner, “you know, your wife definitely made the right call, there is no way she would have been able to push that baby out. He was really jammed on that pelvic bone and it looks like he may have been for a long time. Check his ear out when you get a second to look him over.”


Once we made it out of recovery and the baby and I were settled in our room we looked at his ears. One of them had a huge chunk of cartilage missing. The skin was there but it was like his ear had been jammed against my bone for so long the cartilage hadn’t been able to form in that spot. In that moment I knew I had made the right call. Even though I felt I was following my instincts by asking to be transferred to the hospital a part of me wondered if I did the right thing, but seeing his ear made all that fall aside. I felt satisfied that I had done all I could do.


As I processed my second birth I realized I felt more empowered by and at peace with my cesarean birth than I ever had been with my water birth. I never expected to feel that way and thought about the difference between the two. The major difference was that I was an active participant in my experience, I listened to my body the whole time. I immediately acted when my instincts told me something wasn’t right and I wasn’t afraid to share my thoughts with my birth support team.


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