Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Fenner's Birth Story Part I or Tripping the light fantastic down the cascade of intervention

It's been just over 6 months since Fenner joined us and I've been trying to write her birth story for about that long. Shit. I can't even talk about it without losing my breath and feeling a great weight of panic sitting on my chest. It keeps me awake at night still.

Luckily we sleep together and the smell of her head is the smell of all things good and right in life.
(photo courtesy of Michelle)
When she was just under 2 months old one of my oldest friends Sarah came to visit from Vancouver. We were on a walk and talking about the funny turns life takes, her burgeoning career as a therapist and mine as a mother and project manager.

The subject of Fenner's birth story came up and I mentioned how I was trying to write a story that wasn't full of bitterness, disempowerment and anger. That her birth story is rife with pushed timelines, feeling cornered and how I didn't want Fenner to know that it was awful. She encouraged me to write about it truthfully and it might help the healing.

This is the story of the Cascade of Intervention which I knew all about and could not stop.

I started out with a midwife and a homebirth plan - which ended with 8 OBs, 2 Residents, two midwives and our student, who, had been a practising OB in China (which presented it's challenges in advocacy when push came to shove, pun intended).

Knowing that none of us can really induce labour unless Le Bun is ready to join us, at the estimated week forty I started getting antsy and taking course of homeopathics that might gently convince her to come and play. Baths with Clary Sage oil, sex, spicy food, long walks, sex, raspberry leaf tea, walks, nipple twiddling. As week 42 got closer I got more desperate - the College of Midwives doesn't recommend homebirths that far post dates (their words not mine).

We started getting bio-physical profiles done every 2.5 days, knowing that if we didn't have proof the baby was healthy we'd have bogeys all over us.

I was having contractions at night but they'd chill out during the day, which felt a lot like a Hitchcock psycho-drama. Once 42 weeks ticked by we had to start consulting with OBs - my vagina became the pie in which many fingers got put. A kitchen with many chefs.

42 weeks and 1 day:
1 dose Progestoglandin (2 would have been too much) and so,
1 Folie Catheter which required me to be hospitalized and I spent 5 hours having intense and unproductive, unorganized contractions.

42 weeks and 2 days:
6 hrs later we were moved from the Labour and Deliver floor to the high risk floor

12 hours later - The midwife came with a confession that judging by the ultrasounds we were off our dates by 6 days, unfortunately obstetric "business practise" is that the dates on your file will not get changed unless the ultrasound is off by 10 days or more. We continue to have to convince OB's daily that we are sane, normal and healthy people that don't want a c-section.

I hate the fucking catheter and haven't slept in a day in a half - A nurse comes in to our room and suggests we have sex or twiddle my nipples. I start riding the razor's edge.

At 42 weeks and 3 days:
The catheter was removed and the Cervidill(pickle) was inserted. I am still not allowed to leave the hospital and go home. Jason and I break out - they don't serve caffeinated coffee to women on this floor. It's a special kind of hell. We go to Tim Horton's - it is hot and sunny outside. Jason tells me that he was amazed at just how many tools got put in me when they inserted the catheter. I get woozy.

14 hrs later at 6 am we were woken up and told that we had to move back to LD because they needed our bed - I lose my shit. The nurse watches Jason pack me up and says: Make sure you get some rest - you'll need it. I believe I actually said "fuck you you fucking crazy motherfuckers". Jason tapes a sign to our new room telling everyone to leave us alone unless it's an emergency.

I page the midwife, see the OB, get everything removed (I can't believe I had to write that) and get the hell out of dodge. In the cab on the way home I call my masseuse who cancels her afternoon appointment - I went home had a clary sage bath, went for a swedish and then for a shiatsu "induction" massage. I was a wreck.

At this point I turned to Jason and said that this was the first of many battles we were going to have to go to for our child and we were losing. We were hitting so many deadlines all set by other people that I couldn't even see straight. The OB's were starting to use terms like "scheduled c-section", the nurses were talking about what they were going to do with us and the other patients were telling us they were in for their c-sections because their arches had fallen or they had a hang nail or something.

We spend the next 36 hours in the land of the living. I got massaged, went to Lettuce Knit where I proceeded to by 8 skeins of orange misti alpaca - sleeping, walking, twiddling my nipples and knitting.

42 weeks and 6 days:
1 more dose of progestoglandin gel. Before they give me the 2nd dose we have our daily consult with the OB on deck. Dr. Seaward who refuses to meet with us and tells our midwife to tell us that we can have our section before or after midnight - he sends his resident to deliver the second dose of gel.

Predictably, like my impotent and exhausted rage, labour comes fast and hard. I could spend hours finessing this half of the story but I just had to get it out of my head. There are a number of lessons to be learned from this story - a lot of them having to do with unquestioning faith in healthcare providers. We'll take a look at that tomorrow (or the day after I make no promises)

Before I sign off - here's a moment from my day. A sweet something before bed:



Not An Artist said...

It sounds like such a terrible experience, but after I read it I just kept scrolling back up to gaze into those enormous blue blue eyes... damn you guys make cute baby!

Craftygrrrl said...

Wow! Really that's all I can say.

Liam LOVES it when Denny does that thing with the finger to him. I have on a few occasions lulled him into sleep by doing that! Go figure!

WIP said...

I'm both nervous and eager to hear Part 2. However, the video is so adorable and heart-lightening that I can't stand it. What a blast of happy sunshine that sweetie of yours is!


Sarah said...

I was 20 days "late" with my little guy (born a month before your beautiful Fenner) and while my experience wasn't nearly as bad as yours, I ended up with a crash c-section in which we almost lost the baby. I cannot tell you enough how much I sympathize with the grief that can come of a birth plan thrown to the wind by the heavy hand of the medical establishment.

Hugs to you! Thank you for having the courage to tell your story.

Dr. Steph said...

It's good for you to write this and you're telling Fenner a lot of good things here: a) don't always trust those in authority, b) it's good to be resistent and angry for the right cause, c) This is who I am and, d) in the end you're here with us and that's what makes me the happiest.

Kiss Fenner for me!

I'm having a lot of nipple twiddling flashbacks. That was 30 hours of my first labour experience. ugh.

Andrea said...

While I did not have a birth experience like yours, what I understand and empathise with is the feeling of having something you didn't know you had, taken away from you.
I expected to breastfeed my first child. In fact I didn't even think about it I expected it so completely. It was shocking and horrifying when three days, ten days, midwives, Jack Newman, pumping, guilt, more pumping, more guilt, weeks passing, and nothing. I felt, empty and lost, like I needed to explain to everyone my story.
Because I never considered it not happening, it was devastating when it was taken away.
There are many who said to me (and may say to you) that you shouldn't care "look at her, she's fine." She was fine because she had parents who loved and cared for her, not because I wasn't delivering her breastmilk from my breasts.
I wanted them to look at me, see that I cared, and that's why it mattered. I didn't need them to make me feel better, I needed them to understand.
It will in time burn less, as do all things. I think talking about it unapologetically is definitely a good start.
I feel good now; complete, comfortable and resolved. I thought it would haunt me forever but it has empowered me, teaching me to respect someone else's pain/feelings even if I don't understand them.
Not breastfeeding will never define who I am (or Kate), but the experience has changed me for the better, and that has to count for something.

Samantha said...

Ah bababababababababa on the mouth ... funniest baby moments. :)

I can't even begin to imagine how difficult that must have been for you. {{hugs}}