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Monday, September 20, 2010

Inara's Birth Story

I got to visit Jess and her sweet baby, Inara, at a less than conventional 2-week postpartum visit. She lives 3 hours north of me, so we had to find a good time in which no midwifery clients were due so that I could go see her. I asked and got permission to post Jess's birth story. Some of the pictures I took from her birth are found HERE. I posted some new photos (including beautiful nursing shots) after her birth story:

Inara Mae Raine

EDD 8/20/1020

Born on 08/26/2010

8lbs, 14oz and 21 ½ inches long

I had been having contractions that were 10-15 minutes apart for days and on Tuesday, the 24th, I had my last midwife appointment and NST. During my NST, I was having regular small contractions every 10 minutes apart. I felt them, but they weren't uncomfortable - just there. I could feel my body starting to gear up but prodromal labor was lasting quite a while. It felt like real labor was never going to kick off. I definitely didn't want to rush her out and I never had that "done" feeling that some people talk about, but I was really excited to meet her! It's hard waiting when you know you'll be meeting your baby any day - but you just don't know when.

I made sure to get the pool that I would be using during labor ready at the beginning of the week and it was sitting in the garage ready to go. The only thing I forgot to do was turn up the heat on the water heater and bring the hose inside the garage. I did my best to get all of the little things done around the house - all the laundry was finished, the grocery shopping was done, etc. But the one, probably important thing to do that completely escaped me was to pack some sort of hospital bag which I never did get to do. I was kicking myself for it after all was said and done.

On Wednesday the 25th, Cassie and I had decided that she would drive up that morning. She seemed to be convinced it would happen fairly soon and I was secretly not so sure. I was afraid she'd make the long drive just to turn around in 48 hours because nothing was happening. I felt bad that she'd just have to camp out for a while and be away from home. I was really happy she was coming, but felt bad that it was just a waiting game. I was getting calls and text messages for days from everyone I knew asking what was happening or if I was in labor yet and it was starting to get irritating. I of all people wanted to meet my baby girl! I didn't need the daily reminder that people were waiting on me. I was happy to have Cassie coming though, it was a nice distraction.

After Cassie arrived, we talked about natural ways to help encourage the contractions I was having to turn into something more productive. I had already tried fruit, pineapple, walking, etc. I mentioned Castor Oil and we discussed the pro's and con's, the main con being the nasty side effect everyone talks about. Obviously, I didn't want to be glued to the toilet for hours while in labor - but she said it really wasn't that bad. I thought it over for a little while and decided I may as well try - it wasn't going to help encourage labor to start if my body wasn't already ready and, if nothing happened, then at least hopefully my body would be cleaned out for labor because really, who wants to poop themselves while pushing?

We packed up Rowan and went to find some Castor Oil and made a run to the Commissary, came home and threw the concoction into the blender and gave it a try. Surprisingly, it wasn't gross. The stories I've read about Castor Oil make it sound horrible and vomit inducing and it definitely wasn't - at least for me. It didn't taste "bad" by any means, just weird. So we hung out at home for the rest of the day. We again did some baby mapping and weight and size of the baby and Cassie guessed in the mid 8lb range and around 21 inches long (which was the most accurate guess anyone has ever made!). We both agreed she’d be a big girl.

I did start to feel my contractions pick up a bit but they were still spaced pretty far apart and comfortable, so we decided to go for a walk that evening and Rowan pitched a huge fit on the way home. We were gone maybe 30 minutes, so it wasn't long and, man, was it hot outside. Carrying a 30 pound toddler in hot humid weather isn't fun. Oh, and did I mention I was 40+ weeks pregnant? Too bad lugging around a 2 year old does nothing for prodromal labor.

Cassie told me she bet labor would start once my boys went to bed later that night and that finally having some calm and quiet would be enough. I really hoped she was right! I put my boys to bed around 8:30pm and we watched some tv before David came home from work. I started feeling some slightly strong contractions and at the suggestion of Cassie, tried laying down for a while. David came home from work shortly after 9pm and after that I laid on the couch since David wanted to watch Ghost Hunters. For whatever reason, he was really wound up after work and he was being pretty annoying. I was tired and starting to feel kind of sick and David made some clam chowder that just made me feel even more gross. At about 10pm, I decided to go to bed and try to get some sleep and everyone went to bed, but I made sure to take a shower first and shave my legs just in case. I at least wanted nice hair and to smell nice if I was going to be in labor later, hah. Nothing really saves you from looking like a crazy laboring lady though, washed hair or not.

When I laid down, I was sure I was going to awake up in the morning without anything happening that night. I was so tired, though - and just wanted some sleep. I fell asleep right away and woke up at exactly 11:20pm with a contraction I just couldn't sleep through. I laid there for maybe 10 minutes and finally had to get up because lying there wasn't comfortable. I went to the bathroom and hung out in there for about 15 minutes trying to determine if this might be "the real thing
." I was trying not to wake David up until I was sure of what was happening. My hair was still somewhat wet from my shower an hour ago, so I blow dried it and put mascara on and during each contraction, I had to stop what I was doing and breath through it. After I was finished being girly in the bathroom (and later in the pool I determined mascara was a bad call), I tried going back to bed and lying down but that didn't work - laying down made it hurt worse, so I had to be up. At that point, David woke up and asked me if I was in labor and I told him I didn't know, but I couldn't sleep or go back to bed and that I was going downstairs.

Downstairs, I got something to drink, woke Cassie up (and I felt bad doing so!) and we watched some tv. I think we put on Psych. I wasn't able to pay attention, it was around 12:30am and it was getting a bit more intense. I couldn't talk through my contractions anymore and I had to stop and lean on something. I didn't want to sit down and I didn't want to stand - nothing was comfortable. I remember David kept trying to talk to me, especially during a contraction, and it was starting to irritate me. I just wanted him to be quiet and leave me alone. I'm not sure at what point we decided to call Sarah, I think maybe David or Cassie asked me if I wanted her called yet, and I said I wasn't sure. At that point, I still wasn't convinced I was in real labor. I also discovered that making decisions during this time was impossible, I wasn't capable of doing so - even a simple yes or no was beyond my capabilities. I think it was Cassie who made the decision that Sarah needed to be called, so David called her - maybe around 1am? Sarah didn't answer though and he left a message. I also texted her after that, telling her my status.

At that point, I think contractions were about 5 minutes apart and 60ish seconds long but, honestly, I wasn’t keeping track. I was just letting things happen.
I tried several different positions and it felt like I had to constantly pee. Sitting felt extra horrible, but sitting and leaning back was ok - or hands and knees leaning forward. Either way, it was getting a little bit harder and all my focus had to go into it. I was still somewhat in denial, I don't think it ever actually clicked with me that this was happening tonight. I kept thinking that this wasn't bad at all, it took effort to concentrate during contractions and I had to breath - but it was fine. I wasn't miserable and I was clear headed. During the breaks in between, I could talk and interact. I remember thinking that this was so incredibly easy, so this can't be what labor is like. All of the birth stories I read made me think labor would be much more difficult, so I constantly expected it to reach a point where I didn’t think I could do it. I never once felt that way though.

Sarah finally got back to us and said she was in the Emergency Room with her child and that she unfortunately couldn't make it and offered to have her backup take her place. I was extremely disappointed to hear it too, one of my biggest fears was something not going as planned during labor. This was certainly one of my fears and, unfortunately, it was happening. My doula wasn't coming. Cassie and David asked me if I wanted to call the backup and honestly... I didn't. All I could think was, "I don't want a stranger at my birth." It didn't feel normal or comfortable. I had spent the last 20 weeks getting to know Sarah and to have someone I've never met or talked to before come and watch me in labor was too uncomfortable of a thought. I didn't want that. I felt bad because I hadn't planned on Cassie stepping in, in a doula capacity, but, at the same time, I was SO glad she was there! Things would have gone completely different if she hadn't been here - I can't even imagine. So, I said no and I think I asked Cassie if she was comfortable and ok with that and she said she was. From then on out, it was just the three of us and it was a relief to know that.

The contractions slowly started getting more intense and I had to concentrate more and breathe more, though... I suppose when I say "slowly," there was nothing slow about it - but it wasn't happening at a pace that made me feel like I was losing control or that the pain was unmanageable. I honestly have no clue at what point David started setting up the pool in the kitchen, but I remember getting mad at him because it needed a little more air and he turned the air pump on and it was extremely loud. I was worried he was going to wake up the whole house! I told him to go to the garage and do it, which he should have done in the first place. I basically labored between the downstairs bathroom and living room until the pool was ready, I went to the bathroom right before getting in the pool and sitting on the toilet made it much more intense and then I felt a huge wave of nausea. All I felt like doing was throwing up, so I grabbed the bathroom trash can and brought it with me to the pool. I never did throw up though, and the nausea subsided eventually. I think during this time, calling the midwife was discussed and I’m unsure if David called and left a message or if he waited until later.

It felt so incredibly good to get in the pool! Being in water was amazing. I think at this point is when it really started to pick up and it was impossible not to moan through contractions and, lucky me, every maybe 6-10 of them were "double peak" contractions (as Cassie called them). I would feel one coming and it would peak out and start to go down a little but go right back up again. That was a little difficult, but the break afterward was heavenly. In the water, they felt much more intense though and I think that's when things started moving a lot more quickly. My memory is a little bit hazy from here because it was all happening so fast, all of my energy and concentration was going into what my body was going through and it was hard to follow what else was going on. I know I was in the pool when David told me Courtney, one of the midwives I didn't care for, was on-call that night at the hospital and my heart sank. It was supposed to be Julie, the midwife I had seen two days prior who was on call and I really didn't want to go in with Courtney there - but, I thought well, it's better than Melissa, right? I think David asked me while on the phone if I wanted a water birth, or the pool set up at the hospital, and I had no idea how to answer - so I don't think I ever did. Or maybe I’m just imagining this part, I need to ask David.

(A side note, but I’m really glad I had a friend and doula there, even if we hadn’t planned it that way. I could feel David’s anxiety - he was rarely in the room, he was off doing little jobs that needed to get done and he isn’t exactly the nurturing kind. I didn’t expect him to be there holding my hand and, to be hones, I didn’t want him there holding my hand. I needed to be left alone. It felt better to go inside myself rather than to have someone trying to comfort me. I didn’t need comfort, but I did need someone just there with me. David’s much more of a do-er and I knew this from the start - which is why I felt it was so important to have someone else there as well. I wish Sarah could have been there to not put Cassie on the spot, but honestly… I’m glad Sarah wasn’t. I felt so much more comfortable with it just being David and Cassie, and I didn’t feel anyone else was needed and I certainly didn’t want anyone else but them. I wish David wasn’t so antsy during active labor, but it was much better that he just stay out of my way and not try to “do” anything.)

At that point I think both Cassie and David were trying to encourage me to get out of the pool and it was time to leave. I REALLY didn't want to leave, I wanted to stay where I was so I wasn't trying to move fast at all. In fact, I think I was trying to ignore them and pretend they weren’t talking. The next thing I remember clearly was feeling pressure with the next contraction and thinking, "this is way too fast, how can there be pressure?." At that point, I agreed to get out and, when I was able, I did. I went to the bathroom to change into dry clothes and pee. There was some sort of wardrobe malfunction and I hated the cami's David gave me and the cami I had planned to wear had a broken strap (damnit!). I didn't want to wear what he had, I wanted to wear something else. I went back to the living room after that and leaned forward on the ottoman while David tried to find something else. He finally found something acceptable-ish and I put it on and Shay (my mother-in-law) came down the stairs right about then - probably feeling embarrassed that I was changing shirts. I was worried about the pool being emptied before the boys woke up, I didn't want to move, I didn't want to walk anywhere and I knew I had to make it to the truck somehow. Shay says it was 3:15am when she came downstairs and we left.

I was able to make it out to the sidewalk in the front of the house (curb side service, naturally) before having to stop and breathe again. It was much harder now and I kept feeling a lot of pressure with each contraction - being on my feet was especially difficult. I made it to the truck, got in, and we left.

The sequence of events from here on out are kind of jumbled in my head. When I wasn't lost in a contraction and concentrating on them, I was mad at David for driving so fast and not already being at the hospital. I kept thinking it was taking so long! Too long. I didn't want to be in the truck, his driving was scaring me, and my body wanted to move - not be stuck in a sitting position. There wasn't much talking going on, at least by me, but I remember feeling like David was freaking out and not staying calm. I wasn't scared of what was happening and I wasn't hitting a point where I wasn't able to cope - I was mostly just upset with David for hitting every bump and driving like a maniac. I’m pretty sure he ran a few red lights. I can’t remember at what point my water broke, but I felt a gush and just knew it had happened and, with it, came very intense contractions and pressure.

I didn't know it at the time, but when we talked about it later, Cassie says I hit transition in the car - which makes sense now. However, at the time, that was the furthest thing from my mind. I felt such relief when we all thought we had almost made, when I realized that - oh my fucking god, we're not at the hospital... we're at my dentist’s office? Not a happy moment - I wasn’t going for a dental cleaning. We were at a completely wrong location and I had a really hard time with that thought. I was mad at David, mad we weren't there, trying to breathe and I had no idea even how close we were now. David got on the phone and called for directions and Cassie got on her phone and googled for directions. Directions were obtained after what seemed like an eternity, and we were on our way, again, to the hospital.

I have no idea at what point during this trip to the hospital that I began to feel intense pressure and the spontaneous urge to push - but, I did. It was so incredibly intense and overwhelming. Cassie told me to blow through the urge and I did, or tried to. I blew and blew and it wasn't helping! I just wanted to push, but blowing took the force out of wanting to push... almost. During a contraction and moaning (very loudly at this point and I'm not sure you could call it a moan anymore, being vocal was keeping me sane) if I didn't start blowing and pull my voice out of it, I automatically pushed. It was just awful. From that point on, everything was about NOT PUSHING. At some point during this insanely long car/truck ride, I started repeating over and over again “no, no, no, no” because the baby was wanting to come right now and it was like trying to instruct her to stay put for just a little bit longer. I was telling myself “no, don’t push” and “no, don’t come yet baby!”, which just came out as “Nooo!" I probably sounded pretty crazy, now that I think of it.

I think David was pretty much freaking out. I knew we were close, but it may as well been hours away. Right as we found the hospital and were pulling up to the ER entrance, I felt the baby drop and rotate. It was the strangest twisting, wiggling feeling. My hips and inner and outer thighs were aching so badly, I wanted to get the hell off of them and push her out. I was in the middle of another contraction when we arrived and I didn't think I'd make it inside but, out of nowhere, there was a break. It stopped and I was able to step out of the truck and go inside. At first, when we stopped, before getting out of the truck, I felt a hand trying to help me out. I had my eyes closed and I just wanted to break whoever’s hand this was (later on, I found out it was David, so then I didn’t feel so bad).

After walking inside, I remember seeing a bed, a nurse and being told to get on. Someone, I think the nurse, suggested I lay down and I just hoped at that moment that person would drop dead because I was NOT lying down. I pretty much found myself on my side in a half lying, half sitting position, gripping the rail. I went straight into a horribly intense contraction and my body pushed. There was no blowing through it or stopping it this time. My body was pushing the baby out no matter what, and the spontaneous urge to push was the by far the most intense feeling I’ve ever felt - much more intense than my contractions had been. It’s almost impossible to describe.
I lost all sense of what was happening around me. I had to push, I couldn't not push, I didn't even feel the pressure from contractions anymore and just the intense pressure from my body needing to push the baby out. It was my one and only focus. I couldn't tell you if I was yelling or screaming or roaring like a wild animal, it was all about pushing on this damned bed that was moving way too fast and some irritating nurse that kept trying to pull my skirt down and cover me. I kept thinking - are you kidding me? My baby is about to come out and you're worried about covering me. I don't care if the whole world sees my vagina! Besides that, you can’t push out a baby and be covered at the same time. Trying to be covered at that moment was a totally insane thought to me.

I don't know at what point between getting on the bed that she crowned, I believe it was almost instantly though. With a push her head was out and I vaguely remember Cassie saying "she's rotating" and seeing maybe elevator doors? Then we were moving again and I'm fairly certain I screamed wildly at the nurse who was pushing the bed. All I wanted was to stop moving. I needed to stop moving because she was coming. Another push and she was out, the bed was stopped and I sat up and tried to lift my baby up. The first thing I remember was her smell. I could smell that amazing newborn baby smell and I tried to lift her up from under her arms, but she was caught up in the cord and it pulled. I was afraid to pull on the cord, so I sat there with her sitting between my legs, trying to hold her. Her eyes were wide open and she looked amazing. I made sure to take a quick peek too, to make sure she was definitely a she - and she was.

That's when the midwife, Courtney, and what seemed like a hundred nurses ran up. We were in the hallway of the L&D floor and just a couple doors down from the room I was being wheeled to. Courtney untangled my baby, I brought her as far up to my chest as I could, and they pushed me to the room. After that, everything was fine. The room was busy and full of commotion, and I could have cared less. Right after arriving in the room, I looked up and I saw David walk in and I felt so bad - he hadn't even been there! I never noticed. I'm fairly certain he walked in and said "I missed it and I wasn't even deployed!" I don't know where he was at either - I assume parking the truck.

Baby was breathing and pink, and Courtney gave us time to kind of regroup. I was asked if I could scoot from one bed to another, but I didn't right away. I wanted to give the cord time. After maybe a couple minutes, I was able to scoot over. Courtney wanted to clamp the cord, but I told her not until it stopped pulsing. I asked for help to take my shirt off because I wanted skin to skin right away, so a nurse or two helped me peel my shirt off and I was finally able to put her against me skin to skin. It was an amazing feeling.
I don't really know what happened in what order from here. Baby and I sat there for a while skin to skin, she was doing great and breathing great, once the cord stopped pulsing the midwife clamped the cord and David cut it. I watched as he cut the cord, and I was pretty much of awe of it. I thought it looked a lot thinner than Rowan’s cord.

I believe she nursed on my left side and I began to feel horrible cramps and I felt my placenta sitting right there. I gave a small push and felt my placenta come sliding out. Courtney, or a nurse, was starting to want to get the placenta to move at that point and to check me and I told them it had already come. I think she was really surprised by that. Inara was done nursing on my left side, so Courtney checked me and the placenta was indeed just sitting there. She move it off the bed and wanted to check me for tears - which I did have thanks to my horrible pushing position and having to hold on for dear life onto that stupid bed. So, my placenta was birthed naturally by my own body - absolutely no need for Pitocin to help my uterus contract because it was doing it beautifully on it’s own and my bleeding was fine. I knew that Pitocin would be an issue if my placenta took longer than they would have liked, but my body knew what it was doing and finished the job before they even had time to start messing it up.

Inara latched onto my other side and I laid back to get stitches and cleaned up. So, Inara nursed through that unpleasantness and, oh man, the needle stick hurt! Stitches went really quickly though. After maybe 20 minutes, I took Inara off and agreed to have her weighed and looked over while I got into a gown and off the bed. It felt so weird to stand up after that, my entire core felt like it had just run a marathon and was so weak. After getting into a gown, I sat in a chair while my bed was cleaned and put back together and I really didn't want to sit there - so I went over to my baby in the warmer and stood there during her evaluation and weighing.

After that, everything was just routine - baby was checked, I declined all newborn procedures and injections, signed some paperwork, ate a little bit of food and took Inara back to bed with me. She was still wide awake too! She was alert and looking around with eyes open for three full hours after her birth. After all the paperwork was done and the nurses and midwife left the room, Cassie and David passed out right away and I was wide awake with baby. It was maybe 4:30-5am by that point. Inara fell asleep after that and I put her in the bassinet by my bed and tried to sleep too, but I was wide awake. I think I slept for around an hour, maybe hour and a half, before waking up again for the day.

David and Cassie woke up during nurse shift change and David left to go get Cassie's ID that she left at the house (she couldn't leave without it since she had to get into Fort Benning). We talked about the nights events until David got back and then she went back to the house to get more sleep before driving back home again.
In all, I'm very happy with how it went. From start to finish, my labor was around 4 hours and 25 minutes. It went so fast! I'm the most happy that I got what I wanted. I avoided absolutely all interventions, medications and outside meddling. I had zero monitoring, no cervical checks, no hep lock and no one who bothered me during my labor. I was able to labor how I wanted (sans truck debacle) without interruption, I was comfortable and nothing was forced on me that I didn't want. It was 100% natural and non-medicated.

Not once during my labor did I think "I can't do this." In fact it was the opposite - I always expected it to get worse and it never did. I never hit a point where I felt like I was going to break down or couldn't handle to pain or intensity. The thought never even crossed my mind. Pain medication never crossed my mind. I had a very specific goal that I was working towards and nothing was going to shake that. I didn't need or want pain medication and even asking for it never crossed my mind - I was completely lost in the moment of what was happening and didn't need or want anything else. My baby was born how I wanted, safely, and without anyone interrupting the natural process. I was the first person to touch and hold my baby, she came out on her own terms and exactly how nature intended it. I didn't want it to be in a hospital hallway but, hey, that's where it happened. In the end it really didn't matter where. Ideally, I would have loved to have been in a calm, lowlit room in the position of my dreams and in a calm environment, not screaming down a hallway, but that wasn't what it was about. My #1 goal was to have a safe, natural birth the way it was meant to happen - without medicalization - and that's exactly what happened.

I can definitely look back and wish things could have been different in some ways. I wish I could have just stayed home and had a water birth in the comfort of my own home, I wish the other midwife Julie had been there, I wish I hadn’t hired Sarah and I wish I hadn't been in the truck for 30 grueling minutes. But, it doesn't matter, because it happened how it was supposed to happen. I have an amazingly healthy baby and that was the driving force with all of the decisions I made throughout my pregnancy and birth wishes - a safe and healthy baby being born the way nature intended it and that was exactly what happened.

I really have to give a lot of credit to Cassie though, David would have fallen apart without her and even though I didn’t need her to “do” anything, her calm presence was very much needed. I honestly just wanted and needed her there - it made all the difference in my experience. Cassie is an amazing friend and doula, and she was two in one that day for us. I decided doulas ( specifically Cassie in this case) are like a Drill Sergeant (
doula note: I've never been compared to a drill sergeant before! Hehe. I should note, that is David's job. So, Jess holds a special spot near-and-dear to her heart for drill instructors. I promise that I don't yell and bark orders at my clients. Scout's honor). Doulas are someone who has impacted your life during a life altering experience and they’re someone you couldn’t ever possibly forget. They’re in your memory for life. The fact also doesn’t escape me that, with everything that went wrong in the last week (losing all trust in my midwife, being unsure about how or where my baby was going to be born, losing the doula I hired at the last moment, etc) - it seriously felt like everything that could possibly go wrong did in the days/week preceding Inara’s birth - the one person who I could count on was there was the one person who it inconvenienced the most. Cassie’s husband had literally just deployed overseas not 24 hours before Inara’s birth, she lived 3+ hours from me, she has two young children at home and, if that’s not enough, she’s in her second trimester with her 3rd baby. Yet, she was the one and only person who went out of her way in a huge ways to be here for me - so saying I appreciate her and everything she did is a huge understatement.

Now - some more recent photos of Inara. (Photos from her birth can be found on my blog HERE)









Sunday, September 19, 2010

Oh, right. I'm pregnant

I don't really write about my own pregnancy on here too often, do I? It's not that I'm a private person (I'm really quite the opposite) - it's just... I have a really bad habit of forgetting that I'm pregnant.

I mean, my stomach is huge. My uterus is growing. There's definitely a baby in there (I feel it all the time!) I just haven't "felt" pregnant. I heard that the 3rd baby is the one that always throws the mom through a loop. This pregnancy, aside from nausea that subsided in the 1st trimester, has been completely different than my 2 previous kiddos. I have never been one to enjoy being pregnant and, well, I'm enjoying being pregnant. I don't feel too huge or too grumpy or too gassy. I feel good. Maybe it's my diet (The Brewer Diet) or my activity (being a midwife's apprentice keeps me pretty active).

However, because my pregnancy is going so well - it's also going by extremely quickly. I was pregnant forever with Hayden & Vincent. Baby Tres, on the other hand? I'm at the halfway mark.

I'm 21 weeks.

This kid has barely anything clothes, way too far diapers, and hardly any blankets. I have some friends who are sending me free things (because this is my 3rd baby and I am so over buying new clothes for an infant - who will just pee, puke, poop and grow out of them) - but I had a small panic attack today when I realized everything I own for this child can fit in tiny plastic tub. An inane fear since all a baby really needs is boobs and an Ergo - and I have both of those (and, another great friend is sending me the newborn insert). Okay, and maybe a ring sling.

I also feel guilty over the fact that I have been so busy preparing and being excited for my birth, it hits me randomly - by the way, you're also HAVING A BABY. I have made myself feel absolutely horrible by trying to convince myself that I'm more excited about the birth than I am about my baby even though my true self knows this isn't true. Still with me? I know that as the baby starts moving more, I will slowly become more connected. My ultrasound (NO I'M NOT LOOKING AT THE GENITALS) is on Thursday - and seeing Baby Tres will give me a "face" to love. Kind of. And, obviously, once I birth without Pitocin and without an epidural and without the panic of the hospital - I will be able to enjoy my brand new baby with their brand new baby smell. But - it's a process.

At least the kid finally has a name.

21 weeks
21 weeks

Monday, September 6, 2010

birth rape

"It is little wonder that rape is one of the least-reported crimes. Perhaps it is the only crime in which the victim becomes the accused and, in reality, it is she who must prove her good reputation, her mental soundness, and her impeccable propriety" - Freda Adler

I was asked to place a warning that this post may cause triggers.

Birth rape is a hard subject to write about because a part of me feels that I may be criticized for using the term "rape." I want to clarify that I am in no way downplaying the seriousness of rape as we define it in our society. However, I am trying to bring to light why women feel the need and purpose to recognize rape in all its forms.

In the Webster dictionary, one of the definitions for rape is: "
any violation or abuse"

I found this definition of birthrape from THIS WEBSITE and found it very accurate:

As most who are reading this blog know, I am also processing issues surrounding birthrape and how midwives (not just OBs and nurses) facilitate the birthrape experience for women.

(a definition in the making)

Birthrape: The experience of having fingers, scissors, and/or tools put/pushed/shoved inside a woman's vagina or rectum without her direct (or indirect) permission.

Being coerced, manipulated, or lied to regarding the health and safety of the baby or themselves so the midwife is able to do something to the mother's vagina, rectum, cervix, or perineum, usually with excuses; rarely with apologies.

Some find the definition expanded to:

The midwife taking the woman's Power by using disparaging comments, unsupportive expressions, speaking around her as if she is unable to hear or process requests or information.


Even though consent forms are signed in the hospital, birth center, and at home, consent for care does not include the manipulations or coercive words to get women to obey the caregiver.

I thought it was time I shared some of the thousands of comments I have personally heard that have facilitated birthrape over the years.

When a woman is about to give birth - she is in a very vulnera
ble state. When entering a hospital to labor, she is immediately asked to change into a hospital gown. She will have nurses and doctors sticking their hands in her vagina - and, often, putting foreign objects up there as well (such as an amniohook). These women will have to fight for their rights to do simple tasks, such as walk - or eat. They will be bullied into accepting interventions they do not want. They will have actions done to their body that they did not know were going to happen. And it happens

Shortly after my son was born, I was lying on the hospital bed by myself. It was just me and the doctor. Everyone else was with the baby. The doctor was look
ing between my legs and I assumed she was checking for tearing. All of a sudden, without notice or permission, the doctor pulled my placenta out of my uterus. It felt like velcro ripping from the walls of my stomach. I gasped, but didn't say a word. This doctor did not tell me to push and did not ask for my consent to do a dangerous and unnecessary procedure. And, for what? Because it was 7pm and she wanted to go home? Later - when discussing why I wanted to have a homebirth with future children, I was describing the event to my husband and the only word I could use to describe how I felt was "violated." She did things to my body that I did not want her to do. Yet, she was my doctor. I signed a blanket consent. What was I going to do?

So, I did nothing.

At a birth I attended recently, the mother was screaming at the ER nurse to stop racing her down the hallway as she pushed her baby out on the stretcher. The mom was screaming, "STOP! STOP!!!! STOP!" I finally grabbed him and the bed and yelled, "She.said.STOP" before he listened. If you take that situation out of the birth setting, what would you think? If a woman was screaming, "STOP!" and everyone around her was ignoring the situation? If no one listened? If no one stopped?

And, we're not the only ones.

I posted a poll on Twitter and asked, "
At any point during your labor, birth and/or postpartum period, did you feel things were done to you without your knowledge or consent?" These were the results at the time that I wrote this:

This is NOT ok.

49% of women. FORTY-NINE. Yes, only 68 votes were counted at that time (and I let women answer multiple times if they've given birth more than once). However, that number would be too high if it were 2% of women. Women should not be made to feel like they are being violated when they are giving birth.

And doctors and nurses and midwives should NOT be getting away with treating women like this. Just because they are in a hospital setting does NOT make things like this okay.

We need to end things, such as
performing pelvic exams on anesthetized women. We need to recognize that women can develop PTSD from birth rape. We need to continue being an advocate for women to have a right to their bodies - even if they're with a medical professional.

Most importantly, we must recognize if these things happened to us. Birth trauma can cause women to carry around negative feelings and sensations for the rest of their lives. It can prevent them from progressing in future pregnancies and births. It can hang a rain cloud of fear over their head if they don't accept the fact that they have a right to be angry. They have a right to be downright pissed off that things were done to them against their will. They have a right to be sad, depressed, confused, scared. And, they need to know that it's not their fault that it happened.

The first thing we can do to make a difference is to accept this fact:

birthrape is real

Secondly: It is vital we choose care providers whom we trust for this very reason.

Thirdly: We can not accept these actions as normal. We are women and we have a right to our bodies. We are better than this and we deserve better for ourselves and for our babies.
We have rights.

Lastly, if you can - if you are willing, share your own personal experience/s. Let your tale be known - for you are not alone.

(International Cesarean Awareness Network - assists with ALL kinds of birth trauma)
Birth Partners (find a local midwife and/or doula)
A Different Kind of Pain (great article about Birth Rape over at Navelgazing)
Birth Rape (a place to discuss and share stories - to heal)
My OB Said What (a humorous, yet painfully true list of quotes from birthing staff)
Violence in Labor
(an article over at the Unnecesarean)