Read Part 1 of Rebekah’s story here
The primary midwife met me in the bathroom and dragged me to our room. I immediately ran back to the bathroom overcome with the need to push/poop.
By the time Amanda got back I was somewhere between the bathroom toilet and the bed fighting the urge to push with every wave crashing through me. I remember moaning something about “if this was transition?” and being lightly dismissed and told not to push.
Shorty after my husband walked into the room just in time to witness his wife, naked from the waist down, waters breaking all over the floor and everyone’s feet. More fun times.
The next hour was a lot of ineffective pushing in different positions with a stubborn sunny side up baby. I struggled to remember to breathe as the time between contractions seemed to last for seconds, and I remember staring at the clock, tormented by the inconsistent passing of time. Suddenly the baby decided she was ready to come and flipped herself into position mid contraction. I maneuvered into a squat on the bed, she started to crown, and I started to stretch. The ring of fire came and intensified, growing stronger and more overwhelming until I thought I might black out.
At 3:44pm, 1 hour and 15 minutes after arriving in labour and delivery, I focused my energy and used all the strength I had left. With one last powerful push, she was here.
I distinctly remember the sensation of her slithering out of me and the immediate stinging and pain coming from my perineum. I said something to the midwife about the intense pain and she callously dismissed it, telling me I should be grateful we avoided “the big tear” referring to uterine rupture.
Amanda came over to deliver the placenta and noted a true knot in the umbilical cord and remarked I was losing a lot of blood. She gave me pitocin and performed an examination.
As a student she had never seen a 4th degree tear and wasn’t comfortable being the one to make the call. They called in my former OB who wouldn’t examine me without first giving me nitrous oxide and preparing me mentally for the increased pain. She confirmed the severity of the tear and insisted I get a full spinal and a repair in the OR.
Strangely the repair was actually a really pleasant experience – at least as much as something like that can be. I was completely exhausted and in shock but I was warm, and surrounded by truly amazing women and one extremely kind male anesthesiologist. I have hazy memories of repair and getting more pitocin as they discussed my blood loss. At one point Amanda left to find out the size of the baby. I guessed 8lbs, she was 9lbs 11oz! Before I was wheeled into recovery I remember the OB strongly emphasized the need for several weeks of strong antibiotics.
The hospital put me on stool softeners and a low bulk diet and told me I could go home 30 hours after delivery.
I was sent home late evening day 2 with zero oral antibiotics, despite asking repeatedly if they had a prescription for me. In hindsight, I should have asked to stay one more night; but I wanted to be a hero, I wanted to go home as soon as possible, I wanted to poop my pants on my way to the bathroom the next morning. Okay, wait, I did not want that last one… but boy did I get it anyways.
And then it was me, a peri bottle and an entire roll of toilet paper. Eventually I paged Amanda and cried at her for awhile. She was horrified the hospital sent me home without antibiotics and immediately took charge of the situation.
The next few weeks were a nightmare of sitz baths and constant anal leakage. I got to live the uniquely demoralizing moment of pooping in a my sitz bath as my baby screamed at my helpless husband to cluster nurse in the next room.
Eventually I started feeling a sharp tugging whenever I moved in anyway and again Amanda came to the rescue, removing the stitches that wouldn’t dissolve and assuring me I was healing well.
It’s been almost 20 months since I lived through the most intense day of my life. It’s been an extremely difficult road to travel. PPA, PPD, FPIES, MCAS, PCOS in addition to the birth trauma, meant that sex was a very low priority in my life and it took pelvic floor physio, thc lube and a lot of alcohol before that changed much.
I seem to be one of the lucky ones, physically. I healed really well and have minimal pelvic floor disfunction at the moment (it still comes and goes but today is a good day).
Mentally, things are much more complicated. I knew I was carrying around emotional scars from my son’s birth and having a vbac really helped heal them. What I didn’t recognize was the new damage that had been done. The idea that the birth could both help and hurt me wasn’t something I had been prepared for and it led to months of denial that I am only now beginning to overcome. I didn’t even really consider her birth traumatic until recently. With time comes perspective and growth and I am learning to come to terms with my new truths and limitations.
The journey to recovery isn’t simple and I have a ways to go. But I will get there. Eventually.
Rebekah Valliere ~ Ottawa, ON Canada
Find her on her blog @mama.in.a.madhouse