Before my husband and I tried to get pregnant in 2013 we researched and discussed many different child birth options. We ultimately decided on a home birth and chose who we believed to be the only home birth midwife that serviced our community. I had a rather simple pregnancy and was looking forward to giving birth. I made it to 40+3. I woke up in the night and thought I might have peed my pants. I text my husband and went back to bed. A couple hours later I felt the same sensation and knew I hadn’t peed myself twice – my water was leaking. I text my husband and my midwife and since there were no contractions, I went back to bed. When I got up in the morning there was still no action. I actually asked my midwife if I should go to work! She advised me to stay home, she dropped off some tinctures for me to use and told me to use the breast pump to get things going, by 1pm my contractions had started. Everything seemed to go fine until about 1am. I was having constant contractions – with no break in between and my son just wouldn’t budge. We made the decision to transfer to the hospital around 4am. We decided to drive across town to the more “natural friendly” hospital because we were considered “non-emergent”.
We walked into the hospital and the night guard asked if we had called ahead ,when our answer was no, he stated, “They are gonna be pissed”. Given what I know now we should have turned around and driven to one of the other 7 hospitals in our area, but hindsight is 20/20. When we got into the labor and delivery unit they took us to triage and then to a room. I stood up from the wheelchair and the woman (a nurse I presume) looked me up and down and said “you’re going to need to take that off” (talking about my dress I had thrown on.) She rips off my underwear and screams “WE HAVE MECONIUM” They get me into bed, hook up an IV, monitors, draw blood, ect. All while not saying a word. At one point someone told me not to push until the doctor got there – 14 hours of labor and constant contractions – like I really had any control at this point. The doctor showed up – with no teeth – and didn’t speak a word. My husband cautions that we would like to avoid a c-section – mistake #2. He states “I will try the vacuum but if it doesn’t work we will do a c-section”. I start feeling pricks in my lady business. I ask what’s going on. Dr. Toothless states “I’m numbing you for delivery”. I then state back to him, “I do not want to be cut, I want to rip naturally” as I was always told this was better. Then I feel this HORRIBLE pain – the cut – 3rd degree I found out months later when I got my records. I’m told it took him 3 tries to get my sunny-side up baby out of the birth canal but I don’t remember that part. I noticed him in the warmer a few minutes later and asked if he was ok. My husband assured me that he was crying so he must be ok. I didn’t even realize he had been “born”. They took my son to the nursery and I sent my husband with him. The nurse, K, states that she needs to give me a shot of pitocin in my leg because I’ve lost a lot of blood – imagine that. I asked if it was really necessary, I would like to avoid all drugs if possible. K says “well you’re already getting it in your IV, but I don’t have to if you don’t want to” I consented, not knowing what else to do. Then I start feeling more excruciating pain in my lady business. “what’s going on?” I asked. Dr. Toothless says, “I have a lot of work to do down here” and continues on. “I can feel that,” I said, “I can feel everything you’re doing” I screamed – still not really knowing what he was doing. Minutes later – no idea how long – my placenta delivered. Dr. Toothless speaks again “I need to see if I’m finished” and he proceeds to shove what felt like a large tampon up my lady business. Toothless disappears, along with everyone but nurse K who starts to clean me up. Another group walks in, presumably housekeeping and announces “it looks like someone died in here!” I asked for food. K brought me some juice and crackers. It was probably 6:30-7am at this point. I ask to see my son. He has to stay in the nursery, take me to him then. K gets me in a wheelchair, during shift change and wheels me down. At first I’m told I can’t go in the nursery because another child is being circumcised. Then they take me in. My son is naked on an incubator thing with oxygen half sticking out of his nose. “Can I hold him?” “No, not while he’s hooked up to all this” Nurse B says (I’ll let you use your imagination on what that B stands for) she then got in a huge argument with me about the hepatitis B vaccine – which I had declined – 14 hours of labor, no lunch, no dinner, no breakfast – nurse B you picked the wrong mama to mess with. She throws her arms up and tells the pediatrician “you talk to her”. He was also unsuccessful. They ended up transferring my son to another hospital about 15 minutes away an hour or two after this. I asked to leave too but was told no and if I left AMA my insurance wouldn’t pay. We were already out the 3k we paid our midwife and flat broke so I stayed. At some point someone told me about the tear (3rd degree cut that extended to a 4th degree tear) and I said “no no no, dr toothless cut me and if you aren’t going to let me leave because he cut me after I told him not to then we have a serious problem.” I called in a patient advocate and somehow got a new nurse. Nurse S, if I remember correctly, was kind, and basically just wanted to leave me alone. She did manage to get another doctor from Toothless’s practice to come discharge me at 5pm when the office closed. I left 12 hours after giving birth and made my way to my son who was released after 48 hours of “precautionary” antibiotics. The NICU nurses took care of me as much as my son, bring me water, letting me keep my pad-cicles in the mini fridge that was for “milk only”. After we got home I begged my GYN to see me for after care, so I never had to see Toothless again. She did, she also advised me to file a complaint against the hospital and Toothless – which I did. It got me a meeting and my out of pocket medical bills waived, but not much else.
I went back to work after 9 weeks, with a cushion for my desk chair. I cried myself to sleep for months. I didn’t try sex for 5 months, didn’t have sex for 8. Fortunately now I don’t really feel much of anything down there. For a long time I didn’t even feel like a mother – I didn’t feel like I had given birth. My tear caused me to not be able to sit up to breastfeed. And I believe the trauma caused me to not get the milk I need to feed him. When he was 8 months old I was laid off work – which ended up being the greatest blessing. I was finally able to bond with my baby – it was the 1st time in 8 months that he “preferred” me over his dad.
My son turned 5 this summer. He and my husband are begging for a sibling. I am terrified. I blame Toothless and the hospital for my experience. I blame them for making me feel like I wasn’t a mother for all those months. I can’t fathom what it will be like to be pregnant again, to labor again, to give birth again. Physically I’ve healed pretty well. It doesn’t affect my day to day life, aside from some extra wiping after a BM. Mentally I struggled and still struggle. As I typed my story my heart began to race – I could feel my anxiety rise. I’m terrified I won’t love this baby the way I should. I don’t know what decision to make about how to birth this baby. I feel like a process that is supposed to be simple and natural and beautiful was turned into punishment and torture. I don’t think these “professionals” have any idea what they do to us in the name of “saving a life”. We were told my son was in distress and that’s why they did what they did. He was rated – by them – with APGARS of 7 and 9.