This is the birth story of my firstborn child. I went into labor on Thursday, October 5, 2017, with losing my mucus plug at 12pm then at 4:30 pm started having regular contractions. Around 8 pm we called the midwife and she told us to head to St. Joseph’s Hospital. We didn’t rush. We packed a few more things and then headed out. Going to the hospital I knew I wasn’t going to completely have the experience I had planned for. None of the five midwives from the group I was seeing were able to come. I was used to midwifery care for my entire pregnancy and was nervous about how things might go differently.
When we got there we went up to triage in the Labor and Delivery floor. The nurse got the monitors on me and everything was looking good. Then in came this young male doctor, Dr. Collins who must have been like 30 and he goes. “Hi I’m Dr. Collins and I’m here to check your cervix”… I almost blurted out “oh not your not”. Luckily I asked if a female nurse could check instead. He then asked if he could still check my heart and lungs. I said sure. After that my husband, Seth said he would have said something if I hadn’t spoken up. So then the nurse checked my cervix and that surely wasn’t pleasant. I was only 2 cm dilated but very effaced. They had me walk the floor for an hour. So off we went! Seth was a champ helping me through the contractions.
An hour later a nice lady doctor checked me and deemed me 4cm so then we were admitted. We were in St. Joseph’s Hospital birth center. It was so nice and peaceful there and the nurses were amazing. We had Bridget and Ann. I labored throughout the night. I sat on a stool in the shower and Seth sprayed hot water on my low back then I labored in the whirlpool tub which was great. I ate a bit of food here and there. Around 6am we thought I was in transition because the contractions were so hard. A new doctor came in at 7am, John Rosser. I wasn’t pleased to have a male doctor but it didn’t seem like I had a choice. He was really nice and maybe about 50. He checked and I was 8cm. We thought baby would be here in a matter of hours. Well doctor came back around 11am and I was still 8 cm. My water naturally ruptured at noon. This was probably the best part of my labor. I was sitting on a birth ball leaning onto pillows on the bed listening to music. But after about two hours of that my body kind of shut down. My contractions which were regularly a few minutes apart spaced to 7-10 minutes apart. Mentally and emotionally I was spent. It was about 20 hours of labor at this point.
The nurse Ann came and sat with me to talk. I was in tears. She said “Caitlin these words do not normally come out of my mouth. But I really think you should get an epidural. You need to rest so your body can push out this baby.” I was devastated. I felt defeated. I cried. Seth cried. Seth agreed with the nurse. I told them my fears of ending up with a c section. But I consented and agreed. We had to leave the birth center and go to normal labor and delivery unit just a few steps down the hallway, though it felt like a walk of shame.
We got settled in the new room and then I received the epidural. Seth and I slept for about three hours. Doctor came in around 6pm and check me. I was 9 cm. Yay. But my contractions weren’t close enough so they gave me pitocin. I again felt a bit defeated as it was another intervention I had not wanted. I slept some more. At about 8pm Dr. John Rosser checked again I was 9.5cm. He was really patient and said we will just keep waiting. Then around 11pm he came back and this time when he checked my cervix it had started to swell. He said if we keep going damage could be done to my cervix so he recommended a c section. I completely lost it crying. He stepped out and then the nurse Ann from the birth center came over. Her shift was ending and wanted to check on me. She sat down and told me ” Caitlin you have done everything you could. I haven’t seen a woman go back and forth between shower and tub so many times. You are strong. But this baby isn’t coming out. This is why we have c sections. You are not giving up. ” she was an amazing nurse. Seth, my mom, and I prayed. And I consented to the c section. Seth got his scrubs on and I was wheeled into the OR. Seth had to stand outside for a bit until everything was situated.
They tried using my epidural to numb me up but it wasn’t working so they had to take it out and put in a spinal block. Then Seth came in and they started the procedure. It wasn’t bad. I didn’t feel much pressure. When they pulled baby’s head out baby gave a big wail and I cried and doctor said “no wonder this baby wasn’t coming out, it’s big”. Then the shoulders came out and they lowered the blue drape and we saw our baby. Seth announced it’s a boy, David Edward. They brought David to my shoulder so I could see him. Then Seth went with him to the warmer and announced he weighed 9lb 3oz. Doctor continued to stitch me up. He mentioned that David was in a bad position to fit through my pelvis.
Then I was transferred to the gurney and David was placed on my chest and we were wheeled to recovery. It’s about 1am Saturday. After about an hour in recovery my mom and Seth’s parents came to meet David quickly and then left for the night. Then we were brought to the maternity ward. Our first nurse was quite rude and we didn’t like her. She rambled on a bunch of stuff and paperwork and was like do you have any questions… uh lady it’s 3am I haven’t really slept in days I just gave birth. I can’t think straight. No I don’t have questions. And then she left. And we are sitting there like uhhh what do we do with this baby. So Seth got his cot set up and we slept a tiny bit.
The next two days were a blur. I remember we had this amazing nurse Melissa. She is a mom and a wonderfully compassionate woman. I struggled real bad with the sleep deprivation. And I was so nervous about leaving the hospital. How was I to care for a baby when I could barely move around? On Monday this other rude nurse was trying to discharge us at noon but I was so out of it. Barely able to stay awake and panicking about leaving the hospital and scared. Seth stood up for me and demanded that the nurse call our midwife to come see me. She relented and did. We waited several more hours until Linda Lovig the midwife was available. She came and talked with me and since I had depression in my past she prescribed Zoloft to help with postpartum depression. We were then discharged by the awesome nurse Melissa (which Seth again stood up for me and asked Linda if she could get Melissa for us since we didn’t like the other nurse). David slept on the car ride home.
The first two nights my mom and Seth syringe fed David so I could sleep. Linda had given us some special formula that is like colostrum. It was good I got some sleep. The next few days were a blur. I was really depressed. I hid in bed when I wasn’t feeding David. I let my mom hold him instead of me. Every time David cried I freaked out. I was scared to be alone with him. I had fears someone would take him away from me. I didn’t feel like I was bonding with David.
Thursday my mom left and Seth’s mom came. Saturday morning Seth’s mom spoke up to Seth and said the way I was acting wasn’t normal. Seth talked with me and we ended up calling the midwives to talk. They scheduled me for an appointment Monday morning. Then Seth and his mom started getting me to get up shower and move around. It definitely helped. I cried a lot on that Saturday but Sunday felt really good only a few breakdowns.
All of us went to the appointment and Seth’s mom waited in the waiting area. We talked with Linda who saw me in the hospital. We talked for almost an hour. It was good. She upped my dosage of Zoloft.
Seth’s mom left on Wednesday afternoon. That Thursday was my first time alone with David. My Bible study group of ladies surrounded me with help though. They took turns visiting me during the day and checking in on me via email. They also started a meal train so we don’t have to think about cooking for awhile.
At 3 weeks old breastfeeding is going well and feels established. We used a nipple shield because my nipples were quite flat. We tried introducing a bottle at 5 weeks but David never ended up liking it. Breastfeeding became second nature and I loved it even though there was a period of time I had a lot of clogged ducts.
After the initial few weeks bonding became much better. I felt like I loved David and couldn’t imagine life without him.
This birth was nothing like I wanted. I ended up with an epidural, pitocin and a c section. For several months after the birth while laying in bed trying to sleep I had unpleasant flashbacks of the birth but I recite scripture in my head and it calms me down.
I think that my emotions played a large role in how David’s birth happened. I knew going into that weekend that there would not be a midwife available if I went into labor as Syracuse Midwives was having some personnel issues. Being a sexual abuse survivor I really wanted a female midwife or doctor to be my provider. Having a male doctor, especially one I did not know, really stressed me out. It is a very intimate thing, giving birth. I knew rationally that I was safe, that I would not die in the hands of Dr. John Rosser but I did not “feel” safe. I did not want his hand in my vagina. But I felt I had no choice in the matter. Looking back, I am not sure about that – did I have a choice? What would have happened if I refused to let Dr. Rosser be my doctor, or at least refused to let him do the cervical exams? (One thing to note, I did ask if a nurse could do the cervical exam instead and Dr. Rosser stated that it must be him as it is a subjective exam and if multiple people check the results might vary. I could have argued that the nurse Ann could have done it as she was going to be on shift for at least 8 more hours but that hadn’t occurred to me at the moment.)
Reflecting back on the whole birth story some things I want to do differently for the next birth are:
- Labor at home longer
- Not get into warm water until later in labor
- Have a female midwife instead of a male doctor