Editor’s note: This is part of an ongoing series of birth stories submitted by readers and fellow bloggers, featuring a diverse range of women and their birth experiences. All birth stories and all birth experiences matter. Today’s story was submitted by Meaghan, whose unwanted C-section due to breech presentation left her disappointed and angry at the experience, despite also being grateful for the safe delivery of her healthy little girl. If you would like to share your own birth story, please visit this post to learn how. ~Olivia
My birth plan was pretty simple: to go as long as I could without an epidural. Through sweat, tears, and hard work, we would welcome our little girl in to the world. I planned for delayed cord cutting, immediate skin to skin and breast feeding. But then we had an ultrasound at what my doctor was convinced was 35 weeks, but I knew was actually 36 weeks. (We disagreed on this point through my entire pregnancy, but I remain firm as I actually happened to be there at conception.) We discovered that my little girl was directionally challenged. Her head was under my left rib cage, so we decided to try an external version to turn her around.
My doctor followed the guidelines and waited until what she thought was 37 weeks (actually 38). We went in that morning, and the doctor tried a few times to urge my stubborn little girl around. When it didn’t work, she said, “Looks like we will be doing a C-section,” and walked out of the room. I lost it. My husband wiped my tears, and eventually I got dressed. Throughout everything, the monitors indicated that I was having noticeable contractions every 5 minutes.
As I was dressing, I noticed that I was spotting. Since we were already in Labor and Delivery, I thought I would mention this to the staff. They all looked bewildered at each other and said that it was fine and I should go home and rest. We had to run my FMLA paperwork over to the doctor’s office, and while I was there, I mentioned it to one of the nurses before heading for home. We were 5 minutes from our house when they called and told us to return to the hospital. My husband and I were at a loss. The doctor had left us hanging, the staff at the hospital had no clue, and we were supposed to go back?! But, like good little patients, we drove back.
Monitors and a pelvic exam indicated that I was still having contractions, fully effaced and dilated to 2 cm. The nurse said to sit tight, but that my daughter would likely be coming that night…the time was finally here! Next thing we knew, we were being sent home. Confused? So were we! The doctor’s office asked us to come in later in the week for an Non-Stress Test (NST), so we did. Baby looked well, and I was still having contractions. We were told to come back at our next regular appointment.
So we showed up for the appointment on June 25, one week before my calculated due date of July 2 (the doc believed it was July 11). The receptionist said “You don’t have an appointment. According to our system, you already delivered.” Ummm, lady I waddled in here, I think I would know if I delivered! They fit me in. Another NST and the doctor saw me for 5 minutes, long enough to shuffle me off to the surgery scheduler without answering ANY questions about the complete change in plans.
I begged, pleaded and cried for answers to my questions and for someone to listen to me and my concerns, but it was nearly closing time and they just wanted to get something scheduled. My doctor was going on vacation over the 4th of July, so my surgery was scheduled for July 6th. I called the office the next day and gave them a 39 week pregnant earful. My doctor finally called me back, but before answering any questions said that they weren’t able to change anything in the schedule. She would see me on the 6th, but I should come in for another NST before the holiday weekend.
The on call doctor I saw for my NST had the personality of a wet noodle. The doctor kept trying to dodge questions and get on with her day, but my AMAZING husband held firm in getting some answers. Throughout this, my blood pressure was continuing to rise, I had pitting edema, and I was regularly seeing stars and getting dizzy. My normal blood pressure throughout my pregnancy was 106/62, but now it had gone up to 150/88. No one seemed bothered by any of this, except they insisted I go to the hospital during the weekend for blood pressure checks and more NSTs.
I was still having contractions, but it had been 2+ weeks since I last had any type of pelvic exam. Is your mind spinning? Because mine sure was! Finally, at the hospital over the weekend, one of the amazing L&D nurses took the time to sit down with us to go over ALL of our questions, hold my hand, dry my tears, and relieve some anxiety. I cannot say enough about this kind soul who finally looked at me as something other than a uterus.
July 6 arrived, and no, I hadn’t gone in to labor, but I also hadn’t slept in a week and was having strong contractions. I walked across the hallway and into the OR with a nurse, told to sit on the table and then people went about their business. I was invisible. No one addressed me, talked to me, or really acknowledged my presence until the anesthesiologist said he was going to do the spinal. One nurse sat next to me while he did his thing, and they laid me down on the table. Back to being a fixture in the OR that everyone looked past.
They were doing their final “time out” when I stopped everyone in their tracks by asking the nurse anesthetist for my husband. Turns out, he had been left in our room waiting for someone to come get him. No one bothered to take into consideration that this part of their work included people going through something totally foreign to them.
The “procedure” went off without complication. My husband and I welcomed a beautiful, strong little girl into the world. She had one foot stuck in my pelvis, another up by her head which was still under my rib cage, and the cord was wrapped around her neck. I don’t doubt that had surgery not been an option she and I may not have made it. Thankfully, after my husband stood by the nurses checking her over, he told them that she was rooting and made them bring her to me. I was able to nurse my daughter while the doctor was finishing things up.
In spite of that, I still struggle with the arrival of my daughter. I cannot bring myself to say I gave birth to her, because I was immobilized on a table with no one talking TO me, only about me. The next day, I was in tears walking the hospital halls with my daughter because I could hear the sounds of labor and talk of other people’s birth stories. I was jealous. They had what I couldn’t. I see my scar and get angry at the whole situation. But at the end of the day, I see my daughter, my husband can hold us both, and we are all healthy.
That was nearly 9 months ago and not a day goes by that I don’t wonder, “What if?” What if my doctor had listened to me about my due date, and done the ultrasound sooner, tried the version sooner. Would she have been able to turn my baby? The biggest what if, though, is what if I was somewhere where a C-section wasn’t possible? Who would hug my husband? Would our little girl be healthy, or even alive? This was not my ideal birth story and did not follow my plan, but my Kiera is TOTALLY worth going through all the personal grief.