Monday, March 8, 2010

Interview with...A C-Sectioned Mommy

Today's interview is with a good friend of mine, Yara.  Be sure to visit her blog. She's a lot of fun. I know she is also open to any questions you have for her. I also want to note that this interview has been edited for brevity. Yara has a big mouth, I mean, she's long winded.  Yes, that's what I meant.

Yara, you had 2 previous cesareans with your girls.  Can you briefly tell us about those?

Lisa- My water broke around 4 am.  We went to the hospital where I wasn't allowed to be up at all because I had pre-eclampsia and was on bed rest. I got an epidural in the afternoon which gave me a fever.  It put Lisa in distress and I had not progressed at all. So we had an emergency cesarean for failure to progress, after 16 hours of labor on pitocin (because I wasn't dilating fast enough for them, even though I had strong regular contractions before they gave me the stupid drug). Lisa was born around 8 pm Sunday night. She had to go to the NICU and I was not allowed to see her. I couldn't be taken to the NICU because I had a c/s and wasn't allowed to walk. I didn't meet my baby until Monday morning. It was awful. I couldn't feed her until late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

She had jaundice on top of her infection, so for a few days I could only hold her for short periods of time.

I had to leave the hospital empty handed. I was heart broken. I actually made my mom come back with me and we slept for a short time in the waiting room so I could be close to Lisa and give her each feeding, every three hours. Eventually we found a room for parents with a couch and a pull out to sleep on, so we used that room. I also pumped in that room. I had to pump every few hours around the clock. 

Lisa came home ten days later and it took us a week to get her to stop taking bottles of expressed milk and latch on. And then she'd only latch if I used a silicone nipple shield. For months. I had a nipple shield in my bag or pocket at all times. But I nursed her exclusively!

Lorelei- I didn't want to bother again. I knew no one who had had a VBAC, and everything I read at the time stressed the- get this- insurance savings. All about the money. Um.... yeah. I didn't care. I didn't find any books at my local library worth reading (sadly) and so I decided I would not be bullied into attempting a VBAC. I thought maybe the doctor would want me to VBAC and I don't like being told what to do. So I went in with a VBAC book one day.  I don't recall the name of it but it wasn't anything that was close to convincing me attempting a VBAC would be good for me or baby. 

So when he asked me about it and how I felt, I said, "You're giving me a repeat c/s. You HAVE to. Shall we schedule it now?"

He talked to me briefly about the pros and cons of VBAC and we decided I'd have a scheduled c/s. He joked he could only do it on the 31st- and I said I wouldn't show up to have a halloween baby! We scheduled it for Nov 1. I was happy to not have to worry about my water breaking, having contractions, and the back pain. 

Oh yeah, I had a back injury a few years before I had kids, and the back pain with Lisa was horrible. The contractions were a breeze. The back spasms from my back injury I couldn't stand. So I was happy to avoid all that.

Lo and behold, on our sixth wedding anniversary, we went to the mall to get my eyebrows threaded, I had an iced coffee from Nordstroms ebar, and went off to Sunday School. I was running around preparing for my class. I was not only teacher, but in charge of the whole (small) kids program. A lady asked me how I could still be running around being so very pregnant, and I casually told her, no worries, this baby isn't coming for three more weeks! November first is our day! 

A bit over an hour later I was reading to the kids in Sunday school, preschool kids, ages two to four. I felt something, then again a few minutes later, so I had my sister/assistant stay with the kids and I went back to the churches main building. I sat next to my husband, who happened to be in the sound booth that day. I helped him record the sermon while I timed contractions. I had about six bottles of water. I kept stepping outside to walk. The contractions weren't stopping.

So we decided we should go to the hospital. We already had arrangements for my parents and sister to take Lisa for the afternoon. 

I got to the hospital and the nurse asked me if I was going to try for a VBAC since I was in labor already. 

I said "Um, no. Call the Doctor. Get the anesthesiologist, and get the O.R. ready for me".  

So they did. My doctor was not on call. The on-call ob came into our room and sat with us, getting to know us a little while we waited for the O.R. He was very nice. Once the O.R. was ready, we went in for the repeat c/s. 

During the spinal (no epidural this time) I felt really warm hands on my back  as I was leaning on the nurse. 

Then the anesthesiologist asked if I was ready. I thought he was already giving me the spinal, but he had not touched me. Nobody had, I asked the nurse. But, well, Someone had. 

A short while later Lorelei was born. And she got to be with my in my room that night, and every day until we went home. 

It was rather lovely. 

[ed:  UH???  Remember how I said briefly?]

 Yara with Kevin, Lorelei and Lisa

But with your son you had planned a homebirth.  What led you to that decision?

I had been on Depo after Lorelei was born. I went off it when she was a bit over one and a half and it ended up giving me cysts. Painful painful cysts. Like, I couldn't climb the stairs in my house pain. I couldn't carry Lorelei pain. 

I prayed. That was December 31, 2007. 

I gave God the pain, and asked Him for something in exchange. 

He whispered to me "I give you a baby".

I said "Say what?" 

He said "I take your pain and give you a baby".

My cousin was with me, and I ended up telling her what I heard. I told her she couldn't tell anyone, because I had no idea what God meant. A week or so after Easter 2008 I took a pregnancy test and... well.... He gave me a baby!

We had moved out of Long Beach to Riverside. I didn't move my doctors! So, my doctors were still in Long Beach. I wanted to VBAC at Long Beach Memorial. They had asked me before, remember? So this time I wanted to! 

I knew others who had VBAC births and I felt like I wanted to. I was told no by the ob. But he wasn't nice about it.

Well, in hindsight, nearly two years later... I very much regret just assuming he was rude about it. I should have confronted him. 

What he told me was, "If you ask for a VBAC I'll recommend a psychiatric evaluation".

And me, being hormonal, [ed: and being Yara...hehehe] was very much offended. He called me crazy! I never went back. I told my husband, I can't go back. I won't! 

So, my decision to homebirth was a stubborn one. I was offended. I don't like being told what to do. So I looked for a midwife. 
 Look at all that hair!  He still has beautiful hair.

You ended up with an emergency c/s...your story is pretty amazing.  Can you tell it to us?

Oh... Kevin's birth. Dear sweet Jesus... what a journey that was! Let me begin with thanking God for taking care of me and my sweet baby boy even when I should have listened to Him months ago!

I had prodromal labor for days. 

Wait. I hate that term. Yes, I said hate and I MEAN hate. I was in labor. Regular, strong contractions. They would not let up. For hours. I called my friend, a Bradley teacher, and talked to her, we timed them together, and she said YUP it's labor. We called the midwife. She came. They stopped. 

WHAT? Oh Lord. 

On black Friday, I was sitting on the couch and all of a sudden I was soaked. My water broke. I mean, I was wet to my ankles! I called the midwife, and she came... and nothing. All day. Contractions went nowhere. Oh come ON!

She got upset I wasn't having the baby.  Can you believe that? She was horrible. 

By this time I'd pray the baby would come- fast. Before she could be here. I did not want her to be at my birth. And, aha! She wasn't.

On December eighth, I got into my bathtub at 3 am. I was sure I was being quiet, so as not to wake my husband, who had to leave for work around four. He got up and timed my contractions. (He'd heard me the past hour or so.) 

I got out of the water and we checked Kevin's heart rate. It was higher than it had ever been, so he called the midwife. I couldn't talk to her through the contractions, so she said she was coming over. 

"No you aren't!" I said. 

She'd been telling me for months I'd "know" when it was time and at this time I was not sure I knew. My sister was here because we were going on a field trip to the zoo. So, that worked out nicely. We never went to the zoo, obviously. I woke her to stay with me while Bernix [ed: Yara's husband] filled the birth tub. We labored. We prayed. We labored. I kicked out my sister and my daughters. The midwife had shown up at some point. I threatened her. Yeah. I don't remember why but I remember I did. With, like... death... wow.  I let her live though.

I labored all day. My "doula" (my cousin's wife) called and asked how I was.  We had not actually remembered to call her, and she came over in record time. She massaged my back, got me drinks, read bible verses to me (I'd sent her some before, and she had more) and she prayed for me.
It was a lovely experience. You could just FEEL God's presence in the room. We were drowning in God and it was wonderful. 

But stuff was happening. My uterus was weak from two c/s. But God had a plan. He let me labor. He let me progress (failure to progress? Not this time!) the midwife checked me and I was at a ten. It was... magical!

I never felt an urge to push. I knew I had to feel like pushing. Actually, I knew my body would push when the time came, when left alone, whether I wanted to or not. I felt nothing. 

More contractions, yes. Pushy? No. 

I felt exhausted. I'd been up for hours.  The water felt good but my legs hurt. I couldn't support myself anymore. I got out of the tub and went to my room. I got looks. I showered and tried to sit or lay down through contractions. I went to the bathroom and saw blood. 

Blood. And no pain... Something was... wrong. I didn't know what. I got in the shower again, and God showed me Kevin's cord. I felt I should go to the hospital. The midwife said the blood was normal. But I didn't believe her. She told us to go for a walk outside. 

I got dressed and told my husband, "Will you be upset if, after all this time and money, I go to the hospital?"

He said no, of course. So we decided to go to the hospital. I thought maybe... I'd need a little help. Forceps or something. I got to the hospital and had to lie. 

The midwife would not admit she was a midwife. She had no license (we knew before, but never imagined we'd have to transfer). So I lied at the hospital. They were very nice to me. I know now the doctor who saw me knew I wasn't being honest. But he took care of me anyway. 

I had to fill out papers and wait for a room. 

They said if I felt like pushing or something was wrong, let them know. I filled out all the papers and felt like I had to push. 

I was in a waiting room full of people. Lots of people were told to pray when we left for the hospital. Lots, all across the planet. [YES!  And we didn't know what was going on, other than she was in labor and needed our prayers.  WE WERE WORRIED!!!]

I was put in a wheelchair and taken to a room. I changed and answered questions. I admitted I'd had two c/s before. They didn't freak. A nurse checked me. She said I was about an eight now, and that's not a head. She sat on the bed and continued to check me. 

I was like "Hello! Nice to meet you miss!" 

She couldn't figure out what she was feeling. Was it her first day in labor and delivery? The doctor came in and checked. 

"Hmm... what is that?"

I said "It's his head!"

He was head down. I've been to the chiropractor... he was head down!

An ultrasound machine came in and showed... it was his feet!

I said, "okay, when is the o.r. gonna be ready?"

A breech baby I wouldn't even try to VBAC. Not me. No way.

It got very Grey's Anatomy in the room [for the c/s].

Here's what I heard:

-Doctor what is that? 

-It's membranes. Just membranes.

-Suction... I need more suction!

Soon after I kissed my baby boy. He was gorgeous. My husband and nurse(s?) took him away. I was stitched back. I didn't realize how long it took, or why. 

I went into recovery and the nurse there was nice. By now I was the homebirth transfer mom and everyone was so nice to me! They felt sad I'd had to transfer... 

She called the nursery to ask about my baby and told me he was 8lbs 12 oz and 20 some inches long. 

I said, "No, my baby wasn't that big." 

She called back and was assured that my baby was. 

Kevin had to go the NICU. I couldn't believe it.
I cried. And cried. And cried. And the meds they'd given me made me itchy like crazy. I heard babies crying and I cried. I was miserable. Early the next morning I made my husband take me to see Kevin. I couldn't hold him yet. I cried.

He was born Monday and on Friday I had to go home... without him! I was so so miserable. It hurt even more this time, because he was my baby I was going to hold FIRST as soon as he was born, before anyone else touched him... I wasn't going to let him go until I was ready. And it didn't go that way at all!

How did you feel emotionally after the c/s?  Did knowing that God had "arranged" things the way he did help you to not feel let down with the change?

At first I felt awful. I didn't understand at all. Why? How? WHY??? 

On Friday, we saw the OB.  He told us I was lucky I got there when I did.

He explained, what happened. He started the c/s. When the nurse asked, "what's that?"

It was... well, my uterus. He could see through it. He could see my baby. That isn't suppose to happen like that! That's why the nurse had to ask. She had never seen that before. He touched me and my popped like a balloon. 

The blood when I went to the bathroom? I was starting to rupture! Had I stayed home, we'd have died. Ruptured uterus is no joking matter. Suddenly things looked different.

Kevin had SAVED OUR LIVES by turning breech.

Remember the looks when I got out of the birth tub?

My stomach had drastically changed shape! I couldn't tell. But everyone else could! They just didn't say anything.

Kevin turned from head down to breech. We suppose his head was never fully centered?r

Or you know, it was a totally supernatural thing for him to turn breech partway through labor like that. 
 Daddy and Mommy at hospital with Kevin
You cant have any more children because of what happened. But even before you were told that, God was steering you in that direction.  Can you tell us more about that?

When we found out we were having a boy, I thought our numbers had to be even. I thought I needed a brother for Kevin like Lisa and Lorelei had each other.

But towards the end, I felt like... like I was done. No more after this.

Maybe those weeks (yes, it had been weeks) of labor helped after all.

I knew without a doubt Kevin would be our little prince, our only boy, our last baby. 

If you could still have children AND you wanted another...what would you plan for your birth?

If I did have another, I'd schedule a c/s. My scheduled birth was the best of all three. I wish, partly, I'd just listened to the doctor and scheduled a c/s again for Kevin. But laboring was so wonderful, I can't regret it. I just can't. I can only be thankful God took care of us and saved us. 

You listened to your body instead of health care.  God was directing your paths all along.  What would you tell other women who are considering homebirth but are scared of something like this happening?

Well, yes! Because the natural birth community says the percentage is so low.

That's all well and good, until you fall into that low percentage! And almost die. Or risk losing your baby. It's no laughing matter.

It's not a scare tactic.

Yes, birth is wonderful.

But you know what?

Sometimes the medicine is the miracle! If there wasn't the option of a c-section, we would not be here today. 

Wanna VBAC? Okay... but know the real risks. Because things can turn ugly really quick. 
Surgery is sometimes really truly needed! 

[The risk is low.  And it depends greatly on the type of previous incision and repair you have had.  I would also like to note here that a repeat elective C/S DOES NOT protect you from a ruptured uterus. In fact, it is the avoidance of the initial c/s that will protect you.  Read more from Mothering Magazine and the Mayo Clinic.]


Helen McGinn said...

Wow! That is some amazing story. I am so sorry your friend had to go through all that and so happy that she has a beautiful baby boy at the end of it. xxx

Mammatalk said...

I enjoy hearing birth stories. Each is so unique!

Kmama said...

I'm stopping by after you stopped over last week (sorry...I'm so behind!).

What an amazing story, or well, actually three stories. How awesome that you did this interview with her.

Tara H. said...


As you know, I am a big fan of your blog. Of course, a lot of t has to do with Kori an kati, but i actually read because I learn about a whole different world than teh one I live in everyday!
I don't know if anyone else has this issue, but I get confused when you use abbreviations. Because i have never had a home birth and won't (can't have anymore babies) I really get confused when you use acronyms. so, as a loyal reader I ask that you at least once in teh blog explain what they VBAC...?????? :)

Unknown said...

I agree wow what an amazing story!!!

replying to your comment...yes i am In Oklahoma...Tulsa/BA area

AmberRay said...

Thank you and Yarra for this story. I had my first son vaginally but my 2nd (my daughter) was an emergency c-section. My third (baby boy) I tried a VBAC but he was late and the doctor induced me. I was at a 9 but his heart wasn't beating properly so I had another c-section. It actually was a good thing because the doctor told me I had too much scar tissue to ever try a VBAC again. God saved us too. I was glad I tried but things might not have turned out right if I was able to go ahead with the VBAC. Thanks again I enjoyed Yarra's story.

AmberRay said...

Thank you and Yarra for this story. I had my first son vaginally but my 2nd (my daughter) was an emergency c-section. My third (baby boy) I tried a VBAC but he was late and the doctor induced me. I was at a 9 but his heart wasn't beating properly so I had another c-section. It actually was a good thing because the doctor told me I had too much scar tissue to ever try a VBAC again. God saved us too. I was glad I tried but things might not have turned out right if I was able to go ahead with the VBAC. Thanks again I enjoyed Yarra's story.

Adoption of Jane said...

Ouch, am so glad i had all my kids before reading this or I wouldn't have any!! Glad everything is going well for Yara!!!

p.s. Parenthood just premiered. If you go back to my post and click on Parenthood in bold you can catch episodes there :)

Yara said...

that WAS long! Whew... I talk a lot... just imagine if we were neighbors Michelle!

McVal said...

Wow! That brought back memories! My 1st was an emergency C after 24 hours of labor. Turns out my son weighed 10 lbs 11 oz. My next two, we just scheduled them. 2nd was 10 lbs 6 oz and then the runt of the litter at 9 lbs, 6 oz.
I guess I just have big babies!
Great story!

Unknown said...

Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your experences with us to learn from.

The Kooky Queen--Rachel said...

I was just telling my SIL the other day how PETRIFIED I would be to have a C-section! What a great post!

Luschka said...

A really interesting post. I had my (so far) only baby in a birthing pool in our kitchen, and I caught her myself - you're the only other person I've ever heard of who had that 'first to touch my baby' desire - and it was the most magical amazing experience of my whole life. I don't know how I would ever cope with a cs after that, because it's def put birth on a huge pedestal for me. I laboured for 48 hrs though, as she turned from back to front to back to back in the early hours of labour. For some reason, they can and DO turn.

I think it's as you say in your closing statement, Michelle, it would be best to avoid that initial CS if possible. I do think they're too quick to induce and then require emergency cs.

Natural birth is a bit of a soapbox issue for me. Although I agree that medicine has it's place, I believe that place is meant to be life saving, not a standard measure.

Thanks for sharing. This was great to read.