Life in the End Times

Shin's gift to Annie on their One Year Anniversary

Birthing Elijah

Filed under: Baby — Annie at 12:57 pm on Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I got to 10 cm by hopping in the shower. But the whole time I was scared and anxious of the pain that was to come. So I started praying like mad. Mainly I was praying for courage to submit myself to whatever I would feel. What I do remember is that God gave me courage to endure suffering for the sake of love. Whereas before I had seen suffering as God’s punishment. After a long while of escaping the inevitable Shin knocked and said, “It’s time to come out now.” So I came out and got back in the bed.

The doctor (my ob/gyn’s backup) came in and checked me. I was at 10cm which was a relief. With her still checking my dilation she said, “Do you want me to break your bag?” I answered immediately, “No! I want it to break naturally.” If I had hesitated perhaps she would have done it without my consent. I felt uneasy with her having asked that while checking me because it put me in a vulnerable position- supposing I didn’t have a birth plan I would not have had the time to think it through. After that the doctor decided to go home because she assumed I would be a long time before delivering. That was around midnight.

With my doula I tried different pushing methods lying down and using the squat bar. I was feeling new pains other than the contractions I had grown used to managing. I was growing fearful and pressured by the nurses and pressure I placed on myself to deliver quickly. Everyone was tending to me and looking at my every progress- I felt performance anxiety to progress in labor as the nurse kept coming in and telling me I should lay on my side or do things to start contracting more frequently. The desire to give up was at the top of the list. I kept watching the clock. I think 3 hours passed in that state of frozen fear and ineffective pushing. Mentally it was hard because I felt there was no way out. It was either birth through the canal or go under the knife. It was truly the rock and a hard place.

My water still hadn’t broken but had ruptured slightly. Another nurse came in and said she would help me by checking if my pushing was bringing the baby’s head down. While she was doing that my water broke with a shooting splash. It was the weirdest sensation and startled me. When I look back I wonder if she deliberately broke my bag. And if she intended to, then why not with the sterile tool instead of a finger (nail).

We began pushing again while watching the monitor for my contractions. Then I began feeling the urges to bear down. The best way I could describe it is if you’ve ever been sick while someone else is driving you home. You feel the urgency to pass a bowel movement and your body is sending goosebumps all over. The closer you get to home the more discomfort you feel as you near the point of excretion. At some point I decided that I would make my goal to try to push a real bowel movement out on the table since I wasn’t pushing very well. That’s when my pushing became effective. My doula brought a mirror out and I watched myself dilating. My contractions were stronger and I had to push or else I felt uncomfortable.

I think within 30 minutes I saw just a diamond shaped opening revealing baby’s head. Shin exclaimed that that looked like the top of his own head- the hair pattern. The baby’s hair was wet and matted down. It was fascinating and beautiful. I couldn’t believe that on the other side of that skin was our son.

The nurses called the doctor and told me to wait. She arrived and it was now around 4am. The nurses pulled out the cart with sterile equipment and the baby scale and my doula said that was a good sign. She said that the doctor would help stretch my perineum and that within 15 minutes or so it would all be over.

The doctor had a furrowed expression on her face as she donned her gown and gloves. She made some sort of comment that if she had broken my water bag the baby would have been here sooner. When she sat down the doula was asking her how her night was going and she made some other curt response. Then finally when she was ready and seated she said in a tired, irritated voice, “Please have a contraction.”

As it was apparent she was not happy to be there and with her hostility towards me I instinctively felt anxious around this woman the way a child walks on eggshells around her temperamental father. But I wasn’t prepared to have her act on her hostility and harm me. At my next contraction I felt a surge of pain shoot through my body that made me scream. I heard her saying, “PUSH” and I pushed with all my might and then another indescribable pain that made me take my feet off the stirrups. I felt terrified to do anything.

Minutes later I felt the give of the baby’s body sliding out and I asked, “Is he out? Is he out??” and no one answered me. I heard the baby screaming. And I myself was sobbing and shaking from the pain I had just felt. I closed my eyes and looked away and Shin was holding me not saying anything. Then they put the baby on my chest and all the nurses and everyone was saying, “LOOK look at your baby” but I couldn’t look at him. He was screaming and I couldn’t comfort him because I was in shock. When I finally looked at Elijah I was fascinated but numb. We put him on my breast to feed and he took to the breast immediately and sweetly.

In the meanwhile this dr was holding a big syringe and about to give me a shot. She said, “You’re going to feel a burning stinging sensation.” And I said, “What is that?” And she responded, “Its an anesthetic.” And with another dose of hostility she said, “You can feel it all if you want.” I was cowering because I had never felt pain like that in my life and was afraid when I saw that needle. But she was absolutely insensitive. I had felt violated the first time and now had to subject myself to her again. It was emotionally and physically very compromising. This barbaric woman in my memory is not even a female at all but a big, masculine predator. Thankfully my placenta came out whole and they took it away to donate the cord blood somewhere that I don’t know.

Shin and I were both sorrowful and shocked for the first few hours. I heard Shin saying he loved me and that he saw me giving it my all even in pain. He told me I was his- moreso now than ever. We prayed and wept together and asked God for healing of my body and heart and for Elijah.

My doula also had tears in her eyes. But more than that she was angry. She said that was the worst birth she had ever seen. She said what the doctor had done was so unnecessary and Shin agreed. She apologized to me profusely that I didn’t get the birth experience that I wanted when I had labored so well.

Something had gone terribly wrong at my birth but I didn’t know what- I only felt. I couldn’t see any of it. I also felt this wasn’t the pace I wanted my baby to come out. I wanted to stretch slowly and have him crown without tearing if possible. I also wanted to feel the baby’s head as he came out or hear progress like, “You’re baby’s head is out.” No one had said a word. I wasn’t really a part of the birth other than to have the baby extracted. I asked Shin and he wouldn’t speak to me about it.

It wasn’t until several days after my birth that I called my doula and she told me the dr. had put her two fingers on either side of my perineum and tore me with her bare hands. I had torn even before my son’s head had crowned and sustained a tear to the 2nd degree. Then when his head was out she said the doctor didn’t wait until I had another contraction to bring the baby’s head out. She was pulling on Elijah’s head “so fucking hard” that my doula said she wouldn’t be surprised if he needed chiropractic work later in life.

It was a lot to deal with. I wondered how this had happened. My ob/gyn had been so wonderful. How could his backup be this monstrous lady? And why did she hurt me? Why did God let this happen? And why didn’t anyone say a damn thing? My husband? My doula? The morning of the birth my mother in law showed up unannounced when we had asked our family to refrain from visiting. She said thats how all births are and I should just be thankful he’s feeding well and healthy. That pushed Shin over the edge and he defended me saying that what she said was not encouraging and she didn’t know what happened. She stormed out and Shin disappeared for two hours to argue with her in some waiting room.

Birthing was hard. My hospital birth was horrible.

This is how Elijah entered the world.