Me at 34 Weeks
A Different Kind of Pregnancy
My third pregnancy, and most recent with our son, was the hardest of all my pregnancies by far. The first half was marked by chronic heartburn which induced almost unbearable nausea, and the second half was plagued by horrific back and pelvic pain. My third pregnancy was difficult, but each bend over the toilet, every shooting pain was worth the miraculous reward that awaited me. Our son, Malachi Paul, was born on August 5, 2011. What a big, beautiful bundle of a little man God had given us!
I originally wanted a home birth, but due to life’s circumstances it was not possible. I had used a doula during my first birth, whom we loved, so we called her up to ensure that she had room in her schedule for us. We were thrilled when she took us on. I had very carefully chosen a family physician with the aid of our doula, Rhonda. Dr. Berntson was a very friendly middle aged gentleman, who, while not overly familiar with a completely natural labor and delivery process, was at least extremely sensitive to my desires and very open to my birth plan.
My written birth plan was very detailed, ripe with demands that tend to make hospital nurses “get their panties in a wad,” and in the end the hospital nurses did huff and puff, but I was very thankful for my doctor who stuck up for me and defended my birth plan. I thanked God for Dr. Berntson and even wrote my doctor a letter following my birth expressing my gratitude for his willingness to help me obtain the birth experience that I desired.
Dueling with the Due Date
My original “due” date was July 24th. With my first daughter I was only a couple of days “overdue,” but with our second daughter I was three weeks early. My third pregnancy with my son was already light years apart from my experience with my girls, so I didn’t know what to expect when it came to his birth.
Thankfully I had done a lot of research, more than ever, in preparation for my third birth. A part of that research centered around the common misconception of the accuracy of a “due date.” My physician began getting nervous when the first week following my due date passed and I was not dilated at all. I had been getting chiropractic adjustments and had been attending physical therapy throughout the last trimester.
Other than just the general uncomfortable feelings that all pregnant women feel, I felt good and trusted that my body was doing what God had made it to do. I knew that my son would come when he was ready. I was not afraid.
When my doctor began talking, I knew that he had carried on this same conversation with countless other mothers-to-be. I stopped him short. I refused to be medically induced without a more emergent reason than just being “overdue.” I convinced my doctor that I would wait until the third week approached, and then I was willing to try acupuncture for induction of labor. Dr. Berntson was very skeptical that the acupuncture would work, and was visibly uncomfortable with me possibly going three weeks overdue, but he allowed me to follow the plan of action which I felt most at peace.
Early Labor at Home
I received my first acupuncture treatment for labor induction on Wednesday. Within twelve hours I had lost my mucous plug and was having sporadic contractions. I called my husband to come home from work and my mother-in-law took the kids. I went on a walk.
My next acupuncture treatment was set for early that afternoon. By the time I arrived, I had ruled out false labor. I laid as still as possible with all of the little needles sticking in my skin for twenty minutes as the contractions came in strong waves. My baby was coming!
I was afraid to go to the hospital too soon, however, as I was well aware how an early arrival only precipitated unnecessary interventions. During my early labor in the late afternoon, I ate a full dinner at home, packed for the hospital, and spent some quality time with my daughters.
My in-laws wanted me to go to the hospital, yet I continued to fight against arriving too soon, so I opted to go shopping. My husband loaded the hospital bags in the car and we all went to Kohl’s. My girls skipped through the store pointing out everything that drew their attention.
My attention was increasingly on my tightening belly as labor pains swelled through my abdomen. I was leaning over the neatly decorated clothing tables and pausing to hold myself on the stylishly clad mannequins. I am quite sure that it was a humorous sight to anyone passing. My resolve to not go to the hospital was broken. I phoned my doula, we loved on the girls, handed them off to my in-laws, and we were off. We arrived at the hospital around seven 7:00 PM.
Me Laboring in the Tub
Peaceful Labor at the Hospital
The first couple of hours were littered with walking the hallways and sitting on my birthing ball. I explicitly explained my birth plan to our nurse and informed her that I wanted as little interference as possible. She graciously abided.
My doula arrived around 8:30 PM as the waves of labor pains became more intense. I went back and forth between the bed and the bathtub. My husband was (and is) a great source of encouragement and support. Our doula did not interfere as much as guide and advise. It was peaceful and perfect.
I was in the hospital bed when transition hit. I had succumbed to the “zone” as my doula put it. I had retreated within myself, unaware of those things happening in the periphery. There was such intensity in the quiet focus of my mind and body as I worked through the labor, but I remember having such a strong desire to have my husband pray with and for me and our coming son. He did and it was such a beautiful feeling to purposefully, intentionally invite God into our intimate experience that His hands created. It was more than appropriate, but as everything in our Christian walk it was less than He deserved.
I refused to be checked for dilation at the end against the insistence of my doctor and nurses. I knew that Malachi was on his way. I did not need a hand to tell me so, or the extra pain that was sure to accompany it. I was in enough pain as it was. I had verified before my labor and delivery that I would be allowed to birth on my hands and knees. My doctor, although he had never delivered a baby in that position, obliged and even seemed eager for the new experience.
A Change in Events
Pushing began spontaneously. My husband was on my right side and my doula behind him. There were more nurses than I cared to have watching my near naked state, but I was too far gone to argue. Everything went very smoothly until, in a flash of movement, the nurses flipped my body over without any warning and two of the nurses pushed harshly on my mound of a belly still full of baby. I screamed a guttural, dramatic scream.
My peaceful birth felt as though it had been shattered. I was livid, yet I feared for what reasons such drastic measures had been taken. My husband comforted me, but truly looked fearful, unsure of what had happened himself. I could see the trauma in his eyes. I became afraid and surrendered myself to the nurses.
My son was born a healthy ten pounds and four ounces at twenty-three inches long at midnight on August 5, 2012. He looked every bit of handsome. I was in love; I still am. He was more than I had ever dared to hope. He was a gift from God, a blessing stored just for us. While I was lost in love and wonder for my new son, anger began to boil within. I needed to know why such aggressive techniques had been used to extract my baby from my body without my permission.
With great effort to restrain my disdain and to feign mere frustration, I listened as the nurses defended their actions. They explained that with one push, my son’s shoulder had become lodged in my pelvic bone, and due to their extensive knowledge and experience with birth they knew that they must flip me and “help” him out otherwise his umbilical cord might be cut off and all sort of untold madness might ensue … I digress.
It was only Christ within me that kept me from coming out of my hospital bed and giving them both a piece of my mind and my research. I felt as if they had stolen something from me, as shoulder dystocia is not as common as often touted, and also is not as hard to combat, nor as critical as these ladies seemed to have been taught. My doula was infuriated and I took solace in the fact that she was on my side and felt my pain and loss. I had to move past my anger I knew, because my loss of birth experience was not as pivotal as my reward. My beautiful baby boy was waiting on me and needed me. The ignorance of the nurses could wait.
Malachi Just a Few Minutes Old
A Speedy Departure
I nursed my big boy. I was bleeding a lot. I had refused the insertion of an I.V. when I arrived.
Within the first three hours after my son was born the nurses gave me two shots of pitocin and one shot of another stronger drug. I was in pain and continually trying to suppress the seething fury burning within me at the staff that I believed had caused such heavy bleeding by their actions. We got little sleep as the nurses came in every two hours.
By early morning I had given up on sleep. My husband and I decided to talk to the doctor that morning about being able to go home that day. He signed off on our early departure. We asked the nurses for any forms we need to sign, and then the roadblocks began to pop up. An older nurse called in the cavalry in an attempt to stall our departure. In the name of hospital protocols and lab schedules she claimed that we were not allowed to leave within twenty-four hours after giving birth. After calling in a higher authority and jumping through a few hurdles we were allowed to go home. We had birthed and returned home in under twenty four hours. We were exhausted but so elated to lie in our own beds, and cuddle our girls. Our daughters just adored their new brother and could not get enough of him.
My Beautiful Family
The loss of my birth experience that had been so well planned, so exactly laid out to the last detail, still lingered in my mind. I waited until my six week appointment to talk to my physician about what had happened. I chose to wait in order to allow my anger to cool and to collect my thoughts. I wanted to approach him with a Christ-like spirit. I did not understand why he had allowed such a traumatic event to happen when everything had been going so well; why were such drastic actions taken for something not immediately necessary or imminently dangerous.
Teaching My Doctor a Thing or Two
When I spoke with him, I expressed my deep appreciation for him and his willingness to aid me and defend me during my labor and delivery. I proceeded to question what went wrong near the end. I wanted to hear his side of the story. He explained that the nurses acted more quickly than he had time to respond. He did not feel the same urgency as they, but they were only acting as they had been trained in that situation. All they knew to do was how they had been trained.
He did inform me that he had done more study on birth positions since my delivery and he said that he had read much research in support of hands and knees being a more appropriate position for a baby with should dystocia. This conversation with my physician was helpful for me to view the events of my son’s birth from a more objective point of view. I actually felt a little fulfilled at the prospect of my doctor learning something from my birth after years of practice that would aid him in future labor and deliveries.
I learned a lot from my third birth, and I think I will definitely seek to have a home birth if possible in the future to impede any unwanted and unnecessary interventions. In the end, all was worth it, because my heart is full of love for the beautiful son that God blessed us with. He looks just like his daddy, with my eyes, and a heart that we are training for the Lord. God has blessed us beyond belief!
Malachi at 10 Months Old
Have any of you had a nurse, doctor, or even midwife cross a line during your labor or delivery? How did you handle the situation?
Lindsey Stomberg is a pastor’s wife and loving mother to three little blessings living in rural North Dakota. Reading, sewing, and crafting are a few of the things that Lindsey enjoys doing when she is not cuddling with her hubby or playing with her children. Lindsey is cataloging her journey to become the Proverbs 31 woman on her blog, Road to 31. Her passion is helping women to understand their God-given role as a woman. Lindsey created Road to 31 to teach women how that role relates to singleness, marriage, motherhood, and beyond. Grab a cup of coffee and join Lindsey while she blogs about the Bible, natural living, marriage, homemaking, homeschooling and more!