Remembering My Homebirth to Cesarean
In a couple months, it will be my daughter’s second birthday. Her birthday is a joyous day in our family, she is the only grandchild and great grandchild on both maternal and paternal sides, and this year we plan to travel for her birthday to a beach that we visited 2 weeks after she was born. This day also looms as a multitude of emotions flood my mind and heart. We had planned for a home birth with a local Certified Professional Midwife. I remember sitting in my living room days after her birth with tears streaming down my face as I asked my friend to help me get rid of our home birth kit, I couldn’t stand to look at the untouched kit, the inflated birthing tub that never even touched a drop of water.
Planned home births attended by a midwife (according to a study done by the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health https://mana.org/blog/home-birth-safety-outcomes) have about a 5% chance of ending in c-section. The national average for c-sections is around 31% and for the entirety of my pregnancy, I had no intention of contributing to either of those averages. My husband and I desired and planned for a home birth the way that some people map out their careers. We knew that our beliefs and lifestyle habits may be difficult to manage in a hospital setting and we both had hospital anxiety. It was clear a home birth was the right decision for us and we dove in head first to this thought with no back up or emergency plan.
The night of my due date, my water broke after a few days of prodromal labor. It was exciting but as the late night turned into morning and then midmorning and there were no signs of contractions, we began to become worried. I was handling the ongoing effects of prodromal labor with broken waters as well as I could and we were eager to get things rolling. The adrenaline rush and fear of hospital transfer kept me from resting. I wanted to try every tip and trick in the book to start active labor as I knew the clock was now ticking.
Finally, things picked up and I was experiencing contractions that were stronger than I had felt before; but something still was not right.
My midwife suspected that my baby was positioned in such a way that was not allowing my body to open and move her down my pelvis and into the birth canal. Swiftly, my mind went into problem solving mode again and I urged my baby to rotate and move however she needed. We tied my rebozo tightly around my belly to keep her in an optimum position and did so many Miles circuits in my living room.
Then the inevitable happened.
It had been close to 30 hours being closely monitored by my midwife when we noticed there was meconium leaking out of me with the amniotic fluid, a hospital transfer was now required and no longer a backup option. I numbly packed a bag and as we drove to the hospital, it seemed as if active labor had begun. Once at the hospital, I was grateful to continue laboring and everyone was in agreement that as long as I was monitored and safe, the collective goal was a vaginal birth.
As the hours dragged on, I continued to exhaust my resources.
I was on Pitocin and exhausted and I requested an epidural. The epidural, which had such a dirty stigma in my mind for my vision of my birth story, was such a blessing. I rested and made it to the amazing part of birth that I was looking forward to. It was finally time to push. Pushing was so exciting for me. I was still receiving Pitocin and an epidural and as I asked how things were going after each push, I felt the epidural wear off and an excruciating pain in my back. My baby had moved again and I was experiencing back labor.
My chosen birth team was supportive, but I had difficulties connecting with my labor and delivery nurse. It was the shock of being told to rest for an hour, after 2 hours of pushing, after almost 50 hours since my water broke that I lost the only thing I could control at the time, my emotions. It was at this moment that I asked the nurse to give me some privacy and I called my midwife over and my husband. I expressed that I was exhausted and I could no longer manage, I wanted a c-section. My team did not hesitate to validate how much I gave for the birth I desired and made me feel secure in my decision, however, I felt devastated and weak.
My daughter was born June 22 at 2:16 pm.
My water had broken June 20 at 1:48 am, almost 61 hours of labor, via c-section. There is so much emotion, trauma, regret, and gratitude surrounding my decision to choose c-section after a grueling and unexpected birth story. I have been on a healing journey for almost 2 years now and have worked through the juxtaposition of choosing something I never wanted but that could have been an intuitive decision to save my and my daughter’s life. My memories blur together with the magic I felt in finally seeing my daughter, holding her once we were together again in our birthing suite, enjoying a successful breastfeeding relationship, coming home and taking charge of my new role as her Mama and the intense self advocacy I found myself performing while at the hospital, as unfortunately there was a huge disconnect in my needs being met by the hospital staff.
Overall, I gave birth.
I showed the strength of a person who held life for 9 months and brought that life earth-side. Now, I continue to heal both the physical and mental. I try to remain grounded during times of stress so as not to trigger symptoms of Postpartum PTSD. I am working on a regime to heal my back and pelvis as I restore my body, still. I remember that birth in all modalities is beautiful and I no longer hold expectations for birth to look a certain way. My vision for my home birth was beautiful but my c-section showed me beauty and power in a new light.
This piece was beautifully written and shared by Erica Serrano, Owner of Arbol Y Sol Co.