Being cheated

Last night I attended a Childbirth Ed class taught by the wonderful Hannah. She’s a fantastic educator, very entertaining and informative. We took a tour of the hospital where she took the bed apart, hoisted her little frame up into that bed and showed several different positioning examples, including all-fours and legs spread with feet up on the squatting bar. What a dynamic lady she is. I’m just not sure I could get in front of an entire roomfull of people and spread eagle. Lol. Very cool of her.

The whole experience was really neat, watching everything from an observation standpoint instead of being an expectant parent. I got warm fuzzies just seeing all of the couples, so excited and full of hope. The Daddy next to me was rubbing Mama’s belly and the one in front of me kept looking at his wife and smiling lovingly. It made me want another baby so bad I could taste it.

But when I got home and sat down to unwind, I was overcome with so many feelings that needed to be sorted out. Mostly, anger.

I’m angry that at 18 years old, I trusted my doctor when she told me at a prenatal appointment that “an epidural would be best for me.” I’m angry that I was always stuck in the waiting room for my appointments, that I could never get through on the phone, that everyone was too busy to answer my questions, and that she would fly in and out of the examining room before I had a chance to process the information she had given me. I’m angry that I was treated like cattle, along with the rest of her patients. In and out. Push them through. I’m angry that she sent me to Childbirth Ed classes, where I was taught how to be “a good patient”, to do exactly what they wanted me to do instead of giving me options. I’m angry that although my labor was only 6 hours long, she augmented with Pitocin. I’m angry that I was gripping the bed rails, curling up into a tiny ball and screaming from the pain. I’m angry that there were decels in my son’s heartrate, that there was distress and meconium that probably could have been avoided if my doctor would have been patient enough to keep the Pitocin out of my veins for a few hours longer. I’m angry that I never moved from the bed, strapped to monitors and an IV pole. I’m angry that I was numb from my breast bone to my toes, that I could feel nothing, that nurses were yelling, that I pushed so hard I bruised the sockets of my teeth and popped blood vessels in my eyes. I’m angry that my son was pushed too hard and too fast into the world and countless stitches were needed to repair the damage. I’m angry that my doctor tugged away at my placenta and that there was so much blood that she mentioned a transfusion, that I was anemic afterwards and had to keep my catheter in for the entire next day because I could not even stand. I’m angry that when breastfeeding went terribly wrong, the nurses, the lactation consultants, everyone gave up on me. And I’m angry that 18 months later, when my second child was born, everything happened all over again.

I almost feel like I need to grieve my first two births. Sure I had no major complications and my babies were healthy. But there was so much I missed, so much my boys missed. I feel so lucky to have had my last child be born at home. It was definitely a real healing experience for me. But in a way, it made things worse. I feel cheated. Even though I was reading everything I could get my hands on about pregnancy and birth and breastfeeding, the information that was presented to me was one sided. I was molded into my doctor’s perfect patient. She got paid for doing so very little, and now I forever pay the price for her lack of concern.

I guess it’s important for me to keep focusing on the fact that I was able to reclaim my motherhood, my instincts, myself. I have to remember that a year ago, I was in my own bed, watching my baby be born. I was letting him come, allowing my body to do the work as his head crowned so slowly and gently. I have to remember the waves of contractions that washed over me, the absence of fear and pain. I have to remember lifting his body to my chest, no one cheering or yelling, no bulb syringe, no gleam of the scissors to immediately sever him from me, no towels to scrub away his vernix. I have to remember that a year later, he still finds nourishment at my breast, that my child is still nursing when I was told again and again that I would never breastfeed. I have to remember it all, and be gracious for it, for the way I was given that one last opportunity to discover empowerment.


3 Responses to “Being cheated”

  1. 1 thordora December 9, 2006 at 2:39 am

    WHY doctors and “health professionals” spend their time making young parents feel shitty is beyond me. You want to help make good parents? Treat younger moms like people.

    However, it’s not just your age. My first birth was fairly traumatic and manipulated. It took me awhile to get past it, and to accept it. My second went too fast for them to fuck up thankfully. And it was one of the most precious things I’ve ever experienced, and my own reason for wanting to become a midwife, or at least a doula at some point in my life.

  2. 2 Leeanne March 16, 2007 at 6:43 pm

    Well after reading your story it brought up a lot of feelings of anger for me too. I’m angry my boyfriend didn’t rub my back while I was in labor, that he slept the whole time too. I’m angry my mother never listened to me when I clearly told her I didn’t want her anywhere near the delivery room. I’m angry that my doctor pushed for a c-section before I was even in labor! I’m angry that my son was whisked away from me the second he was born, that I never got to see him or hold him for six more hours. Every emotional aspect was taken away from his birth. I angry about the fact that the nurses had little sympathy for me when I complained about the extreme pain following my c-section. I’m angry that my boyfriend had no desire to be there for me when I cried in the middle of the night due to my hormone changes. Damnit I’m pissed off too! It sure feels good to get that out and to know that I can relate to someone. Thank you!

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