May 5th, 2011 at 12:00 AM, my husband and I walk into our appointment for induction. My doctor decided I should be induced on my due date because 1). I wasn’t showing any signs that labor was coming anytime soon and 2). According to the doctor, my last exam made him feel "concerned" that the baby was getting too big, I was carrying to much fluid and the baby didn't have enough space. So, I went with it. After all, he’s the doctor, right? During this time, I wasn’t surrounded by friends having babies. I wasn’t part of some popular mommy group on social media where I could ask my questions and have a million ideas and opinions thrown at me. It was just me, my husband, my doctor and some book about What to Expect, When Expecting. I mean sure I had my mom and my mother in-law. But even with them, their own experiences and choices were so very different. Who do you listen to? Could I have educated myself like I do now whenever I have a question? Absolutely! Could I have come a bit more opinionated and well versed on the topic? Sure, yes I should’ve. But I didn’t and a lot of us don’t. Looking back now, there were many things I wish I could have done differently but if I continued to dwell on all of that...you’d find me somewhere in a psych ward. I spent months, years...blaming myself and torturing myself with the "what if" questions. I had to figure this out. I couldn't go on being so resentful and angry.
The night of induction...everything was fine. The nurses set me up and I was ready for this process to start. The nurses were wonderful! We started the pitocin...sometime went by and I started to feel a bit uncomfortable, nothing crazy. They raised the pitocin...that's when everything changed. Alarms went off and the monitor started making some loud noise. My baby flat-lined! All I remember was staring at my husband with fear in my eyes and watching as 5 or 6 nurses rushed into the room, oxygen mask on me, pulling and shifting me around, until finally things were calm. Apparently, this is normal when being induced and some babies don't like to be forced out. I don't care how normal it is, it scared the heck out of us! They kept me at a steady number for a while and attempted to raise it once more. Same exact thing happened. I'm not sure I can handle this anymore. About 7-8 hours later, my mom by my side, I felt as if my water broke...I told the nurse that I was feeling like something was leaking. Apparently, after testing whatever it was, she concluded that my water did not break. So what the heck was that? She said I might have peed on myself (TMI, sorry)...ummm ok? A couple hours later, nothing has changed. I'm in the same situation as I was when I walked in at midnight. My doctor comes in to check on me. Disappointed that my pitocin levels were low, he demands they raise it. The nurses explain that the baby flat-lined twice. Each time they raise it slightly, the baby reacts negatively. He still asks that they try again. So they do as he says and my baby reacts by flat-lining yet again. I'm done! So instead we do what the nurses said we should do. Level the pitocin where the baby is still happy. But this meant, slow progress, if any. By the 10th hour or so, the doctor came back, no progress from me. I wasn't dilating, I wasn't thinning...NOTHING! Olivia wasn't ready to come out. Yet here we are stressing her out and forcing her way out. He noticed I was a bit uncomfortable. Ya, I was a little bit. I was having contractions, just nothing strong enough to do anything to my body, I guess. I was also just a little on edge because nothing was happening and I was starting to get a little uneasy about things. He asked me why I haven't gotten an epidural. Somehow he convinced me to get it. Why be uncomfortable when we can help you be comfortable, he said. I just want to kick myself for being such a puppet that day. Just going along with whatever. I will say, in my defense, I've never been that person who felt strongly about having or not having the epidural. That was the only thing I actually had an opinion about. If I felt like I needed it, I would get it. I wasn't trying to be superwoman. Here I am, 9 months pregnant, 209lbs at 5 feet tall in fetal position trying to get an epidural. Not happening. After countless attempts, I had to get sedated. I did ask (thankfully) why I couldn't try a different position but fetal seemed to be the anesthesiologist preference...again, I have no idea why. After this point I don't remember much...at some point the doctor suggested a c-section. My husband and I just looked at each other and knew at that moment we were ready for that. All I do remember is my mother leaving the room and then coming back furious. She went out and caught up with the doctor in the hallway. She accused him of having this whole thing planned out. That he knew my body wouldn't react to the induction and would end up in c-section. She accused him of doing this for the money. She basically cussed him out and came back by my side. At the time, I just did't get it. Why was she so upset? I know she hoped I would have the same beautiful story she did. She would tell how she can still remember my scent and the way I felt when they laid me across her chest. At that moment, all I cared about was getting my baby safe and in my arms. Why was my mother so distraught? Mothers know best, they say...ain't that the truth.
By the time I got wheeled away and prepped for my c-section, I was high as a kite. Barley keeping my eyes open. I remember trying to stay awake because I didn't want to miss anything. I remember seeing my husband, dressed and ready. He sat next to me, touching my face. I kept telling myself to stay awake! Finally, the most beautiful sound ever, Olivia Faith is born. I can hear her cry. I can hear them say her name. I can't see her. They call my husband over to cut the umbilical cord. I try to look over but all I see is his back. He brings Olivia over to me and I notice he is crying. First time I've ever seen my husband cry. I get a glimpse of her side profile. I wish I could see her better, it's not his fault, he's got his baby in his arms for the first time completely in awe and unaware of what to do next. They take her from him. They suture me up and send me off. He gets to go with Olivia. Still so sedated, trying so hard to focus, in and out of sleep. I open my eyes and I'm in some dark room all by myself. The recovery room, I remember the nurse telling me. Where is everyone? Where is my baby, my husband? Why aren't we recovering together? I start to cry. I can hear my voice but it feels like I'm in a dream..."nurse, where is my baby and my husband?" I fall back asleep. Finally, after what felt like a lifetime, I can hear my husbands voice as he wheels our baby in. I cry again. I look over at her, all I can see is the side of her face because they have me lying flat and she is sleeping. My husband, the sweetest man I know, trying his best to comfort me and tell me how great I did. He doesn't understand how alone I felt.
After a couple hours, I finally have my own room. For the first time, I get to hold her, smell her, take her all in. She latches on beautifully. My parents, in-laws and siblings pour into the room, excited to meet the newest addition to our family. Everything is perfect. Whatever emotions I had earlier, are gone...at least for now. Friends come to visit. The room is packed with visitors. The nurses check on me, all is great! They have me get up and walk, surprised that I'm doing so well. Friends ask how I'm feeling after the c-section, "I'm great, it was so easy", I say. We are a family of 3 now...words can't describe the happiness!
It wasn't until I started hearing about other woman and their birth stories that I found myself just crying...I found myself daydreaming. I started to question myself as a woman. I started to become angry and depressed. I kept asking myself, why. I kept seeing the doctor in my memories and playing back scenarios. Did he know what he was doing? Was my mom right about him? I started to remember the days that led up to my due date. How did he know my fluid levels were high,? How did he know the baby was huge? She was born 7 pounds 13 ounces, that's pretty normal, isn't it? We didn't do an ultrasound, or stress test. How did he know she wasn't comfortable anymore? Then I started hearing more stories about this doctor. Literally every (like 8 out of 10) patients he had, ended up in a c-section by the 10th-14th hour after being induced. Why didn't I know this? Your probably wondering where I found him. He was a referral. Though the person who referred him to me also had a c-section she wasn't affected by it the way I was. She was 100% content with the outcome. I wish I could be too. I felt robbed. I felt like my whole world was about to come crashing down on me. How could he do this to me and to all these other women? Cashing in when I'm the most vulnerable. It was like a bad nightmare. Every which way I turned, there was some woman talking about how she birthed her child. They placed the baby on her chest. Her husband pulled the baby out. Some had water births with their husband in the water with them, holding them and breathing with them. Stories of how bad the pain was and how they yelled and screamed at their husbands and squeezed their hands so hard...the only hand squeezing I did was when I was in fetal position being sedated. Holding on to my husband out of fear. I heard stories of woman who made it without an epidural, feeling every single bit of pain. I wanted that pain. I wanted to feel like a woman. I felt like a failure.
I think till this day no one really knows how difficult those days were for me. How many days and nights, I just starred at my baby girl and cried. I cried myself to sleep. I wanted this doctor to pay. Yet, I never did anything about it. I just wanted to move on. The only thing I am proud of is that I did speak out about it as time went on. I know I stopped a handful of woman from going to him. At least I can say, I did that. I never told my mom about my feelings. I'm sure she saw me crying a few times, I'm not sure she knew exactly why. She was so angry for me that day, I didn't want her to know she was right. Her daughter felt empty inside. That would have killed her. So, I pretended I was justt fine. I was up and running around within days. No pain meds, no help. I wanted to be superwoman! I had to prove to myself that I was just as strong and I was the true definition of a woman!
Just when I thought I had things under control...some ignorant person, mostly always a fellow mother, came at me with a comment that took me right back to the darkest part of my life. Watch those words people, they hurt more than anything.
Fast-forward to when I found out I was pregnant with my second. I went to a different doctor, of course. One that is still with me till this day. She is amazing and whether she knows it or not (I should really tell her) she is what saved me. Though together (as a team) we decided a second c-section was the best option for me, she knew my story. She felt my pain. She promised me a better ending. Aleena Hope was born on March 28th, 2014 to a very awake mother. The anesthesiologist was AMAZING! It was like they all knew my story. He gave me just enough of the cocktail to keep me numb but I still felt every push and pull. I was awake and talking. She was born and I heard her cry. They raised her up and there she was. My beautiful baby. They gave her to my husband to bring over to me. We took a happy family picture. They never separated us. They took me to recovery in a room filled with people. My mom and mother in-law right by my side. Minutes later they brought Aleena to me, placed her on my chest and latched her on. I was so happy. I had a story. I had a happy ending.
As Cesarean Awareness Month comes to an end...I'm hoping to bring some awareness to those moms who are just like me. I want you to know that YOU ARE AMAZING. YOU ARE INCREDIBLE. YOU ARE BRAVE. YOU ARE POWERFUL. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. YOU ARE WORTHY. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You didn't take the easy way out. I don't care if culturally a woman is looked down on for having a c-section... shame on you for even saying that to me. Oh yes, I've heard it all. People would tell me, I was lucky because I didn't feel any paid...umm ya because being ripped open and having your organs pushed to the side, isn't painful one bit! I had women ask me, why I "chose" to have c-section...back then I just wanted to tell them to go away, but I wasn't brave enough, I was ashamed. Now, I dare you to say anything like that to me! I hope we can learn to be more patient and kind with one another. I hope that we can be more supportive and encouraging, more sympathetic and more aware of one another. Ask questions and get to know someone...they could be secretly begging you for help. Postpartum depression is real...it is scary. If you've never experienced it, don't downplay it. Your words and actions are important during this time. Be emotionally available and help a mother out. All mothers, each and every one of us. We all need kind words and a lending hand. No matter how you delivered your child; vaginally, via c-section, with or without an epidural...all that matters is that your baby is here. Healthy and safe, in your arms!
"A MOTHER IS SHE WHO CAN TAKE THE PLACE OF OTHERS BUT WHOSE PLACE NO ONE ELSE CAN TAKE"