If you haven't read King's Story Part 1: Labor, you can read it here.
Before reading through, please note the *trigger warning* (homebirth transfer, birth injury, loss of control).
It was crowded when we arrived at Dupont. We were given the last nurse and the last room available.
Our midwife spoke out several times, “this isn't normal”. I was grateful that my dignity was being somewhat protected. She had seen me labor before with our second daughter. I wasn’t just responding to labor sensations, something wasn’t right.
My body began to convulse from the pain and placing an IV was no easy task. A pulse ox kept being put on my finger and I kept ripping it off. I wanted to see King’s heart tones on the monitor, not my own!
My midwife pressed a doppler to my belly and while King was just fine, my heart rate was racing at 150bpm.
My belly still contracted in its labor pattern (2.5 minutes long, every 3 minutes) but the pain I felt overpowered the labor sensations. My body began to clench up when my belly would contract and I couldn’t move my limbs. I was dripping in sweat and screaming until my throat burned. I truly believed I would pass out or be put under anesthesia.
As my belly would relax after a contraction, my body would begin to convulse again. “Someone do something! Make it stop!”
I heard someone say, "she's pulling away from the contractions”. Everyone was unaware that my baby was ripping my pubis symphysis apart and I was suffering from the trauma to my body. I couldn’t escape it. It overwhelmed me and I couldn’t communicate beyond screaming for help.
I gripped the bed rail and squeezed my eyes shut. I thought my head would burst from my screaming. I looked up at Landon a handful of times and even though everyone was close to me I was completely alone in my pain.
I was given a mask to breathe gas and air. I kept the mask continuously to my face and sucked in as much nitrous as possible, an effort to make myself loopy. I could feel everyone bustling around me but I was oblivious to who was actually in the room, even the NICU team coming and going.
Our obstetrician used an ultrasound to look inside my belly and King’s position was checked by his spine. She confirmed to the room that we just needed to get back to pushing. I didn’t process what was being discussed about me and immediately rolled over to the other bed rail.
There was never an urge to push. There was only the constant pain of ripping apart that I had been feeling for almost 2 hours at this point.
I unintentionally pressed my body against the button to break the bed down and the bottom portion started moving lower. My hips fell from the bed and I curled my head down while gripping the railing to hold on.
I began to push into my pelvis again as hard as possible. Right there in the most awkward, falling position I felt King move for the first time all morning.
My right leg was pulled back by someone and I was rolled more onto the bed.
I bore down again. I kept pushing and felt myself shoving him down further. It was an unnatural feeling.
As he moved lower, I felt an intense amount of extra pressure.
I learned later that our obstetrician had reached inside of me to grab King’s top arm. It was pulled out with an audible “pop”. He moved lower and began to crown slowly. As his head was born so was his second nuchal arm along with his face.
After more tugging, finally his body left mine.
It was just 40 or so minutes after we arrived at the hospital that he was placed on my chest. I looked down to a head full of blonde hair, a fat little body, and blue eyes that I know so well.
I felt immediate relief, most likely from adrenaline.
The initial rush of post birth hormones was obstructed by my body releasing the last of the nitrous I had inhaled. I didn’t feel fully present but when I became more aware, I immediately began protecting my baby.
I blocked hands away from him as nurses started their usual (and mostly unnecessary) post birth protocols.
“Stop wiping him.”
“Stop suctioning him.”
“No, he doesn’t need a hat.”
“Stop touching him!”
“We’re signing out AMA!”
We would leave just a few hours after King was born and take him home where we all belonged.
Before moving from our birthing room to wait for AMA paperwork I stood for the first time. The sharp pain I felt was incredible. I immediately noticed how different, in a bad way, I felt from my 2 prior unmedicated births.
I wouldn’t be diagnosed with a pubic symphysis separation of several centimeters for 5 months externally and 7 months internally. There isn’t even anything abnormal noted in my midwifery or hospital birth notes.
King's story will continue with a 'Part 3: Postpartum' and include my postpartum experience and healing process. Surprisingly, I had zero tearing or need of stitches and no signs of any physical trauma outside of pain when I could bear weight on my legs.
Please hear me: Birth is a normal and natural physiological process. Our bodies were designed to do this work. Fear, mistrust, and unnecessary intervention (no matter how seemingly small) are at fault for most births gone awry.
Women have a deep knowing of the birthing process and must be trusted and encouraged in this expertise.