© N 2011. N shares her birth story, a sequence of events that was decided for her and without her informed choice. Abortion and adoption are mentioned.
“My pregnancy with Olivia was unplanned. I wasn't married and didn't have a supportive boyfriend. We fought constantly in the early weeks. He constantly pressured me to abort. There was no way I could ever go through with that. As the weeks went on, our talks turned to adoption, but the thought of keeping my baby was always on my mind.
Halfway through my pregnancy, I switched from my OB to a midwife for more personal care. And yet I wonder if things would have actually been better had I stayed with that OB.
I was young, 22, and had no deeper concept of labor other than the cultural clichés, such as what I saw in the movies. Those references were enough to scare me half to death.
When I was about 37 weeks plus a few days, it seemed as if labor had started. Contractions were stronger and the midwife asked me to come in to be checked. It was about 10pm in the evening. A little bit later in the night she said there was something wrong with the baby's heartbeat, and that we needed to break the water to make sure the baby was ok. All I was told was that my baby would be born that day.
I was not informed about what breaking the waters meant and I was not prepared for what would happen next. So, at around 12am after only a few hours of contractions, and at only 2 cm, she broke my water. It was clear water, however, she said that the baby's heartbeat was still not good. I was next told that in order to get a better view of the baby's well-being, she needed to attach internal monitors to the head. I was not told of any dangers, or how in fact the internal monitors would be attached.
After all of this commotion, the contractions completely stopped. I was then told they must get the baby out, that my baby MUST be born that day. Of course, this timer was started because she had to break my water so early. I was told the only way to get labor going again was with Pitocin. Again, I was not given any information, therefore couldn't make an INFORMED choice. I was only told something was wrong with my baby, and I must have this medicine so I could get my baby out. I was scared. I complied.
There I was, lying in bed, hooked up to monitors, an IV, and constantly having the Pitocin turned up to intensify contractions. Little did I know that I was being basically induced, without my consent. I was able to deal with the contractions at the beginning, but then they became unmanageable. I later learned that the severe pain was due to the Pitocin, which explains why many women want an epidural. When I begged for pain medicine, I was denied, the reason being the baby's heart rate.
I labored like this for hours, all while crying and pleading for something to take the pain away. Over and over, I was denied any relief. I finally made it to 9 cm at about 11am. The midwife told me I needed to start pushing to help dilate the last centimeter, even though I had no urge to push. For 3 hours, they had me pushing in every position imaginable, all without food or water since the night before, and without the urge to push. It got to the point where I could hardly move anymore. I asked for breaks, but they said no. They said it was over; if I couldn't push any more, it was section time.
I was finally able to rest while they were prepping me for surgery. In that moment, left alone, lying in a bed outside the OR, I finally felt the urge to push. But my midwife turned to me and said, “It’s too late.” They wheeled me into the room. During surgery, I was ignored while the father and the anesthesiologist realized they were neighbors and chatted the whole time.
My beautiful Olivia was born at 2:42pm, on the 17th of May in 2002. I tried to nurse her while in the recovery room and afterwards in our room. She wouldn't nurse and was constantly crying. I was told it was because she was hungry, and was brought a bottle of formula. I tried and tried to breastfeed her for the first week, but it never worked. I'm afraid that with her birth and then not being able to breastfeed, it really inhibited me to bond with her. So at 12 days old, she was placed for adoption with the family we had originally chosen.
That was almost 10 years ago and I still think of her every single day. The birth she and I experienced has hung over my head every day. What I experienced changed my life. That one birth took something and someone away from me that I will never get back.”