Friday, June 10, 2011

Confessions of a Mama who Tried

© Nikki 2011. Nikki shares her third birth story and shows us that no matter how hard we prepare, life can take us on a different journey. This is her final installment for us.

Her first story

Her second story

One, 21 guns
Lay down your arms
Give up the fight
One, 21 guns
Throw up your arms into the sky.

The song on the radio seemed to fit as I climbed into the midwife’s car to transfer from the birth house to the hospital. My dream for a vba2c was crumbling around me. I had fought every step of the way, but I had lost.

My quest for a vba2c (Vaginal birth after 2 c-sections) began even before Noah was conceived. When we decided to try to get pregnant, I started calling midwives in the city. I had hopes for a homebirth, but EVERY single midwife said no. When I did become pregnant, I started calling the midwives again, this time in hopes of a birth at a birth house. Again, I was told no. Here in Germany, they will do homebirths after one cesarean, but not two.

After many days of phone calls and everyone, even hospitals, telling me I could not attempt a vba2c, I finally found a midwife practice that would allow me to have a normal birth, but in the hospital. The midwives really seemed to fit well with me and they kept me in control of the pregnancy, something I feel I didn’t have with my previous pregnancies.

I did everything I could to prepare for the birth. I read everything I could and was really mentally prepared. I stayed in shape and ate right. The pregnancy went smoothly. Even at 40 weeks, I didn’t feel big and pregnant. I do wonder about this now. I never had a waddle, I never felt loose and maybe that was part of the problem. I will never know. In the weeks before my due date, I would talk to Noah and tell him I would do everything I could to give him a good birth. 

At 32 weeks, I ended up going to the hospital where I was supposed to deliver for abdominal pain. Everything was all right, however the doctor (a real jerk) started asking about my birth plans. When I told him I had already registered to deliver there, NATURALLY, he told me, “The ONLY way you will be delivering here is by planned cesarean.” 

The last week of the pregnancy flew by without an issue. As my due date approached, I started having Braxton Hicks all day long. They would go from morning until 3am only to fizzle out. My due date came on the 5th of January; I had a feeling things were getting ready. The contractions were there all day. By 8pm, the contractions were steady and every 6 minutes, so I asked my husband to call our midwife, just to give her a heads up of what was happening. She told me to drink a glass of wine, and take a bath, and sleep if I could. I already had an appointment scheduled for the next morning. The contractions stopped, and I was able to sleep, but I was awakened at 3am with much stronger ones. I slept on and off. 

The contractions continued, and by my appointment on the morning on January 6, they were every 4-5 minutes apart. I was scheduled for a NST, just so they could check the baby since I was overdue. Everything looked great! I was so excited! I was so happy looking forward to the day ahead. Since I had been having strong contractions for days, Gudrun, my midwife checked me to see how far I was at that time. She said 1 centimeter. That was not what I was expecting.

My biggest mistake was probably going to that appointment that day, but how could I have known? She sent me out walking. There was a mall just down the block, so we went there. My husband drank a beer to calm his nerves, and we got my 3-year-old son something to eat. I remember going to the bathroom, having a contraction on the way in, and everyone asking if I was ok and should they call someone. It was funny at the time.

After nearly 2 hours, we went back to the birthhaus. My friend had showed up to help. And so my husband took our son to an indoor playground nearby. I was checked again and was at 2 cm. We were happy with my progress and I was in really good spirits. After talking to my friend awhile, I decided to get into the bath. Meanwhile, my husband and son came back. They would come in and talk to me, but once I got in my daze I really didn’t notice anyone anymore.

I think my water broke about 3pm. It was a neat feeling. I hadn’t felt my water break naturally with my first two so I was happy to get the chance. Things moved quickly from then. I do remember my second midwife coming in during an early contraction; she was concerned because the heart rate had dropped so low. I was on constant fetal monitoring, but it was wireless, so I really didn’t care. I was in labor in a birthhaus and not a scheduled c-section! To me that was heaven! By 5pm, I had gotten to almost 7cm and things were going great! And then, things just changed. Most of this is blurry. I remember only bits and pieces, but my friend was there and has tried to fill in the pieces.

I stopped progressing. I got to 7cm, but wouldn’t open further. His head would get to the pubic bone and then just stop. I started cramping in my hands and legs. I couldn‘t open my hands. I couldn’t urinate. I never got past 7cm. The midwife tried everything to get the baby down. I moved in and out of the water. The contractions started coming harder and faster, but everything stopped progressing. The baby was reacting strongly to the contractions, and they were coming so quickly that he didn’t have time to recover.

The midwife gave me something homeopathic to try to slow them down, so the baby and I would have some time to recover, but it didn’t help. Things stayed the same for 3 hours. With the baby reacting so poorly, the midwife made the call, and we got ready to transfer to the hospital. I do want to say that I trust my midwife’s decision 100%. She has been a homebirth midwife for over 30 years. 

Everything happened so quickly after that. We gathered our things, and my husband left in our car with our son. I went with the midwives and my friend. In the car, I realised my dream was gone. Everything I worked so hard for was over. I had lost. I had FAILED! In the car, they gave me instructions on what I was to say. My midwife would have been in a lot of trouble with the hospital for doing what we did, so I had to lie. We could not tell them I had been to the birthhaus, just that my water broke 3 hours later than it did, and that my midwives came and picked me up, and we drove to the hospital. (It was the same hospital that told me I couldn’t birth there).

The pain was so intense, and the contractions never-ending that by the time we got to the hospital I just wanted it to end. We got up to L&D and I was prepared for surgery. I was a little stressed because I hadn’t seen my husband and son before things got started, so I had no idea where they were. I at least had my friend. She was in the OR with me. And the anesthesiologist was the best. He talked to me and even sat and hugged me for awhile.

I really felt cared for this time. And while they wouldn’t respect all my wishes, such as delayed cord clamping or baby on my abdomen first, they did respect my wish for only essential words during the birth. The surgery started and it took quite some time to get the baby out. I found out later that he was stuck. Noah came earthside at 9:06pm on January 6, 2010. When they finally got him out, he didn’t cry. He didn’t have the best first minutes. I guess the way he was stuck, he got a lot of blood in his mouth, and fluid and blood in his lungs and he needed to be suctioned. They whisked him away.

They did EVERYTHING I didn’t want. It took forever for me to be stitched up, too. They did finally bring the baby just for me to get a glimpse. I remember at one point while they were finishing, I looked over to see my husband and son saying hi to me. They had been with the baby in the NICU. The hospital had also respected all of my wishes for no bath, and no clothes. I hadn’t wanted the oral vitamin k, but after the birth, I decided to let them give it. 

Finally, after more than an hour, I was reunited with my baby. He was in a little bassinet and he was making really strange noises. Everyone told me he was too exhausted from the birth and that he needed to stay in there. I had to demand to hold him. I feel like I had a doula with my friend. She really stuck up for all of my wishes. When she saw him trying to eat his hands, she also demanded that he be given to me. Once I had him in my arms, and nursing at my breast he stopped making the strange noises and the doctor couldn’t believe what a turn around he had. From that moment on, I never let him go. For the first 3 months he slept on my chest every night. 

The day after Noah was born, I got a visit from three consultants. One woman did all the talking. She went on and on for 15 minutes about what a dangerous thing I had done and how I could have killed my baby and myself. I was in total shock. I had done what I thought was right. I hope some day someone understands that. I hope Noah does understands. 

I don’t know if I will ever be able to think back on the day and not get nauseated. It took me 6 months to write this out. Whenever I start to feel bad about it, I just keep reminding myself how hard I fought to give him a natural birth. I hope he can forgive me, that I wasn’t able to do it.


  1. You tried Momma! You did everything you could to birth that baby naturally. You didn't fail at all, it just was meant to be this way. You're baby is beautiful, and I'm sure you have a strong bond with him by now. I'm sure one day he'll be very proud of his Mother.

  2. Forgive you? He's alive.

  3. The fact that you went into labor at all is an amazing gift to your son. At least you know he was ready to be born, and not taken fora scheduled c-sec. And you are breastfeeding, which is another huge gift. Don't feel guilty. You have given him so much more health than he would have had if it'd been scheduled.