Sunday, April 17, 2011
As told by his mother Rachel.
My son, Grant was born on 6/30/2010 at 38 weeks gestation. 6lbs 9oz, 19 inches long. And perfect in every way.
My midwife was a fine midwife for perfect births, but I know from experience that you can have a perfect birth by yourself at home. My son Owen was born unassisted at home with just me and my husband. I take a lot of pride and it takes a lot of work to go against the grain. I believe in all things natural and holistic. It took the death of my child to no longer believe in Home/birth center birth.
A midwife should be there for you if something goes wrong. This is why I went to a birth center for this 2nd baby. I had a wonderful experience at home with my unassisted birth. I can't think of a more beautiful birth. My intentions for my 2nd son, Grant were that he would get that special and beautiful birth. But now having a son and knowing just how important babies are, we decided to do it the safe and natural way. I had all the confidence in the world in my midwives. I didn't even think I would need them. I first, never thought anything would ever go wrong and secondly, I figured this lady had birthed so many babies that she had seen it all. If by any crazy chance anything did happen. She'd have my back and take charge. I was wrong.
I'd been having terrible "Braxton Hicks" for 2 weeks before the day I went into labor. I told my midwives (I had seen 4 different midwives at this birth center) about the pain. I was told that it is common to have painful false labor with the 2nd child. I didn't push it, I'm tough. I can handle it but man it's starting to wear me down. I wasn't getting much sleep at night and they were very painful, like transitional labor contractions at times. I kept thinking that this baby was going to come any second. They just smiled at me and told me to hang in there. I did.
The day I went into labor was 6/29/2010. I was sick, flu like symptoms and a lot of painful contractions. I called the birth center and told them I think I needed to come in. I was told that the flu can give you false labor pains. I hung in there once again. I finally called at 6 pm and told them I needed help and was starting to feel scared. They had me come in. We dropped our 2yr old son off at a friend's house and we were ready to bring this baby into the world.
When I arrived the midwife on duty checked my cervix at 3cm and told me to lay down to see if I was progressing. They checked the heart beat every 10 minutes and told me the baby was great. My labor stalled. I was sent home in tears. I'd been in intense labor all day. I'd been in intense labor every night for 2 weeks. I wasn't sure how much longer I could take this. I was told to drink lots of fluids and take a warm bath. We picked up or son and headed home.
The bath seemed to help and relax me. I was tired, very tired. I fell asleep and awoke at 8 pm with very intense contractions. I was thinking it was transitional contractions and that the baby would be born very soon. We woke our son and drove in the car. The contractions were so bad I was vocal about it. Normally during contractions I would meditate until they passed but these were bad.
We arrived at the birth center but this midwife was running late. She showed up 10 minutes later. My husband dropped me off and drove our son back to our friends. We got into the room and I told her I was feeling scared. That something didn't seem right. She checked me and I was still at a 3. I started to cry. I told her I couldn't take much more and asked if I could get into the bath.
She poured the bath as I paced the room. She said to me, "I'll support you if you want to get an epidural." I remember taking a pause from the pain and thought... I really should go to the hospital... I'm scared. But at the same time I wasn't worried about something being wrong but she was telling me I couldn't handle the labor she would take me to the hospital.
I was then offered a back up doula. I wish I had accepted the offer. I wish I had had someone there that cared. The midwife wasn't in the room much while I was in the tub. I was mostly alone trying to get through the contractions. Thankfully my husband arrived to support me and help me. There were 4 midwives there at the time I was in labor and so far none of them had touched me or said a kind word. My husband and I were on our own.
My water broke. When my water broke the main midwife finally paid some attention to me while the others stood there with their arms crossed and waited with clipboards. So far up until the water breaking baby's heartbeat had been strong. When my water broke it hurt. The water was clear and everything seemed to be on its way. The midwives finally believed that I was actually in labor. I had to stand up... no I had to squat... or stand or kneel.
My labor was so bad that I couldn't even tell who was talking to me. There was no time at all between contractions. I kept saying, "I can't get a break... I need a break. A minute... something." For hours up until my water broke my contractions didn't have a pause. I don't know what time my water broke. I don't know what time they started to lose the heartbeat, but I know they started to panic.
My son's heart rate dipped when my water broke. The midwife said that was common. Things are adjusting and baby is getting ready to descend. I didn't feel ready to push, but I kept wanting and trying to push. The pain was so intense that I had to do something. I got out of the tub and while crying and screaming told them to leave. They were all just standing there. They hadn't even reached out a helping hand to me the entire time I was there. They were all standing around like I was out of control and they didn't want to set me off.
The pain was unbearable and they were cold and aloof. The main midwife told me she would be back in a few minutes to check on me. When they left, as I was naked I ran over to the corner of the room and cried. My husband trying to comfort me said, "something isn't right is it?" I told him I was scared. He held me while I contracted. He went to tell the midwife that I felt something wasn't right.
She came in and listened for the heartbeat and told me our son's heart rate was low and to push. All of the midwives were there now just standing there staring at me. I sat on the birthing stool and told her I couldn't push. I wanted to because I wanted this to be done and the baby to be here but I could barely talk I was in so much pain. She told me I HAD to push.
My husband asked her if I was completely dilated and she said I wasn't but that this baby needed to come soon or we would have to go to the hospital. My husband got down on his knees and was trying to help me as much as he could. But I wasn't dilated... I couldn't push. Still contracting... still in so much pain. No blood. Low heart rate off and on and still not dilated.
This went on and on. I don't even know how long. I'm trying to push. My husband is holding me and encouraging me and the midwife is panicking but no one, not any of the other 3 midwives is calling the ambulance. The heart rate is low... They all know this.
Let me remind you that when I first arrived at the birth center for the second time that evening I was offered a transfer for not being able to handle my labor. Why, now with my baby dying were they not offering us a transfer? Why were they trying to make me push when I wasn't dilated?
I was moved from the birthing stool to the bed… still not 100% dilated. I was told that I needed to get this baby out now. I'm still trying to push. I've never pushed so hard in my life. The pain is so bad that my vision is becoming blurry. I was given oxygen. When I look back at this scene I still wonder why no one has called for help. The baby has been in trouble and I'm having a hard time... why?
My husband and I were so focused on pushing this baby out as fast as possible and so focused on what we were doing that we couldn't stop and tell her to call 911. We weren't sane. We were relying on all of those midwives to do that for us if need be. We were counting on them to make the decisions that would need to be made when necessary. We were still all on our own as our baby was losing his struggle to breathe.
The main midwife could finally see that I wouldn't dilate and be able to push as fast as she wanted me to. She called 911 and told them she had a labor transfer… not a life threatening emergency. I'm still trying to push and the contractions will not stop and there is no break… I felt as if I was losing my mind.
One of the midwives had stayed with me to monitor the heart rate while all the others had left to call the ambulance. It was me and my husband pushing and crying. I looked at my husband while he is pushing my hair back and telling me to push. I ask him, "Why did they give up on us??" He keeps telling me we’re ok, just push. Another of the midwives enters the room and gets on the bed with us and my husband hears her ask the midwife that stayed, "Is it dead?" [Rachel asked to add this paragraph to her story a few hours after it was originally published.]
The ambulance arrived and they did not know or think this is any type of emergency. They are waiting in the lobby. My husband asks the midwife why they are not coming in and my midwife asks me what I'd like to wear. Can I stop here for a second and remind the world that my unborn child… my 38 week unborn baby is dying and she is trying to get me dressed? At this time I was wearing a robe and stood up and started to walk towards the door. My mind is fuzzy and my contractions are hard but I would have ran to the hospital if they hadn't of picked me up and placed me on the stretcher. I'm starting to feel at this point that the baby may be descending. I could feel him lower.
While being put into the ambulance my husband is told to ride upfront that the midwife would like to assist me in the back. I'm too busy to care and in too much of a hurry to worry. The EMT asks me which hospital I'd like to be taken to. I'm pushing and I yell, "St. Lukes Meridian" This hospital is only 5 minutes away. The midwife answers back, "St. Lukes Downtown" This hospital is 20 minutes away. I say again “ St Lukes Meridian” And she whispers in my ear, "They won't let me stay with you there. Lets go downtown." She answers for me again and we are finally on our way.
I have stopped to take a pause in writing this story because it's too much. It takes me and puts me in such a numb state. Did this really happen? I think I'll write the rest later... and I think I'll lose all the sleep I had planned tonight and instead look at the very few pictures of my son that I even have in my possession and wish so much that he was here... That he was safe and that I hadn't let him down.
He was perfect. He had piano key toes… one up one down one up one down just like his big brother. He had the softest face and the slightest cone head. He had my hands. And he had arms to reach and legs to walk, lips to smile and eyes to shine. I never saw his eyes and I never saw him without the hospital plastics they tried to use to revive him. If you are a parent you know love. You know what it is to love and if you lose that… you could lose it all in a second… you can never be the same. You will survive it but you will never be the same.
It's taken me 2 weeks to come back to writing this story. It's a hard story to write for me. I don't really want to complete this story. The story ends with me leaving the hospital with empty arms. It ends with a dead child.
While in the ambulance I was given an IV and oxygen, I'm continuing to push. I've not stopped pushing since the panic set it. I'm doing all I can. My vision is very blurry and I'm losing strength. I ask for water. I know now that these are signs of blood loss. There is no water. I keep pushing.
I'm yelling while pushing. I'm not fast enough but I'm trying to be fast. I ask her to check to see if she can see my son. She doesn't move. She hasn't touched me other than to check my dilation since we arrived at the birth center hours ago. I'm alone. I ask the EMT to tell my husband in the front that the baby is coming and that I'm trying.
I'm crying. I'm alone. He tells my husband. He comes back and tells me I'm crowning. I'm weak. He holds my hand. My midwife is sitting there ... silent.
We reach the hospital but I hardly even notice. I'm pushing and I haven't stopped. The ER staff reaches me and pushes on my belly. The baby comes about 2 minutes after we enter the doors. He is taken away. My husband follows. I'm covered in blood. They worked out my placenta and the bleeding stopped.
They keep checking me. I keep asking them where my baby is. My midwife still hasn't touched me or said a word to me. I grab her hand and tell her, "Go check on my baby and come right back. Tell me where he is and if he is ok." She leaves. I'm alone. Next… my husband walks in with tears in his eyes. He is broken. He tells me that our son, Grant has died. I will not see him alive.
The medical staff at the hospital surrounds me with love and support. What was all this I had heard about cold and sterile? I was hugged. I was handed my baby by a nurse with tears running down her cheeks with love and compassion. My midwife returns... She's been on the phone.
They ask why we are at a hospital so far away from the birth center. There are 2 closer hospitals. How long was the heart rate low? When did that first occur? My midwife pleads the 5th. My husband and I do not know and are not in the right state of mind to answer.
I was helped up and onto a new bed. My old bed, the EMTs stretcher, is covered in blood from the waist to the toe of the bed. All 3 EMTs are standing there in shock and silent. I see the doctor is talking to them. I find out later that they should have been told it was an emergency, not just a labor transfer. They would have been obligated to take me to the nearest hospital. If someone has a stroke, they don't ask them which hospital they prefer.
The ER doctor that assisted us while we were at the hospital told me: abruption. Hidden abruption is the diagnosis. Severe pain with contractions, contractions with no break. Loss of vision and weakness, thirst, heart rate lowers ... and if those are not enough symptoms and reasons for concern ... baby dies.
I am holding my son. He is warm and soft. He is perfect. He is beautiful. And he is dead.
How do I put him down? I can hardly come to terms that I will have to hand him back to someone and leave. That I will never hold him again. I hand him back. My arms ache. My heart aches. I can't leave the hospital. I stop almost 100 times on the way to the door and my husband and the nurses have to remind me that my 2yr old son is waiting for me at home and that I have to leave. My baby is dead. I feel like I am leaving him there. Who will hold him, "I will hold him," the nurse tells me with tears in his eyes.
Thank you, nurse for showing compassion and holding my son. The hospital staff later took pictures of my son. Hand prints and foot prints. They saved all his blankets and clothes. They have all written me heartfelt letters, flowers and mementos of a baby that should be in my arms. I got a tropical plant from the birth center 4 days after my son died 6/30/2010. And life changes...
I hear a baby cry in all the different rooms of my house during the night. I dream that I am holding him and that I lose him in my blankets. My mind races. "Where is he?! He was just here! I had him in my my belly, I held him in my arms how could I have lost him so easily??!!" I panic. I wake up I hear him crying and I start to tear the room apart. I'm sobbing as I'm realizing that I'm looking for a baby that is not here and never will be.
I'm not asking for homebirth to stop. I'm not asking for midwives to all lose their jobs. I'm asking for people to have the knowledge that your child dying because their midwife is scared to make the right decision. I'm asking that in the case of an emergency that they put aside whatever pride or whatever it is and kick into gear their life saving abilities. If they do not have this ability, get a desk job.
My son is dead. If I had been laboring in a hospital he would be alive. If I had been birthing at a birth center with a midwife with LIFE as her first priority… he would have had a standing chance. When you are in labor and you are in a the middle of a labor gone wrong you cannot act for yourself. You cannot save your baby. You have to have a midwife that is capable of making these calls before it's too late.
How will you know that your midwife has this ability? You won't know until it's too late. I stand by what I say... I'm not challenging anyone. I'm just missing my baby and my heart will not heal. He would have been 9 months old when I starting writing this story. I have been living for 9 months with a broken heart. I've got a lifetime to live with this broken heart. I have a lifetime of hurt.
And I can say I know now. I know now not to ever risk a home/birth center birth. What good does this knowledge do me if my child is already dead. The only good it does is that I can tell someone else.