Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Here is how it all went down on my first visit to the OB...
OB: "How come you have chosen this hospital when you live 40 minutes away? Thats a long way in labour"
Me: "Well I wanted to talk to you about that. I want a c section"
OB: "Oh? Why?"
Me: "Well my husband had a baby with his ex girlfriend and he was stillborn"
OB: "so you are worried about that happening again?"
Me: "yes. Also, my family has a VERY strong history of uterine prolapse following birth" (a family member had recovered from surgery in recent times that was botched and her recovery was traumatic for all of us)
OB: "OK, based on those reasons I will do a c section for you"
Now, what he SHOULD have said was: "actually C sections don't decrease the likelihood of stillbirth. In fact by having one c section you will increase the chances that your future offspring will be stillborn. Also uterine prolapse is not genetic, nor is it helped by having a surgical birth"
But he didn't. I get the feeling he always expected me to change my mind, to educate myself. He always said he had "pencilled in" my c section date, and I remember thinking to myself "you may as well do it in PEN because I'm having a c section!"
Some people have told me I did the right thing, that my fears justified my decision. No. If my OB had told me that none of my reasons were valid, that a natural birth was the safest option all round, I WOULD have changed my mind. See, I have never feared birth itself, I wasn't trying to avoid contractions. I mean if you want to talk about pain, try breastfeeding a baby with an abdominal incision!
I have seen arguments online about c sections vs natural birth. People can be very defensive about their c sections. I get it, it IS hard to have someone tell you that the best day of your life (the day your child was born) was somehow substandard, a tradgedy. However when I see people saying "women should be able to CHOOSE to have a c section if they want to!" I cry "NOOOOOOO!" I chose. I was not informed. I live in regret. And with a damaged uterus.
Now I believe that my c section almost cost me my life. Why? Because if you read my last blog you would have heard about my ectopic pregnancy. I suffered a rutpured fallopian tube which went undiagnosed for a whole week, filling my abdomen with blood. Ectopic pregnancy can be caused by a few things:
Pelvic inflammatory disease caused by chlamydia: Nope. The Dr checked my liver while he was in there and said that my pristine liver told them I have never had chlamydia.
IVF treatment: Nope haven't had that either.
IUD: never had one
Smoke: Pfft never even tried the things.
Previous ectopic pregnancy: Nope
Abdominal surgery including C SECTION: Bingo.
C sections are overused in our society, damn near one in THREE women are having one these days! And all of them will tell you theirs was necessary, because thats what they've been told. If one in 3 women would have either died in childbirth or lost their baby, the human race would never have survived. If you look at statistics from The Farm in the USA, where all births are at home attended by experienced midwives, the c section rate is less than 2%. A far cry from a 30% c section rate! Not only do they have a low c section rate, but also a very low infant mortality and correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think they've ever had a maternal death (I can't check, my copy of "Spiritual Midwifery" by Ina May Gaskin is already packed for our move!)
I never wish to diminish the birth experience for any woman. Birth is extroadinary! Yes, even Butterfly's birth was amazing and wonderful and life changing. If you have had a c section, you cannot change that, but don't sign up for another without doing your own research.
My c section made breastfeeding extremely difficult. My milk was late. My baby blues were severe. My recovery was painful and slow. My uterus will always be damaged, my future births riskier than they should be. Butterfly never got to choose her birthday, she was taken out when she was because that was my OB's "surgery day". Neither of us ever felt a contraction, nor experienced the hormonal cascade of birth that aids in breastfeeding and bonding.
My c section led to an ectopic pregnancy. One that almost KILLED me. My fertility is decreased, my risk of another ectopic is increased, and I have only one fallopian tube left.
PLEASE DON'T EVER "CHOOSE" A C SECTION WITHOUT KNOWING YOUR RISKS.
I recommend reading "Spiritual Midwifery" and "Ina May's guide to Childbirth" by Ina May Gaskin. "Delivery By Appointment" by Michelle Hamer. "Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering" by Dr Sarah Buckley. And if you don't like to read, watch "The Business of Being Born" by Ricki Lake.
What I DON'T recommend is relying on a doctor to inform you about childbirth. Inform YOURSELF. Empower YOURSELF. I wish I had.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Joss and I at her 2nd birthday party. At this point I was bleeding internally but had no idea! I had a vivid pregnancy dream the night before, my body was trying to tell me something...
Then the day before we were due to fly to Fiji, we were busy packing. I had been meaning to take a preg test "just in case" before I cut loose on the buffet! I didn't feel at all pregnant. I remembered at 2pm when packing the toiletries and I saw them in the drawer. So without telling hubby (who would have scoffed at me) I took a hasty test. The positive line came up IMMEDIATELY.
I yelled out to my husband. "Umm, I just took a pregnancy test and its positive".
"WHAT? Your pregnant?"
"No I really don't think so, I've been bleeding for 3 weeks remember? This is wrong, I know it. I'll call your Mum (who is a nurse)"
I phoned my mother in law who was first excited at the news, and then when I told her about the bleeding she said she would ask one of the GP's at her work and ring me back. I couldn't sit still. I was so confused, and worried. Joss wanted me to take her to the toilet so I did. I explained that Mummy was a bit frazzled because there may be a baby in my belly. She craned her neck, trying to see the baby. I laughed. Then I felt overwhelming sadness. Pregnant? But SHE'S my BABY!
I took a second test in case the first was defective. Also positive.
My mother in law phoned back and said I could be pregnant and miscarried a twin. Told me to see a dr and let her know how I go. I spoke to my hubby and we decided not to see a dr. We wouldn't get the test results before we left for Fiji anyway and if I was pregnant, I was pregnant. I started packing again and changed my mind. "BUT I've been bleeding. And remember all those pains? I better check this out". So I made an emergency appointment with the dr. Did you know you can do that? If its serious, don't ring up and ask for an appointment and give up when they say there are none. I told the receptionist it was an emergency, she asked what kind of emergency (I've been a receptionist, you would be surprised how many people think a splinter qualifies) and booked me in when I told her. I got in at 3.45pm that day, and lucky I did!
The GP immediately started talking ectopic pregnancy. We were trying to decide what to do since I was due to go overseas the next day. But health takes precedence and she ended up recommending I go to an emergency room for a scan.
Thats just what I did.
It was excruciating watching the technician scan me silently. I SO badly wanted him to smile and flip around the screen and show me a strong heartbeat. He didn't. He eventually told me my uterus was empty but he could see "something" next to my right ovary. After an internal scan he told me he had to talk to the doctor about the results. I started to cry. I knew I was in for surgery, that I wasn't pregnant and that my trip to Fiji was off. I stopped abruptly though, as my hubby and daughter came in and I didn't want her to see me upset.
I was told there was a mass near my right ovary and they promptly walked me through the doors to the emergency department. The dr told me it was most likely ectopic and that they had called a gynacologist to come and speak to me. While I waited for him a nurse came in and inserted a drip into my arm. "I guess this means I'm having surgery, then?" but she couldn't really answer me.
The doc told me you CAN treat some ectopics with drugs, but its not very successful. He also said you can try to save the fallopian tube but that there wasn't much point as it is likely to result in another ectopic down the track, and fertility wise, it only increases it by 2%. And my EP was apparently golf ball size so they were going to have to give me an operation, and that tube removal was best. I agreed. I asked hubby to text my friends to let them know what was happening (I'd told them I was heading for a scan) so they wouldn't worry. He had too much on his mind and didn't. Sorry girls! I did think of you!
I was scared. Not so much for me, but because Joss still feeds to sleep and wakes for boob often during the night, and this meant a night without me. It was already past her bedtime. Hubby ran to the car to fetch the carrier in the hope she would go to sleep. While he was gone they told me I was ready for surgery NOW. I panicked. I NEEDED to say goodbye!
Luckily hubby returned in time to give me a quick kiss, and to allow Joss to do the same. It wasn't enough. I wanted to hold her, to feel her, smell her hair, kiss her all over. I am well aware of the risks of anaesthetic and I'd never been under before. I was unsure whether I'd ever see her again. I tried to drink in every part of her gorgeousness as she disappeared through the door, blowing me kisses.
There wasn't time to be upset. I was wheeled out of the room, and had to suppress a strong urge to cry "weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!". I must have been grinning like an idiot. Maybe comedy is my go to thing in a crisis, because I didn't feel scared after that, just chatted and joked with the nurses.
Soon enough I was in theatre with some dude pressing oxygen to my face asking me to take deep breaths. His hands were pushing it on so hard I thought he was going to stop my breathing. Anyway that was my last thought and I was asleep.
I woke up in recovery and it SUCKED. I only remember it sucking because I was telling the nurses "this SUCKS!" I don't even remember why. Except that the oxygen prongs in my nose were SO ANNOYING. I recall hearing something about an appendix and then feeling my Mum holding my hand. Then I went back to sleep.
At 5.30am I got a text to say hubby and Joss were on their way. I unplugged my drip (only half sure it had batteries) and ran out to ask them if it was OK that I breastfeed on the drugs they'd given me. It was, and sure enough Joss saw me and cried, "MILK!". She has been stuck to my boob ever since. I have cracked nipples like when she was a newborn!
Apparently she did worse than I expected. A LOT of tears were shed at my house while I slept in hospital. Neither of them slept much. Hubby resorted to pizza at 9pm and a late night bath! I think it traumatised both of them. Hubby wasn't sure I was ever coming home and was scared about how he could raise Joss without me. Pretty heavy all round.
When the doctor returned just before discharge he showed me the photos of my insides. GORY! Apparently my fallopian tube burst at least a WEEK ago! I am lucky to be alive. If I had've gotten on the plane to Fiji I may never have come home. The foetus was maybe 6 weeks old? My abdomen was full of blood all the way up to my liver and my appendix was caught up in the fray. So they took it out too. There was no hope of saving my tube after all anyway, as it was splattered about my insides. The gravity of the situation still hasn't hit me yet. I do wish I was in Fiji enjoying a mocktail instead of couchbound in agony, but I am very lucky.
Lucky I took a pregnancy test. Lucky I went to the drs. Lucky the foetus didn't have a heartbeat by the time I saw it on the U/S (that would have been really hard to take). Lucky to be ALIVE!
So my fertility is down to 65% of what it was. Thats OK, because to get pregnant this time must mean we are super fertile! So much bleeding and a busy month didnt leave too much time for conception. Next pregnancy I was not planning on having an ultrasounds, but this changes that. I have been advised to have an early scan next time to make sure bubs is in the right place. And I will. I don't have anything against medical procedures that are NECESSARY. Just like, I would have another c section if my life depended on it. I just won't sign up for one without labouring first!
I'm sore, I'm off for some Cadbury therapy...