The labor and delivery of my son was a traumatic experience. What should have been a wonderful, loving moment or giving birth, was crowded by pain and discomfort. However, this pain was not a result of labor itself, but a result of the doctors choosing the course of labor for themselves.
Being a diabetic for 13 years, I knew this pregnancy would be difficult. Ten shots a day, strict eating schedule, and limited exercise held me like a prisoner. I tried to stay positive, and focus on being a mom. Everything I did revolved around that baby inside of me. I ate, slept, and breathed for him and nothing could stand in my way of being a good mom. I was referred to a high risk clinic at the local hospital for prenatal care because of my diabetes. The clinic had about 10 or so doctors that rounded on hundreds of patients. I never saw the same doctor two visits in a row, and was frustrated by this. It left decisions up to too many different minds, and it was up to me to keep things consistent.
By 26 weeks, I had already gained about 35 pounds. I was upset by this and tried to control the weight gain. I was taking about 10 shots of insulin a day to keep my levels within normal, and eating healthy. I took my daily vitamins as recommended and drank a lot of water. Yet my weight continued to increase making me more and more uncomfortable. By 28 weeks, I was having braxton hicks contractions and very concerned about the welfare of my unborn child. The doctors didn’t seem to care. In their eyes as long as I was not dilating, nothing was wrong. I was taking so much insulin in each injection that I started to have severe chest pain and panic attacks from the medication. Again, the doctors could find nothing wrong, and sent me on my way. I had to self-diagnose, potentially putting my son in danger.
By 34 weeks, I had gained 50 pounds. I had stopped working, and could barely function without discomfort. My son was a soccer player and kicked my ribs constantly. My back was always in pain, with no relief. I tried the best I could to hang on, but time was not going fast enough. Now, as much as I “liked” the doctors before, I never would have imagined how labor would be allowed to go. I had decided a natural birth was the best. I did not want an epidural, and was ready to deal with labor head on. At 36 weeks, the doctors finally decided that it was best to induce me. As long as his lungs were mature, all would go quickly. They proceeded with an amniocentesis. Of course, his lungs were mature, but for reasons I still don’t understand, the doctors felt it wasn’t time. So, I waited yet another week when they repeated the amnio. This time, they gave the go. At 37 weeks, I had gained just shy of 60 pounds and couldn’t be more ready to give birth.
On a Thursday, they placed gel on my cervix and sent me home. The entire night, my contractions were extremely painful, yet I was not dilating. So, as you probably guessed, they sent me home to suffer through it. The next day, they decided to admit me to the hospital and formally induce me through the weekend. The lengths they went to to put me into labor would take two days to explain. For the purpose of this article, they gave me 5 rounds of misoprostil to soften my cervix and increase contractions. Twice my uterus was contracting too much and they needed to stop them. I don’t think I slept in the 4 days leading up to his birth. On Sunday evening, I finally had dilated to 3 centimeters and was in the most extreme pain I had ever felt. I was paralyzed by pain and fear. I chose the epidural against my previous decision.
I was finally comfortable. For the next 12 hours, I reflected on the whole experience. I prayed that after all the bad decisions made by the ten or so doctors, that the labor process would go smoothly. It didn’t. The doctors did not keep me informed of the details of my labor. They thought they saw merconium when my water broke, and neglected to tell me because they didn’t want to worry me. ( This from the nurse’s comments after my son was born. ) His heart rate had dipped quite a bit, and they were concerned. However, I was told things were going great. I was allowed to push for about 3 hours. My son was face up and a very big baby for my small frame. A cesarean was in order, yet the attending refused to give the okay. The scene from my bed was of ten doctors, two nurses, the anesthesiologist, and my mother crying. Forceps were used, against my demands. I was in the most excruciating pain despite the epidural. Eventually, I could not feel my legs. Once my son was born, he had a massive bruise on his head from being born face up and the forceps. He did not cry, and was rushed away to the NICU. I got to kiss him for all of about half a second, and was the most scared I’ve ever been in my life. I attribute all this to the doctors. They all had the power to prevent this pain. They did not listen to my wishes or concerns at any point during my pregnancy.
My son, Jaden Patrick, was okay after a week in the NICU. I had other issues after labor. My blood pressure rose and they sent me home with nothing. I ended up in the ER with preclampsia and was re-admitted. Again, the doctors failed me. I ended up with a fourth degree tear, which I didn’t even know existed until I had it. My son had several tests done before he came home. Even his NICU nurse, after hearing the labor story, said I should’ve had a c-section. For about a year after he was born, I did not want other children. Those doctors had taken their own personal approach to my labor, and disregarded mine. They ignored all the warnings they were given to a bad situation, and yet they allowed it to happen because it was more convenient for them to stay out of surgery. They had taken away what was supposed to be the happiest day of my life, and I will never get that back. Needless to say, I will not be going back to them any time soon. I will also speak up and refuse to allow this to happen again. My advice to other soon-to-be mothers? Stay informed, ask questions, and do what’s best for you and your baby.