Archive for Elective Cesarean

Forceps

This weekend, a story came to my attention that left me emotionally devastated.  You can read the story in its entirety here.  The story highlights the birth of baby Olivia, who, following a rather tumultuous attempt at a vaginal delivery, was delivered via forceps.  Because of forceps’ placement and doctor’s skill, or lack thereof, Baby Olivia’s skull and spine were broken, leaving her on life support for 5 days before she passed away.  Reading this story, I can only imagine the horror and anguish that this family feels.  I can only imagine that the mother, whose body must be broken and battered from a botched forceps delivery, and whose daughter is lost to her, now has to cope with both physical and undeniable emotional pain.  I can only imagine how the father, who witnessed the botched delivery, and lost his little one, will live with that emotional anguish.

I can only imagine, and reflect, on my own experience with forceps delivery.  Like the mother in this sad story, c-section was pushed to the back burner.  Olivia’s mother, in fact, asked for a c-section, prior to admittance to the hospital, and was told that “she’d be left with a scar.”  After 3 hours of pushing, I too was told that a c-section would leave me with more physical baggage then a forceps delivery.  I think, too often, that people underestimate the very real dangers of forceps delivery…in part because we are not warned of the horrors of such a delivery.  I have yet to read a story of, “my wonderful forceps delivery.”  I have yet to meet a woman, who delivered via forceps, with a glowing review to such a delivery.

Like Olivia’s parents, I maintain that forceps deliveries should be banned.  My thoughts are, if you get to the point in a vaginal delivery where your body is just not ready/responding, then go for the c-section.  In fact, my thoughts are, if you need any sort of intervention, including induction, you may as well go for the c-section.  Although my thoughts may be unpopular, they are rooted in my own experiences, and in the experiences that I hear about from others who struggle on a daily basis with birth trauma.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

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Click

Click. Click. Click.  The noise of two pieces of metal coming together.  The sound of a fork scraping a plate at dinner, keys jangling, money jingling.  The sound that could instantly put me in a tailspin, a panic, a mind shattering experience when my PTSD was in full force.  The sound of forceps.  The sound of trauma.

The sound of metal.  The sight of forceps-like things…salad tongs, cooking utensils.  The sight and the sounds, in combination, left me in the fetal position on the kitchen floor, holding my ears in a booth at a fancy restaurant, in tears at a guest’s house for dinner.

These reactions were not pretty.  PTSD is not manageable without treatment.  My treatment for PTSD, although long and arduous, was successful.  But, I still cannot believe what I did this week.  What I COULD do, and what I DID do.  I did a Google search on “forceps deliveries.”  I clicked on videos.  And I watched.  With the volume up, and the picture large, I watched a forceps delivery.  And I almost puked.  NOT because of any remnants of the PTSD, but simply because of the barbaric nature of this form of delivery.  I watched as the forceps were placed, placing an instrument that is much too big for the vagina, and will more than likely tear the vagina, in the vagina.  I watched the doctor use some other medical device to further expand the vaginal opening by slicing the flesh around the vagina. I watched the doctor apply an extreme amount of traction to pull a baby from a mother’s unwilling body.  I heard the mother moaning and screaming.  I heard the click.

And, I think to myself.  My cesarean section was a piece of cake compared to the butchery of a forceps delivery. The elective cesarean section, the “major surgery” that I had ,was controlled, defined, and calm.  Each “click” was accounted for, each slice meaningful, each stitch done with the precision of a skilled doctor in a controlled environment.  It will always baffle me WHY forceps are used in a non-emergency vaginal delivery.  Although it baffles me, it apparently does not baffle the birthing community.  It seems many women still view a forceps assisted “natural” vaginal birth as a better option than a cesarean delivery.  The idea of women being stigmatized when considering their options between forceps and cesarean at the moment their delivery may deem necessary sickens me.  I feel that women should always have an informed choice and it is my mission to advocate for that choice.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

A Perfect Birth

Birth without trauma.  Birth in which the mother and baby are healthy and happy.  Birth which leaves no lasting ramifications, either physical or emotional.  A Perfect Birth.  That’s what I have now experienced with the birth of my son.

Going into birth this time, I was ready.  Ready, educated, and excited.  My pregnancy before this delivery was rocky, to say the least.  Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction, two hospital stays due to illness, and a last-minute run around regarding getting the delivery I wanted (and needed) posed real issues for me.  However, the delivery, a delivery that myself and my doctor agreed to be most beneficial to mother and baby, was such that it set up “a perfect birth.”

My son’s birth story:

I went into the hospital at 11:30, with the understanding that the c-section would take place at 1:00.  I was 38 weeks, 2 days and with no indications of imminent labor, I understood that my surgery could be “pushed” for emergency patients.  I was made comfortable while waiting for my turn, and an IV was inserted, and any questions I had were answered.  A little after 1:00, I was wheeled into the delivery room.  I walked myself to the bed and was told how to sit for an effective spinal.  All the while, the medical professionals present were kind, understanding, supportive, and reassuring.  My spinal was placed without incident and then I was instructed to lie down.  Once numbed, I was happy to see my husband arrive by my head.  And then, the incision, the surgery, and less than 8 minutes from first incision, my baby boy’s screams as he was born.  Perfect baby boy, who was immediately shown to me and then checked out by the nurses (with my husband by his side and in the same room).  Once wrapped up, my husband held him by my head as they stitched me up.  All the while I felt cared for, informed, and respected.  A complete opposite to my previous birth experience.  My husband, baby, and I ventured to recovery together where I was able to effectively breastfeed and bond with the newest member of our family.  Later that evening, my daughter joined us and our family of four was “officially” all together.

Since the birth, I have managed my pain and was off all pain killers within the first week.  I am able to walk now with the symphysis pubic dysfunction drastically diminished.  I have nothing but positive memories of the birth and my daily interactions reflect positivity.  I am looking forward to noting my progress at my 6 week check-up.  The baby is doing wonderfully as well.  Over eight pounds at birth, he continues to thrive, both feeding and sleeping as well as a 3 and 1/2 week old should.

The support I have had for this birth experience was immeasurable.  Thank you all.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Update: Getting the Run Around

Here is an update to my latest post, Getting the Run Around.  I just came back from my OBGYN doctor.  I feel very strongly that I am my own best advocate and I truly believe after my conversations with my doctor today, he has my best interest in mind and will also strongly advocate that this c-section happens as planned.

So, here is the plan.  I go forward with the amniocentesis on Wednesday (a prerequisite to a cesarean before 39 weeks).  Somehow, my paperwork magically turned up and it turns out I am indeed all set and scheduled for the amniocentesis Wednesday morning, contrary to the original claim that I had no such procedure planned.  My doctor has informed me that due to the recent unprecedented amount of “inconclusive” results for fetal lung maturity, he will push for a second test to be performed that day if results are inconclusive.  If in fact, those results are also inconclusive, he will  continue to contact Peri-natologists until one will sign off on my c-section the following day.  If in fact he is met with further opposition, I will be called in to plead my case.

Believe me, I do understand that some elective c-sections are done too early, for convenience of the doctors or mother. I truly believe the scenario presented to me at this point is in response to the few that try for an early delivery for these reasons. However, that is not the norm. I am opting for an elective c-sections because of very valid emotional and physical reasons.  I am well-educated about my choices.  I have been under great prenatal care, and have been monitored solely by one doctor throughout my pregnancy.  I have a very good read on the dating of the baby due to an early dating ultrasound.  My doctor agrees and promotes my decision, and, furthermore, dictates that the baby is healthy and able to be born on the date we decided on.  There’s no reason that this hospital policy should trump my doctor’s ability to assess my physical and mental health, as well as the baby’s health, when he has been the one monitoring me for the last nine months.

And that, my friends, is my update.  Hopefully the next post will be about the safe and uncomplicated arrival of my baby boy!

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Getting the run around….

In reading about other individual’s experiences with elective cesarean, I have counted myself lucky that the opposition from medical professionals that many mothers face in obtaining the right to choose this type of delivery is something I have only READ about.  Until now.  This past weekend, my OBGYN doctor called me with a heads up that “we may have a little problem with your planned c-section.”  My doctor, (who is a huge advocate for my planned elective cesarean that is supposed to take place in 3 days), has received an e-mail from the hospital I am set to deliver at asking him “why is she (meaning me) choosing this mode of delivery electively at 38 + weeks gestation?”  Furthermore, the hospital is claiming that the amniocentesis appointment that has been set for months for the day before the scheduled c-section is not set up. (even though I have paperwork confirming the appointment). The claim is that there is no appointment, therefore, no ability to process to lung development, therefore, no elective c-section.  In addition to these claims from the hospital, my OBGYN has informed me that many mothers going in for an elective c-section recently at this hospital have been faced with “inconclusive” findings during the amniocentesis, therefore, the elective c-sections for these mothers have been cancelled, resulting in a later rescheduling or more likely, the need for the mother to go into labor prior to having a c-section.

I find this completely unacceptable for the hospital to pull this little stunt 3 days prior to my planned c-section.  Not only do I believe that elective cesarean IS the better choice for delivery, I have medical indications that support my right to demand an elective cesarean section without trial of labor.  These indications include:

1.  Previous BOTCHED vaginal delivery in which I was in labor for over 30 hours, pushed for over 3, and delivered a sunny side up 8 pound 14 ounce baby girl with forceps.

2.  A third degree tear, dislocated hip, and severe postpartum hemorrhage immediately following delivery.

3.  Resulting Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with related Anxiety Disorder directly related to trial of labor and vaginal delivery.

4.  Resulting permanent damage to rectal sphincter and fecal incontinence directly related to trial of labor and vaginal delivery.

5.  The medtronic Interstim for fecal incontinence device that I have placed on my sacral nerve does not support the trials of labor and delivery, a c-section is indicated as a better mode for delivery.

6.  The current SPD, symphysis pubic dysfunction, that I am dealing with will only get worse with a trial of labor and delivery, a c-section is indicated as a better mode for delivery.

Because of all the above indicators, my anxiety level is through the roof just thinking about a trial of labor, that could possibly result in a vaginal delivery.  Also, the closer I get to my due date, the more likely my elective planned c-section will become a c-section that results after I go into labor, which is not an ideal situation for me, emotionally or physically.  I know with certainty that my OBGYN is on my side with this, and he is currently trying to sort the whole thing out with the hospital.  Later today, I have an appointment with my OBGYN doctor and I hope it brings good news.  It’s just a shame that I need to spend these next couple of days worrying over a choice that I should have the right to make without the hassle instead of mentally preparing myself for the joy of meeting my son via the certainty of a planned elective cesarean delivery.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

I Need Time

Recently, I came across an article, “I’m Having a Baby, Not Hosting A Party-Stay Out Of My Hospital Room!”  while researching the time of c-section recovery for the mother.  With a large, loving, local, extended family, I know that visitors are going to be itching to come and see the new addition to our family.  Like the author, Rebecca Eckler, I also feel that “Of course I want everyone to see the baby…but I don’t really want visitors…   Like the author, I am having a planned c-section.  Like the author, people know about the date and location of delivery.  Like the author, I’m worried.

Perhaps ,unlike the author, I am worried about having visitors post delivery mainly because I don’t know how I am going to be, or what I will be feeling, emotionally and physically.  After my daughter was born, I experienced the ramifications of both physical and emotional trauma.  I was unable to navigate all of the immediate postpartum emotions and physical discomfort with a clear head.  I was in shock, physically and emotionally, for the allotted time of “recovery” at the hospital.  I had many visitors to the hospital postpartum, well-meaning friends and family, excited to see the baby, yet unaware of my inner and outer turmoil.

Part of my years of PTSD therapy explored the possibility of having another child.  At first, the firm answer of “NO WAY” was the only sane answer I could come up with in regards to the question of “will you have another child?”  As time passed, and I became much more emotionally healthy, I realized my dream for another child was one that I could not ignore, one that I did not want to lose simply because of the trauma inflicted upon me.  The dream of having another child was a dream that was my right, a dream that I could fulfill by continuing to attend therapy and eventually be discharged with a healthy psyche.

Having another child, and facing my trauma, the trauma of a delivery, head on is not something that scares me anymore.  I realize that because of the enormity of what I am about to experience, I may be overly emotional immediately postpartum simply because of the nature of the experience.  I know I will be able to reclaim, in the physical and emotional sense, what was lost to me during that initial traumatic delivery.  I am going into all of this a much more educated and medically supported individual.  I have a team of medical professionals that are helping me to succeed physically and emotionally with this pregnancy.  I have me, a much stronger, better, advocate for what I need.

I’ve never thought of myself as a selfish individual, but I need to ask myself the following question in an effort to preserve my sanity, my spirit, and to protect my physical and emotional wellness.  “What do I need during those first few days?” I need time.  I need quiet.  I need peace.  I need to make peace out of the broken pieces of my first delivery by having this delivery, this experience, be different.  How much time do I need?  How will I achieve this quiet reflective time necessary for the reconciliation of and reclamation of my spirit?  How can I truly be at peace?  The answer lies in the events yet to happen during and after delivery.  The answer lies in the control that I feel postpartum.  The answer lies in my ability to let visitors know that I may need more time, just because, prior to them visiting the baby.  The answer lies in people respecting that time that I need.  Not only people respecting that time, but people appreciating that I am taking that time to heal, to make peace, to be joyful, to feel whole again.  The biggest question of all, the one that I cannot plan for, is how much time will I need?  I am unable and unwilling to answer that question at this time.  I just don’t know what it’s going to be like.  However, I do know that I will advocate for whatever it is I need to remain a healthy and happy individual.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

10 weeks

To date, there are about 10 weeks left until my planned, elective, cesarean section.  I cannot tell you how excited I am and pleased that elective cesarean is an available option for me.  To know that I am able to have another child, that I am able to commit to another pregnancy and delivery without an overwhelming sense of impending doom that the trauma I experienced before could happen again, is a complete joy.  Thankfully, the choice of elective cesarean, the choice of how I will bring forth my baby into the world, the choice of how my body will deliver new life to the world, is mine to make.  This choice is supported by my doctor, and my hospital.  This choice is, for the most part, supported by my family and friends.  Unfortunately, this choice is not readily available to all mothers, not promoted by many mothers and medical professionals, and downright denied to some pregnant individuals.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about elective cesarean and the thoughts and attitudes surrounding this mode of delivery.  Articles and comments that are part of our mainstream culture that discuss elective cesarean often focus on this delivery option as one of huge risk (to both mother and child), one that should be done only in extreme circumstances (a medical emergency that arises during a “natural” vaginal birth), and one that should never EVER be done electively.  These articles on elective c-section often focus  on the mother’s selfishness, the baby’s overwhelming ability to bond or breastfeed, and society’s disgust at the choice of operation vs. “natural” process.

Although the overwhelming amount of readily available literature regarding elective cesarean focus on the negatives, as an educated women, I am able to offer you two very excellent resources that talk about elective cesarean as a more streamlined and socially accepted choice.  The best resource that I have found on this subject is the book, Choosing Cesarean: A Natural Birth Plan, by Dr. Magnus Murphy and Pauline McDonagh Hull.  Another equally compelling resource for elective cesarean, a resource that provides current up-to-date trends and support surrounding this always controversial topic is the wonderful Facebook page, Cesarean by Choice Awareness Network.  Created by another individual who rallies for women’s choice in the mode of delivery, this Facebook page promotes civil discussion and inspires those individuals looking for answers and real information about elective cesarean…without societal bias of “natural” vaginal birth.

I urge anyone even remotely interested in the subject of elective cesarean to become informed, not just by the biased media that is most readily available, but by the literature and groups that are beginning to gain more momentum in the movement for women’s choice about how to birth their children.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Vaginas and Eyes and Ears, Oh MY!

As I begin to really talk to people openly about my choice to have an elective c-section for the impending arrival of my baby, I can’t help but feeling the weight of the world’s “natural” order on my mind.  In our society, it is a commonly voiced belief that “women’s bodies were meant to give birth” often supported by the statement “women have been doing this since the beginning of time” and ended with “it’s just natural.”

Although I respect your opinion if you hold this belief near and dear to your heart, I must present the other side. My blog, and my mission, is to break down the barriers in our society that allow women to feel judged, stigmatized, and depressed.  It is my job to present another side, another perspective, for women who continue to feel victimized by the pervasive thought in our society in which they somehow “failed” as a mother, as a woman, by either “succumbing” to a c-section or electing for one.  Women often are made to feel ashamed of the inability or lack of desire to birth “naturally.”  Many natural birthing movement attitudes view c-section as a last resort, an unfortunate choice, a traumatizing alternative that will result in feelings of inadequacy, emptiness, and total lack of womanhood.

My responsibility is to offer a different perspective.  For example-the belief that “women’s bodies were meant to give birth (without intervention)” should and can sit side by side with the statements “people’s eyes were meant to see (without intervention)” and “people’s ears were meant to hear (without intervention).”  Why oh why do we only hold true the first statement?  Why is it socially acceptable to accept “medical” intervention to advance one’s sight or hearing?  Do people with glasses and hearing aids feel less of a person because they have somehow “failed” to live as nature intended?  Wouldn’t it be odd if, as a society, one was expected to “trust nature” and continue to walk around blindly or without the ability to hear if there were medical advances and professional individuals around to implement those medical advances?  Of course society does not expect those with deficits in eyes or ears that can be medically corrected to just “go with what nature intended.”  However, women who have either emotional or physical barriers present prior to the delivery of their baby are often expected to entertain the “natural” order of the body prior to “succumbing” to medical advances such as medicated birth and c-section.

The statement, “women have been doing this since the beginning of time” is inherently true.  You know what else is true?  Women have been dying in childbirth since the beginning of time.  And so have their babies.  Furthermore, more women and babies died in childbirth in the “beginning of time” because medical advances, information, and professionals who know how to implement and utilize the technology we have now did not exist.  I truly believe that I and/or my child would have perished in childbirth if I had been birthing in an era of even 100 years ago.

Lastly, the proclamation of “it’s natural” is one that suggests anything other than a vaginal, non-medicated birth as “unnatural.”  I would like to add that “natural” isn’t always efficient or life-affirming.  Evolution is “natural.”  Evolution allows for natural selection, survival of the fittest, the inability for all of us in society to “naturally” give birth.  Is it right to give a label to woman of “unnatural” who would otherwise perish in childbirth if not for medically assisted birth?  I view the labeling of my upcoming elective c-section birth as “unnatural” to be disconcerting.  This societal label thrusts women who opt for c-section as outcasts, non-societal norms, that need to be treated with pity and disdain.

Based upon my words above, it’s easy to see how I feel about these statements.  However, I still remain open to the thought that it IS natural for women to have their own beliefs and ideas about childbirth.  I fully support a woman’s right to choose their own birth story in an educated and supported context. For more on my birth position, read here. I struggle with the fact that our society, as a whole, supports statements that make women feel less, make women feel “unnatural”, and make women feel as if their body and mind have failed them somehow.  And that, my friends, is why I continue to advocate for the other side.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Just another reason…

The first thing my physical therapist pointed out to me when I was diagnosed with symphysis pubic dysfunction, SPD, is that the mode of the baby’s arrival would be important to consider.  Already knowing that I plan to have an elective c-section based on my past experiences, she quickly added on that a c-section is the best way to deliver a baby from a mother suffering with SPD.  Thinking about this, it makes perfect sense.  Why try to force a child’s head through an area in your body that is in extreme pain?  Why try for a vaginal birth when the reality of a vaginal birth for women with SPD is the action of splitting the pelvis further apart, possibly even breaking the pelvis, and causing life long problems and discomfort?  Why not opt for the truly safer option for women with SPD, the elective cesarean and bypass the pelvic floor and further damage to that area completely?
Why, when based with the evidence of a professional, and based upon a mother’s own pain with SPD, is a vaginal birth even considered?  Well, me being me, I checked out literature and forums surrounding this very topic.  The topic of c-section with SPD versus vaginal birth.   With despair, I noted that many women, women suffering with SPD, now also are suffering with disparaging answers and discussions on forums regarding their possible choice to have a c-section.  Why is society so adamant that  vaginal birth is best?  Clearly, when a woman is suffering with SPD, c-section should be the most obvious and logical choice.  Unfortunately, the forums I encountered suggested ways to still push for a vaginal birth with this condition.  Ways that encouraged mothers to avoid a c-section at any cost. Ways that clearly were not optimal to a woman in labor.  One such suggestion was measuring how far you could put your knees apart prior to labor without essentially cracking your pelvis, creating a ribbon loop, and using the loop during labor to not surpass that width.  As a women suffering with SPD, I can assure you that the width would not be that far, thus making labor and delivery much more difficult to achieve.  In addition, delivery of a baby vaginally by a woman with SPD increases the chances for SPD in the next pregnancy.  For that matter, any traumatic vaginal birth where there is damage to the pelvis or pelvic floor results in an increased likelihood for SPD in future pregnancies.  I know this to be true as my current SPD condition is a result of my weakened pelvic floor by way of my prior forceps traumatic delivery.

I’m all for choice in birth.  However, when society dictates a decree about vaginal birth at any cost, I hesitate to agree.  There should always be an open-minded discussion regarding the mode of delivery.  One that considers the mother’s physical and emotional needs as well as the baby.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Choosing Cesarean

Over my vacation I read the most amazing book, Choosing Cesarean, A Natural Birth Plan, written by Dr. Magnus Murphy and Pauline McDonagh Hull.  This book is a well written, informative, and research based text that allows women, their partners, and health care providers a fresh look at the possibility of elective c-section as a birth plan.  The book gives women the opposite perspective of most mainstream birthing literature and encourages women to make their own birth choices based on the information provided.

This book has been extremely timely and helpful in my own journey.  Eventually-I will have another child.  Eventually-I will have an elective c-section.  This book has made it much easier to explain my choice and educate others on the very real option of elective cesarean as a natural birth plan.

Check out Pauline’s blog, http://cesareandebate.blogspot.com/2012/03/choosing-cesarean-book-review-by.html, to understand her point of view more completely.

Well done Pauline and Dr. Murphy!

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

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