The gentlebirth.org website is provided courtesy of
Ronnie Falcao, LM MS, a homebirth midwife in Mountain View, CA
An interactive resource for moms on easy steps they can take to reduce exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy.
Other excellent resources about avoiding toxins during pregnancy
These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.
[Names used with permission.]
I've been asked to share the traumatic experience of my c-section in full gory detail, and I will try. This is VERY VERY long because I cannot forget the details surrounding her birth. I've even edited it down to just after I was brought to my room. So I ask for your forgiveness beforehand. . .
I've already said I scheduled my section because my daughter was breech. I asked my dr if it could be done late afternoon, so Eric wouldn't have to lose a days' pay. He told me they try to keep them as close to the "natural" timing of giving birth, i.e., the morning. Ironic then that we agreed to have it done at 1:00 the next afternoon. He said that he had 2 tubals at another hospital in the am, but he would be there by 12 in order to be with me for any tests. He told me to be there at 11:00am and the hospital said 12noon. I got there at 11:30, I compromised.
Well, before I left my house, I called his office to make sure they had pre-certified my surgery for the insurance co. The receptionist said all was okay. Fine, we left for the hospital. When we got there about an hour later, they told us Dr was running late. "HUH? I just spoke to the office, they didn't say anything. . ." I was thinking. Oh, well, a few minutes wouldn't matter to me. HA!
I started having contractions at around 12:30, probably from dehydration, since I hadn't eaten or really drank anything since midnight. Around 2:00 they decided to do my bloodwork while waiting. The nurse who took my blood, ended up scratching me with the needle and having to redraw two tubes (from the same arm). I'm getting upset.
At three they said he might be coming soon. So they start getting me ready. The same nurse takes me into the triage room, hands me a thing to go around my belly for the fetal monitor and tells me to put on the hospital gown and take everything off. I asked if I had to take my underwear off, and she laughed at me and said, “Maternity patients don't get to keep their underwear on." (I was mortified. Beyond the idea I had to walk around without underwear, she humiliated me because she was walking out the door when she said it and there were people standing out there and THEY laughed too!)
After I get into the "gown" she decides to put in the IV. I HATE needles, and I have very bony hands. ( My veins pop out of the back of my hands I have so little fat there). As she's trying to put the IV in, I'm sobbing because I'm having painful contractions, I'm terrified now because I've had four hours to do NOTHING but think about what could go wrong with the surgery, and I'm being subjected to excruciating pain in my hand! (I can feel her doing it right now as I write, the back of my hand is burning something FIERCE!!) Finally, she stops and I'm proud because I didn't yell out and I survived it. Well, I look down, and there is blood POURING down my hand. She tells me to "Hold This" it's a cotton ball on to the place she was trying to put it in. Out in the hall, I hear the Phrase "blew the vein". My husband, who HATES the sight of blood, has come to my side because I was sobbing even more now that I know I have to endure the pain even more to get the IV in.
Some resident had been in while the nurse was trying to get the IV in and was talking to me. She had a heavy accent, was soft spoken, and I was sobbing, so I didn't hear her. Turns out she was the resident anesthesiologist who I would soon HATE more than I've ever hated before! She comes in to put the IV in using Lidocaine to "numb" the skin, yeah, right!! She asked for a smaller IV and gets it in. (My right hand since the nurse messed up my left. I'm right handed.)
Next in comes some OB resident and I get REALLY upset because I DID NOT want to be a teaching patient. He's asking me questions and one of them is a "suggestion". He says we "don't have to wait for Dr. S., we can do it now if the baby is still breech." I tell him she's still breech, but it's not good enough, he tries to do a sonogram, but a nurse and he have a hard time figuring out HOW TO TURN IT ON!!! I almost walked out of the hospital right there!!! While doing the sono, he is pushing down really hard. I cry even harder when he's up by my ribs, where her head was and he goes, "Oh, am I hurting you?" No, I'm crying for my health!! He tells me she's still breech. No DUH! "So, we can proceed with the surgery, Do you want to wait?" OF COURSE I WANT TO WAIT!!!! What an idiot!!
It's now around 4:30-5:00pm and I've been told that Dr. S. is on the way finally. They've put me in recovery, which is empty. While I'm walking there, the surgical nurse asks me if I've spoken to the Anesthesiologist? I say "no", and nurse #1 says yes. I'm even more upset because I don't remember. The new nurse says she'll get someone else to talk to me. She decides to wait to catheterize me until after the spinal (I thought I was getting an epidural).
A different anesthesiologist comes and talks to me. She's REALLY nice and explains why a spinal is better than an epidural. I honestly don't know the difference, so I agree to the spinal. She answers all of my questions, patiently and kindly. I start feeling more relaxed. She is needed for another mother and leaves.
I'm given an antacid to neutralize my stomach acid in case I throw up. The doctor whisks in says hello and says it's only going to be a few minutes more. The nurse brings in the "rabbit suit" for Eric to get into and they take me down to surgery. Eric will be brought down after the spinal. On the ride down the hall, there are work men working in the hallway just outside the OR. I am embarrassed because I know I don't have any underwear on, and just am embarrassed to be there.
Now for the spinal. . .one, two, three? I DON'T think so. They ask me to get myself from the bed to the surgical table, and I struggle, but do it. I notice how COLD it is in the room, like an ICEBOX!!! The surgical table is so narrow, I feel like I’m going to fall off, but I stay on it. Someone tells me that I have to spread my legs, one on each side of the table, and arch my back so they can place the spinal. I am doing the best I can, but with a baby's head up between your ribs, there isn't very far you can curl.
The foreign anesthesiologist, starts untying my gown and rubbing betadine on my back. She's feeling my hips for the location of a certain vertebrae. She believes she found it and administers the "lidocaine" to numb the skin. I start crying again. The attending anesthesiologist starts asking me, "Ma'am, WHY are you CRYING? THIS SHOULDN'T HURT ma'am" I couldn't answer because I was crying. The assistant nurse comes over and holds my hand and Dr. S comes and holds my other hand. The resident can't get the spinal so she tries AGAIN after having poked and pushed the needle in my spine for a few minutes. I'm crying again, harder this time, and the stupid Attending is TELLING ME I SHOULDN'T BE CRYING!!! He finally steps in and then tells the resident that she doesn't even have it in the right place. He takes over and the third time it takes.
I figure I should tell you that my nose was dripping and I got even MORE embarrassed about that. The nurse who had been holding my hand finally got a tissue for me. At some point I looked up at the nurse and my doctor and they looked very disturbed. I don't know if it was because of me crying or the spinal. Either way, I felt like it was because of me. I started crying even harder.
When he injected the morphine, I felt it SHOOT down my legs. After he pulled the needle out and all, they had to help me lay down. The attending anes. says to me, if this doesn't take, you'll have to go under general. I PANICKED!! I NEVER agreed to a general, and probably wouldn't have done this if I had to go under general. I'd done that once for a different surgery and NEVER want to do that again!!!
The surgical nurse lifts up my gown to my breasts so she can catheterize me. My dr is talking to two assistants asking them questions about the procedure. My HUSBAND is NOWHERE to be found, and the DOOR TO THE OR IS STILL OPEN!!!!! I could see the workmen outside the door. Once she's finished with the catheter, she and the other nurse start counting the sponges, etc. I'm laid out in the cross and my hands are strapped down. I've got the monitors put on my finger, I think they put two on my chest and the Attending starts asking me if I can feel this, this, this, this etc. I heard him tell the resident and my dr that it had worked. They finish prepping me, and I asked my dr not to leave anything extra inside.
My doctor started the surgery before my husband was there, and I just remember feeling very cold when he cut me open. That's when I started shivering. Eric came in and sat down at my head, and was touching my left hand and my forehead, telling me I was doing good. I laughed because I thought he was silly for saying so, since I was just laying there the doctor was doing everything.
The anesthesiologist (attending) was sort of narrating the surgery. I remember my dr asking the two assistants (I don't really know WHO they were) if they'd ever done a c-section with the bag of waters intact. They both said no. He then asked them what they should do. SILENCE!!!! Neither one of them answered. I was thinking, “Break the bag and suction the water out". He told them he was here to teach them, that he wouldn't ask a trick question. Finally, one tentatively said, "Break the bag and suction the water?" My dr said, "Yes, go ahead" I was VERY UPSET. I never specified that I was to be a non-teaching patient, so I thought they were doing the surgery, not him.
After they broke the bag of waters, the Attending Anes. said that I would feel a little tugging and pulling. THAT WAS AN UNDERSTATEMENT!!! I only felt what I thought was her head being SHOVED into my ribs and me unable to breathe. My doctor said, "Well, we KNOW its a girl!" I laughed at that point, but I am sad about it at the same time. He delivered her and said, "time?" the nurse answered, “6:15 pm". I didn't hear her cry right away. But when she did, it was LOUD!! The dr held her over the drape quickly. Eric missed her because he was looking at me, telling me I did it. Her crying was so loud that while Dr. S was trying to talk to the two residents he had to YELL over her.
A few minutes later, they brought her over for Eric to hold, and we marveled at how beautiful she was. We counted fingers and toes and just LOOKED at her. Eric was so tentative. He was so scared of hurting her or dropping her, I had to laugh. Once they were done and had covered the incision, they took Em away from Eric and did her second apgar (I don't remember much because I was shaking so bad). She had 9/10 apgars and was 8lbs, 3oz. We found out later that she was 20-1/4" long.
Eric was told he could push the incubator to the recovery room, when it was time for me to go. They were cleaning me up and told me that I had to "roll to each side so they could clean me up". I don't know HOW I did it but I did. At least they were able to move me to a bed so I didn't have to "scoot" to it.
Once we were back in recovery, Eric got to hold Emilianne again. I was too drained at that point and was starting to feel nauseous. The nurse got the anest. resident who gave me a shot of an anti-emetic. Eric's arms got tired of holding Em because no one gave him a pillow to prop up his arms, and he'd never held a baby before. A nurse put her back into the incubator. I asked for a barf bucket, and she gave one to Eric to give to me. Before he got it to me I threw up all over him! We laughed because he expected to be pooped, peed and thrown up on, but not by ME!!!
I threw up for about three hours. Emilianne started crying in the incubator and I couldn't hold her while I was throwing up so I asked the nurse to take her away. I couldn't stop crying because I KNEW she wanted ME, but I COULDN'T hold her. I cry every time I speak of it because I will NEVER get back those first hours that I didn't have her. I ACHE for that time back. I had decided that I didn't want anyone but Eric there, and I so regret that decision. I would have rather that Eric held her and my mom tend to me, then have her alone in the incubator crying.
Eventually, the stupid anesthesiologist resident gave me a second shot and I stopped throwing up. By the time I was ready to go up to a room, I was told I might have to spend the night in the recovery room because there were no rooms on maternity. At 10:00pm, I was FINALLY brought up to a room. Visiting hours were over at that point and the floor nurse kicked Eric out, even though I was still nauseous and very UPSET. I asked to see Emilianne and she told me "no, you need to rest". I cried after she left, but didn't have the energy to fight.
There were incidences that occurred during my five day/four night stay that caused me to call the hospital six months later hoping to get answers about WHY my experience was so bad, and all they told me was that they alerted the staff to what happened. (I wonder if I could file charges with the AMA for a doctor who examined me against my will? Hmmm.)
Thanks for listening, I hope this starts letting me heal.
Sincerely, Michele (mom to Emilianne Mae 10/9/96, Planned c-section
I was just finishing up reading my e-mail, when I was overwhelmed with emotion. See, a year ago today, I scheduled my section. I was laying in bed crying myself to sleep about now, KNOWING it wasn't what I'd planned or wanted.
I sit here at the computer sobbing, with tears streaming down my face, feeling ever so lonely. I can't help but feel like I'm the only one in the world. A year ago, I was just a wife. Not a mother. Not an adult. And definitely NOT educated. Eric was there with me before the surgery, during the surgery, and after the surgery, but he wasn't HAVING the surgery. He doesn't know what it feels like to be tugged and pulled at. He doesn't know what it's like to have 60 degree air cool his intestines. Those doctors that performed the surgery, they were "working". The nurses there were "helping" and "working". NO ONE but me was "THERE". It was JUST ME. And now, one year later, it is JUST ME again. Trying to heal. Trying to "get over it". Trying to be the "me" from BEFORE the surgery. Oh, how I wish I could say, "The ME before the BIRTH" instead of "the surgery".
I sobbed then, and I cry now. I'll never be the same as I was then. I'll never regain the innocence that I lost on the table. I'll never feel, "normal". I'll always have a scar, and "the POOCH", the fat that was moved during the surgery but not allowed to move below the scar where it once was. I'll just never be "me" again.
I had surgery on my right breast when I was eighteen for a FIBROADENOMA. A big word for basically a small hard cyst. Fortunately, it was benign, but it could easily have been malignant. I was able to handle that surgery. Although I was very embarrassed to be exposing my breast to a room full of strangers, I was knocked out so the embarrassment only lasted for a short time. The scar is along the areola so unless I point it out, it's invisible. I have absolutely NO MEMORY of what the doctor actually did to me. I was told by my mother (who was told by the dr) that as he cut me, the cyst just popped right up to the surface. He removed it, and closed. It only took a total of 45 mins. Maybe because I wasn't cold, maybe because it wasn't violent, maybe because it was routine. I don't know WHY I could do that, but I can't handle my c-section.
I just keep asking WHY?
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