#42 Kathi – USA

2 Fév

Ten years ago I had a hospital birth.  My birth, as institutional births go, wasn’t terribly dramatic.  Outside of IV antibiotics for Group B Strep, I had an unmedicated birth.

But it wasn’t a spiritual birth.  It wasn’t a respectful birth.  And it certainly wasn’t an empowering birth.

I arrived at the hospital in transition after only an hour in labor.  Things were moving fast and I was not even able to undress and get into their gown.  No one argued.  In triage, several interns attempted to run an IV line without success.  Finally, the line was set and the antibiotics were administered.  I was moved quickly to a LDR room.

Once there, labor kicked into ridiculous overdrive.  I threw up the pasta and vegetables consumed at my brother’s rehearsal dinner hours before all over the floor –  (yes, he was to be married in about 12 hours, and yes, I would be absent).  Somehow, I was assigned the nurse with a chip on her shoulder – this woman hated natural birth.  She stood there, awkwardly looking at the vomit on the floor beneath her feet, and my then-husband rushed over and offered to clean it up.  Oddly, she did not stop him.

Meanwhile, I assumed a side lying position and closed my eyes and gripped the bedrail through each tumultuous wave.  Between waves, I braced myself for the looming tide.  It felt like an eternity, but really it lasted probably less than a half an hour.

As soon as I had the urge to push, I was instructed to sit in the common hospital semi-reclined position.  This, I was told, was what works best.  I was surprised by the yelling that ensued as soon as I began pushing.  Loud chants from the doctor and the nurse to Push, push harder!!  You can push longer than that!  Make the most of your pushes!  Come on!!” I then was instructed not only to push beyond what I thought I could do, but also to push to a count of 10.

Have you ever tried to hold your breath and exert yourself for ten seconds repeatedly?  It is ridiculous – it is painful and exhausting.  While I was pushing, the nurse strapped the fetal monitor to my abdomen, even though I had requested intermittent monitoring.  I noticed, but was too tired to care.  I was actually drifting to sleep between each contraction.

I felt like a lazy failure.

Because of the over-exertion during pushing, a couple of things happened.  The more benign thing is that the blood vessels around both eyes burst.  When I looked at myself in the mirror hours later, I exclaimed, “What happened to my face?!”  The nurse assured me this was totally normal and that it happened to most women.  The less benign thing is that my son’s heart tones began to decel after each pushing contraction.  Rather than change the dynamics of pushing to advocate for physiological pushing, I was instead administered oxygen between every contraction and told that I needed to breathe very deeply for my baby.

As my son’s head began to crown, my  doctor told me that I was going to “…tear into [my] labia.”  (Isn’t that where most tears would happen?  Not sure at all what the big deal was, and I was certainly far less sure in that moment.)  For 4 pushing contractions, the doctor grabbed her needle filled with lidocaine and proceeded toward me to do the episiotomy.  Each time I told her no.  She finally set the needle down and said angrily, “Fine.  But you’re going to feel it.”  SNIP.

Fortunately, I did not feel it.  Not physically.  Not then.  My son was born moments later and I was enraptured with him.  He was beautiful and wonderful and my hormones coursed with protective and immeasurable love for him.

When it was time to get up to move to the Postpartum room, I sat up, then stood gingerly (there was now quite a jagged railroad track running between my legs).  As I stood, the nurse exclaimed, “You’re walking like you had an epidural.”  I can still feel that place between my gut and my heart where those words struck.  I sunk down into the wheelchair, defeated, as hot, silent tears fell.

Upon arrival to my new room, I was told that I needed to pee.  And time was ticking.  The pressure and threat of catheterization kept me from being able to, and I finally resorted to standing under a warm shower in salty tears as urine leaked down my legs.  The nurse waited just outside the curtain to quantify what was happening.

But none of this was the worst.  The worse things were to come, and they were a result of that positive GBS test and my precipitous labor and fewer courses of antibiotics than the staff was accustomed to.  My son was poked and prodded repeatedly in an effort to be sure that I did not inadvertently infect him during the birth.

Finally, they wanted to do a blood draw.  Not just a heel prick, but they would need to draw it from a vein.  All prior procedures had been done in our room.  We asked for them to do the draw in our room, which they refused.  We then said that his dad would need to be with him, to which they replied, no.  He could not come into the special nursery, but he could watch outside the large panes of glass during the procedure.  We said we were not comfortable with that.

I was holding my son, and the nurse left the room.  Moments later, her superior came in, literally grabbed my child out of my arms and exclaimed, “Babies die from Group B Strep every day!” and stormed out of the room.  His dad quickly followed.  I hiccuped in an attempt to catch my breath as my head spun, and I sobbed.

I remember after it all being afraid to tell people how the experience actually was.  Afraid that if I cast it in a negative light that they would say, “I told you that a natural birth isn’t all its cracked up to be.”  Afraid that I had done something wrong.  My next birth, needless to say, was a homebirth, but it wasn’t until I began feeling turmoil during my third pregnancy (and planned homebirth) that I began to unearth and explore my feelings of what had happened to me during my oldest son’s institutional birth.  I’ve held onto this pain for a long, long time.

I have also in my nine years of birth work been exposed to myriad abuses against women within the birthing system.  I’ve witnessed women say, “no” and squirm away while a care provider thrusts her hand deep and rough into her pelvis; I’ve witnessed women forced onto their backs to birth; I’ve witnessed women cut without her knowledge or consent; and the list goes on…..

Today, I stand with Agnes Gereb, Hungarian obstetrician and midwife being prosecuted for work she should be lauded for – assisting laboring women and helping them bring forth life.  She is being prosecuted because of the location she chooses to assist women – at home.

Today, I stand with midwives everywhere enduring similar prosecution.

Today, I stand with women everywhere who are fed up with systematic abuses.  Who are crying out that enough is enough.  That it is time to honor a woman’s choice over her body.  Every time.  Every place.

Original blog here : http://www.spiritofilithyia.com/agnes

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