– Récit traduit en Français plus bas –
I have found your initiative in Facebook and I wish to share with you the story of my son’s birth. I wanted a natural birth and went through two days of delivery work only to end up frustrated and handicapped for a month after an emergency c-section.
My name is Jeanne Ghazi, I’m 36 years old, I work as a translator and I live in St. Cloud, France.
Thank you very much.
A year after my wedding, at age 35, I became pregnant. We were not planning on having a baby so soon, but it happened. And we welcomed the news with joy. Our plans changed completely, especially mine. I was planning to apply for a new degree in translation, which I had to postpone.
The first three months of my pregnancy were difficult, I lost weight and felt sick all the time, but then it got better, and I started enjoying being pregnant. I began reading a lot. First, the known-by-everyone: « What to Expect When You’re Expecting« , which was recommended by a childhood friend as soon as I popped the news. Then came « J’attends un Bébé », a present given by my mother-in-law.
Afterward, I found the book that changed everything regarding the way I was experiencing my pregnancy and parenthood today: Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth, a present from a midwife friend that I met in Israel while volunteering for an association. Had I not read the book of Ina May Gaskin, I would have probably given my baby a pacifier as soon as he was born, and a bottle of formula, just like everybody else. I would have listened to the advice of my mom to put my baby down and not carry him “so much”. I would have taken the recommendations of the pediatrician to put him to sleep in his crib by himself with a piece of cloth with my smell.
But reading this book changed everything; it changed my life to what it is today. First of all, I perceived my pregnancy in a completely different way. I was very afraid of the delivery at the beginning. I was sure that I wanted anesthetic that would take away the pain because it was “unnatural” to suffer such pain when ways to take it away had been invented by modern medicine.
Ina May Gaskin taught me to view delivery and pain in a completely different way. Pain was not supposed to be tortuous, and my body was designed to endure this kind of pain, women have given birth naturally for centuries. Even today in many communities around the world (due to lack of resources or by choice) women give birth without medication/anesthetics. It would be my gift to my son, to give him birth without anesthetics (anesthetics would make him dumb and unaware of what would be going on around him). I also learned that as soon as my baby would be born, he should be put to latch, since it is his suction that stimulates the production of milk, that and the expulsion of the placenta.
The book also mentioned “La Leche League”, a worldwide association that supports breastfeeding and informs women who want to breastfeed on the benefits and best ways to proceed if they want to breastfeed. There would be monthly meetings but unfortunately I could only attend one since my baby was born in the summer. During one of their meetings, which was enriching and fruitful, they talked about the concept of “attachment parenting” and about Dr. Sears. My whole view about parenting changed as I read Dr. Sears’ optimistic view of parenting and the promise to delivering emotionally healthy adults to the world.
I was ready: natural birth, breastfeeding and attachment parenting would be the way in which Emilio would be born and raised.
Things did not go as expected, and I guess everything happens for a reason. I still do not know why in my case it happened like this. I suppose it did so that I would persevere with more determination on my birth and raising project.
Emilio was supposed to be born on Tuesday 11th September, but my delivery process started a week in advance with the release of the mucus plug on the dawn of Sunday 3rd. We rushed to the hospital at 6 a.m. since I had had a urinary infection all throughout my pregnancy. We were afraid that my bladder or my kidney would be bleeding when I saw blood in the toilet after urinating.
In France all the follow-up during your pregnancy, and even the delivery itself, are attended by a midwife if you deliver at a public hospital. Only in cases when the delivery does not go well an obstetrician would enter the scene. My pregnancy was a normal one, apart from my urinary infection that was treated with mild antibiotics, the kind that I was allowed to take during the pregnancy.
A nurse greeted my husband and I on Sunday 9th, as we arrived. She almost scolded us for going to the hospital for what she told us was obviously the release of the mucus plug. Only when I mentioned my urinary infection she agreed to admit me. I was checked by a midwife who assured me that there was no relationship between the bleeding and my kidneys or bladder. She told me that the process of my delivery had started. I was already having contractions, even though I could not feel them yet.
In the dawn of Monday 4th contractions started to be painful and cyclic: every ten minutes I was getting one. Since I had my weekly checkup with the midwife I prepared my hospital bag and my baby’s bag. I was sure I would be admitted for delivery.
The midwife that checked me told me that I was not ready at all: I was only dilated 2 cm. The pelvic exam she performed was so painful that I could not believe what she was saying. Yet, she scheduled me another weekly checkup for the Monday the week after. Would I have to suffer a whole week of contractions like these?
I decided to get a second opinion with a “liberal” midwife. We tried calling several midwives that appeared in the yellow pages, but no one seemed to be available to come and check me. Finally one told my husband that she could give him some advice on the phone since she was unable to come see me. He explained to her the situation and she assured him that I would not reach the next checkup; I would be giving birth that same night or the day after.
With that in mind I was released, and I decided to continue with my delivery plan the way I wanted it. I made myself potato soup since on Sunday I had had diarrhea and it would not stop. I was weak because of the lack of food and I was tired because I had not slept for two nights already.
On Monday afternoon I was supposed to go for a pre-natal massage that I decided to cancel because my contractions were too painful and I could not imagine myself taking the metro and walking to the practice of my masseuse. My husband suggested we would go by cab because he thought that a massage would do me good. We arrived at the masseuse’s and indeed it was not the time for a massage but she suggested I would massage my pelvis with her yoga ball, and she would teach me how to handle the contractions better. I thought that it was a wonderful idea and so I stayed. During the one hour, she massaged my lower back and my hand at a specific point that is supposed to help release the pain. She noticed that my contractions were happening at a shorter period of time: it was not 10 minutes anymore but 7 or 6. That was excellent news to me; Emilio would be coming soon!
We arrived home, and I ate some more chicken soup. Since I could not lie down (the pain was too strong), I suggested to my husband to open the sofa-bed, so that he could get a good night’s sleep (I needed him rested and alert when the moment would arrive). Also, I could sit on our bed, take showers, walk, etc, so the pain would be easier to handle.
I downloaded an app early that evening to track contractions. So, I noticed that I was having them every 5 to 6 minutes. I thought I would wait until a time span of 3 to 4 minutes to wake my husband and go to the hospital.
I checked once again the bags, I took one more shower, and I woke my husband at about 4 a.m. I told him that “it was time”. I was very excited, the moment had arrived and I would soon see my baby.
We walked to the hospital (we live only a few blocks away), and the contractions made me stop every time. After about 20 minutes we reached the hospital and I prayed on our way: I wanted everything to end soon and to have my baby in my arms. I remembered the birth stories in Ina May’s book and I hoped Emilio’s birth would go smoothly. My husband was surprised to see me praying and he asked me in disbelief “are you praying?”, I think it was very touching to him.
At the hospital, the midwife checked me and told me that I was 4 cm dilated, my contractions were happening every 2-3 minutes. It was time: they told my husband to go to the reception and sign the papers of my admission. The midwife asked me if I wanted to be given the epidural already or if I wanted to wait. I told her that I did not want an epidural at all, instead I asked for a yoga ball. I had brought my yoga mat, my slippers and my bottle of water. I prepared myself and I started swinging on my ball at every contraction. The midwife left me and told me she would come later to check on me. At about 8 a.m. she came again. I was dilated at 5 cm. Things were going well. I asked to not be attached to the monitor, because handling the contractions would not be possible if I was lying on my back. I ate a yogurt and a piece of bread: my first and last meal of the day.
Then there was a change of shift and another midwife was in charge of me now. She came and introduced herself, asked me if I was going to get the epidural, I said no. She told me that I was handling contractions very well, in a surprised tone. As if it wasn’t expected to be that way. She checked my dillation and I was at 6 cm. She asked me if I wanted to take a shower, and I agreed. The nice hot water made me feel wonderful and full of energy again.
She offered me a hospital robe and invited us to move to the delivery room. There it was the scary bed with two metallic handles for the legs that I did not want to use. The midwife announced to me that some time later I would have to be attached to the monitor permanently and there would be no more walking. That announcement already changed my cheerful mood into a doubtful one. She did not seem to be interested in my agreement. Instead, she just dictated that I should be attached soon. It sounded like if I was going to wear a straightjacket. I started being scared.
At about 1 p.m. she examined me again: I was still dilated at 6 cm. She announced to me that she would punch the water bag because that would speed up things. I had read that in the book of Ina May Gaskin, so I agreed without hesitation. However, the punching of the bag brought a new concern to the scene: Emilio had had a bowel movement and instead of getting transparent water a sort of greenish liquid came out. When I asked her why my baby was shitting in the belly her answer was simply, “something is wrong”, but she didn’t explain what. She said she didn’t know. Now I was scared about the delivery in that bed and worried about my baby.
She told me that I had to be attached in order to check Emilio’s heartbeat more accurately. I agreed, but the moment I laid on my back I felt that I was going to break in two due to the contractions. The pain was excruciating, and I started screaming at every contraction. She suggested again to give me the epidural, and again I refused. She suggested then a gas that could help me deal with the pain, and I agreed. Maybe my screaming bothered her. She explained my husband quickly how to use the gas mask and she left. My husband almost suffocated me with the mask when the contraction arrived, and I started screaming. She came back and again told me I should get an epidural: the next step would be to inject me with oxytocin in order to make contractions harder and more frequent. I felt that I could not resist any more pain at this point, and if it was going to get harder because of that oxytocin, then I really needed the epidural. However, that was the end of my birth project and I started crying.
This totally uncompassionate midwife that I unfortunately had to be with during my delivery yelled at me because I was crying. She yelled my name and told me to look at her and explain to her why I was afraid of the epidural. I was in too much pain to explain about Ina May Gaskin and the spiritual midwifery she had probably never heard of. The little French that I know was completely erased from my head. I could not speak anything understandable anymore. I reached for my husband, but at that moment he was completely blocked. He could not stand seeing me suffer like that, and he did not support me when I cried and refused to get the epidural. Later he would tell me that he would have given it to me himself if he had been given the chance because it was awful to see me suffer like that.
I was given the epidural, attached to the bed with dozens of cables and given a high dose of oxytocin. It was 4 p.m. Half an hour later the midwife announced to me that my baby’s heartbeat was low, and that I was not dilating as expected with the oxytocin. She would call the obstetrician. I turned to my husband in disbelief, “now the only thing that is missing is that they tell me I would have to go through a c-section”. He did not answer. He did not react. He was in shock.
Exactly as I had predicted, the midwife came and announced that a c-section had to be performed, and that the obstetrician would be coming soon to explain to me better. I remember how ridiculous it sounded what he told me “don’t worry, I’ll make you a very small, almost unnoticeable scar”. As if I cared for the scar.
I was taken to the surgery room at 4:30 p.m., the anesthetist asked ‘when’ I had been given the epidural (because all women get one I guess, the question wasn’t ‘if’ I had been given one but ‘when’). The midwife answered, “half an hour ago.” He repeated her answer in disbelief “half an hour ago?”, it probably seemed crazy to him that I had gone through my entire delivery process without anesthetic. It seemed crazy to me that I had allowed this woman to convince me of using an anesthetic, only to be entering a surgery room half an hour later.
Emilio was born at 5:00 p.m.: beautiful and small, like a rugby ball. He was shown to me for a few seconds, and I remember his face, he looked angry my beautiful boy. When he cries angrily today I remember his face when he was born. Every time he is stressed or hungry or tired, he makes that face and I can only think of him and the first moment that I saw him.
Totally disappointed of my failed natural delivery, I experienced even more frustration when Emilio spent the first night of his life alone in the nursery. I could not move, could not hold him and was totally worn out after the surgery. My poor baby vomited all night due to the anesthetic that I was given and there were no warm arms to hold him and caress him: only noise, bright lights and a plastic box where they keep all babies. The next morning they brought him to me totally exhausted. His eyelids were swollen of crying.
Emilio was very sleepy the first two days of his life and he did not have any energy to latch. Obviously at some point he became very hungry and there was no milk yet to comfort him: I agreed then to small doses of formula given to him with a syringe. Four days after my delivery my milk arrived, and I could feed my baby properly.
I learned a lot from this experience. First, that I am not giving birth again in a public hospital, because treatment to mothers who do not want to fit in their models is awful, and second because I am determined to have a natural birth the second time, and I am sure that at a public hospital in France they would not let me try and I would end up again in the surgery room.
Thanks to the fact that I have breastfed Emilio from the moment my milk arrived, he is a strong, healthy and happy little boy today. My husband and I practice attachment parenting and are very happy with our choices. I will spend the next three years of my life reading and learning about natural births in France and his little brother/sister will not have to go through the same he went through.
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Traduction du récit faite par Jeanne :
Je suis tombée enceinte un an après mon mariage. Après avoir annoncé la nouvelle, j’ai reçu des cadeaux. L’un de ces cadeaux était « Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth » écrit par Ina May Gaskin. (Le guide de l’accouchement d’Ina May).
Si je n’avais pas lu ce livre, j’aurais certainement donné à mon bébé une tétine et du lait artificiel, comme tout le monde. J’aurais aussi écouté les conseils de ma mère en ne portant pas autant mon bébé. Enfin, j’aurais sans doute suivi à la lettre les instructions d’une pédiatre qui n’était pas du tout formée à l’allaitement.
Cependant, lire ce livre a tout changé. Tout d’abord, j’ai perçu ma grossesse d’une façon totalement différente. Au début de celle-ci, j’avais très peur de l’accouchement. J’étais sûre de vouloir être sous anti-douleur car ce n’était pas naturel de souffrir autant quand ils existent des façons de l’éviter dans la médicine moderne. « Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth » fait référence aussi aux groupes de soutien entre mères et aux informations proposées par La Leche League ; ce qui m’a d’ailleurs amenée à participer aux réunions La Leche League pendant ma grossesse.
Emilio était attendu le mardi 11 septembre, le travail a commencé le dimanche 3 septembre avec la perte du bouchon muqueux. Le jour suivant, les contractions avaient lieu toutes les 10 minutes et étaient très douloureuses. Lors de mon rendez-vous hebdomadaire le matin suivant avec la sage-femme, elle m’a informé que j’étais dilaté de 2 cm, et sans autre explication, et malgré les contractions fréquentes et douloureuses, m’a renvoyé chez moi et m’a donné un rendez-vous pour la semaine suivante.
Inquiète d’avoir à vivre une semaine entière avec de telles douleurs, je suis allée faire un massage prénatal cet après-midi là. La masseuse m’a massé le bas du dos et plaçait la main au niveau de certains points pour m’aider à gérer la douleur.
Mes contractions étaient à ce moment-là, plus rapprochées, toutes les six ou sept minutes. C’était pour moi une excellente nouvelle : Emilio allait bientôt être là !
Vers 4 heures du matin le mardi, les contractions étaient espacées de 3 où 4 minutes, j’ai vérifié une dernière fois mes sacs et j’ai dit à mon mari qu’il était temps d’aller à l’hôpital. En allant vers l’hôpital, nous avons regardé le soleil se lever sur Paris. J’ai prié. Je voulais que tout cela se termine rapidement et avoir mon bébé dans mes bras. Je me souvenais des histoires de naissance dans le livre d’Ina May et j’espérais que celle d’Emilio se passerait aussi en douceur.
A l’hôpital, la sage-femme m’a ausculté et m’a dit que j’étais dilaté de 4 cm, mes contractions étaient alors espacées de 2-3 minutes. Elle m’a ensuite demandé si je voulais déjà la péridurale ou si je voulais attendre. Ce à quoi je lui ai répondu que je ne voulais pas de péridurale du tout. A la place, j’ai demandé un ballon de yoga, j’avais amené avec moi un tapis de yoga, des claquettes et une bouteille d’eau. Je me suis préparée et j’ai commencé à me balancer sur le ballon à chaque contraction. La sage-femme m’a laissé, elle m’a dit qu’elle reviendrait plus tard pour m’ausculter. Lorsqu’elle est revenue, j’étais dilatée de 5 cm, les choses se passaient bien. J’ai refusé le monitoring car je ne pensais pas pouvoir résister aux contractions si je m’allongeais sur le dos. J’ai mangé un yaourt et un morceau de pain. Mon premier et dernier repas de la journée.
Puis il y a eu un changement de garde et une autre sage-femme était chargée de me suivre. Elle s’est présentée et m’a demandé si j’allais faire une péridurale. Je lui ai dit que non et elle m’a répondu que je gérais très bien mes contractions. Elle a examiné mon col et elle m’a demandé si je voulais prendre une douche, j’ai dit que oui. L’eau chaude m’a fait sentir bien et pleine d’énergie à nouveau.
La sage-femme m’a donné une robe d’hôpital et m’a transférée dans la salle de naissance. Elle m’a dit que lorsque le monitoring serait installé plus tard, je ne pourrais plus sortir du lit ou marcher. Cette annonce a ruiné ma bonne humeur et m’a fait douter. A une heure de l’après-midi, l’examen réalisé par la sage-femme montrait que j’étais encore dilatée de six centimètres. Elle m’a dit qu’elle allait percer ma poche des eaux pour accélérer le travail. Toutefois, percer la poche des eaux avait révélé un problème : Emilio avait fait des selles et au lieu d’un liquide transparent, il sortait un liquide verdâtre, un mélange de fluides amniotiques et de méconium. Quand je lui ai demandé pourquoi le liquide n’était pas transparent, elle m’a répondu que quelque chose n’allait pas mais elle n’a pas dit quoi exactement. J’ai commencé à avoir peur.
Afin de pouvoir entendre les battements du cœur d’Emilio plus précisément, la sage-femme a installé finalement le monitoring. J’ai accepté mais au moment où je me suis allongé sur le dos j’ai eu la sensation que j’allais me casser en deux à cause des contractions. La douleur était insoutenable. J’ai crié à chaque contraction. J’ai à nouveau refusé lorsque elle m’a proposé la péridurale. Elle a dit que l’étape suivante serait l’administration d’ocytocine pour accélérer les contractions. Je sentais à ce moment là que je ne pouvais plus résister à la douleur et si les contractions allaient devenir plus fortes avec l’ocytocine, alors j’avais vraiment besoin d’une péridurale. J’ai ressenti que c’était la fin de mon projet de naissance et j’ai commencé à pleurer. La sage-femme m’a demandé pourquoi j’avais peur de la péridurale. Elle n’avait rien compris.
On m’a administré la péridurale et de l’ocytocine. Il était 4 heures de l’après-midi. Trente minutes plus tard, le rythme cardiaque de mon bébé commençait à diminuer et je ne dilatais toujours pas. La sage-femme est allée appeler l’obstétricien. Je me suis retourné vers mon mari, incrédule, et lui ai dit : « maintenant il ne manquerait plus qu’il me dise que je dois faire une césarienne ».
Comme un mauvais présage, la sage-femme est venue et a annoncé qu’une césarienne devrait être réalisée et que l’obstétricien serait là prochainement pour me parler. Je me rappelle à quel point cela m’a paru ridicule lorsqu’il m’a dit : « Ne vous inquiétez pas, vous aurez une très petite cicatrice qu’on remarquera à peine. »
Emilio est né à 5 heures. Il était beau et petit. Je l’ai vu pour quelques secondes et je me rappel de son visage. Il était énervé mon beau garçon. Lorsqu’aujourd’hui, il s’énerve et pleure, je me souviens de ce visage.
Totalement déçue par cet échec d’accouchement naturel, j’ai du faire face à encore plus de frustration lorsqu’Emilio a dû passer sa première nuit au monde sans sa mère dans la « nurserie » parce que je n’étais pas capable de me lever, de le porter. Je ne pouvais rien faire, j’étais complètement épuisée et déprimée.
Emilio avait toujours sommeil les deux premiers jours de sa vie et il n’avait pas d’énergie pour téter. Il ne cessait pas de pleurer. On lui a donné du lait artificiel sans me demander mon avis à la « nurserie » et lorsque j’ai demandé à une des infirmières pourquoi, elle m’a répondu que mon bébé pleurait parce qu’il avait faim. Cette explication m’a paru raisonnable à l’époque, je sais aujourd’hui que si il était resté dans mes bras il aurait pu essayer de téter et aurait reçu le colostrum qui coulait de mes seins. Cela aurait été suffisant pour le satisfaire et le réconforter.
Et cela aurait également stimulé ma montée de lait.
Mon bébé ne savait comment téter et je ne savais pas comment l’aider. Il avait faim et pleurait sans cesse. J’ai accepté de lui donner des seringues de lait artificiel à chaque fois qu’il ne se calmait pas. Pendant quatre jours j’ai attendu ma montée de lait. J’avais un tire-lait dans mon sac et je ne savais pas comment l’utiliser. Je pensais que je devais avoir du lait pour pouvoir le tirer. Je ne savais pas que je pouvais tirer mon colostrum ou que je pouvais aussi stimuler ma montée de lait.
Étant donné que j’ai allaité Emilio des que j’ai eu ma montée de lait, il est aujourd’hui un petit garçon fort, en bonne santé et heureux. Avec mon mari nous avons choisi le mode de parentage proximal pour notre famille et nous sommes très contents de notre choix. Je vais passer les prochaines trois années de ma vie (le temps que je voudrais attendre avant d’avoir un autre bébé), à lire et à apprendre au sujet des accouchement naturels en France pour être prête à accueillir le petit frère/la petite sœur d’Emilio dans notre famille.