April 23, 2012

Defining Moments - Katie

As we continue our series Giving Birth: A Defining Moment, mom Katie shares her birth experiences with us. She is author of the blog Sluiter Nation, and an active member of the The Mom Pledge community. 

The birth of Katie's first son resulted in an emergency cesarean. When she became pregnant again, she chose to deliver via c-section, scheduling the birth of her second son. Sharing her reasons online, she prepared for backlash, but was pleasantly surprised by the reaction she received...

What were your plans for the delivery of your first child? What did an ideal birth look like for you?
My plan for the delivery of Eddie was to go into labor, go to the hospital, and push him out of my vagina. I don’t think I had an “ideal” birth in my mind. All the options seemed hard and painful. Childbirth has never been a romantic idea to me. Having a baby was, but birthing it? No. I just wanted a healthy baby and a healthy mommy and as little pain as possible for everyone. And I trusted my OB completely. He and I had discussed all the possibilities, including C-section since it was quite clear that Eddie was “large," breech, and sunny side up.

What factors influenced the decisions you made concerning your delivery?
My own pain tolerance and my faith in my OB and that he knew me and my body. My husband and I really put it in his and the nurse’s hands to know what was best for baby and me.

Tell me a bit about your actual birth experience...
I went into labor on a Monday (the day before Eddie’s due date) and we headed to the hospital at about 5am on Tuesday. I was progressing nicely even with the epidural (that I very enthusiastically requested as soon as I found out I was dilated far enough to have one), and the nurses all thought Eddie would be there by noon. He wasn’t breech anymore, but he was still face up... and VERY large headed. Everything sort of slowed down before noon. Almost all progress stopped. Around 2pm, I had the urge to push, so the nurse got my feet up in the stirrups and away we went. I pushed and pushed and PUSHED for almost two and a half hours. I vaguely remember watching the clock and not realizing how quickly time was passing. I was so warm too. Cort kept putting a cool wash cloth on my face. Suddenly at 4:20pm my OB and nurse informed me we were going in for a C-section at 4:30... and Cort was agreeing very adamantly. Something was wrong, but I didn’t comprehend that at the time. I was whisked down to the OR and Eddie arrived at 4:51 pm. I was so exhausted that when they brought me to Recovery I fell completely asleep for an hour. Later, I would find out that Eddie’s heartbeat had dropped dangerously low and I had spiked a fever of almost 105. No wonder they wanted to get Eddie out ASAP.

How did that experience shape any future births/birth plans you may have had?
While the fact that I had a C-section never bothered me, I didn’t want to go through all the labor and trauma and end up on the table again, so when I got pregnant with Charlie and he was following the same growth pattern as Eddie had (ahead of schedule...so, BIG), my OB presented me with my choices. A VBAC could very well be successful, and it’s what he would normally urge a mother to do, but seeing as my past experience had been so filled with things that were likely to happen again, we decided to go with a scheduled C-section. Also, my hospital doesn’t allow elective VBACs, so I would have had to try to VBAC in a different hospital with a different doctor and nurse team. And in reality, there was a good chance I would end up in the OR again. This coupled with my anxiety disorder and tendency for depression, made the decision easy for us: go with what we knew.

Have you ever felt judged for the way you gave birth?
I don’t know if people judge me, but while I was pregnant and when asked what my birth plan was, there were quite a few women who blamed my OB for my C-section (without knowing the circumstances) and strongly urged me to try VBAC because “it’s so wonderful.” But what they didn’t get was that the process was not wonderful for me. I don’t dream of having a baby out of my vagina and snuggling him before he is even cleaned off. I just want a healthy baby. Period. How that happens just isn’t that important to me.

You publicly shared your decision to schedule a repeat c-section and were prepared for criticism. What was the reaction you received?
I felt super supported. Which was odd because soooo many people had already told me how I should try a VBAC. Maybe those people didn’t feel the need to comment. I don’t know. But the response on my blog was lovely.

Katie has written about both her birth experiences on her blog:

She also wrote about her choice for a repeat c-section:

Thank you Katie, for sharing your experiences and opinions with us for this series!

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