meet the woman who "failed" to give birth naturally: Part 6

“Had you known this was going to happen, would you have chosen a hospital birth instead?”

By Keisha Graziadei-Shup

Photo from personal collection

<<Read part 5

Disclaimer: This personal birth narrative was written by Keisha Graziadei-Shup. Opinions expressed here are hers and do not necessarily represent New Life Birth Center.

“Had you known this was going to happen, would you have chosen a hospital birth instead?”

A family member asked me this question. All the other kids in our family were born in a hospital, and those were all vaginal births. In my case, the only child born by c-section started at a birth center with a midwife.

Hidden in the question was the assumption that if I had gone to a hospital, I wouldn’t have had these complications and maybe could have avoided the caesarean. But that’s the furthest thing from true and comes from a place of not understanding my particular set of circumstances.

My water broke and three days later I still hadn’t started having contractions. If I were at a hospital, I’d have been induced within the first day, given an epidural and likely ended up with a c-section anyway just because my body wasn’t yet ready for labor.

Because I was under midwifery care, I could wait for labor to start naturally. While it didn’t guarantee anything, using a midwife maximized my opportunity for a natural birth. Opportunity was all I could really hope for.

“It’s possible that your labor isn’t starting because the baby hasn’t made full contact with your cervix yet,” Veronika said. “Why don’t you try bouncing on an exercise ball?”

So, there at the birth center, I ate my dinner while bouncing on a ball. We had tried everything else at this point: the castor oil, some natural medications and labor inducers, walking, exercises, you name it. Within just a few minutes of bouncing on that ball my water broke -- again. Two times! Then labor started.

So simple.

The pain of the contractions was manageable as long as I was in the tub. Water makes a big difference, and a water birth was the plan. Since my amniotic sack had broken and I was in the tub for a long time, infection was now a possibility. After laboring for quite awhile, eventually both Karen and Jon ended up “checking” me to see if the baby’s head had started descending. Whether it was the water, the checking, or both that eventually caused the fever, I don’t know. Sometimes fevers happen for other reasons too.

But anyway, no problem. Antibiotics can remedy that. Not ideal, but better than a c-section. I spiked a fever and Karen gave me some IV antibiotics to bring it down. Good to go.

It was challenging to labor in water while keeping the IV connection dry. I had to keep my arm out of the water. So, eventually Karen removed it so I could labor more comfortably. When I spiked a fever again later, Karen tried to administer another IV and couldn’t. The reason was that I had pretty severe edema, as had been the case most of my pregnancy, and she simply couldn’t find a vein again.

Birth center policy is that once a woman has a high enough fever that can no longer be managed, she has to be transferred. So, Karen made the call. It didn’t necessarily mean that I couldn’t have a vaginal birth, it just meant that we needed to get the fever under control or it could cause problems. The situation changed and now there was more risk.

Riding in the back of a rickety ambulance while mostly naked, feverish, still having contractions, and with zero abdominal strength to hold me from flopping around like a dead whale was admittedly horrible. It was an agonizingly slow 30 minutes.

I don’t think I’ve ever wanted anything in my life more than to be out of that ambulance.

Read part 7>>

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