By Keisha Graziadei-Shup
Photo by Jonás_Torres, Adobe Stock
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.
It was never supposed to happen this way. It was the worst case scenario. I was the five percent, the one in 20. I knew it was possible it would go like this, but I had placed my bets according to probability — according to the statistics. It wasn’t likely, but here I was.
The nurse butted in to do what the doctors seemed unable to do. “You’re in a lot of pain, sweetie, and you want it to stop so you can think. Is that right?” I said yes. “So my recommendation would be to get you some fentanyl for some immediate relief while we get the anesthesiologist over here to give you an epidural. Does that sound like a good plan?” I said yes.
Two yes-or-no questions. Well done, nurse. The doctors left, and I got the pain meds I ended up needing. The anesthesiologist was also wonderful. I wish I remembered his name. He was mindful, asked questions, and showed concern about how I was feeling. He did great work too. I felt a tingling sensation through my whole lower half, just enough to kill the pain but still be able to move my legs and get into the positions I wanted.
Karen told me, “A lot of women just need the epidural so they can rest and recharge, and then they can push that baby right out. I would recommend trying that first.”
The doctors tried very hard to persuade me otherwise, explaining how dangerous my situation was. But everything I had studied, all the stories I’d heard, and my instinct told me to try every way possible before letting them cut me open. Caesarians brought dangers of their own that I wasn’t convinced I needed to accept yet.
This time a different surgeon came in to reason with me, a woman. I told her no, that I wanted just a little more time to push. Though she tried to keep a professional demeanor, she was visibly annoyed with me, my midwife, my doula, and our natural birth mentality. She wouldn’t be the last one to give me that look. The hospital workers only ever saw the five percent of “failed” unconventional births and knew little of the 95 percent successful ones.
And besides, I was taking up a hospital bed and tying up their resources longer. Another woman needed a c-section, I was told. “Go ahead and take her first,” I said. I get it, I thought, but I have to make the best decision for my own conscience.
An entire pizza would have been better, but Veronika slipped me some crackers. This was also against orders but I was starving and needed energy. She was a good doula. I was so glad she, Karen and Jon hadn’t left my side.
My problem at this point was that epidurals also stop contractions. The head doctor refused to prescribe pitocin because he wanted me to get a c-section, so he was making it hard for me to do anything different. The nurse advocated for me. “We’ve got a breast pump here,” she said. “We’ll get you hooked up to that and start your contractions naturally.”
Her plan worked and they were strong. I couldn’t feel them, but the nurse would look at the computer and tell me when I was having one. Each time, everyone helped pull me up to my feet and I squatted at the end of the hospital bed and pushed with all my strength
After over an hour of this, this baby had not budged whatsoever. There should have been some kind of progress if there were going to be any. The c-section appeared to be my only and last resort.
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