“I can’t wait to hear the birth story”. That was the Facebook message I got from a dear friend after I texted her to tell her about Sweet C’s arrival and send her the first few pictures before we posted to Facebook.
She can’t wait to hear the birth story.
It wasn’t shocking. All moms love hearing a good birth story! Did my water break all over my shoes while walking around the grocery store? Did I opt for the epidural? Did I scream “WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO ME?” at my husband? People are naturally curious about birth stories because they’re all so unique and interesting.
But I didn’t send her a birth story. I wasn’t ready. I was still processing exactly what my “birth story” was. I mean, I had a baby of course, but the getting there part was a lot more complicated than we’d ever imagined it would be.
And that’s saying something, since the four births prior included waking up from a nap crowning, a baby that flipped to breech during labor and then was successfully flipped back only to have a prolapsed cord and an emergency cesarean, my water breaking because of an infection six weeks early and another cesarean, and an induced vba2c.
What made this birth story so different?
*Trigger Warning: this post includes abuse and birth trauma.*
I Fired My OB in the Middle of Labor
First things first, though, since I fired him in the middle of labor. Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
My Water Broke
I know it’s super rare to start labor with your water breaking, but it’s happened for 2/5 of my labors. I was sitting in my bed working at my laptop. I had just sent Chris a text with a lunch order for him to grab while he was out running errands, and my water broke.
I wasn’t 100% sure that it was my water because it wasn’t a huge dramatic gush like it was when I had Cap’n M, so I waddled over to the bathroom juuuuust in case. While I was doing that I called Chris to tell him to cancel the lunch order and come straight home, then I texted my doula to give her the heads up.
By this point I was sure my water had broken, and we got my sister and ex-husband on the way to our house to collect kiddos. (When you have four kids, you’ve got to divide and conquer when it comes to babysitting!)
Chris came home and started to get everything ready to go, and once the kids were all collected we got in the car and headed to the hospital. (Okay, we maybe also stopped for some fast food because I was really hungry…)
We Got to the Hospital and..
So we got to the hospital and started going through the normal beginning of labor stuff. They brought us into a triage room so they could determine if my water actually broke or if I just peed myself. Our triage nurse was lovely.
She told us that the on-call OB from my OB’s team will usually have the “hospitalist” – an OB that works for the hospital and sees patients who don’t have OB’s – make sure I’m in real labor before they come in. She also told us that the OB’s probably wouldn’t want to do a check yet since my water broke and it can increase the risk of infection. It also “starts a clock” on your labor where you have to deliver within a certain number of hours.
We were totally on board with that plan, since my contractions weren’t super strong yet and I just wanted to move and get them going.
Then the On-Call OB Came in
Let me just stop here and mention, I have used a lot of colorful language about this man, but I try to keep my blog PG. So I’ll just say that this man is a monster. Now that that’s out of my system, back to our story.
He came in and immediately said “I need you to lay down, I’m going to do a cervical check”. I said, “is that the best plan? I didn’t know if you were going to wait because it can increase infections since my water broke…” and he said “it’s THE plan. If you’re not dilated, it’s pointless to even try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesareans) because you’re just going to labor a long time and never have the baby and need a cesarean anyways”.
Let me tell you, I was shocked. My OB is completely VBAC supportive. She knew we were awesome candidates for having a VBAC. Plus we literally already had one with Miss S! I had proved my body could do it, and this OB just walked in assuming I couldn’t.
After a bit more back and forth, it was decided that he could do a check if it meant that he would not require another one for “8-10 hours” to see if I was making progress. This meant I’d have until about midnight to move around and get labor really started, so we consented.
I was “about 3 cm”, and he said it with the most disappointed tone I’d ever heard. He kept shrugging his shoulders saying “that’s a good exam I guess”.
Let me tell you, friends, I should have fired him then and there. But firing your OB has so many risks. What if the other OB is even worse? What if the other OB is friends with the first OB and decides to be a total jerk the whole time? So instead of firing him, we were thankful he was supposed to leave us alone all evening and I texted and warned my doula about what was going on.
We told her we were doing okay, and would let her know when to head our way.
Then a Thinly Veiled Warning from the Nurse
Our nurse came in to help adjust the heart rate and contraction monitors on my belly for the bajillionth time. Chris and I had been doing our best to hold them in place the entire time, but occasionally we needed the nurse to get them tracking again.
While she was there, she asked about my contractions. I told her I was managing them well and wasn’t overly concerned. See, I was really hoping to avoid an epidural, so I didn’t want to give her any reason to offer one. She looked concerned and kept pressing, “but they’re more frequent and intense than when you got here? You’re feeling them more?”
Of course, I was, and she was relieved when I said that. She told us that our OB would like to start pitocin around 6 pm to get the contractions going stronger. I must have looked at her like she just sprouted another head.
He wanted to start pitocin, without checking to see if I was even progressing? He wanted to give me, a high-risk VBAC patient, pitocin without cause? When he told me I’d get hours of time to move around and get labor going, he wanted to give up before I’d even had a chance?!
I told her that I absolutely would not be getting pitocin without ever being checked, and she took that to mean I wanted to be checked just so that I could start the pitocin. That’s not what we meant at all, but the nurse just said “well he just has to make sure that we’re continuing to make forward progress”.
She left and I started to really stress out. I talked with Chris and my doula about what she had said, and what our next steps should be. Eventually my nurse went on break and the nurse covering for her mentioned that the OB would likely come in and start pitocin. One look at my face, and she asked if there was an issue with that, and we told her everything that had happened.
I told her that I was definitely not going to be checked or start pitocin until midnight, which was what the OB and I agreed on in the first place. She assured us that she’d go tell him and try to have him leave us alone. She even said that if he wanted to come in anyways (to pressure us) she’d come with him to help me advocate for myself. (Can I just say, this nurse was magical and I love her?)
Eventually, Midnight Came…
This is where our story gets really upsetting. I’ll repeat here, a trigger warning for abuse and birth trauma. If you’ve made it this far, I’m impressed. Okay, back at it we go.
Around midnight the OB and nurse both came in. (My first nurse had gone home, and the new doula-ish nurse had taken over!) The OB immediately began to belittle me. He told me that the monitors weren’t tracking well enough to start pitocin, so we had to have internal monitors placed.
We asked him some questions about the pros and cons of getting the monitors placed, and he was furious. It was as if he was immediately angry that we had the audacity to question his medical opinion.
Chris asked him why the nurses said that the baby was tracking wonderfully (which they’d said several times all night) if we were suddenly in such danger because the baby would go off the monitors for 30-ish seconds here and there. The OB ignored me completely and spent five minutes telling Chris about a woman and baby who almost died, trying to say that Chris should “make” me just listen to him.
In the “discussion” he told me that I’m “not a good normal patient” and that I might have “preferences” (which he put in air quotes) it was about “keeping me and my baby alive”.
Let me just take a break here to say that we were not in danger. His concerns were not based in medical science, and he hadn’t even checked for progress at this point, so he had no idea what we were dealing with.
I asked him if we could do a check to see if I needed pitocin, the initial concern, and then discuss whether I needed the internal monitors. He refused and said he would do everything at one time, period.
We kicked him and the nurse out so we could discuss without him hovering over me (this man really intimidated me) and we agreed that we would get the internal monitors. First, however, I wanted to know if there was a chance this still wouldn’t work. I wasn’t going to go through all of the craziness just for them to say “oh, it’s still not tracking correctly”. He assured us that wouldn’t happen, and we consented.
First he was supposed to do a cervical check for dilation and progress, then he was supposed to place the internal fetal monitor and internal contraction monitor. He checked for cervical dilation and did not tell me what he found, then (ignoring me completely) grabbed the tool to break water and was getting ready to insert that.
My water had already broken, and he didn’t inform me or ask for consent, and I immediately screamed at him “WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?” He (begrudgingly) stopped, and told me “this is a tool that will break your water. Your water likely tore at the top of your uterus, so I’m still getting membranes, not baby”.
He then broke my water and began trying to insert the monitors. Friends, I can’t explain to you how much unbelievable pain I was in, immediately. This man was visibly angry with us for questioning him and not being “good patients” and it felt like it was his goal to make. me. pay.
I was crying. I was screaming. I kept saying “please please please”. I was hysterical. I was nearly breaking Chris’s hand, then also my doula’s. I was doing everything in my power to get my body away from this monster. So. Much. Pain.
Finally his phone rang, so he got up and walked away for a moment to answer. I was shaking, crying, sobbing.
He came back after his phone call and said “sorry about that” pointing to his phone, and began putting on new gloves as if he were going to start all over again. I screamed “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? DO NOT TOUCH ME”
They then explained (as I was shaking and sobbing) that the fetal monitor didn’t place correctly. I was only three centimeters, and it was difficult to reach and get the monitors placed. He wanted to “try again” and I told him and my nurse I needed them out and I needed to not be touched. My nurse got him out after he touched my knee.
Why didn’t he tell me that I was only a three and my membranes were still in tact and re-evaluate whether we should do the procedure? Why didn’t he care about true informed consent? Why did he feel so entitled to my body because I’m a woman and patient in a hospital?
After a while my nurse came in to see how we were doing because “that was intense”. She said that if I wanted she could try again to place the monitor because her hands were “much smaller” and she could be “more gentle”. I told her maybe after a while, but I needed to not be touched. She said she understood fully, and then I did one of the scariest things I’ve ever done.
I fired my OB in the middle of labor.
I told my nurse, “That man can never come back in here. He will never touch me again”. She told me that she understood completely and would handle everything. She said she wasn’t sure who would take over, but that she would find out and make sure to introduce them to us.
Eventually, she found that the midwives our OB worked with were going to take over. They explained that they would handle my labor until the next OB came on call at 7 AM. They also explained that in the case of a true emergency, my OB would do the cesarean. They assured me that if we had more than 5-10 minutes to plan, they’d get the other OB, but I needed to know it was a possibility. We all agreed.
With the midwife, we started pitocin, and our nurse agreed to come in and adjust the baby’s heart rate monitor often so that we didn’t have to try to place a fetal monitor anymore. I ate some chocolate and began calming down after the traumatic exam, and did my best to stay focused on labor and put aside my feelings about the OB for the time being.
Then Labor Really Started
Pitocin made the contractions start coming a bit closer together and a bit stronger. They started with a small dose and increased it every half hour or so. This is where normal labor stuff started. I spent some time in bed resting, I sat on my birth ball and bounced/wiggled around.
I held my husband’s hand and started making low-pitched noise as the contractions got stronger. They told us our contraction monitor needed to read 50-60, so we watched the monitor as it slowly got closer to the magical number.
The midwife came in at 6:00 to check progress, and she asked if I’d like a cervical check now that contractions were finally starting to (hopefully) do something. When she checked, I was a four, and I felt defeated. I knew we were coming up on the 18-hour mark since my water broke, and I needed to get labor going asap or they’d start pressuring for a cesarean.
I told the nurse and midwife that I wanted to go sit in the bathroom a while to see if that would help kickstart contractions. They agreed it was a good idea, so they got my cords all set up for me to move. I went and sat down in the bathroom and had a very intense contraction.
My nurse came to adjust the heart rate monitor and whoosh. Another super intense contraction. That one was intense enough that I reached out past the nurse to Chris and yelled “I NEED THAT” (about his hand)!
All of a sudden it was contraction after contraction after contraction. I was suddenly making lots of noise. At one point I noticed that I switched from random noise to a straight up growl, and my husband said he heard a “pop”. Immediately after that my nurse yelled out into the hallway “WE NEED A DELIVERY CART IN HERE” and I yelled out to them “NO WE DON’T I WAS JUST AT FOUR!”
I got up and very slowly made my way to the bed, and the midwife came back and asked if I’d like her to recheck “just in case”. At 6:35 she checked, and I was still at a four. I lost my flipping mind. I immediately started saying “I can’t do this” “I am still at four, I can’t do this” “I’m not getting a break”
I knew those were the things people say during transition, but I was at four centemeters… I was definitely not in transition. Except my midwife checked after one more contraction (because I was making “pushing sounds”) and I was a 5. Two more contractions, I was at 7. Two more contractions, barely any cervix left. One big LONG contraction, baby was moving down. Another contraction or two, baby was crowning.
It was the most intense time of my life. I was yelling and moving and felt like I was completely out of control. I kept yelling about how hot it was, so Chris was getting cool wash cloths to put on my forehead or chest to cool me down.
And just like that, she was here. She was healthy. She was placed immediately on my chest and it was like the last half hour never happened. I just kept saying “We did it. We really did it”.
My fifth baby was my first without an epidural. She was my VBA2C2. I went from 4 cm to delivery in exactly 30 minutes. She was born 5 minutes after the 18-hour mark we were so concerned about. It. Was. Perfect.
If you’ve made it this long, you’re a trooper. This was one of my craziest births, and I am still processing how everything happened. In fact, writing this post is a huge part of my process. I am a writer, and writing down what that OB did makes it more real and less nightmare.
As terrible as our experience was with our OB, we never would have had the birth we did without that happening. I never would have had a midwife (they aren’t typically allowed to handle births like mine) and no OB I know would have been so calming and peaceful while I was going through transition so quickly.
I am still coming to terms with everything that happened, but for now I’m just thankful that Sweet C is here. Thankful that Chris is incredible and knew what I needed without me even asking. Thankful that I have a strong support system and I’m able to take time to process what happened with the OB. Just plain thankful.
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