When my husband and I found out we were pregnant, we embarked, without a heap of conviction, on a journey to have our daughter in our Jacuzzi tub.

My admittedly shallow reason: I was not trying to pay on a hospital bill. Yeah, deep.

After months of searching, I was referred to a home-birth-friendly midwife who had a doctor as her backup. On my first visit, she briskly asked me, “So you’re going to do a home birth?”

I nodded.

“All right, then. And that’s the last time we’re going to mention that.” She was hired!

Once the midwife problem was solved, I began to settle into my decision to give birth at home. Prenatal visits with my midwife were amazing. We sat on her couch, which smelled faintly of incense, surrounded by ambient music and two soft-spoken doulas, and sipped agave-sweetened hot tea.

She lent us books and videos on birthing, labor, parenthood, breastfeeding, and prenatal yoga, and expected us to grow just as our Little Bean was.

By mid-pregnancy, I knew I wanted to experience birth without any pain meds, surrounded by my family, in an environment where I was free to walk around, watch some Netflix while rolling on a birthing ball, eat fruit, Cheez-Its and crackers, take a hot bath and possibly even reach down to pull my daughter into the world myself.

 

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A pregnant Oompa Loompa! 

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 Me and the baby bump and the baby bump’s button!  

I started experiencing contractions around Saturday, March 3. My mom drove up from Florida to see her first grandbaby. But, no baby that night. More contractions, stronger, still off and on, hardened my belly on Sunday, March 4. I walked all over Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, malls, my neighborhood street, rocked on my birthing ball while I watched “Being Elmo” on Netflix, did prenatal yoga stretches — but no baby that night, either.

Worse, I came down with PUPPP, which is medical shorthand for itchy pregnancy rash from hell. My body looked and felt as if I had curled up in a red fire ant bed at dinnertime. My belly, feet, legs, thighs, back, hands, and arms broke out in angry red bumps that itched incessantly. I would wake up at 4:27am, sit on the edge of the bed and scratch my skin open.

So by the time Monday, March 5, rolled into view, I was sleep-deprived, itchy, babyless, and plagued with contractions I couldn’t time to save my life.

But I was still wholly unprepared for what came that night, after more fruitless walking, rocking, and contracting. My midwife and mother stood by my bed, doulas hovering nearby for support, and told me in similar soft voices that I could not continue to labor at home: we would need to go the hospital.

And if anyone had told me that a birth plan is a dream like “I want to be a firefighter” or “I want to save the whales,” a haloed, hallowed dream with fuzzy edges that you practice telling your unborn children when they are old enough to ask; a dream that you grow over nine months and cradle inside your heart; a dream that you wrap yourself with gingerly at 4:27am during itch fits, or when sharing your lunch with office toilet bowls; a dream that is the bridge from pregnancy to motherhood, which women must build, plank by plank, to stay sane — if anyone had told me that a birth plan is that type of dream, I wouldn’t have believed them — until I cried at the loss of mine.

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Post baby, but this is the closest I would get to a smile for a long time.  

On Tuesday, March 6, we headed to the hospital. On Wednesday, March 7, they started me on Pitocin, which ratcheted up my contractions.

I was encouraged by my midwife to get the epidural to loosen my hips, so I quietly told the nurse, after hedging for hours, that I wanted an epidural. Biggest. Lie. Ever. When the anesthesiologist rolled his cart into the room, my hands started trembling. The anesthesiologist told me to be still; I shook. I cried.

The doctor cheerfully proclaimed it to be “all over!” and they slowly eased me onto my back, while numbness took hold of my toes, legs, hips, heart. I felt jailed, harassed by an alarm-beeping IV line, strapped down with itch-inducing belly monitors and blood pressure cuffs, catheterized with tubes invading my vagina, and taped on the back with the frightening epidural line.

Through the early morning of Thursday, March 8, my baby’s heart rate shot up into the alarming 190s and 200s, causing nurses to dash into the room, just like on television. I turned over on my side, waiting, knowing that at any minute, someone — be it midwife, mother, husband, nurse or doctor — would get in my face speaking in over-soft Hospital Voice, and tell me that I needed a Caesarean.

They did not disappoint. I sounded dreadful to my own ears; I never cried so much throughout my entire pregnancy.

The surgeon came in, a brusquely efficient woman named Dr. Rogers, who was ready to get this thing going, chattering about how she didn’t care if the nurses switched shifts. Then I met Dr. Anesthesiologist #2. Her actual name was Dr. Dong, which fits, because she was an absolute dick to me. She crouched five millimeters away from my nose as if I were five.

“You care about your baby, right? This is about your baby now.”

Right, because I really didn’t care about my baby before. I don’t know why I didn’t slap her. I clenched my fists and just nodded. Whatever. Hook up the IV to the anesthesia and go away. More numbness.

The bustling increased with more faceless nurses unplugging IVs, monitors, bed cords, and wheeling me out of the room. I wasn’t talking anymore; my eyes worked overtime as they slammed my bed through the OR doors. When they transferred me from the bed to the operating table, they tied my arms down with Velcro straps on either side of me.

One of the nurses addressed me as “Crybaby” while I was lying there. My ears only heard red afterward.

Then Dr. Dong/Dick went in again. She perched on a stool next to my head and told me, “You know what your problem is? You’re not in control; God is in control.”

Which, under normal circumstances, would have me all Amen and Hallelujah. But you do not tell a pregnant someone who is about to be cut open that they don’t have any control. I wanted to punch her again.

And again, when, a few minutes later, she sprang over to me and proclaimed, “This is a celebration!  You should be crying tears of joy! You have a baby coming!”

I don’t think I smiled from Tuesday to Thursday, until they introduced me to a squinty-eyed infant bundled in a white cap and blanket. She was beautiful.

They sewed up my incision tightly and bound it with skin glue, but I still bled in areas they did not slice with a scalpel, but with their bullying and lack of compassion.

 

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Months later, happy with my girl. 

I did not realize that I was depressed until my mother caught me sobbing in the bathroom weeks later, healthy baby and all.

Four months after my daughter’s arrival, they shut down the maternity ward for that hospital. And I cannot help but wonder if another mother, one braver than I, spoke up and admitted that she felt bullied while birthing. I never told any hospital officials about my experience, feeling that I did not have the right to dwell on how traumatized I felt, because Samira arrived and she was healthy. For this, alone, I am thankful.

 

XOJane

This post originally appeared on XOJane. Republished with permission. Click here for more
Dara Mathis on XOJane!

  • Anonin

    Mmmmmaaannn if some doctor/nurse gave me attitude like that. That was so unnecessary its not even funny.

  • Bren

    I empathize with you because my birthing experience was far from heavenly. The nurse was very rude to me. Well the hospital closed a year after my son was born.

  • JS

    May get down voted but I think OP was being overly sensitive. I don’t blame her for this to a certain extent as it is a very important and personal decision the method in which you choose to give birth. However, OPs issue was the moment shit started to hit the fan she lost all cool. Some mothers get so hung up on “natural birthing” they forget the most important thing is delivering the baby period with its health and your health being the priority.

    Also some do not realize that while helpful, in emergency situations the doctor’s main priority isn’t to make you feel coddled, its YOUR HEALTH. Their job is finding the easiest way to solve your health issue without risking complications or worse the death of you or your child. While I agree the “crybaby” comment was out of line, even if it was said in jest, at the end of the day they delivered you had a healthy baby.

  • Starla

    Wow! many doctors are brusque and rude. I had one doctor who was always nice if other people were in the room, when she was the only one there it was another story. Sorry you had to go through that, but you baby is such a lil darling.

    I have heard horror stories of teenage mothers being treated like dirt when they go to give birth.

  • Canela

    I agree with JS here. You go half a week in labor, then get mad because your birthplan is no longer practical? Goodness woman, get some priorities. You and your adorable daughter are healthy and thriving. There are many women who cannot say the same.

  • http://gravatar.com/dtafakari daratmathis.wordpress.com

    I can believe it about single mothers. The hospital I went to was in a lower income area, and I had a suspicion that they verbally abused many of the women because of socioeconomic status.

  • RJ

    Perhaps, this is your first major parenting lesson. Bringing your child into the world in a healthy manner is the most important thing. Your fantasy about the delievery may take a backseat.

    This is not burger King you get what is best.

    I am not sure you were being bullied. They were trying to talk some sense into you about what you can control and what you cannot.

    That being said you and your daughter are beautiful and I hope you experience nothing but joy raising her or at least as much as you can because the tween and teen years are no joke! LOL

  • https://www.facebook.com/vanessa.beard Vee Prince

    I commend you for your bravery. I would have felt exactly the same way if I had wanted to have my child in a way that I could feel most comfortable and connected, instead of the cold harshness of a hospital. I am saddened to know that you were completely justified in your fears.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    p.s. I would have smacked the hell outta that nurse. Real talk.

  • http://www.awaitingjuno.blogspot.com Mrs. W

    Expecting compassionate care is not unreasonable – I think the midwife should carry a lot of the responsibility for the emotional harm this woman may have suffered. Her midwife should have informed her that there was a risk that the homebirth would not materialize – and that needing an emergent cesarean was a potential risk of a planned vaginal delivery. I do not think she should have been called a “cry baby” and further, I think that the emotional well-being of mothers matter. She should have been debriefed about why things had to happen the way they did – and she should have had the opportunity to have the lack of compassion she experienced addressed.

    For what it is worth – when it mattered most, you did what you had to do to get your daughter here safely and you survived. You deserve to be heard, and to know that you still matter. Read your medical records – discuss your concerns with your doctor, and if you are still struggling with what happend, seek therapy.

  • Cali

    I am having my first baby. I went to my first pre-natal appt, happy and giddy. my husband works out of town alot and couldn’t make it.mind you this doc’s office is also my ob-gyn. i have been going there for over 10 yrs. they knew i hd n abortion 10 yrs ago when i was 18 so they asked me abt it, I guess to confirm that it happened(it’s in there charts, right).

    So the midwife cones in and begins to give me a pkethira of baby info, in the middle of her talking, she asks me if I had an abortion in the past, I say yes(why dothey keep bringing this ip, I ask myself) she says. I HATE ABORTIONS.

    umm, do you fucking think I love them??!! I didn’t hear anything else she said after that. I felt so judged. I couldn’t say anything bc I was shocked a medical professional would be political and voice their opinion abt what I did in my life! it’s not abt u bitch! I told my husband and all he could do was console me and say he was glad he wasnt there when she said that bc he would havetild her ass off. needless to say, I asked to never see her again.

  • Cali

    Sorry for the typos. Typed on my iphone.

  • http://gravatar.com/mimiandy1683 MimiLuvs…

    “I have heard horror stories of teenage mothers being treated like dirt when they go to give birth.”

    I witnessed an experience where the hospital’s staff treated a teen mother horribly. It involved my best friend (the expecting mother) and her my goddaughter. I was so livid because of the way she was treated. Her social worker (because she was a ward of the state) had lit into their a**es that it made me feel better.

  • http://gravatar.com/dtafakari daratmathis.wordpress.com

    OMG, that was absolutely horrible! I can’t believe she said that to you! I’m sorry that happened!

  • Nah Bruh

    “May get down voted but I think OP was being overly sensitive…”

    She was having a baby.

    “However, OPs issue was the moment shit started to hit the fan she lost all cool.”

    She was having a baby.

    “…the doctor’s main priority isn’t making you feel coddled…”

    From the crybaby comment to the “God’s in control” mess those doctors were not just “not coddling” her but were acting mad weird and I would have been like “nope” too.

    The OP was pregnant, it’s scary, you weren’t the OP and you weren’t there. They made her feel uncomfortable.

  • http://gravatar.com/stardancer2008 stardancer2008

    I do not blame this young woman for feeling the way that she did during her experience. Even though she did not get the birth she wanted to have, that does not excuse the horrible way she was treated during labor. She was bullied and called names! Compassion for others seems to be going away and that is messed up.

  • JS

    Sorry but “she was having a baby” is no excuse to lose your shit and become entitled to the world coddling you when things don’t go your way. You are having a baby so you need to prepare and educate yourself in case the worst might happen.

    Yes, it will still be scary but lots of things may happen that could be scary later in life when you are with your child. You might get robbed, there might be a fire, car crash, plane malfunction, earthquake etc, etc, are you going to lose your shit then? NO, as the adult and parent you will suck it up despite your fears and be strong to protect your child. Although its not yet born it is still depending on you for life, if you feel stress, it will feel stress. It’s no wonder then her baby’s heart rate shot up and she needed the c-section.The woman admits repeatedly to straight up crying like a child multiple times for no real good reason (at least any reason more important than needing to conserve energy for your child).

    The only reason I would be crying like that is if they told me I had lost the child, this woman was lucky enough to have a healthy baby. As far as the “gods in control” and “crybaby” comments, yes they were unprofessional but the more I think about it the more I think they were justified as someone needed to figuratively try and slap some sense into this woman to get her to focus on trying to have a healthy child instead of just getting her way.

  • http://gracemercylove.wordpress.com Charlie

    I was bullied during my birth too. After 23 hours of labor I was talked into an epidural even after I asked them not to bring it up anymore. They caught me at a vulnerable moment and I caved after being told that I was being stubborn to the modern technology that can take away my pain. After the epidural my son’s heartrate fell and I was forced to get a c-section. Unlike the author, my son wasn’t healthy and two weeks later he still wasn’t home from the NICU. He’s now healthy, but I think his troubles at birth put things into perspective and how I wanted my birthing experience to be really didn’t matter at the end of the day.

  • MommieDearest

    I know nurses who have witnessed teen mothers being verbally berated, called names, denied pain killers…. It’s just awful they way they are treated. It’s like they were being punished for being “fast.” (BTW those nurses did intervene. But still…)

  • Erica

    Same exact thing happened to me: epidural after a long labor, heartrate issues, c-section. You can’t tell me they aren’t related. As for the nurse – she should have been written up for calling you a crybaby – my nurses, husband and doula were my saving grace. I’m just glad that my little girl is healthy and that yours is too.

  • https://www.facebook.com/tara.dukaczewicz Tara Dukaczewicz

    You weren’t forced to get a c/section, your baby had complications. As evidenced by his poor health and his two week NICU stay. At the end of the day, it’s not about your experience.

  • http://gravatar.com/ebony82 ebony82

    WOW! Just wow.

  • The RealKay

    I may get down voted too, but I had the same plan, but ran into complications. Even though it wasn’t my plan, not saying that she wasn’t worried about her child, but I couldn’t care less about the birth plan at that point. I think the nurses and doctors could have had a better bedside manner though. But when I had to have a c-section (which was NOT at all on the agenda), I just had to chalk it up to life happening around me even when I have a plan in hand. I just wanted my baby to be safe and for me to come out of it alive too. That’s what happened, so I don’t care too much about the birth experience. But then again, for some people, it’s the sentimental value of that experience. I’ve never been like that so I guess it’s hard for me to understand it.

  • Zimzimma

    The moral of the story is that a lot of doctors are more concerned with time, money, and the bottom line in terms of cost and profit, than they are with birthing. There is absolutely no reason to give women Pitocin because it increases the intensity and speed of the contractions, and that combined with epidural is what causes the baby to go into distress, which inevitably leads to a c-section. Medical professionals are no longer taught how to efficiently deal with natural births, and don’t know how to handle simple issues like prolonged labor, breached babies, etc. naturally. The fact is that labor can last for days, and there be no issues. Unless the mother has prior health issues, or the baby goes into distress, there is not reason to be alarmed. Contractions also don’t indicate full labor. I think women need to become more educated about their bodies, instead of just assuming that OB is always right. After all if the U.S. doctors had birthing down to a science, and were the best at providing birthing care, we would have such high rates of birth complications, infant mortality, etc. Some of our rates rival the rates found in underdeveloped nations. Finally, she has every right to feel the way she does. Women need to stop believing the rhetoric that as long as you have a healthy baby, the treatment you receive during the birth is irrelevant…that rhetoric is used to bully women into being silent about receiving poor treatment.

  • E.M.S.

    I’m sorry you had such a horrible experience with your pregnancy. Reading that story really shocked me. I would imagine a hospital is more sensitive to & respectful of an expecting mother. No woman should EVER deal with what you went through as she brings her child into the world.

    It seems very common for hospital staff to pressure women into giving birth at a hospital rather than at home, and second to get an epidural and/or c-section. Honestly a part of me feels they do it because they’ll get paid more for their services…

  • Crystal

    This is kind of my story. I was told it was time to deliver since my son was so small and losing weight. My stomach never dropped, contractions never started but when I went in for my normal weekly checkup at 39 weeks my Dr told me it was time to deliver. I was speechless and felt totally scared into doing it. They told me everything that was going on with my baby and why I had to check in and prepare for delivery. I hadn’t dilated at all. So fast forward I check in that night no progress the next day given pitocin and needed a c-section because my baby never started coming on his own. I too cried when I realized after the first night my delivery was going to end in pregnancy. I wish I had listed to my body a little more. My husband was so cared because they kept telling us that the baby is losing weight we need to get him out of there. Turns out my son is just a small kid. He was 5 lbs 8oz at birth and is barely 20 pounds at almost 2 years old. I think of my delivery experience and still become a little upset. We need more advocates for moms.

  • chippers

    I wish I COULD have a baby; at home, at a hospital, anyplace! Count your blessings. A plan is a plan but in the end, you DO have a child.

  • http://gravatar.com/lajanegalt no maam

    I know 2 women who did not go home with anything after their first births*. Perspective and gratitude will guide me if the time comes.

    At the end of the day, what is the goal? A healthy baby.

    *They went on to have healthy kids.

  • http://gravatar.com/lajanegalt no maam

    If she is licensed, she should have it yanked.

  • Kathleen

    I think you’re brave for writing this article and sharing your story with the whole world! You expose a big and common problem with maternity care in this country. No matter what your birth plan was, or how your birth turns out to be, everyone should be treated with care and sensitivity. The fact that you and your baby survived and are physically well doesn’t excuse poor behavior and unkind words. Healthcare professionals should be just that: Professional. Yes, you’re fortunate to have a baby. Yes, you’re happy to have a healthy one. But yes, ladies, it is somewhat about the experience!! While not every birth can occur naturally, and not every baby is healthy, there is no reason why every single birthing woman should not be treated with respect!!

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